Drug shortage, late distribution plaguing Berbice River medical facilities

first_imgPublic Health Minister, Dr George NortonBY UTAMU BELLEThe large number of issues affecting Kwakwani Hospital, as well as Ituni Health Centre, both in Berbice River, were highlighted when Vice Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Alroy Adolph presented his statutory monthly report to the RDC.Alroy indicated that the problems, which range from shortage and late distribution of drugs to the absence of an X-Ray technician, among other things, are said to have a distressing impact on the smooth functioning of the health institutions.At the Kwakwani Hospital he said, the issues continue, despite a recent visit from Health Minister Dr George Norton. The Kwakwani Hospital receives its drug supplies from the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) which is considered a ‘sister hospital’.“What we found out is that there were lots of shortage of drugs at the hospital. When there’s a shortage of drugs now and they report it to the LHC, they would send one… when that’s finished, then they would send another. We also discovered that the chest clinic and the medic working in one office and we condemned that… We also discovered that some of the beds were bad, and a few other things”, Adolph stated.He noted also that there is presently a shortage of cooks at the hospital.The issues, according to Adolph was brought to the attention of LHC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Farouk Riyasat who was instructed to put corrective systems in place, however, he noted that there has since been no improvement as recommended by the Health Minister.Meanwhile, over at the Ituni Health Centre, where Adolph disclosed he along with an RDC Councillor and leaders from Kwakwani recently visited, the situation is also similar. The health worker has complained of working without an active telephone line since last year. As such, in cases of emergency, calls would have to be made via her cell phone at her own expense! Adolph further related.“The Health Centre don’t have fans. I reported this to the Chairman… and also water. They would get water like every 4 days. It would run for half an hour, then stop, then until next four days, the members of the community reported that”, Adolph said.In response, Regional Chairman Renis Morian said the Council will write the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) Company concerning the telephone issue; however he indicated that based on talks, the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) in Linden is refuting what residents are saying about the water situation.“I’m hoping that in this new week I can have GWI go to Ituni and ascertain… the fans will be delivered to the agency next week (this week), two fans will be sent…,” Morian said.The Regional Chairman also disclosed that while the RDC is not solely responsible for health in the Region, the Regional Plan of Action had provided for a new hospital to be built in Kwakwani next year, however, until such time, steps needed to be taken to keep the people comfortable.last_img read more

Wales have every chance of beating Belgium and reaching semi-finals – Coral DD

first_imgCoral’s Dave Stevens joins the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast to round up the latest sporting odds.Wales take on Belgium in Lille on Thursday night in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals and are 9/2 shots to win in 90 minutes and 9/4 to book a spot in the last four.Belgium are 30/100 favourites to progress to a semi-final against Portugal but are missing a few key men, and Stevens thinks Wales are in with a real shout of victory.Coral is the official betting partner of the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfastlast_img read more

