A fun approach to science teaching

first_imgDr Mirriam Tawana believes that all children should know about South Africa’s valuable fossil collection. Zandile Ndaba says Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves have a valuable role to educate children about fossils and the origins of humankind in a fun, interactive way.(Images: Cathy Findley Public Relations)MEDIA CONTACTS• Nicolle Kairuz Cathy Findley PR+27 11 463 6372RELATED ARTICLES• No bedbugs for early humans • Fossils tell the mammal story• Maropeng top evotourism destination • Maropeng sets green standard Wilma den HartighTwo women from Wits University’s Institute for Human Evolution are inspiring a new generation of scientists in South Africa by reaching out to pupils who have not had much exposure to career opportunities in the discipline.Through the medium of story-telling, Dr Mirriam Tawana, a palaeoanthropologist and Zandile Ndaba, a fossil excavator, are bringing the world of paleoscience to life, sharing their career highlights, experiences and life stories to inspire children to be curious about science, and proud of South Africa’s fossil heritage.Tawana is part of a new group of progressive academics who believe that it is up to scientists to promote the discipline. South Africa has experienced a shortage of scientists and graduates in the field of science and technology for years.Tawana’s interest is in palaeoanthropology, a branch of palaeontology that studies the evolution of humans.“I think it’s terrible that I only first learned about palaeoanthropology when I was already in university,” she says, adding that she finds the field exciting and fun.When she enrolled at Wits University with the intent to study medicine, Tawana didn’t know that a short course in palaeontology, taught by Dr Lucinda Backwell, would grab her attention.Born in the same area where the Taung Child, a fossilised skull of a juvenile Australopithecus africanus, was discovered in 1924 by quarrymen excavating lime in Taung, a small town in the North West province.“I was instantly hooked,” she says, and immediately made arrangements to change courses.Reaching out to schoolsTawana’s experience as a student got her thinking about the predicament of many children in under- resourced schools across the country.“It is heart-breaking when I ask a child what a fossil is and they don’t know,” she says. “This motivates me to participate in outreach initiatives at schools.”All children should know about South Africa’s valuable fossil collection, says Tawana, who explains that it is one of the richest in the world, containing almost complete hominid skeletons.Tawana and Ndaba recently took their enthusiasm for palaeontology and fossils to the St Ansgar’s school in the Cradle of Humankind district.Every year the Maropeng cultural centre partners with the Cradle of Humankind Management Authority to give pupils from schools in the area an opportunity to visit the Sterkfontein Caves, the discovery site of two other world-famous fossil finds, Mrs Ples and Little Foot.The partnership came about three years ago after the authority identified a number of local schools that did not have the financial means to visit Maropeng.“What I want young boys and girls to know is that careers in palaeontology are suitable for anyone,” Tawana says.Exposing children to fossilsNdaba says Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves have a valuable role to educate children about fossils and the origins of humankind in a fun, interactive way.“How can children become interested in something they have never seen?”Dealing with mistaken beliefs about fossils and palaeontology can be a major challenge for a young person thinking about following a career in this field, says Ndaba.“When I used to return from the fossil site, my father would tell me to wash because I had been working with dead people. It took me a long time to get him to understand what it was that I was doing,” she recalls.Career highlightsFor Tawana, participating in excavations is always a highlight. “Every time I go to a site I experience a mixture of anxiety and suspense,” she says. “You never know what you are going to find.”One of Ndaba’s most memorable experiences is excavations of the Malapa site at the Cradle. Here significant parts of a skeleton, believed to be an entirely new species of hominid named Australopithecus sediba, were discovered in 2009.“While I was busy digging, I found a pelvis, one of the parts of Sediba,” she recalls. “I thought I found nothing, but I learnt that this was a very important find.” The pelvis is used to determine how ancient humans walked.“The atmosphere on site is crazy when you make a find,” says Ndaba. “There is a lot of activity with pictures being taken and filming.”Leaders in palaeontologyThe two scientists attribute their interest in palaeoanthropology to leaders in the field, such as Dr Lucinda Backwell and Prof Lee Berger.“Lee has been like a father,” Ndaba says. “He wants us all to succeed!”Tawana says Prof Phillip Tobias, who died earlier this year, also made a significant impact on her career.She recalls spending a weekend with Tobias in Taung on an outreach programme. “He was surrounded by kids, and he made time for them,” she says. “It was such an honour to know him and work with someone of his calibre. He was such a motivator.”We are fortunate to have many more people like him in this field, such as Berger and a Backwell, Tawana added.More science graduates needed in SAThere are growing concerns among various stakeholders such as the government and the academic and research fields that South Africa is not producing enough graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.According to the Paleontological Society of Southern Africa, there is a chronic shortage of qualified palaeontologists in the country, and a need to expand the industry’s limited skills base.This is why promoting this area of study is so important.A human capital development report by the National Research Foundation suggests that areas such as palaeontology, palaeoanthropology and archaeology offer special research, tourism and educational opportunities in South Africa.Tawana hopes that some of their stories will leave a lasting impression on the pupils of St Ansgar’s.“By the show of hands it was clear that few of them had intended to pursue a career in science,” she says. “Hopefully our stories and passion for the field convinced them that a career in the field can be interesting and fun.”last_img read more

