Workers try to save hospital

first_imgHospital workers held a militant all-night vigil on Aug. 11 outside Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn. The hospital — vital to the well-being of the Black and West Indian community of Bedford-Stuyvesant that it serves — is slated to be closed for lack of funds. Members of hospital union 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the New York State Nurses Association are demanding that the state come up with the money needed to keep it and other city hospitals open. At the vigil was the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a long-time civil rights leader and fighter for the community, who called the threatened closings a public health emergency. As they circled the hospital entrance, the workers chanted “Forward ever, backward never!” and “Save our hospital.” The workers plan to march against Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Aug. 29.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Pecking order

first_imgIt has long been known that diversity of form and function in birds’ specialized beaks is abundant. Charles Darwin famously studied the finches on the Galapagos Islands, tying the morphology (shape) of various species’ beaks to the types of seeds they ate. In 2010, a team of Harvard biologists and applied mathematicians showed that Darwin’s finches all actually shared the same developmental pathways, using the same gene products, controlling just size and curvature, to create 14 very different beaks.Now, expanding that work to a less closely related group of birds, the Caribbean bullfinches, that same team at Harvard has uncovered something exciting: namely, that the molecular signals that produce those beak shapes show even more variation than is apparent on the surface. Not only can two very different beaks share the same developmental pathway, as in Darwin’s finches, but two very different developmental pathways can produce beaks of exactly the same shape.“Most people assume that there’s this flow of information from genes for development to an inevitable morphology,” says principal investigator Arhat Abzhanov, associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology (OEB). “Those beaks are very highly adaptive in their shapes and sizes, and extremely important for these birds. In Darwin’s finches, even one millimeter of difference in proportion or size can mean life or death during difficult times. But can we look at it from a bioengineering perspective and say that in order to generate the exact same morphological shape, you actually require the same developmental process to build it? Our latest research suggests not.”The findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The Caribbean bullfinches, geographic and genetic neighbors to Darwin’s finches, are a group of three similar-looking species that represent two different branches of the evolutionary tree. These bullfinches have very strong bills that are all exactly the same geometric shape but slightly different sizes.“They specialize in seeds that no one else can touch,” explains Abzhanov. “You’d actually need a pair of pliers to crack these seeds yourself; it takes 300 to 400 Newtons of force, so that’s a really nice niche if you can do that. But the question is, what developmental changes must have occurred to produce a specialized beak like that?”Ricardo Mallarino and a team of undergraduate field assistants had to collect eggs from wild nests in the Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Puerto Rico. The birds breed in dome-shaped nests with small side entrances, often in the tops of tall cacti. Photo courtesy of Ricardo MallarinoA new and highly rigorous genomic analysis by co-author Kevin J. Burns, a biologist at San Diego State University, has shown that among the three Caribbean bullfinch species, this crushing type of beak actually evolved twice, independently. Convergent evolution like this is common in nature, and very familiar to biologists. But understanding that phylogeny enabled Abzhanov, lead author Ricardo Mallarino (a former Ph.D. student in OEB at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), and colleagues in applied mathematics at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) to perform a series of mathematical and morphogenetic studies showing that the birds form those identical beaks in completely different ways. Such studies must, by their nature, be performed early in the embryonic stage of the birds’ development, when the shape and tissue structure of the beak is determined by the interactions of various genes and proteins.“In the small bullfinch you have almost a two-stage rocket system,” says Abzhanov. “Cartilage takes you halfway, and then bone kicks in and delivers the beak to the right shape. Without either stage, you’ll fail. In the larger bullfinches, the cartilage is not even employed, so it’s like a single-stage rocket, but it’s got this high-energy, synergistic interaction between two molecules that just takes the bone and drives its development straight to the right shape.”In embryos of the small bullfinch, Loxigilla noctis, the control genes used are Bmp4 and CaM, followed by TGFβIIr, β-catenin, and Dkk3, the same combination used in Darwin’s finches. Embryos of the larger bullfinches, L. violacea and L. portoricensis, use a novel combination of just Bmp4 and Ihh.“Importantly,” Abzhanov says, “despite the fact that these birds are using different systems, they end up with the same shape beak, and a different shape beak from Darwin’s finches. So that reveals a surprising amount of flexibility in both the shapes and the molecular interactions that support them.”The finding offers new insight into the ways birds — the largest and most diverse group of land vertebrates — have managed to adaptively fill so many different ecological niches.“It is possible that even if the beak shape doesn’t change over time, the program that builds it does,” explains Abzhanov. “For evolution, the main thing that matters for selection is what the beak actually looks like at the end, or specifically, what it can do. The multiple ways to build that beak can be continually changing, provided they deliver the same results. That flexibility by itself could be a good vehicle for eventually developing novel shapes, because the developmental program is not frozen.”Following a standard process in studies of developmental biology, Abzhanov’s team began with measurements of the morphological differences between species, followed by observations of gene expression in bullfinch embryos and functional experiments using chicken embryos. Along the way, mathematical models helped the team to quantify and categorize the beak shapes they were seeing.A comparison of beak developmental patterns and eventual beak shapes reveals a high degree of flexibility in their relationship. Image courtesy of Ricardo Mallarino“We used geometric morphometric analysis, looking at these beaks as curves,” says co-author Michael Brenner, Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics at SEAS and Harvard College Professor. “The beak shapes would turn into contours, contours were digitized into curvatures, and curvatures were turned into representative mathematical formulas. This provided our biology colleagues with an unbiased way of determining which of the different species had beak shapes that were identical up to scaling transformations, and which were in a completely different group.”In order to observe gene expression in the developing bullfinch embryos, Mallarino and a team of undergraduate field assistants had to collect eggs from wild nests in the Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Puerto Rico. The birds breed in dome-shaped nests with small side entrances, often in the tops of tall cacti. In accordance with strict fieldwork regulations, Mallarino’s team collected only every third egg laid, which required them to return to the nests daily, climbing dozens of trees and cacti to carefully label every new egg. Laden with radios, notebooks, markers, heavy ladders, and a special foam crate for the delicate eggs, the team ventured into remote field sites at dawn and returned to camp before noon to incubate those they collected.“They’re much more fragile than a chicken egg, and extremely small,” says Mallarino. “We just walk very carefully.”“It’s a big logistical operation,” he adds. “It’s five months of really, really hard work under the sun in crazy conditions, but when it works it’s really rewarding. At day six or seven you have a perfect, live embryo with a beak beginning to form, and you can learn so much about it.”The next step in this work is to widen the lens yet again and compare the morphological development of a broader group of birds.“In time, hopefully we’ll see how the great diversity that you see among all these highly adaptive bird beaks may actually evolve at the genetic level,” says Mallarino. “That’s the greater challenge.”In addition to Abzhanov, Mallarino, and Brenner, co-authors included Otger Campàs, a former postdoctoral associate at SEAS; Joerg A. Fritz, a graduate student in applied mathematics at SEAS; and Olivia G. Weeks ’13.This work was supported by several grants from the National Science Foundation, as well as the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard and the National Institutes of Health.last_img read more

