Beaton’s five-wicket haul triggers Volcanoes collapse

first_img Opener Tyrone Theophile fell cheaply to Beaton for one, with the score on 16, but Smith and Robinson then posted 120 for the second wicket to put Volcanoes in the driver’s seat. Smith stroked 11 fours off 190 deliveries in nearly 33/4 hours while Robinson faced 82 balls in 143 minutes and struck nine fours and a six. Their enterprise allowed Volcanoes to head to lunch at 68 for one, with Smith on exactly 50 and Robinson on 13. They added a further 68 after the break before being separated when Robinson was caught at slip by captain Leon Johnson off left-arm seamer Raymon Reifer. Smith added another 28 for the third wicket with Dalton Polius (9), but once Polius was bowled by leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo at 164 for three, the last seven wickets went down for just 48 runs. GROS ISLET, St Lucia, (CMC): Fast bowler Ronsford Beaton snared his first-ever five-wicket haul in first-class cricket to engineer a Windward Islands Volcanoes collapse on the opening day of their eighth-round contest yesterday. The 23-year-old, in his 32nd first-class game, finished with five for 43 as Volcanoes, sent in at the Beausejour Cricket Stadium, were dismissed for 216 in the final session. Leaders and title-holders Guyana Jaguars then cruised to 34 without loss, but lost two quick wickets near the close to end on 44 for two. Opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul was unbeaten on 20. Veteran opener Devon Smith had earlier gathered his 51st first-class half-century when he top-scored with 87, while rookie Jerlani Robinson chipped in with 57. The pair were the only batsmen to get into the 20s, however, and it told the latter half of the Volcanoes innings. 120-run partnershiplast_img read more

Budget speeds hikes in fees

first_img“This is going to be a tough year for all of us and is going to require a significant amount of cooperation,” Councilman Bernard Parks said after the committee voted 5-0 to adopt the spending plan. “We are going to be reviewing spending more closely this coming year and are prepared to make changes if we have to. “There is no room for error in this budget. We can’t afford to wait to the end of the year to find out we have problems.” Councilwoman Wendy Greuel said the plan will be open for review at any point in the coming year. “It is a very tight budget year, and we have some problems on the horizon we will have to address,” she said. “We are going to look at all spending very closely.” The budget trims most departments’ spending 3-5 percent but does not impose a hiring freeze. Instead, department managers have been urged to use caution in new hiring to avoid cuts this year. Amid warnings that Los Angeles still could face cuts later this year, a city panel Tuesday recommended a proposed $7.8 billion budget that clamps down on spending while accelerating dozens of fee hikes. The recommended budget would speed implementation of a $26 trash-collection fee – from Jan. 1, 2008, to this September – and would significantly increase funding only for the Los Angeles Police Department. The recommendation by the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee is generally in line with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s call to limit or reduce all other spending for the fiscal year that will start July 1. In related remarks, the city’s chief legislative analyst, Gerry Miller, called the city projections of revenue increases reasonable but “aggressive,” and he warned that “constant monitoring” will be needed on whether the revenue is materializing. But while Villaraigosa had proposed implementing a trash-fee hike Jan. 1, 2008 – six months earlier than initially planned – the panel accelerated that even further. The panel also voted to place $2.75 million the mayor had sought for anti-gang programs into a special account to be overseen by the council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Gangs. The proposed budget will be formally presented Friday to the full City Council, which is scheduled to consider it Monday. Aides to Villaraigosa said the mayor was pleased with the committee’s overall support of the budget. “We are encouraged that the council has taken steps to support the mayor’s priority to hire 780 new police officers, while at the same time increasing the city’s reserve fund,” spokesman Matt Szabo said. “However, we are concerned that the committee is attempting to put the brakes on a significant portion of the mayor’s gang-reduction plan.” City officials continued to grapple with the mayor’s plan to reduce the $143 million structural deficit – the difference between revenues and expenses – even as property and sales tax revenues are projected to slow. A recent court ruling also has prohibited the transfer of $30 million from the Department of Water and Power’s water revenue fund this year. And last week the city lost a court battle over a utility users tax that could cost $167 million next calendar year unless the decision is overturned. Meanwhile, a second court case could cost the city an additional $103 million. “This is something where the mayor included that $270 million in revenue in the budget, and we are not recommending it be cut,” the chief legislative analyst said. “It doesn’t appear there will be any financial impact this (fiscal) year, but we could lose it as a revenue source next year. “If we do have an adverse decision at some point (sooner), it will be an enormous problem,” Miller added. “To be blunt, it could be a problem we won’t be able to deal with unless there are massive cuts, including (in) the Police Department.” In the potential $167 million loss, the state Court of Appeal said the city erred in increasing a cell phone users tax in 2003 without getting voter approval under Proposition 218. Miller said the council could ask for a public vote but the earliest that could occur would be in 2009. In addition to the trash-fee hike, the council also moved to help finance the budget by pushing up the starting date of a series of other new fees so they will take effect July 1. Miller said officials hope that imposing the fees earlier would bring in an extra $2 million. And as Parks warned that the city needs to prepare for possible losses beginning later this calendar year, the panel also voted to increase the city’s reserve fund – to a record $201 million. The panel said it also wanted to have monthly department spending reports, along with updates from the City Attorney’s Office on pending claims and the use of outside attorneys. As part of the cost-savings moves, the committee recommended the LAPD – while still remaining on pace to hire 780 officers in the year ahead – reduce the size of classes going through the academy and space out the hirings. Amid the belt-tightening, however, the panel recommended restoring $58 million in programs the mayor had recommended for elimination. Among them is $2 million to the City Attorney’s Office for its neighborhood prosecutors and anti-gang efforts, $2.38 million to the Fire Department to staff its new Playa Vista station and restore the Community Emergency Response Team program and $12 million extra to the $87.5 million LAPD overtime account. The panel also restored $4.3 million to add 26 miles of street repaving and $1 million to increase the number of trees trimmed in the city. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who had complained about cuts to his budget, said he was pleased with the recommendation. “The members of the committee have demonstrated a clear commitment to public safety and the fight against gangs with today’s action,” he said. rick.orlov@dailynews.com (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. 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Caps top Crabs in ‘frustrating’ 5-4 loss

