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49ers Shanahan says no trades ‘right now’ but stay tuned

first_imgGLENDALE, Ariz. — Coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged after Sunday’s sixth straight loss that “a lot” of 49ers are being discussed around the league ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline.Pierre Garçon is the only player Shanahan confirmed as being part of trade discussions and that he’s keeping the veteran wide receiver abreast of any developments. Garçon did not suit up for Sunday’s 18-15 loss to the Cardinals, Shanahan citing a knee injury that could be OK by Thursday when the 49ers host the …last_img read more

Ex-49ers linebacker Reuben Foster sees domestic violence charges dropped

first_imgThis story has been updated.For the second time in less than a year, former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has seen domestic violence charges against him dropped, according to authorities and court records.Foster was scheduled for arraignment Thursday in connection with his Nov. 24 arrest at the 49ers team hotel in Tampa, but the hearing was canceled after the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office requested the charges be dismissed in a court filing dated Wednesday.“We …last_img read more

Vodacom launches ‘hosted call centre’

first_img14 July 2010As call centres continue to expand in South Africa, Vodacom has teamed up with two other technology firms to launch a hosted call centre product suite that enables customers to get on with their core business, knowing that their IT infrastructure and call centre operations are taken care of.The Vodacom Business Data Centre has been developed by Vodacom Business together with Presence Technology, a global software provider of a modular based, all-in-one call centre solution suite, and call centre service provider INOVO.“IT operations are a crucial aspect of any company’s operations,” Vodacom Business managing executive Ermano Quartero said in a statement last week. “One of the main concerns is business continuity; companies rely on their information systems to run their operations.“If a system becomes unavailable, company operations may be impaired or stopped completely. Our hosted call centre product suite ensures that a company can continue to run without having to worry about their IT infrastructure and call centre operations.”Centrally hosted platformWhile call centre suppliers only offered traditional premises-based call centre solutions up to now, the new service now offers a centrally hosted call centre platform in the world-class Vodacom Business Data Centre as an on-demand, operational expenditure based, modular call centre solution.The Presence Suite includes various modules, including inbound, outbound, recording, scripting, messaging, reporting, interactive voice responses and intelligent routing.The hosted call centre services have been expressly designed to simplify management of call centre activities, maximising the productivity of call centre agents allocated to inbound and outbound campaigns, whether voice or multimedia.Expansion as requiredSkills-based routing to the appropriately experienced agent is integrated into the product thus enhancing both the agent and customer experience. In addition, during business peak periods, call centre supervisors can add extra agents and modules “on the fly” and scale them down when required.In order to leverage the reliable hosted call centre technology, call centres can be accessed through telephone, fax, SMS or email.Call centre growthQuartero said that, according to research, the number of contact centre agent seats in South Africa would grow by 74% over the next five years. Currently, 90% of call centres deployed in South Africa are below 250 seats, of which a large majority would consider hosted call centre solutions.Quartero said the cost of setting up and running call centre infrastructure was prohibitive. “By making use of the Vodacom Business hosted call centre service, our customers get increased customer satisfaction, product flexibility and scalability, as the product provides superior customer service at a price that is competitive for local and global organisations.“The drive towards offering an operating expenditure costing model ensures that Vodacom Business and our business partner INOVO gives us and our customers a competitive edge in the market, where a large majority of call centres are sold as an capital expenditure model, requiring large capital outlay.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Soil is more valuable than gold

