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    As demand for houseplants soars: What are the best and hardiest plants for your home?

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    Bringing a bit of nature and greenery into your life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing, so it’s little wonder houseplants became popular during lockdown. But according to new figures, the trend is still going strong.

    Tesco has reported that demand for houseplants has soared by more than 130% since 2019, with what started as a lockdown trend gathering pace.

    As the mental health charity Mind points out, being around nature, however possible, can benefit mood and reduce feelings of stress and anger. With more people working from home now too (Government figures from last year show 44% of workers reported home or hybrid working), not only are houseplants a cheap and easy way to spruce up your space, there’s the added bonus of calming properties!

    Tesco suggests people sharing photos of their living space on social media could be one of the reasons demand for houseplants has soared. The brand’s plants buyer Vicki I’Anson said: “We first noticed the trend during the early months of lockdown, as a direct result of people having to stay at home and not being able to visit parks and other open spaces.

    “But the trend caught on very quickly, with people keen to show off on social media how they were adorning their homes with houseplants, and it’s now even more pronounced than it was then.”

    Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), has also noticed the rise in people seeking “to enhance their homes and bring greenery into their lives.”

    Pointing out that RHS garden centres have reported a 32% rise in houseplant sales in the last three years, he added: “The RHS has done research with the University of Reading on the value of houseplants to how people feel about their dwellings. Bushy green leafy plants, such as weeping fig, calathea, Swiss cheese plant, and indoor palms such as kentia, were reported as being especially valued.”

    The next RHS event for people interested in houseplants is the Urban Garden Show, which runs from April 18-21 at Depot Mayfield, Manchester, Barter added.

    But, which houseplants are hardiest and easy to care for? Barter suggests some options…

    1. Weeping fig (ficus benjamina)

    This small tree gives height, with a grey trunk and delicate small glossy leaves. According to Barter, it can do well where there is bright but indirect light.

    2. Prayer plant (calathea)

    Calathea is a plant that  grows well in relatively low light. “Its large, striking variegated leaves bring drama to the room, but be careful watering to keep it moist, and never dry or soggy,” said Barter.

    3.  Swiss cheese plant (monstera deliciosa)

    According to Barter, the popular Swiss cheese plant is “a very willing, sprawling plant. It can be led up poles to make a striking feature with its deep green or variegated glossy and perforated leaves.”

    4. Crassula

    As a succulent plant, crassula are easy to grow and drought tolerant. “Succulents are notably popular with people who like to build up a collection of the different forms in greys and greens, but they need a bright windowsill,” said Barter.

    5. Sweetheart plant (philodendron)

    With its elegant, sharp leaves, a sweetheart plant can make a striking addition to any space. “Its climbing habit makes this a great plant to adorn furniture where the light is bright but indirect,” said Barter.



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    The rhythmic world of Koji Kondo, gaming’s maestro


    LAS VEGAS — Koji Kondo didn’t know what to expect when looking down a list of music added into the National Recording Registry. The 62-year-old Nagoya, Japan native didn’t know what kind of music drew the attention of the Library of Congress. Then he saw the names.

    Billie Holiday. Woody Guthrie. Miles Davis. Aretha Franklin. John Lennon. “Imagine.” “The Girl from Ipanema.”

    “I was just like, ‘That’s a famous song, that’s a more famous song, that’s an even more famous song,’” Kondo told The Washington Post in an interview through an interpreter. “The more I looked, the more I realized all of these are incredibly well-known songs.”

    Kondo stands out on the list of luminaries. His work is the only video game composition selected for the Library of Congress, added last year in a collection of sound recordings that “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” to life in the United States. It is, after all, the theme to “Super Mario Bros.,” the video game that laid the foundation of the medium and industry. The first six notes are embedded into the DNA of generations. You hear them in your head right now, with that snappy syncopated rhythm.

    Those six notes were an earworm well before their decades of repeat playthroughs. “Super Mario Bros.” released in 1985, and just one year later, Paul McCartney was humming the tune. The Beatle was on tour in Japan when he learned that Kondo and Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, were in attendance. He asked to bring the two game creators backstage. He and wife Linda McCartney approached the gentlemen, and the first noises that escaped their lips were those same six notes. Kondo recalls it as an “incredible moment.”

