Govt needs to outline the lessons learned from Donegal gorse fires – Doherty

first_imgThe Taoiseach and Minister with Responsibility for Defence are being urged to provide details of the measures they have in place when a threat from an emergency situation – such as wildfires, floods and natural disasters – are posed. The calls come following last month’s devastating gorse fires which caused widespread destruction across huge swathes of west Donegal.Scores of local community members, volunteers and the emergency services eventually helped extinguish the fires. The government faced heavy criticism at the time over the delay in granting approval for the Air Corp helicopter to be deployed to attend to the scene.In urging the government to outline the work being done to ensure that communities receive adequate supports when faced with a similar crisis in future, Pearse Doherty said: “It’s over two weeks on now since those major wildfires to ravage large parts of west Donegal were successfully put out.“Everyone concerned rallied around and did their bit to help bring the fires under control, including local farmers, business owners and others who brought in water tankers and took other measures to assist the emergency services.“In fact, the Gardaí, Donegal Fire Service personnel, the army, members of the Air Corp, and all the emergency responders who were deployed to tend to the blaze that weekend cannot be commended enough for what they did tackle, what were, some of the worst wildfires to strike the county in many years. “And while nothing should be said or done to downplay nor negate the tremendous and life-saving work done by the emergency services, we are still waiting for a full explanation in relation to just why it took so long for the government to give the green light for the Air Corp helicopter to arrive in order to provide assistance.“This is despite the fact that it was clear to everyone who was present in the area quite early on over the course of that fateful weekend that a number of properties and homes were in danger, and that the fires posed a real and substantive risk to human life. “In their immediate aftermath, I called on the Minister (Paul Kehoe) to carry out an urgent review into what lessons had been learnt from those fires in order to ascertain what the various authorities and emergency services could take away from the experience with the view to improving how the state co-ordinates its overall response to such crisis situations going forward. “Not only should this include examining the procedures which are to be adopted by first responders and other authorities when events like this occur but also looking at how measures to mitigate against fires, such as hedgerow trimming and roadside maintenance, can be improved.“In addition, I requested that the Minister task his officials with also exploring the various ways which the state could potentially facilitate and even compliment the work of the emergency services by perhaps equipping volunteers and communities in some way, and looking at how we could compensate them accordingly for their assistance. “Unbelievably, however, I am still waiting to receive a reply from the Minister and his officials to those very questions – despite my correspondence having been sent to him over a fortnight ago.“Naturally, when it comes to dealing with major emergencies like we witnessed in this county last month, no one can afford to be complacent in terms of how we respond and plan for them, particularly whenever people’s lives are on the line. “There can be no excuse for the lack of urgency being shown by the government here, and so this week I will again be seeking urgent answers from both the Taoiseach and the Minister and I will be calling on them to give details of the steps being taken to ensure that, when faced with similar emergency situations in future, communities can be assured that they receive a fully co-ordinated, well resourced and planned emergency response.”Govt needs to outline the lessons learned from Donegal gorse fires – Doherty was last modified: May 8th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:West Donegallast_img read more

Bioneers Update: International Conference Held on Animal-Inspired Design

first_imgGeorgia Tech came out with a press release about progress at their Center for Biologically Inspired Design (CBID) that opened last year (see 10/29/2005).  At a two-day conference May 11-12, international representatives from 20 institutions shared their inspirations on how nature can “help them solve some of the most complex problems of the day,” just as it has inspired poets, artists and musicians.    Though evolution by natural selection is often assumed as the mechanism by which animals solved their design problems, the main thing evolving at CBID is “the belief that every animal must solve a particular problem to survive, so every animal embodies a design solution for a particular problem.”  