Debate:  Should Schools Teach the Controversy Over Darwinism?

first_imgThe San Francisco Chronicle published a written debate between Stanford evolutionist Robert Sapolsky and Discovery Institute fellows Stephen Meyer and John Angus Campbell.  The subject is whether schools should “teach the controversy” over evolution.  Both articles can be read on the Discovery Institute website.    Meanwhile, the ACLU is suing another school district, this time in Dover, Pennsylvania; all the news media, like this example on Fox News, are talking about it in the usual terms.  (It’s kind of funny how the automatic pop-up ads home in on keywords; this article says, “Free Evolution: Get Free $250 Gift Card for Evolution.”)  Surprisingly, in the Dover case, the intelligent design think tank Discovery Institute thinks the policy is misguided and asks for its withdrawal.  John G. West explains that the institute recommends allowing the teaching of intelligent design, but not mandating it. You, and only you, can help prevent the Atheist Charlie Lawyers Union from succeeding with scare tactics.  Just one victory over these bullies will energize sensible parents all over this country.  You might save $250 on your next purchase of Evolution, but who wants it for Christmas except the Grinch?    The intro article to the debate says, “Sapolsky dodged the real scientific controversies and instead spewed stereotypes and politically motivated ad hominem attacks at intelligent design supporters.  Contrast that with the serious issues raised by Meyer and Campbell, who delve into the real issue of micro vs. macro evolution.  Read them both and judge for yourself.”  Good advice, provided you have your baloney detector powered on.  (Why is it that the creationists and ID supporters always want you to hear both sides, and the Darwinists only want you to hear theirs?)(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Healthy babies for HIV couples

first_imgThe Cape Fertility Clinic laboratory whereprocedures are done to help HIV-positivepeople have healthy babies. (Image: Health-E) Tamara O’Reilly South Africa holds a number of unenviable records when it comes to addressing HIV/Aids, but a laboratory opening at the Cape Fertility Clinic signals hope for HIV-positive couples who want to take no chances when it comes to having a healthy baby.  Although the techniques used at this clinic have been helping HIV-positive people around Europe conceive HIV-negative babies for many years, the laboratory is the first of its kind in Africa. Every month about five or six couples with either partner or both infected with HIV indicate a desire to have healthy children.Although the high costs of the procedures at fertility clinics make it somewhat exclusive, in a country where 92 000 babies contracted HIV in 2007 alone, it shows the medical fraternity’s commitment to offer HIV-positive people an equal chance to have healthy babies signals that HIV-positive people are making informed decisions about parenthood.The laboratory, by law, is separated from others at the clinic to ensure the risk of passing infection to other clients is contained.“HIV is no longer seen as a death sentence but a chronic disease,” says Cape Fertility Clinic Director Klaus Wiswedel. “People with chronic diseases are entitled to have fertility treatment. We can safely deliver an HIV-negative child and, with the right treatment, the parent can live a long life.”How it’s doneThe clinic deals with dual HIV-positive couples or where either partner is infected. In cases where both partners, or only the woman is HIV-positive, doctors make use of artificial insemination. Once pregnant, the HIV-positive mother-to-be’s progress is monitored by an HIV specialist. The mom has to continue taking antiretroviral medication, and has to the deliver the child by Caesarean section to reduce the risk of transmission to the infant.If only the man is HIV-positive, the sperm undergoes a procedure where it is “washed” to separate the seminal fluid which contains most of the cells carrying the virus, from the sperm. The sperm is retested for the presence of any remaining virus and if found to be HIV-negative, the woman can be inseminated.According to the clinic, the transmission rate is found to be less than one percent if these procedures are precisely adhered to.UNAIDS estimates that every day about 1 200 children worldwide under the age of 15 become infected with HIV, and at the last count in 2007 there were 2.1-million children living with the disease. The disease is transmitted either before they are born, during labour or during breastfeeding. About 50%of children who contract HIV from their mothers die before their second birthday.The South African picture“The prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is not only effective, but also a human right,” said UN Aids Executive Director Dr Peter Piot. “We are seeing good progress in many countries, especially in parts of Africa, but we need to significantly scale up HIV testing and treatment for pregnant women.”In South Africa, the number of pregnant women receiving drugs which prevents HIV transmission to babies rose from 15% in 2003 to 67% in 2007. Neighbouring Botswana, which has one of the highest HIV/Aids statistics, provided antiretroviral treatment to 95% of HIV-positive pregnant women in 2007.In January this year the Department of Health unveiled their revised Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PTMTC) introducing stronger doses and more effective medication to HIV-positive mothers. This means that pregnant women enrolled in PMTCT programmes go on AZT treatment (the drug which prevents mother to child transmission) from the last four weeks of pregnancy and during labour. At birth the baby is given a week-long course of AZT and as a further precaution is tested at six weeks.All pregnant women attending the 1 315 antenatal care clinics across the country are also being offered voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) on their first visit. Those women who test HIV-negative are offered a follow-up test at 34 weeks into their pregnancy. Those who test HIV-positive will be offered a viral load test at the time of their HIV-positive diagnosis to ascertain the level of infection.Related articlesRidding Africa of HIV in 10 years Vaccine hope for SA women HIV/Aids in South Africa Useful linksUniversal Declaration of Human RightsHealth-eCape Fertility Clinic Treatment Action Campaign Department of Healthlast_img read more