    Earlier this month, Kondo was inducted as the first video game composer into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, at the industry’s DICE Summit in Las Vegas. The event gathers many gaming executives and creatives to discuss the state of the industry and medium. More than music, Kondo sculpted the soundscape for video games as audio director and engineer for Mario, from the bling of collecting coins (as ubiquitous a sound for cash as ka-ching) to the elastic boing of a jump. He quickly turned to composing songs for “The Legend of Zelda,” another Nintendo title that in 1986 transformed the medium.

    Kondo and other sound engineers in the industry laid the groundwork for chiptune music today. And for years, Kondo’s melodies have evolved past primitive sound chips to be performed worldwide. In Rio de Janeiro, the Carnival holiday inspires parades that only play Mario music. Kondo’s melodies are now performed by symphonies worldwide, including the orchestrated score for last year’s blockbuster “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” composed by Brian Tyler with Kondo’s collaboration.

    Nintendo wants to be much more than a video game company

    “Atonal beeps and bloops were evolving into synthesized waveforms and eventually fully orchestrated scores,” said Tyler, also composer of the Fast and Furious franchise, while presenting the Hall of Fame award to Kondo. “Many composers across a breadth of genres, from film soundtracks to popular rock acts, now count Kondo-san’s work as among their greatest inspirations, including myself.”

    Despite such a legacy, 62-year-old Koji Kondo is a humble man. When asked what he hopes people will think of his legacy, he wasted no time answering.

    “The thing I would be most happy with is if they weren’t looking at the music in and of itself,” Kondo said. “Rather, focus on the music and how it enhances the gameplay. If they come away with the music making their gaming experiences more fun, that would make me more happy than anything.”

    Kondo does not see his music as separate from the video game: For him, listening and playing are one. He is, after all, the pioneer of the art form, of melodies and notes written in service to an audience he will never see, with whom he must connect.

    “He saw music and visual information as intertwined and understood how these elements can be combined to express things in a totally different art form,” Tyler said.

    With hundreds of millions games sold, Mario is history’s best-selling video game franchise — effectively making Kondo one of history’s most popular interpreters of several international genres including American ragtime and Big Band sounds, Brazilian bossa nova, and Romani and Latin jazz. The music of Mario packaged jumping jazz and world music into a rudimentary Nintendo Entertainment System sound chip. Kondo would work out a melody in advance, then program the notes for each channel to produce a similar sound, a confluence of music theory and computer code.

    At 5 years old, Kondo’s parents gave him a Yamaha Electone organ, and he began 12 years of lessons in music composition and arrangement. He learned the marimba, a recurring instrument in many Mario games, for his elementary school band. As a teen in the 1970s, he saved up enough allowance to buy the hot new instrument: the synthesizer. Kondo rode the early wave of the electronic music revolution, taking up the keys for a band during high school and college. And like many in Japan, he loved video games.

    But in college, he turned to visual arts — a pivot that would prove useful in marrying images to music. In 1984, fresh out of college, he heard about a job that was perfect for him. He was already fascinated with the idea of what video game noises communicate to the audience, and he was so determined to get hired at Nintendo, he never bothered applying anywhere else. He got the job, and he has never applied elsewhere since.

    “I was the first composer hired at Nintendo during my time, and there was one other composer,” Kondo said. “We basically just took turns making whatever was in development. They would come to us and say, ‘Hey we’ve got this game, you make it.’ It just happened to be my turn in the rotation when they were developing ‘Super Mario.’”

    Unlike some more directorially involved film and game projects, Kondo was largely left alone on his work.

    “When the game was in the appropriate stage, I was able to play it,” Kondo said. “I would think to myself, ‘This is a water stage. You know, I think a waltz would be nice here.’ So I was really able to create freely with what I thought would go for what was happening on the screen.”

    Kondo was a huge fan of Latin jazz and music at the time, he said, and that influence is all over the Mario series. Miyamoto, the Mario director and creator, was himself an admirer of American bluegrass folk and lent Kondo some CDs. Bluegrass would later become prominent all over the score of “Super Mario World,” the first Mario game for the Super Nintendo console. For the heroic Zelda theme, Kondo looked to film, gaming’s closest art medium, for inspiration. He recalled the score to “Ben Hur” by Hungarian-born composer Miklós Rózsa as one possible inspiration.

