Olympic sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross didn’t have much trouble beating the competition on the track in London.The American 400-meter dash gold medalist has put the International Olympic Committee in her sights next.Richards-Ross wants to help bring an end to Rule 40, an IOC statute that limits how athletes can promote their sponsors.The rule prohibits Olympians from specifically mentioning their sponsors by name or adding additional logos to their apparel when they compete. The Olympics offer no prize money for athletes reaching a final, and makes sure athlete even restrict their Twitter posts during competition to avoid mentioning the brand names of their corporate supporters.Richards-Ross, whose husband is Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross, said the rule is antiquated and in need of changing.“If more athletes would speak up about it,” she said, “there would be more attention put on it. At the end of the day, it’s exploitation, and when people hear the facts, they’ll be outraged just like we athletes are. I think every movement needs a couple of people to stand up for it.“The Olympic reality has changed.”Olympic officials have long contended that their exclusive partnerships with sponsors have helped support the Games and allowed them to finance programs that give money to athletes in need worldwide.“It’s certainly something the vast majority of athletes tell us they appreciate,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.But athletes like Ross-Richards argue that the days of Olympic athletes being amateurs has past, and that profits from the Games have not trickled down to all athletes. The costs of training are high, the athletes insist, and the rules restrict their opportunities to cultivate private sponsorships to finance their profession.“It’s absurd,” said American middle-distance runner Nick Symmonds, one of the earliest critics of Rule 40 who counts Nike among his sponsors.“I understand that the IOC needs revenue, but I don’t see how an athlete having a sponsor detracts from that. I want to share the space.”Ross-Richards, who also anchored the American gold medal-winning 4×400 relay team, is the most high-profile athlete yet to speak out about the issue.But U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said that 40 percent of his organization’s budget came from its corporate sponsors. He predicted a decline in that support if the USOC could no longer provide exclusive rights to those companies.Supporter say opposition to Rule 40 stems from agents who have a financial interest in securing more deals for their clients.Richards-Ross balked at the suggestion.“This is athlete-driven,” she said.
Soledad O’Brien‘s congratulatory tweet to Haitian-Japanese tennis champ Naomi Osaka left critics reeling after the journalist pointed out that there are now TWO Black women competing in the 2018 US Open finals.Osaka, who advanced to the finals after defeating American Madison Keys on Thursday, will now face off against 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. According to the BBC, the 21-year-old, who is of Haitian and Japanese descent, is the first ever Japanese or Haitian woman to reach a grand slam final.Twitter screenshot.“Message to Serena: ‘I love you,’” O’Brien wrote. “Naomi Osaka is so awesome … and now we’ve got 2 Black ladies in the final.”Her tweet drew backlash from conservatives who refused to see the significance of two Black women, or women of color in general, competing for the grand slam title.“This comment is so racist,” one critic wrote. “Blacks r racist than whites, I keep saying. Imagine a white person celebrating an all white final …”“Why does it have to be 2 ‘black’ ladies,” another chimed in. “Why can’t it be 2 great tennis players?”Others chided O’Brien for excluding the fact that Osaka is also Japanese.“If you want to put importance on race cool that’s you, but please be all inclusive and accurate,” someone tweeted.Meanwhile, another critic warned, “Be careful, we don’t know if Osaka identifies a Black. Remember Madison Keys (who’s biracial) didn’t like that distinction … lol. I’m just saying, we have to let people identify how they want to. But if she does, then yes, we have two Black ladies in the finals! YAY!”Osaka and Williams will compete for the 2018 Grand Slam title in New York on Sunday.When asked how she felt during her match with Keys, Osaka replied, “This is going to sound really bad … but I was just thinking – I really wanted to play Serena…Because she’s Serena.”
However, these hot and cold streaks could have happened in April, May or June, and they’d have had the same effect — we’d just be talking about the arc of each team’s season differently. (Indeed, the Dodgers ran off a ridiculously hot stretch at midseason, during which their Elo rating peaked higher than Cleveland’s is right now, and the Indians spent much of the season’s first half underachieving.) As always, one of the only things that really matters when predicting the playoffs — to the extent that anything helps in that department — is a team’s full-season résumé, including both the red-hot win streaks and ice-cold losing skids, whenever they occur.One other area that can help even out the effects of a late-season Elo change: starting pitching. Based on his stellar Elo pitching rating, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw alone would be enough to neutralize an opponent with as hot a September as Cleveland and to dampen a late-season swoon as bad as L.A. has suffered. Remember that 48 percent mark for L.A. from earlier? That number rises back to 52 percent if Kershaw is taking the hill for the Dodgers against Cleveland — even after accounting for the two teams’ September streaks. In other words, having a great starter can help offset a whole month of poor play, plus a hot month by the opponent. (Granted, the Indians’ No.1 starter, Corey Kluber, can stand toe-to-toe with any pitcher in baseball, including Kershaw, so he could, um, counter-neutralize the Dodgers’ ace — but you get the idea.)Keep that in mind as the postseason rolls around in three weeks. Momentum is nice, and the Indians will probably stand as the best team in baseball heading into the playoffs. But it will be on the strength of their full body of work this season, not just a hot September. (Likewise, the Dodgers will still rank among the handful of top teams in MLB, losing streak be damned.) And in many ways, each team will only be as good as who they’re sending to the mound to start the next ballgame.Check out our latest MLB predictions. We are not even halfway through September, and the fates of two of MLB’s biggest contenders seem to be sealed. The Los Angeles Dodgers — historically dominant for most of the summer — now lie in ruin. The Cleveland Indians, meanwhile, are now an unstoppable juggernaut that is destined to win the franchise’s first World Series title since 1948.That, at least, is what casual baseball fans might think if they’re just checking in to what’s happening in the stretch run of the season. But in truth, what happens in MLB in September tends to stay in September. Although a hot month can add to our understanding of a team’s chances in October, the idea of late-season momentum remains a myth.Of course, it’s easy to get worked up about late-season streaks. Just when it looked like the 2017 MLB regular season might cruise to the finish line, these two playoff-bound teams decided to rattle off double-digit streaks in September — 11 straight losses for the Los Angeles Dodgers and 19 straight wins for the Indians. The pair of runs has reshaped the World Series race and helped resuscitate the old debate about momentum going into the playoffs.When Jonah Keri and I looked at that topic a few years ago, what we found basically reinforced the traditional sabermetric party line — that teams’ late-season winning percentages aren’t overly predictive of their playoff success. Winning percentage, however, is a very broad measure of performance, subject to all kinds of distorting factors. Perhaps if we looked at something like FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings –– which account for a variety of factors, including opponent strength, margin of victory and the starting pitchers in each game — we’d get a different take on the significance of late-season streaks.But unfortunately for the Indians — and fortunately for the Dodgers — Elo basically agrees with the existing research. To set up my test, I looked at all postseason contests in the division series or later1So, no wild card play-in games. since 19962The first full, 162-game season of MLB’s wild-card era. and ran a logistic regression to predict the outcome of each game based on a team’s Elo rating going into September, how many points of Elo it gained in September, the starting-pitching matchup (according to Elo’s pitcher ratings) and which team was at home. What I found is that in terms of forecasting playoff games, a point of Elo gained in September carries essentially the same weight as a point of Elo gained at any other point in the season.3Technically speaking, September Elo hikes carried slightly less weight in the regression than pre-September Elo. For instance, 20 extra points of pre-September Elo would figure to boost a team’s odds of winning a playoff game by 1.9 percentage points; the same gain in September would boost a team’s odds by 1.6 percentage points. (It bears noting, however, that this difference is probably just statistical noise.)On the one hand, this means the Indians’ and Dodgers’ September performances do matter quite a bit. Going into the month, the Dodgers were far and away the best team in baseball; assuming an even starting-pitching matchup, the regression would have given L.A. a 53 percent chance to beat Cleveland in a neutral-site playoff game if neither team’s rating changed in September. Now, that number is down to 48 percent — and falling by the day — as Cleveland has usurped the top slot in our MLB rankings.4Not only are the Dodgers not No. 1 anymore, but they’ve also been passed for No. 2 by the Washington Nationals — and the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox aren’t far behind, either.
