5 things to know about Oscars best picture front-runner ‘1917’

first_imgvzphotos/iStock(NEW YORK) — It’s still anybody’s guess as to who will win the Oscar for best picture Sunday night, but many oddsmakers are predicting it’ll be the World War I drama “1917.”Written and directed by Sam Mendes, who is also up for best director and best original screenplay, “1917” tells the story of two British soldiers faced with a seemingly impossible task: cross into enemy territory to deliver a message calling off an attack. If they’re unsuccessful, 1,600 will die, including the brother of one of the main characters.“1917” has an 89% approval rating on the criticism aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, and according to Box Office Mojo, has earned more than $253 million worldwide since it was released last December. (It went wide on Jan. 20.)Already the winner of the Golden Globe for best dramatic motion picture and best director, here are a few other things you need to know about the film.1. It’s based on personal stories: Mendes told ABC News at the Oscars luncheon last month that the story is based on tales his grandfather told him when he was a child. “It was me and my cousins pestering him, thinking we were going to hear stories of heroism and bravery and how he won his medals and it was going to be cool, and instead, he turned around and told us stories of absolute chaos and the randomness of how thin the line was that separated him, who stayed alive, from his friends who all died alongside him,” Mendes said. “He told one very memorable story of dragging a man back through no man’s land who was pleading with him to leave him there saying, ‘I’m dying. Don’t pick me up. Save yourself.’ But, my granddad dragged him back on his own back. And when he put him back down in the trench, when he finally reached the end of the journey, he laid him down and realized that he was already dead and he had been shot while he was being carried. But had he not been carrying this man, he himself would have received the bullet. So he was effectively carrying a human shield.”“You never know, as a storyteller, or as a filmmaker, what’s going to grab you or not let you go,” he continued. “And this wouldn’t let me go.”2. It doesn’t look like anything else: “1917” earned 10 Oscar nominations, more than any other film, including best picture, best director for Mendes, and best original screenplay for Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Many critics believe Mendes has a great shot at best director, largely because of how the film was shot. “I always felt once I had decided that it was going to be two hours of real-time, that the story was going to be told in a very, very condensed time period. It seemed a natural thing to not have any cuts,” Mendes said. “For me, the process of editing very subtly and in tiny ways can take you out of a sense of real time, a sense of believing that these people are crossing a landscape and that you’re living and breathing with them. You’re experiencing every second passing in what is effectively a race against time and you’re watching them take every step and you’re going to have to take it with them. So, it felt like a way of locking in the audience with the characters so they couldn’t escape.”3. The cast and crew prepared for a very long time: Mendes told ABC News that pre-production was “very lengthy and very detailed.” “Every step of the journey had to be constructed. Every trench had to be measured, the exact length, every orchard, every farmhouse, every town street had to be exactly the right length of the scene because there was no way of cutting distance or jumping time,” he explained. “There were some pretty absurd occasions when it was just me in a field with the script, trying to say the lines at the speed at which I thought they were going to be spoken. Or even in one case, just running and throwing myself to the ground and getting up and running again for another 40 yards. And the frame was hooked down again.” Ultimately, he said they built more than a mile of trenches, which was “very exhilarating to watch it just grow and grow and grow.” Meanwhile, the actors did historical research, traveled to France and examined the original sites, he said.4. Some unscripted moments made the final cut: While much of the film was meticulously planned, plenty of it wasn’t. “At the end, if you’ve seen the movie, Schofield, played by George MacKay, has a final run and he gets knocked off his feet, not once, but twice, neither of which were planned,” Mendes said, adding that they were often left to contend with the elements, too. “I said, ‘If… you get knocked off your feet, just get up and keep going and we’ll see what happens.’ I always said to them, ‘Just remember, it’s not you slipping in the mud, it’s your character slipping in the mud. It’s not you. If you fumble over a line, it doesn’t matter.’”5. It took a while for Mendes to realize what a success it was: A passion project from the start, Mendes wasn’t sure that “1917” would resonate with audiences until it began previews. “There’s a particular kind of energy that exists in the room when something is really gripping an audience, and … after about half an hour, I thought, ‘They’re with this,’” he recalled. “All this awards season hoopla is great and it’s a wonderful thing for everyone who’s involved in the movie, but at the end of the day, what matters most to me is that audiences turn up to see this in the movies. Given the fact that it’s a very big, ambitious film, it’s not a franchise. There’s no existing IP, and it doesn’t have two giant stars in the leads.”“And so the fact that it’s connected with audiences is incredibly moving,” he continued. “Having lived with it for two years and lived and breathed it every second for that time, to watch it then take off and people embrace it has been a great thing.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

