Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has questioned Government’s commitment to education in Guyana and took a swipe at it for delaying the process of meeting an agreement to raise teachers’ salaries.Jagdeo said President David Granger and his Cabinet have an obligation to address the concerns of teachers and should seek to have the issue of salary increases for teachers resolved quickly.He recalled that during his tenure as President, he personally sat with the leadership of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) to discuss salaries and other benefits for teachers.Jagdeo said he worked too with the GTU to come up with a multi-year remuneration package for teachers, which included not only salaries, but aOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeohousing fund and duty-free concessions, among other incentives.He urged the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition to ensure that it responded to the concerns of the teachers, noting the importance of teachers to the education system and the country as a whole.“Granger has talked about education, but what about the teachers … they can’t even get a commitment,” he said, noting that it was unacceptable for teachers to be treated in that manner.Last month, two letters were sent to President Granger, one by GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald and the second by Union President Mark Lyte.Both sought to enquire of the President and his Cabinet the reasons for the delayed remuneration package for teachers and also requested a timeline for its realisation.While Education Minister Nicolette Henry has said that the matter was now in the hands of Cabinet and that recommendations were made and submitted for initial evaluation, the GTU said it was fed up.Lyte told Guyana Times in an exclusive interview last month that the Union has learnt unofficially that the work of the High-Level Task Force of Public Education has been dealt with by Cabinet.However, he said the Union was yet to hear a word from the Government on its decision.Lyte recalled that the GTU had written President Granger about the slow pace atGTU President Mark Lytewhich the negotiations were proceeding and not being able to get a response, among other concerns.He said that that missive was dispatched on June 5. The Government responded and said that the Finance Ministry was advising Cabinet on the matter. The GTU only received that letter on June 29.Asked whether the Union was confident that a decision could be made soon, now that the matter was with Cabinet, he said there was not even the slightest optimism, given how the issue was dealt with.Lyte also recapped that the Task Force had completed its work and handed over its report to the Minister on April 6, but there was still no concrete word on when Cabinet could make a pronouncement.“All we are told is that the Finance Ministry is advising and that is not enough word for comfort,” he added.The GTU official also pointed out that the Government has been claiming that teachers were important, yet its actions seemed to disagree as there was no real genuine effort being made to address their needs.“And, just recently, we were being told that private schools are outperforming public schools and only when exam time comes, people feel it. But this is a result of the low motivation,” he explained.The establishment of the Task Force, which comprised Government and Union representatives, followed on the heels of threats of strike action from the GTU inPresident David Grangerretaliation for the slow pace of addressing the pay increase for teachers. This led to its establishment to fast-track the salary issue.In April, the High-Level Task Force was engaged in a meeting, where the factors affecting teachers were discussed, with the possibility of them receiving an increase in their monthly salaries. However, since May, it was revealed that the matter was within the remit of the Finance Ministry.The Union has proposed a series of increases. These, it said, were proposed with the aim of improving the financial stability of teachers, who are the most significant figures within society.A 40 per cent salary increase for public school teachers was proposed for the year 2016. Over time, the percentage would be increased for all categories of represented teachers.
