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first_imgHOUSTON – Draymond Green fell and his head slammed hard on the ground.That moment did not just capture Green feeling in a state of pain. It marked the latest back-and-forth he has had with Rockets guard James Harden in the Warriors-Rockets playoff series.First, Green had injured Harden’s eyes in Game 2 after delivering an inadvertent elbow. Then in the Warriors’ eventual Game 4 loss to Houston on Tuesday, Harden took a 3-pointer over Green before his left arm struck Green’s left shoulder and …last_img

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first_imgSeveral aspects of the dinosaur-to-bird evolution don’t make sense in the light of evolution.Museums and park displays show the public dioramas of dinosaurs going extinct 65 million years ago. After the asteroid strike (or volcanoes) did in the dinosaurs, birds really took off, diversifying into the great variety of birds we have today. Does this match the evidence? First, the news.Ancient Birds Out of the Egg Running (University of Hong Kong). A species of enantiornithine (“other-bird”) birds said to date from 125 million Darwin Years ago appears to have been ready to follow its mother after hatching. Such “precocial” hatchlings are seen in chickens and ducks today, while “altricial” birds like eagles and egrets nurture their hatchlings in the nest for days or weeks. In Nature Scientific Reports, Thomas Kaye, Michael Pittman and team announce that a “Fully fledged enantiornithine hatchling … supports precocial nesting behavior.” Fully fledged means that the 3cm-long chick already had a coat of feathers, a sign that it was hatched ready to move.This discovery via new technology demonstrates that some early birds adopted a precocial breeding strategy just like modern birds. Thus, in the time of the dinosaurs, some enantiornithine bird babies had the means to avoid the dangers of Mesozoic life perhaps by following their parents or moving around themselves. “One of the feathers discovered was of a substantial size and preserves features seen in other hatchlings. It indicates that our hatchling had reasonably well-developed flight feathers at the time of birth”, says Jesús Marugán-Lobón, a co-author from the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid, Spain (Figs. 2B, 4). This and other “illuminating” discoveries are adding to our knowledge of ancient life with details surviving in the fossil record that were never thought possible even a couple decades ago.The imaging technique of Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence they used revealed “previously unseen elemental maps of soft tissue residues” within the feather filaments, the paper states. Enantiornithine birds, some of which had teeth and lacked beaks, disappeared with the dinosaurs, but were clearly capable of flight as early as Archaeopteryx, said to be the oldest bird at 150 million years.Oldest egg fossil discovered inside ancient mama bird (USA Today). Several news outlets reported the finding of an egg still inside its mother’s body. Eggs and medullary bone from which the shells arise are only present for short periods of time, so finding an egg intact surprised the paleontologists. The fossil, found in China, was named Avimaia Schweitzerae, named after Mary Schweitzer “for her ground-breaking works on MB [medullary bone] and for her role in establishing the field of molecular paleontology.” Schweitzer is also well known for having found a number of striking cases of soft tissue preservation in dinosaurs.The paper in Nature Communications  suggests that this Lower Cretaceous specimen contains a few preserved remnants of primordial biological material:Fragments of the shell membrane and cuticle are both preserved. SEM reveals that the cuticle consists of nanostructures resembling those found in neornithine eggs adapted for infection-prone environments, which are hypothesized to represent the ancestral avian condition. The femur preserves small amounts of probable medullary bone, a tissue found today only in reproductively active female birds. To our knowledge, no other occurrence of Mesozoic medullary bone is associated with indications of reproductive activity, such as a preserved egg, making our identification unique, and strongly supported….An additional dark brown layer is preserved in some regions (Fig. 2b). SEM and EDS indicate this layer is enriched in phosphorus compared to the rest of the eggshell, suggesting this represents part of the eggshell cuticle.Nevertheless, in this specimen, “very few of the original organic components are preserved,” the authors say.Take your Darwin glasses off and look at their story with clear reason, in light of the evidence. The date of the little precocial chick fossil (125 million Darwin Years) is twice as long as the date of the alleged dinosaur-killing asteroid (65 million Darwin Years). Archaeopteryx is said to be another 25 million years older. For all that time, there were birds flying over the heads of the great dinosaurs. Whether you accept that some land-roaming dinosaurs had “feathers” or not, this bird tale should strike you as puzzling:Where