NORTH BERGEN BRIEFS

first_img ×Mayor Nicholas Sacco visits with local housing seniors at the Uptown Library Aug. 21. See briefs for more information. Mayor Nicholas Sacco visits with local housing seniors at the Uptown Library Aug. 21. See briefs for more information. Learn ways to care for your feet and understand the signs and symptoms of diabetic foot conditions at the Foot Health and Diabetes seminar on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. The featured speaker is Demetrios S. Econopouly, D.P.M.To register, call Nikki Mederos at 201-854-5702. Refreshments will be provided.This seminar is part of the North Bergen Free Public Library’s ongoing series of Well-being Wednesdays, and will take place at the uptown library located at 8411 Bergenline Ave. Transportation will be provided from the Kennedy Branch at 5:30 p.m. on the day of the event. Registration for the bus is required. Contact the library to put your name on the list. Chocolate party at the library on Sept. 8Come to the North Bergen Free Public Library’s main branch for a chocolate party at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 in celebration of the One Book North Bergen featured children’s book selection, Roald Dahl’s classic, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”All ages are welcome to participate in the chocolate party. North Bergen or Guttenberg children ages 6 to 14 who attend the event will have a chance to win two tickets to the hit Broadway musical, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Some restrictions apply.The main library is located at 8411 Bergenline Ave. For more information visit www.nbpl.org or call 201-869-4715. The library is not responsible for any allergic reactions due to food served.‘We Were Liars’ author e. lockhart coming to the library on Sept. 9Come to the North Bergen Free Public Library’s main branch at 12 p.m. on Sept. 9 for a very special event featuring e. lockhart, the author of “We Were Liars,” “Fly on the Wall,” “Dramarama,” The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks,” and the Ruby Oliver quartet: “The Boyfriend List,” “The Boy Book,” “The Treasure Map of Boys,” and “Real Live Boyfriends.”“We Were Liars” was the young adult selection for the One Book North Bergen reading program. Copies are available for borrowing at both library locations today. Books will be available for purchase at the event.Call 201-869-4715 for more information.Meet the North Bergen P.D. at four local meetings in SeptemberThe North Bergen Police Department is hosting four community meetings throughout the township in September.These informal sessions are a great forum for North Bergen residents to voice any concerns and discuss issues in person with members of the police department.The program, known as N.B. TAPS (North Bergen Township Alternative Policing Strategy), was initiated last year by Chief of Police Robert Dowd in order to enhance police-community relations.Residents get to meet the officers who patrol their neighborhoods, and the officers get to learn about any matters of concern directly from the residents.All meetings will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:Wednesday, Sept. 13: Uptown Public Library, 8411 Bergenline Ave.Wednesday, Sept. 20: Downtown Public Library, 2123 Kennedy Blvd.Thursday, Sept. 21: Our Lady of Fatima Church, Lower Level, 8011 Kennedy Blvd.Tuesday, Sept. 26: North Bergen Town Hall Chambers, Lower Level, 4233 Kennedy Blvd.Bestselling author of ‘Orphan Train’ coming to libraryMeet bestselling author Christina Baker Kline at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the North Bergen Free Public Library’s main branch. Kline’s “Orphan Train” spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list.Copies of “Orphan Train” are available for borrowing at both library locations today. Books will be available for purchase at the event. Mayor extends free English classes for seniorsMayor Nicholas Sacco visited the North Bergen Free Public Library on Aug. 21 to meet with seniors from housing. The seniors expressed their thanks for the English classes provided free by the township at the library.Based on their enthusiastic feedback the mayor requested that the housing authority and library extend the classes for a few more months.Library now offering WiFi hotspot rentalsThe North Bergen Free Public Library now offers WiFi Hotspot rentals to North Bergen and Guttenberg residents.Hotspots provide you with wireless internet connectivity for your mobile device. You can take the hotspot anywhere and use it to access your email, play games, stream video, and download content. A hotspot will provide your device with Internet access in places that your regular Internet provider cannot usually reach. Use it at the shore or on vacation.A valid library card is required to check out a hotspot. See the circulation desk for rules. For more information visit www.nbpl.org or call 201-869-4715.center_img Donations needed for Texas flood victimsNB CARES is collecting supplies for Texas flooding victims at North Bergen Town Hall, 4233 Kennedy Blvd. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. They have teamed up with a representative from the Houston mayor’s office and volunteers. They have opened their convention center as a shelter and are in need of supplies.The ONLY supplies they are accepting at the moment are the following:NEW socks and underwear, blankets, towels, long sleeve shirts, toothpaste/toothbrushes, feminine products, bar soap, medical gloves, first aid supplies.If you have any questions contact Aimee at 201-392-0229 or [email protected] health and diabetes seminar coming to the library on Sept. 6last_img read more

