HUD to Terminate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulation

first_img Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily Tagged with: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Final Rule Department of Housing and Urban Development Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Home / Daily Dose / HUD to Terminate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulation July 23, 2020 2,496 Views  Print This Post in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago HUD to Terminate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulation Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Final Rule Department of Housing and Urban Development 2020-07-23 Mike Albanese Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days agocenter_img Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Related Articles The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Previous: Trio of Storms Raise Concerns on Potential Property Damage Next: Share of Mortgages in ‘Financial Hardship’ Improves in June The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Secretary Dr. Benjamin Carson announced the Department will terminate the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation.This regulation was issued in 2015 and, according to HUD, proved to be “complicated, costly, and ineffective.” HUD added that Secretary Carson suspended the regulations 92 question grading tool in January 2018.“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” said Secretary Carson. “Instead, the Trump Administration has established programs like Opportunity Zones that are driving billions of dollars of capital into underserved communities where affordable housing exists, but opportunity does not.“Programs like this shift the burden away from communities so they are not forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting and instead allow communities to focus more of their time working with Opportunity Zone partners to revitalize their communities so upward mobility, improved housing, and homeownership is within reach for more people. Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs.”HUD’s new rule—Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice—defines fair housing to mean housing is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.The rule defines “affirmatively furthering fair housing” as any action rationally related to promoting any of the above attributes of fair housing.“Now, a grantee’s certification that it has affirmatively furthered fair housing would be deemed sufficient if it proposes to take any action above what is required by statute related to promoting any of the attributes of fair housing,” HUD states. “HUD remains able to terminate funding if it discovers, after the investigation made pursuant to a complaint or by its own volition, that a jurisdiction has not adhered to its commitment to AFFH.” Mike Albanese is a reporter for DS News and MReport. He is a University of Alabama graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in communications. He has worked for publications—both print and online—covering numerous beats. A Connecticut native, Albanese currently resides in Lewisville. Share Save About Author: Mike Albanese The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Subscribelast_img read more

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Commentary: Flynn And The Force Trump Can’t Resist

first_imgDecember 2, 2017    Posted by: jlkrull59By John KrullTheStatehouseFile.com INDIANAPOLIS – This is how a dam crumbles.A crack widens to a hole, which then becomes a break and then the accumulating pressure brings the whole thing down.John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.comThis seems to be what’s happening within President Donald Trump’s White House now.The steady, unrelenting pressure brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the ties of the Trump campaign and administration ties with Russia already has produced several cracks – the Paul Manafort indictment, the George Papadopoulos plea bargain – in the president’s stonewall.But the negotiated guilty plea of lying to the FBI by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn means at least one crack has widened into a hole and maybe even a break.Flynn was in serious trouble. Mueller had many avenues to prosecute Flynn, several of which could have led to serious prison time for both Flynn and his family. The plea bargain on the smallest of the charges facing Flynn in exchange for cooperating with the special counsel means Flynn likely won’t spend any time behind bars and his family will be left alone.The only way Flynn could have wiggled out from under that weight was by trading something – something big.About the only thing he had to offer that Mueller might want is the president himself.Perhaps this explains the president’s erratic behavior since word first broke that Flynn’s defense team had stopped cooperating with the White House’s lawyers.Trump’s attorneys have done their best to minimize the impact of that development. After months of praising and defending Flynn, they have pivoted and said the guilty plea for lying demonstrates he can’t be trusted – an obvious attempt to try to discredit damaging testimony from the man before he even delivers it.That is what lawyers are supposed to do. They’re supposed to protect their client.What they cannot do is protect Trump from himself.The news that Flynn had flipped seemed to unhinge the president.Since it first broke, he’s waded, unnecessarily, into the quagmire enveloping former NBC “Today” host Matt Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct – and thus renewed calls that the accusations Trump has harassed and assaulted women be investigated. He’s suggested that the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape isn’t real – even though he acknowledged it and apologized for it just a year ago. And he has tried to raise again the thoroughly discredited claim that former President Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen.If all that weren’t enough, he also has gone out of his way to undercut and embarrass his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, while the United States attempts to deal with a potential nuclear threat in North Korea.The president’s actions are those of a man who is unbalanced.Or desperate.This president’s pattern when he is under assault or stress is unvarying. He tries to find a way to go on the counter-attack, either by demeaning or discrediting his opponents or critics. If he can’t do that, Trump creates one diversion or conjures up one smoke screen after another to distract people from what’s going on.He does this because it is the only way he knows to meet a challenge.But it isn’t likely to work in this situation.Robert Mueller is everything Donald Trump is not – disciplined rather than impulsive, self-contained instead of needy, and determined rather than self-pitying.Some months ago, I talked with Peter Rusthoven, former associate counsel to President Ronald Reagan, a onetime Republican U.S. Senate candidate and a veteran of some savage Washington wars.Rusthoven said the intelligence and the investigatory communities in the federal government were the two forces that savvy political figures never wanted to alienate – and that Trump had angered them both. Rusthoven predicted the president would learn this lesson to his regret, because both communities moved like powerful rivers, always forward, with a drive that just never lets up.That’s another way of saying that the dam protecting the president is under immense pressure and about to crumble.That’s when Donald Trump’s real education will begin.John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