Bloggers take a trip back to humanity’s origins

first_imgHosted by Brand South Africa, bloggers are being introduced to hi-tech developments across the country, including the Square Kilometre Array. At the Hyatt Regency in Rosebank, on 24 March, they met Andrea Leenen, the chief executive of the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (Past), and American Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Anthropology Robert Blumenschine, the chief scientific, education and fundraising strategist at Past. Both took the opportunity to discuss the stark realities of evolution. (Images: Melissa Jane Cook)• Sandisiwe GugushePublic RelationsBrand South Africa+ 27 11 712 [email protected] Jane CookRetracing our past was the perfect introduction to a group of foreign journalists and bloggers who are exploring innovation in South Africa.Hosted by Brand South Africa, they are being introduced to hi-tech developments across the country, including the Square Kilometre Array. At the Hyatt Regency in Rosebank, on 24 March, they met Andrea Leenen, the chief executive of the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (Past), and American Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Anthropology Robert Blumenschine, the chief scientific, education and fundraising strategist at Past. Both took the opportunity to discuss the stark realities of evolution.“Africa is the birthplace of humankind and the continent [preserves] a fossil record for our origins and ancient heritage found nowhere else in the world,” said Leenen. Past, based in Johannesburg, is a public benefit organisation. Since 1994, it has been dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting Africa’s ancient cultural and natural heritage for the benefit of Africans and all humans.Past is the world’s largest independent organisation that supports the study of human origins. It uses its position to educate, turning to a physical theatre group to explore our origins. The actors move around the stage imitating monkeys and the evolution of humanity. The jumps, tumbles and other body movements prove that physical theatre is an extraordinary way to break barriers. It is also a means of communicating that everyone, regardless of language, can understand.Leenen explained that Past’s signature educational initiative and the foundation of its overall mission was the Walking Tall project. “It offers workshops for secondary school students and teachers that increase scientific literacy through an understanding of the origins of life and humankind.”Africa’s advantageIt showcased the origin sciences as a career track in which Africa’s geographical advantage in the field could and should result in global scientific leadership. “It exposes students to applied evolution and related emerging career opportunities in agriculture, medicine and environmental remediation. It addresses Africa’s critical role in shaping humanity and uses humankind’s recent origin in Africa as a transformative tool to instil dignity in the continent and promote equality among all people,” she said.Blumenschine added: “We use theatre to teach science, to show that it is not a dry and academic subject, but [is] fun and interesting.”The student workshops feature the physical theatre production, which takes its audience on a 4.6 billion year journey through time from the origins of Earth to the present day. The show is followed by a scientific session in which the basic principles of evolution and the origin sciences are explained. These are key elements of life sciences curricula across Africa. The workshops conclude with a question and answer session. Complex issues are raised, such as skin colour as an environmental adaptation that cannot be used to define race, and conflicts between science and religion.