The latest speculations about life’s origins always overlook the most essential component: the origin of biological information.Suggestive catch-phrases are no substitute for demonstration. Evolutionary scientists employ stock phrases like “missing link” and “RNA world” and “prebiotic soup” that conceal, rather than illuminate, the actual chemical problems getting from molecules to life. The so-called “building blocks of life,” like a pile of bricks, can do nothing on their own without guidance from information in blueprints and the mechanisms to convert information into structure.Here’s the latest news about origin-of-life studies (OOL for short). Watch how researchers and reporters use language with the power of suggestion and a high perhapsimaybecouldness index to conceal serious difficulties.“It reminds me of the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, who waves a wand and ‘poof’….”Potential ‘missing link’ in chemistry that led to life on Earth discovered (Science Daily). Anything could be a “potential” missing link if the path is sufficiently convoluted. OOL-er Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is proposing diamidophosphate (DAP) as a missing link. In his fairy tale, he brazenly commits the poof spoof:Krishnamurthy and his colleagues have shown previously that DAP can efficiently phosphorylate a variety of simple sugars and thus help construct phosphorus-containing carbohydrates that would have been involved in early life forms. Their new work suggests that DAP could have had a much more central role in the origins of life.“It reminds me of the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, who waves a wand and ‘poof,’ ‘poof,’ ‘poof,’ everything simple is transformed into something more complex and interesting,” Krishnamurthy said.In this “scenario” Krishnamurthy started with the ingredients, but just used DAP to facilitate phosphorylation. Although this over-confident piece mentions the need for nucleic acids to “store genetic information,” it never tells where the information comes from.Experimental evidence overturns accepted theory (Science Daily). Down with the RNA World! That’s basically what two teams are saying in this article, “overturning accepted theory” for a different and equally speculative scenario.Life on Earth originated in an intimate partnership between the nucleic acids (genetic instructions for all organisms) and small proteins called peptides, according to two new papers from biochemists and biologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Auckland. Their “peptide-RNA” hypothesis contradicts the widely-held “RNA-world” hypothesis, which states that life originated from nucleic acids and only later evolved to include proteins.What do these two “worlds” have in common? They both lack a theory for the origin of biological information. The papers focus on how nucleic acids and peptides need to work together, but overlook the weightier problem of installing coded information into the molecules. Here is a classic quote employing several of the OOL catch-phrases. Notice how the boastful assertions in the first paragraph are followed up by complete ignorance in the second paragraph concerning the key issue of programming:Before there was life on Earth, there were simple chemicals. Somehow, they produced both amino acids and nucleotides that eventually became the proteins and nucleic acids necessary to create single cells. And the single cells became plants and animals. Research this century has revealed how the primordial chemical soup created the building blocks of life. There is also widespread scientific consensus on the historical path by which cells evolved into plants and animals.But it’s still a mystery how the amino acid building blocks were first assembled according to coded nucleic acid templates into the proteins that formed the machinery of all cells.They propose a tight “relationship” between RNA and peptides mediated through the amino-acyl tRNA synthetases (aaRS) or their assumed “ancestors”. How these ancestors emerged is not clear, but the OOL-ers speculate that a code emerged through a “strange loop” of self-reinforcing interactions. Maybe it’s something like the letters q and u becoming matched in words like quick and quiet, such that all subsequent information led to the works of Shakespeare. If you don’t believe that, then you sure can’t believe the RNA-World story, because even these researchers know that one doesn’t make sense:“Such a rise from RNA to cell-based life would have required an out-of-the-blue appearance of an aaRS-like protein that worked even better than its adapted RNA counterpart,” Carter said. “That extremely unlikely event would have needed to happen not just once but multiple times — once for every amino acid in the existing gene-protein code. It just doesn’t make sense.“While we’re
