A racial gap has opened up in the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, with Black Americans in many places lagging behind whites in receiving shots. That’s according to an Associated Press analysis. An early look at the 17 states and two cities that have released racial breakdowns finds that Black people are getting inoculated at levels below their share of the general population. Among the reasons given: deep mistrust of the medical establishment among Black Americans because of a history of discriminatory treatment. The gap is deeply troubling to some, given that the coronavirus has taken a disproportionate toll in severe sickness and death on Black people in the U.S.
PSB approves acquisition of GMP by Gaz Metro subsidiaryThe Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) Monday issued its approval of Green Mountain Power Corporation’s (NYSE: GMP) proposed agreement and plan of merger with Northern New England Energy Corporation (NNEEC) and its wholly-owned subsidiary Northstars Merger Subsidiary Corporation. The decision is the final regulatory approval necessary for the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2007.In its unanimous approval order, the PSB said it concluded the transaction “will promote the general good of the State.” It also stated that “NNEEC also has a proven record of technical, financial and managerial competency through its twenty-year ownership of Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. & NNEEC and its parent, Gaz Métro, have a well-documented and an established track record for operating regulated and unregulated businesses in Vermont.”Chris Dutton, president and chief executive officer of Green Mountain Power, said, “We expect that this transaction will have many significant benefits to our customers and the entire state of Vermont. Most importantly, Green Mountain Power will be in a better financial position when we negotiate new power contracts. In addition, we have created the Green Mountain Power Efficiency Fund to provide more than $9 million in benefits for Green Mountain Power customers by investing in demand side management and other innovative efficiency programs.”On June 22, 2006, Green Mountain Power Corporation and Northern New England EnergyCorporation announced their merger agreement under which Green Mountain Power will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of NNEEC in a cash transaction valued at approximately $187 million.Green Mountain Power shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favor of the transaction at a special meeting on October 31, 2006.After the completion of the transaction, Green Mountain Power will continue to be managed by its current leadership team and the Company will operate out of its existing offices in Vermont.Employees will be retained and the current labor contract with IBEW Local 300 will remain in place. The Company will operate under the jurisdiction of state and federal regulators, as it has for more than one hundred years.NNEEC is a Vermont corporation and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gaz Métro Limited Partnership (TSX-GZM.UN), a leading Québec energy company with a long history of investment in Vermont.Gaz Métro is a major distributor of natural gas in Québec and the northeastern United States. With more than $2.7 billion of assets and more than 1,500 employees in Québec, Gaz Métro serves about 164,000 customers through an underground pipeline network of almost 10,000 km.Gaz Métro is also the parent company of Vermont Gas Systems, which has 115 Vermont-based employees and serves about 40,000 customers. Gaz Métro also has an indirect significant ownership interest in a natural gas transportation company, Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), and owns important interest in a natural gas transportation enterprise (Trans Québec & Maritimes) and in an enterprise specializing in underground natural gas storage facilities (Intragaz).In addition, the company operates businesses providing district heating and urban water rehabilitation services in Québec.Green Mountain Power is an electric utility operating company that transmits, distributes and sells electricity and utility construction services in the State of Vermont in a service territory with approximately one quarter of Vermont’s population. It serves approximately 90,000 customers.
Australian Day followed up his stunning Friday score of 64 with a three-under-par 68 at Ridgewood CC and, coupled with Furyk’s blemish-free 69, the pair reached the clubhouse on nine under for the tournament. Following his Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship victories, McIlroy had fixed a poor opening round with a sparkling 65 on Friday but could only sign for a one-under 70 on Saturday. The Northern Irishman mixed three birdies with two bogeys yet sits among illustrious company including overnight leader and defending champion Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Graeme McDowell in a share of 23rd place heading into the deciding round in Paramus, New Jersey. Much closer to Day and Furyk is American Hunter Mahan on eight under, while Morgan Hoffman shot 66 to climb from the middle of the leaderboard to share fifth place with the likes of Matt Kuchar and Kevin Na. Last to finish, Cameron Tringale had looked set to end the day on eight under but bogeyed the 18th to sign for a one-over 72. Day, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, could have struck out on his own on Saturday had he not dropped two shots on the par-five 13th hole. Elsewhere on the course, he took four shots to get down from a bunker on the par-fifth 17th and ultimately mixed seven birdies with two bogeys. Pennsylvania-born Furyk shot two birdies and otherwise kept his nose clean to merit a share of the lead. Also keeping eyes on the prize are Englishmen Justin Rose and Paul Casey, four shots off the pace on five under. Press Association Jason Day and Jim Furyk are tied for the lead heading into the final day of The Barclays while an inconsistent third-round performance left world number one Rory McIlroy five strokes off the pace.
