first_imgIt was one of the unusual homicide cases in Monrovia in recent times. Criminal lawyer Jason Doe was defending Samson Sombai, accused of the murder of a female lawmaker. It became apparent that the District Attorney was determined to pull all the strings to bind the defendant over for a jury trial.Though Jason Doe enjoyed such a trial, where he would stand before twelve common citizens, assembled to give his client his day in court, the prosecution in this case did not have enough proof beyond all reasonable doubt.The circumstances surrounding the death of former lawmaker Estella Yongor raised questions about her associates. There were reports that she might have been killed after she had received a gold wrist watch, missing after her body was discovered, which provided the added twist to the tongues Monrovians who followed the case with passion.Metropolitan newspapers in the city made wide guesses of her death. In a sensational angle, one of the most respected newspapers carried an editorial with a touch of irony in the lighter side of life:It would be the discovery of her missing gold watch that could help prosecutors a chance to give her death some justice.The demise of the woman known among her colleagues as the ‘lawlady’ has once again brought it painful home that there is always a day of reckoning in what we do.Estella Yongor’s end did not come because she had served her people well; it came because of certain decisions, ambitious as they might have been, were not appreciated by the very same people she had been hobnobbing for many years.Sadly, the woman known in frequenting where even Angels would not dare, has provided Monrovians much to talk about.An argument at a local club leading to her death is more intriguing than the bitterness of her death.Estella Yongor, the controversial lawmaker’s life was full of mystery and contradiction. Consider the following, as reported during the week of her death:“I saw the lawmaker that night,” said Monrovia Scratch Card Seller, Sam Toe, “she had on a gold watch and was a beauty that much I can tell you.”“A real beauty?” our reporter heard the question from an inquisitor, a young man who said he admired the lawmaker.Toe smiled, and said, “Yes, but there was this guy with her, and he was not that dashing in his outlook but there was something like a character in his looks.“Then after say twenty minutes, another man, he was a chubby type of guy and about twenty seven years old. His face was filled with rage.“It was hard to know what was responsible but he demanded for a gold wrist watch which started an argument that ended up in a melee.”Our investigations revealed that the lawmaker had had some inner friends and one of them could have sparked the fuse that led to her untimely death at thirty five.But the question is: where is the gold wrist watch? The discovery could lead to the eventual resolution of this horrible crime.The unrestrained but incriminating reports on the case in the media demonstrated people’s anger, and therefore many applauded when Judge Samson Saywah issued a gag order preventing further reporting till the preliminary trial was over.When her body was found, parts were missing, prosecuting witness, homicide investigative officer Detective Robert Monger testified during the pre-trial.“What else?” Prosecutor Santos Weah said, directing attention at detective Monger.“William Sombai, the defendant was caught with a briefcase that belonged to the decedent.”“When and where did you find William Sombai?”“It was two days after the murder and a witness at the club mentioned that he came along with the decedent.“We found him at his house in Duala drunk. Evidently he was under the influence of narcotics and a test indicated it was marijuana.”“What did you do next?”“We took him into custody and invited assistance from the JFK Medical Center. After some help, it took him two more days before he was sober.”“Ok,” the prosecutor said, “What did you do next?”“Well, when he sobered enough, he was able to explain his involvement and particularly how he got the briefcase belonging to the decedent.”“How did he get the briefcase?”“He said he found it behind the club, the Mayors Club, where the decedent and her friends had been that night of her murder.”“Did he reveal what happened to the lawmaker?”“Well,” the officer said, “initially he was not sure what was at stake till we informed him about the death of the lawmaker.”“What was his reaction?” “He broke down and wept but explained that he was not involved.”“He was not involved in what?”“In the lawmaker’s murder.”“And what else happened to him?”“He admitted that he was not himself that night and therefore he could not explain any circumstances that might have led to his involvement in the murder.”The prosecutor hesitated, and then said, “Did the defendant admit any knowledge of any of the persons that were with the lawmaker?”