‘Pusher’ nabbed in Silay buy-bust

first_imgBACOLOD City – He allegedly sold illegaldrugs. The 24-year-old Alexander Martelino wasnabbed in a drug buy-bust operation in Barangay Lantad, Silay City, NegrosOccidental, police said. Charges for violation of Republic Act9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 will be filed againstMartelino./PN Martelino – resident of the village –was caught after he sold suspected shabu to an undercover cop for P500 around 3p.m. on April 24, the police added.When frisked, the suspect yielded five more sachets of suspected illegal drugs. He was detained in the custodialfacility of the Silay City police station.last_img

Serie A cancelled for the first time since World War 2 due to Coronavirus…

first_imgImage Courtesy: AFP/Serie AAdvertisement ndNBA Finals | Brooklyn VslgWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre Ewl9i( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) 6prw1uWould you ever consider trying this?😱66nhnoCan your students do this? 🌚6clRoller skating! Powered by Firework In the recent times, the  COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has caused a major disruption in sporting events across the world. The virus, originated in the city of Wuhan in China, has found its way into other countries, and in Europe, its Italy which has been affected the most. The country’s most prestigious football league, the Serie A, has been called off, an incident which occurred after a gap of 78 years, since it was first cancelled in 1942 during World War 2.Advertisement Image Courtesy: AFP/Serie AAs of today, 463 people in Italy have died from the virus, along with 9,172 people who have been infected. With the entire country on lock down, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte officially announced yesterday that Serie A will be on a temporary hault.“Serie A and all sporting tournaments in general are suspended. All the fans must accept that. There is no reason for these competitions to continue.” Conte said at a press conference on Monday night as quoted by Football Italia.Advertisement The recent league games has seen empty stands in the stadium, as was the situation in Allianz Stadium last night as Juventus defeated Inter 2-0. Aaron Ramsay and Paulo Dybala had no supporters in the stadium to celebrate their goals.As of now, Serie A and Serie B has been suspended for a month until April 3, as it was decided by the Italian National Olympic Committee’s (CONI) yesterday.With all other football tournaments also suspended in the country, this will have an impact on the UEFA Champions League matches to be hosted in Italy this month, such as Juventus who are scheduled to take on Lyon on March 17.Prime Minister Conte has also asked the 60 million Italian citizens to avoid travel and large public gatherings.“There is no more time, the numbers tell us there is a significant increase in the contagion, in intensive care and the deaths. Our habits have to change, we must sacrifice something for the good of all of Italy. This is why we will adopt even more stringent measures,” Conte added.Last week, Inter donated €100,000 to the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at the Sacco Hospital in Milan to coronavirus research and aid in combatting the outbreak of the virus.Following the announcement of the lock down, AC Milan has joined up with its charity foundation Fondazione Milan to donate €250,000 as emergency support. The joint donation will be granted to Lombardy government’s emergency arm AREU.Also read-Sourav Ganguly gives massive update on IPL 2020 amid Coronavirus fears Advertisementlast_img read more