Bryant faces tough matchup in Sixers

first_imgEL SEGUNDO — As it should be for a game featuring the NBA’s two leading scorers, all attention tonight at Staples Center will be focused on Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, who already have scored 40 points or more in a combined 14 games this season. An interesting subplot, however, might be the matchup between Bryant and Philadelphia’s second-year guard Andre Iguodala, who played one of the best defensive games of the season against Bryant when the two teams met Nov. 11. With Iguodala blanketing him, Bryant shot a season-worst 7-of-27 and finished with 17 points in the Lakers’ 85-81 loss. Bryant missed a three-pointer over Iguodala with 5.9 seconds left and spent the fourth quarter trying to create any space possible. “That’s something Kobe has to watch with athletic players,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, “that it doesn’t get to be a matchup that’s just a mano-a-mano type of thing where you get involved ego-wise into it. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson “But it’s a challenge, and Iguodala played him very well.” Bryant, bothered by a bad finger in the November game, was reluctant to give Iguodala much credit after practice Thursday, calling the 21-year-old guard an “OK defender.” “I was playing in a closet,” Bryant added. “If they want to use the same defensive principles (tonight), we should be able to get some good looks, some open looks because our spacing is much better now than it was then.” Bryant will be returning from a two-game suspension and trying to lift the Lakers out of their five-game losing streak. As for Iverson, Jackson has not seen much from guards Smush Parker and Sasha Vujacic to give him reason for encouragement. “They have not played good defense for quite a while,” Jackson said. “But we’ll chase and we’ll play team defense (Friday) and hopefully play as well as we can.” center_img From Utah’s Deron Williams to Memphis’ Damon Stoudamire, the Lakers have been unable to stop opposing point guards recently. “We need more pressure defense,” Jackson added. “We’ve been getting away from what was good for us early in the year in putting some pressure on the ball and making guys have to bring it down court under duress.” NEW ARRIVAL? The agent for Ronny Turiaf put the odds at 50-50 that the 22-year-old forward would sign with the Lakers by Tuesday, the NBA deadline for all contracts to be guaranteed for the rest of the season. Agent Keith Moss also estimated that Turiaf is at 75 percent as he tries to regain his conditioning after undergoing heart surgery in July. Turiaf, a second-round draft pick by the Lakers, already has been medically cleared to play. “He’s excited but guarded, he doesn’t want to get his hopes up again,” Moss said. “We’re just playing the waiting game right now to see what happens.” Turiaf played his fifth game with the CBA’s Yakama (Wash.) Sun Kings on Tuesday, finishing with 12 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes. The Lakers sent scouting director Bill Bertka to South Dakota to see Turiaf play twice this week. Moss also said Turiaf would play no more than two or three more games with Yakama before considering his options overseas. Turiaf has four or five offers to play for teams in France and Spain, with calls coming every day, according to Moss. ARTEST UPDATE Jackson was asked if the Lakers considered themselves out of the derby to acquire Indiana forward Ron Artest. “Right now it looks like no one’s in it,” Jackson said. “It’s been about a month, hasn’t it? It’s just an ongoing saga.” FAMILIAR FACE Former Lakers center Vlade Divac stopped by practice, having recently completed a month-long scouting trip to Europe. Earlier in the week, second-year guard Sasha Vujacic visited with Divac at his home in Park City, Utah. Vujacic described Divac as riding around on a snowmobile like a “15-year-old kid.” Divac, meanwhile, said he was happy to see Vujacic’s progress from his rookie season. “If you look at training camp, he didn’t do well,” Divac said. “But he showed last year that he can make shots. This year, he improved defensively. That’s been a big plus for him. He’s still young, he’s got to learn the game. But so far, he’s doing pretty good. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Picture Special: Huge crowds take a ‘polar plunge’ in aid of Special Olympics!

first_imgDozens of Gardai and soldiers joined members of the public this morning to brave the freezing waters of Lough Swilly!Many people dressed up for the polar plunge, with Frosty the Snowman making an appearance! Many gardai and soldiers donned their uniform for the occasion!Participants raised a staggering €6,000 for the Special Olympics!Proceeds will be given directly to the Irish Special Olympics team who will make the journey to Austria next week for the winter games. The Ryan family, finalists in RTE’s hit tv show ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ also took the plunge, along with former Irish Olympic marathon runner Danny McDaid.As well as soldiers from the 28th Infantry Battalion at Finner Camp, Gardai from Milford, Rathmullan and Letterkenny also took part as well as the Mulroy Coastguard and the Sheephaven Sub-Aqua Club.Food was supplied by Dougal’s Pizza, Coffee Time and Rathmullan House, Belle’s Kitchen sponsored the best-dressed prize while local man Cormac Fegan did an excellent job as compere for the day.Picture Special: Huge crowds take a ‘polar plunge’ in aid of Special Olympics! was last modified: March 4th, 2017 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Lough SwillyPolar PlungeSpecial Olympicslast_img read more

A quiet Convention expected as Donegal GAA prepares for annual meeting

first_imgTHE 2016 Donegal GAA Convention appears set to be a straightforward affair – at least in terms of the election of the County Executive.There will be just one contest for positions at the top table – for the two Ulster Council Delegate posts.Pat Connaghan has completed his term, meaning there will be a new face elected there. PJ McGowan, the other incumbent, will be running again, as will, it seems, Pat Walsh (Bundoran), Liam McElhinney (St. Michael’s), Mick McGrath (Aodh Ruadh), David Kelch (N Conaill), Brendan Kelly (Convoy), Grace Boyle (Termon) and Denis Ellis (N Columba).It is not certain that all of them will leave their hats in the ring when the votes are being asked for this afternoon at the Abbey Hotel, Donegal town.County Chairman Sean Dunnion (pictured) has a free run for a fifth and final year in the top seat, while Frankie Doherty (Vice Chairman), Aideen Gillen (Secretary), Declan Martin (Assistant Secretary), Cieran Kelly (Treasurer), Paddy Tinney (Assistant Treasurer), Ed Byrne (PRO), Seamus Ó Domhnaill (Central Council Delegate) David McLoone (Development Officer) and Fergus Mac Aoidh (Oifigeach Gaeilge agus Cultúir) will all retain their portfolios without opposition.Anthony Harkin has served his time in the Coaching Officer’s role and Connaghan’s time as one of the Ulster Council delegates is also up. St Mary’s Convoy clubman Conor McDermott will be the new Coaching Officer, taking over from Harkin in that role.A quiet Convention expected as Donegal GAA prepares for annual meeting was last modified: December 10th, 2016 by Chris McNultyShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Donegal GAAlast_img read more

