January 12

Police search for convenience store robber in Grande Prairie

first_imgGrande Prairie RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to identify the person responsible for a convenience store robbery.The robbery occurred at 3:30 a.m. Friday when police say a single male entered the store on 96 St. and 100 Ave. waving around a weapon. They say he demanded money from the female employee, which he received and then left the store heading north on 96 St.- Advertisement -The male is described as being 6’4” tall. He was wearing a balaclava, glasses, a black, thin jacket with small white stripes and an emblem on the front left side, along with jeans, white running shoes and leather gloves at the time of the incident.Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to contact the Grande Prairie RCMP detachment at 250-830-5700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.last_img read more

December 20

Warriors share their favorite memories at Oracle Arena

first_imgClick here if you’re unable to view the gallery on your mobile device.Klay Thompson subscribes. You can too for just 11 cents a day for 11 months + receive a free Warriors Championship book. Sign me up!OAKLAND – The memories will stay vivid for the rest of their lives. And how can it not? Those moments marked the times the Warriors felt their ears popped.That experience will happen again when the Warriors (55-24) play the Los Angeles Clippers (47-35) on Sunday at Oracle Arena. Not only do …last_img read more

December 18

South Africa celebrates Arbor Week

first_img3 September 2012 The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Northern Cape Agriculture MEC Norman Shushu launched South Africa’s Arbor Week on Saturday by planting fruit trees, establishing vegetable gardens and distributing seed packs and seedlings to local communities. Shushu visited a communal organic vegetable garden in Platfontein outside Kimberley, where he planted vegetables which will assist in alleviating poverty and contributing towards food security in the area. Two hundred households within the Xun and Khwen communities were also given vegetable seed packs and seedlings.Backyard gardens ‘can beat poverty’ Shushu said the establishment of vegetable gardens would help rural communities produce food in their own backyard gardens and thereby fight soaring food prices. “It is less expensive for communities to produce their own food through backyard gardens, as this can help to fight the current high food prices. Most importantly, we also want our people to understand the role that trees play in our environment and the role they play in our lives,” he said. At Galeshewe stadium outside Kimberley, Shushu participated in the planting of 20 olive trees before addressing the main Arbor Week launch event. About 2 000 more fruit trees were planted and distributed in the Sol Plaatjie Municipality. “The destruction of the environment is leading to the destruction of humanity, so if we are to have a sustainable future, it means we must look after our trees, our forests and our environment,” Shushu said. “Without the protection of the environment, there is no future, that’s why all of us are encouraged to join government and our partners to ensure that we make our cities and townships green.”Arbor City Awards Another highlight of the launch of Arbor Week was the Arbor City Awards, introduced to promote the greening of cities and towns in the 283 local and eight metropolitan municipalities across South Africa. The award is given to cities and towns that “go the extra mile” to green the areas under their jurisdiction The Khara Hais local municipality, which governs the town of Upington in the Northern Cape, won the local municipal category, while the City of Johannesburg won in the metropolitan category. Both the City of Johannesburg and Khara Hais received a R300 000 cash prize, trophy and certificate.‘Our Forests – Our Future’ Arbor Day was first celebrated by South Africa in 1983. The day has since been extended from Arbor Day to National Arbor Week, held in the first week of September. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Our Forests – Our Future”. It affords the government, the private sector, non-governmental and community-based organisations and the public to be involved in greening their communities. Greening refers to an integrated approach to the planting, care and management of all vegetation in urban and rural areas, to secure multiple benefits for communities. In the South African context, greening takes place in towns, townships and informal settlements specifically because in the past these areas were disadvantaged in terms of planning for parks as well as tree planting in streets and open spaces. The government and its partners will use National Arbor Week to undertake a major national awareness programme that will bring attention to the value of trees, especially in the many disadvantaged communities who often live in barren and water-stressed areas. Trees play a significant role in social and economic development, poverty alleviation and job creation. Planting gardens and fruit trees may also improve access to nutritious food, encourage healthy diet choices and play a significant role in household food security when integrated with other programmes. Source: SANews.gov.zalast_img read more

