The House Ethics Committee announced on Thursday that Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL 20th District) is under an ethics investigation involving allegations of an inappropriate relationship with one of his staffers.“The Committee is aware of public allegations arising out of Representative Alcee Hastings’ personal relationship with an individual employed in his congressional office. On May 14, 2019, the Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), began an investigation regarding the allegations,” a statement released by the chair and ranking member for the House Ethics committee said.Hastings released a statement saying that he has “cooperated with the committee,” and that, “As they continue to conduct their work, I stand ready to fully cooperate with their inquiry.”The Palm Beach Post reported that the congressman admitted in April that “he remained in a relationship with a member of his congressional staff,” but said that “he is unconcerned with the appearance of impropriety generated by his relationship.”The Ethics committee statement says: “The Committee is specifically considering whether Representative Hastings’ relationship with the individual employed in his congressional office is in violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 18(a), and whether Representative Hastings has received any improper gifts, including any forbearance, from that employee. The Committee continues to gather additional information regarding the allegations.”According to the code of official conduct for the House of Representatives, a lawmaker is not permitted to engage in “a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the(ir) supervision.” House rules were changed last year to ban relationships between members and their staff.Hastings was impeached by the House and removed from office as a federal judge by the Senate in 1989. The House adopted a number of articles of impeachment against Hastings that included charges of conspiracy and perjury — of which the Senate voted by the necessary two-thirds vote to convict him on eight articles.Hastings was appointed to the Florida federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and became the state’s first African-American federal judge.
More than 180 alleged arsonists have been arrested since the start of the Australian bushfire season, with 29 blazes deliberately lit just three months.Rain is bringing some relief from the fires but 25 people have died, 20 million acres have burned and a half billion animals have died.The Shoalhaven fires were lit between July and September last year, with Kempsey recording 27 deliberately lit fires, NSW Bureau of Crime and Statistics and Research data shows.Police arrested 183 people for lighting bushfires across Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania in the past few months. NSW police data shows 183 people have been charged or cautioned for bushfire-related offences since November 8, and 24 arrested for deliberately starting bushfires.Queensland police say 101 people have been picked up for setting fires in the bush, 32 adults and 69 juveniles.In Tasmania, where fires have sprung up in the north of the state and outside Hobart, five were caught setting fire to vegetation. Victoria reported 43 charged for 2019.
The new record high comes less than two months after it reached 28-thousand for the first time on November 15th. It continues a remarkable climb for the stock index of the 30 largest companies in America.The Dow crossed the 20-thousand point threshold about three years ago, on January 25th, 2017 after President Trump was elected. (New York, NY) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average has hit another record high. The Dow is soaring past the 29-thousand mark for the first time today. Dow 29000 in sight as fading Mideast tensions help to jolt stock market higher – MarketWatch #America https://t.co/mEAZDWN8Gs— SmBizAmerica® (@SmBizAmerica) January 10, 2020 Some pessimistic economists warn that the stock market is not the economy. But hey, the new high is still great for your 401K. DOW 29000. Important to remember that the stock market is not the economy, and even less representative of the economy than in the past. The DOW and S&P more reflective of largest and most profitable companies than in the past, a concentration that has also undermined wage growth— Diane Swonk (@DianeSwonk) January 10, 2020
Who do you have your money on in Sunday’s Super Bowl? Kansas City or San Francisco?Bettors may want to consider the selection thrown up by Fiona, the hippopotamus at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.On Thursday, Fiona made her pick by throwing up on the Kansas City Chiefs toy.Fiona was born prematurely three years ago which drew international attention. This is her third year picking a team for the Super Bowl. In 2018 she correctly picked the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the New England Patriots. In 2019 she missed by picking the Los Angeles Rams over the Patriots.The Chiefs are favored by one point to win the Super Bowl.
On February 7th the family held a private funeral at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona Del Mar.A public memorial has been scheduled for Bryant and Gigi at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 24. Kobe’s wife shared a Instagram post expressing the significant meaning to the date of their public memorial: “ #2 , #24 , #20 years as a Laker and the amount of years Kob and I were together,”Gigi wore the number two on her team at the time of her death, Kobe wore the number 24 in his final years as a Los Angeles Lakers star. Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant were laid to rest near their Orange County home last week, according to multiple reports.Bryant, 41, his daughter, 13, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26th.UPDATED: Former NBA Star Kobe Bryant Dies in CA Helicopter Crash
“Earlier last week we said if you’re traveling around the state between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and you’re nonessential, we want you off the roads. We’re basically saying that’s now 24 hours. We don’t want you out there,” Murphy said. NEW JERSEY – Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Saturday, March 21, mandating that all New Jersey residents stay at home indefinitely in light of the spreading COVID-19 disease, with a few specific exceptions. “We’re at war, if that is not apparent already,” Murphy told a reporter at the state press conference Saturday afternoon. “There’s no need to panic, but this is not a normal time. So, we’re taking steps that we feel like we have to take.” All gatherings, celebrations and parties must also be canceled, including weddings. The “Stay At Home” Executive Order 107 mandates that residents only leave their homes to obtain goods or services from essential businesses; get food or beverage takeout; seek medical attention; need social or law enforcement services; visit family or romantic partners; leave for educational, political or religious reasons; or are directed to do so by law enforcement or a government agency. There are now 98 positive novel coronavirus cases in Monmouth County, the county announced Saturday afternoon. In the Two River area, that includes three in Colts Neck, three in Little Silver, seven in Middletown, one in Monmouth Beach, two in Red Bank and one in Rumson. Additionally, people are encouraged to partake in outdoor activities like walking or running, but to do so following social distancing guidelines and being at least 6 feet apart from other individuals outside.
