SHOT PUT AFTER missing out on quality competition for the past two seasons, Traves Smikle, who competed for Jamaica at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, had to watch from the sidelines after failing a doping test. However, his suspension was provisionally lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last February. Since his comeback, the 23-year-old former Calabar High School throwing sensation has been taking it slowly. Last Saturday, he played second fiddle to his teammate at Calabar High and now UWI, Fedrick Dacres, in the men’s Open discus, where he threw 57.47 metres. “Today (Saturday) my performance didn’t go as planned as coming off a good training session I expected better. But I sustained an injury to my left hand, which was kind of sprained, but my coach told me to go out there and try to compete, and I will just have to go back and get treatment for the injury,” said Smikle, who has a personal best of 67.12m in the discus back in 2012. He also competes in the shot put, where he has a personal best 18.58m, done in 2011. “Overall, I am being patient and this is track and field, and with my event, it is not something you have to rush as you just have to be persistent and the breakthrough will come, so I am being patient and dealing with the problems I have,” he said. Smikle stated that he also enjoys the rivalry between him and his teammates. “It is good as we make each other better, and right now, we are finding ways to get further throws, and the rivalry is good, and we just hope for more progress and positive vibes,” he said. “Coming into this season I am more motivated and focused, and during the period, I had my issues. I was not doing enough training as I was sorting out personal things. But with regard to my athleticism I am getting it back, so I need to get back my fitness and certain things I normally had, and it is going to take some time, but I am being patient,” he said. Smikle believes overseas competition at the highest level will be key for improvements. “At this point in our career, we have to get more competition to get to a higher level as it is all about competing against the best, and in order to improve, you have to compete against the best in the world. As my coach always says, you have to be in the ‘fire’, and Fedrick is leaving soon to go to compete in Europe, and that is also my aim as I thrive off competition,” he said.
Discoveries portrayed as major evolutionary missing links were announced this week. One is a putative transitional form from land animal to whale, and one is a Cambrian trilobite-like creature said to be evolving the first claw.Moby dog: The current evolutionary scenario for the origin of whales is that they evolved from dog-like hoofed animals that took gradually to water at the seashore. Another fossil in the theoretical sequence has been found in Pakistan. The news media, like National Geographic and Live Science, are calling this a “big” find, because it is the most complete skeleton of a protoceratid yet discovered. National Geographic remarked, “It’s an evolutionary discovery Darwin himself would have been proud of.” The discovery by Philip Gingerich and team was published in PLoS One this week.1 A mostly complete articulated male was found, and a kilometer away, a pregnant female. The female was most exciting because it indicated the embryo, already with teeth, would have been born head first. To Gingerich, this indicates that the creature had not yet evolved the tail-first birth pattern in modern whales. There also appeared to be significant sexual dimorphism. Gingerich inferred from the legs that it was semi-aquatic, probably hunting in the water with paddling, and returning to the land to sleep. Another paleontologist said, “These complete limbs are almost exactly intermediate between a seagoing creature and a land animal.” In many respects, the new creature, dubbed Maiacetus inuus, resembles the already-known protocetid Rodhocetus, but with some differences in the ankle, and minor differences in ratios of some skeletal parts. A paleontologist at SMU remarked, “It is a missing link of the most informative sort. Charles Darwin would delight.” The paper did not say much about the circumstances of burial other than that the female appeared to be floating belly-up, probably due to buildup of gases during decomposition. The strata are described as marine marl and shale dated to middle Eocene, 47.5 million years old. Other “Eocene whales” such as Artiocetus clavis (GSP-UM 3458), Rodhocetus balochistanensis (GSP-UM 3485), Protosiren eothene (GSP-UM 3487), and Makaracetus bidens have been found in the same general area. The paper says, “The specimens described here were found near the top of the major flooding sequence in the early Lutetian stage of the middle Eocene, calibrated to approximately 47.5 Ma.” Gingerich is convinced these specimens provide information on an important evolutionary transition from land to water for the ancestors of whales. The “precocial development” of the partially-mineralized teeth in the fetus indicated to him a preparation for life in the water, while the head-first delivery orientation indicated a land-animal life habit. The sexual dimorphism suggested a limited competition between males. The slightly shorter legs told him the creature was “a slightly less specialized foot-powered swimmer” than its look-alike Rodhocetus. The team summarized the importance of the discovery in this paragraph from the paper:Discovery of a near-term fetus positioned for head-first delivery provides important evidence that early protocetid whales gave birth on land. This is consistent with skeletal morphology enabling Maiacetus to support its weight on land and corroborates previous ideas that protocetids were amphibious. Specimens this complete are virtual ‘Rosetta stones’ providing insight into functional capabilities and life history of extinct animals that cannot be gained any other way.The Claw: It looks like a trilobite with appendages coming out of its head. What is it? Look at the picture at PhysOrg. They say it shows the “origin of claws.” Found in Germany, the four-inch-long critter dubbed Schinderhannes bartelsi is said to be 390 million years old. This fossil was also described as a missing link – a “missing link in the evolution of the front claw of living scorpions and horseshoe crabs.” It seems to have a head similar to that of the terror of the Burgess Shale, Anomalocaris, even though that animal was thought to be extinct a hundred million years earlier. As with many trilobites and arthropods, “The eyes are covered in numerous tiny, close-packed, hexagonal lenses.” The article describes it further: “The fossil’s head section has large bulbous eyes, a circular mouth opening and a pair of segmented, opposable appendages