Rossland skate park gets a long awaited home

first_imgThe RSA and several councillors who voted in favour of the location see it from the polar opposite position. Rather than stalling future development (so far there has been no interest from developers), they believe the skate park could be the spark that ignites action and interest in the area. “Which comes first, the horse or the cart?” asked Councillor Jill Spearn rhetorically. “We have a plan that goes out for RFPs [request for proposals] and we don’t have anyone interested. The time is not right for that site [to be developed]. It may hopefully someday come into a beautiful city centre, but does that stop us because that doesn’t fit into the plan we’ve adopted? Plans change and all of a sudden we have a group that is active and want to get this thing going while we wait around for another 100 years to get this site developed?” “It’s fantastic news!” exclaimed Aaron Cosbey who, along with a dedicated team of volunteers, has helped bring the long-desired dream of a Golden City skate park one long rail slide closer to reality. A motion before council to approve the recommended site in southeast corner of the Emcon yard, for up to two years to allows the RSA to move forward with fundraising and design work. Council voted 4-1 in favour with Councillor Laurie Charlton opposed. Councillors Andy Stradling and Hanne Smith were absent for the vote. Claiming that a skate park was not one of the recommended uses for the lot in the Midtown Transition Plan and that neither the School Board nor RSS had been consulted in the process, Boscovitch “respectfully ask[ed] for a deferral.” Meetings are already planned for September to discuss what type of park and what sort of elements the community and stakeholders would like included in the project. The group will now ramp up their efforts, applying for larger scale grants to get to the likely $100,000 plus total cost of the park. Charlton, voting against the motion, cautioned that the City had spent a lot of money purchasing, surveying and removing unsightly buildings from the property and that constructing a skate park would have a negative impact on any future residential or commercial development. A short aulie to the east of their previous location, the Rossland Skate park Association (RSA) has finally found a permanent location for their skate park. Following a well-chronicled saga in which RSA essentially wrote the book on how to engage the local community, city staff, council, other experienced cities and skate park groups as well as the local skaters themselves, the group have landed a prime piece of skatable real estate in Rossland’s midtown transition area, otherwise known as the cracked pavement lot on Third Avenue commonly referred to as the Emcon lot. “We get to do the fun stuff now,” explained Aaron Cosbey. “We get to ask the community, the skaters, the neighbours and everybody what kind of features they’d like to see in this park. I’m really looking forward to this part as people will now get even more engaged. At the same time we’ll keep working on fundraising and ramp that up now as well.” “I would suggest all of this investment will be wasted if we put a skate park in that location,” added Charlton to the discussion. “Proponents suggest the impacts on existing neighbours can be mitigated with expensive landscaping. But I suggest no amount of landscaping will mitigate future commercial or residential development on the lot itself. Certainly the residents immediately across Washington on the south east corner will be impacted. I would suggest if it is put on the Emcon lot, it’s unlikely that any other residential or commercial development will take place at that location.”center_img “Will it be a street park, bowls, will it have a pump track, BMX features, be multi use, have a track for the roller derby girls around the outside? Those are the first levels of discussion. Once we’ve decided what elements we want in it, we can get into the specifics of how it might look and then try and work with the existing space and the neighbours to provide noise control. We’ll also be working with the planning department at the City. It starts with the high level questions and then narrows down to specifics as we move along.” “We’re looking forward to making this the first step in the greening of that space. It’s a beautiful space. It should be the central focal point for Rossland gathering space or Rossland for civic events, where we go to light the Christmas tree and where we go on Canada Day. That’s the space all that civic stuff should be happening on and I think this is a beachhead on the greening of that space.” The RSA will now have two years in which to plan, design, fund-raise and come back to the City to go through the rezoning that will be needed on the former industrial space. The hope is that the full two years won’t be needed, however, and that possibly by the summer of 2013 sods can be turned and construction begun. Cosbey also sees the skate park as the beginnings of great things for the lot, which has sat stagnant and unused for years apart from several months of ice skating in recent winters. With firm support from the city in hand, and a location to begin design, budgeting and fundraising work around the RSA is now anxiously looking forward to moving into the park design phase. Not everyone is happy about the location now settled upon. During the public input period prior to Monday’s council meeting Randy Boscovitch, speaking on behalf of the Emcon Residents Group, implored council to defer any vote on the skate park location until they had a chance to present to council. “The deferral is specifically to allow the Emcon Residents Group to present to council a complete summary of the midtown summary work done by Urban Systems and the City of Rossland.” To date, the RSA’s fundraising efforts have ground out just over $20,000, with additional monies held in trust by the Rotary Club (who are backing the project with their own fundraising efforts). Folks wishing to assist with fundraising can drop change in the ramp-styled donation boxes at may downtown merchants, participate in Gnarlie’s Angels or Rotary Club events, or simply go to the Nelson and District Credit Union and make a donation directly to the RSA.last_img read more

Record-breakers rack up over $1.6m in scholarships

first_imgATHLETICS: Digicel Grand Prix Championships KINGSTON: Student-athletes broke 83 records, earning $1,660,000 in scholarships over the course of the six-meet 2016 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championship, which ended with the Grand Prix Finals at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport last Saturday. Any athlete who broke a meet record, Grand Prix record, or national junior record, earned $20,000 in scholarships to offset school expenses, which will be paid directly to the school he or she will attend in September 2016. Kingston College’s Class Two athlete, Zico Campbell, was a big winner, earning $100,000 in scholarships, after breaking five records over the course of the six meets. Excelsior High’s Shanice Love, the girls Under-20 discus Grand Prix champion, earned $60,000 for breaking three records, including a new Grand Prix final record in the Class One discus, in which she threw 50.39 metres to win. Athletes who won $40,000 each for breaking two records were St. Elizabeth Technical High School’s (STETHS) Junelle Bromfield, Jamaica College’s Clayton Brown, Calabar High’s Kevroy Venson, Edwin Allen’s Shannon Kalawan, Fiona Richards (Edwin Allen), St. Jago’s Keenan Lawrence, STETHS’ Sahjay Stevens, Shevan Parks of Bellefield, Sanjae Lawrence of Petersfield, and Sanique Walker of Vere Technical, and Ashley Williams of St. Jago. The Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championship began on February 6 with the Youngster Goldsmith National Classic and the Western Championships. The other meets in the series were the Central Athletics Championships, Anthrick Corporate Area Development Meet, Camperdown Classic, and the G.C. Foster Classics. Edwin Allen and St. Jago High Schools emerged champion girl and boy school, respectively. Edwin Allen earned 237.6 points to be the leading girls’ school, finishing ahead of Holmwood Technical with 153, Excelsior High137.3, St. Jago 114, and St. Elizabeth Technical 111, rounding out the top five. St. Jago boys earned 252 points to finish ahead of Calabar 184, St. Elizabeth Technical High 136, Kingston College 131, and Munro College 88, rounding out the top five.last_img read more