Two recent articles show that Darwin is not invincible. On one side he is being attacked by hopeful monsters. On the other, he is being attacked by an atheist truth-seeker. Neither of these attacks are coming from creationists.Return of the hopeful monster: Tanguy Chouard raised eyebrows in Nature News with a headline that sounds like a new movie: “Revenge of the hopeful monster.” It discusses the revival of a heresy that would have ruffled Darwin, who always said, “Natura non facit saltum” (nature does not take leaps). Chouard discusses evidence that nature does take leaps – big changes that can occur within a single generation. “Experimental evidence has shown that individual genetic changes can have vast effects on an organism without dooming it to the evolutionary rubbish heap,” he said. (The evolutionary rubbish heap is presumably where winners of the Darwin Awards go.) But does the evolutionary Aesop fable give the edge to the gradualist tortoise, or to the saltationist hare? Maybe both. Avoiding a complete overhaul of the Darwin evolution engine, Chouard tried to have his cake and eat it, too: “But small-effect mutations still matter – a lot. They provide essential fine-tuning and sometimes pave the way for explosive evolution to follow,” he explained. “As the molecular details unfold, theory badly needs to catch up.” For evidence, Chouard exhibited an evolutionary pet, the stickleback fish. Offspring can vary substantially between armored and naked forms. This is due to a single gene location responsible for 2/3 of the spines. Chouard explained, “the reigning gradualist dogma regarded these as artificially protected monstrosities that would never survive the harsh hand of natural selection.” Gradualists have argued that pleiotropy (multiple effects of single changes) means that large changes would generally be deleterious. “How could a mutation in such a crucial gene result in anything but a hopeless monster?” A successful large change would be tantamount to a miracle. The stickleback study, though, shows that “surgical strike” mutations that cause sudden changes in armor happen repeatedly. And Lenski’s multi-generational studies on E. coli showed both saltations and gradual mutations at work, producing increases in fitness by jumps and by small steps. The idea is “large-early, small-late” – big jumps that don’t kill the organism are fine-tuned by gradual changes. Some of the bacteria learned to digest citrate, and then these mutants quickly swept through and overtook the population. Lenski considered that comparable to the invasion of land by tetrapods. (For a different interpretation, see the Behe Blog.) “It remains to be seen,” though, Chouard added, “whether such elementary mechanisms of adaptation, often referred to as microevolution, can instruct the higher processes that constitute macroevolution, such as speciation and the emergence of biodiversity or complex organs.” Even Goldschmidt, the hopeful-monster champion, doubted leaps that large could be made. And Jerry Coyne cautioned generalizing results from asexual bacteria with small genomes and high mutation rates. So is this disjunctive theory that says evolution proceeds both by leaps and by crawls an improvement on Darwin? Do the tortoise and the hare join hands and cross the finish line as a team? “Large effect or small, evolution begins to look like an endless list of special cases,….” Chouard admitted. “One reason is the general lack of knowledge about how changes in genes contribute to function and how this affects fitness.” That sounds a pretty basic requisite for understanding evolution. One evolutionist longed for a functional synthesis, “marrying evolutionary biology, molecular genetics and structural biology.” Some are glad for the return of Goldschmidt’s hopeful monster hypothesis; others favor a middle ground. “We need much more data before the issue of large versus small can be settled,” Coyne said, before the new studies can argue that “Darwin was wrong” about saltation. The organisms are going to be the arbiters of this dispute. “A mutation may affect phenotype but not change fitness much,” Chouard ended. “It may have a large effect in the context of a given genome, or in a given environment, but may have a smaller effect later in an organism’s history.” So it seems way premature to claim that evolutionary biology has settled on a comprehensive theory of speciation, even 150 years after Darwin. Chouard handed out promissory notes: “As researchers drill down to the molecular mechanisms driving adaptation, theory may catch up and dogmas may recede.” Maybe Darwin was wrong. Maybe he was right. Maybe he was partly right. Who knows? He must be celebrated as the greatest biologist in history regardless.Dogma must go: Jerry Fodor, a philosopher at Rutgers, is angry at the dogmatic Darwinists who see natural selection as the be-all and end-all of evolutionary change. But he is no creationist; he is an avowed atheist. He discussed his book What Darwin Got Wrong, co-authored with Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, an atheist professor of cognitive sciences at U of Arizona, on Salon.com. Thomas Rogers, who interviewed Fodor, was surprised that a published attack on Darwin did not come from the “religious right.” He said, “Their book details (in very technical language) how recent discoveries in genetics have thrown into question many of our perceived truths about natural selection, and why these have the potential to undermine much of what we know about evolution and biology.” For challenging Darwin, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini have received “obscene and debased ” comments on blogs. Fodor’s beef with natural selection appears to stem from its storytelling propensity. Why do people have traits like hair on their heads and dark hair with dark eyes? “You can make up a story that explains why it was