“Well, he admitted being there himself, I mean William Sombai…”But he was interrupted by the prosecutor, “When you said William Sombai, are you referring to William Sombai who is the defendant and is in this Courtroom?”“Yes,” the officer said, “and as I was saying defendant Sombai explained during our investigations that he had long known the decedent would end up that way.”“’What way did he mean?”“I think…”“Don’t think,” the prosecutor responded, “just answer the question as best as you know it from the defendant.”“In that case,” he answered, “he meant the way the lawmaker died.”The Courtroom remained quiet, as spectators focused their attention on the detective.On the defense’s side, the defendant sat somberly beside Criminal Lawyer Jason Doe, who watched the witness with a slight frown on his face.“Detective Monger,” the prosecutor pressed on, “you searched the defendant’s room?”“Yes.”“What did you find?”“A wrist watch, a gold wrist watch with the owner’s initial on it.”“Whose initials were they?”“The initials of the decedent.”“Do you have it with you?”“Yes.”The detective shuffled his pocket and withdrew a gold wrist watch with the initials of the late lawmaker on it.“What initials do you see on the wrist watch, Detective Monger?”“They are the letters E Y.”“Indicating Estella Yongor?”“Yes.”“What was the defendant’s response as to how he came to possess the gold wrist watch?”“Initially he was unable to explain how he came by the wrist watch till he realized the difficult position when his…”The prosecutor said, “Did his lawyer intervene?”“Yes and he further explained that the decedent had presented the watch to him as a gift.”“What happened next?”“When he was told that the owner of the wrist watch had been murdered, he said he would be blamed for her death.”“What did he do?” “For the next seven days, he kept weeping.”“What did he say, during this course?”“He would say ‘I know they would blame me, but I did not do it.”“And he admitted without being put under pressure that he was with the decedent but could not explain specifically his role during the period that the lawmaker reportedly died?”“Yes.”The prosecutor smiled and turning to Counselor Doe, said, “your witness.”Jason Doe strolled leisurely towards the witness and staring Detective Monger in the face, said: “You saw the gold wrist watch with the defendant?”“Yes.”“And initials there indicated EY, which you testified to represent Estella Yongor?”“Yes.”“But you will agree that the letters, EY can represent many other names other than Estella Yongor?”“Yes.”“It could be Eternal Youth, or Esther Young?”“Yes.”The lawyer saw a slightly confused look in the witness’ face, and said, “You examined the briefcase found by the defendant?”“Yes,” he said, “and we found out several personal effects of the decedent in it.”“Was there anything to suggest that someone had tampered with the briefcase?”“Yes.”“And the lawmaker, with all due respect to her memory, was known to have certain relations with certain characters in her community?”“Yes,” he said, “but evidently she was having a good time.”“During your investigations, Detective Monger, the defendant was cooperative?”The witness nodded and said quietly, “Of course.”A flickering light overshadowed the room, as the lawyer paced back and forth, hammering out questions with a professional touch. The spectators waited patiently, expecting the lawyer to spring one of his unusual questions to get the witness to create doubts with his answers. And the lawyer did not disappoint them when he charged:“The decedent was involved in many projects and there was one, Detective Monger, that indicated that she, on a number of occasions, argued with a man who had threatened her?”“Police found out that that threat was not anything serious,” the witness answered, his dark and piercing eyes staring into the lawyer’s gaze.“Who made the threat against the lawmaker?”Searching through his memories, the detective said, “It was one Samuel Boimah, who had in the past made some attempts to blackmail the lawmaker.”“Let me refer you to the briefcase which the police collected from the defendant,” Jason Doe said, “among the fingerprints was that of Samuel Boimah.”“Yes.”“Mr. Boimah was indebted to the lawmaker in the amount of US$5,000?”“That’s correct.”“And since Samuel Boimah was unable or did not want to repay the debt, did it not stand to reason that the pressure from the lawmaker compelled Boimah to engineer the lawmaker’s demise to free himself from the debt burden?”“Well,” the witness’s smooth composure was broken by a faint surprise as he fumbled his response, “we… considered that angle.”Nodding slowly, the lawyer said: “And what was your answer from that angle?”The lawyer’s question seemed to freeze the witness from inaction.The embarrassing situation was saved when, Judge Saywah said, “The Court finds this case very interesting and stipulates with the benefit of the defendant that there is the angle of Samuel Boimah that the police must investigate and therefore the Court hereby orders the defendant release from custody.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