Men’s Tennis Primed for NCAA Tournament

first_img Match Notes DES MOINES, Iowa — Drake men’s tennis team is making its 11th NCAA Championship appearance and travels to Champaign, Ill. to square off against No. 19 Vanderbilt on Saturday (May 12). Match time at the Atkins Tennis Center is slated for 12 p.m. A victory propels the Bulldogs into a showdown with the winner of the No. 8 Illinois/Marquette on Sunday (May 13) at 2 p.m.It will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and the Commodores in the NCAA Tournament. Drake will be making its seventh trip to Champaign, Ill. for the opening rounds of the tournament.A LOOK AT THE BULLDOGSThe Bulldogs enter the tournament with a 19-13 record and won their first Summit League regular season and tournament title in their inaugural season. Drake is tournament ready as it has faced off against eights teams in the regular season that are in the 64-team tournament. Drake is currently on a seven-match winning streak. The Bulldogs last setback was on April 7 against No. 36 Old Dominion, 4-3. Junior Tom Hands leads the team with a 19-10 singles record and is on a seven-match winning streak. Classmate Ben Clark has tallied 18 singles wins and has played at the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 spots. Winning the doubles point has proved to be vital for the Bulldogs as they are 18-1 when they win the doubles point. A LOOK AT THE COMMODORES2018 marks the 15th appearance for Vanderbilt in the NCAA Championships. The Dores boast a record of 18-14 in NCAA tournament play, highlighted by a 2003 NCAA Runner-up finish. VU heads into the tournament with a 18-8 overall record and 7-5 mark in SEC play. Most recently, Vandy went 1-1 at the SEC Tournament, defeating LSU, 4-0, but fell to Florida, 4-1. Vanderbilt will begin NCAA play with three ranked singles players, junior Cameron Klinger (26) and seniors Daniel Valent (31) and Baker Newman (124).Print Friendly Version Story Linkslast_img read more


