Buddhadeb out of CPI (M) Bengal State Committee

first_imgTwenty senior leaders — including former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee — have been “released” from the West Bengal State Committee of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Thursday. As many as 17 new members are inducted into the 80-member Committee. The youngest member of the State Committee is Madhuja Sen Roy (33) while the seniormost is Biman Basu (77), a Politburo member. The seniormost leaders, including Mr. Bhattacharjee, have been accommodated as special invitees, party’s State Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said after the 4-day-long triennial State conference.Mr. Bhattacharjee participated in a couple of sessions of the State conference and was repeatedly requested by party’s senior leadership to stay in the State Committee. “But once he takes a decision, it is very difficult to make him change his mind. He wanted the State Committee to release him. We resisted but, finally, we had to release him owing to health-related issues,” he said. Besides Mr. Bhattacharjee, the senior leaders who are now out of the State Committee but accommodated as special invitees are: Shyamal Chakraborty, Madan Ghosh, Dipak Sarkar, Basudeb Acharya, Kanti Ganguly, Asim Dasgupta and Nirupam Sen. New team The upper age limit of the State Committee members is fixed at 75 years. “Only in the case of Biman Basu, the rule has been relaxed by the Committee as he is more youthful than the younger leaders,” Mr. Mishra said. He said the party at the State level has followed its policy to develop a team of “youth, middle-aged and senior members”.last_img read more

Would not prefer IPL being shifted from India: Kumble

first_imgThiruvananthapuram, Apr 27 (PTI) Former Indian skipper Anil Kumble today said that he was not in favour of shifting the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches from the country. “IPL is a global brand which brings in lot of revenue to the country. It should not be shifted,” he told reporters during a visit to the Greenfield Stadium at Karyavattom here. The veteran cricketer was here to visit the Sports Hub Trivandrum at the stadium and spend time with the first batch of students of a sports coaching academy, co-supported by Kumbles sports training and consulting company TENVIC. Last week, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur had hinted that IPLs Governing Council may deliberate moving the 2017 edition abroad. IPL was twice played outside India, both in assembly election years. In 2009, it was moved for the entire duration to South Africa and in 2014 was shifted to the United Arab Emirates for the first 15 days. This edition has seen many PILs filed by by various outfits. 12 matches have been moved out of drought-hit Maharashtra on Bombay High Courts directive after a PIL was filed claiming that a huge quantity of water was being used to maintain various cricket stadiums in the state. Earlier during an interaction with students, Kumble said that his academy was looking forward to bring top class coaching to the states budding sports stars. The KSFL-TENVIC sports coaching academy commenced operations here on April 20 with coaching for cricket and football. TENVIC, founded by Kumble and table tennis player Vasanth Bharadwaj, entered Kerala in association with the Sports Hub Trivandrum. PTI LGK UD APR KHS ATadvertisementlast_img read more

Gopi, Rawat among top Indian runners in Mumbai Marathon

first_imgMumbai, Jan 11 (PTI) Recently crowned Asian champion Gopi Thonakal and fellow Army long distance runner Nitendra Singh Rawat, the course record holder among Indians, are the star attractions among the home countrys male runners in the Tata Mumbai Marathon to be held on January 21.Gopi, from Army Sports Institute of Pune, will go into the gruelling run on Mumbais streets in the 15th edition of the marathon with his confidence high after becoming the first-ever male runner from the country to clinch the Asian marathon title in Dongguan in China on November 26, clocking 2 hours, 15 minutes and 48 seconds.Rawat, from the Kumaon Regiment, is expected to give him a run for his money after his feat as the best Indian finisher in the Delhi half marathon, and his performance as the top Indian finisher here in 2016.Both had also taken part in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with Gopi ending up a creditable 25th in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds while a hamstring injury affected Rawats performance as he finished a distant 84th.The 29-year-old Gopi from Wayanad in Kerala had finished 28th in the World Championship last year in London, clocking 2:17:13.Their head-to-head rivalry, similar to what was experienced in 2016 when Rawat was the top Indian finisher in 2:25:48 just ahead of Gopi, is expected to be among the highlights of the USD 405,000 event to be title-sponsored by the Tata Group for the first time.”We are happy to be the title sponsors of the Mumbai Marathon as its the first big event for us in 2018 which marks 150 years of the Tata Group,” said Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian of the Groups flagship, Tata Sons, at a media conference here today.advertisementGuangzhou Asian Games (2010) steeplechase gold medal winner Sudha Singh is the top draw among the Indian women. She will have to contend with the challenge from L Suriya, the fastest Indian woman and course record holder of the Airtel Delhi half marathon and Tata Steel Kolkata 25K events, among others.South Africas Olympian Hendrick Ramaala, the 2004 mens winner, has been roped in as the pacemaker of the Indian contingent.The elite list of foreign runners has already been announced by event promoters, Procam International.The mens elite field has 2017 Tokyo Marathon runner-up Solomon Deksisa of Ethiopia and last years Mumbai Marathon runner-up Joshua Kipkorir, among others.The corresponding womens field will see last years winner Bornes Kitur of Kenya defending her title.The start and finish route of the race is expected to see a small change because of the under-construction work for the Mumbai Metro on the D N Road stretch from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Hutatma Chowk (Flora Fountain), informed Joint MD of Procam, Vivek Singh.”We are working with the government authorities on how best to tweak the route at the start and finish of the race,” said Singh to a question. PTI SSR KRKlast_img read more

Will Mithali Raj retire from T20Is after World T20 fiasco in West Indies?