Emirates crash probe finds no problems with aircraft systems

first_imgAir safety investigators probing a fiery Emirates crash a year ago say they have found no evidence of problems with the aircraft’s systems or engines.The Boeing 777-300 was landing at Dubai International Airport after a flight from Trivandrum International Airport in India on August 3, 2016, when it crashed trying to perform a go-around.The new interim report by the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority boosted the number of reported injuries among passengers and crew from 24 to 30.It said 21 passengers, one pilot, and four cabin crew sustained minor injuries while four cabin crew were seriously injured.A firefighter also died from injuries sustained in a fireball when the centre wing fuel tank exploded.The aircraft landed too far down the runway as a headwind turned into a gradually increasing tailwind and the rear wheels touched down as the crew unsuccessfully attempted the rejected landing.As the aircraft reached an altitude of 85ft, it began to sink back towards the runway.Full thrust was applied three seconds before the crash but by the time the engines responded, one second before impact, it was too late.The rear of the aircraft hit the runway at 125 knots with the nose pitched up and one of the engines was ripped off the wing as the aircraft burst into flames.The interim statement said that a large number of aircraft systems had been tested with the help of manufacturers.An analysis of the data downloaded “indicates that there were no aircraft systems or engine abnormalities up to the time of the accident’’.“Regarding the operation of the flight the investigation is working to determine and analyse the human performance factors that influenced flight crew actions during the landing and attempted go-around,’’ the report said.“In addition, the Investigation has reviewed and has identified safety enhancements related to the validity of weather information that was passed to the flight crew, and communication between air traffic control and the flight crew.’’last_img read more

Boeing appoints veteran to head new safety push

first_imgSouthwest Airlines 737 MAX aircraft at Victorville, California. Image: KCAL9. Boeing has appointed a 34-year company veteran to head a new organization designed to streamline safety responsibilities across the company.Former Boeing Commercial Airplanes safety security and compliance vice president Beth Pasztor will head a new unit that aims unify safety-related responsibilities now managed by teams across several business and operating units.The Product Safety and Services organization will be responsible for reviewing all aspects of product safety, including investigating cases of undue pressure and anonymous concerns raised by employees.Pasztor will also oversee the company’s accident investigation team and safety review boards as well as the system that allows Boeing staff to represent the US  Federal Aviation Administration in airplane certification activities.Pasztor and other engineers throughout the company will report to Boeing chief engineer Greg Hyslop.The new appointment was one of several actions announced Monday by Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg in response to a five-month review by a special board committee in the wake of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes.READ: NTSB says MAX certification underestimated pilot experience.The crashes led to the global MAX fleet being grounded and sparked a review of controversial flight control software known as MCAS.Boeing is finalizing a new version of the flight control software aimed at proving to the FAA the grounded aircraft should be re-certified as safe to fly.The manufacturer is still optimistic this will happen early in the fourth quarter, although the optimism is not shared by a number of its customersIt also needs to convince the flying public, lawmakers and others that it has addressed any problems with its safety culture and processes.“My team and I embrace our board’s recommendations and are taking immediate steps to implement them across the company in partnership with our people, while continuing and expanding our ongoing efforts to strengthen safety across Boeing and the broader aerospace industry,’’ Muilenburg said in a statement.The Boeing chief told Bloomberg News he had considered external candidates to head the new team  before deciding Pasztor’s deep knowledge of Boeing would give her a running start.“She, from a technical qualification standpoint, is the best,’’ he said.Other responses to the committee recommendations by the company include the establishment of a design requirements program “to strengthen a culture of continuous improvement, learning and innovation”The company is also enhancing its Continued Operation Safety Program to raise “the visibility and transparency of all safety and potential safety reports” as well as partnering with customers to ensure flight deck designs continue to anticipate the needs of future pilots.In addition to the board’s recommendations, Muilenburg also announced additional steps to strengthen how it manages safety across the company and its suppliers.These included an anonymous reporting system from  Boeing Commercial Airplanes that had been expanded across the company and was encouraging employees to bring forward potential safety issues to be reviewed by the Product and Services Safety organization.Safety review boards had also been expanded and are now led by senior executives including the chief engineer and business unit chiefs.There were also investments in enhanced flight simulation and computing capabilities that had boosted the company’s testing capabilities.The company gave one example where software engineers over the past several weeks run 390,000 flight hours on the 737 MAX—the equivalent of flying 45 years.Advanced research and development efforts in future flight decks were also underway and were incorporating leading-edge work in human factors and design.“In addition to our focus on a common safety management system, we’re creating new leadership positions with the authority, accountability and transparency needed to make measurable progress; addressing the growing need for talent, pilot and maintenance technician training, and STEM education; as well as investing in areas such as product design, future flight decks, infrastructure, regulation and new technologies,’’ Muilenburg said.last_img read more