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Impact of the nation’s first black president

first_imgAs Barack Obama’s historic presidency winds down, scholars are beginning the complicated undertaking of assessing the impact of the nation’s first black president.Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) convened analysts, practitioners, and activists this week for a two-day symposium to consider Obama’s legacy on issues of race, justice, and civil rights.At the symposium’s opening Wednesday evening, panelists said Obama’s leadership addressing racism and policing — both in getting parties to the negotiating table while quelling the emotional tinderbox of protests and counterprotests, and in his relentless push for meaningful criminal justice reform, particularly around mass incarceration — will be seen positively in the coming decades.“I think President Obama will go down as one of the most productive presidents, in terms of legislation, that we’ve had in a long time,” said Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and opinion editor for Forbes magazine, and a former policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney. Citing the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, and the 2009 federal stimulus bill, Roy said, “His goal was to be the liberal Reagan and I think in many ways, he was.”Paul Monteiro, acting director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s community relations service, agreed, noting that Obama got consequential legislation passed despite very stiff and longstanding obstruction from Congressional Republicans even when their interests and the White House’s aligned. The sweeping analyses of police departments in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore and the aggressive pursuit of consent decrees by the DOJ’s civil rights division have been meaningful in jump-starting reform of police practices.Beyond the symbolism of having a black man in the White House, Historian Leah Wright Rigueur, an assistant professor of public policy at HKS, asked the panel about Obama’s effect on policy and social movements.Noting the black cultural renaissance that has flowered amid the Black Lives Matter movement during his presidency, activist Brittany Packnett praised Obama for his frequent public acknowledgement and celebration of black arts and culture.“That kind of black representation matters,” she said, because it “offers a real legitimacy in the American canon. That it’s not just the ‘stuff of black people,’ [but a recognition that] our art forms are American treasures.”Despite all of the racial animus and political resistance against him, Obama has been criticized for being “a respectability president” who hasn’t been aggressive or progressive enough on issues such as education, poverty, and immigration, said Rigueur.Roy said Obama handled such treatment with remarkable “grace,” but said there are valid criticisms of his policies, such as stagnant wages and growth and a sluggish recovery that’s done little for those at the bottom, that don’t involve racism.“There’s always an expectation of grace, of dignity, of a certain magnanimity that says ‘I know you wronged me, but I will not stoop as low as you have,’” said Packnett, co-founder of Campaign Zero and vice president of Teach For America’s National Community Alliances, on the expectation that black people in power won’t react to blatant disrespect. “That is a no-win situation when you’re a black man in the White House, because you’re either going to be too docile or too angry. And being human … is something I do not think is something [that] has been afforded to him over the last eight years, both because of his position and because of his race and because of his gender.”Monteiro said Obama made it clear to those working in the administration that there was no one way to be black. “I reject the respectability [argument] because I think he has done it his way, but he’s allowed space for people to do it their way.”As to criticism that the Obama administration has done a lot more talking than delivering results on racism and reform of the police and criminal justice systems, analysts said he’s accomplished more than people give him credit for.“There are lots of things I think still need to be done,” said Packnett. Still, she said, by talking about these issues repeatedly, forming a policing task force in 2015, and convening meetings between activists, police, legislators and others to look for common ground and begin changing how police and black communities interact, “there’s a way in which he and this White House have brought this conversation into people’s living rooms that may not have happened otherwise.” Obama’s July visit to a federal prison in Oklahoma, for example — the first such by a sitting president — “humanized” the prisoners and brought the issue of mass incarceration to life.Obama has brought new, previously marginalized voices into the public square and validated the need to address their problems, said Monteiro. “I think he’s made the most of his moment.”last_img read more

