New light on human ancestor’s diet

first_img28 June 2012 A South African-led research team working on Australopithecus sediba, the 2-million-year-old human ancestor recently discovered in South Africa, have published new findings on what our early ancestors ate that are causing a stir in scientific circles. It’s clear that these hominins didn’t brush their teeth on the morning nearly two-million years ago when they fell into a sinkhole not far from present-day Johannesburg. Remains of their meal have been found in plaque in their teeth. The 1.9-million year old Australopithecus sediba, found in South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind by professor Lee Berger of Wits University in 2008, reveal that these hominins ate parts of trees, shrubs or herbs. Berger, Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the Institute for Human Evolution at Wits, led the team, comprising nine leading scientists from across the globe, that published the latest findings on Australopithecus sediba.A (very) long-overdue trip to the dentist … While examining the teeth of the two individuals so far excavated, Berger noticed stains or plaque on the teeth – tartar or calculus, a mineralised material that forms on teeth. “In this plaque, the scientists found phytoliths, bodies of silica from plants eaten almost two-million years ago by these early hominins,” the research team said in a statement this week. The well-preserved teeth were analysed in different ways. Dental micro-wear analyses of the tooth surfaces and high-resolution isotope studies of the tooth enamel were conducted. “We have a very unusual type of preservation in this instance as the state of the teeth was pristine,” said Peter Ungar, distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas and the scientist responsible for conducting the dental micro-wear studies of the teeth. Multi-disciplinary research team The research was published in the online edition of the prestigious journal Nature on Wednesday, and will appear in the 5 July print edition. The main author is Amanda Henry of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, a specialist in dental calculus and tartar. Other specialists on the multi-disciplinary team included dental micro-wear specialists, isotopic specialists and phytolith researchers – scientists who study the physical remains of ancient plants. “We have been very lucky to bring together such a diverse group of talented individuals to conduct this study,” said Henry. Using the isotope analysis, the dental micro-wear analysis and the phytolith analysis, the researchers “closed in on the diet of these two individuals, and what they found differs from other early human ancestors from that period. “The micro-wear on the teeth showed more pits and complexity than most other australopiths before it. The phytoliths gave an even clearer picture of what the animals were consuming, including bark, leaves, sedges, grasses, fruit and palm,” the statement reads. Animal that took advantage of forest resources Tests were conducted on the surrounding sediments in the area, to ensure the samples from the plaque were really part of the diet, and not contamination from elsewhere. “By testing the sediments in which the hominid was buried we can be sure that the phytoliths in the calculus were not from post-depositional contamination,” said professor Marion Bamford from the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontology at Wits, who worked on the phytolith analysis. “These findings tell us a really nice story about these two individuals. We get a sense of an animal that looked like it was taking advantage of forest resources,” adds Ungar. “This kind of food consumption differs from what has been seen in evidence from other australopiths. They come out looking like giraffes in terms of their tooth chemistry. A lot of the other creatures there were not eating such forest resources.” The finding has been creating great excitement in the scientific world. Bark … not expected “The find is unprecedented in the human record outside of fossils just a few thousand years old. It is the first truly direct evidence of what our early ancestors put in their mouths and chewed – what they ate,” said Berger. “I found the evidence for bark consumption the most surprising,” said Berger. “While primatologists have known for years that primates, including apes, eat bark as a fallback food in times of need, I really had not thought of it as a dietary item on the menu of an early human ancestor.” Matt Sponheimer, a Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who worked on the isotopic research, explains: “The results suggested a different diet than we have found in other early hominins, and were rather like what we find in living chimpanzees. We were not expecting Sediba to look unlike Australopithecus and Homo as various researchers have suggested affinities to one genus or the other, or both.”New hominin species In 2010, Berger and his colleagues unveiled the 2008 find, an entirely new hominin species. In September 2011, the almost complete hand skeleton of sediba was unveiled, together with the brain, hip, foot and ankle. Five papers detailing the findings and analysis of the discovery were published in the prestigious journal Science. The very evolved hand with a long thumb, like a human, with long arms like an ape, indicate that sediba was bipedal but also able to climb. The hand also suggests that sediba was capable of tool manufacture and use. The advanced pelvis and long legs suggest it was able to stride and possibly even run like a human. Sediba has been described as a “transitional species” between Australopithecus africanus and either Homo habilis or Homo erectus. Other animal fossils have been found with the sediba bones – sabre-toothed cats, hyenas, antelopes, mice, birds and snails. Sediba is a Sotho word for a well or a spring; the species was so named because it was hoped that “a great source of information will spring from the fossils”. Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

