Protein Folding and the Four Horsemen of the Axocalypse

first_imgJane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Recommended TagsaconitaseADPalpha helicesArthur HuntATPbeta sheetsBSC4 geneCara Wall-SchefflerChemistrycitrateCorona ArchDennis VenemaDouglas AxeenzymeFour Horsemen of ApocalypseJoel DuffJournal of Molecular BiologyKeith Foxorphan genephosphate bondphysicsprotein domainsprotein foldproteinsSapientiaside chaintertiary structuretRNAUndeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designedyeast,Trending One of the most significant projects for the intelligent design movement was Douglas Axe’s research testing the rarity of protein folds. Axe’s method represented the most accurate approach for addressing the problem to date, but his was actually one in a line of studies which concluded that amino acid sequences forming the stable proteins found in nature are exceedingly uncommon. As a consequence, most proteins seen in life could never have originated via random mutations and selection.One of the early online critics of Axe’s work was Arthur Hunt, who wrote a lengthy critique at the Darwinian advocacy site Panda’s Thumb. His area of expertise is not the evolution of new protein folds, and his arguments revealed a general misunderstanding of Axe’s approach and the field in general. The reviewers of Axe’s JMB article which reported his results were experts in protein studies, so they would have identified any of the issues raised by Hunt if they were real. Instead, they published the article affirming both the design of Axe’s experiment and his conclusions. A more recent series of critiques, published by the online journal Sapientia, was aimed at Axe’s book, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed. The four biologists offering these critiques I affectionately refer to as the four horsemen: Dennis Venema, Cara Wall-Scheffler, Joel Duff, and Keith Fox. As Axe pointed out in his response to these critiques, they mostly ignore the main argument of the book — a common-sense argument — choosing to get lost in scientific details instead. Here at Evolution News, Axe has responded specifically to Venema’s critique of his protein work.Here, I want to flesh out some of the salient details of this discussion.Faith in Natural SelectionThe primary content of these four critiques was a reaffirmation of the critics’ faith in the unlimited power of natural selection to generate all of the complexity seen in life. A secondary argument was that people’s design intuition could be fooled by such artifacts as the Corona Arch which is a rock formation in Utah formed by erosion over extended periods of time. This common response represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the argument for design which has been corrected many times in the past. At its foundation, it fails to recognize that objects of intelligent design typically demonstrate a highly improbable configuration of very different units which transcends their physical and chemical properties.For instance, the arrangement of parts in a car is not primarily associated with the chemistry of rubber or the physics of metal. Instead, it reflects the purpose for which the car was intended. In the same way, the global arrangements of tissues and their constituent molecules in a camera-like or compound eye are not entirely explainable by chemistry and physics. Some aspects of tissue behavior can be the product of biomechanical (physical) forces, but the overall structure of the eye can only be explained by the engineering constraints that allow for the purposeful goal of vision. Likewise, the sequential arrangement of amino acids that results in the proper folding of a complex protein cannot solely be explained by the chemistry of the building blocks, but it can only be fully understood by the function which the protein fulfills, such as driving forward some key chemical reaction or forming a structural element in a molecular machine.Another criticism championed by Venema argues that proteins are not as rare as Axe’s research implied. Others have made similar claims by citing experiments that explored random libraries of amino acid sequences to identify the portion that demonstrated some “function.” For instance, one referenced study showed that roughly one in a trillion chains could bind (stick) to ATP, and some were identified that could catalyze (accelerate) ATP’s breakdown to ADP. Likewise, Venema referenced research on random sequences inserted into the genome of a bacterium and on an orphan gene discovered in yeast. At first glance, these purported counterexamples appear to challenge Axe’s results. However, a careful study of the physics and chemistry behind protein folds quickly reveals that the critiques’ true nature is little more than smoke and mirrors.Of Smoke and MirrorsTo appreciate their fundamental flaws in reasoning, one needs to understand the science behind protein folding in general and enzymes in particular, since actual enzymes were the focus of Axe’s and previous studies. A protein’s amino acid sequence contains the information for both its folded three-dimensional structure and the folding pathway for the initial chain to form into the final shape. Folding often begins spontaneously with different sections of the chain forming into three-dimensional shapes, most commonly alpha helices and beta sheets. These secondary structural components then fold into the tertiary structure which tends to come in chunks known as protein domains. Multiple domains can then combine into the final configuration which contains an active site that catalyzes one or more chemical reactions.The active site is composed of amino acids from distant locations on the unfolded chain brought into close proximity through the folding process, so their side chains can serve several key functions. Some create a chemical environment that differs dramatically from that of the surrounding water, and the manufactured local conditions allow for reactions to proceed that would otherwise have been impossible. Other side chains form into sites that bind to target molecules and position them at the right locations and in the proper orientations in the active site. Still others drive specific chemical reactions. In summary, the active site functions as an atomic-scale factory which reengineers molecules through performing high-precision nano manipulations.I recently stumbled upon a video of the enzyme aconitase which animates this process in stunning detail: Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour The enzyme performs several tasks:It binds to citrate, placing this substrate molecule at a precise location in a precise orientation. A neighboring iron-sulfur cluster helps stabilize the substrate electrostatically.Histidine 101 donates a proton to remove one OH group from the citrate.Serine 642 acts as a base by accepting a hydrogen from another location in the substrate.The interactions between the enzyme and the altered substrate flip the substrate upside down.Histidine 101 binds to a proton from a passing water molecule, causing OH to attach to a new location in the substrate.Serine 642 returns a hydrogen atom to a new location in the substrate. The enzyme returns to its original atomic structure.The enzyme releases the substrate, so the enzyme can act on another citrate molecule.Equally dramatic, many enzymes couple multiple reactions such as the energetically downhill breakdown of ATP into ADP with a second reaction that would otherwise be energetically unfavorable. This coupling is essential to life since the energy from the downhill reaction must be used to drive the other reaction uphill to overcome its free-energy barrier. A prime example is the group of enzymes known as aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRS) which enable the translation of RNA (to make proteins) by performing the following steps:The enzyme’s active site binds to an amino acid and an ATP molecule.The aaRS breaks ATP into AMP and pyrophosphate (PPi) and chemically bonds the AMP to the amino acid. The PPi leaves the enzyme.The aaRS binds to a tRNA and then bonds the tRNA to the amino acid while breaking off the attached AMP.Finally, the amino-acid-tRNA complex (aminoacyl-tRNA) is released, and the enzyme then returns to its original state.A high-energy phosphate bond in ATP was used to allow for the linking of the amino acid to a tRNA which would otherwise have been energetically unfavorable.These examples demonstrate how enzymes commonly perform exquisitely orchestrated targeted reactions which require highly specific amino acid sequences. In addition, they highlight the irrelevance of research cited by critics to challenge Axe’s conclusions. For the actions performed by randomly generated or short amino acid chains are qualitatively different from the “mechanistically enzyme-like” activity at such complex active sites.Rubber Slingshot or High-Performance Rifle?As an analogy, imagine you are asked how long a child would take to create a functional weapon out of scrap pieces in a junkyard. The answer depends on the precise definition used for “functional weapon.” If one means anything useful for defending oneself, the answer would be not very long. A large piece of rubber could be used as a slingshot against an annoying little brother at close range. However, if one meant a fully operational high-performance rifle with a laser-guided scope, the answer would be never. The functions identified in the random-sequence experiments or in short chains are relatively generic, much like a crude slingshot. In contrast, a complex enzyme such as aconitase is more like a high-performance rifle.In addition, the active sites in complex enzymes, particularly those which perform multi-step reactions, cannot slowly evolve from random sequences as claimed in Fox’s essay. Their chemical activity only commences after specific side chains from key amino acids scattered throughout the protein are brought together to their proper final locations with atomic precision. This accuracy requires that substantial information be encoded in the protein sequence from the beginning.Deniers of protein rarity often attempt to argue against the need for such exacting constraints in enzymes by citing the discovery of “intrinsically disordered” proteins which do not immediately lock into well-defined shapes. Critics claim such examples demonstrate that proteins do not require highly specific folding to initiate their targeted activities. The problem is that these proteins do not perform the same functions as typical enzymes, so they operate according to different constraints. They actually do fold in order to function, but they have the optimal amount of “looseness” to perform their intended tasks. Consequently, they are in fact highly designed. In a paper that deals with these  “intrinsically disordered proteins,” the authors note that the levels of these proteins within cells are “tightly regulated to ensure precise signaling in time and space, and mutations in [them] or changes in their cellular abundance are associated with disease.” In other words, their sequences are highly specified for their particular functions, and mutations to them cause disease.As a specific example, Venema referenced the BSC4 gene which is imagined to have originated relatively recently through undirected mutations in non-coding DNA sequences. Others have pointed out that the BSC4 protein forms into a “partially specific three-dimensional structure,” and they imagine that it could eventually evolve into a more rigid native fold. The problem is that both the undirected nature of the gene’s origination and its possible future as more tightly folded were not proved but only assumed. The whole point of the discussion is the question of whether new proteins were generated by undirected processes, so one cannot presume that claim at the beginning. And BSC4 appears fully functional, so it is likely already highly optimized. The challenge is for materialist scientists to separate what might be true in their imaginations from what has been demonstrated empirically.An Additional Common ErrorAn additional common error by critics is to cite experiments that either enhance an existing weak function in an enzyme or produce some trivial new activity such as binding. Such modest changes never result from a new protein fold, but they instead represent minimal adjustments to an existing one. In stark contrast to the claims of critics, experts have stated that evolving truly novel folds is exceedingly difficult and beyond modern science’s current understanding.Thus, Doug Axe’s work illustrates the rarity of protein folds capable of carrying out enzyme functions. If the four horsemen want to critique the work on scientific grounds, they need to compare apples to apples, enzymes to enzymes, and demonstrate, rather than assume, that such complex functions can evolve. If they want to claim that “intrinsically disordered” proteins have no structure and thus demonstrate that Axe’s measure is an overestimate, they should perhaps measure how difficult it is to get such an intrinsically disordered protein from random sequences. If they want to disagree with the common science approach, then perhaps they should set aside the pre-conceived notions of evolutionary biology and try some common science for themselves.Image: Four Horsemen of Apocalypse (1887), by Viktor Vasnetsov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Sharecenter_img Intelligent Design Protein Folding and the Four Horsemen of the AxocalypseBrian MillerApril 12, 2018, 3:11 PM Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Brian MillerResearch Coordinator, Center for Science and CultureDr. Brian Miller is Research Coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He holds a B.S. in physics with a minor in engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in physics from Duke University. He speaks internationally on the topics of intelligent design and the impact of worldviews on society. He also has consulted on organizational development and strategic planning, and he is a technical consultant for Ideashares, a virtual incubator dedicated to bringing innovation to the marketplace.Follow BrianProfile Share Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Gilas beats Congo in Spain friendly