first_imgMithali Raj has the swagger that could have earned her million dollar contracts if she were playing men’s cricket in India. She nonchalantly reads books before going out to bat in World Cup matches, shuts down journalists who come up with borderline sexist questions.On top of all this, Raj scores runs, plenty of them. The 35-year-old cricketer from Rajasthan is the leading run-scorer in women’s ODIs. With 6550 runs at an average of 51.17, Raj is well ahead of the chasing pack that has several big names from women’s cricket.Raj has served Indian cricket for 20 years and for the most part, shouldered the burden of the team single-handedly. She didn’t always have the luxury to hold her pose after a cracking drive, considering broadcast deals were an unknown entity in women’s cricket until very recently. But she kept scoring, winning matches for the team like no else before her had done.And that’s why when she was dropped from the Indian playing XI for the World T20 semi-final against England in the Caribbean last week, there was a huge furore back in the country. Fans lashed out at the team selection that arguably cost India a place in the final. Experts pitched in and Raj’s manager blasted captain Harmanpreet Kaur on Twitter before deleting her post.Also read: Ganguly relates to Mithali’s omission from World T20 semi-final: ‘Welcome to the group’ Raj had scored a couple of match-winning fifties in the group stages wherein India looked unstoppable. However, she was forced to sit out of their final round-robin match against Australia with a knee injury.advertisementRaj was declared fit on the eve of the semi-final but India insisted on going in with a winning combination that saw their most experienced player warm the benches. When India collapsed from 89 for 2 to 112 all-out, Raj’s straight face that was captured by the television cameras told the entire story.Also read: Mithali Raj ‘terribly disappointed’ after World T20 semis axing, says personal coachRaj’s strike-rate, which has been around run-a-ball in the shortest format of the game, had been a cause of concern for quite some time now. At a time when India are looking ahead, especially after the arrival of coach Ramesh Powar, the senior campaigner was no longer a certain starter in T20Is.Raj has scored 575 runs from 22 innings in 2018 at an average of 35.93 but her performances in the lead-up to the tournament were far from impressive. Eventually, the right-hander didn’t get to bat in the tournament opener wherein India amassed 194 runs.However, in low-scoring matches, especially against arch-rivals Pakistan, Raj’s experience augured well for Harmanpreet’s side. Notably, Raj opened the innings for the team and hit a match-winning 47-ball 56.As it turns out, Raj had a difficult time throughout the tournament as there was quite a lot of uncertainty surrounding her place in the side, according to Mid-Day. The batting snub in the opening match didn’t help either as she didn’t have a fixed batting position in the recent past.Raj was reportedly told about her omission from the playing XI for the semi-final only after the pre-match warm-up – a gesture that had left her “terribly disappointed”, according to her personal coach RSR Murthy.Even if Raj’s axing is being projected as a tactical move by the management, the message has been sent out loud and clear. The veteran’s time as part of the Indian setup in the shortest format is up and if reports are to be believed, Raj has come to terms with it.The “harsh treatment” meted to Raj at the World T20 has pushed her into contemplating retirement from the shortest format of the game, according to the news daily.Notably, Raj wasn’t thinking about quitting the T20I formats and had wanted to continue playing even after the global spectacle in the Caribbean but the latest turn of events seems to have influenced her decision. Nonetheless, Raj had conceded during the tournament that she wouldn’t be playing another World T20 for the country.The seasoned campaigner, who is still the captain of the women’s ODI team, is seemingly hopeful of playing the 2021 World Cup. Raj may want to focus solely on building a team for the global 50-over spectacle and she has ample time to do so.Far from ideal circumstances for Team IndiaMeanwhile, It remains to be seen if the reported rift between two of the superstar cricketers of the women’s team – Raj and Harmanpreet – will have an impact on team in the near future.advertisementHarmanpreet is undoubtedly one of the most popular women’s cricketers in the world, let alone in the country. Her unbeaten 171 against Australia in the Women’s World Cup semi-final last year is arguably among the best World Cup knocks ever played.However, Harmanpreet has had a tough time in one-day cricket since her magnificent hundred over a year ago. Since her second ODI hundred in 2013, the 29-year-old has scored only one century and has been under-par in the ongoing season wherein she has managed just 195 runs 12 matches at 21.66.What if and there’s a big IF – Harmanpreet has to be dropped because of her lack of runs in the one-day format? Will that be seen as an act of revenge by Mithali the ODI skipper, no matter how tactical the reason is? These are not ideal circumstances for a team and far from ideal.Mithali’s experience could have been vital against England in the semi-final. Her manager (she later said she did not manage Mithali) muddied the waters further with her explosive comments against Harmanpreet. Who knows what the mood will be in the Indian team like? Maybe the women will put this behind them and focus on the challenges that lay ahead.And if Mithalai decides to hang up her boots in T20s, it will be a setback that the Indian team will not be immediately able to deal with.Also see:last_img read more

Abhinandan Varthaman’s Gunslinger: Tamil moustache all of India wants

first_imgOnce you see him it is difficult to forget him. The face, characterised with a thick gunslinger moustache with thin mutton chop beard and a proud smile, is hard to miss. The image of his face and his moustache lingers on in your mind’s eye after the first glance. We are talking about none other than Indian Air Force (IAF) braveheart Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who returned to India after being held captive by Pakistan on February 27.In the wake of the hardship he went through, when you visualise Abhinandan Varthaman’s smiling face, his hard-to-miss gunslinger moustache appears to radiate pride and confidence.His grit and determination further exemplified in his mannerism when he was held by the Pakistan Army.How proud we are to have you ! Bow down to your skills and even more your grit and courage #WelcomeBackAbhinandan . We love you and are filled with pride because of you.#WeAreSupposedToTellYouThis pic.twitter.com/IfqBFNNa3TVirender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) March 1, 2019Unlike characters from the England of the 18-19th century, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman doesn’t sport a messy moustache.In fact, as you see his photos and videos closely, you will observe that his moustache is beautifully crafted in a manner that ensures that neither his radiating smile, nor his proud face gets covered with it.Wanna grow a moustache like IAF Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman!!!(@debarshi_taki) March 1, 2019Abhinandan Varthaman’s moustache does not fit into any airtight characterisation of moustaches. It heavily resembles the gunslinger, but also has some characteristics of the horseshoe, the Hungarian, and the wild west moustache. For a complete look, Abhinandan Varthaman sports his gunslinger moustache with a thin strap mutton chop beard.advertisementA slightly longer version of his moustache was sported by General Alexander Shaler, a highly decorated officer from the United States of America. A simple search on Wikipedia suggests that he received the US military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honour. This was for his role in the Second battle of Fredericksburg.Can we speak for a moment about how amazing Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman’s Moustache is? https://t.co/p5BolOfVI8Ken Dennis (@KenDennis) February 28, 2019Ever since the news of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman being taken captive by Pakistan broke and videos of him being questioned started doing the rounds, praise for his bravery, courage and grit has flooded the social media.People have not only hailed his courage and ability to maintain calm despite being taken captive by Pakistan, there are many who want to sport a moustache like him. His fans have started expressing their desire on Twitter and Instagram.Don’t be surprised if it becomes the next style sensation in India as it welcomes its hero with the chant: Abhibanadan ka abhinandan ho!ALSO READ | #WelcomeBackAbhinandan: Indian sports stars cheer as air warrior returns homeALSO READ | Abhinandan Varthaman carries a legacy of courage, grace, valourALSO READ | ABHINANDAN, Varthaman: Kashmiri youth welcome IAF hero, back peace processALSO READ | IAF pilot Abhinandan’s father thanks people for being with family in hour of needlast_img read more

New Zealand take charge of WC tie

first_imgNew Zealand 6 Solomon Islands 1: Wood treble puts All Whites in play-off control Joe Wright 17:56 9/1/17 chris wood - cropped Getty Images Chris Wood scored a hat-trick as New Zealand beat the Solomon Islands 6-1 in their World Cup play-off tie. New Zealand took a step closer to the World Cup with a 6-1 first-leg win over the Solomon Islands in the Oceanic section play-off.Burnley striker Chris Wood scored a hat-trick to help the home side to a commanding victory in Auckland that puts them on the brink of progressing to the intercontinental tie in November.Wood converted from close range following a Ryan Thomas shot to put New Zealand ahead after 18 minutes, before he netted his second of the game nice minutes before half-time with a cool finish over goalkeeper Phil Mango. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Kosta Barbarouses’ powerful drive made it 3-0 three minutes later, and although Henry Fa’arado pulled one back from the penalty spot, Thomas combined well with Monty Patterson before firing home his side’s fourth.Michael McGlinchey scored a brilliant free-kick before Wood completed his hat-trick in injury time to cap a fine performance for Anthony Hudson’s side, who are now firm favourites to progress ahead of the second leg in Honiara on Tuesday.The winner of the tie will go on to face the fifth-place team from South American’s qualifying section in a final play-off tie to determine who will be at next year’s finals in Russia.#WCQ | FT New Zealand 6-1 Solomon IslandsImpressive All Whites seize initiative in OFC #WorldCup play-off https://t.co/SpQDWJq93q pic.twitter.com/vL9SjWFSIZ— #WCQ (@FIFAWorldCup) September 1, 2017last_img read more