“Walking Tall is a mobile, cost-effective and lasting educational intervention and outreach mechanism that since 2002 has reached almost one million people, primarily students and teachers in South Africa, but also audiences in Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Belgium and Sweden,” said Blumenschine. The show is an effective education tool, and can be performed in an auditorium or under a tree.Blumenschine has conducted archaeological and wildlife research in east Africa, southern Africa and India. He co-directed the Olduvai Landscape Palaeoanthropology Project at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and has embarked on a pan-African campaign, working in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. He supports research and education. “We want to spread support as here, in South Africa, there is such a wonderful heritage. I get so dismayed by people who don’t appreciate fossils; people must be proud of their heritage,” he said. The student workshops feature ‘The Walking Tall’ performers and their physical theatre production, which takes audiences on a 4.6 billion year journey through time from the origins of Earth to the present day. The show is followed by a scientific session in which the basic principles of evolution and the origin sciences are explained.Common ground“Origins is a positive message that allows us a common ground, it is the basic foundation for all of us. Pre-democracy, the government prohibited the teaching of evolution. Here, we have a rich understanding of our origins. Africa is the custodian of this world heritage and people must know this.”The organisation offered a fresh angle into science, Leenen explained. “People are always after the headline story, but it’s so much bigger than this. It links all people on the planet. It is the African story. People always think science is complicated, that it’s natural selection and genetics.“[But] teaching like this crosses boundaries. It’s not an old guy in a lab coat, or a doctor or a geneticist. This is accessible to all. It is the mother of all sciences and the gateway for kids.”Understanding ancient heritage is critical to central aspects of modern society. Past urges us to use our origins to instil pride in South Africa and for an African identity. “We must promote our unity amid diversity. Our shared African roots should be a potent source of global unity. This is the rainbow nation and that is a scientific fact,” Blumenschine said.African roots, global relevanceFocused originally on South Africa, Past has recently implemented a development plan to expand its education and research programmes throughout Africa. Named Scatterlings of Africa, after the song by Past champion Johnny Clegg, its longer term aim is to bring the organisation’s education and public outreach initiatives to global audiences.“We want to inspire scientific curiosity and an appreciation for ancient heritage among Africa’s youth, and to develop global scientific leadership by African origin scientists,” said Leenen. “Past also uses the origin sciences as a powerful tool for building African pride and dignity as well as promoting racial harmony and environmental conservation.“The first spark of human consciousness was from Africa and only this continent tells the human story which lies in fossil bones.”Our shared African roots are seen in our 99.9% genetic similarity to one another. Biologically, humans are all the same; there are only superficial differences on the exterior. Leenen maintained that when the group spoke to and performed for underprivileged children, these children saw that they had potential – “they see that we are all the same. Our similarities far outweigh our differences.” This was a fundraising campaign to “leave a legacy as timeless as our past”.Moving forwardMiller Matola, the chief executive officer of Brand South Africa, said we are ready to be taken on a journey in welcoming “home” the foreign visitors. He introduced Collins Chabane, the minister for performance monitoring and evaluation in The Presidency, who said: “We have moved forward and South Africa is a better place to live. Our experience is different from anywhere in the world and we have all laid the foundation to build our legacy.”Chabane said that the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) was very beneficial for South Africa. The SKA is a series of radio telescopes, which look like large satellite dishes. Radio telescopes are used in radio astronomy, the branch of science concerned with radio emissions from celestial objects – galaxies, stars and the like – which are used to determine their size, mass and chemical composition. The SKA infrastructure is expected to encourage schoolchildren and students to take up science and technology subjects, leading to the growth of a new class of scientists.Leenen concurred that “with SKA, and Past, looking into the origins of life and origins of the universe, here, we can offer answers to both of those”.Brand South Africa was established in August 2002 to help create a positive and compelling brand image for South Africa.last_img read more

