The dilemma of Guyanese political parties

first_imgAs we approach elections, many new parties calling themselves “multiracial”, will be formed to “solve” our political logjam. I offer an observation made a year before our historical free and fair elections that were supposed to usher in a new age of democracy in Guyana. It is still valid. “Whatever their faults, our parties, like parties everywhere, do not merely affect, they also reflect the nuances of their societies.  So the fault, dear friends, might also lie in ourselves.  Politicians cannot lead followers wherever the politicians want them to go, for followers will only go in directions they find preferable to the alternatives available: leaders can catalyse but not initiate ethnic reactions”.Political parties arose in Europe that had already “solved” its ethnic problem by transforming it from a national question into an international one.  The people in each state were more or less one ethnic group, with minorities who “go along to get along”.  These countries had completed their national revolutions to form nations out of diverse peoples and were moving onto their participatory revolution or democratisation, where subjects would become citizens with the right to choose their governors.  Their welfare revolution, focusing on economic justice, was down the road.We in Guyana, in common with many world states in the post-World War 11 era, were forced to confront all three revolutions simultaneously. We have still not resolved any and the challenges remain. Our politicians ignored the national revolution totally, even though we were an almost textbook case of a plural society.  They focused solely on participation and welfare but even here ignored the need to adapt our political institutions.  Their mobilisation produced an ethnic party system which is qualitatively different from that of homogeneous societies on which it was modelled.In the former, the party competition is on a single axis: ethnicity; while in the latter, there are many crosscutting axes: class, religion, region [rural-urban], etc.  In an ethnic party system, the ethnic axis of competition controls the party formation, survival and competition.  In homogeneous societies, many individuals vote for parties depending on the parties’ stand on issues.  Since all parties have to court this bloc of “swing” votes the parties’ positions tend to converge and preclude extremism.In divided societies such as Guyana, however, voters gravitate to the two ends of the competition axis depending on their ethnic origins.  The party’s stand on issues becomes almost irrelevant since it is supported solely as a protector of the group’s interest.  This type of voting is not necessarily irrational; the simultaneously ongoing welfare revolution ensures that the economic demands of the ethnic vote may be satisfied if his party secures power.The PPP began as a true multi-ethnic party, even though it espoused a socialist, non-ethnic line, ie, its members encompassed the main competing ethnic groups and the leadership was seen to represent these sections.  The split of the PPP into PPP [Jagan], and PPP [Burnham], subsumed into ethnicity, the incipient urban – rural, middle class – lower class dichotomies.  The disintegration of the PPP was not only the result of leadership egos: the reasons go to the extreme difficulty in maintaining multi-ethnic parties into plural societies.Firstly, the ethnic parties emerged contrary to the wishes of the leaders: both Jagan and Burnham tried to secure multi-ethnic support.  But the question of “who leads” inevitably produces fissionistic strains: witness the AFC leadership elections. The uneasy personal relations between leaders of different ethnic groups, stemming greatly from their different cultural backgrounds, don’t help especially when augmented with the incompatibility of the claims of their several ethnic constituencies. But most importantly, there is pressure from members of each constituency on their respective leaders to go it alone.The last arises from “flank” parties or groups which inevitably arise to “secure” ethnic rights.  They take strong ethnic positions driving the ersatz “multi-ethnic” party to respond in order to retain its base.  Witness the role of the WPA vis a vis the PNC today.Another major reason for the lack of successful multi-ethnic parties is the difficulty of producing a multi-ethnic leadership structure which has the confidence of the various ethnic groups.  The “iron law of oligarchy”, ie that power inevitably accretes in a small elite within any organisations, is perceived to operate.Who really sees the PNC’s or the PPP’s leaderships as “really” multi-ethnic?last_img read more

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NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG Canada