Two St. Lucians and one Dominican remanded on drug charges

first_imgLocalNews Two St. Lucians and one Dominican remanded on drug charges by: – June 28, 2012 Share Sharing is caring! Share Sharecenter_img Lucian, Sheldon “Africa” JosephTwo St Lucians and one Dominican are on remand after being been jointly charged in relation to a drug bust which occurred at Toucarie Bay on Monday June 25th, 2012.On Thursday Shawn Earl Willie and Sheldon Joseph of St. Lucia and Allick Francis Simon of Cottage were charged with possession of Cannabis, possession of 681,908 grams of cannabis with intent to supply, importation of 681,908 grams of cannabis and conspiracy to import 681,908 grams of cannabis.The men were not allowed to enter a plea on the charge of conspiracy to import cannabis since the offence is an indictable offence.All three men pleaded not guilty to the three other charges.Kondwani Williams who represents Joseph and Willie did not make an application for bail, indicating that he was giving the police ample time to carry out their investigations.Dominican, Allick Francis Simon AKA CongoWilliams however requested that disclosure be made available as soon as possible in light that his clients are non-national. Police prosecutor Michael Laurent objected to bail for Dominican national on the grounds that investigations into the matter are ongoing.He explained that there are other charges which may be instituted by customs and police, and that the quantum of the drugs should be considered.St. Lucian, Shawn Earl Willie Laudat further stated that Simon posed a potential flight risk; since he had “allegedly” unlawfully exited and entered the island without proper documentation.“By him being in and out through the back door it poses a risk that he might leave again”, Laurent told the court.Attorney William Para Riviere who represents Simon informed the court that his client had “no” prior convictions and while it is true the offences are “severe” those were not “valid reasons” to believe his client would “flee” the jurisdiction.Riviere was unable to convince magistrate Ossie Lewis who presided over the matter.“Bail is denied categorically at this juncture,” magistrate Lewis ruled.Dominica Vibes News 494 Views   6 comments Tweetlast_img read more

Welbeck to miss cup final

first_imgArsenal striker Danny Welbeck has been ruled out of Saturday’s FA Cup final and England’s forthcoming internationals with a knee injury. Press Association Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said the former Manchester United forward has no chance of being fit for the Wembley showpiece with Aston Villa and has been withdrawn from the England squad to face the Republic of Ireland on June 7 and Slovenia on June 14. Wenger said: “Danny Welbeck will not be fit, not for us, nor for England. center_img “We called them yesterday, the FA, to explain that his bone bruising of the knee has not healed. “I don’t know what he will say, Roy (Hodgson), the England boss.” last_img read more

