Calls for Govt to step up plans for climate change investment

first_imgFive schools in Donegal are set to partake in an energy-saving pilot scheme rolled out by the Department of Climate Action. However, despite the introduction to 17 schools around the country, Independent TD Thomas Pringle says that more investment is needed so that schools and public buildings can generate renewable energy, not just reduce it.Speaking on Friday, Pringle said: “I’m delighted to see that five schools in Donegal will receive funding under this pilot project in an effort to reduce energy consumption. “But I believe if the minister was serious about addressing climate change more funding should be provided to ensure schools can generate renewable energy to sell on the grid and provide much-needed funding.“Schools are important institutions in our communities and have already fostered future leaders as the younger generation begin to take on campaigns calling for greater climate action.“Students from schools across Ireland and across the globe have been partaking in climate strikes demanding that Governments act now on climate change.”Pringle’s calls were echoed by councillor Sinead Maguire who said Fine Gael needs to speed up its response to climate change if the planet is to be protected for today’s school children. “The government now needs to step up its own activity to stop climate change play Ireland’s role in safeguarding the planet,” Maguire said.“We need to cut our polluting emissions in half by 2030 and to near zero by 2050, which means Irish emissions have to fall 6-7% year-on-year, every year, from now to 2050.“Young people clearly understand the urgency of the need to take action now.  The government needs to match their passion for change.”Calls for Govt to step up plans for climate change investment was last modified: March 30th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:climate changelast_img read more

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Reducing Human Behavior to Natural Laws

first_imgCan human behavior be reduced to natural laws that science can study in a morally neutral way?  Darwin sought to incorporate all aspects of the living world, including behavior, in natural laws that were amenable to scientific explanation.  Evolutionary biologists and neuroscientists continue in that tradition today.  Consider two recent examples in the literature that described how human behavior evolves.One nation, under Darwin:  PhysOrg published a short article 9/24/08 about how a strong leader can benefit society.  “In a study that looks at the evolutionary role of leaders in society, the researchers explored how having a leader in charge – with the power to punish – works better than spreading responsibility through the entire group.”  They said that a leader who punishes cheaters and freeloaders increases the cooperation and riches for everyone.    The article talked about how strong leadership benefits the “greater good,” but failed to mention if the model applies equally well to tyrants.  The lead author, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Evolution, was probably not thinking about the exquisite methods of punishment of leaders like Stalin or Kim Il Sung.  Natural laws, however, are indifferent to morals.  It could be argued that their strong leadership did accomplish their national goals quite effectively.  In fact, political scientists often point out that dictatorships are the most efficient forms of government – much more so than democracies and republics with their inevitable delays from long debates, power struggles and drawn-out campaigns. Evolutionary utopia:  Another study was aware of the possibility of mass murder.  “Cultural boundaries have often been the basis for discrimination, nationalism, religious wars, and genocide,” began a paper in Science last week.1  “Little is known, however, about how cultural groups form or the evolutionary forces behind group affiliation and ingroup favoritism.”  This shows right off the bat that they were looking for evolutionary forces, not moral or intelligent causes, behind such effects.  In fact, the paper remained fairly dispassionate about favoritism (which could entail genocide).  Note the word meaningless in their next sentence: “Hence, we examine these forces experimentally and show that arbitrary symbolic markers, though initially meaningless, evolve to play a key role in cultural group formation and ingroup favoritism because they enable a population of heterogeneous individuals to solve important coordination problems.”  So it’s also a paper on the evolutionary emergence of meaning.    The paper approached human poopulations amorally.  A sample population might involve two races at war, communists vs capitalists, or identical people with red shirts and blue shirts – it doesn’t matter, as long as what happens as they interact is explainable in terms of “evolutionary forces.”  The authors were not looking for the thoughts and philosophies and morals of the individuals as having any explanatory power; it’s all about how a population evolves.  Presumably this could explain ant behavior as well as human behavior.    The symbolic markers that were a key element in their model were extremely generic: “This process requires that individuals differ in some critical but unobservable way and that their markers be freely and flexibly chosen.”  Once the markers are identified, “markers become accurate predictors of behavior.”  A natural law is born:The resulting social environment includes strong incentives to bias interactions toward others with the same marker, and subjects accordingly show strong ingroup favoritism.  When markers do not acquire meaning as accurate predictors of behavior, players show a markedly reduced taste for ingroup favoritism.  Our results support the prominent evolutionary hypothesis that cultural processes can reshape the selective pressures facing individuals and so favor the evolution of behavioral traits not previously advantaged.What do they mean by “meaning”?  