first_imgPolice later reached a deal with the chiefs to allow pipeline work to continue.Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations bands along the pipeline.Singh has tried to project unity in the party while facing internal criticism for poor fundraising and low support in the polls. If he wins the byelection Monday and remains leader, he is likely to encounter calls from his caucus for a tougher stance on climate change.Robinson said he returned to politics after 15 years because of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations panel that assesses scientific evidence on global warming. The report concluded temperatures were likely to rise 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052 unless drastic action is taken.Advertisement “The most important issue facing our planet and our country today is climate change. We have to effectively put the country on the same kind of wartime footing that we did at the time of the last world war to fight climate change,” Robinson said.“If we are to do that, there can be no new oil and gas infrastructure.”He said his specific concerns about LNG Canada include the increase in emissions associated with the project, the environmental impact of fracking and the importance of respect for hereditary Indigenous leadership.Robinson would not say if he tried to change Singh’s mind on the project. But he said he hopes to influence the NDP’s fall election platform, and if he wins a seat, he will continue to bring his position forward around the caucus table.Julia Sanchez said climate is the key issue she hears about on the doorstep while campaigning in Outremont, the riding previously held by former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.Advertisement BURNABY, B.C. – Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is facing calls from within the party for a stronger stance on climate change as he defends his support of the $40-billion LNG Canada project in northern British Columbia.Svend Robinson, the New Democrat candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour in the general election, opposes any new oil and gas infrastructure. Julia Sanchez, running for the party in a byelection in Outremont in Montreal, disapproves of the use of public funds for such projects.Singh is seeking his first seat in Parliament in a byelection in Burnaby South. The leader opposes the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would increase tanker traffic departing from the Metro Vancouver city, but he approves of liquefied natural gas pipeline and export facility.- Advertisement -“The LNG project has demonstrated some clear, positive steps around consultation,” Singh said. “There was an exhaustive and pretty thorough consultation around Indigenous communities, First Nations communities and elected bands and chiefs.”“There are people standing up and defending their land who have the right to express those concerns, and there’s still ongoing work that needs be addressed before this project moves ahead.”Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose a Coastal GasLink pipeline that would lead to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat. RCMP arrested 14 people at a blockade last month, sparking national protests.Advertisement She has proposed a vision she calls the “Great Transition,” which urges an end to subsidies for the oil and gas industry and for public investment in new infrastructure. It also recommends more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets.Sanchez said the NDP has made progress on its position on climate change over the past two years, but the party could go further. She noted LNG Canada benefits from $275 million in federal funding.“I have a hard time seeing how we can justify making massive investments in projects in the oil and gas industry,” she said. “That means we’re not doing investments in renewable energy or … in supporting the transition of workers from the oil and gas industry to other industries.”LNG Canada spokeswoman Susannah Pierce said the project has been designed to achieve the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any large-scale liquefied natural gas facility in the world, about 50 percent lower than the average facility.The UN report models pathways to keep global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees C, including one scenario that says natural gas use must grow while coal declines, Pierce said in a statement.Advertisement “Natural gas is clearly a part of the solution, as is natural gas shipped as LNG to Asia from B.C.,” Pierce said.Simon Donner, a geography professor and climate-change expert at the University of B.C., said LNG Canada’s emissions represent a fraction of Canada’s 2030 target. But the project would operate for decades, making it harder for the country to meet longer-term targets, he said.Singh has also faced pushback from the public for his support of LNG Canada. A protester recently interrupted a debate in Burnaby South to accuse Singh of “turning his back on Aboriginal people,” and the leader calmly listened and offered to speak with the man after the event.Singh likely supports the project to align himself with the province’s minority NDP government, said Richard Johnston, a University of B.C. political science professor.“He needs his friends,” Johnston said. “It means that the government of B.C. can be unembarrassed in supporting him in his attempt to get elected to Parliament.”last_img read more

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Villa ace fears team-mate could quit the Midlands giants

first_img1 Leandro Bacuna admits his Aston Villa team-mate Christian Benteke could leave for a bigger club this summer.The striker has been in stunning form since Tim Sherwood took over at Villa Park, scoring 13 goals in his last 14 games.That has sparked interest from Liverpool and, while Bacuna hopes the Belgian will stay, he admits Benteke could be off if a big club comes calling.“We spoke about it because my contract is almost finished as well. I told him to do what is best for him as a player,” said Bacuna.“He feels like Villa is doing well at the moment with the new manager and you never know what is going to happen next year.“He has got to make his own decision, of course I will tell him to stay. But I think if a bigger club comes in maybe he will leave.” Leandro Bacuna celebrates with Christian Benteke last_img read more

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Milner definitely didn’t expect to be named dropped on Love Island