Health care in South Africa

first_imgSouth Africa’s public health system is a countrywide network of care facilities ranging from mobile and rural clinics to huge academic hospitals in the urban centres.A new mother takes her baby for a checkup and vaccinations at a local clinic. (Image: Department of Health)In this article:IntroductionExpenditure on healthNational, provincial and localNational Health InsuranceFacilitiesDoctor shortagesStatutory bodiesLegislationHealth profile: HIV, TB, maternal and child health, malariaTraditional medicineIntroductionHealth care in South Africa varies from the most basic primary health care, offered free by the state, to highly specialised, hi-tech health services available in the both the public and private sector.However, the public sector is stretched and under-resourced in places. While the state contributes about 40% of all expenditure on health, the public health sector is under pressure to deliver services to about 80% of the population.The private sector, on the other hand, is run largely on commercial lines and caters to middle- and high-income earners who tend to be members of medical schemes. It also attracts most of the country’s health professionals.This two-tiered system is not only inequitable and inaccessible to a large portion of South Africans, but institutions in the public sector have suffered poor management, underfunding and deteriorating infrastructure. While access has improved, the quality of health care has fallen.The situation is compounded by public health challenges, including the burden of diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis (TB), and a shortage of key medical personnel.However, the South African government is responding with a far-reaching reform plan to revitalise and restructure the South African health care system, including:Fast-tracking the implementation of a National Health Insurance scheme, which will eventually cover all South Africans.Strengthening the fight against HIV and TB, non-communicable diseases, as well as injury and violence.Improving human-resource management at state hospitals and strengthening co- ordination between the public and private health sector.Deploying “health teams” to communities and schools.Regulating costs to make health care affordable to all.Increasing life expectancy from 56.5 years in 2009 to 58.5 years in 2014.ExpenditureThe bulk of health-sector funding comes from the South Africa’s National Treasury. The health budget for 2012/13 was R121-billion, which was aimed at improving hospitals and strengthening public health ahead of the National Health Insurance scheme.In 2011, total spend on health was R248.6-billion – or around 8.3% of GDP, way above the 5% recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Despite this high expenditure, health outcomes remain poor when compared to similar middle-income countries. This can largely be attributed to the inequities between the public and private sector.According to the National Treasury’s Fiscal Review for 2011, the GDP spend on health was split as follows:R120.8-billion (48.5%) in the private sector, which covers 16.2% of the population or 8.2-million people, many of whom have medical cover.R122.4-billion (49.2%) in the public sector, which is made up of 84% of the population, or 42-million people, who generally rely on the public health care sector.The remaining R5.3-billion (2.3%) is donor and NGO spend.See South Africa gears up for National HealthThe latest budget on the National Treasury’s websiteNational, provincial and localBefore South Africa’s first democratic elections, hospitals were assigned to particular racial groups and most were concentrated in white areas. With 14 different health departments, the system was characterised by fragmentation and duplication. But in 1994 the dismantling began, and transformation is now under fully under way.However, high levels of poverty and unemployment mean health care remains largely the burden of the state. The Department of Health holds overall responsibility for health care, with a specific responsibility for the public sector.Visit the Department of HealthProvincial health departments provide and manage comprehensive health services, via a district-based, public health-care model. Local hospital management has delegated authority over operational issues, such as the budget and human resources, to facilitate quicker responses to local needs.Public health consumes around 11% of the government’s total budget, which is allocated and mostly spent by the nine provinces. How these resources are allocated, and the standard of health care delivered, varies from province to province.A Health Charter has been devised with the aim of creating a platform for engagement between sectors to address issues of access, equity and quality of health services as well as issues of broad-based black economic empowerment and employment equity.Download a copy of the Revised Draft Health Charter [PDF]South Africa has more than 110 registered medical schemes, with around 3,4-million principal members (and 7,8-million beneficiaries).See the Council for Medical Schemes, an autonomous statutory body created by parliament.Hundreds of NGOs make an essential contribution to HIV, Aids and TB, mental health, cancer, disability and the development of public health systems. The part played by NGOs – from a national level, through provincial and local, to their role in individual communities – is vitally important to the functioning of the overall system.National Health InsuranceThe Department of Health is focused on implementing an improved health system, which involves an emphasis focus on public health, as well as improving the functionality and management of the system through stringent budget and expenditure monitoring.Known as the “10-point plan”, the strategic programme is improving hospital infrastructure and human resources management, as well as procurement of the necessary equipment and skills.Under this plan, health facilities – such as nursing colleges and tertiary hospitals – are being upgraded and rebuilt to lay the way for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.The NHI is intended to bring about reform that will improve service provision and health care delivery. It will promote equity and efficiency to ensure that all South Africans have access to affordable, quality health care services regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution to the NHI Fund.The NHI will be phased in over 14 years, beginning in 2012. In 2012/13, the government earmarked R1-billion to its pilot projects.Apart from infrastructure and management overhauls, another factor for ensuring the success of the NHI will be the strict regulation of the sector to make it more affordable to all South Africans.See the Department of Health’s FAQs on the NHIFacilitiesThere are 4 200 public health facilities in South Africa. People per clinic is 13  718, exceeding WHO guidelines of 10 000 per clinic. However, figures from March 2009 show that people averaged 2.5 visits a year to public health facilities and the usable bed occupancy rates were between 65% and 77% at hospitals.Since 1994, more than 1 600 clinics have been built or upgraded. Free health care for children under six and for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers was introduced in the mid-1990s.The National Health Laboratory Service is the largest pathology service in South Africa. It has 265 laboratories, serving 80% of South Africans. The labs provide diagnostic services as well as health-related research.See the National Health Laboratory ServiceDoctor shortagesIn March 2012, 165 371 qualified health practitioners in both public and private sectors were registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, the health practitioner watchdog body. This includes 38 236 doctors and 5 560 dentists.The doctor-to-population ratio is estimated to be 0.77 per 1 000. But because the vast majority of GPs – 73% – work in the private sector, there is just one practising doctor for every 4 219 people.In response, the Department of Health has introduced clinical health associates, midlevel health-care providers, to work in underserved rural areas.About 1 200 medical students graduate annually. In some communities, medical students provide health services at clinics under supervision. Newly graduating doctors and pharmacists complete a year of compulsory community service in understaffed hospitals and clinics.In an attempt to boost the number of doctors in the country, South Africa signed a co- operation agreement with Cuba in 1995. South Africa has since recruited hundreds of Cuban doctors to practice here, while South Africa is able to send medical students to Cuba to study.South Africa believes the Cuban opportunity will help train the doctors it so desperately needs for the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme.Other agreements exist with Tunisia and Iran, as well as between Johannesburg Hospital and Maputo Central Hospital.The government has also made it easier for other foreign doctors to register here.The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa had 3 773 registered “complementary health” practitioners in 2012.See the Allied Health Professions Council of South