South Fork football tops Laytonville for first-ever North Central III League win

first_imgMiranda >> One thing is for certain for the South Fork football team: Not only are the Cubs scoring a bunch more points in their first-ever season in eight-man football, they’re a lot more competitive, too.That was once again on display on homecoming night in Miranda.On the back of a 28-point second quarter and a strong finish to the first half, South Fork took control of its North Central III League opener against Laytonville and rolled its way to a 56-38 win over the visiting Warriors on …last_img read more

Rescuing Dinosaur Soft Tissue from the Ravages of Time

first_imgThe reaction of scientists to irrefutable evidence for soft tissue in dinosaur bone sounds all too human: ignore, rant, rationalize; repeat.Blogger Jon Tennant, a grad student at Imperial College London studying vertebrate macroevolution, believes in ghosts.  His recent post, “How do the chemical ghosts of dinosaurs help their preservation?”, abridged on The Conversation, tries to keep soft tissue old in dinosaur bones by building on Mary Schweitzer’s recent work suggesting that iron atoms from heme molecules hold onto the delicate remains, keeping them intact for millions of years.  Does it work?  He knows it’s a stretch:Life as we know it is carbon-based, that is, organic. These organic molecules containing mostly carbon and hydrogen are delicate to the ravages of time, relatively speaking. They aren’t usually preserved in fossils that paleontologists unearth to tell the story of our planet’s past. For them, it is vital information lost forever.It should be lost forever, that is, if the bones are tens of millions of years old.  But it’s not.  That’s the problem.  Schweitzer’s work turned up “structures resembling blood vessels and even the residue of proteins.”  What is his answer?  A fairy tale:… Schweitzer shows that, during the process preservation, the conditions can often be “just right” to save tissues – the ‘Goldilocks effect’. This process that she calls “tissue fixation” may help paleontologists look at molecular remains that may hold important clues about these beasts. Borrowing a host of analytical tools from Earth and environmental sciences, Schweitzer shows it may be possible to observe the “chemical ghosts” remaining in fossils, and how these have helped to exquisitely preserve molecular structures.One should not confuse cute phrases, like those in quote marks above, with explanation.  (Q. “How did soft tissues survive for 70 million years?”  A. “Tissue fixation.”)  It’s also suspect in science to invoke special conditions, like a “Goldlilocks effect.”  For the explanation, Tennant offers nothing new; he just borrows Schweitzer’s hypothesis that iron preserved the blood and osteocytes preferentially.  He knows this is also a stretch:Only a decade ago, this hypothesis would have been laughed at by fellow scientists. While many still remain unconvinced, there is growing evidence that molecular tissues may actually have been preserved. Now the question is: how much have palaeontologists missed by not considering these potentially high levels of preservation in dinosaurs? And how much is there that is still left to be found at such levels of detail?In his lengthier blog entry, Tennant reveals the reaction of fellow scientists to the news about dinosaur soft tissue.  It sounds all too human:Naturally, her research has been met with a whole wad of stiff resistance from the scientific community, seemingly for no other reason than “We don’t like the sound of that..”. Scientific rigour ftw!(We refuse to translate the acronym, but it means the scientific community was very bothered by the news.)   He adds to the laughter claim: it’s “something that 10 years ago would have been laughed out of the room, and still is by many.”  For himself, though, he finds the evidence compelling that it really is original soft tissue.  To rule out other explanations, he points to (1) the reaction of the tissue to antibodies, (2) the peptide sequence data, and (3) the discovery of intact histone proteins.Tennant’s blog entry says that Phil Manning coined the term “chemical ghosts,” but the phrase seems misleading.  They are not phantoms, but real original remains, including osteocytes with their delicate dendrites intact.  Tennant includes some electron micrographs of T. rex vessels infiltrated with iron, compared with tissues from a hadrosaur fossil and from a recently-dead ostrich.  Since they all show infiltration of iron, it’s iron to the rescue!  Soft tissue can be preserved for 70 million years!  (See 11/26/13 about Schweitzer’s hypothesis.)  Now, armed with a catch-all “explanation” for delicate remains, he can breathe a sigh of relief, and get excited again with his evolutionary scientism:For me, this is one of the greatest steps in recent palaeontology – no longer do we just have bones, but we have other soft tissues like feathers, skin, and internal structures, adding a whole new bio-chemical dimension to how we perceive fossils. Of course, this opens up a whole new wealth of knowledge to be uncovered about extinct animals, their physiologies, and their evolutionary roles.So why aren’t paleontologists all over the world rushing to uncover all this evidence they had not considered before?  