. Malou Mangahas of the Philippines, Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Uganda and Brenda Burrell of Zimbabwe accepted the Breaking Borders award on behalf of their organisations in Santiago, Chile. MEDIA CONTACTS • Global Voices Founder: Ethan Zuckerman [email protected] Founder: Rebecca MacKinnon [email protected] Executive director: Ivan Sigal [email protected] MD: Georgia Popplewell [email protected] • Bosco Uganda Fr. Joseph Okumu 0772 613517 [email protected] • Bosco USA Gus Zuehlke 1 (574) 255 1437 [email protected] [email protected] • Kubatana.net +263 4 776008/746448 [email protected] RELATED ARTICLES • Google’s SMS internet for Uganda• Eassy to go live soon• Chile on top of Chile quake data• African reality TV fights HIV• Talk 11 languages on your phoneTwo African organisations are among the three winners of the inaugural Breaking Borders awards, given by Google and alternative media group Global Voices to those fighting for free expression via the internet and other technology platforms.The winners are Kubatana.net from Zimbabwe in the advocacy category, Uganda’s Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach (Bosco) for technology, and the Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism for policy.Supported by Thomson Reuters, the awards honour groups who use the internet to give voice to those once silenced, make the activities of governments more transparent, and standing up for the rights of dissidents.Global Voices is a community of more than 300 bloggers and translators around the world who work together to bring you reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media.The winners were announced in Santiago on 6 May at the Global Voices Summit, a gathering of internet activists from 60 countries have gathered. The awards were launched on 3 November 2009, when Google and others marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the aim of celebrating how the internet has become a vital ally in worldwide efforts to advance freedom and political change.“This is particularly true at a time when dissidents, journalists and bloggers remain under severe pressure in the online and offline worlds,” Bob Boorstin, Google’s director of public policy, said in a statement.An international jury of experts reviewed nominations from around the world and chose the awardees in three categories: advocacy, technology and policy. Each group wins a US$10 000 (R75 000) grant to further their work.The winners are:Kubatana.net – Zimbabwe (advocacy)An online community for Zimbabwean activists, Kubatana uses the internet, email, SMS, blogs and print materials to broadcast information to the public. Cited for its extraordinary contributions while operating under in a tense and dangerous political atmosphere, Kubatana’s contributions also include an online library of more than 16 000 human rights and civic reports together with a directory listing over 240 NGOs.Beyond its significance as a resource for information on Zimbabwe, Kubatana has also developed Freedom Fone, innovative software that marries the mobile phone to audio voice menus and SMS to give citizens new ways to communicate.Bosco – Uganda (technology)Bosco was cited for its tremendously effective and creative use of long-existing technology to foster social and economic development and peace building in rural communities of northern Uganda.Launched in April 2007 as Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach, Bosco began as a solar-powered, long-range wireless computer network covering locations in camps for internally displaced people across the Gulu and Amuru districts. Low-power computers and VoIP phones were installed in schools, health centres and parish offices, bringing internet, phone and intranet connectivity to remote areas.Bosco’s long-term vision is to build collaborative, web-based networks. Today it focuses on Web 2.0 training, online digital ethnography and collaborative online communication mediums between internet sites.The Philippines Centre for Investigative Journalism – Philippines (policy)An independent, not-for-profit media agency, the PCIJ was founded by nine Filipino journalists in 1989 – with borrowed office space, an old-DOS-based computer, a second-hand electric typewriter, and office furniture bought from a thrift shop – to promote the values of investigative reporting in fostering good governance, freedom of expression, and the people’s right to know.In 20 years, the PCIJ has produced 500 investigative reports, two dozen books on journalism and governance, five full-length films and dozens of video documentaries. It has conducted a hundred training seminars for journalists in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and won over 120 national and international awards.The PCIJ maintains a multimedia website, an institutional blog,