Servant Mentorship

first_imgAlmost everyone recognizes how important mentoring is.  I don’t know anyone who is successful who did not have at least one good mentor. I  know I am grateful for mine.Similarly, I don’t know any good leaders who don’t mentor to some degree.  It is more than a mark of a good leader; the mentoring makes the leader stronger by what he or she learns from the mentee.Of course, people define mentoring differently.  It should be more simply than showing someone the ropes or sharing inside baseball.A good mentor should have a vested interest in helping his or her mentee succeed.  Yes, I recognize that this definition begins to bleed into sponsorship as many define it.However, I believe the line between mentorship and sponsorship can be somewhat artificial.  In my views, the best mentorships include a sponsorship component.  The term I use is “servant mentorship.”One way that mentors can sponsor mentees is by opening doors for them.  “I can’t do this but I think this would be a great opportunity for you.”In these cases, the mentor feels good about the opportunity that he or she has provided. While this may benefit the mentee too, the mentor is benefiting by having someone safe do what he or she cannot.Don’t get me wrong.  That’s not a bad thing.  But it’s not as wonderful as it may make the mentor feel.For me, the best test as to whether someone is a servant mentor is whether they lean back so their mentee can lean in.  That means giving up an opportunity for the mentee so that he or she can grow.“I can do this, but I think you would be great. If you want it, it’s yours.”Mentees know the difference.  And, I believe, they respond in kind.Opening a door for someone when you cannot walk in is not “servant mentorship.”  Not walking in the door when you can but sending your mentee instead is.Next month I will be giving my monthly slot to a mentee.  Thank you to SHRM for joining me in service mentorship.last_img read more

For Brevity’s Sake: NextStop, Twitter for Activities Launches

first_imgTags:#start#startups A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… dana oshirocenter_img Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Created by former Google employees Carl Sjorgreen and Adrian Graham, privately funded San Francisco-based Nextstop launched this morning to help thrill seekers, tourists and foodies find the concise recommendations they need to plan their daily excursions. At first glance, Nextstop may appear like an amalgamation of crowd-sourced review site Yelp, Yahoo’s event site Upcoming and travel listing site Dopplr; however, the site has two major differences – recommendations are positive and can only contain a maximum of 160 characters. Nextstop hopes to remove the presence of rants and emotional weather reports from the discovery process. The company’s commitment to brevity and positive discovery ensures that recommendations stay relevant and therefore more conducive to search than some earlier review-space predecessors. In other words, Nextstop is scaling back the capabilities of user-generated content for the sake of utility. You might actually find a good Chinese restaurant on your first try. In addition to the limitation/feature of the 160 character count, Nextstop’s contributors reap the benefits of Google’s APIs as each recommendation is met with automatic address and image suggestions. And like any child of the 2.0 era, what would a recommendation site be without Facebook and Twitter and blog integration? Nextstop also sponsors community Challenges to encourage new recommendations. Challenges generally consist of top 5 lists with recommendations on everything from hot spots in Salt Lake City to vegetarian restaurants in New York. Upon completion of many of these challenges, Nextstop makes a donation to a local charity in the area of the recommendation. To complete a challenge in your city visit nextstop.com/communitychallenges.last_img read more