are the ancestors? Flight just appears, fully functional.A wide variety of birds existed before the alleged extinction event: ones that look like ducks, gulls and shorebirds.The dinosaur-era birds display many of the same behaviors and traits of modern birds.Original molecules from these birds can be found in the fossils. How could they last 125 million years?Delicate, time-sensitive impressions (e.g., medullary bone) are present. Why is it pristine after so long?How did these birds become fossilized so quickly that delicate tissues are still present?Does the origin of birds make sense in light of evolution? No. You can’t just look at a flying bird without ancestors and sigh, “Stuff happens.” But the facts about birds, both living and fossilized, make sense in light of creation. 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first_imgBroke the magical eight-hour markWith a stunning performance, Cunnama just broke the magical eight-hour mark for a long distance triathlon, clocking seven hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Victory in the women’s race went to Britain’s Rachel Joyce in 8:45:04, with Germany’s Sonja Tajsich and Julia Gajer in second and third respectively. Bracht finished second to lift the European title, for which Cunnama was not eligible, in 8:03:28. Switzerland’s Mike Aigroz claimed the final podium position in 8:08:28. James Cunnama raced to a first ever victory by a South African triathlete in the 2012 Challenge Roth – which also served as the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships – in Germany on Sunday. Around 3 100 athletes, along with 600 relay teams, from over 50 nations took part, with about 200 000 spectators lining up along the course to take in the action. 10 July 2012 It was Cunnama’s third attempt at the race. Previously he finished sixth in 2010, while he was forced to withdraw last year. After the swim, he, along with race favourite Timo Bracht of Germany, was about a minute-and-a-half behind the leader, Benjamin Samson of France, who clocked 45:58 for the 3.8 kilometres. Recognised as the “heart of the triathlon”, the event consists of a 3.8 kilometre swim, a 180 kilometre cycle and a standard marathon of 42.2 kilometres. Discussing his break from Bracht on the run, Cunnama said: “I could keep up my speed while Timo had problems for a little while. That made the difference today.” Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material The cycle stage belonged to another German, however, with Konstantin Bachor putting in a superb ride to open up a 10 minute lead over Cunnama and Bracht at the transition. He added: “When you win Roth, you are someone in our sport. For me, a dream comes true today.” ‘I am extremely happy’At the finish, he said: “This is an iconic race. You hear about it, you dream about it. You read the names of the big ones that win and now I am standing here. I am extremely happy!” On the final stage, the pair ran together for the first part of the run, but at about the halfway mark Cunnama started to pull clear of the German star. Bachor, meanwhile, was taking strain and Cunnama soon took the lead away from him before pressing on to take an inspiring victory.last_img read more

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first_img2 April 2014The South African Revenue Service (Sars) collected R899.7-billion in taxes for 2013/14, R0.7-billion more than the revised estimate of R895-billion in the 2014 Budget.Releasing the revenue service’s preliminary tax collection results in Pretoria on Tuesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that despite the global economic turmoil which had tested the country’s finances, tax collection remained buoyant.“The strength of our government finances is well illustrated by our past performance, including what we are announcing today. We have proven our ability to take tough decisions to promote service delivery while safe-guarding fiscal sustainability.”Gordhan attributed the strong results to an increase in personal income tax and corporate income tax collections compared to the previous fiscal year.Personal income tax collections were R310.5-billion, which was R778-million (0.3%) above the revised estimate in the 2014 Budget of R309.7-billion and 12.2% higher than the R276.7-billion outcome of the previous year.Corporate tax collections went up to R179.9-billion, 0.7% above the revised estimate of R178.7-billion in the 2014 Budget.“The depreciation of the rand – losing 17.5% of its value against the US dollar in 2013 – improved trade-related taxes and corporate income tax of companies with offshore earnings,” Gordhan said, adding that the slow recovery of corporate income tax following the 2008-09 financial crisis had accelerated this year thanks to higher export earningsOther factors driving revenue included a growth in the mining and manufacturing sectors in the 4th quarter of 2013, above-inflation wage settlements sustaining personal income tax, and strong imports advancing customs revenue.Value-added tax (VAT) collection, however, recorded a decrease. VAT collections were R237.7-billion, R1.6-billion lower than the revised estimate of R239.3-billion in the 2014 Budget.Gordhan said that Sars would continue to build on the progress of the past 20 years to improve tax compliance levels.“Over two decades, South Africa has built a progressive tax system. Our tax policy framework has proven to be resilient during the global economic turmoil that has tested South Africa’s public finances, its economic policy framework and its regulatory environment over the past five year.“The revenue authority was transformed and the tax base was broadened. We are leaving the next administration with a solid foundation – a resilient revenue collection system and an effective approach to expenditure management.”SAinfo reporter and SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