12Evan Longoria3B876220.127.116.11——— Seasonal WAR is pro-rated to a 162-game schedule for shortened seasons.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs, The Baseball Gauge —David Wright3B100042.65.92.20.70.20.0 In a narrow sense, the recent announcement that New York Mets captain David Wright needed surgery — thus ending his latest rehab stint — was just another line item in what was already an absurdly injury-wrecked, grossly disappointing Mets season.Wright’s setback, however, was more a symbolic blow for the Mets than anything else. The once-great third baseman hadn’t played a game since May 2016 and turns 35 in December, so he probably wasn’t going to add much production on the field, at least not anytime soon. But Wright is also the top position player in franchise history according to wins above replacement (WAR),1Averaging together the Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs versions of WAR. and the Mets’ second-best player ever, period (behind Tom Seaver). He’s just the fourth captain in club history and was once on the shortlist of the most popular players in the game.As difficult as it is to remember now, a healthy Wright was among baseball’s upper echelon of players for a very long time. He was also easily on track to become a Hall of Famer — the rare member to spend his entire career with the Mets, who have a tendency to either pick up HOFers mid-career or jettison them too soon.2Only one of the 14 Hall of Famers to suit up for New York (Seaver) produced more than half of his career WAR in a Mets uniform. This is not how the future was supposed to look for both Wright and the Mets.In the decade from 2005 (Wright’s first full MLB season) to 2014 (his last full season), only four position players — Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre — put up more WAR than Wright. Looking at primary third basemen since 1901,3The first season of MLB’s modern, two-league era. Wright also ranked ninth in total WAR through age 31 (Wright’s age in 2014). Even more so than his longtime infield partner Jose Reyes, Wright was widely viewed as the kind of ballplayer that a franchise could build around for years to come.Certainly that’s what the Mets were thinking when they extended Wright’s contract by eight years and $138 million in November 2012.4Meanwhile, the Mets let Reyes bolt for the Miami Marlins when his contract was up after the 2011 season. At the time, it was the 17th-biggest contract in baseball history, but Wright’s future appeared to warrant the investment. Here’s a list of Wright’s most similar historical players through 2012, according to The Baseball Gauge, along with how many WAR each ended up producing over the following five seasons: 7Gary SheffieldRF89618.104.22.168.54.67.1 1Scott Rolen3B93722.214.171.124.13.04.7 15Shawn GreenRF873126.96.36.199.1-0.80.2 18Del EnnisLF86730.73.8-0.7-0.3-1.1-1.0 4Chipper Jones3B90188.8.131.52.64.53.7 11Robinson Cano2B885184.108.40.206.86.63.4 20Travis Fryman3B86330.00.64.7-1.0-0.70.0 All newsletters RKPLAYERPOSSIM SCORETHRU 293031323334 13Adrian Beltre3B875220.127.116.11.76.95.3 Perhaps Zimmerman’s rebirth can provide hope of a similar renaissance for Wright and the Mets. Just last Thursday, Wright told reporters that he still hopes to return to the major leagues, perhaps as soon as next season. But if Wright wants to contribute anything going forward, he’ll have to contend with history: Since 1901, only three position players — Ken Griffey Jr., Arky Vaughan and Richie Ashburn — produced at least 40 WAR through age 31, fewer than 1.0 WAR per season from ages 32 to 34, and still came back to generate at least 2.0 WAR from age 35 onward. (For his part, Wright had 50.7 WAR through age 31 and 0.3 WAR per season over the next three years.)Even if Wright does buck that trend, he’ll be a long way from the path that once seemed so certain for him and for the Mets. More likely, he’ll serve as a cautionary tale that even the most probable of future Hall of Famers can get derailed on the path to Cooperstown.Check out our latest MLB predictions. A good number of Wright’s top comparables lived up to their lofty expectations as franchise cornerstones. For instance, the longtime Phillies and Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen — Wright’s most similar player through age 29 — wound up producing excellent seasons well into his 30s, basically matching the career benchmarks for Hall of Fame third basemen (Rolen has 70.2 WAR; Hall members at the position average 71 WAR). And Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves — Wright’s fourth-most similar player through 29 — had an even more impressive run in his 30s. From age 30 to 36, Jones never produced fewer than 3.5 WAR in a season, and from age 37 onward, he never had fewer than 2.2 WAR.5For the sake of context, Baseball-Reference.com lists 2.0 WAR as the threshold for a viable starter, and 5.0 WAR as the mark of an All-Star season.And then there’s the still-active legend on Wright’s list of comparables: Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers. Beltre, who recently collected his 3,000th career hit, has remained extremely productive deep into his second major-league decade, helping power Texas to four playoff appearances in the last seven seasons. Speaking of active players, even 31-year-old Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has started his thirties in a way that suggests he could join Beltre, Rolen and Jones in Cooperstown someday.Wright, however, has seen his stardom put on hold ever since he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2015. After that and several more injuries, Wright finds himself pushed significantly off of the HOF path:6In the chart, Wright’s future performance is projected by the “Favorite Toy,” a Bill James invention that uses a player’s age and recent level of performance to project how much more of a statistic — in this case, WAR — a player has left in his career. Most David Wright types hit their mid-30s in strideSeasonal WAR totals for David Wright’s most similar historical players through age 29, and year-by-year WAR through age 34 Wright isn’t the only recent third baseman who appeared to be on a HOF trajectory, but then fell off quickly heading into his 30s. Like Wright, Eric Chavez was supposed to anchor the Oakland Athletics’ infield for years to come — and like the Mets, the A’s chose to extend their star third baseman over their star shortstop (with Miguel Tejada playing the role of Reyes). But in the middle of his prime, Chavez started battling a seemingly endless procession of neck, shoulder and back ailments. Shockingly, he ended up generating just 3.5 WAR from age 29 on.Some star third basemen even begin to drop off like Wright and Chavez, but then manage to recover their form. Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals was an All-Star with multiple Silver Slugger Awards early in his career, but suffered from injuries and mediocre play as he neared age 30. After a miserable 2016 performance that rated below the replacement level, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Zimmerman’s days of being a productive major leaguer were over. And yet, Zimmerman bounced back this season with a vintage performance, particularly at the plate. We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe 14Harlond Clift3B87338.21.1-0.41.80.00.0 9Andrew McCutchenCF88939.12.9———— 16Dick Allen3B87043.48.73.14.0-0.11.1 8Aramis Ramirez3B89518.104.22.168-0.43.05.6 17Greg LuzinskiLF86821.94.02.72.5-0.20.0 3Eric Chavez3B90334.50.1-0.5-0.50.41.6 6Carlos BeltranCF89722.214.171.124.20.74.5 5Carl YastrzemskiLF898126.96.36.199.75.53.6 2Ryan Zimmerman3B91534.10.7-1.22.9—— WAR BY AGE 10George Brett3B886188.8.131.52.33.92.9 19Dale MurphyCF867184.108.40.206.91.51.2
Assuming the point does not end on an ace or double-fault, serving players essentially have two choices: serve and move forward or serve and stay at the baseline. Since the 2000s, players who prefer to remain mainly at the baseline have taken over tennis, despite the unshakably consistent success rates for serve-and-volley over the years. But the difference between the strategies has been stark at this year’s U.S. Open: Through the quarterfinals, women have won just 48 percent of points at the baseline — 28 percentage points less than the share of points won on serve-and-volley.All sports go through trends. As the games change, different approaches fall in and out of vogue. The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last year on the strength of the RPO — run/pass option — in which backup quarterback Nick Foles had the option of handing off or passing. But the play wasn’t new. The option has been around in college football since the 1960s. But it’s taken a backseat as more teams have gone to pro-style offenses.This happens all the time in sports: What’s old becomes new again. Tennis is no different. Strategies experience revivals.Women in tennis have been relegating themselves mostly to the baseline. But perhaps Williams’s use of the serve-and-volley Thursday will spark a new trend. Women at this year’s U.S. Open have displayed incredible athleticism and shrewd strategy. We’ve seen blistering serves and masterful groundstrokes in the nearly two weeks of play. But we’ve been missing a powerful, ancient weapon: the serve-and-volley. The tactic is all but extinct from women’s tennis, despite still being incredibly effective.Through the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows, on points in which women followed their serve by rushing to the net for a volley, they won a remarkable 76 percent of the time, according to U.S. Open data from IBM. But confoundingly, the strategy was deployed only 84 times — less than 1 percent of all points played.Serena Williams, for her part, flashed the potential of the serve-and-volley in her semifinal win Thursday over Anastasija Sevastova. Williams came to the net five times immediately after serving, taking four of those points.After the match, Williams said she usually approaches the net “only to shake hands,” but she wanted to try something different against Sevastova. It was a reminder of just how potent the tactic can be.The serve-and-volley appears to be used more on the men’s side of late. At this year’s U.S. Open, men served and volleyed 488 times through the quarterfinals, for just less than 3 percent of all points played. Though they couldn’t quite equal the gaudy success rate of the women, they still did very well with the tactic, winning 66 percent of the time. No matter who’s doing it, statistically, the serve-and-volley is an effective way to win points.Why this play is underutilized has long been a topic of discussion in tennis. Some have chalked up the change in tactics to advanced racquets and strings that improve passing shots, while others have blamed slower courts at Wimbledon and this year’s U.S. Open.1Theoretically, slower courts allow players more time to tee off on returns, blowing by net rushers. But there’s no doubt that women have been giving serve-and-volley the cold shoulder.During the late 1970s and ’80s, Martina Navratilova dominated the sport using an attacking serve-and-volley style with monsterous success, propelling her to 18 Grand Slam Championships. Even in the 1990s, serve-and-volley was still in a heyday in the women’s game. To illustrate, look at Wimbledon. It’s a place where serve-and-volley has historically been a favorite tactic because of the ability of the server to dominate on grass, where the ball bounces are low. Returners must put loft on their shots to ensure they clear the net. That’s a feast for a volleyer.Wimbledon first released serve-and-volley data in 1997, and it included tournament totals for the first time in 2002. Jana Novotna served and volleyed her way to the final that year, losing to Martina Hingis. For the tournament, Novotna employed the serve-and-volley 339 times, winning 213 of those points. In the final against Hingis, she used it 76 times — almost as often as the entire women’s field through five rounds at this year’s U.S. Open. It’s an astounding drop of a tactic and a big shift in the way women play tennis.Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that releases historical data, but we can look at its last 17 tournaments to track the decline of serve-and-volley as a strategy in the women’s game:
