RSF joins coalition urging meaningful access to information reform in Canada

first_img Organisation News The Hon. Scott Brison President of the Treasury Board90 Elgin StreetOttawa, OntarioK1A 0R528 September 2017Dear Minister Brison,We are writing to you as Canadian and international organisations and individuals who are committed to ensuring a strong access to information (ATI) system in Canada.Today is International Right to Know Day, a date when groups around the world celebrate the importance of freedom of information to both democracy and good governance. Yet there is little to celebrate in Canada. Canada’s access to information system is broken, putting at risk citizens’ fundamental right to hold their government accountable. The Access to Information Act (ATIA), now nearly 35 years old, is in desperate need of major reforms to reduce delays and provide for an effective right to access information held by public authorities. This challenge calls for bold and thoroughgoing reforms to the ATIA to align it with international standards and better practice in other countries. Unfortunately the government’s proposed ATIA reform, Bill C-58, comprehensively fails to meet this challenge. Indeed, this long-awaited bill fails to address a number of serious problems in the Act, including the vastly overbroad regime of exceptions, the broad discretion of public authorities to delay in responding to requests, the absence of any duty for public authorities to document important decision making processes, and the limited scope of coverage of the Act. In some areas, it even weakens the current rules.Canada is ranked a miserable 49th out of 111 countries on the RTI Rating, a global methodology for assessing the strength of a country’s legal framework for the right to information (RTI). Bill C-58 would only lift Canada three positions to 46th globally, according to an analysis by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD). We can and must do better. A healthy and effective access to information system is critical to free expression, public participation and holding government to account. By introducing legislation of such inadequacy the government is failing these basic values.We call for Bill C-58 to be scrapped, and for government officials to be tasked with crafting a bill that takes seriously the crisis undermining our right to know. The resulting bill must, at bare minimum, include the following changes:BARE MINIMUMS FOR REFORMING THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION SYSTEM● Deliver on the promise to expand the scope of the Act to cover the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministers’ Offices by allowing individuals to make requests for information from these bodies, as they may do with other public authorities, while retaining the proposed proactive publication obligations.● Introduce a formal duty to document for public authorities, and require them to preserve records of their decision making.● Put in place a robust system for limiting the discretion of public authorities to extend the time limits for responding to requests and formalise in law the fee waivers contained in the May 2016 Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act.● Ensure that exceptions and exclusions to the right of access are narrowly defined and subject to both a test of actual harm and a mandatory public interest override.● Give the Information Commissioner binding, enforceable order powers over all complaints regarding requests for information. This was one of the few significant reforms included in Bill C-58, and it should be retained.The public has the right to obtain the information they need to participate meaningfully in democratic processes, while also holding Canada’s public officials and Members of Parliament accountable. The current system signally fails to meet minimum standards, and Bill C-58 will not fix it. The government should withdraw Bill C-58 and present Canadians with a bill that addresses seriously the broken access to information system.Signed,Organisations:1. AMINA Corp.2. Amnesty International Canada (English Branch)3. Atlantica Party4. British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)5. British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA)6. Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) 7. Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)8. Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)9. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)10. Canadian Taxpayers Federation11. Canadians for Accountability 12. Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD)13. Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Regina14. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)15. Ecology Action Centre (EAC)16. Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec (FPJQ)17. Greenpeace Canada18. International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group19. Isomer Design20. Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)21. Ligue des droits et libertés22. MiningWatch Canada23. OpenMedia24. Open North25. Our Right to Know26. Pen Canada27. Privacy and Access Council of Canada — Conseil du Canada de l’Accès et la vie Privée (PACC-CCAP)28. Queer Ontario29. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)30. Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse (RESOLVE), Saskatchewan31. Rideau Institute32. RightOnCanada.ca33. Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association (RMCLA)34. Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)35. Voices-VoixIndividuals:1. Elizabeth Ball, Academic Librarian (retired)2. Donna Bowman, Librarian3. Bruce Campbell, 2016 Law Foundation of Ontario, Leadership in Justice Fellow4. Stephen Chapman, Isomer Design5. Ann D. Cooper6. Phyllis Creighton, Order of Ontario7. Lisa Di Valentino, Law and Public Policy Librarian, University of Massachusetts8. Mary Francoli, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University9. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa10. Dr. Brydon Gombay, Community Psychologist11. Carla Graebner, Librarian for Research Data Services and Government Information, W.A.C. Bennett Library, Simon Fraser University12. Larry Hannant, PhD historian, University of Victoria13. Dr. Steve Hewitt, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham14. Laverne Jacobs, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor15. Vincent Kazmierski, Associate Professor, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University16. Gregory S Kealey, Professor Emeritus, University of New Brunswick17. Abby Lippman, Professor Emerita, McGill University18. Claire McNeil, Dalhousie Legal Aid Service19. Eugen Melinte, M. Eng20. Sharon Polsky, MAPP, Data Protection Advocate & Privacy by Design Ambassador21. J.M. Porup, Editor, MuckRock Canada22. Marian Ramage, Brandon, Manitoba23. Teresa Scassa, Canada Research Chair in Information Law, University of Ottawa24. Jacquelyn Shaw25. Tania Thomas, Youth Services Librarian – Outreach to Newcomer Families, Surrey, British Colombia26. Stanley Tromp, Journalist and Author “We must impose democratic obligations on the leading digital players” to go further CanadaAmericas CanadaAmericas RSF_en September 29, 2017 RSF joins coalition urging meaningful access to information reform in Canada November 19, 2020 Find out more Forum on Information and Democracy 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics” Image credit: CJFE center_img Help by sharing this information News News Receive email alerts January 15, 2021 Find out more On eve of the G20 Riyadh summit, RSF calls for public support to secure the release of jailed journalists in Saudi Arabia Follow the news on Canada On International Right to Know Day, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has joined a global coalition of civil society organizations and individuals led by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) in a joint letter calling on Canada’s Treasury Board President Scott Brison to withdraw the government’s inadequate Access to Information Act reform legislation, Bill C-58. The below letter urges the government to come forward with a bill that seriously addresses Canada’s broken access to information system in order to improve government transparency and the free flow of information. News November 11, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