People with disabilities to gain access to new transport training centre

first_imgA new national transport training centre will open next year for people with disabilities to help them to confidently and independently use public transport, an Oireachtas committee has heard.The National Council for the Blind (NCBI) launched their pre-budget submission for Budget 2020 as part of a political briefing for Oireachtas members on Wednesday.The location of the centre will be announced by the end of July and it is expected construction works will be completed next year. The submission focuses on six key Government Departments where urgent action is required to assist the almost 55,000 people living with sight loss in Ireland, a number which is steadily increasing.There are 2,068 blind or visually impaired people living in County Donegal.Kevin Kelly, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns with NCBI said: “While our Pre-Budget Submission recommends changes across many Government departments to improve the lives of people who are blind and vision impaired, of particular importance is the need to expand the Free Travel Scheme and ensure universal access to Assistive Technology.“Presently, the Free Travel Pass offered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is hugely valued by those who can avail of it. “Being able to travel independently on public transport is so important for people who are blind or vision impaired. However, the eligibility criteria to obtain a Free Travel Pass is very restrictive and inflexible.“Over 700 of our service users cannot see enough to obtain a driver’s licence yet do not qualify to be registered blind and obtain the Free Travel Pass so they have to incur additional expenses to avail of public transport or taxis.This inequity can be removed in Budget 2020 to include those with a long-term eye condition that renders their level of vision insufficient to obtain a driver’s licence.”Its primary aim of the NCBI is to provide short term comprehensive instruction designed to teach people with disabilities how to travel safely and independently using public transportation.It will include full-size replicas of bus, train and tram vehicles that will be used to familiarise users with how to safely and confidently use these modes on a day-to-day basis.Separately, funding for assistive technology allocated by the HSE is fragmented and uncoordinated. As a result, many people who are blind and visually impaired are unable to afford the upfront costs of essential assistive technology and have to go without meaning they are both economically and socially disadvantaged. Advertisement “There needs to be fair and equal access to assistive technology for all people who are blind and visually impaired across the country, regardless of where the person lives,” NCBI advocate Aoife Watson said.“At the moment it is a postcode lottery!“Currently, the HSE does not fund smartphones under the Technical Aids Grant, despite smartphones being often the most accessible for a person with sight loss and the developments in technology such as the Siri intelligent assistance tool, built-in screen reader (Voice Over) and screen magnification are indispensable,” Watson added.“Ironically if they moved to fund these devices it could result in savings as the assistive technology comes as standard rather than having to be a separate purchase.” Advertisement People with disabilities to gain access to new transport training centre was last modified: June 27th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Tipping Point for Embryonic Stem Cells?