He doesn’t say.  Nine years after Schweitzer’s first bombshell announcement (3/24/05, 1/30/11), maybe they still don’t like the sound of it.Other Dinosaur NewsSpeaking of T. rex, Europe got its version of a tyrannosaur, which National Geographic calls “Big Bruiser.”  A “pint-size” tyrannosaur was found in Alaska, Nature News reported.  Finally, in a bizarre mix of cosmology and paleontology, both Nature and New Scientist proposed a hypothesis that dark matter killed the dinosaurs.  The idea is that the solar system passes through the disk of the Milky Way periodically, where dark matter is expected to be more dense.  The extra matter might trigger barrages of comets.  This hypothesis was not treated with unmixed support:The arbitrary selection of craters and the fact that some estimates of their ages bear large error bars, adds to the uncertainty, says Adrian Melott, an astrophysicist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. “Dissipative dark matter is a possible explanation, but it’s not clear that it’s explaining anything real,” he says.Despite its speculative basis, Randall says that the exercise is valuable. “This is trying to turn this somewhat crazy idea into science, by saying we will make predictions based on it,” she says. “We’re not saying we think it’s 100% going to be true.“Send in your crazy idea to Nature and make a prediction.  Who knows; maybe they will publish it.Well, you have just observed something about “the scientific community.”  They are willing to blast the world to hang on to their evolutionary notions.  They will ignore evidence that stares them in the face.  They don’t like the sound of anything that threatens their naturalistic religion with its obligatory moyboys.  They believe in ghosts and children’s fairy tales (whatever happened to uniformity of nature, if Goldilocks is their savior?).  They invent phrases that masquerade as explanations, that accomplish nothing more than hiding their biases.  Give them contradictory evidence, and they will laugh you out of the room.  When they can’t do that any longer, they will grasp at any straw and turn it into a pillar, then stand on it and proclaim how wonderful scientism is.This is known as “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). 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Local NGO success in the UK

first_imgKhulisa’s ground-breaking programmes aim to break the cycle of violence, prevent youngsters from ending up in prison, and rehabilitate those who have done time. Khulisa staff harvesting vegetables from their KwaZulu-Natal office garden to donate to a children’s shelter.(Image: Khulisa Social Solutions) MEDIA CONTACTS • Lesley Ann van Selm  MD, Khulisa Social Solutions  +27 11 788 8237 or +27 82 601 2299 RELATED ARTICLES • Khulisa reinvents lives • Mandela prison anniversary marked • Values, heritage can be learned here • Concourt art tells SA’s story • SA’s gallows now instrument of healingLucille DavieLocal NGO Khulisa’s out-of-the-box programme on restorative justice has been exported to the UK, and is now part of a package of programmes being successfully implemented by an independent registered charity.Khulisa UK’s mission is to “break the cycle of crime and violence by helping people to change their lives”. It does this in three ways: guiding by restoring empathy, self-belief and self-worth; healing individuals – both perpetrators and victims – and communities; and nurturing by believing all people can grow.“We think that we are quite unique in bringing to the UK programmes that have been tried and tested in the extremely fragile and challenging social environment of South Africa,” reads the staff induction pack. “In particular we look at projects that provide innovative and effective ways to address crime, violence, anti-social behaviour, justice and community regeneration.”Khulisa means “to nurture” in Zulu. The programme targets offenders and ex-offenders, young people at risk of exclusion, offending or becoming involved in gangs, victims or witnesses of violence and crime, as well as people facing significant personal barriers in their lives.“Through our work we aim to empower disadvantaged individuals with the skills and personal understanding they need to develop their own alternatives to violence, desist from crime, improve their futures and build stronger and safer communities.” Homegrown innovation in the UKKhulisa UK is an offshoot of South Africa’s Khulisa Social Solutions, an NGO that’s been running for 16 years. Its founder and MD Lesley Ann van Selm was originally looking to raise funding from international donors – while Khulisa has for the past 11 years been funded by the Finnish and Danish embassies, more funding was needed to expand.But the EU will only fund EU-based organisations so Van Selm set up a company in the UK called Khulisa Crime Prevention Initiative.She is an Ashoka fellow, an international body that recognises and supports leading social entrepreneurs through an entrepreneur network. “It’s quite a prestigious thing to be an Ashoka fellow,” she explains.With the support of Ashoka in the UK, she managed to get a pro bono attorney to help register the company there. A feasibility study showed that “there was as much potential for us to get money in South Africa as there was for us also to have our programmes exported to the UK”.Van Selm elaborates: “Khulisa’s programmes are so out of the box, and have been so organically developed, and we realised that the programmes in the UK were very, very conventional and all compliant against international theories of psychology, etc.”It took two years to develop a pilot programme, then Khulisa’s Silence the Violence (STV) programme was tried out in Hackney in London. A psychologist, an academic from Manchester University, a human rights activist and an ex-offender were invited to participate.