Lending leaders and laggards

first_img 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The New York Fed’s quarterly release of consumer lending data received more attention than usual this cycle thanks to a certain milestone. For the first time, overall U.S. consumer debt of $12.7 trillion exceeded the previous high established in late 2008, just as the extent of the Great Recession was becoming apparent.Even at a high level, this statistic provides an opportunity to separate the “glass half full” types from the Negative Nellies. Does it mean our economy has finally recovered—or that we’ve simply created a new bubble for ourselves?Probably neither, although a closer look at the data could provide pockets of support for either argument. If you like numbers nearly as much as I do, I encourage you to download the New York Fed’s deck and easy-to-navigate spreadsheet, both of which contain plenty of worthwhile nuggets.Here’s my take on the high points.Of the six underlying consumer debt categories, four remain well off their highs while two have grown—and one of those is a doozy. continue reading »last_img read more

LA fires spread rapidly

first_imgAs the Station fire continues to grow — more than doubling in size Sunday night — USC has extended an offer of support to students and families who may be affected.The fire, which started burning Aug. 26 and had spread across 105,000 acres by Monday night, forced evacuations in several towns in northeast Los Angeles County and displaced many USC students and their families.Fire flight · A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter drops gallons of water in the Big Tujunga Canyon in Sunland in an attempt to control the rapidly expanding blaze, which has spread over 105,000 acres. – Eric Wolfe | Daily TrojanUSC sent an email Monday afternoon to students whose permanent addresses are in the areas threatened by the fire.The email, sent by Andrea Torres, director of student support and advocacy in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, offered support and counseling for students victimized by the fire.Burning in the Angeles National Forest and surrounding areas, the fire had destroyed 53 structures including residences as of 6 p.m. Monday, accordingto the County of Los Angeles Office of Emergency Management.The fire was also threatening Mt. Wilson and the Mt. Wilson Observatory, where USC has a 60-foot solar tower. Mt. Wilson hosts TV and radio towers and multimillion-dollar astronomy projects from other schools, as well.The Station fire ­— the largest of eight fires currently burning in the state — was only 5 percent contained as of Monday night.last_img read more

Hughes backs Crouch after Stoke beat Fulham

first_imgStoke boss Mark Hughes believes Peter Crouch can get his Premier League season going after the striker’s goal steered the Potters into the Capital One Cup fourth round.The Ealing-raised former QPR star’s inclusion was one of eight changes ex-Fulham boss Hughes made for the game at Craven Cottage, where the visitors won 1-0.Stoke are yet to win in the league this season and Hughes said: “It was an opportunity for some of the players who haven’t played yet, and some of them certainly did their cause no harm whatsoever.“Pete needed that game. He’s struggled in pre-season because he had an operation that didn’t go quite as planned, and it set him back somewhat.“He’s been behind where he needed to be for quite some time, probably all of pre-season, so it’s only now that he is getting up to speed. It was important he got game time tonight and I thought he did really well.“He scored a goal which, of course, as a striker you want the benefit to scoring goals. It was a good finish and he’ll start to progress this season I’m sure.”See also:Fulham edged out by Stoke in cup clashSymons praises ‘excellent’ Fulham after cup defeatFulham v Stoke player ratingsFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Nature Knows Best

