Science vessel for ocean mission arrives in Seychelles
Friday, March 1
VICTORIA, Seychelles (AP) — The science vessel of British-based Nekton Mission arrived in the Seychelles on Friday to begin the first stage of a multi-year mission to explore the depths of the Indian Ocean and document the effects of global warming on one of the planet’s last major unexplored frontiers.
Ocean Zephyr docked in the island nation’s capital, Victoria, where it will spend several days loading and testing equipment before the expedition.
The Nekton Mission involves researchers from more than 40 organizations who will spend seven weeks surveying underwater life, mapping the sea floor and dropping sensors to depths of up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) in the seas around the Seychelles.
Their aim is to document changes taking place beneath the waves that could affect billions of people throughout the Indian Ocean region over the coming decades.
The Seychelles, a collection of 115 islands with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants, is already feeling the effects of climate change, with rising water temperatures bleaching its coral reefs.
Scientists will use crewed submarines and remotely operated submersibles to visit the watery world below depths of 30 meters (100 feet) and hope they’ll even find new species
The Associated Press is accompanying the expedition, providing live underwater video from submarines diving from the ship and using new optical transmission technology to broadcast the images worldwide.
Trump tweets that Omar’s Israel remarks mark a ‘dark day’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar’s newest remarks about Israel mark a “dark day” for the Jewish state.
His comment came as House Democrats prepared a resolution by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, declaring that the House opposes anti-Semitism and bigotry.
Some Republicans and Jewish groups are pressuring Democrats for stronger action, including potentially removing Omar from the prestigious House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Omar’s remarks have inflamed Democratic divisions over Israel, and Trump lobbed a tweet into the uproar.
“Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel,” he wrote, referencing what he said were “Jewish groups” demanding she be stripped of her committee seat. “A dark day for Israel!”
It was the latest chapter in a series of clashes between Omar and American supporters of Israel in Washington, where the Minnesota Democrat has been celebrated as part of a new generation of House members that is more female and more diverse than any in history.
Last month, Omar ignited a bipartisan uproar in Washington and Minnesota when she suggested on Twitter that members of Congress are paid by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to support Israel. AIPAC is a nonprofit organization that works to influence U.S. policy. She apologized for that remark, but Trump called her mea culpa “lame” and said she should resign from Congress or at least not be allowed to serve on committees.
For a few weeks, the matter quieted. But last week, Omar said at a Washington bookstore that she worries that everything she says about Israel would be construed as anti-Semitic. She used language that, to many ears, evoked a longtime trope about American Jews having divided loyalties. Israel’s supporters, she suggested, are pushing members of Congress to pledge “allegiance to a foreign country.”
It’s at least the third time the Minnesota Democrat’s words have put her colleagues in a more delicate spot than usual on the U.S.-Israel relationship, and the second time in two months that she’s drawn a stern backlash from party leaders.
Prominent Democrats, including House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, demanded another apology from Omar and began over the weekend to write the resolution.
A draft offered to news outlets, including The Associated Press, does not explicitly rebuke Omar, a Somali-American and one of two Muslim women in Congress. But it sets out the history of anti-Semitism and bigotry in America, including anti-Jewish tropes about divided loyalties. The document also rejects bigotry directed against Muslims after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The House is expected to vote on the resolution Wednesday.
How did reading and writing evolve? Neuroscience gives a clue
March 4, 2019
Author: Derek Hodgson, Research Associate, University of York
Disclosure statement: Derek Hodgson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of York provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.
The part of the brain that processes visual information, the visual cortex, evolved over the course of millions of years in a world where reading and writing didn’t exist. So it’s long been a mystery how these skills could appear some 5,000 years ago, with our brains suddenly acquiring the specific ability to make sense of letters. Some researchers believe that the key to understanding this transition is determining how and why humans first began to make repetitive marks.
Recent extensive brain imaging of the visual cortex as people read text has provided important insights into how the brain perceives simple patterns. In my new paper, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, I analyse such research to argue that the earliest human-made patterns were aesthetic rather than symbolic, and describe what that means for the evolution of reading and writing.
Archaeologists have uncovered a growing number of ancient, engraved patterns produced by early humans as well as Neanderthals and Homo erectus. The marks predate the first representational art (drawings that represent something) by thousands of years.
Such motifs have been found in South Africa with engravings dating back to 100,000 years ago. Archaeologists have also found shell engravings made by Homo erectus some 540,000 years ago. One intriguing observation of these early marks is that they all feature grids, angles and repetitive lines.
The brain’s pattern filter
In 2000 I first suggested that the way the “early visual cortex” – the location where visual information from the eye first impacts the cortex – processes information gave rise to the ability to engrave simple patterns. We know that this area has neurons coding for edges, lines and “T” junctions. As distilled forms, these shapes preferentially activate the visual cortex.
