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‘We Put Ourselves In Their Shoes’

first_imgVice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai has encouraged the French people to take heart following the terrorist attack in Nice last Thursday. On Thursday, July 14, 2016, as the citizens and people of France enjoyed fireworks and other celebrations on Bastille Day, the country’s national day, a French-Tunisian man, identified by authorities as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, accelerated a lorry into an unsuspecting crowd in the French coastal city of in Nice. At least 84 persons, including 10 children, died in the carnage, with nearly 300 wounded, some very seriously and in critical condition.Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer after signing the Book of Condolence opened by the French Embassy near Monrovia in memory of those who died, the VP stated he just couldn’t comprehend “the madness that enters people to destroy lives without any justification.” The Liberian VP, who watched the event unfolded on television, and knowing the French people being who they are, “open and sociable,” said he couldn’t understand that such a horrible event was happening to them.He stated that he had brought a message of consolation to the French people through their embassy adding that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had earlier spoken and condemned the act against peaceful people.“We want to console them. We and the French people have a very close relationship; when such a thing happens, we put ourselves in their shoes like it’s happening to us,” he said. “We know that the French people will not give in to limiting their freedom to move around. The French people are courageous.”While expressing his condolences to the bereaved families, the VP stated that he was happy it didn’t happen during the Euro 2016 tournament when football teams from European nations were in various parts of France taking part in the tournament. The Vice President led an array of government officials, including Acting Foreign Minister B. Elias Shoniyin; Justice Minister Frederick Cherue; Youth and Sports Minister Saah N’Tow; and others to sign the Book of Condolence. Notable among all the men who signed the Book was NationalInvestment Commission Chairperson, Madam Etmonia David. For his part, the French Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Joël Godeau, praised the Liberian Government for the solidarity shown his country since the terrorist attack. He said President Sirleaf was among the first people to send their messages of consolation and condolence to his President, Mr. François Hollande.“Madam President sent a very warm message to the President of France expressing her sympathy and compassion and denouncing this terrible and awful attack against innocent people,” Ambassador Godeau stated. He disclosed that at least 84 persons, including 10 children, died and nearly 300 were injured; adding: “A few hundred more are psychologically shocked by what they saw.”The French Ambassador stressed that no one, including the man who carried out the attack, can make France “give in,” and that the French people will resist every hate, which according to him is the measure for preventing such terrorist attacks.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Biology Now Includes Fluid Dynamic Construction

first_imgThere’s an old legend that Tibetan monks built a wall by levitating heavy stones with sound by beating their drums and gongs.  Something not quite so fantastic but still amazing is done by cells in the embryo.  Scientists have filmed zebrafish embryos using beating cilia to build little stone structures that they use for balance.    Animals need to know which way is up.  All vertebrates have pieces of rock in their heads for this purpose (see 10/10/2003).  These rocks made of calcium carbonate, called otoliths in fish and otoconia in humans, are tied to sensory organs that measure their inertia to determine balance, direction and motion.  They are interesting examples of biomineralization – the use of mineral construction materials instead of proteins, sugars, fats and nucleic acids.  Because minerals are hard things, they need to be guided into place like building blocks.  How does a little fish embryo place the building blocks for otoliths that will work?  “Otolith number, size and placement are under strict developmental control,” wrote a team of UCLA and Caltech scientists in Nature.1    Until now it was unknown how the embryo guided the building blocks into place.  The team used high-speed digital video cameras on a microscope to film the growth of otic vesicles, the organs where otoliths form.  At 100 to 330 frames per second, they observed that cilia attracted precursor particles by beating back and forth, creating little vortices in the fluid.  At polar ends of the otic vesicles, longer cilia called “tether cilia” beat this way and attracted particles to their tips.  The beating not only set up a fluid dynamic system that pulled the particles in, it also kept the growing structure rotating for even construction.  They called this a “cilium-dependent hydrodynamic system.”    The cilium uses dynein for motion and is dependent on a gene called Gas8 for regulation.  