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Community conservation in Namibia requires balance and understanding (commentary)

first_imgAnimals, Commentary, Community-based Conservation, Conservation, Editorials, Environment, Hunting, Researcher Perspective Series, Trophy Hunting, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Article published by Mike Gaworecki Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img In a recent article, John Grobler recounted his experiences from a one-week visit to Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Namibia. Mr. Grobler’s report, based on brief experiences in Nyae Nyae and a cursory study of the Namibian conservancy system, leaves much to be desired.Grobler implies that the Namibian conservancy program has been less successful in terms of conserving wildlife and providing benefits to local people than the government and supporting NGOs claim. In order to judge the Namibian conservancies, one needs to first place them within the broader African conservation context.This context allows us to examine a more central question about conservancies, one that has been incorrectly answered by many. What exactly are Namibian conservancies, and what is their purpose?This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. This commentary is a response to an article by John Grobler published by Mongabay on February 26, 2019: “It pays, but does it stay? Hunting in Namibia’s community conservation system.”In a recent article, John Grobler recounted his experiences from a one-week visit to Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Namibia. Mr. Grobler’s report, based on brief experiences in Nyae Nyae and a cursory study of the Namibian conservancy system, leaves much to be desired.As with many things in life, the more you know about an issue the more you come to realize that it is much more complicated than it first appears. In all fairness, it would be unrealistic to expect anyone wishing to write about a subject to become an expert before they put pen to paper, and that is especially true of Namibia’s conservancy program. That would mean that reporting on the status of any given conservancy would require at least a year of being immersed in the local culture, studying the historical and ecological context, and attending conservancy meetings. Alternatively, you can talk to the experts – the people who have spent most of their careers working with individual conservancies or supporting the conservancy program at a national level.I was privileged to work with five conservancies in Namibia’s Kunene Region for two years. Working with conservancy committees and employees, along with attending community meetings, gave me insights into the conservancy system that I could not have obtained just by reading about it. During this time, I made a point of spending time with some of the experts on the conservancy system. These include people who were involved with the conservancy system from the very beginning and those who have carried the torch since then.Garth Owen-Smith was one of the pioneers of Namibia’s conservancy system. The author was privileged to spend some time learning from him during her work in the Kunene Region. © Gail C. Potgieter.The combined knowledge of my friendly experts could fill volumes, but I would like to share just a few salient points to provide the necessary context and balance required to understand Namibia’s conservancy system. These are in response to Grobler’s article, which contains a number of problems that I have placed in three broader categories: 1) Neglecting the broader African context in which Namibian conservancies operate; 2) Misunderstanding the purpose of communal conservancies; 3) Misrepresenting how hunting operations in the conservancies work.Namibian communal conservancies in contextIn his brief history of Nyae Nyae and the Namibian conservancy program, Grobler provides some context to his topic. He then implies that the Namibian program has been less successful in terms of conserving wildlife and providing benefits to local people than the government and supporting non-governmental organizations claim. In order to judge the Namibian conservancies, one needs to first place them within the broader African conservation context. Without going into too much detail, here are a few interesting facts:• From 1993 to 2014, lion numbers in 11 unfenced national parks in Africa declined by 62 percent, whereas lion numbers in the unfenced Kunene Region communal conservancies (which are not national parks) increased from approximately 25 in 1995 to an estimated 120 to 150 in 2017 (a 380-500 percent increase).• The IUCN’s African Elephant Status Report in 2016 states that while elephant numbers appear to have declined in several southern African countries, the Namibian population is increasing — particularly in the Kavango and Zambezi Regions.• Namibia is the only country in Africa where endangered black rhinos were translocated from a protected area into a communal livestock farming area — this would not have been possible if conservancies were not established. The number of rhinos in the country cannot be released for security reasons, but Namibia’s communal conservancies host the only free-roaming population of black rhinos in the world.• From 1998 to 2017, the cash and in-kind (e.g. value of meat) returns generated for conservancies increased from less than N$1 million to N$132 million (US$9.98 million). In 2017 the conservancy program contributed N$804 million to Namibia’s net national income. In the process, conservancies generated more than 5,000 jobs in remote rural areas where other job options are almost non-existent. No other country in Africa can boast these returns to rural people from wildlife-related enterprises.Lions have benefited from the conservancy program, particularly in the arid Kunene Region. © Gail C. Potgieter.These facts and figures give some indication why the Namibian conservancy program is hailed as a success story, but statistics aren’t everything. To truly understand the conservancy success story, one needs to grasp the social context of conservancies. These are much harder to measure, and therefore frequently overlooked. Grobler’s interviewee, Kiewiet, touched on this when he mentioned the “independence” and “pride” he and his community felt when establishing Nyae Nyae Conservancy.Although Kiewiet may be dissatisfied with the way the conservancy is being run currently, his statements provide a stark contrast to those of other San people living in neighbouring Botswana. The San people of southern Botswana who have experienced the continual erosion of their rights until the final nail in the coffin — the hunting ban of 2014 — have a painful story to tell: “Life in the village is not good. We are just waiting to die.”San communities are among the most marginalized groups in southern Africa. The struggles they face to survive and protect their areas from encroachment by cattle-keeping people are real. The San people of Nyae Nyae have certainly encountered problems with cattle encroaching on their land, but the conservancy itself has proved their best defense. It successfully assisted in thwarting two attempted invasions from neighboring communities and recently won a court case against invading cattle owners. While the police have failed to enforce the court order, it is unlikely that fragmented San communities would have been able to counter these invasions without the legal structure of a conservancy.If hunting were stopped in communal conservancies, the San people living in Nyae Nyae would be stripped of their rights to generate income or food from hunting. They would no longer have the resources to continue their ongoing battle with the cattle owners. If one really wants to help marginalized groups find their voice, then suggesting that they are stripped of the rights they already have is an odd way of going about it.What is the main purpose of Namibian communal conservancies?This context allows us to examine a more central question about conservancies, one that has been incorrectly answered by many. What exactly are Namibian conservancies, and what is their purpose? They are not national parks. They are large areas of land administered by the government on behalf of the people who live and farm there. Some of these people were relocated to these areas against their will by the apartheid government. For others, these are traditional homelands to which they have strong cultural connections.Conservancies in Namibia are about people. Conservancies employ people in rural areas where jobs are extremely scarce. © NACSO.Knowing what conservancies are helps reveal their actual purpose. They are not designed primarily to protect wildlife, which is the core function of national parks. Conservancies are not even about animals; they are about people. More specifically, they are about people’s rights to use their natural resources for their own purposes. The fact that recognizing these rights ultimately results in people conserving their plants and animals is merely a fortunate byproduct of the system.The rights of freehold farmers to use wildlife on their properties (except for specially protected species) were granted by the apartheid government in 1975. In keeping with the racist policies of the time, similar rights were withheld from black people living in communal areas. That changed in 1996 when the independent Namibian government amended the law to grant people living in communal areas the same rights as those living on freehold farms. This change in legislation effectively gave birth to the conservancy system. To exercise their newly granted rights, people in communal areas must define ‘their area’ (henceforth, their conservancy) and draw up basic constitutions that provide a mechanism for sharing benefits and managing their resources. Having done this, a few local people are elected to run conservancy affairs and others are employed to implement their plans.A Namibian communal conservancy is therefore more like a ‘mini-democracy’ than a business enterprise or civil organization. That realization helped me understand conservancies better. These mini-democracies can be a double-edged sword. People have a voice and a vote, which they exercise in conservancies by attending conservancy meetings and electing their management committees every few years. Nonetheless, as anyone reading this from a democratic country will know, our governments don’t always do what we want them to do. Varying levels of dissatisfaction (as shown in Kiewiet’s interview) are part of the democratic parcel. After all, “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,” as Winston Churchill said.How does the hunting system work on Namibian communal conservancies?We now come to one of the hottest topics regarding the communal conservancy system. As mentioned above, the key to the conservancy system is granting people rights to use their resources. How they use those resources depends on the communities’ own decisions (e.g. a few choose ecotourism only) and the resources available in their area. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) guides the process, while non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a supporting role. This system ensures that the conservancies are linked with wildlife management experts and have access to data that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for them to obtain, such as aerial survey data.The conservancies contribute crucial local knowledge of the area, provide manpower and finances for wildlife monitoring efforts, and ultimately decide if they wish to use their hunting quotas. Other conservancy roles include reducing poaching (mainly by informing authorities), monitoring the hunting offtake, and land-use zoning to minimize human-wildlife conflict and demarcate exclusive wildlife areas. The conservancy, the MET, and supporting NGOs are all involved in the process of selecting private-sector partners that have access to overseas clients and the financial capital required to set up tourism operations. The conservancies retain the ultimate right to decide which private sector partner to select, if any. These partners are either ecotourism companies or hunting operators who are given a contract for a finite period (usually renewable upon review of their performance) to operate in the conservancy.Grobler misrepresents this hunting system in three ways. First, he suggests that data from moonlight waterhole counts are used to establish the hunting quota. This is incorrect, as aerial survey data are used as the primary data source, and records about the hunts from community game guards and the hunting operator are used as a secondary source. Different wildlife counting methods are used in different parts of Namibia, depending on their feasibility. The lack of roads in Nyae Nyae means that aerial surveys are the only practical way of counting large herbivores. Some detail is lost when one relies solely on aerial surveys, however, as they are not useful for monitoring carnivores or nocturnal animals, amongst other wildlife. Thus, supplementing the aerial survey data using point counts at waterholes is good practice to monitor biodiversity in general. Nonetheless, as these data are not used to set hunting quotas, the requirements for these counts (e.g. presence of the MET officers) are relatively relaxed.Game guard Kgwara Kaeste in Nyae Nyae Conservancy filling out an Event Book form. This system allows conservancies to monitor various aspects of wildlife management. © NACSO.Data from aerial surveys show that the elephant population in the Khaudum-Tsumkwe area (considered one population, including the Nyae Nyae Conservancy) has grown steadily over time. The slope of the line fitted through the data gives us the rate of increase for this period — about 3% per annum. Source: Aerial survey of wildlife in Khaudum National Park and Neighbouring Conservancies. WWF. St C Gibson, D. & Craig, G.C. (2015).The second misrepresentation is the role of trophy hunting and the hunting operator. Grobler states that one of the reasons for trophy hunting is “to keep the species in balance, for instance by increasing the quotas for overabundant species as needed.” This is not at all the role of trophy hunting, particularly not in large, open ecosystems such as Nyae Nyae. The purpose of trophy hunting is to generate income on a sustainable basis — i.e. to pay a premium for hunting a few animals from a population such that it remains stable or increases over time. On fenced private game farms, landowners may cull animals in order to maintain the ecological balance on their farms, but culling is not trophy hunting.The final misrepresentation is the supposed decline of game in Nyae Nyae. The reader is led to believe that Nyae Nyae was once bursting with animals, which have since been hunted out. Nonetheless, a professional hunter who grew up in the area was quoted by Grobler as saying, “Nyae Nyae never had much plains game to begin with.” This is more accurate — the Kalahari ecosystem supports naturally low game densities due to low soil fertility and lack of permanent water. When the pans are full, herds of wildebeest and other game migrate into the area, but one would have to be in the right place at the right time to see them. Suggesting that over-hunting has resulted in current low game densities in Nyae Nyae is simply incorrect.Conservancies may not be perfect, but they are worth fighting forBesides the factual errors above and misrepresentations of conservancies in John Grobler’s article, some of the challenges he highlights for conservancies are real. Game numbers have declined and human-predator conflict has increased in many conservancies due to the severe drought. The social challenges relating to governance and equitable benefit sharing are key challenges, similar to those faced by democratic governments around the world. Finally, conservancies cannot solve all the socio-economic struggles experienced by rural African people — they are just one part of broader sustainable development strategies.Conservancies are not perfect. None of the experts I know would even suggest that. But they are worth fighting for. When I think back on my time working with conservancies in southern Kunene, I remember the frustratingly long meetings, the inefficiency of grassroots democracy, and the few unsavoury characters vying for power by making dubious pre-election promises. The challenges of reducing poverty, educating conservancy members about their rights, and addressing governance issues appeared to be mountains of difficulty.If I dwelt on these issues for too long, I may have given up on conservancies. But then I looked beyond these ‘warts’ to see: the community game guard who taught herself how to use a computer in the conservancy office; the conservancy manager who passionately declared that poachers are unwelcome because “these are OUR rhinos”; the natural resource manager (sadly passed away since) who taught me a great deal about how conservancies work; the energetic chairlady who went above and beyond the call of duty to lead her conservancy; and the old widow — an ordinary conservancy member — who quietly bred and raised some of the best livestock guarding dogs I ever encountered in Namibia.These people do not have the opportunity to tell their stories on global media platforms, yet these are voices we need to hear. For my part, I count it a privilege to know them — I will stand up and fight for their rights against all comers.The Ju/’hoansi traditional authority supports the Nyae Nyae Conservancy that falls under their jurisdiction. © NACSO.Gail Potgieter (M.Sc.) is an independent researcher and science communicator who worked in Namibia for six years (2009-2014), focusing on human-wildlife conflict mitigation. During 2012-2014, she was contracted by Namibia Nature Foundation to implement a project funded by the Millennium Challenge Account in five conservancies in the Kunene Region. Since leaving Namibia, she has maintained contact with organisations associated with CBNRM and has worked with the Namibian Chamber of Environment and its members to communicate their scientific findings and conservation achievements to the general public.Disclaimer: This commentary was not sponsored by these or any other parties, and the opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. Gail Potgieter has an active financial relationship with The Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE) but the NCE did not fund this particular piece, at the author’s request. Members of the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO) viewed early drafts of the article to ensure accuracy and double-check the facts given here.last_img read more