SAN FRANCISCO–For a Giants fan base accustomed to splashy offseason acquisitions, Farhan Zaidi has spent his first winter on the job wading into a small tide pool.Though the waters remain unseasonably calm, the Giants made another addition Saturday as they acquired utility player Breyvic Valera from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for cash considerations.Saturday’s deal marks the third time in the last nine months that Valera has been involved in a trade under Zaidi’s watch, as he was …
New studies of snakes and their genes are surprising scientists with stories of “rapid evolution.” Some findings offer potential for human health.Snakes made headlines in scientific papers in the last couple of weeks. With the publishing of genomes for the king cobra and the Burmese python, scientists are gaining opportunities to update their evolutionary stories with new data.PNAS published findings from the king cobra genome. Of interest is “dynamic gene evolution and adaptation in the snake venom system,” assuming cobras evolved from other snakes. By comparing the venom delivery system with those of other vertebrates (with the platypus being the only mammal), they constructed a story of an “evolutionary arms race” between predator and prey. They also argued for cases of gene duplication and neofunctionalization. Speaking of the venom itself, the team said that “snake toxin genes evolve through several distinct co-option mechanisms and exhibit surprisingly variable levels of gene duplication and directional selection….” Referring to the snake’s “complex biological weapons system,” they pointed out the functional significance not only of genes but of microRNAs. They also found all but one of the Hox gene sequences related to amniote limb development.PNAS also published findings from the genome of the Burmese python, one of the largest snakes in the world. As with the king cobra, this species shows adaptation due to more than just genes. “Snake phenotypic novelty seems to be driven by the system-wide coordination of protein adaptation, gene expression, and changes in genome structure,” they said, claiming these have evolved by strong positive selection. They found, for instance, “massive rapid changes in gene expression that coordinate major changes in organ size and function after feeding,” adding, ” Intriguingly, the homologs of these genes in humans are associated with metabolism, development, and pathology.” The team compared the Burmese python with the king cobra and other snakes, finding the species highly adapted for its feeding habits. Describing “extensive adaptive redesign of snake metabolic pathways” as products of evolution, though, confuses adaptation with the mechanism for its origin.PhysOrg summarized these papers, focusing on the “rapid evolution of cobra venom.” Readers may be unfamiliar with the fact that evolutionists are puzzled by the origin of venom.In particular, lead author Dr Nick Casewell and his colleagues were interested in how the cobra’s venom evolved. It contains dozens of highly specialised toxins, and exactly how this complex brew could have come about has long been a puzzle.Analysing the newly-sequenced cobra genome confirmed the hypothesis that the individual toxins that make up the venom developed from proteins that originally evolved for unglamorous day-to-day tasks elsewhere in the body.The evolutionary story says that genes for the “unglamorous” proteins duplicated many times, with duplicates free to evolve other functions – a process dubbed neofunctionalization. It does not explain, however, the simultaneous adaptive evolution of the venom delivery system, the behavior for injecting it, and mechanisms the snake uses to protect itself.The concept of an “evolutionary arms race” also enters the story. “Venomous snakes rely almost totally on their venom to kill prey, so prey immunity would be a disaster; to avoid that risk, the venom has to keep developing new tricks.” To whatever extent that occurs, it would only involve changes to the brew, not changes to the “complex biological weapons system” itself. Another extreme adaptation is seen in the Burmese python, which can alter its metabolic pathways by 150% after feeding, then return to normal, supposedly co-opting other genes in the body for its “extraordinary capacity to change its whole body to deal with the situation.” New Scientist added to the tale of these snakes “outpacing other vertebrates in [the] race to evolve,” calling this “evolutionary nimbleness.” Someone even found a way to bring global warming into the story:This evolutionary nimbleness may make snakes more able to adapt to future challenges too, says Scott Edwards, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard. However, he adds, snakes’ “fast” evolutionary changes still took millions of years to accumulate. “Whether they’re labile enough to resist all the challenges of habitat loss and climate change is unclear,” he says. “It’s a different timescale.”Of more practical import is how to protect humans from snakebite. These papers may help with the development of antivenom compounds to help reduce the 100,000 annual snakebite victims around the world. Science Magazine ran a special section on snakes this week. “Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia,” the news focus began. Amid adventure stories of those who study snakes (some of whom were bitten in the process), and repetition of the evolutionary themes, one article stood out as very different: “From Toxins to Treatments” by Kai Kupferschmidt. The subtitle reads, “Researchers are hoping to find lifesaving drugs in the deadly venoms from snakes and other animals.”We’ve seen efforts to use the world’s deadliest substances