After failing to get out of their group for the last two seasons, City are keen to avoid an unwanted hat-trick. Yet Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in charge of the Blues also coincides with a sense of weakness at Manchester United, who are adjusting to the massive change triggered by Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure. Press Association Manchester City new-boy Fernandinho is targeting a massive haul of points before the Blues launch their latest European adventure. It leaves Fernandinho to conclude City need to hit the ground running and gather in as many points as possible in the four games prior to that first Champions League match, which leads into the opening Manchester derby of the season. “It is important to start strong,” he said. “We need to get as many points as possible in those first few games. It is not a question of thinking about United. We have to think about ourselves. “It is important before the Champions League starts in mid-September to get as many points as possible because after that we are playing Saturday-midweek all the time and it gets harder.” In leaving Shakhtar Donetsk for City in a deal estimated to be worth £30million, Fernandino was following the same path as another Brazilian, Elano, trodden six years ago. Initially, Elano was superb, but as his debut season developed he found the going much tougher. The demands of the Premier League eventually proved too much and after two years he had left for Galatasaray. Although Fernandinho’s career suggests he is made of sterner stuff and some pundits, including Jamie Redknapp, have predicted big things from the 28-year-old, his slight frame does nothing to dispel worries he might find the adaptation process equally troublesome. “The Premier League is a very strong competition,” he said. “It is very tough and a different style of football. Obviously I don’t have any experience of English football, so I don’t know what the effects will be. “I want to train and practise as much as possible. I want to have a balanced season, always playing at the same level.”
Once upon a time there was a little West contender that nobody could see, or cared to.For years it had a wacko owner who got all the press, even at the end after his people miraculously neutralized him long enough to take his team from laughingstock to legitimate.Unfortunately, the little contender played in a city owned lock, stock and barrel by a once-great NBA team.Local fans were so devoted to the once-great team, when it fell on hard times and cable ratings cratered, they stopped watching NBA games altogether. The little contender’s ratings slid, too, even as it finished in the West’s top four annually. Nor was it just local fans who didn’t like the little contender. It had a spectacular, high-flying star but he got lots of endorsements and dunked on everyone’s head, prompting opponents to maul him at every opportunity. The little contender lodged constant complaints with the referees, getting a reputation as the NBA’s biggest hype/crybaby.The little contender had a little big man to run the point, not that it brought credibility. Instead, the media asked every spring, “Does he have to win a title to validate his greatness?”With local fans busy rooting for the once-great team all season, nothing counted for the little contender but the playoffs … so despite never having won anything, the team is held to the Lakers’ old nothing-counts-but-a-title standard that the current Lakers are no longer held to.Of course, the little contender was — aw, you guessed it — the Clippers.Giddy as local fans are with the Lakers at 7-6, the Clippers have long been what the Lakes yearn to be again one day, an exciting contender. In Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers have two of the brightest upcoming free agents but with the Lakers as far away as they are, you don’t hear much from their fans about stealing away either.Not that free agency is predictable a year out, or a day out. Ask Oklahoma City about Kevin Durant … or Dallas about DeAndre Jordan who agreed to terms with the Mavericks before the Clippers stole him back.Despite years of reported coolness among the Clippers’ Big Three, they’re in their sixth season together. All three re-signed in that time, Griffin in 2012, Paul in 2013 and Jordan in 2015. With all that has happened, it may no longer matter to anybody if this was Blake’s team before Chris took charge or if Deandre is upset because he hasn’t been an All-Star.The media narrative has the Clippers as the next Thunder, waiting to be torpedoed by free agency. Happily for the Clippers, they’re not in Oklahoma City but Los Angeles, the glamor market that still acts as a lure … if more for them than for the Lakers.It’s not clear how big Clipper Nation is, but it’s enough to fill Staples Center (however soft their figures that showed them playing to 101% of capacity last season) and get a new cable deal reportedly worth $50 million annually from Fox, half of what the Lakers get from Time Warner but still one of the NBA’s biggest.There have been no financial constraints since Steve Ballmer bought the team for $2 billion … about $400 million more than the second highest bid by David Geffen, Larry Ellison and Oprah Winfrey.For what it’s worth, insiders say both Griffin and Paul are inclined to stay, loving the area and, in a total break from Clipper tradition, the Clipper organization.If it will be the last long-term deal of Griffin’s prime at 28, he’s not excited, noting that “true friends and family” who understand how much he loves the area and the team “pretty much know not to bring that up.”The elephant in the room no one talks about is Griffin’s comeback after duking out his friend, Matias Testi, the equipment manager who no longer works for the team. Whether or not there was a settlement, it effectively cost Blake a season of his career, showing him how precious it is. He’s playing that way, defending as never before—a big reason they’re No. 1 in points allowed per possession–rebounding better than he has in years.In the good news and the bad news for the Clippers, they haven’t underachieved. They’ve never been higher than a No. 4 seed and have never made the conference finals.Aside from 2015 when they blew a 3-1 lead over Houston and a 19-point lead in Game 6 when they were 15 minutes from their first West Finals, they’ve largely beaten the teams they were better than … and lost to the teams they weren’t as good as.There are fewer great teams in the West but the Warriors still look the Warriors, even with two losses before Thanksgiving.