Premature taxation

first_imgIN the philosophy of the city’s elected officials, there’s never a bad time to come up with a new way to squeeze money out of Angelenos. There are rate hikes and various fee increases to pay for the job of a barely maintained city. And when the city’s leaders are feeling especially confident, there’s the parcel-tax hike. The Los Angeles City Council must be feeling pretty confident at the moment about getting voters’ support, since it so generously and recently agreed to give council members another term of office – though perhaps induced by a little misdirection from the council’s spinmeisters. And that’s not a thing to waste. The collective whim of the voters can change faster than you can say “macaca.” Enter the gang-tax proposal, a $40-a-year (on average) charge on property owners to raise $30 million a year to pay for gang-suppression efforts. If this were a surefire solution to the violence and toll illegal gangs have on the city, it would be the bargain of the century. Who wouldn’t pay $40 to wipe the street gangs out of existence and see the young men and women chewed up by gangs go on to fruitful lives and careers? But this isn’t a surefire thing; the council doesn’t even have a plan for the money, just a conviction that they will need it. But, in fact, the city doesn’t even know what gang resources it already has, as the city controller has only just begun an audit of existing gang-prevention programs, as encouraged by the council members themselves. The council clearly wants to milk all the voter good will it can by passing a tax on the cause of the moment. But it’s way too soon to start raising money the city may not even need. There’s a very good chance that in the millions of dollars the city already spends on gang-prevention programs it doesn’t know it has, that one or two or 30 of them are being wasted. There is no good reason to rush this parcel tax to the ballot other than to satisfy City Hall’s revenue lust to waste on pet projects and aid to political supporters. The City Council ought to put aside this parcel tax until the city controller’s audit is passed and there’s a concrete plan of action for the revenues. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Job Vacancy: Donegal Daily seeks Digital News Reporter

first_imgThe Donegal Daily Group require a Digital News Reporter.This is a full-time position within Donegal’s biggest media outlet and will be based out of our Letterkenny office.The successful candidate will have relevant experience within the media industry and a background in online news is essential. Previous coverage of courts, council meetings and other relevant ‘markings’ will also be an advantage.They will be required to work flexible hours with a knowledge of sport also an advantage.If you think this is the position for you to further your career in journalism working within a talented and dedicated team of reporters, please send your CV to [email protected] date for applications: 5pm Monday 18th November Job Vacancy: Donegal Daily seeks Digital News Reporter was last modified: November 15th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

OUTRAGE AS PENSIONER HOSPITALISED AFTER ROBBERY IN HER HOME

first_imgGardai are hunting a lone raider who robbed and beat an 80 year old pensioner in her Donegal home.Raider attacked pensioner in her home in Letterkenny.The woman, who lived alone, was set upon in the early hours of yesterday morning.She received minor injuries but had to be hospitalised as a result of her ordeal. The incident happened in the Glencar area of Letterkenny just after 5am this morning.The man got away with a sum of cash and also some jewellery.It is the latest in a series of raids in Letterkenny and across Co Donegal in recent weeks.Last week a number of houses were raided in the Wolfetone Place area of the town. Mayor of Letterkenny, Cllr Pascal Blake said he is disgusted and horrified that yet another attack has happened in his town.“I am disgusted to hear that this kind of disgusting and cowardly attack has taken place in our town.“The woman was set upon and is seriously traumatised and will have to spend time in hospital but hopefully she will be okay.“The problem is that elderly people rarely get over these ordeals and they will be haunted by these kind of attacks for the rest of their lives.“This behaviour is completely out of hand. “I’m very concerned for older people living alone with no family living near them. It is horrific for people to be living alone now in fear and not knowing when they will be attacked,” he said.OUTRAGE AS PENSIONER HOSPITALISED AFTER ROBBERY IN HER HOME was last modified: September 29th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Cllr Pascal BlakeGardaiglencarraiderrobberylast_img read more

Did Haeckel’s Defunct Recapitulation Theory Influence the Supreme Court?

