As the countdown to the 2008 X-Blades National Touch League continues, the event is beginning to take shape following the receipt of team nominations and release of seedings. For more information please see the 2008 X-Blades NTL website at http://www.sportingpulse.com/assoc_page.cgi?c=14-907-0-0-0
WASHINGTON — North of the border, Canada’s hard-won free-trade deal with the United States and Mexico is considered a matter of existential importance, heavy with implications for workers, businesses and governments of all political stripes.For Nancy Pelosi, it’s a punchline.The California Democrat has been riffing on the uncertainty around what to call the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA — a moniker that reflects President Donald Trump’s contempt for the original North American Free Trade Agreement. Ottawa now seems to prefer CUSMA, while others fall back on NAFTA 2.0, new NAFTA or, simply, NAFTA.“Whatever they’re calling it now, the trade agreement formerly known as Prince — no, I mean, formerly known as NAFTA — is a work in progress,” Pelosi quipped to chuckles at a Capitol Hill news conference last month introducing newly elected members of her party in the House of Representatives.But seriously, folks: its name notwithstanding, uncertainty, doubt and mixed feelings will only continue to shroud the agreement well into the new year, especially with an ambivalent Pelosi expected to emerge as leader of an emboldened Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.With the 2020 election in their sights, Democrats are girding for pitched battles against their GOP rivals on a number of fronts, and will be disinclined to give Trump any legislative wins, despite all the post-midterms talk of bipartisan co-operation and reaching across the aisle.The deal includes elements aimed at the centre-left folks in Congress, including environmental protections and a requirement that by 2023, 45 per cent of auto parts be made by workers being paid at least $16 an hour. Mexico must also pass a host of labour-law reforms that support and protect women, unions and migrant workers.But the agreement lacks enforcement teeth — a deal-breaker, Pelosi and other Democrats say, if the forthcoming legislation to enact it doesn’t provide some.“The president needs to talk to Congress on this, and we can go back to the table with the Mexicans and the Canadians and do stronger labour standards,” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, widely touted as a likely challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, told CNN.“This doesn’t live up to the promise the president said, that it would be a renegotiated NAFTA, helping workers and stopping outsourcing, because it doesn’t do that yet. I’m hoping that it will.”Enter David MacNaughton, the genial Canadian ambassador whose outreach efforts were heralded as critical to the success of the USMCA talks. He’ll again take the stage in the new year to convince Democrats — freshman and old-school free-trade foe alike —that the deal is the best medicine for all three countries.The mission is the same — “to make sure that people in the United States understand the importance of the economic relationship with Canada — how big a market we are for them, how much our economies are integrated, and also all the other things we do together,” MacNaughton said.“To the degree that we can make sure they understand the importance of the relationship, and some of the things that are in the agreement that are going to enhance the relationship from an economic point of view and help the United States, we’re going to do that.“The first priority, however, right now: get rid of the steel and aluminum tariffs. So that’s No. 1.”Trump’s so-called Section 232 tariffs, named for the clause in U.S. trade law that allows them on national security grounds, are no joke in Ottawa. They nearly scuttled last month’s USMCA signing ceremony in Argentina, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to display his signed certificate for the cameras.And with Canadians headed to the polls next October, 2019 will be a crushing disappointment to anyone hoping it would bring a reprieve from all the trade talk.The new NAFTA has its detractors in Canada. The federal Conservatives and NDP say the governing Liberals gave too much market access to U.S. dairy farmers, caved on demands for longer protections for drug patents and blinked on the threat of tariffs on autos not built on American soil.And in the U.S., last month’s deep job and production cuts at General Motors — 14,000 jobs, including 8,000 salaried workers, and five idled plants, including one in Oshawa, Ont. — has some Rust Belt lawmakers on Capitol Hill feeling like they’re being sold a bill of goods.“If we’re going to see more plants going to Mexico, I’m not going to support NAFTA 2.0,” said Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell.But it’s folly to blame the cuts on a trade deal that hasn’t taken effect yet, said Flavio Volpe, president of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association.“If USMCA was in effect today, with (Section) 232 tariffs, with tariffs on China, General Motors — from a business point of view — couldn’t import more profitably than it could produce domestically. That’s coming, but it’s not here.”It won’t dominate American headlines, but in Canada, USMCA will surely be a campaign-trail fixture in 2019, said Carlo Dade, a policy expert and director of the Trade and Investment Centre at the Canada West Foundation. Dade said he expects the bulk of Canadian voters will support the agreement in an election campaign that could echo the pitched battle of 1988, which hinged on the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement.“The only thing they dislike more than having NAFTA is the thought of not having NAFTA,” Dade said. “We saw this with the polling — Canadians for years were consistently complaining about NAFTA, then as soon as Trump said he was seriously thinking about withdrawing, the polls switched.“I think that dynamic will emerge again.”— Follow James McCarten on Twitter @CdnPressStyleJames McCarten, The Canadian Press
New Delhi: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has instructed public broadcaster Prasar Bharati to ensure that the Election Commission’s directive to “desist” from extending any preferential or disproportionate airtime coverage in favour of any party is adhered to in letter and spirit.I&B Secretary Amit Khare, in a letter to Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati, instructed that the coverage by Doordarshan and All India Radio abides by the EC directive and asked him put in place a mechanism for adherence to the Model Code of Conduct, sources said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’In a strongly-worded letter to the secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the EC said, “Would like you (secretary) to direct the DD News channel to desist from extending any preferential or disproportionate airtime coverage in favour of any party and extend commensurate and balanced coverage of the activities of all recognised political parties…” The commission had recently issued a show-cause notice to DD News for showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ programme for nearly one hour after opposition parties complained that the national broadcaster was being biased.
Kolkata: Just hours before the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Saturday requesting him to ensure “peaceful and impartial” elections in the state without “undue” interference from the BJP.Banerjee’s letter assumes significance as nine Parliamentary constituencies in the state are going for polls in Bengal on Sunday, the last phase of the elections. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework”In the final phase of election tomorrow (Sunday), I would request your good office to kindly ensure that election is completed peacefully, impartially and without any undue interference of the Central government and without any intervention of the ruling party at the Centre. I would request you to kindly protect democratic institutions and federal structure of the country and extend due respect to the Opposition parties,” her letter read. She had alleged that there has been “a number of illegal, unconstitutional and biased decisions” during the election process because of “undue advantage of the Central government and the ruling party at the Centre”. She had pointed out that this has harassed not only the state administration and its officers but also the common people of the state. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygen”All evidences show that the roadshow of the BJP national president (Amit Shah) in Kolkata on May 14 was allowed by withdrawing Section 144 in the area by the new Commissioner of Police appointed by the Election Commission. The roadshow was a deliberate, intentional and criminal conspiracy to vandalise the culture and heritage of the city and to defame the state government and its people,” she wrote. She further questioned the legality of appointment of two retired officers as Special Observers and alleged that these officers had shown “partisan attitude and has always complied with the instructions of the Central government”. She has reiterated that all these issues were brought to the Commission’s notice but no justice has been done. Meanwhile, in another major development before the last phase of polls, the Commission restricted the entry of BJP leader Mukul Roy in all the nine constituencies which go to polls on Sunday. 1,49,63,143 voters are expected to exercise their franchise on Sunday in the Lok Sabha polls at Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Kolkata North, Kolkata South, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Mathurapur (SC) and Joynagar (SC). The total number of candidates for this phase of polls is 111, with the highest number of candidates — 21 — being from Kolkata North constituency. The total number of polling stations are 17,042 that are located in 9,230 polling premises. “There will be deployment of Central Forces in all the booths and all other necessary security measures to ensure free and fair elections,” said Sanjay Basu, Additional CEO, Bengal. Assembly by-elections will also be held in four Assembly constituencies – Darjeeling, Islampur, Habibpur (ST) and Bhatpara in which 828123 electors are expected to cast their voting rights for as many as 34 candidates. Interestingly, in Darjeeling, the number of female voters is 1,19,241 which is more than the number of male voters at 1,15,756. The Election Commission has also undertaken a slew of measures so that the voters face little difficulty in casting their votes in the scorching heat with the Alipore weather office predicting temperature on the higher side accompanied by nearly 95 percent relative humidity.
College football fans aren’t habituated to the rhythm of a playoff — at least not in the same way college basketball fans are before the NCAA tournament. But the games Saturday and the selection committee’s choices Sunday will determine the four teams that enter the first-ever college football playoff. FiveThirtyEight will be here throughout the weekend to update our forecast on which teams are most likely to make it.The math has become simpler after Oregon’s emphatic 51-13 victory Friday night against Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game. Instead of seven teams competing for four positions, there are now effectively five teams — Alabama, TCU, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor — competing for three slots, with Oregon having secured its position and Arizona out of the running.Nothing’s official yet, but in this case, our statistical model aligns with common sense. Oregon, No. 2 in the selection committee’s rankings entering the weekend, made the playoff in all 20,000 simulations that we ran Saturday morning. Arizona, which now has three losses, never did. Here are the latest numbers:For comparison’s sake, here’s our forecast before the Pac-12 championship:It’s become crowded at the top. No. 1-ranked Alabama is an 82 percent favorite to beat Missouri in the SEC championship, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). And the Crimson Tide are more likely than not to make the playoff even if they lose to Missouri.Third-ranked TCU probably won’t make the playoff if they lose to 2-9 Iowa State. But they’re 97 percent favorites to win the game, per FPI. Crazy things can happen in college football — but if the Cyclones win, it would be perhaps the most memorable college football upset since Appalachian State beat Michigan in 2007.For the time being, Oregon is the favorite to win the national championship, with a 37 percent chance of doing so. (Alabama may overtake the Ducks if they defeat Missouri, but Oregon’s dominance against Arizona is likely to impress FPI, as well as Vegas oddsmakers.)Oregon’s win is also modestly bad news for the teams ranked No. 5 and 6 entering the weekend, Ohio State and Baylor, because they now have one fewer opportunity to leapfrog other teams in the rankings. Ohio State’s probability of making the playoff dropped to about 30 percent from 35 percent after Oregon’s win; Baylor’s declined slightly, to about 16 percent from 18 percent.Still, Oregon’s gain came mostly at the expense of Arizona. The result wasn’t a total disaster for Ohio State and Baylor, in part because an Arizona win would have created a mess of its own. Arizona, No. 7 entering the weekend, would have had an argument for making the playoff if it beat Oregon. Oregon might have had an argument even with a loss.But Oregon won. Could the Ducks wind up with the No. 1 seed? They almost certainly will if Alabama loses to Missouri. Otherwise, they’ll probably stay at No. 2, according to the model. But the FiveThirtyEight model is calibrated based on a historical analysis of voting in the Coaches Poll. The playoff selection committee has been a bit more aggressive so far in promoting teams after dominant victories. Perhaps if Alabama wins clumsily against Missouri, the Ducks could overtake it. Either way, it was a happy Friday night in Eugene.
With only eight days remaining in the 2014-15 regular season, it’s time to check in on FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings. If you’re wondering how these numbers work, the short version is that all 30 NBA teams are ranked according to a projection of their true talent over the upcoming week — and the upcoming week only — using Real Plus-Minus (RPM) player ratings provided by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. For more details on the methodology,1This week, we tweaked the simulation methodology to include the NBA’s official tie-breaking procedures. Before this week, we had been approximating tie breakers. see our introductory rankings post.The Eastern Conference playoff plot continues to thicken. Last Monday in this space, our model listed the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers with playoff probabilities of 76 percent and 50 percent, respectively, with the Brooklyn Nets (38 percent) and Boston Celtics (25 percent) likely to be on the outside looking in.Now, the tables have turned.The Celtics, aided by a 3-1 record over the past week (and an improved power rating), now sport a 57 percent playoff probability and more expected end-of-season wins than either Miami or Indiana. Likewise, the Nets leapfrogged the Pacers and Heat by an even greater margin after going 4-1 over the past week-plus. Brooklyn’s chances of making the playoffs are now nearly 77 percent, a radical departure from its 17 percent postseason probability of two weeks prior.And if Brooklyn and Boston are now in the driver’s seats for the final pair of Eastern Conference playoff berths, that means the Heat and Pacers are currently both underdogs to make the postseason. Miami has lost four straight games, and its power rating is down because several of its good RPM players (such as Luol Deng, Hassan Whiteside and Chris Andersen) are listed as day-to-day with injuries. And for its part, Indiana went 2-2 on the week-plus, but even at .500, the Pacers lost ground to the surging Celtics and Nets.The Heat have things a bit better than the Pacers. They face an easier remaining schedule, and the league’s tie-breakers favor them in the event of a tie with Boston and/or Brooklyn, which accounts for Miami’s superior playoff odds despite a projected win tally identical to that of Indiana. But for each team, it’s a big reversal from where they stood just a week ago.So while there’s little time left in the schedule, the Eastern Conference playoff picture is no clearer than it’s been the past few weeks — the front-runners to get in are just different.
Former Ohio State shooting guard Katie Smith is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and set the record for points scored by either a man or woman in the Big Ten during her four-season collegiate career from 1992 to 1996. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State AthleticsOne of the greatest players in Ohio State women’s basketball history, Katie Smith was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2018 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.The three-time Olympic gold medalist set the record for points scored by either a man or woman in the Big Ten during her four-season collegiate career from 1992 to 1996. Smith was honored as the Big Ten Player of the Year her senior year. In her freshman season, she powered her team to a conference title and NCAA championship appearance.Smith played 15 season in the WNBA and two professionally for the Columbus Quest from 1996 to 1997. When she retired in 2013, she was the all-time women’s professional basketball leading scorer with 7,885 points. Smith was voted one of the 20 best and most-influential players in WNBA history in 2016. After her playing career ended, she was hired as an assistant coach by the New York Liberty. She became the team’s head coach Oct. 16.“She’s totally deserving of that honor and she should be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame,” Ohio State women’s basketball head coach Kevin McGuff said. “She’s an unbelievable player. She was an unbelievable player here. She’s a great coach now. I can’t wait to see all her success with the New York Liberty.”Smith was inducted into Ohio State’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. McGuff said she frequently makes trips to Columbus continues to stay in touch with the program.“I love the fact she comes around a lot, she stays connected to the program, which I love,” McGuff said. “She’s a great role model to the current players.”The 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame finalists were announced were Jan. 11. Inductees will be announced the night of Feb. 12 during the Louisville-Connecticut game. The class of 2018 will be introduced during the Final Four in Columbus, meaning Smith might have a homecoming if inducted.
Real Madrid have made contact with Aaron Ramsey as they look to add the Arsenal midfielder to their squad when the transfer window reopens in January.Ramsey will be out of contract at the Emirates come end of season, and the Gunners do not plan on offering the Welsh midfielder a contract extension.Madrid, according to reports by the Mirror, are believed to have joined a list of potential suitors for Ramsey, including Juventus and Bayern Munich.The former Cardiff City youngster is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club outside the Premier League in January, and the Los Blancos will be able to offer him more in terms of salary.Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.Another factor expected to give Madrid an advantage in the race for Ramsey’s signature is the option of playing with international teammate Gareth Bale.The pair were instrumental as Wales reached the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championships in France in 2016, and are good friends off the pitch.Ramsey joined Arsenal as a 17-year-old back in 2008, and has featured in 347 games for the club in all competitions.He also has 60 goals to his name, with his most prolific season coming in 2013/2014 campaign where he found the back of the net 16 times.