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Dance Marathon turns to Senate as last resort

first_imgThis year’s Dance Marathon could suffer dramatic cutbacks if the Undergraduate Student Senate does not approve a request for funding at next week’s Senate meeting.Dance Marathon is a student-run philanthropic event with proceeds going to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The first Dance Marathon at USC was held two years ago at the Ground Zero Performance Café. Since then, it has moved to the Lyon Center because of the increase in participants and the growth of the event.Suzanne Fitzgerald, executive director of Dance Marathon, presented a plea for funding at Tuesday night’s Senate meeting. The funding, she said, is necessary to allow the Dance Marathon to be at the scale its organizers intended.Dance Marathon requested $5,000 from the Senate, but Fitzgerald said they are actually about $8,000 short of their projected budget of $9,429.85.The Dance Marathon organizers had anticipated receiving a sizable amount from USG’s discretionary funding board, as they have every year. The discretionary funding board, however, has rules that say it is not allowed to fund student organizations that are not open to every student, including those that charge an entrance fee.Though Dance Marathon does not charge an entrance fee, they do charge $15 for a T-shirt and food when participants register. The discretionary funding board, Fitzgerald said, interpreted this as an entrance fee.“We didn’t make it clear enough that it’s not an entrance fee,” Fitzgerald said.Because that funding fell through, Dance Marathon organizers have turned to the Senate, which operates independently from the discretionary funding board.The organizers presented to the Senate on Tuesday, and senators then debated the request and asked specific questions about how the funds have been used and what other routes have been considered.Senators also discussed the amount of money available in the Senate allocations fund. If the request is granted, it will account for 32 percent of the money currently in the fund, USG Vice President Ashlie Chan said during the meeting.The Senate will vote on the request next week. Chan said it is hard to say if the vote will pass because concrete numbers will not be presented until the next meeting.“It sounds like [the Senate] really wants to fund it, but it depends on the debate we’re having next week,” Chan said.If they don’t receive the necessary funding, the Dance Marathon will be changed dramatically, organizers said. The length, the aesthetics and the quality of the event will all be diminished, they said.“We would scale back dramatically to where we would have a small stage and a couple of speakers in the Lyon Center,” Fitzgerald said. “It would be a bare-minimum event, with no decorations. It would be not as entertaining and not as fun and just wouldn’t be the experience that we’re looking to create for everyone who walks in on Feb. 27.”David Shu, Dance Marathon’s director of finances, said the event looks to expand every year, but that will be impossible this year without help from USG.“We’re trying to make each step significantly bigger,” Shu said. “We have a pretty big goal. Penn State has a dance marathon too, and they raise over $6 million. We’re slowly trying to work ourselves up to as big as that. If we didn’t receive funding, then it’s going to be a huge step back.”Last year, Dance Marathon raised $14,000.Dance Marathon organizers said they have done everything in their power to receive funding, but they are running out of options.“We’re already maximizing our fundraising and seeking sponsorships. We can’t do much more there,” Shu said. “The only thing we can do is ask the Senate. There’s no one else on campus.”last_img read more

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Federer moves back to No. 1 in rankings, swapping with Nadal

first_imgJury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Weinstein rape trial Nadal dropped down from No. 1 after sitting out last week following his 11th French Open championship earlier in the month.This is the fifth time the top ranking has changed hands between Federer and Nadal. That’s the most switches at No. 1 in a single season since there were also five in 2003.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownThe record for most changes at No. 1 is 10, set in 1983, when John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl all spent time there.This is Federer’s record-extending 310th week at No. 1. Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award LATEST STORIES View comments Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Dave Chappelle donates P1 million to Taal relief operations Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displacedcenter_img China population now over 1.4 billion as birthrate falls MOST READ Winfrey details her decision to withdraw from Simmons film Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Roger Federer celebrates after he beats Milos Raonic in the final tennis match of the ATP Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Sunday June 17, 2018. (Marijan Murat//dpa via AP)LONDON — Roger Federer is back at No. 1 in the ATP rankings, once again swapping spots with Rafael Nadal.Federer’s title at the grass-court tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, last week pushed him up from No. 2 on Monday.ADVERTISEMENT Seismologists clarify Mexico soccer fans didn’t cause quake Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water recedinglast_img read more