with spines projecting inward along their length. The trunk section is made up of 12 segments, each with small appendages, and a long tail spine. Between the head and trunk, there is a pair of large triangular wing-like limbs – that likely propelled the creature like a swimming penguin, according to [Derek] Briggs” [Yale]. It’s the only known member of its species. It was found in “a quarry near Bundenbach in Germany, a site that yields spectacularly durable pyrite-preserved fossils.” How does this fossil help evolution? Is it really a missing link? The original paper in Science made no such claim. They only used the word evolution once, and nothing about transitions or links. If anything, they said it indicates stasis and decline of good fossilization opportunities:The discovery of Schinderhannes emphasizes the importance of exceptionally preserved deposits (Konservat-Lagerst�tten) in revealing the evolutionary history of arthropods. It shows that features of the giant Cambrian anomalocaridids survived for about 100 million years after the Middle Cambrian. The Hunsr�ck Slate also yields examples of Marrellomorpha, a clade well known from the Cambrian and more recently discovered in exceptionally preserved fossil deposits from the Silurian and the Ordovician. Thus, the rarity of post-Cambrian great-appendage arthropods may be a result in part of the decline of Burgess Shale-type preservation after the Middle Cambrian. 1. Gingerich et al, “New Protocetid Whale from the Middle Eocene of Pakistan: Birth on Land, Precocial Development, and Sexual Dimorphism,” Public Library of Science One, 4(2): e4366. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004366, published Feb 4, 2009.2. Kuhl, Briggs and Rust, “A Great-Appendage Arthropod with a Radial Mouth from the Lower Devonian Hunsr�ck Slate, Germany,” Science, 6 February 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5915, pp. 771-773, DOI: 10.1126/science.1166586.Let’s begin with the second creature. There are already many weird extinct animals known from the Burgess Shale and other parts of the Cambrian. One more does not indicate an evolutionary ancestry. This fossil does not help Darwin for several reasons. We already know that the Burgess fauna were complex and varied, and we have seen that trilobites showed the most diversity in the lowest layers, and less in the higher (see 07/28/2007). Another problem is that this critter suggests stasis of Burgess characteristics for 100 million years, according to the evolutionary timeline. A worse problem is that horseshoe crabs, similar in some respects to this creature, show no evolution from the time of their first appearance in the Ordovician. They survive today as living fossils (01/28/2008) – no evolution for 350 million years! None of this fits the slow-and-gradual branching tree of diversity Darwin predicted. So what do we have here with Schinderhannes? Another complex creature with elegant compound eyes and a symmetrical body, well suited to its environment, that is now extinct. That’s all one can say before leaving the realm of natural science and talking worldview. For the whale story, the new fossil adds very little to what was already known. It is not that different from Rodhocetus (notice how the naming of these extinct animals, like Protocetidae, embeds the “whale” stem cetus into the name, begging several questions right there). Like the pregnant ichthyosaurs, this amazing fossil of a pregnant female indicates rapid burial under flood conditions. Why should that fact not be the highlight of the story? It’s not like such conditions were the norm for these animals. A flood over a vast region, rapid burial, extreme preservation – sounds almost Biblical. Does it mean evolution? Why are finds qualifying for the coveted term “missing link” so rare? There should be thousands upon thousands of finely graded forms throughout the record, not one here and one over there. The Darwin Tree paradigm has already been falsified, so it’s a waste of time to look for missing links anyway. The Cambrian explosion falsified it before The Origin was even published, and more Darwinists have been speaking out that the tree was a myth all along (01/22/2009). There’s no need to discuss this further. But we shall, for the overkill of it. Suppose we knew seals, sea lions, manatees, beaver and otters only from fossils. Suppose further that clever storytelling geologists managed to put them into a timeline claiming they died tens of millions of years ago. How many of you would want to bet that a Darwinist storyteller would be able to rig up a complex, plausible-sounding, jargon-laden scientific paper showing an evolutionary progression between them? The variation between living sea lions (seals, elephant seals, harp seals, big ones, small ones, fat ones, skinny ones) exceeds the variation between Maiacetus and Rodhocetus. Without soft parts and behavior and habitats available, it would be very tempting for Darwinists to arrange these and other unrelated fossils from around the globe into an ancestral tree. Is a beaver or sea lion becoming something else, just because it has webbed feet and spends a great deal of time in the water? Orthogenesis went out of style a hundred years ago. For Gingerich and his Darwinist friends to believe Maiacetus was on the fast track to whalehood, they have to also believe that otters, beaver, sea lions and manatees decided to resist the evolutionary force and remain happily half-evolved. What kind of law of nature says that if you are an artiodacytl, you’ll go all the way, but if a dog, you will stop at navy seal? Or if a rodent, you will leave it to beaver? Evolutionary theory is so flexible it explains anything. The grouping called Artiodactyla contains animals as diverse as pigs, hippos, camels and dog-like animals. What does such a composite class signify? (see 01/29/2009 entry). The differences between members of this class are arguably more significant than the traits they share. Does it indicate that they evolved from a common ancestor? Could it not equally well illustrate a pattern of nested hierarchies in nature that resists evolutionary theory? Walter ReMine, in The Biotic Message, theorized that the nested hierarchies do just that: they show a common Designer (one God, not many), but the lack of evolutionary ancestry. Darwin’s picture is not the only way to look at these patterns – nor is it the best. We already know from fossils that the ancient world contained many more species and families of animals than we have today. Evolutionary sequences are made up by humans, not by the data. The data just as well describe the Creator’s love of variety. He designed the basic kinds of animals and allowed them to diversify within limits, after their kind. Groups of animals share similarities; this