From the moment they dealt for elite scorer Liz Cambage, the Las Vegas Aces became perhaps the WNBA’s most compelling team — not necessarily the best team, but certainly one with enough upside to make that claim by year’s end.1Particularly with a handful of clubs missing their stars as the league prepares for its homestretch.Headlined by three All-Stars — Cambage, A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride — the Aces’ top-five offense understandably gets a ton of attention. Yet because of that firepower, the Las Vegas defense, one of the WNBA’s worst a year ago, has been overlooked. But the Aces’ defense has made an about-face, becoming one of the more rugged units en route to putting up league-best numbers this season.Vegas is almost 1.5 points per 100 possessions better on D than the next closest team, and have managed to be stingy on that end despite playing at the second-fastest pace in the league. Opposing teams take, on average, almost 16 seconds per possession to get off shot against the Aces, the longest average in the WNBA. And once the shots actually go up, the most likely outcome is a miss (Vegas has the best effective field goal percentage defense) and an Aces’ rebound (they also have the best defensive-rebounding percentage).Aces coach Bill Laimbeer told me before a recent game that he challenged a pair of returning wing players, McBride and former No. 1 overall pick Kelsey Plum, to push up farther on ball-handlers this season. Aside from forcing the action, doing so would tempt teams to either drive or throw the ball into the paint, where both Wilson and the 6-foot-8 Cambage combine for three blocks per contest. Indeed, teams have had limited success inside against the Aces this season, scoring a league-low .971 points per possession around the basket, according to Synergy Sports.On some level, Vegas’s almost-overnight shift into a top-tier defensive unit was by design. If the defense can keep opponents off the board for stretches, Laimbeer’s thinking went, it would allow more time for the Aces’ offensive pieces to jell, and for the team’s talent advantage to take over. “Defense is much easier than offense — it’s just hard work and structure,” Laimbeer said. “You simply put the structure in, and demand that the players work hard.”McBride said the team has bought into adopting a grittier, more prideful identity since last season. One example: If Las Vegas goes a couple possessions in a row without scoring — which often discourages players who thrive on their offense — coaches often shout from the sidelines, “If we don’t score, they don’t score,” to remind the Aces not to let off the pedal on the defensive end.“I think a lot of it comes from [Laimbeer],” McBride said of developing a far greater intensity on defense. “We embrace it, and I think we kind of like the idea of becoming the villains of the league.”While the Aces have been solid defensively all year,2That said, the team as a whole is in the midst of a two-game skid, and just fell to second place in the Western Conference with Sunday’s loss. untangling the offense has been more of a challenge. The Aces recently clinched their first playoff berth since 2014,3The last time the franchise made the playoffs, it was as the San Antonio Stars. The team was sold in 2017 and moved to Las Vegas prior to the 2018 season. but getting there has required pretty considerable sacrifices on offense from just about everyone on the roster. Earlier this month, we wrote that virtually every veteran on the team has gotten fewer shot attempts than she did last season, the price of playing on the lone WNBA team with three All-Stars. A decent comparison for this club is the first season of the LeBron-Wade-Bosh Miami Heat run. The offense — with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade taking turns holding the reins — wasn’t ideal at first. But the Heat’s defense was far better than expected, and helped lift the team to a Finals appearance during the trio’s first season together.In an effort to avoid those getting-to-know-you pitfalls,4Like figuring out who will handle the ball and when, where players’ sweet spots are on the court and how to avoid bumping into each other if there is considerable overlap with those two things. Las Vegas has been trying to push the ball when it can. Aside from the addition of Cambage, the quick-strike mentality also stems from trying to simplify things for rookie and No. 1 overall pick Jackie Young, who’s adjusting to playing the lead guard position full-time as Plum, the NCAA women’s all-time leading scorer, adjusts to playing off-ball more. (There’s a steep dropoff in true-shooting percentage from Cambage, Wilson and McBride to Young and Plum, highlighting how top-heavy the frontcourt is.)“When you have nights where the whole starting five is in double figures, you don’t have to worry about the offense,” Cambage said. “Clearly we’re doing something right. For us, it’s more about defense.”This isn’t to suggest that the Vegas defense doesn’t have some shortcomings. Some were on display in Minnesota on Sunday, when the Aces surrendered 98 points in a loss to the Lynx. Napheesa Collier slipped undetected behind the Aces’ D multiple times in the third quarter (Las Vegas ranks dead last out of 12 teams in defending cuts to the basket, per Synergy). And Minnesota took advantage of Vegas not getting back in transition, where the Aces rank just ninth. Put another way: The Aces get caught sleeping from time to time.But what makes the Aces intriguing is that, less than two weeks out from the playoffs, they’re still getting on the same page. Cambage joined the team eight days before the season started, giving her almost no opportunity to get acclimated, while Wilson recently missed a month with an injury. Young and Plum have had months to work off each other at this point, and even if the youth in the backcourt is a concern, it’s a safe bet that far more of the offense — particularly with 1-on-1 play, where the Aces rank best in the league, per Synergy — will go through Cambage and Wilson.Also important to remember: This is just Year One for this relatively young team. Cambage, who turned 28 last week, is the oldest core player on the team. McBride is 27. Plum is 25, as is Sixth Woman of the Year candidate Dearica Hamby. Wilson is 23. Young is still just 21.It could all come together quickly for this youthful club. But even if it takes beyond this season, the logic in tightening up the defense to buy more time for the already-solid offense was sound. Finishing at or near the top of the league on D in the first year together sets a new standard, and shows there’s no reason the Aces can’t be elite on both ends as long as this core stays together.
Velocity is still certainly at play in these nastier breaking balls: Increased velocity generally leads to an increase in spin rate. (The average curveball spin rate this year is 2,536 rpms, up from 2,315 rpms in 2015). More spin (specifically, transverse spin) creates more of the phenomenon known as Magnus Effect, which plays a key role in determining a pitch’s movement.But velocity hasn’t surged as dramatically as pitch movement has in recent seasons. And it isn’t just that fresh faces with killer breaking balls have replaced older, craftier pitchers: 86 pitchers who threw at least 50 curves in 2017 and 2019 averaged an increase of 1.4 inches of greater vertical break, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis. Something else must be at work.One possibility is that new methods of training, and new technologies, are playing a role in creating better breaking balls. For example, when Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer revamped his slider in the 2017-18 offseason, he wanted a pitch with zero inches of vertical movement and an elite level of horizontal movement. At Driveline Baseball, a data-based training center, he used new pitch-tracking technology, allowing for improved feedback of the pitch-in-progress. Specifically, he wanted to create a certain spin axis, which determines the direction the ball moves, while spin rate determines how much the pitch can move. Breaking balls typically have greater whiff rates than fastballs, and breaking balls are being thrown more frequently.On sliders, pitchers are often looking for more horizontal break — and less vertical movement — than on a curveball. They’re getting both this season: Major League Baseball seems to be on an unstoppable pathway to more and more strikeouts. After a record share of plate appearances ended in a strikeout last season (22.3 percent), this season is winding up to set another record: If the to-date strikeout rate of 23 percent holds or increases over the season, it would mark the 12th straight year of a record set for strikeout rate.Fastball velocity is often cited as the source of the strikeout surge, along with hitters willing to trade contact for power. The constantly increasing fastball velocities of recent years are such a concern that MLB is partnering with the independent Atlantic League next year to move the mound back by 2 feet — to 62 feet, 6 inches from home plate. Still, there may be another culprit behind all of the K’s: Breaking balls have never moved more. According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of PITCHf/x and Statcast data at Baseball Prospectus, sliders and curveballs this season are darting away from bats at their greatest levels in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). White Sox left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer became yet another pitcher to look into designing a pitch this winter. In a Driveline-like facility called Dynamic Velocity in Omaha, Nebraska, he created a cut fastball to better combat right-handed hitters. After righties hit .338 against him last year, they are batting .095 this season. Bummer has allowed only one earned run in his first 11⅓ innings this season. His cutter and fastball rank among the best in the game.“It’s actual proof that your ball is moving, not someone sitting behind you and saying, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s a great pitch. That looks really good,’” Bummer said of the tech-aided pitch development. “You have instant feedback that tells you, ‘Did that pitch do what it’s supposed to do?’ To me that was a huge deal. The belief behind it.”While the effort to create better pitches began with curious (and/or motivated) players going outside the game to independent facilities, teams are hiring more and more outsiders to pitch-design roles within their organizations. Over the offseason, the San Francisco Giants hired former Driveline pitch-design guru Matt Daniels, and the Philadelphia Phillies hired another design specialist in Eric Jagers. The industry is so interested in pitch design that the Edgertronic SC1, the most common high-speed camera, is selling more quickly than Sanstreak can produce it. This year, the Edgetronic and Rapsodo devices were seen in spring training bullpen mounds all over Arizona and Florida. The Orioles held “mandatory group spin axis seminars” this spring.Pitchers’ pitches will likely keep getting better, moving faster and with more movement. There is seemingly no end to the increasing frequency of strikeouts. While the home run surge has masked other areas of offensive decline, technology and training is giving pitchers a new edge.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Detroit Tigers starter Matt Boyd, who also designed a slider at Driveline, has quietly become one of the top pitchers in baseball. His slider ranks as the game’s seventh best since 2018, in terms of runs saved compared to the major league average per pitch type. “I’ve worked on it at Driveline a ton in recent years,” Boyd told FanGraphs. “At Driveline, we were on the Rapsodo [pitch-tracking tech] and the Edgertronic [high-speed camera] a lot. … Again, we were working that thing, working that thing.” The technology allowed him to monitor the spin rate and spin axis of the pitch. High-speed cameras showed him how his grip was imparting spin on the ball. The work paid off: In 2017, Bauer saw just 2.83 inches of horizontal movement on his slider, which ranked him 131st in baseball. But this season, he’s up to 11.1 inches, putting him third.
