Tag: 夜上海论坛

  • US national among three arrested cyberdissidents

    first_imgNews VietnamAsia – Pacific Help by sharing this information April 7, 2021 Find out more News Reporters without borders calls on the ambassadors of the US, France and Finland in Hanoi to intervene in favour of the release of three cyberdissidents arrested for terrorism on 14 August. One of them, Cong Thanh Do, an American citizen, began a hunger strike on 1st September. VietnamAsia – Pacific Reporters Without Borders wrote on 6 September 2006, to the US, French and Finnish ambassadors in Hanoi urging them to intervene on behalf of three cyberdissidents, known under the pen-names Nam Tran, Nguyen Hoang Long and Huynh Viet Lang, held in custody in Vietnam since mid-August. Finland is currently president of the EU.The organisation also urged Senator Gérard Miquel, due to head a French parliamentary mission to Vietnam next week, to raise the case in talks with Vietnamese officials. Nam Tran, whose real name is Cong Thanh Do, is an American citizen.Extract from the letter sent to the diplomats”Five people are currently imprisoned in Vietnam for having expressed democratic views on the Internet. Contrary to the claims of the Vietnamese authorities, none of them is a terrorist, criminal or spy. These men have been punished for using the Internet to publicly express their disagreement with the political line of the sole party. They are non-violent democrats.Vietnam will shortly become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and it has also been chosen to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November. We consider that a normalisation of diplomatic relations with this country and its integration into the world economy should be linked to concrete progress in the field of human rights.We certainly welcomed the release on 30 August of the cyberdissident Pham Hong Son, an encouraging gesture on the part of the new Vietnamese leaders. Nevertheless they continue to thwart free expression in their country and to imprison Internet-users expressing criticism.We therefore ask you to strongly state your support for the Vietnamese cyberdissidents and your commitment to free expression on the Internet.”Background:Cong Thanh Do, a 47-year-old engineer living in San José, California, wrote for numerous foreign-based sites. He was arrested while on a family visit to Phan Thiet, southern Vietnam on 14 August. His wife, who was travelling with him, was arrested at the same time but was released a few hours later and have since returned to the United States. According to his family, Cong Thanh Do is accused of conspiring to launch a terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh-City, a bizarre accusation which does not appear to be based on any real facts. He appears to have really been detained for what he has posted online, and for his supposed membership of an illegal political organisation in the country, the foreign-based People’s Democratic Party of Vietnam. His arrest was confirmed by US diplomats. He was held in solitary confinement until he was visited by a diplomat from the US Consulate on September the 1st. Vietnamese lawyer Nguyen Van Dai has agreed to represent the cyberdissident, but the Vietnamese authorities are apparently opposed to this. According to his daughter, Bien Dobui, Cong Thanh Do began a hunger strike on 1st September.Nguyen Hoang Long and Huynh Viet Lang, Vietnamese residents and citizens, were reportedly arrested in Ho Chi Minh-City on around 14 August for the same reasons.————-Create your blog with Reporters without borders: www.rsfblog.org April 22, 2021 Find out more Organisation News April 27, 2021 Find out more Receive email alerts Vietnam sentences journalist Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu to eight years in prison September 6, 2006 – Updated on January 20, 2016 US national among three arrested cyberdissidents RSF_en to go further Three more independent reporters arrested in Vietnam News Follow the news on Vietnam RSF laureates support jailed Vietnamese journalist Pham Doan Tranglast_img read more