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest In terms of civilization, it is more valuable than gold. The soil is the foundation for food and stability required for organized, structured society. Without good, productive soils, everything else starts to erode away. The loss of productive soil is a sad tale that shows up over and over throughout the history of mankind.This repeated trend throughout the earth’s millennia of agriculture intrigued David Montgomery, a geologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, who spoke at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in March.“As a geologist I started looking at soils and studied erosion around the world. A decade ago I got really interested in how soil erosion affected ancient civilizations. That culminated in a book that looked at the role of soil degradation in the decline of ancient civilizations. There is a depressing component to that because you see the same story play out in society after society. Societies that degraded their land didn’t prosper in the long run. You can look at places like Syria or Libya as modern examples of places that degraded their land to the extent that it compromised their descendants greatly in terms of their prosperity and stability,” Montgomery said. “Then my wife and I bought a house in north Seattle that came with a yard with dirt — not much in the way of soil. It had an old growth Seattle lawn with six inches of tangled roots. We pulled that lawn off to make a garden and we didn’t find a single worm. It was dead dirt. We embarked on an attempt to bring life back to the soil to make a garden.”In the small-scale urban backyard project, Montgomery and his wife had surprising success in rebuilding their soil with the addition or organic matter, increasing biological diversity and minimizing soil disturbance.“We restored the soil really fast, much faster than I would have guessed from the research I had done on ancient civilizations. Nature takes a long time to make an inch of soil, but we can do it much faster by taking advantage of our ability to bring organic matter in to enhance what nature would take a long time to do. We wrote a book about that experience and the parallels between what microbial activity does in the soil to help plants and what happens in the human gut. They are kind of like the same system. Then I was left wondering if we could do that same thing on a global scale on farms around the world,” Montgomery said. “I took some time off of teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle to visit farmers around the world who had already restored fertility to their land. I brought a shovel with me and said, ‘What’d you do? What did you start with and what do you have now? Can we dig a hole here and at your neighbor’s place?’ I was really impressed how rapidly some farmers had been able to restore fertility to their land and how much they had been able to reduce their use of fertilizers and pesticides. No-till was a sort of foundation for re-building soil health.”The crucial role of reducing and eliminating tillage initially surprised Montgomery.“What do you think of in terms of icons for agriculture? The plow. It is on the seal of the USDA — Thomas Jefferson’s plow is still there. Societies throughout history have relied on it. The idea that plowing could degrade soil over the long run is a little counter intuitive but it is pretty solid in terms of causing soil erosion. If you till the soil you are leaving it vulnerable to the wind and the rain until the next plant comes up. If you do that for generations it can really add up,” Montgomery said. “I found three simple principles that were in common among the farmers who had reversed the trend of ancient soil degradation and rebuilt the fertility of the land. The principles are: ditch the plow, cover up with cover crops, and grow a diversity of crops, whether in the cash crops or cover crops. Some of the farmers I visited with were growing corn, soybeans and wheat and adding diversity with cover crops in between. They had all greatly reduced fertilizers and pesticides while maintaining yields, which increases farmer profits. I view rebuilding soil health as the best long-term investment a farmer can make but it can also pencil out over the short run too. We are starting to learn about the role of soil life bacteria and fungi in plants and crops. They can help rebuild soil health at a pace that, as a geologist I find quite fast.”Montgomery’s first popular book, “Dirt,” was a fairly grim look at how erosion undermined ancient civilizations around the world. The follow up “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” is more of a good-news environmental story. Montgomery’s most recent book, “The Hidden Half of Nature,” co-written with his wife, Anne Biklé, looks at the power of microbes in the soil and in human health. His books are available at books.wwnorton.com/books/Growing-a-Revolution/.last_img read more

