NCS D-V championship preview: No. 2 Del Norte faces toughest test of season against No. 1 Encinal

first_imgIt takes a meteorologist to predict the rain and cold weather slated to soak the Hayward area Saturday night.It doesn’t take a genius to predict what the Warriors will do — and that’s run the ball.No. 2 Del Norte will face No. 1 Encinal Saturday night at 7 p.m. with a North Coast Section Division 5 championship on the line. Saturday will mark the first time Del Norte has competed in a section title game in program history.A soggy field and a stout defense await the Warriors at Hayward High, …last_img read more

Saving the world’s kids from fire

first_imgZimbabwean toddler Tapera Jani at the start of his treatment for both burns and kwashiorkor at the Children of Fire shelter in Johannesburg. (Image: Irin Photo)A few months ago Tapera Jani, a three-year-old boy from a farm outside Bulawayo in southern Zimbabwe, walked into a fire. The toddler was left with life-threatening burns to his legs and, in a country with a collapsed health system, no-one to help him.Luckily the owner of the farm on which Tapera lived with his parents had heard of Children of Fire, a South African organisation which  rescues and rehabilitates children across the world who fall victim to fire.In all developing countries, fire is the essential source of energy for poorer households. And whether it is in paraffin lamps, charcoal braziers or flaming piles of wood, fire will often cause accidents injuring, disfiguring and often killing those households’ children.Children of Fire was founded in South Africa by journalist Bronwen Jones after, in 1994, she met Dorah Mokoena, a toddler who almost died in a shack fire in a squatter camp. The fire burnt off Dorah’s face, eyesight and hands – leaving her blind, her features melted into scar tissue, and with stumps at the end of her arms.Jones and her son Tristan took Dorah into their home, where the girl, now a teenager, is a permanent member of the family. Unlike many, she has had the benefit of reconstructive surgery, with her nose and lips rebuilt, and some ability to communicate restored.Dorah’s disfigurement made her the poster child for Children of Fire. She has helped attract the more privileged world’s attention to the horrific physical dangers millions of children face being born into families surviving on nothing.With three-year-old Tapera, Jones and her team were ready to deal with his burns. But the toddler was also a victim of Zimbabwe’s collapse – its meltdown economy and nonexistent healthcare.A citizen of a country that recently was the breadbasket of Southern Africa, the boy was suffering from kwashiorkor, a life-threatening form of malnutrition caused by a lack of protein – and a disease unknown in Zimbabwe 10 years ago.“If Tapera had not died of his burns, he would have died of starvation in [Zimbabwean president Robert] Mugabe’s country,” said Jones, kissing the now-healthy and smiling child.“He weighed 8.5kg when he arrived. We expected him to weigh double that for his biological age.”Children of Fire, established in South Africa over a decade ago, is now registered as a charity in the UK. It has helped 70 children with severe burns and 200 from across Africa who required less complicated surgery.“We continue to help the 70 children who need complicated surgery,” Jones said.The organisation has come to expect complications in each case it takes up.“There is poverty and HIV/Aids in the region – as we help to heal the children, we have to deal with all their problems,” said Jones.Reconstructive surgery is expensive, particularly reconstructing faces and limbs ravaged by fire.“It can cost anywhere between R40 000 (US$4 123) to R1-million ($103 095) per child,” she said. The charity, therefore, takes on few surgical cases.“The ones we do, we know no-one else would help; for example, if the child is also HIV-positive.”The organisation’s focus is therefore not on expensive surgery. Its more important work is helping children damaged by fire come to terms with their disability, cope with the social stigma of their disfigurement, and develop the courage to reintegrate with family, friends and society.“I often end up being rude to people who stare at my children, despite my telling them not to do so, as it upsets them,” Jones said.“Acceptance and getting people to see the child inside is perhaps the most difficult thing.”Children of Fire works with a network of doctors, surgeons and healthcare specialists, most volunteers. The charity has never received government aid, and operates entirely on public donations, using volunteers from across the world.“My son Tristan calls us a boot-camp for spoilt European students,” said Jones. Children come and go out of the house which serves as a home and office for the charity in Melville, a suburb of Johannesburg in Gauteng province. A school near the main building, with a staff of three teachers, helps educate the children while they are in the organisation’s care.More than 90% of burn injuries across the world occur in developing countries, with 70% of these burn victims children, according to statistics from the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery in the UK and the Dow University Medical College Burns Centre in Pakistan.According to Children of Fire estimates, at least 15 000 South African children are burned every year. The incidence of burning is higher in winter, when the need for warmth means more fires, and more chance for tragic accidents.In South Africa’s five biggest cities an average of 200 people die in shack fires every year, according to Abahlali baseMjondolo, a South African shack dwellers’ movement.Besides helping children with burn injuries, Children of Fire also tries to educate people shacklands and other poor and unserviced residential areas on preventing fires.“These are simple measures such as not cooking on the ground [where children may easily walk into fires] and not allowing children to sleep alone with an open fire,” said Jones.The organisation also provides construction materials and other household essentials to communities that have been victims of fire.Jones has also been trying to get the authorities to implement a ban on the use of a particular brand of unsafe cooking stove that leaks paraffin oil.“These stoves cost only about R40 (about $4), while the safer ones cost about R200 (about $20), which few residents in squatter camps can afford.“I wish someone could help with cheaper, safer versions.”MediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporter and Irin News Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at marya@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesChampioning the children of fire Useful linksChildren of Fire Irin Newslast_img read more