first_imgRecent news articles show how engineers and inventors are helping mankind by imitating what plants, cells and animals do every day.A new kind of vaccine based on spider silk (Science Daily). Because spider silk is tough and yet biodegradable, it can be used as a delivery capsule for vaccines that might otherwise be resisted by the body’s immune system. Based on that fact,researchers from the universities of Geneva (UNIGE), Freiburg (UNIFR), Munich, and Bayreuth, in collaboration with the German company AMSilk, have developed spider silk microcapsules capable of delivering the vaccine directly to the heart of immune cells. This process, published in the journal Biomaterials, could also be applied to preventive vaccines to protect against infectious diseases, and constitutes an important step towards vaccines that are stable, easy to use, and resistant to the most extreme storage conditions.A world specialist in spider silk explains the motivation. “More and more, scientists are trying to imitate nature in what it does best,” adds Thomas Scheibel. “This approach even has a name: bioinspiration, which is exactly what we have done here.”Speaking of spider silk, Japanese scientists at RIKEN have made progress understanding how the spider makes it. Phys.org says that they “examined the soluble precursor of spider silk and found that a previously undiscovered structural element is key to how the proteins form into the beta-sheet conformation that gives the silk its exceptional strength.” And why is spider silk so attractive as a bio-inspirational material?According to Keiji Numata, who is a project leader of JST ImPACT and led the research group, “Spider silk is a wonderful material, as it is extremely tough but does not contain harmful substances and is readily biodegradable, so it does not exert any harmful load on the environment. We hope that this discovery will help make it possible to create artificial silk that will prove useful for society.“Fluid jets from navel orange (PNAS).High-speed microjets issue from bursting oil gland reservoirs of citrus fruit (PNAS). Why do lemons squirt you in the eye? Squeeze most citrus fruits as you peel them, and you are blasted by high-speed jets of oil from the inner rind. Scientists decided to figure this out. In a somewhat amusing paper, four scientists intentionally squeezed navel oranges to film the jets at slow motion, and found that they are among the fastest jets in nature. The only animal that gets more G’s of acceleration is the mantis shrimp with its hammer claw. The orange accelerates oil to 10 meters per second in just 1 millimeter! That’s 5,100 G’s. Short video clips in the paper show the jets in action. The team doesn’t know why citrus fruits do this, or what function it serves the plant, but it gave them ideas.Here we show a unique, natural method for microscale jetting of fluid made possible by the tuning of material properties from which the jets emanate. The composite, layered construction of the citrus exocarp allows for the buildup of fluid pressure in citrus oil gland reservoirs and their subsequent explosive rupture. Citrus jetting has not been documented in literature, and its purpose is unknown. This method for microscale fluid dispersal requires no auxiliary equipment and may open avenues for new methods of medicine and chemical delivery. We show how jet kinematics are related to substrate properties and reservoir shape.Bent bird feathers repair themselves when soaked in water (New Scientist). Would you like an umbrella that can repair itself in the rain? Scientists may be able to make those, if they follow the inspiration of bird feathers. Watch that bird in the bird bath. “Splashing around in water doesn’t just get a bird clean,” writes Leah Crane: “– it can also repair broken feathers from the inside.” A spongy matrix of fibers in the feather absorbs water. Parts expand; other parts do not. Water fills the matrix like air in a balloon, expanding the broken feather to its original shape. “Because the fibres bend elastically, they ‘remember’ their previous straight shape – once the matrix was softened by water, internal pressure