It’s easy to see how this may have come about. Lines, angles and intersections are the most abundant features embedded in the natural environment – they provide crucial first cues to the layout of objects. Our brain’s ability to process them is shared by other primates, but the human brain is also able to respond to these cues proactively using “Gestalt principles” – rules that enable the mind to automatically perceive patterns in a stimulus. This helps it construct basic forms that are fed forward to the higher-order visual areas of the brain, which can process them in a way so we can experience them as real objects.
At some point from around 700,000 years ago, this sensitivity to geometry and pattern perception enabled humans to start making refined “Acheulean tools”, which exhibit a certain symmetry. This is unlikely to have been possible without an implicit knowledge of geometry.
Ochre block from Klasies River in South Africa (c.100,000) where accidental striations may have been exploited to make cross shapes. d’Errico et al. 2012. Journal of Archaeological Science. (Permission of Elsevier)
The tool making then further promoted an enhanced sensitivity and bias towards patterns in the natural environment, which our ancestors projected onto materials other than the actual tools. For example, they started accidentally making marks on rocks, shells and materials such as ochre.
Engraving to writing
At some point, these unintentional patterns were intentionally copied on such materials – developing into engraved designs and later on into writing.
But how was this possible? Neuroscientific research has shown that writing text involves the premotor cortex of the brain, which drives manual skills. My theory therefore suggests that reading and writing evolved when our passive perception for discerning things started to interact with manual dexterity.
Writing and abstract patterns also activate so-called “mirror neurons” in the brain. These brain cells are remarkable because they fire both when we act and when we observe others acting – helping us identify with and understand others as if we ourselves were acting. But they also fire when we view patterns and see written text. This can therefore produce a sense of identification with a pattern – whether accidental or natural – in a way that inspires us to replicate it. And these marks were the first steps to writing and reading.
These developments therefore enabled the brain to reuse the visual cortex for an entirely new purpose. Ultimately, it could have created a new process in the brain that exploited the visual cortex, giving rise to a visual word form area and connecting with speech areas incrementally over time.
That said, some researchers believe that early marks were symbolic rather than aesthetic and that writing evolved from encoding information in them. However I argue this now seems increasingly unlikely. Early marks look similar to each other over an immense period of time. If the marks were symbolic, we would expect to see far more variation across space and time, just as we do in modern writing systems. But this is not the case.
All this points to the probability that the earliest marks were aesthetic in that they derive from the early visual cortex’s preference for basic configurations. And it could have begun as early as Homo erectus, which lived from about 1.8m to 500,000 years ago.
Red Wings great, NHL union pioneer Ted Lindsay dies at 93
By LARRY LAGE and NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writers
Tuesday, March 5
DETROIT (AP) — Ted Lindsay lived to do what he thought was right.
He pioneered the first NHL players’ union despite intense opposition from team management, began the tradition of taking the Stanley Cup closer to fans by skating it around the ice and refused to attend his own Hall of Fame induction ceremony because only men were allowed.
“I was led by a feeling of fairness,” Lindsay once said.
Lindsay, the 5-foot-8, 160-pound tough guy who provided muscle and meanness on the Detroit Red Wings’ famed “Production Line” of the 1950s, died Monday at the age of 93 in his home in Michigan, according to Lew LaPaugh, his son-in-law and president of the Ted Lindsay Foundation, which raises money for autism research.
The player known as “Terrible Ted” was one of the game’s best left wings and an 11-time All-Star who played on four Stanley Cup winners in the early 1950s. Lindsay, Sid Abel and Gordie Howe formed an offensive juggernaut of a line that helped make Detroit one of the first of the NHL’s great postwar dynasties and they had a fitting nickname in the Motor City.
He finished his NHL career with 379 goals and 472 assists in 1,068 games with 14 of his 17 seasons with Detroit. With Howe and Lindsay centered first by Abel and then by Al Delvecchio, the Red Wings won Stanley Cups in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955. The Red Wings retired his No. 7 in 1991.
Lindsay is credited with beginning the ritual in which players skate around the rink holding the Stanley Cup they have just won.
“I saw it sitting there, and I thought, ‘I’ll just pick it up and I’ll take it over,’” Lindsay recalled in an interview with The Associated Press in 2013. “I just moved along the boards. I didn’t have it over my head. I had it so they could read it. I wasn’t starting a tradition. I was just taking care of my fans that paid our salary.”
Lindsay took his toughness off the ice to organize a players’ union despite opposition from team executives and without the support of Howe, perhaps the most famous hockey player of all. Lindsay pressed on anyway without the backing of “Mr. Hockey.”
“All of us who were involved in trying to establish the players’ association weren’t the ones who needed it,” Lindsay explained. “It was for the fringe players that were the worst off. When I got caught up in this, I was so grateful to the game for all it had done for me. But it was a dictatorship on the part of the owners, who didn’t realize any of us had a brain.”