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first_imgSixteen months after the brutal rape-murder of a minor girl in Ahmednagar’s remote Kopardi village sent shockwaves across the State, a special court on Wednesday pronounced a death sentence for the three accused in the crime.The proceedings began at around 11.25 a.m. as the district and State awaited the quantum of sentence with bated breath. A massive crowd of onlookers gathered outside the court, keenly anticipating the final judgement amid a massive security shield.The tension was palpable in the courtroom as the three accused — Jitendra Shinde (25), Santosh Bhaval (36) and Nitin Bhailume (26) — were produced. All three stood with impassive faces as Judge Kevale awarded the death sentence to each of them.Following the pronouncement of the Additional Special Judge Suvarna Kevale, a roar of acclamation was heard outside the courtroom.“I had full confidence in the court and knew that justice would be served…we have waited every single day for nearly one-and-a-half years for this judgement,” said the victim’s father . Speaking after the judgement, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that all three accused were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of the minor, and hatching a conspiracy for the crime.All three convicts can appeal the judgement before the Bombay High Court.Earlier, a high security alert was pronounced by district administration before the commencement of the proceedings, with flying squads of police personnel stationed at every possible pocket in Kopardi as well as in various parts of the Ahmednagar district. Nearly 1,000 policemen were deployed with entry restricted to the courtroom. During the concluding arguments on the verdict on Wednesday last week, Advocate Nikam, representing the State, had urged the Special Court to award maximum punishment to the three offenders, given the particularly brutal nature of the crime, which occurred on July 13 last year.Advocate Nikam, who had earlier dubbed the murder as “extremely cold-blooded”, touched upon 13 points in the crime to argue that the accused deserved capital punishment. He had further argued that the convicted trio “remained unrepentant of their crime” before and after the tragedy, showing no contrition, while stating that a criminal conspiracy was hatched by the trio to rape and murder the victim between July 11 and 13. Advocate Nikam had further urged for the capital penalty, remarking that “society would get a wrong message if the death sentence was not awarded in so gory a case”.The defence counsels for the accused trio, while pleading for mitigation of their sentences, had said that a death sentence judgement could intensify social tensions between communities.The victim as well as the three accused hail from the same area.The case, which has been closely tracked by political parties and social outfits, had acquired a peculiar urgency owing to the potentially explosive nature of the crime in creating acute social divisions.The incident has been likened to the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case in the extent of its brutality, with medical reports suggesting that violence of a particularly feral nature was wreaked on the minor victim.last_img read more

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first_imgMakers of the Gujarati film Hellaro, which bagged the National Award for Best Feature Film at the 66th National Film Awards, were booked for the alleged use of a “derogatory term” in a dialogue to refer to a Scheduled Caste character, the police said on Tuesday. Hellaro (The Outburst) was released in theatres on November 8.“An FIR was registered against the director, producers and dialogue writer of Hellaro over the utterance of word ‘Harijan’ by one of its characters, considered derogatory by members of Scheduled Caste to which it referred,” an official of Kagdapith police station here said.The FIR was registered on Monday evening after a complaint was filed by Congress corporator Jamnaben Vegda, who claimed she was agitated after hearing the word uttered by one of the characters in the film a few minutes post-interval.Director Abhishek Shah, and producers Ashish Patel, Aayush Patel, Mit Jani, Pratik Gupta, and dialogue writer Saumya Joshi have been booked under Sections 3 (1) and 5, among others, of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the police official said.last_img read more