first_imgA Mahaica, East Coast Demerara (ECD) family was on Saturday evening attacked and terrorised by five masked gunmen in a three-hour ordeal that ended when the bandits confiscated their cash and jewellery.Fruit vendor 56-year-old Lalawattie Basraj of Belmont, Mahaica, ECD, her husband Anand Basraj and their 15-year-old daughter Khenwattie Basraj, along with Nimawattie Deodat, are still traumatised by the ordeal.Based on reports received, the five armed men invaded the premises at about 19:50h while the occupants of the two-storey wooden-and-concrete house were in the lower flat of the building.The suspects reportedly gained entry onto the premises by scaling a fence. They then broke into the lower flat of the house and held the victims at gunpoint, binding the hands and feet of their victims before demanding cash and jewellery in a spree of terror.Farmer Anand Basraj attempted to put up a fight, but was instead dealt several blows to his head. Upon seeing this, his wife reportedly handed over about $400,000 in cash, along with cell phones, jewellery and a laptop computer to the armed men. Afterwards, the suspects made good their escape in an unknown direction.After realising that the men had left, the occupants managed to untie themselves and raise an alarm.The Police were also contacted. The injured farmer was taken to the hospital where he was treated for the injuries he sustained to his head.The police have launched an investigation into the incident, but no one has as yet been arrested.last_img read more

first_imgGeorge Groves believes he is on the verge of a world title shot following Saturday’s impressive victory at the O2 Arena.Groves’ fifth-round demolition of Noe Gonzalez maintained the Hammersmith super-middleweight’s unbeaten record in fine style.And it kept him on course for a world title challenge later this year, with IBF champion Carl Froch and WBO title holder Robert Stieglitz among those touted as possible opponents despite Groves’ relative inexperience.“People like Carl Froch are world champions and have been world champions for a long time so I understand why people think that I’m not quite there,” said Groves.“But I’m ranked number one with WBO, number two with WBA, number three with WBC so there aren’t that many guys in front of me and when they do put guys in front of me, I put them asleep.” See also:Booth rules out Groves-Magee encounterDeGale wants Groves clash at Loftus RoadFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

first_imgAnalogies may not be perfect representations of reality, but it must pique the interest of all of us the way Elisabeth Pennisi in Science1 compared muscle to cars and bicycles:One look at a ballerina as she pirouettes and poses drives home the remarkable ability of our muscles to adapt to diverse biomechanical demands.  Manny Azizi and Thomas Roberts, biomechanists at Brown University, have now found that as certain muscles contract, they vary their shape to balance the need for speed and force.  It’s as if these muscles have a builtin automatic transmission, says Azizi….[Azizi’s] simulations showed that certain muscle shapes caused contracting pinnate fibers to shift to a less steep angle.  When that happens, the muscle’s overall height decreases more than it would have had the fibers maintained their angle.  In other words, the virtual muscle shifted into the equivalent of a high gear ratio, increasing the speed of contraction…. Azizi then looked at whether real muscles acted this way.  He had expected that each pinnate muscle would have just one gear ratio, that is, undergo a characteristic shape change, and therefore be strong or contract fast but not have both features…. [they found] the muscle operated at a lower gear and took full advantage of the dense packing of pinnate fibers….    Just as one changes gears on a bicycle to crawl up an ever-steeper hill, “the direction of change in the muscle gears matches the mechanical demands of contraction,” Azizi said.  Moreover, the muscle’s shifting of gears required no nervous system input, occurring automatically depending on the load applied.Imagine–your muscles are like a bicycle with automatic transmission.  The gearbox of muscle surprised the researchers.  “A single muscle undergoes not one shape change but a range of different shape changes under different circumstances,” Azizi found.  While pinnate muscles can rotate under light loads, they are prevented from rotation under heavy loads by the pull on the fibers.  “Thus, although pinnate muscles are supposedly specialized for force, under light demand, they can also work fast,” Pennisi explained.  