  • Securitizations vs participations: Balance sheet flexibility vs. leverage

    first_imgThe Securitization Markets Handbook: Structures and Dynamics of Mortgage- and Asset-backed Securities by Charles Austin Stone and Anne Zissu The first credit union securitization recently closed in November 2019 (GTE Auto Receivables Trust 2019-1), undoubtedly catalyzed by the NCUA’s June 2017 opinion, issuing the authority for credit unions to undertake securitizations.  Moving forward, credit unions with the scale to access the securitization market looking to liquify a portion of their loan portfolio may be exploring participations and securitizations as competing alternatives, or undertaking both transactions contemporaneously.  While these transactions both generate liquidity and servicing income, their broader impacts on the originating credit union are fundamentally different.Participations and securitizations should be evaluated as distinct strategic choices assessed within the framework of balance sheet management.Participations are primarily a tool for institutions looking to generate balance sheet flexibility, increase lending capacity, or de-riskSecuritizations are a tool for increasing returns via leverage, and are most appropriately employed by institutions that have incremental risk capacityWe will elaborate upon this dynamic further as well as discuss some of the distinct and common features of both transactions and the underlying strategies they serve.BackgroundWhen a credit union sells a participation in a loan pool, it is selling a pro-rata ownership interest in each of the loans, typically up to 90%.  By contrast, in a securitization, the originating credit union sells 100% of each loan in the pool to a newly-incorporated special purpose vehicle (SPV) and then the SPV issues debt securities to structured product buyers, with the originating credit union receiving the proceeds of the debt issuance.  Although structures vary (and can become quite complex), frequently the par value of debt that the SPV issues covers 90% or more of the loan pool principal, and it is the originating credit union that retains the equity in the SPV.   The specific amount of retained equity in any given securitization varies and is driven by a combination of originator preferences, the underlying loans being securitized, and ever-fluctuating market-driven terms, but small equity cushions and thus high leverage ratios (10x or more) for SPVs are common.Programmatic EvaluationIt is not reasonable to assume that a large originating credit union is intending to undertake just a single participation or securitization nor that the proceeds from such a transaction would be invested solely in risk free assets.  Such an assumption would obscure the fundamental differences between participations and securitizations.  Rather, credit unions likely make the decision to execute a participation or securitization transaction as part of a programmatic balance sheet management strategy and can thus be expected to undertake the same transaction again periodically.  This will result in the credit union holding multiple pro-rata positions in participated loan pools or multiple retained SPV equity positions.Programmatic Risk-Return ProfileExecuting multiple participation transactions ultimately results in the originating credit union retaining small ownership stakes that are diversified across a larger number of underlying loans along with the benefit of additional non-interest income in the form of upfront premiums (gain on sale) as well as servicing income over the life of the loans.  These gains result in a superior, albeit similar, risk-return profile vis-a-vis a smaller number of 100% owned portfolio of loans.  A securitization program results in the originating credit union retaining multiple SPV equity shares that have a levered exposure to the performance of the underlying loan (along with additional servicing income).  When charge-offs are low, SPV equity will have superior returns vis-a-vis the underlying loans.  However, the trade-off is that when charge-offs rise, SPV equity is in a first-loss position and the value of the SPV equity will drop precipitously. A simplified risk-return profile of a participation program versus a securitization program is shown below to illustrate the more levered risk-return profile of securitizations and the magnified credit risk exposure borne by the SPV equity that would be retained by the originating credit union.Balance Sheet Flexibility and Risk Management  Credit unions undertaking participations receive substantial non-interest income, liquidity and de-risk individual credit exposures.  Credit unions thus increase their capacity to make new loans to their members or other similar discretionary capital allocations proportionate to the amount of proceeds received each time they execute a participation.  Whereas, undertaking a series of securitizations and retaining multiple SPV equity positions to seek higher returns comes at the expense of balance sheet flexibility as the retained SPV equity is a volatile leveraged asset and a significant portion of the cash received at closing may need to be allocated to assets less risky than the loans within the underlying pools to offset this volatility.Reserve Requirements and Accounting The reserve requirements for participations are similar to the reserve requirements for the original underlying loan pool simply reduced by the portion sold.  For securitizations where the credit union retains equity in an SPV, a greater amount must be reserved for potential losses.  Additionally, for the retained SPV equity, more complex accounting rules apply and, given typical securitization leverage ratios well in excess of 10x, a 1% decline in the value of the underlying loan collateral will have an amplified deleterious impact well in excess of 10% of the value of the retained SPV equity.  Fixed Costs and Multi-party Legal Complexity A participation is executed by entering into a bilateral agreement between the selling credit union and the buyer(s).  It is a relatively simple legal document and standardized agreements are widely available that are familiar to credit unions and brokers active in the market.  Broker fees, if any, associated with participations typically fluctuate with the size of the underlying loan pool.In contrast, a securitization will have both underwriting fees that fluctuate with the size of the underlying loan pool as well as significant fixed costs associated with the incorporation of an SPV, ongoing retention of a bond indenture trustee, a backup servicer, and payments to rating agencies (e.g. Moody’s, S&P or Fitch) that are governed by a set of legal agreements that are more complex and expensive to draft than those used to execute participations.  These costs are a drag on SPV equity returns and make securitizations prohibitively expensive for smaller pools.Similarities Between Participations and Securitizations Participations and securitizations share some common features that can obscure their fundamental differences and the distinct goals they accomplish.  Both transactions:Generate future servicing income for the sellerCan generate approximately the same amount of immediate proceedsConclusionParticipations and securitizations can both be economically efficient tools for larger credit unions.  However, it is important to recognize that these transactions accomplish different goals and that each should be approached as a strategic balance sheet management decision with long term flexibility, risk-management, regulatory, and accounting implications.  Participations enable balance sheet flexibility because the entirety of the liquidity generated can be used to make additional member loans or de-risk the balance sheet. Securitizations are better suited for credit unions that wish to seek increased returns through increased leverage and have incremental risk capacity. For further detail on securitizations and their relevance to credit unions, please refer to: NCUA Opinion dated June 21, 2017 titled Authority to Issue and Sell Securities:https://www.ncua.gov/files/legal-opinions/asset-securitization-authority.pdf 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Ian Lampl Ian Lampl is CEO & Co-Founder of LoanStreet Inc., an innovative online platform that helps financial institutions share, manage, and originate loans.Prior to launching LoanStreet, Ian served as Deputy … Web: https://www.loan-street.com Detailslast_img read more