first_imgNO DEFENCE FOR R.T.E. ON HARPS SNUBRuairi Keating is bound to score more for Harps this season.You may, or may not, have seen the homages on the ‘Soccer Republic’ programme on Monday night to the League of Ireland team who have now gone eight games unbeaten and not conceded a goal in SEVEN of them.Indeed presenter Peter Collins (is he any relation to Roddy?) and his panel were – or were not – stumbling over themselves to get a word in about the reasonably remarkable feat that has seen Finn Harps maintain a five point lead at the top of the First Division table and earn the reputation of having a defence meaner than a Cavan miser. by Paddy Walsh, Donegal’s most popular sports columnistIf you did spot a reference to the achievement, well, that’s more than this viewer did – not, to be honest, that I was really expecting it on R.T.E.’s flagship soccer show.They did manage to squeeze in a couple of clips of the St. Patrick’s Athletic under-19 team winning some match or other and the Raheny United extra-time goal that secured them the Women’s National League Final but the First Division of the League of Ireland is a no-go area for our national broadcaster – and consequently Harps outstanding start to the season went duly unnoticed. Oh, apologies, they do scroll the First Division results across the bottom of the screen at some stage during the weekly programme, obviously believing that this is more than sufficient.I’m wondering if it was Shelbourne or U.C.D. leading the pack with a similar defensive record would there be a mention but, frankly, I think they’d probably ignore even the Dublin clubs. On the subject of the Dublin contingent, Cork City manager, John Caulfield has come under fire for launching an attack on those Dublin Premier Division title would-be title challengers who attract poor attendances. “I get disappointed when I watch a lot of games in Dublin because teams get 1,200, 1,300 or 1,400 people. Bar Shamrock Rovers, there’s no-one in Dublin who attracts crowds anymore which is very disappointing,” claimed Caulfield whose side drew an attendance of 7,000 for their top of the table clash with Dundalk last Friday night and this despite the fact that it was being televised live. He’s spot on – as I’ve said before in these parts, there are just too many clubs in the vicinity of the capital and all of them targeting the relatively small market that doesn’t board the boat for Liverpool, Manchester, London and Glasgow of a weekend.The afore-mentioned First Division is surviving on even more paltry attendances than most of their counterparts in the top rank but if the likes of Harps are doing well, they will pull in the support. And on this point, you’d have to question the ‘official’ gate of 964 for last weekend’s game with Shels – it looked much closer to some of those Dublin attendances mentioned earlier.Meanwhile, a Mr. R. Collins has apparently been throwing his lot into the mix by calling for the removal of some clubs from the League of Ireland, including the current First Division league leaders, to help improve the standard.Mr. Collins, who, once upon a time, was almost famous only to be outshone by his boxing brother, has, it seems managed at League of Ireland level and is keen to stick his oar in every so often to ensure the readies keep rolling in from his weekly column to enable him purchase a new coat.TICKET PROWL Well, were you one of the lucky ones who managed to work out the Ulster Council’s on-line system that secured you a ticket for the Donegal/Tyrone Ulster Championship opener on May 17th (1,500 sold out in the space of forty-five minutes apparently)?Good on you if you did but don’t panic if you didn’t. Not that you season ticket holders will have to panic but for the rest of you there’s still time to secure one through your clubs and County Board or by popping down to your local Centra or SuperValu outlets.Should you still miss out, don’t be overly concerned – there’ll still be a few Championship outings for you to enjoy once Tyrone have been disposed of in three weeks time.A WORTHY TRIBUTE TO NEIL Nice tribute to the late Neil Cullen on the opening day of the UK Sportshall Final in Manchester at the weekend.The organisers screened a fitting acknowledgement at the Sportcity Regional Arena to three people who had passed away since the last Final and one of them was the affable Letterkenny man, otherwise known as Donegal’s Mr. Sportshall.The big man led a few teams to England during his time and it’s obvious that it wasn’t just on this side of the water that he was revered.Tributes such as this would have prompted a shake of the head from the modest Neil and I can just imagine that head and beard shaking even more as he watched events from the stand seats above.NICE TRIP, SHAME ABOUT THE RESULTAmy Boye Carr (N Conaill) has her shirt pulled as she runs at the Cavan defence.Saturday and we’re on the road to Bawnboy along the banks of the expansive and engaging Erne and into Enniskillen and through the village of Swanlinbar which, even at two o’clock in the afternoon appears to have slept-in, and on to Templeport St. Aidan’s G.A.A. grounds.The Donegal under-14 girls team are on the pitch limbering up for their opening Championship fixture against their hosts, Cavan. The sun is being kind to both teams and spectators but the kindness stops there for the visitors. Twelve seconds in and they’re a goal down and despite a valiant attempt to recover they are a well beaten docket by the time the referee signals for full-time with Cavan in command on the pitch and on the scoreboard with a tally of 5-12 to 2-5.But the Cavan girls have been together for the guts of six years, have grown into a squad and a team in that time and it shows through their slick passing movements and positional awareness, and an occasionally over physical approach, not to mention their ability to take scores (but I’m afraid we have to mention it).Still and all, a useful experience for their Donegal counterparts who can only learn from it and will hopefully