A colleague admired this study “assessing muscle architecture with relation to function.”1Elisabeth Pennisi, “News Focus: SOCIETY FOR INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY MEETING: Muscle Fibers Shift Into High Gear,” Science, 26 January 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5811, p. 456, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5811.456b.Need we say?  There was no mention of evolution in this article.  Picture some examples of human muscle in action: the ballerina on tiptoes, a skater doing a triple lutz, the contestant in the World’s Strongest Man Competition hoisting a car, the concert pianist pounding a fortissimo section of a Rachmaninoff concerto, a gymnast doing an iron cross on the rings, a sprinter doing the high hurdles, a Chinese contortionist balancing water-filled glasses all over her body while lifting herself by a mouth grip – or just you, reaching on tiptoe for an item in the top cupboard.  Did anyone score you a 10 for that?  You’re amazing.  You knew that, of course.  But the right response should be, “Shucks, I’m just enjoying the gifts I got for my birthday.”(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgWhat do evolutionists do when data bring surprises to their claims?  They find new ways for evolution to work magic.  See if these stories illustrate that or not.Plant-animal partnership:  One could hardly find two groups of organisms more disparate than plants and animals, but an article on PhysOrg claims that both groups hit on the same evolutionary solution to a problem independently.  The subtitle emphasized the disparity, saying, “Despite their divergent evolutionary history, membrane-bound kinase receptors in animals and plants rely on similar regulatory mechanisms to control their activity.”  To arrive at this solution, “plants took an evolutionary path different from their animal cousins,” the article continued.    How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  “There seem to be only so many ways to build a robust signaling system,” Dr. Joanne Chory of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “and plants and animals have hit upon the same mechanisms.”  Odd; there seem to be a lot of evolutionary solutions to many other common problems.  Conservation and convergence are contrary to predictions of Darwin’s branching tree of life, but evolutionists routinely invoke those terms within evolutionary theory, not as a falsification of it.Tooth loophole:  What is the truth about the tooth in frogs?  Most frogs lack teeth on the lower jaw, but a strange tree frog in the Andes named Gastrotheca guentheri has teeth on both upper and lower jaws – the only known frog species so equipped.  The headline on the BBC News announced, “Frogs re-evolved lost lower teeth.”    How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  Dr. John Wiens of Stony Brook University published his explanation in the journal Evolution: “I combined data from fossils and DNA sequences with new statistical methods and showed that frogs lost their teeth on the lower jaw more than 230 million years ago, but that they re-appeared in G. guentheri within the past 20 million years.”    This would have to mean that genes for lower teeth sat dormant in frogs for 210 million years.  If they served no purpose, though, why would natural selection retain them?  “The reappearance of these lower teeth after such a long time fuels debate about whether complex traits are lost in evolution or if they can resurface,” reporter Ella Davies wrote.  Is this a kind of resurrection miracle?“The loss of mandibular teeth in the ancestor of modern frogs and their re-appearance in G. guentheri provides very strong evidence for the controversial idea that complex anatomical traits that are evolutionarily lost can re-evolve, even after being absent for hundreds of millions of years,” Dr Wiens says….   What G. guentheri did was to put teeth back on the lower jaw, rather than having to re-evolve all the mechanisms for making teeth ‘from scratch’,” says Dr Wiens.While efficient for the frog, it seems to contradict the notion that natural selection continually sifts out the bad and adds up the good.  210 million years is a long time to keep genes around that don’t do anything.  But Dr. Wiens was not done with his evolutionary magic tricks:“This ‘loophole’ may apply to many other cases when traits appear to re-evolve, such as in the re-evolution of lost fingers and toes in lizards,” Dr Wiens tells the BBC.    According to Dr Wiens, this theory could be applied to other recent studies that have suggested the re-evolution of lost traits.    In the last decade, scientists have identified and debated several attributes that have apparently “re-evolved” over time including stick insect’s wings, coiling in limpet shells, larval stages of salamanders and lost digits in lizards.Update 02/10/2011:  National Geographic News reported the story, saying “The discovery challenges a ‘cornerstone’ of evolutionary thinking, according to experts.”  