for good before. Cone snails and other venomous creatures have proved invaluable as sources of health-giving compounds. Botulin toxin is one clear example that is in widespread use today. Kupferschmidt tells of other developments that seem almost miraculous in the use of poison to give life. While “Nature has had millions of years to perfect this molecular sabotage and turn snakes into accomplished killers” on the one hand, “more and more researchers are studying venom’s powers to heal rather than harm.” The unique proteins in venom are being viewed as a library of useful chemicals to alter biological processes in healthy ways. Some 40 million such compounds await study in the some 170,000 venomous species of animals, from centipedes to gila monsters to the platypus. Interesting factoid: “There are only 1500 species of venomous snakes, but 50,000 species of venomous spiders,” one researcher noted, emphasizing that the library is extensive in that wing. Spiders may have even more distinct proteins in their venoms than the 250 or so in a snake venom.What can these compounds do for good? “Ziconotide, a peptide in cone snail venom, was approved in 2004 to treat chronic pain; exenatide, isolated from the saliva of a venomous lizard called the Gila monster, has become a blockbuster drug for type 2 diabetes.” One peptide from cobra venom is 20 to 200 times more effective than morphine, without the side effects and addiction. It’s time to explore this “toxic treasure trove” systematically, one expert advises. A day may come when your doctor plays snake and lets his hypodermic needle substitute for snake fangs, to deliver toxin-derived agents of healing to your body.Update 12/06/13: Elizabeth Pennisi wrote a summary of the findings for Science Magazine. At one point she related the current just-so story about snake origins:Snakes have slithered their way through oceans and across all the continents save Antarctica; their 3000 species have infiltrated nearly every conceivable habitat from termite mounds to rainforest canopies. But they got their start in a specialized niche where legs were a handicap. A few researchers think snakes first evolved while living in water, but most now contend that they originated from lizards that went underground (Science, 8 November, p. 683). There, they acquired not just the serpentine body type, but also an economical metabolism able to deal with low oxygen levels. Eyes weren’t needed, so they degenerated. When snakes surfaced again, lacking limbs for capturing prey, some species evolved venom instead. And they developed visual systems quite different from those of their lizard relatives.But this answer raises numerous questions. How did they “acquire” these things? Did they “evolve venom” on purpose? If they were able to “develop visual systems” a second time, why didn’t they also “develop” legs? (It would seemingly be a simpler task if the Hox genes for them still existed.) Readers might well wonder if this explanation is any more credible than a certain story of a serpent being cursed to crawl on its belly.This is a very intriguing subject that plays on our fears as well as our hopes. It also crosses over into questions about theodicy. Why would an all-loving Creator make such potent agents of suffering and death? While we can admire the design of a king cobra, and even see its fearful kind of beauty from a safe distance, it’s hard to endure the agonizing screams of a person dying from its bite.There are many works on theodicy that are better prepared to deal with these questions than space allows here. Suffice it to say that these findings support the idea that systems designed for good in the initial creation could have easily been switched over for punishment after the Fall into sin. Indeed, only the Judeo-Christian worldview supplies the grounds for understanding good and evil. If it evolved, it’s not evil; whatever is, is – stuff happens. The Bible contains a coherent (if not exhaustive) account of the entry of sin, its consequences, and its cure. Only the Bible has a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator-Redeemer, who suffered more than any man. Now, He offers forgiveness, love, and abundant life now, with pain-free joy and glory in heaven, without all these punishments. There’s a happy ending in Christianity that no other worldview or religion can offer.So what we see in snake venoms are alterations to good proteins – some of which are regulated by other molecules. Although God made some drastic changes to living things in the Genesis account, they were for the most part modifications of good things. As such, some of them can be modified back for good, as scientists are now learning how to do. After all, a peptide is not evil in itself. It’s what the peptide does in another animal’s systems that determines whether there is healing or pain. This realization can awaken new ways of thinking about natural evil.For Bible believers, we might note that the origin of snakes cannot be simplistically explained by the story of the serpent in Genesis 3. One cannot say that the judgment on the serpent (Satan) applied to all snakes; that would be reading more into the account than is presented (after all, other creatures, like worms, slither on the ground, too). The judgment was announced specific to that serpent, the devil, so called the serpent again in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. We just don’t have enough information to know if snakes were similar before the Fall. Given their amazing designs for traveling and sensing their environment, one could be justified in believing they were part of the amazing diversity of animal life in the “very good” creation before sin, before some of them became agents of judgment. For this reason, herpetology is certainly a worthwhile scientific endeavor that should be encouraged. Instead of forcing the genomic data into evolutionary stories, theist herpetologists might examine non-Darwinian mechanisms for adaptation over shorter periods of time than millions of years, calling attention to built-in designed mechanisms for rapid adaptation. Theists will also have all the more reason to find healthful applications of scientific knowledge gained, motivated by a share of God’s compassion and mercy for the suffering. (Visited 53 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