Oscar returns to Chelsea’s starting line-up for the London derby against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, where Eden Hazard is on the Blues bench.Oscar comes in for Pedro, while Hazard returns to the squad following a recent groin injury.Arsenal pair Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have been passed fit after overcoming hamstring and foot problems respectively. Ozil starts, while Sanchez is among the Gunners’ substitutes.Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud.Subs: Gibbs, Gabriel, Ospina, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez, Chambers, Elneny.Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Oscar; Costa.Subs: Begovic, Cahill, Baba Rahman, Loftus-Cheek, Traore, Hazard, Remy.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
Evolutionists believe it is necessary to get chemicals up to the point of replication before Darwinian evolution can come into play to build them into giraffes and eagles (given millions of years, of course). But because it is difficult to imagine a chance formation of nucleic acids (the “genetics first” theory), it has become popular in certain camps to change approaches and imagine metabolism coming into existence first. These “metabolism first” scenarios envision self-perpetuating cycles of chemical reactions as the first stages in the origin of life. A team of scientists just showed it won’t work. Three European scientists who published a paper in PNAS tried to give the concept a fair shake:1 A basic property of life is its capacity to experience Darwinian evolution. The replicator concept is at the core of genetics-first theories of the origin of life, which suggest that self-replicating oligonucleotides or their similar ancestors may have been the first “living” systems and may have led to the evolution of an RNA world. But problems with the nonenzymatic synthesis of biopolymers and the origin of template replication have spurred the alternative metabolism-first scenario, where self-reproducing and evolving proto-metabolic networks are assumed to have predated self-replicating genes. Recent theoretical work shows that “compositional genomes” (i.e., the counts of different molecular species in an assembly) are able to propagate compositional information and can provide a setup on which natural selection acts. Accordingly, if we stick to the notion of replicator as an entity that passes on its structure largely intact in successive replications, those macromolecular aggregates could be dubbed “ensemble replicators” (composomes) and quite different from the more familiar genes and memes.As they said, perhaps one could generalize the notion of a replicator up to a system or network of molecules instead of requiring a genetic code. Trouble is, accurate replication is required or the system breaks down:In sharp contrast with template-dependent replication dynamics, we demonstrate here that replication of compositional information is so inaccurate that fitter compositional genomes cannot be maintained by selection and, therefore, the system lacks evolvability (i.e., it cannot substantially depart from the asymptotic steady-state solution already built-in in the dynamical equations). We conclude that this fundamental limitation of ensemble replicators cautions against metabolism-first theories of the origin of life, although ancient metabolic systems could have provided a stable habitat within which polymer replicators later evolved.That last phrase tries to be courteous to the metabolism-first believers by giving them some role as stage hands in the play. But these authors already stated in the first quote that the genetics-first scenario is plagued with problems of its own – among them, “problems with the nonenzymatic synthesis of biopolymers and the origin of template replication.” They can’t get the required molecules to form on their own, and then there is the nasty problem of the origin of a genetic code that can copy itself. The first paragraph in the paper elaborates:Both schools acknowledge that a critical requirement for primitive evolvable systems (in the Darwinian sense) is to solve the problems of information storage and reliable information transmission. Disagreement starts, however, in the way information was first stored. All present life is based on digitally encoded information in polynucleotide strings, but difficulties with the de novo appearance of oligonucleotides and clear-cut routes to an RNA world (but see ref. 6), wherein RNA molecules had the dual role of catalysts and information storage systems, have provided continuous fuel for objections to the genetics-first scenario.But having demonstrated in their paper the inadequacy of metabolism-first story, viz: “We now feel compelled to abandon compositional inheritance as a jumping board toward real units of evolution,” they could offer no hope on the other hand that the genetics-first scenario was more fit. All they could supply was faith: “We do not know how the transition to digitally encoded information has happened in the originally inanimate world; that is, we do not know where the