AfricaStatutory bodiesStatutory bodies for the health-service professions include:Allied Health Professions Council of South AfricaCouncil for Medical SchemesHealth Professions Council of South AfricaMedicines Control CouncilThe National Health Laboratory ServiceSouth African Dental Technicians CouncilSouth African Medical Research CouncilSouth African Nursing CouncilSouth African Pharmacy CouncilLegislationThe National Health Act, 61 of 2003, provides a framework for a single health system for South Africa. The Act provides for a number of basic health care rights, including the right to emergency treatment and the right to participate in decisions regarding one’s health.The implementation of the Act was initiated in 2006, and some provinces are engaged in aligning their provincial legislation with the national Act.Other legislation relating to health care, some recently passed, include laws which aim to:Ensure all health establishments comply with minimum standards through an independent entity (National Health Amendment Bill, 2010)Make drugs more affordable and provide for transparency in the pricing of medicines (Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Act, 59 of 2002)Regulate the medical schemes industry to prevent it from discriminating against “high risk” individuals like the aged and sick (Medical Schemes Act, 1998)Legalise abortion and allow for safe access to it in both public and private health facilities (Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, 92 of 1996)Limit smoking in public places, create public awareness of the health risks of tobacco by requiring certain information on packaging, and prohibt the sale of tobacco produces to anyone younger than 18 (Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act, 23 of 2007)Provide for the introduction of mandatory community service for nurses (Nursing Act, 2005)Introduce a process to develop and redesign mental health services so as to grant basic rights to people with mental illnesses (Mental Health Care Act, 2002)Allow non-pharmacists to own pharmacies, with the aim of improving access to medicines (Pharmacy Amendment Act, 2000). This came into effect during May 2003.Other important developments in health care policy and legislation include:The Health Professions Amendment Bill of 2006The Traditional Health Practitioners Act, 35 of 2004Regulations relating to the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs came into effect in May 2012, and aim to empower citizens to make healthy food choices.Find full copies of health-related Acts, Bills, and other legal documents on the Department of Health’s websiteHealth profileHIV and tuberculosisAids and other poverty-related diseases such as tuberculosis and cholera place a tremendous strain on South Africa’s health care system. According to Statistics South Africa, in 2011:The overall HIV prevalence rate was 10,6%. About one-fifth of South African women in their reproductive ages were HIV positive.There were 5,38-million people living with HIV. This was up from 4,21-million in 2001.16,6% of the adult population (aged 15-49) years was HIV positive.There were about 2,01-million orphans due to HIV.New HIV infections for 2011 among adults was estimated at 316 900.An estimated 1,06-million adults and 105 123 children were receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2010. This was up from 101 416 and close to 12 000 children in 2005.In May 2012, the government said it had cut the mother-to-child transmission rate from 3.5% in 2010 to less than 2%. It also said the rate of new infections had dropped from 1.4% to 0.8% in the 18 to 24 age groups.South Africa’s HIV/Aids battle planHealth sector overhaul on track: reportHIV and TB are dangerous bed fellows: the co-infection rates exceed 70%, with TB being the most common opportunistic infection in HIV-positive patients.Because of late detection, poor treatment management, drug-resistant forms of TB (known as DR-TB or multidrug-resistant TB; and XDR TB or extensively drug-resistant TB) have increased significantly, with about 5 500 cases diagnosed during 2009.See the WHO’s factsheet on tuberculosisIntegrating the double scourge of HIV/Aids and TB for the first time, the government has launched the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS and TB for 2012 – 2016. It is shored up by a provincial implementation programme.The plan seeks to address the social structural drivers of HIV/Aids, STD and TB care, prevention and support; to prevent new infections; to sustain health and wellness; and to protect human rights and access to justice of sufferers.The HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign was launched in April 2010 – by mid- 2012, almost 20-million people had been tested and knew their status. Millions were also screened for TB.Increasing the number of anti-retroviral sites as well as nurses certified to initiate ARV treatment has seen 1.7-million people placed on ARV treatment, from 1.1-million in 2009. South Africa has the largest ARV therapy programme in the world, and an improved procurement process has seen a 50% decrease in the prices of ARV drugs.Download the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS and TB for 2012 [PDF]Download the Global Aid Response Progress Report 2012 [PDF]Visit UNAids profile of South Africa, which includes statistics and progress reportsMaternal healthSouth Africa is a signatory to several international commitments such as the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seeks to address the health needs of women and children. However, in South Africa the health of mothers and children remains poor.According to statistics from WHO, South Africa has a maternal mortality ratio of 310 deaths per 100 000 lives births. The infant (under-1) mortality rate in 2010 was 41 deaths per 1 000 live births, while the under-5 mortality rate was 57 per 1 000 live births.Under the national prevention of mother-to-child (PMTCT) programme, every pregnant woman is offered HIV testing and counselling. If a woman tests positive for HIV, she is put on to a regime of anti-retroviral therapy to avoid transmitting the virus to her baby, and is offered a continuum of treatment, care and support for herself and her infant.But it is really access and utilisation of antenatal care services that most influence pregnancy outcome, child survival and maternal health. The renewed focus on primary health and the improving and expanding the health system infrastructure should go some way to addressing the high mortality rates – and get South Africa closer to the MDG target of reducing infant mortality to 20 by 2015.The Department of Health has a strategic plan in place which identifies “priority interventions” that will have the greatest influence on reducing mortality rates, as well as enhancing gender equity and reproductive health.The campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA), an African Union initiative, was launched in May 2012 and aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.Download the Strategic Plan for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Women’s Health and Nutrition in South Africa 2012 – 2016 [PDF]See the UN website on its Millennium Development GoalsRead more about the African Union’s CARMMA campaignChild healthImmunisation is a significant barrier against disease and death, and the rates of children receiving their primary vaccines have steadily been increasing under immunisation programmes. These aim to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, TB, cholera and pertussis.Measures to improve child health also include the expansion and strengthening of school health services and the establishment of district clinical specialist teams.Other prevention services, such as regular deworming and growth monitoring, help protect children’s health.The Health of our Children report in 2010, which surveyed 8 966 children, found that HIV prevalence among infants (age 0 to 2 years) was 2.1%, lower than the 3.3% average in the age 0 to 4 years, suggesting a positive impact of the national Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme, begun in 2006.Download a copy of the Health of our Children reportMalariaMalaria is not endemic in South Africa, and does not pose a major health risk. According to the WHO’s World Malaria Report 2010, only 4% of the population is at high risk of malaria and 6% at low risk, while 90% live in malaria-free areas. Almost all cases are caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Transmission occurs seasonally, with peak rates of infection occurring in April and declining by June.See the WHO’s Malaria Country Profile, 2010 for South Africa [PDF]Traditional medicineAn estimated 80% of South Africans consult with traditional healers alongside general medical practitioners.The Medical Research Council (MRC) founded a traditional medicines research unit in 1997 to introduce modern research methodologies around the use of traditional medicines. It also aims to develop a series of patents for promising new entities derived from medicinal plants.See the MRC’s Traditional Medicines Research UnitBrand South Africa reporterLast reviewed: 2 July 2012Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Hashimpura evidence mystery deepens