    Kondo said there is one constant step in his writing process: He must play the game first. The unified sound of “Super Mario” comes from Kondo imagining a player’s actions as a visual rhythm section — just where his visual arts education comes in handy.

    “I will sit and play it over and over again to capture its rhythms, and then I think of the melody by building a chord progression that matches those rhythms. … If you’re just composing music based on a static image you see, that music could just be background music piped in from another room. In order to make it feel like it’s part of the game, it’s essential to play.”

    It’s no wonder that in last year’s “Super Mario Bros. Wonder,” the background levels bounce to the beat of the score, still composed by Kondo alongside a team. It’s an audiovisual manifestation of Kondo’s mind.

    Like many of Nintendo’s legacy creators, Kondo is still hard at work for the company. He doesn’t feel age slowing him down one bit. If anything, the passage of time has hardened his confidence.

    “I don’t think about [my age] often. As I continue to expand my musical horizons or the music I listen to, the knowledge I have about those different styles increases,” Kondo said, smiling. “I only have more tools in the toolbox.”

    He still oversees music and sound design for Mario and Zelda projects. He’s contributed hundreds of memorable songs to Mario and Zelda titles over the years, from the groovy brass of “Bob-omb Battlefield” in “Super Mario 64” to the lilting “Zelda’s Lullaby” of “Ocarina of Time.” His secret to finding the perfect melody is cerebral.

    After the DICE Summit awards ceremony, Kondo visited the after party at Jewel Nightclub in Vegas. Outside the club, 68-year-old Kondo fan Marty O’Donnell waited in hopes of catching a glimpse of Kondo. The two met years ago and took a selfie, and O’Donnell — the composer, by the way, for the Halo and Destiny video game series, a body of work often compared to film composer John Williams — wanted a new picture. Kondo sneaked away from the nightclub: no selfie tonight.

    “Koji is a master of composing wonderfully sticky melodies,” O’Donnell said in an interview. “That’s why you only need to hear a few notes from Mario or Zelda and you are instantly taken back to the first time you played the games. I like to call that emotional equity.”

    O’Donnell’s assessment of those melodies actually echoes how Kondo describes his process. I asked Kondo about what makes a perfect melody, and it’s not about finding the right notes or downbeats.

    “If I were to try and encapsulate it in a single world, I think it’s honesty,” he said. “A melody that feels straightforward and sounds completely natural without interference from anything else, that’s a good melody. Don’t overthink it. Have it honed down to its core as much as possible.”

    These days, he spends his free time taking walks in nature, armed with an iPad and headphones. He loves to be surrounded in sound with immersive audio programs. Like the heroes of his games, he is on a journey to discover the rhythms of the world around him.

    “It’s really like I’m being accompanied on my walks with a full orchestra, and that’s just a lot of fun,” Kondo said. “I think many people would want to have their individual soundtracks that accompany them as they move through life.”



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    5 Tips to Protect Your Money from Banking Frauds | India Business News – Times of India

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    RBI’s tips to prevent banking frauds: In recent years, banking frauds have risen notably. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued multiple guidelines and tips to help customers guard against scams. What measures should you take to protect yourself and your money from fraudsters?
    Here are essential measures you should take to protect your money and yourself from fraudsters.
    Activate instant alerts for transactions
    As per an ET report, RBI has advised activating instant alerts for all banking transactions to protect yourself. Register your mobile number and email with your bank to receive alerts. SMS alerts are mandatory for registered phone numbers, while email alerts are sent for each transaction.
    This keeps you informed about activity on your bank accounts, credit cards, or loans. If you receive an alert for an unauthorised transaction, promptly notify the bank to minimise financial loss. Remember, delaying informing the bank increases the risk of loss.
    Safeguard sensitive information
    Never share your mobile banking passwords, PIN, OTP (One Time Password), CVV (Card Verification Value), or any card details with anyone. Keeping this information confidential is vital to prevent unauthorised access to your accounts.
    ALSO READ | Paytm Payments Bank update: RBI announces more steps for UPI customers using @paytm handle
    Keep bank contact details handy
    Banks offer round-the-clock access to customers through various channels like websites, phone banking, SMS, email, IVR, and toll-free helplines. These are available for reporting unauthorised transactions or loss/theft of payment instruments such as cards. Keep your bank’s contact details readily available, you can save them on your phone for quick access.
    Procedure after reporting fraud to your bank
    After informing your bank about a fraudulent transaction, request acknowledgment from the lender. The bank is required to resolve your complaint within 90 days of receiving it.