first_imgMANILA – Gilas Pilipinas got a huge lift fromAndray Blatche and Japeth Aguilar. It toppled Congo, 102-80, in a closed doorfriendly at the Palacio Multiusos de Guadalajara in Spain.  Aguilar provided the much-needed help. Hechipped in 22 markers. Blatche spearheaded Gilas’ hot start. Heconnected on back-to-back three-pointers in the opening minutes as the nationalteam surge to a 32-19 lead after 10 minutes. The Philippines will have another friendlywith the Ivory Coast national team on Wednesday night before travelling toMalaga for a pocket tournament on Thursday./PN “I am actually pleasantly surprised,” Gilashead coach Yeng Guaio said. “I knew we have a really good team. The chemistrywas really good, cohesion was good. We shot the ball well.” Congo would cut into that lead but stilltrailed 53-44 at halftime but Gilas Pilipinas tightened its defense in thethird and led 84-60 going into the final period.center_img Andy Mark Barroca also made his mark with 16points while Gabriel Norwood and Matthew Wright finished with eight markersapiece. The Philippines’ Andy Mark Barroca attempts a floater against Congolese defenders. CIGNAL-SBP PHOTO “For a 40 minute game, to score 102 pointsagainst a national team, I guess that shows that offensively the system isworking,” Guiao added. “It’s a good sign but we don’t really want to put toomuch emphasis on that win.” The former NBA center Blatche was force insideand outside on Tuesday night as he top-scored with 25 points.last_img read more