first_imgBut in its affidavit filed this week the police are yet to disclose on whose orders and by whom were the crucial evidence destroyed.Ninteen PAC members allegedly abducted 42 Muslims from the Hashimpura mohalla of Meerut on May 22, 1987 in a truck and took them to a nearby canal in Muradnagar of Ghaziabad, where they were gunned down and their bodies dumped in the canal.In March 21, 2015, the Tis Hazari court acquitted all the accused in the Hashimpura massacre case due to “insufficient evidence.” The UP government challenged the acquittal in the Delhi High Court, which is being heard by the Justice Mittal bench.Contradictory affidavitThe UP police also contradicted its last affidavit and gave a different date and year in which the papers were “weeded out.”In February last year the UP police had said “…all the details of the case were weeded out on April 1, 2006. Hence, it is impossible to make them available.”But in its latest affidavit they declared that the documents were weeded out on April 20, 1993.“That the general diary for the period from January 1, 1987 to December 31, 1987 of the local police contending the information about deployment of police troops within respective police station was weeded out on April 20, 1993 as per procedure, as the same was not required for any investigation or inquiry,” the affidavit said.According to Vrinda Grover, who is representing the National Human Rights Commission, due to the continuous attempts of the State to “protect” those who destroyed evidence of the massacre case, “the honourable court has accepted our submission that police be directed to file a consolidated affidavit making it clear on whose orders and by whom were the crucial case papers destroyed.”Ms Grover said the manner in which the UP government filed the affidavits seemed “an exercise in obfuscation.” Months after the Uttar Pradesh police had declared that they destroyed crucial documents relating to the Hashimpura massacre case while the trial was still going on, the police are yet to disclose on whose orders and by whom were the case papers “weeded out.”Police admit lapseIn an affidavit filed in February last year before the Delhi High Court where the Hashimpura massacre case in going on, the State police accepted that they had destroyed documents “after expiry of their prescribed period.”The papers could have helped prove the involvement of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel in the Hashimpura massacre of 1987.Following the affidavit, the bench headed by Justice Geeta Mittal had asked the police to disclose the details of the “weeding out” process of the crucial case papers.last_img read more