    Zero liability in banking scams
    According to the RBI website, customers bear no loss if they haven’t shared their payment details and promptly inform the bank within three days of unauthorised transactions. The customer can enjoy zero liability in the following scenarios:

    • Bank’s negligence or deficiency, regardless of whether the transaction is reported.
    • Third-party breach not attributed to the bank or the customer, provided the customer notifies the bank within three working days of receiving the communication about the unauthorised transaction.

    Prompt reporting is key
    Delaying informing the bank about financial fraud can result in you bearing the consequences. If the responsibility for an unauthorised electronic banking transaction doesn’t lie with the bank or the customer but elsewhere in the system, and there’s a delay (of four to seven working days after receiving communication from the bank) in notifying the bank, the customer may have limited liability.





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    Men’s Power Rankings: Did you hear? Purdue’s No. 1

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    For the first time in months, we have a full-fledged three-way battle for No. 1. What had been a UConn vs. Purdue debate now includes Houston. UConn’s 19-point loss at Creighton last week has temporarily removed the Huskies’ shield of invincibility at the top, meaning it now comes down to résumés to decide which between the three candidates is No. 1.

    The Huskies’ metrics aren’t quite as strong as the other two programs,’ but they own double-digit wins over North Carolina, Marquette and Creighton and had looked utterly dominant with a healthy Donovan Clingan before the road loss to the Bluejays. They’re 9-3 against Quadrant 1 opponents (tied for the most Q1 wins in the country), 14-3 against Q1 and Q2 (the second most in that category) and don’t have any losses outside Q1.

    Purdue stayed at No. 2 last week after losing at Ohio State but has a couple wins over Rutgers and Michigan to add to its case for No. 1. The Boilermakers are No. 1 in both résumé-based metrics (ESPN’s strength of record and KPI) and No. 2 in the NET, BPI and KenPom. They’re tied with UConn for the most Q1 wins and have the most Q1 and Q2 wins in the country (17-3). Matt Painter’s team owns victories over Arizona, Tennessee, Marquette, Alabama and Illinois.

    That brings us to Houston, which has been ranked No. 1 at KenPom since the start of December and hasn’t relinquished that spot. The Cougars are also No. 1 in the NET and BPI. Interestingly enough, they lost three Q1 wins between Saturday and Sunday due to losses on Saturday by Utah, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. As a result, they have seven Q1 wins — two fewer than Purdue and UConn — and 13 combined Q1 and Q2 wins. Before last week, they didn’t quite have the quality wins to get to the top, but victories over Iowa State and at Baylor provided the boost to put them in the conversation.

    In a very tight race, then, Purdue’s combination of wins and metrics gives the Boilermakers the edge.

    On to this week’s awards and rankings …


    play

    2:08

    Kelvin Sampson credits toughness for Houston’s win over Iowa State

    Houston coach Kelvin Sampson explains why Houston’s toughness fueled the team to a win over Iowa State.

    Beating two top-15 teams, including one on the road, is enough to earn this honor — even when you’re in contention for the No. 1 ranking in college basketball. Houston opened its week by avenging its first loss of the season, beating Iowa State 73-65. The Cougars jumped out to an early lead, completely stifling the Cyclones for the first 15 minutes of the game. ISU would get within four in the second half, but Jamal Shead (26 points, 6 assists) made plays when it mattered and sealed the victory.