Tuning up LP for Greater Horsepower and Better Performance

first_imgIt’s always refreshing to see a company that’s been in operation for nearly a century adapt new technologies and move away from old ways of doing business. There is somewhat of a danger in being in continuous business for that long—the danger of complacency; the danger of thinking “We’ve always done it that way;” or even the danger of simply bucking change for the sake of taking a safe, risk-free position.Pep Boys is a company that has seen substantial change in the ninety-one years it’s been in business. This American auto parts icon hardly needs an introduction. Originally founded in 1921 as a single retail location in Philadelphia, Pep Boys is now a $2 billion powerhouse that operates over 700 stores throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as running over 7,000 service bays.It’s a multi-faceted business operation that caters to all aspects of the consumer automotive industry, from parts and service to shade-tree, do-it-yourself mechanics. Pep Boys thoroughly embraces the unique American love affair with the automobile, and carries thousands of aftermarket parts for customizing your ride; a pastime that is perhaps more important to Americans than any other culture in the world. If it belongs on a car or truck, there is a good chance Pep Boys can sell it to you, fix it for you, or upgrade it.- Sponsor – A Multifaceted Loss Prevention LandscapeIt’s hard to encapsulate the loss prevention challenges endemic to Pep Boys without having a good feel for the landscape of this very diverse company. While Pep Boys has the usual retail challenges, it must also contend with some issues that are peculiar to the type of business it conducts, which is more or less unlike anything out there. The business model isn’t solely retail, it is also comprised of a service segment with lots of parts, tools, and other consumables to track, as well as a massive reverse logistics model to track core returns. On top of that, Pep Boys also has five distribution centers, where the chain’s gargantuan parts supplies are stored. Finally, there are over 19,000 associates who work in the stores as well as the distribution centers.In charge of the company’s loss prevention efforts and directly in charge of this formidable array of hydra-like problem areas is Bryan Hoppe, who was recently promoted to the position of vice president of store operations. Up until this promotion, Hoppe was the vice president of asset protection; a position he held for four years.Not only is Hoppe a career loss prevention and operations professional, he’s also a career auto parts expert. Hoppe got his start in the industry in 1995, when he began a stint with Western Auto Supply Company, where he was a store manager for two years. After that, he embarked on a ten-year career with auto parts giant Advance Auto Parts, where he started as a store manager. By the time he left Advance in 2008 to join Pep Boys, he was in charge of asset protection for the company.While career loss prevention executives aren’t particularly rare, it’s definitely rare to see an executive who has worked within the same industry segment for his whole career. Typically, loss prevention executives tend to cross-pollinate, moving from retail segment to retail segment, even though the actual product each company sells might be totally different. In this case Hoppe brings a remarkable amount of focused expertise from which Pep Boys can directly benefit.The Way Things WereWhen Hoppe came on board in 2008, he found Pep Boys to be pursuing an asset protection model that was, for the most part, outdated. “We were following an SOP-based model,” says Hoppe, “a model where we would conduct lots of investigations and audits.” As a matter of fact, Hoppe found that the LP staff in place included top-notch professionals who believed in what they were doing and gave asset protection their best efforts. Whereas a substandard AP model can oftentimes be blamed on substandard personnel, clearly, this wasn’t the case at Pep Boys. It was just a matter of the way they were looking at the problem.Hoppe has an interesting, but poignant anecdote to describe the problem: “When someone walks into a Home Depot and asks for a drill bit, what do they really want?” he muses. “They want a hole. That’s the problem. We were so focused on the drill bit that we lost sight of the hole.”Essentially, what the LP department of Pep Boys was trying to do was to kill the shrink problem with standard operating procedures, almost, in a sense, trying to legislate the shrink problem out of existence. Areas of shrink would be indentified, and then large, detailed, and expansive audits would be performed. The audits would in turn prompt the genesis of a new series of rules, procedures, and checklists that needed to be followed by the individual store—all the while completely missing what the root cause of the shrink problem was in the first place. “Our entire shrink plan was SOP based, with not a lot of root-cause analysis,” states Hoppe, “We were doing things that were industry best practices for years, but we wound up with hundreds of SOPs.”As with other companies, Pep Boys also had a strong investigative loss prevention model that focused heavily on investigations, both for internal and external theft. The investigations model is a vestige of early loss prevention efforts, a mindset of cops versus criminals, and curiously, it still pervades modern loss prevention even though it’s been proven multiple times in different market sectors that outright theft isn’t usually the major cause of shrink within an organization. “We were seeing shrink as a theft problem rather than a business problem,” says Hoppe.All of these audits and SOPs were eventually becoming burdensome to the stores and store managers, who simply couldn’t keep up with the rules and procedures being pushed down from above. “With all the stuff a store manager has to think about, you’re getting his attention for around 15 to 30 minutes per week,” states Hoppe, who soon realized he needed to remove burdens from stores, rather than add to them.Turning the RudderIt didn’t take Hoppe long to realize that the ship needed to change course. He took stock of his situation, and found himself surrounded by quality and seasoned loss prevention professionals, but ones who needed a new focus. According to Hoppe, “In my mind there are three different types of loss prevention organizations. The first is the police/audit type, where everything is a criminal investigation. The second is the consultant culture, where extensive rules are developed and an attempt is made to legislate shrink out of existence. The third is what I call ‘operationalizing the LP,’ and that’s what we went with.”Even though you might not find “operationalizing” in your dictionary, Hoppe’s concept of the idea definitely bears looking into. Essentially, Hoppe implemented a structure in which loss prevention professionals