Audio: David Quammen on ecological restoration, emerging diseases, evolutionary science, and more

first_imgIn a recent piece for National Geographic, where he is a regular contributor, Quammen profiles Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique — once touted by none other than E.O. Wilson himself, in an interview with Mongabay, as a place where successful restoration efforts were underway and benefitting nature, wildlife, and humans.Another recent focus of Quammen’s work has been emerging diseases — his 2014 book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, for instance, looks at the science, history, and human impacts of emerging diseases, especially viral diseases like ebola. That made his appearance on the Newscast particularly well-timed, because the day before taping the interview, the World Health Organization announced that an ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become a global health emergency, only the fifth time the WHO has ever made such a declaration.Quammen’s most recent book, 2018’s The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, explores the revolution in how scientists understand the history of evolution on Earth sparked by the work of Carl Woese.David Quammen appears on the Mongabay Newscast to discuss all of the above as well as what gives him hope that biodiversity loss and destruction of the natural world can be halted.Here’s this episode’s top news:From over 100,000 species assessments in IUCN update, zero improvementsJune 2019 was the hottest on record: NOAAU.S. Virgin Islands bans coral-damaging sunscreensWould you like to hear how Mongabay grew out of its founder’s childhood adventures in rainforests and a fascination with frogs? Or how a Mongabay editor reacted to meeting one of the world’s last Bornean rhinos? We now offer Insider Content that delivers behind-the-scenes reporting and stories like these from our team. For a small monthly donation, you’ll get exclusive access and support our work in a new way. Visit mongabay.com/insider to learn more and join the growing community of Mongabay readers on the inside track.If you enjoy the Mongabay Newscast, we ask that you please consider becoming a monthly sponsor via our Patreon page, at patreon.com/mongabay. Just a dollar per month will really help us offset the production costs and hosting fees, so if you’re a fan of our audio reports from nature’s frontline, please support the Mongabay Newscast at patreon.com/mongabay.You can subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast on Android, the Google Podcasts app, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, RSS, Castbox, Pocket Casts, and via Spotify. Or listen to all our episodes via the Mongabay website here on the podcast homepage.The lion population in Gorongosa National Park is on the rebound thanks to the Gorongosa Restoration Project. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY 2.0.Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Mike Gaworecki Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Today we speak with award-winning science writer, author, and journalist David Quammen about some of the most promising and fascinating trends in conservation and evolutionary science.In a recent piece for National Geographic, where he is a regular contributor, Quammen profiles Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. His 2014 book, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, looks at the science, history, and human impacts of emerging diseases. Quammen’s most recent book, 2018’s The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, explores the revolution in how scientists understand the history of evolution on Earth sparked by the work of Carl Woese.David Quammen appears on the Mongabay Newscast to discuss all of the above as well as what gives him hope that biodiversity loss and destruction of the natural world can be halted. Today we speak with award-winning science writer, author, and journalist David Quammen about some of the most promising and fascinating trends in conservation and evolutionary science.Listen here: Books, Diseases, Ecological Restoration, Ecosystem Restoration, Environment, Environmental Journalism, Evolution, Interviews, Interviews With Environmental Journalists, Journalism, National Parks, Podcast, Protected Areas, Restoration, Science last_img read more

New species of giant flying squirrel brings hope to one of the world’s ‘most wanted’

first_imgArticle published by Maria Salazar Scientists have discovered a new species of giant flying squirrel in China belonging to one of the world’s rarest and most mysterious genera.The first species in the genus, the Namdapha flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus biswasi), was described in 1981 and hasn’t been seen since.A second species, the Laotian giant flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus laoensis), was described in 2013, but also from just a single specimen.Researchers believe the conservation outlook for the new species, the Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus gaoligongensis), is better than for its relatives, given its greater abundance in the wild and prospects for community and government involvement to protect it. In 1981, a team of scientists led by zoologist Shyamrup Biswas discovered the Namdapha flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus biswasi) in the ironwood jungles of Arunachal Pradesh state, India. Little did they know, it was the last time they were ever going to see it. But in 2018, a spark of hope was lit when a Chinese expert discovered a new species in the same genus, identified as the Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus gaoligongensis).“When I discovered it, there was a feeling that dreams come true,” said Quan Li from the Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ) and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, lead author of the new study published in the journal ZooKeys. “I felt that there are new conservation hopes for this rare genus.”Prior to the new discovery, the Biswamoyopterus genus was comprised of only the Namdapha flying squirrel and its Laotian counterpart, Biswamoyopterus laoensis. Having not been seen for nearly 40 years, the former is listed as one of 25 “most wanted” in Global Wildlife Conservation’s (GWC) Search for Lost Species; the latter was only discovered in 2013 in a bushmeat market in Laos. With only a single specimen collected each, scientists regard these giant, flying squirrels as some of the rarest and most mysterious mammals in the world. Both species are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN due to habitat loss and hunting. Almost nothing is known about them, given their rarity and elusiveness.The Mount Gaoligong flying squirrels are known to live in the low-altitude forests of Mount Gaoligong National Nature Reserve, often exposed to human agricultural activities and occasional poaching. Image by Wen-Qiang Hu.The newly discovered species, too, is vulnerable to human agricultural activities and occasional poaching. Currently, Mount Gaoligong National Nature Reserve only covers middle and high altitudes, leaving unprotected the low-altitude forests where the new species lives.It was a workshop on overlooked mammals in China’s border region with Southeast Asia that led to the new squirrel’s discovery, according to Li. After attending the workshop in Kunming, Li was driven to conduct more research on 1,250 square kilometers (483 square miles) of “blank area” in Yunnan, in southwestern China, between the habitats of the two known species in northeastern India and central Laos.When he went back through KIZ’s collection of mammals, he found a long-neglected specimen. Delighted, Li thought he had found the “missing flying squirrel.”The Namdapha flying squirrel was first spotted in 1981 by zoologist Shyamrup Biswas and his team, and has not been seen again since. Image by the Zoological Survey of India.But when Li and his team received a high-quality image of the Namdapha flying squirrel and reviewed further studies on the Laotian species, it turned out the specimen they had was actually a completely new third species to the genus.“We couldn’t have considered the Mount Gaoligong species for our most wanted list because until the recent news, nobody knew it existed!” said Lindsay Mayer, GWC’s director of media relations.Li then went into the field, obtaining another specimen from poachers and viewing living animals in the wild. After careful study, scientists concluded that the Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel, initially identified as the “missing” Namdapha flying squirrel, as a different species from the other two, prominently in pelage color and skull and tooth morphology. The three species’ distribution is cut off by high mountains and deep river valleys: perfect conditions for each to evolve in isolation from the others.“Discoveries like this are significant, as they expand our knowledge of the natural world and feed into our greater understanding of the places and systems in which the newly described species exist,” said Thomas Dando of the IUCN’s SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group and part of the team working to rediscover and protect the Namdapha flying squirrel. “In this specific case, these new records help fill in the vast expanse that previously existed between the Namdapha and Laotian members of this cryptic genus.”He added, “This latest discovery almost provides more questions than answers about the true distribution of the three species within the genus.”These arboreal herbivores play an important role in the ecosystem by spreading seeds. They also serve as important prey for owls, marbled cats and clouded leopards. Like employees at a workplace, every species contributes essential functions to the well-being of the environment.“Developing the most effective conservation plans depends on us knowing that a species is still out there,” Mayer said. “We know so very little about so many lost species, so setting out to find them is the first step to protecting them.”By understanding more about the distribution, population size, living habits and threats of this new species — in this case, through research funded by the Chinese government — scientists can provide more informed recommendations to policymakers and surrounding communities to save it from extinction and also list it as a legally protected species. Given the success of bird-watching tourism in promoting local bird conservation in Mount Gaoligong, squirrel tourism, too, could potentially be recommended.“Local people are aware that biological resources can bring sustainable income, and law enforcement agencies have strengthened patrols, so poaching has gradually decreased,” Li said, calling it “good news for the new species.”Having observed a few more live Mount Gaoligong flying squirrels, he said he believed its conservation status was looking “slightly optimistic” compared to that of its critically endangered and missing cousins.Since the beginning of GWC’s Search for Lost Species, researchers have confirmed the rediscovery of at least three species: the Jackson’s Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa jacksoni), endemic to Guatemala; the Wallace’s Giant Bee, known only from the Indonesia’s North Maluku archipelago and spotted again earlier this year; and the Velvet Pitcher Plant, native to Indonesian Borneo.The Namdapha flying squirrel is one of the 25 “most wanted” in Global Wildlife Conservation’s Search for Lost Species. This year, five to six rediscovered species will be replaced by additional lost species. Image by Alexis Rockman.As scientists find missing species, Mayer said she believed their stories could “turn the doom-and-gloom extinction narrative on its head,” serving as “flagships for conservation, often spurring momentum to protect them, their habitat and all the wildlife that shares their habitat.”Banner image: The Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel, or Biswamoyopterus gaoligongensis, was recently discovered last year in Yunnan, China, by Quan Li of the Kunming Institute of Zoology and his team. Image by Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden.Citation:Li, Q., Li, X.-Y., Jackson, S. M., Li, F., Jiang, M., Zhao, W., … Jiang, X.-L. (2019) Discovery and description of a mysterious Asian flying squirrel (Rodentia, Sciuridae, Biswamoyopterus) from Mount Gaoligong, southwest China. ZooKeys, 864, 147–160. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.864.33678 Animals, Conservation, Environment, Interns, Mammals, New Discovery, New Species, Research center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Companies’ solutions to global plastic crisis miss the mark: Report