They asked this question later in the paper: “How does symbolic meaning emerge in the absence of fiat?  (Fiat, presumably, involves intelligent causation.)  Their evolutionary theory produces meaning out of meaninglessness: “Interestingly, mixing players with different expectations, which creates the original problem, also creates a potential solution,” they answered.  “It does so by producing small amounts of covariation that can feed back into the system and accumulate dynamically.”  This is meaning at its most rudimentary, biological, content-free level.  Any covariation that becomes self-reinforcing becomes a measure of meaningfulness.  If the players on the game board start cooperating around an arbitrary symbolic marker, no matter if they are computer soldiers in a war game, bacteria in a petri dish or human slaves, then meaning has “emerged” in this dispassionate world of evolutionary explanation.  One only has to follow the dynamical outcome.  In their experiments on human subjects playing contrived games, “These results indicate that players showed a general tendency to couple behaviors and markers,” they continued.  Notice how content-free and values-free the generalized laws were described: “This tendency, however, was strongest when a player hit upon a successful behavior-marker combination, and it was further reinforced and amplified in the marker-maintained treatment when the marker was not prevented from acquiring meaning.”  Meaning, here, is not meaning in the traditional sense of semantics.  It is self-reinforcing behavior linked to a symbolic marker that brings out the unobservable differences in a population.    Ostensibly, all the researchers were trying to do is understand why humans tend to rally around symbols.  Why do people cheer for their flag when the flag initially was just a piece of colored cloth?  Moral principles, values, propositions, philosophies and theologies have nothing to do with it, from their perspective.  It’s just the way evolutionary forces produce outcomes.  Notice how generic the language is:These results show how the evolution of cultural groups can reconstitute the social environment and produce selection for an ingroup bias that was not initially advantageous.  If selective pressures of this sort were common in past human societies, a plausible outcome would arguably be a relatively inflexible bias leading individuals to prefer others similar in some symbolic dimension.  This idea is consistent with much research showing an astonishing willingness for subjects to exhibit ingroup favoritism when groups are based on trivial, short-lived distinctions. They performed more experiments to see if the favoritism might have been biased beforehand.  They ran correlation coefficients, charted measurements on graphs, and did other scientific things.  Conclusion: evolutionary forces are sufficient to explain what happened.  Trivial groups evolve into cultural groups.  Any symbolic markers, however trivial and meaningless, provide rallying points for unobservable differences between individuals in populations to express themselves.    In their final paragraph they put this all into perspective.  Think of how many complex human situations, how many battles, cross-town rivalries, special-interest clubs, fads and cultural revolutions are now explainable in terms of simple evolutionary laws:The research on intergroup processes indicates that people have a willingness to show ingroup favoritism, and in particular this holds even when groups are trivial and evanescent.  This research tradition has generally examined neither the evolutionary mechanisms behind group formation nor the impact of these mechanisms on ingroup favoritism.  We implemented an experiment in which the significance of groups had to arise, if at all, endogenously, thus providing an evolutionary foundation for ingroup favoritism.  In this setting, trivial groups remained trivial under certain circumstances, but under other circumstances they developed into cultural groups composed of individuals who shared both behavioral expectations and symbolic markers signaling group affiliation.  Ingroup favoritism was strongly associated with cultural groups but not with trivial groups.  Our experiments made exclusive use of coordination games, which serve as a kind of generic proxy for strategic settings with multiple equilibria.  Many strategic settings are characterized by multiple equilibria, and thus the dynamical processes examined here have potentially broad significance.  The mechanisms implicated in the evolution of human prosociality, for example, often produce multiple equilibria, and so cooperation is a behavioral domain with considerable scope for the path-dependent evolution of groups with different norms and expectations.  In this sense, cooperation can be analogous to coordination.  Even more generally, whenever people have a shared interest in distinguishing among themselves in terms of their unobservable information, whatever that means in a given situation, the logic behind the evolution of cultural groups holds. Both studies involved experiments with human subjects who were paid to take part in games devised to study the behavior in question.1.  Efferson, Lalive, and Fehr, “The Coevolution of Cultural Groups and Ingroup Favoritism,” Science, 26 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5897, pp. 1844-1849, DOI: 10.1126/science.1155805.If any of you were swayed by the claims in these papers, you need a serious deprogramming session, kind of like soldiers being deloused after returning from a jungle.  If you don’t see yet how these articles are logically self-refuting and morally pernicious, please, get on your thinking cap.  You will need it because the evolutionists just removed it.  They said you don’t need it any more because you are just a victim of evolutionary forces.  