Mizoram govt. taken to court over liquor losses

first_imgLiquor dealers in Mizoram have taken the Zoramthanga government to court for losses caused by extension of dry days initially meant for the Christmas season.In keeping with its election promise, the Mizo National Front government had banned the sale of liquor from December 21, 2018, to January 14, 2019. The ban was later extended till March 10.On Thursday, the Mizoram Liquor Vendors’ Association and each owner of the State’s three bonded warehouses filed separate lawsuits in the Aizawl Bench of the Gauhati High Court seeking to know how their losses would be recovered and whether the government has any prohibition policy in place.The court has set January 22 as the date of hearing and has asked the State government to produce the proceedings of the Cabinet meetings leading to the imposition of dry days.After the first Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2018, the government closed down nine State-run liquor outlets and declared dry days from December 21, 2018, to January 14, 2019, in view of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Republic Day and the local Chapchar Kut festival were the reasons cited for extending the dry day to March 10 after the second Cabinet meeting on January 10.Mounting expenses“The government has kept us in a limbo by not saying clearly whether we have to wind up. Extension of dry days has hit our business hard. We are maintaining our outlets, paying employees and taking care of other mounting expenses,” said Francis Sailo, an Aizawl-based liquor vendor. The liquor dealers said the State government should have come out with an exit policy with a time-frame to phase out the business. They said the uncertainty has led to piling up of liquor stock since the dealers have to honour their permits for purchase till March this year.Under pressure from the influential church, total prohibition was first imposed via the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act in 1997 when Lal Thanhawla was the Chief Minister. The move, however, did not help his Congress party win the Assembly election the following year.The Congress replaced total prohibition by controlled prohibition 18 years later through the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act of 2014. A few wine shops were accordingly opened in 2015 and the State government recorded around ₹70 crore in annual revenue through the sale of alcohol.Push from church An unhappy church commissioned a study on the effects of alcohol on individuals and the Mizo society. A team of academics concluded in 2018 that the social cost of liquor was higher than the revenue earned.Liquor dealers said the liquor stock unsold since the imposition of the Zoramthanga government’s dry day order was worth more than ₹40 crore. “The government should either buy this stock or compensate us,” a dealer said.last_img read more

Coach Kerr takes backseat in Warriors rout of Suns

first_imgGlobe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Draymond Green leads the Golden State Warriors’ huddle during a timeout in their game against the Phoenix Suns. APOAKLAND, Calif. — With the grind of a long NBA season wearing on his team, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr believed it was time for his players to hear a new voice in the huddle: their own.Kerr turned over most of the coaching duties to his players on Monday night and they responded in fine fashion, playing with more focus than they had in recent weeks in a 129-83 victory over the Phoenix Suns.ADVERTISEMENT John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Payton scored 16 points in the first quarter before Curry got on the scoreboard, but he got little help. Payton made his first seven shots, but his teammates started 1 for 15 and the Warriors managed to take a 25-24 lead by the end of the first after being outscored by 32 points in the first quarter of the previous three games.Curry scored 10 points in the second quarter as Golden State built a 17-point lead at the half and coasted the rest of the way.”We have so many smart basketball minds on our team,” Casspi said. ”The guys really used this opportunity to run things they like.”TIP-INSSuns: G Devin Booker (hip pointer) missed his fourth straight game, and G Tyler Ulis (back) sat for the second straight game. … Phoenix has lost 12 straight in Oakland, last winning here on Feb. 7, 2011.Warriors: G Patrick McCaw, who has been spending time in the G League between NBA games trying to get his confidence back, scored nine points in the second quarter after having just eight in the previous 10 games. He then left the game with a sprained right wrist.QUOTABLE”I was horrible actually. I thought about a play and forgot the second option and had two guys on the wrong place on the board and I actually got a delay of game coming out of halftime because I was scrambling,” Curry said about his role as a coach.FATHER-SONCurry’s 22 points gave him and his father, Dell, a combined 28,883 points in their careers, tying Rick and Brent Barry for the third-most ever by a father-son combination, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Joe and Kobe Bryant have the most of any duo with 38,895 (33,643 from Kobe). Read Next Mitchell delivers down the stretch, rallies Jazz past Spurs Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH UP NEXTSuns: Visit Utah on Wednesday.Warriors: Visit Portland on Wednesday. Kevin Durant out with Achilles injury; to undergo MRI on Tuesday PLAY LIST 03:12Kevin Durant out with Achilles injury; to undergo MRI on Tuesday02:25Raptors or Warriors? PBA players take their pick of NBA champ01:43Who are Filipinos rooting for in the NBA Finals?01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoisescenter_img 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting ”It’s the players’ team,” Kerr said. ”It’s their team and they have to take ownership of it. As coaches, our job is to nudge them in the right direction, guide them. We don’t control them. They determine their own fate. I don’t think we’ve focused well the last month. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”Kerr said he told the players of his plan after the previous game and they ran the show for most of the day. Andre Iguodala took over at morning shootaround, JaVale McGee ran the computer for the film session and Iguodala, Draymond Green and David West got most of the work designing plays and running the huddle during timeouts.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutKerr and his assistants handled the substitutions before allowing the players to take over from there.”It had to do with me trying to reach my team and I have not reached them the last month,” Kerr said. ”They’re tired of my voice. I’m tired of my voice. I wasn’t reaching them so we figured this was a good night to pull something out of the hat.” LATEST STORIES After the game, Kerr made a point of seeking out Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano to tell him the move wasn’t made out of any disrespect for the Suns, who became the first team to reach 40 losses this season.”You have to do what you have to do to build your own team up,” Triano said. ”If he thinks that helps them, I tip my hat.”Stephen Curry scored 22 points for the Warriors. Omri Casspi added 19 in a rare start in place of the injured Green and Kevin Durant had 17 as Golden State won its 12th straight in the series, its longest active streak against any team.Elfrid Payton scored 29 points in his second game since being acquired at the trade deadline from Orlando, but Phoenix still lost its sixth straight and 11th in the past 12 games.”We have to keep fighting,” Payton said. ”We can’t hang our heads. That’s the great thing about the NBA, there’s another game in two days. So learn from it, get better ready to have a better effort.”ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ View comments AFP official booed out of forum Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencerslast_img read more