from the swollen matrix encouraged the bent fibres to spring taut again.” Marc Meyers at the University of California says, “artificial materials engineered to mimic feathers could be used for self-healing structures, like antennae that repair themselves in the rain.”Nature’s traffic engineers have come up with many simple but effective solutions  (Tanya Latty at The Conversation). Too bad Tanya begins with Darwin worship:As more and more people move to cities, the experience of being stuck in impenetrable gridlock becomes an increasingly common part of the human experience. But managing traffic isn’t just a human problem. From the tunnels built by termites to the enormous underground networks built by fungi, life forms have evolved incredible ways of solving the challenge of moving large numbers of individuals and resources from one place to another.Once her Darwin trance subsided, Latty described the elegant solutions devised by ants to find the optimum path, how army ants march in lanes, and how they will fill potholes with their own bodies so others can march over them. And did you hear about the Humongous Fungus?It’s not just insects that build transport networks. Brainless organisms such as fungi and slime moulds are also master transportation designers.Fungi build some of the biggest biological transportation systems on Earth. One giant network of honey fungus (Armillaria solidipes) spanned 9.6km. The network is made up of tiny tubules called mycelia, which distribute nutrients around the fungi’s body.A video clip shows how the lowly slime mold can map the Tokyo Subway System. “Nature has found many different solutions to the universal problem of building and managing a transport system,” she concludes. “By studying biological systems, perhaps we can pick up a few tips for improving our own systems.”Addendum: Some Technical Papers on BiomimeticsBiological tissue-inspired tunable photonic fluid (PNAS). “We design an amorphous material with a full photonic bandgap inspired by how cells pack in biological tissues,” three engineers report. “The size of the photonic bandgap can be manipulated through thermal and mechanical tuning.”A bioinspired flexible organic artificial afferent nerve (Science). “Sensory (or afferent) nerves bring sensations of touch, pain, or temperature variation to the central nervous system and brain. Using the tools and materials of organic electronics, Kim et al. combined a pressure sensor, a ring oscillator, and an ion gel–gated transistor to form an artificial mechanoreceptor (see the Perspective by Bartolozzi).”In vitro biomimetic engineering of a human hematopoietic niche with functional properties (PNAS). This team tried to imitate human bone marrow. “Here, we report the development of a human 3D (BM) analogue in a perfusion-based bioreactor system, partially recapitulating structural, compositional, and organizational features of the native human osteoblastic niche environment. The engineered tissue supports the maintenance of some hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) properties.”Robust nonequilibrium pathways to microcompartment assembly (PNAS). Two researchers tried to imitate the carboxysome, a cellular “cage” that packages biological material. “We identify experimentally tunable parameters that modulate the shape and size of the assembled structure, advancing strategies to repurpose natural microcompartments and to create synthetic mimics.”How electrostatic networks modulate specificity and stability of collagen (PNAS). By studying the electrostatics of triple-helix collagen, scientists hope to mimic its properties. “The critical balance of electrostatic and hydrogen-bonding interactions is dramatically revealed in an atomic-resolution structure of the design,” the six authors say. “A predictive model of collagen stability and specificity is developed for engineering novel collagen structures.” In 21st century biology, design science is where it’s at. Darwin is toast. He’s so 1859. Time to ditch natural selection (3 October 2015) and look at life with an eye to engineering. (Visited 418 times, 1 visits today)Facebooklast_img read more