After some argument over whether lost organs can never re-evolve (Dollo’s Law), the article admitted scientists cannot explain this by neo-Darwinism:With that in mind, natural selection—the process by which favorable traits become more common over time within a species—is “not enough to explain” why the marsupial tree frog regained its lower teeth.    “I can confidently say that we don’t know,” [Gunter] Wagner [Yale U] said.  “It’s an extremely interesting question.”Who’s your daddy?  Now that the orang-utan genome has been deciphered, evolutionists are saying that parts of the human genome are more closely related to orang-utans than to chimpanzees (see Science Daily).  The BBC News, reported that the orang-utan genome “evolved slowly,” while another article on Science Daily claimed that the orang genome is simultaneously “More Diverse Than Human’s, Remarkably Stable Through the Ages.”    How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  It seems the only way is to make evolution run fast and slow, both genetically and phenotypically: “That doesn’t mean the species itself has evolved more slowly,” said Devin Locke (Washington University), of the orang-utan genome, “but that this particular mechanism of genome evolution has been proceeding at a lower rate.  Humans and chimps, in sharp contrast, have experienced an acceleration in this form of evolution over the past 5 million years or so.”Carnation race:  Why would evolution’s mechanisms not follow predictable natural laws?  PhysOrg announced that carnations “show the fastest known diversification rate in plants,” at the same time some of their neighbors in similar habitats do not.  The short article tried to explain “the most rapid rate ever reported in plants or terrestrial vertebrates” as a function of arid conditions, “suggesting a link between climate and biodiversity,” but then one would expect all organisms in the Pleistocene to respond similarly in evolutionary terms.  Clearly the “living fossil” species, and many other stable organisms, have not.  What in tarnation made the carnation go on a diversity kick?Evolutionists are clearly having to juggle a confusing jumble of data.  Science Daily put forth a new theory about intron evolution, trying to bring order out of that seeming chaos, while PhysOrg tried to weave evolution and ecology into a curious feedback loop.  Thomas Schoener (UC Davis) looked at the oscillating beak sizes of Galapagos finches, and said, “If ecology affects evolution (long supported) and evolution affects ecology (becoming increasingly supported), then what?  The transformed ecology might affect evolution, and so on, back and forth in a feedback loop.”    This will certainly confuse cause and effect inferences, to say nothing of making evolutionary trends unpredictable.  A “major research effort” will be needed to find this out, he said.  But if evolution, ecology and environment are all interconnected, evolutionary theory will have a difficult time with this three-body problem being able to predict what will happen.  With apologies to Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently convoluted evolutionary theory is indistinguishable from magic.Has there ever been a more vacuous theory than Darwinism?  Evolution is fast except when it is slow, chaotic except when it is stable, divergent except when it is convergent, a driver except when it is driven, selfish except when it is altruistic, exorbitant except when it is thrifty, accelerating at the same time it is pushing on the brakes, dependent on the climate except when it’s not, mechanistic except when it is random.  There is no observation that cannot be incorporated into this hodgepodge of explanation, rendering it little more than a flexible, dynamic, evolving, adjusting, backpedaling, ad hoc narrative.  But we MUST teach it as FACT in the schools! (Re-read 01/29/1011 now).(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img(Visited 46 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Observations don’t always fit what evolutionists expect.  Darwin’s theory always wins anyway.When you wish upon a bone:  Roger Close of Monash University looked at fossil wishbones and tried to find an evolutionary pattern.  There wasn’t any.  The furcula (wishbones) of mesozoic birds showed just as much diversity as those of modern birds, if not more so.  The article on PhysOrg summarizing Close and Rayfield’s paper in PLoS ONE did not mention transitional forms, or any pattern from simple to complex.Close expected his research to “broaden our understanding of the functional anatomy or biomechanics of early avian evolution.”  He expected to clarify the findings in a 2002 study of wishbones by Hui, but alas, “a murkier picture seems to emerge” from his data set.  In the PhysOrg article, Close left the door open for Darwin: “While this may be interpreted as evidence that early birds flew differently to those alive today, it might equally well indicate that they had evolved different anatomical solutions to accomplish the same feats.”Adult birds as dinosaur fetuses:  Two evolutionists, by studying the shape of bird heads and dinosaur hatchlings, came up with a new idea about the origin of birds: they are dinosaurs that never grew up.  