Somehow they are immune to the evolutionary forces acting on them, because they belong to the Yoda Order of the Disinterested and Detached Scientifically Wise Wizards.  This is an ingroup favoritism they must maintain, as evolutionists on a higher plane than the rest of us, lest we on the playing field look at them and accuse them of writing their papers only because evolutionary forces made them do it.  That would be their undoing.  It is vital, therefore, that they maintain their illusion of objectivity.    Undoubtedly they could point to plenty of examples of strongly-held group loyalties around meaningless markers: skin color, favorite food, team flags, arbitary national allegiances (for instance, whether the Sicilians should have allied with Rome or Carthage), and whether to join the Lions Club or the Loyal Order of Moose.  People have an innate ability to identify with fellowships, wear the uniform, and rally behind the standard of their favorite group identity, no matter how profound or silly.  Watch political conventions and observe the crazy ecstasy of crowds cheering on their standard-bearer.  Think about Lincoln demoting indecisive generals and choosing strong, ruthless generals willing to punish non-cooperators and get the job done.  A defender of the two studies above might argue, doesn’t it make sense to try to understand these human tendencies scientifically?  The authors might deny our charge of promoting themselves to the Yoda Order of the Wise.  They might say, “We are humans like the rest of you.  We acknowledge we have these tendencies ourselves.  We’re not making moral judgments.  We feel that by investigating scientifically, with controlled experiments, what makes us act the way we do, how group loyalties emerge, and why we look to strong leaders, we can avoid some of the pitfalls of ignorance about these matters and approach problems in ways more likely to avoid conflict and bring about peaceful solutions.  By understanding our social dynamics, we can try to make the world a better place.  Once we understand the evolutionary tendencies that influence our actions, we can learn to control them, and thus avoid some of the racism and genocide that has plagued human history.  Why are you criticizing this?  What’s the matter with you?  Aren’t you the pernicious ones who would interfere with the progress of science?”    Such criticisms make some sense from a Judeo-Christian perspective.  They make absolutely no sense from an evolutionary perspective.  The claims and questions in the previous paragraph borrow heavily from Judeo-Christian presuppositions and values: honesty, fairness, truth, beauty, peace, understanding, morality.  Remember, the evolutionist believes everything consists of particles in motion obeying natural laws (which cannot be construed as laws in a designed or moral sense, but only as patterns in experience).  It’s as if these researchers burglarized the Judeo-Christian house, stole all the tools and utensils and furniture, raided the refrigerator, then took it to Darwin’s house and served up a feast for their friends they never could have cooked up out of their own resources.  That’s why their explanation is not just dumb, but pernicious.  They’re bloomin’ thieves.    Now if they want to become Christians, we can talk.  We can reason.  We can discuss the pros and cons of their propositions, some of which may be partly accurate (though ignoring the intellectual aspect of human behavior is bound to produce error).  We can let them recast their theory, provided they strip out all the evolution talk and reference their sources.  Since Jews and Christians believe humans are made in the image of God, it is possible for people to use their eyes to study the eye, their hands to study the hand, and their minds to study the mind.  Animals and plants do not do such things.  Your cat may look in the mirror, but it does not come up with a theory of cat behavior and write it up in a scientific journal.  Cats do not have self-awareness, abstract reasoning ability, language, ontology, epistemology, moral philosophy and all the other prerequisites for explanation.  Animals don’t explain things; they just operate.  They may memorize patterns and learn behaviors that reward actions, but they do not deal in concepts.  They do not ponder meaning in life and ultimate reality.     As human beings with an imago Dei (image of God), we have the mental and spiritual resources to operate in the conceptual realm.  At the same time, we have physical natures we share with the animals (stomachs, kidneys, vertebrae, etc.).  But in what organ does self-awareness and abstract reasoning reside?  Our dual nature produces confusion to evolutionists, but the spiritual and intellectual (non-physical) nature is uniquely human.  We are persons.  This is what allows humans, and humans alone, to observe and explain their own behavior.  As created beings, we can observe (and sometimes laugh at) those behaviors that reflect our shared properties with animals: talking like a crow, following the herd, strutting like a peacock, loafing like a sloth, and pigging out at the dinner table.  It is the fallacy of reductionism to suppose that our physical nature entails our spiritual nature.  Honesty, truth, courage, explanation, morality – these and many other qualities that make a man a man instead of a mouse refer to eternal realities.  What is true or moral unless it refers to that which is unchanging, permanent, universal, necessary, and certain?  You can’t get that from randomly moving particles, patterns in experience, or any combination of the two.    The fallacy in evolutionary explanations for human behavior is worse than reductionism.  It ignores the most important aspects of humanness.  We praise those people who subject their physical appetities and natural propensities to their spiritual values: the soldier who ignores his pain to rescue a comrade, the student who suppresses his desire to go to a party to finish a term paper, the leader who suppresses his fear to confront an evil, the young person who waits for marriage, the voter who studies the issues instead of following the party line, the man or woman who reasons instead of reacting to fleshly passions.  “Are you a man or a beast?” – the question emphasizes the point.  Our humanity consists in reasoning, planning, believing, choosing and acting based on concepts and values often contrary to what the flesh wants.  Only humans can exercise self-control.  You have to have a self to control it.  A dog or horse or dolphin will do amazing feats to be rewarded by its trainer, but that is not self-control; it is trainer control.  The animal gets an immediate reward.  Does your dog plan for retirement and write up a will?    Ignoring the key distinguishing marks of humanity to explain human behavior by mystical “evolutionary forces” as if we are pinballs in a game is completely misdirected if not silly.  It is also self-refuting.  It’s like explaining books from the chemistry of paper and ink, and then writing a book about it with a stolen Judeo-Christian pen.  Add to those sins the evolutionists’ complete lack of moral judgment.  Their explanation draws no distinctions; to them, if cooperation is achieved, that’s good (notice that they cannot completely erase the concept of good).  The evolutionary forces and laws care nothing about the means by which cooperation is achieved.  Stalin is the moral equivalent of Reagan.  Let the prisoners in the Gulag weep in silence.  Let them abandon any appeal to their fellow man or to heaven for justice.  Justice!  That word is completely absent from the Darwin Dictionary.    These researchers, because they retain a shadow of that image of God, continue to trade in concepts.  They cannot do that as consistent evolutionists.  If they want to be consistent, let them screech and scratch and watch each other’s behinds (see National Geographic for an edifying exploration of that).  The moment they want to appeal to explanation as if it might be true, they deserve to be sued for worldview plagiarism.  In court, the bailiff will make them swear on the Bible to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God.(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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A Banned Threat to the Ozone Reappears

first_imgScientists have discovered that an industrial chemical once widely used as a blowing agent in foam insulation may be back in secret production, years after it was phased out as part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The Washington Post and other news outlets report that increasing levels of a chlorofluorocarbon called CFC-11 have been detected in air samples taken at an observatory in Hawaii. The CFC-11 was mixed with other chemicals thought to be created somewhere in east Asia, but researchers couldn’t be any more precise in guessing where it came from.CFC-11 was phased out globally after scientists connected it with damage to the atmosphere’s ozone layer, which shields the surface of the planet from UV radiation. The ozone layer is continuing to recover, but an increase in CFC-11 would slow the rate of recovery. CFC-11 lasts for about 50 years once it gets into the atmosphere.A report said that emissions of CFC-11 have increased 25% since 2012. Other explanations were considered, such as increase in the number of buildings containing CFC-11 residues that were being demolished. But ultimately researchers said that the evidence “strongly suggests” a new source of emissions.“I’ve been making these measurements for more than 30 years, and this is the most surprising thing I’ve seen,” Stephen Montzka, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led the work, told The Post. “I was astounded by it, really.”It’s not clear why anyone would want to start making CFC-11 again, not only because of the international ban but also because industry has developed alternatives. The newest blowing agents used in spray polyurethane foams — chemicals called hydrofluoroolefins or HFOs — have no impact on the ozone layer and have very low global-warming potential.Robert Watson, a former NASA scientist who organized flights into the stratosphere to study ozone depletion in the 1980s, told the newspaper in an email that new flights might be needed to identify the source of the chemical.“It is not clear why any country would want to start to produce, and inadvertently release, CFC-11, when cost-effective substitutes have been available for a long while,” he said. “It is therefore imperative that this finding be discussed at the next Ministerial meeting of Governments given recovery of the ozone layer is dependent on all countries complying with the Montreal Protocol (and its adjustments and amendments) with emissions globally dropping to zero.”The developments were reported in Nature.last_img read more

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4 Mistakes You Make When Raising Your Prices

first_imgYou are afraid to press send. You have written an email to your client to notify them of your impending price increase. You are worried that it may jeopardize your relationship—and potentially cost you their business. Over time, your costs have increased and generating the results your clients need means ensuring you have the profit to deliver those same results.Here are four common mistakes when raising your pricing.Avoiding the ConversationWhen you send an email about a price increase, you are also sending another message, one that is going to make it more difficult to gain an agreement on the new pricing. The subtext sounds like this: “I am afraid to tell you about the price increase, and I am worried you are going to take your business elsewhere.”If you want to look like you are doing something to hurt your client (instead of helping them), there may not be a better way to do so than hiding behind an email. The email you want to send gives the impression that you are afraid to discuss pricing and value creation because you believe what you