UEFA World Cup qualifying as it stands

first_imgWorld Cup Which European teams have qualified for World Cup 2018 in Russia? Oli Platt Last updated 2 years ago 16:00 10/11/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Robert Lewandowski Poland Getty Images World Cup WC Qualification Europe Romania Czech Republic Scotland Turkey North Macedonia Bulgaria Kosovo Croatia Bosnia-Herzegovina Sweden Switzerland Norway Finland Austria Azerbaijan Estonia Spain Kazakhstan Lithuania Belarus Gibraltar Greece Belgium Luxembourg Cyprus Netherlands France Andorra Latvia Hungary Faroe Islands Portugal Montenegro Northern Ireland San Marino Germany Malta England Armenia Denmark Poland Slovenia Slovakia Iceland Albania Liechtenstein Serbia Moldova Italy Israel Wales Ukraine France, Spain and Germany are among the teams to have confirmed their place at next summer’s finals, with just the play-offs left to be contested There are only four World Cup 2018 qualification places left to play for in Europe as group play reached its conclusion on October 10.France and Portugal were the last teams to wrap up top spot in their groups and confirm their place at the finals, joining the likes of Spain, Germany and England.France 11/2 to lift WC Article continues below Editors’ Picks Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. For Italy, Croatia and Switzerland, among others, though, the second-place play-offs loom in November before the draw for the tournament in Russia a month later.Goal has your complete guide to the current qualification picture as we edge nearer to the return of the biggest sporting event on the planet.QUALIFIED TEAMS Team Method Russia Hosts France Group A winner Portugal Group B winner Germany Group C winner Serbia Group D winner Poland Group E winner England Group F winner Spain Group G winner Belgium Group H winner Iceland Group I winner TBC Play-off winner TBC Play-off winner TBC Play-off winner TBC Play-off winner GROUP TABLESThomas Muller GermanyThe 54 countries participating are split into nine groups of six.The teams in each group play each other twice – once at home and once away. The nine first-place teams qualify directly for the World Cup finals.The nine second-place teams are then ranked by points, but with the results of their games against the last-placed team in their group discarded (leaving eight games each).The best eight teams on that basis are drawn at random into four two-legged play-off ties, with the ninth team eliminated. The winners of those ties also qualify for the World Cup finals.Group A: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 France (Q) 10 7 2 1 18 6 +12 23 2 Sweden (PO) 10 6 1 3 26 9 +17 19 3 Netherlands (E) 10 6 1 3 21 12 +9 19 4 Bulgaria (E) 10 4 1 5 14 19 -5 13 5 Luxembourg (E) 10 1 3 6 8 26 -18 6 6 Belarus (E) 10 1 2 7 6 21 -15 5 Group B: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Portugal (Q) 10 9 0 1 32 4 +28 27 2 Switzerland (PO) 10 9 0 1 23 7 +16 27 3 Hungary (E) 10 4 1 5 14 14 0 13 4 Faroe Islands (E) 10 2 3 5 4 16 -12 9 5 Latvia (E) 10 2 1 7 7 18 -11 7 6 Andorra (E) 10 1 1 8 2 23 -21 4 Group C: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Germany (Q) 10 10 0 0 43 4 +39 30 2 Northern Ireland (PO) 10 6 1 3 17 6 +11 19 3 Czech Republic (E) 10 4 3 3 17 10 +7 15 4 Norway (E) 10 4 1 5 17 16 +1 13 5 Azerbaijan (E) 10 3 1 6 10 19 -9 10 6 San Marino (E) 10 0 0 10 2 51 -49 0 Group D: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Serbia (Q) 10 6 3 1 20 10 +10 21 2 Republic of Ireland (PO) 10 5 4 1 12 6 +6 19 3 Wales (E) 10 4 5 1 13 6 +7 17 4 Austria (E) 10 4 3 3 14 12 +2 15 5 Georgia (E) 10 0 5 5 8 14 -6 5 6 Moldova (E) 10 0 2 8 4 23 -19 2 Group E: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Poland (Q) 10 8 1 1 28 14 +14 25 2 Denmark (PO) 10 6 2 2 20 8 +12 20 3 Montenegro (E) 10 5 1 4 20 12 +8 16 4 Romania (E) 10 3 4 3 12 10 +2 13 5 Armenia (E) 10 2 1 7 10 26 -16 7 6 Kazakhstan (E) 10 0 3 7 6 26 -20 3 Group F: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 England (Q) 10 8 2 0 18 3 +15 26 2 Slovakia 10 6 0 4 17 7 +10 18 3 Scotland (E) 10 5 3 2 17 12 +5 18 4 Slovenia (E) 10 4 3 3 12 7 +5 15 5 Lithuania (E) 10 1 3 6 7 20 -13 7 6 Malta (E) 10 0 1 9 3 25 -22 1 Group G: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Spain (Q) 10 9 1 0 36 3 +33 28 2 Italy (PO) 10 7 2 1 21 8 +13 23 3 Albania (E) 10 4 1 5 10 13 -3 13 4 Israel (E) 10 4 0 6 10 15 -5 12 5 Macedonia (E) 10 3 2 5 15 15 0 11 6 Liechtenstein (E) 10 0 0 10 1 39 -38 0 Group H: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Belgium (Q) 10 9 1 0 43 6 +37 28 2 Greece (PO) 10 5 4 1 17 6 +11 19 3 Bosnia & Herzegovina (E) 10 5 2 3 24 13 +11 17 4 Estonia (E) 10 3 2 5 13 19 -6 11 5 Cyprus (E) 10 3 1 6 9 18 -9 10 6 Gibraltar (E) 10 0 0 10 3 47 -44 0 Group I: Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Iceland (Q) 10 7 1 2 16 7 +9 22 2 Croatia (PO) 10 6 2 2 15 4 +11 20 3 Ukraine (E) 10 5 2 3 13 9 +4 17 4 Turkey (E) 10 4 3 3 14 13 +1 15 5 Finland (E) 10 2 3 5 9 13 -4 9 6 Kosovo (E) 10 0 1 8 3 24 -21 1 (Q) = qualified(PO) = qualified at least for play-off(E) = eliminatedBold = final position confirmed SECOND-PLACE RANKINGCristiano Ronaldo PortugalThe nine second-place teams from each group are ranked by points, but with the results of their games against the sixth-placed team in their group discarded.Those points don’t count because there were initially two groups of five teams until Kosovo and Gibraltar were admitted to UEFA. UEFA subsequently decided not to change the rules despite the fact that the groups are now balanced.The best eight teams on that basis will be drawn – based on seeding – into four two-legged, home-and-away play-off ties, with the ninth team eliminated.The seeding will be based on the next update to the FIFA world rankings, which will make Switzerland, Italy, Denmark and Croatia the seeded teams and Sweden, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Greece the unseeded teams.The winners of those ties will qualify for the World Cup finals. Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts 1 Switzerland (PO) 8 7 0 1 18 6 +12 21 2 Italy (PO) 8 5 2 1 12 8 +4 17 3 Denmark (PO) 8 4 2 2 13 6 +7 14 4 Croatia (PO) 8 4 2 2 8 4 +4 14 5 Sweden (PO) 8 4 1 3 18 9 +9 13 6 Northern Ireland (PO) 8 4 1 3 10 6 +4 13 7 Greece (PO) 8 3 4 1 9 5 +4 13 8 Republic of Ireland (PO) 8 3 4 1 7 5 +2 13 9 Slovakia (E) 8 4 0 4 11 6 +5 12 (PO) = qualified for play-off(E) = eliminatedBold = final position confirmedWHEN ARE THE PLAY-OFFS?World Cup 2014 play off draw PortugalFIFA has confirmed that the European qualifiers play-off draw will take place on Tuesday, October 17.The draw will be held in Zurich and things kick off at 14:00 CET (13:00 GMT), with the event being streamed live on FIFA’s website as well as their YouTube channel.The eight teams involved in the draw will be split into two pots, with the four highest-ranked teams according to the FIFA world rankings in one pot and the four lowest-ranked teams in another.When will the play-off matches be played?The dates have not yet been confirmed, but FIFA says that the play-offs are expected to take place between November 9 and 14.last_img read more