first_imgOne of our readers uncovered an amicus brief from the American Psychological Association (q.v. on American Bar Association website) encouraging the Supreme Court to overturn capital punishment for minors (see 03/04/2005 entry).  One of the key arguments in the brief is that “Neuropsychological research demonstrates that the adolescent brain has not reached adult maturity.”  Zeroing in on scientific evidence, the brief claimed “Of particular interest with regard to decision-making and criminal culpability is the development of the frontal lobes of the brain.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)    For support, the brief cited a 2004 paper by Gogtay et al. from PNAS,1 describing results of MRI scans of 13 young individuals undergoing various activities; the team concluded that juvenile frontal lobes were not as well developed as those of adults.  Yet this team’s conclusions leaned heavily on evolutionary assumptions, particularly those of Ernst Haeckel, author of the now-defunct “recapitulation theory” (often stated in its pretentious prose, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” meaning, the development of the embryo imitates its evolutionary history).  The paper contains subtle references to recapitulation theory in making the claim that teenagers are too immature for responsible behavior:The superior temporal cortex, which contains association areas that integrate information from several sensory modalities, matured last. Furthermore, the maturation of the cortex also appeared to follow the evolutionary sequence in which these regions were created.In mammals, the inferior temporal cortex, along with parts of the STG, posterior parietal cortex, and prefrontal cortex, are high-order association areas, which are also most recent evolutionarily.  Our observation of these areas appearing to mature later may suggest that the cortical development follows the evolutionary sequence to some degree.Similarly, gender differences in brain maturation could not be explored, because there are only six males and seven females in the sample.  However, our findings uncover key information on the maturational sequence of early brain development and its relation to functional and evolutionary milestones.Phylogenetically, some of the oldest cortical regions lie on the inferior brain surface in the medial aspect of the temporal lobe… The maturation process in the vicinity of these areas appeared to have started early (ontogenetically) already by the age of 4 years…  (Bullets added.)In The Mismeasure of Man (W. W. Norton, 1981), Stephen Jay Gould catalogued the history of the recapitulation theory, which “By 1920… had collapsed.”  He says that it “ranks among the most influential ideas of late nineteenth-century science” and gives examples of its abuse to justify racism and sexism.  Gould claims that the scientific evidence actually supports the opposite conclusion: the young and the embryo are more advanced than the adult, a concept termed neoteny.  If so, this turns the racist and sexist interpretations of the recapitulation theory upside down:Under recapitulation, adults of inferior races are like children of superior races.  But neoteny reverses the argument.  In the context of neoteny, it is “good”—that is, advanced or superior—to retain the traits of childhood, to develop more slowly.  Thus, superior groups retain their childlike characters as adults, while inferior groups pass through the higher phase of childhood and then degenerate toward apishness.  Now consider the conventional prejudice of white scientists: whites are superior, blacks inferior.  Under recapitulation, black adults should be like white children.  But under neoteny, white adults should be like black children.This demonstrates how a misguided scientific claim can have profound cultural effects, sometimes polar opposites from the same data.1Gogtay et al., “Dynamic mapping of human cortical development during childhood through early adulthood,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS 101: 8174-8179; published online before print as 10.1073/pnas.0402680101.This is scandalous.  If the Supreme Court was snookered by baloney offered up by the pseudoscientific APA in making its decision, then every family member of every victim murdered by juveniles, every suffering witness to Columbine High School’s mass murder spree, should point an angry, accusing finger at Ernst Haeckel, and Pope Charlie who encouraged him, and all the current charlatans who still invoke Haeckel’s phony “biogenetic law” of recapitulation, and accuse them all of co-conspiracy to divert attention from the Constitution and onto pseudoscience.  (Read the 03/04/2005 entry and commentary also.)    No other society has deemed teenagers as incapable of morally responsible behavior; on the contrary, good societies have stressed the importance of moral training early in life, and the need to correct misbehavior from childhood.  MRI scans have nothing to say about the moral character of minors, much less so whether the development of their frontal lobes is recapping some presumed animal ancestry.  Read Gould’s steaming indictment of recapitulation theory and its promoter, the fraud Ernst Haeckel, who practically worshipped the ground Father Charlie walked on.  Folks, you have just seen Darwinian mythology sway the highest court in the land on a matter of life and death.  What are you going to do about it?(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Ant What it Used to Be