are doing isn’t good, and right, and fair.The very best way to have this conversation is face-to-face. It demonstrates your confidence that the price increase is necessary to continue to deliver the results your clients expect from you.Failing to Justify the IncreaseYour clients also increase prices to their clients and customers. They recognize that their costs increase over time, and they know that they need to be profitable to live, thrive, and survive—and create value for the people and companies they serve. That said, they need to be reminded that what is true for them is also true for you.What’s more expensive now? Is it labor? Is it the raw material? Is it new governmental mandates? Without a justification, your client is left to believe that the price increases is your way of improving your margins, which in and of itself may be necessary, as too little profit may prevent your ability to execute.Providing the reasons and factors that cause the price increase makes it easier to understand and accept the increase.Not Preparing a Defense for Your ContactsSomeone is going to ask your contact about your price increase. Someone on their team has a spreadsheet with their costs, and you just changed one of their variables.If you haven’t had a price increase for the last five years, that’s going to be something helpful for your contact to know. If the increase is based on some challenge that impacts everyone in your industry, like government mandates or new tariffs, you are going to want to provide information as to how the effects everyone equally, without any regard for how it changes their contractual relationships.The more you prepare your contacts to argue on your behalf, the more help they can give you.Being Overly ApologeticOne of the worst things you can do is to believe that you are harming your client. Prices increase over time. Sustaining the ability to deliver the outcomes you sell means ensuring that you capture enough of the value you create to continue to execute for and with your client.Your price increase isn’t designed to hurt your client, and you cannot act or speak like this is true. Your price increase ensures that you continue to serve your clients—and to create new value for them in the future. Make sure that this is a large part of your message—when you sit down to speak with your clients. Get the Free eBook! Learn how to sell without a sales manager. Download my free eBook! You need to make sales. You need help now. We’ve got you covered. This eBook will help you Seize Your Sales Destiny, with or without a manager. Download Nowlast_img read more

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24 days ago​Sheffield Utd midfielder Fleck set for Scotland call-up

first_img​Sheffield Utd midfielder Fleck set for Scotland call-upby Freddie Taylor24 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveSheffield United midfielder John Fleck is set to earn his first call-up to the senior Scotland squad.Fleck is in line to play in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Russia and San Marino later in October.The 28-year-old has never earned a cap at senior level, despite representing the U21s four times when he was younger.He will be Steve Clarke’s newest addition to the squad after impressing in the Blades’ start to life in the Premier League.Fleck has played five of the seven league games this season, while he was ever present last term in the Championship. About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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Gladue report program in Ottawa facing too many delays tying up courts

first_imgKenneth Jackson APTN National NewsOttawa lawyers are calling on the Ontario government to increase funding to its Gladue report program in the city saying delays are tying up the courts and the sole writer is struggling to keep up with “high” demand.“It usually takes about two months for one writer to complete a report. This is far too long a time frame,” said defence lawyer Ewan Lyttle.Lyttle said the reality is many Indigenous offenders in Ottawa struggle with poverty, addiction and mental health issues.“A delay in the sentencing process can often result in breaches of release conditions while offenders wait for reports to be completed,” he said. “This can lead to complications in the report-making process and incarceration of the offender in a system where there is an over-incarceration of Aboriginal offenders.”Since late 2014, Legal Aid Ontario has funded a single writer in the city of Ottawa through Aboriginal Legal Services based in Toronto. The program didn’t get off to a strong start as it went through several writers leading to meeting cancellations and complaints from lawyers seeking Gladue reports.“I know they have had problems in the past, Aboriginal Legal Services, having a permanent Gladue writer who is actually good and writes good reports and can keep up with the caseload,” said defence lawyer Michelle O’Doherty.The latest writer has been in the position since the middle of August 2016 and O’Doherty said she had a report done through that writer in December and it was “good.”“I have had other reports done through Aboriginal Legal Services and they were really terrible,” she said. “They have gone through four or five (writers).”The current system only allows lawyers to go through the appointed writer and no other writers who operate out of Ottawa. Reports will also only be approved for people facing more than 90 days incarceration.Legal Aid said it is not able to provide the number of reports the new writer has completed but in the fiscal year of 2015/16 there were 20 reports completed. There were five reports completed between when the program began in November 2014 to March 2015.Lawyers say the number should be much higher considering how many Indigenous people are in court in Ottawa.Their opinion is backed by statistics obtained by APTN that show between 2014 to October 2016 there were at least 269 Indigenous offenders facing incarceration. This is according to statistics compiled by the Odawa Native Friendship Centre that has the only Indigenous court worker that assists self-identifying First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples at the local courthouse on Elgin Street.Of that 269, 196 were on probation, 170 suffered from addictions, 93 went, or had parents that went, to residential schools, 83 were homeless, 79 suffered from mental health and nearly half (120) were Inuit.