Somehow, the first birds were dinosaurs that “sped up the clock” of embryonic development and arrested it before maturity.  As a result of what might be called the Peter Pan theory of evolution, ostriches, condors, hummingbirds and penguins were not far behind.“What is interesting about this research is the way it illustrates evolution as a developmental phenomenon,” said Arkhat Abzhanov, associate professor at Harvard and study co-author. “By changing the developmental biology in early species, nature has produced the modern bird — an entirely new creature — and one that, with approximately 10,000 species, is today the most successful group of land vertebrates on the planet.”Is this a new law of nature?  Are whales arrested embryos of cattle?  Are humans arrested embryos of monkeys?  In the report on Science Daily, they didn’t point to any other instances of such an evolutionary process, but added “arrested embryonic development” to Darwin’s strategic toolkit:Ultimately, Abzhanov said, the way the bird skull evolved — through changes in the developmental timeline — highlights the diversity of evolutionary strategies that have been used over millions of years.“That you can have such dramatic success simply by changing the relative timing of events in a creature’s development is remarkable,” he said. “We now understand the relationship between birds and dinosaurs that much better, and we can say that, when we look at birds, we are actually looking at juvenile dinosaurs.”“It shows that there’s so much for evolution to act upon,” Bhullar agreed.The article indicated that they were surprised by the differences in development between birds and dinosaurs: “What the researchers found was surprising — while early dinosaurs, even those closely related to modern birds, undergo vast morphological changes as they mature, the skulls of juvenile and adult birds remain remarkably similar.”  This evidence was not allowed to falsify Darwinism, however; on the contrary, it was used to reinforce it.  Now Darwin has more diversity of evolutionary strategies to use, and a bigger toolkit to work with.Bird feeder gets smaller:  One would think birds would love to eat giant insects, especially since pterodactyls lunched on them.  Apparently, the early bird got the small insect.  A prof and his grad student at UC Santa Cruz had to look long and hard to find correlations between insect size, oxygen levels and bird evolution, but turned up enough to report on PhysOrg that the “Reign of the giant insects ended with the evolution of birds.”Facts and data gaps, though, kept getting in the way: “But a 20-million-year gap in the insect fossil record makes it hard to tell when insect size changed, and a drop in oxygen levels around the same time further complicates the analysis.”  It left them with a composite explanation involving multiple possibilities: “These include the continued specialization of birds, the evolution of bats, and a mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous.”  How any of these were related to bug size was not clarified.The authors acknowledged that small insects have always been around, even when the giants reigned.  It’s unclear, then, why they would invoke the evolution of birds to drive the big bugs extinct, when today’s oxygen level (21%) is lower than what they assumed existed (30%) in the past and, according to the “leading theory,” oxygen level was a limiting factor on insect size.    An evolutionary story was ready in the wings, though: “With predatory birds on the wing, the need for maneuverability became a driving force in the evolution of flying insects, favoring smaller body size.”  Strange that the big bugs never needed said maneuverability when the pterosaurs were around.Seal a can’t:  Acknowledging that the strange fish known as coelacanths are iconic “living fossils” famous for their lack of evolution since the Middle Devonian, disappearance from the fossil record, and surprise re-appearance doing just fine in 1938.  Since then, several populations of the lobe-finned fish have been found off the costs of South Africa, Tanzania and the Comoros islands.European researchers “unexpectedly” found some genetic diversity among the geographically-separated living populations.  Writing in Current Biology,(Volume 22, Issue 11, R439-R440, 5 June 2012) Lampert et al. said, “Despite its undeniably slow evolutionary rate, the coelacanth still diversifies and is therefore able to adapt to new environmental conditions.”   One would expect a multitude of changes in environmental conditions to have occurred in 400 million years.  This means the fish can evolve, but didn’t — until modern times.  