As few as one per cent of the employees working fo

first_imgAs few as one per cent of the employees working for some UK broadcasters have described themselves as disabled people, according to new research by the industry regulator.Ofcom’s Diversity And Equal Opportunities In Television report says disabled people appear to be “significantly under-represented” across the television industry, at just three per cent.The Ofcom report – which focuses on the five main broadcasters, but also looks at another 342 smaller organisations – found that only one per cent of staff working for ITV and Viacom (which owns Channel 5) describe themselves as disabled.Sky is only slightly better, at two per cent, while Channel 4 performed best with disabled people making up 11 per cent of its workforce.Although the report says that only four per cent of BBC staff say they are disabled, this figure represents the calendar year 2016 and new figures, following a diversity and inclusion census carried out towards the end of last year, show a much higher proportion, at 10 per cent*.The Ofcom report says there is a “worrying” lack of data on disability, with no information on 30 per cent of staff across the television industry.ITV provided disability data on fewer than half of its employees, while Sky provided disability information on just two per cent of its staff.Ofcom also says it has now started enforcement action against 57 broadcasters, because of their failure to provide any data on gender, race and disability.Simon Balcon, a member of the deaf and disabled members committee (DDMC) of the performers’ union Equity, welcomed the Ofcom report.He said: “I think that it’s great that reports like this actually exist, and that attention to the issue of casting actors with disabilities is getting more attention.“I also think that more can be done, though. While the BBC is doing more than other channels to be progressive with its casting, actors with disabilities are less visible than on other channels, strange as this may seem.“I would echo the report’s concern… that there is a worrying lack of data for disabled people, as this does not give us a full picture.“However, I am glad the Ofcom is taking action against those who refuse to supply information.”Balcon said the report showed there was “certainly more that broadcasters can do for freelancers with a disability [particularly actors and other artists], as only one per cent are in this category.”And he said he agreed that “more monitoring needs to be done, as the picture may not be accurate at present.“More organisations must monitor their employees and those employed as freelancers, and then we can get a clearer picture.”Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, says in the report: “Disabled people are particularly poorly represented at all levels of the industry.”The report concludes: “Broadcasters have an obligation, as a condition of their licences, to take measures to promote equality of opportunity in employment.“Without accurate monitoring, it is unclear how some broadcasters can identify any gaps, ensure the relevance of their equality and diversity policies, and plan engagement with their employees to promote these policies.”The report is Ofcom’s first from its new Diversity in Broadcasting monitoring programme, which will reveal how well broadcasters’ employment policies are promoting equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion.*The BBC data includes both television and radio staffPicture: Disabled actor Liz Carr as Clarissa Mullery in BBC’s Silent Witnesslast_img read more

Eleven SF bookstores get cash assistance from city

first_imgNearly a dozen local bookstores received a special gift from the city Tuesday morning — $103,000 in total grant money to help them through a time when books can be delivered to one’s door at the click of a mouse.And that’s exactly why the funding is so important, says Joaquin Torres, the director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “There’s nothing online that can recreate the experience of walking into a bookstore — the art you see on the walls, the performances that take place, the cultural conversations,” he said.The city, in partnership with the nonprofit Working Solutions and the Small Business Development Center, awarded 11 bookstores grant money, including five in the Mission: Dog Eared Books, Bolerium Books, Mission: Comics & Art, Adobe Books & Art Cooperative and Alley Cat Books.The money is part of the Bookstore SF Program, a pet project of the late Mayor Ed Lee, aimed at funding bookstore “revitalizations” that emphasize their roles as social hubs rather than simply places to purchase reading material. Email Address At 24th Street’s Adobe Books on Tuesday morning, about 25 people — including many of the grant recipients — gathered in the small space whose shelves brimmed with books. They commingled and ate breakfast burritos and, when receiving their checks, they expressed their gratitude and told their stories.“Last year was very difficult,” said Leef Smith, the owner of Mission: Comics and Art, whose storefront sits on Mission Street between 18th and 19th.Smith told the small crowd that he was considering closing his store in January. But, in the end, he decided to stick it out, and did so with the help of loyal customers. Smith, in fact, started a Patreon drive and apparently received enough to keep him going. For him, the city grant only added to his customer support.“Some of my customers have been with me for the entire nine years (I’ve been in business),” he said. “That sort of loyalty and interest in reading on a regular basis is really powerful.”Adobe Books had its own existential threat in 2012 when it first received a major rent hike and was subsequently evicted from its space on 16th Street between Valencia and Guerrero. The bookstore known for its community events had enough financial support from its customers to move onto 24th Street and become a co-op.“We don’t want to just be a thing that exists — we’re not an island,” said Rebekah Kouy-Ghadosh, an Adobe employee who owns a share of the business. She explained that the bookstore is constantly hosting events, and the grant would help the store continue to do that.Holding the bookstore’s check, she added, “I’m going to go out and make it rain books!”Kate Razo, the owner of Dog Eared and Alley Cat books, received multiple checks that afternoon — for Dog Eared’s Valencia and Castro locations, as well as Alley Cat books on 24th Street.A believer in the small bookstore, Razo said that growing a book business is not easy. She announced that the Dog Eared had recently secured another 10-year lease at its Valencia location, but a deal was far from certain.“I had many sleepless nights hoping to get that lease,” Razo said.Razo had other exciting news: that Dog Eared would be opening yet another location — albeit a very small one — within the new social-justice-oriented cafe, Manny’s, soon opening at 16th and Valencia.Speaking about the grant money, Razo, who has been running bookstores in San Francisco since the ‘80s, said: “I never thought I’d see the day where the city says, “‘Hey, here’s a check.’” Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter In addition to the funding, the bookstores will receive city services, including technical assistance on marketing, human resource consulting, and help negotiating long-term leases.According to OEWD, there are 57 independent bookstores in San Francisco that together generate more than $9.8 million in sales, create and retain more than 100 jobs, host more than 40 free community events each month, and have been in business for an average of 21 years.Comix Experience in NoPa, Dog Eared Books in the Castro, East Wind Bookstore in Chinatown, Just a Touch Christian Bookstore in the Bayview, Green Apple Books in the Richmond, and Stevens Books in the Excelsior also received grant money.last_img read more