first_imgA new species of subterranean ant discovered in Brazil is so weird, biologists have classified it as the sole representative of a new subfamily.  The alien creature has been whimsically named Martialis heureka: “the ant from Mars.”  An article about it in Nature News said, “It adds a new branch to the ant family tree which split off from the others extremely early in the family’s evolution.”  Trouble is, it doesn’t look anything like a wasp, from which ants supposedly evolved (see picture on National Geographic).    This has thrown ideas of ant evolution into a bit of a quandary.  Christian Rabeling, the discoverer, found that this ant did not fit into the existing taxonomy.  Scientists are calling this a relict species of a sister family they have named Martialis.  The original paper in PNAS says, “On the basis of morphological and phylogenetic evidence we suggest that these specialized subterranean predators are the sole surviving representatives of a highly divergent lineage that arose near the dawn of ant diversification and have persisted in ecologically stable environments like tropical soils over great spans of time.”  That makes it essentially a living fossil.  “Like the duck-billed platypus is to mammals,” explained Nature News, “it’s clearly a cousin to other ants, yet a weird and ancestral version that took its own evolutionary direction early on.”  This must be what the title of the paper means when it says the discovery “sheds light on early ant evolution.”    A look inside the paper, though, reveals a few problems with the confident assertions about evolution:A robust phylogeny is indispensable for elucidating the evolutionary origin of ants and for exploring the selective forces that have produced their extraordinary specializations.  Previously published studies, however, led to contradicting views of early ant evolution, in part because of high levels of morphological convergence, the secondary loss of characters, and a lack of informative paleontological data.  As a result, numerous taxa have been proposed as the most basal lineage.Recent attempts to find a robust phylogeny have now been dealt another challenge with the discovery of M. heureka.  Their phylogenetic tree shows it on its own branch, all by itself.  Another problem is revealed deep in the paper: “Second, the basal ant lineages seem to have originated in a relatively short period, potentially making the unambiguous resolution of their relationships quite difficult and sensitive to methodological error.”  The only suggestion of light being shed on ant evolution by this discovery is that it turns their attention away from the idea ants evolved from wasps.  What they expected, and what they found, were pointing in opposite ways:Our phylogenetic analyses, combined with the inferred biology of M.  heureka, suggest that the most basal extant ant lineages are cryptic, hypogaeic foragers, rather than wasp-like, epigaeic foragers (Fig. 3).  This finding is congruent with recent molecular studies, which previously suggested the Leptanillinae, another subfamily of subterranean predators, to be sister lineage to all extant ants.  This result has puzzled ant systematists for two reasons.  First, Wilson et al.’s classic study of the Mesozoic amber ant Sphecomyrma postulated that the ancestral ant was a large-eyed, wasp-like, ground forager, creating a strong expectation that the most basal extant ant lineages would also be epigaeic foragers, presumably similar to Sphecomyrma.  Second, the Leptanillinae [blind foragers in Africa] share common morphological and behavioral characteristics with the Amblyoponinae, implying the monophyly of this group.  In contrast, our results and recent molecular systematic studies suggest that blind, subterranean, specialized predators, like Martialis, the Leptanillinae, and some poneroids, evolved early during ant diversification.  We hypothesize, that once these hypogaeic predators adapted to their specialized subterranean environment, their morphology and biology changed little over evolutionary time because their hypogaeic habitat has likely been ecologically stable and provided a refuge from competition with other, more recently evolved, ants.  It is important to note that no definitive statement about the morphology and life history of the ancestral, Mesozoic ant can be derived from our current knowledge about the surviving basalmost ant lineages, because the relative probabilities of evolutionary transitions between epigaeic and hypogaeic habits are uncertain.They explained that the supposition that ants evolved from wasps relies on ambiguous data subject to alternative hypotheses.  One other problem with their suggestion that ants evolved from wasps is that Martialis would make the ant hypogaeic [underground] foraging evolve three times.  That’s why they are suggesting the basal ant was already a hypogaeic forager.  “The exact nature of the ancestral ant remains uncertain,” though, “given that the propensity for repeated evolution of a hypogaeic lifestyle may be higher than for reevolution of an epigaeic lifestyle.”    In short, no clear light seems to have been shed on ant evolution by this discovery.  It was a complete surprise.  What other surprises lie in store?  “This discovery hints at a wealth of species, possibly of great evolutionary importance, still hidden in the soils of the remaining rainforests.”    Stefan Cover, a curatorial assistant at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, had a more humble view.  In the Nature News article, he said that Martialis “jars us out of going with our familiar conceptions… This is a lesson that we could probably import into studies of other groups.”1.  Rabeling, Brown and Verhaugh, “Newly discovered sister lineage sheds light on early ant evolution,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 15, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806187105.We can suggest some other studies of other groups where evolutionists could import this lesson: how about the Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia? (the five kingdoms of taxonomy).    The discoverers put their weird little ant in a jar, but maybe the scientists need to be put in one, because Martialis “jars us out of going with our familiar conceptions,” Cover said.  While they’re safely in a jar out of harm’s way (unable to harm us, that is), let’s hunt for more rainforest species with great evolutionary importance.  Jarring evolutionists is fun.  Every new discovery jars them into realizing their neat little schemes are wrong.  They’re like blind hypogaeic foragers, digging around in their own dirt, thinking every new surprise is shedding light on evolution.    That phrase – “Shed[ding] light on evolution” – yields thousands of hits on Google.  We’ve examined dozens of those claims right here.  Can you remember one that has turned up a single photon?  The truth is they are walking in a darkness of their own making.  The light they need to see is the flashing red stop light next to the “Wrong Way” sign they missed back in 1859.(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Fatalities at South Africa’s mines drop