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Big Leak in Universal Common Ancestor Theory

first_img(Visited 106 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Evolutionists speculating about the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) begin with lots of L.U.C.K.Without doubt, ATP synthase is one of the most astonishing and elegant nano-machines of the cell, a proton-powered rotary engine pumping out life’s energy currency nonstop (see animations at CMI and Evolution News).  How it could have arisen by blind, unguided processes is rarely addressed in the origin-of-life community.  Nick Lane, a biochemist at University College London, has a knack for oversimplifying the problem.  A few years ago (8/11/10), we saw him shocking a colleague by dismissively stating, “all that the cells need to do to generate ATP is to plug an ATPase through the membrane” as if that was a cakewalk.  Last year he quipped, “Life is, in effect, a side-reaction of an energy-harnessing reaction” (2/13/13).  Now, he’s done it again; he and his colleagues just assume that ATP synthase showed up when it was needed to plug up a leaky cell.In PLoS Biology, Nick Lane and two colleagues model how the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) might have split into two kingdoms, bacteria and archaea (eukaryotes came later, they speculate, from a merger of the two).  They actually begin further back, when the first life was trying to emerge from a hydrothermal vent.  In that scenario, protons or sodium ions might have provided a steady energy source across the original membrane (wherever that came from).  As LUCA tried to swim free, though, it needed to harness its energy production.  Richard Robinson explains the situation in a companion article on PLoS Biology:In modern cells, the proton gradients that drive ATP synthesis are generated by proton pumps in the membrane [primarily ATP synthase]. However, like the membranes themselves, these pumps differ in archaea and bacteria. One possibility is that LUCA could have used proton gradients but not generated them itself and therefore might have relied on natural proton gradients [like hydrothermal vents]. However, that leads straight to another problem. The influx of protons down a natural gradient can’t go on forever, or even very long, since the buildup of positive charge halts the electrostatic drive behind the process—hence, the authors reasoned, the value of a leaky membrane.In a nutshell, Nick Lane’s team figured that LUCA had a leaky membrane that allowed some protons to leak in and out, but ATP synthase engines embedded in the membrane kept the gradient going.  As the two kingdoms went separate ways, they took their proton pumps with them.But wait!  Where did the ATP synthase come from?  They had just talked about natural proton gradients, like hot fluids from a hydrothermal vent flowing into alkaline ocean water.  Did the molecular motor appear out of nowhere—as if by magic?  Apparently.  Robinson doesn’t bat an eye as he watches it emerge:As a source of proton gradients, LUCA most likely relied on naturally occurring pH differences like those found in the oceans, where alkaline fluids seep from deep sea vents into relatively acidic seawater. The model they built then posited a cell in contact with a constant flow of protons on one side (from seawater), a constant flow of alkaline fluid on the other (potentially from a vent), and a leaky membrane containing an ATP synthase. They found that with a 3-unit pH gradient (i.e., a 1000-fold concentration gradient of protons) and the ATP synthase comprising 1% of the membrane, the cell could drive synthesis of ATP.We’re reminded of what David Nicholls said in 2010, commenting on this kind of audacity found in Lane’s book with the audacious title Science, Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life.  That’s where Lane gave the statement, “all the cell needs to do to generate ATP is to plug an ATPase through the membrane.”  Nicholls remarked,Any bioenergeticist who has followed the elucidation of the extraordinary structure and mechanism of the mitochondrial ATP synthase over the past decade will pause at the word ‘all,’ because the ATP synthase—with its spinning rotor massaging the surrounding subunits to generate ATP—is without doubt the most amazingly complex molecular structure in the cell.There’s an old joke about three guys on an island trying to open a tuna can.  The last one suggests, “Assume a can opener.”  Just like that, Nick Lane has assumed an ATP synthase, the “most amazingly complex molecular structure in the cell” showed up in LUCA’s membrane to keep the proton gradients going.  Or maybe it recalls Sidney Harris’s cartoon of a student writing a complex derivation on the blackboard, including a step, “Then a miracle happens.”  Unlike the professor in the cartoon who insists the student elaborate on that step, Robinson didn’t mind Lane’s leap of faith.  Maybe some science reporters did.  Let’s check:“The difference in the concentration of protons across these two environments enabled protons to flow into the cell, driving the production of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which powered the growth of cells, just as it does today.” (press release from University College London; they might be expected to promote their own guy’s views)“This drives the production of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which makes modern-day cells grow” (The Daily Mail, UK)“Our ancestor’s ‘leaky’ membrane answers big questions in biology” (The Jersey Tribune)“Meet your maker: Homing in on the ancestor of all life” (New Scientist)A search on “Ancestor’s ‘leaky’ membrane‘ shows this story echoed around the world on 13,800 websites—doubtless without critique—in a spirit of rejoicing at this marvelous advance in modern science’s ability to describe life’s earliest progress.A darling of BBC News science programs, Nick Lane gets away with murdering scientific rigor.  With a sweep of his hand, ATP synthase appears, simply because life needed a permanent way to keep its energy production going.  This is worse than “assume a can opener.”  It’s assuming a Ferrari.Where are the philosophers?  Where are the logicians?  Where is anybody with respect for truth?  Why do these sophoxymoroniacs get a pass in the world’s media?  Is it because they know how to work differential equations and speak jargon?  Is it because they seem so confident and charismatic?  Is it because universal evolutionary common ancestry is modernity’s substitute religion?  That’s it: “Meet your maker,” New Scientist says.  Our modern institutions long ago ousted the God of creation from their minds and hearts.  Since nature abhors a vacuum, they filled that God-shaped void with an idol named LUCA, who gives life to all things, from whom all blessings flow.Except for the western clothes and jargon, Nick Lane is no different than a shaman in the jungle holding his tribe captive with great-sounding words of wisdom, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  “The last common ancestor of all life was not a free-living cell at all, but a porous rock riddled with bubbly iron-sulphur membranes that catalysed primordial biochemical reactions,” he whispers over the campfire, his captives listening wide-eyed at every holy word (10/19/09, #3).  The prophets in the media dutifully dumb down the prophecy to the surrounding villages: “Our oldest ancestor was a proton-powered rock.”  Ooh!  Aah.  Such wisdom.  How much better off we are since we boiled the Christian missionary in the pot!last_img read more