does not mean they evolved from one another. Evolutionists are very choosy about which similarities they want to relate by common ancestry and which they want to explain with hand-waving (see The Convergence Concoction by Brett Miller for many examples). A worldwide cataclysm sent as judgment on sin left the current postdiluvian world impoverished of its former diversity, yet sufficiently adorned to speak powerfully of intelligent design so that men are without excuse. The data fit this picture. We have an eyewitness testimony telling us this is what happened. If you choose to disbelieve that evidence, then you are not better off, nor more scientifically grounded. For one thing, you have not gotten rid of miracles – you have multiplied them! The whole animal kingdom becomes miracle after miracle of accident and happenstance, going against what we know is true about the way laws of nature operate. For another, you are not engaging in observable, repeatable, verifiable science, but in narrative with a good bit of imagination and worldview preference mixed in. To top it off, you have to assume Biblical principles (rationality and morality) to do science. It cannot be done from an evolved monkey brain that reduces to particles (see top right quote by Darwin). If sensible people forced the Darwinists to be consistent with their own beliefs, they would turn into a caricature of the Three Monkeys: see no science, hear no science, speak no science. The supposed evolutionary sequence from dog-like hoofed animal to right whale exists only in the imaginations of Darwinists. A variety of amazing, complex animals, well adapted to their habitats, has lived on this planet. We have a subset of them still alive today. Arranging them into an ancestral sequence is just a game played by certain persons addicted to divination (07/26/2008, 10/09/2008). (Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Can you reconstruct a dinosaur on a computer? Of course you can. The question is how accurate it reflects something no one has ever seen. Live Science told about Peter Falkingham at the University of Manchester who is using “genetic algorithms” and simulating evolution to figure out how dinosaurs walked. A dinosaur’s gait doesn’t just jump out of the bones. Even if you have a whole skeleton, there’s a lot of uncertainty if you don’t know where the muscles attached and how long they were. Falkingham models different attachment points in his computer and sees if they allow the animal to walk. “Initial attempts to randomly decipher which pattern of muscle activation works best result almost always in the animal falling on its face,” he explained to Live Science. Assuming falling headlong was not their normal behavior, Falkingham let the algorithms “evolve” such that a computerized T. rex, for instance, could enjoy a good life. The genetic algorithms employed “can alter themselves and evolve, and so run pattern after pattern until they get improvements,” reporter Charles Q. Choi explained. Both scientist and reporter think they are simulating evolution: Eventually, they evolve a pattern of muscle activation with a stable gait and the dinosaur can walk, run, chase or graze, Falkingham said. Assuming natural selection evolves the best possible solution as well, the modeled animal should move similar to its now extinct counterpart. Indeed, they have achieved similar top speeds and gaits with computer versions of humans, emus and ostriches as in reality.Combining the computer model with data from dinosaur tracks can help present a unified picture of dinosaur life – as long as one takes into account the difficulties in interpreting tracks:The problem with tracks is that they can be very hard to interpret, as the number of variables involved with how tracks form “is staggering,” Falkingham explained. “Is the sediment made of tiny clay particles that stick together, or larger sand particles that roll over? What is the water content, which can help particles stick together, but if you put in too much, it pushes particles apart? What is the strength, elasticity and compressibility of the soil? And what happens when you have layers of sediment? The impressions left behind at lower layers can be very different from the ones left on the surface.” Physically recreating each potential scenario with a real box of mud is extraordinarily time-consuming and difficult to repeat accurately, so this is where computer simulation comes in.Running hundreds of simulations with supercomputers produces workable solutions – and surprises. Falkingham discovered another dubious assumption about tracks made by webbed feet: Sometimes the experiments can throw up unexpected results. Falkingham added. For instance, when he was once simulating wet, sloppy mud to see how an extinct bird walked – findings that could shed light on how birds evolved from dinosaurs – once the result was a webbed footprint, even though the foot itself was not webbed. The virtual soil had been pushed up between the toes, before collapsing into a platform-like structure that, in a fossil track, could be interpreted as the impression left by a webbed foot. The soft parts of animals, such as webbing, only rarely gets preserved as fossil, so much of the evidence for the evolutionary history of webbed-footed-birds comes from tracks, Falkingham said. These results call for careful reinterpretation of webbed footprints.Falkingham is working next on modeling four-footed dinosaurs. Readers can make their own assessments of the scientific validity of virtual dinosaurs walking on virtual soil in a virtual world.Computer simulations confer degrees of probability – not certainty – on their conclusions. Presumably, the model gains credibility points if it can accurately simulate the stride and tracks of a living bird or animal. Even so, the problem of underdetermination of theories by data always leaves room for possibilities that a working model contains flaws that cancel each other out, or were rigged to guarantee the result a theory needed. These and other problems mean that models cannot be extrapolated carelessly into unknown cases. Falkingham and Choi won Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week not for trying to understand dinosaur physics, but for “Assuming natural selection evolves the best possible solution” for anything, and for assuming their findings “could shed light on how birds evolved from dinosaurs.” Any scientist who assumes that chance plus natural law could find a solution to anything is not thinking straight. They might just as well assume that chance and natural law evolved the supercomputer that ran their genetic algorithms. That’s artificial (intelligently-designed) selection, not natural selection. Waltzing over assumptions is a sure way to fall on one’s face in logical mud.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