The assumption that scientists are mining “millions of years of knowledge embedded in the DNA of each creature” does not appear to be essential for the scientists’ own work, which is really reverse engineering the design that is observed in current-day living creatures.While scientists, like Leonardo DaVinci, looked to nature for inspiration centuries ago, biomimetics has recently caught on as a hot area of research at universities across the country.  Last year, Georgia Tech launched the Center for Biologically Inspired Design (CBID) as a way to encourage more of the interdisciplinary research that was already taking place among research groups.  Now, the center boasts 20 members comprised of researchers from various fields of engineering, biology, chemistry, psychology, applied physiology and architecture.The press release mentions that UC Berkeley, U of Illinois, Caltech, and Case Western will be sharing results of their research.  In addition, international scientists from U of Toronto (Canada), Max Planck Institute (Germany) and Shandong University (China) are sharing their work in progress.  Here are examples coming out of this new kind of research:Worm brains:  How tiny worms express genes might yield brain-inspired sensors.Cat balance:  Learning from cats and frogs (yes, frogs) and the way their muscles produce balance might yield better prosthetic devices for the handicapped.Fish teeth:  Fish jaws can help us better understand the mechanical properties of jaws and teeth under stress.Spider silk:  Spider web studies are improving elasticity of artificial materials.Butterfly wing structure:  The arrangement of butterfly scales looks promising for structural patterning.Gecko glue:  The dry adhesive properties of gecko hairs are inspiring new artificial adhesives.Diatom strength:  Patterns and processes in the construction of diatom shells help nanotechnologists build reinforced, shatterproof glass and porcelain.And that’s just for starters.  “Other researchers will present research on the propulsive systems used in fish fins, jellyfish jets, insect legs and snake undulations, along with various ways to produce and coordinate these motions,” the press release ends.  The biosphere’s the limit.Q: How did the Animal Plan It?  A: Not by watching the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Channel, but through the Discovery Channel of its own built-in Design Network.    The evolution talk in these biomimetics stories (when it occurs at all) is, as Phillip Skell phrases it, “brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss” (02/28/2006).  What is really inspiring this explosion in productive research?  It’s the D word: biological design.  Once the researchers realize that the Charlie mumbo jumbo is only a bad habit, a traditional password in scientific circles that has lost its authority, a holy undergarment that only itches and gets in the way, productivity will be liberated in this exciting field.  Pretty soon the handicapped may be leaping over tall buildings like Superman and you may be scaling buildings like Spiderman.  Go, Bioneers!(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Brand Marketers Totally Miss Social Media Influencers

first_imgbrian proffitt Tags:#Blogging#Facebook#marketing#twitter A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Any illusions that marketers have gotten this whole social media thing down pat will be blown away by the latest findings from Technorati Media’s 2013 Digital Influence Report, which suggests that for everything the media spends across social platforms, the most desired influencers aren’t even being reached.The new report points out a huge disconnect: only 11% of corporate social media budgets are devoted to advertising on blogs and influencer sites. But fully 86% of the influencers these corporate brands are trying to reach are using blogs as their primary publishing platform.Brands And Advertisers: It’s All About FacebookThe mismatch is pretty clear in Technorati Media’s report. Typically, just 10% of the total digital marketing budget is devoted to a social ad strategy. Of that slice of the pie, 57% gets tossed at Facebook ad buys, 13% at YouTube and another 13% at Twitter’s sponsored tweets. Just 6% is spent on influencers and 5% on blogs. Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… It’s not just ad buys, either. When launching social media campaigns, earned media goals are very much stacked towards metrics like Facebook Likes and Fans; Twitter followers and retweets; and traffic on the company’s own website and landing pages.But the real success of any social campaign is not an all-out blitzkrieg of any given social media channel, but rather the conversion of prospects within a given community to your brand or product. Get someone like Robert Scoble talking up your brand and that could be worth more than a thousand random new followers on your social media accounts.Where Influencers Really HangThe problem, though, is this: A majority of influencers (59%) aren’t producing much content on anything other than their blogs. Influencers use Twitter, Facebook and Google+, of course, but not to publish works so much as promote their works on other sites, like blogs.What influences the bloggers? The biggest source of influence for 18% of the bloggers surveyed is… other bloggers. That’s how many say blogs are “very influential,” while 11% found