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No Sign of Change in North Korean Attitude

first_img RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Entire border patrol unit in North Hamgyong Province placed into quarantine following “paratyphoid” outbreak There are signs that North Korea is running into serious difficulties with its corn harvest News By Kim Yong Hun – 2011.07.18 11:35am Facebook Twitter SHARE News center_img News News North Korea tries to accelerate building of walls and fences along border with China No Sign of Change in North Korean Attitude AvatarKim Yong Hun A South Korean official said the government would continue to pursue progress in inter-Korean relations despite there being no obvious sign of change in the attitude of North Korea.The official said on Friday at an informal press gathering held at the Inter-Korean Immigration Office at Gyeong-ui Line that, “Inter-Korean relations aren’t frozen, the door for talks is still open,” and that, “Things might not be proceeding well but it doesn’t mean it will be like this forever.”“Relations between the North and South have always ebbed and flowed,” he continued, adding that, “It’s important to find even just one small thing that we can work on together and take small steps from there. One step at a time.”However, he also said that, “It is a time of great fluidity in the inter-Korean relations, and therefore it is hard to predict how or in which way that variability will manifest itself,” also saying that, “It’s a peculiarity of trying to have talks that when one side wants them, usually the other doesn’t.”On the topic of a change of attitude from North Korea, he said “There are no signs of that just yet. That’s why the environment isn’t quite ripe for dialogue at this stage.”On the Yeonpyeong Island and Cheonan incidents, he explained that, “The resolution of those unfortunate incidents is essential for constructive relations between the North and South, but their revelation of the private contact both countries were having with one another is conclusive proof that we weren’t able to reach that point.”Regarding the possibility of a restart of North-South summit talks, he said, “You can’t build a house out in the wilderness. You need the right kind of amicable conditions to build that house, and right now we do not have the groundwork for that.”Turning to the topic of the humanitarian aid issue, he expressed his fear that North Korea’s request for food aid is merely a decorative measure to aid its claims to becoming a ‘strong and prosperous state’ by 2012. However, he also hinted that South Korea would consider restarting and expanding aid to the North on the precondition that it is handed to civilian bodies and the allocation of the aid is transparent.“There’s an argument to say you can’t put the issue of large scale food aid in the same category as simple humanitarian aid,” he said. “The (South Korean) government believes the food situation in North Korea is not relatively worse than previous years, and it certainly seems more likely that their request to the international community for food aid is a part of their preparations for becoming a ‘strong and prosperous state’ by 2012 rather than the result of severe starvation.”Continuing on, he said that, “There is a good chance we could expand our aid programs if we can monitor them, and be sure that the aid is going to the vulnerable classes.” He listed food, medicine, powdered milk and wheat as articles of aid that could be potentially increased.When asked about the possibility of aid for flood damage, he said that, “It’s still too early to judge the extent of the flood damage and whether or not we will provide aid for that.” “We don’t believe there has been any flood damage that requires our attention yet, so we will just have to keep an eye on it,” he clarified.Speaking on economic cooperation between China and North Korea, he said that, “China and North Korea have decided to jointly develop the Hwanggeumpyeong area and are endeavouring to set up a joint investment committee, but it’s not the sign of opening up that our government and the international community thinks it is.”“We would like to see North Korea pursue development via a properly orchestrated and voluntary liberation of their society which leads to cooperation with the international community,” he highlighted.In addition, the official plans to push ahead with a proposal to prepare finances for unification by setting up a North-South joint cooperation fund and the alternate use of tax funds.“I’m considering two different proposals. One of those is how we can best use a joint cooperation fund going forward,” he said, pointing out that, “National Assembly members from both sides have already submitted bills pertaining to the establishment of a joint cooperation fund.”“The second one I’m thinking over is how to appropriate those funds through the tax system. But even if it does eventually involve a tax, we will go with something that does not place too big a burden on ordinary people,” he said. He added that “The government’s proposal for a unification fund is nearly complete; we just need to iron out a few things.”In April, GNP members in the National Assembly including Chung Ui Hwa and Kim Choong Whan moved a revised bill for the Joint Cooperation Fund Act for the Establishment of an Account for North-South Cooperation and Unification.last_img read more

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Internet of Cells: The Next Revolution?

first_imgEvolution Tagsbiologycellcloud computingDarwinian theoryembryonic developmentevolutiongenetic informationintelligent designinternet of cellsinterstate highwaysmammalian cellsMonya BakermRNAnatureorganellespeptidesResearchRNAunit of selectionUniversity of HeidelbergVanderbilt Universityvesicles,Trending Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Intelligent Design Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Cells are the fundamental units of biology. They have long seemed like individuals. Sure, they communicate, like humans, and they build structures together, sharing the work with division of labor. But like factory workers going home at the end of the day, cells can be treated as independent units with their own lives to live. To evolutionary biologists, cells divide alone and evolve independently. Isn’t that one of the basic premises of modern biological science?Take heed: the next biological revolution is coming. Nature calls it “The Internet of Cells” and says that it has biologists buzzing.The revolution began, Monya Baker writes, when biologists noticed that proteins engineered to appear in certain cells appeared to have “teleported” to a different group of cells entirely. Then came the discovery of molecular nanotubes that appear to transmit genetic information and even organelles between cells. Gradually, cells seemed to be losing their independence.Yamashita’s tubes joined a growing catalogue of cryptic conduits between cells. Longer tubes, reported in mammalian cells, seem to transport not just molecular signals but much larger cargo, such as viral particles, prions or even mitochondria, the cell’s energy-generating structures. These observations suggest an unanticipated level of connectivity between cells, says Amin Rustom, a neurobiologist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, who first spotted such tubes as a graduate student almost 20 years ago. If correct, he says, “it would change everything in medical applications and biology, because it would change how we see tissues”. [Emphasis added.]A short video clip reveals what appear to be “interstate highways” reaching out and connecting between cells, passing material between them. The concept of intercellular trafficking through conduits is controversial, because no one knows exactly what is being transported and how often this occurs. The nanotubes, a mere 200 nm in diameter (wide enough to transport protein scraps), have been observed in the lab, but not as clearly in living organisms. They are hard to see. What are they doing?Baker recounts lab findings in 2004 that showed “something even more radical: nanotubes in mammalian cells that seemed to move cargo such as organelles and vesicles back and forth.” Since then, more “membrane nanotubes” have been found.Meanwhile, other labs have reported cell-connecting tubes in neurons, epithelial cells, mesenchymal stem cells, several sorts of immune cell and multiple cancers. Further types of tube have been spotted as well. In 2010, Gerdes and his team reported that some tubes end in gap junctions: gateways that bestow the neuron-like ability to send electrical signals and can also pass along peptides and RNA molecules.The “internet of cells” might also explain how disease agents, such as viruses, spread among tissue cells, or how cancer cells hijack their neighbors. Not everyone is jumping aboard the new paradigm, because the implications are huge. Eliseo Eugenin at Rutgers Medical Schoolthinks that other researchers are sceptical of nanotubes because they are unable to reconcile themselves to the idea that cells are constantly exchanging materials, including genetic information. “Our definition of a cell is falling apart,” Eugenin says. “That is why people don’t believe in these tubes, because we have to change the definition of a cell.”The race is on to convince skeptics with better imaging of functional transport within multicellular organisms. Baker doesn’t say much about evolution. She notes that one researcher speculated, “Membrane protrusions might have evolved first, and higher organisms could have started upgrading them to make neurons for more complicated functions.” Such personification language is not particularly helpful for materialists. Baker quickly pivots and says, “Most researchers who study these cellular pipelines care less about their evolutionary origin than about their role in human health and disease.” As such, the “internet of cells” looks like it will be a boon for design research, and a challenge to Darwinian evolution.Sharing Genetic InformationA separate paper in PNAS discusses “Intercellular mRNA trafficking via membrane nanotube-like extensions in mammalian cells.” Notice how this team of Americans and Israelis describes the finding as a revolutionary development in biology:mRNA molecules convey genetic information within cells, beginning from genes in the nucleus to ribosomes in the cell body, where they are translated into proteins. Here we show a mode of transferring genetic information from one cell to another. Contrary to previous publications suggesting that mRNAs transfer via extracellular vesicles, we provide visual and quantitative data showing that mRNAs transfer via membrane nanotubes and direct cell-to-cell contact. We predict that this process has a major role in regulating local cellular environments with respect to tissue development and maintenance and cellular responses to stress, interactions with parasites, tissue transplants, and the tumor microenvironment.The team admits that “The biological importance of mRNA transfer between cells is still unknown,” but the concept of sharing of genetic information between cells appears to overturn long-held assumptions about the independence of cells.As for what cells are sharing, many possibilities come to mind. For instance, “the transfer of mRNAs involved in cell differentiation during embryonic development might act as means to induce or repress neighboring cells.” Conceptualizing the rapid transfer of genetic information via “nanotubular highways” between cells opens up many new avenues for research. “Determining the scope of this process and deciphering the mechanism and physiological outcome of mRNA transfer will be the goal of future studies,” they conclude.More EvidenceHormones and signal molecules have long been known to travel between cells, but direct transport by contact is fairly new. Science Daily reported on work at Vanderbilt to learn how cells communicate during wound healing. The cell’s signals are “surprisingly complex”, the headline says. One hypothesis had been that cells send proteins to their neighbors that trigger them to boost their calcium levels.The second hypothesis proposes that the trigger signal spreads from cell to cell through gap junctions, specialized intercellular connections that directly link two cells at points where they touch. These are microscopic gates that allow neighboring cells to exchange ions, molecules and electrical impulses quickly and directly.“What is extremely exciting is that we found evidence that cells use both mechanisms,” said Shannon. “It turns out cells have a number of different ways to signal injury. This may allow them to differentiate between different kinds of wounds.”Implications for Design ResearchDarwinian theory presupposes some kind of “unit of selection” in biology. Evolutionists have long debated whether the unit of selection is a gene, a cell, an organism, or (less commonly proposed) a population of organisms. Neo-Darwinism has long focused on cells as units of selection, because that’s where genetic mutations take place that might be beneficial. Essential to the theory, though, is some degree of independence of the unit of selection, so that whatever beneficial variation appears can be victorious in the struggle for existence.If organisms routinely share their information, however, all evolutionary bets are off. There won’t be competition if all the players share the benefit. We saw this conundrum when evidence grew for rampant horizontal gene transfer between microbes, and then between higher organisms. Some biologists considered the existence of a “quasi-species” in which a population could rapidly recover from individual stresses because of information sharing.The “internet of cells” bears more similarity to “cloud computing” than to classical notions of Darwinian evolution. If functional information is routinely shared throughout the internet of cells, that looks a lot more like cooperation than competition. Prospects for research in this hot new paradigm appear wide open for non-Darwinian interpretations. Life Sciences Internet of Cells: The Next Revolution?Evolution News @DiscoveryCSCNovember 6, 2017, 1:49 AM Recommended Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Sharelast_img read more

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Olympic hero Takemoto dies

first_img GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES KAWASAKI – Masao Takemoto, a member of Japan’s gold-winning men’s overall team gymnastics event at the 1960 Rome Olympics, died Friday of bile duct cancer, his family said Monday.He was 87. Takemoto competed in three consecutive Olympics from the 1952 Helsinki Games and helped capture a gold medal in the men’s team competition in Rome in 1960. He later worked as a coach at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1976 Montreal Olympics and contributed to guiding Japan to 10 straight titles at the Olympics and world championships. center_img IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5last_img read more

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9 months agoMan Utd boss Solskjaer: Plenty of one-on-one meetings in Dubai

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd boss Solskjaer: Plenty of one-on-one meetings in Dubaiby Paul Vegas9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he used their trip to Dubai to get closer to the players.He revealed that he had ­individual meetings with a number of players in a bid to develop the kind of personal touch that has been missing at the club.Solskjaer said: “I haven’t managed to speak to every single player on this trip but we have had quite a few individual chats, both formal and informal.“That’s just the way I believe in things. It’s probably easier for them to speak to me rather than in front of a big group.“That was the way I enjoyed being coached as well. I always loved one-to-one coaching here with chats to the ­gaffer (Ferguson), Rene (Meulensteen), Carlos (Queiroz), Steve McClaren and Kiddo (Brian Kidd).“Every single player needs that ­connection, because they want to know what is expected of them. It’s not just me telling them what to do. It’s about me asking, ‘What are your strengths? What do you feel? What can you give to the team?'” last_img read more

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a month agoBruce says Newcastle fans fed up with takeover talk

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Bruce says Newcastle fans fed up with takeover talkby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveNewcastle United boss Steve Bruce says fans are fed up with takeover talk.A brochure emerged this week detailing Peter Kenyon’s alliance with GACP Sports, a Florida-based investment firm, aiming to raise cash, and promising big returns for anyone buying a stake in the Toon.Bruce said on Friday: “All the players are professionals. They’ve heard it all before. They’ve probably seen it how many times? Five? Six? Twice a season for the last five years? It’s common knowledge the club’s for sale.“It’s an on-going saga, isn’t it? Until it’s bona fide. I think people are saying ‘here we go again’.“It’s got nothing to do with me. I’m not really bothered about it. I’ve been involved with them before. It’s something I can’t really influence.“Lee Charnley runs the club fantastically well on a day-to-day basis. We have regular contact, every day, twice a day. I’m fine with it.“I’ve been involved in it all before at Aston Villa. I’ve been involved in a takeover at Birmingham City. If it’s true, then I get involved.The only thing I can influence… hopefully we can play better than we did last Saturday.” last_img read more

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Dont want to get into the rat race

first_imgNew Delhi: Aparshakti Khurana is getting offers of lead roles with great money, but he doesn’t want to rush into it. The actor says he is waiting for the right script and the right part. “There are a lot of people who approached me after Dangal and Stree to do films in lead roles with great money. But I don’t want to rush into it,” said Aparshakti. “I want you to call me with a happy face that the film is rocking… And that will only happen if I make wise and patient decisions. So I am just kind of waiting for the right script and not jumping the gun and not rushing into it,” he added. Explaining the reason behind his decision, he said: “A lot of actors have made that mistake. Apart from Rajkummar Rao, nobody has been able to do that… Somebody who used to do smaller roles and then come into the big proper male lead character. Apart from Rajkummar, I don’t think anyone else has been able to do that.” From Dangal, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Stree to his latest release Luka Chuppi, Aparshakti, the younger brother of Ayushmann Khurrana, has made his presence felt in the narrative irrespective of the length of the supportive characters. Directed by debutant Laxman Utekar, Luka Chuppi starring Kartik Aaryan explores live-in relationships, and is working well at the box office.last_img read more

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Head of Algeria ruling party attacks powerful intel chief

first_imgALGIERS – The head of Algeria’s ruling party, a vocal supporter of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika seeking a fourth term in April elections, called on the powerful intelligence chief to resign in an interview published Monday.General Mohamed “Tewfik” Mediene, the long-time leader of the DRS military intelligence agency, is considered a towering force in Algeria, whose secretive military elite has dominated the country’s political scene since independence.Bouteflika reportedly took decisive steps to roll back their pervasive influence last year by curbing the prerogatives of the DRS, which analysts said strengthened the president’s hand in his long-running power struggle with the military, ahead of the upcoming elections. But public criticism by senior Algerian officials of the man at the head of the intelligence agency since 1990 is very rare.“If we examine the achievements of internal security in certain important cases, we can see that the agency’s failures have multiplied,” Amar Saidani, secretary general of Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN), told independent news website Tout sur l’Algerie.“In my opinion, Tewfik should have resigned after these failures,” added Saidani, using the name by which General Mediene is commonly known in Algeria.Notable security failures cited by the FLN leader included the bloody hostage raid on a desert gas plant in January 2013, an attempt on Bouteflika’s life in September 2007 and a deadly attack on the UN headquarters in Algiers later that year.“The presence of internal security in every institution gives the impression that power in Algeria is not in civilian hands,” Saidani said.“Instead of managing the country’s security, this department (the DRS) interferes with the activities of political parties, the judiciary and the press,” he added.Saidani was controversially elected FLN secretary general in August last year, amid strong opposition from some within the ruling party, just a month before Bouteflika was reportedly curtailed the powers of the DRS.Three of the agency’s key units — the army communications bureau, its central security office and its judicial police force — where placed under the control of General Ahmed Gaid Salah, a close Bouteflika ally, according to local press reports that have not been denied.Referring to damaging accusations and corruption scandals that have implicated members of Bouteflika’s inner circle in recent years, notably former energy minister Chakib Khelil, Saidani said the DRS “never stops making up stories about those close to the president.”Contacted by AFP, a member of the FLN’s political office refused to comment on the party leader’s remarks.Saidani announced in November that Bouteflika, 76, was the FLN’s designated candidate in the upcoming presidential polls, despite many in Algeria rejecting the idea given the president’s age and fragile health.Bouteflika has not been seen or heard in public since suffering a mini-stroke last year, and has yet to say whether he will contest the election.last_img read more

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The Neymar Deal Was Certainly Crazy But Was It Smart

NAMECLUBAGESCORINGBALL PROGRESSION Lionel MessiBarcelona301.317.64 Among the younger players, Douglas Costa just moved to Juventus and is likely unavailable. Likewise, Eden Hazard is under contract with Chelsea and is also unlikely to be sold. That leaves three Neymar replacement options: Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele, Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The fact that Dembele makes this list based on the strength of his performance when he was only a teenager is particularly impressive. If he can be pried from Borussia Dortmund, the French attacker could immediately replace a major chunk of Neymar’s production for Barcelona, and would have room to grow into a superstar.With the right purchase at wide forward, Barcelona could take advantage of PSG’s unprecedented spending. But Barca has less than a month until the transfer window closes. The Catalans are flush with cash, but they need to get busy shopping. Scoring measured by expected goals + expected assists per 90 minutes (XG+XAOP/90) — excluding assists notched off set piecesBall progression measured by progressive passes or runs per 90 minutes (PPR/90)Position measured by share of time in the position of wide forwardSource: Opta Sports NeymarBarcelona250.944.69 Scoring measured by expected goals + expected assists per 90 minutes (XG+XAOP/90) excluding assists off set piecesBall progression measured by progressive passes or runs per 90 minutes (PPR/90)Players who registered 0.6 or more Expected Goals + Assists Per 90 (XG+XA/90) qualified as scorers; min. 4000 minutes played in club league and Champions League playSource: Opta Sports Lorenzo InsigneNapoli260.564.44964.80 Paris Saint-Germain didn’t break the transfer record when it signed Neymar from Barcelona on Thursday, it destroyed it. Over the last decade, the transfer record has been nudged forward by small increments, 5 to 10 percent every few years: Real Madrid’s 2009 signing of Cristiano Ronaldo for $110 million was surpassed four years later when Madrid dropped $117 million on Gareth Bale. And last summer Manchester United set a new record by spending $123 million on Paul Pogba. Then PSG cut a check to Barcelona for just over $260 million.1These figures are based on 2017 conversion rates. The conversion rate between euros/pounds and dollars shifted between 2013 and 2016 such that Pogba’s fee, while the largest in history in pounds or euros, comes in as fewer dollars based on the exchange rate at the time. It’s unprecedented. Neymar’s reported wage of $53 million per year could lead to Pogba, stuck on a piddling $20 million, demanding a raise himself soon.Neymar isn’t twice as good as any other top soccer player, as you’ll see below. By any normal accounting, PSG overpaid. But the precise mechanics of the transaction may explain the why the club forked over all that money. All Spanish contracts must by law include a buyout clause, under which the player can pay to sever the contract. Barcelona set Neymar’s buyout well beyond his presumed market value. But the buyout meant Neymar was available for a fixed price. If Neymar offers a combination of skills and value which cannot reasonably be replicated on the transfer market, then overbidding the market at least leads to a return that couldn’t be replicated any other way.And Neymar does offer unusual value as a forward. He provides an elite goal-scoring threat, ranking sixth among all players in the top five leagues2The Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Bundesliga in Germany, Serie A in Italy and Ligue 1 in France. in combined non-penalty goals and assists in his last two seasons for Barcelona. He is also a playmaker, using dribbling skills and creative passing to open up opposition defenses. There are a good number of strikers who get shots and goals at similar rates to Neymar, and there are midfielders who provide great ball progression value, but the combination of the two in one player is rare.To measure Neymar’s production, we can use two sets of statistics. The first, expected goals and expected assists, estimates the quality of scoring chances. The second, progressive passes and runs, identifies actions which advance the ball 10 or more yards in attack, or into the 18-yard-box. A successful progressive pass or run doubles the likelihood that the attacking team will score within the next seven seconds, on average.Of the 32 players with at least 0.6 expected goals and assists per 90 minutes in the last two seasons,3Excluding assists off set pieces. only seven have created more than three progressive passes or runs per 90 minutes as well. Dries MertensNapoli301.013.40 Raheem SterlingManchester City220.613.33 Neymar has a rare combination of playmaking and scoringThe major European league scorers with the highest rate of progressive passes and runs in the past two seasons NeymarPSG250.944.6998%0.00 Dries MertensNapoli301.013.40385.29 NAMECLUBAGESCORINGBALL PROGRESSIONPOSITIONSIMILARITY SCORE Angel Di MariaPSG290.675.72944.19 Gareth BaleReal Madrid280.873.76 Angel Di MariaPSG290.675.72 Alexis SanchezArsenal280.835.79714.24 Neymar’s possible replacements at BarcaThe players rated most similar to Neymar based on scoring, progressive passing and share of time spent in the wide forward position Ousmane DembeleDortmund200.574.64674.38 Eden HazardChelsea260.455.50855.19 Douglas CostaJuventus260.474.81895.17 Gareth BaleReal Madrid280.873.76873.19 Philippe CoutinhoLiverpool250.586.16815.34 Other than Raheem Sterling, whose expected goals production is far short of Neymar’s, the other players on this list are well into the primes of their careers and unlikely to maintain peak production through a five-year contract. If PSG is aiming to get the full possible return on a five-year contract, Neymar is the best bet. The best bet just happened to cost $261 million in this case.At the same time — if you ignore age — the Brazilian forward falls well short of his now former teammate, Lionel Messi. Neymar may be the best creative forward of his generation, but his generation did not produce a Messi. Barcelona will still have the better player leading its attack, at least for now.The weakening of Barcelona may be a side benefit for PSG. The French side has been eliminated by Barcelona from the Champions League knockout round three times in the last five years. In those five seasons, PSG has never made the semifinals. Last season, in league play and Champions League competition, only Barcelona and Real Madrid had a better expected goals difference per match than PSG. If Barcelona does struggle to replace Neymar, it may benefit PSG in European competition.The problem is, Paris Saint-Germain just gave Barcelona hundreds of millions of Euros to spend to improve its team. Barcelona will be able to claw back some of Neymar’s production from the wide forward position, and then spend the remaining cash on another star. To identify players that will fit Barca’s needs, I created a similarity score to Neymar based on the key creative forward statistics listed above — as well as minutes played in a wide role over the last two seasons:4This similarity score compares other players to Neymar across five statistics: xG+xA/90, ProgPassRun / 90, combined xG + Prog, % of minutes played at wide attacker, and combined ratio of xG to xA and ratio of prog passes to prog runs. Alexis SanchezArsenal280.835.79 read more

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Clemsons Run Game Could Give Notre Dame Fits

The Tigers have a punishing ground gameClemson’s rushing attack by season* under head coach Dabo Swinney 2011158.54.1924.326.0 Percentage of … 2013174.64.1726.723.9 2015223.04.9327.218.6 2017194.14.7027.520.9 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group SeasonRushing Yards per GameYards per RushFirst Downs or TDs Per RushRushes For zero or Negative Yards 2015Alabama91.62015Boston College97.0 2016169.74.3126.620.8 2014146.53.5322.424.7 The Irish rank second nationally in passing yards allowed per pass attempt (5.35) and passing yards allowed per completion (9.54). Specifically, the Notre Dame secondary is adept at taking away play-action throws. Only three teams allowed fewer yards per play on the play-action. Eight of Notre Dame’s 20 takeaways this season came against play-action looks.2Only five teams in the nation forced more turnovers against play-action passes.However, the interior of the Irish defense has been suspect, and this year’s team is among coach Brian Kelly’s worst at stopping the run, with -10.9 expected points added on run defense. Opponents pick up 2.52 yards after contact per rush against Notre Dame, placing the Irish 70th of the 130 FBS teams. This will be the best secondary Lawrence has faced, but it might not matter if Etienne can find the running avenues he’s grown accustomed to breaking through this season.Will Clemson’s NFL-ready defensive line raze the Irish?Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables’s defensive line is formidable, probably the best in the country. It’s certainly the most NFL-ready — ESPN projects that three of its members will be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. As Irish quarterback Ian Book put it, “In terms of their defensive line, everyone knows about them.”The quartet of Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence3Lawrence may be ineligible for the playoff after he tested positive for a banned substance. and Austin Bryant is an embarrassment of riches that keeps opponents up at night. It’s the teeth of a defense that ranks first in efficiency (92.3), yards allowed per play (4.2)4Tied with Miami and Mississippi State. and yards allowed per carry (2.6); second in points allowed per game (13.7); and a dismal third in stuff rate (27.0 percent), which is the percentage of carries stopped at or before the line of scrimmage, and sacks (46). This year’s Clemson squad is in line to rank first in expected points added on rush defense and fourth in defensive efficiency among all FBS teams since 2005, the first year ESPN tracked both stats. 2016Alabama97.42018Clemson109.4 This Clemson defense is among the bestThe top five FBS teams since 2005 by defensive efficiency and expected points added on run defense 2010139.03.9521.424.5 Etienne amassed 1,463 rushing yards this season, the fifth-most in the country and the second-most by a Clemson running back in the past 15 years. Nearly half of those yards came after contact — and despite his collision-inviting style, the loping Etienne is among five major-conference running backs to tote the rock at least 175 times without fumbling. He has cleared the goal line on 21 carries, one shy of the national lead. It appears that Wide Receiver U has itself an elite running back.Behind Etienne on the depth chart are Lyn-J Dixon and Adam Choice, each of whom has more than 50 carries and 500 rushing yards on the season. Clemson features three of the 15 best players this season in yards per carry (among players with at least 50 carries).An imposing run game opens up the field for Trevor Lawrence, the freshman quarterback and No. 1 national recruit from the 2018 class. The 19-year-old ranks 12th in FBS in Total Quarterback Rating, at 79.1, and has proved to be more than capable since usurping veteran Kelly Bryant’s starting spot. On play-action looks, he leads the nation in touchdowns per attempt.As it happens, Notre Dame likely has the best pass defense of any team in the playoff. 2009170.44.8125.825.0 2018Clemson92.42016Alabama99.5 7Alabama84.36 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group rankingTeamPass defense EPA 120Oklahoma-94.92 2018259.86.7533.6%16.0% Clemson and Notre Dame have a lot in common. The programs put together two of the quietest undefeated regular-season campaigns in recent memory. The Tigers’ credentials were diluted by an unspectacular ACC, the Irish by independent classification and lack of a conference title. Each team has a first-year starting quarterback who won the job in late September. Both have breakout running backs and elite defenses.Admission to the playoff has become the expectation for Clemson.1This will be the fourth consecutive appearance for the Tigers, who are a combined 53-4 since 2015. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has rebounded from a four-win campaign in 2016 to find itself on the doorstep of the national championship game for the first time in six years.Though the teams may be similar in many ways, there’s still plenty that separates them. Las Vegas oddsmakers don’t see the matchup as being particularly close, opening with the Tigers as 10.5-point favorites. According to FiveThirtyEight’s college football prediction model, Clemson has a 36 percent probability of winning the national title, while Notre Dame’s probability is considerably lower, at 11 percent.Here’s what to look for when the two programs meet in the Cotton Bowl semifinal Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern.Can Notre Dame temper Clemson’s run game or run-pass option attack?In the words of Notre Dame linebacker Drue Tranquill, “You’ve got to stop the run in order to beat this team.”Behind the fearless Travis Etienne, the Tigers feature one of the best inside rushing attacks in the nation. Most of the successful action is funneled inside the tackles, as evidenced by the Tigers ranking inside the top 15 nationally in rushing yards on carries taken up the middle, toward the left guard and toward the right guard. The team averages 6.8 yards per carry, which leads the Football Bowl Subdivision, and has compiled 46 rushing touchdowns, good for third best nationally. For a program that had six running backs selected in the NFL draft over the past decade, this is undoubtedly the best ground game that head coach Dabo Swinney has overseen. 2011Alabama94.52007Oregon State103.1 SeasonTeamDefensive EfficiencySeasonTeamRun defense EPA 2012191.14.2228.221.6 They get teams off the field, having helped force the most three-and-outs (81) in the country — at a clip of 44.3 percent. This is largely because offensive plays tend to go the opposite direction against Clemson. A measly 30.6 percent of plays earn five yards or more against Venables’s defense, the best rate in the country, while 40.5 percent of plays earn zero or negative yards, the third-best rate in the country.The Irish offensive line has done a commendable job keeping Book upright. Notre Dame is among the best 35 teams in sack rate and in the top 15 in sack rate on passing downs. However, Notre Dame’s offensive line has been pushed around, as evidenced by the team ranking outside the top 100 in line yards, passing downs line yards per carry, opportunity rate and stuff rate.Clemson has controlled games in the trenches all season. To pull off the upset, Notre Dame must first temper the Tigers’ quartet.Check out our latest college football predictions. The Irish can stop air attacksThis year’s playoff participants in expected points added (EPA) on pass defense 2014Clemson92.52012Rutgers102.6 * In full seasons under Swinney, who took over as head coach midway through the 2008 seasonSource: ESPN Stats & Information Group 2Notre Dame96.95 15Clemson68.46 read more

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How Our 2019 Womens World Cup Predictions Work

Before a match, we can determine each team’s rate of scoring based on the number of goals it’s projected to score over the entire match. This rate isn’t constant over the entire match, however, as more goals tend to be scored near the end of a match than near the beginning.2The rate of scoring in the 85th minute is about 1.4 times the rate of scoring in the fifth minute. We account for this increase as the match progresses, which results in added uncertainty and variance toward the end of the match.We also account for added time. On average, a soccer match is 96 minutes long, with two minutes of added time in the first half and four minutes of added time in the second half. The data that powers our forecast doesn’t provide the exact amount of added time, but we can approximate the number of added minutes in the second half by looking at two things:The number of bookings so far in the match. Historically, each second-half booking tends to add about 11 seconds of time to the end of the match.Whether the match is close. There tends to be about 40 extra seconds of added time when the two teams are within a goal of each other in the 90th minute.Our live model also factors in overtime and shootouts, should we see any in the knockout phase of this World Cup. Our live shootout forecasts follow the same methodology described in this 2014 article.Finally, we make three types of adjustments to each team’s scoring rates based on what has happened so far in the match itself.Red cards are important. A one-player advantage is significant in soccer and adjusts scoring rates by about 1.1 goals per match, split between the two teams (one rate goes up; the other down). Put another way, a red card for the opposing team is worth roughly three times home-field advantage.Consider a match in which our SPI-based goal projection is 1.50-1.50 and the home team has a 37 percent chance of winning before the match. If a red card were shown to the away team in the first minute, our projected goals would shift to 2.05-0.95, and the home team’s chance of winning would go up to 62 percent.Good teams tend to score at a higher rate than expected when losing. The most exciting matches to watch live are often ones in which the favored team goes down a goal or two and has to fight its way back. An exploration of the data behind our live model confirmed that any team that’s down by a goal tends to score at a higher rate than its pre-match rate would indicate, but the better the team that’s behind is, the bigger the effect.Take the 2014 Brazil vs. Croatia match. Before the match, Brazil was a substantial favorite, with an 86 percent chance of winning, but it went down 1-0 after Marcelo’s own goal in the 11th minute. Without adjusting for this effect, our model would have given Brazil a 58 percent chance to come back and win the match, but with the adjustment, our model gave the team a 66 percent chance of winning. (Brazil went on to win the match 3-1.)Non-shot expected goals are a good indication that a team is performing above or below expectation. Anyone who has watched soccer knows that a team can come very close to scoring even if it doesn’t get off a shot, perhaps stopped by a last-minute tackle or an offside call. A team that puts its opponent in a lot of dangerous situations may be dominating the game in a way that isn’t reflected by traditional metrics.As a match progresses, each team accumulates non-shot expected goals (xG) as they take actions near the opposing team’s goal. Each non-shot xG above our pre-match expectation is worth a 0.34 goal adjustment to the pre-match scoring rates. For example, if we expect non-shot xG accumulation to be 1.0-0.5 at halftime but it is actually 0.5-1.0, this would be a swing of 1.0 non-shot xG, and a 0.34 goal adjustment would be applied to the original scoring rates. This isn’t a huge adjustment; at halftime, the away team in this example would have about a 5-percentage-point better chance of winning the match than if non-shot xG were proceeding as expected.In the case that there has been a red card in a match, the red card adjustment takes precedence over the non-shot xG adjustment.We took particular care to calibrate the live model appropriately; that is, when our model says a team has a 32 percent chance of winning, it should win approximately 32 percent of the time. Just as important is having the appropriate amount of uncertainty around the tails of the model; when our model says a team has only a 1 in 1,000 chance of coming back to win the match, that should happen every 1,000 matches or so. The 2019 Women’s World Cup is only 52 matches, so it’s unlikely that our model will be perfectly calibrated over such a small sample, but we’re confident that it’s well-calibrated over the long run.The U.S. — as usual — is one of the favorites this year, and we hope you follow along with us as the tournament plays out.Check out our latest Women’s World Cup predictions. Editor’s note: This article is adapted from an article about our 2018 World Cup predictions.The Women’s World Cup is back, and so is another edition of FiveThirtyEight’s Women’s World Cup predictions. For those of you familiar with our World Cup forecast for the men in 2018, or our club soccer predictions, much of our 2019 forecast will look familiar. We show the chance that each team will win, lose or tie every one of its matches, as well as a table that details how likely each team is to finish first, second or third in its group and advance to the knockout stage. Our predictions also incorporate in-game win probabilities that update in real time.Below is a summary of how the forecast works, including a description of FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index (SPI) ratings, how we turn those ratings into a forecast and how we calculate our in-game win probabilities.SPI ratingsAt the heart of our forecast are FiveThirtyEight’s SPI ratings, which are our best estimate of overall team