first_imgAt any time, courts could rule on whether funding of embryonic stem cell research can continue or must be halted.  Whichever way a decision is rendered, whether by Judge Lamberth on the legality of the NIH guidelines, or by the Court of Appeals for DC, the issue will probably wind up before the Supreme Court.  Passions run high on both sides.  A crusader for adult stem cells, profiled in Nature this past week,1 was surprised by how many scientists support her antagonism to the use of human embryos for research.  More on that later; first, some news highlights:Cooling the flame:  Science Daily told how adult stem cell therapy can reduce inflammatory damage from stroke.  “We are seeing a paradigm shift in the way some types of stem cells may enhance recovery from stroke,” an excited researcher at the University of Texas said.  The adult stem cell therapy appears to dampen inflammation involving the spleen.  This new treatment holds promise to “improve clinical care, reduce long-term health care costs, and improve the quality of life for millions of people.”iPS momentum:  PhysOrg reported that researchers at Harvard and Columbia have demonstrated that “many iPS cells are the equal of hESCs in creating human motor neurons, the cells destroyed in a number of neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s.”  Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) are a form of adult stem cell that does not involve the destruction of embryos (11/20/2007), as in human embryonic stem cells (hESC).  The article says that iPS cells meet the “gold standard” of pluripotency.  In addition, new methods are speeding the tests for pluripotency of iPS cells.Hearty iPS:  Another story on PhysOrg highlighted research at Stanford that shows iPS cells can generate beating heart cells that carry a genetic defect under study, allowing “for the first time to examine and characterize the disorder at the cellular level.”ESC economics:  PhysOrg also discussed the current disarray of patent laws surrounding stem cell lines, data, and treatments.  Some scientists warn of a potential “stifling effect of widespread patenting in stem cell field.”  Bioethicist Debra Matthews (Johns Hopkins) said, “Pervasive taking of intellectual property rights has resulted in a complex and confusing patchwork of ownership and control in the field of stem cell science.”  Although the article was unclear whether the dispute includes adult stem cell research, it mentioned one recommendation being “a centralized portal for access to existing databases, such as the UK Stem Cell Bank and the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry.”Mixed bag:  Another article on PhysOrg discussed the new Massachusetts Medical School Human Stem Cell Bank, which opened with seven high-quality stem cell lines (5 embryonic, 2 iPS, with more to follow), and how they are being preserved in liquid nitrogen and made available to researchers around the world.  The article mixed these two sources of stem cells with no mention of ethics: e.g., “The Registry includes information on the derivation, availability and characteristics for more than 1,200 hESC and iPS cell lines developed in over 22 different countries, including more than 200 cell lines with genetic disorders.”Sex cells:  Parthenogenetic stem cells are taken from reproductive cells (03/12/2005).  Lacking the full complement of chromosome pairs, they might contain a good or bad copy of a gene implicated in a disease like tuberous sclerosis or Huntington’s disease.  Science Daily discussed how work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is constructing good embryonic stem cells from parthenogenetic cells.  “These single-parent/patient-derived embryonic stem cells can theoretically be used for correction of a diverse number of diseases that occur when one copy of the gene is abnormal,” a research at the hospital said.“The Crusader”With the decision by Judge Lamberth last September prohibiting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (09/03/2010) still under an injunction (09/26/2010), researchers and bioethicists are waiting to see what the next court ruling will bring.  Nature published the story of “The Crusader,” Theresa Deisher, one of the two remaining plaintiffs who won in the September case.1  Reporter Meredith Wadman presented Deisher in a fairly positive light as an intelligent, confident, persistent, self-sacrificing, hard-working PhD in cell biology, respected by her enemies, a Roman Catholic who “once shunned religion for science” but regained her faith when realizing that fetuses were not just “clumps of cells,” but human beings (cf. 11/07/2002).    Deisher’s politics in college were “very left-wing,” after she ditched her mother’s religious faith.  “I was in science, and science was much more interesting than religion,” she said.  “I encouraged a couple of friends to have abortions.”  Her return to faith came by degrees: first, the sight of an adult cadaver preserved in formalin made her realize that a fetus preserved in a jar only looks “alien” because of the preservation method.  Second, she encountered first-hand the passions of those bent on researching human embryos; “And the vehemence with which colleagues resisted ‘made me open my eyes’, Deisher says, to the very real – and, she says, unscientific – passions that can infect defenders of scientific orthodoxy,” Wadman wrote.  “Science, she reasoned, was not so objective after all.”  Third, Deisher’s growing antipathy to embryonic stem cell research got an emotional kick when speaking to Republican state lawmakers in Washington state in 2007.  “One of the other speakers was a mother who had adopted a frozen embryo from a fertility clinic,” Wadman continued.  “The resulting child, a girl then four years old, stood beside her.”    Deisher sold her house and used her retirement savings to start an institute for the advancement of adult stem cell therapies.  She is not, thereby, antagonizing scientists by opposing them through the political process; when asked, she reluctantly signed on as a plaintiff in the lawsuit that resulted in Lamberth’s ruling: “It is frightening to speak out,” she said; “I don’t care for the notoriety.”  Instead, her AVM Biotechnology company seeks to provide positive alternatives: “The company’s mission, in part, is to eliminate the need for embryonic-stem-cell therapies and enable adult-stem-cell companies to succeed by developing, for instance, drugs that promote stem-cell retention in target organs,” It is also working on alternatives to vaccines currently produced using cell lines derived from fetuses that had been aborted decades ago.”  Unlike the institutes in California that have $3 billion in taxpayer-approved bonds at their disposal, Deisher runs her company in a dormitory with five unpaid staff.    A lot rides on the court’s next move.  If the court agrees with Deisher, Wadman ended, “it will shut down hundreds of human-embryonic-stem-cell experiments once more – possibly for good.”  One of the most interesting things Deisher learned from the lawsuit – indeed, the “biggest lesson,” Wadman called it – was, in Deisher’s words, “how many scientists are against [human-embryonic-stem-cell research].  I did not know that. I did not expect the level of support and encouragement that I have received.”1.  Meredith Wadman, “The Crusader,” Nature 470, 156-159 (Feb 9, 2011) | doi:10.1038/470156a.That Nature would print this story about Deisher is an encouraging sign that the momentum may be turning away from embryonic stem cell research.  Nature used to wield its editorial pen against the opponents the way it does against creationists, calling them ignorant moralists standing in the way of progress (02/11/2005, 09/27/2004).  Dr. Tracy Deisher certainly does not fit that description, nor does Dr. James Sherley, an adult stem cell researcher at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, the other remaining plaintiff in the lawsuit.  For sure, Wadman snuck in enough jibes about Deisher to titillate Nature’s leftist readers (calling her a “bundle of contradictions,” pointing out that she never applied for a NIH grant, pointing out that she studies the “pernicious” and “disproven” hypothesis that autism might be triggered by vaccines, quoting people who call her “polarizing,” remarking in a callout box that “she’s kind of the Sarah Palin of stem cells,”), but she gave Deisher a lot of room to respond, too.    What was not said may be more telling.  Wadman did not point out any benefits of embryonic stem cells over adult stem cells.  She did not quote any leading ES researchers making a good case for cutting up embryos.  And she did not even attempt to defend ES research on ethical grounds.  Instead, she gave Deisher space to make two striking blows: (1) that many scientists are opposed to human embryonic stem cell research, and (2) that hESC researchers are not driven primarily by concern for the sick.  Researchers prefer to work on ES cells because they are convenient, Deisher argued; their science “is not about helping patients and it’s not about advancing the common good.”  Instead, she argued, “There is no commercial, clinical or research utility in working with human embryonic stem cells.”  That anecdote about the four-year-old girl born from a frozen embryo added emotional clout.  Here was a darling human being – obviously a great deal more than a clump of cells.    These are signs that embryonic stem cell research is losing its hype-driven public mandate (cf. 01/02/2011).  After all the promises, it has produced no cures (while adult stem cell research is on a roll; see 11/18/2010 starting from initial promise in 01/24/2002).  It is superfluous, now that iPS technology is its equal, without the ethical qualms.  Its credibility has been marred by fraud (12/16/2005), while others worry about future abuses (10/21/2004; cf. 04/22/2004 and 07/30/2001 on eugenics).  Opponents within the scientific community are becoming more bold.  And it is hanging by a thread, waiting for the next court ruling that might end its federal funding for good (double entendre intentional).  But why should it get federal funding in the first place?  If the promises were credible, commercial and charitable support would be overwhelming.  That ES researchers have to lean on the government dole is a sign it is not commercially viable.    Is this subject relevant for Creation-Evolution Headlines?  Maybe not directly, but one’s view of the origin of life and humanity has direct bearing on ethics.  The stem cell controversy of the past decade has been a direct outgrowth of competing views on the significance of human life.  If an embryo is “just a clump of cells,” then playing with those clumps because of their convenience or the temptation of a Nobel prize has no ethical consequences.  But if human life was created by God, it never loses its sanctity from conception to burial.  It will affect how we view a fetus in a jar, a plasticized body in an exhibit, an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home, a woman considering an abortion, the direction of scientific research.  It’s where the rubber of worldview meets the road of scientific practice.(Visited 40 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Darwinians Claim to See Evolution Happening Now