At one point, Lindsay gathered secretly with a handful of players in New York in 1957. The next day, Red Wings general manager Jack Adams was very angry about it.
“He was ranting and raving,” Lindsay recalled in an interview with the NHLPA. “But, I’d do the same thing.”
Lindsay, who was named president of the short-lived union, was traded to Chicago the next summer.
“It didn’t matter that they traded me,” he said in 1995. “I have a Red Wing on my forehead and on my behind and on my heart. That will never change.”
The NHL Players’ Association was formed for good in 1967 — a decade after the Lindsay-led attempt to unionize — and the organization put Lindsay’s name on its version of the MVP award. The honor, which is chosen by an NHLPA vote, was previously called the Lester B. Pearson Award after the former Canadian prime minister.
“On the ice, Ted Lindsay was one of the best players to ever to put on a pair of skates,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said. “But his greatest legacy was off the ice. A true trailblazer in seeking to improve conditions for all players, Ted was instrumental in organizing the original players’ association in 1957. All players, past, current and future, are in his debt. All those who have, and will follow him into the NHL, enjoy improved rights and benefits in large part due to the efforts he made.”
The Hockey Hall of Fame waived its three-year waiting period when it inducted Lindsay in 1966, but he declined to attend the banquet because his wife and children were not welcome. The following year, the banquet was open to men and women.
“That’s amazing,” Edmonton star Connor McDavid said as news of Lindsay’s death filtered out. “That just goes to show what he’s about and he was not afraid to stand up to anyone and stand up for what he believed in.”
Born July 29, 1925, in Renfrew, Ontario, as the youngest of nine children, Lindsay joined the Red Wings in 1944. He led the NHL with 33 goals in 1947-48 and won the Art Ross Trophy for the most points in 1949-50 when he had 23 goals and a league-best 55 assists. In 1955, Lindsay scored four goals in a 7-1 victory over Montreal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
During his 14 seasons in Detroit, he led the team in goals only once. He led or tied for the team lead in penalty minutes 10 times, including his final season of 1964-65, when he was approaching 40 years old.
Former Bruins player Milt Schmidt said Lindsay “probably was one of the most hated players in the National Hockey League” because of the way he came after other teams.
“But every franchise would have given their right arm for Ted Lindsay,” he said.
Lindsay retired following the 1959-60 season and focused on his automotive business. He came back for one more season with the Red Wings in 1964-65 and returned to Detroit as general manager in 1977 and remained in that role until 1980. During the 1980-81 season, he coached the team for 20 games.
He was a familiar face around the Red Wings for decades after his retirement — and what a face. Pucks, fists and elbows took a toll on his face, leaving scratches and dents after uncountable numbers of stitches. He was booed on road trips, the player every opposing team loved to hate.
“There’s only one reason I played. That was to win,” he told The Canadian Press in March 2015. “And also to play better the next day than I did the last game.”
Lindsay, whose wife, Joanne, died two years ago, is survived by his children Blake, Lynn and Meredith, stepdaughter Leslie, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
AP Hockey Writers John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno and former AP writer Jim Irwin contributed to this report.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Plans move ahead for demolition of Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena
Monday, March 4
DETROIT (AP) — Plans are moving forward for the demolition of the former home of the Detroit Red Wings in downtown Detroit.
Detroit Building Authority Director Tyrone Clifton tells the Detroit Free Press that demolition of Joe Louis Arena is expected to begin in the next four to six weeks and finish by the end of the year or early 2020.
Clifton says that crews will start by disassembling the arena’s interior and then proceed to the exterior by June or July. The newspaper says Detroit-based Adamo Group is doing the demolition under a $5.9 million contract with the city and there will be no implosion that people might be able to gather to see.
The Red Wings moved to the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit in 2017.
Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com
Fast food at White House for North Dakota football champs
Monday, March 4
WASHINGTON (AP) — The smell of burgers and fries wafted through the State Dining Room as President Donald Trump celebrated the championship football players from North Dakota State on Monday with fast food, like he did when he honored the national champion Clemson Tigers.
Trump told the football team he could have had White House chefs prepare a meal, but “I know you people very well.”
The players laughed with the president while eyeing stacks of Big Macs and Chick-fil-A sandwiches on a long table in the center of the room. A side table was piled with bags of french fries, kept warm under a light.
Trump served a similar spread that included hundreds of hamburgers to Clemson’s players in January. He said he personally paid for that meal because much of the staff in the White House residence had been furloughed by a government shutdown.
The Bison, who have the most titles in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, ended the season on Jan. 5 with a 38-24 win over Eastern Washington University. Quarterback Easton Stick threw five touchdown passes, including two to Darrius Shepherd, who was named Most Outstanding Player with five catches and 125 yards.
It was the Bison’s seventh national title in eight years.
“When you play with passion and love … and relentlessly reach for excellence, nothing is impossible,” Trump said.