Mason City police investigate shot being fired into car

first_imgMASON CITY — Mason City police are continuing their investigation into a shot being fired into a car late Saturday night. The Mason City Police Department says shortly after 11:30 PM, a subject drove to police headquarters and reported an unknown person or persons discharged a firearm into the car he was driving while he stopped near 1st and North Madison to talk to those subjects. Police confirmed that there was at least one round fired into the car, but they are not able to confirm if the person reporting the incident was driving the car when the incident occurred, as well as where and when it took place. A search warrant was obtained for a residence at 16 North Madison, with the North Iowa Special Operations Group serving the search warrant. Nobody was located inside that residence. Police say the case remains under investigation, and they are asking anybody who may have witnessed anything related to this report to contact the Mason City Police Department at 421-3636.last_img read more

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

first_imgHowever, critics have suggested those changes will simply play into the hands of the bigger clubs with deeper squads.Neutral venuesPremier League clubs appear to have won their battle to have games played in their own grounds rather than on neutral sites.However, the UK’s national lead for football policing confirmed last week that a “small number” of fixtures will take place at neutral venues.That is likely to include any match that could see Liverpool crowned champions for the first time in 30 years, to try and avoid crowds gathering at Anfield.Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unconcerned by playing at neutral venues, with results from four rounds of Germany’s Bundesliga showing no advantage for home sides in a closed-doors environment.“We will not have the help from the crowd but no team will have that, so where is the advantage?” Klopp told the BBC.“Whoever we play it is the same situation, which is why I’m not too worried about it.”VARThe use of VAR could also be dispensed with for the rest of the season should the clubs wish to further cut the number of people required for games to go ahead.However, the Premier League’s CEO Richard Masters is keen for it to remain.“VAR has its own social-distancing issues, but we think there is a way of completing the season with VAR,” Masters told Sky Sports.Share on: WhatsApp Premier LeagueLondon, United Kingdom | AFP |  The Premier League’s return is just two weeks away but there are plenty of details for the 20 clubs in the English top-flight to work out before competitive action resumes on June 17.AFP Sport looks at what is on the agenda at the latest in a series of meetings between the clubs on Thursday.What happens if season is stopped again?There have been squabbles over how final league standings should be decided if the season cannot be completed but clubs need a contingency arrangement if a spike in coronavirus cases wrecks their plans.Most of the teams in the bottom half of the table are reportedly pushing for relegation to be scrapped if the season is not completed on the field.That still seems highly unlikely, with the English Football Association and English Football League both insisting on promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid.A points-per-game formula is the most likely option and is part of the reason why the restart will begin with two matches on June 17, to ensure every side has played the same number of games.Fixture listOnce the two outstanding games — Manchester City v Arsenal and Aston Villa v Sheffield United — have been played, all 20 sides will have nine games remaining.No dates for other matches have yet been released, but fixtures are expected to continue from where they left off in March and be crammed into just five weeks ahead of the FA Cup final on August 1.Substitutes and squad sizesA long lay-off, little time together in contact training and a gruelling schedule mean players’ bodies will be pushed to the limits.In an attempt to minimise injuries and fatigue, world governing body FIFA has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes.Chelsea have also reportedly proposed increasing the number of substitutes available from seven to nine.last_img read more