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by John Cannon A new report from Greenpeace contends that multinational consumer goods companies are addressing the global plastics crisis with “false solutions.”Some of those solutions, the group says, harm the environment, such as the replacement of plastic straws with paper ones.Others, such as bioplastics, amount to little more than greenwashing, the report’s author writes, as they don’t provide the purported benefits compared to conventional plastics.Greenpeace argues for the phaseout of single-use packaging and investments in developing reusable containers that would substantially cut down on plastic waste. A new report from the environmental organization Greenpeace warns that large companies are only deepening the world’s plastic crisis, even as they voice support for supposed solutions.“Due to public concern about the plastic pollution crisis worldwide, we are witnessing a parade of corporations scrambling to look greener by putting forward false solutions to justify their addiction to single-use packaging,” Graham Forbes, a global project leader with Greenpeace USA, said in a statement.Our plastic trash is swamping ecosystems around the world. Oceans, in particular, are bearing the brunt of our habit of tossing away the plastic wrappers, boxes and sleeves that hold our food and other goods. The World Economic Forum figures that, in the two minutes it’s taken to read the first paragraphs of this story, two truckloads of plastic have found their way into the world’s oceans. Once there, it snags unsuspecting marine life, releases harmful chemicals into the water, and splinters into tiny pieces that end up in our food and water sources.Gannets trapped in a nest of plastic. Image by Engelberger via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0).In response, the global companies that, according to Greenpeace, produce much of the waste that turns up on beaches and floats in the open ocean have looked for alternatives to the typical plastic that’s manufactured from fossil fuels. But the replacements fall short of the goal of cutting plastic waste, Greenpeace says, as trends show growing, not shrinking, demand for disposable packaging.“Despite the increasing scientific understanding of the irreversible damage plastic can cause to our environment and communities, plastic production is projected to dramatically increase in the coming years,” Ivy Schlegel, a senior research specialist with Greenpeace USA and the author of the Oct. 1 report, said in the statement.Some companies have moved to replace plastic cups and straws with paper versions. But to Schlegel, that’s just swapping out one unacceptable material for another.“Multinational consumer goods companies continue to promote so-called sustainable alternatives that would put unacceptable pressures on natural resources such as forests and agricultural land, which have already been overexploited,” she said.Country-by-country waste generation in kilograms per day. Image by Kaza et al., 2018, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0 igo).Bioplastics are another touted replacement for traditional plastics, but so far, there’s no agreed-upon standard for what bioplastics are, Schlegel writes. It could mean that the base material is derived from plant material like corn or sugarcane instead of fossil fuels, but that’s not always the case. Manufacturers of other plastics in these categories claim they’re biodegradable or compostable, without specifying the sometimes unusual conditions — including high temperature and specific humidity levels — necessary to break them down.Products labeled as recycled or recyclable might hide similarly involved processes necessary to convert them something usable. And China’s decision in 2018 to stop recycling plastic has meant that the U.S. and other Western countries now must grapple with what to do with all of the trash they produce, raising fears that much of it will end up in landfills or worse. According to Greenpeace, less than 10 percent of all of the plastic that’s ever been manufactured has been recycled.Other solutions, like using chemicals to break down plastic trash or burning it to produce energy, come with their own suite of problems, the report says.“Moving to bioplastic, paper, 100% ‘recyclable’ packaging, incineration and chemical recycling all but guarantee this environmental crisis will get worse,” Forbes said.Microfiber plastics found in the ocean. Image by M.Danny25 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).Cleaning up the world’s plastic problem will require a more fundamental shift by these companies, Greenpeace contends.“To solve the plastic pollution crisis, companies need to rethink how products are delivered to consumers and invest significantly in reusable and refillable delivery systems,” Schlegel said.That strategy may mean using other materials that hold up better over time or don’t come with the issues that plastic or current replacements like paper present.“We will only see real change when companies like Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo, which profit from single-use models, end their expanding plastic use and invest heavily in systems that prioritize reuse,” Forbes said.Banner image of plastic trash on a beach in Ghana by Muntaka Chasant via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Conservation, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Role In Conservation, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporations, Environment, Green, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Microplastics, Oceans, Plastic, Pollution, Recycling, Water, Water Pollution last_img read more