good to have those properties in the original environment of selection,” he said. “Do we have any reason to think that story is true? No.” Fodor argues that there is no way to tell which traits were selected because they contribute to fitness, and which traits come along for the ride. “There isn’t anything in the Darwinist picture that allows you to answer that question.” Why do we have toenails? Do they serve an evolutionary purpose? How would we know? “It may be a case that in the environment there was some factor that favored toenails but there also may not.” This sounds like the Stuff Happens Law. Gene expression is too complicated, he said, to sort out fitness effects from random change: “Now the question is, how much of the evolutionary variance is determined by factors of the environment and how much is controlled by the organization of the organism, and the answer is nobody knows.” Fodor even argues that picking out “traits” may be meaningless. A giraffe has a long neck. Did nature select that trait, or is it part of the giraffe package? “Animals can have long necks and toenails, but if you try to break such creatures apart into traits and you say, OK, ‘What selected this trait?’ and, ‘What selected that trait?’ you’ve made a mistake right from the beginning,” he said. “The disintegration of the organism into traits is itself a spurious undertaking.” Selection acts on the whole animal, he believes. An example of the storytelling habit can be seen in last week’s Science paper on whale evolution.1 “The link between diatom diversity and observed cetacean diversity supports the hypothesis that diatom-based primary production has been an important driver of neocete evolution,” wrote Marx and Uhen. (A “neocete” is a modern whale.) How, exactly, did that environmental driver (diatom diversity and number) act on the genes of a pre-whale to make it a whale? It leaves the evolution of the complex structures of the customers assumed rather than explained. Undeterred, the authors next pulled a completely different explanatory tool off the shelf. “Similarly, the observation that climate change also has a role to play is not surprising in light of recent research that has demonstrated substantial temperature-dependent variations in the diversity of extant cetaceans.” But how can they disentangle that driver from other drivers, and explain why it acted the way it did on whales, but not on birds, mammals and everything else in the biosphere that was simultaneously subject to climate change? To take Fodor’s response, “Nobody knows.” Maybe Marx and Uhen should make a bold, Popperian prediction. Maybe they should predict what whales will evolve into after today’s anthropogenic climate change. Will it be as dramatic as turning a cow into a whale? Should we find it “not surprising” if climate change has a “role to play” in driving whales back onto land, or giving them wings? How would that role be measured?Fodor knows his views could be perceived as traitorous. “I think there’s the sense that if you think that there’s something wrong with the theory you’re giving aid and comfort to intelligent design people. And people do feel very strongly about whether you want to do that.” He himself is unperturbed by that eventuality. “When you do science, you try to find the truth.”1. Felix Marx and Mark Uhen, “Climate, Critters, and Cetaceans: Cenozoic Drivers of the Evolution of Modern Whales,” Science, 19 February 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5968, pp. 993-996, DOI: 10.1126/science.1185581.Fodor’s courage for facing flak while seeking truth is admirable, but he doesn’t realize that his truth-seeking is incompatible with his atheism. Truth refers to ideas that are eternal – otherwise they are not true. How is an atheist, who is presumably a physicalist, going to employ concepts, ideas and propositions, which must be defended with honesty and integrity, without presupposing a moral and spiritual realm? A “force” will not do. Honesty, truth, integrity, morality presuppose a Person. The creationists, whom he accuses of post-hoc reasoning, actually have the pre-hoc conditions for intelligibility that give their post-hoc deductions meaning. Darwinists hawk their post-hoc stories without the pre-hoc, making them ad-hoc. That’s when the post-hoc fallacy ensues. Fodor should stop plagiarizing Judeo-Christian presuppositions and pay the price before taking part in the Judeo-Christian smorgasbord with its nutritious ingredients of rationality. So he should not worry about offending the other thieves, but make amends with the smorgasbord Owner. It should be clear from these stories that criticisms of Darwin are not all religiously motivated. They are substantive. Darwinism is a collection of just-so stories funded by promissory notes with no empirical collateral. The bank that issues Darwin notes is bankrupt. Any theory that reduces to the Stuff Happens Law is dealing in worthless explanatory currency. If you call Chairman Charlie and ask, “What do you know?” he doesn’t answer. Let the dead bury their dead.(Visited 82 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
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Bhagaban Sahu, prime accused in the murder of Congress candidate from Odisha’s Aska Assembly Constituency, Manoj Kumar Jena, was arrested by Berhampur police on Saturday. The Congress candidate had been murdered in Berhampur on May 22, a day before the counting of votes. Police had earlier arrested seven persons in relation to this case. But Sahu, the prime conspirator behind the murder, had absconded. Sahu, a liquor trader, had used hired killers to murder Jena. Sahu now has seven criminal cases pending against him, including five murder cases.According to the findings of investigating police officers, a long-standing tussle over criminal activities and the liquor trade were the reason behind this murder.