SA hosts a cricket revolution

first_img28 September 2007South Africa – “the rainbow nation” – has one of the more colourful national flags, and the abiding memory of the inaugural Twenty20 World Championships will be one of colour, with fans from far and wide becoming part of the spectacle as sports and entertainment collided in a wildly successful first edition of the shortest form of international cricket.The organisers, by making dancers and DJs an integral feature at every match, created a vibe and energy that was sorely missed at the World Cup in the West Indies earlier in the year.The combination of sport and entertainment was reflected in the excitement of the supporters, and it rubbed off on the players as they interacted with the crowds to a far greater degree than had previously been seen in other forms of cricket.The best of cricketIt was as if both the fans and the players brought out the best in each other, and thus the best of cricket emerged in a tournament that many feel will transform the way cricket is viewed in future.Some have expressed the opinion that the game, through T20 cricket, is undergoing a revolution in much the same way as the sport was forever changed by Kerry Packer and World Series Cricket in the 1970s, which saw the introduction of coloured clothing for the players, and significantly increased salaries.In many ways, Twenty20 cricket is tailored to today’s world, a fast-moving world of instant gratification. It’s like a meal that is ready in two minutes from a drive-through restaurant; it satisfies and is enjoyable.An instant highlights packageIt takes three hours to complete a game and, because of its limited nature – 20 overs per side – the players have to take greater risks. Taking greater risks results in big rewards (and big failures), but there it is, an instant highlights’ package with just enough meat to it that skill wins out over luck.The International Cricket Council (ICC) needed the inaugural T20 World Championships to make a good impression – they say first impressions count – and their choice of South Africa as the venue for the event paid off . BIG TIME.After the completion of the tournament, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed called it a “great event” and paid tribute to tournament director Steve Elworthy for the manner in which it was run.Hosted with styleSpeed said South Africa hosted the championships with style and added that the intense fare dished up on the fields by the teams, along with their spirited efforts, contributed in a big way to some great matches.Some cynics feared that the T20 game would be an uneven contest favouring bowlers over batsmen, but it didn’t turn out that way. Many concerns expressed before the tournament were quieted, and in most cases, it seems, those cynics were turned into converts and supporters of Twenty 20 cricket.South Africa was given the stage to promote the game and the production passed with flying colours.The finalAs it was, with South Africa having missed out on the semi-finals by losing to India, the cricket Gods offered up the next best thing as the Indians qualified to face Pakistan in the final, in a meeting of traditional rivals.Almost nothing had separated the two teams when they met earlier in the tournament as India edged Pakistan on a bowl out after the sides had both totaled 151. The title deciding clash was almost as close.As had been the case when India played in Durban, one could have been forgiven for feeling as if Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team was playing on home soil. The Wanderers was awash with Indian flags and shirts as Pakistan took to the field after India had won the toss and elected to bat.Good effortLed by opener Gautam Gambhir, who hit 75 off only 54 deliveries, India tallied 157 for 5 in their 20 overs. It was a good effort, but the Indians struggled to break free and post an imposing challenge to Pakistan’s batsmen.Apart from Gambhir, only Rohit Sharma, with an unbeaten 30, made it beyond the mid-teens.Umar Gul was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers, capturing 3 for 28 in his four overs as India averaged 7.85 runs per over.The Pakistanis, in reply, found themselves hamstrung by the regular loss of wickets. After 16 overs, they had reached 104 for 7 and it looked as India was on its way to a comfortable victory.Swinging momentumHowever, it is the nature of T20 cricket that a couple of big blows can change the complexion of the game and so it proved as Misbah ul-Haq went after Harbhajan Singh in the 17th over. He smashed the second, fifth and sixth balls over midwicket for six as Harbhajan conceded 19 runs.The assault on the off-spinner left Pakistan on 123 for 7, needing 35 for victory with three overs in hand. With Misbah striking the ball cleanly, it was anybody’s game.Sreesanth came back into the attack at the start of the 18th over and was immediately dispatched over long-on for six by Sohail Tanvir. Sreesanth, an excitable cricketer, then sent down a wide, followed by a leg bye, no run, and a single.With his fifth delivery, the bowler strayed onto Tanvir’s pads and the batsman helped himself to another six, lofting the ball over square leg.Clearing the boundariesAt 138 for 7, and with Tanvir and Misbah suddenly clearing the boundaries with regularity, it appeared as if Pakistan had seized the initiative back from India. The next ball, however, the momentum swung back India’s way as Sreesanth yorked Tanvir, knocking over his off stump.Pakistan needed 20 runs to win from two overs, with the dangerous Misbah ul-Haq still at the crease. Dhoni brought back RP Singh into the attack. The left-arm paceman, India’s most successful bowler during the tournament, conceded only one run, a leg bye, and a bye in his first four balls, ratcheting up the pressure on Pakistan.It paid off when, with his fifth ball, he knocked back Umar Gul’s leg stump. Now, the Indians looked well and truly in command. However, a four struck by Mohammed Asif off the first ball he faced, raised doubts in the minds of India’s supporters as Pakistan finished the over on 145 for 9.Final overWhen Joginder Sharma took the ball for the last over of the final, the Pakistanis needed 13 runs to win, while India required just one more wicket.Sharma barely found the pitch with his first ball, bowling a wide way outside the off stump, which meant Pakistan required two runs a ball to win.Misbah failed to score from the next delivery, but the second ball of the over was a full toss outside off-stump and he took full advantage of it, smashing it straight back down the ground for six.A six was needed for Pakistan to win.Sharma’s next ball was full and on the stumps. Misbah went for a scoop over short fine-leg, but the ball went straight up into the air and Sreesanth took the catch to give India a tension-filled victory by five runs.Brilliant gameA brilliant game, worthy of a World Championships final, had brought the curtain down on a wonderfully successful event. India’s players and their fans celebrated wildly as the triumphant team took a lap of honour of “The Bull Ring”.The Pakistan and Indian players then met to congratulate one another before India took off on further celebrations. It was an appropriate end to a “great event”.Irfan Pathan was named man of the match for his haul of 3 for 16 in four overs, while there was some consolation for Pakistan as Shahid Afridi was named man of the series.A major boostIndia’s victory is sure to be a major boost for T20 cricket; the country has the world’s largest and most rabid fan base and with the Indians now world champions of the game it is sure to enjoy a huge surge in popularity.As an opportunity to showcase South Africa’s ability to host a major sporting event, the tournament met and then surpassed all expectations.It raises hopes and fuels optimism that the Fifa World Cup in 2010 will follow in the footsteps of other South African successes, such as the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the African Cup of Nations in 1996, and the Cricket World Cup in 2003. Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