Strong wind doesnt stop Orton Plantation from control burns

first_imgSmoke from a prescribed burn at Orton Plantation in Brunswick County could be seen at least as far away as the Pine Valley area of Wilmington on March 10, 2016. (Photo: Jessica Viox) BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — With extreme dry and windy conditions around the Cape Fear today, the National Weather Service as issued a Red Flag Warning. This means outdoor fires would likely spread quickly, and experts say burning is not recommended today.Orton Plantation in Brunwick County says the warning will not stop it from continuing its plans for a controlled burn Thursday.- Advertisement – Brunswick County Ranger Bill Walker says he is not, concerned because the plantation has experienced professionals doing the burn.According to a news release, the plantation planned to burn around 190 acres.The plantation says its controlled burn season will take place until May 1.last_img read more

Wilmington film officials rally to save TV project post Florence

first_imgThe logo for DC Universe’s upcoming live-action drama series “Swamp Thing,” which is eyeing Wilmington as a possible filming location. (Photo: StarNews) WILMINGTON, NC (StarNews) — Hurricane Florence may have turned portions of the region into a swampy mess, but it almost claimed the local film industry’s biggest TV project in years — “Swamp Thing.”As Hurricane Florence drenched the region in rain and wind, national news coverage sent images of local towns and homes under water across the country, catching the eye of executives from Warner Bros. Television and DC Universe, who were prepping production on the new series “Swamp Thing” in Wilmington.- Advertisement – Mayor Bill Saffo said, in the days after Florence, he participated in talks with those TV officials fearful their future filming location was no longer viable.“When they were looking at intense flooding in Burgaw and Lumberton on national news programs, they thought Wilmington was flooded,” Saffo said. “The perception was that Wilmington was underwater and that we were cut off from the rest of the world for good.”Read more here from StarNewsOnline.last_img read more

Options expand for potential Williston High

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Following several school board and one community meeting, the fate of Wilmington’s Williston Middle School may change.School board leaders still want to turn it back into a high school, but with a different focus.- Advertisement – New Hanover County School Board vice chairman David Wortman says the exploratory committee is looking to expand the focus of a potential Williston High School to not be only about the arts, but also carry a vocational curriculum.Wortman adds it would differ from Sea Tech, a technical high school in Castle Hayne.Tuesday night at a school board meeting, community members shared their thoughts on this proposal, including one man who went to Williston Middle.Related Article: New Hanover Co. School Board continuing talks on Williston transition, school staff speak out against it“Where are you going to send those middle school kids? And furthermore, I think it’s just, it’s a ditch,” said Kevin Spears. “You’re ditching the real problem. Let’s fix what the problem is as it relates to schools in these types of neighborhoods.”If approved, it would be grades 6 through 12, and enrollment would be application based to not compete with nearby New Hanover High.last_img read more