first_img Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January deals Liverpool news live: Klopp reveals when Minamino will play and issues injury update 🎥 | James Milner finding out he was mentioned on #LoveIsland 😂 pic.twitter.com/DkvY5XA2ad— Steven Gerrard (@Gerrard8FanPage) July 23, 2019The team-mates relaxed on the treatment table to find out the latest from inside the villa.Henderson just so happened to be filming at the same time the popular parody Twitter account ‘Boring Milner’ was mentioned by Islander Jordan in a conversation with Anna and the look on his face is captured in timely fashion, as Henderson bursts into laughter. Milner in action against Sevilla during the Reds’ pre-season tour Former Crystal Palace and West Brom manager Pardew takes over at Dutch strugglers The Twitter account is a light-hearted take on the seemingly dull and sensible life Milner supposedly leads due to his steady and reliable nature in a career that has taken him from Leeds to Newcastle, Aston Villa, Manchester City and now Liverpool. FAREWELL He’s won the Premier League, Champions League, he’s played for England, but being mentioned on Love Island must top it all for James Milner.With Liverpool on the last leg of their three-stop pre-season tour of the United States, Milner and captain Jordan Henderson decided to catch up on the hit ITV reality show during some down time. 2 REVEALED TROPHY James Milner’s career is complete now he has been mentioned on Love Island Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ targets LATEST New job LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS latest The biggest market value losers in 2019, including Bale and ex-Liverpool star Liverpool update ‘Champions Wall’ after ending 2019 as European and world champions getty Matic one of two players for sale with ‘two Premier League clubs’ interested 2 https://www.instagram.com/jhenderson/ Man United transfer news live: Haaland ‘wants a change’, two players off in January The 33-year-old, who won the Champions League with Liverpool last season, has one year left on his current deal and the midfielder is yet to agree an extension, leaving his future in doubt.Milner remains in fantastic physical condition and beat several younger players during a pre-season fitness test.“All I can do is concentrate on my football and do what I can,” he said.“But in terms of where I am with my contract, that’s what has happened up until now and I haven’t heard anything from the club.”last_img read more

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Star Wars: Galactic Nights Event Returning

first_imgStar Wars: Galactic Nights will last from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are available for $124 per child and $129 per adult (plus tax). Tickets can be purchased here. Share This!©DisneyEarlier this year, Disney rolled out the first ever Star Wars: Galactic Nights event to correspond with Star Wars Celebration. It appears as though that wasn’t the only time that event would take place, as it is returning this December to tie in with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.This event is the ultimate one for a Star Wars fan. It will take place on December 16 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and invites Guests to celebrate the beloved Star Wars franchise. Star Wars: Galactic Nights Guests will be invited to dress as their favorite character while attending this family-friendly event, as well as experience fun and exclusive Star Wars activities and events.Here’s what you can expect to experience at the Star Wars: Galactic Nights event:Rebel BaseThe Rebel Base will serve as the Star Wars: Galactic Nights event hub. Here, Guests will find a DJ dance party, as well as being the home for ongoing event information, hosted shows, interactive moments and more!Epic TheaterDon’t miss this one-night-only panel discussion called “Inside the Saga: A Galaxy in the Making” about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This unique event will be taking place multiple times throughout the evening at The Epic Theater and will be the place where you learn about exciting developments about the new expansion opening in 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks ShowDuring Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, you’ll see and hear and feel the music, magic and characters from the Saga as they light up the night complete with state-of-the-art projection effects, lasers, pyrotechnics and more. Prior to the fireworks, there will be an exclusive interactive pre-show on the main stage.Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far AwayStar Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away gives Guests the chance to see characters like Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and BB-8 recreate some of the Saga’s most famous scenes—right before your eyes! The show, which takes place in front of the Chinese Theater includes clips featuring standout moments from the Saga, as well as character appearances onstage from Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and many more.Jedi TrainingSmall ones will have the ability to o test their abilities during Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. During the show, they will learn how to use the Force and their lightsabers to face the evil forces of the Dark Side.Jedi Recruitment PackageYoung padawans will have chance to receive an enhanced Jedi-training experience. This special limited-time package includes:Enrollment for one youngling in one show of Jedi Training: Trials of the TempleJedi Training: Trials of the Temple robeOfficial Star Wars lightsaberPersonalized name badgeExclusive Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple t-shirtPicture with a Jedi Master—available via free digital downloadThe cost is $149.95, plus tax. To book a package, please call (407) WDW-PLAY.Star Wars: Galactic Nights Character OpportunitiesDuring the Star Wars: Galactic Nights event, you will also be able to come face to face with some of your favorite Star Wars characters. Experiences will include:Stormtroopers on Patrol: As you board your shuttle at Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, you may come face-to-face with Imperial Stormtroopers patrolling the embarkation ramps in pursuit of a Rebel spy.Ewok Encounter: While walking through the forest of Endor en route to Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, you’ll have an encounter with the furry inhabitants.Imperial March: Make way for Darth Vader as he leads a battalion of Stormtroopers down Hollywood Boulevard during a dramatic Imperial March to the event stageMarch of the First Order:  Captain Phasma will lead her squad of Stormtroopers up Hollywood Boulevard.AWR Trooper Sightings: Spy these black armor-clad operatives scanning for rebels in the Animation Courtyard.Characters at Star Wars Launch Bay: Guests will be able to meet BB-8, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and Darth Vader.Photo OpportunitiesStep into iconic Star Wars scenes throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios where you will discover 3-dimensional photo opportunities throughout the park. You will be able to act out your very own mini-scene or capture a heartfelt message and post your moment on social media during the event.Guests will also be able to pose in front of Star Wars-themed backdrops depicting popular scenes from the entire Star Wars Saga. Each backdrop will play an important role in the event’s interactive Seize the Saga.Galactic Tasting SamplerDuring Star Wars: Galactic Nights, savor Star Wars-themed food and drinks as you taste your way around the galaxy. Tasting-sized sips and bites inspired by the stories and characters of Star Wars will be available at various locations throughout the park. With the Galactic Tasting Sampler, you can choose 5 of these items, which may include:Lightsaber churrosRoot Leaf StewCharacter cupcakesCharcuterie plates featuring C3PO crackersSpecialty beveragesThe Galactic Tasting Sampler is $30 per person, including tax.Skywalker Vineyards Wine SeminarEnjoy a seminar discussing Skywalker Vineyards. Guests will learn about the wine making process and have the ability to purchase tasting samples. Attendees of this free-admission experience will also have the opportunity to purchase full bottles to savor at home.AttractionsAttractions available throughout the Star Wars: Galactic Nights event include:Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – Be on the lookout for Star Wars Character encounters taking place in-and-around Star ToursStar Wars Launch BayStar Wars: Path of the JediThe Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorToy Story Mania!Muppet*Vision 3DWalt Disney Presentslast_img read more