Politics not faith drives festivals in Mumbai

first_imgThis Thursday there is no official holiday and still Mumbai will come to a near standstill. No, there is no bandh called by Shiv Sena or Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena.The city will be celebrating Dahi Handi, a festival that cherishes Lord Krishna’s childhood.Over the years, festivals, too, have been hijacked by political parties and Dahi Handi is no exception. Celebrations are on a gigantic scale and the economics, therefore, need much more than voluntary contributions.This is where the political parties come in the picture.But not all political parties celebrate every festival. It all depends on the hue the party has acquired and the community base it enjoys.So Dahi-Handi and Ganesh Festival in Mumbai belong to the Marathi Shiv Sena, Navratri (or daandia raas) is claimed by the Bharatiya Janata Party that is largely supported by the Gujaratis who account for more than 20 per cent of Mumbai’s 1.2 crore population and also hold the cash strings.There was a time when daandia was played mainly at Gujarati strongholds in suburbs such as Goregaon, Malad, Kandivali and Borivali in the west and Ghatkopar, Mulund in the east. It helped the local BJP connect with its voter base.Times have changed and with film stars and Bollywood composers jumping in the fray, the festival is no longer a mere congregation of families and friends.Celebrating Ganesh Festival in a public manner was Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s idea who led the Congress before the Gandhi- Nehru era. The idea was to rouse Indian public against the British.advertisementOver 60 years after independence, the festival is now firmly in the hands of Shiv Sena that used it to fund itself and its activities through contributions, often dubbed as annual extortion by the local traders who prefer to pay the bully rather than catching the bull by its horns.When they do, they pay much more than what they would otherwise pay as contribution.There was a time gutkha barons funded the celebrations, now it’s the builders who eye the redevelopment of old dilapidated buildings and want the residents to give a nod to their proposal.Dahi Handi has been a festival that had no such patronage, not so far. There are several disadvantages – it gets over in hours, unlike daandia and Ganesh Festival that run in nine nights and ten days respectively. Political parties had so far not paid much attention, except that die- hard sainiks saw it as an adventure sport that challenged their lads.Eyebrows were raised, therefore, when Sanjay Nirupam, who was in Shiv Sena in the 90s’, suddenly raised the stakes.He offered a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh to any mandal that would break the dahi handi organised by his mandal.It suddenly caught on as teams across Mumbai vied for the cash prize. Over a decade later, Nirupam has moved and settled in the Congress but the prize money is going up at a breakneck speed.Interestingly, two young NCP leaders Jitendra Avhad and Sachin Ahir are now ace dahi handi organisers and both offer cash prizes of over Rs 75 lakh. Ahir’s dahi-handi , that showcased belly-dancing, attracted controversy last year as NCP’s RR Patil is sternly opposed to dance bars.Similarly, Avhad was accused of not paying the promised prize, a charge he has stoutly refused.If you want to see how religion and politics go hand in hand, visit Mumbai for Dahi Handi on Thursday.Marathi prideShiv Sena and MNS vie with each other to pronounce themselves as the true guardian of Marathi pride. As a result, they often fight for credit over the same issue and the Congress- NCP government remains a mute spectator.Take the issue of Mumbai multiplexes not showing Marathi films.As the state government offered tax holidays to upcoming multiplexes a few years ago, it dictated that they must show Marathi movies. But the multiplex owners claim there is not much audience for Marathi movies and they either hold shows early in the day or not show them at all.MNS was first to act asking the owners to follow the policy in spirit or face the music.Sena followed suit, but as MNS had already attacked a few multiplexes, the party filed a Public Interest Litigation.But no Sena leader turned up for the hearing. Similarly, when Raj Thackeray went to see a Marathi movie, one expected him to sit through the film.But apparently he couldn’t take it beyond a point and left half- way through. So much for the love of Marathi from a man who possesses a huge collection of Western movies’ background tracks.  Wily Pawar can still fox his rivalsadvertisementNCP chief Sharad Pawar may be ailing, but he still has great political acumen. Realising that he was getting a bad name over the rising food prices even as he was getting ready take over as ICC president, he offered to relinquish a few portfolios.Pawar had said that he would give these away before the monsoon session of Parliament.It’s end of August and there is no sign yet.Meanwhile, realising that he was losing grip on the party, he held an extended executive session of the NCP in Mumbai over the weekend.Apart from the usual discourses, he made a couple of interesting observations about the opposition parties and Eknath Khadse in particular. He pointed how the Leader of Opposition (Khadse) made corruption allegations over development proposals in Mumbai and then entered an understanding with them.Khadse raised several issues in the legislature where he alleged that Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had committed several irregularities while granting NOCs to the construction proposals.Even as Pawar defended Chavan, his nephew Ajit Pawar,-a minister in Chavan’s cabinet-described him as selfish though without naming him. He told his audience in Satara that the Ashoka tree was quite selfish and doesn’t even offer shadow to others. ” It grows itself, without letting others grow,” he commented, leaving the audience in raptures.Chavan is not allowing several of the NCP proposals and has kept the administration on a tight leash, much like his father. A peeved Pawar returned the favour in public.The saga will not end here. Quaint plea to save Jinnah’s bungalowWhile the central government claims ownership over the bungalow as per the Enemy Property Act, his daughter Dina Wadia has been claiming right to the property that was also the venue where Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah discussed the partition of India in 1944.As an act of goodwill to Jinnah, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did not acquire the property under the Enemy Property Act and even offered rent to him. With Jinnah’s death in September 1948, the issue remained unresolved, only to be resurrected after his daughter staked her claim to the property.It’s not so much her claim to the property, but the basis of the claim that is quite interesting.Her lawyers have cited that Jinnah was not a mainstream Muslim, and that he was a Khoja Shia and therefore the Islamic Sharia does not apply in deciding the issue of inheritance of his property. They state that it is the Hindu law which should be applied.This claim is rather interesting and even amusing, since Jinnah, in his avatar as the leader of the Muslim League, had advocated that the Hindu majority and its representatives in the Indian National Congress will crush the Muslim minority. That was the foundation of his claim for a separate land for Muslims.advertisementAlmost six decades after his death and the birth of Pakistan.Jinnah’s daughter has turned the clocks back.It will be interesting to see how the courts view the argument. It will be some years, but the verdict will make headlines if the courts ruled Hindu law to decide the ownership of the property of the founder of an Islamic republic.last_img read more