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Kenyans thrive on local plants

first_imgChewed or dissolved in a warm drink, Mondia tonic is a natural root powder used as an anti-depressant and anti-oxidant; it helps clear hangovers and is also an appetite stimulant. (Image: Irin Photo) A project developing medicinal products from plants found in Kakamega forest in western Kenya has transformed the livelihoods of nearby communities over the past few years, according to the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).A unique tonic that stimulates the appetite and clears hangovers, as well as working as an antidepressant and antioxidant, is developed from one of the plants. A group of farmers who have domesticated the “highly threatened” medicinal plant, known locally as mkombela (scientific name Mondia whytei), used to collect and sell the roots locally.Another group of farmers are involved in the domestication of the medicinal plant Ocimum kilimandscharicum. A leaf extract from the plant is used in the manufacture of a balm and an ointment used to treat flu, cold, chest congestion, aches, pain and insect bites.“We believe the project has a major role to play as a model for conservation or biodiversity and in the improvement of the livelihoods of communities living near the forest,” said Wilber Lwande, ICIPE leader of the applied bioprospecting programme.“It is also one of the ways of enabling indigenous traditional knowledge to be useful to humankind before it is entirely lost.”Communities living near the forest relied on it for firewood, building materials and various herbs. But since commercial cultivation and processing of the medicinal products began about eight years ago, reliance on the forest has decreased, allowing better forest conservation.Community enterpriseJames Ligare, assistant administrator of the Mondia community enterprise, said a group of 30 farmers, known as the Muliro Farmers, were involved in the initial domestication of the plant, which takes six months to mature. These farmers have since encouraged “outgrowers” to cultivate the plant, which is processed into powder form in a factory built with financial assistance from international donors.“The farmers harvest the plant three times a year and most say they earn more from Mondia than they did cultivating crops like maize and tea,” Ligare said. “On average, a farmer makes 35 000 to 40 000 Kenya shillings [US$437 to $500, or R3 900 to R4 460] when they cultivate the plant on a small plot, ranging from an eighth of an acre to half an acre.”Ligare said the bioprospecting programme had raised the status of the communities involved. Those who previously lived in grass-thatched houses now have better homes. More than that, awareness about environmental conservation has improved and many of local people are seeking computer and business management skills in efforts to improve production.Frederick Nduguli, a consultant in ICIPE’s bioprospecting and conservation programme, said the products from Mondia and Ocimum kilimandscharicum – with approvals from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Kenya, the Kenya Industrial Property Institute and the Kenya Bureau of Standards – are available in most supermarkets across the country.BioprospectingICIPE – a non-profit organisation – has a dozen programmes aimed at helping to alleviate poverty and ensure food security and improved health.Lwande said biosprospecting was increasingly being recognised for its potential to uplift economies. Effective bioprospecting, he said, would allow African nations to have a stake in the global industry of naturally derived products.ICIPE projects in Coast Province are helping communities living near coastal forests to undertake the commercial collection and processing of seeds from the neem tree and aloe plant.Neem (Zadirachta indica) thrives in the semi-arid region of Kwale, while aloe is cultivated by communities near the Shimba Hills forest.Neem oil and other neem plant-based products are used in the manufacture of medicines, cosmetics, pesticides and agricultural products. Aloe is used in making soap.Lwande estimated that up to 30 000 Kenyans benefit from the bioprospecting and conservation projects undertaken with ICIPE’s help in Kenya’s western and coastal provinces.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at [email protected]: Irin NewsRelated articlesGreen charcoal to save forests Mount Mabu yields hidden bounty Paprika farming boosts economy 2009 – the Year of Natural Fibres Corking carbon emissions Useful linksInternational Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecologylast_img read more