Oh baby Pender mom gives birth in car outside hospital

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Pender County mom has quite the story to tell after giving birth inside her car in front of New Hanover Regional Medical Center Tuesday night.Kelly Lanier was 38 weeks pregnant, but ready or not her baby girl was coming into the world.- Advertisement – She says the labor lasted 38 minutes, which was barely enough time to drive to the hospital from Burgaw.“[We] almost made it… almost,” Lanier said.With her husband Lantz by her side, Kelly gave birth to a baby girl at 11:05 p.m. under the awning at the Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Wilmington. Both are doing fine.Pender County mom captured giving birth to baby outside NHRMC on Feb. 13, 2019. (Photo: De’Maya Berry)Related Article: Ports exploring purchase of Wilmington’s Optimist ParkIt wasn’t just a wild experience for the Lanier family and the hospital team, but also for De’Maya Berry.Berry was walking out to her car when she saw Kelly in labor.“By the time he opened the passenger door she had a baby coming out of her,” Berry said.“I had no idea I had an audience. And I sat up, and they started clapping and cheering,” said Kelly.But for this now mom of 3, it wasn’t her first delivery in a car. She had her 2nd child on the side of US 421 a few years ago.“It was déjà vu. It was the exact same thing. ‘We’re going to make it. We’re going to be fine. You’re going to get your epidural,’ and she kept saying, ‘I’m way past my epidural, I’m not going to make it,’” said Lantz.The Laniers say while they definitely do not want to go through this a third time, it was an experience that changed them for the better.“Your significant other is always there with you through childbirth most of the time. But when they actually deliver your child, and they’re the ones that are actually in the moment, it just changes the way you kinda look at each other,” said Kelly.“It makes you think if you can do this, you can do anything together as a family,” said Lantz.last_img read more

Loggers from all over NC gather at annual Carolina Loggers Association meeting

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Carolina Loggers Association held its annual meeting this weekend.Each year, the CLA meets to discuss their current affairs. Logging in North Carolina is $32.7 billion industry, and is vital to our economy.- Advertisement – This year’s meeting had a specific topic to discuss; Florence.Executive director Ewell Smith says that Florence impacted their industry heavily, but that they always pull through.“Overcoming a crisis like Florence sets us back but this is the important part: we always come back stronger after a crisis. It may seem horrible going through it. It is. It stinks— going through it but we know we can come back stronger on the other side,” Said Smith.Related Article: Habitat for Humanity holds CEO BuildAnother topic of conversation is a program CLA started called Logs for the Cause, working with loggers and other organizations in Wilmington helping first responders and veterans get back to their homes. Smith says that “rising tides raise all ships.”last_img read more

Bill on separating AGs role is a parody of the Venice Commission

first_img SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> Former Law Faculty Dean Professor Kevin Aquilina has described the bill proposing the constitution of the Office of State Advocate and the separation of functions of state prosecutor from those of legal advisor to government, as a parody of the December 2018 Venice Commission’s Report.READ: Venice Commission suggests creation of independent prosecutorIn a paper published on GħSL’s online journal titled The State Advocate Bill No. 83 of 2019: Acting in Breach of Malta’s International Obligations, the former Dean criticised the bill as it was put forward saying it is ‘shabbily drafted’ adding that it is “legislative drafting mediocrity at its best” and vehemently argued against its adoption by Parliament. He explained how the bill runs counter to the doctrines of the separation of powers and rule of law, thus making a parody of the Venice Commission recommendations.‘Government acting in bad faith’Law Professor Aquilina questions whether the Government’s intention to legislate that part of the Venice Commission Report on the separation of the office of legal advisor to the government from that of the Director of Prosecutions, is reflected in the Bill proposed. He further argued that on analysing the Bill and the Report, one finds inconsistencies between both documents. Adding that it indicates that “the government is in bad faith when it claims it is implementing the Venice Commission Report and complying with its international law obligations”.READ: AG draft legislative amendment discussed in ParliamentAmong the examples cited by Aquilina, he points out that the Venice Commission questioned the various roles which the Attorney General carries out however the bill addresses only one such conflict. The Bill falls short of addressing the Venice Commission criticism of the role of the Attorney General as the chair of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. Further, Aquilina observed that the Bill not only does not address the ‘absolute and unfettered discretion’ by which the Attorney General can decide on criminal proceedings, but increases more power in the hands of the AG contrary to what the Venice Commission has said in its opinion on the Maltese legal system. Thus, Aquilina remarked, the current bill is in line with the “Prime Minister’s current autocratic concentration of powers heavily criticised by the Venice Commission report”. Aquilina further added that by not providing for judicial review of the AG’s unfettered discretion in the institution, undertaking and discontinuing criminal proceedings which is found in the proposed Bill is in breach of the rule of law.‘The government seems to have no difficulty with breaching the rule of law’After enlisting eight points and explaining clearly what the Venice Commission has said and what was actually put down in the draft, the law professor concluded that “the government seems to have no difficulty with breaching the rule of law”. He further added that the only legitimate conclusion is that the government is “deliberately acting in bad faith”.More on this:Venice Commission calls for revision of constitutional rolesWhatsApplast_img read more