“I have definitely had clients, in the last number of months, who have had to wait longer than ideal for a Gladue report,” said defence lawyer Michael Spratt. “These are clients that are both in custody and out of custody.”Defence lawyer Leo Russomanno said he has seen delays, as well, of several weeks longer than expected to get a report.“That’s obviously just unacceptable,” said Russomanno, adding it leaves Indigenous offenders in custody with a hard choice, do they go for a Gladue report or forego their rights to move forward?“It’s really a choice nobody should have to face. It’s really just fundamentally unfair.”All the lawyers APTN interviewed said the Ontario government needs to increase funding and allow for other writers in the city to meet the demand.The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1999 that courts must take into account Gladue principles, which reach deep into the history if an Indigenous person facing incarceration. Some provinces, like Ontario, do so through Gladue reports.The objective of the Supreme Court ruling was to curb the number of Indigenous people incarcerated.The country’s highest court ruled again in 2011 reminding lower courts they had to take Gladue principles into account as the number of Indigenous people in prison continued to soar. It still does to this day.Courts are supposed to consider alternatives to incarceration when possible, such as addiction treatment programs.Jonathan Rudin, program director of Aboriginal Legal Services, defended the Ottawa program when contacted by APTN.“Our current writer in Ottawa … is doing a very good job,” said Rudin. “This is not just my opinion but also what I have heard directly from judges and lawyers.”When asked to provide names of lawyers, Rudin didn’t respond.Legal Aid Ontario also said it is happy with the program in Ottawa.“Aboriginal Legal Services is highly regarded by the courts for the work that they do in this area, which is one of the reasons they were chosen to administer this program,” said a Legal Aid Ontario spokesperson. “However, if ALS is unable to fulfill the request and a client qualifies for services, then Legal Aid Ontario would, under exceptional circumstances, fund another company to write the report.”APTN has requested an interview with the Attorney General of Ontario, Yasir Naqvi, on the burden the underfunding is putting on courts and the local jail.HIs office has not yet responded to our [email protected]last_img read more

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How Tennis Officials Are Trying to Make the Game Fair

Tennis pros, and dedicated amateurs, can control just about everything about their rackets. Rackets are measured for weight, stiffness, balance and head size and strung for peak force, deflection and tension loss. Yet the court players run and hit on will always behave unpredictably. Even at most pro tournaments, players don’t know precisely how “fast” or “slow” a given court is playing, an expression of how much speed and height the ball retains after it bounces. Court speed is a fixture of questions at press conferences during the first few days of Grand Slam tournaments such as the French Open, now unfolding in Paris.“It wasn’t bouncing as much as it had actually the last days on the outside courts,” Milos Raonic after winning his match on Sunday.One reason court speed is such a mystery is that it’s been so cumbersome to measure. The International Tennis Federation has helped develop and test machines that do the job, but the best ones are expensive, bulky and difficult to operate. (The equipment is so hard to transport that many court-surface manufacturers ship samples of their product, in half-meter (1.64-foot) squares of paint and sand, to the ITF’s testing laboratory in London.) For the most prominent ITF-organized events — the Davis Cup and Fed Cup — federation employees must fly with their testing devices, or ship them to sites weeks in advance, to keep hosts from giving players too big a home-court advantage.Now, the ITF is trying to find an easier way to ensure courts are fair. On a recent Thursday at a London tennis court,1I’m not disclosing the tennis court’s location at the ITF’s request, to protect client confidentiality. Jamie Capel-Davies, manager of ITF’s science and technical department, was testing a new device that the federation has helped develop. It’s known as SPRite,2Said like the soft drink; the SPR is short for Surface Pace Rating. The official name for the device measures is court-pace rating, though, as Capel-Davies noted, “‘CPRite’ didn’t have the same ring to it.” and this test was of model number 007.The device doesn’t take a vodka martini. Instead, a ball cannon powered by a bicycle pump propels a ball off the court and through the testing chamber. Seconds later, a display shows the court-speed measurement. The measurement device and ball cannon each weigh about 14 pounds and together cost $12,000, compared to the 110-pound, $45,000 behemoth that sets the standard now. The new devices can be carried by hand, and their dimensions fall within most airlines’ carry-on baggage limits. The motivation for the test, Capel-Davies said, was “democratizing court-pace rating.”3In tennis, democracy is relative: At this price the average hacker won’t be carrying the SPRite and cannon to her local public court.The ITF knows it’s traded some precision for lightness and mobility. The question is, how much? Is SPRite accurate enough to replace its forebears? Capel-Davies and his