colleagues to be very influential and Twitter was very influential for another 10% of the bloggers.It’s not that influencers are completely ignoring social media: They are using it quite extensively to promote their work and determine the popularity of their content. But are they being influenced by the content and ads on these networks? The report released this week suggests not.It’s a big miss for the brand marketers, too, since 61% of these influencers are reporting they get revenue from banner advertising, and 51% revenue from text ads.Why The Disconnect?So what’s the reason for the disconnect? The report suggests that brand marketers are using comScore/Nielsen to identify influencers, but given their niche and size, a lot of influencers are underrepresented in such metric services.“Furthermore, when gauging the success of campaigns, where influencers are monitoring traffic/page views, brand marketers are measuring Facebook likes,” the report detailed. This schism on metric priorities has led to both sides missing each other for the time being. A realignment of priorities is definitely needed to better tap the real potential of social media as an outreach tool to customers.Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock. Article image courtesy of Technorati Media.last_img read more

Don’t wait for CWG OC, deploy forces, Home Sec tells Delhi Police

first_imgWorkers put up a hoarding for the Commonwealth Games 2010 near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI PhotoExasperated at not being able to take over Commonwealth Games venues due to ongoing work, Union Home Ministry on Sunday asked Delhi Police not to wait for the Organising Committee to hand it over to them and start deploying forces at the earliest.The direction to Delhi Police, the nodal agency for Games security, came from Union Home Secretary G K Pillai at a review meeting held in New Delhi on Sunday evening to take stock of the preparations of security agencies for the event, sources said.”Don’t wait for the OC to hand over the venues to you. The work is still on but don’t compromise on security. Start deploying forces and tighten security at the venues. Have a standby arrangement,” a senior police official who attended the meeting summed up Pillai’s direction to Delhi Police.CLICK HERE FOR MORESnake charmers to keep Village safeCWG situation sad, says AdvaniCWG Village: From filthy to five-starSuresh Kalmadi: In the eye of a stormPillai is also understood to have asked Delhi Police to prepare a “standby” security plan as the work was undergoing in Games Village as well as Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.Police are yet to ensure a complete lockdown of the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, missing five deadlines set by the Home Ministry due to ongoing construction works.In the meeting, sources said, Pillai was also apprised about the difficulties faced by personnel in using the TETRA network for communication.advertisementWhen asked by Pillai for a feedback on TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio), sources said, the senior officials informed him that connectivity was a “problem” and effective communication was affected due to this.Sources indicated that Delhi Police may go back to its TM (Top Management) Network for communication. “Most probably, we may go back to TM Network,” a senior police official said.After the meeting with Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal, NSG Director General R K Medhekar, senior police officials, Games venue commanders and district police heads, Pillai said he was satisfied with the security arrangements for the Games.PM Manmohan Singh inaugurates a sports injury centre at the Safdurjung hospital in New Delhi. PTI Photo”We had a complete review of security arrangements, looking at various issues and anticipating what type of threats could arise. We are trying to make sure that we are fully prepared to meet any eventuality,” Pillai told reporters after the 90-minute meeting.He said the review meet was held to ask the officials to be alert as it is a major task for Delhi Police to ensure security “not just for athletes and Games venues but for the entire city itself”.”The aim of the review was to ensure that the whole of Delhi is safe and not just the Games venues which of course has received special attention,” the top official said.File photo of CGF CEO Mike Hooper talking on the phone at the Games Village in New Delhi. Hooper said the developers of the venues did not hand them over to the OC on time and this has led to the current crisis. PTI PhotoHooper says CGF also responsible for CWG messTaking a U-turn, CGF CEO Mike Hooper on Sunday owned up the responsibility for the mess around the Commonwealth Games after blaming India’s central and state governments for all the problems.Hooper told New Zealand media that the Commonwealth Games Federation cannot be held responsible for the Organising Committee’s failure to meet deadlines but later said the apex sport body also has “the same responsibility as any other stakeholder”.CGF boss Mike Fennell had on Saturday admitted that they will have to share the blame for the