have learned in time for this Saturday’s home game with Tyrone to be played in Carndonagh. While Greg Harkin’s squad did have a handful of challenge games in the build-up to this Championship opener in Cavan, they were unfortunate in that Fermanagh under-14’s had pulled out of the competition leaving them with a blank space where a competitive match should have been.They weren’t short of support, parental and otherwise, at the well-appointed Templeport venue and despite the heavy defeat, the spirit was still strong as they made their way home on Saturday evening, noiselessly passing through Swanlinbar for fear of waking it up, before making up for it on the beach at Rossnowlagh.That support and spirit will hopefully accompany them to Carndonagh this weekend as they bid to topple Tyrone and put the show back on the road. See some of you there.PITCHING AHEADAnd still on the subject of spirit, it’s obviously very much alive in Drumkeen where the local United are nearing completion of their new astroturf pitch.Much of that zeal stemmed from the late club stalwart, Tom Bonner, who was overseeing operations before his untimely passing in January and was the driving force behind this development.When completed, and it looks close to that now, the all-weather surface will add another dimension to Drumkeen United and credit to everyone involved for providing these facilities at a time when our youth require every distraction they can get from the counter, and not necessarily healthy, attractions of the day.BLEAKLEY BY NAME BUT NOT BY NATURE Christine with FrankDon’t tell Mr Lampard but I spotted his fiancée this week with some fellow on Rossnowlagh beach. And looking mighty pleased with herself at that. Wild Ireland indeed.And Wild Ireland it was – the new travel programme on U.T.V. featuring the bubbly Christine Bleakley who was being shown how to ride a surf board by one of the local instructors.Rumours still persisting that herself and Frank – currently plying his trade in Manchester City’s midfield but U.S. bound at the end of the season – will be having their wedding reception at a plush Donegal venue (though McDonald’s wouldn’t confirm this one way or the other).Good programme, that, Wild Ireland. And the future Mrs. Lampard – a genuinely likeable presenter unlike so many these days who try to pass themselves off as celebrities on our T.V. screens and social media platforms – is doing a hell of a job to persuade would-be holidaymakers that Donegal and the west coast is the place to come to either for your activity breaks or for just some jaw dropping scenery. Or even for your wedding.But you’ll still not get me up on a surf board in Rossnowlagh…ANOTHER FINE FINISHKevin McHugh – a Harps legend.Was waiting for the tannoy announcer at Finn Park to burst into dart speak whenever Kevin McHugh converted his spot-kick on Friday night. “ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTTTTY…”For the Harps striker has now reached a target twenty short off the 200 mark and the way he’s putting them away this season to date – remember, only four to his name last campaign – he can eat into some of that before the campaign (and his career?) draws to a close.HYPE AND OVERHYPEA couple of well over the top reactions to two results and performances at the weekend. The first on Friday night when Ulster Rugby ran out comfortable winners against Leinster in the PRO12 competition and the sports broadcasters were positively drooling about the Northern Province’s display in turning around an early ten point deficit to run in 26 unanswered points before the finish.Ulster have been flying recently but a five day turnaround from a gruelling Champions Cup semi-final in Toulon was hardly the rory best preparation for an energy sapped Leinster coming into the game.Then we had the national media singing loudly about Dublin’s thumping of Cork in the Allianz National League Final. A polished performance indeed, helped by Dean Rock’s scoring prowess, but they were up against a Rebels outfit that didn’t appear too interested from the start if truth be told.Sure, the Dubs will again be one of the favourites for the big one but they certainly shouldn’t be built up as All-Ireland winners-in-waiting on the strength of that one-sided showdown at Croke Park on Sunday.Much of the blue-shirted attendance will be confident of success in September but you wouldn’t have put it past those Cork boyos to lull them into a false sense of security by turning in a truly abject performance. And truly abject it was.Meanwhile, the sight of largely empty stands for the Division Two Final which paired Roscommon and Down must surely prompt a rethink of staging such a decider at H.G. when so many didn’t appear that bothered to travel. There’s little worse than a massive stadium hosting a game where the numbers on the field are rivalling those off it.MINI MINORDonegal Minors celebrate their Ulster Minor League title.Healy Park in Omagh can hardly be mentioned in the same breath as Croker but there must have been a real atmosphere choker there on Saturday when the Donegal Minors were retaining their Ulster League crown with a richly convincing victory over Derry.Just 150 souls turned up to cheer both teams – yes, read it and weep particularly if you regard yourself as a fully-blown Donegal follower who would go to the far corners to watch the seniors but wouldn’t venture into the back garden to spur on any other age level.UP WHERE THEY BELONGWell done to Raphoe Hockey’s senior men for bouncing straight back into the Premier Division at the first time of asking.Their 6-2 trouncing of North Down at the weekend ensured an immediate return to the top flight for Rodney Bates’ outfit following their relegation last year, showing true strength of character in the process.Expect them to stay there too.RTE’S POOR ‘RECEPTION’ FOR HARPS’ GOOD RUN – WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: April 28th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalsports columnWalshy on Wednesdaylast_img read more