Fantasy Cruises

first_imgWritten By: Jeff Behrens, Captain / Owner of Fantasy Cruises  Only possible on a Small Ship Cruise in SE Alaska! My name is Jeff Behrens – Captain of the M/V Island Spirit.  My wife, Catherine and I operate Fantasy Cruises cruising our 32 passenger vessel in SE Alaska.  The closest part of Alaska from the lower 48 states, the region  known for Tidewater Glaciers, Coastal Brown bears and Humpback Whales.  Set aside in 1898 by President Roosevelt, this forested group of islands, known as the Alexander Archipelago makes up approximately 300 miles of tourist heaven.    The region is heavily traveled by over 1 million cruise ship passengers each and every season. (Typically from May through late September)  It’s a great way to get a glimpse of Alaska.  But-who only wants a glimpse?  Don’t buy a tour every day in another crowded Alaskan town-join a Small Ship Cruise where the vacation is the entire adventure! Have you ever offered your passengers a cruise experience like cruising in their own yacht?  Have they ever had a chance to anchor in a quiet remote bay, surrounded by wilderness, wildlife and perhaps a humpback whale blowing in the bay?  Or, watching a brown bear turning over rocks on the shoreline for their daily meal?  Or maybe, just maybe you’ll enjoy a treat with 16 – 18 humpback whales feeding and playing in SE Alaskan waters after their long winter vacation in Hawaii. These awesome photos of Humpbacks breaching and feeding in Frederick Sound where shot by wildlife photographer and photography teacher John Greengo.  John teaches all around the world on various photography topics in the wild.  These images were taken during a 9 day Small Ship cruise aboard the MV Island Spirit.  Approximately 25 students with varying skill levels were able to photograph Humpback Whales, river otters, Black and Brown Bears, porpoise and more on their trip.  The above photo even shows a mom teaching her young calf how to breach in open waters while our ships guests stood by in open wonder and astonishment! What makes Small Ships unique in their vacation experiences?Most Small Ships limit their nighttime cruising, offering quiet nights in wilderness settings. Imagine enjoying your favorite cocktail as the sun sets in a wilderness bay where the worries of the world disappear over the horizon?  Speaking of cocktails-most small ships offer complimentary beverages on their cruise vacations (check with your small ship provider) Small ships visit bays and small villages never seen by the masses on those large floating cities. Imagine taking a walk in a small Alaskan village only enjoyed by local Alaskan’s and their friends or visiting mariners cruising Alaskan waters for their summer vacation?  Maybe visit a local Mercantile opened in 1899, in a town first frequented by Tlingit tribal natives. Small ship companies typically include most tours and excursions sold by the big ships.  On small ships, the entire cruise is the excursion.  Imagine paddling around in the ships kayaks or exploring in the ships small boats.  Your onboard naturalist or cruise host narrates and educates you about the local area, flora and fauna. Imagine watching a Glacier “Calve” from the deck of your Small Ship.  Up Close and comfortable with your crew at your beck and call.  Most Small Ships serve hot drinks as they visit these “storis blue” behemoths in the comfort of their small ship.   Imagine tons of blue ice all around you and the aroma of Hot Chocolate on the viewing deck.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Listen to the “Sharp Crack” of the calving Glacier and watch for Harbor Seals on the ice flows. Enjoy a walk in the wilderness!  Small ships often have permits for beach walks or strolls through the forest.  Issued by the US Forest Service, these permits allow small ship passengers a chance to interface with the wilderness.  Imagine a campfire on a remote Alaskan Shoreline? Imagine cruising in pristine wilderness, enjoying the shimmering icebergs, bergy bits and growlers of Endicott Arm by Dawes Glacier, one of Alaska’s many tidewater glaciers.  Upon coming around a rugged bend in our small ship we look to see a lone human in his wet suit seemingly standing in a wave.  Upon further investigation, this person is actually standing on a surf board and appearing to stand still in a large wave by the shoreline.  We race for our cameras, but, at that moment the wave wins and the surfer is carried away in the current. What we’ve seen is the entrance to one of Alaska’s most scenic places.  A small Glacial carved Canyon known as Ford’s terror.  A place unique in SE Alaska.  A place that stands out as a cut –diamond in this land of many.  Approximately 70 miles south of the capitol, Juneau, this spectacular canyon is a short distance from wonderful Dawes Glacier, yet it is almost impossible to visit unless you have the time and determination to make it happen.  Hidden behind rushing water flows, turbulent at the least, is a serene sheer walled canyon far away from the crowds that visit Alaska.  Few ships will wait for the tide to turn revealing a peaceful entrance to this deep canyon in the “Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness” as designated by the US Forest Service. But if your ship (Small Ships only here), takes the time to visit, you’ll enter a deep canyon.  A canyon of sheer cliffs, dense forest shorelines where Mountain goats, Black and Brown bear frequent and call home.  A place to explore and kayak or enjoy by small boat, exploring the young rain forest of spruce and hemlock at the water’s edge.  Watch for eagles, and many seabirds in the fjord.  You’ll likely see harbor seals and porpoise as well.  Search out your small ship carefully here.  There’s one, the Island Spirit (operated by Fantasy Cruises) which spends a full night in the canyon.  (The only one that takes the time to enjoy this grand place.) Imagine anchoring in one of the world’s most beautiful places?  If you’re lucky enough to cruise on a Small Ship that spends a full 24 hours in Fords Terror, prepare to have a day like no other.  Kayaking up close and personal to the shoreline looking for sea creatures and watching for brown or black bears.  You may also spend time with your ships naturalist on an exploration of the inlet or perhaps it’s an unbelievable shoreline campfire and marshmallows in the wilderness.  If this is roughing it-I’m in! So, if you’re looking for a cruise unlike any others you’ve tried.  Try a Small Ship.  The comradery built between a small group of like travelers is unlike any thing you’ll find in the big ship world of tours and glitz.  These small ships offer experiences sure to please. Especially, if you are open to the world behind the big towns of Alaska and long to see the “Other Alaska”, away from the crowds and close to nature.  Visit small towns that only the locals can enjoy.  Visit the Glaciers in only a way that small ships enjoy – unrushed and quietly in awe of their majesty. Finally, Imagine being anchored in a small bay, your stateroom window open just a little for that wonderful fresh air, you’ve snuggled up with a good book and a glass of your favorite beverage after a wonderful day of scenery, wildlife, good food and exploration.  The small ship you’ve chosen doesn’t sail at night so your evening is always peaceful.  This ship, the “Island Spirit” is especially peaceful since she runs on batteries at night, with no noisy generators to interfere with the wonderful Alaskan Solitude. Make a few entries into your journal or perhaps step back in time and write a postcard, we’ll visit Tenekee Springs tomorrow and you can drop it in the local post office.  For this town of 90 folks or so our visit will be a big event.  For us, it’s another day in our 9 day cruise of a lifetime! You’ll come home with a whole new view on cruising! This article was written by Captain Jeff Behrens. Jeff and his wife operate a Small Ship cruise company-Fantasy Cruises.  They offer 9 day Small Ship cruises in SE Alaska as well as pre and post season 2 week repositioning cruise in the spring and fall.  Captain Jeff has been piloting small ships for 28 years now.  He and his crew of 10 spoil up to 32 passengers on their small ship the MV Island Spirit.  Jeff worked for corporate America after attending Villanova University in the late 70’s, then decided to run his own ship in 1988.  He’s never looked back. Email:  fancruz@rockisland.com       his company:  www.smallalaskaship.comlast_img read more