No Major Impact from Mega Ships on Port Performance

first_imgzoom Despite the strains that mega vessels may put on port operations, they did not have a major impact on port performance in 2017, a study undertaken by CargoSmart showed.Thw study, which compared mega vessel and non-mega vessel performance in the ports of Los Angeles, Rotterdam, and Shanghai, revealed that very large vessels did not experience significantly longer than average arrival and departure delays than non-mega vessels at the three ports during the year.In 2017, ocean carriers deployed hundreds of mega vessels, with a capacity of 10,000 or more TEUs, to ship cargo around the globe.When looking at the number of vessel arrivals at the three ports, the study found that Shanghai was the busiest port, serving the most mega vessels and the most vessels overall among three ports. Rotterdam served the most vessels with a capacity of less than 10,000 TEUs.Vessel arrival delays were shorter for mega vessels at Los Angeles and Rotterdam, according to the findings.Taking a closer look at the overall average vessel arrival delays at the ports for the year, the study found out that mega vessels at Los Angeles and Rotterdam had shorter vessel arrival delays than non-mega vessels. At Shanghai, mega vessels had longer vessel arrival delays than non-mega vessels. While the difference in performance between mega vessels and non-mega vessels was 1.1 hours for Rotterdam and Shanghai, the performance difference was greater at Los Angeles. On average for the year, mega vessels had 2.7 hours shorter arrival delays than non-mega vessels at Los Angeles.Furthermore, the findings showed that vessel departure delays at the three ports were longer for mega vessels. However, the difference between the mega vessel and non-mega vessel delays only deviated by about one hour at each of the ports.The longest average departure delays were at Shanghai for both types of vessels, with an average departure delay of 26.9 hours for mega vessels and 25.4 hours for non-mega vessels in 2017.CargoSmart’s Global Vessel Voyage Monitoring Center (GVVMC), through which the study was conducted, will continue to monitor port performance by vessel size for changes in performance over time.last_img read more