Here’s the jargon:Our results demonstrate that Gas8 is required for normal motility of cilia in the otic vesicle and that ciliary motility is essential for normal ear development.  The otic vesicle is a closed epithelial organ and fluid flow within this vesicle has been suggested to contribute to otolith formation.  Our study provides direct experimental evidence in support of this hypothesis.  On the basis of high-speed video microscopy of cilia motility and quantitative analysis of precursor particle movements in wild-type and gas8 morphant embryos, we propose a new, cilium-dependent hydrodynamic mechanism for otolith biogenesis (Fig. 4).  In this model, motility of tether cilia at the poles of the otic vesicle establishes a vortex that attracts otolith precursors (Fig. 4i, l), thereby biasing an otherwise random distribution of precursor particles and concentrating them near the two patches of tether cilia.  This ensures preferential otolith seeding at the poles of the otic vesicle.  At the otic vesicle poles, tether cilia motility further serves to disperse precursor particles locally and oscillation of the otolith increases effective contact area with precursors (Fig. 4j). Together, this prevents particles from sedimenting to form ectopic aggregates and promotes efficient uniform otolith growth.Cool.  The little fish embryo uses this organ to keep itself right-side up as it swims away.  Although the scientists observed this phenomenon in fish, they believe the mechanism may have more general application.  “Our findings add to a growing list of developmental processes requiring fluid dynamic inputs for proper growth and patterning, further showing that epigenetic cues are part of the embryonic developmental program.”  They encouraged other biologists to look for answers to hearing loss and balance problems in humans in “ciliopathies” – diseases of the cilia.    The Supplementary Information page contains Quicktime movies where you can see the beating tether cilia with otoliths growing at their tips.2 1.  Colantonio et al, “The dynein regulatory complex is required for ciliary motility and otolith biogenesis in the inner ear,” Nature 457, 205-209 (8 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07520.2.  Supplementary Information page for Colantonio et al, Nature.Think how many systems must interact in this amazing process.  Cilia are among the “irreducibly complex” organelles Michael Behe described in detail in Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution.  All the parts of the cilia must be coded in the DNA – along with the assembly instructions for the cilia and the molecular trucks that build them (visit 06/14/2004 to be blown away by that fact).  The cilia have to find their ways to the poles of the otic vesicle.  They have to know how fast to beat to set up the proper vortex that will attract precursor particles.  They have to start and stop beating at the right time and somehow “know” when the otoliths are the right size and shape.  The sensory apparatus has to know what to do with the information provided by the inertia of the otoliths.  The brain has to process this information and send course corrections to the muscles.  A multitude of ancillary proteins, hormones and regulatory factors are involved.  This is just for one sense organ in a tiny fish embryo.  Did the fish figure this all out by trial and error?  Remember – vertebrate fish have been found near the base of the Cambrian (01/30/2003), with all their systems appearing fully formed.    OK, time for the quiz: did this paper mention evolution?  For a change, YES!  But you’ll get a bang out of their one lonely reference: “Cilia are evolutionarily conserved organelles that perform motility, sensory and transport functions and are required for normal vertebrate development and physiology.”  Ha!  You may now laugh your way to the Bank of I.D. and deposit this paper in a C.D. (Certificate of Design), where it will yield high interest, guaranteed.(Visited 36 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

After defeating censure motion on Gujarat, Vajpayee Government looks confident

first_imgVote bait: The Government has survived but its image has taken a beatingThere are leaders who find politically uncertain times the most convenient to search for their conscience. Ram Vilas Paswan is one such. Union coal minister till last week, Paswan pulled out of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Cabinet, and,Vote bait: The Government has survived but its image has taken a beatingThere are leaders who find politically uncertain times the most convenient to search for their conscience. Ram Vilas Paswan is one such. Union coal minister till last week, Paswan pulled out of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Cabinet, and his latest party offering, the Lok Janshakti, out of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), hours before the Lok Sabha debate on April 30.The Opposition-sponsored motion sought to censure the Government on the continuing violence in Gujarat. As the discussion began, Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah, of the National Conference (NC), also announced his decision to quit.With