    Houston then went on the road and knocked off Baylor, again owning the opening 20 minutes and taking a 16-point lead into the break. The Bears came all the way back and had a chance to win it in the final seconds when Yves Missi missed a free throw with 4.4 seconds left. Shead’s buzzer 3 came a fraction too late, though, and the game went to overtime. The Cougars eventually pulled out the 82-76 win, with Emanuel Sharp and J’Wan Roberts helping overcome Shead’s second-half shooting woes. Houston now has a one-game lead in the Big 12 in the Cougars’ first season in the league.

    play

    1:30

    Hunter Sallis drops 29 to power Wake Forest past Duke

    Hunter Sallis drops 29 points, including the game-sealing free throws, to lead Wake Forest to an upset victory over Duke.

    There were plenty of high-level performances this week: ArkansasKhalif Battle went for 42 points on just 15 shots in a win over Missouri; Marquette‘s Kam Jones scored 34 points in back-to-back wins; Kentucky‘s Justin Edwards had 28 points on perfect 10-for-10 shooting to beat Alabama; Daniss Jenkins averaged 21.0 points and 5.5 assists in a huge 2-0 week for St. John’s; Illinois‘ duo of Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr. had massive showings; and Tarleton State‘s Devon Barnes put up 27.5 points as the Texans upset Grand Canyon and closed the gap in the WAC. But when it came to fantastic individual performances in season-changing weeks, none was better than Sallis’.

    The former five-star recruit who struggled during his two seasons at Gonzaga has been one of the best transfers in the country this season — and has saved some of his best basketball for February. He opened the week with 17 points and five assists in a blowout win over Pittsburgh, then followed it up with 29 points and six rebounds on 11-for-13 shooting in Saturday’s win over Duke. His was the type of week that could vault the Demon Deacons from the bubble into the NCAA tournament field. He’s now averaging 18.7 points on the season, and 21.0 points on 60.6% shooting from 3 in his past seven games.

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    0:32

    Caleb Love’s shot falls short as Washington State pulls upset

    No. 21 Washington State hands No. 4 Arizona its first home loss of the season after Caleb Love’s shot hits the front rim.

    Neither Washington State nor Creighton could complete a 2-0 week, with Saturday losses taking them out of the mix for Team of the Week. So, two highly impressive top-five victories have to settle for sharing Win of the Week.

    Creighton completely turned things around from its first meeting against UConn earlier in the season — when the Bluejays lost by 14 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. On the second go-around Tuesday, the Bluejays jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead, double that of UConn’s biggest halftime deficit to that point of the season. The Bluejays matched the 48 points from the two teams’ first meeting — with nearly 19 minutes left in the game. Steven Ashworth was terrific early, Baylor Scheierman made big plays late. And it all rounded out to become Creighton’s first win over a No. 1 team in program history.

    Meanwhile, Washington State briefly took first place in the Pac-12 standings for the first time since 1986 with a road win at Arizona, completing the season sweep of the Wildcats and winning in Tucson for the second year in a row. The back-and-forth game on Thursday night had Arizona on top in the final minute, but then Washington State picked up a loose ball in the paint, found Jaylen Wells in the corner — and he buried a 3 while getting fouled by Keshad Johnson for a go-ahead four-point play. Kyle Smith will have Wazzu dancing for the first time since 2008.

    First, let’s show some love to some of the coaches who’ve already clinched at least a share of their conference’s regular-season titles: Amir Abdur-Rahim (South Florida), A.W. Hamilton (Eastern Kentucky), John Becker (Vermont), Alan Huss (High Point), Matt Langel (Colgate), Bucky McMillan (Samford), Greg Kampe (Oakland) and Randy Bennett (Saint Mary’s).

    Loyola Chicago entered the season picked eighth in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, coming off a disappointing 10-21 campaign in Valentine’s second year at the helm. Things didn’t start off promising this season either, with a home loss to UIC in mid-November and a 6-5 record in mid-December. But since their Dec. 16 loss at South Florida — a loss that has, it must be said, aged well — the Ramblers are 14-2 and tied for first in the A-10 with Richmond, with four games to go.

    This week, they crushed George Mason by 21 points — days after the Patriots beat Dayton to blow the A-10 standings wide open. The race might come down to Friday’s showdown between the Flyers and Ramblers, although Richmond could get back in the race, with games remaining against VCU and at Mason.