RNA world might have come from, but there are strong reasons to believe that it had existed.” Why? Because the metabolism-first scenario cannot work: “Template-free systems like composomes could only have had the limited role of accumulating prebiotic material and increasing environmental patchiness.” There needs to be a storage mechanism for genetic information, and that requires at least RNA. Storage-based inheritance, not merely attractor-based inheritance, is the minimum requirement for Darwinian evolution: “The essence of nucleic acids from the point of view of inheritance is exactly that they can store a lot of information at roughly equal energy/stability levels, exactly the property one requires from ‘storage.’” Later in the paper, they disparaged the habit of applying Darwinian terms, like “selection values”, to prebiotic molecules. Such terms are “devoid of meaning” in a chemical context, they said. “The unfortunate usage of words with clear Darwinian connotations—such as adaptation, fitness landscape, and coevolution—in the realm of pre-Darwinian systems cannot be overemphasized.”Update 01/08/2010: Three days after our report, Science Daily reported about this paper, based on a press release from Free University of Barcelona. Aside from getting the name of NASA wrong, they defined life as “self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.” Even within that questionable definition, the metabolism-first scenario will not work, the article said: “the basic property of life as a system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution began when genetic information was finally stored and transmitted such as occurs in nucleotide polymers (RNA and DNA).” Since subsequent Darwinian evolution has nothing necessarily to do with the origin of genetic information, the statement lends more support to a definition of life made by astrobiologist Benton Clark (see 12/30/2002): “life reproduces, and life uses energy. These functions follow a set of instructions embedded within the organism.”1. Vasos, Szathmary and Santos, “Lack of evolvability in self-sustaining autocatalytic networks: A constraint on the metabolism-first path to the origin of life,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, January 4, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912628107.We could have told them this. They are just restating with additional rigor a common-sense principle, that you can’t get inheritance without accurate information storage and retrieval. The threshold to avoid error catastrophe is too demanding. Anyway, it’s nice to have their side prove it with eigenvalues and equations. And it was nice for them to chastise their brethren for misapplying Darwinian terms to chemicals: “The unfortunate usage of words with clear Darwinian connotations—such as adaptation, fitness landscape, and coevolution—in the realm of pre-Darwinian systems cannot be overemphasized.” This paper represents the latest in a series of devastating salvos in the battle between the two approaches in origin-of-life studies (see important entry 01/26/2008). Both sides have both falsified each other and bombed each other’s fortresses to the ground. Brush aside their false premise that life is defined by its ability to undergo Darwinian evolution; what they really mean is that a lack of accurate genetic replication forbids Darwinian evolution. But the lack of accurate genetic replication forbids life itself, too, so they lose either way. Notice that this team falsified the metabolism-first hypothesis but acknowledged serious shortcomings with the genetics-first hypothesis. So did they give up and acknowledge that life was intelligently designed? No: they resorted to what the NCSE would tell you is the antithesis of science: FAITH. There are good reasons to BELIEVE in the RNA world, they said, simply because their trust in Darwinian evolution requires it, and the alternative, intelligent design, is so horrible to their tender little psyches, they will resort to chance miracles – anything – to avoid going that route. Too bad, though. Stephen Meyer showed in Signature in the Cell that the RNA World scenario, and all naturalistic theories for the origin of specified genetic information, are hopelessly inadequate. The facts of nature have turned naturalism against itself. You can’t get here from there. The origin of life requires the input of information from an intelligent, purposeful source, and science proves it. That being the case, Darwin becomes superfluous for anything beyond that point, except maybe for explaining minor changes between interfertile finches.(Visited 287 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
