What makes each individual unique? Nature1 reported a surprising thing about “the” human genome that is becoming apparent as more individuals’ genes are examined. The first part is not surprising; the last part is:When the finished sequence of the human genome was unveiled last year, biologists said that it told a story of harmony for the human family. Every one of us, it turns out, shares 99% of our DNA with all the other people on Earth. But it’s our differences that really fascinate us. And at last week’s annual genome meeting in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, scientists revealed a wealth of data indicating a surprising conclusion about human diversity – much of it might be explained by large structural differences between individual genomes, not by tiny differences in individual genes. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Some of us have more copies of a gene than others do. That’s just the beginning, Erika Check reports from the meeting: “we also have varying numbers of deletions, insertions and other major rearrangements in our genomes.” Check claims that some of these differences are being acted on by natural selection. Europeans, for instance, have an inversion not seen in Africans or Asians that is correlated with having more children, “a classic sign that the inversion confers an evolutionary advantage”. Others at the meeting were also confident that “structural differences are important in human evolution,” and that among sections where there were differing numbers of copies of stretches of DNA, “natural selection is actively working on these genes.”What’s more, he [Duc-Quang Nguyen, U of Oxford] found that many of these genes belong to groups that seem to help us interact with our environment. For instance, many work in the immune system, and affect how we fight off disease. These are exactly the sort of genes that could explain our diversity – why some of us get asthma when exposed to air pollution, or why some of us can eat plenty of cheeseburgers without gaining weight. “We knew these variations existed, but this year we’re asking, do they matter?” says Ewan Birney, head of bioinformatics for the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, based in Cambridge, UK. “The answer seems to be yes.” We’re still one human family, of course; but our DNA landscapes are a lot more varied than we had thought.1Erika Check, “Large genomic differences explain our little quirks,” Nature 435, 252-253 (19 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435252b.DNA keeps surprising us. The old picture of a relatively static library occasionally mutating to provide grist for natural selection is out. Now, we see that even among our own species – all of us being interfertile – there are remarkable differences not in just a DNA letter here or there, but in whole stretches of DNA sometimes 100 base pairs long or more. What this all means is not clear. It may be that most of our genomes cannot tolerate much divergence (see 11/26/2004 entry), but a certain fraction can vary quickly to provide robustness against changing environments and diets as people groups migrate into new areas. If so, thank God for this variability. Consider the differences in habitat between the frozen tundra, rain forest, the Sahara, grasslands, Asian steppes, forests and coastlands. The food available, air pressure, climate, insolation and biota can vary considerably. But even that explanation is simplistic; Americans go on vacation to Iceland, China and the Serengeti, don’t they? And international marriages usually produce offspring possessing “fitness,” whatever that is (see 10/29/2002 entry, “Fitness for Dummies: Is it Running in Circles?”). Darwinists cannot claim they understand this variability any more than anyone else; that is why Check calls this a “surprising conclusion.” Thankfully, it is still politically correct for her to say, “We’re still one human family, of course.” But this knowledge through a Darwin filter could feed a new eugenics (compare 04/22/2004 and 10/12/2001 entries). When Darwinists claim that certain genes are being acted on by natural selection, some individuals are going to appear more fit than others. Certain gene patterns may be deemed unfit to reproduce. Don’t think we’ve learned our lesson and are beyond that. One only has to visualize North Korea (02/11/2005 commentary) to consider how such information could be quickly twisted for evil. “Diversity” is the politically-correct word now, but “Unity” is potentially just as potent a rallying cry for demagogues. Associating a DNA inversion to more fecundity is unwarranted. There are many more factors than one stretch of DNA entering the picture of reproduction rates. If that were true, why are Europeans having so few kids, and worrying about their countries being overrun with foreigners? Africans and Asians seem to be overcrowding their parts of the world just fine without the inversion. The claim overlooks the many social, moral, religious, pragmatic and economic factors that go into the equation. Darwinists bluff about selection pressure and genes undergoing active selection when the picture is far too complex to draw such conclusions (see, for instance, 03/28/2005 and 01/17/2005 entries). They can’t even get one mutation in one gene to correlate well with fitness (see 02/04/2005 and 09/07/2004 entries), let alone large structural variations. Besides, the genome itself appears to be a pawn in the hands of numerous, complex epigenetic regulatory factors (see 06/03/2004 and 10/27/2004 entries). The new data about human genomic variability should remain fair game for all honest scientists, especially those outside wearing designer lab coats instead of Darwin-brand straitjackets.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