shoddy preparations of the mega event.Team officials give thumbs-up to CWG VillageIn what would be music to ears of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, officials accompanying the various teams on Sunday gave a thumbs-up to the Games Village, which was a few days back dubbed “filthy and unlivable” by foreign delegates.Officials from Jersey, Cameroon and Trinidad and Tobago seemed satisfied with the condition of their respective residential towers and said things are getting better and better with every passing day.”We are happy with our residential block. It’s good and there are no hygiene or cleanliness related issues. Things are getting better every day with officials working round the clock,” Moundi Bouba, Medical Personnel, Cameroon told PTI.advertisement”Good arrangements have been made by the organisers. 16 athletes and four team officials from Cameroon are staying at the Games village at present. We have not found anything to complain about,” said Michel Nkolo, another team official from Cameroon.Severe delays in the completion of work in the Village forced Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Michael Fennell to contact the Indian authorities and urge them to finish work on accommodation.Fennell said advance parties from the international Commonwealth Games Associations had been impressed with the international zone and main dining area within the village, but the condition of the residential zone shocked the majority of them.Dianne Huddlestone, wife of Jersey’s chef de mission Paul Huddlestone and staying at the village as an accompanying guest, said security arrangements, dining, cleaning of the residential complexes, all have been taken care of by the organisers.”We are staying at tower number 7 and occupying nine flats. We moved here four days back and I’m enjoying every minute of my stay. Organisers have offered big living area to us. Security has also been taken due care by the concerned officials. It’s just amazing to be here.”Food is of excellent quality. I’m gorging on fish curry, vegetable curry and naan bread. It’s just great. We are five people staying at the village at present and 52 athletes will arrive here on Wednesday,” Huddlestone said.Paul Newallo, team official, Trinidad and Tobago, said condition at the village is getting better and the organisers are trying their best to meet the deadlines.”We are satisfied with the efforts organisers are putting in to get certain things done on time. Although our living area is still incomplete they are trying their best. In 2-3 days, our second batch of athletes are likely to arrive in India and then we all move in here,” Newallo said. MORE      At present, 25 Trinidad and Tobago athletes, including team officials, are staying at Hotel Ashok. Cycling, boxing, archery and shooting teams have arrived and two hockey teams, netball, track and field teams are scheduled to arrive here by Wednesday.”Our athletes are enjoying dal and rice very much including some good vegetable curries. Hopefully, India will shine as a host nation and we are looking forward to the start of the Games,” Newallo added.The build-up to the Games has been plagued by problems with construction of venues and infrastructure falling behind schedule, allegations of wide-scale corruption in awarding contracts and foreign delegates raising doubts over security and safety of the athletes.With inputs from PTIlast_img read more

Kinship of the golden grapplers

first_imgThere was first the example. And the instant transmission of ambition. The year was 2000, and the extended Phogat household in Bhiwani district’s Balali village was electrified by the news from Sydney. Weightlifter Karnam Malleswari had won a bronze medal, India’s lone prize at the Olympics and the first ever,There was first the example. And the instant transmission of ambition. The year was 2000, and the extended Phogat household in Bhiwani district’s Balali village was electrified by the news from Sydney. Weightlifter Karnam Malleswari had won a bronze medal, India’s lone prize at the Olympics and the first ever for an Indian woman. And to hear it now from 24-year-old Babita Phogat, still to shake off the gold dust from her medal for freestyle wrestling at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, is to draw a direct line: from Malleswari’s medal to Mahavir Singh Phogat rounding up all the children in the extended household to hit the fields running to train for their big chance.Mahavir, a former wrestler, coached his daughters, son, nephews, nieces in what he knew best, and how he knew. But even he could not have known what he’d start. His eldest daughter, Geeta, struck gold in the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, and in 2012 became the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics. Babita had a silver in Delhi, and upgraded to gold in Glasgow. Cousin Vinesh, not yet 20, too is back home from Glasgow with gold, trying to blink away sleep as she strikes a pose in the family training centre at the edge of their fields. The family is not quite done yet. Younger cousins stray in and out, and count off the cadet or junior level titles they hope