December 16

California Approves a Pilot Program for Energy Upgrades

first_imgHomes across one of the most polluted and disadvantaged regions in California will be outfitted with state-of-the-art, electric-powered heating systems and appliances free of cost under a pilot program approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. The 4-1 vote to fund the installation of high-efficiency electric heat pumps and other energy-efficient upgrades in up to 1,667 San Joaquin Valley homes is a first in California. The approximately $50 million project is expected to save participating households about $1,500 in energy costs each year, while also slashing local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The pilot is an important step in advancing the use of clean electric heating technologies and diminishing California’s dependence on fossil fuels. It will aid low-income homeowners and renters in 11 communities where outmoded home heating systems fueled by propane and wood contribute significantly to choking air pollution. If successful, these pilots will inform the rollout of a larger program to serve 160 additional communities across the San Joaquin Valley.RELATED ARTICLESCalifornia Project Tinkers With a Net-Zero FutureCalifornia’s Solar Panel EdictTaking Aim at California’s Low-Carbon TargetThe California ModelCalifornia Meets Carbon Emissions Goal Early This initiative will also demonstrate to policymakers in other states and at the federal level how replacing residential appliances reliant on fossil fuels with highly efficient electric systems could reduce carbon pollution nationwide. According to a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, using clean heating technologies in homes and businesses could cut U.S. carbon pollution by 10%. Water and space heating among the upgrades Under the program, homes heated by propane and wood in Allensworth, California City, Cantua Creek, Ducor, Fairmead, Le Grand, La Vina, Seville, and West Goshen will be outfitted with modern electric heaters and other appliances that will reduce pollution in their homes from burning fossil fuels. The improvements will include super-high efficiency heat-pump water heaters and space heaters, solar water heating, advanced weatherization measures, induction cooktops, smart thermostats, and high-efficiency electric dryers. All the appliances will include service guarantees to ensure a positive experience for residents. In disadvantaged communities such as those in the San Joaquin Valley where average annual household income is about $31,000, the new technologies could make a difference not just in the air people breathe, but in the money in their wallets. Low-income families spend a higher percentage of their income on energy bills, often more than twice as much as middle-wage earners, and more than three times as much as high-income families. The program will also provide new jobs opportunities and training in the region. The PUC decision also funds new natural gas service to 224 homes in California City, and may be extended to fund gas service (instead of electrification) in 210 of the 1,667 electric pilot homes if Southern California Gas Company can identify a funding source to cover the much higher cost of gas infrastructure, as compared to the cost of electrification, for two communities (Allensworth and Seville). Unfortunately, these new gas infrastructure investments could likely get stranded in the transition to a decarbonized future, potentially creating risk and higher costs for the utility and customers in the long run. This pilot is part of a concerted effort by California state and local officials to cut carbon emissions by transitioning to clean energy. In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 3232 that sets the stage for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from California’s residential and commercial buildings by 40% by 2030 below 1990 levels, and Senate Bill 1477 that directs $50 million a year towards clean heating technologies and reducing emissions from new buildings. Work remains to be done The state has a long way to go. Homes and buildings are responsible for 25% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Synapse Energy Economics report commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and released in October. Over half of that pollution emanates from burning gas and propane. If a third of California’s buildings switched to clean electric space and water heating technology by 2030, heating emissions would fall by 7 million metric tons per year. That is equivalent to cutting the annual emissions from 1.5 million cars — or avoiding the pollution from nearly four 500-megawatt gas power plants running around the clock. Against that backdrop, support in California is broad for exploring and testing innovative ways to reduce climate and air pollution generated by homes and buildings, according to a poll released in June. The survey found that 61% of Californians back incentives for using clean electricity to heat home and offices. Support for clean heating technologies is high across genders, ethnicities, and California regions. Policies that encourage clean heating technologies receive backing from 65% of respondents when the policies also reduce utility bills. Innovative solutions are especially important amid two landmark climate reports underscoring the need for immediate and broad action to limit global warming and its impacts, one from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the other from 13 U.S. government agencies in the 4th National Climate Assessment. But while high-efficiency electric heat pumps and other clean technologies for space and water heating are available today, few contractors or customers are aware of them. The technology is relatively new, and while the pumps can deliver better long-term energy and utility bill savings, they cost more upfront than conventional heating equipment. Under the pilot, residents will not have to pay for the new appliances. The pilot project aims to give the technologies greater visibility. If it reaps expected energy and cost savings, the Public Utilities Commission will consider extending the program to more than 160 other communities in the San Joaquin Valley.   Merrian Borgeson is a senior scientist in the climate & clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. This post originally appeared at the NRDC Expert Blog and is republished here with permission.last_img read more