The Church in Singapore celebrates Catholic Youth Day

first_imgYouths participating in a workshop during Catholic Youths DayYouths participating in a workshop during Catholic Youths Day The Archdiocese of Singapore celebrated Catholic Youth Day 2019 on July 20 and 21. This year’s theme was “Jesus’ Name Above All Names” to celebrate the gift and centrality of Jesus Christ in the Catholic faith.The initiative was an invitation to all young people aged 16 to 35 to experience what to be part of the Church means – One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic -, alive in Jesus Christ.Gabriel is a young Catholic who took part in this celebration. In 2016, he witnessed over 2,000 young people pray together, which led him to desire a “deep passion for the Lord”.“I witnessed a deep yearning for the Lord as one united body of Christ … as everyone bowed down in silent Eucharistic adoration as the Blessed Sacrament was being exposed,” he told Fides News Agency.Church centered on Jesus ChristThrough this gathering of young people in the Archdiocese, Gabriel began to appreciate the reality of the Church: “The Church is much more than just a physical structure, it is made up of individuals with hearts united through prayer, worship, and communion, centered on Jesus Christ.”The Catholic Youth Day was also a call to young Catholics to proactively evangelize by inviting at least one other young person who does not know Jesus or who has been away from Church to come for the event.“CYD is for us a time to celebrate our faith among young people and also to share Jesus Christ with others, as a source and meaning of life”, said Father Brian D’Souza, OYP chaplain, to Fides.Youth challengesThe program of the Day was divided into two distinct segments. The first part began with prayer and adoration, followed by the preaching of Father Brian, and workshops on a variety of topics. In the evening, Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Singapore, Mgr. William Goh.After dinner, there was a brief contribution concerning the struggles that young people face, followed by the preaching by Fr. Jude David, OYP chaplain. At 10.30 pm the night vigil began in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Prayer ministry and the Sacrament of Reconciliation was available till midnight.The population of Singapore is 5.6 million inhabitants, of whom about 383 thousand are Catholics – 9 percent of the population.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Games you must play on Sonys newly launched PS4

first_imgDriveclub Advertisement Electronic Arts (EA) recently unveiled Sony’s PlayStation 4 at E3.The PS4 will go on sale the U.S. and Europe in time for the year-end holiday season and cost US$399. Gamers all around the world are exited about which games are going to make their expeerience worthwhile on the new console. We have compiled a list of PS4 we think are a must play. Killzone: Shadow FallKillzone: Shadow Fall is a first-person shooter from Guerilla Games set thirty years after the events of Killzone 3. You take on the role of a Shadow Marshal, a special force tasked with maintaining the delicate balance between the two rival factions known as the Helghast and the Vektans who live side by side in a futuristic city, divided by a vast wall. Killzone: Shadow Fall will be released as a launch title for the PlayStation 4. – Advertisement – Killzone: Shadow FallKnackKnack is that rarest of items at the launch of a new console – an all-new series that promises originality. It’s a quirky third-person action-adventure game, clearly designed to appeal more to the young than to hardcore gamers. You play Knack, an odd-looking, vaguely robotic glass character with the ability to surround himself (using a force-field) with a cloud of detritus picked up from his surroundings, and thereby to grow in size and change shape. Killzone: Shadow FallInFamous: Second SoninFamous: Second Son is a PlayStation 4 exclusive and the third entry in the inFamous franchise by Sucker Punch. The game is set seven years after the events of inFamous 2 and follows the story of Deslin Rowe, a 24 year-old who gains the ability to direct, manipulate, and even transform into smoke after he rescues occupants from a fiery bus wreck.InFamous: Second SonDriveclubDrive Club is a racing sim for the PlayStation 4 focused on highly detailed cars and social racing teams.It consisted of one track – a custom-designed effort in countryside surroundings – and four cars, including the Audi R8 V10, Pagani Huayra and McLaren MP4-12C. There was a glimpse of its social networking-style attributes on show, in the form of mini-challenges that you encountered at various parts of the track (average speed, cornering tidiness and drifting), in which you faced off against another car – the PS4 pods at the show were networked up to each other. You would either win or lose points for your Drive Club, and everything was totted up at the end of the race. The game also used the PS4 camera to take a snapshot of its participants before the race, and you could see thumbnails of your competitors’ photos on the backs of their ghost-cars.DriveclubWhile Driveclub was tidy enough – handling seemed fairly realistic, although skewed more towards arcade-style than simulation – the E3 demo didn’t inspire. Visually, it wasn’t that impressive, and what was on offer didn’t seem vastly different than anything we’d seen before. Evolution Studios has a lot of work to do between now and Christmas if Driveclub is to achieve must-have status. Credit: TPlast_img read more

SwiftKey New Software Update to Make Texting More Human

first_imgAn illustration shows text message predictions based on SwiftKey’s old and new technology. Image Credit: SwiftKey Advertisement SwiftKey, British company, which was acquired by Microsoft Corp. earlier this year, makes popular smartphone keyboard apps that predicts the next word while texting.According to Washington Post, software updates that SwiftKey has introduced to select users late this week, will make those suggestions “increasingly accurate, increasingly personal, increasingly human,” said Co-Founder Ben Medlock.SwiftKey predictions will now be powered by artificial neural networks that provide a more sophisticated analysis of written language, picking up on context clues and word usage in real time in an effort to replicate the human thought process. The technology, called Neural Nets, looks at an entire sentence, deciphers the relationship between words and assigns each word a code. It then searches for words with complementary codes and serves up those most likely to fit into the sentence. – Advertisement – For instance, the sentence; “I will meet you at the ………” the software (Neural Nets) would generate suggestions such as; “office,” “hotel,” “airport”.“Neural networks have been around for a long time, really since the ’50s, but only fairly recently have people started to realize that given current levels of computing and given the amount of data that we have access to now, you can actually make these things work in a way that wasn’t possible even five or 10 years ago,” Medlock said.More than 300 million mobile devices have deployed the SwiftKey technology since it became available on Android devices in 2010 and later on Apple devices in 2014.Medlock said, the software will be rolling out to Android users later this month, and Apple will follow.last_img read more