“It is about us getting to a title,” says Coach Doc Rivers, embracing the expectations. “The Lakers have won titles. Everybody here has won titles.“If we weren’t as good, our narrative would be different. Because of the talent we have, we have pushed ourselves into the conversation.“That talk doesn’t get old for me — ‘Hey guys, you going to do it this year?’ I’m fine with it. We have a realistic chance so let’s be in that discussion.I don’t want to be in the situation where they say, ‘You won 45 games, you had a good year. That’s not why I’m coaching.“I’ve been in this league for 34 years. Twenty-nine of them, the Clippers were not held to Laker standards. That’s a great standard to be held to.”If it’s the hard way to go, think of where they came from. For the Clippers, these are the good old days.Mark Heisler has written an NBA column since 1991 and was honored with the Naismith Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award in 2006. His column is published weekly for the Southern California News Group throughout the NBA season. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
MASON CITY — Cerro Gordo County has seen its first fatality connected to COVID-19. The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health confirmed the death this afternoon, an individual who was aged 41-60. CG Public Health director Brian Hanft in a written statement says the department extends their deepest sympathy to the individual’s loved ones, adding that the department and all of their key partners throughout the county and state continue to work to limit the spread and impact of coronavirus in our communities.
The state-of-the-art mining robot developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is able to assess mines after blasting, to ensure they are safe for mineworkers to enter. (Image: Shamin Chibba) • Tendani Tsedu Communications manager Council for Scientific and Industrial Research +27 12 841 3417 [email protected] • Fifteen amazing facts about MeerKAT and the Square Kilometre Array• Toilet extraction system is a world first • R1-billion investment in science for people • Massive funding injection for Square Kilometre Array• South African research funding foruth-highest in the world Shamin ChibbaThe idea of a dozen robots exploring deep in the platinum mines of the North West province to make sure conditions are safe for miners to work is almost out of Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels. But the idea is quickly becoming a reality thanks to a team of South African robotics engineers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).The CSIR’s Mobile Intelligence Autonomous Systems (Mias) group is currently testing robots that can monitor the safety of mines after blasting. This is according to Natasha Govender, Mias’s senior researcher, who hosted a group of journalists from the US, UK and China on Tuesday 25 March at the CSIR offices in Pretoria.Safety in mines is a big issue in South Africa, and robots, Govender said, present the perfect solution. “When they blast in a mine, people can’t go inside until the air settles. So once it is cleared out, then somebody can go. But they have to check if the hanging walls are safe. At the moment that process is done manually, and that can be very dangerous if the rocks are loose.”The Mias team built a robot that can go into the mine after blasting and check the hanging walls – so human beings don’t have to risk injury or even death by entering the area.Ruan de Hart, Mias’s research and development engineer, said most major mining houses, except Anglo American, have not yet considered using robots to assess safety in mines, and may take some time to appreciate the machines’ value. Saving lives was paramount, but the robots would also save the companies millions of rands in work stoppages, and prevent conflict with unions if workers were hurt or killed on the job.He said the hardware for the prototype was imported from the US and could cost as much as R1.5-million. But if demand for the robots increase, production costs would be lower as robotic capabilities would be transferred to a cheaper platform. “When this goes to market the idea is not to use these components.” Once the software for the prototype was perfected, cheaper components could be used for the hardware, reducing costs to about a third and allowing Mias to produce large quantities locally.According to Govender, Mias has relied on government funding since it started in 2009, receiving R15-million a year. With its capabilities built up Mias can now generate its own revenue from external projects. They have already secured contracts with Anglo American and Transnet. The map indicates the amount of ground covered by the search and rescue robot. (Image: Shamin Chibba) How the robot worksThe mine robot is a little like Disney’s WALL-E character. Instead of legs, it has a pair of rotating treads able to move over rough terrain. The bulk of it is made up of a compactor box fitted with a camera, and an arm that can move in seven different directions, or “seven degrees of freedom”.Mias’s main concern is to program the robot with the intelligence to interact with dynamic human environments and operate without human support. Sensory equipment such as lasers and cameras allows the robot to chart its own path and detect obstacles in its way. If it encounters an obstacle, such as a wall, a chair or even a person, it can move around it and continue on its initial path. “If you want the robot to interact in a human environment it needs to be able to see its environment,” said Govender.But if the robot needs assistance, an operator is on hand. Operators can see a 3D rendering of the robot’s environment and, by switching the machine to semi-autonomous mode, can set waymarks and manoeuvre it. The image on screen is created through the robot’s 3D localisation and autonomous mappings tools. “We interpret camera and laser information to tell the robot what’s happening in the world,” said Govender. “If you are a robot, how do you decide where I am in a specific environment and how do I localise myself in a specific map? It’s all about where I am in relation to a 3D map.”The robot is also programmed for path planning with orientation, autonomous