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South Africa to continue investing in education

first_img17 June 2014 The South African government will continue to invest in education and skills development as key conditions for economic growth, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday. Delivering his State of the Nation address to Parliament in Cape Town, Zuma said the country needed “engineers, electricians, plumbers, doctors, teachers and many other professionals to build our country’s economy. “Education therefore remains an apex priority for this government. We will continue to promote universal access to education by ensuring that all children between ages 7 and 15 are in school. We will increase the number of Grade 12 learners who can gain entrance to university, moving from 172 000 in 2013 to 250 000 in 2019.” At the same time, he said, the government would continue to fight drugs and substance abuse in schools and communities. “We will also prioritise safety in schools, scholar transport and child health.”Eradicating ‘mud schools’ Zuma said the government would also push ahead with the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, a national programme to tackle school infrastructure backlogs in the country. The R8.2-billion public-private programme, one of the government’s Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs), aims to eradicate the 496 “mud schools” in the country, and provide water and sanitation to 1 257 schools and electricity to 878 schools, by March 2016. “We opened at least one new school a week in the Eastern Cape last year and will continue to eradicate mud schools and other inappropriate structures,” the President said.New universities He also announced that contractors would be moving on site in September to build South Africa’s two new universities, Sol Plaatie in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga in Nelspruit. “By January next year, the first intake of medical students will be enrolled at the new medical university in Limpopo,” he added. “In addition, 12 training and vocational education colleges will be built to expand the technical skills mix in the country.” Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

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Collect, Process and Share Your Online Research with Trailmeme

first_imgRelated Posts Besides allowing users to create their own trails, they can also browse and search other users’ trails. On its front page, Trailmeme highlights those collections that are especially popular among its users. The company offers a toolbar for Firefox and a universal bookmarklet for creating trails, as well as plugins for WordPress and – in the near future – MediaWiki. Sadly, Trailmeme doesn’t currently offer the ability to embed collections on other sites.A New Kind of PublishingAs Rao told us, the main goal behind Trailmeme is to allow users to “navigate the web via well-curated trails,” but given the projects connection to Xerox, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there is also a publishing angle to this tool. Trailmeme offers users the ability to print trails and save them as PDF files. As Rao told us, in the long run, the team is also considering to offer publishers the option to monetize their efforts and sell printable version of their trails. Will Users Care?Overall, Trailmeme is an interesting tool (though it lacks the visual appeal of Pearltrees and browsing trails often feels a bit sluggish), but it remains to be seen how many users are actually interested in curating their bookmark to the extend that Trailmeme and similar tools expect them to do. For most users, Google has already replaced regular bookmarks to some extend. If done well, however, an expertly curated collection on Trailmeme or Pearltrees can provide a lot more value than a simple list of links on Google or Delicious. frederic lardinois Tags:#Product Reviews#Social Bookmarking#web Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Social bookmarking sites like Delicious are useful for collecting bookmarks, but they don’t allow users to really draw connections and tell stories. That’s where curation-focused services like Pearltrees and Trailmeme come in. Trailmeme, which we first looked at in December, was incubated at Xerox and launches at DEMO this week. It allows users to bookmark sites and then organize them in tidy diagrams, making it easy to highlight the relationship between different items and for readers to browse these links.While Pearltrees only allows users to display connections in a relatively simple tree structure, Trailmeme offers its users more flexibility. Earlier this week, the projects manager Venkatesh Rao showed us a number of nifty examples for what users can do with this flexibility. This trail, for example, visualizes sites about the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by arranging sites in the form of an oil rig. The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

