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first_imgFollowing a jam-packed schedule of fundraisers for Paul ‘Diddler’ Dillon and his family last month, the Diddler fundraising committee has announced that €85,600.70 has been raised in a month. Diddler (aged 45) was recently diagnosed with an illness which will require modifications to his family home. But the cooperative community of Newtowncunningham refused to let the family face this challenging time alone. A committee was formed in January to plan a series of fun events to ensure everyone can get the chance to lend a helping hand to Diddler.Last month saw a host of events take place including Monster Charity Concert in the An Grianan Hotel, a 25 Card Drive in Biddy Friel’s bar and the Dash for Diddler 5KA statement from the committee on Facebook read: “It would be impossible to thank everyone individually who contributed in one way or another, so a massive well done to everyone involved.“The committee for this fundraiser is now dissolved and the page will be removed on Sunday. “This just leaves us wishing Paul, Emma and the girls strength and love now and in the future.”Diddler committee reveal over €85,000 has been raised in four weeks was last modified: March 11th, 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) Tags:Newtoncunninghampaul ‘diddler’ dillonlast_img read more

first_imgThis story is not about Enron and Exxon, but about introns and exons.  The proportions of the scandals they are causing in evolutionary theory, however, may be comparable.    Introns are spacers between genes.  For several decades now, it has been a puzzle why they are there, and why a complex machine called a spliceosome takes them out and joins the active genetic parts – the exons – together. Only eukaryotes have spliceosomes, though; mitochondria have “group II introns” and some mRNAs may have them.  Their presence and numbers in various groups presents a bewildering array of combinations.  Figuring out a phylogenetic tree for introns has eluded evolutionary geneticists, as has understanding their origin and functions (02/18/2005).  Why do genes come in pieces that have to be reassembled?     William Martin and Eugene Koonin said in Nature1 that “The discovery of introns had a broad effect on thoughts about early evolution.”  Some theories have been falsified, and others remain in the running.  Consider the scope of the problems:A current consensus on introns would be that prokaryotes do indeed have group II introns but that they never had spliceosomes; hence, streamlining in the original sense (that is, loss of spliceosomal introns) never occurred in prokaryotes, although it did occur in some eukaryotes such as yeast or microsporidia.  An expansion of that consensus would be that spliceosomes and spliceosomal introns are universal among eukaryotes, that group II introns originating from the mitochondrion are indeed the most likely precursors of eukaryotic mRNA introns and spliceosomal snRNAs, and that many—conceivably most—eukaryotic introns are as old as eukaryotes themselves.  More recent are the insights that there is virtually no evolutionary grade detectable in the origin of the spliceosome, which apparently was present in its (almost) fully fledged state in the common ancestor of eukaryotic lineages studied so far, and that the suspected source of introns—mitochondria, including their anaerobic forms, hydrogenosomes and mitosomes—was also present in the common ancestor of contemporary eukaryotes (the only ones whose origin or attributes require explanation).    This suggests that intron origin and spread occurred within a narrow window of evolutionary time: subsequent to the origin of the mitochondrion, but before the diversification of the major eukaryotic lineages.  This, in turn, indicates the existence of a turbulent phase of genome evolution in the wake of mitochondrial origin, during which group II introns invaded the host’s chromosomes, spread as transposable elements into hundreds—perhaps thousands—of positions that have been conserved to the present, and fragmented into both mRNA introns and snRNA constituents of the spliceosome.This means that a complex molecular machine, the spliceosome (09/17/2004, 09/12/2002), appeared fully formed almost abruptly, and that the intron invasion took place over a short time and has not changed for hundreds of millions of years.  They submitted a new hypothesis:Here we revisit the possible evolutionary significance of introns in light of mitochondrial ubiquity.  We propose that the spread of group II introns and their mutational decay into spliceosomal introns created a strong selective pressure to exclude ribosomes from the vicinity of the chromosomes—thus breaking the prokaryotic paradigm of co-transcriptional translation and forcing nucleus-cytosol compartmentalization, which allowed translation to occur on properly matured mRNAs only.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)But this means that the nucleus, nucleolus and other complex structures also had to appear in a very brief period of time.  It means that the engulfed organism that somehow became mitochondria had to transfer its introns rapidly into a genome lacking a nucleus.  It means the nucleus had to evolve quickly to segregate the new mitochondrial genes from the nuclear genes.  A lot had to happen quickly.  “This bipartite cell would not be an immediate success story: it would have nothing but problems instead,” they admitted, but they believed that natural selection would favor the few that worked out a symbiotic relationship with their new invaders.    This is not the end of the problems.  The group II introns would have had to embed themselves with reverse transcriptase and maturase without activating the host’s defenses, then evolve into spliceosome-dependent introns and remain unchanged forever after.  