first_imgThe South African mining industry has reported a significant drop in the number of fatalities and injuries on mines, although official numbers from the Department of Mineral Resources are only expected at the end of the month or early next month.Zero harm is the target, with the industry’s mantra: “Every worker returning from work unharmed every day.” The unofficial number of fatalities in 2014 had been placed at a record low of 84, the industry reported last week. It was expected that the official safety achievements would be about 9% better than the 93 fatalities reported in 2013, despite the industry adding more than 100 000 workers in the past decade to well over 500 000 now.Chamber of Mines’ safety and sustainable development acting head Dr Sizwe Phakathi told Mining Weekly Online that significant progress over the past few years.He said that 2014 was the seventh consecutive year of a drop in the number fatalities. In 2013, the industry made history when it reported less than 100 mining deaths for the first time. As at November 2014, 80 fatalities were officially reported.In the past decade, fatalities have been cut, safety has been improved, exposure to dust and noise reduced, tuberculosis (TB) infection rates reduced, more effective TB/HIV infection control and treatment programmes have been implemented, and best practice to improve health and safety outcomes has been adopted, according to the Chamber of Mines.Fatalities on mines had been cut from 615 in 1993 to 270 in 2003, and to 93 in 2013, said David Msiza, the chairman of the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) and the chief inspector of mines. “It was noted that 2014 achievements are an improvement from 2013 by 8%, but [are] 85% better than 1993.”“The sector also saw a reduction of cases of noise induced hearing loss from more than 6 000 in 2003 to around 1 200 in 2013. TB rates in the gold sector have also halved.”At the Mine Health and Safety Summit in November 2014, the council said it would launch a centre of excellence in April. It will lead industry efforts to promote innovation through research and training of mine workers. The centre will go beyond health and safety to align with the National Development Plan. “We need to reclaim our space as a country that leads in mining innovation and excellence,” Mike Teke, president of the Chamber of Mines, said at the time.The centre is expected to undertake research; build capacity; facilitate research outcomes in areas such as rock engineering, human factors and occupational health and hygiene; and provide health and safety related training at all levels.Relationships with major international research centres and programmes will be built.The numbersCoal mines recorded a 93% safety improvement between 1993 and 2013, from 90 to seven fatalities, while the gold sector registered a 91% improvement from 436 fatalities in 1993 to 37 in 2013. The platinum sector had 29 fatalities in 1993 and 28 in 2013; this was down from a peak of 64 fatalities in 2004.Overall, fatality rates improved 72% to 0.09 in 2013 from 0.32 in 2003. Australia, Canada and the US recorded a combined improvement rate of 29% to a rate of 0.05 in 2013 from 0.07 in 2003, Mining Weekly Online reported.Injuries in South Africa fell from 8 515 in 1993 to 3 126 in 2013. In gold, injuries fell from 7 368 in 1993 to 1 252 in 2013; in coal, the drop was from 279 to 263 over the 20 years. In platinum, injuries went from 1 344 to 395.In the 11 months to November 2014, injuries decreased 25% from 2 799 in the comparative period the year before to 2 095.Harmony Gold had its first fatality-free quarter in the final quarter of 2014, while Lonmin had a calendar year without any deaths.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