Matic, Barkley and other players set to join rival Premier League clubs

first_img 7 Nemanja Matic (Chelsea to Manchester United) – click the right arrow to see other players set to join rival Premier League clubs – Serbia midfielder Matic is set to complete a £40m switch to Old Trafford. Following the arrival of Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko at Stamford Bridge, Matic requested a transfer from Chelsea as he would not be guaranteed first-team football. Man United came calling, and Jose Mourinho is ready to pay £40m to reunite with his former midfielder. Pictures have emerged reportedly showing Matic in a Red Devils training top as he undergoes his medical. The arrival of Matic will free up both Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba, allowing them to show off their attacking talents without worrying about defensive duties. Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal to Watford) – West Brom have dropped out the race to sign Gibbs, and it now appears a transfer to Vicarage Road is edging closer. The 27-year-old was not named in Arsene Wenger’s squad for the Emirates Cup, and he has been training with fellow outcast Lucas Perez as he finalises his departure from north London. Gibbs will arrive at the Hertfordshire club to compete with Jose Holebas for the left-back position, with the view of taking the starting role off the Greece international. 7 Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City to Everton) – Sigurdsson has played a limited role in Swansea’s pre-season due to the ‘current transfer speculation surrounding him’, and the Iceland midfielder sat out the Swans’ victory over Birmingham on Saturday. Everton have so far had two bids rejected for Sigurdsson – one totalling £40m and one totalling £40m with a further £5m in add-ons – with Swansea rating him at £50m. Reports now claim the Toffees will ofer a player-plus-cash deal to match the valuation. 7 7 Nemanja Matic is set to leave Chelsea to join Premier League rivals Manchester United in a £40 million deal.The Serbian midfielder was a key player as the Blues eased to the league title last season, but the signing of Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco has reduced Matic’s role from starting midfielder to backup option.He has made the decision to leave, and is set to reunite with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford for the 2017/18 campaign.A number of players have already left one Premier League club for another this summer transfer window, and there are sure to be more of this kind of deal in the coming weeks.So, which other players could leave for a rival top flight side? talkSPORT take a look at seven potential Premier League deals, and you can see them by clicking the right arrow, above… Ross Barkley (Everton to Tottenham Hotspur) – Spurs want to sign Everton outcast Barkley, with Ronald Koeman confirming the England midfielder will leave Goodison Park this summer. Mauricio Pochettino reportedly sees Barkley, 23, as a long-term replacement for central midfielder Mousa Dembele. Other clubs such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Man United are known admirers of Barkley, but Spurs are said to have made the most concrete advances for the player. He will definitely leave Everton this summer, and Spurs is the most likely destination. 7 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal to Chelsea) – Antonio Conte needs to sign more English players to increase the number of home-grown players in Chelsea’s squad, and the Italian has his sights set on Ross Barkley – as mentioned above – and Arsenal’s Oxlade-Chamberlain. The 23-year-old is considering his future at the Emirates, and would reportedly be open to a move should a club offer him an improved contract and guaranteed playing time. He wants to play in central midfield, though he would likely arrive at Stamford Bridge to compete with Victor Moses at right wing-back, having looked impressive in that position for the Gunners last season. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal to Manchester City) – A star performer in the Premier League, Sanchez is wanted by Man City boss Pep Guardiola for the coming season. In fact, reports claim he will hand in a transfer request in the next few days in a bid to force through a transfer to the Etihad. Arsene Wenger is confident Sanchez will be at the Emirates next summer, but the attacker is refusing to sign a new contract, and as his current deal expires at the end of this campaign the Gunners either have to sell him now or risk losing him for free next summer. The longer his contract standoff goes on, the more likely it is he will depart north London. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool) – Though Southampton have made it clear they intend to keep hold of Van Dijk, and intend to reintegrate him into their first-team in the coming weeks, reports still claim Liverpool will capture the Netherlands centre-half. An instant upgrade on Liverpool’s current defenders, Van Dijk has been a target for Jurgen Klopp for a long time. Saints value him at £60m, and have already issued a warning to Liverpool regarding alleged tapping up earlier in the summer. Should the Reds miss out on Leipzig star Naby Keita, they will have the money to spend on Van Dijk before the deadline. 7 7last_img read more