VIDEO: World’s Largest LNG-Powered PSV Delivered

first_imgzoom Rem Eir, build no 356 from Kleven Verft, was delivered to Remøy Shipping on November 26, 2014, the Norwegian shipbuilder announced. With a length of 92.5 metres and a deck capacity of 1080 m2, Rem Eir is the world’s largest environmentally friendly LNG powered PSV. The vessel enters a long term charter for Statoil. Rem Eir is the fourth PSV delivered from Kleven this year to enter into a Statoil charter. Check out the video below to get a taste of what is Rem Eir made off.Press Releaselast_img read more

Shawn Mendes Confirmed as a Performer for CTVs Broadcast of THE 2017

first_imgSocial Media links Just in time for the holidays, tickets for THE 2017 JUNO AWARDS broadcast are available starting at $39 through the Canadian Tire Centre Box Office, by phone at 1-877-788-3267 and online at ticketmaster.ca. The JUNO Awards has partnered with Plus 1 so that $1 from every ticket is donated to MusiCounts, helping to ensure that children and youth across Canada have access to musical instruments. Plus 1 is a non-profit that partners with touring artists to facilitate a $1 add-on from every concert ticket to go to a cause the artist partner believes in.THE 2017 JUNO AWARDS is produced by Insight Productions in association with CTV and The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS). Executive Producers are John Brunton and Barbara Bowlby for Insight Productions, Allan Reid and Mark Cohon for CARAS, and Randy Lennox for Bell Media. Lindsay Cox is Executive Producer and Supervising Producer. Corrie Coe is Senior Vice-President, Independent Production, Bell Media. Mike Cosentino is Senior Vice-President, CTV and Specialty, Bell Media. Randy Lennox is President, Broadcasting and Content, Bell Media.Premier Partners of The 2017 JUNO Awards: CARAS acknowledges the financial support of FACTOR, the Government of Canada and of Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters, Radio Starmaker Fund, Ottawa 2017, the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, Tourism Ottawa, Google Play Music and TD Bank Group. CTV and The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced today that multi-platinum, singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes is confirmed to perform on CTV’s broadcast of THE 2017 JUNO AWARDS. Following the successful release of his latest album Illuminate this fall, four 2016 MTV EMA wins, two 2016 IHEART RADIO MMVA wins, and a performance on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE this past weekend, Mendes returns to the JUNO stage for the third year in a row. THE 2017 JUNO AWARDS airs live on CTV and CTV GO from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Sunday, April 2, with more broadcast details to come in the coming weeks.“There’s no better way to showcase Canadian music during the 150th anniversary of confederation than to have one of the country’s most-impactful international artists take the JUNO stage,” said Randy Lennox, President, Broadcasting and Content, Bell Media. “We look forward to welcoming this young superstar back for what is guaranteed to be a spectacular JUNO Awards broadcast.”“We couldn’t be happier to have Shawn back at the JUNO Awards in our Nation’s Capital,” said Allan Reid, President & CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards and MusiCounts. “In 2017 we celebrate the sesquicentennial of confederation, and this is just the start of what is going to be an unforgettable line-up for the show.” Facebook Login/Register With: Advertisement Advertisementcenter_img @shawnmendes Official JUNO Awards website CTV’s JUNO Awards website JUNO TV CTV website Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment About CARASThe Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences/L’académie canadienne des arts et des sciences de l’enregistrement (CARAS) is a not-for-profit organization created to preserve and enhance the Canadian music industry and to contribute toward higher artistic and industry standards. The main focus of CARAS is the exploration and development of ongoing opportunities to showcase and promote Canadian artists and music through vehicles such as The JUNO Awards and other year-round initiatives. For more information on the 46th Annual JUNO Awards or The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) please visit www.junoawards.ca.About CTVCTV is Canada’s #1 private broadcaster. Featuring a wide range of quality news, sports, information, and entertainment programming, CTV has been Canada’s most-watched television network for the past 15 years in a row. CTV is a division of Bell Media, Canada’s premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio, digital, and Out-of-Home. Bell Media is owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE), Canada’s largest communications company. More information about CTV can be found on the network’s website at CTV.ca. Twitterlast_img read more

Court Postpones to January 2017 Hearing in Case of Gdim Izik

Salé – The Criminal Chamber of the annexe of Salé’s Appeals Court decided on Monday to postpone the Gdim Izik case hearing. Those accused of participating in the tragic events related to the Gdim Izik camp dismantlement will now have to wait until January 23rd, 2017.The court decided to put off the hearing in order to allow the defense to prepare its case, to summon an involved individual who was out on bail, and to consider the petition relating to the right of victims’ families to constitute a civil party.The first session of the trial witnessed a significant presence of the families of the victims of these events, which claimed the lives of 11 members of the security forces and left 70 wounded.Several human rights associations, NGOs and independent national and international organizations observed the trial.On February 17, 2013, the Military Court of Rabat handed prison sentences ranging from life imprisonment to 30 years against the individuals involved in this case and who were sued for “forming a criminal gang,” “violence against the public forces, which led to death with premeditation and complicity.”On October 10th 2010, residents of the city of Laayoune erected a tented camp in the Gdim Izik region to defend legitimate social demands, mainly linked to housing and employment.According to a local source, the Moroccan authorities initiated a dialogue and presented a series of measures to gradually meet these demands. This initiative had not resolved the situation on the ground.The Moroccan authorities then decided to peacefully dismantle the camp in order to enforce compliance with the law and preserve public order.This intervention had given rise to violent attacks by small groups against the security forces with knives, stones and Molotov cocktails. Thereafter, clashes erupted in the city of Laayoune, where infrastructure and public property was set on fire and private property was sacked.The attacks claimed the lives of 11 people among the security forces, including one element from emergency services, and injured 70 others. read more

Uganda and rebels take another major step forward towards peace deal –

25 February 2008The Ugandan Government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have taken another major step forward in their peace process by signing a permanent ceasefire accord at the weekend, the United Nations envoy to the process reported today. The ceasefire deal, which will take effect after the signing of a final overall peace agreement, is fundamental for building peace in Uganda, said Mr. Chissano, who signed the accord in Juba, Southern Sudan, on Saturday on behalf of the UN.It is the latest in a series of accords reached over the past week as the two sides continue their talks in a bid to reach an overall accord ending the long-running conflict. Those talks are likely to resume later this week.But the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the LRA-Affected Areas also warned that an absence of war should not be seen as the ultimate goal and he urged Ugandans to work tirelessly to ensure that peace becomes irreversible in the African country.Saturday’s agreement provides for the encampment of all LRA forces within the Ri-Kwang-Ba assembly area in Southern Sudan and envisions the setting up of a ceasefire monitoring team comprised of senior officers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), representatives of the two sides, delegates from African Union countries acting as observers to the talks, and a UN liaison team.Ugandan Government forces have been fighting the LRA in the north of the country since the mid-1980s and during the conflict the rebel group has become notorious for its human rights abuses.In an agreement reached last week at Juba, the two sides agreed that a special division of the High Court of Uganda would be established to try individuals alleged to have committed serious crimes during the conflict. They also agreed to set up programmes to provide reparations for war victims, a truth commission-style body that will explore the past, and other measures to promote national reconciliation.UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today that the two sides have reached consensus on a draft text on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, but the LRA delegation to the Juba talks intends to consult its leadership before the talks resume.She said that would leave only a few more steps before the signing of a final peace agreement to formally end the conflict. read more