to target. Oblivious to the commotion and the hunt for the misplaced Glasgow medals, young Jenny, not yet five, is training away at the machines. Far-off branches of the Phogat family tree are winding back to the Balali homestead to enlist in Uncle Mahavir’s gold quest.advertisementCousins Vinesh (left) and Babita Phogat Glasgow Commonwealth games gold-winners, at their home in Bhiwani, HaryanaLegend has built over time about the social norms the Phogat girls combated-or glided by, depending on the narrator’s inclination. But back home for a victory chakkar of the village, the state capital, Delhi’s television studios, before leaving for training and trials for the Asian Games, Babita and Vinesh wear the struggle lightly on their skin. Yes, there was chatter back then in the early days, says Babita, when they entered the akhara with its mud patch. (The mat came later, with the first stirrings of success.) “What will happen, folks in the village said,” recalls Babita. “We were practising with boys, we talked to them, we wore shorts.” “But we were children then,” Vinesh adds. “What do children know about all this (social convention)?” The medals put a firm lid on such objections anyway.Who would ostracise a champion? But Babita, in the open-faced, large-hearted, cheerful manner of India’s contact sportspersons, concedes the significance of her achievements in India’s, and particularly Haryana’s, context, of their collective edge as examples that defy the systematic exclusion of women, starting with female foeticide. “Don’t kill them,” she pleads. “Look at us. We are also girls. They can get ahead of us.”Perhaps they underplay their defiance of gender stereotype in order to present themselves as role models for their sport and its tradition of lifelong dedication. Babita notes the upsurge of interest locally in wrestling each time they win at a big tournament. “But they want quick results,” she says. “They don’t see that it took us 10-12 years of training to get this far.”Babita’s moment of glory in GlasgowThose bygone days of training are a subject of much nostalgia in the Phogat household, a spark for shared memories to be recounted and, it appears, in each telling, to acquire a more cohesive and dramatic narrative line. “Papa would have us up at 3.30 a.m.,” Babita recalls as much with a faux groan as a wistful yearning for the times back when they were all children (“bachpan ke din”). “We would practise for two/two-and-a-half hours. In the fields Papa had made a ground for running. We would then rest at home for 20 minutes, bathe, eat and go to school. In class, we would often nod off, especially when the teacher was at the blackboard. Sometimes she would just let us sleep. Then home and an hour’s rest. Then train again. On Sundays we would get rest from school, but not from training!” Vinesh, younger and more slightly built than her cousins (she competes in the 48 kg category, Babita and Geeta in 51-55 kg), recalls being reluctant to hit the mud patch with her cousins for fear of getting hurt. “Tauji (Mahavir Phogat) would ask, tu gulab ka phool hai (are you a rose or what)?”Mahavir was a strict taskmaster, and Babita chuckles over the tricks they’d attempt to get out of training. Sometimes he would wander off and return to check them for sweat as proof of training. The children would wet their foreheads with dew from mustard leaves. He had installed an inverter, so power outages would not disrupt training. They’d hook it up to the refrigerator, so that when there really was an outage, the battery was already drained.advertisementNow they don’t need the spectre of punishment to keep them on the mat. But even as they work on their technique and speed, the stories nominate them as mascots for a sport that suddenly needs its women athletes that much more. Wrestling is still recovering from the threat last year of exclusion from the Olympic Games, and making itself more inclusive by increasing the number of categories for women while cutting some for men. Babita’s eyes gleam as she rattles off the new equation: “For men, two medals less, from 7 to 6 each in freestyle and Greco-Roman.For women, two more, from 4 to 6. So it’s even, 6-6-6.” (Women only compete in freestyle.) Wrestling dates back to the ancient Olympics, but to clinch its modern salience it desperately needs to be seen to be doing right by its women, who were admitted to Olympic competition only in 2004 at Athens.The Phogats say they intend to be at the 2016 Rio Olympics in large numbers, but for now are off to Lucknow, for training and trials. The World Championships overlap with the Asian Games, and such is the Japanese and Chinese domination of women’s wrestling that the first placed will head to the Asian meet in Incheon, South Korea. Women before, like mountaineer Santosh Yadav, had started breaking out of the inherited gender mould in Haryana. Wrestlers before, like Delhi’s Sushil Kumar, got 21st century India interested in an ancient calling. The Phogats’ unique role as change agents may be to invite ever more aspirants into their capacious, and flamboyantly told, family saga.To read more, get your copy of India Today here.last_img read more