The lesson? — old fuddy-duddies can still jive:Coelacanths are generally viewed as evolutionary relics. Levels of population divergence and allelic diversity are low and confirm the assumed slow rate of molecular evolution in coelacanths. Obviously, even such slow evolutionary rates allow for local adaptation. As shown earlier for coelacanths and recently for cycad plants, near extinction need not be an evolutionary dead end.One wonders what on earth held these talented evolvers back from doing the Darwin thing till now.We must get the evolutionary storytellers out of the science building.On second thought: what would we do for entertainment?  Look at the fun we just had: a new Peter Pan show of bird evolution, a game of Evolutionary Strategy, a Saturday Night Live skit (since there is “so much for evolution to act upon”) of elderly fish that can still jive, and a charlatan’s promise that even YOU need not be an evolutionary dead end (thank goodness).Riddle: What is an evolutionary dead end?Answer: the head of a Darwinist.last_img read more

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first_imgGaza City: Hamas said Wednesday that two overnight bombings killed three Palestinian police officers in the Gaza Strip in what witnesses called suicide attacks as the Palestinian enclave was placed under a state of alert. Witnesses told AFP that both bombings were suicide attacks by assailants on motorbikes, but there was no official confirmation. A source familiar with the investigation said a Salafist movement in Gaza, which is run by Islamist movement Hamas, that sympathises with the Islamic State jihadist group was suspected. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USHamas’s interior ministry confirmed the three deaths, but spoke only of two “bombings” in Gaza City without providing details. It said two of the police officers were 32 and the third was 45. Two separate police checkpoints were targeted, it said. An investigation was underway as authorities pledged to track down the “masterminds”. New police checkpoints were set up in Gaza City. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya sought to reassure Palestinians in the enclave of two million people. “We assure our people that whatever these explosions are, they will be brought under control as with every previous event, and Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollswill not be able to undermine the stability and steadfastness of our people,” he said in a statement. Hundreds gathered for funerals for the three police officers. Suicide bombings are rare in the Gaza Strip. In August 2017, a suicide bomber killed a Hamas guard in southern Gaza on the border with Egypt. Hamas has run the Gaza Strip since 2007 but has been regularly criticised by more radical Salafist groups in the impoverished, Israeli-blockaded coastal territory. The Israeli military said it had not carried out any air raids at the time of the latest bombings. The bombings come at a sensitive time. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 and tensions have again risen in recent weeks ahead of Israel’s September 17 elections.last_img read more

Gauging the value of center Tyson Chandler has never been the easiest basketball exercise.The 17-year veteran has made his name in the NBA as a stellar rim protector, earning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011-12. But looking solely at his work on the defensive side of the ball would be selling him a bit short, given how well he has served as a lob specialist and a vertical floor-spacer in pick-and-roll situations.And then, of course, there’s the fact that Chandler — the newest member of the Lakers after a buyout from the Phoenix Suns — is perhaps the best player in NBA history at securing rebounds … without actually securing them.The cerebral 36-year-old has long excelled at what should be known as Tyson Tapbacks: volleyball-like plays in which he swats his club’s misfires toward half-court, where his teammates are more likely to come up with the ball. FiveThirtyEight reviewed every offensive rebound Chandler has obtained since the start of the 2013-14 season1Regular season only. and found that he has generated at least 140 tapbacks in that span. In other words, about 15 percent of his offensive boards during the past five-plus years have stemmed from this play.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TysonTapbacks.mp400:0000:0003:30Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The natural question, of course, is how someone would become so good at such a counterintuitive skill, given that players would obviously prefer to grab misses with both hands. Chandler has suggested that he stumbled onto the strategy.