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Test your smarts on ‘kissing ants’ and the dangers of space!

first_img Navigational cues Mount Etna An error occurred loading the Quiz. Please try again later. Increased packaging waste In other news, scientists have discovered a process in the brain that deals with what aspect of thought? Political changes in Brazil and the United States Click to enter Win a FREE digital subscription to Science! Just submit the required contact information to enter. 10 trillion tons. Time’s Up! December 05, 2016 The Science Quiz Take the quiz to enter for a chance to win a FREE digital subscription to Science! Learn More Memory Of course Earth has its own dangers. According to new research out last week, clusters of these events are getting worse in the United States: Mount Paektu Growth hormones Peyote Tornadoes Rigil Kentaurus Fracking runoff A “feedback loop” in the world’s soils 30 trillion tons. The massive new undertaking sought to put a number on how humans have affected the planet beyond the typically touted measures. Using techniques from geology and archaeology, scientists estimated that in the space of several thousand years, we’ve created 30 trillion tons of stuff, including 1 trillion tons of carbon that we’ve burned and released into the atmosphere. If all of our treasures—and our trash—were spread evenly across the Earth’s surface, the scientists say they would create a layer several inches thick, weighing nearly 50 kilograms per square meter. 30 trillion tons. Last week, an active ingredient in this was found to ease cancer patients’ fear of death: How did you score on the quiz? Challenge your friends to a science news duel! Average Magic mushrooms Astronomers just renamed the star Alpha Centauri A. What is its “new” name? Twinkies Mount Tambora Growth hormones. If you’ve ever watched ants, you’ve probably noticed their tendency to “kiss,” quickly pressing their mouths together in face-to-face encounters. Now, scientists have found that the insects are sharing much more than food. They are also communicating—talking via chemical cocktails designed to shape each other and the colonies they live in. Those cocktails include a diverse array of chemicals, including growth-, digestion-, and immune-related proteins; nest mate recognition cues; and a juvenile hormone, important for regulating ant reproduction, development, and behavior. Start Quiz Spreading your toes Share your score Beta Centauri Gives their immune systems a boost 1 trillion tons. Every Monday, The Science Quiz tests your knowledge of the week’s biggest science news stories. No matter how much you know, you’re still likely to learn something–give it a try! Magic mushrooms. It’s long been suspected that psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms, could be used to treat conditions like depression and anxiety—and in the 1960s, scientists tried to do just that. But since those early experiments, strict regulations and methodological difficulties have hampered further studies. Now, in two long-awaited experiments, cancer patients reported feeling considerably less depressed and anxious after taking just one hit of the mind-altering compound. What’s more, those effects seemed to last: Most patients were still feeling higher, mood-wise, 6 months later. Score December 05, 2016 Top Ranker 80s throwback parties Spreading your fingers. To find out how finger positions affected swim speeds, physicists measured drag over 3D-printed plastic hand and arm models in a wind tunnel. The more drag, the more a swimmer can propel him or herself forward. It turned out that the model with its fingers spread 10° created the most drag because the slight opening between the fingers still obstructed air flow. Making assumptions about hand size and stroke rate, the researchers calculated that such a spread could boost a swimmer’s speed by 2.5%. . That difference translates into several tenths of a second over a 50-meter freestyle race, an enormous margin considering that the 2016 Summer Olympics 50-meter women’s freestyle race was won by 0.02 seconds. A “feedback loop” in the world’s soils. Soil acts as a massive carbon sink, thanks to plant leavings and roots buried within. But for years, scientists have been warning that the microorganisms living in the soil might speed up their rate of respiration as the world warms, releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Now, a massive study has verified that claim, reporting that the resulting climate feedback loop could release 55 billion tons of carbon (the equivalent of 200 billion tons of carbon dioxide) from the world’s soils by the year 2050. Beta Minus The Science Quiz This one weird trick can improve swimmers’ speeds by up to 2.5%, enough to win the gold in a 50-meter race: The faster you answer, the higher you score! Challenge your friends and sign up for your chance to win a free digital subscription to Science. Official rules for the News from Science weekly quiz sweepstakes Swimming without goggles Mount Fuji 0 / 10 Jaffa cakes Self-identity Ants—and other social insects—have long been known to pass along food in mouth-to-mouth “kisses.” New research shows that these ants are sharing more than just food. What else are they sharing? 