Then those embedded group II introns would undergo mutational decay, interfering with gene expression.  Will this work without some miracles?A problem of a much more severe nature arises, however, with the mutational decay of group II introns, resulting in inactivation of the maturase and/or RNA structural elements in at least some of the disseminated copies.  Modern examples from prokaryotes and organelles suggest that splicing with the help of maturase and RNA structural elements provided by intact group II introns in trans could have initially rescued gene expression at such loci, although maturase action in trans is much less effective than in cis.  Thus, the decay of the maturase gene in disseminated introns poses a requirement for invention of a new splicing machinery.  However, as discussed below, the transition to spliceosome-dependent splicing will also impose an unforgiving demand for inventions in addition to the spliceosome.A spliceosome is not an easy thing to invent; it has five snRNAs and over 200 proteins, making it one of the most complex molecular machines in the cell.  Not only that, they appeared in primitive eukaryotes and have been largely conserved since.  Perhaps the miracles can be made more believable by dividing them into smaller steps:It seems that the protospliceosome recruited the Sm-domain, possibly to replace the maturase, while retaining group II RNA domains (snRNAs) ancestrally germane to the splicing mechanism.  While the later evolution of the spliceosome entailed diversification with the recruitment of additional proteins—leading to greater efficiency—the simpler, ancestral protospliceosome could, in principle, rescue expression of genes containing degenerate group II introns in a maturase-independent manner, but at the dear cost of speed.Will a lateral pass from maturase to incipient spliceosome during a long field run lead to a touchdown?  If a stumbling protospliceosome could survive, in spite of vastly decreased translation rate, it might have been able to run the distance with natural selection’s encouragement, they think.  Players would be falling left and right in this “extremely unhealthy situation,” they say, and “the prospects of any descendants emerging from this situation are bleak.”  How could the game go on, then?  “The only recognizable mechanism operating in favour of this clumsy chimaera is weakened purifying selection operating on its exceptionally small initial population.”  Purifying selection means weeding out losers, not adding new champions.  “Finding a solution to the new problem of slow spliceosomes in the presence of fast and abundant ribosomes required an evolutionary novelty.”    They winnow down the possibilities.  Getting instant spliceosomes smacks too much of an improbable feat.  Getting rid of spliceosomal introns from DNA apparently did not occur.  Their solution?  The invention of the nucleus, where slow spliceosomes could operate without competition from fast ribosomes.    This adds new miracles, however.  The nucleus has highly complex pores that permit only authenticated molecules into the inner sanctum.  They think, however, that it must have happened, somehow: “Progeny that failed to physically separate mRNA processing from translation would not survive, nor would those that failed to invent pore complexes to allow chromosome-cytosol interaction.”  So pick your miracles: since necessity is the mother of invention, “The invention of the nucleus was mandatory to allow the expression of intron-containing genes in a cell whose ribosomes were faster than its spliceosomes.”    The near-miraculous arrival of the nucleus is underscored by other feats it performs: “In addition to splicing, eukaryotes possess elaborate mRNA surveillance mechanisms, in particular nonsense-mediated decay (NMD), to assure that only correctly processed mature mRNAs are translated, while aberrant mRNAs and those with premature termination codons are degraded.”  How could this originate?  Again, necessity must have driven the invention: “The initial intron invasion would have precipitated a requirement for mechanisms to identify exon junctions and to discriminate exons (with frame) from introns (without frame), as well as properly from improperly spliced transcripts.  Thus, NMD might be a direct evolutionary consequence of newly arisen genes-in-pieces.”  But then, if it is verified that some translation occurs in the nucleus, that would be “difficult to reconcile with our proposal.”    They ended with comparing their hypothesis with others.  “Our suggestion for the origin of the nucleus differs from previous views on the topic,” they boasted, “which either posit that the nuclear membrane was beneficial to (not mandatory for) its inventor by protecting chromosomes from shearing at division, or offer no plausible selective mechanism at all.”  At least theirs is simpler and includes some requirements to select for the cells with the best inventors – or the ones with the luckiest miracles.1Martin and Koonin, “Hypothesis: Introns and the origin of nucleus-cytosol compartmentalization,” Nature 440, 41-45 (2 March 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04531.Was any of this storytelling useful?  The shenanigans they pulled, couched in biochemical jargon, can be summarized by two principles in their own imaginations: (1) since the cell needed these superbly-crafted machines, it had to invent them somehow, and (2) since evolution is a fact, it had to happen somehow.  Do you catch any hint of a mechanism for actually inventing a 200-protein supermachine that would actually work?  Did you find any hint that any cell any time had a “protospliceosome” that only worked half-way?  All this was pure fiction built on childlike faith in evolution.    