first_imgUnable to see evolutionary progress in the fossil record, some Darwinians try to claim they are watching it before our eyes.Since Darwin’s time, the fossil record has been a graveyard of evolutionary theories. Darwin knew it and mumbled out the record’s incompleteness. Stephen Jay Gould famously commented that sudden appearance followed by stasis was the “trade secret of paleontology.” Molecular clock studies often disagree with morphological studies, even granting millions of Darwin Years. Since they can’t find gradual evolution in the record, some Darwinians look for evidence of change in living organisms, including people. Their illustrations can appear quite ridiculous.Before reading the following examples, one must keep an eye on the ball. The ball is not just any change, but positive, innovative change by unguided natural selection that could take a bacterium to a human, given enough time. To claim that disease represents evolution, for instance, would be no more helpful to Darwinism than a company’s balance sheet that reported only losses.Evolutionary geneticists spot natural selection happening now in people (Hakhamanesh Mostafavi at The Conversation). How can you have evolution without speciation and reproductive isolation? If Mostafavi’s view of natural selection prevails, then every tiny variation within the human species becomes evidence for Darwinian evolution! It means that your own children have evolved from you. But even Mostafavi knows that evolution is supposed to be bigger than that:Cartoon by J. Beverly Greene for Creation-Evolution HeadlinesHuman evolution can seem like a phenomenon of the distant past which applies only to our ancestors living millions of years ago. But human evolution is ongoing. To evolve simply means that mutations – the accidental changes to genes that happen normally in the process of copying DNA – are becoming more or less common in the population over time.These changes can happen by chance, because the individuals who reproduced happened to carry a particular mutation somewhat more often than individuals who didn’t have children. They can also happen because of natural selection, when carriers of a specific mutation are better able to survive, reproduce or tend to their family members – and therefore leave more descendants. Every biological adaptation, from the ability of humans to walk upright on two feet to flight in birds, ultimately traces back to natural selection acting on these minute changes, generation after generation.So humans are definitely still evolving….Mostafavi is equivocating here about the definition of evolution. The examples he gives, like genes for lactose intolerance, do nothing to change Homo sapiens into another fitter species. He calls smoking evolution. He calls genes for Alzheimer’s Disease evolution. Can he point to any inherited trait that will help humans of the future grow a wing or a new sense organ? Of course not. None of this is evidence for Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Calling his minor variations “evolution” (especially when they are deleterious) amounts to blowing smoke.Great Tits May Be Evolving Bigger Beaks. Here’s Why. (National Geographic). Before proceeding, let us quickly calm our female readers by pointing out that the “great tit” (we didn’t name it) is a beautiful bird that lives in England (not in the Grand Tetons). Here’s a picture of one.National Geographic loses no time to credit Darwin for a slight change in beak size here, saying in the subtitle, “Since Darwin’s time, birds have served as models for the wonders of evolution—and this study was no exception.”They just keep coming back.Reporter Jason Bittel calls on evolutionist Lewis Spurgin (U of East Anglia) to celebrate another triumph of evolution by claiming that humans are modifying the birds’ evolution by setting up bird feeders. And yet Bittel is not even sure that the feeders caused a slight change in beak size between populations in the U.K. and the Netherlands. No matter; start the Darwin party!“We know that evolution by natural selection produces peacocks’ tails and giraffes’ necks and that sort of thing,” says Spurgin, whose findings were published today in Science….“But it also works in much more subtle ways that are much more difficult to observe.”This is just another case of making mountains out of molehills, like Darwinians did with “Darwin’s finches” on the Galapagos. Jonathan Wells roundly debunked that example of Icons of Evolution. How much easier could he dispense with this one? He would certainly call it a case of Zombie Science – dead arguments for Darwinism rising from the dead in the media.Spurgin was rebuked by other biologists for making too much of this, but he was too drunk on Darwine to stop partying:For Spurgin, this is all part of the fun. “I don’t imagine that Darwin in his wildest dreams could have thought that this stuff would have been happening,” he says.So do evolutionists really think these little birds with their tiny beaks reveal anything about Darwinism? In their dreams. Dreaming about natural selection is a cash cow in Britain. Science Daily indicates that Spurgin’s Darwine party was “funded by the European Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council and supported by the Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford.”Flu forecasting tool uses evolution to make earlier predictions (UChicago Medicine). Evolutionists keep trying to make a big deal out of influenza “evolution”, but the flu has never evolved into non-flu. This press release tries to make evolutionary theory sound useful. The team knows this is not evolution, but they credited Darwin anyway.Each year, four influenza strains circulate in the human population: H3N2, H1N1, and two B variants. These viruses spread seasonally each year because of a phenomenon known as antigenic drift. They evolve just enough to evade human immune systems, but not enough to develop into completely new versions of the virus.In other words, they are just variants of the same virus strains. The ones that “drift” enough from the antigen in the vaccine don’t get killed off. But they are still flu viruses, not even completely new versions of the flu virus. If the team can forecast what the new strain will look like earlier, that’s well and good, but this kind of ‘horizontal’ variation is not what Darwin had in mind. Viruses are not even independent organisms.Is biology behind your political views? (Phys.org). This question collapses with the self-refuting fallacy. “People can be biologically predisposed to certain feelings toward politics and society,” the proposition goes. But if biology predisposes one’s political views, then it also predisposes one’s scientific views. [Cue sound of short circuit.]The cartoon says it. Darwinism is kept aloft by the hot air of those whose careers depend on it.Our thanks to J. Beverly Greene for the illustration.(Visited 903 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Video: Grease rocks again in Cape Town

first_imgThe classic musical Grease is on at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre until 11 April. Catch a glimpse of the show, and hear from some of the actors who bring its timeless characters to life.Click arrow to play video.Published on SouthAfrica.info on 24 March 2010.last_img