stairway detection with movability, and cooperation between multiple robots. It can also be controlled with a tablet computer. Govender said they would soon add gas sensors to the machine to detect the breathability of the air after blasting. A 3D rendering of the mining robot. The robot’s environment is interpreted by using information taken from the camera, laser and 3D localisation technology. (Image: Shamin Chibba) Teaching robots to seeOther than the mining robot, Mias is also working on search and rescue robots, and “mule” robots, unmanned machines that can carry equipment. The mule is able to move around any environment using GPS waymarks or by following a person to a specific point. “It will be able to pick up an image on the back of a shirt and follow the person as he or she walks.” said Govender. “It will then drop off medical supplies or pick up injured people and return to its original point.”The team is currently refining Activision, a program that makes the robot able to recognise a specific object in an environment. Before, for a robot to understand what it was seeing, it would have had to take up to 360 degrees’ worth of pictures. But with Activision it would only need to take two pictures. “We’re actually doing a lot of work in terms of how you actually look for the information to perform a specific task,” said Govender.She illustrated this point with a toaster. If the pictures are taken of the side where the toaster’s handle and heat switch is, the robot will be able to identify it. But from any other angle, it will struggle to determine the object as there are no indicators.The Mias team are also working on improving detection and tracking for Activision by using multiple cameras to track many people. “This will be able to decide when to change the focus from one camera to the other to actually keep track of multiple people while still paying attention to the background,” said Govender. Bringing international PhD skills back to South AfricaBecause Mias is a small group – it has just 22 on its team – it is important for them to collaborate with universities in South Africa and overseas, according to Govender. Researchers wanting to complete their PhDs are allowed to study abroad, particularly at the University of Edinburgh and ETH Zurich in Switzerland. “We have a lot of international PhDs. The idea is we would bring those skills back to South Africa and we would then supervise these students within the robotics field,” she said.Mias also has exchange programmes with the University of Zurich, ETH’s Computer Vision Lab and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. “We’re trying to make use of all these programmes to improve the skills of the people within our group as quickly as possible.”Expertise at Mias is in for another boost, with the Department of Science and Technology’s recent announcement of R10.5-million in scholarship funds for postgraduate students looking to complete their master’s degrees and PhDs in the robotics field.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Emily UnglesbeeDTN Staff ReporterARLINGTON, Va. (DTN) — At a state pesticide regulatory meeting this week, some state officials threatened to stop reporting their dicamba damage incidents to the EPA during the 2019 growing season, after their past reporting efforts did not bring about substantial changes to agency’s dicamba registrations.“They felt like they provided a lot of information [in 2018], and it took a lot of their staff time to generate that information, but they don’t feel that was reflected in any of the dicamba label statements, so states are kind of questioning whether that was a good use of their time,” explained Rose Kachadoorian, president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO), who led the meeting of the organization’s State FIFRA Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) in Arlington, Virginia, on June 3-4.Last year, state officials participated in weekly phone calls with the EPA and submitted an array of data on dicamba injury reports. This year, EPA is proposing that state regulators continue to collect injury data throughout the growing season and then use it to answer a single, end-of-the-season survey for the federal agency to review.Brian Verhougstraete, a Michigan pesticide regulator, represented the EPA Region 5 states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin at the meeting. He said several of those states may not cooperate with the proposed survey at all, based on their experience of reporting injury data in 2018.“To be quite blunt: What did we get out of it?” he said. “The way most states saw it is we got more…labels with vague and unenforceable terms, and we also now have a bunch of extra work on our certification programs. There will be some serious thoughts by states on whether they will participate — and they may not even have the time, because they’ll be too busy with [dicamba] investigations.”While dropping these communication efforts might save time for states, it will also leave EPA with fewer independent sources of information on off-target dicamba injury. In the past, the agency has relied primarily on Extension scientists, state regulators and dicamba registrants to supply information on injury reports and causes.Several state pesticide regulators also objected to the questions EPA is asking on a draft version of the 2019 end-of-the-season survey on dicamba injury. Many of the proposed questions are aimed at helping EPA write better labels, but none address the extensive time and resources required to address dicamba injury in some states, Kachadoorian told DTN. Nor do any of the questions evaluate the potential human health impacts of state pesticide regulators neglecting their routine inspections to focus solely on a barrage of dicamba complaints, she said.“There is a price tag to this registration, and that price tag is not being borne by the pesticide registrants or the EPA, but by the state’s budgets,” she said. “It is a possibility” that some states will not respond at all to the agency’s survey this year if EPA continues to ignore these issues, she added.