Endeavour is to facilitate smooth transition Shastri

first_imgCoolidge (Antigua): The reappointed Ravi Shastri says his primary endeavour will be facilitating a smooth transition by the time he leaves the scene. There will also be room for experimentation, he said, as the team looks to leave a lasting legacy. Shastri, 57, was on Friday reappointed for a second term. As per BCCI’s constitution, the national team’s head coach has to be below 60 years, the age Shastri will be approaching by the time his current tenure ends. The 2023 World Cup still a long way and winning 2021 World T20 is the realistic goal for the team. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh”Next two years is to see that smooth transition happens because you will get a lot of youngsters coming, especially into the white ball setup. There will be youngsters coming into the Test match setup as well,” Shastri told BCCI tv. “You will need to identify another three-four bowlers to add to the pool, those are the challenges. So that the team, at the end of our tenure, in 26 months, my endeavour would be to leave the team in a happier place. So that they can leave a legacy for the time to come,” the former India all-rounder said. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterHe wants the team to leave the kind of legacy that future generations would find it difficult look to emulate. “I had the belief that this team could leave a legacy very few teams have left behind in years to come, not just for the moment they are playing but at the end of it all… the kind of legacy other teams going down decades will want to try and emulate. “That is the desire, we are on track. There is always room for improvement. And with youth coming in through the ranks, I think it’s very exciting time. When you strive for excellence and you strive to raise the bar day in, day out, then you got to pay attention to that detail. When you do mess up, you have an off day, don’t let that day go by, in fact, make sure that you are focussing and concentrating on how you can get over that barrier,” he said. Shastri, who had the public backing of captain Virat Kohli even before the short-listing was initiated, has been reappointed for a two-year period, ending with the 2021 T20 World Cup in India. Among all the candidates, Shastri’s record was unmatched as the team reached the No.1 ranking in Test matches under his guidance and won a series in Australia for the first time in 71 years, besides decent success in the limited overs format. “It’s been superbly consistent if you look at the performance over the last two-three years. But like I said that is the bar they have set and now it’s up to them to raise the bar,” Shastri assessed the team’s performance in the last two years. “There is no other way, they have to. Unless you make those efforts, even at the cost of certain results, you will not know what your best setup is. There is a time when you got to invest in getting youth into the side in ensuring that you have better combinations, you are better kept all-round.” Shastri stressed on the improvements the current setup has made in fielding. “On thing that is most important is that over the last four-five years the biggest improvement is fielding and the endeavour is to make this the best fielding side in the world. “So it is a clear diktat to whoever wants to play for this team the standards of that particular player’s fielding will have to be of the highest level, especially in white ball cricket.” “Collectively, looking at the coaches, the players, the team management the endeavour is to keep this consistency going and try and take it to another level.” He also thanked the three-member committee led by Kapil Dev along with Shantha Rangaswamy and Anshuman Gaekwad for showing faith in him for another term.last_img read more