Don’t look now, but Venus Williams is playing some good tennis. Serena’s big sister advanced to the third round of Wimbledon on Wednesday after an uneven start.Big Sis beat Japan’s Kurumi Nara 7-6 (4), 6-1 to reach the third round of a major for only the second time in her last 10 Grand Slam tournaments.The 30th-seeded Williams won six straight points in the tiebreaker and ran off six straight games in the second set to beat 41st-ranked Nara on Court 3 at the All England Club.“In the tiebreaker, that’s when it comes down to who’s going to be more consistent and more aggressive,” Williams said. “In the beginning she was, but, thankfully, I was able to turn it around.”Williams’ next opponent could be 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, the sixth-seeded Czech left-hander who was playing Mona Barthel later Wednesday.“I think we both play similar games, really go for it,” Williams said of Kvitova. “She’s one of the kind of players who can get kind of hot against me.”Williams, winner of seven Grand Slam titles, lost in the first round in her last appearance at Wimbledon in 2012. The only other time she has made it past the second round in her last 10 Grand Slams was at the 2013 Australian Open. She hasn’t reached the fourth round at a major since Wimbledon in 2011.The 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) Williams towered over Nara, the shortest player in the women’s top 100 at 5-foot-1 (1.55 meters).The American served seven aces and had 43 winners. Nara had only five unforced errors, but just 16 winners.Nara took a medical timeout at the end of the first set and received treatment from the trainer on her upper left leg during the second set.Williams was several minutes late in arriving on court, and also left the court after the warm-up. She looked sluggish at the start, falling behind 3-0. She then won five straight games, but was broken serving for the set at 5-4.Nara raced to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Williams won the rest of the points. Williams was broken in the opening game of the second set, then won the next six.Also advancing was second-seeded Australian Open champion Li Na, who beat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-2, 6-2.The second-seeded Li had two early service breaks and was also broken once on her service early in the second set, but took control at 4-2 and then broke the Austrian player a third time in the set.Serving for the match, Li clinched the win with consecutive forehands to the open court and then a cross-court backhand volley.Meusburger had only four winners in the match, compared to 33 for Li.Li, also the 2011 French Open champion, reached last year’s quarterfinals here.
Oh, and don’t forgetUgly helmets in vogue We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeVillanova team one of the best everVillanova defeated Michigan to win the NCAA Men’s tournament Monday evening and in doing so cemented a legendary tournament run for the ages. On average their margin of victory was 17.7 above their opponents — we’d expect only a +7.9 points for that figure — which makes them the fifth-best tourney winners by margin of victory. [FiveThirtyEight]Sergio donates golf equipment to Georgia pondDefending Masters champion Sergio Garcia — who recently named his newborn daughter Azalea after the trademark flowers of Augusta National — did his best to erase any fond memories he has of the iconic golf course on Thursday. At a respectable 2-over par to start the 15th hole, the Spaniard hit his second shot into the water that protects the par-5 green. He took a drop and hit his next shot into the water. Then he did it again. And again. And again. He eventually carded a 13 on the hole — tied for the worst score on any hole in Masters history — on his way to finishing a gruesome 9-over par. [ESPN]Frozen Four coming upThe college men’s hockey championship starts tonight in Minnesota. If you’re looking for the future of the U.S. game, it’s there; while the NHL is 45 percent Canadian and 27 percent American, the Frozen Four teams are 81 percent U.S.-born. Namely, it’s Minnesotans; of the 88 Americans, 26 are from Minnesota. [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?You can gamble on the draftThe lines are out for what goes down at the 2018 NFL Draft. The over/under for Alabama players selected in the first round of the NFL draft is set at 4, which is oddly higher than the over/under line for running backs (1.5) and wide receivers (2.5) in the first round. [ESPN]Chaos at UFC 223Conor McGregor is being stripped of his UFC title because he hasn’t bothered to compete at a UFC event since November 2016. He isn’t taking this well; McGregor and a group of about 20 others allegedly entered the UFC 223 arena area and attacked a bus, and several fighters were injured. [ESPN]In other ridiculous fighting newsWrestlemania