“The outcomes were mind blowing,” says Van Selm. Getting the programme off the groundWith success around the corner, funding was needed to follow up on the trial programme. Khulisa managed to get several contracts with the Home Office Police, a private prison company, and several other trusts, in particular the Sainsbury’s Family Trust and the Monument Trust, which gave US$157 000 (R1.4-million). This enabled Khulisa in the UK to appoint a CEO, rent offices, employ staff and get the programme off the ground.The attitude in the UK was that if Khulisa can get the programmes to work in South Africa, with its many challenges, it can work in that country too.Now, three years down the line, the British company is a separate entity, paying royalties to Khulisa South Africa, and looking to expand their programmes there.Van Selm says that she is looking at ways to expand the restorative justice programme in the UK, through the STV programme, which is based on restoring relationships between criminal and victim.She adds that she’s proud of the fact that the UK franchise is using the Khulisa brand name. She says the name is catchy, and “makes people feel curious”.“It is a proudly South African brand.” UK operationKhulisa UK has taken the STV programme and combined it with three others – Milestones Mentoring Programme, Face It, and My Square Mile, developed in-house. These programmes supplement STV, which is described as “an intervention that additionally reduces violence and changes anti-social behaviour contributing to a reduction in violence/assaults whilst offering longer term positive effects on reducing re-offending with other supports.”It is best suited for young people in at-risk situations or those involved in gangs with exposure to crime and violence, including witnesses and victims.The programme consists of 10 modules of two- to three-hour facilitated sessions, usually run over five days. It is followed up with one-on-one support sessions. It uses group and cognitive behavioural therapy, a strengths-based approach, and includes coaching, role play, problem solving, emotional management and conflict resolution.Some of the learning outcomes include recognition of high-risk situations and techniques to avoid or cope with them; an ability to recognise levels of violence and awareness of its damaging effects; improved listening skills and greater empathy for others; the development of emotional intelligence; enhanced self-expression and self-awareness; and improved relationships. Measuring successKhulisa UK’s CEO Simon Fulford says some 1 500 people have benefited from the programmes since the organisation started operations in 2009. He adds that this excludes any indirect impact on family and community members connected to the participants.Success is not always easy to measure. “Rating success with offender rehabilitation and behaviour change programmes is always a difficult one as the impact is subtle, long-term and hard to measure or claim direct responsibility for,” he explains.Two responses give a sense of the programme’s success. An ex-offender from 2011 reports: “I’ve not cried for 18 years, and this is the first time I’ve felt safe enough to do so, in this group dynamic.”A 16-year-old school pupil said: “I was able to look into myself, pin-point what is wrong and start a path in to correct and move on, as I am able to look at others and feel empathy.”Fulford says that Khulisa UK has an annual operating budget of around $630 000 (R5.6-million), employing seven permanent staff and about a dozen freelance programme facilitators assisted by some 40 or 50 volunteers each year.The organisation operates in the London, Greater Manchester and the south coast areas of Dorset and Hampshire, but also runs programmes on an ad-hoc basis in other parts of the country, depending on contracts or commissions.“Overall, about 300 adults and children participate in our full programmes per year, with several hundred more engaged via short workshops, taster sessions, and more.”Now, Khulisa UK is looking to adapt and pilot South Africa’s Justice and Restoration Programme for use in the UK.“Khulisa UK and Khulisa South Africa bring a new dynamism to north-south relations, with a unique model of exporting social development solutions from south to north and then adapted in-country,” says Fulford.“Similarly, as we develop and enhance programmes here, we will share this knowledge and expertise with our colleagues while looking to further export the Khulisa approach.”last_img read more