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Forensics can stop illegal trade of ivory

first_imgAt CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg, scientists and investigators showed how they were using forensics to fight illegal ivory trade and poaching of Africa’s elephants.African elephant numbers are plunging because of poaching. Scientists and investigators are using forensics to track and seize illegal ivory and stop criminals at the source.(Image: Shamin Chibba)Shamin ChibbaThe fight against elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade is getting a boost from scientists and international law enforcement, which are using forensics to stop criminals.Speaking at the CITES CoP17 World Wildlife Conference, which ran from 24 September to 5 October in Johannesburg, Sam Wasser, a researcher at the University of Washington’s Centre for Conservation Biology, said they had created a system that helped to seize ivory in the destination country and track it to the source of the killing.Wasser led a discussion on using forensics to combat illegal ivory trade at its source. Using DNA analysis, researchers and investigators have been able to locate the source and track major exports. “We extract DNA from ivory samples and compare them to some 26 genetic markers.”He said that by current estimates, the African elephant could become extinct in ten years’ time. There are currently 400 000 elephants remaining in the wild and up to 40 000 are being killed by poachers every year.Male elephant tusks weigh anything between 45kg and 80kg while female tusks are as heavy as 20kg. On the black market, 0.5kg of ivory can be sold for up to R21 000.Illegal ivory trade was one of the five biggest organised crime networks in the world and was linked to other contraband such as cocaine and heroin, said Wasser. Most contraband is not seized in the source country. And of the 600-million port entries a year, only 2% of ship containers were checked.“To attack the problem we need to know where the ivory is coming from, how big are the networks and how much ivory there is. To stop this, we need to track trade at its source and attack prior to export. We also need to focus law enforcement on major poaching hot spots.”Poachers were well informed, said Wasser. They needed to know the land, make connections with rangers, know the elephants’ movements. They were also savvy when it came to exporting ivory, hiding tusks in long grain white rice sacks from Pakistan, for example.The first step in sampling is to identify pairs of tusks, which can be a monumental task as in many cases, pairs are split in different shipments.In one particular seizure, more than half of the tusks did not have matching pairs. “Pairs (are separated) and get shipped to different locations within a short space of time.”However, this tells investigators that the two shipments are being shipped by the same person.Kingpin’s arrestIn July this year, Kenyan businessman Feisal Ali Mohammed was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by a Mombasa law court after he was found guilty of illegal possession of ivory worth 44-million shillings (R6-million). He also received a fine of 20-million shillings (R2.7-million).According to The Guardian website, a warrant for his arrest was issued in 2014 after two tons of ivory were seized from a car yard in Mombasa. He evaded capture that time.But in October of the same year, Interpol issued a Red Notice identifying Ali as one of the world’s most wanted environmental crime fugitives. He was arrested in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on Christmas Eve 2014 and was returned to Mombasa to face trial.Despite Ali’s capture, Wasser said there were other major ivory smugglers who were well connected with game rangers, port authorities and the like.Any seizure of more than half-a-ton is considered large. However, investigators regularly seize up to two tons at a time, with the largest being 4.6 tons in Singapore last May.Smaller seizures, of up to 300 kilograms, are also made at airports. In one of the more recent seizures, airport security complied with the traffickers. “We saw some footage from Tanzania whereby a security guard switched off the X-ray machine to let through Chinese travellers with ivory going to Switzerland. They were seized in Switzerland,” said Wasser.Poaching locationsAll of the African elephants killed are concentrated within a 300km radius of two regions: 22% in Gabon and Republic of Congo in West Africa, and 78% Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa.According to Thure Cerling, a senior scientist at IsoForensics, most of the elephants killed are younger than five years of age.IsoForensics is an isotope analysis service that has been assessing seized tusks to determine the age of the elephants and their original habitat. “Elephants would have been killed a year before tusks are seized,” said Cerling.He uses samples taken from the cementum, or the outside of the tusk, which is richer in DNA material.Database links seizuresResearchers and investigators are relying on a database created by nonprofit research organisation C4ADS to track shipments – using an app called Windward – and seizures.According to Mary Utermohlen, an analyst at C4ADS, the organisation’s ivory seizure database has more than 1 100 ivory seizures between 2009 and August 2015. “We can link ships and the people involved in those seizures. It’s one degree out so it’s quite accurate.”Last year, C4ADS was able link two major seizures: a 3.1 ton seizure in Thailand in April 2015 and the 4.6 ton seizure in Singapore. Both came out of Mombasa, Kenya. By linking the two seizures, they began linking numerous other ivory exports.Utermohlen spoke of a mega-network in ivory trade wherein 21 seizures contained 81.6 tons of ivory, 4.1 tons of pangolin scales, and 200 kilograms of rhino horn.Wasser said they were trying hard to “feed into transnational investigations” by working with Interpol and other investigators. “Whether you’re pro-trade or against trade, we all want the same thing: stop the killing. That’s the fundamental thing to do right now.”last_img read more