Public Comment Sought On Oceanic Bridge Work

first_imgBy John BurtonCounty, state and federal agencies are seeking public input for their study on future renovations and/or possible replacement for the Oceanic Bridge.County officials, in cooperation with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration are conducting a public survey as part of the local concept development study phase for the future work for the bridge.The project is intended to improve the safety and maintain the current crossing for the aging bridge, Monmouth County Bridge S-31, spanning the Navesink River, connecting Middletown’s Locust section and Rumson.This study phase involves data collection, community outreach and drafting a reasonable number conceptual alternatives for the project.The survey can be found at: read more


first_imgARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 31, 2016)–With a resolute stretch run, trainer Keith Desormeaux’s Decked Out, ridden by his brother Kent, was up to nail Sassy Little Lila by a nose in North America’s final Grade I event of 2016, the $300,000 American Oaks at Santa Anita.  Shortened earlier in the day from a mile and a quarter to 1 1/8 miles on turf due to concerns with the hillside crossing at the top of the stretch, Decked Out got the distance over a rain-dampened course that was listed as good in 1:47.86.Idle since running a respectable 12th in the Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes on Oct. 1, Decked Out was taken in-hand out of the gate and had two fillies beaten as the Oaks field of 12 crossed under the wire for the first time.“She won the Providencia (Grade III, 1 1/8 miles on turf April 9) on soft ground, so I definitely wasn’t worried,” said Keith Desormeaux.  “We don’t get this weather too often here in Southern California…She looked tired (in the stretch).  She looked like she was starting to labor so I was surprised that she continued on.  She showed her heart today.”Although she was the 7-2 favorite as the field of sophomore fillies loaded into the gate, Decked Out shot up to 9-2 at post time, as eventual seventh place finisher Stays in Vegas got crushed in the late wagering and was hammered down to 5-2.  Decked Out rewarded her backers with payouts of $11.00, $6.00 and $4.20.“It’s been that kind of year for the Desormeaux family,” said Kent.  “It was doubtful from the quarter pole.  I wasn’t getting there fast enough, and I thought I won, but with recent photo finishes, I was scared to have an opinion…The turf course has a lot of give to it.  I wouldn’t call it yielding, but it’s definitely soft.”Owned by Big Chief Racing, LLC, Head of Plains Partners, LLC and Gene A. Voss, Decked Out, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Street Boss, improved her record to 16-3-2-3 and with the winner’s share of $180,000, increased her earnings to $480,859.Sassy Little Lila, a lightly raced daughter of Artie Schiller who brought a sharp recent form in New York to Santa Anita for the first time under Luis Saez, led throughout and just missed in a gallant effort.  Off at 4-1, she paid $5.80 and $4.00.“I thought we were going to be right there,” said Saez, who had ridden Sassy Little Lila for trainer Brad Cox in all five of her previous starts.  “If we didn’t win, (I thought) it was going to be a dead heat.  When I came back and saw the result…I thought we had it.  The course was fine…I felt like she was very comfortable.”Irish-bred Lady Valeur, who was attentive to the pace with Rafael Bejarano, finished third, a half-length behind Sassy Little Lila.  Off at 17-1, Lady Valeur paid $7.20 to show.Fractions on the race were 22.68, 47.03, 1:10.70 and 1:35.08.last_img read more