12 June 2013Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, a day on which Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala wrote his name in the history books by becoming the first player to score in the first World Cup held in Africa. His memorable, scorching strike was a fitting opener for the occasion.Tshabalala is currently in camp with Bafana Bafana in Yaounde, Cameroon where the team is preparing for a crucial World Cup qualifying match against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on Sunday, 16 June. He took time out to chat to the South African Football Association’s (Safa) media officer Matlhomola Morake about the 2010 Fifa World Cup.Safa Media: Special day today, what memories do you have about it?Tshabalala: It is a special day indeed as it marks exactly three years since I played my first World Cup tournament, the first ever World Cup tournament to be hosted in Africa. More significantly, I scored the opening goal of the tournament against quality opposition like Mexico.To this day, the move that led to the goal, the goal itself, the atmosphere and the celebrations thereafter still play in my head as though it happened yesterday. It is one of those memories etched in my mind and will not go away. I felt very privileged to be in the squad and will forever be grateful for that opportunity.I believe I left a huge legacy and trust that people will forever remember this day which I will always call “The Shabba Day”. I am truly blessed to have not only played on that day but also scored a goal. It remains the most special moment of my life.Safa Media: Please describe to us the atmosphere.Tshabalala: It was electrifying, and after the goal it was great to see so many South Africans brought together by a common purpose – sport, football in particular. It is an indescribable feeling, the kind where you had to be there to feel it.The tournament really united the country. I want to believe that all the players who took part in the tournament will forever cherish that moment.Safa Media: Has your life improved since the 2010 Fifa World Cup?Tshabalala: A lot of things have happened since then. I have won numerous individual awards, featured in various adverts, been invited to places and events I never in my wildest dreams thought I would go to. And I have to be grateful for that, largely thanks to the World Cup.People have shown a lot of respect towards me due to the goal and the way I played. Three years later, I am still in the national team, which indicates I am doing something right. Also, I am still playing for a big team in South Africa (Kaizer Chiefs) and recently won the league and a domestic cup (Nedbank Cup). I have played about 95 percent of the games for club, and haven’t missed out much except when I was injured. So I am happy with my progress so far.Safa Media: You are a fan favourite, wherever you go fans still shout your name, even here in Cameroon, how do you keep that balance of not letting fame go to your head?Tshabalala: It is humbling when you go to a foreign country and people acknowledge you and show you some respect. I feel blessed. I really appreciate the people’s feelings towards me. It is vital to keep my feet firmly on the ground though. Fame will come and go, but when one is humble, that is the important thing because humility makes one go far.Safa Media: 11 June 2013 came a few days after you scored a goal to keep SA’s chances of going to Brazil alive.Tshabalala: The goal I scored against the Central African Republic (CAR) is an important one as it helped the team to be in a better position, and also have a better goal difference. But it is all about teamwork and that is the main thing that has kept us going strong as a national team. We work with and for each other. Those not playing push those on the field to do better. There is a lot of camaraderie which is key because we do not have special players but are all equal.Safa Media: Ethiopia will be a lot different to CAR.Tshabalala: The win against CAR was vital as we now go to Ethiopia very motivated, but we know there is still a lot of work to be done. They are top of the group, which tells you they are a formidable side. Also, they are playing at home, which will make our mission even tougher. But we are professionals and I believe we are up to the challenge.We know what is at stake here. We must just work harder than in the first match to realise our goals. With the win against CAR, we are in the right frame of mind. We are confident but not over-confident.Safa Media: You are the most experienced player in the current squad with 78 caps, how much pressure does that put you under?Tshabalala: Fortunately, we are a group of players that are very experienced and do not look at caps but work as a team. We have been working very well together up to this point. There are several senior players in the team and we all encourage each other to better our game and take the responsibility when the need arises.Safa Media: More caps to follow?Tshabalala: I will continue to do the best I can for my club and country. I really appreciate the opportunity I have been given to be part of Bafana Bafana. It is the stuff that dreams are made of. I am on 78 caps and I will take it one game at a time and hopefully also reach the magical 100 caps.Safa Media: With Botswana and CAR eliminated, this game is must win for us.Tshabalala: Definitely, I am glad the first obstacle (CAR) is out of the way. Now there is a bigger hurdle that we should overcome. We know they might come at us to unsettle us from the first whistle. We