started to perceive themselves as business partners with operations. They began to take ownership of loss prevention problems rather than blaming it on another department or even some unseen thief. “Cradle to the grave, we now own the shrink problem,” states Hoppe. “We all share the responsibility to manage shrink.”An excellent example of this was Pep Boy’s move to have high-shrink products spider-wrapped at the distribution centers as well as reaching out to vendors to have them rethink their packaging rather than letting the stores deal with the problem. It was a classic loss prevention problem—certain products were packaged from a sales standpoint rather than from a security standpoint. In the old way of doing things, “We would build an extensive audit and then update the SOP,” says Hoppe. In the new way of doing things, “We had the distribution centers wrap the merchandise. They’re set up to do that, while the stores aren’t.” The solution not only solved that particular shrink problem, it shifted the burden of dealing with that problem away from the stores and onto the distribution center, which was better equipped to deal with it. “We needed to take the job of merchandise protection out of the stores,” states Hoppe.Ownership of shrink is also a big theme in Hoppe’s master plan. He describes former practices at Pep Boys like this: “In the past, we’d send an auditor to a store. Twenty-one days later, an investigator might come by. Seven days after that, perhaps an AP manager would pay the store a visit. Then there would be a question; who owns what?” This example illustrates the overlap in duties, as well as the complete lack of ownership of the actual responsibility for the problem.Like many loss prevention executives who have seen the light on outdated LP models, Hoppe started out in part by eliminating certain roles within the LP department. The investigator role and the auditor role were axed, with those personnel shifted over to the larger, more overarching asset protection role. Hoppe then modeled the organizational structure of these personnel after the operations division. For each operations position, a corresponding asset protection position was created, and thus the area and divisional levels of operations and LP became perfectly aligned. Currently, each AP manager is responsible for everything shrink and claims related within the stores under his control.New Ideas and New TechnologyHoppe’s new ideas came in the form of an “eye-level” shrink program, comprised of three separate components. First off was the requisite corporate culture change needed in order to convince non-asset protection employees that AP was important and reducing shrink was everyone’s responsibility. This was followed by innovation, which comprised of SOP refinements and the building of a better AP process. Finally, some investment was inevitably needed to equip Pep Boys with a much needed shot in the arm technology wise.Part of Pep Boys’ technology purchase was devoted to the widespread roll out of CCTV systems and DVRs, which the company had previously not devoted much attention to. This also helped the company curb in-store theft as well as the inevitable shrink and accidents that are associated with Pep’s service-bay operation.One of Pep Boys’ biggest process refinement and technology rollouts revolved around the reverse logistics model that necessarily pervades their operations. It’s a problem that’s peculiar to auto parts and similar stores, and it revolves around the concept of a core charge. The way it works is that the customer orders an auto part, and besides the cost of the part itself, the customer is charged what is known in the industry as a “core charge.” The customer then installs the part he or she purchased, and brings the old part back into Pep Boys, and is subsequently refunded the core charge fee. From there, Pep Boys sends the old part to be refurbished and then the refurbished part is sold again, starting the process over again.With this model, the customer had an overwhelming incentive to return the old part, because they inevitably wanted a refund of their core charge. Pep Boys associates, however, had no such incentive, and subsequently, many core return parts were thrown away, forgotten, or lost, resulting in a huge expense. Realize that without the rebuildable core, Pep Boys can’t resell that part, and the part therefore becomes a loss to the company. “Ninety-five percent of our reverse logistics never made it onto the pallet,” says Hoppe, speaking of the way it used to be. “It was process shrink, not theft.”Hoppe decided to curb this by giving each core part a bar-coded “license plate.” Now, when a core part is returned, it’s scanned into the system and tied to a manifest. Hoppe and his team can now tell whether that part made it onto the pallet, and subsequently made it to the distribution center. “Before, there was a lack of buy in at the store level. It resulted in a big, black hole at the end of the year,” says Hoppe. Associates were also polled, asking their opinions on the AP process in general. During this process, it was noted that the conventional LP awareness program using posters that were posted in each retail location were universally disliked and seldom if ever read. Hoppe and his team replaced these with a fun course and more personalized instruction at the behest of employees, which has thus far turned into a success. In addition, the program includes an online training technology that encourages associate participation and reinforces the messaging (see sidebar page 46).The Road Ahead Kevin CookWith current shrink numbers literally a shadow of what they used to be, one would think Hoppe would have every reason to sit on his laurels and simply keep going in the same direction, but he’s not. This may be part of the reason he was promoted to the coveted role of VP of store operations. While AP still falls under Hoppe’s jurisdiction, he could have easily filled his old spot with one of his protégés. However, he decided to take a different course of action, hiring LP industry veteran Kevin Cook to lead the charge.Cook is also a veteran of Advance Auto Parts and is extremely results driven. When asked why he would recruit someone outside the company rather than promote from within, Hoppe stated, “I knew he would come in and question everything I did. Kevin’s mandate is to improve on what we have right now, not what we had four years ago.”It’s an interesting philosophy to be sure, and it’s a bold one as well, since all of Hoppe’s decisions will be scrutinized for efficacy at his own behest. Putting a fresh set of eyes on what Pep Boys has been doing for the last four years under Hoppe’s watch is also incredibly humble, to say the least. That’s mainly because Hoppe is trying to build a leaner, meaner Pep Boys rather than trying to validate his accomplishments. “He’s going to revisit everything I’ve done,” states Hoppe.  Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