South Africa’s electricity utility Eskom is set to increase free basic electricity for the poor. (Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com.For more free photos, visit the image library.) MEDIA CONTACTS • Fani Zulu Eskom Spokesperson +27 82 451 0457 +27 11 800 2265 [email protected] • Wanda Langenhoven Media liaison – Nersa +27 12 401 4600 [email protected] RELATED ARTICLES • Eskom gets $500m for upgrade • Eskom still cheaper than most • South Africa tackles power crisis • No power cuts in 2010 • Power from the South African Sun • SA’s power plan surges ahead Nosimilo NdlovuAs South Africans brace for a 45% electricity tariff increase, the poor have been thrown a lifeline in the form of a proposed increase in free basic power from Eskom, the country’s electricity utility.Speaking at a press briefing in Cape Town on 6 October 2009, Eskom chief executive Jacob Maroga said the plan is to up the basic free electricity allocation to poor households throughout South Africa – from 50 kilowatts per month to between 70 and 100 kilowatts by next year.In 2002 the South African government adopted a policy on free basic electricity, allocating 50 free kilowatts per month to poor households, but over the years indigent South Africans have been appealing for an increase, saying this standard amount is not enough for growing households’ needs.Reacting to Maroga’s announcement, Nonhlalhla Ntuli from Soweto – South Africa’s largest township, south of Johannesburg – said her community is encouraged by Eskom’s proposal as they feel their grievances are finally being heard.“We have been asking for an increase to at least 100 kilowatts, because 50 kilowatts is just not enough for the number of people living in each home,” she said.Ntuli believes the current allocation is not realistic. “It’s only enough for a household of two or three people: 50 kilowatts provides basic lighting, water heating using a kettle, ironing and maybe connection for TV and radio. Most houses here have six or more people, meaning the free electricity lasts a week at most, then you have to buy electricity for the rest of the month with money we simply don’t have.”Maroga cautioned that there might be another big hike in electricity tariffs when the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) decides on Eskom’s tariff restructuring application.The outcome of this decision will only be politically acceptable if measures are proposed to limit the effect on the poor – a continuing concern of members of parliament’s public enterprises committee. The committee is the shareholder representative for government with oversight responsibility for state-owned enterprises such as Eskom.The utility came under fire in June 2009 for increasing its electricity tariffs by 31,7%. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) along with other organisations and opposition political parties felt it was an unfair increase which would affect the poor severely.Eskom applied to Nersa for the increase to help it expand power-generation capacity over the next five years. It plans to spend US$52.2-billion (R385-billion) on building new plants during this period to to meet rising electricity demand in South Africa.Relief for Soweto’s residentsFor two years the Soweto Concerned Residents (SRC), an organisation that fights for basic needs in the community, has been appealing to Eskom not to increase the price of electricity as this would make it unaffordable. The SCR has approached government many times, asking it to protect the poor and offer them more free basic electricity.Thabiso Molefe of the SCR said Eskom’s price hikes are a real concern for his community. “Residents here often go without once the free electricity runs out, the continued price hikes have made it even more difficult for poor people to be able to top up their electricity. Increasing the [allocation of] free basic electricity is a huge need for us,” he said.Residents of Alexandra, one of South Africa’s most densely populated townships situated east of Johannesburg, are reassured by Eskom’s announcement. They say they believe this move by Eskom is only the beginning.“We believe our new government is a listening government not a dictator, they are sympathetic and really concerned about the problems of the poor in this country,” said Mangwane Raapoo.“This is only the beginning. I believe we will see more relief for the poor. Eskom has been so stubborn all along but now they are listening because there is a new man in power [President Jacob Zuma] who understands what it’s like to be poor,” she added.• Queries or comments? Contact Nosimilo Ndlovu at [email protected]
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Glenn Harsh, Delaware CountyOn our home farm we have only gotten about a half-inch but there was a downpour on one of our eastern farms. I think it really just depends on which little black rain cloud you get underneath.We were needing this rain, not desperately, but the corn was starting to fire up and show some drought stress. Even here at the home farm where we only got a half-inch, the crops really responded to the rain. It would certainly help if we could get another half inch here in the next couple of days. Time will tell.Our first planted fields are well into the blister stage. The last planted corn has pollinated and it looks like it went through fine from what we can tell. There were enough cool nights and the pollination seemed to go OK even though we were concerned with the hot weather.Beans are moving along. We just got done chasing the last weeds and getting things cleaned up. On our seed beans, we sprayed insecticide and fungicide on all of them to protect bean quality. We just finished that up the end of last week.The insect populations were definitely coming up. If they weren’t seed beans, though, I don’t know that they would be up to threshold. We’re looking for western bean cutworm in the corn and haven’t really found anything. We are keeping an eye out for that because flight numbers are up.There is a fair amount of fungicide going on out here. There is gray leaf spot on the lower leaves of the corn, but not really to threshold levels. In some of these fields where you are trying to push yield, fungicide is probably worthwhile to keep that plant clean through the growing season. In the beans we are seeing a little more frogeye, again not to a threshold level in the fields we are in. But depending on the variety, frogeye is present out in the fields. You’ll see it in the corner of the fields or at a bend in the creek. Where there is less air flow, the amount of frogeye will go up. And there is a large difference between the resistant and susceptible varieties out there.For the rest of this week’s reports, click here.