need to be calm and not panic, but play our normal game of ball possession and close them down quickly when we lose the ball.This is a very important match for us as we all want to see ourselves playing in Brazil 2014. We have tasted how it feels to be there, representing our country on a bigger stage and would not want to miss out. This is one battle that we need to win and we will do our best to get a positive result.Safa Media: Dreams of playing abroad.Tshabalala: At the moment I am happy where I am and with how my career is going. I turned professional in 2004/05 in the colours of Free State Stars. We got relegated and I got my first call up while playing in the first division. Obviously my dream was to play abroad, but I always tell myself that I should not force matters. That will come when the time is right and if it does happen I will grab the opportunity with both hands. But if it does not happen, life goes on.I had offers from overseas, but I felt they were not right because I do not want to leave for the sake of leaving. Right now I am enjoying my football at Chiefs and at 29 I should start thinking about planning for my future – life after football.Safa Media: Message to the fans who have been with you.Tshabalala: I really appreciate and value their support. My journey has been long but very exciting. I have had obstacles that I had to overcome to get to where I am. When my form dropped, I got the stick because most fans knew my abilities. I have learned to be strong and take positives out of the whole situation and move on.So I am really grateful for the support from the fans and my family. Without them I would not have achieved as much as I have.Source: South African Football Association
This YEAR, HI HOPES celebrates 10 years of supporting deaf infants and their families. In this time, over 1300 South African families have benefited from our services, allowing them to make informed choices for their deaf or hard of hearing children. Through the variety of communication options and amplification choices we promote, deaf children are given the gift of communication – thanks to the dedication of our staff and generous donations from caring people like you. As we celebrate our birthday, one of our youngest babies – little Kayde, who was born with a hole in his heart, impaired vision and hearing loss – underwent his Cochlear Implant surgery yesterday. Kayde has been a HI HOPES baby since he was two months old and our director, Prof Claudine Storbeck, was standing along side the ENT surgeon during his surgery. Watch this space for an update of Kayde’s progress.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It is again the time of year where the attention of countless exhibitors, volunteers and visitors is focused upon the longstanding tradition of the county fair. The events are a centerpiece of summer for Ohio counties, but they would not happen without the dedication of many hours from volunteers.“People do not really understand the number of volunteer hours that local fairs have,” said Tom Stocksdale from Wayne County who serves as the District 5 representative on the Ohio Fair Managers Association Board of Directors. “If fairs had to pay for everything that happens, they couldn’t afford to operate. So much depends on volunteer hours.”Thanks to all of those volunteers as Ohio’s fair season kicks off this month.2018 LIST OF OHIO FAIR DATES JUNE FAIRSPaulding County Fair (Paulding) June 11-16 Pickaway County (Circleville) June 16-23 Putnam County (Ottawa) June 25-30JULY FAIRSMarion County (Marion) July 2-7 Harrison County (Cadiz) June 25-30 Clinton County (Wilmington) July 7-14 Madison County (London) July 7-14 Adams County (West Union) July 8-14 Lawrence County (Proctorville) July 7-14 Logan County (Bellefontaine) July 8-14 Trumbull County (Cortland) July 8-15 Montgomery County (Dayton) July 9-15 Lucas County (Maumee) July 10-15 Jackson County (Wellston) July 13-21 Franklin County (Hilliard) July 14-21 Crawford County (Bucyrus) July 15-21 Fayette County (Washington C.H.) July 16-21 Perry County (New Lexington) July 16-21 Ottawa County (Oak Harbor) July 16-22 Warren County (Lebanon) July 16-21 Carroll County (Carrollton) July 17-22 Clark County (Springfield) July 20-27 Knox County (Mt. Vernon) July 22-July 28 Butler County (Hamilton) July 22-July 28 Clermont County (Owensville) July 22-28 Shelby County (Sidney) July 22-July 28 Union County (Marysville) July 22-28 Seneca County (Tiffin) July 23-29 Vinton County (McArthur) July 23-28 Summit County (Tallmadge) July 24-29 Lake County (Painesville) July 24-29 Ohio State Fair (Columbus) July 25-Aug 5 Pike County (Piketon) July 27-Aug 4JULY/AUGUST FAIRSPreble County (Eaton) July 28-Aug 4 Auglaize County (Wapakoneta)July 29- Aug 4 Greene County (Xenia) July 29-Aug 4 Gallia County (Gallipolis) July 30-Aug 4 Columbiana County (Lisbon) July 30-Aug 5 Medina County (Medina) July 30- Aug 5 Wood County (Bowling Green) July 30- Aug 6AUGUST FAIRSHamilton County (Carthage) Aug 8-12 Champaign County (Urbana) Aug 3-10 Athens County (Athens) Aug 3-11 Ross County (Chillicothe) Aug 4-11 Hartford Independent (Licking County) Aug 4-11 Richland County (Mansfield) Aug 5-11 Holmes County (Millersburg) Aug 6-11 Scioto County (Lucasville) Aug 6-11 Cuyahoga County (Berea) Aug 6-12 Attica Independent (Seneca County) Aug 7-11 Ashtabula County (Jefferson) Aug 7-12 Erie County (Sandusky) Aug 7-12 Henry County (Napoleon) Aug 9-16Mercer County (Celina) Aug 10-16 Miami County (Troy) Aug 10-16 Muskingum County (Zanesville) Aug 12-18 Huron County (Norwalk) Aug 13-18 Meigs County (Pomeroy) Aug 13-18 Jefferson County (Smithfield) Aug 14-19 Allen County (Lima) Aug 17-25 Darke County (Greenville) Aug 17-25 Defiance County (Hicksville) Aug 18-25 Monroe County (Woodsfield) Aug 20-25 Lorain County (Wellington) Aug 20-26 Portage County (Randolph) Aug 21-26 Sandusky County (Fremont) Aug 21-26AUGUST/SEPTEMBER FAIRSNoble County (Caldwell) Aug 27-Sept 1 Morrow County (Mt Gilead) Aug 27 -3 Stark County (Canton) Aug 28- Sept 3 Hancock County (Findlay) Aug 29-Sept 3 Richwood Independent (Union County) Aug 30-Sept 4 Mahoning County (Canfield) Augut 30- Sept 3 Richwood Independent (Union County) Aug 29-Sept 3 Van Wert County (Van Wert) Aug-28-Sept 3 Geauga County (Burton) Aug 30-Sept 3SEPTEMBER FAIRSFulton County (Wauseon) Aug 31-Sept 6 Washington County (Marietta) Sept 1-4 Highland County (Hillsboro) Sept 1-8 Morgan County (McConnelsville) Sept 3-8 Belmont County (St. Clairsville) Sept 4-9 Hardin County (Kenton) Sept 4-9 Albany Independent (Athens County) Sept 5-9 Hocking County (Logan) Sept 11-16 Wayne County (Wooster) Sept 8-13 Williams County (Montpelier) Sept 8-15 Guernsey County (Old Washington) Sept 10-15 Wyandot County (Upper Sandusky) Sept 11-16 Bellville Independent (Richland County) Sept 12-15 Delaware County (Delaware) Sept 15-22 Ashland County (Ashland) Sept 16-22 Tuscarawas County (Dover) Sept 17-23 Brown County (Georgetown) Sept 24-29SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER FAIRSBarlow Independent (Washington Cty) Sept 27-30 Coshocton County (Coshocton) Sept 28 – Oct 4OCTOBER FAIRSLoudonville Independent (Ashland County) Oct 2-6 Fairfield County (Lancaster) Oct 7-13
selena larson Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Facebook is testing a new way to push auto-playing video at its mobile users, a precursor to its all-but-inevitable introduction of video advertising. Videos embedded in Facebook NewsFeeds will now play automatically, but silently, as smartphone or tablet users scroll by. Clicking on the video will enlarge it and play audio. The test is currently limited to what Facebook calls a “small group of U.S. mobile users.”Only videos posted by individual Facebook users, including those from Instagram and similar applications, will play automatically. Links shared from YouTube, Vimeo and other outside services won’t play in line.Teeing Up AdvertisingThe initial test also won’t include advertisements. But Facebook notes in its blog post that “[o]ver time, we’ll continue to explore how to bring this to marketers in the future.” In other words, auto-play mobile video does indeed look like a way to accustom users to auto-video so that when advertisements appear, people will be more inclined to watch them.See also: Instagram Video Spells A Billion Dollars Worth Of Magic For FacebookEarlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that mobile users spend one-fifth of their total time on mobile devices using Facebook, adding that Facebook derives more than 40 percent of its revenue from mobile. Mobile video advertising would be an obvious way to mint some additional coin from that trend.More Video, More DataUsers, however, might not be happy with the auto play feature. Auto-playing video will presumably drive up mobile data usage, which could be a problem for people on capped data plans. There’s a big difference between taking the data hit to watch a friend’s cat video and finding yourself subjected willy-nilly to a skateboard video shot an acquaintance’s son—much less eventual toothpaste or car commercials. Tags:#Facebook#mobile advertising#video Related Posts Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit
Photo finish: The report could reinstate Sunita Rani’s lost honourSunita Rani, Indian athletics’ “fallen” princess, can afford a smile. Last week, a one-man commission appointed by the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI) and headed by lawyer Sushil Dutt Salwan, cleared the clouds of a doping controversy hovering above the,Photo finish: The report could reinstate Sunita Rani’s lost honourSunita Rani, Indian athletics’ “fallen” princess, can afford a smile. Last week, a one-man commission appointed by the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI) and headed by lawyer Sushil Dutt Salwan, cleared the clouds of a doping controversy hovering above the versatile middle-distance runner.Rani who won the 1500 m event and was placed third in the 5000 m at last month’s Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, was stripped of her medals following dope tests in Korea that returned positive results-she was said to have taken the banned nandrolone decanoate, an injectable testosterone whose anabolic effects