Get your dancing shoes ready for the Monaghan Country Festival!

first_imgThe stage is set for the 2019 Monaghan Town Country Music Festival, which is set to draw large crowds for a wonderful weekend from July 18-21.Jivers and music lovers will be flocking to the famous competitions and gigs, which had some great Donegal victories in 2018. A preview of the entertainment in store took place with a concert in the town’s Diamond on Sunday evening. It was a family affair as perennial festival headliner Jimmy Buckley was joined by his daughter Claudia to launch the festival, which will be four days packed with “fun for all the family”. Jimmy’s voice was in as a fine a tune as his polished backing band, while Ms Buckley – now a burgeoning country star in her own right – partnered with Dad in the formalities with the same talents she brings to the duets which promise to be a highlight of Jimmy’s Saturday night Monaghan Festival performance – and his ensuing nationwide tour which commences in September. And it was clear that the open-air country celebration that draws fans of the music from near and afar could not come around quickly enough for the pair. “I can’t wait to be part of the Monaghan Country Festival buzz again this year,” Jimmy stated.  “This has become one of the best events of the year on the country calendar and we always enjoy being on the bill.  The welcome and hospitality afforded us in Monaghan are second to none.”  While Jimmy and the band are making their sixth festival appearance, 2019 will be Claudia’s debut but it was evident that she had already caught the bug. “Singing at the Festival for the first time is a really exciting experience for me and I am so looking forward to meeting everyone in Monaghan and being part of some great music,” she enthused. The Monaghan Town Country Music Festival is still a new festival, but with a popularity and following that similar events of greater vintage can only envy. Perhaps the secret of its success lies in the simplicity of its formula, encapsulated as “A weekend of country music and fun for all the family.” But a significant part of the success story is assuredly also the community nature of the occasion, which is founded on a voluntary effort coordinated by the local organising committee and contributed to by many civic-minded local citizens, businesses and public administrators.   And the fact that the proceeds of each Festival since its inception have gone to charities and good causes in the Monaghan area surely also helps to explain the enthusiasm and loyalty it has engendered in its annual panoply of patrons. So, what lies in store this year? The 2019 Festival edition opens on Thursday, July 18 with Gary Fitzpatrick getting proceedings underway at 7.30, followed at 9.30 by headliner Patrick Feeney. Gary Fitzpatrick became the toast of his native Donegal when he brought home the TG4 Glor Tire talent show title in 2018; the highly popular Patrick Feeney has one of the broadest repertoire of contemporary Irish country performers, with songs from Bruce Springsteen and Ed Sheeran and recastings of traditional folk favourites interspersed with more mainstream material. White Lightning get the Festival Friday off to a rousing start at 7.30 pm, and the popular band will be followed on stage at 9.30 pm by Mike Denver, past Entertainer of the Year award-winner.  There is a free afternoon of entertainment at the open-air Diamond stage on Saturday afternoon, with Alex Roe inaugurating proceedings at 3 pm – the crowd will surely be clamouring for the Offaly man to perform his big hit from last year “Summer Time” – and hoping that the weekend weather will be equally in tune! Gary Fitzpatrick returns to the Festival stage on Saturday at 4 pm to supply the soundtrack for the junior jiving competition in which contestants will vie to take home the Liam Stirrat Memorial Cup, named in memory of one of the Festival’s founding fathers. Gates open for the Saturday evening festival programme at 7.30 pm, an encore from Alex Roe being followed at 9.30 by the aforementioned Jimmy Buckley and his band, with Claudia Buckley’s duets with her father set to be one of the weekend’s highlights. Sunday sees another free afternoon of country heaven, performances from Friends (4 pm) and Jim Devine (5 pm) preluding what for many is the Festival centrepiece – the senior jiving competition. The event has a performance standard that never fails to enthral the crowds, who cannot help emulating what they witness on the bespoke dance floor as couples from across the land seek to win the Willie McKenna Memorial Cup, a trophy paying tribute to the late great Monaghan community man who was also one of the Festival’s formative visionaries.Monaghan Town Country Music Festival.The curtain will be brought down on Festival 2019 with the 8.30 pm performance of Michael English, a seasoned festival favourite and someone who has occupied a special place in the hearts of fans of the genre since he wowed the nation with a performance on the Late Late Show at the tender age of 11.  Michael’s vibrant live set invariably encourages his audiences to enact the imperative in the title of his 2015 album “Dance All Night”.Oliver Ferris and Niamh Doyle dancing in the Willie McKenna Senior Jiving competition. Tickets for the Festival are on offer at €10 per person per night, while €35 gets you a weekend ticket for all four nights.  There are concessions for under 12s accompanied by an adult. Tickets can be purchased at the Westenra Arms Hotel, The Diamond, Monaghan or through the Festival website, but patrons can also pay at the gates on the night. To enhance the family-friendly atmosphere, Cullen’s Fun Fair will be in town all over the weekend. Entry forms for both the junior and senior jiving competitions can be downloaded from the Festival website, and entries will also be taken on the day an hour before the events.  The senior jiving competition is being sponsored by Seamus McKenna Car Sales, Emyvale. A very well attended training session for festival stewards was held in the Westenra Hotel on Wednesday evening.  But more additions to the ranks of voluntary stewards would be welcomed by the organisers – anyone available and interested should contact the organising committee secretary on 087 – 1479189. “Get your dancing shoes ready!” was the message from Festival Secretary Julie Brannigan in the aftermath of Sunday’s launch event “The Festival is many things to many people,” she reflected, “but for a sizeable number of the thousands who flock to Monaghan from throughout the country and abroad for the four days of entertainment, the jiving competitions seem to supply the heart and soul of the event.  This year’s music programme is particularly conducive to dancing, and I am sure we will see some great examples of jiving not just on the competition stage but in the crowd as well.” Julie pointed out that the Festival had become such an established part of the summer calendar that many Monaghan people in the USA and other parts of the world now planned their annual holiday at home to coincide with it. “It brings friends together who might not have seen each other for years,” she said.  “It is the people who come who create the convivial atmosphere that everyone always talks about long after the memories of the musical highlights might have faded.  It is always a special weekend, and the organisers have worked extremely hard over the past 12 months to try to ensure that the 2019 event is the most successful and memorable yet.  What distinguishes the Monaghan Festival is that it is both a community and a charity event, and I think these facets are largely responsible for the popularity and loyalty which these four days of family-oriented fun inspire among their many patrons.” The Secretary voiced the organisers’ gratitude for the co-operation and patience of town centre business premises during the setting up of the now iconic Festival stage and dancing area and over the four days of the event itself. And so the stage is now metaphorically – and will soon be literally – set for one of the biggest summer weekends of entertainment that Co Monaghan has to offer.  Julie’s right – it’s time to get out those dancing shoes!Get your dancing shoes ready for the Monaghan Country Festival! was last modified: July 16th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:EntertainmenteventsjivingMike DenverMonaghan Town Country Music Festival.What’s on?last_img read more