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AAP releases list of 22 candidates for Haryana Assembly polls

first_imgThe Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) here on Sunday released a list of 22 candidates for next month’s Assembly polls in Haryana.Three women have figured in the list released by AAP’s Haryana unit president Naveen Jaihind. In the Lok Sabha elections, AAP had an electoral understanding with the Jannayak Janata Party, a split-away faction of the Indian National Lok Dal. After the Lok Sabha debacle, in which the alliance failed to win even a single seat, both parties parted ways. The candidates fielded by AAP are Yogeshwar Sharma (Panchkula), Anshul Kumar Agarwal (Ambala City), Gurdev Singh Sura (Ladwa), Anoop Sandhu (Assandh), Rajkumar Pehal (Julana), Lakshya Garg (Fatehabad), Manjeet Ranga (Uklana), Sandeep Lohra (Narnaund), Manoj Rathi (Hansi), Anoop Singh (Barwala) and Pawan Hindustani (Tosham). The other candidates are Munipal Atri (Garhi Sampla Kiloi), Anita Chhikara (Bahadurgarh), Ashwani Dulhera (Bahadurgarh), Ajay Sharma (Mahendergarh), Ranbir Singh Rathi (Gurugram), Karan Singh Dagar (Hodal), Kuldeep Kaushik (Palwal), Santosh Yadav (Faridabad NIT), Dharamvir Bhadana (Badkhal), Harinder Bhati (Ballabhgarh) and Kumari Sumanlata Vashisth (Faridabad). AAP had not contested the Assembly polls in 2014, in which the BJP came to power for the first time in Haryana. The elections to 90 Assembly seats in the state will be held on October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24.last_img read more

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PH bets also snatch gold, silver in women’s triathlon

first_imgLATEST STORIES LIST: Class, gov’t work suspensions during 30th SEA Games She clocked 2:11:14, while Adorna, the 2015 champion, finished in 2:18:58. Adorna is reportedly nursing a injury but her time was enough to beat out Irene Chong of Malaysia who timed 2:25:44.It was the third gold by the Philippines so far in the biennial meet and one bolstered the dominating performance by its triathletes who ruled both the men’s and women’s categories.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout View comments PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games PLAY LIST 03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Read Next CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/SEA GAMES POOLKUALA LUMPUR — Marion Kim Mangrobang snatched the Philippines’ third gold medal after winning women’s triathlon in a powerful 1-2 finish with former champ Ma. Claire Adorna Monday in the Southeast Asian Games.Trained in Portugal, the 25-year-old Mangrobang won the event after placing second to Adorna during the 2015 SEAG in Singapore in a similar 1-2 fashion.ADVERTISEMENT SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief SEA Games: PH’s Alisson Perticheto tops ice skating short program MOST READ WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension Philippines claims gold, silver in men’s triathlon Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMClast_img read more

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