first_img‘GREAT TO BE BACK,’ VICTORIOUS STEVENS SAYSGary Stevens won his first race since coming back from hip replacement surgery Dec. 21 when he piloted Shehastheritestuff to a half-length victory for trainer Paddy Gallagher in Saturday’s sixth race at one mile on turf. The four-year-old California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat paid $16.40.“It’s great to be back and great to have support of the trainers this first week back,” the 54-year-old Hall of Fame rider said Sunday morning. “Paddy put me on a nice filly that fit my style and fortunately we got the job done.“The first win back is always the toughest. You’ve got to reprove yourself, and like any athlete, you’ve got to fight back and show that you’ve still got some shelf life.”For the unsinkable Gary Stevens, there’s no expiration date in view. STEVENS ‘REPROVES’ HIMSELF WITH A COMEBACK WIN (Current Through Saturday, March 11) HAPPY AUTUMN FLOWER TESTS GRADE I WATERSAutumn Flower has enhanced her broodmare status with third-place finishes at long odds in Grade II stakes in her last two outings, the La Canada and the Santa Maria.Trainer Dan Hendricks is satisfied with that accomplishment for the moment, but has his sights set on even greater heights when the five-year-old Flower Alley mare runs in next Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.“Another third would be fine, but she’s maturing and as happy as she’s ever been since we’ve changed some of her routine from last year. It’s really worked,” Hendricks said. “We added a goat, my son (Gregg) takes extra time with her and grazes her every morning.“She’s just happy and doing well.”Autumn Flower never ran in a stakes race until Dec. 3 of last year when she finished sixth in the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap. She had won two optional claiming races before that for owners Thomas Traver and Priscilla Webb. HENDRICKS HAS HAPPY MARE FOR SANTA MARGARITA FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup winner Arrogate worked seven furlongs Sunday morning in company as he prepares for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 25. With Martin Garcia up and in company with Cat Burglar, Arrogate was timed in 1:25 flat for seven furlongs, with fractional times of 24.60, 36.80, 48.60 and 1:12.80. Cat Burglar was clocked in 1:25.40. “He went really nice,” Bob Baffert said of Arrogate. “I saw what I needed to see. He just cruised around there and he’ll ship tomorrow (for Dubai).” . . . Ron Ellis reports Masochistic came out of his second-place finish as the 1-2 favorite in the Triple Bend Stakes in good order, but “has no plan” for his next race. “We’ll have to regroup and see what goes on,” the trainer said. “It was his first race in four months; he got a little tired.” Masochistic was beaten a length by 16-1 shot Denman’s Call, one of six winners picked on top by Toby Turrell‘s Winners Card . . . Agent J.R. Pegram has booked Kent Desormeaux on Santa Maria and La Canada runner-up Show Stealer for Art Sherman in next Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes . . .There is a Pick Six carryover of $189,246 into Sunday’s program . . . With apologies to General Douglas MacArthur, “Old geldings never die. They just race away,” and the 11 scheduled starters in today’s eighth race, the $30,000 “605 Starter Handicap” at 5 ½ furlongs, have run a combined total of 434 races, winning 93 and earning $2,051,129. The leader is 10-year-old Nextdoorneighbor with 15 wins from 55 starts for current trainer Steve Knapp, who also has Changing Karma entered . . . Also next Saturday, Santa Anita has the St. Paddy’s Day Pitch, with the person tossing a ringer winning $1 million! It’s free to enter. Get on track, fill out a contest entry card and you could be one of four entries selected, or sign up online at before March 18, as one online entry also will be chosen. NO DARE AND GO, BUT BAL A BALI POSTS KILROE UPSET MANDELLA DOES IT AGAIN WITH BAL A BALI IN KILROE            It was a far cry from Dare and Go’s 3 ½-length victory at nearly 40-1 that ended Cigar’s 16-race winning streak in the 1996 Pacific Classic, but Bal a Bali’s win as the longest shot in Saturday’s Grade I Kilroe Mile at 9-1 put another upset notch on Richard Mandella’s Hall of Fame resume.Bal a Bali hadn’t raced since last June 16, a span of nearly nine months, but had been training forwardly, even sporting a bullet work, uncommon for a Mandella campaigner.