    Three teams with questions

    Virginia Cavaliers: UVa’s offense has been utterly abysmal in its past three games, with fewer than 50 points scored in each. Only two teams in ACC history have longer streaks of scoring fewer than 50 points, per ESPN Stats & Information. The Cavaliers have totaled 134 points and eight 3-pointers in three games. They’re now ranked No. 14 in the league in offensive efficiency.

    Ole Miss Rebels: After opening the season with 13 straight wins and an 18-3 record at the end of January, the Rebels have fallen apart. A 13-point home loss to South Carolina on Saturday was their fifth loss in six games and sent them to the wrong side of the bubble. Their metrics have been poor all season, and now they’re just 4-8 against Quadrants 1 and 2. Wednesday against Alabama looms as a must-win.

    Texas A&M Aggies: It’s officially danger time for Buzz Williams and the Aggies. They’ve lost four in a row to drop to 15-12 overall and 6-8 in the SEC, including getting shellacked by Tennessee on Saturday night. That losing streak also includes losses to Vanderbilt and Arkansas. A&M has a strange résumé with six Quadrant 1 wins and four Quadrant 3 losses. Wednesday’s home game against South Carolina has to jump-start a winning run.


    Power Rankings

    1. Purdue Boilermakers (25-3)
    Previous ranking:
    2
    This week: vs. Michigan State (Saturday)

    Purdue’s case to be the overall 1-seed come Selection Sunday might hinge on the next three games: vs. the Spartans on Saturday, at Illinois next week and vs. Wisconsin to close out the season. That’s three more Quadrant 1 opportunities before the Big Ten tournament. Meanwhile, Zach Edey had another incredible week of basketball, going for 25 points and seven boards in the blowout win over Rutgers and following it up with 35 points and 15 rebounds against Michigan. There’s zero drama in the Wooden Award race.

    2. Houston Cougars (24-3)
    Previous ranking:
    3
    This week: vs. Cincinnati (Tuesday), at Oklahoma (Saturday)

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    0:16

    J’Wan Roberts hits his defender with the ‘too small’

    J’Wan Roberts puts his defender in the spin cycle, finishes at the rim and celebrates with the «too small» celebration.

    With Jamal Shead struggling to make shots in the second half, Houston needed his supporting cast to step up against Baylor on Saturday. The Cougars’ top two scorers ended up being Emanuel Sharp and J’Wan Roberts, two players who have consistently come up big in spots this season. Sharp is playing some of his best basketball this year, averaging 17.6 points in his past three games, including 20 against Iowa State and 18 against Baylor. Roberts had 17 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 6 steals; in Houston’s last road game, at Cincinnati, he had 20 points and eight rebounds.

    3. UConn Huskies (25-3)
    Previous ranking:
    1
    This week: vs. Seton Hall (Sunday)

    While Tristen Newton‘s 27 points against Creighton and triple-double against Villanova — the fourth of his career and second of the season — added to his growing legacy in Storrs, Cam Spencer‘s performances in those two games underlined why he might be the Huskies’ most important player. Spencer has scored six or fewer points just four times all season, with three of them coming in UConn’s losses. The Huskies needed a bounceback performance Saturday, and Spencer had 25 points, tying his season high. In their losses, he averaged 5.7 points while shooting 25.9% from the field and 14.3% from 3. In their wins, it’s 16.3 points, 51.9% on field goals and 47.4% on 3s.

    4. Tennessee Volunteers (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    5
    This week: vs. Auburn (Wednesday), at Alabama (Saturday)

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    2:37

    No. 5 Vols down Aggies, Barnes earns 800th career win

    Tennessee dominates the final 25 minutes to defeat Texas A&M 86-51 and gives Rick Barnes the 800th victory of his career.

    While Arizona is still the fourth 1-seed in most projected brackets, the Wildcats’ loss to Washington State at least opens the door for another team to grab the last spot. And Tennessee’s upcoming two games could dictate how strong a shot the Vols have to do that. Their metrics are very strong, they don’t have any Quadrant 3 or 4 losses (unlike Arizona and North Carolina), but they’re .500 against Quadrant 1 teams compared to Arizona’s 7-4 and Carolina’s 7-4. That’s why this week is so crucial.