remain active in the human body for a long time.Now Salwan’s exhaustive report, submitted to AAFI President and MP Suresh Kalmadi and Secretary Lalit Bhanot (both have rushed to Monte Carlo to take up the matter with the International Amateur Athletics Federations), has a revealing tale to tell.HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORTShot in the arm: Armed with Sushil Dutt Salwan’s (left) report, Suresh Kalmadi is taking up the matter with the international athletics bodyChallenge the dope test report of the Busan laboratories.The discrepancies between samples A and B taken after the 1500 m event in Busan is internationally unacceptable.The figure of “6” in ng/ml appears to be overwritten by hand.All instrument printouts carry wrong dates. This may be because the reports are not genuine.The same sample should be sent to an International Olympic Committee-accredited dope-testing laboratory immediately.After speaking to several officials who were part of the Indian contingent and scrutinising a range of documents, he has brought out the dubious manner in which Rani’s tests were carried out in Seoul, far removed from the testing norms laid down by world federations.advertisementAt the same time, Salwan has also called for radical changes in the conduct of coaches, trainers, doctors and sports administrators in India.He also criticised the casual manner in which the problem of doping is generally dealt with.Kalmadi, while accepting the report, said, “It was unfortunate that Sunita Rani had to suffer after performing outstandingly at Busan.”The report, available exclusively to india today, mentions that tests on Rani’s first urine sample (A) on September 30, 2002 at the Dope Testing Centre in Delhi were negative. It obviated the need to examine the second sample (B).But now, Salwan insists in his report that a dna test needs to be carried out on the untested sample to prove beyond doubt that the urine collected belonged to Rani.Based on the September 30 report, Rani was cleared for Busan.She won the 1500 m gold on October 10 and was taken away for a test to a place where entry, under normal circumstances, should have been heavily restricted. But it wasn’t.Salwan spoke to journalists who covered the Games and was told that almost anyone could have walked in and tampered with the samples.Curiously, after the 5000 m event two days later, Rani was asked to present herself before a panel. Among those present were chef de mission Jagdish Tytler, Bhanot and Sunita’s coach Renu Kohli.Objections were raised about the procedure adopted for the test and the documentation itself. Here are some of the findings:The B sample acquired on October 10 was not sent to a separate lab for tests.The difference between nandrolone content was stark-21 ng/ml in the first case, 6 ng/ml in the second. This is not internationally acceptable.Most of the data sheets of the Doping Control Center (an internationally accredited lab with ISO 17025 rating) in Seoul did not carry dates.One printout showed a date of “October 200”, another October 16, 2001.There is no proof that the printout relates to the dates when samples were taken.In the report, the same doctor has signed for different officials.At one place the figure “6” in ng/ml has been overwritten by hand, it appears to be “2”.The men who have carried the report to Monte Carlo are now out to prove that Rani was framed. The Salwan findings certainly point in that direction.SALWAN’S COUNSELSAI does not adopt scientific methods of testing. There is no random testing.India’s dope-testing laboratory is not accredited by the IOC.Athletes take drugs so that they are cleared just before a competition. SAI and other federations have to counter this.Short notice and no notice-testing are the best means to curtail drug use.Coaches and team doctors should be responsible for doping cases.Sportspersons who have tested positive and whose appeal has been rejected by the IOC should be summarily dismissed from their jobs.Our coaches should be trained to world standards.Labs need to maintain high standards in order to earn the respect of the sports community.The food supplement taken by Sunita should be sent for analysis to ascertain if it contains any contaminated substance.Coaches should be research oriented. At present, they do not carry out any research on athletes under their charge.advertisement