OSU quarterbacks, redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett (16) and redshirt junior Cardale Jones (12), and redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller (1) participate in pregame warmups before OSU played Rutgers on Oct. 24 in Piscataway, New Jersey. OSU won, 49-7. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorComing off a bye week, No. 3 Ohio State is set to get back in action against the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-4, 1-3) on Saturday. Here are five things The Lantern’s sports editors Ryan Cooper and Kevin Stankiewicz will be on the lookout for when the Buckeyes and Golden Gophers square off at 8 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.Will Cardale Jones take advantage?The entire college football universe will have its eyes fixated on OSU’s quarterback Cardale Jones on Saturday night. The redshirt junior is back in the starting role he occupied for the Buckeyes’ first seven games following a one-week hiatus after being benched for redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett.But Barrett is suspended after being cited for operating a motor vehicle while being impaired on Halloween morning, so Jones, whose performance so far in 2015 has been more unpredictable than Ohio’s weather, has the reins to OSU’s offense for at least one more time.OSU coach Urban Meyer — who said a little tinkering with the offensive gameplan now that Jones is back at the helm has occurred — has reiterated his confidence in the Cleveland native all week long. Jones’ teammates have done so as well.However, the type of performance from Jones that emerges under the lights at Ohio Stadium against Minnesota remains to be seen. The last time Jones, who still boasts an unblemished 10-0 mark as OSU’s starter, played in primetime at the ‘Shoe, against Penn State, he was benched in the third quarter for Barrett, ultimately losing his job after Barrett played well.Jones’ season has not been a complete struggle — he threw for a career-high 291 yards against Maryland — but now, facing off against an inspired Minnesota team coming off a narrow loss against Michigan and the Golden Gophers’ No. 16 pass defense, he will have his hands full.The added fluidity that exists with Barrett in the lineup is noticeable, but for OSU to fend off Minnesota on Saturday, Jones will need to do his best replication of it.Braxton playing quarterbackMeyer said earlier in the week that redshirt senior quarterback-turned-H-back Braxton Miller will back up Jones on Saturday. The depth chart confirmed as much, as Miller was listed as the starter at H-back as well as the backup signal-caller.It will be interesting to see if the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year gets to relive his former days calling plays for any stretch of time.While Miller has lined up behind center in every game this season, it has been in running packages. The only throw Miller has attempted this season was a pitch only about a foot in front of him.Miller has said that this arm strength is back following last year’s shoulder surgery, and senior left tackle Taylor Decker said the same on Monday. If a game exists for Miller to showcase his abilities to throw the ball downfield, it could be Saturday’s.It is also possible that Meyer continues to only use Miller’s legs, but in an increased role, which brings up…Red zone efficiencyIn the seven games that Jones started before Barrett retook the job, one of his main shortcomings was his struggle to lead the offense in the red zone.In OSU’s sixth game, Meyer made the decision to use a two-quarterback system in which Barrett came off the bench to take over the offense near the 20-yard line.Meyer said Barrett’s skill set better suits the offense inside the red zone than Jones’ because of Barrett’s running ability. He said Jones’ 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame made it harder to find space to operate on the shrunken field.With Barrett sidelined for the game, it is very possible that it is Miller leading the offense in the red zone.Redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller (1) carries the ball during a game against Maryland on Oct. 10 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won 49-28.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorMeyer said on Monday that the coaches were “having those conversations now” about the possibility of using Miller in short-field situations, but no decision had been made at the time.If the ability to scramble is as important in Meyer’s red zone sets as he has said, it would make sense for the speedy Miller to take over with Jones watching from the sideline.Can Jack Willoughby be trusted?For the first time this season, redshirt senior kicker Jack Willoughby was listed as the sole starter on the depth chart. Up until this point, the transfer from Duke had an “or” behind his name, essentially listing him as the co-starter with sophomore Sean Nuernberger.Meyer said earlier in the year the player who kicked better during the week in practice would be the guy getting the nod come gameday. But with the depth charts being announced early in the week on Tuesday, the decision to drop the “or” this week must mean that Meyer has seen enough out of Willoughby to mint him the sole starter. Despite Meyer’s move, Willoughby has been far from a sure-fire kicker this season. The former kickoff specialist for Duke has not missed an extra point through eight games (41-of-41) but it’s on field goals that the redshirt senior has been struggling. Willoughby has split the uprights on seven of his 10 attempts for a .700 clip, which ranks in the bottom half of the country. All three of his misses have come from at least 40 yards out. But last season, Nuernberger wasn’t much better, converting on just 13 of his 20 attempts.Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they often find themselves getting into the end zone, which takes a little emphasis off the placekicker. But as the season progresses and the meat of the schedule arrives, it will be interesting to watch Willoughby’s success rate on field goals, namely those outside of chipshot range.If OSU would ever need a game-winning field goal, could it trust Willoughby knock it through?Can Webb rescue the depleted secondary?OSU’s secondary is in the cream of the crop nationally, sitting at No. 2 in the country behind San Jose State, allowing just 149 per game. The injury bug, however, has infiltrated the unit as of late. Two safeties — junior Cam Burrows and sophomore Erick Smith — are now lost for the season. But seemingly on cue, one of the secondary’s key contributors will be back in action on Saturday against Minnesota. Meyer announced on Tuesday that sophomore cornerback Damon Webb is back practicing with the team after a six-game absence for a foggy reason. Following fall camp, Webb was the team’s starting nickel corner and played well in the role against Virginia Tech and Hawaii, registering eight tackles. The defensive backfield was able to make due without the Detroit native during the six games he was out due to the play from Burrows and Smith. But now with the said duo sidelined, Webb should slide back into his old role, helping the secondary’s smothering season continue. Webb might not get that many snaps against the Golden Gophers because Meyer will probably want the 5-foot-11 sophomore to ease his way back into the flow of things, but also because Minnesota’s passing attack is nothing to write home about. Nevertheless, Webb will prove to be a boost for Meyer’s Buckeyes over course of the final four regular-season games.
OSU then-sophomore forward Maddy Humphrey (23) during a game against California on Oct. 25 at Buckeye Varsity Field. OSU won 6-3. Credit: Lantern File PhotoA late rally by Ohio State (2-1) in the second half wasn’t enough to make up for early missed opportunities as the Buckeyes suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday to Kent State (2-4), 2-1.Coming into the match, both teams had faced Louisville in their last respective matches. Ohio State beat the Cardinals 2-0, while Kent State was blown out in a 5-1 loss.Ohio State got off to a quick start, dominating possession by forcing turnovers and connecting on several challenging passes.Early in the first half, the Buckeyes defended Kent State’s breakaway opportunity well, but it still helped the Golden Flashes gain momentum for the first time in the game.That surge in momentum led to Kent State’s first score as back Jamie Fries was able to find the back of the net with 16:02 left in the half.Senior forward Maddy Humphrey tied the game at one goal apiece as she scored, knocking the ball over the head of the goalie nearly five minutes later. As time was expiring, the Buckeyes had a corner opportunity and failed to convert, as they hit the ball off the post.Ohio State began the second half with a breakaway six minutes in but it was well-defended by Kent State to prevent a go-ahead goal. Evenly matched for the first 10 minutes in the second half, the Buckeyes were given a corner opportunity at the 23:50 mark and the Golden Flashes denied Ohio State the opportunity as the ball bounced past the net and out of play.With nine minutes to go, Kent State had a two-on-zero breakaway opportunity, but a pass was just out of the reach of the diving stick from a Golden Flashes player, preventing the potential goal.Kent State drew a pair of corner opportunities with just under five minutes left to take a 2-1 lead, thanks to the goal by senior Ines Delpech. Ohio State came short on three straight corner opportunities late in the second half ultimately giving Kent State the 2-1 victory.