Samsung Galaxy S8 to Launch in Two Size Variants with no 35mm

first_imgImage Credit: Trusted Reviews Advertisement Earlier this week, Samsung’s Mobile Chief Koh Dong-jin; came out and confirmed that the company was not discontinuing the Galaxy Note Series. He told CNET that the Note series has a lot of loyalists, and the company plans to unveil the Note 8 this year.The Galaxy S8 is expected to be the company’s comeback smartphone, after the Note 7 fires. According to Guardian’s sources, the Samsung Galaxy S8 will come in two size; 5-inch and 6-inch variants, having a large infinity display, and will sport a dual-edge curved display putting the flat screen variant trend to rest. The predecessor of the Galaxy S-series; Samsung Galaxy S7 had a flat screen and it will be the last to have it.However, some rumors still claim that the flagship will come in 5.7-inch and 6.2-inch size variants. – Advertisement – Specs The fingerprint sensor goes at the back, and the camera is tipped to have the same ‘duo pixel’ setup as the Galaxy S7 and will be able to identify objects in its frame, a feature that arrives thanks to the rumored new assistant Bixby.Both the variants will sport 64GB of inbuilt storage with an expandable slot of a microSD slot up to 256GB, USB Type-C port, and a new version of Samsung’s Gear VR headset and Gear 360 camera will also be launched alongside.The smartphones will also be launched without the 3.5mm audio jack as they are introduced to a new service called DeX that will allow the phones to connect to peripherals.[related-posts]The smartphones will be launched sometime in March and will go on sale on April 21st.last_img read more

Women in Tech Called to Apply For The 2018 She Loves Tech

first_imgAfrican Women Entrepreneurs. (Photo Courtesy: Afrika News) Advertisement She Loves Tech; a global initiative, showcasing the convergence of the latest trends in technology, entrepreneurship, innovation and its impact on and opportunities for women, which includes a global startup competition and international conference series – has called upon all the women (those interested) to apply for the 2018 She Loves Tech global competition.The competition is looking for startups in AgriTech, Artificial Intelligence & Big Data, B2B solutions, Blockchain, Consumer Technology, Clean Energy, Fin Technology, Edu Tech, Internet of Things and Med Technology.“We are looking for novel technologies in all areas, not just digital and wireless apps,” company writes. – Advertisement – To be eligible, the women-focused ventures should be seeking angel, Seed or A round funding (under US$5 million funding raised) with, at minimum, a viable product past its conceptual stage. According to reports by TechMoran, Teja Ventures will be actively looking to invest in the top startups coming out of the global competition.The challenge being for all women around the global, the search in Africa is scheduled for June to August, where selected winners will finally meet in Beijing, China for the global finals happening at the International Conference on September 15th, 2018.The East Africa round of the competition is co-organized by China Africa Tech Initiative and will be held on July 14th, 2018 at Nairobi Garage in Kenya. Registration for the East Africa are currently on-going and should not be submit later than July 2nd, 2018.The global winner will receive exclusive mentorships from leading investors and industry experts, consulting services (China landing, China IP protection, financial, legal and HR advisory, product and technology development, etc.), fast-track entry to partner programs, media exposure, workspaces, to mention a few. They will also participate in the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology’s Women in Tech Conference from September 18th – 21st, 2018.last_img read more


first_imgWelcome to Starters Orders. Our new daily midday update from the trading room at Star Sports with our key market movers for the day across all sports.Thursday 20 JunePunters have steamed into the first two favourites on the card at Royal Ascot on Thursday. And guess what ??? They are both trained in Ireland.2.30 Royal AscotCoach House 11/4 > 2/13.05 Royal AscotAlive Alive Oh 9/4 > 2/15.00 Royal AscotWindhoek 16 > 125.35 Royal AscotGreeleys Love 33 > 20last_img