Speech Tech in the Enterprise 3 Themes to Explore

Vonage to ‘Turbocharge’ AI Efforts Beth Schultz August 13, 2019 Acquisition of conversational AI platform Over.ai gives the company much-needed talent for deepening expertise in AI and machine learning. More importantly, these technologies have added intelligence to the mix, where the capabilities are now about context, intent, and predictive analytics. With AI, speech accuracy is the starting point, not the endgame. Building on that, we can now use speech to automate tasks, streamline processes, and manage data more effectively, both for personal productivity and working in teams. I certainly have a lot to talk about, and this post serves as a preview of what to expect. If you’re trying to assess where and how speech technology can bring new business value to your workplace, you’ll want to hear about three themes I’ll be addressing. Secondly, these speech applications are tied to a specific service or offering — either as part of a full-featured collaboration platform like Cisco Webex Teams, or as a standalone application such as transcription or translation. Third, speech is now being put to use for real-time communications, and in some cases, it’s conversational. With AI in the picture, this now becomes person-to-machine interaction, representing a new type of experience using speech. Theme 3: Aside from Answers, There Are Important QuestionsOn its own, AI raises all kinds of questions about security, privacy, job displacement, ethics, Big Brother, etc. I touched on this last year, but the issues are even more particular for speech applications. This should be self-evident in the contact center realm, where the AI-driven customer journey can get pretty creepy. The first take on Google Duplex really drove this home, and even if you take the do-no-evil mantra at face value, bad actors and technology still have plenty of room to run amok. If you haven’t registered for Enterprise Connect yet, no worries. Register now using the code NJPOSTS, and as a No Jitter reader you can save $200 off at checkout.Tags:News & Viewsspeech recognitionspeech transcriptionspeech translationAI & Speech TechnologiesAnalyst InsightAPIs & Embedded CommunicationsDigital TransformationEnterprise ConnectMeetings Articles You Might Like Theme 2: The Use Cases Are ThereAI is as shiny as shiny balls come, and it’s still early days, but speech in the enterprise is being driven by real use cases. This is probably the most important development from last year, where the main attention was around how good speech recognition has become. Earlier generations of technology were only effective to a point, but AI has taken speech to another level. Whereas previously the goal was to achieve relatively good accuracy, cloud and AI have demonstrated scary-good results — but we’re still far from perfect. Speech Applications Are Vulnerable, Too Gary Audin October 04, 2019 Are you really in control of your voice-enabled devices and applications? Enterprise Connect 2019 is just a few weeks away, and during the conference I’ll be giving an update talk on the state of speech technology. Last year, I gave a speech tech 101 presentation, and this year I’m reviewing how the space has evolved since then. At Enterprise Connect, I’ll focus on three core use cases, namely speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and automatic speech recognition. The possibilities for each are limitless, and there are plenty of examples now in enterprise settings. Most are fairly basic, but as the track record builds, the applications will expand. As such, it would be a mistake to write off enterprise speech just because the applications seem simple. Theme 1: Speech Is Riding the AI WaveArtificial Intelligence (AI) is arguably the most important trend in technology, and it builds nicely on the uber-trend preceding it — cloud. The two very much go hand in hand, with both now being ready for prime time in the enterprise. To be sure, AI remains surrounded by a cloud of hype, but things have progressed far enough that enterprises can no longer dismiss it as being more in the realm of science fiction than in the business sphere. First of all, AI adoption is all about trust, and that has to be built from the bottom up, one application at a time. When basic applications are done well, it’s much easier to move on the next level, and as with all new technologies, end users will play a big role in identifying the new use cases. To illustrate, I’ll present various examples of enterprise speech applications, coming both from household names, and new companies you may not yet know. Cisco to ‘Tuck In’ Voice AI from Voicea Zeus Kerravala August 07, 2019 The acquisition will help advance the company’s cognitive collaboration strategy for Webex. My intention is to provide an update about the good things happening now with speech tech in the enterprise. That said, analysts bring value by providing balance, so the darker side must be considered, even if just for a few minutes. Putting AI’s current limitations aside, when making decisions about enterprise technology, the bigger picture matters. AI-driven speech can certainly help improve productivity, make better and faster decisions, and drive out some costs via automation. All of these outcomes have valid business value, but what might be lost along the way? GDPR is just the first step to protect our digital privacy, but more thought is needed to ensure the machines don’t “win” as AI becomes mainstream. I’ll touch on some of those questions at Enterprise Connect, during my Tuesday, March 19, 8:00 a.m., speech tech for the enterprise update, and my hope is that will lead you to ask many more. Till then, click on the player below and tune in to the latest episode of No Jitter on Air, for more of my guidance on speech tech in the enterprise. In terms of speech technology, AI-based initiatives are much further along in the contact center, largely because that’s where the utility and urgency is the greatest. This strand of AI will get plenty of attention during the Contact Center & Customer Experience track, as well as on the mainstage, so I’ll stick to the enterprise, where use cases are different and still fairly nascent. Out of all this, a new shorthand is emerging under the moniker of digital assistant or intelligent assistant. The terminology will likely remain muddled until the space matures, and it’s not much different from all the labels we used to describe Slack when it hit the market. For now, let’s focus on the business value of speech, and in time, the language to describe it will evolve. No Jitter Roll: Five for Friday Ryan Daily August 30, 2019 A look at the latest news coming from Google, Oblong, Expereo, Nureva, and Verint. voice_waves.png Over the past year, we’ve been primed by the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Home for a new category that’s based on AI-driven speech. This “category” is a mix of three things, all of which are poised to be adopted in the workplace almost as quickly as we’re seeing in our homes. The first element of this is being device-based, where most interactions occur with a new type of endpoint, such as Amazon Echo. In addition, existing endpoint vendors are integrating speech applications in their products — and these purpose-built devices are part of what makes this a new category. Log in or register to post comments See All in AI & Speech Technologies » Let Your Bots Do the Talking Andrew Prokop August 22, 2019 AudioCode’s Voice.AI Gateway lets enterprises voice-enable bots and call them from any telephone, UC system, or WebRTC endpoint. read more

Annans panel on HIVAIDS and governance in Africa set for launch

Mr. Annan announced the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA) last February. CHGA’s work will culminate in June 2005 with a report analyzing the governance and development threats posed by the pandemic and contain policy options for mounting an effective response.Chaired by the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, (ECA) K.Y. Amoako, the Commission will also address the implications of scaling up anti-retroviral therapies for health systems capacity and structures in Africa, and advise African policy makers on how to address the profound structural impacts that HIV/AIDS is having on their abilities to tackle development challenges.The Commission’s report is intended to be a key tool for further advocacy and policy engagement, channelled through the 20 Commissioners appointed by Mr. Annan. read more

The top UN court is still short of vital law clerks 60

Sixty years after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was established, the United Nations’ top tribunal still suffers from a shortage of law clerks to assist its 15 sitting judges, who today handle a growing docket of fact-intensive cases, threatening its ability to provide timely judgments, according to its president.“We can no longer scrape by on a small pool of six shared clerks; at the end of the day, this shortage of assistance is harmful to the client States who use us,” Judge Rosalyn Higgins told the UN’s General Assembly on Thursday, of the body, known as the World Court, which rules on a wide range of international matters, including territorial disputes.“It is, in reality, astounding that the International Court is the only senior international court without this form of assistance,” she added.Each judge at the European Court of Justice is assisted by three law clerks, she noted, while the newly established International Criminal Court (ICC) provides a law clerk for each of its 18 judges, and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) also have a law clerk for each judge.“Quite simply, the International Court of Justice can no longer provide the service that Member States bringing cases desire if it, as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, is denied what is routinely accorded to every other senior court,” Judge Higgins said.The issue is not new – it was raised by a previous president eight years ago and then against six years ago – but has become more urgent.Case files regularly run to several thousand pages and judges have to conduct hearings that are sometimes unavoidably lengthy. “The situation is even more pressing today given the increasing number of fact-intensive cases and the rising importance of researching, analyzing and evaluating not only doctrinal materials, but also the applicable jurisprudence of other international tribunals as well as the testimony as to alleged facts,” Ms. Higgins said.While 192 countries are party to the statutes establishing the court, just 67 have accepted its compulsory jurisdiction, but Judge Higgins noted that approximately 300 treaties refer to the Court in settling disputes, reaffirming its central place in a growing web of international law.The court has 12 cases before it this year, reflecting the typically varied workload, involving cases of territorial disputes, the contested use of force, and the treatment of nationals by other States.The growth in the number of new courts and tribunals dealing with international disputes has generated concern about the potential for a lack of consistency in the enunciation of legal norms and the attendant risk of fragmentation, but Judge Higgins said those concerns have not proved significant.She also noted the evolving practice, based on States’ preference, to regard environmental law as part of “what we may term the mainstream of international law.” read more