Presenting a hypothesis in science is fine, but how would they ever test something like this?  They offered a few tests that could discriminate between their just-so story and other just-so stories, but nothing that could explain how a spliceosome, or a nuclear membrane with its elaborate pore complexes, or nonsense-mediated decay could have been invented from scratch just because a cell needed these things.    Would that evolutionists would get off this storytelling kick and do something useful with their lives.  Let’s find a cure for cancer.  Let’s find better sources of energy, and think of ways to reduce risks of disease and terrorism, and use science to improve our lives and our world.  Stringing together uncooperative data into a fictional account of prehistory will accomplish nothing and is wasting time and money in a world desperately in need of the productive possibilities of true science.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img28 June 2012There were mixed emotions at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport when South African couple Debbie Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari walked out of international arrivals to meet their families and friends on Wednesday.There were hugs, laughs, screams and tears from both the couple and their relatives – tears of joy and relief, and of pain and heartache symbolic of what the couple had gone through since their capture 20 months ago.The couple, whose release from Somali pirates was secured last week, were taken hostage off the Gulf of Aden in October 2010 after armed pirates hijacked their yacht as it was about to enter the Mozambique channel, south of Dar es Salaam.The pair was rescued last Wednesday and flown from Mogadishu to Djibouti and then on to Rome, where Pelizzari’s mother lives.In the emotional homecoming, the frail-looking pair sounded strong spirit despite their physical condition.Speaking to the media shortly after their arrival, a tearful Calitz expressed gratitude to everyone involved in their rescue and those who kept them in their prayers. “We must have felt the vibrations of South African people because something kept us going … We love you South Africa.”The couple was received by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane when they landed.The two spoke about their ordeal, which they described as inhumane, as they were treated worse than animals. Calitz said they were not fed well, were handcuffed 24 hours a day, and were also not allowed to bathe much.The couple was kept together and fed a high starch diet of rice, pasta and bread.“We were not allowed luxuries which meant no soap. We had one and half litres of water per day between us … it was just terrible,” said Calitz.Pelizzari, who holds dual South African-Italian citizenship, said they were happy to get their freedom back. Pelizzari, who said he came out of the ordeal a “new person”, told reporters that it would take a lifetime to repay everybody.Hitting back at their captors, he said what the pirates were doing needed to stop. He added that South Africa had created a rainbow nation and, as a country, it had to help others to do the same.Caltiz’s daughter Sam said their safe return was a miracle. “There are no words, it’s emotions, we are happy,” she said.Nkoana-Mashabane welcomed the couple, saying it was a happy moment. She assured the couple that no one would take their freedom away now that they were back in the country.The minister also took some time to express gratitude to both the Somali and Italian governments for their roles in securing the release of the couple.The instability in Somalia has exacerbated the growing scourge of piracy. Instability due to war and the absence of a functioning government have contributed to the worsening of the situation, while a lack of sustainable programmes for institution and capacity building also renders Somalia more vulnerable to natural disasters.Last year alone, 24 ships where hijacked in 134 piracy incidents off the Somali coast, according to the European Union Naval Force.Nkoana-Mashabane said Somalia, with the assistance of the international community, needed to evolve a developmental strategy that would a result in a prosperous and stable democracy.She also encouraged the families of those who were in similar situations not to give up.The couple is expected to debrief South African officials about their journey in the next few days.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

first_img14 December 2014The Springbok Sevens defeated New Zealand 26-17 in a pulsating final in the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, a week after they claimed the Dubai Sevens title.The hosts trailed Fiji by two points coming into their home event, but now lead the standings with 59 points, with Fiji (51), New Zealand (47) and Australia (46) completing the top four places that would esnure automatic entry into the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.More than 63 000 people attended the event in Port Elizabeth and they were left in raptures after the Blitzboks again came from behind to claim the title they won a year ago. The team, who had also trailed Australia in the semifinals (10-0), conceded an early try in the final, as Sherwin Stowers dotted down for New Zealand.Tries by Philip Snyman and Cecil Afrika gave the home side the lead, but Afrika was yellow-carded shortly after and New Zealand used that advantage to claim a second try before the end of the half.Try scorerLeading tournament try-scorer Seabelo Senatla scored early in the second half to push the lead out to nine points, but again New Zealand came back within two minutes with a try by Joe Webber, his second of the final.The deal was sealed for the home side though when Kwagga Smith scored, with Afrika’s conversion providing the necessary buffer for any late All Blacks Sevens counterpunch.Coach Neil Powell was pleased with his side’s ability to stay calm under pressure and to play to their strengths.