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October 4, 2014

US scientists find evidence for group selection of spider colonies in the wild

US scientists find evidence for group selection of spider colonies in the wild

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

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A female spider of related but different species Anelosimus crassipes.
Image: Akio Tanikawa.

US biologists from the Universities of Pittsburgh and Vermont have found that social spiders of species Anelosimus studiosus exhibit apparent group selection, determining a trait affecting the colony’s survival. According to one of the researchers, this is the first experimental evidence of group selection in wild populations driving adaptation to local conditions. The study was published in journal Nature on Wednesday.

The researchers found that, depending on the availability of resources at the location of the colony and the size of the colony, the spider colonies have a different composition, promoting colony survival. The collective colony trait the scientists analyzed is the shifting ratio of “aggressive” and “docile” female spiders. The authors suggest two possible causes of colony extinction from inappropriate ratio in a large colony, depending on the availability of resources: egg cannibalism when there are few resources and a high proportion of “aggressive” female spiders, and social parasites when there are abundant resources and a high proportion of “docile” female spiders.

To check whether the self-regulation of spider colonies can be considered an adaptation to local conditions, the scientists placed artificially assembled colonies in different locations, with resource availability similar to or different from their home location. In cases of high risk of extinction, colonies self-regulated the ratio of “aggressive” and “docile” female spiders to match not resource conditions of the site they were placed at, but resource conditions of the home site from which they were taken.

Coauthor Jonathan Pruitt, University of Pittsburgh assistant professor of behavioral ecology, said, “These findings provide compelling evidence that the mechanisms that colonies use to regulate their compositions are themselves locally adapted, presumably because of the survival advantages they confer to the colony”. “They’re continuing to make the phenotypes, the trait at a group level, that would have been advantageous if they had stayed home […] But they seem to have no idea that they’re at a new site and that what they’re doing is going to doom the whole colony. All the friends die”.

Coauthor Charles Goodnight, at the University of Vermont, said: “Biologists have never shown an adaptation in nature which is clearly attributable to group selection […] Our paper is that demonstration.”



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Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

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A patient was admitted to a hospital in Washington, D.C. after showing Ebola-like symptoms, according to a statement yesterday by hospital spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton.

Howard University Hospital
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.

Hamilton confirmed Howard University Hospital admitted the patient in stable condition. The patient had been to Nigeria, where some cases of the Ebola virus have occurred. The hospital has followed protocol for infection control, including separating the patient from others to prevent possible infection of others.

The director of the D.C. Department of Health said they have collaborated to monitor patients with Ebola-like symptoms with Howard University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland admitted another patient with Ebola-like symptoms, but health officials there yesterday night later determined this person had malaria, not the Ebola virus.

At the peak of Ebola countermeasures in Nigeria, almost 900 people there were monitored for the virus after contacting someone who was already sick.



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October 3, 2014

Texas governor and health officials address public regarding Ebola case

Filed under: Archived,North America,Texas,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

Texas governor and health officials address public regarding Ebola case

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Governor Rick Perry.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Texas Governor Rick Perry met with public health officials Wednesday in a press conference concerning a case of Ebola, the first case diagnosed on US soil.

Accompanied by those officials, he assured Texas citizens that steps were being taken to protect the public’s safety. Perry specifically said, “There are few places in the world better equipped to meet the challenge that is posed in this case.” The governor also stated, “Today, we learned that some school aged children have been identified as having had contact with the patient.” He went on to say, “This case is serious. Rest assured that our system is working as well as it should.”

Dr. David Lakey, Commissioner of the state’s public health agency said in a recorded video statement, “This event right now is going to be contained. […] the patient here in Dallas, he’s getting tremendous care in a very good medical facility.” The man’s condition on Wednesday was listed as serious.

The patient is a man who recently returned to the US after visiting Liberia. A doctor with the hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas, told media the man’s initial complaints were, “…very nondescript.” Reportedly, the man had sought treatment at that facility last week, but was sent home. When the man returned to the hospital on Sunday, his condition was properly diagnosed and he was admitted.



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October 2, 2014

Hong Kong democracy protesters call for CY Leung resignation as demonstrations continue

Hong Kong democracy protesters call for CY Leung resignation as demonstrations continue

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

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The protests in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Monday.
Image: Raysonho.

Protestors in Hong Kong have called for the resignation of CY Leung, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and vowed to continue the protests. If their demands are not met today, the protestors have said they will start occupying government buildings.