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Olympic flame arrives in Britain

first_img“It comes home to you just how important people regard the torch as the lead-up to the Games,” said the princess, who herself competed in the 1976 Olympics in an equestrian event.She was accompanied by football star David Beckham, who had the honour of lighting the torch that will be used for the 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometre) relay, from a cauldron at the airbase.Sailor Ben Ainslie, who has won gold in three Olympics, will be the first of some 8,000 torchbearers when the relay starts in Land’s End, the southwesterly tip of England, on Saturday.The flame was handed over to the London delegation in Athens on Thursday and was transported from the Greek capital in a British Airways jet painted gold and renamed The Firefly for the occasion.Organisers gained special permission from aviation authorities for the flame to be carried in the plane in a special lantern.The weather in Athens had been decidedly British, with heavy rain, but it was dry and breezy in Cornwall when the plane touched down.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000CULDROSE AIRBASE, England, May 18 – The Olympic flame arrived in Britain from Greece on Friday to start a 70-day relay culminating in the opening ceremony of the London Games on July 27.Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, carried the flame down the steps of a British Airways jet after it touched down from Greece at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall, southwest England.last_img read more

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Jose Mourinho says his Chelsea side ‘are not ostriches’

first_img1 Gary Cahill during Chelsea’s defeat to Porto Jose Mourinho has told his Chelsea players to face their problems head on and not to hide like ostriches.Chelsea will bid to improve on their miserable start to the season – four wins in 11 games in all competitions, including two in seven in the Premier League – against Southampton on Saturday.Amid talk of a crisis and suggestions of rifts within the squad, Mourinho is defiant, and he became the second Premier League manager in under a year after former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson to make a reference to a certain flightless bird.“There is an animal that puts its head in the ground… an ostrich,” Mourinho said.“In the bad moments, you cannot do that and just wait for a better moment to come, or for the problems to be resolved by themselves.“Or waiting for the moon to change and give you better vibrations. You make mistakes, you are in a bad moment, no ostrich (behaviour), (lift your) head up, face the problems, speak, work. For me, this is the way.”Pearson was forced to apologise for calling a journalist an ostrich during a tetchy press conference in April.Mourinho says players shirking responsibility would be a poor response, but he believes the 2-0 win over Arsenal showed that is not the case with his players.“Sometimes, players are on the pitch and they are hidden,” he added.“It’s the worst thing, when you don’t want to be there. You lose two or three matches, the next match you play at home and you don’t want to be there.“I think we showed against Arsenal that we don’t have that profile. We came against Arsenal in a worse run than now, after (defeats to) Crystal Palace and Everton.“I don’t think we’ll be in trouble not to have the desire and personality to play (against Southampton).”Mourinho defended his methods after suggestions some players were unhappy with his criticism, insisting it is imperative to rebuke players in front of their team-mates.“Of course (I criticise) in front of the other players, because I coach,” Mourinho said.“When I criticise the mistake of my right-back and Ola Aina is present, it’s an education for him.“When I criticise a mistake of Gary Cahill and John Terry is in the meeting, if he didn’t play he knows what I want.“If I criticise Willian for his movement, Pedro is listening and learning.”last_img read more

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Piers Morgan: ‘If Mesut Ozil leaves in January, no Arsenal fan would shed a tear’

first_imgNot that the Gunners needed him, as they thumped Spurs 4-2 with an energetic attacking performance.Ozil has been a cause of major frustration with supporters for years – while there are no doubts over his ability, his attitude has been questioned and he has often struggled to have an impact in the big games.And it appears Morgan has finally had enough.The avid Arsenal fan promised he would join the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast on Monday IF the Gunners won against the rivals and, say what you want about Morgan, he’s a man of his word.“I don’t see how Mesut Ozil fits into this team,” he told talkSPORT.“I used to always support Ozil, but this guy has more sick notes than anyone in the history of sick notes.“Yesterday he apparently couldn’t play because of a muscle spasm, but when Emery was asked when he got the injury, he couldn’t say, and when asked if he was at the game, he couldn’t say.“I think Emery has lost patience with Ozil and the truth is we don’t need him. Ozil was nowhere to be seen at the Emirates 3 Arsenal fan Piers Morgan has had enough of Mesut Ozil 3 And Morgan suggested the club should replace the German in January with players that will show more desire in a Gunners shirt.“I’d rather have a player like Matteo Guendouzi, who looks to me like a young kid who absolutely gets what playing in the Arsenal shirt means,” he added.“He was all over it from the moment he came on yesterday.“I just think, lets invest in players like him, like Torreira, like Aubameyang, who was on fire yesterday, and like Lacazette.“Have we ever had a striker who defends like Lacazette? He’s brilliant up front but look at the way he tracks back – Ozil never does that!”Listen back to Piers Morgan on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL abovecenter_img Arsenal players passionately celebrated Lucas Torreira’s goal against Spurs No Arsenal fans will mourn to departure of Mesut Ozil if he is sold by the club in January, according to Gunners super fan Piers Morgan.The outspoken TV host has blasted the ‘sick note’ German playmaker – the club’s top earner – after he missed Sunday’s north London derby victory over Tottenham with a back spasm.It was the latest in a series of mystery injuries for the World Cup winner, and even manager Unai Emery did not appear to be completely clear on what was actually wrong with his star man when quizzed after the game. 3 “My message to Ozil is this: You might be earning £300k or £400k a week, mate, but we’re counting the sick notes and we’re counting the big games you don’t turn up in.“Frankly, if you don’t want to buy into Unai Emery’s revolution, then you should leave.“It’s heart-breaking to talk about a world class player that way, but would you want him in the trenches with you? I don’t think you would.“If he wants to leave in January, I don’t think Arsenal fans will shed a tear.”With Ozil nowhere to be seen at the Emirates, Morgan waxed lyrical about Arsenal’s dazzling performance as they sealed a memorable victory over their fierce rivals.last_img read more

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Rovers set to be without five players for trip to Waterford