“He came out of the race in good shape but I’m not sure where I’ll go next,” Mandella said Sunday morning. “He’s a very good horse, so it was no surprise that he was good enough (to win under those conditions), but running that good after all that layoff, I was happy to see he did what he could do.“But it was no surprise that he could do it. I always thought he was that good. I have nothing immediate in mind. I’ll give him a little extra time because I know he runs really well with long layoffs, but I’m not giving him nine months this time.”Bal a Bali, a seven-year-old full horse bred in Brazil and owned by Calumet Farm, won his U.S. debut way back on May 9, 2015, when he captured the Grade III American Stakes at Santa Anita. The Kilroe marked his 14th triumph in 23 starts.Ridden by four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano, who also piloted 13-10 favorite Shaman Ghost to a three-quarter length victory over Midnight Storm in the Santa Anita Handicap, Bal a Bali paid $21.20 as the longest shot in the field of seven. Richard Baltas11519201817%50%$1,034,363 Jerry Hollendorfer11323172220%55%$1,617,409 Joseph Talamo14119151813%37%$661,173 Tyler Baze22337432917%49%$2,084,396 SANTA ANITA STATISTICS TEAM O’NEILL HAS DESIGNS ON SANTA ANITA DERBYSan Vicente Stakes winner Iliad and Cecil B. DeMille winner Term of Art, second and third behind runaway winner Mastery in Saturday’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes, are bound for the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8, trainer Doug O’Neill’s assistant Leandro Mora said Sunday morning.“Both horses looked good this morning and the Santa Anita Derby is what we’re looking at,” Mora said.O’Neill won the Santa Anita Derby back to back in 2012 and 2013 with I’ll Have Another and Goldencents.Meanwhile, Bob Baffert barely had a chance to begin celebrating after Mastery’s 6 ¾-length romp in the San Felipe that established him as the Kentucky Derby favorite, when the bubble burst.Mastery was pulled up after the finish of the 1 1/16-mile race and taken back to the barn via horse ambulance after being evaluated by track vet Dr. Dana Stead.“When he got back to the barn, he seemed OK, but when he got off the wash rack, he showed some filling in his left front ankle,” Baffert said after the race Saturday. “It’s a condylar fracture. He’ll be operated on early Monday and they’ll insert two screws (at Santa Anita’s Equine Hospital on the backstretch).“We won’t know until after the surgery whether or not this is career-ending.”Sunday morning, Baffert said Mastery “was eating and looked comfortable, but the most important thing now is to focus on his well-being. Our emotions went from the highest of the highs after he won to the lowest of the lows. Obviously what happened is pretty disappointing.“But in this game you have to keep things in perspective. It could have been worse.” Doug O’Neill13618262113%48%$1,599,506 Kent Desormeaux13028161422%45%$1,646,472 Rafael Bejarano12019192216%50%$1,316,580 Martin Pedroza10615201914%51%$625,333 Norberto Arroyo, Jr.961910920%40%$819,831 BAFFERT LIKES WHAT HE SEES IN ARROGATE WORKOUT Mike Smith541861433%70%$1,868,242 TrainerMts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won Peter Miller932821930%62%$1,354,941 JockeyMts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won ILIAD, TERM OF ART BOUND FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY Flavien Prat20847323923%57%$3,059,315 Philip D’Amato8415121318%48%$1,077,870last_img read more