Amateur astronomers help confirm extrasolar planet

first_imgRice University Contact: Jade Boyd Phone: 713-348-6778 E-mail: Share AddThis Amateur astronomers help confirm extrasolar planet Rice planet seekers aid in confirmation of Jupiter-like gas giant Rice University astronomers searching for undiscovered planets around distant stars have helped confirm the work of an industrious group of amateur astronomers who are paving the way for more part-time star-watchers to join the global hunt for new planets. In newly announced research slated to appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal, an international team of amateurs and professionals led by astronomer Peter McCullough of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, discovered a Jupiter-like planet circling the star XO-1 about 600 light years from earth. McCullough, who’s conducting a survey for extrasolar planets using a small set of self-constructed instruments atop a Hawaiian volcano, found the first signs of the new planet, dubbed XO-1b. He asked four amateur astronomers to make regular observations of the star, and their observations confirmed the planet’s existence. McCullough also asked Rice astrophysicist Christopher Johns-Krull to monitor XO-1 using the Harlan J. Smith telescope at the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory in far West Texas. Johns-Krull provided further confirmation of the planet and also determined that the star was very similar to the Sun. For example, XO-1 rotates slowly, which is important because the light from rapidly rotating stars can sometimes fool astronomers into thinking a planet exists when it does not. “It would be very difficult for amateur astronomers to find objects like XO-1b on their own, but the amateurs are a great help to professionals because they can respond very quickly to potential new targets,” Johns-Krull said. “Since most professional observatories are booked far in advance, there would typically be a long wait to verify something like this.” McCullough said the use of more modest telescopes could speed up the search for planets outside the solar system. “This discovery suggests that a fleet of modest telescopes and the help of amateur astronomers can detect transiting extrasolar planets many times faster than we are currently spotting them,” McCullough said. McCullough deployed a relatively inexpensive telescope made from commercial equipment to search for extrasolar planets. The telescope consists of two 200-millimeter telephoto camera lenses. The telescope, which looks like a pair of binoculars, is on the summit of the Haleakala volcano, in Hawaii. McCullough’s team found the planet by noticing slight dips in the star’s light when the planet passed in front of the star. Although more than 180 extrasolar planets have been detected, XO-1b is only the tenth planet discovered using the so-called transit method. The observations revealed that XO-1b is in a tight, four-day orbit around its parent star. The observations by Johns-Krull and Ph.D. student Marcos Huerta allowed the group to calculate the planet’s mass at about 0.9 the mass of Jupiter. Johns-Krull and Huerta were able to help out McCullough’s group because they are conducting their own search for extrasolar planets. Specifically, Rice’s group is attempting to answer some fundamental questions about how planets form and how soon they form by looking for planets around very young stars. Space Telescope Science Institute Contact: Donna Weaver Phone: 410-338-4493 E-mail: last_img read more

Halas makes Esquires Best Brightest list

first_imgShareCONTACT: Jade Boyd PHONE: 713-348-6778E-MAIL: jadeboyd@rice.eduHalas makes Esquire’s ‘Best & Brightest’ listNanotech pioneer honored for inventing cancer-fighting nanoshellsRice University nanooptics powerhouse Naomi Halas takes her place alongside 41 rising American stars in Esquire magazine’s “Best & Brightest 2006” list, which appears in the magazine’s December issue.Halas, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and professor of chemistry, is one of just a handful of women featured in the article, “The Women of America: An Esquire investigation into people who are really good at what they do.”Esquire’s annual list showcases the nation’s top minds in the worlds of science, culture, education, public service and the arts. Halas is one of nine honorees in the society category. She made the list for her groundbreaking work in the field of nanooptics and cancer research. Esquire singled out her most famous invention, the metallic particles called nanoshells, for “their freakish ability to capture light,” and goes on to say “nanoshells will soon be helping mankind kill tumors, sniff out chemical weapons and even improve solar power.”The article also recognized the contributions of Halas’ longtime collaborator in the development of biomedical applications of nanotechnology, Jennifer West, the Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering and professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering.Halas, a world-renowned leader in the field of nanophotonics, joined Rice’s faculty in 1989. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Optical Society of America, a recipient of the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award and a four-time winner of the Rice Engineering Alumni’s Hershel M. Rich Invention Award. She received the Cancer Innovator Award from the congressionally directed medical research programs of the U.S. Department of Defense in 2003.Halas was nominated for Esquire’s Best & Brightest list by 2005 honoree Amy Myers Jaffe, the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. FacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThislast_img read more