October 24

Overcoming Down’s Syndrome

first_img This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down’s syndrome. March 21 is observed annually as World Down’s Syndrome Day and is used to heighten awareness about the condition as well as highlight the positive contributions that can be made by persons living with it.The chromosomal abnormality affects one in every seven hundred (700) babies born each year.Statistics have shown that the risk of children being born with the condition increases in cases where mothers are over age 35.The condition occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down’s syndrome.“Genetically, our cells are made up of 22 pairs of chromosomes; an error in cell division called nondisjunction results in a reproductive cell with an abnormal number of chromosomes,” Paediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Charmaine Scott, tells JIS News.The condition, she further explains, can be detected during gestation by conducting a test referred to as amniocentesis, where amniotic fluid is sampled using a hollow needle inserted into the uterus to screen for any abnormalities in the developing fetus.For Judith Richards, whose daughter, Jada Richards, has the abnormality, news came a day after she was born in 2005, when the physician examining the youngster asked her to take the child for further assessments.Dr. Scott confirmed Jada’s condition following diagnosis of the symptoms and her condition.This marked the beginning of a new and unfamiliar journey for second-time parents, Radcliffe and Judith Richards.Jada was found to have a heart condition called atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) and required urgent surgery, which was scheduled for January of 2006 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.The surgery was undertaken to close a hole in her heart and to divide a single pulmonary vein to create a second that would lead oxygenated blood to the lungs.“Jada was slightly blue when she was born. The doctor said that it was caused by a lack of oxygenated blood flowing to the lungs,” Mrs. Richards explains.Following the surgery, Jada’s condition improved significantly under the watchful eyes of her parents; older brother, Radj, who was eight at the time of her birth; and doctors, who monitored her developmental progress.Although it took Jada almost two years to learn how to walk and about five to start speaking relatively fluently, she remained bubbly and full of life.“I would put her feet on mine and walk with her as a means of modelling for her to catch on,” Mrs. Richards points out.A physiotherapist was assigned to assist Jada with muscle development, as soft or weak muscles are also a common trait of Down’s syndrome.Despite functioning at the level of a six-year-old, Jada is now a very independent and fun-loving 12-year-old who attends the Windsor School of Special Education in May Pen Clarendon, where she is in grade Seven.“She is doing very well in school; I went to a parents’ meeting at her school and the teachers are very impressed with her progress, and she has a very positive attitude,” says Mrs. Richards, who is Principal of Alley Primary School in the parish.Mrs. Richards further said that in her spare time, Jada is a very creative make-up artist who demonstrates her skills on her dolls as well as her face.“She watches the make-up videos on YouTube and replicates whatever she sees in the tutorial, and she has fun doing this. It is one of her favourite pastimes as well as modelling,” Mrs. Richards tells JIS News.Many persons with Down’s syndrome struggle with a range of ailments that sometimes include respiratory illness, hearing impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions.Jada has, however, been fortunate to have fairly good health after overcoming her initial heart condition.Mrs. Richards is currently a board member of the Down’s syndrome Foundation and is instrumental in coaching parents whose children have Down’s syndrome.She encourages them to accept that their youngsters are different and seek early intervention, while including them in daily activities.“They have their own contributions to make to society, and if we exercise the patience that is necessary to facilitate this, we would sometimes be amazed,” Mrs. Richards points out. Story Highlights Statistics have shown that the risk of children being born with the condition increases in cases where mothers are over age 35. March 21 is observed annually as World Down’s Syndrome Day and is used to heighten awareness about the condition as well as highlight the positive contributions that can be made by persons living with it.last_img read more

August 26

Researchers release unCaptcha2 a tool that uses Googles speechtotext API to bypass

first_imgA team of researchers at the University of Maryland released unCaptcha2 last week, an updated version of their tool Uncaptcha that defeated Google’s reCAPTCHA audio challenge with 85.15% accuracy in 2017. Google’s Audio challenge is aimed at solving reCAPTCHA’s accessibility problem for visually challenged people who can’t see where to “tick the box” to prove that they’re a human and not a robot. Hence, they’re offered an option to listen to the audio and enter what they hear as a response. UnCaptcha, which was released in 2017, managed to pass the reCAPTCHA audio system by using an approach that involved downloading the audio and segmenting it. These segments were then uploaded to multiple speech-to-text services, which in turn would convert the message.                                                         unCaptcha Finally, the response obtained would be typed into the reCAPTCHA form to solve the challenge. However, after the attack in 2017, Google updated the reCAPTCHA form by introducing changes such as improved browser automation detection and using spoken phrases instead of digits for reCAPTCHA. These changes managed to successfully protect reCAPTCHA from the 2017 unCaptcha attack but failed to protect it from the new unCaptcha2. “As of June 2018, these challenges have been solved. The reCAPTCHA team..is..fully aware of this attack. The team has allowed us to release the code. The code now only needs to make a single request to a free, publicly available speech to text API (by Google) to achieve around 90% accuracy over all the captchas”, states the team. UnCaptcha2 makes use of a screen clicker that helps it move to certain pixels on the screen and move around the webpage as a human would. However, this method is not very robust and still needs more working. Also, unCaptcha2 uses a different approach than the first version and no longer requires the use of multiple speech-to-text engines as well as the segmentation approach. UnCaptcha2 involves navigating to Google’s ReCaptcha Demo site, navigating to audio challenge for reCAPTCHA and then downloading the audio challenge. After this step, the audio challenge is submitted to Speech To Text services. Finally, the response obtained is typed in and submitted to solve the challenge. “unCaptcha2, like the original version, is meant to be a proof of concept. As Google updates its service, this repository will not be updated. As a result, it is not expected to work in the future, and is likely to break at any time,” state the researchers. Read Next Google launches score-based reCAPTCHA v3 to filter abusive traffic on websites Google’s secret Operating System ‘Fuchsia’ will run Android Applications: 9to5Google Report Google Cloud releases a beta version of SparkR job types in Cloud Dataproclast_img read more