Sam NFL’s 1st Openly Gay Player

first_imgNEW YORK — Michael Sam waited and waited. Hours passed, rounds came and went, and eventually, there were only eight more picks left on the third and final day of the NFL draft.For just a moment, it looked as if his chance of being picked by a pro team and becoming the league’s first openly gay player might take a detour. Or at least be delayed.The call finally came in from the St. Louis Rams, the team right down the road from where Sam played his college ball at the University of Missouri.Sam was selected in the seventh and final round and admitted it was a frustrating wait. He said teams that passed on him chickened out and he should have been drafted sooner.“From last season alone, I should’ve been in the first three rounds. SEC Defensive Player of the Year, All-American,” Sam said. He stopped short of directly saying his stock dropped in the draft because he came out.“You know what, who knows? Who knows? Only the people who sit in the war room know,” he said. “They saw Michael Sam, day after day they scratched it off the board. That was their loss. But St. Louis kept me on that board. And you know what I feel like I’m a (Jadeveon) Clowney, a first draft pick. I’m proud of where I am now.”Sam came out as gay in media interviews earlier this year. His team and coaches knew his secret and kept it for his final college season. He went on to have the best year of his career: He was the co-defensive player of the year in the nation’s best college football conference and had 11.5 sacks.The pick came after several rounds of suspense. The first round of the day, No. 4 overall, came and went, no Sam. Then the fifth and sixth, and finally, the day was down to just a handful of picks.When Mike Kensil, the NFL’s Vice President of game operations, walked to the podium at Radio City Music Hall in the draft’s final minutes to announce the Rams’ second-to-last pick, the crowd got a sense something was up. Very few of the last day picks were announced at the podium. Twitter lit up with suggestions the Rams were about to make news.When Kensil said: “The St. Louis Rams select … Michael Sam…” the fans gave a hearty cheer, chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” and “Michael Sam!”Sam was in San Diego watching with friends and family at the home of his agent, Joe Barkett of Empire Athletes. ESPN and the NFL Network had cameras there and showed Sam’s reaction.Sam was on the phone bending over, with his boyfriend hugging him and rubbing his left bicep. When Sam got off the phone, the tears started. He gave his boyfriend a big kiss and a long hug as he cried and his eyes reddened. After, they shared cake — and another kiss.“Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I’m using every once of this to achieve greatness!!” Sam tweeted with a frenzied typo moments after he was picked, with a picture of himself wearing a Rams cap and a pink polo shirt.The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam was considered a mid-to-late round pick, far from a sure thing to be drafted. He played defensive end in college, but he’s short for that position in the NFL and slower than most outside linebackers, the position he’ll need to transition to at the professional level.He was taken with the 249th overall pick out of 256. Players from Marist, Maine and McGill University in Canada were selected before Sam.“In the world of diversity we live in now, I’m honored to be a part of this,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said during an interview on ESPN.The NFL had no comment on Sam being drafted.The impact of Sam’s selection goes far beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance among Americans, Sam’s entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into professional team sports. Pro sports have in many ways lagged behind the rest of society in acceptance.“Michael Sam wouldn’t have been drafted five years ago,” said former Viking punter Chris Kluwe, who has accused Minnesota of cutting him in part because of his vocal support for gay rights.In the last year, NBA veteran Jason Collins has come out publicly as gay, and is now playing for the Brooklyn Nets. Collins said before the Nets’ playoff game against the Heat that he was watching the draft and texted Sam after he was picked.“It’s a great day for Michael and his family and for the NFL,” Collins said.Publicly, most people in and related to the NFL have been supportive of Sam. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said Sam would be welcome in the league and judged solely on his ability to play. A few wondered whether teams would be reluctant to draft Sam because of all the media attention that would come with it.Fair or not, the NFL — coming off a season in which a bullying scandal involving players on the Miami Dolphins was one of the biggest stories in sports — was looking at a possible public relations hit if Sam was not drafted. He would likely have been signed as a free agent and given a chance to make a team in training camp, but to many it would have looked as if he was being rejected.Now that he’s there, it could be seen as an opportunity for the NFL to show that crass locker room culture is not as prevalent as it might have looked to those who followed the embarrassing Dolphins scandal. But all the reaction to Sam’s news wasn’t positive from the league.Miami safety Don Jones posted a one-word tweet, “Horrible” shortly after Sam was drafted. It was later taken down. The team’s General Manager said he was aware, and was disappointed.Wade Davis, a gay former NFL player who is now the executive director of the gay rights advocacy group You Can Play, said that Sam only needs to do his job to have an impact beyond the field.“Michael Sam doesn’t have to be a vocal advocate (for gay rights),” Davis said. “His visibility is his advocacy.”(RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Owner of medical marijuana dispensaries challenges constitutionality of law