“ACRE would be opposed to any dilution of the accessibility criteria for rural post office provision. Rural post offices play a crucial role in providing access to services whilst also offering a vital social function.”Postal unions plan to deliver up to 100,000 signed postcards to Mr Clark’s office protesting against any dilution of the criteria on December 19, two days before the consultation closes.Dave Ward, the Communication and Workers’ Union’s general secretary, said the possible closure programme “represents the biggest ever threat to the future of both High Street and rural Post Offices.“Almost 50,000 people across the UK have already backed this position through our postcard campaign and these numbers are rising by the day.”Labour also attacked the plans. Gill Furniss, the shadow postal affairs minister, said: “The Government’s consultation could precipitate the loss of over half of all rural post offices.“This would be nothing short of a disaster for rural communities which are already treated as second class when it comes to service provision.“Post offices are often the only local contact point for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in rural areas.”George Thomson, the head of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters which represents small post offices, said he had told Margot James, the Post Office minister, that a “degree of subsidy was essential”.But he said: “None of the country wants a significant reduction in the rural post office network and that would happen if the subsidy was not continued.”He said that the current criteria “is roughly right” in terms of difference and believed that the size of the network was sustainable.A Business, Energy and Industrial department spokesman said: “Our consultation has nothing to do with closing branches.“We recognise the importance of the Post Office in the community, which is why 93 per cent of the population live within a mile of a branch.“Between 2010 and 2018 we will have invested nearly £2billion in modernising and maintaining the network.”Sources said that the investment “had led to an extra 200,000 opening hours a week across the network with nearly 4,000 branches open on Sundays”.Annual losses had been cut from £119million in 2012 to £25million last year while the network’s subsidy fell from £210million in 2012 to £80million last year.A Post Office spokesman said that consultation was part of the Government’s application to the European Union to continue the state aid to the network.He said: “The Post Office has a long term strategy to secure the post office network for the next generation and for generations to come.“Not only are we transforming that network with 7,000 branches transformed in the past four years we are reducing the burden on the taxpayer and will become a profitable business.“The company has a central commitment that businesses in every part of the country are served by post offices where they are needed.“We have an absolute commitment to serve customers in the places where they are and where they want post office services.” This would be nothing short of a disaster for rural communities which are already treated as second class when it comes to service provisionGeorge Thomson The Post Office and village stores in the Cotswold village of Coln St Aldwyns, GloucestershireCredit:Alamy Stock Photo Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Post offices are pillars of rural life. They are popular with many, and vital for even more. They keep villages busy and maintain their sense of community.“The Government has pledged to protect less than half of existing rural post offices, so any change in criteria leaves more than 3,000 rural post offices with an uncertain future.“Ministers must endeavour to protect the bricks and mortar of our rural services alongside any innovation, and support a service that is indispensable to a thriving, living countryside.”Richard Quallington, the interim chief executive of Action with Communities in Rural England, added: “Rural post offices provide a lifeline for the elderly and those isolated by lack of transport.“Any government proposals must be ‘rural proofed’ to ensure that people, and especially those in greatest need, are not disadvantaged by any changes in provision. A typical village Post Office in Grassington, North YorkshireCredit: Ian Dagnall / Alamy The 2015 Conservative manifesto committed the party to “secure the future of 3,000 rural Post Offices”, leaving a question-mark over the remaining branches, including 3,300 in the countryside.The Post Office is required by the Government to guarantee that 95 per cent of the rural population must be within three miles of a branch.However ministers have now ordered a review to help them “to understand consumers’ and businesses’ expectations for what the network should look like and how it should be operated”.They said that while they do not “propose changing the criteria that define what a nationwide network of post offices should look like” they want to understand whether the criteria “remain relevant” and whether “a different approach should be considered”.The review, which closes next week on December 21, has sparked alarm among rural campaigners and unions who are concerned that the criteria could be amended to close more branches.Greg Clark, the Business secretary, could be quizzed about the plans when he appears in front of an influential committee of MPs this week. Thousands of rural post offices are under threat after ministers said they wanted to review strict rules that require the majority of those living in the countryside to have a branch within three miles.Ministers said they are examining whether the vital criteria which determine which villages have post offices are “relevant” just 18 months before an £80million a year subsidy could be cut.The Government’s existing subsidy for the 11,500-strong network ends in March 2018 which means there is uncertainty about unprofitable areas of the network. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Show more Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A police informant working in Northern Ireland may have been “allowed to die” to avoid blowing the cover of another spy, investigators said.Joe Fenton was secretly providing information to the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s special branch and was suspected by the armed group of being an informer.Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is investigating the high-ranking Army mole, Stakeknife, who led the republican organisation’s “nutting squad” internal security unit which interrogated and murdered suspected spies.His team is probing more than 50 murders and the BBC’s Panorama links Stakeknife to at least 18. The chief constable told the programme: “We need to understand what was the rationale and decision-making of one person being allowed to die in order potentially, if this was the case, that another person can live.”Father-of-four Fenton, 35, was shot in February 1989 shortly after Stakeknife left the house where he was being held by the nutting squad, which had obtained a confession following a violent struggle.Panorama said Stakeknife told his own Army handlers Fenton would not survive but no action appeared to have been taken to prevent the killing.Some nutting squad victims were said not to have been properly investigated to protect Stakeknife’s cover.Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory told the programme: “What we’re talking about here are almost parallel processes.”We have one in which there’s a police investigation, but all along there is an entirely secret dimension to these events. “Now that drives a coach and horses through the rule of law.”It means that the people who carried out these murders were not properly investigated or brought to justice, so for me that is an appalling vista.”In 2003 Stakeknife was widely named as west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci but he has always strongly denied the allegation.Almost 50 detectives are working on the Stakeknife investigation and have uncovered significant new evidence.The investigation was launched after Mr McGrory referred the multiple allegations to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).Mr Boutcher has said some families may learn for the first time that their relatives’ deaths were connected to the Army’s prized agent. Panorama will be broadcast on Tuesday night. We need to understand what was the rationale and decision-making of one person being allowed to die in order potentially, if this was the case, that another person can liveChief Constable Jon Boutcher
Pilgrimage routes Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is to be asked to reverse centuries of hostility to the ancient practice of pilgrimage and affirm its place in the life of the Kirk.The tradition is currently seeing a resurgence in Scotland with six major pilgrimage routes under development and the popularity of spiritual journeying is said to be rising every year.The Camino de Santiago, Europe’s most popular pilgrimage route, attracts 250,000 pilgrims annually, up from just a few thousand during the 1970s.Last month, the National Lottery announced new funding of pounds399,000 to develop the Fife Pilgrims way, a 70-mile route that will travel from Culross and South Queensferry to St Andrews.And on Easter Sunday – the 900th Anniversary of St Magnus’s death – a new pilgrimage route in his honour will be launched in Orkney.The Rev David McNeish, minister for Birsay, Harray and Sandwick in Orkney, said it came about after a small group of people from different churches got together in 2015 to discuss a pilgrimage route. Signpost on the St Magnus Way pilgrimage routeCredit:Church of Scotland Christian pilgrimage can be traced to the first centuries AD, when Jerusalem and other Biblical sites became popular destinations. Known as the People of the Way, these early Christians were instructed to travel in order to spread the good news.As a result, saints and their exploits became associated with special places, including St Columba and Iona, St Ninian and Whithorn, St Magnus and Orkney and St Andrew and St Andrews.In the Middle Ages pilgrimage was practised throughout Europe, but during the Reformation people rebelled against abuses such as selling pardons for sins and making money from supposedly sacred objects like pieces of saints clothing, locks of hair or bones.Reformers viewed pilgrimages as superstitious and discouraged them, and they fell out of favour. But the idea never disappeared entirely and the Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Kirk’s church and society council, said pilgrimages now offered a “genuine and meaningful spiritual pathway for modern-day Christians”.He added: “The habits of Sunday morning services, as noble and as good as they are, do not necessarily reach people who have a profound spiritual hunger but have never developed those habits. A range of groups have granted funding to the project and historians from the University of the Highlands and Islands are helping define the most accurate route.The Orkney Pilgrimage group is also developing a phone app which will link to Bluetooth beacons telling the story of St Magnus and providing tips on places to stay or to find refreshment. He added that a time when there is talk about the drop in attendance at Sunday services, pilgrimage was a way for people to “reconnect with their spirituality and with the church”.“The idea of walking and reflecting and engaging with God in the landscape and in the stories of the early Christians feels very relevant to people today,” said the Rev McNeish.“Rather than asking people to come inside the church, we are coming outside to encourage faith in new ways. As a pilgrim you get a chance to encounter God as you walk in the great cathedral of nature.” “People who walk the Camino may not be conventionally religious, but very few who reach Santiago de Compostella would deny the journey there was a spiritual experience.”He added that Robert the Bruce, who is said to have suffered from leprosy, travelled twice to Whithorn, a site made sacred by St Ninian, and those who frowned on pilgrimage missed the fact that the most important part “is not the destination but the journey”.“It’s unfortunate that in reforming some wrongful practices, we may have neglected a way to worship that is meaningful to so many.”The issue will be raised next month when the General Assembly will be asked to affirm the place of pilgrimage in the church and encourage congregations to explore opportunities for pilgrimage. The Rev David McNeish says pilgrimage is a way for people to reconnect with their spiritualityCredit:Church of Scotland
Better hand-eye coordination could lead to improved grades at school, study findsCredit:Jamie Garbutt/Digital Vision Those who performed best at the “steering task” in particular were on average nine months ahead of classmates who struggled.However, while interceptive timing skills tended to be linked to ability in maths, it did not influence reading and writing development.Mark Mon-Williams, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Leeds, said: “The results show that eye-to-hand co-ordination and interceptive timing are robust predictors of how well young children will perform at school.“The current thinking among psychologists is that the neural circuitry used to build up a child’s understanding of their external environment, the way they orientate themselves spatially and understand their world is also used to process numbers and more abstract thinking.“It also raises the question: should schools be identifying those children who are seen as clumsy or not so well coordinated and giving them extra support?”The study, published in the peer-review journal Psychological Science, was conducted at Lilycroft Primary School in Bradford, West Yorkshire, which has remodelled its reception, indoor and outdoor areas to include a space where children can develop motor skills and coordination. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Clumsy children who struggle to catch a ball are less likely to perform well in reading, writing and maths exams, a study has found.The research raises the possibility that schools could provide extra support to children who lack hand-eye coordination, psychologists said.More than 300 children aged between four and 11 took part in various computer tasks for the study, led by researchers at the University of Leeds.Their co-ordination and interceptive timing was tested by their ability to interact with a moving object. Tasks designed to measure eye-to-hand coordination involved steering, taking aim and tracking objects on a computer screen.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––In one task, the children had to hit a moving object with an on-screen bat, which researchers said tapped into a fundamental cognitive ability – how the brain predicts the movement of objects through time and space.Those with better hand-eye coodination tended to have higher academic attainment, the study found.