Tags:#connected#Connected Devices#Internet of Things#IoT Follow the Puck Eran Abramson Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Technology keeps innovating, connectivity is improving, and users are flocking to the growing number of smart devices and even smart cities initiatives; everyone is just looking to connect and stay on-the-grid. With more interest, devices, processing power and ideas, IoT will take place around us whether we like it or not.But as everything is connected, which device will be the one we cannot do without? Which item will we never be caught without? What will keep us connected yet in control of our daily interaction?See also: What should be the requirements in IoT communication?While more and more devices are being released, with more quad-core, pixels, speed, features and more, the ultimate IoT device may be a reinvention of our smartphone in a more basic, yet powerful way.A digital wallet, or a so-called “black box” will drive our day in the future, yet it will be different than our smartphones as it will be a visual aid peripheral and our personal preferences wallet, and not the interface we are accustomed to today. It is similar in concept only to the Modu phones from 7 years ago yet with the connectivity around us today, can grant the intelligent access each needs individually.Our digital “life” walletLook around, browse your social feed, and converse with your friend and you may realize that all devices available today are sufficient for our everyday interaction – in and out of our homes.The digital wallet will be a grandiose extension of our ‘analog’ wallet we carry in our back pocket today. It will hold our personal information, credit cards and account access, preferences and settings for our personal life and work, as well as our tasks, needs, and data like an augmented cyborg or as Thad Starner previously done, yet without the inconveniences.So as you leave your home, you will only NEED one thing to remember…your IoT wallet.Need to buy milk? Want to use the ATM? Need to catch a cab? Your wallet is with you, along with physical fingers or eyes to confirm any transaction.And when you get back home: unlock your door, sync your preferences with your TV, computer, Alexa or Google Home. When you fall asleep in the middle of the movie, your wallet will catch on and keep your spot for the next day binge or for when out of your home.The interesting thing is that this isn’t science fiction, and we are clearly not far off.IoT wallet interfaceAs the wallet uses embedded technology, it is a hub to facilitate a service only.No more installing application and software to “do things”, rather mini services or bots as we call them today which will come and go as we need them.But how do we interact with our ‘services’ using a wallet with no interface? Connected devices which we’re all been using and are accustomed to.Whether Bluetooth, RFid, or HotSpot connectivity, our interface interaction will take place mostly by voice – Alexa, Google Home, Cortana and Siri are already working on making your voice become a habit for everyday usage.The smarter earpieceAs interaction will be mostly by voice, we wouldn’t be able to go about our day if everyone around us will be talking to their wallet for all tasks and needs; it will be crazier than today. A few items need to be in place for appropriate Human-Computer-Interface (HCI):Throat conduction: increase accuracy without the need to shout; whether regular volume or whispering, as long audio leaves your mouth, verbal cues will be caught.Noise cancellation: of course, as everyone will be interacting with their wallet, your own wallet must avoid sounds beyond your own voice.Long-lasting: like today’s Bluetooth earpieces, battery life is long-lasting, charging time is short, and usage is simple.Connected…your wayIn the near future, we will depend on one device and have many devices as optional for additional services. The great thing will be the convenience of one must-have device, and each their own extras.Eran Abramson, Head of Marketing, KnowmailThe author is head of marketing at Knowmail, an artificially intelligent inbox assistant for professionals. He is an entrepreneur and creative with vast startup experience as well as mentoring and instructing venture creation and product management. Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to…
Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Nestor Mendez, says establishment of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, in the Caribbean, is not only vital but also “very timely.”He was addressing the official launch of the Centre, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in Rose Hall, St. James, on January 30.Mr. Mendez said the centre, being opened just a short 14 months since the adoption of the Montego Bay Declaration, following the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference on sustainable growth in November 2017, is nothing short of remarkable.“It is not just a remarkable achievement but also a testament to the hard work and determination of the Government of Jamaica,” Mr. Mendez told the audience.“I must commend the leadership shown by the Government of Jamaica and indeed Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, in the establishment of the centre, which was a mandate of the Declaration of Montego Bay in 2017,” he added.The Declaration was officially presented by Mr. Bartlett, and Executive Director of the UNWTO, Carlos Vogeler.Among the key elements of the Declaration is a call for support of the establishment of a Global Tourism Resilience Centre in the Caribbean, including a Sustainable Tourism Observatory, to assist destinations’ preparedness, management and recovery from crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods.Mr. Mendez said that while travel and tourism contributes to more than 10 per cent of world output and nearly 10 per cent of employment worldwide, the sector nevertheless remains vulnerable to threats, challenges, and disruptions of various sorts, especially in relation to climate change and natural disasters.These disruptions, he said, almost always have the potential to stymie growth and prosperity in the region.“It is of particular significance that the Centre is being established here in the Caribbean, as the Caribbean tourism sector is often the victim of the Atlantic hurricanes, which invariably leads to temporary and permanent closure of hotels and ancillary businesses,” Mr. Mendez said.He said the OAS has long recognised, with grave concern, that the Latin American and Caribbean region represents one of the most vulnerable regions in the world, due to the adverse impact of climate change.“For the OAS, the issue of resilience remains a critical one. The organization has played an integral role in supporting efforts to enhance resilience in the tourism sector in the Caribbean for many years,” Mr. Mendez noted.In the aftermath of the destructive 2017 hurricane season in the Caribbean, which saw destruction caused by hurricanes Maria in Dominica and Puerto Rico and Irma in the island of Barbuda, the OAS, at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., hosted a meeting with Caribbean leaders and international business mogul, Sir Richard Branson, as well as several international institutions and private sector officials.“This meeting sought to put together a broad-based multi-sector coalition to mobilise private sector funding of climate change resilience initiatives in the region, as the foundation for urgent action,” Mr. Mendez explained.“The OAS remains committed to supporting resilience efforts in the region, including this initiative to establish the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre,” he added. Story Highlights Among the key elements of the Declaration is a call for support of the establishment of a Global Tourism Resilience Centre in the Caribbean, including a Sustainable Tourism Observatory, to assist destinations’ preparedness, management and recovery from crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods. Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Nestor Mendez, says establishment of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, in the Caribbean, is not only vital but also “very timely.” “The OAS remains committed to supporting resilience efforts in the region, including this initiative to establish the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre,” he added.