  • Greensburg Fire Causes Injury, $60K In Damage

    first_imgInvestigators hope to soon figure out what sparked a three-alarm blaze in Decatur County Friday night. The fire caused approximately $60,000 in damage and led to a firefighter suffering an injury.The incident occurred at a home in the 4000 block of Old Indiana 46 in western Greensburg.Firefighters from Burney-Clay Township, Letts and Greensburg were on the scene, according to the Greensburg Daily News.Crews battled the blaze that began in a second-story bedroom for approximately fifteen minutes. Occupants got out of the house safely but one firefighter injured a shoulder during the incident.The newspaper is reporting that the fire resulted in water and smoke damage inside the home.The cause of the fire remains under investigation.last_img read more

  • 2 girls won’t face off in Little League final

    first_imgIn this Aug. 6, 2014, photo, Pennsylvania’s Mo’Ne Davis flips baseballs to a teammate prior to facing the District of Columbia in the Little League Eastern Regionals at Breen Stadium in Bristol, Conn. Davis and New Jersey’s Kayla Roncin are competing to make it to the Little League World Series, a rare feat for girls. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) –Two girls on teams competing to make it to the Little League World Series won’t be facing each other in the Mid-Atlantic regional championship after all.On Friday, Mo’Ne Davis’ Taney Youth Baseball Association team from Philadelphia defeated the Colonie, New York, team 6-5 to advance to Sunday’s finals. Thirteen-year-old Mo’Ne did some key base-running in the fifth-inning, when Taney took the lead for good. She reached base on an error, went to third on a single and scored on a two-run single.But 12-year-old Kayla Roncin’s Toms River, New Jersey, team lost 4-3 to the Newark, Delaware, team. Kayla, who plays first base, came to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning for Toms River with two outs, two runners on base and her team down by a run. She fell behind in the count then hit a ground ball to second base for a tag play to end the game.Sunday’s winner will advance to the World Series starting Aug. 14 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.Girls playing in Little league isn’t new. But only 16 girls have played in the Little League World Series in the past 67 years, Little League spokesman Brian McClintock said.Mo’ne had said earlier this week it would have been fun to compete against another girl.The Taney manager, Alex Rice, calls Mo’ne his big-game pitcher.“She’s one of the core team leaders,” he said this week. “She’s unflappable.”last_img read more

  • MASSIVE PICK SIX CARRYOVER OF $511,261 INTO BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC DAY AT SANTA ANITA

    first_imgTOTAL PICK SIX POOL ON SATURDAY EXPECTED TO EXCEED $4 MILLION ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2016)–With no one correctly tabbing six winner’s in Friday’s Pick Six, there is a two-day carryover of $511,261 into Saturday, which is Breeders’ Cup Classic Day at Santa Anita.  With a blockbuster 12-race card that includes the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, it is expected Saturday’s total Pick Six pool will exceed $4 million.First post time on Saturday is set for 10:15 a.m., PDT.  The Pick Six will consist of races seven through 12, and with 75 horses entered to run in the sequence, average field size for Saturday’s Pick Six is at 12.5 horses per race.  Approximate post time for race seven is 2:05 p.m. The Classic has been carded as the final race of the day, with approximate post time for race 12 at 5:35 p.m.Additionally, if no one were to select six winners in tomorrow’s Pick Six, the pool would then carryover to closing day, Sunday, with a mandatory payout.With early first post time on Saturday at 10:15 a.m., Santa Anita’s admission gates will open at   8 a.m.  For scratches, changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.comlast_img read more

  • Will Darwinism End With a Big Bang?