first_imgTORONTO – The law under which the owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries was charged last year was unconstitutional because a valid program making medicinal pot readily available did not exist at the time, an Ontario court heard on Thursday.As a result, charges of possession for the purposes of trafficking and having proceeds of crime laid against Marek (Mark) Stupak should be thrown out, his lawyer Alan Young said.Stupak, 44, operated two “medical marijuana compassion clubs” known as the Social Collective in Toronto. Police charged him in May 2016 under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act as part of a series of city-wide raids in an operation known as “Project Claudia.”Young cited a 2000 ruling from Ontario’s top court that Parliament could not criminalize marijuana use without a program to make medicinal marijuana available to ill patients who needed it.Other courts, he said, regularly struck down restrictions on reasonable access to the drug. However, Ottawa failed to ensure that access, and dispensaries such as Stupak’s sprang up to fill the gap, Young said.“Project Claudia” made a “concerted effort” to close down all the dispensaries in Toronto but police messed up because they had no law to back their enforcement action at the time of the raids, Young said.In October 2013, Ottawa began shutting down an existing but criticized program under which patients could grow their own pot or have someone grow it for them for free. The program was replaced in April 2014 with one in which growers were licensed to grow and supply medical marijuana to patients.However, the new scheme also ran afoul of the courts, Young said. As a result, no valid medical program was in effect between October 2013 and August of 2016, when the government brought in new rules for medical marijuana, court heard.“The government dropped the ball and there was a gap,” Young told Superior Court Justice Heather McArthur. “There was a two-year period where patients were left in the dark and in the cold.”The gap, he said, left patients and their suppliers exposed to criminal sanction. Additionally, if a patient has a right to use and to access the drug, the government must make clear that those who distribute to them are exempt as well, Young said.“When ‘Project Claudia’ was initiated, medical patients were in a limbo period in which it was unclear how they were going to access (medical marijuana),” Young said.For his part, Crown lawyer David Morlog argued Stupak was looking for an “extremely broad” remedy given that the rules in place at the time were in fact constitutional.“The applicant is seeking retroactive absolution for drug trafficking,” Morlog said.Stupak, Morlog said, is relying on a misinterpretation of a key Federal Court decision in February 2016. In that ruling, a judge found the medical marijuana system unconstitutional, but gave the government six months to fix the issue.In his submissions, Young argued that evidence as to what exactly Stupak was doing with his dispensaries is not necessary unless the law is upheld. However, McArthur wondered whether she should know more.“I strongly suggest it’s not necessary,” Young replied, but McArthur said she would think about whether such evidence would be helpful to her ruling on the validity of the law.Five other individuals alleged to be owners of medical marijuana dispensaries have joined the challenge but are awaiting its outcome. Young said thousands of other cases could be affected as well.McArthur put the matter over until Nov. 6, when the parties will discuss whether she needs to hear evidence about Stupak’s dealings.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the wrong spelling of Crown lawyer David Morloglast_img read more

Tim Hortons falls to 67th in reputation rankings by Reputation Institute

first_imgTORONTO – Tim Hortons has seen its ranking take a hit in another study tracking Canada’s most reputable companies.Research firm Reputation Institute says the company has fallen to 67th from 13th place in one of the largest moves down of all 250 companies it analyzed this year, but the brand is still considered to have a “strong reputation.”The study is based on ratings from 27,000 Canadians, who are asked to score companies on their products, innovation, workplace governance, citizenship, leadership and financial performance.Google, Lego and Rolex topped the list, while Canadian brands MEC, Jean Coutu and Canadian Tire all cracked the top 20. Shoppers Drug Mart, Home Hardware, Cineplex, Roots and Sleep Country Canada all made appearances in the top 50.The study comes after similar rankings were released in April by research organization Leger, which ranked Tim Hortons in 50th spot, down from fourth place.The moves follow a public spat between Tim Hortons parent company Restaurant Brands International and the Great White North Franchisee Association, which claims to represent more than half of the brand’s franchisee owners.In recent months, they have fought over cost-cutting measures made at some franchisee’s locations in the wake of Ontario’s minimum wage hike, RBI’s alleged misuse of a national advertising fund and a $700-million renovation plan to spruce up restaurants.Companies in this story: (TSX:QSR)last_img read more