Former New Mexico Gov Bill Richardson to speak at Rices Baker Institute

first_imgShareMEDIA ADVISORYDavid Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduJeff Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to speak at Rice’s Baker Institute Feb. 19Event kicks off Baker Institute’s 20th anniversary celebrationHOUSTON – (Feb. 11, 2013) –Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will examine key issues related to U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere, including immigration, border issues, drugs, Cuba and Venezuela Feb. 19 at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Richardson is the Baker Institute’s senior fellow for Latin America. The event kicks off the Baker Institute’s 20th anniversary celebration.Who: Bill Richardson, former New Mexico governor and the Baker Institute’s senior fellow for Latin America.Introduction by Edward Djerejian, the Baker Institute’s founding director.What: Talk on “Future of U.S. Policy Toward Latin America and the Caribbean.”When: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 6-7:30 p.m.Where: Rice University, Baker Hall, Kelly International Conference Facility, 6100 Main St.The Baker Institute celebrates its 20th year in 2013. To mark this milestone, the institute has planned a series of special events that highlight its programs and research. Throughout the year, lectures and conferences will focus on a host of important and timely issues, including the crisis in Syria, U.S. fiscal policy and immigration reform.As a senior fellow, Richardson provides substantive direction to the institute’s Latin America Initiative by enhancing the program’s policy focus on crucial topics, including immigration, natural resources and energy, as well as the emerging roles of key countries such as Brazil. Richardson’s public service career includes appointments as secretary of energy during the Clinton administration, ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. representative from New Mexico. For more information about the Latin American Initiative, see view the complete event information, visit A live webcast will be available at of the news media who want to attend should RSVP to Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.-30-Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute sponsors more than 20 programs that conduct research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog, AddThislast_img read more

Mexican foreign affairs secretary to speak at Rices Baker Institute May 14

first_imgShareMEDIA ADVISORYDavid Ruthdavid@rice.edu713-348-6327Jeff Falkjfalk@rice.edu713-348-6775Mexican foreign affairs secretary to speak at Rice’s Baker Institute May 14HOUSTON – (May 6, 2014) – Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena will discuss his country’s foreign policy priorities at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy May 14.The event is hosted by the Baker Institute’s Mexico Center.Who: Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena, secretary of foreign affairs of Mexico.Edward Djerejian, Baker Institute founding director, will give introductory remarks.What: “A Conversation with His Excellency Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena” event.When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 14. A reception will follow.Where: Rice University, Baker Hall, Doré Commons, 6100 Main St.Mexico has made an inspiring commitment to economic and social progress, approving dynamic energy, education, telecommunications, tax and election reforms, according to event organizers. With more than 11 million Mexican citizens living in the United States and increasing integration between the two countries, understanding Mexico’s plans and aspirations has never been more important, organizers said.Meade was appointed Mexico’s top diplomat in December 2012.Members of the news media who want to attend should RSVP to Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.A live webcast will be available at a map of Rice University’s campus, go to items:Meade bio: Institute Mexico Center: Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top 15 university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog, AddThislast_img read more

Fed grant will help unlock embryonic secrets

first_img Aryeh Warmflash ShareNEWS RELEASEEditor’s note: Links to video and a high-resolution image for download appear at the end of this release.David Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduMike Williams713-348-6728mikewilliams@rice.eduFed grant will help unlock embryonic secretsBioscientist Aryeh Warmflash wins National Institutes of Health award to study how cells differentiate HOUSTON — (Jan. 12, 2018) — Rice University bioscientist Aryeh Warmflash has won a major National Institutes of Health grant to analyze a protein-signaling pathway that directs the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into the cells of the skin and the nervous system.Embryonic stem cells form patterns in the early stages of differentiation. The Rice lab of Aryeh Warmflash has received a major National Institutes of Health grant to study how stem cells differentiate into the cells of the skin and the nervous system. (Credit: Warmflash Lab/Rice University)The work will build upon Warmflash’s research into human embryonic development and the mechanisms by which nearly identical cells morph over time into the hundreds of types that become a mature organism.The five-year R01 grant for more than $1.5 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences will fund the study of the Wnt signaling pathway that triggers reactions in cells through surface receptors. Various components of the pathway have a regulatory role in gene transcription as well as the cytoskeleton and calcium inside cells.The Rice lab is interested in the pathway that sends signals to the stem cell’s nucleus, where decisions on the cell’s fate are made. Proteins known as signal transducers, which form links between the receptor outside the cell and the cell’s nucleus, are key. FacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThis video Warmflash. (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to Return to article. Long Descriptioncenter_img Return to article. Long Description Embryonic stem cells form patterns in the early stages of differentiation. The Rice lab of Aryeh Warmflash has received a major National Institutes of Health grant to study how stem cells differentiate into the cells of the skin and the nervous system. (Credit: Warmflash Lab/Rice University)Related materials:Warmflash Lab: http://stemcell.rice.eduBioSciences at Rice: http://biosciences.rice.eduImage for download: Return to article. Long DescriptionAryeh Warmflash. Photo by Jeff FitlowTraditionally, researchers detect the transducer’s state by grinding cells to see evidence of phosphorylation, a chemical process that activates or deactivates proteins. “That’s one way to know that the cell is receiving this signal, but in the process you kill the cell and lose all the spatial and temporal information,” Warmflash said.“We’re interested in understanding what individual cells are doing as a function of where they are and in time, so our alternative is to use CRISPR/Cas9 (a gene-editing tool) to attach a fluorescent protein to the signal transducer. Now we can watch the processes of the signal moving to the nucleus and of differentiation in living cells in real time.”In preliminary work for the grant, the lab developed a culture system in which embryonic stem cells are grown in colonies of a specific size and shape, and then upon differentiation they form self-organized patterns of different cell fates such as neurons and skin cells. Observing the Wnt signaling reporter as the cells are doing this allows them to connect the signaling pathway to the patterns that form.“The Wnt pathway is incredibly fundamental to a lot of things, but people know almost nothing about its dynamics,” he said. “These reporters will allow us to learn about that, and in individual, living cells.”He said individual cell fate decisions likely happen over the course of a day or two, so the lab is developing algorithms to track individual cells through images of their fluorescent signals as they morph within the system.“If we could follow cells for six days, that would be fantastic, but we already work with very large volumes of data,” Warmflash said. “We’ll be really happy to follow them for two days as they’re making these individual decisions.”Wnt pathways are also known to drive the growth of cancer, so understanding the dynamics could help design strategies to disrupt the disease, he said.-30-Read about the grant at Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNewsVideo: Aryeh Warmflashlast_img read more