Advertisement Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment It’s late afternoon in a warehouse near Inglewood and cast and crew of the modern-western sci-fi series Wynonna Earp are busy shooting a particularly dramatic scene.It is part of Season 2, which has been filming in Calgary and area since December and kicks off on the Space network on June 9. It’s surreal and claustrophobic and involves lots of shouted dialogue, sinister whispering and screaming. In fact, compared to the often playful, tongue-in-cheek tone of Wynonna Earp’s first season, this particular scene seems to be straying into horror-movie territory.Unfortunately, given that it will air near the end of the season, cast and crew are understandably cagey when it comes to explaining what is actually happening here. In fact, the preference is that we don’t mention the actor, character, setting or scenario involved. “Hey, I’m Wynonna, I got this,” says actress Melanie Scrofano, after a brief tete-a-tete with a producer about what she can and can’t reveal to a journalist visiting the set.OK, so what can we expect from Season 2?Long pause.“All the relationships that developed in Season 1 just get stronger and more complicated in Season 2 and I think that’s the strongest part of our story, the relationships,” says Scrofano, an Ottawa native who beat out hundreds to play the demon-fighting descendent of Wyatt Earp. “But there’s still tons of actions, there’s still tons of quips. It’s still really funny and we still don’t take ourselves very seriously. But there is a depth to the show that becomes apparent. What else can I say without spoiling?” Login/Register With: Facebook Advertisement Twitter
In the course of researching an article about Albert Pujols, I looked at measuring a hitter’s “decision-making” skills at the plate. Some great work on the topic was done years ago by the great Russell “Pizza Cutter” Carleton (who now writes at Baseball Prospectus), and I’m not adding to the research except by updating it. (The Hardball Times’ Derek Carty also wrote on this topic many years ago.)Basically, Russell’s idea was to apply signal-detection theory to baseball by measuring a hitter’s ability to discern balls and strikes compared to pitch-tracking systems such as PITCHf/x. If the PITCHf/x strike zone says a pitch was a ball, but the player swung at it, that’s akin to a “false positive” — the player thought the pitch was in the strike zone when it wasn’t. If PITCHf/x says a ball was in the zone, but the batter didn’t swing, that’s a “false negative” — a hittable ball disregarded by the player. (Of course, swinging at a ball in the zone, or taking a pitch outside the zone, would be coded as correct decisions by the batter.)This is all theoretical and a gross oversimplification of baseball in general. For instance, sometimes players have a good reason to lay off a pitch in the zone, and, conversely, sometimes they have to expand their strike zone because of the situation. Even so, it’s a fun application of the “Plate Discipline” section of stats at FanGraphs, which lists the percentages of pitches that were in the strike zone for each player, as well as the proportion of pitches swung at inside and outside the strike zone (as determined by Baseball Info Solutions‘ pitch-charting data, which goes back to 2002).The best decision-making season in the data set belongs to Moises Alou in 2002. Alou faced 1,785 pitches, 54.5 percent of which were in the strike zone. Of those pitches in the zone, he swung at 80.1 percent, while he let all but 14.8 percent of balls outside the zone go by without a swing. As a percentage of his total pitches faced, then, Alou made the “correct” decision 82.4 percent of the time — the tops of any season in the FanGraphs data.(I, too, was surprised that Vladimir Guerrero would should up as a positive example of plate discipline.)Meanwhile, the worst decision-making season happened last year; A.J. Pierzynski spent the season swinging. Pierzynski correctly swung at 76.7 percent of pitches inside the zone (the Major League Baseball average was 65.5 percent), but he was undone by his hacking of 49.6 percent of balls outside the strike zone — about 1.6 times the rate of the average hitter. That gave him a “good decision” rate of just 61.1 percent. (For what it’s worth, no qualified season in the FanGraphs data saw a hitter swing more at pitches outside the zone than inside.)Among active players, the best decision-maker by this metric (since 2012) is Dexter Fowler of the Houston Astros. Over the past three seasons, Fowler has made the correct decision 74.2 percent of the time, swinging at 71.9 percent of balls in the strike zone and laying off 75.9 percent of pitches outside the zone.And the worst? Martin Prado of the Arizona Diamondbacks made the correct call on only 62 percent of the pitches he faced. But unlike Pierzynski, who had the worst decision-making season of anyone since 2002 because he hacked too much at pitches outside the zone, Prado comes in last among active players because he wasn’t aggressive enough on pitches inside the zone. The average MLB player offers at about 66 percent of pitches inside the strike zone, but Prado has only swung at 50.8 percent of balls in the zone over the past three seasons. Prado does a good job at avoiding swings on balls outside the zone, but he can’t seem to tell when a hittable ball is coming in over the plate, often committing what statisticians would call false negatives, or Type II errors.Again, this metric is by no means a perfect gauge of plate discipline. There are many situations in which it would be a suboptimal strategy to strictly follow the “good” or “bad” decision algorithm measured by the charts above. But it’s illuminating to begin to measure which players appear to have the best and worst conceptions of the strike zone as determined by an objective standard.