Keira Knightley Travels To South Sudan With Oxfam

first_imgOn the third anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, British actress Keira Knightley is calling on the public to support Oxfam’s appeal for South Sudan after witnessing ‘firsthand’ the desperate plight of families struggling to survive.Keira Knightley In South SudanKeira said: “I had no idea what to expect when I arrived in South Sudan, but what I saw and heard was worse than I could have ever imagined. All of those I met were suffering a terrible trauma unbearable to comprehend. I spoke to women who have lost their husbands and children within months of one another. They are now alone trying desperately to get through each day struggling to provide enough food and water to keep them and their remaining children alive.”
Since the conflict broke out in December 2013, more than 1.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes in search of safety. Most people fleeing with just the clothes on their backs, leaving behind possessions, crops and livestock with no means to buy food, water or other vital essentials. South Sudan is Africa’s worse crisis with nearly 4 million – a third of the country’s population – at risk of severe hunger. The UN has warned that if the aid effort does not increase 50,000 children could die from malnutrition.
Last month, Keira travelled with Oxfam to Bor camp, Jonglei State, one of the most affected areas of South Sudan. Here, like in other camps people are living in atrocious conditions and walking knee deep in mud and water. Poor sanitation has already taken many lives through the spread of disease, ever increasing with the seasonal heavy rains.
Keira continues: “The people I met are facing a relentless crisis of war, hunger and disease. I saw the amazing work Oxfam are doing day in and day out to ensure that people have safe water to drink, and food to eat, but the situation is getting worse and resources are running out. I met just a few of the thousands of families who are desperately trying to survive each day but they can’t do it alone, they need our help.”
As the humanitarian situation deteriorates, with famine a real threat in the coming months, Keira is helping shine a light on this crisis in support of Oxfam’s urgent appeal to provide food and water to thousands of families who are in desperate need.Mark Goldring, Oxfam Chief Executive, said: “We are grateful to Keira for travelling with Oxfam to see for herself the devastating nature of this crisis, and the terrifying situation facing the people of South Sudan – just three years after their nation’s independence.
“This is a country at tipping point. We will be staring into the abyss and fail to avert a famine if funds do not start arriving soon to help the people of South Sudan at risk of starvation, disease and violence.
“The people of South Sudan need an end to the fighting, but with peace talks stalled there is little hope of a swift end to the conflict. In the meantime, Oxfam are working tirelessly to reach thousands of people with food and water but there are thousands more need our help. For the sake of our common humanity we cannot look away at this time of crisis.”
People can donate here.Source:Oxfam.org.uklast_img read more