The magical kelp forest exhibit at Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium. Image: Two Oceans Aquarium By Lorraine Kearney11 June 2014The cold and wet weather has finally settled over the peninsula, and Capetonians have bedded down for their annual hibernation. In summer, the days are gloriously long, and families eat dinner after eight, children stay up til after nine – because the sun hasn’t set yet.But come winter, with its short, wet and cold days, and the town catches up on its zzzz’s. Dinner by 6.30pm, in bed before eight, and the drive to school in the morning is in the dark. Seaside towns are always dreary in the rain.But for those few hours of daylight, finding fun when it is pouring outside heads the list of important things to do in my family. Top draw is the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront – and it never gets tired.First stop has always got to be the giant spider crabs, where we spend ages trying to spy the faces of the samurai warriors on their bellies.Legend tells of a great Japanese sea battle, in which a young emperor, seeing that his army was defeated, threw himself into the water with his samurai warriors. The emperor and his soldiers turned into crabs and have been wandering the floor of the ocean ever since.Spider crabs are the largest crustaceans in the world; males grow to about 1m in length with a 4m leg stretch. They live about 400m under water that is pretty cool – between 11°C and 14°C. Very little is known about giant spider crabs. It is virtually impossible to determine their age and we do not know when they reach sexual maturity. They have to moult when they grow, shuffling off their old exo-skeletons. This is a complicated and potentially life-threatening process which can take up to two days. A crab can become entrapped in its old shell and die, but even if the moult is successful, the sheer effort is sometimes so exhausting, that the crab dies soon afterwards.Other favourite stops are the touch and feel tidal pools and the microscope displays. But really, the highlight every time is the penguins – they are irresistible, waddling around in their tuxedos. Check when you arrive to make sure you get there for feeding time. You’ll be glad you did.And if you’re game, you can even go scuba diving with the ragged tooth sharks – without a cage.After strolling around the aquarium, we highly recommend the short trip to the V&A Market on the Wharf. There’s a whole world of food on offer, from Hungarian street food to fried chicken, vegetarian curries to cakes and muffins, really good coffee to freshly juiced fruit and veggie drinks. It’s open every day except Christmas and New Year’s, meaning you can always get something delicious to eat.Outside the market – for that gap in the rain when fresh air is needed – is Nobel Square. Four larger-than-life bronzed statues stand in a row, all of them South African Nobel Peace Prize laureates: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. Home happy and tired; job done.Read more about what to do in Cape Town on SouthAfrica.info
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Activist Vernon Gonsalves, who is accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, is part of a front organisation of the banned organisation, CPI Maoists, Pune police told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai opened her arguments opposing bail for Mr. Gonsalves, who is at Yerwada jail for the past 18 months, before Justice Sarang Kotwal.Ms. Pai said the police has relied on the forensic report of documents recovered from accused Rona Wilson and computer files from Surendra Gadling, who are also in Yerwada jail. “We (police) have not tampered anything (sic),” she said.She read out a letter dated January 2, 2018 recovered from Mr. Wilson’s laptop, which she said, “acts as corroborative material as far as the first information report is concerned and shows the role of a banned organisation (CPI M),” she said.She then read out another letter recovered from Mr. Gadling’s laptop that said, “Vernon and Arun (Ferreira also an accused in jail) are members of ‘radical study circle’, which is a front organisation of CPI M.”The court, however, said, “The author of these letters is unknown.” Ms. Pai went on to talk about the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners and Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, and said they were fronts of the CPI M.The court asked, “How is Vernon connected to these organisations or even either of them?” Ms Pai said, “His name is not there, and there is no direct involvement.”In the end, she read out call detail records of all the accused: Dalit activist and writer Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, a Tata Institute of Social Sciences alumnus known for working for tribals in Gadchiroli, Shoma Sen, a retired professor at Nagpur University, Mr. Wilson, poet Varavara Rao, activists Mr. Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj, and said “Call records show they were in touch with each other.”The hearing will continue on October 3.