first_imgSligo Rovers take on Waterford tonight at the RSC in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.After three good performances, Rovers make the long trip south for the first time since an FAI Cup clash in 2013.In team news, Adam Morgan, Seamus Sharkey and Rhys McCabe are doubtful because of injury. Michael Schlingermann (injury) and David Cawley (suspended) are definitely out. Captain Kyle Callan-McFadden returns from injury.Gerard Lyttle said: “I feel we are getting a small bit of momentum in terms of our performances. After the Derry game we had a clear the air talk and since then there’s been a greater intensity in many aspects.“The back line was solid against St Pat’s and we created chances. Every player put in a good performance and all that evaded us was the goal. It was obviously pleasing for the likes of John Mahon and Jack Keaney. There was a good balance in that it was such a young team, but you also had Eduardo and Raff that gave them a hand and brought a lot to the side. There were a lot of positives.“I don’t think the table lies. Waterford are there are merit. In the last game it was tight, we had more possession and conceded with almost the last kick of the game. We’re going down there confident because on our day we can beat any team in the league.“It’s disappointing to be without David Cawley and the manner that came – he has been so consistent – but we have to cope with that. There are a few questions over some players with injury. It’s hard with the run of games because you will pick up knocks along the way. There were players that stood up last week to say they want the shirt and that’s very encouraging. We’re looking forward to the game.”The Blues got the better of Gerard Lyttle’s side in their earlier meeting this season at the Showgrounds thanks to a late Courtney Duffus winner after the hosts had cancelled out a first half goal from Gavan Holohan. With the Blues unbeaten in all competitions at home this season, they’ll put this record on the line against a Rovers side that they’ll also meet in the last eight of the cup.Speaking ahead of the game, Waterford FC manager Alan Reynolds said, “It was great to win on Mondaynight against Cork City but we need to park that result now and look forward to the game against Sligo Rovers.“I didn’t expect the game to go to 120 minutes on Monday never mind penalties so it’s always good when you come out on the right side of the result at the end of it. I have to credit the players because they worked hard and it also gave me the chance to give the players who have been knocking on my door the opportunity to play.“We got lucky in Sligo earlier in the season with the last minute Courtney Duffus winner and I’ve seen them play a couple of games. They are decent and want to play the right way but we have to focus on ourselves. I think that if we are at our best at home we’ll take some stopping.“We have an unbeaten record at home and we’ll be hoping to build on that against Sligo. We’re happy to take one game at a time and see where it takes us.”Also commenting ahead of the game, Waterford FC defender Dylan Barnett said, “It was a great win for us and we’re delighted to be in the next round of the cup. In every competition that we play in we want to win and do well in so it’s great that we have another game to look forward too.“It’s crazy to think that we’ve still unbeaten at home to date because nobody expected us to produce these types of performances. I think that the RSC is becoming a bit of a fortress now and I don’t think that any team fancies coming here that will include Sligo on Friday night.“They are a good side and they’ll try to make life difficult for us. We should have everyone available for the game and there will be a competition for places for this game.”Waterford FC manager Alan Reynolds will welcome back Stanley Aborah from suspension for the visit of Sligo Rovers to the RSC. The Blues boss will have to sweat on the fitness of John Kavanagh, who limped off injured in the league game against Bray Wanderers and is the only doubt for this game.last_img read more

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Five Years Later: Blogs Beat NYT in Google but Everything More Complicated Than Expected

first_imgA five year old bet was settled last night between New York Times executive Martin Nisenholtz and Web 2.0 Founding Father Dave Winer. Five years ago Winer bet Nisenholtz that blogs would top the New York Times in Google search results for the top 5 news stories of 2007. Rogers Cadenhead has done the tabulation and found that Winer, and blogging, have indeed won. Sort of.According to the Associated Press, the top 5 news stories of 2007 were Chinese exports, oil prices, Iraq war, Mortgage crisis and the Virginia Tech killings. Obviously this is a list for US news markets and not the entire world.Today, a Google search for those terms brings up a blog higher than the New York TImes for Chinese exports (Blogging Stocks 19th vs. NYT 20th), Iraq War (a blog was 17th, NYT 20th) and Virginia Tech killings (Newsvine coverage of the AP’s top stories of the year is 9th in Google vs. the Times at #30.) So blogs topped the Times in 3 out of 5 top stories.Wikipedia, however, ranks higher than both blogs and wikis according to Candenhead. Also remarkable is that even as so much else has changed, Google remains as much a reasonable arbiter today as it was 5 years ago.If Only It Were So SimpleWhat does it all mean? That things are a lot more complicated today than anyone might have expected five years ago. If you read the debate over the bet as originally posted it’s remarkable how differently things have turned out. The vast majority of bloggers are not blogging professionally and many are making an impact on the news – but the 3 blogs that topped the Times in the Google results in question don’t tell such a simple story. Two are stories from the AOL owned Blogging Stocks and one is from social news site Newsvine, now owned by MSNBC. So was Winer right about the triumph of the amateur after all? The fact that Wikipedia beat everyone says something. Ultimately though, this is a story about SEO. If one person at the NYT was doing a better job of optimizing NYT pages for search engines this whole story could be turned on its head. Had the NYT not spent much of the last 5 years with a paywall around its content, how many more inbound links would these stories have seen and how would this contest look then? Will Google Knols end up unseating Wikipedia by pure privilege and ending up the winner of this entire contest? Unsurprisingly, 5 years later the Winer vs. NYT bet brings up more questions than it answers. Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Analysis#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market marshall kirkpatricklast_img read more

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Gmail Preferred By Students, But Nothing Beats Texting

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts Tags:#NYT#Real World#Trends#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Today’s high-school and college students got their first email account at an average age of 13. Most students have had one of their email addresses for 8 years and have an average of about 2.4 addresses each. But if you really want to reach these students, you should forget email. Send a text message instead. According to a new survey from a survey from eROI, which looked at a sample of 283 high school and college students from 29 states here in the U.S., one quarter of students got their first email address so they could shop online. A much larger percentage, however, got their first address for communicating with family (81%) and with friends (52%). We had always heard, anecdotally, that the only reason teens today would even bother signing up for an email account was so they could register with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. However, 36% of those surveyed said they use email alerts to stay on top of what’s happening on the social networks. In other words, they don’t just create emails to sign up – the emails actually become a part of how they interact with the networks they join.When it came time to pick their email provider, Gmail was the clear favorite. Nearly one-third (32%) of college students choose Gmail, while 19% use Yahoo, 18% use MSN/Hotmail and about 17% use their school email.How Often They Check the InboxStudents also regularly check their email inboxes. More than two-thirds of students say they check email at least once per day, and 55% of those check more than 3 times per day. This is especially interesting when you compare this data to that that came out of the Pew Internet Project (PDF) only a few months ago. In that study, Pew found that half of corporate employees checked their email constantly, while only 32% of those who work in small businesses did. Comparing those numbers with the data on the students seems to imply that the only people who become email-obsessed are those for whom email is the major, and sometimes only, form of communication. That’s definitely the case in big corporations where the people you need to speak to are buildings, cities, states, or even half a world away. For everyone else, there are other alternatives. In small businesses, for example, there are probably more chances to have face-to-face time. For the students there are social networks and, of course, text messaging. Mobile CommunicationsOnly 12% of students currently check email on their mobile, but eROI predicts that number will increase quickly, especially given the recent explosion of smartphones on the market. In the meantime, though, it’s text messaging that remains supreme with 37% selecting that as their preferred method of communication. Email is second at 26% followed by social networking IM (15%) , IM (11%), and social networking email (11%). We’re also surprised to see social networking networking email rated last – we always imagined students using social networks more for communication purposes. Then again, it appears that the survey neglected to ask about Wall posts and profile comments – those are also important ways to communicate. We wonder where they would have fit in. In the end, the survey finds that students do use email – perhaps even more than we realized – but if you really want to reach them, you should do it via text or IM. For marketers, this means that the easy method of sending out newsletters and coupons to mass email lists may become a thing of the past – only 16% of students read marketing email. Companies will have to come up with new ways to to advertise to this demographic. May we suggest social media?  sarah perezlast_img read more

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Organized Retail Crime Associations: The Complete List

first_imgThe number of organized retail crime associations (ORCAs) has grown steadily in recent years, with a primary emphasis on assisting law enforcement, retail investigators, and prosecutors with the identification, investigation, and prosecution of those involved in organized retail crime.In response to the scope and severity of organized retail crime concerns across the country, there has been an increased effort on the part of retailers and law enforcement agencies to share information regarding organized retail crime at the local, state, and regional levels.Organized retail crime associations have helped provide that vehicle, opening doors to improve legislation, enhance investigations, and build cooperative relationships in the battle against organized retail crime.- Sponsor – Organized retail crime involves the association of two or more individuals engaged in illegally obtaining retail merchandise, data, and/or other resources in substantial quantities through both theft and fraud as part of an unlawful commercial enterprise. The primary objective of these professional crime rings is to steal for the purpose of turning retail products into financial gain rather than personal use. With the global reach of technology these goals have only continued to expand, and can impact almost every resource within the retail enterprise.The objectives of organized retail crime associations could include, but are not limited to:Providing a web-based platform for organized retail crime information and intelligence-sharing between retail investigators and law enforcementFacilitating meetings, seminars, webinars, and conferences specific to ORC-related topicsProviding a forum for networking and collaboration between retailers, law enforcement, and other partners involved in combatting ORC-related issues at the local, regional, and national levelsSupporting law enforcement, retail investigators, and prosecutors by providing continuing education through various training opportunitiesEducating the general public on organized retail crime issues, to include victim prevention, response, and awareness.Successful organized retail crime associations are typically independent, multi-jurisdictional, customer-centric, and a recognized non-profit to be best positioned to lead the public/private partnership and combat organized retail crime.With a primary mission to communicate effectively, work together, and share resources, ORCAs need to cultivate good partnerships, high levels of cooperation, and a strong commitment from everyone involved in order to be most effective.To learn more about these organized retail crime associations and the role they play in supporting the retail loss prevention industry and the law enforcement community, contact those found in your area from the list below:Alaska Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://akorca.org/Area Law Enforcement & Retailers Team (ALERT) Memphis http://www.usalert.org/ 901-222-5450Area Law Enforcement & Retailers Team (ALERT) Nashville http://www.usalert.org/Area Law Enforcement & Retailers Team (ALERT) Knoxville http://www.usalert.org/Arizona Organized Retail Crime Association https://azorca.org/Arkansas Organized Retail Crime Association https://aorca.org/Bay Area Organized Retail Crime AssociationCalifornia Organized Retail Crimes Association https://cal-orca.org/Carolinas Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://corca.org/ 919-832-0811Central New York Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://cnyorca.org/Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail (CLEAR) https://www.clearusa.org/ 954-410-8760Collier County Organized Retail Theft Association (Florida) http://www.ccorta.org/ 239-252-9300Colorado Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://coorca.org/ 720-606-9296CONNECT Albuquerque PD (ARAPA) https://connectabq.org/ 505-242-2677Cook County Regional Organized Crime Task Force https://www.cookcountyroc.orgFlorida Organized Retail Crime Association (FLAORCA) https://flaorca.orgFlorida Organized Retail Crime Enforcement Network http://www.frf.org/index.php/team-retail/industry-councils/loss-prevention-councilGeorgia Retailers Organized Crime Alliance https://georgiaroc.org/Greater Houston Loss Prevention Alliance http://ghlpa.blogspot.com/Hawaii Organized Retail Crime Alliance http://www.hiorca.org/Indiana Regional Organized Crime Coalition http://www.indianaroc.org/Inland Empire Organized Retail Crime Association https://ieorca.org/Kentucky Organized Retail Crime Association https://kyorca.org/METRORCA – NY, NJ, PA Metro Area Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://metrorca.org/Michigan Regional Organized Retail Crime Association http://www.miroc.us/ 586-353-1153 x 3858Mid-Atlantic Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://maorca.org/Minnesota Organized Retail Crime Association http://www.tcorca.org/Missouri Information Analysis Center (MORCA) https://miacx.org/Montana Organized Retail Crime Alliance (MT ORCA) https://mtorca.org/National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association http://naorca.org/New England Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://neorca.org/New York Metro Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://nymorca.org/Northern California Organized Retail Crime Association http://www.roseville.ca.us/police/ncorca.aspNorthern Nevada Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://nnorca.org/Ohio Regional Organized Crime Coalition https://orocc.org/Oklahoma Organized Retail Crime Associationhttps://okorca.comOrganized Retail Crime Association of Idaho https://orcaid.org/Pittsburgh Organized Retail Crime Coalition https://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4118944Safe City – Federal Way, WA https://safecityfw.com/San Diego Organized Retail Crime Alliance https://sdorca.org/Southern Nevada Organized Retail Crime Association https://snorca.org/Stop ORC http://www.stoporc.org/Texas Organized Retail Crime Association https://texasorca.org/Tucson Coalition Against Retail Theft http://tucsonchamber.org/coalition-against-retail-theft-cart/Utah Organized Retail Crime Association https://utorca.org/Victor Valley (CA) Organized Retail Crime AssociationWashington State Organized Retail Alliance https://wsorca.org/ Government Offices Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) https://www.fbi.gov/United States Secret Service https://www.secretservice.gov/United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) https://www.dhs.gov/United States Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) https://www.ice.gov/aboutUnited States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) https://www.dea.gov/index.shtmlUnited States Postal Inspection Service https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/LP Magazine has taken every care to ensure that this list is accurate and comprehensive, but of course omissions and/or errors are always possible. If your organization or association is not listed, or if it includes outdated contact information, please reach out to us via the Contact Us form on the site. This post is updated regularly. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

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Top stories: A new history of dog domestication, microbe-linked solar panels, and a project to build the human genome from scratch

first_imgDogs may have been domesticated more than onceFor years, scientists have debated where dogs came from. Did wolves first forge their special relationship with humans in Europe or in Asia? The answer, according to a new study, is yes. This week in Science, researchers report that genetic analysis of hundreds of canines reveals that dogs may have been domesticated twice, once in Asia and once in Europe or the Near East, although European ancestry has mostly vanished from today’s dogs. The findings could resolve a rift that has roiled the canine origins community—but the case isn’t closed yet.Scientists reveal proposal to build human genome from scratchSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Last year, researchers working to synthesize the genome of a strain of yeast began to eye a much bigger prize: assembling from scratch the 3 billion base pairs of DNA that drive a human cell. The idea caught the attention of other prominent scientists, and inspired a proposal published online in Science this week. The so-called Human Genome Project–Write aims to synthesize entire genomes from their chemical components and get them to function in living cells.Microbe-linked solar panels are better than plants at converting sunlight to energyPlants are exceptional sunlight sponges. But they store only about 1% of the energy they soak up, locking it into the sugars and other organic molecules they use to build their cells. Scientists have boosted that number by a few percentage points. But now, researchers have taken a more sizable jump with solar panels, creating a hybrid device that uses a combination of catalysts and microbes to convert 10% of the captured solar energy into liquid fuels and other commodity chemicals.U.K. government isn’t tracking policy-related researchGovernment agencies in the United Kingdom do a poor job of keeping tabs on the research they fund to set policies, according to a report released this week by Sense About Science, a London-based group that advocates for the use of scientific evidence in policymaking. The report also described examples of delays in releasing the results of what it called “politically awkward” studies.‘Landmark study’ solves mystery behind classic evolution storyThe story of the peppered moth is a classic example of evolution in action: As coal soot and smoke blackened the trees of industrial England in the late 1800s, a rare, dark variant of the peppered moth flourished, quickly supplanting its white peers by blending in with the newly darkened tree bark. But despite decades of research, scientists didn’t know the exact mutation responsible for the once-unusual dark wings. Now, two studies pinpoint the location and identity of the gene mutation—and reveal that the same gene also controls the colorful patterns in some butterfly wings.Now that you’ve got the scoop on this week’s hottest Science news, come back Monday to test your smarts on our weekly quiz!last_img read more