Full Capacity Protocol remains in place at LUH following major overcrowding

first_imgThe Full Capacity Protocol has remained in place at Letterkenny University Hospital due to overcrowding. At least 138 people sought care at the Emergency Department yesterday, with the hospital saying it has ‘admitted a significant number of ill patients’ today (Weds).Forty-seven people were recorded awaiting admission on trolleys on Tuesday morning. Staff are currently making efforts to identify patients who are appropriate for discharge in order to deal with the overcrowding.A Saolta spokesperson said: “Hospital management apologises for the inconvenience and distress that these delays cause patients and their families. The hospital prioritises those in most need of care and this may lead to delays for less urgent patients.“The Emergency Department is extremely busy again today and the hospital has admitted a significant number of ill patients.“Many of these patients are currently in the Emergency Department, awaiting a bed. “The Full Capacity Protocol remains in place and all efforts continue to be made to identify patients who are appropriate for discharge.“We would like to remind the public that we encourage them to attend the Emergency Department only in the case of real emergencies and they should contact their GP or GP Out-of-Hours service in the first instance.”Full Capacity Protocol remains in place at LUH following major overcrowding was last modified: November 6th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Of Planets and People

first_imgHere’s a quick tour of the planets to see what’s newsworthy.Mercury:  Planets with oddball orbits like Mercury, so close to the sun, seem unlikely locations for life, but Astrobiology Magazinebegs to differ.  Mercury (and exoplanets with similar “oddball” orbits) could get into a resonant state that might allow sunlight to support photosynthesis, the article says.  Conclusion: there could be thousands of other locations for life in the universe.  Closer reading shows admissions that it would be “challenging” for life to exist under those conditions.  For example, “the threat of prolonged periods of darkness and cold on these planets would present significant challenges to life, and could even potentially freeze their atmospheres,” yet a thick atmosphere would be needed to protect the planet from radiation, since slow spin would likely mean a weak magnetic field.  A photo caption adds another difficulty: “It is difficult to form Mercury in solar system simulations, suggesting that some of our assumptions about the small planet’s formation might be wrong, a new study suggests.”Venus:  Astronomers at San Francisco State think they have learned how to detect a “Venus zone” about any given exoplanet.  This can help them distinguish between habitable planets around other stars from those “likely to exhibit the unlivable conditions found on the planet Venus.”  In current thinking, Earth and Venus had similar starting conditions.  “Knowing how common Venus-like planets are elsewhere will also help astronomers understand why Earth’s atmosphere evolved in ways vastly different from its neighbor.”Earth:  Geomagnetic storm?  Not to worry:  A couple of weeks ago, a major geomagnetic storm from the sun hit the Earth.  Nothing happened.  Life went on, most people oblivious to the danger.  In advance of the arrival, Science Magazine explained in “A geomagnetic storm is coming—should I worry?” that the only effect people might notice is some especially beautiful displays of auroras.   An idea posted on PhysOrg suggests that Mars became barren and lifeless when its atmosphere was stripped from coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun; Earth, by contrast, has always been protected because of its strong, global magnetic field.  Why Venus retains a thick atmosphere without a strong magnetic field was not explained.  For more about Earth, see today’s other entry, “Earth as a Habitable Planet.”Mars:  The big news at Mars has been the arrival of NASA’s new MAVEN spacecraft (PhysOrg) and India’s first venture into Martian exploration, the Mars Orbital Mission, or MOM (PhysOrg).  Aside from that, the rovers continue roving and the previous orbiters continue orbiting.   Astrobiology Magazine shows that hope for life on Mars seen in meteorites has not disappeared: “A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists.”  A similar announcement launched the new “science” of astrobiology in 1996.  This new article’s perhapsimaybecouldness index is high: “Life as we know it, in the form of bacteria, for example, could be there, although we haven’t found it yet. It’s about piecing together the case for life on Mars – it may have existed and in some form could exist still.”Jupiter:  Since the story about possible plate tectonics on Europa (see 9/08/14), Jupiter has been a relatively silent planet in the news.Saturn, however, is a newsy place.  NASA awarded the Cassini Team high honors as an “excellent” mission, handily beating out the Mars Curiosity Rover, whose team has lacked focus (PhysOrg).  What’s new in Saturn science?Rings:  Cassini scientists are baffled over the reduction in bright clumps in the rings since Voyager flew by in 1981, a JPL press release says.  “Compared to the age of the solar system — about four-and-a-half billion years — a couple of decades are next to nothing.” Yet “Saturn’s F ring looks fundamentally different from the time of Voyager to the Cassini era,” one scientist said.  