Once the two other men got back in the boat uninjured, Ramdass steered it back to land as paramedics headed to the area. He survived between 20 to 30 minutes but by the time paramedics arrived, he was dead, Moses said.Firing a gun, regardless of whether it’s for hunting or target shooting, is allowed only during hunting season within the wildlife and conservation areas near Holey Land, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Amy Moore said.“If someone was out there target shooting, they were doing so illegally,” she said.Regardless of the season, shooting is banned off the paved road, named L-5, that runs parallel to the Palm Beach and Broward County line, and goes by the Harold A. Campbell Boat Ramp, near where the shooting happened, Moore said.The next time shooting will be allowed in the wildlife management area and conservation areas is the next hunting season, which starts Aug. 5. It’s for bow hunting large animals, but target shooting will be allowed, she said.She said that wildlife officers regularly catch people shooting illegally and that signs placed by the agency are shot down.“Inside wildlife management areas, you can shoot during hunting seaso,n but other areas have workers. It is completely closed to target shooting. Closed every day of the year. People drive and sightsee on a regular basis.”She urges people who target shoot to have a proper backstop to shoot into and know what’s behind what they’re shooting at.She said it’s common for her agency to find people shooting illegally.“They think it’s unincorporated area, but we’re out there,” Moore said. “We’ve been trying to educate people, but its been difficult with Florida being a high tourist area.”Moore said people caught shooting off the L-5 road will face the same charges they would face for shooting off any road in a residential area, including discharging a firearm in public.Moses said Ramdass was close to their large family. He moved to the U.S. from Guyana, just before Hurricane Andrewin 1992, and spent many years selling items at the Swap Shop.“I have so many cousins, but this one hits close to home,” Moses said. “He always made the point to touch base with everyone, so I can’t believe he’s not here.”Authorities ask anyone who was near the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area between 6 and 7 p.m. Wednesday and may have information is asked to call the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes Division at 561-688-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477. (Sun Sentinel) Bullets from out of nowhere killed a man as he fished in a wildlife area Wednesday afternoon — and the source of the gunfire remains a mystery.The shooting may have been accidental, according to Palm Beach Sheriff’s investigators. But they would not say why they thought that.Dead: Lawrence RamdassThe sherif’f’s office also refused to say why they didn’t think anyone was targeting the victim, Lawrence Ramdass, or how many times he was hit.The bullets flew as Ramdass, 46, was on a boat with his uncle and a family friend in the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area about two miles west of U.S. 27, near the Palm Beach Broward County Line, his cousin Sunita Moses said in a phone call Thursday.“I’m very pro-gun but I’d never think to shoot a weapon at a waterway,” Moses said. “I’m concerned. I don’t think anyone is going to step forward.”Ramdass’ uncle and the family friend dove out of the boat when the shooting began. Shortly after, they found Ramdass shot in the boat, his cousin said. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedT&T family in dark over motive for triple murdersNovember 7, 2016In “Crime”14 – Year – old shot deadSeptember 2, 2013In “Crime”Family forgive tribe who killed AmericanNovember 22, 2018In “latest news” Lawrence Ramdass, 46, of Plantation, died Wednesday after he was hit by gunfire while fishing at Holey Land Wildlife Management Area. Deputies believe he was hit by stray gunfire.fl-reg-holey-land-shooting-folo-20170706
Dear Editor, This contribution is submitted because of my examination of the Enmore district, which includes Foulis, and which I feel is a microcosm of the wider Guyana. I expect rebuttals and criticisms and that should be so, because Leadership in Guyana, starting at the community level, should be of concern to every Guyanese, here and in the diaspora, and should come under scrutiny – for its paucity or its potential.For the purpose of this article, my brief definition of a Leader is someone who represents the welfare of persons selflessly and who can motivate a following towards a better collective position on whatever issue or field of endeavour.Whether in sports, culture, religion, community development, politics –even business– I have a difficulty identifying five active Leaders in Enmore in any one of the above endeavours from a population of about eighteen thousand. Even if I do, three of the five will be mature individuals, i.e: above 35.The geographic spread mentioned above is peopled mainly by Indians, in fact about 90%. Academics, Professionals, Millionaires, Technicians, Contractors, Entrepreneurs? YES, Enmore has all of those. But Leaders – Not Many!WHY?It seems as if the education system (particularly at the level of CXC/CSEC), which has robotised our children, has also robbed them of the vital interaction provided by sports and other extra-curricula activities. It seems as if teachers who literally promote the necessity for extra lessons fail to support the need to produce rounded persons. Certainly, aiming for 20 subjects at CXC hardly leaves room for much sleep, let aside sports or other forms of physical involvement.I am aware that many parents cater to every whims and fancies of their children to the extent of even bringing them up in the proverbial bubble, while living in a state of denial that many of those children are even using hard drugs. I am aware of parents and youths who frown upon any developmental/leadership programme/seminar made available by (any) Government or other Agencies. I am aware of Church/Mandir/Masjid heads, who are unable or reluctant to engage families to attend the House of God. I am aware of many teachers and politicos who just disregard their proteges once the immediate goal has been achieved. In one way or another, there seem to be a silent contrivance to under-develop our young people. We abandon them, and they abandon themselves, at the most crucial time of their lives.There definitely is a disconnect between the individual and the community, as if the individual does not have a stake in the community, as if the individual is alien to his community. The net effect is that our youths are disoriented and lost when they come face to face with the reality of life outside of the parent-created bubble, when they come face-to-face with adversity. The wider society is as much a school as the home or the formal school.The community of Enmore cries for effective parenting, since the first leader of the child is the parent. The community of Enmore bleeds for the involvement of young people in self development and community development. The community of Enmore screams out for effective leadership, even as individualism is sucking out the life-blood of the community. Why can’t our individual aspirations blend with the acceptance that there is the burning necessity for our community to simultaneously blood leaders?Sadly, the challenge to do so seems too much for the people of Enmore; the fortitude is lacking. And the LEADERSHIP VACUUM will deepen and widen. In the words of Martin Carter: All are involved; all will be consumed!And poor parenting will be found guilty!Do other communities suffer from the same dilemma??YoursTaajnauth Jadunauth Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedHassan wins Enmore Cricket Club top awardJanuary 4, 2017In “Sports”Letter: We have to be responsible, civil & intelligent in our discoursesOctober 27, 2017In “Letters”“Leave David Granger alone” – Ramkarran says he has enormous challengesOctober 5, 2014In “Opinion”
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Related …on sugar?The government spokesman announced that the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) – set up to dispose of the four closed sugar estates may – “open” them again. Now isn’t this what your Eyewitness has been pleading for – with arms raised to the heavens – from the beginning of the debacle? Not to mention the Govt’s own CoI! The geniuses who made the original decisions have now confirmed they don’t know their a55 from their elbow when it comes to agriculture in general and sugar production in particular.What seems to have escaped them is that we’re not only located in the tropics – but we have fertile soils, which, combined with heavy rainfall, guarantees the abandoned sugar fields will become “jungle” within a year. And the drainage and irrigation canals will be so overgrown with grass – antelope or elephant – bulldozers will be able to crawl over them!! Can you really sell a budding jungle to investors for the price it cost us to create those fields in the first place?But let’s say it’s a case of “better late than never”. Does the SPU fellas (and felines) know that most of the equipment from Wales has been cannibalised – primarily to Uitvlugt?? This, confirms what the workers of Wales said from the beginning: their factory was in a better condition that Uitvlugt. But who listens to workers who’re using the equipment on a daily basis? What do they know? Certainly not as much as an Agriculture Minister who wouldn’t recognise a sugar clarifier if one crept up on him and bit him on his behind!!So the other question is where will the SPU get the financing to start up production again?? Wouldn’t this have been just the same amount of money the Sugar COI recommended be injected into Guysuco for three years until the whole organisation can be brought to a point of sale?? And wouldn’t they have to re-hire the same folks they fired? But now with their “severance” in their hands, will they want to return to the scene of their humiliations?The whole exercise raises the question why the arbitrary decision was made in the first place. It certainly wasn’t a decision that made economic sense since it’ll now have to be reversed – and cost billions to boot!! It didn’t make political sense either – since even if there were some sugar workers who were teed off against the PPP, they’ve now all returned to the fold after they were thrown to the dogs!The only answer is revenge. The PNCites remember Burnham shuttering Leonora estate because it was the centre of PPP militancy.And bettered him with 5700 at one blow!!…on the Oil Messiah?There’s quite a difference, we Guyanese know, between “guitar” and “mouthtar”! That is between action and words. Everyone can mouth off…but few can do…especially when it comes to these PNC Ministers. So at the Oil Summit, there were quite a lot of eyes rolling around in their sockets when Raphael “Nassau” Trotman spoke about agriculture and not being the deliverance for Guyana.There were even a few chuckles!! Does “Nassau” know that agriculture needs people who are willing to get into the fields where the crops will be planted? Has he heard the expression “once they’ve seen the bright lights, you can’t get them back on the farm”? If he didn’t he should ask himself why even though unemployment is sky high, none of the unemployed from Georgetown jumped into the cane fields – even though the pay was supposed to be astronomical!…on FDI?Since the beginning of “developmental economics”, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was the Holy Grail that would lead poor countries into the ranks of the “First World”.Why doesn’t Go-Invest reveal the culprit who placed the ad to chase FDI away? It was an “insider”??