“But we hope that if [EPA] adds more questions that will actually benefit states by documenting their efforts and the cost to their state, that they’ll be more apt to do it,” she said.2019 DICAMBA APPLICATIONS LOOM OVER DISTRESSED STATE AGENCIESWith only 39% of soybeans planted in the U.S. as of June 3, dicamba applications have been minimal in most states, but some regulators are already a year or more behind any future injury complaints, noted Tim Creger, a Nebraska pesticide regulator who represented the EPA Region 7 states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska at the meeting.The Missouri Department of Agriculture, which is still processing dicamba injury complaints from 2016, only recently started processing 2017 cases, and has not touched their 2018 workload of 220 complaints yet, Creger noted in his written notes submitted to the meeting. Regulators in Kansas and Iowa are only halfway through processing their 2018 dicamba injury complaints, he added.“One of the primary take-home messages we’ve seen in the last two years on dicamba is it’s become extremely difficult to keep field staff employed when they get burned out on dicamba investigations,” Creger told the meeting participants. “We had one state that lost nine inspectors in the last 18 months because of dicamba, and now they’ve had to almost fully restock their entire field staff,” he said of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.Creger said many of the Region 7 states are using a “triage” mindset when it comes to addressing dicamba injury complaints in 2019. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture will now require photographic evidence of 20% leaf damage or greater after the V4 growth stage before regulators respond to most crop injury reports, he said. Non-crop injury reports will be handled on a case-by-case basis.“You would like to think everyone is treated equally, but resources are limited,” he said. “People don’t get treated equally, and it’s become a very difficult, untenable situation for us.”Verhougstraete also said some Region 5 state officials witnessed companies mismanaging the dicamba training sessions that were required for applicators to use dicamba this year. Some were described as “sales pitches,” or only lasted 30 minutes instead of the advertised two hours, with people openly wandering in and out of the sessions.“Is that not fair when states are being held to a higher standard when it comes to ensuring applicators are getting certification training?” he asked EPA representatives in attendance. “Shouldn’t the registrants be held to the same standard?”See more on the meeting from AAPCO here: https://aapco.org/…Emily Unglesbee can be reached at [email protected] her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee(PS/BAS)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.
View comments MOST READ AFP official booed out of forum LATEST STORIES John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Read Next Google honors food scientist, banana ketchup inventor and war hero Maria Orosa Pussycat Dolls set for reunion tour after 10-year hiatus Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university PLAY LIST 01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City The sequence of signs includes one with the slogan “Complete The Process,” a play on the Sixers’ “Trust The Process” mantra with their young team and a billboard that reads: “#PhillyWantsLeBron.”ESPN.com reported the billboards were leased by Power Home Remodeling, a company based in Chester, Pennsylvania. The company’s CEO says the goal is to bring James, a three-time NBA champion, to Philadelphia because “we think the best athletes should want to play here.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe 33-year-old James can opt out of his contract this summer with the Cavaliers. Families in US enclave in north Mexico hold sad Thanksgiving LOOK: Iya Villania meets ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ cast in Mexico Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Davis Cup to be transformed into a 1-week World Cup Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up for an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in San Antonio. James is 7 points away from hitting the 30,000 mark for his career. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — The courtship of LeBron James has taken an Oscar-worthy turn — toward Philadelphia.Three billboards urging James to leave the Cavaliers and sign with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer as a free agent have been installed along Interstate-480 south of Cleveland. The signs are inspired by the movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” an Academy Award nominee for best picture.ADVERTISEMENT
Man Utd defender Maguire deletes social media postby Paul Vegas21 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United defender Harry Maguire had a message for fans after the goalless draw at AZ Alkmaar on Thursday – but he soon deleted it.Maguire failed to get off the bench in the Netherlands as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went with a central defensive partnership of Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo.That pair, as well as first-choice goalkeeper David De Gea, all did their jobs as the Eredivisie outfit were snuffed out despite having 12 shots on goal and four on target.The England defender tweeted: “A point away from home. Thanks for the support. See you Sunday.”However, following a backlash from supporters at what they saw as an overly positive reaction to a disappointing result, Maguire ultimately deleted the post, which isn’t visible on his Twitter account on Friday morning. About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
YouTube/MSUSpartanVideoMichigan State is the defending Big Ten champion, and while Michigan and Ohio State have been getting most of the attention in the league as we near the season, the Spartans appear pretty pumped for the year to kick off.On Thursday, a group of Michigan State players created a locker room dance video, and with help from the program’s video team, it is incredibly well-produced. The video is set to Future’s hit “Wicked” from his 2016 mixtape Purple Reign.Michigan State opens its season with FCS squad Furman, but things heat up pretty quickly from there. The Spartans have a week two bye, and then head to South Bend to play a very strong Notre Dame team, and follow that game up with Wisconsin at home. At +825, the Spartans are tied for the third best odds to win a Big Ten title this year with Iowa, but are fairly well behind Ohio State (+168) and Michigan (+233). If they repeat, they certainly will have earned it.