Astrobiology Magazine also discussed this mystery.  Despite the puzzle, the article presented a positive spin, saying that the observed processes are helping astronomers understand the origin of our solar system.“In addition to the drama of moons that come and go over less than a human lifetime, studies of the ring system give insight into how solar systems in general are built.“The sort of processes going on around Saturn are very similar to those that took place here 4.6 billion years ago, when the Earth and the other large planets were formed,” notes [Robert] French [SETI Institute]. “It’s an important process to understand.“Titan:  January will mark the 10th anniversary of the Huygens Probe landing on Titan (see PhysOrg for Cassini firsts).  A paper in Icarus wrestles with the brightness of parts of Saturn’s giant moon.  Some areas look like fresh bedrock of water ice, while others seem consistent with solid organic compounds precipitated out of the atmosphere.  There appears to be more water ice than earlier thought.  For instance, the vast equatorial dune fields seem enriched in water ice, and so must not be primarily piles of precipitated atmospheric hydrocarbons.  Another paper on Icarus wrestles with the nature and fate of evaporite deposits.  Space.com attempts to find whether missing Titan rains might be stored in underground reservoirs.Uranus and Neptune: the “water giants” don’t get much press because the last flyby missions took place in 1986 and 1989 (see 8/25/14 story about Neptune’s active moon Triton).  Planetary scientists, however, continue to model them on computers.  A French team now claims success explaining Uranus and Neptune in their models, according to PhysOrg.  Speaking of problems with accretion, location and deuterium-to-hydrogen ratios, the new French model “solves all of these problems at once.”  PhysOrg puts a question mark at the end of “The origin of Uranus and Neptune elucidated?”  If history is any guide, the success will be short-lived, until the next team addresses the mysteries of these two planets (cf 5/30/02).  Meanwhile, a paper in Nature thinks that water absorption lines in Neptune are in “good agreement with the core-accretion theory of planet formation”—a bit of a stretch for a spectral line.Miranda, a small moon of Uranus, made news recently, even though the one-and-only encounter was by Voyager 2 back in 1986.  And a famous encounter it was, showing one of the most bizarre moon surfaces in the solar system, decked out with dramatic “coronae” or raised regions completely different from the cratered surroundings.  Leading theories at the time invoked multiple impact scenarios to account for the strange surface, claiming the moon must have disrupted and re-accreted several times.  Now, a new team publishing in Geology claims it can account for the coronae with a variation on plate tectonics driven by tidal heating.  The new theory was summarized on Astrobiology Magazine and PhysOrg.  To work, it had to occur when the small moon was in an eccentric orbit some time in the unobservable past, the scientists say.  The summaries do not explain why the coronae are less cratered than the surrounding terrain, nor why they have sharp boundaries and high cliffs.Pluto:  The outermost “planet” or “dwarf planet” (most people still want to call Pluto a “planet,” according to Space.com and National Geographic) is awaiting its first NASA visit next July.  The New Horizons spacecraft is getting close enough for distant pictures; it has imaged Pluto’s small moon Hydra, PhysOrg reported.  Meantime, Icarus reported evidence for “longitudinal variability of ethane ice on the surface of Pluto” from Earth-based telescopes.  “Ethane ice is seen to vary with longitude in an unexpected way,” the team says.  “Volatile transport is responsible for the observed distribution.” Any observations should be considered tentative till the spacecraft arrives for a closer look.Comets:  The Philae lander on the Rosetta spacecraft is getting ready for its historic landing on 7P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November.  PhysOrg printed an interview with Claudia Alexander, one of the planetary scientists working on the Rosetta mission, about what the year-long orbiting mission and three-day landing mission hopes to find.Exoplanets:  A paper in Nature and an article on PhysOrg deal with planet formation.  Both struggle with the problem of dust and small pebbles accreting into bodies large enough to attract more material by gravity before they migrate into a death spiral into the star.  PhysOrg takes some comfort from the fact that exoplanets are common, and from a recent discovery of possible pebble-sized objects in the Orion Nebula, but advises caution, because astronomers are not sure if the pebbles (if that’s what are observed) are growing by accretion, or “if they are debris remnants from another process.”  Nature says that “models of migration have not successfully predicted any populations of planets before they were observed.”  In another surprise, Astrobiology Magazine reported an exoplanet that makes its parent star look “deceptively old.”  According to one astronomer, “We think the planet is aging the star by wreaking havoc on its innards.”Is it the planets (Gr. planetai, wanderers) who wander, or the scientists who wander as they wonder about the universe, without a God to plan it? 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