India secrets: Andaman and Nicobar Islands

first_imgCruise to HavelockOut of the 570 odd islands that make the Andaman and Nicobar, only 38 are inhabited. That explains why its beaches are still pristine. Only one of the many stunning beaches is Radhanagar on Havelock Island (once rated as the best beach in Asia by Time magazine in 2004) that’s well worth your time.One of the best ways to get to Havelock is by a luxury catamaran called Makruzz that allows you splendid views through its large windows from the comfort of an air-conditioned space. The trip starts at 8.30 a.m. from the Phoenix jetty at Port Blair, arriving at Radhanagar after 90 minutes, and returning to Port Blair at 4 p.m. Log on to for bookings.National Arts Emporium, Port BlairMost tourists head to the government-run Sagarika Emporium on M.G. Road for buying souvenirs. From the sought after padauk wood (local weather-beaten wood that makes sturdy, lasting furniture), lightweight walking sticks made from cane, to caps and T-shirts, shell jewellery and wooden dancing dolls, shopping here is a fulfilling experience.But if you are looking for that little extra, I would recommend the National Arts Emporium, the ground floor shop at the Bengali club run by Kashmiri migrant Javed Ahmed Bhat. He sells mother of pearl and red coral jewellery, figures of tribals and various gods and goddesses made from the padauk wood. Javed cultures the pearls himself at his oyster farm and is quick to claim that all his designs are ‘original’. Tel: (03192) 236 051Bridge Bar, Port BlairLocated on the third floor of the TSG Hotel in Phoenix Bay, it is Port Blair’s only sports bar, though, and quite intriguingly, it is made like a ship’s bridge where mariners aren’t allowed to drink alcohol.advertisementWith real portholes on its walls, a few life jackets hung around, a wooden steering wheel embedded somewhere and LCD screens beaming the sporting event of the season, the place is a must visit for those who like their drinks in a relaxed ambience. Seafood here is awesome and so are the meat dishes coming hot out of the tandoor. The Chicken Tikka is very popular.Tel: 246 499, 246488The Golden Dragon, Port BlairFrom wayside eateries to fancy restaurants for diners, Port Blair boasts a mouthwatering variety. A real gem is The Golden Dragon, which not many people in Port Blair know about. The restaurant is the living room of a friendly Indian family, one that had emigrated from China via Kolkata. One of the best combinations here is the Chicken with Fungus (a type of black mushroom) and rice, which must follow the Chicken Lily Flower Soup. Near Goal Ghar.Volcano watching from seaplaneOne of the most exciting and relatively new options for those visiting Port Blair is a ride on a seaplane. I recommend a trip that flies over the Barren Island, India’s only active volcano. It will set you back by Rs. 7,500 for a round trip (there’s a minimum of five passengers needed against its total capacity of eight).This once-in-a-lifetime trip allows you to observe an uninhabited island, in the middle of nowhere, smoking through its gargantuan crater. The aircraft is a Cessna Caravan 208 A and is operated by Pawan Hans. Tickets can be obtained through all major tour operators in Port Blair.Activities in wandoorNow, if you care about the environment and want to get a firsthand experience of what it means to do it in real life, there’s ANET (Andaman and Nicobar Islands Environment Team) at Wandoor Beach (located about 26 km from Port Blair) to consider. ANET organises birdwatching, snorkelling and diving, but you must book in advance.The day tariff is Rs. 1,000, which includes food, board and all other facilities including the library, computer and internet access. The tariff is lower for researchers or volunteers and also gets substantially curtailed if one chooses to associate for longer durations. Log on to for details.Kulpreet YadavAuthor and freelance writer Kulpreet has set his latest book, A Waiting Wave, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Always cheerful and positive in attitude, you’d never guess that he holds a position with the government of India–which is what makes him a resident of Port Blair. On his free time, Kulpreet explores the wonders of nature that surround him.Plus Pick: Neil IslandNeil Island’s claim to fame is not just the seafood its cluster of restaurants dish out (some of the best you may find in India), it has earned the moniker of the ‘vegetable garden’ among the islanders of the Andaman & Nicobar archipelago, and the recognition came after a long, tiring and enduring process. Way back in the 1960s, each family on Neil Island was promised five acres of agricultural land.This seemed a golden offer for the poor inhabitants of an island where agricultural land is scarce. But the dream soon turned sour with the official decision to include hilly land in the promised acres. What followed was a bitter struggle, which led to the migration of 75 Neil Island families to Little Andaman. Those left behind–98 families–began from scratch, moulding the nearly barren, hilly land to transform it into the green belt it is. The settlers never turned towards the mainland to keep their hearth burning.Drive past the Neil’s green stretched towards an extreme corner of the island, harbouring a long and secluded strip of cream-sand Sitapur Beach. A stretch of impossibly clean beach, minus human footprints, it commands both attention and admiration. The waters are as blue as you can imagine and the volcanic rocks on the shore may bring alive images of Jeju Island in Korea. There is daily ferry service from Port Blair to Neil Island.advertisementMust do: Andaman and Nicobar IslandsStay: Havelock, BarefootThis luxury eco-retreat is located on what is rated as one of the world’s best beaches. Set in seven acres of fertiliser and pesticide-free grounds, the resort consists of lovely cottages and villas made from indigenous materials. Stay in an Andaman villa fronted by a floor-to-ceiling picture window and rolling shutters that can either bring the outdoors in or cocoon you in your own world. Tel: (03192) 282 151; www.barefootindia.comEat: VenisonThe journey to Rangat from Port Blair has many delicious stops. En route you will find Kadamtala, a village that feeds delicious venison to hungry travellers. The meat is served in steel bowls and eaten with rice.Shop: Nicobari matsThis, apart from the beaches and its marine life, is what has made Andamans famous the world over. Made of natural fibres (coir, reeds and so on), these mats, interwoven with light and dark colours, are both stylish and sturdy. Buy these in the company of a local, preferably your guide, who can help you strike a good deal.See: Ross IslandThe ruins of the Raj on this island bear testimony to the atrocities committed by the British in this erstwhile penal colony. The island is in fact one extended museum, complete with weather-beaten buildings. 8 km from Port Blair.last_img read more