Canada Post proposes to increase domestic and international postage rates

by The Canadian Press Posted Jul 9, 2015 3:15 pm MDT Last Updated Jul 9, 2015 at 3:58 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Canada Post proposes to increase domestic and international postage rates OTTAWA – Canada Post is proposing to increase both domestic and international postage rates next year in a move it says is necessary to offset a continuing decline in mail volumes.The federal Crown corporation wants to raise the prices of Canadian and U.S. stamps bought in booklets, coils or sheets for most letter mail weighing 30 grams or less.If approved, the increase would mean each domestic stamp would cost 90 cents — an increase of five cents — as of Jan. 11.The hike would not apply to single domestic stamps, which cost $1.U.S. stamps would increase to $1.25 from $1.20, while stamps for other international destinations would go to $2.60 from $2.50.Canada Post says it also plans to increase domestic rates for mail heavier than 30 grams.It says a full outline of the proposed rate changes will be published Saturday in the Canada Gazette, kicking off a 30-day public consultation period prior to a final decision. A selection of stamps from 1990 are shown at the Canadian Stamp Collection at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. on March 27, 2014. Canada Post is proposing to increase both domestic and international postage rates next year in a move it says is necessary to offset a continuing decline in mail volumes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang read more

Umpires Are Less Blind Than They Used To Be

Umps are getting better, and they’re also remarkably consistent. An ump who makes more accurate calls in one year will likely do the same the next; an ump who misses more calls in a given season will likely be as bad the next. Umpire accuracy is more steady than a player’s batting average or a pitcher’s ERA, and as consistent as OPS (on-base plus slugging) and wins above replacement.To see how this works, look at the performance of Lance Barksdale and Tim Welke. While they both follow the league’s general trend of increased accuracy — more about that later — they have, respectively, been one of the best and one of the worst umpires over the past seven years. The difference between Barksdale and a league average ump is about five correct calls per game; the difference between Barksdale and the league’s worst umpire is closer to 10 calls a game. On average, that’s about one judgment call per inning that a good ump is getting right and a bad ump is getting wrong. That might not sound like much, but if once every six outs a batter gets another swing after a third strike that wasn’t or a pitcher strikes a hitter out on a pitch that’s actually a ball, you can start to see the impact.Given their differences, umps develop reputations. Near the end of infielder Mark DeRosa’s 16-year career, he knew what to expect from the umpire calling balls and strikes. “You gain knowledge over the course of being in the big leagues for the course of a couple of seasons,” he said. “You understand which umpires are a little bit wider in their zone, who are a little bit more north-south, who’s going to force the pitcher to come tight.”Before games, he and his teammates would even talk about what they could expect during the game: “A comment would be passed back and forth, whether we should be pulling the trigger tonight or ‘this guy is normally a hitter’s umpire and likes to force the pitcher to come back over the plate, so let’s be a little bit more picky with what you’re going to swing at.’ ”An umpire who understands what calls he is missing is an ump who can improve. “It was amazing how my perspective of the strike zone changed when I got this technology,” Dellinger said. “I thought pitches were on the plate, until you get that data back. You see that some of those pitches were not on the plate. It wasn’t something that was done intentionally. It was just your perception of the strike zone. I was able to quickly make adjustments based on having that information, which was huge to me.”Seeing the data, however, can make fans less charitable. “They see a pitch that is out of the box, and they think, ‘Aw, he’s a bad umpire,’ ” Dellinger said. “I’m thinking, ‘You should have seen it 15 or 20 years ago.’ ”He’s right — ump accuracy has improved since 2008. But it has been on only one type of pitch: strikes.While umps call balls no differently than they did seven years ago, they’re accurately gauging strikes at much higher rates. This distinction is so large that Brian Mills, a professor of tourism, recreation and sports management at the University of Florida, cites the increasing size of the strike zone as accounting for about half of the league’s 50-point drop in OPS since 2008. In other words, steroid testing isn’t the only change responsible for MLB’s drop in offensive output. It’s also more called strikes.While the league and the umpires association have access to data showing that specific umps tend to be better at calling balls and strikes, it does not appear that they use this information to reward those who are the most accurate with choice assignments, like the All-Star Game or the postseason.2MLB declined to make specific umpires available for interviews but did let Peter Woodfork, senior vice president of baseball operations, and Randy Marsh, director of major league umpires, talk.According to Peter Woodfork, senior vice president of baseball operations, balls and strikes play a role, but don’t write Lance Barksdale’s name into your World Series scorecard just yet. “Once you meet a standard, you’re in the mix,” Woodfork said, likening the selection process to that of the NCAA tournament. Assignments are doled out using a mix of analytics and judgment: “Balls and strikes is taken into account along with field work, rules, instant replay and handling situations. Professionalism also factors into grading umpires. The plate work may carry more weight in the evaluation, but they are all important.”If plate work is important, it hasn’t shown in playoff assignments. According to numbers from BaseballSavant.com, umps who were No. 70, 71 and 76 in the accuracy rankings (out of 79) called balls and strikes in the ALCS last year, with only one of the top 10 umps receiving a league championship series or World Series spot. And this more exhaustive look at umps also finds that postseason spots do not appear to be linked to regular-season performance. “Like any other profession, you can go up and go down, but the consistency over time often helps,” Woodfork said. “We don’t ignore what you’ve done in the past, but that year carries the most weight.” If that’s true, expect our old friend Barksdale to receive a high-profile opportunity, as his 90 percent accuracy rate through July 1 is far and away the best single-season number in our data.But while decisions on postseason spots won’t come for several weeks, MLB has already had one opportunity to reward an umpire for past performance, getting to pick a home plate umpire for July’s All-Star Game. It chose Tim Welke — the same Tim Welke who has consistently had one of the league’s worst rankings since 2008. Dusty Dellinger knows how difficult it is to be an umpire. “There’s an old saying that they expect you to be perfect from day one and get better,” the former Major League Baseball official said over the phone. As the director of Minor League Baseball Umpire Development and the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, he knows how elusive perfection can be.Correctly calling 140 pitches flying 90-plus mph and breaking six inches or more is a near-impossible standard. And when mistakes are made, players and managers aren’t bashful. Jonathan Papelbon said D.J. Reyburn should “go back to Triple A” after a confrontation over balls and strikes. Joe Girardi complained about inconsistency. Larry Andersen did too after he retired, labeling the men behind the plate arrogant. You don’t have to look too hard for more examples.That’s led plenty of people to wonder when robots will come for the umps’ jobs. But lost amid those blue-sky dreams is what’s happened to the way we judge the blue behind the plate. Technology has changed how we can evaluate umps. It shows that umps are getting better, that there’s a significant gap between the best and worst, and that the best umps aren’t working the biggest games.After every game, umpires receive a report from the league office that informs them about their accuracy, their correct calls, and the ones they missed. Pitchers, hitters and fans have near-instant access to information on an umpire’s accuracy, too. The chart below shows the accuracy rates for calling balls and strikes for each ump since 2008, when MLB installed the PITCHf/x tracking system in every stadium.1The data was collected from BaseballSavant.com. Umps in the data set saw at least 3,000 pitches (called balls or strikes) in each season, with a smaller restriction (1,800 pitches) for 2015. read more