Proteas whitewash Zimbabwe in ODI series

first_img22 August 2014The Proteas completed a comprehensive 3-0 series whitewash of Zimbabwe, winning by seven wickets with 136 balls to spare in the third one-day international in Bulawayo on Thursday.South Africa had won the previous two ODIs by 93 and 61 runs. Despite many of the team’s big name stars sitting out the third 50 overs a side contest, including, among others, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, their win at the Queens Sports Club was arguably their most emphatic of the series.With the national selectors opting to rest their big guns, there were one-day international debuts for batsman Rilee Rossouw and bowler Mthokozisi Shezi.Good decisionAfter winning the toss, South African skipper Faf du Plessis chose to bowl and his bowlers made the decision look good as they ran roughshod through the Zimbabwean batting order.Only three batsmen made it into double figures as the hosts tallied just 165 all out, which served to underline how poor their batting effort was, and how good the South African bowling and Elton Chigumbura’s innings of 90 was.Chigumbura’s inningsIt could have been far worse for Zimbabwe, who had been reduced to 119 for 9 after losing five wickets in the space of only 15 runs, but Chigumbura and Tinashe Panyangara, who faced 12 balls without scoring, put on 46 for the last wicket before Chigumbura was out. The Zimbawean captain’s 90 came off of 122 deliveries, with 10 fours and two sixes.Marchant de Lange led the Proteas’ bowlers with a haul of 3 for 31 in 7.5 overs, while Kyle Abbott claimed 2 for 21 in six and Wayne Parnell 2 for 33 in eight. Shezi bowled tightly in his first ODI, capturing 1 for 8 in six overs and Aaron Phangiso snared 1 for 13 in six too.UnfortunateRilee Rossouw’s opportunity at the top of the order did not last long as he was unfortunately run out for a duck in the very first over. His opening partner Quinton de Kock, however, steered South Africa to victory.The left-hander struck 84 off of only 75 balls, with seven fours and two sixes, as South Africa reached the victory target in the 28th over. Faf du Plessis added good support with an innings of 40 off 33 balls.De Kock, who finished the series with 185 runs, more than anyone else, and an average of 61.66, was named the Man of the Series.World record equalledDuring the series he equalled the world record for the fastest player to 1 000 ODI runs, joining West Indian legend Viv Richards and South African-born Englishmen Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott on that mark after only 21 innings. However, he said, he was not driven by records.“It doesn’t interest me,” he admitted. “It’s more something for the fans to keep them interested. Some of the players do enjoy stats, but I’m very chilled about it.”PleasedAhead of next week’s triangular series, which also features Zimbabwe and Australia, stand-in captain Faf du Plessis said he was pleased with the Proteas’ outing. “I think we covered our bases pretty well,” he said.“The bowlers were solid throughout the series and so was our batting. There weren’t any blow-ups. Luckily we are getting Dale (Steyn) and Morne (Morkel) back and we are coming up against strong opposition in the form of Australia.“When you play a team like that you have to be on top of your game. It’s nice for us from a confidence point of view to have dominated Zimbabwe in the last three games.”last_img read more

Yogi Adityanath gets Z+ security cover

first_imgThe Centre has accorded the top category ‘Z+’ VVIP armed security cover to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.The cover will be provided by a special commando team of the CISF along with a small contingent of the Uttar Pradesh police.Mr. Adityanath was till now enjoying the smallest category of ’Y’ category VVIP cover by the CISF in his capacity as a BJP Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur but officials said with his taking charge as CM, a threat perception report of central security agencies required his security paraphernalia to be upgraded.“The Chief Minister’s security has been bolstered and he will now be secured by a strong team of CISF commandos everytime he moves across the country. A similar commando contingent will be deployed at his official residence,” a senior officer said.As part of the new and upgraded security paraphernalia, Mr. Adityanath will have about 25-28 commandos accompanying him with sophisticated weapons at all times when he is mobile and his convoy will have pilot and escort vehicles armed with jammers.Under the ‘Y’ cover, he was accompanied by about 2-3 commandos when he travelled, officials said.A Central Industrial Security Force squad from its Special Security Group (SSG) has recently taken charge of his security in Lucknow, they said.last_img read more