HIV/Aids in South Africa

first_imgA mother comforts her daughter at the HIV/Aids clinic at Helen Joseph Hospital inJohannesburg.(Image: Chris Kirchhoff, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more freephotos, visit the image library)South Africa is the industrial powerhouse of Africa, one of the world’s youngest and most progressive democracies, with a rapidly growing economy located in a stable region. Fourteen years of democracy have shown major progress, but three profound problems remain: poverty, unemployment – and HIV/Aids.Sections in this article:IntroductionInfection ratesStrategy and budgetTreatmentMothers and childrenCare and support of familiesEducation and awarenessUseful linksIntroductionDespite earlier controversies, the South African government acknowledges that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids).“In conducting [the HIV/Aids and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa, 2000 – 2005], government’s starting point is based on the premise that HIV causes Aids,” the South African Cabinet said in a statement on their meeting of 17 April 2002. “It is also critical for us, as a nation, to note that there is no cure for Aids.”When Aids was first identified in the early 1980s it was seen as an immediate death sentence. Since then, advances in treatment means a significant number of those infected with the virus live healthily for many years without succumbing to full-blown Aids. For that reason it is often journalistic practice in South Africa to refer to “HIV and Aids” rather than “HIV/Aids”, to distinguish the lives, experience and challenges of those who are HIV-positive and healthy from those who are seriously ill with Aids. But for reasons of brevity, this article uses the term “HIV/Aids”.Infection ratesSouth Africa has one of the fastest HIV-infection rates in the world. Statistics South Africa’s 2007 population estimates put the South Africa’s overall HIV-prevalence rate at about 11%, much higher than that of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, and among the highest in the world. Others put the figure higher; UNAids estimates South Africa’s HIV/Aids prevalence rate to be 18% to 19% (18.8% in 2005 and 18.3% in 2006), significantly higher than the rate in sub-Saharan Africa (5.9%) and the world (1%).In 2006, an estimated 350 000 South Africans died of HIV/Aids – nearly half of all deaths for that year, and the leading cause of death for the country’s adult population. Between 1997 and 2004 death rates from all causes increased by about 80%, largely due to HIV/Aids. Some 290 000 South African children were estimated to be living with HIV/Aids in 2006, and the country has more than 1-million Aids orphans.The Department of Health, in collaboration with UNAids, the World Health Organisation and other groups in South Africa, have undertaken mathematical modelling to estimate the HIV prevalence in the general population. Using the spectrum model, the number of South Africans estimated to be HIV-positive some 5.41-million (5.3-million according to according to Statistics South Africa). This estimate is lower than the 2005 estimate of 5.54-million.But HIV prevalence in South Africa may be beginning a downward trend. This has been predicted in the UNAids spectrum model, as well as by independent South African models.The antenatal HIV prevalence report is a yearly study that has thus far been trusted as an indicator of the progression of HIV/Aids in the country. The 2006 results have shown some decreases in HIV prevalence among younger age groups. According to the report, HIV prevalence in women under 20 years has dropped to 13.7% from 15.9% in 2005, and HIV prevalence in women between the ages of 20 and 24 years has dropped to 28% from 30.6% in 2005. The report indicates that this drop may be suggestive of a decrease in new HIV infections due to better HIV prevention programmes.There was also a significant decline in prevalence in the 15-to-24-year and 20-to-24-year age groups. But the HIV prevalence has increased among women above 30 years.According to the Human Sciences Research Council’s Household Survey, people living in rural and urban informal settlements seem to be at highest risk of HIV infection.The survey reveals large difference in prevalence rates between the provinces. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest rate of infection, and the Western Cape the lowest – with the difference between the two provinces as high as 19%.Further research aims to uncover the cause of the decrease in HIV prevalence in younger age groups and to plan a strategy accordingly, on the basis that prevention campaigns need to be streamlined to suit all age groups. Research into the reasons for the difference in HIV/Aids infection in the provinces will also be undertaken.An estimated 6-million South Africans are expected to die from Aids-related diseases over the next 10 years. In addition, new threats such as the emergence of extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) in South Africa may further complicate the response, given the high rates of HIV/TB co-infection and the high mortality associated with XDR-TB.The epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) are interlinked: in southern Africa, between 50% and 80% of TB patients are HIV positive. While a primary risk factor for TB infection is overcrowding, the development of the disease is significantly more likely where there is co-infection with HIV as a product of immunosuppression. In the presence of HIV, TB is associated with substantially higher case fatality rates.Strategy and budgetTremendous efforts to combat Aids are being mounted around South Africa by local, provincial and national government agencies, as well as myriad nongovernmental organisations, by creating awareness around the disease, promoting behaviour change and providing medical, social and economic assistance to those infested or affected by the epidemic.The South African government’s HIV/Aids response is primarily financed through the national health Budget, with an estimated R2.4-billion earmarked for combating the disease in 2007. In February 2007 the National Treasury provided the Department of Health with R5.3-billion to be spent on human resources, HIV/Aids, hospital revitalisation and tertiary services.The first official policy response to the epidemic was in 1992, when the government established the National Aids Coordinating Committee of South Africa, followed by the creation of the South African National Aids Council in 2000. In March 2007, the government released its National HIV/Aids and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007 to 2011 (NSP), designed to guide the country’s multi-sectoral response to HIV/Aids.The plan was adopted by Cabinet in 2007. It aims to achieve 50% reduction rate of new infections by 2011 and provide an appropriate package of treatment, care and support services to at least 80% of people living with HIV and their families by 2011.The interventions needed to reach the NSP’s goals are structured under four key priority areas:PreventionTreatment, care and supportResearch, monitoring, and surveillanceHuman rights and access to justiceThe package of care includes:Counselling and testing services as an entry pointHealthy lifestyle interventions including nutritional supportTreatment of opportunistic infectionsAntiretroviral therapyThe plan also includes a monitoring and evaluation component critical in assessing progress and sharing research on the pandemic.The NSP is an outcome of the National Strategic Plan of 2000-2005, the Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV/Aids Care, Management, and Treatment as well as other HIV/Aids strategic frameworks developed for government and sectors of civil society in the past five years. It represents the country’s multi-sectoral response to the challenge with HIV infection and the wide-ranging impacts of Aids.The NSP also forms part of an initiative by the member states of the Africa Region of the World Health Organisation which committed 2007 to “The Year for Accelerating HIV Prevention”. More than 1 060 health professionals have been recruited to support the programme. Some 7 600 health professionals have been trained in the management, care and treatment of HIV/Aids.The NSP is based upon a set of key guiding principles, including:Supportive leadershipEffective communicationEffective partnershipsMeaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AidsPromoting social change and cohesionSustainable programmes and fundingThe government budget allocated for NGOs involved in the response to Aids and TB funding has been increased from R56 million in 2006/2007 to R62 million in 2007/2008 financial year. The funds will be made available to eligible organisations providing the following services:Prevention interventions, which include voluntary counselling and testing, prevention of mother to child transmission of the virus, youth life skills and high transmission areas interventionsCommunity mobilisation for Aids competence, including home-based careSupport for people living with HIV/AidsTreatment adherence counselling, including tuberculosis directly observed treatment governance and leadership developmentGovernment interventions also place a strong emphasis on promoting abstinence and faithfulness, with a massive condom distribution programme that provides some 300 million free condoms to the public every year.Cabinet is the highest political authority, and responsibility for dealing with ongoing HIV/Aids related matters has been deferred to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Aids (IMC) composed of eight ministries. The South African National Aids Council (Sanac) is the highest national body to provides strategic and political guidance as well as support and monitoring of sector programmes.Sanac was reconstituted in April 2007, officially bringing together government and civil society in a renewed partnership