DALJ. BennT. SeguinA. Radulov201360.6 None of this is to say the Bruins are a one-line team — they’re far from it. Rookie forwards Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk have already chipped in with 11 goals each, and rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy5McAvoy recently underwent minor surgery to correct an abnormal heart rhythm, but is expected to return in two weeks. is building a solid case for the Calder Memorial Trophy. And David Krejci is a pretty decent second line center, too: He’s scored 24 points in 29 games, and he’s winning 56.3 percent of his faceoffs, by far the best mark of his career.Boston will lose in regulation again — Marchand, who is serving a five-game suspension, and McAvoy’s temporary absences should ensure this happens sooner than later. But there’s nothing in recent memory suggesting Boston’s top line will cease to be a possession beast any time soon.6All three forwards finished in the top ten in Corsi percentage in 2016-17. If they keep getting (and burying) their chances — and if Rask’s ascendancy holds up, which his dazzling career implies it might — the Bruins might find themselves playing hockey in June again. TBLV. NamestnikovS. StamkosN. Kucherov261957.8 TMLeft wingCenterright wingForVS.For % Each member of the line must be on the ice for a goal to qualifySource: Left Wing Lock NYIA. LeeJ. TavaresJ. Bailey241955.8 Goals TORZ. HymanA. MatthewsW. Nylander24972.7 BOSB. MarchandP. BergeronD. Pastrnak21387.5% For the first couple months of the season, the Boston Bruins had more problems than they could handle. They had lost more games than they had won. They were firmly out of the playoff picture. Top-line center Patrice Bergeron and his linemate Brad Marchand had both missed time with injuries. So had second-line center David Krejci. Goalie Tuukka Rask was a husk of his former self, and looked for a moment as though he might lose his starting job. Matt Beleskey, who the Bruins decided to pay $19 million because he had a handful of good weeks during the spring of 2015, had been placed on waivers.1He cleared them and now plays for Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence.This was a team that had won the Presidents’ Trophy as recently as 2013-14, and that had a core made up of several skaters who’d played in two of the past seven Stanley Cup Finals. This was also a team that had failed to qualify for two of the past three postseasons, and that hadn’t won a playoff series since they beat the Detroit Red Wings in the spring of 2014.But since a loss to the Washington Capitals in mid-December, the Bruins have been damn near untouchable: They are 14-0-4 in their last 18 games. The Bruins looked like basement dwellers a few months ago, and now pundits are wondering whether they’re legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. But are they for real, or is this streak just a tantalizing aberration?The Bruins are a balanced hockey team — seven skaters have at least 25 points — but much of their recent form can be attributed to the extraordinary play of a rejuvenated Rask and the top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and David Pastrnak, which has established itself as one of the best in the NHL.In his last 18 starts, Rask has lost exactly zero games in regulation; in his prior 13 starts, he had won just three. During his recent dominant stretch, Rask has stopped 94 percent of the shots he’s faced; during his disastrous stretch, he stopped just under 90 percent of the shots he faced.2Not what you’d expect from the NHL’s all-time leader in save percentage.Goaltender play is notoriously unstable, so these gulfs in Rask’s performance aren’t actually as shocking as they seem on the surface. Even if Rask’s save percentage regresses and he stops roughly 92 percent of the shots he faces for the rest of the season, the Bruins will be in good shape.To explain the dominance of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, the best place to start is their possession numbers. Bergeron is yet again among the league’s elite faceoff takers, winning more than 57 percent of his draws.3That number drops a bit to roughly 53 percent on power play draws, but Bergeron can be forgiven — unless he’s the man in the penalty box, teams often task their best faceoff man with taking draws on the penalty kill. Among qualifying skaters, all three on Boston’s top line rank in the top 50 in Corsi percentage,4Adjusted for score, zone and venue. which estimates a player’s possession rate by measuring the percentage of shot attempts directed at his opponent’s net versus his own net while he’s on the ice. And because the Bruins’ top troika are sending so many shots toward their opponents’ nets, all three also rank in the top 15 for goals per 60 minutes.Among lines that qualify, only 11 others in the NHL have a higher combined shooting percentage than the combination of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak. And their goals for percentage — which takes the total number of goals scored while a line is on the ice together and calculates the percentage of those goals that were goals scored by the line — is by far the best in the league. LOSA. IafalloA. KopitarD. Brown201360.6 VGKR. SmithW. KarlssonJ. Marchessault321666.7 PHIC. GirouxS. CouturierJ. Voracek231069.7 COLG. LandeskogN. MacKinnonM. Rantanen291467.4 The best among the best lines in the NHLThe top 10 lines in the NHL in goals scored while playing 5-on-5, by percentage of goals for CGYJ. GaudreauS. MonahanM. Ferland251267.6
As we cross the one-quarter mark of the NBA season — with the Clippers in first place out West, the Kings playing .500 ball, and the Jazz and Rockets near the bottom looking up — things are starting to come into clearer focus. That clarity is more than welcome, given how topsy-turvy the league has been for the first month and a half of play.We know a lot will change between now and April, but for the time being, here are the five things we’ve been most and least surprised by so far this year.Surprising: The Celtics haven’t been good, and the Jazz have been even worse.Boston, finally healthy after losing two of its best players last year, has been one of the bigger mysteries of the season. The Celtics have been elite defensively again this year,1At least from a statistical standpoint. They haven’t been very good at limiting individual scoring outbursts at all. but the offense — which almost never gets to the line — can’t get out of its own way much of the time.Before the season began, Jaylen Brown expressed a belief that the starting wings (him, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum) have nearly identical skill sets, which was affecting chemistry. And after watching them for a month and a half, we can’t say that he was wrong. With that in mind, Brad Stevens’s recent lineup shift to bring the struggling Hayward off the bench could help matters.Hayward and Brown, in particular, have both shot far better from the floor when playing apart from each other. Hayward sports a solid 53.9 percent effective field-goal rate without Brown but just 39.7 percent with him. And Brown’s 50.5 percent effective field-goal rate without Hayward is well above the 38.5 percent mark he posts while sharing the court with Hayward.Their net ratings also improve when playing apart. The Celtics outscore opponents by 9 points per 100 possessions