“Once I started getting double-teamed and boxed out, I realized, ‘OK, I can’t get to my full jump — I’ll be getting over-the-back calls all the time,’” the 7-foot-1 Chandler wrote in The Players’ Tribune a few years back. “So I started jumping like I do on a jump ball and batting it with one hand to my teammates. Now it’s funny because I see other big men do it.” In the same piece, Chandler also mentioned that rebounding that way likely cost him from a statistical standpoint for some years, as scorekeeping officials probably weren’t initially crediting him with boards for his backtaps.2With this in mind, FiveThirtyEight’s analysis covers only plays in which Chandler was credited with having snagged an offensive rebound.Chandler, who’s used this method for the better part of a decade, isn’t alone with his unusual, hard-to-track rebounding style. The move is a distant cousin of a strategy employed by Hall of Famer and NBA rebounding legend Dennis Rodman, who would often tip rebounds to himself while in traffic until he could secure the ball. Retired Pistons star Ben Wallace, also one of the best rebounders of all time, used the strategy every so often, too. And players like Brook and Robin Lopez have collected defensive accolades in recent years despite grabbing relatively few boards because they box out so well — an unselfish approach that boosts their teammates’ rebounding stats.Chandler certainly doesn’t lack ability as a traditional offensive rebounder. He’s still elite at generating offense from teammates’ misses — his career offensive rebound percentage ranks third among active players — and he has finished in the NBA’s top 10 in putback frequency3Tracking the share of a player’s offense that stems from a shot attempt immediately after securing an offensive rebound. Minimum of 75 putback possessions required. each of the past three seasons, according to Synergy Sports.It’s worth noting that not all of Chandler’s tapback efforts will be successful. (Laker fans, of course, have fond memories of the sport’s most infamous tapback, when Vlade Divac tipped the ball out to Robert Horry, who hit a game-winning three in the Western Conference finals.) Every now and then, he may toss one out of bounds by mistake, or throw one into the hands of a defensive player who happens to be in better position than one of Chandler’s teammates.But there are indications that Chandler’s tapback rebounds may carry a bit more weight than a typical offensive rebound.Chandler has already displayed clutch timing with his signature play — he’s come up with huge tapbacks already for the Lakers in the last four minutes of games against Miami, Atlanta and Minnesota. But the play also often creates high-value shots for teammates because of how flustered it leaves opponents, who have already crashed the defensive glass and aren’t in ideal position to run out and contest perimeter shooters.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TapbacksIntoBuckets.mp400:0000:0003:11Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.An analysis of Big Data Ball play-by-play logs shows that the offensively challenged Suns launched shot attempts a tenth of a second quicker than league average — and shot 3 points of effective field goal percentage better than usual4Going from a 43.4 percent effective field goal rate to a 46.5 percent effective field goal rate. — following a nonputback offensive rebound while Chandler was on the court5So excluding attempts that were within 2 feet of the basket or within 2 seconds of the offensive board. last season. The improved efficiency may have been at least partly due to the extra space shooters enjoyed from Chandler’s occasional tapbacks.And while the one-time All-Star has already proven his worth to the Lakers, who have gone 5-1 since signing Chandler, there are reasons to think that they could benefit from more of the Tyson Tapback. Entering Tuesday night, the club ranked ninth in jump-shooting6Meaning shots ranging from 10 to 35 feet. efficiency when the closest defender was at least 4 feet away. By contrast, the Lakers rank 21st when defenders are any closer than that, according to Second Spectrum. So it might be best for Los Angeles to get more open looks from outside.With time, the Lakers could even benefit from better understanding Chandler’s tapback patterns. In December 2012, Chandler told his teammates on the Knicks during a late-game timeout against the Nets to be prepared for him to tap the ball toward the perimeter on a miss.“I told the guys before we went out there I was getting grabbed and held down. I said, ‘I can’t come up with the rebound, so be ready. Don’t run away so quick because I’m probably going to get my hands on it and tap it out. So be ready to retrieve it,’” he said. Then, like clockwork, Chandler tapped out a rebound to get the Knicks an extra possession, and Jason Kidd — who had won the 2011 title in Dallas with Chandler — hit a game-winning triple on the next sequence.So while Chandler’s 3 points per game might make it easy to overlook his impact on that side of the ball, keep in mind that his value — even on the offensive end — generally goes far beyond that.Neil Paine contributed to this article.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more