against HIV/Aids. The newly-strengthened SANAC will operate at three levels through:A high level council, meeting twice a year, chaired by South Africa’s deputy presidentSector level coordination, with sectors taking responsibility for their own organisation, strategic plans, programmes, monitoring, and reporting to SanacProgramme level organisation led by the social cluster of governmentThe cluster of government bodies involved in trying to combat HIV/Aids is called the HIV/Aids and TB Cluster, which is made up of the directorate for HIV/Aids and STIs, the Government Aids Action Plan (GAAP) and the directorate for tuberculosis.The Department of Health has also introduced a Healthy Lifestyle Programme that aims to promote regular physical activity and good nutrition, control the use of tobacco, reduce the levels of alcohol and substance abuse, and promote safe sexual behaviour.TreatmentThe South African government’s treatment initiative falls under the Comprehensive HIV/Aids Care, Management and Treatment Plan to address the challenges posed by HIV/Aids. South Africa has an extensive antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programme, with 213 000 patients initiated on ARV treatment by the end of September 2006, and an estimated additional 90 000 to 100 000 patients initiated in the private and non-government sector.The country already has the largest number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the world, but with an estimated 1-million people in need of ART, South Africa also has one of the highest unmet needs for ART in the world. But progress has been made. At the end of 2006, an estimated 287 000 to 363 000 people in the country were receiving ART, about 33% of those in need.By 2002, the government had set up 597 testing and counselling sites for HIV as a strategy for prevention and care of HIV. At these sites treatment for opportunistic infections is available for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients.The government is working with pharmaceutical companies to lower the costs of drugs to treat these infections. In December 2000, an agreement was signed with pharmaceutical company Pfizer to provide Fluconazole (Diflucan) to public hospitals and clinics for two years. Funding was provided for the training of healthcare workers in diagnosing and managing oral thrush and cryptococcal meningitis.In the belief that antiretrovirals can cause harm if not administered correctly or if health services are inadequate, the government will intensify its campaign to make sure that patients infected with HIV, TB, thrush and meningitis follow the correct treatment advice.The government continues to lobby drug companies to lower the cost of antiretrovirals and investigate the production of generic equivalents. In the knowledge that poverty increases vulnerability to illness, it will also work towards poverty alleviation and provision of nutrition for those lacking it; as well as encourage investigation into alternative treatments, particularly those that boost the body’s immune system.Mothers and childrenIn September 2001, the South African government initiated a national programme to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In 2005, Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission programme (PMTCT) services were available at over 3 000 health sites nationwide, making the programme among the largest PMTCT programs in the world. More than 80% of government clinics are currently providing a PMTCT programme and the target is to have these services available in all clinics by December 2007.Postnatal transmission of HIV from mother-to-child through breast milk remains a key challenge despite the availability of replacement feeds as part of the national Perinatal and Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Rate programme.The percentage of HIV positive pregnant women who received antiretrovirals to reduce the possibility of transmitting HIV to their infants increased from 22% to 30% between 2004 and 2005. At least 580 880 pregnant women accessed the PMTCT services during the calendar year 2006, and of these, 74 052 antenatal clients received Nevirapine prophylaxis.In the same period, a total of 19 758 babies born to mothers living with HIV were tested for HIV infection. 16 288 babies tested HIV-negative while 3 470 babies tested HIV-positive.According to figures released in 2005, women are disproportionately affected by Aids, accounting for some 55% of HIV-positive people. Many of those with HIV/Aids depend on home-based care, placing a further burden on women, and often resulting in child-headed households.Maternal deaths are on the increase, mostly fuelled the HIV epidemic, and for many HIV-infected women, decision making in regard to pregnancy and childbirth is hampered by a lack of information on contraception, interactions between ART, drugs for treatment of opportunistic infections and lack of knowledge about their HIV status when they become pregnant.An outcome of the NSP has been the introduction of dual therapy for reduce Mother-to-child-transmission of HIV. The move from single dose nevirapine to dual therapy (nevirapine and AZT) was based on the recommendations of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Essential Drugs Committee and the Medicines Control Council (MCC).There has been a reversal in the prevalence of syphilis among pregnant women in the past five years and this has been attributed to the introduction of syndromic executive summary management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 1995 as well as the introduction of the primary health care system.The incidence of violence against women in South Africa is high and contributes to the spread of HIV. The government is endeavouring to provide antiretrovirals to survivors of sexual assault and those with needle stick injuries, as well as counselling and testing for HIV, STIs and pregnancy.Care and support of familiesFamilies affected by the epidemic are being helped with foster care grants, assistance to child-headed households, food parcels and other interventions. The government budget for home-based and community-based care for people suffering with Aids in 2004/5 was R138-million.The government promotes voluntarism as an answer to the demand for home-based caregivers to cope with the rising number of people infected with HIV, and because hospitals cannot cope with the number of people needing care. Most care programmes in rely on unemployed volunteers from affected communities, who are usually female and unsalaried or, in a few cases, paid a small stipend.But this approach has drawn criticism from the Health Economics and Aids Research Division (Heard), of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which recommends that the Department of Health reviews primary health care models and refine volunteer-based programmes, provide stipends and assist caregivers to ultimately obtain formal employment.Several NGOS, some supported by government, have set up home-based care projects to help those families in need, including:Hospice Association of South AfricaPalliative Medicine InstituteTreatment Action CampaignEducation and awarenessThe government’s strategy emphasises HIV/Aids prevention by promoting public awareness and delivering life skills and HIV/Aids education. The many Aids awareness campaigns run by government and NGO partners such as LoveLife and Soul City are bearing fruit. There is now a high level of awareness among youth on HIV/Aids – around 90% – but the pressing challenge is to ensure that this awareness translates into behaviour change. Life skills education, which incorporates HIV/Aids education, is now a compulsory part of the school curriculum.Khomanani is a government-led communication campaign that provides an awareness-raising drive to mobilise individuals and organisations to respond to the challenges of HIV/Aids, TB and STIs. Besides a national media campaign, it works through outreach programmes to organisations, towns and villages. Between 2004 and 2006, the government invested R165-million in Khomanani.LoveLife is a nationwide campaign which aims to promote healthy sexual behaviour among adolescents, reduce the incidence of HIV/Aids, sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies. LoveLife uses a widespread media campaign targeting adolescents, and offers educational, recreational and sexual health services in under-resourced areas.Soul City uses the mass media to promote awareness around health issues. It has won international awards for its success in integrating education and entertainment using popular radio and television drama.Useful linksDepartment of HealthAfrica Region of the World Health OrganisationHealth Systems TrustHealth-eHivan Centre for HIV/Aids NetworkingNational Association of People Living with AidsNational HIV/Aids and TB Unit, Department of HealthTreatment Action CampaignUNAids, South Africa Country PageDocuments and policiesCabinet statement on HIV/Aids, 17 April 2002Comprehensive HIV/Aids Care, Management and Treatment Plan (PDF)Government Aids Action PlanNational HIV/Aids and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007 to 2011National Strategic Plan of 2000-2005Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV/Aids Care, Management, and TreatmentPrevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission ProgrammeSouth African National Aids CouncilTreatment Hospice Association of South AfricaTreatment Action CampaignEducation and awarenessKhomananiLoveLifeSoul CityResearchHealth Economics and Aids Research Division of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Human Sciences Research Council’sMedical Research CouncilMedicines Control CouncilPerinatal HIV Research UnitReproductive Health and HIV Research UnitSouth African Aids Vaccine InitiativeStatistics South AfricaAids and the lawAids Law Project  Health Professions Council of South AfricaSouth African Human Rights Commissionlast_img read more