CBI wants Kalmadi, Bhanot to quit CWG OC

first_imgFile photo of CWG OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi.Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started cracking on the 2G spectrum allocation scam suspects, it has been finding it difficult to make headway in the Commonwealth Games (CWG) contracts scam. Sources told Headlines Today that the agency wants CWG organising committee (OC) chief Suresh Kalmadi and its second-in-command Lalit Bhanot be moved out of the body as they were allegedly obstructing the investigation. The CBI has complained to the Union cabinet secretary that Kalmadi and Bhanot continuing at their posts in the OC was proving to be a hindrance to the probe. Sources said CBI wants the two moved out of the OC as soon as possible and a formal request in this regard has already been sent by CBI Director A.P. Singh to Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekar. But Kalmadi’s removal might not be that easy as the OC is registered as a society in 2005. All decisions of the society are taken by the members of the society. Soon after the Games, the government had asked the sports ministry to decide on the OC’s term.last_img read more

Novak Djokovic beats Roger Federer in classic Wimbledon final

first_imgNovak Djokovic of Serbia kisses the winners trophy after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland in their men’s singles final tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London on July 6, 2014. ReutersNovak Djokovic won his second Wimbledon title and denied Roger Federer his record eighth by outlasting the Swiss player in five sets  on Sunday.Djokovic wasted a 5-2 lead, and a match point, in the fourth set but held on for a 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 Centre Court victory that returned the Serbian player to the No. 1 ranking. It was Djokovic’s seventh Grand Slam title and broke a streak of three consecutive losses in major finals and in five of his past six.In the last set, Djokovic broke in the final game with the help of four mistakes by Federer to seal the win.After the players met at the net, Djokovic went to the middle of the court, knelt down and plucked out a piece of grass and ate it, similar to what he did in 2011 when he won his first title here.Trailing 5-4 in the fourth set, Federer double-faulted to make it 30-30. He then put a backhand into the net to set up a championship point for Djokovic.The 32-year-old Federer then hit a serve that was ruled out, but he challenged it and the Hawk-Eye replay showed that it hit the line for an ace – one of his 29 in the match. Federer went on to break in the next game before forcing a fifth set.advertisement”I was hoping that Roger was going to miss the first serve, but that didn’t happen,” Djokovic said. “It rarely happens. That’s why he has 17 Grand Slams and he’s been the most successful player ever, because in important moments, he comes up with his best shots and top game.”Djokovic said it was difficult to stay focused heading into a deciding set.”Of course, after dropping a fourth set, it wasn’t easy to regroup and compose myself and find that necessary energy to win the fifth,” Djokovic said. “I don’t know how I managed to do it.”Federer said it was an “amazing” match.”You know going into a match with Novak, it’s always going to be tough,” Federer said. “Sometimes rough physically, because we play athletic points. I can only say congratulations today.”Djokovic had 27 unforced errors in the match while Federer had 29. Djokovic broke Federer four times while Federer converted three of his seven break points.There had been only one service break through the first three sets before a string of three straight in the fourth as Djokovic took a 4-2 lead before holding serve again.Djokovic returns to the top ranking for the first time since last September, taking over from Rafael Nadal, who lost in the fourth round here.The Serbian player first rose to No. 1 when he won Wimbledon in 2011, although he was already guaranteed of securing the top ranking even before beating Nadal in that final.Djokovic fell awkwardly in the first game of the second set and called for a trainer immediately after he broke Federer’s serve to take a 2-1 lead. The trainer worked on Djokovic’s left ankle.Djokovic again called for the trainer after the third game of the final set to have his right calf worked on.Federer led 3-0 in the first-set tiebreaker but later had three unforced backhand errors to let Djokovic back into it and had to save a set point when the Serb hit a backhand into the net.Watching Sunday’s final from the Royal Box were Prince William and his wife Kate, David Beckham and actors Bradley Cooper, Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Hemsworth.last_img read more