“We had to dig deep. We had three very worthy opponents today and each asked very different questions. We had to come from behind in each match today, but this team has shown they have the determination and belief to succeed.“We used sport psychologist Dr. Jannie Botha this week and it helped the guys to stay focused in a week full of the pressure that comes with hosting the tournament. A late second half surge by the Springbok Sevens team helped them to a hard-fought 19-10 win over Australia in the semifinals earlier on Sunday.Three second half tries gave the home side a win that looked unlikely after Australia scored twice in a minute and the Blitsboks had Afrika sin-binned as well. Australia’s 10-0 lead was first cut by a try from Branco du Preez, before Kyle Brown and Werner Kok ran in from a distance to clinch the win.In their quarterfinal match against England, they had to overcome an early try by England’s Alex Grey to score a 31-7 win.A brace by Kwagga Smith, another long-range effort by Seabelo Senatla and a well- worked try by Werner Kok secured the passage into the next phase.Earlier the USA won the Plate Final by beating Fiji 21-14, Portugal won the Shield by beating Samoa 19-14 and Canada outlasted Kenya 24-7 for the Bowl.In the bronze final, Australia beat Argentina 34-19.The standings after three rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series are:South Africa 59Fiji 51New Zealand 47Australia 46Argentina 40England 37Samoa 29Scotland 27USA 26Wales 25Source: SA Rugby Unionlast_img read more

first_imgThe crisis within the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) government in Nagaland has further deepened with Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu sacking 10 of his parliamentary secretaries following a demand for his removal, an official said on July 9, 2017.The development comes as former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang on July 8, 2017 wrote to Governor P.B. Acharya and staked claim to form a new government. He claimed he has the support of 33 NPF legislators and seven Independent legislators. In the wake of the demand for his removal, Mr. Liezietsu, who is also the NPF chief, terminated four NPF legislators and six Independent legislators, as parliamentary secretaries.The Nagaland government issued notifications terminating the appointment of Mr. Zeliang as Advisor (Finance) and Mr. Nuklotoshi as Advisor to Chief Minister.Apart from sacking the legislators, the NPF Disciplinary Action Committee which met on July 8, 2017 also suspended 10 legislators as primary and active members of the party.Those suspended include Home Minister Yanthungo Patton, Power Minister Kipili Sangtam, National Highway and Political Affairs Minister G. Kaito Aye, Forest and Environment Minister Imkong L. Imchen, besides, Shetoyi, Nuklutoshi, Deo Nukhu, Naiba Konyak, Benjongliba and Mr. Zeliang. Mr. Zeliang along with 41 legislators are camping at Borgos resort in Kaziranga National Park in Assam to discuss the transition of power. “All 41 of us are intact and we are waiting only for Governor Acharya to invite Zeliang to form the government,” Forest and Environment Minister Imkong L. Imchen told IANS.“We don’t care about (suspension from the party) it because those people who have signed the suspension order do not have the grassroots support,” Mr. Imchen said, while refusing to divulge further.Governor Acharya is in Maharashtra and he is expected to return to Nagaland in a few days.The fresh political instability has come at a time when Mr. Liezietsu is gearing up for the July 29 byelection from the Northern Angami-I assembly constituency. Mr. Liezietsu has however voiced confidence that the crisis within the NPF would be resolved at the earliest.Mr. Liezietsu was sworn in as Chief Minister on February 22, 2017 after Mr. Zeliang’s resignation following a violent protest by tribal groups who were opposed to his move to hold civic polls with 33% reservation for women.The Chief Minister said that he was deeply pained by the recent disturbing developments affecting the normal functioning of the government.“The current issue is within the NPF party and will be resolved at the earliest to bring about normalcy in the state. The mandate of the people will be respected and the present crisis will be resolved in the larger interest of the people of the state,” Mr. Liezietsu stated.Noting that the NPF-led government will complete its full term, the beleaguered Chief Minister appealed to the people of the state to remain calm.In his letter to the Governor, Mr. Zeliang said “The legislators also urged the present Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who is a non-legislator, to resign and pave way for me (Mr. Zeliang) to take over as the Chief Minister.”Claiming support of 34 (including himself) out of the 47 NPF legislators, he also told Mr. Acharya that seven Independent legislators have also affirmed their support in his favour.The legislators wanted him to continue as leader of NPF legislature party and also authorised him to stake claim to form a new NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government.In the truncated 59-member Assembly, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition government comprises 47 NPF legislators, four BJP and eight Independents. The NPF MLAs include the 10 suspended legislators.Interestingly, Mr. Zeliang has even warmed up to his once bitter rival Neiphiu Rio, a three-time Nagaland Chief Minister. Mr. Rio, the lone Lok Sabha member from Nagaland, was suspended a couple of years back for “anti-party activities”, particularly against Mr. Zeliang.last_img read more