Mumbai, Dec 6 (PTI) Backing the view of shuttle ace Prakash Padukone, Indias national badminton coach, Pullela Gopichand, today said sports coaches need to be respected and rewarded for new players to emerge.”I completely agree with Prakash sir. Its very important that coaches need to be looked at, its high time we looked at it because we should have looked at it in the past 10 years and we haven?t. And it?s not only badminton but across all sports; this is for me the most important thing which is there,” Gopichand said here today.”Coaches need to be respected, coaches need to be rewarded, coaches need to be awarded and people should be motivated to take up coaching,” said Gopichand on the sidelines of the function to announce a grass-roots talent hunt plan by his academy with IDBI Federal Life Insurance.A few days ago Prakash said that it was high time the badminton-governing body in the country, BAI, Sports Authority of India and the sports ministry looked at coaching the coaches by inviting top foreign coaches to do the job.”We treat Indian coaches differently, foreign coaches differently. I?ll have to say this openly, but there?s not a single rupee of remuneration which any of the coaches in the past have got from either the federation or the SAI. It?s time they start looking at coaches differently, start looking at coaching differently. And unless we do that we can?t sustain the ecosystem of sports,” he explained.advertisement”I think this is an aspect which, for the last few years, has been a challenge of the entire ecosystem which brings the best players back into the sport. And creating good coaches doesn?t end with giving them good training. It is the entire ecosystem which is important. A coach needs to be respected.”I?m sure everyone has these challenges in the teaching profession as well. The best mind doesn?t get into teaching. Likewise, we also face the same challenges with coaching. Coaches need to be trained, need to be motivated, need to be recognised, need to be rewarded. All these are important.”In the entire ecosystem of the sport, how many coaches do we know from various fields? Even sportspersons, reporters, and myself, we would not know so many of them. Also, how much of pay we give them is also important,” he remarked.”The best models in the world are where they?re coached at and athlete-centric and system-driven and unfortunately we?re far away from that model,” he added.Gopichand also expressed concerns over the cramped international calendar of the Badminton World Federation.”I think they?ve cramped the calendar too much. It?s unfortunate the kind of thinking that the BWF has. And I don?t agree to what they have in terms of getting players to play so many tournaments. And there are players who?re already getting injured, performances have not been consistent at all and it doesn?t help the players cause when they have to continue to push themselves to play so many tournaments.”There?re so many ways of ensuring that the sport is promoted and cramping up the calendar and forcing the players to play is not a very good idea,” he added.On the new service rule announced by the BWF, he said “I approve of it.”As per the new rule, the shuttle should be below 1.15 metres from the surface of the court at the instant of being hit by the servers racquet. PTI SSR NRB
Photo by espn.com.After all the rumblings in New York that Geno Smith was a disaster and totally ill-prepared to lead an NFL team–the rookie quarterback made a nice account of himself in the Jets’ season-opener, a stunning 18-17 last-second victory over Tampa Bay.Smith, who opened training camp in competition with incumbent and now-injured starter Mark Sanchez, went 24-for-38 for 256 yards, with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble. He also had 47 yards rushing and set up the game-winning field goal by drawing a personal foul penalty in the waning seconds.Down by two with just seconds left, Smith scrambled for 10 yards before running out of bounds. However, the Buccaneers’ Levonte David pushed him when he clearly was out of bounds, drawing the 15-yard penalty, setting up Nick Folk’s 48-yard field goal with two seconds left.“I’m never going to panic,” Smith said afterward. “It’s a game, it’s something that I’ve been playing my entire life, I’ve been in that situation plenty of times.”Not exactly. This was his first NFL game. In New York. And after a preseason effort that, when he was healthy, did not inspire confidence.“We knew that he’s a much better quarterback than he showed in that one preseason game when he was hobbling around,” Jets’ coach Rex Ryan said, referring to Smith’s three-interception performance against the Giants. “I think where he really helped us, he ran, he made some big plays running.”Smith was much better and his poise shone through. “I love playing with a team like this,” Smith said, “because you don’t have to go out there and try to be Superman.”It was not a super play that saved the day for the Jets, but it was one that Ryan said Smith made happen.“No question,” Ryan said. “They had everybody back in coverage, they were deep down the field. At the time we knew we needed to make a play and he did. He stepped up, presence of mind, he was running like crazy and got out of bounds.”“I just go out there and I told those guys ‘it’s never over,’ ” Smith said. “I was on the sideline talking to Kellen (Winslow Jr.) and we were going over situations. Talked with Willie Colon and telling those guys just, ‘Hey, give me some extra protection and we’ll find a way,’ and that’s what we did.”