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

Pollinator workshops offered

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Have you ever thought what it would be like to live in a world without apples, blueberries, strawberries, chocolate, almonds, melons, peaches, or pumpkins? Researchers have indicated that without animal pollinators, these foods would no longer exist.Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators to reproduce. Most fruit, vegetable and seed crops — and other plants that provide fiber, medicines, and fuel — are pollinated by animals. Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of human food exists because of animal pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, and beetles and other insects.Pollinators visit flowers in their search for food (nectar and pollen). During a flower visit, a pollinator may accidentally brush against the flower’s reproductive parts, unknowingly depositing pollen from a different flower. The plant then uses the pollen to produce a fruit or seed. Many plants cannot reproduce without pollen carried to them by foraging pollinators.Bees are the main pollinators for fruits and vegetables. There are over 4,000 species of bees native to North America. They nest underground, in twigs and debris, or in dead trees. Nectar-seeking butterflies are daytime garden visitors, and moths are their nocturnal counterpart. These popular creatures pollinate many plants. Hummingbirds are the most common avian pollinators in the continental United States. These tiny wonders prefer tubular flowers in bright, warm colors — especially red.Pollinators are in trouble — bees are disappearing and bats are dying. These and other animal pollinators face many challenges. Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to their decline.To learn more about pollinators and increase their habitat and populations, plan to attend two free workshops hosted by the Delaware SWCD on June 14 and July 12 at the Orange Township Hall, 1680 Orange Rd, Lewis Center, OH. Each workshop will be held from 7-9 pm. These are separate workshops addressing different topics. For full details and a registration form, go to our website at www.delawareswcd.org.last_img read more

Senate Bill sets up group to study trucking regulations

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., recently introduced legislation to revise existing trucking regulations to make them more flexible for drivers hauling livestock.The “Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act” would establish a working group at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to examine the federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules and the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations. The HOS rules limit commercial truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period. Once drivers reach that limit, they must pull over and wait 10 hours before driving again. ELDs record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information, electronically reporting the data to federal and state inspectors to help enforce the HOS rules.The legislation requires the Secretary of Transportation to establish a working group within 120 days to identify obstacles to the “safe, humane, and market-efficient transport of livestock, insects, and other perishable agricultural commodities” and to develop guidelines and recommendations for regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of those commodities. The bill would suspend the ELD regulation for livestock haulers until the DOT secretary proposes the regulatory changes. The National Pork Producers Council supports the legislation as a reasonable solution for developing HOS rules that protect highway safety and allow livestock haulers to meet animal welfare standards.last_img read more