first_imgWhat started as a festival celebrating Chinese kung fu movies and Japanese monster spectaculars, has transformed to become an important industry event for producers of Asian genre films and other cult cinema. The schedule is always packed with surprises and the enthusiastic audiences are part of the experience.https://fantasiafestival.com/en/CINEMANIA (NOVEMBER 7-17, 2019 – MONTREAL, QUEBEC)Despite an abundance of French-language films available to watch in Montreal, few English-speaking Montrealers seek them out. Maidy Teitelbaum thought that was a shame so she created Cinemania to bring them an amazing selection of English-subtitled French movies, not just from Quebec, but from across la francophonie. As an added bonus, many of the movies are screened in Montreal’s majestic Imperial Cinema.https://www.festivalcinemania.com/enOTTAWA INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL (SEPTEMBER 25-29 – OTTAWA, ONTARIO)If you think cartoons are just for kids, you haven’t been watching Adult Swim on Cartoon Network or Teletoon at Night, both of which give a taste of some of the brilliant animated television shows that are aimed at grown-ups. Since 1976, OIAF has been welcoming animators from around the world and screening animated shorts and features that push the envelope of the medium.https://www.animationfestival.caHOT DOCS (APRIL 25-MAY 5, 2019 – TORONTO, ONTARIO)Toronto’s other great film festival is Hot Docs, and unlike the Hollywood fare that dominates TIFF, this festival shines a light on incredible documentaries that elicit strong emotions from audiences because they know they are watching something real. Many of the festival winners go on to be nominated for the documentary categories of the Academy Awards.http://www.hotdocs.ca/CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FILM FESTIVAL (FEBRUARY 7-9, 2019 – WINNIPEG, MANITOBA)Plenty of jokes are made about winter in Winnipeg, so it’s only fitting that the city is home to a film festival every February that features nothing but comedies. The festival recently underwent a name change after a long-time sponsor dropped out, but they keep coming back, vowing to be funnier than the year before. It’s the perfect festival for people who don’t like crying during movies, unless it’s crying from laughter.https://www.cicff.ca/DREAMSPEAKERS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (APRIL 27-MAY 1, 2019 – EDMONTON, ALBERTA)Aboriginal filmmakers from Canada and around the world come to Edmonton to share their stories with Canadian audiences thanks to the efforts of the Dreamspeakers Festival Society a non-profit organization that aims to supports Aboriginal creators and educate the public about aboriginal culture, art and heritage.https://dreamspeakers.org/WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL (DECEMBER 4-8, 2019 – WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA)Billed as Canada’s coolest film festival, this five-day gathering in the beautiful mountain resort town of Whistler is an important event for Canadian movie-makers who come together each year to exhibit their latest creations and meet at the “Whistler Summit” to discuss the state of Canadian cinema. For movie fans, it’s a chance to see some fantastic Canadian movies that are crowded out of the local movie theatre by a constant stream of Hollywood blockbusters.https://whistlerfilmfestival.com/BY MARK STACHIEW ~ CALGARY HERALD Twitter Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment There’s no denying that the Toronto International Film Festival is one of the biggest and most important movie events in the world, but there are dozens of cities and towns across Canada that boast film festivals of their own. From east to west, here are some intriguing film festivals that we think are worth travelling to see:FIN ATLANTIC INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (SEPT. 12-19, 2019 – HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA)You probably don’t see a lot of Canadian films in a year, but chances are you see even fewer from Atlantic Canada. Correct that with a visit to Halifax this summer to binge on an amazing collection of feature films, documentaries and shorts produced by creative and talented artists from Atlantic Canada.http://www.finfestival.ca/FANTASIA (JULY 11 – AUGUST 1, 2019 – MONTREAL, QUEBEC) Login/Register With:center_img Advertisement Movie lovers in Canada have an abundance of choices when it comes to film festivals. Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

Budget 2016 expectations Indigenous communities left alone to deal with mental health

first_imgAPTN National NewsAlmost everyone in the North is impacted by mental health and addictions issues.And what is abnormal to non-Indigenous communities has become the new normal for many Northern communities which have been left to deal with the legacy of the Indian residential school system.APTN’s Shirley McLean has this story.last_img

Upset Alert Pacers Take Game 2 as LeBron Wade

Pacers and George Hill got it done.It is one thing to lose at home to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. It’s another thing to lose with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade failing in the waning moments.But that’s exactly what happened. And the Indiana Pacers were the benefactors with a 78-75 victory that tied the series at 1-1.James, who had 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists, missed two foul shots with 54.3 seconds left and Miami down by a point. He had missed another free throw earlier. And with 16 seconds to go and the Pacers in front by two, Wade missed a driving layup.And finally, down by three in the last seconds of the game, neither Wade nor James took the last shot. It was a contested bomb by Mario Chalmers that clanked off the rim that sealed Indiana’s triumph that secured it the home court advantage.Forward David West  led the way with 16 points and  10 rebounds and guard George Hill added 15.Playing without injured forward Chris Bosh (abdominal strain), who is out for the series, the Heat received little help from anyone other than James and Wade. No other Miami player scored more than five points.The Heat have until Thursday’s Game 3 in Indianapolis to figure it out. read more