0 Memories Results: You answered out of correctly – Click to revisit One climate change story that did grab headlines last week found that, thanks to this, our atmosphere may soon hold a whole lot more carbon dioxide: Earthquakes Sid Meier Mount Paektu. Straddling the border between China and North Korea, the massive Mount Paektu has long been an enigma. In 946 C.E., it erupted with a force matched by few volcanoes over the past 2000 years. Yet this “millennium eruption” is not thought to have had the same devastating climatic effects as Indonesia’s Mount Tambora, whose 1815 explosion poured 28 megatons of sulfur into the atmosphere, cooling the planet by 1°C and causing the famed “year without a summer.” Now, a new analysis of rocks from Mount Paektu suggests its eruption actually put out 45 megatons of sulfur—far more than Tambora and more than 20 times past estimates based on ice cores in Greenland. Spreading your fingers Blurs their vision Weather information The “Millennium Eruption” of this giant volcano may have poured far more sulfur into Earth’s ancient skies than thought. What is the name of the volcano? Question Rigil Kentaurus. What do Elton John, Marilyn Monroe, Whoopi Goldberg, and Alpha Centauri have in common? They’re all stars that changed their names. But Alpha Centauri A, the largest star in our nearest star system, is taking back its ancient moniker, Rigil Kentaurus, which means “foot of the centaur” in Arabic. The newly named system is one of 227 stars and star systems that received name clarifications from the International Astronomical Union last week. Makes them urinate more frequently You Blurs their vision. The fluid, which pushes up against the optic nerve and eyeballs, causes farsightedness. Luckily, the condition gradually resolves itself once astronauts are earthbound. But other perils of space travel are not so easily shaken off: From space fungus to the indignity of cramped spaces, here are the top five dangers of interplanetary travel, according to space ace Jessica Boddy. Measles outbreaks Enter for a chance to win. We’ll select a new winner each week. Tornadoes. (Though you should probably be given a free point if you guessed 80s parties.) According to the study, the number of tornadoes pounding the United States during “extreme outbreaks,” defined as clusters of a dozen or more twisters causing moderate damage, has roughly doubled since 1965, going from about 40 tornadoes per reported cluster to nearly 80. Scientists are still uncertain what is fueling the increase: It could be long-term climate cycles related to ocean temperature or it could be a measure of storm wind speed and direction that has recently changed. So far, those changes don’t appear to be related to climate change. Planning Swimming with music A new study reveals that the increased volume of spinal fluid caused by microgravity does this to astronauts: Disturbs their REM sleep For the first time, scientists have estimated the weight of all the humanmade junk in the world (the technical term is technosphere). Bag of jelly beans if you can guess: How much does it all weigh? Manipulation of others LOADING Bill Ingalls/NASA Memory. A new memory—the name of someone you’ve just met, for example—is held for seconds in so-called working memory, as your brain’s neurons continue to fire. If the person is important to you, the name will over a few days enter your long-term memory, preserved by permanently altered neural connections. But where does it go during the in-between hours, when it has left your standard working memory and is not yet embedded in long-term memory? Now, new research shows that memories can be resurrected from this limbo, a new form of working memory called prioritized long-term memory. Come on. Even a bag of jelly beans isn’t worth this. Enter the information below to enter the sweepstakes:Your information has been submitted.An error occurred submitting the email. Please try again later.This email has already been entered.The email submitted is not a valid email.Incomplete form. Please fill out all fields. 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I would like to receive emails about products and services offered by AAAS advertisers.PRIVACY I have read and accept the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.Submitlast_img read more