USDA now making Dairy Margin Coverage Program payments

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program on June 17 and has started issuing payments to producers who purchased coverage. Producers can enroll through Sept. 20, 2019.“Times have been especially tough for dairy farmers, and while we hope producers’ margins will increase, the Dairy Margin Coverage program is providing support at a critical time for many in the industry,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “With lower premiums and higher levels of assistance than previous programs, DMC is already proving to be a good option for a lot of dairy producers across the country.  USDA is committed to efficiently implementing the safety net programs in the 2018 Farm Bill and helping producers deal with the challenges of the ever-changing farm economy.”Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). The program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. To date, nearly 10,000 operations have signed up for the new program, and FSA has begun paying approximately $100 million to producers for January through May.May Margin PaymentDMC provides coverage retroactive to January 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment.The May 2019 income over feed cost margin was $9.00 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the fifth payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the $9.50 level of coverage under DMC. Payments for January, February, March and April also were triggered.With the 50% hay blend, FSA’s revised April 2019 income over feed cost margin is $8.82 per cwt. The revised margins for January, February and March are, respectively, $7.71, $7.91 and $8.66.Coverage Levels and MPP ReimbursementsDairy producers can choose coverage levels from $4 up to $9.50 at the time of signup. More than 98% of the producers currently enrolled have elected $9.50 coverage on up to 95% of their production history. More InformationOn December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides support, certainty and stability to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation. FSA is committed to implementing these changes as quickly and effectively as possible, and today’s updates are part of meeting that goal.For more information, visit farmers.gov DMC webpage or contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.last_img read more

Punjab govt. to amend law to accommodate CM’s advisers

first_imgThe Punjab Cabinet on Friday decided to amend the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952, under which advisers to the Chief Minister for planning and political matters will not be disqualified for holding offices of profit.The Bill amending Section 2 of the Act will be presented in the coming session of the State Assembly, an official statement said.Notably, the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952, had been enacted in terms of Article 191 of the Constitution of India, to declare certain offices of profit as not being eligible to disqualify the holders from being members of the State legislature.“The said Act has undergone minor amendments from time to time. However, such amendments have not taken into account the complexity of modern day governance. Further, these amendments have not taken into account the reports and studies of the various parliamentary committees which addressed the issue of office of profit. Therefore, the Cabinet felt there is a need to amend Section 2 of the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952,” said the statement.The Punjab government had in September this year appointed six Minister-rank advisers to the Chief Minister. Five Congress MLAs were given the status of Cabinet Ministers while the sixth was given the rank and status of a Minister of State. The move had invited severe criticism from the Opposition. Fee Act amendmentThe Cabinet, which held its meeting here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also gave its approval to amend the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions Act, 2016, to provide a mechanism for regulating the fee of unaided educational institutions.last_img read more

Kenyan Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru jumps to death after tiff with wife

first_imgSammy Wanjiru, Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru, suicide, Triza Njeri, Rift with wife, Nyahururu, Rift Valley, Central Province of Kenya, Rift with wife Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru died in a fall from a balcony after a domestic dispute involving his wife (Triza Njeri) and another woman, police said on Monday.One police official said Wanjiru committed suicide, while another said he jumped to stop his wife from leaving the house after she discovered him with another woman.”The 24-year-old runner died late on Sunday after jumping from a balcony at his home in the town of Nyahururu, in the Rift Valley,” said John Mbijiwe, the police chief in Kenya’s Central Province.”The fact of the matter is that Wanjiru committed suicide,” national police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.Police commissioner Mathew Iteere also said initial reports indicated Wanjiru killed himself, though a local official offered a different account.”Wanjiru came home with another woman friend at around 11.30 pm and then when his wife came home and found them she inquired who the lady was,” area police chief Jasper Ombati said.”They got into an argument. His wife locked them in the bedroom and ran off.”He then jumped from the bedroom balcony. He is not here to tell us what he was thinking when he jumped. We do not suspect foul play. In our estimation we think he wanted to stop his wife from leaving the compound.” Ombati said the balcony is between four and six meters (13 and 19 feet) high. He said the runner landed on a hard surface.advertisement”His head was intact but they may have been internal injuries which only a post- mortem can reveal,” Ombati said.At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wanjiru became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in the marathon, finishing in an Olympic-record of two hours, six minutes, 32 seconds.Ethiopian distance running great Haile Gebrselassie, said on his Twitter feed that he was ” totally shocked” by the news.”My thoughts are with his family and all his friends and colleagues,” Gebrselassie said.”Of course one wonders if we as an athletics family could have avoided this tragedy,” he said.Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Wanjiru was “steadily developing into our country’s running phenomenon.” Wanjiru made an early start to his career, moving to Japan aged 15 where he attended school in Sendai, where he won some major cross- country events.Wanjiru had a history of domestic problems. Last December, he was charged with wounding his security guard with a rifle and threatening to kill his wife and maid. The runner denied all charges and was released on bail.FACTFILEName: Sammy Wanjiru Date of birth: November 10, 1986Nationality: KenyanAchievements: In 2008 Beijing Olympics, he became the first Kenyan to clinch a gold medal in marathon, setting an Olympic record of 2: 06: 32 Winner of London Marathon in 2009 and Chicago Marathon in 2009 and 2010last_img read more