FREDERICTON – With a New Brunswick election just months away, the auditor general is sounding the alarm over the province’s fast-growing debt.Kim MacPherson said Tuesday she is deeply troubled by the fiscal decline — pointing to a $7-billion increase in net debt over the last 10 years.“As I have reported repeatedly, this net debt growth is not sustainable,” she said as she released Volume One of her 2018 report.The debt is expected to hit $14.4 billion by the end of March 2019; the government spent $700 million in interest last year just to service the debt.“If this interest cost was a department, its budget would be larger than the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure,” she said.“If this continues, eventually governments will not be able to provide the same level of programs and services such as health care, education, roads, schools and hospitals.”MacPherson said New Brunswick is on track for its 11th consecutive deficit, and there is no immediate plan to address it.Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University, said the province’s finances should be a key issue in the campaign for the Sept. 24 election. But he said most voters and politicians are only interested in short-term promises.“It’s short- and medium-term pain for longer-term gain and this is a problem for which the solution is over many years or decades, but the political election cycle is four years long,” Bateman said.Green Leader David Coon said it is time the province got its finances under control.“The government stopped on its progress in reducing the deficit and the books should have been balanced for next year, and that’s not happening. P.E.I. is balanced, Nova Scotia is balanced and we should be balanced,” Coon said.MacPherson said she isn’t getting political — and pointed out the fiscal issues have been there over successive governments.“Getting a handle on this problem will be like turning the Titanic … it will take time,” she said.The Dominion Bond Rating Service recently downgraded the province’s rating trend from stable to negative. In a news release, DBRS stated: “New Brunswick’s 2018 budget once again delays the return to balance in favour of new spending ahead of the 2018 provincial election.”Meanwhile Moody’s Investor Service stated: “The stalled progression on deficit reduction is credit negative for the province which has not posted a balanced budget since 2007-2008 and is not planning a balanced budget until 2021-2022, resulting in one of one of the longest period of continued deficits among Canadian provinces following the 2008-2009 financial crisis.”MacPherson said the rating agencies’ reaction should be a major concern to government.Included in her review of government spending, MacPherson found that in five of the last 10 years, governments overspent their budgets prior to obtaining approval from the legislative assembly.She called for the release of audited financial statements before the Sept. 24 provincial election.Treasury Board President Roger Melanson said in a statement the audited figures will be released before New Brunswickers go to the polls, but did not give an exact date.Melanson defends the Liberal government’s handling of the books, saying they are taking a balanced approach.“I think if you speak to New Brunswickers, they want to see investment where it’s strategic and going to grow the economy and give them an opportunity to have a job. That’s what we have been focused on,” he said.MacPherson is also asking for more money for her office, saying a lack of resources is eroding her independence. She wants her budget increased by $250,000 in each of the next four years.Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said Tuesday, that if elected, he’d give her that money.“We need to have the ability to have the auditor general look under the hood, look at decisions being made and make them accountable in every way, shape and form. We can’t keep talking about this, we’ve got to find the solutions and have to expose the way money is being spent and tax dollars are being wasted,” Higgs said.MacPherson also used her report to point out what she calls an unacceptable lack of addiction and mental health services in adult correctional institutions.She said that without adequate treatment, inmates can pose a risk to themselves and the public.The government responded Tuesday, saying a provincial committee will be tasked to look into the auditor general’s concerns.