27 August 2013 Former South African president Nelson Mandela was honoured on Monday with the inaugural Lifetime Award for Global Peace from the Mahathir Global Peace Foundation. Receiving the award on Mandela’s behalf during a ceremony at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre in Putrajaya, Malaysia, South African President Jacob Zuma said: “We are humbled as South Africans to share president Mandela with the world. “At the same time, we are truly proud that our country, and the struggle for liberation in particular, produced such an international icon.” Zuma, who arrived in Malaysia for an official visit on Sunday, said that the 95-year-old statesman was still “in a critical but stable condition” in hospital in Pretoria, where he was admitted on 8 June and has been receiving treatment since for a recurring lung infection. “While wishing him good health, we also have to celebrate his legacy, and learn from it, in order to build a better world.” Zuma added that Mandela was also “no stranger to Malaysia”, having led South Africa in cementing ties with Malaysia during his presidency, and being a personal friend of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. “In a rare gesture for a foreign head of government at the time, Dr Mahathir was among the first to meet Mr Nelson Mandela at the airport in Zambia in 1990, soon after his release from prison,” Zuma said. “In the meeting they later held at a Zambian government guest house, Dr Mahathir presented Madiba with a silver keris, the symbol of Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy system of government.” The award, Zuma said, would further highlight the need for peace in the world, “as it has been given to a man who has demonstrated a remarkable ability for forgiveness and reconciliation, which are the building blocks for a peaceful society”. It was this commitment to reconciliation, Zuma said, that stood at the core of the Mandela legacy. “It influenced both his efforts to build a new democracy at home and his contribution to the resolution of conflicts in the larger world. “When others doubted whether it was still possible for old enemies to beat their swords into ploughshares, he showed us how.” SAinfo reporter
About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Luka Modric on Real Madrid crisis: This isn’t bad luck; our starts are s***by Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLuka Modric blasted his Real Madrid teammates after defeat to Real Sociedad.The midfielder questioned the attitude for the start of the 2-0 reverse.”Many of us are not at our level,” Modric said in the mixed zone.”We cannot take a s*** at the beginning of every game.”We have to be clear, it’s not a matter of luck.”We are creating a lot but the ball won’t go in and we are giving a lot but there are reasons that explain why things are not going well.”
About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Hoeness takes new swipe at Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegenby Carlos Volcanoa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has taken a new swipe at Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.Hoeness has been angered by Ter Stegen’s claims that he deserves Germany selection ahead of Bayern’s Manuel Neuer.He snapped: “I would have expected him to be cornered and say things are not going that way. It has damaged the reputation of an impeccable athlete like Manuel.”Hoeness claims Ter Stegen has made Neuer sound like “old scrap that should be removed after the Euros”.He also slammed the German Federation for not taking action against Ter Stegen.”I do not expect any reaction from you,” he explained and added: “Their only virtue is to go for a walk in the forest and whistle.”
KELOWNA, B.C. – The founder of Canada Jetlines is taking over as chief executive of Canadian discount carrier Flair Airlines Ltd.Jim Scott replaces Flair founder and former president Jim Rogers, who will remain an adviser until 2019 after selling his shares in the Kelowna-based company.Scott is a former airline pilot who led Canada Jetlines between 2012 and last year.He will be joined by Jerry Presley, who represents the majority owners, as executive chairman. He was previously an adviser to Canada Jetlines.The changes come more than six months after Flair’s purchase of NewLeaf Travel Company’s assets.Flair Airlines currently flies from seven Canadian cities: Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Abbotsford, Kelowna and Vancouver. It has plans to soon announce an expansion of its fleet and route network.The airline faces the prospect of competition with the launch next summer of WestJet’s discount Swoop airline and Canada Jetlines.Flair operates seven aircraft and plans to add two Boeing 737-800 aircraft later in 2018. Four more planes are slated to be added to the fleet in 2019 to accommodate nearly 1.5 million passengers.
