first_imgThe massive queue of people currently outside The Hole in the Wall bar in Galway for ‘Donegal Tuesday.’We’ll have our own Las Vegas in the erm…. Streets of Galway?Hundreds of students are currently queuing outside The Hole in the Wall bar in Galway for the annual ‘Donegal Tuesday’ celebrations.Students have been queuing for hours to make sure they get into the venue for the famous celebration as part of their RAG week events.The Donegal Tuesday event is an unofficial event in the RAG week calendar, but has been organised by students from NUIG and GMIT via Facebook and Twitter. Students have been boozing in the queue since 9am in anticipation for what students describe as the best days craic in the student calendar year.The concept is very simple, whether you’re from Donegal or not it doesn’t matter, but to gain entry you must wear Donegal colours.The session then lasts for the entire day before revellers descend on one of many nightclubs nearby.One student posted on their Facebook timeline, “Absolutely buzzing for Donegal Tuesday, almost there now, been in this queue for three hours, but it’ll all be worth it when we get inside and get the party started. #donegaltuesday #ragweek #hillsofdonegal The event has been slammed in the past for promoting excessive drinking, and the fact students begin drinking at 9am as they queue up for entry has also been criticised.However, Gardaí have announced that they’ve an operational plan in place and that any students drinking outside the premises will have their alcohol confiscated. MASSIVE CROWDS QUEUE UP IN GALWAY FOR ‘DONEGAL TUESDAY’ was last modified: February 17th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare 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:boozeDonegal TuesdayGMITnewsNUIGrag weekSessionstudentslast_img read more

first_imgTwo articles in the popular press tried to make the case that monkeys have humanlike characteristics.  Maybe they proved the converse, at least for some humans.Does this add up?  Reporting on experiments suggesting monkeys have the rudiments of math skills, at least in the ability to compare sizes of things, MSNBC News writer Bjorn Carey wanted to emphasize how similar they are to us.  He said, “This finding is the most recent in a series of discoveries that indicate our primate cousins display humanlike characteristics.  Monkeys like to gamble and enjoy looking at other monkeys’ bottoms.  Chimpanzees have been found to crack under social pressures.”On the Origin of Humor by Sexual Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Jokes in the Struggle for a Wife:  Science Now laughed with, but not at, a study that showed differences in the way men and women respond to humor.  There must be a Darwinian angle in here somewhere:  “There are a variety of ways to interpret the findings, says neuroscientist Gregory Berns of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the more politically incorrect being that women are more easily entertained than men.  Another is that women find humor more important in behavior than men do, consistent with ideas that humor evolved differently between the sexes as a mating strategy–men act the comics and women respond by laughing at them. Er, with them.”  But ScienceNow left us hanging without a punch line for the title, “Y Did the Chromosome Cross the Road?”Are humans still evolving?  Reporting on a comparative genomics study between humans and chimpanzees, Ker Than on Live Science started by praising the power of natural selection:  “The evolutionary process that Charles Darwin discovered almost 150 years ago, responsible for transforming dinosaurs into birds and allowing the walking ancestors of whales to take to the seas, is still quietly at work in humans today.”  In the next paragraph he called DNA the “software of life.”While supporting natural selection, Ker Than managed to include his usual dig against the creationists: “The validity of Darwin’s natural selection has been attacked lately by a small but vocal group who argue that it cannot explain all the complexity seen in nature.  They advocate a concept called ‘intelligent design,’ in which a higher being is responsible for the variety of life.  Scientists dismiss intelligent design as cloaked creationism and say that there are no significant problems with the widely accepted theory of evolution.”  (Emphasis added in quotes.)So if you are a gambling butt-gazer with a nervous breakdown, you can take comfort in the fact that macaques empathize with you.  Supposedly if the macaques keep up such antics they will become philosophers in due time.  Didn’t Kipling say that to be a man requires keeping your head while all around you are losing theirs?  Macaque antics reveal no special human propensities.  Parrots and dolphins exhibit better intellectual skills than monkeys, but no Darwinist considers either of them our “closest living relative.”  Why not turn the idea around, and say that any man who dwells on derriere jokes is devolving into a macaque, or any human who swims is devolving into a whale?  After all, Michael Ruse has forcefully warned against embedding any ideas of progress into Darwinian theory.    