Migrant workers shot in pay dispute

first_imgTwo men have been arrested in Greece after foremen for strawberry growers allegedly shot and wounded 27 migrant labourers who were demanding to be paid, police said. The migrants, mainly from Bangladesh, were hospitalised in the western port of Patras and other areas with gunshot wounds after allegedly being fired upon late on Wednesday by three foremen for the growers in the village of Manolada, one of the main areas of strawberry production in Greece. One man was arrested as a “moral instigator” of the alleged shootings and another for helping two of the presumed perpetrators to evade arrest, local police said on Thursday. The migrants had been working in local farms without being paid for the past six months, the police said. Around 200 of them went to demand their money when they were fired upon. The government condemned the attack and anti-racist groups were planning a demonstration in the area later in the day. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said the attack was “inhuman” and “outside Greek morality” and pledged an immediate response by the authorities. But the Communist-affiliated PAME union noted that the incident was only the latest in a long history of abuse of migrant workers in Greece. PAME said the workers had been fired upon with shotguns and pistols. It claimed 33 were hurt, while the police said 27 were wounded, one of them critically. “Growers and landowners have operated with cover from the government and justice for years, creating a hell-hole with slavery labour conditions,” the union said. “Modern slaves in Manolada work in stifling conditions, pay rent to their exploiters and are lodged in sheds without water and electricity,” it said. In 2008, Manolada had been the focal point of a rare strike by hundreds of migrant workers against near-slavery conditions on the fields. The treatment of migrants in Greece has long been criticised by domestic and international rights groups, to little avail. Source: AFP Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

WWE WrestleMania 31 travel package information released

first_img Impact announces tickets remain for this weekend’s End of Summer Tour in California Now Playing Up Next Roman Reigns is in Remission Videos Articles Google+ WWE issued the following information yesterday about the travel packages available for Wrestlemania 31 on March of 2015 in Santa Clara, California:California Dreamin’ Package available next Monday, Sept. 29:Prices starting at $5,500All seat, row and sections assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by travel package tierWrestleMania 31 Ticket – Ringside Seating and a Collectible Chair. Your section and row will be provided 1 business day after purchaseAttend One Premium VIP and One VIP Session at WrestleMania AxxessExclusive Reception with WWE Superstars prior to WWE Hall of FameWWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Ticket – Floor or Premium 100 Level SeatingMonday Night Raw Ticket – Ringside or Floor SeatingEnjoy a trip to a California Vineyard with WWE Legends in the Taste of the Valley ExperienceRound-Trip Rail Transportation to WrestleMania 31WrestleMania 31 Dine-Around Card for various restaurants in the San Jose areaHotel Accommodations in the San Jose areaVIP Package Available MON, Oct. 6:Prices starting at $3,250All seat, row and sections assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by travel package tierWrestleMania 31 Ticket – Ringside Seating and a Collectible ChairAttend two VIP sessions at WrestleMania AxxessWWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Ticket – Premium 100 Level SeatingMonday Night Raw Ticket – Ringside or Floor SeatingRound-Trip Rail Transportation to WrestleMania 31WrestleMania 31 Dine-Around Card for various restaurants in the San Jose areaHotel Accommodations in the San Jose areaPlatinum Package Available MON, Oct. 6:Prices starting at $1,650All seat, row and sections assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by travel package tier. Preference of section for WrestleMania 31 ticket will be solicited after purchase while supplies last.WrestleMania 31 Ticket – Entrance Ramp or Premium Central Floor Riser SeatingAttend Two General Admission Sessions at WrestleMania AxxessWWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Ticket – Premium 100 Level SeatingMonday Night Raw Ticket – Premium 100 Level SeatingRound-Trip Rail Transportation to WrestleMania 31WrestleMania 31 Dine-Around Card for various restaurants in the San Jose areaHotel Accommodations in the San Jose areaGold Package Available MON, Oct. 6:Prices starting at $1,150All seat, row and sections assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by travel package tierWrestleMania 31 Ticket – Central Floor Riser SeatingAttend Two General Admission Sessions at WrestleMania AxxessWWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Ticket – 100 Level SeatingMonday Night Raw Ticket – 100 Level SeatingRound-Trip Rail Transportation to WrestleMania 31WrestleMania 31 Dine-Around Card for various restaurants in the San Jose areaHotel Accommodations in the San Jose areaSilver Package Available MON, Oct. 6:Prices starting at $900All seat, row and sections assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by travel package tierWrestleMania 31 Ticket – 100 Level SeatingAttend Two General Admission Sessions at WrestleMania AxxessWWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Ticket – 100 Level SeatingMonday Night Raw Ticket – 100 Level SeatingRound-Trip Rail Transportation to WrestleMania 31WrestleMania 31 Dine-Around Card for various restaurants in the San Jose areaHotel Accommodations in the San Jose areaRecommended videosPowered by AnyClipJoan Jett Set To Perform Ronda Rouseys Entrance At WrestleMania 35Video Player is loading.Play VideoPauseUnmuteDuration 0:30/Current Time 0:00Loaded: 100.00%0:00Remaining Time -0:30 FullscreenUp NextThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Replay the list Is WWE Losing Its Audience? Now Playing Up Next Now Playing Up Next Ronda Rousey On WWE: I Love This Job, But I Dont Need It Facebook Seth Rollins Defends WWE On Two Separate Occasionscenter_img Now Playing Up Next Ronda Rousey Now Playing Up Next Joan Jett Set To Perform Ronda Rouseys Entrance At WrestleMania 35 Pinterest Twitter Jason Namako RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Impact offers Military Personnel free entry to this weekend’s California events WhatsApp SPOILERS: WWE Smackdown Live TV taping results from Fresno to air on Christmaslast_img read more

Injured motorcyclist in satisfactory condition

first_imgA motorcyclist who was seriously injured in a head-on collision Saturday on state Highway 500 near Camas is in satisfactory condition at a Vancouver hospital.The condition of James W. Koch, 38, of Camas, was provided Monday morning by a spokesperson at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.Koch was riding a 2007 Yamaha YFR motorcycle west on the highway near Northeast Robinson Road when an eastbound 2019 Volkswagen Jetta crossed into the westbound lane and struck him, according to a Washington State Patrol crash memo. The crash was reported shortly before 2 p.m.His mother, Charlotte Koch, told The Columbian that her son flew into the windshield of the Volkswagen and was revived by first responders at the scene. He suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck, fracture at the back right of his skull and road rash on his left shoulder.The driver of the Volkswagen, identified as Robin E. Ray, 37, of Washougal, was uninjured; a 12-year-old passenger was also uninjured, the crash memo states. Ray was charged with failure to yield the right of way and third-degree driving with a suspended license, the crash memo states.Charlotte Koch said Monday her son was doing “pretty good” but has a long road to recovery. His injuries did not require any significant surgery, and the hospital planned to release him soon, she said. James Koch may have to undergo a major procedure, but only if his condition worsens.He will likely need to wear a neck brace for at least six weeks, preventing him from working, according to his mother. She said she is thinking of setting up a fundraiser to help with expenses but hasn’t done so yet.last_img read more