colleagues were testing it alongside the Sestée, which is the current benchmark. Court-speed rating typically runs between 20 and 70 — and must run between 24 and 50 for Davis Cup matches (a higher number means a faster court).4The court-pace rating, or CPR, is calculated based on the coefficient of restitution (COR), which is the ratio of a ball’s vertical velocity after bounce to its pre-bounce vertical velocity; the coefficient of friction (COF), which is the ratio of horizontal velocity lost after the bounce to pre-bounce vertical velocity multiplied by the sum of 1 and COR; and a temperature-adjusted COR, which is the sum of the COR and 0.003 multiplied by 23 minus the mean ball temperature, in Celsius. The formula is: CPR = 100(1-COF)+150(0.81-adjusted COR). The ITF calls courts with CPR of 29 and under slow, courts with CPR between 35 and 39 medium and courts with CPR of 45 and up fast. The ITF wants SPRite to run within two points of Sestée for the same court.Court speed matters in tennis. During a typical match, the ball will bounce off the court hundreds of times. If the ball typically retains much of its speed, it will be harder to play. That encourages more aggressive play — players will charge the net more often to avoid skidding balls and tricky bounces. A slower court lets players camp out behind the baseline and chase down most shots.Court-pace rating takes into account more than speed, though. The ITF tested the court speed perceptions of U.K. players who were good enough to play for their counties5It’s also tried surveying pros, and gotten similar results, but the response rate was poor. and found that the height of ball bounce mattered, too. The lower the bounce, the faster the court seemed. That’s why high-bouncing clay courts like the French Open’s seem slower than hard courts with the same coefficient of restitution, or ratio of the ball’s speed after impact to its speed before the bounce.6One theory for clay’s higher bounce: The ball pushes granules ahead of it as it collides with the surface, creating an incline to bounce off, a “ramp effect” that leads to a higher bounce. And grass courts, with their lower bounce, seem faster to players than similar hard courts. The ITF formula attempts to account for all this.Once a match is underway, players can’t do anything about the court speed. They play the bounces they get. But players can tailor their training and schedules around which courts best suit their games. For instance, clay makes Rafael Nadal’s heavily topspun forehand shots bounce even higher than on other surfaces. He has taken advantage of this throughout his career by playing more clay tournaments than some of his rivals.For the ITF team competitions, court speed is a crucial part of home-court advantage: Host countries get to choose the surface, which is why Andy Murray had to play on his least favorite surface — clay — in Great Britain’s two away Davis Cup ties this year. (Murray and his teammates won in the U.S. but lost in Italy.)With the currently approved devices, the ITF can’t test the courts at every Davis Cup site, especially on busy weekends when dozens of ties are happening around the world. Instead it audits, choosing to test just a few courts. And at tournaments it doesn’t oversee, including the French Open, there’s simply no official court-pace measurement. (Officials at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon said they test their courts for speed, but the results are confidential.)That makes it tough to assess whether court speeds have changed — one of the goals of Capel-Davies’s department. Tennis players and writers often say — or lament — that pro tournaments are using a narrower range of court speeds than they used to, so there’s less variation among them. Indirect indicators, such as rates of aces or service breaks adjusted for tournament fields, don’t corroborate that impression. The ITF hasn’t tested long enough or often enough to settle the debate. “We don’t have that kind of data,” Capel-Davies said. “I don’t know if anyone does.” The International Tennis Federation uses a bulky steel crate, top left, to ship heavy measuring devices to tournament sites. The outsized Sestée, top right, is difficult to transport, so manufacturers often send samples of their courts, bottom right, to the ITF. The latest-generation device is the SPRite, operated here by Jamie Capel-Davies, manager of ITF’s science and technical department. Its accuracy is still being studied. Carl Bialik Watching Capel-Davies test SPRite in London, it was easy to see the advantages of the new device. He easily carried it onto and around the court, to different testing spots. He also let me try, and within a few minutes I got each test down to under a minute: Take a ball out of a coat that’s lying next to the unit, put the coat back in place, put the ball into the cannon, give the bicycle pump a few cranks, prime the measurement unit, put my foot7We’d taken off our shoes to avoid scuffing the court. on it for stability and press the button to fire.Yes, a coat. Needing something to stop the balls after they had fired from the cannon, bounced off the court and gone through the SPRite, Capel-Davies offered up his jacket to science, taking care to first remove his phone. After each test, the ball nestled in the coat. As we conducted our experiment, Capel-Davies’s colleagues were testing the Sestée on another part of the court. At one point, a Sestée-measured ball got loose and whistled past us.Each court test covered a few different spots, always including ones near the baseline, the service line and the net. The speed can vary from one part of the court to the next. It’s often highest near the baseline because players’ shoes wear down the surface and make it slicker. This court was relatively new, though, so we weren’t expecting as much variation.The measurement process has other quirks. Fail to press the button firmly, and the cannon might not fire fast enough for a reliable