Barca wins 3-0 before Coutinho arrival; Madrid drops points

first_imgFC Barcelona’s Paulinho, right, celebrates after scoring with his teammate Luis Suarez during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Levante at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored first-half goals in a 3-0 win over Levante on Sunday, restoring Barcelona’s nine-point lead of the Spanish league while it awaits the arrival of Philippe Coutinho.Messi marked his 400th appearance in La Liga by giving Barcelona the early lead and taking his all-time record in the competition to 365 goals.ADVERTISEMENT Do we want to be champions or GROs? – Sotto Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Bale’s two goals in a three-minute span in the first half overturned an opener by Celta’s Daniel Wass.But they weren’t enough for the win amid an uninspiring performance by Cristiano Ronaldo, and poor defending by Marcelo and the rest of Madrid’s backline.Celta outplayed Madrid in the second half and its defenders left unmarked striker Maxi Gomez to head in a pass by Wass for an equalizer in the 82nd.Celta’s Iago Aspas went close to scoring twice, hitting the post early and having a penalty kick saved by Keylor Navas after the goalkeeper had fouled him in the 71st.The result left Madrid 16 points behind Barcelona, although with a match in hand, after only managing to win three of its last eight league games.“I have to find out what the problem is,” coach Zinedine Zidane said. “Sometimes we play 90 minutes well, but it is true that recently we don’t do it regularly. We need to have more confidence in our chances, and recently we don’t have the confidence to play 90 minutes well.”___OTHER RESULTSAthletic Bilbao beat Alaves 2-0, Leganes edged Real Sociedad 1-0, and Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1 at Villarreal. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES LaVar Ball tells ESPN Walton has lost Lakers; coaches react ‘We cannot afford to fail’ as SEA Games host – Duterte SEA Games: PH still winless in netball after loss to Thais MOST READ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Nextcenter_img Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games BeautyMNL open its first mall pop-up packed with freebies, discounts, and other exclusives Suarez doubled the advantage before halftime and Messi set up Paulinho to round off the win in stoppage time.Such an emphatic victory comes as Barcelona’s attacking threat is preparing for an additional injection of creativity with the 25-year-old Coutinho.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingThe Camp Nou is anticipating the incorporation of the Brazil midfielder, who flew to Barcelona on Saturday. Barcelona said Coutinho has yet to meet with his new teammates and coach, although he did make an appearance at the stadium for a photo session after Sunday’s match.“This is like living a dream,” Coutinho told the club’s website. “It’s incredible to know that I am going to play with my idols, players who have made history. Players like Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, (Andres) Iniesta, (Gerard) Pique, (Sergio) Busquets… I am happy to be able to live with and learn from them, and to win titles.” Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Coutinho will be officially presented Monday after a transfer deal that could reach 160 million euros ($192 million).“(Coutinho) is a player who I think can bring many things to the team,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “He scores goals and provides assists, and in attack he can help us a lot.”Not that Barcelona needs it in the league. Atletico Madrid, which beat Getafe 2-0 on Saturday, remains a distant second, and fourth-place Real Madrid stumbled again on Sunday when it drew at Celta Vigo 2-2.The win took Barcelona’s unbeaten streak to 27 straight matches.Ousmane Dembele started for Barcelona and played just more than an hour before being substituted in his second appearance since returning from a left-leg injury that sidelined him since mid-September. The 20-year-old France forward played the final minutes of Thursday’s 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey.ADVERTISEMENT View comments “In these three months I have been able to learn Barcelona’s philosophy, now I am eager to help the team,” Dembele said.Until the deal for Coutinho, Dembele was the club’s most expensive signing for a transfer fee of 105 million euros that could rise to 147 million euros.Messi once again this season connected with left back Jordi Alba, who headed back his pass for the Argentina forward to use one touch to volley in off the far post in the 12th minute and record his league-leading 16th goal of the season.Javier Mascherano started for Barcelona amid widespread speculation that he wants to leave in search of more playing time.The defender helped to set up Barcelona’s second goal by lobbing a pass over Levante’s defense where Sergi Roberto used one touch to send it to Suarez in the 38th. The striker controlled the ball with his left foot before sweeping home with his right for his 11th goal of the season and his sixth in a five-round scoring streak.After Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made two superb saves, Messi effectively finished the match by dribbling to the endline before squaring a pass for Paulinho to tap in for his seventh goal of the season.Barcelona reserve-team striker Jose Arnaiz debuted in the league as a late substitute.___16 POINTS BEHINDReal Madrid wasted a brace by Gareth Bale as it fell further behind the top three teams after drawing at Celta. PH military to look into China’s possible security threat to power grid ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claimslast_img read more

Pakistan cricketer spooked by ghost at team hotel in New Zealand

first_imgPakistan team management says cricketer Haris Sohail was left “visibly shaken” after a ghostly encounter in a Christchurch hotel room.Sohail fled what he believed was “a supernatural presence” which shook his bed at the Rydges Latimer hotel, taking refuge in the room of a team coach after the encounter earlier this week.Team manager Maveed Akram Cheeva said Tuesday Sohail, 26, phoned a member of the coaching staff to say he had been woken by his bed being shaken. The coach rushed to Sohail’s room and found him shaken and feverish.Cheeva said management tried to persuade Sohail the fever may have caused a nightmare, but the player was adamant his experience was supernatural.The hotel’s management says it knew of “no active ghost” on the premises.Pakistan media reports said Sohail, an allrounder who has played nine one-dayers and three Twenty20 internationals, was so “traumatized” by the experience he has been unable to train and was forced to miss a one-day warmup match against a New Zealand President’s XI.Sohail took the field in a second warmup game in Christchurch on Tuesday and made 6 runs from 25 balls.Cheema said Sohail was examined by the team doctor after his encounter and found to be in good health.”He’s OK and he’s concentrating on cricket as he should be,” he said. “He had a fever. We think it was the fever that caused it but the player still believes his bed was shaken by something and it was a supernatural something.”advertisementSohail joins an elite group of international cricketers who have had ghostly experiences.England fast bowler Stuart Broad switched rooms at London’s Langham Hotel last year after a ghostly experience. Broad told the Daily Mail newspaper he had woken in the night and “all of a sudden the taps in the bathroom came on for no reason. I turned the lights on and the taps turned themselves off. Then when I turned the lights off again, the taps came on. It was very weird.”Australia allrounder Shane Watson fled to the room of team-mate Brett Lee after becoming spooked in his own room at the Lumley Castle Hotel in England in 2005.last_img read more