VSoftCo’s Simon Westbury: The Italian Job – Delivering virtual football leagues to Sisal Matchpoint

first_img SBC Webinars and Digitain present Finding Value in Untapped Markets July 14, 2020 Share Submit Share Related Articles Delasport clients get access to Kiron’s BetMan RGS platform April 27, 2020 SBC Digital Summit: A crash course in adaptability and resilience  April 27, 2020 StumbleUpon Simon Westbury, VSoftCoThis week, VSoftCo announced one of its biggest Virtual Sports delivery projects for Italian betting giant Sisal Matchpoint. Working in partnership with competitor Kiron Interactive, VSoftCo will launch its new football leagues product for Sisal’s +4,000 betting points. Simon Westbury, Chief Commercial Officer of VSoftCo, details the Sisal Matchpoint partnership, and what can be learnt and gained from working with competitors…  ______________ SBC: You have teamed up with Kiron Interactive to offer Sisal Matchpoint its new Virtual Betting Leagues channel. How was this strategic partnership developed?Simon Westbury: Our successful strategic partnership with Kiron has been developed over many years, with the first agreement being signed way back in 2011. In short, the relationship works with VSoftCo providing our market leading Fantastic League product to Kiron to resell and Kiron providing their products for us to resell. The relationship was born out of the need to offer a full suite of products to the market and the two companies came together to achieve this.SBC: How hard is it to develop effective products for Sisal Matchpoint, a bookmaker with a portfolio of 4,000 betting points?SW: I think the question needs to be answered in a wider perspective; the product that we have developed and delivered to Sisal, was developed due to the change in regulations in Italy. Sisal have been the first to adopt the product but we have signed deals with other operators in the market and look forward to launching with them in the very near future.Anyone who works in this space understands that developing a new product to meet new regulation is never easy and you have to overcome many bumps in the road. Once the product is developed the next challenge is getting the game through certification and approved to go live and again there are always curve balls that are thrown at us however well you plan. I think the biggest challenge we faced was meeting the point of regulation which outlined that every ‘betable’ event had to be displayed and when you are offering over 300,000 betting markets across a five minute window this is no small challenge.The challenge was magnified by the fact we are the only supplier who truly uses real-time technology so we were not able to rely on a library of pre-rendered clips to show these betable events. At VSoftCo, we are very happy with the development of the product and we are delighted to be working in partnership Kiron to deliver Sisal Matchpoint a market leading product.SBC: Why is Football Leagues such an important product for VSoftCo and Kiron; what does it bring to market?SW: Football Leagues, is an important product as it takes virtual football past the traditional single game to add more realism to the punter, offering more matches and more bet types. It is quite funny as the development of the league product has taken VSoftCo back to our routes as we first developed a virtual football league product back in 2010, but the market demanded a single game version.So we adapted our original product to meet client needs and we have now gone full circle. The Fantastic League product also marks an evolution, as I indicated recently when I spoke on the SBC track at the iGaming Super Show, that virtual suppliers have traditionally focused on retail but we are now all developing products that transcend the channel they are delivered and we have seen exponential growth in the online sectors, with one of our new clients taking 75% on their bets on mobile.SBC: What do you feel you have learnt from your partnership with Kiron and how do your organisations work together to provide services?SW: I think it is important to say up front that we enjoy a good working relationship with Kiron; we have been in partnership for a number of years now and hope this partnership continues to grow stronger in the future. I think we have learnt to adapt to different cultures, with influences coming from South Africa, Spain and the UK. In doing so, I believe we have come together to offer a robust and appealing full portfolio of virtual games which I think when combined is the largest offering of virtual sports in the marketplace.SBC: In the casino sector we have seen a number of corporate partnerships focused on cross-licensing and games development. Do you think Virtual Sports suppliers will follow this model?SW: Yes I do think this will happen and I believe that VSoftCo is at the forefront of this with our branded virtual Striker game which is developed in partnership with the writers of the Striker comic strip, which appears in The Sun newspaper and has opened up differing casino game potential for us. Additionally, our core strategy at VSoftCo is to become the home of sports gaming content and we have entered into agreements with suppliers such as Link2Win to provide their casino content through our RGS.Moving forward, we have some exciting deals lined up to deliver sports based casino content to the marketplace which we believe will merge together nicely with virtual sports to allow cross-selling between sports and casino customers. The first example of this has been the development of the Spot the Ball casino game which combines pre-rendered virtual football clips with roulette that has resulted in a hybrid casino / virtual game.So our move into the online space has not been solely based on the delivery of virtual sports, but a combination of sports-focused casino games and virtual games themselves.last_img read more