How serious are Nusrat and Mimi about Parliament Twitterati reacts

first_imgNusrat and Mimi’s skipping the oath-taking ceremony did not go down well with the netizens.Outrage poured in from all directions on social media when first-time MPs Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty skipped the Lok Sabha oath-taking ceremony as it clashed with Jahan’s wedding in Turkey’s Bodrum.Jahan, who won the Basirhat seat with a margin of over 3 lakh votes, got married to businessman Nikhil Jain on June 19. The wedding was a close affair with only their friends and relatives present. Actor-turned-politician Mimi Chakraborty was also in attendance.However, the MPs’ missing taking oath as Lok Sabha members did not go down well with the netizens. While a number of people congratulated Jahan on the wedding picture shared by her on Twitter, others reminded her of her duty as the representatives of people in her constituency.”This is the level of respect they have for the parliament and the public which voted them in. As if we needed more proof about how serious they are about this whole thing,” wrote a Twitter user on the new of Jahan’s marriage.This is your MP Bengal!! I feel pity of you all for choosing her who cares a little to attend the first session of Parliament. I wonder one who consciously misses the oath taking session can ever become voice of Public that choses her!! ?? https://t.co/Fpx78SLKoW— ??????? ?????????? (@Harshit_Adv) June 20, 2019U should be taking oath of Mla isn’t it????But u r still busy in family chores— Gourav Sarkar (@GouravKing06) June 21, 2019Another Twitter user said that he hoped the people of her constituency see more participation by the MPs in the next five years. “MP and her friend MP misses Oath Ceremony, Hope the people who voted for them do not miss their voices for next 5 years,” he said.On a picture shared by Mimi Chakraborty from Turkey on Instagram, a user wrote, “Ladies and gentlemen this is our beloved MP who is so responsible that she is going to miss her first day at the parliament!!! Kudos!!””What an irresponsible human being and public personality. People of West Bengal will always regret this mistake. She has time to pose for photoshoots, but no time to attend the parliament,” said another user on Instagram.A number of others also tried giving the wedding a communal colour, criticising her for getting married outside her religion.last_img read more

Govt to install electronic weighing machines at all markets under KMC

first_imgKolkata: The state Consumer Affairs department has decided to install electronic weighing machines at all the markets in the city that are maintained by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). This will enable customers to weigh things purchased by them and feel convinced that they have not been cheated by the shopkeeper.”As per law, there is punishment for the shopkeepers who cheat people by giving them things lesser than the original weight. However, a section of shopkeepers would continue to cheat customers. Often, the common people complain that some shopkeepers manipulate their weighing machines to fleece customers. We want to ensure that customers are not cheated by any means,” state Consumer Affairs minister Sadhan Pande said. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeIt may be mentioned that the KMC had held a meeting with the Consumer Affairs department and had urged the minister to install modern technology based electronic weighing machines at all the 46 municipal markets in the city owned by KMC. The minister has already spoken with Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and the concerned Member, Mayor-in-Council (Market) Amiruddin Bobby. “I have asked the civic body to allocate space in the municipal markets so that we can set up kiosks for placing these machines. The Mayor has already directed his concerned officials to take steps in this regard,” Pande said. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedAccording to sources in the Consumer Affairs department, the price of each machine that will be installed will be in the range of Rs 30,000. “If customers, after buying fish, meat, vegetables etc. from the markets feel that shopkeepers have cheated them by giving things of less weight than what they had asked for, they can check it on their own,” a senior official of the department said. The department has plans to gradually introduce such weighing machines at all the markets in the city. “It was a long-standing demand of people in the city. We are hopeful that people will be immensely benefitted by this move and at the same time, unlawful practice on the part of a section of shopkeepers can be prevented,” Member, Mayor-in-Council (Market) Amiruddin Bobby said.last_img read more