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Scientists imbue robots with curiosity

first_img jpgfactory/iStockphoto BB-8 certainly looks curious in this photo. By Matthew HutsonMay. 31, 2017 , 5:45 PM In a twist on artificial intelligence (AI), computer scientists have programmed machines to be curious—to explore their surroundings on their own and learn for the sake of learning. The new approach could allow robots to learn even faster than they can now. Someday they might even surpass human scientists in forming hypotheses and pushing the frontiers of what’s known.“Developing curiosity is a problem that’s core to intelligence,” says George Konidaris, a computer scientist who runs the Intelligent Robot Lab at Brown University and was not involved in the research. “It’s going to be most useful when you’re not sure what your robot is going to have to do in the future.”Over the years, scientists have worked on algorithms for curiosity, but copying human inquisitiveness has been tricky. For example, most methods aren’t capable of assessing artificial agents’ gaps in knowledge to predict what will be interesting before they see it. (Humans can sometimes judge how interesting a book will be by its cover.)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Todd Hester, a computer scientist currently at Google DeepMind in London hoped to do better. “I was looking for ways to make computers learn more intelligently, and explore as a human would,” he says. “Don’t explore everything, and don’t explore randomly, but try to do something a little smarter.”So Hester and Peter Stone, a computer scientist at the University of Texas in Austin, developed a new algorithm, Targeted Exploration with Variance-And-Novelty-Intrinsic-Rewards (TEXPLORE-VENIR), that relies on a technique called reinforcement learning. In reinforcement learning, a program tries something, and if the move brings it closer to some ultimate goal, such as the end of a maze, it receives a small reward and is more likely to try the maneuver again in the future. DeepMind has used reinforcement learning to allow programs to master Atari games and the board game Go through random experimentation. But TEXPLORE-VENIR, like other curiosity algorithms, also sets an internal goal for which the program rewards itself for comprehending something new, even if the knowledge doesn’t get it closer to the ultimate goal.As TEXPLORE-VENIR learns and builds a model of the world, it rewards itself for discovering information that’s unlike what’s seen before—for example, finding distant spots on a map or, in culinary application, exotic recipes. It also rewards itself for reducing uncertainty—for becoming familiar with those places and recipes. “They’re fundamentally different types of learning and exploration,” Konidaris says. “Balancing them is really important. And I like that this paper did both of those.”Hester and Stone tested their method in two scenarios. The first was a virtual maze consisting of a circuit of four rooms connected by locked doors. The bot—just a computer program—had to find a key, pick it up, and use it to unlock a door. Each time it passed through a door it earned 10 points, and it had 3000 steps to achieve a high score. If the researchers first let the bot explore for 1000 steps guided only by TEXPLORE-VENIR it earned about 55 door points on average during the 3000-step test phase. If the bot used other curiosity algorithms for such exploration, its score during the test phase ranged from zero to 35—except for when it used one called R-Max, which also earned the bot about 55 points. In a different setup, in which the bot had to simultaneously explore and pass through doors, TEXPLORE-VENIR earned about 70 points, R-Max earned about 35, and the others earned fewer than five, the researchers report in the June issue of Artificial Intelligence.The researchers then tried their algorithm with a physical robot, a humanoid toy called the Nao. In three separate tasks, the half-meter-tall machine earned points for hitting a cymbal, for holding pink tape on its hand in front of its eyes, or for pressing a button on its foot. For each task it had 200 steps to earn points, but first had 400 steps to explore, either randomly or using TEXPLORE-VENIR. Averaged over 13 trials with each of the two methods, Nao was better at finding the pink tape on its hand after exploring with TEXPLORE-VENIR than after exploring randomly. It pressed the button on seven of 13 trials after using TEXPLORE-VENIR but not at all after exploring randomly. And Nao hit the cymbal in one of five trials after using TEXPLORE-VENIR, but never after exploring randomly. Through semistructured experimentation with its own body and environment, TEXPLORE-VENIR was well-prepared for the assigned tasks, just as babies “babble” with their limbs before they learn to crawl.But curiosity can kill the bot, or at least its productivity. If the intrinsic reward for learning is too great, it may ignore the extrinsic reward, says Andrew Barto, computer scientist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst who co-wrote the standard textbook on reinforcement learning and is an unpaid adviser to a company Stone is starting. In fact, R-Max earned fewer points when exploration was simultaneously added to door-unlocking because it was distracted by its own curiosity, a kind of AI ADD. On the other hand, extrinsic rewards can interfere with learning, Barto says. “If you give grades or stars, a student may work for those rather than for his or her own satisfaction.” So an outstanding challenge in training robots is to find the right balance of internal and external rewards.Intelligently inquisitive bots and robots could show flexible behavior when doing chores at home, designing efficient manufacturing processes, or pursuing cures for diseases. Hester says a next step would be to use deep neural networks, algorithms modeled on the brain’s architecture, to better identify novel areas to explore, which would incidentally advance his own quest: “Can we make an agent learn like a child would?” Scientists imbue robots with curiositylast_img read more

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Are Companies Beating Talent Away With A Stick?