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How science fares in the U.S. budget deal

first_img NOAA research office receives 3.5% increase as agency gets overall 1% cutThe deal funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at $5.7 billion, a decrease of 1% from 2016.This cut does not, however, target the agency’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, which supports critical climate change research across the country. Indeed, the office’s budget will increase, by 3.5%, from $462 million to $478 million.The deal funds NOAA’s Sea Grant program, which supports research at colleges across the country, at $63 million, along with a separate $9.5 million line item for marine aquaculture, which is managed by Sea Grant; taken together, these come close to matching the $73 million appropriated in 2016. The office, which is a target for elimination in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget, would also see its support for stock assessments of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, funded at $10 million, moved to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the law notes, making the funding to Sea Grant “effectively above the fiscal year 2016 level.”Taking a large hit is NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, which sees its budget drop by 6%, from $2.3 billion to $2.2 billion. Targeted in particular is COSMIC-2, a proposed constellation of 12 satellites developed in conjunction with Taiwan, which would use GPS radio occultation, a technique that harvests GPS signals deflected by Earth’s atmosphere to infer temperature, pressure, and humidity. The first six satellites are set for launch later this year, but the deal does not include financing for sensors for the second round of satellites, and orders NASA to evaluate within 90 days the potential to acquire similar data from commercial startups like Spire Global and GeoOptics, who have pioneered using small satellites to acquire similar data, and began providing such data to NOAA for evaluation last year.The law, meanwhile, maintains full support for NOAA’s troubled $11.3 billion Joint Polar Satellite System, a series of two advanced weather satellites, the first of which is set for launch late this summer, and its $11.3 billion line of four new geostationary satellites, the first of which, GOES-16, launched late last year. —Paul Voosen Small increase for Census Bureau hampers plans for 2020 countThe spending bill gives the U.S. Census Bureau three options to prepare for the next national census—and lobbyists say none of them is attractive.On paper, the bureau’s $100 million increase, to $1.47 billion, looks generous. But the Obama administration had requested $1.63 billion because the decennial head count in 2020 requires a huge spending ramp-up starting this year. And what congressional leaders have agreed on falls far short of what’s needed to do the job right and hold down costs, says Phil Sparks, a former Census official who is now co-director of The Census Project in Washington, D.C.“One option is to revert to the pen and pencil census” used in 2010 instead of the increased reliance on electronic data gathering, Sparks says. But that will cost an additional $5 billion, he notes—all the savings that Census officials have promised to deliver. “The second option is to cut back on other surveys that the Census Bureau conducts, including the ongoing American Community Survey and this year’s National Economic Census [conducted every 5 years]. The third option is to cut the end-to-end test planned for next year” to make sure all of the many elements are working smoothly.The Census Bureau could limp along on a tight 2017 budget if it were assured a big increase in 2018, Sparks says, but Trump’s preliminary budget for 2018 has proposed flat funding. “That’s more than disappointing,” Sparks says. “It’s totally inadequate. And if it comes to pass, we’re headed toward the possibility of a 2020 census that is not fair and not accurate.” —Jeffrey Mervis For FDA, modest support on precision medicine effort, and a prod on lab test regulationThe $2.76 billion included for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is roughly in line with Obama’s $2.74 billion request, which kept the agency’s funding roughly flat over 2016. The numbers don’t include anticipated user fees, collected from companies submitting products for FDA review.All told, the bill means the agency gets a nearly $70 million increase over 2016, when new budget authority, previously approved funding to implement the 21st Century Cures Act passed in December 2016, and an extra $10 million to combat Zika and other emerging threats is included, Steven Grossman, deputy executive director at the Alliance for a Stronger FDA in Washington, D.C., noted in a statement.The bill directs $2.5 million to Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which falls short of the requested $4.4 million intended to establish a clinical data collection system to better match medical devices with patients that would benefit from them.And it makes no mention of $75 million in proposed FDA support for Biden’s cancer moonshot effort. In January, the agency launched an Oncology Center of Excellence, as proposed in the President’s request, to advise the National Cancer Institute on the development of new cancer treatments.The bill “strongly urges” the agency to continue its work on plans to regulate laboratory-developed tests. These diagnostics, designed and used within individual clinical labs, haven’t so far been subject to the agency’s premarket approval process. They are regulated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services through the 1988 Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), but FDA has argued that this oversight only makes sure tests are performed properly, and doesn’t review the underlying validity of the answers the tests give. The agency notified Congress in 2014 that it plans to exercise its authority to regulate lab-developed tests, but announced just before the November 2016 presidential election that it would hold off on finalizing its new standards and leave them to the next administration. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, confirmed by the Senate last week, argued in a speech last year that with FDA resources scarce, “there’s no reason that the CLIA can’t be resourced to regulate more aspects of laboratory-developed tests, including more of the clinical considerations that FDA proposes to take on.” —Kelly Servick NIST stays level thanks to Senate boostersSenate appropriators largely prevailed in setting this year’s final budget for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—and that’s good news for researchers and advocates of advanced manufacturing.NIST is scheduled to receive $954 million in 2017, including $690 million for its research activities. That’s a $10 million dip from 2016 levels but some $89 million more than appropriators in the House had wanted to spend. However, neither body came close to meeting Obama’s request for $1.019 billion and $730 million, respectively.The Senate also had its way on supporting the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, an Obama-era priority in which individual agencies fund large centers that attract significant amounts of private sector money as well. NIST’s final spending bill includes $20 million for its own contribution to the network and up to $5 million to coordinate the effort across the federal government. House appropriators had voted only for the coordination activities.Similarly, the Senate’s wishes prevailed for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, giving NIST $130 million rather than the House level of $120 million. And congressional negotiators came down on the side of the Senate in providing $109 million for upgrading in-house research facilities, rather than the House’s proposal for only $50 million. The total includes $60 million for safety and technical improvements on a building doing radiation physics, some $20 million more than the Obama administration had requested. –Jeffrey Mervis OGphoto/iStockphoto By Science News StaffMay. 