Arab Spring failed to deliver on hopes Baker Institute survey finds

first_imgFacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThis ShareDavid Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduJeff Falk713-348-6775jfalk@rice.eduArab Spring failed to deliver on hopes, Baker Institute survey findsHOUSTON – (April 11, 2019) – The Arab Spring protests of 2010-12 failed to deliver what many in the Middle East and North Africa region hoped they would, according to a new survey and paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. However, the study’s authors found marked variation across the region’s nations in how respondents view the protests and uprisings.Anti-military demonstrators in Alexandria, Egypt, Dec. 23, 2011. Credit: University“The Aftermath of the Arab Spring Protests: What a Public Opinion Survey Tells Us” was co-authored by A.Kadir Yildirim, fellow for the Middle East at the Baker Institute, and Meredith McCain, a Rice undergraduate student and intern at the institute. Their 2018 survey of 10 Arab nations — Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories — measured public attitudes toward the Arab Spring protests, its goals and its beneficiaries.“While the protests did bring about more political freedoms in a few nations, respondents in most countries did not think that the protests led to significant levels of improvement in economic or political conditions,” the authors wrote. “The overwhelming majority of respondents in each country think that the elite disproportionately benefited from the Arab Spring at the expense of the middle and lower classes. Likewise, perceptions of which ethno-religious groups benefited from the Arab Spring reinforce prevailing social prejudices against certain religious groups, particularly Shiites and Jews. These views were supported by an emerging consensus that ethno-religious tensions worsened across the region.”Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Sidi Bouzid in December 2010 triggered events that significantly altered politics in the Middle East and North Africa. In some countries, widespread protests led to the ousting of longtime dictators such as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, whereas in others, such as Syria, Yemen and Libya, protests escalated into widespread violence between opposition groups and governments, and devastating conflicts persist, according to the paper’s authors.Fewer than half of those surveyed agreed that their country is better off after the Arab Spring protests, and an even smaller proportion believe the protests were successful, the authors found.Syrians and Libyans expressed the fewest positive sentiments about the protests’ impact and success. The majority of survey respondents in all nations found that the primary economic and political goals of the protests were not attained. However, in Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon and Iraq, the attainment of political freedoms stands out as a lone bright spot among economic and political disappointments, the authors said. The share of respondents agreeing that political freedoms were achieved exceeds 80 percent in Tunisia, 65 percent in Libya and 45 percent in Lebanon and Iraq.On average, fewer than 20 percent of those surveyed agreed that the goals of economic improvement and social justice were reached, despite ranking these as the top two goals of the Arab Spring protests. Reducing corruption was another important goal of the protests, yet overwhelming majorities of the respondents thought that this goal was not achieved (less than 25 percent on average), with Libyans having the lowest rate agreeing, at less than 10 percent. Notably, 43 percent of Palestinians surveyed thought the protests brought dignity, whereas respondents in the rest of the survey did not think so.“Overall, respondents in most countries in our survey thought that the Arab Spring protests fell far short of fulfilling their intended goals,” the authors wrote. “Increased political freedoms were acknowledged as the most widely achieved objective, but they were not the primary goal in many countries.”The Arab Spring process began eroding the unitary nation-state paradigm developed in the post-independence period that had largely ignored ethnic or religious identities, the authors said.“Ethno-religious minorities, however, have increasingly been marginalized over time, and the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests only reinforced the prejudices these minority groups face,” they wrote.“Governments in the region should proactively work toward eliminating bias encountered by minority groups to both protect them and decrease ethnic and religious tensions,” the authors wrote. “If no initiative is taken by these nations, the deteriorating state of ethno-religious relations promises to introduce a more trenchant sectarian element to the next wave of instability in the region.”The authors’ survey was conducted in May-June 2018 and is part of a broader project on pluralism in the Arab World supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The survey was conducted online by YouGov, and 8,501 people responded.Yildirim’s main research interests include politics and religion, political Islam, the politics of the Middle East and Turkish politics.-30-Related materials:Policy brief: biography: the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top three university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog, last_img read more