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Trojans fall after strong start

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Brandan Wright and top-seeded North Carolina almost waited too long to make their move. Down by 16 points early in the second half, the Tar Heels suddenly shifted into another gear and startled Southern California 74-64 Friday night in the East Regional semifinals. Despite off games by Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson, the Tar Heels (31-6) saved themselves and set up a regional final Sunday for college basketball fans to savor: North Carolina vs. Georgetown, a rematch of the 1982 championship game that Michael Jordan won in the closing seconds. Fifth-seeded USC (25-12) was putting on a dunking exhibition and led 49-33 with 17:42 left before it all fell apart. Trojans coach Tim Floyd threw his program onto the court after a call in the final minute, and was whistled for a technical foul. By then, Wright and his teammates had already done plenty to frustrate Floyd’s team and were well on their way to their seventh straight victory. Wright scored two straight baskets on offensive rebounds to get the Tar Heels within 57-49, then the freshman was a key part of a 13-0 run that put them ahead for the first time since the opening minute. “It was a fantastic comeback to say the least,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “I have a great deal of confidence in my team. … I knew we wouldn’t give up.” North Carolina reached the round of eight for the second time under Williams, who won the 2005 title with the Tar Heels. Earlier at the Meadowlands, Georgetown beat Vanderbilt 66-65 on a last-second shot. Wright finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. He somehow offset Hansbrough’s 1-for-6 shooting for five points and Lawson’s four points. Freshman Taj Gibson had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans. Nick Young, Gabe Pruitt and Gibson took turns throwing down dunks in the first half as the Trojans more than matched North Carolina’s up-tempo style. Floyd said his team plays with “youthful exuberance” and it showed from the get-go. Pointing their index fingers, slapping hands after big plays and popping the “USC” on their jerseys, they looked like schoolyard kids having fun. Floyd got into the act, too, hollering, “Go get it! Go get it!” during loose balls. Williams could barely watch on the other bench, putting his hands on his head and turning away after an airball. The Trojans scored the last eight points of the first half for a 42-33 lead, then scored the first seven after the break, capped by Lodrick Stewart’s 3. At that point, the Tar Heels trailed by 16 points and were in serious trouble. That is, until they started playing the kind of basketball that has consistently made them among the biggest winners in the sport. The Trojans attacked inside early, taking it right at Hansbrough. The rugged 6-foot-9 sophomore ripped out his mouthpiece at one point, upset that the Trojans were getting the better of him. In the second half, though, the Tar Heels had their way inside. They dominated the second-half as Southern California seemed powerless to stop the surge. The Trojans were trying to reach the round of eight for the first time since 2001. Known primarily as a football school, a win over the Tar Heels would’ve clearly boosted their national profile. “Winning and doing well in this tournament will do that, and that includes beating North Carolina,” Southern California athletic director Mike Garrett, a former Heisman Trophy winner, said right before tip-off. “But it’s more than just beating North Carolina.” It was not to be, despite such a strong start. North Carolina led for a grand total of 17 seconds in the first half. That was at 1-0 on a foul shot by Marcus Ginyard, who started when Reyshawn Terry was slowed by strep throat.last_img read more

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DeMarcus Cousins continues to progress in second G-League practice

first_imgSANTA CRUZ — With about 10 minutes left in his second practice with the Santa Cruz Warriors, all-star center DeMarcus Cousins threw down a thunderous dunk that gave a glimmer of what could be when he eventually returns to the lineup.“It felt good,” Cousins said. “It’s all coming back for me, slowly but surely. But it felt good to get up and dunk a little bit.”Cousins, who tore his Achilles in January, went through a full practice with the G-League squad Wednesday morning, participating in a …last_img read more

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Darwin vs. the Fossils

first_imgWhat could be more iconic to evolution than dinosaurs and the horse series?  Museums often display skeletons of these animals as proof of evolution.  The real story told in scientific papers is often very different.  Two recent studies present major, serious challenges to Darwin’s theory.Horse series:  The old straight-line chart of horse evolution from a small dog-like animal to the modern thoroughbred is out.  Othniel Charles Marsh and Thomas Henry Huxley in the 1870s were possessed of a vision of straight-line evolution known as orthogenesis.  The iconic series presented in museums and textbooks has long been known to be erroneous.  Most evolutionists today realize that Darwin’s theory does not call for a single progressive line of descent, but rather a branching tree or bush.  Still, if Darwin’s theory is true, gradualism should prevail, with numerous intermediate forms progressing from ancestors to descendents.  Darwin himself taught that “Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap.”  Then came a paper in PNAS this week.1    A team of 22 international researchers led by Ludovic Orlando of the University of Lyon in France did one of the first-ever comprehensive comparisons of ancient DNA (aDNA) from fossil equids (including horses, donkeys and zebras).  These specimens came from 4 continents.  The results were so shocking, they call for an almost complete overhaul of the horse series.  For one thing, they concluded that many specimens relegated to separate species are actually variations on the same species.  For another, they found that for evolution to be true there had to be sudden bursts of diversification – Cambrian-like explosions within the horse family – contrary to Darwin’s prohibition of great and sudden leaps.  Here’s how they began:The rich fossil record of the family Equidae (Mammalia: Perissodactyla) over the past 55 MY has made it an icon for the patterns and processes of macroevolution.  Despite this, many aspects of equid phylogenetic relationships and taxonomy remain unresolved.  Recent genetic analyses of extinct equids have revealed unexpected evolutionary patterns and a need for major revisions at the generic, subgeneric, and species levels.  To investigate this issue we examine 35 ancient equid specimens from four geographic regions (South America, Europe, Southwest Asia, and South Africa), of which 22 delivered 87?688 bp of reproducible aDNA mitochondrial sequence.  Phylogenetic analyses support a major revision of the recent evolutionary history of equids and reveal two new species, a South American hippidion and a descendant of a basal lineage potentially related to Middle Pleistocene equids.  Sequences from specimens assigned to the giant extinct Cape zebra, Equus capensis, formed a separate clade within the modern plain zebra species, a phenotypicically [sic] plastic group that also included the extinct quagga.  In addition, we revise the currently recognized extinction times for two hemione-related equid groups.  However, it is apparent that the current dataset cannot solve all of the taxonomic and phylogenetic questions relevant to the evolution of Equus.  In light of these findings, we propose a rapid DNA barcoding approach to evaluate the taxonomic status of the many Late Pleistocene fossil Equidae species that have been described from purely morphological analyses.What they are saying is that the horse series had been built on morphological analyses – comparing the outward features of skeletons.  The molecular data they studied (ancient DNA) doesn’t match up.  They spoke of “explosive diversification” twice in the introduction, and then “rapid radiation” once for horses and another time for elephants and bears.  The only time they mentioned “gradual” was to debunk it: “The original linear model of gradual modification of fox-sized animals (Hyracothere horses) to the modern forms has been replaced by a more complex tree, showing periods of explosive diversification and branch extinctions over 55 MY” [million years].  Similarly, the only instance of the word “transition” connotes another bang: “The end of the Early Miocene (15?20 MYA) marks a particularly important transition, separating an initial phase of small leafy browsers from a second phase of more diverse animals, exhibiting tremendous body-size plasticity and modifications in tooth morphology.  This explosive diversification has been accompanied by several stages of geographic extension from North America to the rest of the New and Old Worlds.”  What this means is that these animals appeared in the fossil record suddenly without the gradual transitions Darwin expected, then appeared quickly all over the world.    They tried nonetheless to put the data into an evolutionary tree.  What resulted was confusion, disjunction, and irresolution.  Sample quote: “The lack of resolution is complicated by the short divergence time among caballines and New World horses (circa 0.5 MY; nodes A and B/B1/B2; Table S4) and the lack of a close outgroup, as has been noted with mammoths (30, 31).  When the rhino was used as an outgroup, the data were RY coded to reduce possible mutation saturation artifacts resulting from this the deep divergence (55 MYA), but this removed support for most nodes.”  Not only that, their best fit was at odds with previous theories.  This quote gives the feel of their frustration:According to our molecular dating estimates, the different equid lineages (hippidiforms, NWSL, caballines, and noncaballines) originated 3.7?4.3 MYA (95% confidence range: 2.8?6.2 MYA; Table S4).  This directly contrasts with classical palaeontological models of hippidiform origins as descendants of the Pliohippines (divergence time with the Equus lineage ~10 MYA) (19) or as a lineage diverging from a (Dinohippus, Astrohippus, and Equus) clade ~7?8 MYA (32), and considerably reduces the time gap between the supposed divergence of the hippidiform lineages and their first appearance in the fossil record 2.5 MYA (20).They had to leave resolution of these and other problems to future research.  Here’s one of their main take-home lessons: paleontologists have been too quick to split specimens into different groups.  The DNA data are showing that equids that appear morphologically different are really just variations of the same kinds.  Their final paragraph showed that their bombshell discovery could have impacts on many other evolutionary trees – including those of human ancestors:This pattern of taxonomic oversplitting does not appear to be restricted to equids but is widespread amongst other Quaternary megafauna [e.g., Late Pleistocene bison (49); Holarctic cave lions (50); New World brown bears (51), and ratite moas (52, 53)].  Together, these findings suggest that the morphological plasticity of large terrestrial vertebrates across space and time has generally been underestimated, opening the way to detailed studies of the environmental, ecological, and epigenetic factors involved.  Interestingly, in this regard the human lineage shows a rich fossil record over the last 6 MY, spreading over seven possible genera and 22 species (54).  The exact number of taxonomic groups that should be recognized is still debated, even within our own genus (55), and in this context it is pertinent to consider the degree of taxonomic oversplitting, from species to generic levels, that aDNA has revealed amongst Late Pleistocene equids and other megafauna.  A further important implication of this finding is that the number of megafaunal extinctions and loss of taxonomic diversity from the Pleistocene to modern day may not have been nearly as large as previously thought, at least at the species or subspecies level.  Conversely, at the molecular level, aDNA studies on a wide range of large mammal taxa (49, 50, 56, 57) have revealed that the loss of genetic diversity over this time period has been much larger than previously recognized with major implications for the conservation biology of surviving populations (58).non-sequitur to link this story to current climate debates.  At best, it is a distraction from the point of the article.Dinosaurs:  Maybe Darwin’s gradualism can be rescued with dinosaur fossils.  Not so; PhysOrg reported, “Fossils shake dinosaur family tree.”  A well-preserved fossil found in New Mexico, named Tawa after a Hopi sun god, is generating a similar song and dance we just saw for the horse series: “…an interesting fact about dinosaur evolution: once they appeared, they very rapidly diversified into the three main dinosaur lineages that persisted for more than 170 million years.”    The operative word is appeared.  This leaves important questions begging: appeared how and from what?  Darwin’s theory of common descent wants answers.  The new fossil is roughly similar to Herrerasaurus, considered by some to be the putative ancestor of the dinosaurs.  But Herrerasaurus is shown by its resemblance to Tawa to be a theropod.  In short, a fully-formed theropod “appeared” followed by an explosive appearance of all three main dinosaur types, which changed little for 170 million years in the evolutionary timeline.  Here’s how Sterling Nesbitt (U of Texas at Austin) explained it: “Tawa pulls Herrerasaurus into the theropod lineage, so that means all three lineages are present in South America pretty much as soon as dinosaurs evolved.”  This has to include the lumbering sauropods with their bird-hips and the carnivorous monster theropods with their lizard-hips; and what about the marine reptiles and pterosaurs?  They, too, “appeared” as from nowhere.    Another complication about Tawa is what it suggests about the source location of the missing ancestor, and how the descendents migrated.  At the New Mexico site, “Tawa skeletons were found beside two other theropod dinosaurs from around the same period,” the article continued.  “Nesbitt noted that each of the three is more closely related to a known dinosaur from South America than they are to each other.  This suggests these three species each descended from a separate lineage in South America, rather than all evolving from a local ancestor, and then later dispersed to North America and other parts of the supercontinent Pangaea.  It also suggests there were multiple dispersals out of South America.”  Positing three ancestral lines solves little; it multiplies the missing-ancestor problem threefold.    More on Tawa was reported by Nature News.  Jeanna Bryner at Live Science put a positive spin on the story, claiming, “Geographic Origin of Dinosaurs Pinned Down.”  She even put imaginary feathers (06/13/2007) on the critter: “Like Velociraptor, the dinosaur was likely covered with feather-like structures and sported claws and serrated teeth for snagging prey.”  If the ancestor if this creature crawled like a crocodile or amphibian, that’s a pretty dramatic overhaul in the body shop.  And what happened to the lumbering sauropods, if this is close to the ancestor of all dinosaurs?  It already looks like an advanced theropod.  Bryner did not explain how these dramatic changes in morphology occurred by an evolutionary process.  She only suggested that climate was a factor: “They think the answer is climate.  For some reason, only the carnivorous dinosaurs found temperatures in North America to be hospitable, the researchers suggest.”  (Note that her venue is Live Science, not Live Speculation.)    This month in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, the multiple-PhD creationist Dr. Jerry Bergman examined the issue of dinosaur evolution.2  He showed that the ancestry of dinosaurs is a hodgepodge of speculation without evidence.  He demonstrated this for the whole dinosaur clade, then specifically for the ceratopsids (like Triceratops) and the tyrannosaurids (like T. rex).  The picture, he said, is one of abrupt appearance, stasis, and extinction.  “Over 30 million dinosaur bones and parts, some in excellent states of preservation, have been identified, and although much speculation exists, not a single documented plausible direct ancestor has yet been located,” he said.  “All known dinosaurs appear fully formed in the fossil record.”  The news appears to confirm that picture.    Science Daily’s write-up contained this illustration of how evolutionary speculation operates: “Based on an analysis of the relationships among Tawa and other early dinosaurs, the researchers hypothesize that dinosaurs originated in a part of Pangea that is now South America, diverging into theropods (like Tyrannosaurus rex), sauropodomorphs (like Apatosaurus) and ornithischians (like Triceratops); and then dispersed more than 220 million years ago across parts of Pangea that later became separate continents.”  No basis for the analysis was given – other than a prior belief in evolution.  The artist reconstruction of Tawa looks nothing like an Apatosaurus or Triceratops.  The article did not mention any physical evidence of an ancestor or a location for it.  It did not mention any plausible way for a putative ancestor to “originate” or “diverge” into three very different body types.  Yet, somehow, this fossil “provides fantastic insight into the evolution of the skeleton of the first carnivorous dinosaurs” the article claimed.  As for causes for these changes, the study attributed all the evolution to climate and the missing ancestor’s ability to move around.  No evolutionary or genetic theory was defended, and no fossils were presented to support the “hypothesizing”  Dittos for the short write-up in National Geographic, which partly funded the research.  It claims the new fossil “boosts the theory” that dinosaurs “arose” then “diversified into three lineages and migrated out to the rest of the world, scientists say.”  If anyone in any other field, or a dad telling his children a bedtime story, invoked such evidence-free speculation, would it be called science?  The BBC News even allowed a scientist to state, without confrontation, that this fossil “filled a gap in the fossil record”.As icons for Darwinian evolution, it appears that horses and dinosaurs are not pulling their weight.  To show this is not an isolated problem, two other articles this week proclaim the same anti-gradualistic theme of abrupt appearance.  A press release from Howard Hughes Medical Institute Dec. 10 talked about experiments on stickleback fish.  “Biologists have been debating since Darwin’s time about whether evolution can proceed in a single large step or if numerous, individually minor changes are necessary.” the press release said.  “The new study, reported in the December 10, 2009, issue of Science Express and led by HHMI investigator David Kingsley of Stanford University, provides evidence that evolution can leap rather than shuffle.”  Even so, the article is primarily about gene loss and alterations in the regulation of existing genes – not the increases in genetic information that molecules-to-man evolution would require.  The best they could characterize the study was, “we are getting the first tantalizing glimpses of how new variants arise.”  Call back when you can see clearly.    Finally, Ken Smith reported for Nature News that “New species evolve in bursts.”  PhysOrg waxed even more dramatic, saying “Evolution may take giant leaps.”  What’s this about?  Mark Pagel compared four models of speciation, using “more than 100 species groups from the animal and plant kingdoms, including bumblebees, turtles, foxes and roses.”  His analysis refutes the “Red Queen” hypothesis of gradual, steady evolution, instead suggesting that “New species might arise as a result of single rare events, rather than through the gradual accumulation of many small changes over time, according to a study of thousands of species and their evolutionary family trees.”  Though a staunch evolutionist himself, Pagel realized how anti-Darwinian his feather-ruffling conclusion is: “It really goes against the grain because most of us have this Darwinian view of speciation,” he said.  “What we’re saying is that to think about natural selection as the cause of speciation is perhaps wrong.”    Maybe the new motto of the evolutionists should be, “One small step for a model; one giant leap for evolution.”  Or is that a leap of faith?1.  Orlando et al, “Revising the recent evolutionary history of equids using ancient DNA,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published December 9, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0903672106.2.  Available to the public in PDF at CRS.  Bergman, Jerry, “The Evolution of Dinosaurs: Much Conjecture, Little Evidence,” Creation Research Society Quarterly (Vol. 46, No. 2), Fall 2009.Single rare events – could that include something like six days of creation?  After all, the Darwinians are asking us to believe in miracles, anyway (sudden “giant leaps”, and animals that “arise” out of nowhere).  While Darwin is mumbling pathetically, with tears in his beard, let’s think about what the fossil evidence is telling us.(Visited 53 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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South Africa partially lifts ban on U.S. pork