is this Sunday, a seven hour time slot full of 13 scheduled fights (and purportedly an additional fight between the Undertaker and John Cena). If that last fight does occur, it’s interesting because despite being two of the top draws for the brand, Cena and the Undertaker have not in fact faced one another in a singles match in more than 11 years. [Deadspin]42 points over the second bananaTaylor Hall is a one-man offense, and in NHL history since 1951 ranks 30th when it comes to the gap between the number of points that the top scorer on the team racked up (93 for Hall) and the second-place scorer on the team (in the Devils’ case, 51 points), at +42. Hilariously, Wayne Gretzky is 10 of those 29 people. [FiveThirtyEight]Big Number(s)26 percentKyrie Irving is hurt and will miss the playoffs. This is devastating for the Celtics’ chances of a title. Their shot of beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in a seven-game series drop from 41 percent with Irving to 26 percent if Irving is replaced with a -1.0 Real Plus/Minus player. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slackkyle: geoff:oofHow surprising is this?kyletotally contradicts what celtics had said about it; team doctors are all fired after this season; the same team doctors who let this whole isaiah mess happen See more NBA predictions Predictions NBA All newsletters
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Vista man sentenced nearly 20 years for soliciting explicit photos from minors Posted: May 12, 2018 May 12, 2018 KUSI Newsroom, KUSI Newsroom SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A Vista man has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison for posing as a teenage girl to get inappropriate photographs from children.Joseph Daniel Saucedo, 26, pleaded guilty about a year ago to two counts of receiving and attempting to receive sexually explicit photos of minors.On Friday, a federal judge gave Saucedo a sentence of 19 years and seven months in prison and 20 years of supervised release, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Saucedo admitted to posing as “Amy Jennings” while talking to an 11- year-old Canadian boy online, the statement said. “Amy” sent the boy naked pictures of young girls and asked him to communicate with her “friend,” Saucedo. When the boy refused, “Amy” posted a photograph of the boy’s house, told him she knew where he lived, and tried to shame him into communicatingwith Saucedo.The boy relented and contacted Saucedo, who exposed himself to the boy over FaceTime, the statement said.The boy hung up on Saucedo but the calls and threats continued until “Amy” sent the 11-year-old an explicit video, threatening to release it and claim it was him.Police in Calgary, Alberta, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated, and then referred the matter to San Diego’s Electronic Crimes Working Group, which ultimately identified and arrested Saucedo, the statement said.After his arrest, authorities found evidence that Saucedo had been soliciting inappropriate photos from several other children, per the statement.In August 2015, he tried to convince a 16-year-old Florida girl that he was a modeling agent before again using “Amy” to threaten the girl.“Amy” harassed the Florida girl, who then turned to Saucedo for help. He agreed to help get “Amy” to stop bothering the girl, but only if the Florida girl would send him explicit photos of herself.He asked her to “[w]rite my name on a paper or hand so I know it’s a new one.”The girl agreed, and Saucedo later demanded that she continue sending him naked photos or “Amy” would post compromising pictures of the girl.The girl told him that she was looking into the Kik app’s legal system to handle the online threats from “Amy.”Saucedo responded, “Na I’ll pay her I don’t want you to get in trouble” — possibly fearing that alerting Kik to would compromise his illegal activities, the U.S. Attorney’s office statement said.Saucedo told the girl that he had paid “Amy Jennings” $2,000. As a thank you, the girl agreed to a sexually explicit FaceTime chat with Saucedo, the statement said.After gaining search warrants for Saucedo’s cellphones, investigators say they found another eight minors whom Saucedo tried to harass, including a 13-year-old girl.Saucedo has a prior conviction from 2012 for unlawful sex with a minor. He was 20, and the girl involved was 14.“This case highlights the importance of strong international partnerships to target these heinous crimes,” U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman said. “Thank you to our Canadian colleagues, and most especially to the brave victims everywhere who step forward to report abusive conduct. Their courage is a critical part of detecting and stopping similar abuse now and in the future.” Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter