Jacksonville beats Indianapolis75–0.00144523 Minnesota beats Cincinnati77–0.00000000 Kansas City beats Denver66–0.00000000 12New England beats Miami90%–90.00000000% Cleveland beats Cincinnati16–0.72442626 Cincinnati beats Baltimore32–0.00000000 For a brief moment there on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ 2017 season appeared to be lost. The team was defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars, moving its record to 0-10. Considering that no team has ever made the NFL playoffs with 10 losses, the result seemed to dash any remaining hope in Cleveland that the Browns would make a run.Or did it?It turns out, thanks to the assiduous investigations of a Redditor who goes by MrMolonLabe, the Browns are still in this thing: Provided that 46 different games go their way — including two ties — a hypothetical 6-10 Cleveland Browns can be the second AFC wild card team.It’s all rather simple. First, Cleveland wins out — that’s the easy part.1Minor note: The chance that the easy part actually happens is roughly 1 in 650 based on our projections for the rest of the Browns season. Then the Browns need the following: Week 12 wins from Kansas City, Tennessee, New England, Houston, Dallas and Carolina; Week 13 wins from New England, Denver, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Detroit and the Giants; Week 14 wins from Indianapolis, the Jets, Kansas City, New England, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco; Week 15 wins from Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Minnesota and Dallas; Week 16 wins for Baltimore, Kansas City, San Diego, New England, Pittsburgh and Washington; and Week 17 wins for Kansas City, Indianapolis, New England and Cincinnati. Also, the Broncos and Raiders need to tie in Week 12, and the Bills and Dolphins need to tie in Week 17.If all this happens, there would be four AFC teams with a record of 5-10-1 and five more at 5-11. The Patriots, Steelers, Chiefs and Titans would win their respective divisions, and the Jaguars would get the first wild card at 12-4. That leaves the Ravens and Browns tied for the last spot at 6-10. The Browns would win the tiebreaker because their Week 15 win over Baltimore would split the season series, and Cleveland would have a better record in the division.Luckily, we happen to have forecasts for each of those games and can assign a probability for each of those discrete events based on each team’s current Elo rating.2The big assumption here is that the events are independent. Here’s how it shakes out: Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati66–0.00095385 Wash. beats L.A. Chargers39–0.00000036 Kansas City beats Oakland77–0.00000218 15New Orleans beats N.Y. Jets82–0.00000000 Kansas City beats N.Y. Jets64–0.00061047 Pittsburgh beats Houston67–0.00000000 Denver-Oakland tie*0.35–0.00253549 N.Y. Giants beats Oakland32–0.00002492 Some are trickier than others: Elo can’t tell us the probability that a given NFL game will end in a tie because most NFL games do not end in ties. For that, we’ll need a better estimate: There have been 5 ties since 2012 over 1,440 games played,3They changed the playoff rules again this year, which should make ties easier, but we haven’t had one since the change so we don’t have a good number for that. Regardless, this estimate is higher than the overall historical probability of ties. giving us a back-of-the-napkin probability of a specific game going to a tie as 0.35 percent, a rate of about 1 tie every 288 games.Let’s set aside Cleveland’s two needed ties for a moment. Multiplying the Elo probability that each game breaks the Browns’ way, we anticipate there is a 1 in 238,559,677,617,755 chance that they will get that sixth wild card slot. The probability of having two specific selected games tie is a 1 in 82,369 chance. Combining those two chances, we anticipate that the Cleveland Browns have a 1 in 19,649,922,085,696,900,000 — that is 19.6 quintillion — chance of making the playoffs.More to the point, the Browns have a probability of 32 percent to go 0-16 this year. But hey, anything is possible.Check out our latest NFL predictions. Indianapolis beats Houston52–0.00000000 Detroit beats Baltimore45–0.00007788 Kansas City beats Miami83–0.00000000 Cleveland beats L.A. Chargers14–0.00000349 14New England beats Miami81–0.00000283 13New England beats Buffalo76–0.00192697 16New England beats Buffalo87–0.00000000 Tennessee beats Houston63–0.00038459 K.C. beats L.A. Chargers76–0.00000000 Houston beats Baltimore32–4.52766413 San Francisco beats Houston21–0.00000000 Jacksonville beats Houston69–0.00000000 WEEKOUTCOMEPROBABILITYCUM. PROBABILITY Miami beats Buffalo34–0.00000000 N.Y. Jets beats Denver42–0.00000091 Buffalo-Miami tie0.35–0.00000000 Dallas beats Oakland52–0.00000000 Denver beats Indianapolis45–0.00000000 17New England beats N.Y. Jets88–0.00000000 Denver beats Miami45–0.00017307 Tennessee beats Indianapolis52–14.14895040 Kansas City beats Buffalo78–70.20000000 Indianapolis beats Buffalo34–0.00000012 Cleveland beats Green Bay25–0.00000001 Wash. beats Denver64–0.00000000 Baltimore beats Indianapolis74–0.00000000 Cleveland beats Chicago22–0.00000000 Chicago beats Cincinnati31–0.00000004 Cleveland beats Baltimore21–0.00000000 L.A. Chargers beats N.Y. Jets46–0.00000000 Dallas beats L.A. Chargers68–47.73600000 Cleveland beats Pittsburgh6–0.00000000 * Since 2012, 0.35 percent of games ended in a tie Total1 in 19,649,922,085,696,900,000 Carolina beats N.Y. Jets57–27.20952000 So you’re saying there’s a chance…What the Browns need to happen to make the playoffs this year
Ohio State has gift wrapped Terrelle Pryor’s going-away present in the form of a punishment. In the last couple of days Pryor’s journey to the NFL has hit a couple of speed bumps, with his eligibility to a supplemental draft coming into question. The letter of the rule states that a player may only enter a supplemental draft if their situation changes and they are not able to participate in the next season. Technically, between the deadline to declare for the draft in January and when Pryor left the university on June 8, his situation had not changed. Technically. When the draft deadline came, Pryor was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season. At that time the “tat-5” scandal seemed to be under control. Everything was (relatively) normal. The Buckeyes had won the Sugar Bowl The Sugar Bowl was sucked into the black hole of the sporting world. And compliance problems with head coach Jim Tressel were non-existent. Pryor had a contract with the coach to remain on the Buckeye squad for the 2011 season in exchange to play in the Sugar Bowl for nothing. While inevitably Pryor still had his doubts about the season, he still had Tressel to fall back on. One thing that is clearly evident from the transcript of Tressel’s interview from the NCAA, it’s that Pryor and Tressel were very close. Pryor depended on the coach for more than just football related issues. When all hell broke loose on March 8, Tressel received a two-game suspension from the university. A suspension that a short time later was increased to a five-game suspension. After more and more of the scandal developed, it became clear that the season was not going to be what everyone had thought it was going to be. Then on May 30, Tressel resigned (read: retired) from the university. I think it’s safe to say Pryor’s situation had changed. Seemingly following Tressel step for step, Pryor was gone a week later to pursue an NFL career. He had planned to enter a supplemental draft. The rules for a supplemental draft changed after Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar used the supplemental draft to avoid being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. He was drafted by Cleveland in the supplemental, and since then, the rules for supplemental draft eligibility have tightened. The rule lists three reasons to let someone enter a supplemental draft: flunking out of school, graduating and deciding to leave and being kicked off the team. As of earlier today, Pryor did not meet any of these requirements, technically. Cleverly disguised as a punishment, the university did the best thing for Pryor to help him pursue his NFL dream. They sent him a letter on Tuesday banning him from all athletic facilities for five years, and declared him ineligible from intercollegiate play. The letter states that this decision was made due to his decision not to talk to NCAA investigators. “The University must declare you ineligible for intercollegiate competition,” the letter continued. “Due to your failure to cooperate, the University must also disassociate you from its athletic program for a period of five (5) years.” Sure, he won’t be able to come back to Columbus to workout at OSU’s gym in the off-season. But let’s be honest, why would Pryor ever come back to Columbus? Whether they will admit it or not, the university might as well have put a bow on that letter to Pryor, as that should be the last step for Pryor to get into the NFL. Thanks to OSU, expect Pryor to be eligible for a supplemental draft (whenever that may be).
Share your voice 2019 movies to geek out over Oscars 2019: How to write the perfect best picture speech… TV and Movies Now playing: Watch this: And may stop us from staying on the sofa with Netflix, too.Which brings us to Netflix’s Roma. Now available to stream to your TV or laptop or phone, Alfonso Cuaron’s spellbinding drama is a cinematic triumph and richly deserves its best picture consideration. Although… comparing Roma to Black Panther shows the strangeness of artistic awards — how do you weigh up two such different films? Regardless, a win for Netflix’s Roma could also be seen as the start of a new era, as the highest bastion of the movie industry acknowledges a changing industry.Whichever film wins, Tuesday’s nominations signal some timely changes for movies. It remains to be seen who the winners are — not just on Feb. 24 but in the future of features.First published, Jan. 22.Update, Jan. 27 at 10:06 p.m. PT: Adds SAG Award win.Update, Feb. 21 at 10:55 a.m. PT: Adds additional awards the movie has won. How Marvel made ‘Black Panther’ look so amazing Tags Now playing: Watch this: 44 4:15 Comments 9:15 Genre flicks can win these headline awards. The Oscars are often associated with worthy dramas like Spotlight or 12 Years a Slave, but nominees like Avatar and Gravity and last year’s best picture The Shape of Water show sci-fi and fantasy aren’t necessarily an outside bet. Meanwhile box office success didn’t rule out best picture winners like Titanic and Braveheart. What’s more, Black Panther, for all its adrenaline-fuelled action and CG effects, is more than a superpowered beat-’em-up. Like BlacKkKlansman and Green Book, it tackles timely and relevant questions of race and prejudice. Where those other films examine the subject through a historical lens, Black Panther looks at the here and now. The scene in which African artifacts are reclaimed from a British museum gives a succinct take on the bearing of colonial history on the present. And the whole Afrofuturist premise of Wakanda’s highly advanced nation gives a glimpse at a possible future for the people scarred by that history.On top of that, Black Panther is written, directed and largely created by black filmmakers. In a year the movie industry has had to take a long hard look at itself, the story of who’s behind the camera is as important as the story unfolding on screen.So if Academy voters want timely subtext and positive representation as well as a thrilling story and cinematic verve, it’s all there between the punches and one-liners.Enlarge ImageBlack Panther has taken over a billion dollars at the box office. Marvel Films Of course, Black Panther doesn’t have to win an Oscar. Director Ryan Coogler and the folks at Marvel are probably pretty happy with the billion dollars Black Panther raked in at the box office, the rapturous reception from audiences and the near-universal critical acclaim. And those who’ve been thrilled and empowered by the film don’t need a stamp of approval from the Academy. An Oscar, at this point, would be merely the icing on the cake.Besides, awards may actually be the last bastion against Disney and Marvel’s total cultural domination. As much as we love superheroes and blockbuster shared universes, they’re increasingly crowding out anything that isn’t a remake or sequel from the big screen. So you could argue smaller and riskier original feature films need the boost awards buzz gives them. If the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes and the Oscars remind jaded viewers that the big screen is made for more than superheroes, it might motivate us to try a wider variety of movies. 77 Photos Oscar nominations: Black Panther up for Best Picture, 6 other awards Predictions: Best picture, best director, best actor, best actress No one cares about your Oscars speech, you just need to go viral How to watch the 2019 Oscar-nominated movies Black Panther Marvel Oscars 2019 Disney And the nominees are… Black Panther is the first superhero movie to be nominated for the Oscar for best picture. It’s already a cultural phenomenon, a critical success, a billion-dollar box office sensation. At the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday, will it also usher in a new era of recognition for effects-driven superhero blockbusters? Marvel’s smash hit, released last February, is up against BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Green Book, Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, Roma and A Star is Born for the best picture of 2018. Check out the full list of nominees here.So what are Black Panther’s chances?Enlarge ImageBlack Panther faces off against Green Book, Roma and more in the Oscars battle. Marvel Black Panther has already bagged a bunch of gongs. Among a swath of award nominations, it’s scooped the best-film award from the African-American Film Critics Association, the Black Reel Awards, BET and MTV. The film’s music, visual effects and actors have also been rewarded with a BAFTA, two Grammys and several other wins. In January, it scooped up the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding performance by a cast, and the SAG Awards often prove to be a leading Oscar indicator.Effects-driven blockbusters do win Oscars, of course. They just tend to be confined to the technical Oscars, for visual effects and sound design and so on. This year, Black Panther joins Avengers: Infinity War, First Man, Ready Player One and Solo: A Star Wars Story on the shortlist for best visual effects. Panther is also up for production design, costume design, sound editing, sound mixing, music, and best song.Without taking away from the achievements of the movie magicians rewarded for their skill and creativity in individual areas, best picture and best director remain the pinnacle of the awards season. And Black Panther deserves to challenge for the big awards. And the winner is…
Fire kills 9A fire in a gas pipeline at a plant of Steel Authority of India Ltd’s in the central state of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday killed at least nine people, the company said.”Nine persons have lost their lives and 14 are undergoing medical treatment,” state-run SAIL, one of India’s biggest steel producers, said in a statement.The fire, which occurred during a scheduled maintenance job at its Bhilai plant, has now been controlled, SAIL said. There was no immediate comment from the company on whether production was affected.”It is very difficult to say how many more have died, as some bodies are charred,” a police official, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to media, told Reuters.Shares of SAIL fell as much as 4.2 per cent to a near one-year low on the news.Bhilai Steel Plant is India’s sole producer and supplier of rails for Indian Railways, and a major producer of a large variety of wide and heavy steel plates and structural steel, according to the company’s website.The plant has annual steel production capacity of 3.153 million tonnes, with products including wire rods, according to SAIL.
A man looks on from a building at a residential area from where several people travelled illegally on a boat to New Zealand, in New Delhi, India, 23 January 2019. Photo: ReutersIn a dark alleyway no wider than arms’ length, a single ladies’ shoe is all that remains on the boarded-up doorstep of Prabhu Dhandapani, his wife and their eight-year-old daughter.Prabhu, 30, was one of around 50 residents of a refugee community in New Delhi who left the capital to attempt a 7,000-mile boat journey through some of the roughest waters in the world with the aim of landing illegally in New Zealand, relatives and police said.He is now in custody in southern India, while his wife and daughter are missing, along with everyone else who boarded the fishing boat that police say left Munambam harbour in Kerala on 12 January carrying more than 100 people.The most likely and shortest route, though the straits between Indonesia and Australia, passes through seas where storms and typhoons are common.More than a dozen relatives of passengers on board the boat, that include pregnant women and young children, told Reuters they left to escape chronic unemployment in the Madangir area on the south side of New Delhi.“They had to leave to find jobs, to eat,” said Prabhu’s mother, Sugana. “They have been promised work in New Zealand.”When asked if she knew where the country was, she shook her head.It is the first known attempt by migrants to reach New Zealand by boat from India, and their story is a reminder of the vast challenge the country faces to create jobs for the 1 million young people who enter its workforce every month.Boats have been setting out from South and Southeast Asia for Australia for a number of years but Indians making the trip have been relatively rare, based on Australian government statistics that show the largest numbers detained there to be asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan.Long JourneyPassengers from Delhi left the capital in stages in December and early January. They checked into guesthouses near Munambam, a busy fishing port.They appear to have boarded the boat willingly, said a senior police official in Delhi briefed on the investigation. Their local police station in the capital had not received any missing persons’ reports.Precise numbers on the boat – and who organised it – are unknown. One officer from Kerala investigating the case said around 100 people were on board. A second said it could be more than 200, with the remaining passengers coming from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Police recovered more than 70 bags left behind by the migrants, said one of the officers, VG Ravindran.“The bags are full of dry goods and clothes, suggesting they were preparing for a long journey,” MJ Sojan, the officer leading the investigation told Reuters. “The people and boat are missing somewhere in the sea.”Some passengers, including Prabhu, did not board the boat, and police traced several back to Madangir after finding identification documents in the bags left behind. He was detained by Kerala police less than 10 minutes after arriving back in Delhi, his mother said, and taken back to the state for questioning.Sugana said she did not know why Prabhu did not board the boat with his wife, Anandi, and eight-year-old daughter Trisha. She said he was not involved in people smuggling.Hard LifeMany of the older residents of the Tamil community in Madangir fled Sri Lanka in 1983, when a civil war erupted between the majority Sinhalese Buddhist population and the minority Tamils, an ethnic group predominantly living in south India and north and east Sri Lanka.They settled in the area, a few miles from India’s parliament building and some of the country’s most expensive real estate, but which has suffered from rampant unemployment, residents said.“If we get the chance we will also go: this is a rotten place,” said Kanaga Lingam, a Sri Lankan refugee whose son, K Raghu, boarded the boat with his wife and two sons.There is anger too at prime minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in 2014 promising to create millions of new jobs for India’s young and rapidly expanding workforce.In fact, the country lost as many as 11 million jobs last year, according to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) think-tank, putting Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under pressure before a general election due by May.While the official jobless rate is only 3.5 per cent, the last comprehensive labour bureau survey was in 2015-16, and many unofficial estimates say it is much higher, especially if the underemployed, who only work for a few months a year or a few days a week, are counted.Many of those in the Tamil enclave who do work do so as daily manual labourers, a poorly-paid and unstable living.“If I am able I will go to Modi’s house and beg at his feet to be allowed to go to another country,” said a woman called Bumi, who like many southern Indians goes by only one name.“There are a hundred problems here. We have no jobs,” said a 32-year-old man, who like many in the area declined to be named, fearing involvement in the police investigation into the boat.Crime is also an issue in the area, primarily theft, the Delhi police official said.The BJP disputes the CMIE figures on unemployment. On Thursday several cabinet minister pointed to alternative figures from Naukri, an online jobs portal, showing a pick-up in employment over the last year.Land of promiseMany of those Reuters spoke to in the community, centered around a rubble- and garbage-strewn courtyard and several densely populated alleyways, said those on board the boat had been inspired by stories of Indian migrants starting new lives abroad, particularly in Australia.More than 600,000 Indians live in Australia, according to the latest government census, the vast majority of whom arrived legally. There are 155,000 in New Zealand.“People who go to Australia get put in camps for three months,” Kanaga said. “After that they get given proper housing. Everything is taken care of.”But few of those on the boat had passports, according to several people with relatives on board, and the reality for those arriving illegally is very different.If the boat lands in Australia or is intercepted by its border force on the way to New Zealand, those on board face being sent back to India, or to controversial camps in the South Pacific for long-term detention.“If they don’t have visas they would be unlawful maritime arrivals and as such they would be prevented from making an application for a further visa,” said Melbourne-based migration lawyer David Harvey. “They would likely be diverted to an offshore processing center.”New Zealand has seen fewer arrivals than Australia, although it now is also trying to warn off illegal migrants arriving by boat.“Any attempt to reach New Zealand will put your life, and the lives of your family members, at great risk,” said Stephen Vaughan, assistant general manager of the country’s immigration department. “There is every chance you will drown at sea.”But in Madangir, residents say the warnings will do little to deter such journeys.“We know about the dangers,” Kanaga said. “But it is more dangerous to live here than it is to go.”
AP/John L MoneDennysse Vadell sits between her daughters Veronica, right, and Cristina holding a digital photograph of father and husband Tomeu who is currently jailed in Venezuela, in Katy, Texas, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Tomeu Vadell is one of six executives from Houston-based Citgo who has spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges.A faint voice comes through the crackled phone line. On the other end, Tomeu Vadell, speaking from a military counterintelligence prison in Venezuela’s capital, asks his daughters in Louisiana whether they’ve gone to church and says he plans to spend his Sunday doing pushups to keep his body and spirit intact.The call ends abruptly after two minutes, leaving Cristina and Veronica Vadell wondering when they’ll next hear from their dad, who along with five other executives from Houston-based Citgo has spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges“He always tells us they can take away his freedom but never his dignity,” said 27-year-old Cristina, who has followed in her father’s footsteps and is an oil engineer in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she has lived most of her life.As the Trump administration plunges ahead in its effort to unseat Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the fate of the executives — five of them, like Vadell, American citizens with deep roots in Louisiana and Texas — lies in the balance. As does that of the American company they worked for, Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-run oil giant PDVSA, and a major prize in the power struggle between Maduro and a rival the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s rightful leader: Juan Guaido.The families of the so-called Citgo 6 complain the men are being held in inhumane conditions, sharing overcrowded basement cells built for 22 people with nearly four times that number of inmates. They say the crowded conditions require the men to sometimes sleep on the floor and go without access to fresh air or sunlight for weeks.Vadell’s family says he has lost more than 60 pounds due to malnutrition. In a photo snapped clandestinely with a cellphone last month and provided to The Associated Press, he looks like a prisoner of war with sunken eyes and cheeks, a green army jumpsuit hanging from his gaunt frame.Cristina Vadell via AP, left, and AP photo, rightThis photo combo shows Citgo executive Tomeu Vadell at his home in Lake Charles, Louisiana in July 2015, left, and three and a half years later while in confinement in a Venezuelan jail in January 2019. Vadell’s family says he’s lost more than 60 pounds due to malnutrition since he and five other Citgo employees were arrested, for alleged embezzlement and treason, during a meeting at Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2017. The photo at left was provided by Tomeu’s daughter Cristina, and the photo at right was obtained by The Associated Press.Their case shows no sign of advancing. A preliminary hearing has been postponed 12 times for little apparent reason, leaving the families to question whether their loved ones are being held as pawns in a high-stakes political negotiation. The next hearing date is Wednesday.“The situation, as volatile as it is now, brings more uncertainty,” said Cristina Vadell. “We can’t predict the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know my father is staying strong for us and we aren’t going to give up until we bring him home.”The families’ saga began the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2017, when Vadell and the other executives got a call from Nelson Martinez, then head of PDVSA, asking that they travel to Caracas for a last-minute budget meeting.The group flew out on a corporate jet. They included Vadell, vice president of refining; Gustavo Cardenas, head of strategic shareholder relations as well as government and public affairs; Jorge Toledo, vice president of supply and marketing; Alirio Zambrano, vice president and general manager of Citgo’s Corpus Christi refinery; Jose Luis Zambrano, vice president of shared services; and Jose Angel Pereira, the president of Citgo.What happened next upended the families’ serene lives. A group of armed and masked security agents rushed into a PDVSA conference room and arrested all six executives. Hours later, Maduro’s attorney general appeared on state TV announcing charges of embezzlement stemming from a proposal to refinance some $4 billion in Citgo bonds by offering up a 50 percent stake in the company as collateral.“On Monday he left and he was supposed to come back Tuesday,” said Vadell’s wife, Dennysse. “He went into a meeting and never came back.”AP/John L MoneWearing T-shirts with the message “Free the Citgo 6,” the Vadell family poses for a photo in Katy, Texas, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. From left are Hayes Weggeman, his wife Veronica Vadell, his mother-in-law Dennysse Vadell and sister-in-law Cristina Vadell. Dennysse’s husband and her daughter’s father Tomeu, a Citgo executive, has spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela along with five other Citgo executives on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges.Then Maduro himself accused them of “treason,” though they have not been charged with that crime.The arrests kicked off a purge inside Venezuela’s oil industry that a few days later saw Martinez, the PDVSA head, and a former oil minister among dozens others jailed. In Martinez’s place, Asdrubal Chavez, a cousin of the late President Hugo Chavez and close ally of Maduro, was named Citgo president. In December, Martinez died in state custody, further alarming the families of the Citgo employees.Citgo, which controls about 4 percent of the U.S.’ refining capacity, has provided almost no support to the jailed executives despite an indemnity agreement that obligates it to act on the men’s behalf, according to a current Citgo employee speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of being punished by the company. In the ensuing months, Citgo also terminated their pay, the employee said.“The only communication I had with Citgo when this happened was they called to tell me not to go to the media and that they were going to every house to pick up the company cars,” said Maria Elena Cardenas, whose husband is among those jailed.Maria Elena Cardenas via AP)In this summer 2016 photo provided by Maria Elena Cardenas shows her, far left, and her husband Gustavo Cardenas, far right, with their children Maria, left, Gus, right, and Sergio, below, as they vacation in Austria. Since Venezuela’s government arrested Gustavo and five other Citgo employees in November 2017 in Caracas, their 18-year-old son Sergio, who suffers from a rare metabolic disease called mucolipidosis, has been having panic attacks and screaming at night for his Dad. Maria fears that he could die before his father’s release.A battle is now raging at Citgo headquarters, the employee said, as a result of U.S. sanctions on PDVSA last month that effectively block American companies from buying Venezuelan oil, diverting any payments into an escrow account controlled by Guaido, who the U.S. and dozens of other countries recognize as Venezuela’s interim president. Most of the employees loyal to Maduro have left, while any reference to PDVSA has been scrubbed from the company’s facilities, along with portraits of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.Maduro has vowed to defend Citgo from seizure, saying it belongs to the Venezuelan people. His attorney general last week filed criminal charges against the new PDVSA and Citgo boards appointed by Guaido.The U.S. is keeping a tight lid on whatever efforts it has undertaken to help the men.American consular officials have been repeatedly denied access to them in jail because the Vienna Convention doesn’t obligate Venezuela to recognize their dual American nationality. U.S. officials have raised concerns in diplomatic notes and meetings with the foreign ministry, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when asked about the case in a Feb. 6 interview with Fox Business Network, said only that “anywhere there is an American who is wrongfully detained, in this case by the thug Maduro, the United States government is incredibly focused on obtaining their release.”Some family members wonder if the U.S. could be doing more.Venezuelan human rights groups don’t include the men among the almost 1,000 people classified as political prisoners, and the hushed approach contrasts with the very public diplomatic push that secured the release last year of Joshua Holt, a Utah man who was held for more than two years in a Caracas jail on weapons charges that were also seen as bogus. A Venezuelan official who regularly fielded U.S. complaints in the Holt case said Americans have been largely silent with regard to the Citgo employees. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to the press.“We are grateful for the people who continue to help us, but we’re not convinced the U.S. government is taking these Americans into account when making policy toward Venezuela,” said Veronica Vadell.For Maria Elena Cardenas time is running out.Her 18-year-old son, Sergio, suffers from a rare metabolic disease that has stunted his physical growth. Since his father’s arrest, he has been having panic attacks and screaming at night. The two traveled to Caracas recently at great risk to Sergio’s health for a two-hour jailhouse visit to calm the teen’s nerves.“He shouldn’t be in jail. He should be home with his us, his family,” the younger Cardenas said, his voice quivering with emotion. “He’s the bravest person I’ve ever known. He’s the greatest father in the world.” Share
Cosme LopezVenezuelan group Cisneros Media has promoted Cosme Lopez to oversee its worldwide pay TV operations.Lopez will be senior VP and general manager of pay TV channels and services, effective immediately, working out of Cisneros’ Miami base and reporting to executive VP, content distribution Marcello Coltro.He joined Cisneros in 2000 as general manager of cable network Cisneros Continental and went on to establish channels such as Venevision Plus, VmasTV and VePlusTV and expanding Cisneros business in Latin America and the Caribbean.His new duties include overseeing Cisneros’ multiplatform pay TV business and overseeing telenovela OTT cahnnel Romanza+Africa, which is run in conjuction with Mexico’s Azteca and XP Africa.“Cosme has done a remarkable job managing the daily operations and distribution of our linear channels, joint ventures and Pay-TV services throughout Latin America,” said Marcello Coltro, who took on his post earlier this year.Cisneros’ long-serving distribution chief Cesar Diaz exited the operation last month, as TBI revealed at the time. Coltro is now in charge of all distribution operations.
UK-based pay TV broadcaster Sky has acquired Diagonal View, the digital channels company behind the All Time 10s and Football Daily online brands.Sky has been in acquisitive mode in 2017, buying stakes in True North and Chrysalis Vision, and has now taken over nine-year-old Diagonal View.Sky sees the acquisition as broadening its engagement with young, digital-first audiences who may not be taking pay TV services, and as a way of offering “greater brand-safe digital opportunities to advertisers”.Diagonal View is best know for its All Time 10s channels, which use social videos to run content on a diverse range of content that spans The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to unexplained phenomena. It has more than 15 million subscribers, with more than one billion in the past year.Diagonal View’s existing management team, including co-founder Matt Heiman, will continue to lad the business from within Sky, whose group director of advanced advertising Jamie West and director of digital sports and news David Gibbs will now support the unit.“Our social channels complement Sky’s current portfolio – the prospect of our incredibly popular Football Daily channels collaborating with Sky, whose pedigree in this space is unrivalled, is extremely exciting,” said Heiman.“Sky brings rights, expertise and scale. Diagonal View knows how to make content that digital natives enjoy watching and engaging with, so this partnership feels like a natural win-win for both us and Sky.”On the digital side, Sky invested in digital rights management firm TRX in August last year, and has heavily invested in Asian SVOD service iFlix.
Source:http://ruvid.org/ri-world/new-robot-helps-the-elderly-exercise-and-detects-underlying-health-problems/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 16 2018According to the latest report on the evolution of worldwide population submitted by the United Nations, 13% of today’s population is over 60 years of age; and by 2050 this percentage will almost double, reaching 25%. The aging of society is a reality and technologies are adapting day-to-day to this demographic change.In this context, researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), the Universidad de Alicante (UA) and the Universidade do Minho are working on an interactive robot called Pharos which will help the elderly with their daily household chores. Their work has recently been published in the journal Sensors.”Our objective is to turn Pharos into another companion of the elderly; a virtual assistant, friendly and easy to use which regularly recommends personalized physical activities, promoting a healthy life and facilitating the active aging of the population,” highlights Vicente Julián, researcher at the Computer Technology and Artificial Intelligence Group of the UPV.Related StoriesExercise during pregnancy can promote bone health of both mother and childImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsSupervised fun, exercise both improve psychosocial health of children with obesityPharos is based on a commercial robot – Pepper – to which researchers have added two modules: the first which recommends an exercise plan adapted to each user, and the second which, through advanced AI techniques, assesses completion of the exercise, verifies whether the user has completed it correctly – comparing it to a library of stored exercises through Deep Learning – and registers them on the system.The robot also includes a visual and physical interface that the user will interact with in order to identify them through a camera. “Once they are identified, Pharos determines the most appropriate exercises depending on their capabilities. Furthermore, the exercise programme is regularly adapted to the evolution and health of the user. To this effect, it includes a recommendation algorithm which can even help detect health issues,” explains Ester Martínez, researcher of the Robotics and Three-dimensional Vision Group (RoViT) of the UA.The main difference of Pharos compared to other similar systems is the detailed monitoring of users, as well as the possibility to determine whether they are performing the exercises correctly or not. It is a very useful tool for carers and assistants, as it makes it possible to easily check if the ability to perform certain exercises diminishes, which can reveal progressive physical and/or cognitive problems.”Low performance when conducting the planned exercises can indicate some sort of issue with the user. And, by registering the exercise history, Pharos can help reveal underlying problems which would otherwise be impossible to see,” explain the researchers.The Spanish-Portuguese research team is currently working on perfecting the user-robot interactions, optimizing the exercise recognition system and making it possible for several users to use it without interfering with the others, making use of planification strategies.Pharos is one of the results of Retogar, a project focused on improving the care of people with acquired brain damage headed by UA researchers.
Source:https://www.charite.de/en/service/press_reports/artikel/detail/wie_das_immunsystem_vor_darmkrebs_schuetzt/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 31 2019Researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have discovered a protective mechanism which is used by the body to protect intestinal stem cells from turning cancerous. The body’s innate immune system was found to play a pivotal role in this regard. The researchers were able to demonstrate that, rather than having a purely defensive role, the immune system is crucial in maintaining a healthy body. The study has been published in the renowned scientific journal Nature.Inside our bowels, there is a meeting of two worlds. It is where the cells of our intestinal cell walls meet foreign materials, such as bacteria, foodstuffs, and the breakdown products of digestion. Both of these worlds – that of our bodies and that of the outside world – are in direct contact, continually exchanging information. This direct contact is of crucial importance to our bodies, as many of the environmental factors we are exposed to (such as certain types of bacteria or essential nutrients) are beneficial or even vital to our health. However, contact with the environment can also have a negative impact on our bodies. Certain foreign substances, for instance, can trigger genetic changes inside the epithelial cells which line our intestinal walls. The accumulation of this type of DNA damage, particularly when it occurs inside epithelial stem cells, can lead to bowel cancer.To prevent this progression to cancer, cells have the capacity to repair DNA damage. Where damage is too extensive, they can commit ‘altruistic cell suicide’ (also known as apoptosis). Until now, scientists had assumed that stem cells triggered this repair mechanism independently. However, the study (led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Diefenbach, Director of Charité’s Institute of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, BIH-Professor in Precision Medicine and Head of the Mucosal Immunology Research Group at the German Rheumatism Research Center) comes to a different conclusion, namely that the immune system is capable of enhancing the DNA repair mechanism in damaged stem cells, thus preventing progression to bowel cancer.Related StoriesLiving with advanced breast cancerUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerWorking with other researchers, Prof. Diefenbach and his team were able to show in a mouse model that cells of the innate immune system are capable of recognizing genotoxic environmental factors present in the bowel. Among these are certain glucosinolates, natural components of plants which are commonly found in many types of cabbage. Once the cells of the innate immune system detect damaging glucosinolates, they send out interleukin 22, a type of cellular messenger. This, in turn, enables the epithelial stem cells to detect potential DNA damage earlier and repair it faster. “The immune system acts like a sensor that detects genotoxic food components,” explains Prof. Diefenbach. “Switching off this sensor results in a significant increase in cases of bowel cancer.”For the immunologist, these findings are not only evidence of a previously unknown regulatory system which is used by the body to protect itself against bowel cancer. It is also evidence of the fact that the immune system’s functions are far more complex than that of a simple defense mechanism against pathogens. “The immune system monitors both the healthy growth and function of different organs in the body,” explains Prof. Diefenbach. He and his team would like to use future research studies to explore the complex interaction between food components, intestinal flora, the intestinal wall and the immune system in greater detail. “It is here that we may find the key to why there are so many inflammatory disorders,” says Prof. Diefenbach.