Read more →

Astrobiologists Search for Lefty Life in Chile

first_imgThe title isn’t meant to imply Chile is dead or devoid of left-handers.  Instead, it announces that astrobiologists are practicing life detection strategies in the high deserts of that South American country, according to Astrobiology Magazine.  Chile’s Atacama desert is one of the driest places on earth, with almost no signs of life.  NASA scientists have developed an instrument with a sure-fire way to separate the quick and the dead: “Life is left-handed,” announces the title, referring to the left-handed amino acids that make up earth life.  The scientists are convinced that finding one-handed polymers would clinch the evidence for life: “We feel that measuring homochirality – a prevalence of one type of handedness over another – would be absolute proof of life,” said Richard Mathies of UC Berkeley.It’s nice to hear naturalistic biologists admit that homochirality separates life from nonlife.  Now they need to explain how it got that way: see the problem explained in our online book, Ch. 3 and Ch. 4.  After a century since Pasteur discovered this property of the polymers in living things, it remains one of the major stumblingblocks for belief in chemical evolution.  Don’t let an astrobiologist get away with just assuming it happened somehow.  How, now, did we get a left-handed brown cow?(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Read more →

The Mind and Brain: Evolved or Created?

first_imgEvolutionists take swipes at saying the most complex matter in the universe is a product of blind, aimless processes of nature.Did sight emerge from blindness without wanting to? Did thinking emerge from irrational matter? These are the propositions evolutionists must accept in their attempts to build a human brain from nonliving solids and fluids, and ultimately from a nothingness that exploded. Let’s look at some evolutionary perspectives on the mind, then consider discoveries that point to creation.EvolutionNeuroscience: The mechanics of mind (Nature). Daniel Bor reviews The Brain: The Story of You, a new book by Daniel Eagleman. When he calls it “a sophisticated study of how the meat in our skulls generates the self,” you know he is going to give a physicalist, reductionist view of the mind; but will he mind being called a meat-head? Exit philosopher and theologian; step aside for the neuroscientist.In my bolder moments, I consider neuroscience to be one of the most fundamental scientific fields. The brain is, after all, the location of our experiences and identities, and our main tool for understanding every facet of the Universe. The Brain by neuroscientist David Eagleman ambitiously promotes this view. Built around a series of fundamental questions, such as “what is reality?”, it calls on a wide range of classic and recent findings, including innovative experiments by Eagleman himself, to demonstrate how brain science is optimally placed to answer those questions.The self-refuting fallacy of denying consciousness seems lost on them as both author and reviewer celebrate the notion that selves and thoughts are fallible states of neuron networks. “Throughout, Eagleman provides multiple, varied explanations for what consciousness is and what it is for; he settles on neuroscientist Guilio Tononi’s integrated information theory,” Bor writes. “This equates high levels of consciousness with information that is widespread throughout a network capable of supporting many different information states.” Both ponder uploading brains into computers, forgetting that computers are built by intelligent design, and one must use consciousness to state logical propositions, trusting that immaterial laws of logic are invariant.A tree of the human brain (Science). Both leading science journals have given self-refuting ideas good press in the same week. Here in Science, Sten Linnarsson leaps from Darwin’s “remarkable insight” about a universal tree of life to the perspective that “every individual is also a tree—a cell lineage tree.” Surely human bodies and brains branch out from a zygote, but if that is merely what human souls are, then Linnarsson presents another reductionist view of human nature. That obscures the fact that development carries out a computer-like program inscribed in digital code—DNA.Our knack for remembering faces is a highly evolved skill (New Scientist). Clare Wilson leaps from a study that identical twins can recognize faces to genetic determinism. What if this skill appears independent of intelligence or memory? Does that mean it evolved? Could it not be a programmed skill by design? Since Darwinism is the only permitted game in town, she quotes one of the Master’s disciples for authority: “The idea is that telling friend from foe was so important to survival that there was very strong pressure to improve that trait,” he explains in just-so story fashion, failing to state what string of mutations occurred in what genes in the parents, who must not have been able to recognize their own children before the trait evolved.Research that is simply beyond belief (Medical Xpress). Experiments at UCLA and the University of York have created a lot of buzz with the suggestion that participants can be influenced away from theism and nationalism by magnetic zaps to their brains. It’s doubtful this poorly-designed experiment with its unclear definitions and subjective responses is even true. Even worse, though, is that it begs the question whether the scientists could be cured of their ideology by similar zaps. If that were possible in principle, then no proposition is true, and magnets become tools of whoever is in power.Update 10/19/15: The brain’s wiring is linked to good – and bad – behavioral traits (Medical Xpress).  This “research” could be dangerous.  Neuroscientists at Washington University believe they have identified patterns in the brains of 1,200 volunteers that show “positive” and “negative” social tendencies. That the positive/negative values are subjective from an evolutionary view did not seem to bother professors Barch and Essen, who think the findings might “help lead to the design of better interventions to help move the brain and behavior toward the positive end of the spectrum” (see previous entry above).  The article weakly acknowledges that “findings of this study do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between strong brain network connections and positive behavioral traits or between weak connections and negative traits.” Who decides what is positive or desirable? Who runs the interventions? Would the interventions consist of reasoning about moral choices, or taking a pill?Our brain’s secret to success (Science Daily): This evolutionary article claims that “our primate brain‘s outer mantle, or cortex, was able to expand as much as 1,000-fold through evolution.” The National Institutes of Health gave money to UCSF researchers who supposedly found out that successful people have brains whose parts continue to chatter when they’re not doing anything in particular. How this study distinguishes evolution from creation is not clear. Why don’t they infer that humans were given brains with a 1,000-fold larger cortex?Brains work via their genes just as much as their neurons (Medical Xpress). Gene should know genes. Gene Robinson, author of this article from The Conversation, is the Director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. His article starts out with a design analogy. “We are beginning to appreciate how genes and neurons work together, like software and hardware, to make brain function possible,” he says, in what appears to be a non-reductionist view of the brain. “Learning to understand this two-layer system can help us understand how the environment affects behavior, and how to hack the system to improve mental health.” Genes and neurons, however, are physical entities. Does his article rise above physicalism? After describing the complexity of the brain, he shows how studies of honeybees, stickleback fish and mice reveal a link between genes and behavior. Robinson never mentions evolution. He repeats again the “software” metaphor that contains the kernel of intelligent design, since software is conceptual, using symbols to initiate functions. The designer, however, is just “Nature” and the users of the hardware and software appear to be pawns of their machinery:The brain’s neurons and the genomes within them, the hardware and the software, together orchestrate one’s response to a new situation, which can vary from person to person. The same dramatic event – a challenge at school or work, a new person in one’s social circle – might cause a great deal of stress in one person, and very little in another. We now think that the neural systems of two such people are likely tuned differently by their genomic systems, perhaps as a consequence of differentially stressful past experiences. In the living brain, unlike a computer, the software can help modify the hardware, and as new situations are encountered, the functioning of the neural hardware continues to modify the genomic software. Nature has come up with a “smart” system in which hardware and software are adaptable and interact dynamically!Brains do more than direct our behavior. They build our experiences into a coherent perception of the world. This world will be as unique for each of us as our personal history, with the potential to be sunny, or cloudy, or filled with shadows. If we can become proficient in the code our brains run on, perhaps we can learn to give these narratives a nudge in the right direction, and flood every person’s world with light.Robinson’s diplomatically worded article does not divulge his view on human consciousness, but it vaguely implies the ability to make choices by free will. Nevertheless, we need to ask, who is the subject? Who can “become proficient in the code our brains run on”? Who does the nudging to fill a person’s world with light? Who nudges the nudgers? This non-commital entry leads us into articles that suggest design in the brain and its sensory inputs.CreationLarger brains do not lead to high IQs, new meta-analysis finds (Science Daily). It’s quality, not quantity. Findings at the University of Vienna undercut assumptions dating back almost two centuries. For example, Friedrich Tiedemann wrote in 1836, “There is undoubtedly a connection between the absolute size of the brain and the intellectual powers and functions of the mind.” That assumption should have been refuted by looking at any small Asian female math whiz with a PhD in physics shaming a big-headed football player in a contest of wits, as creationist Bob Enyart likes to point out.  Think, man! Men are not smarter because their heads are bigger. This should be obvious. The Viennese researchers, surveying 8,000 participants, showed that brain volume plays only a minor role in intelligence.The importance of brain structure compared to brain volume becomes already evident when comparing different species. When considering absolute brain size, the sperm whale weighs in with the largest central nervous system. When controlling for body mass, the shrew is on the top of the list. Similar results emerge when considering other aspects of species anatomy: Homo sapiens never appears at the top at the list, as would be expected. Rather, differences in brain structure appear to be mainly responsible for between-species differences in cognitive performance.They couldn’t rule out a small correlation, but they learned, “Rather, brain structure and integrity appear to be more important as a biological foundation of IQ.” But does IQ have a biological foundation? Is IQ even a meaningful concept? Those are controversial questions. There’s something to be said for the less-well-endowed brain owner who applies him- or herself to study hard over the natural genius. Character counts, too. What’s sad is to remember all the racial ranking that was based on the flawed assumption that brain volume is a function of human intelligence, and therefore value to society. That eugenic bias carried over into flawed measurement techniques that served to confirm the bias—not too intelligent for someone who calls himself a rational scientist.Optical illusion override (Current Biology).  Michael Morgan explores the difference between perception (an active process) and saccades (an automatic process), and how the brain keeps track of reality.  He delves into the thinking of philosophers, such as Christian philosopher George Berkeley about whether perceptions are the memory traces of previous actions. Morgan argues that recent experiments by Lisi and Cavenaugh show that the brain does not send the same commands to the eyes that would be required to perceive an object. “On the face of it, the results show a remarkable dissociation between perception and eye movements,” he says, but he rejects simplistic explanations, saying that further elaboration is needed. In summary, “A new experiment shows that the perceived motion path of a textured object is affected both by the path of the object and by the motion of texture within it, but that eye movements attempting to intercept the object are unaffected by the texture movement.”How the retina marches to the beat of its own drum (Science Daily). The eye uses an opsin protein to set its own clock independent of the biological clock. “Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington report new research that sheds light on how the retina sets its own biological rhythm using a novel light-sensitive pigment, called neuropsin, found in nerve cells at the back of the eye.” The work finds a new function for neuropsin, one of seven opsins in mammals. “The retina is the only tissue known to ignore the master clock, but it does keep itself on a schedule, so we wanted to know how.” That was the observation that led to discovery: the expectation of function. Surprisingly, this pigment was found in the cornea, which is supposed to lack pigment. Understanding its function there will require further research.Surprise: Your visual cortex is making decisions (Science Daily). “The part of the brain responsible for seeing is more powerful than previously believed,” reads this creation-friendly article. “In fact, the visual cortex can essentially make decisions just like the brain’s traditional ‘higher level’ areas, finds a new study led by a Michigan State University neuroscientist.” The study was “counterintuitive and surprising” that the visual center not only takes in data but can choose what to focus on; “it actively switches between different interpretations of the visual input without any help from traditional ‘higher level’ areas of the brain.”From sounds to meaning (Medical Xpress): Do infants have the ability to associate verbal cues with meaning? Yes, this article says. This is known as “referential relationship”: the sound of the word “apple” because it is associated with the fruit. Without the ability to make associations, language would be impossible. Fortunately, babies are equipped for this. The article never mentions evolution, nor does it explain why lower animals do not have this ability.“A sensitivity to speech sounds is already present in newborns. These types of sounds are, in fact, perceived as special starting from the first days of life, and they are processed differently from other types of auditory stimuli. What makes this type of stimulus so special for the newborn?” asks Marno. “There’s definitely a ‘social‘ saliency: Speech sounds signal interaction between conspecifics, which is important for the survival of the infant. But there is also another important aspect, i.e., referentiality: Words are symbols that carry meanings and convey messages. If infants didn’t know this, albeit implicitly, they wouldn’t be able to acquire language.”“Try to imagine an infant who, on several occasions, sees his mother holding up a cup while uttering the word ‘cup,’” explains the researcher. “He could just think that this is something his mum would do whenever holding the cup, a strange habit of hers. But instead, in a short while, he will learn that the word refers to that object, as if he were ‘programmed’ to do so”.Longitudinal spread of mechanical excitation through tectorial membrane traveling waves (PNAS). Researchers at MIT were curious to find out how the cochlea in the inner ear does such precise discrimination of frequencies. “The mammalian inner ear separates sounds by their frequency content, and this separation underlies important properties of human hearing, including our ability to understand speech in noisy environments,” they realize. Through experiments in which they altered the stiffness of the tectorial membrane (TM) that runs along the length of the cochlea, they determined that both stiffness and viscosity affect the fine-tuned discrimination of frequencies of sound. “We show that increasing viscosity or decreasing stiffness of the TM reduces the longitudinal spread of mechanical excitation, which would sharpen frequency selectivity,” they found. “These trends are opposite those trends for a resonant TM, where increasing viscous loss or decreasing stiffness would broaden tuning.”A higher order visual neuron tuned to the spatial amplitude spectra of natural scenes (Nature Communications). This paper finds, as the title suggests, a “higher order” function in vision. Their subject was the humble hoverfly. “The mammalian visual cortex is also tuned to natural spatial statistics, but less is known about coding in higher order neurons in insects,” they said; that’s why they wanted to know if similar functions exist in these tiny flyers. “Our results thus reveal a close coupling between the inherent statistics of natural scenes and higher order visual processing in insects.Spatial Cognition: Grid Cell Firing Depends on Self-Motion Cues (Current Biology). Poor rats; they got confused when moved around in a transparent cage. The authors of this article wanted to know how grid cells function. These are brain cells that help an animal map its surroundings. They learned that self-motion cues (awareness of actively moving oneself) are important for keeping track of space. You may sympathize with the rats if you’ve had someone drive you somewhere and lost all awareness of where you are. The scientists learned that “visual and vestibular information alone are insufficient to support grid firing.” Proper grid cell function requires “active movement,” the experiments showed, but that alone is not sufficient. Other experiments have shown that environmental cues also play a role, “implying that environmental cues, such as boundaries, may provide grid cells with an error correction mechanism.”Study reveals neuron-firing patterns that underlie time measurement (Medical Xpress). Understanding a working, well-designed function motivated this work. “Keeping track of time is critical for many tasks, such as playing the piano, swinging a tennis racket, or holding a conversation,” the article begins. “Neuroscientists at MIT and Columbia University have now figured out how neurons in one part of the brain measure time intervals and accurately reproduce them.” Neurons can ramp up in anticipation for what the animal or human expects to occur. The ability is distributed between multiple regions of the brain, they say.The articles under the “Creation” list were not, as far as we know, written by creationists. They are, however, creation-friendly, pointing to design features in the brain and sense organs that defy evolutionary explanations. Furthermore, they did not mention evolution. They each show that evolutionary theory was useless or superfluous at stimulating basic research and scientific discovery.The articles under the “Evolution” list, by contrast, demonstrate that evolutionary thinking only operates at the level of glittering generalities and just-so storytelling. Can anyone find a function for Darwin’s theory in any of this brain research? Note: shooting oneself in the foot is not a function. (Visited 57 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Read more →

Doctors Without Borders treat Ebola, one patient at a time

first_imgDr Stefan Kruger hugs a survivor in Sierra Leone. (Image: MSF) Sulaiman PhilipIn just the last week the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) estimate of new Ebola infections and deaths has risen. According to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)) the slow response from the WHO and western governments, and the atmosphere of fear and hysteria, has hampered its ability to slow the spread of the epidemic.But amidst the fear and hysteria there are success stories, MSF’s Dr Stefan Kruger says. The University of Cape Town-educated medic has just returned from a month in Kailahun, the epicentre of Sierra Leone’s Ebola outbreak.“There is one patient that I will always remember, a 70-year-old grandmother. That she survived amazed us all. She was found in her hut, close to death and brought to the hospital. Older people don’t survive usually, but she did. She thrived, helped in the hospital to feed other patients.”Survivors develop antibodies that last at least 10 years; this immunity would make them an asset if they are allowed to return to their villages. This simple piece of information has been lost in the frenzy around the epidemic. “We took her home, embraced her in front of her family and friends. This simple act lifts the stigma of disease from survivors,” says Kruger. Ebola survivor Salome Karawah cares for a 10-month-old baby whose parents are being treated for Ebola. (Image: John Poole) Medics stretched to their limitsKailahun’s 80-bed tin-roofed Ebola complex sits in the hills on the edge of the jungle in north-east Sierra Leone. Once the bustling capital of the Kailahun District, its dirt roads are empty. Residents have left or stay indoors out of fear, and the medical personnel of Kailahun’s government hospital have either been infected or fled.Its 220-member staff of locals and MSF personnel live in a tented compound. Wooden walkways, with tin roofs to keep them raised above the mud churned up in the rainy season, lead to the hospital, the triage tent and, in the distance, a makeshift mortuary.“MSF is doing what it can, but we are being stretched to our limits. For me, going back isn’t a tough decision at all. In many places up to now, if MSF wasn’t there, there would be nothing – for me that’s reason enough” Kruger says.Stopping the spread of the epidemic is not rocket science but the shortage of medical supplies, the slow mobilisation of resources and the lack of information in affected areas combine for the perfect storm. Jens Pedersen, MSF humanitarian affairs advisor, is clear-eyed and rational; “We find ourselves one or two steps behind the spread of the disease because of these factors.” Jens Pedersen hopes that promised aid arrives sooner than later. (Image: MSF)Doctors Without Borders is the most visible medical presence, and often the only foreign medical team, in affected areas. The organisation is still running its malaria, cholera and HIV programmes in tandem with dealing with the outbreak; “We have heard a lot of promises from organisations like the WHO, but there is still no action on the ground,” says Pedersen.Pedersen was based at ELWA3, MSF’s Ebola treatment centre, in Monrovia, Liberia. The 120-bed centre, the largest Ebola treatment centre in the world, is running at capacity and will need to be expanded. On arrival a patient goes through triage where a simple blood test is done. While waiting for the results the patient is quarantined for between 6 and 12 hours in a ward holding other patients. A map of the MSF’s Ebola treatment centre in Monrovia. Click to enlarge (Image: MSF)If the test comes back positive the patient is transferred to a ward holding other confirmed Ebola patients. For most the care is palliative, but those with a chance of survival get supportive treatment as well as nutritional support and rehydration. In Monrovia the recovery rate, for a disease that still has no treatment available, is 40% of all those admitted on time.“Why do some patients survive and others not? It would be speculation on my part but if you get treatment early you are more likely to survive. If you are young, fit and otherwise healthy you are more likely to survive. But this is speculation,” Pedersen emphasises. Slow international aid responses hamper treatment It is estimated that 20 000 medical personnel are needed in Sierra Leone and Liberia alone to stop the epidemic from becoming unmanageable. The United States has sent 4 000 troops to police Ebola hotspots and has promised $400-million in medical supplies. The response of Africa’s trading partners and western nations with advanced health care systems, beyond their hysterical efforts to secure their borders, has been even slower. The Ebola outbreak began almost simultaneously in three West African countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Data from 9 October 2014. (Image: MSF)Cuba, on the other hand, has dispatched Fidel Castro’s “army of white coats” to Sierra Leone. The 165 medical support staff, the largest contingent of medical staff from a single nation, will be followed by 296 Cuban doctors and nurses who will be stationed in Guinea and Liberia. The Cuban Medical Brigade will join MSF’s 250 staff and 3 000 local medical personnel working with Ebola patients in West Africa.Jorge Delgado Bustillo, national coordinator of the Cuban Medical Brigade explained that since the early 60s Cuba has dispatched tens of thousands of health workers to supplement African medical structures and train doctors. “This experience is important, we are comfortable on the ground and language is not a barrier,” he said.Despite shortages of basic medical equipment, MSF is containing the epidemic. Ebola hotspots are centred on areas with crumbling or non-existent healthcare, where things as basic as surgical gloves are in short supply. It is in towns like Kailahun, and Bo, also in Sierra Leone, where the epidemic rages that the expensive equipment used to treat single patients in Madrid and Dallas is needed.“We don’t trust the WHO figure of 4 000 deaths, there is a lot of under-reporting out of fear,” Juli Switala, a paediatrician who has also just returned from Sierra Leone, says. Based in Bo, it was two weeks after her arrival that the first Ebola patients arrived at the hospital. Within a week admissions (of patients with other needs) had dropped to zero. The hysteria that has built up around the epidemic has hindered MSF’s ability to get out clear and effective information. “Fear follows the disease, families are hiding bodies,” she said. The toughest decision Dr Juli Switala has had to make is deciding to stop resuscitating children who have come into contact with Ebola patients. (Image: MSF)Switala has had to make tough decisions in Bo. With her colleagues, they have stopped conducting Caesarean deliveries and no longer resuscitate children. “The risks of contact with body fluids was far too great. We had to make painful touch choices like that every day. The people of Bo are very tactile, they touch your face when they greeted you for example. With Ebola the whole region has become a no touch community.”Patients are isolated from their communities and treated by staff encased in Hazmat suits so personal contact is non-existent. This precaution has affected the care that medical staff are able to give patients; simple medical procedures take two or three times longer than usual.For Switala the 90 minutes spent in the suit every day was, strangely, the least stressful time of the day. She says her mind “was concentrated on doing things safely, being aware of what and who you touched”.“Outside the suit you spent your time wondering who touched your phone, who broke off a piece of bread, who ate from this plate before me.”A breakdown of Ebola deaths A breakdown of Ebola deaths.Click to enlarge.Pedersen believes western hysteria means Africans are being punished for a disease they could do nothing about and did nothing to cause. He talks about a husband brought to hospital in Monrovia by taxi. It was a three-hour journey over rutted roads, his wife watching him getting sicker. The man was so weak that he needed to be carried into the hospital. His wife sat by his side waiting for MSF personnel. “He died there in the courtyard before we could get to him. Imagine the trauma that woman suffered watching her husband die. Now, imagine the response if he had died at a hospital in London instead of Monrovia.”last_img read more