WASHINGTON – Sales of new U.S. homes slumped 1.7 per cent in July, the second straight monthly decline as the broader housing market appears to have lost some of its momentum despite an otherwise solid economy.The Commerce Department said Thursday that newly built homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 last month, down from 638,000 in June and 654,000 in May. Despite the slowdown, new-home sales have risen 7.2 per cent year-to-date.Steady hiring gains and signs of stronger economic growth have boosted demand for housing. But higher mortgage rates and a tight inventory of homes on the market has made affordability a challenge for many would-be buyers.The Northeast suffered a steep 52.3 per cent plunge in sales, while sales in the South — the largest regional new-home market — slipped 3.3 per cent. Sales rose in the Midwest and West.The average sales price has risen 5.8 per cent from a year ago to $394,300. This increase reflects a shift toward more expensive properties: 60 per cent of the new homes purchased in July cost more than $300,000, up from 56 per cent in 2017.Existing home sales have also slipped over the past four months, the National Association of Realtors said in a separate report Wednesday. Existing homes — a larger share of the real estate market than new construction — sold at an annual pace of 5.34 million in July, a decline of 0.7 per cent from June.Buyers looking at properties worth more than $500,000 have plenty of options, and sales at that price point and above are rising, the Realtors said. But sales of homes worth less than $250,000 are flat or falling.While hiring has been robust this year, inflation has eaten away at average wage growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Homebuyers also face higher borrowing costs as the interest charged on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.53 per cent last week, up from 3.89 per cent a year ago, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.
NEW YORK — The start of a new year often coincides with a surge in monthly memberships to gyms.Ride-hailing services are hoping customers will think along the same lines about their transportation needs. Uber and Lyft recently launched subscription plans promising savings for those trips to the gym, to work or around town.The ride-hailing companies stand to gain by increasing customer loyalty in a competitive market and securing more predictable revenue at a time when both are heading into an initial public offering.But you should figure out if the numbers add up before committing to one ride provider.“I think both these things should come with the caveat, ‘buyer beware,’” said Keith Millhouse, a transportation consultant and principal at Millhouse Strategies.Millhouse called Uber’s subscription a “complete mystery,” and he said getting value out of Lyft’s plan was possible, but complicated. Others were more optimistic.“If (riders) know they’re going to be travelling enough or more than enough to take advantage of it, then by all means it’s an opportunity for them to save money,” said Steven Polzin, program director for mobility policy research at the Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida. “If you’re on the margins, or you’re an infrequent user, then you might not want to.”WHAT DO YOU GET WITH LYFT’S PLAN?Lyft’s All-Access Plan, available nationwide, costs $299 and allows you to take 30 trips valued at up to $15 over 30 days. If a ride goes over $15, you pay the difference. After the first 30 trips, you get 5 per cent off any additional rides.WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM LYFT’S PLAN?Riders who take very frequent trips in the $10-$15 range hit the sweet spot. Without the plan, 30 trips at $15 each would cost $450, so the plan could theoretically save you about $150. At $10 each, you would break even. But if your trips often cost less than $10, you may end up paying more for those trips than you would have without the pass.Another consideration is how many days you need transportation to work. Most full-time jobs include more than 20 work days per month, which means more than 40 trips.A 30-ride plan may appeal to those who occasionally work from home because the alternative — a monthly public transportation pass — often assumes five days of commuting per week so riders may be paying for trips they don’t take.“As more and more people have started telecommuting, all of a sudden those price points (for public transit passes) aren’t necessarily as attractive,” Polzin said.WHAT DO YOU GET WITH UBER’S PASS?Uber rolled out a subscription program called “Ride Pass” in five U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Miami, Denver, Austin and Orlando. It costs $14.99 in all of those cities except Los Angeles, where it costs $24.99. Uber says the monthly fee gives riders discounts up to 15 per cent on all rides and protection from surge pricing, which is higher pricing triggered by peaks in demand during rush hour, special events or bad weather.WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM UBER’S PASS?Uber has been hearing from riders that they want more consistent prices. For example, some customers find that their ride to work is cheaper than their ride home, so having the pass can protect riders from an unforeseen spike, an Uber spokesman said.The surge protection pricing could prove valuable if you frequently take Uber rides during peak times or at popular locations, say if you’re a bartender who works at a trendy night club that has a crush of demand for rides as partiers head home.