Ker Than has been a malicious demagogue against intelligent design throughout the Dover trial, worse than Antonio Lazcano (see 11/04/2005 entry).  These two quotes show that nothing he says about Darwinism or ID can be trusted.  In promoting Darwinism, he erred with his definition of natural selection: “Darwin’s natural selection is the process by which nature rewards those individuals better adapted to their environments with survival and reproductive success.”  In addition to slipping an embedded personification fallacy about rewards into his definition, he blindly slipped into the tautology trap: if fitness is defined in terms of reproductive success, it loses all independent meaning: the fit survive because the survivors are fit.    In attacking ID, Ker Than linked it to belief in a “higher being”.  ID makes no claims about the nature or source of the designing intelligence, but only that the effects of intelligent causes are detectable.  But then he also borrowed ID vocabulary in defining DNA as software, which always has an intelligent cause.  He also erred historically in giving Charlie credit for “discovering” natural selection.  If he can’t even define the most basic terms right or keep his concepts consistent, how can his opinions be worth anything?  Such reporting is better suited to a job at LieScience.com.(Visited 90 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img22 July 2005Nobel Peace laureate and ecology activist Wangari Maathai got down on her knees with with Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi to plant an indigenous tree in the forest below Table Mountain in Cape Town on Thursday.Professor Maathai was visiting the Working for Water programme in Newlands forest on the side of the city’s mountain.The programme combines poverty alleviation with environmental restoration by employing people to remove alien plants, which drain water from the soil, increase fire risks and outcompete indigenous plants.Initiated in 1995 by former minister of water affairs Kader Asmal with a start-up grant of R25-million, the programme has become an important part of government’s Expanded Public Works Programme, employing 32 000 people nationwide.Paddy Gordon of South African National Parks and Guy Preston, chair of the Working for Water, explained the dynamics of the project to Maathai, Mabudafhasi, Kenyan High Commissioner to SA Tabitha Seii and Maathai’s daughter, Wajira Mathai, who is the international liaison officer for Kenya’s Green Belt Movement.The alien threatTable Mountain has some 2 300 plant types, more species than in the whole of Britain or New Zealand. But this wealth of biodiversity is threatened by invasive vegetation brought to South Africa in colonial times from places such as Australia.The fast-growing alien plants take up far more water from the soil, reducing the amount available for indigenous vegetation. Their burning substantially increases the temperature of veld fires, killing the seeds of indigenous plants that would otherwise survive a fire. A computer simulation showing the invasion of alien vegetation (green shaded areas) into a fire-prone mountain area in the Western Cape. The first picture shows the current situation, while the second and third show the area after three and six fires respectively. Given that fires can be 10 years apart, almost the whole area could be invaded within 50 to 60 years, with serious consequences for water and biodiversity.(Photo: CSIR)Invasive aliens also increase soil erosion and undermine the productive use of South Africa’s land. Some 7%, or 10.1 million hectares, of the country’s land is currently under the plants, according to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.Alien plants cost the South African economy billions of rands. They are the greatest threat to the country’s biodiversity.Creating jobs, creating businessesAn important part of the Working for Water programme is teaching skills in the labour-intensive methods needed to destroy alien vegetation. Unemployed people are not only given work; they also receive training in plants, in ecosystems, and in business skills such as how to tender for a project.Gordon said the Table Mountain project employs 500 to 800 people. Most of the work is handled by independent contractors, former labourers in the project who picked up business skills and then tendered privately to clear plots of alien-covered land.The programme therefore not only provides jobs, it also allows people to become independent entrepreneurs.South Africa is a world leader in this approach to environmental restoration, according to Gordon. This has allowed the project to attract millions of dollars in funding from the World Bank.In terms of the programme, 60% of Working for Water labourers have to be women. Studies have shown that money is better distributed, for example to children, by women workers than by men.The labourers are equipped with protective clothing against the elements and the poison used to kill the roots of invasive trees such as silver wattle and hakea.Working for Water has initiated two more projects based on similar principles. Working for Wetlands restores wetland habitats, while Working on Fire works to prevent and control wildfires.Mabudafhasi pointed out that several other African countries have been hard hit by the alien invasion. In Benin, invasive water hyacinth have drastically cut down fishing yields, reducing people’s income.She said Nepad, the African Union’s socio-economic development plan, has a special programme, endorsed by African governments, to deal with invasive vegetation. “But there is still enormous work to be done.”