Tens of thousands of protestors — some affiliated with the ‘Occupy Central‘ movement — have kept up a demonstration for seven days against plans by the Chinese government to screen candidates seeking to be on the ballot for the 2017 election. Lester Shum, the vice secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and one of the leaders of the movement, outlined his plans: “Leung Chun-ying must step down. If he doesn’t resign by tomorrow [Thursday], we will step up our actions, such as by occupying several important government buildings”. He said there was “no room for dialogue” with CY Leung after the police fired tear gas at protestors.

Chan Kin-man, another leader in the movement, said: “I hope people will understand why the action keeps on escalating. It’s because the government is getting more and more closed without listening to Hong Kong people.”

Pro-democracy protestors catching some sleep.
Image: B Clarke.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Hong Kong authorities to “exercise restraint and respect for the protesters’ right to express their views peacefully” and said Hong Kong needs to have the “highest possible degree of autonomy”. Kerry stated the US position was support for “universal suffrage in Hong Kong, accordant with the Basic Law”.

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, said: “What matters is that the basic agreement that we set out with the Chinese all those years ago should be stuck to […] Universal suffrage really means not just being able to vote but having a proper choice.”

A statement on Chinese state television asked residents of Hong Kong to support efforts by the city authorities to “deploy police enforcement decisively” and “restore the social order in Hong Kong as soon as possible”.

Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, appearing alongside John Kerry, said the protests were illegal and warned: “Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs. All countries should respect China’s sovereignty. For any country, for any society, no-one will allow those illegal acts that violate public order.”

People’s Daily, a newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, published the following: “Hong Kong has for many years enjoyed peace and harmony. It now sees the emergence of this embarrassing ‘chaos’, and the root cause lies with a few people who are disrespecting the law”.



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British National Party expel ex-leader Nick Griffin

British National Party expel ex-leader Nick Griffin

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

File photo of Nick Griffin in 2009.
Image: britishnationalism.

The British National Party (BNP), a UK political party, has expelled Nick Griffin, previously for fifteen years its leader. The party stated they informed Griffin of their decision yesterday and gave multiple reasons for the expulsion, including distributing inaccurate information, trying to damage the party’s public image, harassment of staff members, and defying instructions given to him by current leader Adam Walker. Griffin has said he was “‘expelled’ without trial” and the BNP violated its constitution.

Cquote1.svg Only thing is that the ruling Wigton Soviet are operating outside the constitution so I shall ignore their plastic gangster games Cquote2.svg

Nick Griffin

Griffin was BNP chairman until July, when he quit the role and became honorary president; acting chairman Adam Walker took his place. Griffin was elected North West England MEP (Member of the European Parliament) in 2009 but lost the seat in the 2014 election.

Under Griffin’s tenure, the party reportedly experienced an increase in success, gaining more than 50 councillors in the UK and two MEPs in 2009, Griffin being one and the other Andrew Brons. However, more recently the party has reportedly had monetary difficulties and internal disputes, as well as disagreements over what attitudes the party should adopt. Brons departed from the BNP in 2012 and went on to form his own political party, the British Democratic Party.

The BNP’s political support has significantly declined in recent years; its percentage vote share in the European Parliament elections in North West England dipped from 6.1% in 2009 to 1.9% in 2014, while most of the party’s councillors have lost their positions. Also, in January Nick Griffin was declared bankrupt.

“This has been a difficult decision to make and not one taken lightly”, a member of a conduct committee within the BNP commented. “Although we all appreciate that Nick has achieved a lot for our Party in the past, we must also remember that the Party is bigger than any individual. Nick did not adjust well to being given the honourary title of President and it soon became obvious that he was unable to work as an equal member of the team and alarmingly his behaviour became more erratic and disruptive.”

The conduct committee said they made their decision because of Griffin’s behaviour, which included “preparing a ‘report’ which tells lies about key Party personnel and finances and approving the leak of these damaging and defamatory allegations onto the internet”, “harassing members of BNP staff and in at least one case making physical threats”, “bringing the Party into disrepute through public statements”, “publishing, causing to be published or being reckless as to the publication of untrue allegations against the Party in the form of e-mails giving a false account of [his] bankruptcy situation” and “disobeying legitimate, constitutional instructions given to [him] by our Chairman, Adam Walker aimed at preventing damage to the reputation and unity of the Party.”

Griffin’s response to this expulsion from the party was to tweet: “Breaking news! I’ve just been ‘expelled’ without trial from the #BNP! That’ll teach me to tell a member of staff he’s a ‘useless, lazy twat'”. In a later tweet, he added: “Only thing is that the ruling Wigton Soviet are operating outside the constitution so I shall ignore their plastic gangster games.”



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