    first_imgWe may be seeing the end of Darwinism as we know it.  Eugene Koonin of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, has written a devastating critique of traditional Darwinism in an open-source journal, Biology Direct.1  Koonin, an evolutionist himself, basically said that all major life forms, with all their complexity, appear suddenly in the record without intermediate forms, and this fact can no longer be denied.Major transitions in biological evolution show the same pattern of sudden emergence of diverse forms at a new level of complexity.  The relationships between major groups within an emergent new class of biological entities are hard to decipher and do not seem to fit the tree pattern that, following Darwin’s original proposal, remains the dominant description of biological evolution.  The cases in point include the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic supergroups; and animal phyla.  In each of these pivotal nexuses in life’s history, the principal “types” seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization.  No intermediate “grades” or intermediate forms between different types are detectable.We saw Koonin a few months ago wondering what human-like genes were doing in a sea anemone (07/08/2007).  Last year, he was wondering about the origin of introns (03/09/2006).  It seems these and other evolutionary puzzles have taken their toll.    In place of traditional Darwinian theory, Koonin proposed a new hypothesis: the “Biological Big Bang” (BBB).  He drew parallels with the inflationary big bang of cosmology:I propose that most or all major evolutionary transitions that show the “explosive” pattern of emergence of new types of biological entities correspond to a boundary between two qualitatively distinct evolutionary phases.  The first, inflationary phase is characterized by extremely rapid evolution driven by various processes of genetic information exchange, such as horizontal gene transfer, recombination, fusion, fission, and spread of mobile elements.  These processes give rise to a vast diversity of forms from which the main classes of entities at the new level of complexity emerge independently, through a sampling process.  In the second phase, evolution dramatically slows down, the respective process of genetic information exchange tapers off, and multiple lineages of the new type of entities emerge, each of them evolving in a tree-like fashion from that point on.But is this just an argument from analogy?  What possible relevance does the physical origin of universe have to the biological development of species?  It appears that Koonin’s hypothesis was motivated not so much from the plausibility of comparing life to the sudden origin of the universe from nothing, but by the observational facts: it became clear to him that life did not evolve by Darwin’s slow, branching method.    Koonin’s paper shows a “bush of life” instead of Darwin’s tree of life.  The diagram shows a variety of lineages all emerging suddenly from a center point.  He describes how in almost every sphere, from protein folds to the major kingdoms of life to the animal phyla, a tree pattern cannot be found.  Instead, sudden emergence, with all the complexity in place from the start, is the rule.  He admits, for instance, that the Cambrian Explosion (see 10/04/2007), a “highly publicized enigma,” is unlikely to be solved by proposing molecular changes in the Precambrian.  “In an already familiar pattern,” he said, “the relationship between the animal phyla remains controversial and elusive.”    Koonin drew attention to other writers who have noted the same patterns: Carl Woese, Stephen Jay Gould, Cavalier-Smith, and most recently Doolittle and Bapteste (see 02/01/2007).  There is no universal tree of life.  Evolutionists need to face that fact and come up with alternatives.  Will his Biological Big Bang stand up to critical review by fellow evolutionists?    It did not escape Koonin’s notice, nor that of the reviewers, that his hypothesis would be latched onto by creationists and promoters of intelligent design theory (ID).  William Martin (U of Dusseldorf) looked at this statement in the paper: “In each major class of biological objects, the principal types emerge ‘ready-made’, and intermediate grades cannot be identified” and had this reaction: “Ouch, that will be up on ID websites faster than one can bat an eye.”  Koonin knew that his ideas could be grist for the ID mill, but answered that even though he tried to avoid ID allusions, he had to face the situation as honestly as possible:…. there is little I can do because this is an important sentence that accurately and clearly portrays a crucial and, to the very best of my understanding, real feature of evolutionary transitions.  Will this be used by the ID camp?  Perhaps – if they read that far into the paper.  However, I am afraid that, if our goal as evolutionary biologists is to avoid providing any grist for the ID mill, we should simply claim that Darwin, “in principle”, solved all the problems of the origin of biological complexity in his eye story, and only minor details remain to be filled in.  Actually, I think the position of some ultra-darwinists is pretty close to that.  However, I believe that this is totally counter-productive and such a notion is outright false.  And, the ID folks are clever in their own perverse way, they see through such false simplicity and seize on it.  I think we (students of evolution) should openly admit that emergence of new levels of complexity is a complex problem and should try to work out solutions some of which could be distinctly non-orthodox….After this, he assured himself that ID doesn’t offer a viable answer to any problem.  Presumably this means that materialism is safe, in his view.  It follows that any radically unorthodox naturalistic answer is better than the current paradigm which is no longer tenable.    Nicholas Matzke (formerly of the National Center for Science Education, NCSE) noticed this paper and left his calling card at the Reader’s Comments.  “Well,” he began dryly, “since it is clear that this paper will be on every ID/creationist blog on the planet in under 12 hours, I might as well put in my 2 cents early.”  Matzke defended the traditional slow-and-gradual Darwinism.  Surprisingly, one of his defenses was to claim that the Linnean category of phylum is an illusion.  “Down with phyla!” he shouted.  His other arguments disputed that the apparent sudden transitions were inaccessible to gradualistic interpretations.    In his concluding remarks, Matzke acknowledged that shoving this problem under the rug is counter-productive.Until this week I worked at the National Center for Science Education, where we oppose the ID/creationists and develop a finely-tuned sense of the sorts of things they will pluck from the literature and desperately portray as evidence that they aren’t completely nuts.  However, I am well aware that telling scientists to censor themselves to avoid giving creationists talking points is a non-starter, so hopefully my comments came out as being substantive rather than just the boring voice of orthodoxy.Since the complete paper and Matzke’s rebuttal are online and freely available, the reader can decide who is desperately portraying themselves as not completely nuts.Update 10/22/2007: Another molecular biologist has commented on the paper (see Comments).  Shi Liu of the Eagle Institute of Molecular Medicine in North Carolina was not surprised because he had already proposed a similar biological big bang back in 1991.  His ending comment might jolt awake some historians of science:Thus, while we may still appreciate the role of Darwin in helping scientists wining [sic] a upper [sic] hand in fighting against the creationists for filling our intellectual void of understanding life’s origin and evolution, we must realize that Darwin’s fetal [sic?] mistakes have also misled science into a dead end of fruitless search for the non-existent last common ancestor (LCA) and some useless constructions of some untruthful universal tree of life (TOL).This quote might be compared with Doolittle and Bapteste’s illustration of the “the ladder that helped the community to climb the wall of acceptance and understanding of evolutionary process” (see 02/01/2007 entry and commentary).  Liu apparently agrees with them that “now that we have climbed it,” (i.e., winning the war against the creationists), “we do not need this ladder anymore.”  See Big Lie in the Baloney Detector.1Eugene V. Koonin, “The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution,” Biology Direct 2007, 2:21doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-21.We are at a critical time in the history of ideas.  Marx fell, Freud fell, and now Darwin is in free-fall with little hope of recovery.  It’s a little like the Yeltsin stage of the fall of Russian communism.  It was late summer of 1991.  Gorbachev had softened up the West with talk of an ease of tensions, but this allowed his rival Boris Yeltsin to amass a large popular following.  Fearful of Yeltsin’s popularity among the masses, the hardline communist party bosses put Gorbachev on house arrest, staged a coup and re-seized power.  But it was a complete joke.  Boris was outside with the people, standing on a tank with a bullhorn receiving cheers from the freedom-hungry crowds, while TV cameras showed the communist bosses inside their fortress with trembling hands, reading prepared statements claiming they were still in control.  Other Soviet officials in the room were clearly drunk.  This could not have happened were not evident to everyone that Marxism-Leninism had decayed from within and could no longer support the power structure erected around it.    Nobody is going to fall for Koonin’s BBB model of evolution.  It is tantamount to believing in miracles.  Cosmic inflation, even if there were such a thing, says nothing about the origin of information, genetic codes, body plans and all the other things Darwin needed to explain.  Like Marxism, Darwinism was an ideology that sounded good on paper.  It fueled a lot of revolutionary fervor in its day.  In practice, though, it quickly became a dead orthodoxy.  It had to be enforced by totalitarian thought police and by waves of purges.  In a stunning repeat of recent history, we see today the Darwin Party bosses preaching their Darwinist dogma and claiming everything is under control, when in their heart of hearts they know it doesn’t fit the way the world is.    If this is indeed the Yeltsin stage of the fall of Darwinism, the next steps are critical to the future of Western civilization.  Yeltsin stood at a tipping point in Russian history but was too tipsy to take advantage of it.  His penchant for vodka, and his lack of personal integrity, led to his becoming an embarrassing footnote to the story of the Soviet empire’s demise.  Koonin is the Gorbachev figure.  He recognizes that it is no longer a viable policy to pretend that “business as usual” can forestall a collapse.  He offers perestroika, an easing of tensions, to appeal to the masses who are leaning toward the Reaganesque doctrine of intelligent design, recognizing full well that Reagan supporters will capitalize on this perceived weakness of Soviet ideology.  Outside, ID supporters are winning the hearts and minds of the world with their shouts of Tear down this wall.  Matzke is the Soviet hardliner wanting to rein in Gorby Koonin before he opens the floodgates of mass revolt.  His restatement of traditional Darwin doctrine, however, is unlikely to convince knowledgeable insiders, or stop the momentum of intelligent design.    What happens next is anyone’s guess.  The Darwin Party still wields tremendous power.  It is very possible they will continue to succeed with “business as usual” through exercise of raw power or subterfuge (threats, intimidation, decrees by judges, and official propaganda).  This could keep the status quo going for many years.  But the empirical engine of Darwin’s balloon is dead; how long can they keep it aloft with their own hot air?  Meanwhile, onlookers see the intelligent design balloon reaching new heights.  The hardliners can’t hide the truth much longer.    Change could happen very fast.  