‘A vision unfolding before your eyes’Maathai is the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace in Kenya. She said she was impressed with the vision and implementation of environmental projects in South Africa, especially the way they provided young people with knowledge, awareness and skills.“To see a vision unfolding before your eyes must be satisfying,” she told those assembled at Newlands forest, saying South Africa had a bright future ahead.She too was inspiring as she eagerly and effortlessly danced and sang with workers, questioned officials and planted indigenous trees.“Each one of us needs 10 trees just to absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale,” she said. “For many interlinked reasons, just planting a tree can change your life for the better.”Maathai, an assistant minister in the Kenyan government, said she has worked to teach Kenyan peasants how trees are connected to ecosystems, how they prevent soil erosion, and their role in sustaining people’s environments and, so, their livelihoods.She said she would be returning to Kenya with greater confidence in a pilot project to remove the invasive eucalyptus that are slowly destroying Kenya’s tea-growing mountain areas.On debt relief and Africa’s future, she said that G8 leaders were mobilising support for Africa. “We want to ask them to help us by cancelling debt, removing agricultural subsidies and increasing financial aid.”But, she said, it is “important for Africans to understand that the burden of alleviating poverty in this region is our burden.“The greatest responsibility falls on us Africans.”Source: BuaNews Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

first_imgLong-haul  budget carrier AirAsia X says it is on track to record its first full-year profit since publicly listing in  2013 after recording a modest third quarter net result of RM11m ($US2.49m).Global publicity about a safety incident in Australia did not stop AirAsia X boosting revenue by 24 per cent, to RM982m,  in its third quarter ending September 30.The RM11 million net profit was a significant improvement on a loss f RM288.2 m in the same period last year while an RM50.8m operating profit was up 263 per cent.“Year-To-Date profit for AAX stands at RM 191.5 million and is on track to record its first full year profit since listing,’’ the airline said in its profit announcement.The company gained from 54 per cent year-on-year increase in scheduled flight revenue, a 50 per cent growth in ancillary income and a 34 per cent boost to operating lease income.Passenger numbers for the quarter were up 35 per cent on a year ago and the load factor rose 3 percentage points to 78 per cent despite a 34 per cent increase in the number of seats.Lower fuel prices helped to cut unit costs by 16 per cent and average fares rose 14 per cent year-on-year due largely to healthy demand from China and North Asia as well as improved connectivity on Fly-Thru routes.“We are pleased that despite a weak travelling season and increased capacity, we managed to deliver a humble net profit which attests to the commercial viability of the long-haul low-cost model,’’  AirAsia X group chief executive Kamarudin Meranun said in the airline’s profit announcement. “However, much work still needs to be done and the team are focused and committed to ensure positive growth amid these challenging environment.“The third quarter for Malaysia AirAsia X (“MAAX”) have seen great capacity injected amounting to 10 per cent out of the 32 per cent planned for the whole year. This was to set the tone for future quarters especially the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, both historically strong quarters.”Australia continued to be highest revenue contributor to the Malaysian operations —  accounting for 33 per cent of total revenue and 53 per cent of year-on-year growth —  as the carrier boosted frequency out of Sydney and the Gold Coast.Malaysia AirAsia X chief executive Benyamin Ismail said the airline was benefiting from a weaker currency environment that had led to local customers to trade down when going on vacation and boosted interest from other nationalities looking at Malaysia as a value-for-money holiday destination.“The destinations that we fly to are more appealing compared to higher currency destinations such as Europe and North America,’’ he said.AirAsia X said its Thai joint venture  recorded a strong 85 per cent load factor in the third quarter, up 14 points from a year ago, and it was focusing on turning around the airline.Indonesia AirAsia X  remained  suspended after the termination of Sydney and Melbourne services from September 1 “as part of a network restructuring aimed at improving operational efficiencies at IAAX before resuming operations again’’.last_img read more