Read more →

Ghosns legal woes highlight governance failings in Japan

first_imgTOKYO — One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the arrest of Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn is over how he allegedly could have underreported his income by millions of dollars for years and why the company is going after the suspected wrongdoing now.Ghosn, who headed the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors auto alliance, was arrested Nov. 19 on suspicion he underreported his income by $44 million over five years, or about half of what he was really making. Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi have ousted him as chairman; the board of Renault SA of France says it’s waiting for more evidence.Nissan is among a growing list of top-name Japanese companies whose corporate governance has been found lacking in recent years.“Wait a minute. Who wrote the financial statements? The accountants. Who audited them? The auditors,” Christopher Richter, auto analyst for CLSA Securities Japan Co., said of the case. “How do you do this without other people being complicit?”Japanese prosecutors say Ghosn and another Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, an American suspected of collaborating with him, were arrested because they are considered flight risks. But the timing of the scandal, given the length and scale of the alleged wrongdoing, is raising questions.Why did Nissan choose to come forward now, asks Eric Schiffer, chief executive of Reputation Management Consultants in the Los Angeles, California, area.“If Nissan knew about this all along and decided to pull the trigger, such Machiavellian tactics will significantly backfire on the brand,” Schiffer said.Japanese media have reported that two other company employees contacted authorities as whistleblowers and sought plea deals. Ghosn has not made any public statements about the case.Kelly’s American lawyer Aubrey Harwell said his client, who was dismissed as a Nissan executive director after his arrest, did nothing wrong.Kelly acted “according to the law and according to company policy,” Hartwell said. “He had talked to people in the company and to outsiders, and he believed everything he did was done totally legally,” he said in a telephone interview from his office in Nashville, Tennessee.Only Ghosn’s attorneys and embassy officials from Lebanon, France and Brazil, where he has citizenship, are allowed to visit him. On Monday, Imad Ajami, a Lebanese consultant in Tokyo who has spoken with people allowed to visit Ghosn, said he also was asserting his innocence.Ajami said Ghosn’s visitors have bought him a mattress, clothing, cheese and other foods to make his stay under the frugal conditions in the detention centre more comfortable. Detainees usually sleep on straw tatami mats and are fed mostly rice, soup and vegetables.Prosecutors have released very little information about the case and neither man has been officially charged. In Japan suspects can be held for weeks for questioning without any charges.A source familiar with an internal investigation by Nissan said the hidden salary was categorized as “deferred income,” meaning it was promised for later on, such as after Ghosn’s retirement, and the documents promising the money were kept secret from auditors and others. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss such details.One possible motive is that Ghosn was seeking to avoid public criticism over his multi-million dollar paychecks, which are a rarity in Japan even for top executives. Even the underreported amounts, about 1 billion yen ($9 million) each year, drew unwelcome scrutiny and commentary.Ghosn was forced to defend his salary at shareholders’ meetings beginning in 2010, when Japan started requiring the disclosure of individual executive pay.Pay packages in the west tend to be higher — Toyota Motor Corp.’s Chief Executive Akio Toyoda earns less than 400 million yen ($3.5 million) a year. But many Japanese companies lack the sorts of systematic checks required for publicly listed U.S. companies. That includes periodically changing who checks financial statements instead of having the same people do it for many years.Japan needs independent oversight for executive pay, said corporate governance expert Takuji Saito, who teaches at Keio Business School.“The problem here was that the pay was significant, in line with global standards, but the way it was decided was still so Japanese,” he said of Nissan’s lack of transparency. “Nissan deserves criticism for having allowed this to continue unchecked for so long.”Saito believes that failing to report deferred income is still “a grey area in criminality” in Japan, but a clear problem in corporate governance.It’s certainly turned out to be a big problem for Ghosn, 64. He’s being held at a Tokyo detention centre pending his indictment or release and has hired Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to represent him.Japanese media say, without citing sources, that Ghosn is asserting his innocence, insisting he always wanted his income reports to be legal and denying he signed secret documents. Prosecutors have refused to comment.Whether a suspect intended to commit a crime or did it unknowingly is important in determining criminality under Japanese law.Nissan veteran Hiroto Saikawa, who took over from Ghosn as the automaker’s chief executive last year, has harshly criticized his former boss and vowed to instil greater transparency and accountability at Nissan. The company is setting up a panel of outsiders to come up with recommendations, including reviewing the company’s executive compensation system.The raft of scandals at many blue chip Japanese companies suggests managers are struggling to meet sometimes overly ambitious profit targets amid slowing demand, labour shortages, rising costs and intensifying competition. But they also highlight a rift between old-guard practices and an increasingly global business world in Japan.— Major steelmaker Kobe Steel was charged with violating competition laws after massive faking over many years of quality data for products sent to hundreds of companies, including aluminum castings and copper tubes for autos, aircraft, nuclear power plants, appliances and trains. Kobe Steel said a zealous pursuit of profit, unrealistic targets and an insular corporate culture caused the wrongdoing.— In 2016, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. disclosed it falsified mileage data. That followed a massive coverup over decades of auto defects thought to have helped cause a fatal accident. In 2004 its president, Katsuhiko Kawasoe, was arrested. He was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for five years, and did not serve time in jail.— In 2015, electronics maker Toshiba Corp. said it had doctored its books in a systematic accounting coverup that began in 2008 or earlier. The company declared bankruptcy, stricken by troubles in its nuclear business after multiple meltdowns in March 2011 at a power plant in Fukushima, northeastern Japan.— Beginning in 2014, auto parts supplier Takata Corp. recalled more than 100 million defective air-bag inflators linked to 25 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide. Last year, Takata pleaded guilty to fraud in a U.S. court and agreed to pay more than $1 billion (109 billion yen) in penalties.These scandals and more, from faked data to cutting corners, have driven calls for stricter corporate oversight. Reflecting widespread sentiments, Schiffer, the brand management expert, says he finds it hard to believe Nissan insiders weren’t aware of what was going on earlier.Otherwise, they were “incompetent,” he said.___Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyamaOn Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yurikageyama/?hl=enYuri Kageyama, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Read more →

Smoking light ballast causes evacuation at Peace Villa

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – An overheating light ballast caused officials to evacuate Peace Villa for a short time this morning.Deputy Fire Chief Darrell Blades with the Fort St. John Fire Department said that firefighters were called out to Peace Villa shortly before 7:30 Friday morning. He said that an overheating light ballast began emitting smoke, setting off the building’s fire alarms.Residents of Peace Villa seen during this morning’s evacuation. Submitted photo. Blades said that Peace Villa was evacuated while firefighters went inside to investigate. He said that apart from a minor amount of smoke, there was no extension of fire, and the facility’s residents and staff were allowed to return inside after about ten minutes. No one was injured.last_img