All that is needed is for enough high-ranking Darwin Party officials to break ranks, and you could see a rapid mass exodus of scientists confessing “I never really believed all that stuff, anyway.”  (Is this possible?  Read this article on Evolution News).  Darwinism is as unnecessary to science as a parade float is to the vehicle underneath.  Evolutionary explanations are, like NAS member Phil Skell noted, a mere narrative gloss after the engine of science has done the work (02/28/2006).  Darwinists have erected huge, elaborate floats on the engines of science, parading their materialist ideology down main street, where Grand Marshall Charlie can display his imperial new clothes.  Science got by just fine without all the decor.  The Darwin parade serves the interests of the regime, not the interests of scientists.  Science will be less burdened and free to explore the open roads of evidence when its engines are no longer obligated to perform rituals for the regime.    If change does come rapidly, we must also learn from recent Russian history that not all change was for the better.  Here we are, 16 years after one of the most dramatic bloodless revolutions in history, and the Russian people are once again victims of a virtual dictatorship.  What happened?  It was almost too good.  TV viewers around the world were astonished to see jubilant crowds hammering down the Berlin wall, and around Moscow the police joining the masses in support of free speech and freedom of religion.  The faces of peasants were euphoric with the hope of freedom.  But the Union unraveled; each former Soviet republic pulled away, and in some cases, imposed even stricter regimes on their people.  Some of these independent states (especially the ones ending in -stan) are persecuting Christians as harshly as the Stalinists did but under a different ideology.    Another problem was that the fall of the Iron Curtain opened the door not just for solid humanitarian and Christian missions that had so long been prohibited, but also for cults and charlatans.  The influx of cultists prompted the government to crack down on all but the “official” Russian Orthodox Church, leading to some of the same violations of human rights as before but for different reasons.  The Russian government found itself unprepared to deal with these challenges, and the people were unaccustomed to the responsibilities of living in a free society.  Dictatorship is always a quick fix to social turmoil.  So now, we have Vladimir Putin, a former Soviet KGB boss, ruling Russia much like a Romanov or Kruschev.    Darwinism is, of course, an intellectual rather than a political ideology, but there are enough parallels and overlaps to provide warning.  When Darwinism falls, will cults demand equal time for their scientific views?  Will this prompt a crackdown that lets in some views and persecutes others?  Who is to decide?  What will get funded?  How do we allow a wide spectrum of people with different belief systems to be involved in scientific institutions, without making them the toy of any and every ideology that wants to leverage science’s perceived epistemic authority?  Here are some principles for post-Darwinist science.Keep science out of the worldview business.  Whether Darwin intended it or not, his disciples got carried away trying to explain ultimate origins and ultimate destiny.  Scientists in their day-to-day operations have no business speculating about matters that are the domain of theologians and philosophers.  As individual thinkers and citizens, they are certainly free to write and publish their own opinions about such things on their own time and dime, but should not receive federal grants to speculate on matters that go far beyond the evidence.Restrict scientific work to matters of observation:  The work that receives funding and support should be observable, testable, and repeatable.  It should promise practical applications that support the government and the taxpayers, because they have a right to expect ROI (return on investment).  This should have no impact on the bulk of the legitimate sciences, but will keep out the cultists as well as the Darwinists.  No one need worry that authors of journal papers will praise Allah or Moroni, but neither should Darwinists be able any more to rhapsodize about their father figure in Nature or Science.  No more just-so storytelling.  No more attributing any and all observations (human morals, homologies, biodiversity) to Darwinian mechanisms based on materialistic presuppositions.  If it is not observable, testable and repeatable, it’s out of bounds.    It is true that science depends on certain presuppositions that are not themselves matters of science, such as regularity and the reliability of sense impressions, but those who evaluate an individual’s work do not need to know or care about his or her private world view.  They can judge the quality of the work by its fruits.Discontinue use of the E-word in biology.  Microevolution is uncontroversial but is often invoked as evidence for macroevolution when it is no such thing.  Both Koonin and young-earth creationists allow for significant variation within lineages, but calling this evolution will only continue to obfuscate and equivocate.  The E-word has become so encrusted with philosophical baggage it should be avoided.  Use variation instead.  Reserve evolution for reminiscing about Darwinian macroevolution (that defunct idea once taught as fact).Demote the status of scientific consensus.  As we see from the downfall of Darwinism, having a scientific consensus confers no guarantees of a theory being correct.  “All scientists accept evolution” was trumpeted ad nauseum in the face of creationists.  Well, “all” scientists (an exaggeration) were wrong, then.  The history of science is replete with cases of the scientific consensus being on the losing side.  While following a consensus may be a pragmatic necessity when politicians need to formulate a policy under time pressure (depending on the degree of confidence one can have in the verifiability of the theory), scientists must stop making claims that consensus represents truth.  