“With surge protection, that could be a good deal,” Polzin said. “If you knew you were travelling in places and times where there’s surge pricing, you could save real money real fast.”WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES TO SUBSCRIPTIONS?With Uber’s pass, you don’t get to see the price of your desired routes until you pay the fee, and some reviewers on Reddit and Twitter said they got the pass and then paid what they considered to be higher rates for rides.Uber says that should not be happening, and if it is, riders should write to customer support. The company is using the pilot to collect feedback from riders before rolling it out in more cities.Other Uber riders complained that the discounts amounted to pennies on short rides and $1 on a ride worth $60.“Savings are, on average, 15 per cent to 20 per cent, but can vary depending on how busy it is,” said Michael Amodeo, spokesman for Uber, in an email. “For example, savings will typically be higher during commuting hours or nights and weekends when more people are opening up (and using) our app.”For Lyft’s plan, there’s a specific set of riders who would benefit, but if riders don’t use all of their 30 trips in 30 days, they lose them.“Like most of these platforms, they are a bigger benefit to companies when consumers don’t fully take advantage of them,” said Mike Ramsey, senior research director, automotive and smart mobility, at Gartner. “It’s like a gym membership — the gym would be unbearable if everyone used it. Nonetheless, some people take great advantage of very low cost subscriptions.”“In many cases, however, the economic advantage just doesn’t pencil out,” Ramsey said.Cathy Bussewitz, The Associated Press
EDMONTON, A.B. — New numbers show Alberta’s economy continues to dig itself out of the deep hole caused by crashing oil prices as Premier Rachel Notley’s government both spends and saves more.Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the province is on track for a $9.1-billion deficit when the budget year ends March 31. That’s $1.4 billion lower than the deficit expected when Ceci tabled this year’s budget last spring.Ceci notes forecasts also point to an economic rebound as production goes up and unemployment falls. The house resumes sitting March 8. Ceci is to bring in the 2018-19 budget later in the spring. “Nearly 90,000 full-time jobs were created over the last year and Alberta’s GDP growth led the country at 4.5 percent in 2017,” Ceci said in a statement Wednesday after releasing the third-quarter update to the 2017-18 budget. “We will continue to work hard to ensure this recovery reaches all Albertans.”The province is expected to take in an extra $1.9 billion this year on $46.9 billion in revenue – mainly due to higher than expected oil revenue and returns on investments. Spending is also rising to $55.9 billion – about $1 billion more than projected at budget – to cover increases in services for children, people with disabilities, and for employment and income supports.The debt is going to hit almost $42 billion this year. Debt payments will be $1.4 billion. Alberta will bring in $883 million from crude oil royalties, almost double what it had expected, although revenue from bitumen royalties will be $2.4 billion – about $188 million less than projected.Oil revenues were hampered this year by the price discount Alberta’s blended bitumen sells at compared with the benchmark North American West Texas Intermediate price. The discount is tied mainly to pipeline bottlenecks that drive up the price of getting Alberta’s heavy oil to U.S. refineries and ports.The NDP has been running high deficits throughout its term in government. The government says slashing budgets and jobs would only worsen the situation and kill an economic recovery.The province has been saving money by negotiating contracts with zero pay increases for teachers and nurses and other health professionals,. It has also axed redundant agencies and committees and consolidated other programs and services.Alberta has been hit with multiple credit downgrades, however, which have increased the cost of borrowing. Ceci has promised to present a more detailed plan to get the budget back in balance by 2023.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A public information session on solar energy and electric vehicles will be coming to Fort St. John on September 19.Presented by Peace Energy Cooperative, organizers say the ‘Save with Solar’ public session will give residents the opportunity to learn about what the Cooperative does within the community when it comes to renewable energy.A 30-minute presentation will also be given to inform residents about the mechanics and economics of solar energy, along with a review on electric vehicles. The ‘Save with Solar’ public session is taking place on September 19 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Fort St. John Passive House, located at 9904 94 Street.For more information and to register for this event, you can call the Peace Energy Cooperative at 250-782-3882.