Italy’s men are starting to matter in tennis like its women

first_imgCayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Bucks, Raptors begin deciding Eastern Conference title The women’s golden age that Binaghi was referring to includes the four Fed Cup titles that Italy won between 2006 and 2013 with a team featuring Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani. Schiavone (2010 French Open) and Pennetta (2015 U.S. Open) also won Grand Slam titles, while Vinci (2015 U.S. Open) and Errani (2012 French Open) were Grand Slam finalists.Corrado Barazzutti captained those winning Fed Cup teams and remains Italy’s Davis Cup captain. He’s also Fognini’s personal coach and played on the 1976 Italy team that won the Davis Cup — making him the link between generations.“A lot of it is because the skill level of our coaches has improved,” Barazzutti said. “We’re growing together with the players. And the federation is doing its part by assisting these coaches and players.”Berrettini, who recently won the Hungarian Open and reached the BMW Open final in Munich, Germany, in consecutive weeks, upset fifth-ranked Alexander Zverev on Tuesday before a raucous, soccer-like crowd at the Foro Italico.Sonego, who is 23 like Berrettini, came through qualifying to reach the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo.ADVERTISEMENT Marco Cecchinato of Italy celebrates after winning his men’s singles first round match against Alex de Minaur of Australia, at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, Monday, May 13, 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)ROME — After four decades of dormancy, male tennis players in Italy are finally showing signs of becoming as good as the women have been.Marco Cecchinato got things rolling by reaching the French Open semifinals last year — the first Italian man to reach the last four of a major since 1978. Fabio Fognini followed by becoming the first to win a Masters event by beating Rafael Nadal en route to the Monte Carlo title last month.ADVERTISEMENT The Next Gen ATP Finals, a year-ending event for the world’s top 21-and-under players, has been held in Milan since 2017. And from 2021-25, Turin will host the ATP Finals for the season’s top eight singles players and doubles teams, taking over from current host London.“I think this will change the whole thing in Italy,” coaching great Nick Bollettieri said in Rome. “When you have three or four young ones that will inspire the other young ones to keep going.”When Turin was recently awarded the ATP Finals, Binaghi announced that he expects an Italian to be competing in the tournament come 2021.“We’ve got players in the right position to make it there,” Barazzutti said. “Why not?”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too View comments Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Musetti won this year’s Australian Open boys’ title at the age of 16 — and he’s not even the country’s most promising young player. That title belongs to Sinner, the only 17-year-old in the top 400 of the rankings at No. 263.In Sinner’s first Masters Series match on Sunday, he rallied past American veteran Steve Johnson in three sets. That made Sinner the youngest player to win a match at the Italian Open since Goran Ivanisevic 30 years ago.“He’s the real deal,” said Riccardo Piatti, Sinner’s coach.“I’ve coached a lot of players and he’s certainly one of the best I’ve seen,” Piatti told The Associated Press, adding that Sinner has “similar potential” to top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Richard Gasquet, who he also coached to the top 10. “But we need to give him some time.”Piatti attributed the success of the home players to the proliferation of Challenger and Futures tournaments — the level just below the pro tour — around Italy.At No. 12, Fognini is within striking distance of becoming the first Italian man in the top 10 since Barazzutti achieved the feat in 1979.“Fabio has always been a talented player and now he’s got another component: He’s got a Grand Slam champion in his family,” Piatti said, referring to Pennetta, Fognini’s wife. “Flavia understands him, assists him and encourages him. It’s definitely a favorable situation.”Fognini and the others are attempting to become the first local man to win the Italian Open since Adriano Panatta in 1976.“I’m coming in here with a bit more confidence, which is what I lacked in past years,” said Fognini, who is also known for his temper. “I’m a bit calmer. Winning a big tournament like Monte Carlo put me a bit more at ease.”The Italians’ rise has also coincided with the addition of two big tournaments. MOST READ LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. And players like Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Sonego are in the process of breaking through, while teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner represent a bright future.All that success has resulted in record ticket sales at this week’s Italian Open — and some of the Italians could make a run at the French Open, which starts May 26.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics“The men haven’t reached this level in 40 years. So people are not coming only to see (Rafael) Nadal or (Serena) Williams, they’re coming to root for the Italians,” Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi said. “It’s one thing to have 10,000 spectators. It’s another thing to have 10,000 fans.“This boom in men’s tennis is the next step in a process that began with the golden age of the women followed by the development of SuperTennis,” Binaghi added, referring to the federation’s highly successful TV channel . “A minute after Fognini won Monte Carlo I called the ticket office and they had already noticed a jump in sales.” Private companies step in to help SEA Games hostinglast_img read more