1, 2017 , 11:15 AM DOE research flat, future of ITER uncertain, but ARPA-E gainsTrump has proposed a massive budget cut next year for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) basic research wing, the Office of Science, but the rest of this fiscal year is looking relatively prosperous. In its omnibus bill, Congress holds spending in the Office of Science essentially flat, giving the United States’s single biggest funder of the physical sciences a 0.8% increase to $5.392 billion. That is just $8 million shy of what both the House and Senate had earlier proposed in their markups of the 2017 budget.The Office of Science supports six research programs, and there were winners and losers among them. On the plus side, advanced scientific computing research, which funds much of DOE’s supercomputing capabilities, gets a 4.2% increase to $647 million. High energy physics gets a boost of 3.8% to $825 million. Basic energy sciences, which funds work in chemistry, material science, and condensed matter physics and runs most of DOE’s large user facilities, gets a bump up of 1.2% to $1.872 billion. Nuclear physics gets a 0.8% raise to $622 million; biological and environmental research inches up 0.5% to $612 million. In contrast, the fusion energy sciences program sees its budget fall a whopping 13.2% to $380 million.The biggest question in the budget remains the United States’s contribution to ITER, the massive fusion experiment under construction near Cadarache in France. Congress has allotted $50 million for ITER, down from $125 million last year. That cut would come halfway through the fiscal year, which ends 30 September. As researchers have likely already spent that much, the cut would zero out the program for the rest of the year. However, the budget also allows DOE to “reprogram” up to an additional $50 million for the fusion project.”Basically, Congress has given the administration a dial and it can dial in any number between $50 million and $100 million,” says Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. DOE officials will turn the dial one way or the other once the Trump administration decides whether to stay in or abandon ITER, Mason says.That should become clear when the Trump administration releases the details of its proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, expected later this month. In its outline “skinny budget,” released on 16 March, the administration said that it plans to cut the Office of Science budget by $900 million. But given the current budget, Mason says he hopeful that Congress may not agree to that. “The fact that you see in Congress solid bipartisan support [for the Office of Science] does suggest that when the fiscal year 2018 budget gets resolved it will look significantly different from the [White House] proposal,” Mason says.Congress also appears to think more fondly of DOE’s Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), whose goal is to take the promising ideas from basic research and quickly develop them into fledgling technologies. The Trump administration has signaled that it wants to eliminate ARPA-E next year, and last week, DOE put a freeze on ARPA-E grants. However, for this year Congress would give ARPA-E a healthy 5.2% increase to $306 million. —Adrian ChoCorrection: This item originally noted DOE’s budget as $5.392 million instead of $5.392 billion. Congress has finally reached a deal on spending bills for the 2017 fiscal year, which ends on 30 September. House of Representatives and Senate leaders announced last night that they expect lawmakers to vote this week on an agreement that wraps together all 12 appropriations bills that fund federal operations. For the past 7 months, the government has been operating under a continuing resolution that froze 2017 spending at most agencies at 2016 levels and generally prevented them from starting new programs. The new deal allows agencies to operate normally within the constraints of the spending plans, assuming that President Donald Trump signs the legislation (as is expected). It also averts a shutdown of the government that would have occurred next weekend if Congress failed to act in time.Overall, the deal staves off major cuts for federal science agencies that Trump had requested last month. A few, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NASA science programs, actually receive substantial increases.Below, the Science News staff provides some details: NASA gets 1.9% boost as appropriators ignore Trump’s requested cutsNASA fares relatively well in the spending deal, with a budget of $19.653 billion, up 1.9% from $19.285 billion last year. The agency’s Office of Science receives $5.764 billion, up 3.1% from $5.589 billion in 2016.Defying Trump administration proposals for 2017, the deal continues funding for earth science at 2016 levels: $1.921 billion. That includes $90 million for the Pre-Aerosol, Clouds, and Ocean Ecosystem satellite, which the White House has proposed eliminating in 2018; none of the three other missions singled out by the administration for cancellation next year are mentioned in the deal. The law also maintains financing for NASA’s Office of Education, which the administration has also sought to close in 2018, at its existing level of $100 million.Bolstered by the support of Representative John Culberson (R–TX), who oversees House science appropriations, planetary science saw its budget balloon by 13%, from $1.519 billion to $1.846 billion. NASA’s planned missions to Europa, Jupiter’s icy ocean moon, including a flyby and eventual lander, get fully into swing with $275 million. The deal also includes $408 million for the Mars 2020 rover, which will collect samples on the planet for eventual return to Earth for analysis, including support for a prototype helicopter to hitch along on the rover—provided adding that craft doesn’t delay launch. —Paul Voosencenter_img Smithsonian strikes out on biodiversity and telescope projects, but sees modest increases elsewhereThe bill would provide the Smithsonian Institution, which receives about two-thirds of its support from the federal government, with $863 million. That represents a $23 million, 2.7% increase for this collection of 19 museums, nine research institutions, and the National Zoo, but is $59 million below what Obama requested for 2017.Obama’s request included a call to almost triple support for a biodiversity initiative, to about $4.2 million, including funds for genomics, global Earth observatories, and microbial and conservation research. But the new bill provides just a modest $77,000 increase, to $1.53 million. And the bill does not include funding for a proposed $2 million Greenland Telescope.  However, the new bill does give the SmithsonianTropical Research Institute, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Zoo the modest 1% to 5% increases that Obama asked for: to $14.344 million, $4.171 million, $24.393 million, $49.205 million, and $27.252 million, respectively. —Elizabeth Pennisi NSF ordered to build three shipsCongress has told the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build three research ships—but hasn’t given it enough to money to pay for them all.The 2017 spending bill basically holds NSF’s funding steady—a $9 million bump to $7.472 billion. It keeps both the six research directorates and NSF’s education directorate at their combined 2016 totals, of $6.033 billion and $880 million, rejecting small hikes in each account requested by Obama. And it ignores NSF’s request for $43 million more in operating funds to build and move into a new headquarters building in northern Virginia, leaving officials in a quandary.The research funding marks a retreat from levels in a bill approved last summer by appropriators in the House, and holds to the figure in an earlier Senate bill. But House appropriators prevailed over their Senate counterparts in ordering NSF to launch a $15 million program for Hispanic college students, something that NSF says it’s already doing as part of a broader outreach to underrepresented minorities.The only NSF account that grows is for new large facilities. NSF had requested $193 million for three projects. Two are telescopes already under construction (the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile). The third project is two regional-class research vessels that NSF hopes to start building next year to upgrade its academic fleet.NSF had requested $106 million in 2017 to start building the two vessels, estimated to cost $127 million apiece. (NSF had originally planned on building three ships, but changed its mind after a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine panel said two were sufficient.) House appropriators balked, zeroing out the project. But the Senate spending panel called for the original trio of vessels, and it won out in the end.The only problem is that congressional appropriators allocated only $15 million more than the $106 million NSF had requested for continued planning and the start of construction of two ships. That leaves NSF $38 million short, based on a per capita request of $53 million for each ship.Clare Reimers of Oregon State University in Corvallis, which is managing the construction project, says “The plan is for a staggered build with hulls two and three starting 1 and 2 years after hull one, respectively.” NSF officials declined to comment on how the new spending levels would affect those plans. “It is possible tough choices will need to be made,” says geophysicist Maria Zuber, the chair of the National Science Board, NSF’s oversight body.But Zuber, who is vice president for research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, adds that the board is keeping its fingers crossed. “We appreciate the support for NSF in this challenging budgetary time. And we hope Congress will follow up with a [fiscal year] 2018 budget that continues commitments of these important activities without incurring additional delays and costs.” —Jeffrey Mervis The big picture: A 5% rise in federal R&D this year could be good omen for 2018Overall federal spending on research and development (R&D) will grow by 5% under a fiscal 2017 budget deal expected to be approved by Congress this week, according to an analysis by the R&D Budget and Policy Program at AAAS in Washington, D.C. 