Read more →

Cong demands probe into suspicious black box in Modis helicopter

first_imgNew Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday demanded an investigation into the transportation of a “suspicious black box” in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter during poll campaign in Karnataka’s Chitradurga. A Congress delegation met the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and submitted five memorandums on various issues including hate speeches by BJP president Amit Shah and its Himachal Pradesh chief Satpal Singh Satti during campaigning for Lok Sabha elections. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The Congress delegation was led by party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi and also included AICC secretary Pranav Jha. “We have raised five main issues before the Election Commission and it has assured us of action. The EC has said that it has already initiated action on some issues raised by us and will take further action on the other issues,” Singhvi told reporters after the meeting. He said a level-playing field must be maintained during elections. “It is strange that the prime minister, holding such a high post, carries a black box in his own helicopter…,” Singhvi said. “There should be a thorough investigation into this. We have not got any satisfactory reply on this issue. It is strange that the ruling party is doing such an illegal thing while hiding behind the prime minister,” he added. The Congress also sought action against Modi and Shah for allegedly making hate and divisive speeches in Nanded and Latur respectively on April 12. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”Now that the EC has initiated action and a precedent has been set, then why has action not been initiated against the Prime Minister and Amit Shah as the speeches made by them are in violation of the model code?” he asked. The Congress also demanded strict action against Satti for allegedly using expletives and making “obscene remarks” against party president Rahul Gandhi. Speaking about Satti, Singhvi said, “What is worrisome is that instead of apologising, this person has said that he will not apologise and claims his statement is right as Rahul Gandhi opposes the prime minister.”last_img read more

Read more →

We were prepared no major damage due to Fani Mamata

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who stayed back at Kharagpur and monitored the situation said on Saturday morning that preventive measures taken by the state administration have ensured that there was not much damage due to cyclone Fani. There was no report of any casualty or major injury across the state.”We took all possible precautionary measures as soon as there was forecast of the cyclonic storm. I was worried for the last one week. We have been constantly monitoring the situation,” Banerjee said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange frameworkAssuring all possible assistance to those who have lost their houses due to the cyclone, she added that 42,000 people have been evacuated by the administration. “They will return to their homes in one or two days,” she added. Banerjee said that over 800 houses have been partially affected with a number of electric poles being uprooted, trees have fallen and roads have been affected. “12 kachcha houses collapsed. All restoration work will be taken care of. We have already removed the trees and roads have been cleared in most of the areas,” she assured. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygenThe Chief Minister further maintained that restoration work is complete in Digha, Mandarmani, Diamond Harbour and going on in full swing in other areas. “Electricity has been restored in most places. In the next two days, situation will be normal,” she asserted. A senior official of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Alipore, said that Fani that was in Ranaghat in Nadia district at around 9 am in the morning that moved further north-northeastwards and entered Bangladesh around noon as a deep depression developed with wind speed of 50-60 kmph, gusting to 70 kmph. Deputy Director General of Alipore weather office Sanjib Bandyopadhyay admitted that though the department had predicted the right path for cyclone Fani during its entry in Bengal, it was not fully correct while predicting its wind speed.last_img read more

Read more →

Barcelona boss explains why Messi played against Spurs after all

first_imgEven though Barcelona was already through to the next round, Valverde subbed Messi into a squad full of bench players already winning the game.Following the 1-1 draw between Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur, Valverde explained why he randomly subbed Lionel Messi into the match when his team was ahead on the scoreboard. Messi came on at the 63rd minute when the Catalan squad was still winning the tie.“It’s better for him to play for a while and to be in motion, he likes it,” Valverde said, as quoted by FourFourTwo.David Villa, FC BarcelonaTop 10 players who played for both Barcelona and Valencia Boro Tanchev – September 14, 2019 Time to talk about the best players who represented both Barcelona and Valencia, prior to their La Liga encounter at Camp Nou this evening.“We also, and I don’t have to tell you about the fans, there have been players who were not there because we had an intense match three days ago.“We wanted to see players like [Carles] Alena or [Juan] Miranda in difficult situations, as well as the response of [Jasper] Cillessen, [Thomas] Vermaelen, Arthur or Munir, we did not want to lose competitive level against a very strong team.”last_img read more

Read more →

Report Thorgan Hazard not going anywhere in January

first_imgA potential January departure for Thorgan Hazard has allegedly been ruled out by Borussia Monchengladbach boss Dieter HeckingSince arriving Gladbach in 2014 from Chelsea, Hazard’s consistently good performances in Germany over the years has made him one of the most wanted players in Europe.The 25-year-old winger has recently been linked with moves Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and AS Roma.But BILD understands that Hecking has told the Gladbach director of sport Max Eberl and the board that Hazard will not be allowed to go anywhere in next month’s transfer window.The Belgium international has managed nine goals and six assists in 17 Bundesliga games this season and is contracted at Gladbach until June 2020.Jadon Sancho, Borussia DortmundCrouch: Liverpool could beat Man United to Jadon Sancho Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Peter Crouch wouldn’t be surprised to see Jadon Sancho end up at Liverpool one day instead of his long-term pursuers Manchester United.However, the report did add that a summer return to Chelsea may be on the table for Hazard as the club have an option to buy him back.The Blues included a clause into his contract at Gladbach when they sold him and will have first refusal on him.Hazard had joined Chelsea back in the summer of 2012, along with his older brother Eden, from French side RC Lens.But Hazard never made an appearance for Chelsea and was immediately sent on loan to Belgian club SV Zulte Waregem for two seasons.Afterwards, he went on another loan spell to Gladbach before the German side decided to make him a permanent member of the squad in 2015.last_img read more

Read more →