New Delhi: The government has deferred by one month the last date for bidding for the 14 oil and gas exploration blocks offered in the second round of Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP). Bids for the 14 blocks offered in OALP-II bid round, covering an area of 29,333 square kilometres, were to close Tuesday. “Bid submission closing date for OALP Bid Round-II stands extended up to April 10, 2019,” the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) said in a brief notice. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepIt did not give reasons for extending the deadline. The last date of bidding coincides with the bid deadline for the 23 oil and gas and coal-bed methane (CBM) blocks offered in the third round of OALP, which was launched on February 10. OALP-II bid round was delayed at six months and its launch came barely a month before the third round. Officials said OALP-II and OALP-III will run concurrently. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had at the time of launch of OALP-II bid round on January 7 stated that an investment of about Rs 40,000 crore is expected in the prospecting of oil and gas in blocks offered. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsIn the first round of OALP last year, as much as Rs 60,000 crore was committed in the exploration of oil and gas in 55 blocks or areas. In the third round, the government is expecting up to USD 700 million (about Rs 49,000 crore) of investment that it hopes will help raise domestic output and cut imports. India had in July 2017 allowed companies to carve out blocks of their choice with a view to bringing about 2.8 million sq km of unexplored area in the country under exploration. Under this policy, called open acreage licensing policy or OALP, companies are allowed to put in an expression of interest (EoI) for prospecting of oil and gas in any area that is presently not under any production or exploration licence. The EoIs can be put in at any time of the year but they are accumulated twice annually. The blocks or areas that receive EoIs at the end of a cycle are put up for auction with the originator or the firm that originally selected the area getting a 5-mark advantage. The two window of accumulating EoIs end on May 15 and November 15 every year. EoIs accumulated till May 15 are supposed to be put on auction by June 30 and those in the second window by December 31. The first OALP round was launched in 2017 and bids came in by May 2018. EoIs for second round closed on May 15, 2018, and the blocks were supposed to be put for auction by June but the round was for reasons unknown delayed. OALP-II was finally launched on January 7. In the meanwhile, EoIs in the third window also closed on November 15, 2018 with as many as 18 blocks and five CBM blocks, measuring 31,722 sq km, being sought for. OALP-III bid round was launched on February 10 with April 10 as the last date for bidding. Officials said the 14 blocks in OALP-II are estimated to hold in-place resource of 12,609 million tonne oil and oil equivalent gas. In OALP-1, mining mogul Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Ltd walked away with 41 out of 55 blocks bid out. State-owned Oil India Ltd won nine blocks while Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) managed to win just two. State gas utility GAIL, upstream arm of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Oil Exploration Co (HOEC) won one block each. The 55 blocks have a total area of 59,282 sq km. This compares to about 1,02,000 sq km being under exploration prior to OALP. Blocks are awarded to the company which offers the highest share of oil and gas to the government as well as commits to doing maximum exploration work by way of shooting 2D and 3D seismic survey and drilling exploration wells. Increased exploration will lead to more oil and gas production, helping the world’s third largest oil importer to cut import dependence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of cutting oil import bill by 10 per cent to 67 per cent by 2022 and to half by 2030. Import dependence has increased since 2015 when Modi had set the target. India currently imports 83 per cent of its oil needs. The new policy replaced the old system of government carving out areas and bidding them out. It guarantees marketing and pricing freedom and moves away from production sharing model of previous rounds to a revenue-sharing model, where companies offering the maximum share of oil and gas to the government are awarded the block. The government prior to this had been selecting and demarcating areas it feels can be offered for bidding in an exploration licensing round. Under this, 256 blocks had been offered for exploration and production since 2000. The last bid round happened in 2010. Of these, 254 blocks were awarded. But as many as 156 have already been relinquished due to poor prospect.