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Obama administration announced that South Africa will open its market to U.S. pork, a move praised by the National Pork Producers Council, which has been working for a number of years with the governments in the United States and in Pretoria to lift a de facto ban on U.S. pork.NPPC has not yet seen the fine print of the agreement but understands that some restrictions may remain.“While dropping the ban on U.S. pork is great progress,” said Dr. Ron Prestage, NPPC President and  a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C., “there is no scientific reason to restrict any of our pork, so we’ll continue to work with both governments to get complete access to the South African market.”South Africa’s de facto ban on U.S. pork ostensibly was to prevent the spread of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) to South African livestock even though the risk of disease transmission from U.S. pork products was negligible. There is no documented scientific case of PRRS being transmitted to domestic livestock through imported pork. Prestage noted that New Zealand, a PRRS-free nation, imported pork for 10 years from PRRS-positive countries without getting the disease.last_img read more

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Geocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 2)

first_imgLeave the car at home. If possible, bike or walk to the geocache location. This is not only great for your health and good for the environment, the slower pace might even make you notice things along the way you would have never seen speeding by in your car. We hope these tips will help you sharpen your nature senses and become a skilled environmentally friendly geocacher. Do you have another tip for environmentally friendly geocaching? Let us know in the comments below!Find out how you can be a complete nature loving geocacher with our 6 Tips for Hiding an Environmentally Friendly Geocache! Only hug wooden bears! (Picture by miatabug)Keep geocache owners informed. Let the geocache owner know if their geocache is damaged and could potentially be dangerous to animals or vegetation. Stay on track. Stick to designated trails and don’t cut across switchbacks when navigating to the geocache. Doing so might disturb flora and fauna along the way. In Geocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 1), we gave you tips and tricks on how to hide an environmentally friendly geocache. A wise geocacher once said: “If you hide a geocache, someone will come and find it.” So this time we want to take a look at how to be a Nature Lover when hunting for a geocache.We asked the geocaching community, Geocaching HQ-ers and Volunteer Reviewers for their tip-top tips on being kind to nature when searching for a geocache. Then we combined all the great answers into this list:Take a deep breath and enjoy the outdoors.Come prepared. When planning for a geocaching trip, make sure to read the geocache description carefully. This way you’ll know the regulations and concerns for the area before you visit. Be informed about the seasonal changes in your area. Do not visit caves in which bears or bats hibernate during autumn and winter and do not disturb breeding habitats. Before searching for a night cache in the woods, check in with park rangers or land management to make sure that this is safe for you and for the natural area. Bring garbage bags. Geocacher Cindi Lee G. says: “We cache in and trash out every time we go geocaching or hiking.” We think that’s grand! Next time you go geocaching, include a few garbage bags with your geocaching gear. This way you can pick up litter on the way to  and from the geocache. And here is something we think is genius: there are some geocaches with an extra compartment for trash bags geocachers can use to Cache In Trash Out (CITO) on their way back out. Respect wildlife and plants. Observe wild animals from afar. Never feed or try to touch them. Be conscious where you are stepping so you don’t destroy fragile plants and mushrooms.  Pro-Tip from Geocacher Sarah H.: “Please clean your footwear and gear when hiking in various places. Footwear caked in mud and plant material is a good way to spread invasive species.” It is OK to DNF.  You have searched in all the obvious places. You took a good look at the geocache description and the hint, but you still couldn’t find it. Log your DNF (Did Not Find) online to let the geocache owner know that you did not find the geocache. Don’t keep on searching, turning over every stone, and potentially ravaging the area. Keep in mind: A DNF is not admission to failure, it is just honest communication. 6 Tips for Finding a Geocache in an Environmentally Friendly Way Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedGeocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 1)October 26, 2013In “Cache In Trash Out”Six tips for finding a geocache in an environmentally friendly wayMarch 4, 2019In “Geocaching Weekly Newsletter”Quiz Results: The Nature LoverOctober 31, 2013In “7 Souvenirs of August”last_img read more

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Krittika Biswas case: Congressman writes to Hillary Clinton

first_imgEven as the US state department reiterated that Indian diplomat Debashish Biswas’s daughter Krittika, who recently sued New York City for illegally detaining her, did not enjoy diplomatic immunity, voices are being raised in the United States over the controversy involving the teenaged Indian schoolgirl.Leading Congressman Gary Ackerman has written a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Krittika issue. The letter comes ahead of Clinton’s visit to India on July 19.Ackerman’s letter might be the impetus needed to get Clinton sort out the issue before she reaches India. Krittika’s lawyer Ravi Batra had also earlier written to Clinton seeking her intervention. He had said that he was under pressure to withdraw the case.In his letter to Clinton, Ackerman writes: “I hope that somebody can take the time to remedy…. this injustice that has befallen this young girl and her fine diplomat family.”On the other side, US state department spokesman Mark Toner on Tuesday reiterated that Krittika had been allowed to contact her parents during the night she was detained and was released the next day.”As I’ve said before, as a family member of a consular officer at the Indian consulate in New York, she did not enjoy immunity from arrest from criminal or civil jurisdiction under international law. Certainly though, we value our partnership with India and we attach great importance to the presence of all Indian diplomatic and consular representatives in the United States. And we sympathise with Ms Biswas and her family,” Toner said in his latest clarification.advertisement”I think she was allowed to call her family and her father, who was the consul general, I believe. She was allowed to contact them,” he added.Krittika, whose father was the vice counsel at the Indian consulate in Manhattan, had been jailed by the New York Police Department for “cyber bullying”, a crime she had not committed, on February 8. She later sued the New York City authorities for $1.5 million.The teen had claimed that she had been ill-treated in prison after being arrested on charge of sending obscene emails to her teachers at Queens High School. She had alleged that she was not allowed to use the bathroom for a long-time when she was in custody.For more news on India, click here.For more news on Business, click here.For more news on Movies, click here.For more news on Sports, click here.last_img read more

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