Ryan Howards Career Is Dead The Shift Killed It

Ryan Howards Career Is Dead The Shift Killed It

Batting average.424.282 Average SLG.553.361 That stubbornness proved to be Howard’s downfall. Against the shift, Howard posted a batting average of .282 and slugged .361, good for a weighted runs created plus that was 29 percent worse than average. When he wasn’t staring down the shift, Howard was a fearsome hitter with a .424 batting average, a .553 slugging percentage and a wRC+ 62 percent better than average (that wRC+ is identical to the one he posted in 2006, his MVP year).The trouble for Howard was that the no-shift version of him seldom got a chance to shine, because teams almost always shifted against him. From 2010 (the first year for which we have shift data) to 2016, Howard had only 224 plate appearances where he did not face the shift, compared to 1699 with it on. Every team that adopted the shift started off by employing it against big, slow, pull-happy hitters like Howard. As a result, Howard saw more shifts than anyone except David Ortiz, another hitter with the same weaknesses.Ortiz made an effort to adapt; Howard kept plugging away the way he always had. In the first eight years of his MLB career, Howard produced 21.6 wins above replacement.2Using the FanGraphs version of that stat. Over his final five seasons — a period during which use of the defensive shift increased exponentially — Howard was worth an astonishing 2.2 wins below replacement. Injuries also limited his productivity, but even when he was healthy, he was ineffective. As a slow, defensively-challenged first baseman, he relied on his bat to be useful. When the shift neutralized Howard’s hitting, he lost his value to a major league roster.We can never know the true toll the shift exacted on Howard’s production, but we can estimate it: I asked the makers of a simulation game called Out Of The Park Baseball to create a version of MLB without the shift. (Just imagine a universe in which baseball commissioner Rob Manfred managed to outlaw the tactic.) Then I had them replay Howard’s career three times, starting from 2009,3Howard’s last great real-life season. to get a range of outcomes for his final résumé.In a league without shifts, Howard is a completely different player. In the three simulations, Howard finished with an average career batting line of .272/.355/.527, far better than his actual career numbers of .258/.343/.515. Of course, league-wide run-scoring is generally a bit higher4About 3-7 percent. in the shift-free game, but even after adjusting for a higher offensive baseline, Howard racked up an on-base plus slugging percentage that was 40 percent better than league average. In the simulations, that offensive production won him between one and five more All-Star selections.In this world, Howard’s gaudy offensive stats and numerous league-leading totals make him a bona fide Hall of Fame candidate. In order to estimate his chances, I used the same logistic regression model I employed to look at David Ortiz’s case last year, using a player’s Jaffe WAR Score system (JAWS) rating5A method, developed by sabermetrician Jay Jaffe, that tries to balance a player’s career and peak wins above replacement when assessing his career. to predict his odds of Hall of Fame induction. Each of the three hypothetical Howards had between a 10 and 55 percent chance of achieving baseball’s highest honor: Ryan Howard with and without the shift, 2010-16 Average wRC+16271 NO SHIFTSHIFT Runs above average+17.1-52.4 Runs above average totals all the runs a player’s hitting generated relative to an average player who had the same number of plate appearances. Shift data is tracked only on balls in play.Source: Fangraphs It wasn’t too long ago that former Phillies great Ryan Howard was a fixture in MVP discussions, atop league leaderboards and on lists of the game’s most marketable stars. But the slugger’s once-promising career is all but over now, after the Atlanta Braves released him in early May.1Howard’s slash line with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate was tragic: .184/.238/.263.On the surface, Howard’s fall doesn’t seem completely atypical of a plodding slugger. But his abrupt decline had less to do with aging or ineffectiveness than it did a specific tactic sweeping through baseball during the back half of his career. The defensive shift ended Howard’s career, and it might have cost him a shot at the Hall of Fame as well.When the shift is on, defenders move from one side of the infield to the other to give themselves a better chance at cutting off batted balls from hitters who consistently drive the ball in one direction. Howard was a great candidate for the maneuver because he pulled groundballs 66.5 percent of the time, compared to this year’s league average of 53.8. While some hitters try to overcome the shift with well-timed bunts or tactical changes, Howard always stubbornly refused. “All you can do is continue to swing,” Howard said in a 2015 interview with So even in a world without the shift, Howard was hardly a lock for Cooperstown. But like Ortiz, he could have benefited from some hallmark achievements and postseason success. For example, in one of the simulations, Howard hit 547 homers — only 10 first basemen have ever passed the 500 home run mark, and seven of them are either already in the Hall or likely to make it there. In that same universe, Howard’s Phillies won two more championships as he racked up multiple playoff series MVPs, no doubt earning a reputation as a postseason hero. In that world, it’s hard to imagine how Howard doesn’t make the Hall of Fame.Nothing is certain in baseball, not even in simulations of it. Without the shift, maybe Howard’s knees would still have given out, or maybe pitchers would have found another way to frustrate him. (Then again, maybe not having to worry about the shift would free Howard up to improve his offense even more, allowing him to finish his career more like Jim Thome or David Ortiz.) Either way, a world without the newest defensive tactics would have at least given the big slugger a chance at Cooperstown, which is more than most players can boast.But although Howard succumbed to the shift, his demise also tells us about the future of the tactic — and why its effectiveness might eventually tail off. When modern teams first started realigning the infield, there were plenty of obvious candidates who would be vulnerable to its effects. But as players like Howard get pushed out of the league by the shift, there will be fewer and fewer hitters on whom it can be used so effectively. Eventually, the rewards of slick defensive positioning will shrink; like most tactics in baseball, the shift will have diminishing returns.Had Howard’s career started a decade later, he might have had to cope with the shift in the minors and found a way to adapt. As it was, he came up as the shift was rising, and it probably cost him a long career and a chance at the Hall of Fame.CLARIFICATION (June 6, 6:20 p.m.): Shift data is tracked only on balls in play. The table has been updated to include this information, which was previously omitted. read more