Update to TFA Extreme Weather Guidelines

first_imgTouch Football Australia (TFA) has recently reviewed and updated the TFA Extreme Weather Guidelines to be in compliance with Sports Medicine Australia guidelines, National Insurance Scheme requirements and duty of care principles. It is recommended that all state, regional and affiliate entities adopt the TFA Extreme Weather Guidelines – April 2015 version. These will take effect from Wednesday, 15 April 2015. The TFA Extreme Weather Guidelines relate to all Touch Football competitions and events conducted by or on behalf of TFA, state, regional, affiliated associations and clubs and are designed to protect Touch Football participants from injury and illness that may result by playing Touch Football in extreme weather conditions. Highlighted changes to the TFA Extreme Weather Guidelines include: » Section 1: Introduction to Extreme Weather Guidelines » Limited Air Quality/Pollution and Action Required » Section 2: Extreme Heat – Factors for consideration Committee Members, Administrators, Event and Competition managers and volunteers have a duty of care to players, officials and spectators, which includes regularly monitoring environmental and playing conditions and to take action to minimise the risk of heat stress or threat of illness or injury. Extreme weather may be defined as including weather that threatens the immediate or long-term safety of individuals as a result of heavy rain, lightening, heat or other unusual or unpredictable weather conditions. These guidelines set out the approach that the Touch Football affiliate should follow when assessing extreme weather conditions. They are not binding, but affiliates must act responsibly. A common sense approach is encouraged and consideration of the comfort and well-being of all individuals should be taken. For more information, please click on the attached memo and guidelines. For further information contact: Affiliate Services Coordinator, TFA – [email protected] or phone (02) 6212 2800.Related Filesextreme_weather_guidelines_april_2015-pdfmemorandum_-_update_to_tfa_extreme_weather_guidelines_april_2015-pdfRelated LinksExtreme Weather Guidelineslast_img read more

Hurtigruten Acquires Kleven

first_imgzoomIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license KV Holding AS, a company owned by Norwegian cruise, ferry and cargo operator Hurtigruten, is to acquire compatriot builder of ferries and offshore support vessels Kleven.As informed, KVE Holding AS will own 100 percent of the shares in Kleven Verft AS, Kleven Maritime Contracting AS and Kleven Maritime Technology AS. Current owners will retain the remaining Kleven companies, including Myklebust Verft AS.“This is a very good solution for us, providing us the space needed to focus on constructing some of the worlds most advanced ships and to prepare Kleven for future growth. It ensures continued employment at a cornerstone company in Ulsteinvik and an important part of the maritime cluster in Sunnmøre,” Karsten Sævik, CEO of Kleven, commented.Kleven underwent an “extensive restructuring” in 2017. In September 2017, investors led by Hurtigruten provided NOK 300 million (USD 37 million) for the company, with Hurtigruten gaining a 40% share.Hurtigruten is now acquiring the remaining Kleven share of 60%. Owners, customers and banks are injecting up to NOK 600 million (USD 75 million) as the yard needed further liquidity boost due to increased costs associated with several projects, Kleven explained.Hurtigruten has two 15,000-ton hybrid-powered vessels, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen, on order at Kleven. Given that the ships’ delivery has been delayed by several months, the company wants to ensure their construction will be completed.last_img read more