strength. In our system, every team has an offensive rating that represents the number of goals that it would be expected to score against an average team on a neutral field and a defensive rating that represents the number of goals that it would be expected to concede. These ratings, in turn, produce an overall SPI rating, which represents the percentage of points — a win is worth 3 points, a tie worth 1 point and a loss worth 0 points — the team would be expected to take if that match were played over and over again.To generate our SPI ratings, we run through every past match in our database of women’s international matches — back to 1971 — evaluating the performance of both teams with four metrics:The number of goals they scored.The number of goals they scored, adjusted to account for red cards and the time and score of the match when each goal was scored.The number of goals they were expected to score given the shots they took.The number of goals they were expected to score given the nonshooting actions they took near the opposing team’s goal.(These metrics are described in more detail in our post explaining how our club soccer predictions work. In matches for which we don’t have play-by-play data, only the final score is considered.)Given a team’s performance in the metrics above and the defensive SPI rating of the opposing team, it is assigned an offensive rating for the current match. It is also assigned a defensive rating based on its pre-match defensive rating and the attacking performance of the other team.These match ratings are combined with the team’s pre-match ratings to produce new offensive and defensive SPI ratings for the team. The weight assigned to the new match’s ratings is relative to the game’s importance; a World Cup qualifier, for example, would be weighted more heavily than an international friendly.Match forecastsGiven each team’s SPI rating, the process for generating win/loss/draw probabilities for a World Cup match is three-fold:We calculate the number of goals that we expect each team to score during the match. These projected match scores represent the number of goals that each team would need to score to keep its offensive rating exactly the same as it was going into the match.Using our projected match scores and the assumption that goal scoring in soccer follows a Poisson process, which is essentially a way to model random events at a known rate, we generate two Poisson distributions around those scores. Those give us the likelihood that each team will score no goals, one goal, two goals, etc.We take the two Poisson distributions and turn them into a matrix of all possible match scores, from which we can calculate the likelihood of a win, loss or draw for each team. To avoid undercounting draws, we increase the corresponding probabilities in the matrix.1There has been some debate about what kind of distribution best models scoring in soccer. We’ve found that two independent Poisson distributions work well with the addition of diagonal inflation. That is, we generate the two distributions independently but increase the value of each cell in the matrix where the scores are equal by some constant (somewhere around 9 percent, but this differs by league and is based on the degree to which we would have undercounted draws had we not inflated the diagonal). Take, for example, the 2014 men’s World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia. Before the match, our model was very confident that Croatia would score no goals or one goal. Brazil’s, distribution, however, was much wider, leading to its being a significant — 86 percent — favorite in the match. Although there is evidence that home-field advantage in soccer is shrinking, teams still get a boost in performance when playing the World Cup on home soil. Similarly, teams from the same confederation as the host nation experience a smaller but still measurable improvement in their performances. In the 2019 Women’s World Cup, we’re applying a home-field advantage for France of about 0.15 goals and a bonus about one-half that size to all teams from the UEFA confederation. These are both a bit smaller than the advantage that historical World Cup results suggest.Tournament forecastOnce we’re able to forecast individual matches, we turn those match-by-match probabilities into a tournament forecast using Monte Carlo simulations. This means that we simulate the tournament thousands of times, and the probability that a team wins the tournament represents the share of simulations in which it wins it. As with our other forecasts, we run our Women’s World Cup simulations hot, which means that each team’s rating changes based on what is happening in a given simulation.Live match forecastsOur live match forecasts calculate each team’s chances of winning, losing or drawing a match in real time. These live win probabilities feed into our tournament forecast to give a real-time view of the World Cup as it plays out.Because we lack enough play-by-play data for women’s international soccer to build a live model from scratch, the parameters described below were initially established while building our live model for the 2018 men’s World Cup. When possible, we’ve verified that these parameters and decisions carry over to the women’s game.Our live model works essentially the same way as our pre-match forecasts. At any point in the match, we can calculate the number of goals we expect each team to score in the remaining time. We generate Poisson distributions based on those projected goals and a matrix of all possible scores for the remainder of the match. When the matrix is combined with the current score of the match, we can use it to calculate live win probabilities.For example, in the 65th minute of that same Brazil vs. Croatia match, with the score tied 1-1, our projected distributions for the remainder of the match had narrowed considerably. A Brazil win was still the most likely outcome, but much less so than at the start of the match. read more

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