One maverick who’s right trumps a hundred who agree with each other, as King Ahab found out the hard way (I Kings 22).Keep science out of politics.  It is no secret that the big journals and research labs are almost uniformly left-leaning, socialist and liberal, feeling entitled to all the money they want for anything they want to do.  This must stop.  Universities and journals must open their doors and welcome scientists of all religious and political stripes provided they do good lab work.  They should be graded on the quality and fruitfulness of their experimental work and the persuasiveness of their scientific reasoning.  If an individual scientist has strong feelings about matters beyond science, no one is stopping him or her playing the marketplace of ideas outside the science lab.Never forget.  The extent of hubris and control exercised by Darwinists, and the persecution that followed, must remain a stern lesson to scientists in the post-Darwin world.  Budding scientists must be trained in humility and restraint about their work.  Science is not a pathway to ultimate truth.  Insights from other fields (history, theology, philosophy) must be respected.  Quotes by dogmatic Darwinists of the past should be held up to public scorn repeatedly as an antidote to those who would try it again.Persuade, don’t legislate.  Science is supposed to be part of the open marketplace of ideas.  There should be no place for prior restraint of one’s beliefs.  Mavericks have often proved to trump the consensus.  The question is not whether one is in the majority or minority, but how one can prove one’s theory is right.This partial list can help science recover from decades of abuse by the Darwin Party.  Creationists and intelligent design people can now have a seat at the table.  They must not become the new dogmatists.  The Islam of Harun Yahya is a real concern if it were able to co-opt science and make it the lapdog of Islamic totalitarianism (cf. Lysenko in Stalinist Russia), but if the Turkish creationists are obligated to show observability, testability and repeatability like everyone else, they will have to win by persuasion and the quality of their operational science, not by coercion.  Civilization cannot exercise prior restraint against a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness or Hindu who has a scientific hypothesis.  The burden of proof, though, is on the scientist.  Whether or not it gets funded is a different question, but science as an endeavor to find truth about the natural world cannot know where the next great insight will come from.  Does the hypothesis explain the phenomenon convincingly?  Does it lead to further insights that are observable, testable and repeatable?  Most likely the cults will not do very well at this game.  The demise of Darwinism should remind us, however, of the power of an entrenched dogma to stifle free inquiry for a century.    A word to two groups of Darwinists: the incorrigible hardliners and the disillusioned scientists.  Hardliners take warning: we have over a century of quotes by your dogmatic brethren, and we are not going to let you forget what they said.  You have been the most intransigent, puffed-up and combative people of the 20th century.  If you think you can just lay low and wait for this ID wave to pass, so that you can seize power again, we are onto your tricks.  School boards and universities take heed: accepting hardline Darwinists into the discussion is as risky as letting Lenin or Osama run for Parliament.  There are certain people who will use the institutions of free inquiry and democracy for revolutionary ends, and then will destroy those very freedoms once empowered.  Beware.    To the disillusioned researcher, we offer a word of comfort.  It is hard for anyone when the basis for a strongly-held belief system evaporates.  Many questions follow from the collapse of a belief.  We want you to know that Christian creationists (contrary to adherents of some religions that would try to terrorize or pressure you into conformity) are accepting and forgiving.  They believe in reasoning with love.  There are Christians who would like nothing better than to help you work through these issues.  If you write our Feedback line, we will try to link you up with someone you can talk to privately without pressure or obligation.  Don’t despair about your scientific career, either.  There is a great future in post-Darwinist science.  Look at the wonderful gains being made in biomimetics, systems biology, and biomedical research – each of which owe nothing to Darwin.  Evolutionary theory, in fact, appears more like a parasite than a vitamin to biology.  There is still a place for the study of natural variation among populations, without the assumption that an unguided mechanism is able to generate new complex information.  Most of biology will get by just fine after the Darwinian storytelling fluff is no longer fashionable.    Finally, to creationists and proponents in ID, realize that the transformation to a post-Darwinist world is going to be a long haul.  The collapse of Soviet communism was not the end of communism.  In fact, Marxist ideology continues unabated and vicious in Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, China, and American universities.  Dogmatic Darwinism is not going away any time soon.  The debate may open up, and alternative viewpoints may finally get a hearing, but gaining a hearing is not the same as being heard.  Materialism for many is too seductive a philosophy to give up; expect battles long after the war is won.    Now, therefore, more than ever, is the time to become knowledgeable about the creation-evolution controversy.  Complacency is not an option.  Good and bad things will try to fill the vacuum left by Darwin.  What follows the collapse of Darwinism could be worse than what preceded it, unless freedom-loving minds stay alert and take the initiative to produce a better scientific enterprise for all.  Get informed, get active, get prepared.  Stay tuned here for the latest developments.(Visited 30 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