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That number includes everything spent on basic and applied science as well as the development of new technologies and the construction of facilities. The split is $72.9 billion for civilian activities and $82.9 billion for military programs. Parsed another way, spending on basic research would grow by 4.1% to $34.9 billion, while funding for applied research would rise by 6.3% to $40.2 billion.Federal spending on R&D now amounts to 0.81% percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That percentage “represent[s] a small uptick on that metric, and the highest it has been since the year prior to sequestration, the across-the-board cuts levied on federal agencies in FY 2013,” note the authors of the analysis, Matthew Hourihan and David Parkes.The 2017 “funding outcomes are notable for two big reasons,” the authors note. First, mandatory spending caps imposed by a 2011 law left little room for spending increases at most federal agencies in 2017. But “even without much room to work with, legislators were able to overcome this constraint for many agencies. Perhaps more importantly, these [funding] decisions run directly counter to the Trump administration’s spending preferences for the current year. While one should always be cautious, it does provide some additional evidence beyond rhetoric that the current Congress is willing to push back against the Trump administration’s plans.”The 2017 outcome also “should give science advocates reason for optimism in light of the administration’s much tougher budget for [fiscal year] 2018,” they write. The president unveiled a “skinny” 2018 request in March that calls for deep cuts at many research agencies, and a full proposal is due out this month. “[T]his same Congress will begin writing the next round of spending bills in a matter of weeks,” the authors note. “Time will tell if the administration is able to wield more influence in the next funding cycle, given their lack of [influence] in the late stages of this cycle.” —David Malakoff EPA avoids major cutsAppropriators trimmed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) budget by $81 million, or about 1%, to $8.06 billion. But they essentially rejected Trump administration requests for deeper cuts to select research and ecosystem protection programs, and removed many policy riders that Democrats in Congress had opposed.The agency’s science and technology programs, however, did take a $28 million, 3.8% cut, to $707 million.The Trump White House had identified some $230 million in EPA cuts it wanted Congress to make this year, including a $48 million cut to climate-related research, a $49 million cut to EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and $30 million cut to efforts to clean up contaminated superfund sites. Instead, Congress rejected those requests, keeping air and climate research flat at about $117 million, and the Great Lakes program flat at $300 million, while adding $7.5 million to superfund cleanups.Lawmakers stripped out many controversial policy riders, but kept several directing EPA to re-examine its greenhouse gas and wetlands protections policies. The bill also includes a controversial directive instructing EPA, together with the energy and agriculture departments, to “establish clear policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass.” Declaring biomass—typically wood chips or other plant material—to be a fuel that does not add to net emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide has been a controversial idea. Critics argue that favoring biomass as a fuel for producing electricity and heat could boost carbon emissions, not curb them, at least in the short run. And environmentalists fear promoting wood fuels could end up harming forests and other ecosystems. —David Malakoff At USDA, competitive grants program for basic science grows againLawmakers appear to be developing a soft spot for competitive grants for agricultural research. For the second year in a row, they have beefed up the budget of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), one of the department’s main sources of funding for basic science in academia. The omnibus bill provides $375 million for AFRI, a 7.1% increase over the 2016 level.That means “there has been a 15% increase for AFRI over the past 2 years,” says Thomas Grumbly, president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, which advocates for farm science funding. “Slowly but surely, people are recognizing the importance of this research program, even in a budget environment that is very tough.”At the same time, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service got a 2.3% increase, to $1.17 billion. Much of that funding is consumed by the department’s own extensive system of research laboratories, which often lean toward more applied research, or distributed to states based on a funding formula.Grumbly and other farm science advocates are now looking to build on the momentum as Congress begins to consider Trump’s 2018 budget request, and works to update the massive so-called farm bill that governs U.S. agricultural policy. An outline of Trump’s budget request released this past March was relatively kind to AFRI; although the plan called for slashing many other research budgets—or didn’t mention them at all—AFRI was highlighted in a single line that requested $350 million for the program. “We took that as a victory. … It’s one of the few things in the R&D area that they called out in a positive way,” Grumbly says. “Now, we can see if [Congress] can spruce that up a little.”SoAR is also working to insert “a serious science title in the next farm bill” that calls for doubling, to more than $700 million, the amount of money that USDA spends on competitively awarded research, Grumbly says. —David Malakoff How science fares in the U.S. budget deal Defying Trump, Congress gives NIH $2 billion boostFlouting the wishes of the Trump administration, Congress last night approved a $2 billion increase for NIH for fiscal year 2017—the second year in a row that the agency has grown by that amount after more than a decade of stagnant budgets. The Trump administration had proposed cutting NIH’s budget by about $1 billion this year, as part of a proposal to pay for defense spending increases by cutting domestic programs.The 6.2% bump to $34 billion includes $352 million provided under the 21st Century Cures Act, a measure to boost biomedical innovation that became law in December 2016. It created a 10-year pot of money—to be used for specific initiatives at NIH—that has a mandated funding stream that is not subject to the annual appropriations process. The inclusion of the 21st Century Cures funds means NIH’s base budget is only growing by $1.6 billion.All the same, advocates for biomedical research, who have been deeply worried by Trump’s budget plans for NIH, were thrilled. “It was worth the 7-month wait! We’re extremely grateful” to the leaders of the House and Senate committees that oversee NIH’s budget, says Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. A bill approved last summer in the Senate would have boosted NIH by $2 billion and a House bill would have raised the agency’s budget by $1.25 billion.The final omnibus bill, which funds NIH through 30 September, raises Alzheimer’s disease research by $400 million to $1.4 billion. Research on antibiotic resistance goes up $50 million. The brain-mapping initiative called Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, launched by former President Barack Obama, receives $120 million, including $10 million from the Cures act. Another $160 million in new funding goes to the Precision Medicine Initiative (including $40 million from Cures for its 1-million person cohort study). And $300 million from Cures tagged for the National Cancer Institute is expected to fund former Vice President Joe Biden’s moonshot initiative.Biomedical research advocates are now girding for what could be a struggle over NIH’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins 1 October. The Trump administration wants to slash NIH spending by 18%, or $5.8 billion, in large part by cutting overhead payments to universities. —Jocelyn Kaiserlast_img read more

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