measurement. This happened a couple of times to us, so we omitted those readings. Capel-Davies decided when to do that, and it wasn’t a double-blind procedure. He checked with the other group and knew what readings they’d gotten, and was following along as our parallel tests produced results. Still, the quest for an accurate reading seemed genuine. The ITF already had achieved its initial goal of agreement within five points between the devices, which is what a typical player can detect. Then it set its sights on even better agreement, of within two points.Capel-Davies and his team have their own testing lab at ITF headquarters in the southwest London neighborhood of Roehampton, in a converted squash court with the original wood floor now scuffed by equipment. Tennis scientists test balls in a wind tunnel and rackets in a serving machine, nicknamed Goran after 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanišević, in homage to his rocket serves. The apparatus gripping the racket occasionally slips, and there are marks to prove it on the side of the machine. “We have had casualties” — of rackets, not people, Capel-Davies said.The ITF is surrounded by tennis courts. The Bank of England Sports Centre, which hosts next month’s Wimbledon qualifying tournament, is on one side. On the other is the National Tennis Centre. Many ITF employees play tennis during their lunch breaks. But they don’t have their own dedicated full-sized court for testing. So when they get a gig testing a court, like this one, they often take the opportunity to test SPRite.If SPRite passes the test, the ITF, as its seller, will benefit through increased sales, though that’s not the primary motivation, Capel-Davies said. “We’ve had interest, but everyone is waiting” to see what the results are “before putting their hands in their wallets,” he said.Mainly, the organization would like to enable more facilities, including tennis clubs, to test court speed. Having a device on site would allow clubs to measure the effect of temperature and also to track changes in the courts, to know when it’s time to resurface. A manufacturer’s rating, based on a test of a half-meter-long square patch, isn’t good enough because it doesn’t take into account what’s under the surface, how it was attached and how the court has weathered and worn.At tournaments, organizers could test how the speed of a court changes as players play on it — for instance, at grass-court tournaments, as players’ shoes and shots turn the turf near the baseline into dirt. And they could compare speed across different courts; players often say some courts at the same venue play faster than others, something that affects them if they play consecutive matches on different courts.These possibilities haven’t yet arrived. Our test found the SPRite and the Sestée agreed to within 2.7 points — good but not within the desired range of 2.0 points.8The ITF is aiming for agreement at 95 percent confidence of within 2.0 points. The average absolute value of the difference between readings by each device was 1 point for our test. One location, near the service line, was the source of the troubles: The two devices agreed to within 3.2 points, whereas everywhere else was within the limit.“It suggests something odd happened at that location,” Capel-Davies said. “Hopefully, additional testing will determine whether it was an anomaly.” He hopes that the SPRite model we tested, which was first produced last fall, will meet the target by the end of this year.Even if players at every level knew the speed of the courts they were playing on, they’d still have to deal with unpredictable bounces. Court speed can depend on how long the ball your opponent just served was sitting in his pocket: The warmer the ball, the slower the court appears to be. And standard measurements don’t apply when the ball collides with a hill or valley, common on clay courts.Still, broadening access to the court-speed numbers would help further the mission of Capel-Davies’s department, which is, as he articulated it, “to balance technology and tradition in tennis,” and to “make sure the player won because of ability” — and not faulty equipment or a finicky court.CORRECTION (June 2, 4:00 p.m.): An earlier version of this article said the average agreement of the SPRite and the Sestée in a recent test was 2.7 points in court-pace rating, or CPR, and that the two devices’ average agreement was 3.2 points in one location. Those figures were the agreement between the two devices at 95 percent confidence. The average of the absolute value of the differences between the two devices’ measurements was 1 point of CPR. read more

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House committee approves Rep Tedder bill to expand school zone speed limits

first_img Categories: News,Tedder News 08Feb House committee approves Rep. Tedder bill to expand school zone speed limits Legislation enforces school zone speed limits to overhead pedestrian walkwaysThe Michigan House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Jim Tedder to expand school zone speed limits to roads with an overhead crosswalk.Under current Michigan law, school zone speed limits cannot be enforced on highways where overhead pedestrian walkways are constructed.Tedder said this must be changed to protect Michigan students.“This legislation provides local governments with the option of enforcing school zone speed limits in areas which may be dangerous for students walking to school,” said Tedder, of Clarkston.  “Students will be able to walk safely to and from school without having to worry about higher traffic in certain areas.”This legislation does not apply to walkways that span over expressways.Waterford Schools have a situation where exempting the overhead pedestrian walkway from school zone speed limits has created safety issues, Tedder said.House Bill 4840 moves to the full House for consideration.###last_img read more

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