    5. Arizona Wildcats (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    4
    This week: at Arizona State (Wednesday), vs. Oregon (Saturday)

    Arizona’s offensive performance against Washington State on Thursday was its third worst of the season and its second worst in Pac-12 play. The only conference game in which the Wildcats were less efficient offensively? Their three-point loss at … Washington State on Jan. 13. In both games, Caleb Love shouldered nearly all of the perimeter offense. Pelle Larsson was in single digits in both games, Kylan Boswell totaled six points in the two games. Overall, players not named Caleb Love shot 3-for-17 from 3-point range.

    6. Iowa State Cyclones (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    6
    This week: vs. Oklahoma (Wednesday), at UCF (Saturday)

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    0:17

    Jackson Paveletzke hits the trey vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

    Jackson Paveletzke hits the trey vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

    Curtis Jones‘ status as one of the best sixth men in the country continues to grow in impressive fashion. He has now scored in double figures in 10 straight games, averaging 13.7 points and shooting 35.5% from 3-point range. Another bench guard stepped up in a much-needed situation Saturday against West Virginia, too: Former Wofford transfer Jackson Paveletzke scored nine points in his first game playing double-figure minutes in more than a month.

    7. Marquette Golden Eagles (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    7
    This week: vs. Providence (Wednesday), at Creighton (Saturday)

    Had Hunter Sallis not been lights out Saturday, Kam Jones might have been a shoo-in for Player of the Week. He was terrific against DePaul on Wednesday, finishing with 34 points on 8-for-10 3-point shooting, and continued his hot shooting against Xavier on Sunday, making six more 3s en route to another 34-point outing. After three subpar performances following his 31 points at Georgetown on Feb. 3, Jones appears to be back to his best.

    8. North Carolina Tar Heels (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    8
    This week: vs. Miami (Monday), vs. NC State (Saturday)

    Winning at Virginia for the first time since 2012 — along with Duke‘s loss to Wake Forest earlier in the day — gave the Tar Heels a one-game lead atop the ACC standings. They haven’t won an outright ACC regular-season title since 2017 and haven’t won a share of the title since 2019. Carolina’s next three games are at home against inferior teams — Miami, NC State and Notre Dame — which means it could clinch at least a share before the regular-season finale at Duke.

    9. Kansas Jayhawks (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    9
    This week: vs. BYU (Tuesday), at Baylor (Saturday)

    Saturday was a much-needed offensive explosion for the Jayhawks. More impressively, it came without Kevin McCullar Jr. For the first time since Feb. 3, Kansas scored more than one point per possession, even though it made just three 3-pointers. Dajuan Harris Jr. hit double figures six times in his first 22 games of the season but has now hit that threshold in four of the past five games, averaging 12.2 points, 5.8 assists and just 1.4 turnovers in that stretch.

    10. Auburn Tigers (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    13
    This week: at Tennessee (Wednesday), vs. Mississippi State (Saturday)

    Jaylin Williams‘ knee injury will keep him out at least another couple weeks, so we got our first look at potential adjustments in his absence. Coach Bruce Pearl actually made two changes to the starting lineup against Georgia, inserting sixth man Chad Baker-Mazara and backup forward Chaney Johnson, with Tre Donaldson moving to the bench. Both new starters responded: Baker-Mazara led the way with 25 points, while Johnson finished with a season-high 16 points.

    11. Alabama Crimson Tide (19-8)
    Previous ranking:
    10
    This week: at Ole Miss (Wednesday), vs. Tennessee (Saturday)

    Alabama’s defense has been a trouble spot all season, but the Crimson Tide play so fast and are so efficient offensively it hasn’t mattered in most games over the second half. But games like Saturday, when they allowed 117 points to Kentucky, bring back memories of other bad defensive games: 99 points allowed to Auburn; 91 to Tennessee; 92 to LSU; 93 to Florida; 92 to Ohio State; 92 to Purdue; 91 to Oregon. According to BartTorvik.com, Alabama ranks No. 162 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency against Quadrant 1 opponents.