TensorFlowjs Architecture and applications

first_imgIn a paper published last month, Google developers explained the design, API, and implementation of TensorFlow.js, the JavaScript implementation of TensorFlow. TensorFlow.js was first introduced at the TensorFlow Dev Summit 2018. It is basically the successor of deeplearn.js, which was released in August 2017, and is now named as TensorFlow.js Core. Google’s motivation behind creating TensorFlow.js was to bring machine learning in the hands of web developers who generally do not have much experience with machine learning. It also aims at allowing experienced ML users and teaching enthusiasts to easily migrate their work to JS. The TensorFlow.js architecture TensorFlow.js, as the name suggests, is based on TensorFlow, with a few exceptions specific to the JS environment. This library comes with the following two sets of APIs: The Ops API facilitates lower-level linear algebra operations such as matrix, multiplication, tensor addition, and so on. The Layers API, similar to the Keras API, provide developers high-level model building blocks and best practices with emphasis on neural networks. Source: TensorFlow.js TensorFlow.js backends In order to support device-specific kernel implementations, TensorFlow.js has a concept of backends. Currently it supports three backends: the browser, WebGL, and Node.js. The two new rising web standards, WebAssembly and WebGPU, will also be supported as a backend by TensorFlow.js in the future. To utilize the GPU for fast parallelized computations, TensorFlow.js relies on WebGL, a cross-platform web standard that provides low-level 3D graphics APIs. Among the three TensorFlow.js backends, the WebGL backend has the highest complexity. With the introduction of Node.js and event-driven programming, the use of JS in server-side applications has grown over time. Server-side JS has full access to the filesystem, native operating system kernel, and existing C and C++ libraries. In order to support the server-side use cases of machine learning in JavaScript, TensorFlow.js comes with a Node.js backend that binds to the official TensorFlow C API using the N-API. As a fallback, TensorFlow.js provides a slower CPU implementation in plain JS. This fallback can run in any execution environment and is automatically used when the environment has no access to WebGL or the TensorFlow binary. Current applications of TensorFlow.js Since its launch, TensorFlow.js have seen its applications in various domains. Here are some of the interesting examples the paper lists: Gestural Interfaces TensorFlow.js is being used in applications that take gestural inputs with the help of webcam. Developers are using this library to build applications that translate sign language to speech translation, enable individuals with limited motor ability control a web browser with their face, and perform real-time facial recognition and pose-detection. Research dissemination The library has facilitated ML researchers to make their algorithms more accessible to others. For instance, the Magenta.js library, developed by the Magenta team, provides in-browser access to generative music models. Porting to the web with TensorFlow.js has increased the visibility of their work with their audience, namely musicians. Desktop and production applications In addition to web development, JavaScript has been used to develop desktop and production applications. Node Clinic, an open source performance profiling tool, recently integrated a TensorFlow.js model to separate CPU usage spikes by the user from those caused by Node.js internals. Another example is, Mood.gg Desktop, which is a desktop application powered by Electron, a popular JavaScript framework for writing cross-platform desktop apps. With the help of TensorFlow.js, Mood.gg detects which character the user is playing in the game called Overwatch, by looking at the user’s screen. It then plays a custom soundtrack from a music streaming site that matches with the playing style of the in-game character. Read the paper, Tensorflow.js: Machine Learning for the Web and Beyond, for more details. Read Next TensorFlow.js 0.11.1 releases! Emoji Scavenger Hunt showcases TensorFlow.js 16 JavaScript frameworks developers should learn in 2019last_img read more