first_imgSome companies have invisible IV drips going into their HR team’s arms, where the IV drips are full of the company Kool-Aid. Be cautious of organizations that behave as though getting a job with them would be the greatest thing that ever happened to you. You have value in the equation, too. You’ll be doing some employer a great favor when you choose to work with them. If the company’s attitude is “Get in line – everyone wants to work here” you’re better off somewhere else. That sort of “It’s all about us” behavior is fear-based. That’s how children behave when they feel insecure. Is that the kind of employer you want to work for?Steer clear of employers who beat away talent with a stick, and if your firm is one of those places, I’d sound the alarm if I were you. If you’re the HR person in charge, you can shift the focus from pushing away talent to welcoming talented people into your sphere. It’s a change of mindset, like so many other hard and important HR initiatives. If you’re the CEO of your organization, there’s no time to waste. Talent-unfriendly employers aren’t the ones most likely to thrive in the global marketplace. Thank goodness for market forces! I saw the funniest job ad. It said “Office Manager needed. Must be willing to work hard and juggle numerous high-pressure tasks. Overtime mandatory. Pay is not great to start but will improve as our company grows. No complainers.” I appreciate the hiring manager’s candor, but I don’t think the phone in that company’s offices is ringing off the hook right now. Low pay! Hard work! Overtime! What more could an Office Manager ask for?That job ad is an over-the-top example of a phenomenon that’s abundant everywhere you look. Maybe the rough economy is to blame, but way too many large and small employers seem determined to beat talent away with a stick. Their job ads are unfriendly (“Candidates lacking two or more of these qualifications will not be interviewed or contacted” where we can interject the missing words “you vermin,” undoubtedly left out by mistake).   Their careers sites are like stone-walled fortresses. Their interviewing manner is cold, and their overall hiring processes signal to candidates, “Go away and die.”What right-thinking company would drive talent away? It sounds incredible. Yet we see it, every day. The best employees, of course, are also the most marketable ones. They get to choose their employers. Companies that treat job seekers like dirt can expect to hire the most-needy people with the fewest alternatives. Here are the top six ways employers signal ‘DO NOT ENTER’:1. Their auto-responder message is unfriendly.An auto-responder from an employer’s careers site is not a bad thing in itself. At least when you get the auto-response email message, you know they got your resume. But if you were the one writing that auto-response message, wouldn’t you write “Thanks for sending us your resume! We’re taking a look at it now, or if our office is closed right now, we’ll review your resume as soon as we can. We’ll contact you if it looks like one of our job openings is a good fit for you. Otherwise, we won’t contact you again, but we welcome you to apply through our site whenever you see a job opening that looks right for you.  Have you seen our job seekers’ newsletter? Take a look! It’s at this link (imaginary link here). Thanks again for applying, and enjoy the rest of your week!”Here’s a shocker: auto-responders from career websites don’t read like our fictional example above. They’re terse and unfriendly. “Your resume has been received and you will be contacted if we wish to interview you” is typical. Why would employers be so forbidding and stand-offish if they wanted great people to work at their company? Beats me. It’s hard to shake that “We rule – you suck” mentality, I guess. 2. Their communications style is hostile.One friend of mine got a voicemail message that said “This is XYZ Company. [The caller didn’t even leave her name.] We will call this number at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow for a phone screen.” In other words, if you have a life that includes an appointment at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, you’re out of the running. Who wants to work for a company that treats people like livestock? We have to expect that these companies are the ones in the worst financial straits, since organizations that mistreat job seekers tend to treat employees badly also, and badly-treated employees don’t usually take great care of their customers. If your telephone or face-to-face interview begins, “Today, we’re going to ask you questions to decide whether you’ll make it to the next round – if you make it that far, you’ll get to ask some questions yourself” you have my permission to get up and leave the interview. An interview is a two-way conversation. If you don’t get air time – and friendly, open air time at that – hit the road, because you will not like working for this company if you do get the job.3. They want your life delivered, before an interview.You can fill out an application form online, and you can provide a writing sample on an online form, too. That’s where I draw the line. I wouldn’t give up your social security number, and I definitely wouldn’t give up your references’ contact information before you’ve so much as talked to a human being in the employer’s shop. That’s your personal information. If an employer wants to know that much about you, they can dang well call you on the phone.4. They keep you waiting.It’s normal to sit in a lobby or five or ten minutes, but a thirty-minute wait screams “You are nothing to us.” It’s even worse when they fetch you from the lobby and take you into a windowless conference room and deposit you there. Three to five minutes of that is about as much as most people can stand. Fifteen minutes of abandonment in one of those tiny rooms is torture. We have to take interview-day behaviors very seriously, because at this early stage in the relationship, they don’t own you. If job applicants are treated badly, imagine how they treat their employees!5. They don’t talk about salary.By the second interview – or between the first interview and the second one – the employer should bring up salary. It could be a waste of your time to pursue an opportunity if the money isn’t going to work for you. Companies that stall on salary discussions are very often ones that pay galley-slave wages, so beware. Bring up the topic by asking “Shall we talk about compensation, to make sure we’re in the same ballpark?” when the HR person contacts you to set up the second interview. If you get all the way through the pipeline without any dollars discussion (don’t do it!) expect a low-ball offer at the end of the line.6. They act like they’d be doing you a favor to hire you.last_img read more

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