with Hayward but without Brown, and Boston wins by a margin of 1.5 points per 100 when Brown is on the court but Hayward is on the sideline. But the Celtics hemorrhage 2.2 points per 100 possessions with the two playing together.Using floor-spacing forward Marcus Morris as a starter may work better because of his rugged screen-setting ability. His off-ball screens, useful for a lineup with so many scoring options on the wing, produce the best scoring efficiency of any player on the team2Minimum 15 screens. at 1.12 points per possession when both Tatum and Hayward are on the floor and a whopping 1.53 points per possession when Tatum and Brown are playing together, according to Second Spectrum.It’s also worth keeping an eye on Terry Rozier, who, to this point, has regressed badly on the offensive end after a highly encouraging postseason run, in which he filled in admirably for the injured Kyrie Irving.As for the Jazz, this — 10-12, and third-to-last in the West — is what happens when your league-best defense from last season is merely a middle-of-the-road one, and your offense not only fails to improve but actually morphs into one of the NBA’s five worst in that same window.What’s behind Utah’s slide? A handful of theories have been discussed. But two things stand out to me: 1) The team’s schedule — the toughest in the league3Similar to last season, when their December schedule was the toughest individual month played by any NBA team. So perhaps this is reason for optimism. — has been front-loaded, and 2) a number of players aren’t playing to their capabilities.Outside of a one-week stretch at the end of October, Donovan Mitchell has been terribly inconsistent, struggling badly from outside. Dante Exum’s offense still isn’t catching up to his defense. And perhaps the biggest issue: Ricky Rubio has been awful on both sides of the ball thus far — even more than he was to start last season, when he had just joined the club and was learning the ropes.Rubio has generally been able to hang his hat on his defense and his passing whenever he’s struggling to shoot. But this season, he has sometimes looked a half-step slower laterally on D, allowing nearly a 10th of a point more per drive he defends, at 0.98 points per play, than he did last season, according to Second Spectrum. And while opponents have long sagged off Rubio, daring him to shoot, that experiment has paid far greater dividends this season, as he’s logged just a 46.6 percent effective field goal rate on jumpers when given 6 or more feet of open space4Shots from at least 10 feet away. — down from 53.5 percent just last year, and the worst percentage he’s connected on since the 2013-14 campaign, according to NBA Advanced Stats.It’s still a little early to consider changing the lineup — especially after Rubio played so well at times last postseason. But if he doesn’t turn it around in the next month or so, it might be worth trying a new starting five and letting Mitchell handle the ball more. (Utah, realizing it needs more punch on offense, traded guard Alec Burks and two future second-rounders Wednesday for sharpshooter Kyle Korver.)We wrote this summer that we believed the Jazz could be true contenders this season — which looks incredibly wrong at the moment. But we said then that much of Utah’s hopes would hinge on Rubio’s play. For better or — to this point — perhaps for worse, that seems to be the case.Not surprising: The Grizzlies got back to Grit ’N’ Grind.A lot of people either wrote off or simply forgot about the Grizzlies after a dismal 2017-18 campaign in which they finished with 22 wins and the second-worst record in the league. But the case for believing in Memphis this season was relatively straightforward: This group, finally healthy with the return of Mike Conley and a more motivated Marc Gasol, had its best players back and added considerable two-way talent over the summer through a handful of deals.Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. looks like a potential star at times and is already the real deal defensively. The Memphis defense can be overly aggressive at times in helping from the weak side, which leaves corner shooters open more often than most teams. But the Grizzlies’ D is a top-5 unit, and it gets downright nasty when Jackson and Gasol play together, surrendering just 96.8 points per 100 possessions in 287 minutes. (Oklahoma City, which leads the NBA in defensive efficiency, allows 102.6 points per 100 possessions.)In case you need a sign of how smart the Grizzlies’ offseason pickups were, consider this: The team’s three most-efficient rotation players5By effective field goal percentage, counting only those who have played at least 100 minutes. to this point — Omri Casspi, Shelvin Mack and Jackson — were all acquisitions from this summer. Gasol is fourth on that list, but right behind him is Garrett Temple, for whom the Grizzlies traded.So don’t be too surprised if Memphis continues to hang around in the playoff race. There were indications all along that the Grizzlies would find themselves in the midst of this conversation.Surprising: Derrick Rose’s offense came back to life.Rose’s first career 50-point game earlier this year got considerable attention, but that game was no fluke: This whole season in Minnesota has been a consistent one for the former MVP. From an efficiency standpoint, he’s actually never played this well before.He’s shooting a career-best 49.8 percent from the field, and his 60 percent mark from a true shooting standpoint is 5 points better than he’s had in any other season. Rose used to be among the NBA’s worst 3-point shooters — enough of a liability that he essentially stopped taking triples altogether in New York — but he’s been good from that range, too. The 30-year-old, who’s long been a surprisingly good midrange shooter despite having the flattest shot in the game, is better than 48 percent from 3-point distance on almost four attempts per game to this point. His hot start even has him ranking as one of the NBA’s 15 most efficient offensive players, according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus metric.It’s still early, but this shooting display — even if his numbers fall off some — figures to lengthen his career, a meaningful development based on how things were going 10 months ago. We knew his otherworldly athleticism wouldn’t be the same after all his injuries, but a steady jumper has changed his outlook.Not surprising: The Rockets-Melo marriage failed.We, like many others, fully recognized the potential pitfalls with Houston’s Carmelo Anthony acquisition this summer. He seemed a less-than-ideal fit, particularly as a sort of replacement for the switchy wing defenders the Rockets lost in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. So it’s not necessarily shocking that the experiment didn’t work.But never did we imagine that the team would pull the plug as quickly as it did. Houston cut bait on the fallen star just 10 games in — even though other clear problems seemed to exist (like the lack of depth behind Clint Capela, or Eric Gordon shooting far worse than he ever has). Still, it’s somewhat difficult to knock the haste with which the Rockets made the decision: They couldn’t afford to fall too far behind in the loaded Western Conference, where the playoff race figures to be a bloodbath, and they began playing far better after