Cuba’s president Miguel Diaz-Canel. (Photo: AFP)HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Cuba’s National Assembly on Sunday adopted a new constitution that would recognize market economics yet keep the Communist Party firmly in control of the economy and the ship of state.It will be voted on in a national referendum later this year.“After it’s put to discussion and voted on, Cubans will be more united in their defence of the revolution,” said President Miguel Diaz-Canel, wrapping up the two-day session.The president underscored that “every Cuban can freely express his or her opinions… on a constitutional text reflecting the present and future of the nation.”Yet those opinions can’t be voiced in a multiparty system. Article 224 reaffirms the socialist character of the Cuban political system, and the “guiding role of the one and only Communist Party.”On the economic front, Cubans are reassured that “property is socialist and belongs to all people, while the economy is state-led.”Ideologically, the constitution does drop a text saying that its goal was achieving a Communist society.Cash-strapped Cuba has been under a US embargo for over four decades. Its main economic partner is now crisis-plagued Venezuela.So Havana — short on food, fuel and locally made goods — is keen to get new partners to take a chance on investing in the Caribbean nation of 11 million, even though it staunchly opposes too much concentration of wealth in too few hands domestically.The constitution recognises private property and the market economy, as well as encourages foreign investments. But capitalism as known around the world remains a dirty word. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedUS urges new Cuba leader to end ‘repression’April 20, 2018In “Regional”Cuban vote begins end of Castro eraMarch 9, 2018In “World”Cuba marks end of an era as Castro hands over to Diaz-CanelApril 19, 2018In “World”
Minister of Business, Dominic GaskinGuyana’s oil industry is attracting a significant amount of international interest, and according to Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, the country is seeking to partner with reputable foreign companies and wants an arrangement that benefits the country in the short, medium and long term.According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), Minister Gaskin was at the time speaking at the Baker Institute’s forum on Oil and Gas Development in Guyana at Rice University in Houston, Texas held on Tuesday.He was among a panel of speakers which included: Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Head, Newell Dennison, Schlumberger’s Managing Director of the Caribbean, Sean Herrera, and Senior Director of FTI Consulting, Jamie McInerney.The event was organised by the university’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and was aimed at exploring the oil and gas prospects in Guyana.During his keynote address, Minister Gaskin emphasised that: “Guyana remains open for business, and we welcome all the interest and investments, we want your business but our people have needs, and their needs are our priority, so we want to work with you, and we want you to work with us.”He added: “while we recognise that there is a lot that our country can gain from this sudden exposure to international oil companies, we also recognise that there is a lot that we can lose if we do not manage this sector responsibly.”According to DPI, Minister Gaskin noted that Guyana is not seeking to become to the new ‘Singapore’ or ‘Norway’, but aims to become the ‘new Guyana’, a country that is relevant to the Guyanese people, one that they want to be a part of; a Guyana in which young Guyanese can see a bright future.“As an oil producer, Guyana has arrived on the scene quite late… We are also fortunate to be starting at a time when there is a wealth of information available on every aspect on the oil and gas sector and its impact on various economies at different stages of their development.”The proper management of this sector, the Business Minister said, is important.The Government of Guyana is in the process of finalising its local content policy for the sector, which focuses on three key areas; employment and workforce development; supplier opportunities and business development and the transfer of knowledge and technology. “We believe that there is mutual interest in these three areas between international oil companies and our government”, Gaskin said.The Baker Institute’s forum on Oil and Gas Development in Guyana at Rice University in Houston, Texas was co-sponsored by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Guyanese law firm, Hughes, Fields & Stoby and TOTALTEC Oilfield Services. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedOil revenues could help Guyana realise its tourism potential, says GaskinNovember 2, 2018In “latest news”Minister Gaskin defends oil contract signed with ExxonMobilMarch 6, 2018In “Business”Minister Gaskin defends Exxon’s oil contractMarch 6, 2018In “latest news”
Coeur d’Alene Mines, Bolnisi Gold and Palmarejo Silver and Gold have entered into agreements, which have been approved unanimously by their respective boards of directors, as well as a special committee of independent directors of the Palmarejo board of directors, to merge creating the world’s leading primary silver producer. Pursuant to the agreements, Coeur will acquire all of the shares of Bolnisi and all of the shares of Palmarejo not owned by Bolnisi, in a transaction valued at around $1.1 billion.Under the terms of the transaction, Bolnisi shareholders will receive 0.682 Coeur shares for each Bolnisi share they own (or, at the election of the Bolnisi shareholder, CHESS Depositary Interests representing Coeur shares), and Palmarejo shareholders will receive 2.715 Coeur shares for each Palmarejo share they own. It is anticipated that this will result in Coeur issuing a total of around 271.3 million new shares. In addition, Bolnisi and Palmarejo shareholders will receive a nominal cash payment equal to A$0.004 ($0.003) per Bolnisi share and C$0.004 ($0.003) per Palmarejo share.Bolnisi and Palmarejo currently own 100% of the Palmarejo project in Chihuahua State, Mexico. The Palmarejo project is one of the highest-quality primary silver projects in the world today, to which Coeur believes it can create significant additional value by leveraging its extensive exploration, development and underground and open pit mining expertise.The transaction will create a combined entity that expects to realize several significant strategic benefits, including:Leading silver producer – upon completion of the transaction and following commencement of production at the Palmarejo project, Coeur will be positioned as the world’s leading primary silver producer in terms of silver production and silver resources. Based on Palmarejo mineral resource estimates and all the metallurgical and mining studies completed to date, Palmarejo is constructing a 2 Mt/y processing plant capable of producing 12 Moz/y of silver and 110,000 oz/y of gold, which Coeur expects would nearly double its current production levels. As a result of this transaction, Coeur is expected to: Well-diversified portfolio – Coeur owns and operates three silver mines in North America and South America, owns all of the silver production and mineral reserves of two operating mines in Australia, and is constructing a new silver mine in Bolivia and a new gold mine in Alaska. The addition of the Palmarejo project to Coeur’s portfolio will geographically diversify Coeur’s asset mix and provide entry into a prolific mining area of Mexico, which is the world’s second largest silver producing country Continue its no-hedge silver policy, maximizing leverage to silver prices. Sector leading liquidity – Coeur is currently listed on both the NYSE and TSX, and, in connection with the transaction, Coeur intends to seek listing of its shares on the ASX in the form of CHESS Depositary Interests. Coeur expects to remain one of the world’s most liquid publicly-traded silver mining companies Have a leading growth profile with silver production compound annual growth of about 47% between 2007 and 2009 Produce some 32 Moz of silver and around 290,000 oz of gold in 2009 – silver production accounting for about two-thirds of total production by value based on analyst consensus metal prices for 2009 Strong balance sheet – based on Coeur’s, Bolnisi’s and Palmarejo’s balance sheets as at December 31, 2006, the pro forma cash position of the combined company would be $382 million, which is expected to be sufficient to fund all three growth projects – San Bartolome, Kensington and Palmarejo – without further equity dilution.Dennis E. Wheeler, Coeur’s Chairman, President and CEO: “With this transaction we are establishing Coeur as the clear leader in the silver mining industry. Coeur will have an unrivaled platform of silver mines and projects, which we expect to provide substantial growth at low cost. In addition, we have performed substantial due diligence on the Palmarejo project and are pleased to be making a substantial strategic investment in Mexico. We believe that we can add substantial value, leveraging our development, operational and exploration expertise to the Palmarejo project. The Board of Directors and I are excited about the future of the combined company, and we look forward to delivering the significant benefits of the combination to all of our shareholders.”Norman A. Seckold, Executive Chairman of Bolnisi: “We are very excited about today’s announcement. This transaction provides our shareholders with immediate value for their shares as well as the opportunity to participate in the upside potential of what we believe will be the world’s premier silver producer. By leveraging Coeur’s expertise in underground and open cut project development, we expect to realize the full value of the Palmarejo project.”David Fennell, Chairman of the Special Committee of independent directors of Palmarejo: “The Special Committee has undertaken a comprehensive review of the transaction, including seeking advice from both our financial advisor and legal counsel, and has received a fairness opinion from its financial advisor. The Special Committee also retained a separate and independent financial advisor to complete a formal valuation in connection with the transaction as contemplated by Canadian securities laws. After careful consideration, the Special Committee has unanimously recommended approving the transaction to the Palmarejo board of directors, who have in turn approved entering into the agreement. Furthermore, the Palmarejo board, on the recommendation of the Special Committee has authorized the submission of the arrangement to Palmarejo shareholders for their approval at a special meeting of shareholders and the Palmarejo Board unanimously recommends that Palmarejo shareholders vote in favour of the transaction.”The Palmarejo tenement covers around 12,160 ha and the current development project is located on one of 14 silver targets identified to date on the tenement. The Palmarejo project lies in Mexico’s premier silver region, the gold-silver belt of the Sierra Madre Occidental.Construction of the Palmarejo Project began during September 2006. Based on Palmarejo mineral resource estimates and all the metallurgical and mining studies completed to date, Palmarejo is constructing a 2 Mt/y processing plant capable of producing 12 Moz/y of silver and 110,000 oz/y of gold, nearly equal to the 13 Moz of silver and 136,000 oz of gold expected to be produced by Coeur in 2007. Coeur and Palmarejo will form a joint management committee to oversee progress on the Palmarejo project pending completion of the transaction. The joint management committee will pursue an optimization scenario based on Coeur’s plan for a combined open pit and underground development targeting enhanced project economics, with first production expected in late 2008.Coeur d’Alene Mines is one of the world’s leading primary silver producers and a growing gold producer. The company has mining interests in Alaska, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Nevada and Tanzania.Bolnisi Gold is an Australia-based company engaged in mining and exploration for gold and minerals. The company’s activities are all Mexican precious metals operations with an existing portfolio of projects, which include the Palmarejo silver-gold project (including Trogan) in Chihuahua State, the Yecora gold-silver project in Sonora State and the El Realito gold-silver project in Chihuahua State.Palmarejo Silver and Gold is a silver/gold exploration company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. Palmarejo’s principal activity is to explore and develop gold and silver properties located in the Temoris District of Chihuahua, Mexico within the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. Low-cost producer – the Palmarejo project’s anticipated low operating costs are expected to materially reduce Coeur’s overall cash costs, making Coeur a competitive low-cost producer in the sector. Following the commencement of production at the Palmarejo project, Coeur anticipates that its operating costs will be below $2/oz of silver (after by-product credits) Possess a mineral resource base of over 364 Moz of measured and indicated silver mineral resources (inclusive of silver mineral reserves) and 96.6 Moz of inferred silver mineral resources and 3.4 Moz of measured and indicated gold mineral resources and 0.95 Moz of gold inferred mineral resources Increased exploration potential – the combination of Coeur’s prospective exploration portfolio and the Palmarejo properties is expected to provide considerable exploration upside potential for shareholders