  • Open Dialogue in Support of 16 Days of Activism

    first_imgJohannesburg, Wednesday 25 November 2015 – In support of 16 Days of Activism, Brand South Africa is partnering with Lesedi Fm to host an open dialogue in Kroonstad, Free State on Monday 30 November 2015.The rights of women and children come into the spotlight during the annual international 16 Days of Activism Campaign which calls for the end of violence against women and children. A key tenant of the campaign rests on the notion that before women and children can be empowered they need to be protected.Brand South Africa invites media to attend the open dialogue to workshop measures that will enable the prevention and eradication of all forms of violence against women and children in the province, and in South Africa as a whole. In line with the 16 days of activism campaign, the dialogue will advocate for the full inclusion of women across all spheres of social and economic activity.Media are invited to attend as follows:Date: Monday 30 November 2015Time: 09h00-12h00Venue: Municipal Theatre, Municipal Building, KroonstadRSVP: Please confirm your attendance with Kelly Davids on [email protected] or 074 928 4285.last_img read more

  • Forage news, frostbite, and fescue foot

    first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference with some of our other Ohio Extension Educators. It was a wonderful experience to learn from others and share what we have learned with forage producers and professionals across the country.Two sessions that I sat in on for the benefit of my local producers were “Managing Clovers in the 21stCentury” and “Understanding and Mitigating Fescue Toxicosis.”The clover session included a presentation by Dow Agrosciences about treating broadleaf weeds in clover stands and progress they have made toward an herbicide that works as well as their leading pasture herbicide, without killing white clover. It will still be a couple years before the product is released for use, but it is coming.In the fescue toxicosis session, we were reminded to watch for fescue foot in winter. The decreased circulation that results from the constricted blood vessels in the animal makes them increasingly susceptible to frostbite. Frostbite can easily go unnoticed in snowy and cold situations and could even lead to gangrene. If this occurs, the appendage (foot or tail) will be lost and the animal will need to be culled. This is usually a problem that starts in summer and carries into winter. In most cases, the concentration of the ergot alkaloids that cause these symptoms is low in dried mixed hay. Even so, this is a condition to watch for.The bitter cold we have experienced in combination with great volumes of snow increases the chances for animals to have frostbite damage. While things begin to thaw, be sure to check the feet and tails of your livestock for signs of frostbite and if you do see it, contact your vet ASAP. I hope that no one encounters a fescue foot turned frostbite injury. If you do, I would be interested in hearing about it. There are ways to mitigate the impacts of fescue endophyte in your herd or flock in all seasons.There is still a lot of winter left. I hope Mother Nature will be kind.last_img read more

  • Take Northeast into confidence on Citizenship Bill: Meghalaya CM to Amit Shah

    first_imgMeghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday told Union Home Minster Amit Shah that the Northeast has fears on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and urged him to take all the States of the region into confidence before bringing in the legislation again.Addressing the fourth conclave of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) here in the presence of Mr. Shah, Mr. Sangma questioned whether the Centre will bypass discussions with the States before reintroducing the Bill.“What will happen after CAB? Will people continuously come from Bangladesh? Will there be any deadline or a continuous flow? We in Northeast have such fears,” Mr. Sangma said.He requested the Centre to invite all stakeholders to discuss and arrive at a consensus over the issue.“We are under the sixth schedule. So will the CAB overlook local laws? Please invite us and look into the interests of the people of the Northeast. Remove our fears. I believe you (Shah) will take care of our fears,” Mr. Sangma told the Union Home Minister.The Bill provided for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill on January 8 but it was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha.Parties supporting Bill on verge of suicide: Mizoram CMMizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga said that all political parties that supported the contentious Bill are on the “verge of suicide“.Mr. Zoramthanga, who was addressing the fourth NEDA conclave here, however, did not elaborate his “verge of suicide” comment.“If at all, it (the Bill) has to be implemented, then please see if the Northeast can be excluded from it. I request you to look into the vulnerability of the region.“The Citizenship Bill is a very very sensitive issue here. In most of the States where political parties supported it, they are on the verge of suicide,” he said.The Mizoram chief minister said, he has full faith in the present dispensation at the Centre and he believes that it will not take a decision that will adversely affect the interests of the region.Bill will change demography of Northeast: Nagaland CMStrongly opposing the Bill, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said all the Northeastern States had resolved earlier that they would not let the legislation affect the region.“We believe it will change the demography of the North East. We need to understand the ground situation,” Mr. Rio said.He hoped that Mr. Shah and the Centre would “listen to us“.Mr. Rio also said that the negotiations on the Naga Peace accord were at an advanced stage.“We are hopeful of a solution very soon. We have also formed a joint legislation group,” he added. Mr. Rio also sought support of all the States of the region to amicably settle the Nagaland issue as it was the “mother of all issues in the Northeast”.last_img read more

  • 10 months agoBerger urges Liverpool to go for Double

    first_imgBerger urges Liverpool to go for Doubleby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool hero Patrik Berger has urged Jurgen Klopp not to prioritise trophies this season.After sneaking through to the last 16 of the Champions League, courtesy of a 1-0 win over Napoli earlier this month, Berger sees no reason why they cannot dominate both at home and abroad.He told the Mirror: “It won’t be easy to get to the final again because the teams they have to face are great sides. But that European run has definitely helped them at home as well.”Any trophy would be fantastic for them to win, but, obviously, the fans want the title because they have had to wait so long.“Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005 and 2001 was a pretty good year too. But they still haven’t won the Premier League and that’s something that those fans would love to see change.“Liverpool is all about the trophies, so I wouldn’t mind the Champions League and the Premier League, that would be the dream. Why not be greedy?” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more