first_imgThe Humboldt Crabs surrendered an early 3-0 lead to the visiting Pacific Union Financial Capitalists during Sunday’s three-game series finale, eventually losing 5-4 after 14 innings and nearly five hours of play.With Saturday’s 11-5 defeat and Sunday’s narrow loss, the Crabs dropped their first three game series in a month. Crabs Manager Robin Guiver said Sunday’s loss was “frustrating,” but commended his pitching staff for a hard fought series and the Caps’ Max Goldberg who presented problems …last_img read more

Weird Jellyfish Eyes: Are They Missing Links?

first_img“Missing Link?” asks the cover of Nature May 12, next to what looks like an alien head with a giant eye staring out.  The article by Nilsson et al.1 suggests that the box jellyfish has optical sensors that could represent primitive eyes that evolved before the more advanced eyes of vertebrates.  Most of us don’t think of jellyfish with eyes; “In the light of the current interest in early eye evolution,” they say, “the uniquely evolved eyes of box jellyfish have been neglected.”  But just how primitive are these strange eyes? Cubozoans, or box jellyfish, differ from all other cnidarians by an active fish-like behaviour and an elaborate sensory apparatus.  Each of the four sides of the animal carries a conspicuous sensory club (the rhopalium), which has evolved into a bizarre cluster of different eyes.  Two of the eyes on each rhopalium have long been known to resemble eyes of higher animals, but the function and performance of these eyes have remained unknown.  Here we show that box-jellyfish lenses contain a finely tuned refractive index gradient producing nearly aberration-free imaging.  This demonstrates that even simple animals have been able to evolve the sophisticated visual optics previously known only from a few advanced bilaterian phyla. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Yet these sophisticated eyes do not focus sharply on a retina, they say:However, the position of the retina does not coincide with the sharp image, leading to very wide and complex receptive fields in individual photoreceptors.  We argue that this may be useful in eyes serving a single visual task.  The findings indicate that tailoring of complex receptive fields might have been one of the original driving forces in the evolution of animal lenses.The paper claims that these jellyfish figured this out on their own: “From the unique crystallin proteins we know that at least the lenses have evolved independently in box jellyfish,” they say, noting that “Making good lenses seems to be a demanding task, because only few animal phyla have accomplished it.”  Also, they contain a number of eye-like parts: “All major components of a typical camera-type eye are present: a cornea, a lens, a retina, a pigment layer and an iris.”  The tiny lenses, about a tenth of a millimeter across, are spherically symmetric; yet by means of a variable index of refraction, they are able to form “good images.”  The packing density of the specialized crystallin proteins provides the refractive index gradient.  The researchers measured some pretty remarkable optical qualities, but also some aberration:Tracing rays through the refractive-index gradient of the upper eye reveal nearly perfect focusing for all ray positions (Fig. 2).  For such a minute eye it is surprising to find well-corrected, aberration-free imaging, otherwise known only from the much larger eyes of vertebrates and cephalopods.  The gradient in the upper-eye lenses comes very close to the ideal solution.  The lenses of the lower eye have a less ideal gradient and consequently display some spherical aberration (Fig. 2e, f).  It is the homogeneous lens core and steep peripheral gradient that results in positive spherical aberration in the lower eye.Surprisingly, both kinds of eyes are severely under-focused.  Is this due to clumsy eye geometry, or could there be a reason for under-focused eyes for a jellyfish?Another, more likely, interpretation is that the eyes are ‘purposely’ under-focused to remove high spatial frequencies (fine image details) from the retinal image, much as occurs in insect dorsal ocelli.  If the arrangement is indeed a spatial low-pass filter, it would help the animals to detect the large and stationary structures of their visual environment, but would leave unseen the plankton and small particles floating with the current.  Assuming that the lens eyes have evolved to allow the jellyfish to remain in nearshore habitats and to avoid swimming into obstacles, a low-pass filtering of image structure would make sense.It is not known how the visual information is processed.  The authors suggest that the data is filtered early in the jellyfish eye, not requiring a complex brain:In box jellyfish we find these large complex receptive fields at the level of photoreceptors, indicating that the eyes might be specialized for a specific task only and that this allows complex filtering of information much earlier than in more general visual systems.  The fact that box jellyfish have four different types of eye gives support to the idea that each eye type is highly specialized.So how do box jellyfish fit into the story of eye evolution?The early evolution of animal visual systems is likely to have started out with eyes that were involved only in single visual tasks.  In this perspective it is interesting to note that high visual acuity is not necessarily desirable.  