the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) having already declared its intention not to participate in the voting, the Congress-led Opposition was anticipating an April 1999-type closing that saw the then Vajpayee government being thrown out by a solitary vote.Far from being a close call, the voting at the end of a 16-hour, often acrimonious debate showed that despite the cracks in the coalition the Government was safe. The Opposition had pinned its hopes too high.The Government garnered 281 votes, the Opposition merely 194. “The Vajpayee Government may have won, but the nation is the ultimate loser,” fumed RJD leader Laloo Prasad Yadav, assuming the uncharacteristic role of democracy’s latest torchbearer. Rural Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu showed no trace of emotion when he said, “Only numbers count in democracy, not sentiments.”Golden hour: The Congress has gained from the BJP allies’ trial by fire in the debateThe parliamentary test may have been won by the Government but it had to count its losses as well. After the continued deadlock in the Lok Sabha and the hype outside over Gujarat ever since Parliament resumed the budget session in mid-April, it has been a fight for survival for the Government.It did survive, but its image was badly bruised. In the past, the BJP could afford to brush aside Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee’s outrageous demands as the tantrums of a temperamental woman. But this time, even the hitherto reliable allies began to play truant.advertisementIn hindsight, it is clear that some of the allies are dispensable but it would be naive to assume that the coalition emerged stronger after the debate. If anything, the vote pattern proved that many alliance partners had no choice but to stick to the NDA despite the BJP’s hardline posture on Hindutva.The voting of the alliance partners was dictated mainly by their own political compulsions. Ahead of next year’s assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, the TDP could do little else but abstain. The alternative? Hand over the substantial Muslim votes in the state to the Congress.The Trinamool, still smarting from last year’s rout in the West Bengal assembly elections, had no electoral compulsions and voted for the Government. The NC’s dilemma was somewhat akin to that of the TDP. Elections in Jammu and Kashmir are due later this year and the party could not afford to annoy the state’s majority Muslim community.At the same time, the party faced the risk of a double anti-incumbency backlash – being in power both at the Centre and the state. But since it had no intention to antagonise the Centre, it decided to abstain and sacrifice the ministerial berth of Abdullah, who in any case is scheduled to take over as the NC chief in the near future.The DMK had in the past voiced its reservation over the events in Gujarat but was forced to vote with the Government because it couldn’t afford to be seen on the same side of the political divide as arch rival AIADMK. The Janata Dal (United) was anything but united. While party chief Sharad Yadav is a member of the Vajpayee Cabinet, his Parliamentary Party leader Devendra Prasad Yadav, sore over not being accommodated in the Cabinet, decided to adopt the moral highground and abstaining despite being present in the House.Major parliamentary debates are usually covered live by Doordarshan, but with the Government ordering the switching off of the cameras, viewers across the country were deprived of the chance to see their elected representatives indulge in doublespeak. In this case, the NDA leaders who spoke the language of the Opposition and blasted the Narendra Modi Government for its alleged inefficiency, but ultimately voted against the censure motion.While the NDA’s image has taken a beating, the debate has boosted the BJP’s morale. Having crossed the Lok Sabha halfway mark of 272 despite the desertion of key allies – thanks to the trade-off with the BSP’s Mayawati which brought 13 crucial votes – party leaders will now be eager to put an end to frequent threats being doled out by them. “Enough is enough.advertisementNow the BJP will call the shots in the NDA,” said a BJP minister after the debate. The obvious reference was to the TDP, Trinamool, JD (U), and NC leaders’ attempts to form an informal pressure group within the NDA to force the Government to seek Modi’s resignation.The BJP has now proved to N. Chandrababu Naidu that his party is not indispensable. So long as the TDP doesn’t vote with its arch rival Congress – the political equivalent of the Muslim League building the Ram temple – Vajpayee’s Government is safe. But only as long as the battle is fought in Parliament. The outcome could be different if instead of the honourable MPs the people were to decide the Government’s fate.Sling Shots”The Congress president is an antique smuggler.” PRABHU NATH SINGH Samata Party MP”Sonia lowered the dignity of the House by chewing gum.”GEORGE FERNANDES Defence Minister”Uma Bharati speaks like a Nazi volunteer.”CHANDRA SHEKHAR SJP President”Vaiko is a murderer, a terrorist and an antinational.”MANI SHANKAR AIYAR Congress MP”Mulayam once had Mayawati dragged by her hair.”UMA BHARATI Sports Ministerlast_img read more