making the pragmatic choice to hold Melo out of the rotation. But even after winning five straight at one point earlier in the month, Houston now finds itself mired in a four-game skid, meaning that there’s more for this club to figure out.Surprising: California’s other NBA teams have been legitimately good.It was totally fair to wonder whether Los Angeles might be a factor in the Western Conference playoffs this season, but who would’ve thought that the Clippers would be the team making that kind of noise at this point in the year? (In fairness, LeBron James and the Lakers have played well lately, too, and may very well find themselves in the same conversation as we move forward.)A number of things illustrate how and why Doc Rivers’s team finds itself atop the West for the time being. The guard rotation of Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has done a fantastic job of defending; the Clippers have held opposing starting guards to 40.9 percent shooting, the NBA’s fourth-lowest figure through Tuesday’s games, per the ESPN Stats & Information Group. Danilo Gallinari, who hasn’t played more than 65 games in a campaign in six seasons, has missed only one game thus far and is shooting better than he ever has from outside.But above all else, the Clips have thrived because Tobias Harris — tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo for the league’s best effective field-goal percentage among wing players with at least 300 shot attempts — has quietly pieced together the offensive profile of a superstar this season. Between the huge leap he’s made and the gains of Victor Oladipo, the Orlando Magic front office has to be beside itself after trading away both players.And while Golden State has been Golden State so far, another Northern California team has been making a move. The Kings own a 10-10 mark and have been one of the more entertaining clubs so far. Just about everything begins and ends with their blistering pace. It seems possible that their ability to maintain that 106-possessions-per-48-minutes tempo for entire games may work to their advantage in the clutch, when Sacramento’s opponents simply don’t have anything left.Sacramento ranks 22nd in defensive efficiency in the first quarter, 25th in the second period and tied for 16th in the third, yet it sits sixth in fourth-quarter defense, right behind the defending champ Warriors. And get this: Despite the pace at which they play, the De’Aaron Fox-led Kings have yet to commit a clutch-time turnover this season — they’re the only team that can still make such a claim this late in the season. It’s part of the reason they are 8-3 — best in the Western Conference — in contests separated by 5 points or fewer with five minutes or less remaining, per NBA.com.Not bad for the NBA’s third-youngest team, one whose young players all seem to have taken a step forward this season.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
John Tortorella is introduced with alumni from the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship team at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on March 17, 2014.Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe Columbus Blue Jackets have had a terrible start to the year with a 1-8-0 start. They lost the first eight games they played, but fired then-coach Todd Richards after an 0-7 start and brought on John Tortorella.Tortorella is someone who the team believes is going to give these Blue Jackets a wakeup call they desperately need. The choice of getting rid of Richards was not an easy one, as the Blue Jackets had a lot of success with him being the winningest coach in team’s short history.Richards had taken the Blue Jackets to the playoffs and helped guide their first victory in the postseason, as well as the only postseason victory at Nationwide Arena. Richards was a good coach who got fired for something that was not his fault: the play of the players.Coming into this season, the Blue Jackets had the highest expectations in franchise history and were being talked about as a possible winner of the Metropolitan Division, a first for the franchise if accomplished. Columbus played a good, hard-fought first game until it came unraveled in the third period. After that, the Blue Jackets didn’t look anything like they did in the preseason. Something had to be done.At the time of Richards’ canning, the team was coming close to history by losing seven games in a row. The last time an NHL team had lost as many games as the Blue Jackets to start a season was in 1943, when the New York Rangers started out 0-11-0.The Blue Jackets lost the debut of Tortorella, but battled to a close finish, falling 3-2 against the Minnesota Wild on the road, which set the franchise-worst eight straight losses to open the season. They came back and won the ninth game of the year on Saturday, pulling to .500 under Tortorella. Since being hired on, the team has looked more and more like the team many thought they could be. Maybe this is all because of Tortorella and what he brings to the table for the Blue Jackets.Tortorella is a very well-respected hockey coach around the league. The man is the all-time winningest American-born coach in NHL history. He has led three different clubs — the Rangers, Tampa Bay Lighting and Vancouver Canucks — compiling a record of 446-375-37-78 (ties were a part of the league until it introduced the shootout in 2005). His career winning percentage is .538, while he joins a team that has a franchise winning percentage of .394.He has won a championship in 2004 with the Lighting and took the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012. He also has a tendency to not be quite as friendly to media as others. Just ask the New York media who had to cover him. That could be what this club — and city — needs. He could restore the team’s blue collar attitude that it held for the last few years, as it finished above .500 in each of the past three seasons.Tortorella has to get this club to wake up. We saw the potential in this team at the end of last season, and the Blue Jackets have had a history the past few years of starting slow but still making a run. The team still has a lot of the same core players that it had last year. All Tortorella has to do is get the players back to the level of play they had, and the confidence they had as well.The Blue Jackets’ biggest weakness has been on the defensive side, starting with the defensemen not looking anything like last year, and Sergei Bobrovsky carrying a 4.45 goals-against average and a 1-6 record. The Blue Jackets showed flashes during their losing streak, but have looked consistently better since Tortorella arrived.Columbus is not the first team to fire a coach this early in the season. In 2013, the Philadelphia Flyers fired Peter Laviolette after just three games and the team still made the playoffs. In the last 25 years, four other teams have fired their coach 10 games or fewer into a season, two of which ended up making the playoffs.The Blue Jackets have some serious odds against them. Going into their 10th game, they are already 12 points behind the Rangers for the top spot in the division. They are also seven points out of a wild card spot.They have an opportunity to get it turned around, but they have to come together with their new coach or it could be another long, postseason-free season for the franchise.