Privacy and other matters with Facebooks videocall gadget

first_imgNEW YORK — There’s a new category of home gadgets best described as screens for making video calls, listening to music and responding to voice commands for tasks you can also do on your phone.Unlike tablets, these microphone- and camera-equipped screens are meant to rest at a fixed location in your living room, kitchen or, gasp, your bedroom.Facebook’s Portal is a great option for video calling. But given the company’s shoddy record on user privacy, do you even want one?There are also some alternatives, from Amazon and Google, but they are not primarily built for video calling. That said, they are better than Portal at the other stuff, like voice-assisted tasks.Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Detroit show has SUVs horsepower but electric cars are few

first_imgDETROIT — Automakers have promised to start selling hordes of electric cars in the next few years, but only two will be unveiled at the big Detroit auto show that kicks off this week — and those aren’t even ready for production.Meanwhile, there will be plenty of SUVs and high-horsepower sports cars on display as cheap gasoline helps SUV and truck sales continue their dramatic climb.So how credible is the industry’s pledge to move toward fuel-efficient vehicles when it keeps cranking out more lucrative trucks and sport utilities?Some environmental groups contend that companies aren’t really interested in efficiency because they’re making tons of money from the sales of less-efficient SUVs and pickup trucks. These groups also say that without government fuel economy requirements, automakers won’t make progress toward electric vehicles that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Auto executives, however, say they’re already moving to more fuel-efficient trucks and SUVs, some now coming with gas-electric hybrid power systems. Soon there will be many electric SUVs, they say.“Every one of our SUVs has hybrids somewhere in the future, hybrids or electrified vehicles of some sort,” says Craig Patterson, Ford’s SUV marketing manager.Patterson will help show off a new version of the Ford Explorer big SUV at the auto show starting Monday, and it will have an optional hybrid power system. It is Ford’s first hybrid SUV in six years, and the company also has plans for a fully electric SUV based on the Mustang sometime next year. Seven battery-powered vehicles are planned for the U.S. by 2022, even a hybrid pickup truck.General Motors plans a Cadillac electric vehicle in 2021, and more than 20 that run on batteries or hydrogen in four years. Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, wants to increase the number of electric models from six to over 50 by 2025. Other brands such as Audi, BMW and Porsche and Jaguar are rolling out electric vehicles.But in December, almost 72 per cent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were SUVs and trucks, up from 49 per cent at the end of 2012. Because of the shift, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors are cancelling some or all of their sedan lines. At the same time, they are hedging their bets by planning electrics and hybrids to give people fuel-efficient SUV options should gas prices rise from the current national average of around $2.24 per gallon.Design work on the Explorer and other vehicles being introduced at the North American International Auto Show began more than three years ago, when automakers thought their new vehicle fleet had to average about 36 miles per gallon by 2025 under U.S. fuel economy standards. That’s about 10 mpg more than the current standards.But the Trump administration has proposed freezing those standards at 2020 levels, a move that will spark a court challenge and a fight with California, which can set its own gas mileage and greenhouse gas standards. A decision on freezing the standards at around 30 mpg is expected later this year.Simon Mui, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council who works on clean vehicles, said if the standards are frozen, years of improved efficiency will come to a halt.“I tend to treat these automaker promises to roll out electric vehicles kind of like New Year’s resolutions,” he said. “There’s often a gap between what they promise and what they actually deliver.”The government requirements are needed to make sure each automaker does their part, Mui said. Stable requirements bring down technology costs, and consumers benefit from using less fuel, he said.But auto executives say they’ve been working to squeeze more efficiency out of the internal combustion engine, to the point where there isn’t much else they can do except add electric power.Ford’s Patterson says even though gas is cheap, the company will sell the higher performance of hybrids, with gas engines boosted by instant electric power for acceleration. Consumers, he says, will be willing to pay for that. Also, due to technology breakthroughs, Patterson says hybrids no longer cost much more than standard engines.Ford plans to keep working as if the government won’t freeze fuel economy standards because it doesn’t know what will happen. “You have to meet it at some point, and you’re going to have to build (for) California,” he said.Still, selling hybrid and electric vehicles is tough in an era of cheap gas. In the U.S., fully electric vehicles amounted to less than 1 per cent of new vehicle registrations through August last year. Yet globally, Navigant Research predicts huge growth in the next seven years, from just over 1 million sales this year to 6.5 million by 2025. The surge is expected because of government incentives in China.Even so, automakers could get stuck with slow-selling electrics in the U.S. because of concerns over their limited range, and because it will take three to five years for battery and other costs to fall to about the same as gasoline engines, said Asutosh Padhi, senior partner and co-leader of the automotive unit at the McKinsey management consulting firm. U.S. consumers always want more utility and performance for less or the same price, he said.Another problem is a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles is starting to expire for some automakers, Padhi said.“It’s yet another headwind for electric vehicles in the near-term, until the performance picks up, until we get to cost parity,” he said.Tom Krisher, The Associated Presslast_img read more