The first day in Adelaide today of the Paydirt 2009 South Australian Resources & Energy Investment Conference heard that the risk factors in the resources sector are now showing upside although it will be some years before explorers and miners enjoy the equities market conditions of recent years, according to Adelaide-based stockbroker, Taylor Collisson. Delegates also heard from the South Australian Premier, Mike Rann and SAMPEG’s ideas that federal budget help for the resources sector would get more “bang for buck” than other stimulus packages.Taylor Collisson Director Michael Whiting said it was encouraging to see that any positive news from the resources industry now appears to be receiving an equally positive response from investors. “This is a very encouraging sign and if it was backed by any large exploration discovery, the industry would alight,” he said.“It will be some time, however, before we get back to the buoyant conditions of recent times but the risk in the sector is now on the upside. Investors are now able to buy companies at valuations you could only dream about even 12 months ago. While we caution against any expectation of returns coming as quickly as previously, getting set now and being prepared to hold on to a resources investment will work as an investment strategy in the coming 12 months.”Whiting said smaller explorers and miners in Australia’s resources sector should not expect any relief any time soon from difficulties in accessing project or expansion financing, “In the current market gyrations, it would be tempting to believe that the ‘authorities’ are getting on top of the problems that had created the ‘Global Financial Crisis (GFC),’ he said.“There is a real danger of emotion being placed above logic. Hardly a day goes by without some pronouncement on high regarding the GFC – and the magnitude of these measures is almost beyond belief. Many of these measures are experiments and if we look at Japan in the 1980s, similar measures failed then.“Against this, with the short-term interest rate in most countries now negligible, the willingness to take risk has shifted and this seems to be the main reason for the global market rally.”As a result, Whiting said, resources industry investors obviously would favour those companies best positioned to go forward – backed by good projects and exposure to adequate funding. “However, I believe the funding for many of the smaller exploration companies will remain ‘tight’ despite the perceived market rally, as a plethora of companies are looking to raise capital. Overall, I do believe that we have seen the worst and that the fear factor that was around early this year, will not return.”South Australian Minerals and Petroleum Expert Group (SAMPEG) Chairman, Dr Ian Gould, said it was wrong to believe the resources boom was over. “Nothing is further from the truth – the country’s resources sector is not in a bell curve scenario. Demand and prices are still relatively strong across most metals commodities although production costs constitute a challenge.“As South Australia’s exploration-based PACE incentive program has shown, there is value in government putting money into drilling holes in the ground not just into holes emerging in corporate Australia’s balance sheets from the global financial crisis,” he said. “The sector knows there is a tough Federal budget coming up and we do not have confidence that it will necessarily stimulate the resources sector.“Yet incremental Federal spending on mining-related infrastructure can provide a considerable boost to developers in getting major job producing mining projects off the ground. Any Budget stimulus in this direction will get more bang for its buck than many other stimulus packages.”Dr Gould said Australia’s resources sector had reached a new plateau for further growth in the future and South Australia was well positioned to capitalise on this, especially in uranium. “The minerals industry economically, is the way forward in the future. It hasn’t failed and is not in a bell curve trajectory. The proof of that is that it accounts for at least 50% of Australia’s merchandise exports – and that’s not a picture that should cause despair.”Rann’s message was that despite the global financial crisis, the fundamentals that underpin the sector in South Australia have not changed. “The potential of our State’s mineral and energy resources remains strong, and the future prospects for those industries here are bright. Indeed, the recent statement handed down by the South Australian Economic Development Board supported the view that – in the medium to long-term – the number of major new mining developments here will sustain economic development for decades to come.“That’s in no small way due to the climate of investment certainty created by the State Government over the past seven years. We remain committed to providing the most efficient, transparent and timely approvals, and to providing investors with the confidence they need to make long-term commitments in the resources and energy sector.“That commitment is characterised by our hugely successful PACE exploration program, which we launched in 2004. This $31 million investment has led to an unprecedented boost in mineral exploration activity in South Australia over the past five years. Prior to the introduction of PACE, the average annual expenditure on mining exploration here was around A$30 million. In 2008, even allowing for the advent of the global financial crisis, that figure was A$317.5 million.“When this Government came to office seven years ago, South Australia had four operating mines. In 2009, we will have 11 with the likelihood that number will grow to 16 next year.“More than 20 additional minerals projects are at the advanced exploration or resource assessment stage, or are currently progressing through pre-feasibility to mining proposal stage.“The significance of our PACE scheme is highlighted by the fact that it is now being replicated by the governments of the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and the nation’s acknowledged mining giant, Western Australia. Imitation is, indeed, the most sincere form of flattery.“While the PACE scheme led to significant growth in exploration, it was not simply an anomaly associated with the global minerals boom. The projects that PACE supported are long-term, and they will deliver real and sustainable benefits to South Australia for decades to come, and even longer.“The latest figures show that our State’s mineral exports for the year to February 2009 were A$3.1 billion, an increase of half a billion dollars over a 12-month period during a turbulent worldwide economic climate. That means the minerals sector has now eclipsed the State’s other export sectors including the wine industry, and accounts for around 30% of South Australia’s total merchandise exports. As a result, we are now considering significantly raising our minerals production target in South Australia’s Strategic Plan, which currently aims for annual production worth A$3 billion by 2014.“This underscores the confidence that we have in the ongoing growth and prosperity of our resources industry. That confidence is fuelled by a number of important factors.“Among them is the range of worldclass minerals projects that are due to begin production within the next year. They include Oz Minerals’ copper and gold operation at Prominent Hill that I will officially open later this month, and which is expected to be one of the State’s largest mines.“The exciting Heathgate Resources development at Four Mile, near its existing Beverley deposit, is considered one of the most significant discoveries of uranium made anywhere in the world in the last 25 years.“And Iluka Resources’ mineral sands deposit in the Eucla Basin on the State’s west coast is considered the most significant new source of zircon found in around four decades.“The underlying strength of many of the minerals projects currently underway in South Australia is that they feature an expected mine life well in excess of the average 10 years. South Australia also benefits from the fact that we are strongly endowed with resources such as gold and uranium that have held their value amid the recent economic downturn.Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, recently indicated that he wants Australia to be the world’s biggest uranium exporter. South Australia, with its proven track record for supporting and developing uranium mining is clearly well positioned to be a leading provider to this low emissions industry over coming decades.“The huge resource body at Olympic Dam, will become home to the world’s biggest uranium mine, which is expected to produce more uranium than the entire output of Canada, which is currently the planet’s largest producer. As you would have heard and read in recent days, the Olympic Dam expansion project continues to move forward, with its environmental impact statement released for community consultation last Friday. Due to the enormous scope of this project, the consultation period has been extended from the normal eight weeks to 14 weeks to allow widespread community input.“As I mentioned earlier, South Australia provides a regulatory framework that allows investors to make plans with confidence and certainty. That is born out in the 2008 Resource Stocks World Risk Survey that rated South Australia as the best place in the nation, and the second-best jurisdiction in the world, for investing in mining.”Only Finland was rated better, with the survey’s analysis finding that “South Australia is the best jurisdiction in this country by a significant margin” and the rating was “just reward for the investment the State has made in the resources sector”.“Our Department of Primary Industries and Resources is setting itself a tough new target of six-months to approve new mining lease applications,” he continued. “The Government’s ongoing commitment and support can be seen through the next phase of the PACE program, which will include round six of the collaborative drilling program. The new program will include diamond drilling in unexplored frontier areas in the north of the State, along the largest continuous seismic line in South Australia.“Our State’s global reputation for providing the most efficient, timely and transparent approvals is further enhanced by our commitment to the training and education of skilled workers. We continue to have historically high numbers of people undertaking training courses and apprenticeships. Earlier this year, I welcomed University College London as the latest international university to establish a presence in Adelaide. UCL is ranked seventh on the list of the world’s top 10 universities compiled by The Times Higher Education Supplement. It is offering a post-graduate Masters of Science in Energy and Resources that has been specially-developed for Adelaide. This is the first time that UCL has offered a degree program outside of Britain.“The Government also established the A$8 million Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance in 2007 to actively address the skills shortage in these sectors, and also in the complementary heavy engineering industries.“And our Resources and Energy Sectors Council continues to work closely with the industry and the Government to recommend and plan developments required for the industries’ future infrastructure needs. The Council is represented on the review panel for the Port Bonython development. In relation to this matter, the Government has received a comprehensive proposal from the Spencer Gulf Port Link, which it is now assessing.“We also remain strongly committed to the growth and sustainability of our energy sector. Last week, the Government introduced our new Petroleum Act into State Parliament. This proposed legislation will further improve laws relating to petroleum and geothermal energy, and ensures that we remain up to date with the latest advances in emerging technologies such as hot rock power generation and greenhouse gas storage.“Geothermal energy offers vast potential, and South Australia is clearly at the forefront of its exploration and development. From 2002 to last year, we attracted 97% of the national investment in the exploration and proof-of-concept projects for this truly emissions-free ‘hot rocks’ geothermal energy source.“Geoscience Australia has estimated that if just 1% of Australia’s geothermal energy was extracted it would equate to 26,000 times Australia’s total annual energy consumption. South Australia’s leadership in this exciting, renewable energy source is not due to the fact that we have the hottest rocks on the planet.“While it’s true that we have a comparative advantage in our naturally-occurring geothermal resources, we also have set the benchmark for Government-designed investment frameworks, implemented an exemplary and trustworthy regulatory regime, and engaged in effective marketing programs. We are also pleased that the Commonwealth Government has shown strong support for the advancement of geothermal energy. Recently, it provided A$7 million grants respectively for operators of the Paralana and the Limestone Coast geothermal projects.South Australia is a national leader in geothermal and wind power, with around 58% of Australia’s total installed wind generation capacity. We are also home to more than 30% of Australia’s domestic grid connected solar power.“In addition, we continue to progress the development of our traditional fuel sources. In the Cooper Basin, we are offering five new petroleum exploration licences with bids closing on October 15. Since 2002, 129 exploration wells and 45 appraisal or development wells have been drilled by new explorers in the Cooper Basin. These enterprises are providing greater diversity and balance to the State’s economy.”