The lens eyes of box jellyfish indicate that there might be visual tasks best served by a blurred image.  Evolution of sophisticated eyes might therefore be a process with discrete stages representing the sequential addition of visual tasks.  Our results also indicate that advanced lenses with graded-index optics might have evolved for tailoring complex receptive fields and not just for improving sensitivity or acuity.Not many science reporters seem to have given this story a glance.  Michael Hopkin in News@Nature avoided speculating that these were missing links, titling his review “Box jellyfish show a keen eye.”  Yet New Scientist made evolution its centerpiece: “Multi-eyed jellyfish helps with Darwin’s puzzle,” the title states, claiming it represents a “possible path from simple to complicated” eyes.  Given the blurry imaging system of the box jellyfish, the article concludes, “From here it would be an easy step to evolve an image-forming eye.”  Susan Milius, on the other hand, writing for Science News,2 warned against such speculation.  “Biologists need to be careful in working out the evolutionary implications of the new study,” she says, quoting Alan Collins of NOAA.  “The eyes of box jellyfish, cephalopods such as the octopus, and vertebrates seem to have arisen independently.  So, unraveling the evolution of box-jellyfish eyes may not reveal the particular path of eye evolution for other lineages.”  Her article contains a stunning color picture of the box jellyfish, eyes and all.    1Nilsson et al., “Advanced optics in a jellyfish eye,” Nature 435, 201-205 (12 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03484.2Susan Milius, “Built for Blurs: Jellyfish have great eyes that can’t focus,” Science News, Week of May 14, 2005; Vol. 167, No. 20, p. 307.Oh, how the Darwinists would love to find a sequence of complexity in eyes, to ease Chairman Charlie’s stomach pains when contemplating the wonderful designs in nature.  But this story can’t help.  The jellyfish eyes appear over-designed for their task (see 06/19/2002 entry).  These remarkable optically-near-perfect structures are well adapted to the needs of the organism.  Perfect focus would be a drawback for the jellyfish.  It would create an image crowded with irrelevant details.  Instead, it has a “low-pass filter” to help it see what it needs to see: large, stationary objects so that it can avoid obstacles and find prey in its habitat.  If an animal has a structure that meets its needs and is well designed, is it not a non-sequitur to say it is evolving?  Did the Darwinists find a gradual sequence of intermediates leading from primitive eyes to complex eyes?  No.  Brittlestars (see 08/23/2001), trilobites (09/18/2003) and even sponges (08/20/2003) exhibit optical perfection, yet none of these are on a phylogenetic line – evolutionists claim all these things evolved independently (and suddenly, too, considering they burst onto the seen during the Cambrian, without ancestors).  So instead of helping Charlie sleep better, this story gives him more indigestion: his tale now needs multiplied miracles of chance and natural selection to keep from falling apart.    We need to get rid of the useless Darwinspeak in biological research, and focus instead on the functional information and adaptive excellence of each species.  Arranging the tools in your garage into a hypothetical evolutionary sequence does nothing to help you use them better.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Fewer companies close down in April

first_img24 May 2011Fewer companies closed down in April 2011 compared to the same month last year, Statistics South Africa reported on Monday.Liquidations recorded a year-on-year decrease of 25.4%, from 358 to 267, in April 2011, Statistics SA said.The number of liquidations recorded for the three months ended April 2011 fell by 7.3% compared with the same period of 2010. This was driven by fewer voluntary liquidations, dropping from 1 037 to 962 and fewer compulsory liquidations, from 59 to 54.Statistics SA said liquidations took place when the affairs of a company or close corporation were wound up because the liabilities exceeded assets, and the matter was resolved either voluntarily or by a court order.The total number of insolvencies for the first quarter of 2011 dropped by 30.5% (from 836 to 581) compared with the first quarter of 2010, the agency said.“A year-on-year decrease of 30.6% (from 360 to 250) was estimated for March 2011.”Statistics SA said insolvency referred to an individual or partnership which was unable to pay its debt and was placed under final sequestration.Recovery phase“The Stats SA trend-lines for liquidations and insolvencies have clearly entered long-term downward trends, with the figures for insolvencies, which relate to individuals, especially steep,” said Adam Harris, a director in the insolvency and restructuring department of corporate law firm Bowman Gilfillan.He said the decline for the three months to April 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, “was of a magnitude sufficient to indicate that the economy had entered a recovery phase”.Harris said the sectors hardest hit for the first four months of 2011 were financing; insurance; real estate; business services; wholesale and retail; catering and accommodation; and community, social and personal services.Sapalast_img read more