    12. Creighton Bluejays (20-8)
    Previous ranking:
    15
    This week: vs. Seton Hall (Wednesday), vs. Marquette (Saturday)

    One positive and one negative for Creighton, much like its week (win over UConn, loss at St. John’s). The plus: Entering Sunday, Steven Ashworth was on a tear, averaging 15.6 points, 5.3 assists, 39.5% from 3 in 10 games after averaging 8.2 points and shooting 33.7% from 3 in the first 17 of the season. He struggled against the Johnnies, though. The minus: Creighton’s defense has been inconsistent in recent weeks. Through the first six games of conference play, it had the league’s second-best defense, narrowly behind Marquette. In the 11 games since, the Bluejays are seventh in the Big East in adjusted defensive efficiency at BartTorvik.com.

    13. Duke Blue Devils (21-6)
    Previous ranking:
    12
    This week: vs. Louisville (Wednesday), vs. Virginia (Saturday)

    The Blue Devils will be watching Kyle Filipowski‘s status this week, following his injury in Wake Forest‘s court storming on Saturday. Jon Scheyer’s backup down low is Ryan Young, who has been capable of solid stretches off the bench, but he obviously doesn’t have the mobility and inside-outside ability of Filipowski. Five-star freshman Sean Stewart is a high-level rebounder, but he has played four or fewer minutes in three of Duke’s past four games. Could Scheyer go small and use Mark Mitchell as a slashing 5?

    14. Kentucky Wildcats (19-8)
    Previous ranking:
    In the waiting room
    This week: at Mississippi State (Tuesday), vs. Arkansas (Saturday)

    play

    1:04

    No. 17 UK blows past No. 13 Bama in high-scoring affair

    Justin Edwards’ breakout game, 28 points on 10-of-10 shooting, comes at the perfect time as the Wildcats wallop the Tide in a 117-95 victory. (edited)

    It’s hard to imagine a team with more impressive back-to-back weekends than Kentucky, with its wins at Auburn and over Alabama. Of course, there was a one-point buzzer loss at LSU Tigers in between, but there has been a clear uptick in performance from the Wildcats. Between Jan. 13 and Feb. 10, when they went 4-5, they were ranked No. 36 in efficiency margin at BartTorvik.com, and No. 202 on the defensive end of the floor. In the four games since, they’re No. 6 and No. 9, respectively.

    15. Illinois Fighting Illini (20-7)
    Previous ranking:
    14
    This week: vs. Minnesota (Wednesday), at Wisconsin (Saturday)

    Illinois would’ve likely been a couple spots higher had it not blown a seven-point lead in the final 35 seconds — after a 14-point second-half lead — at Penn State on Wednesday. While Terrence Shannon Jr., scored 35 against the Nittany Lions, the star of the week for the Illini was Coleman Hawkins, who went for a career-high 30 points against Iowa on Saturday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Hawkins was the first Big Ten player with 30 points, 5 assists and 5 steals in a game since Mateen Cleaves did it against Northwestern in 1998.

    16. Baylor Bears (19-8)
    Previous ranking:
    11
    This week: at TCU (Monday), vs. Kansas (Saturday)

    While Baylor owns some very good wins this season — against Auburn on a neutral court and Iowa State at home at the top of the pile — its defense makes it difficult to consistently beat high-level opponents. In Quadrant 1 games this season, the Bears rank No. 148 in adjusted defensive efficiency at BartTorvik.com, and they’re 10th in the Big 12 in defensive efficiency in league play at KenPom. They’ve held just one of their past 10 opponents to fewer than one point per possession.

    Dropped out: San Diego State Aztecs (No. 16)

    In the waiting room

    play

    1:49

    Saint Mary’s cruises at home vs. San Diego

    Saint Mary’s cruises at home vs. San Diego

    Saint Mary’s Gaels: Tuesday was a test for the Gaels, who trailed San Francisco in the final 10 minutes. Luckily they came out with the win, then cruised to another over San Diego to run their unbeaten streak to 15 games — currently the nation’s longest. They haven’t won an outright WCC regular-season title since 2012, but with a two-game lead entering the final week of the season, Randy Bennett’s team should have it locked up before the finale against Gonzaga.

    South Carolina Gamecocks: The Gamecocks bounced back from their two-game losing streak with an easier-than-expected win at Ole Miss. Their defense was back on track, holding the Rebels to 0.91 points per possession — their first time holding an opponent below one point per possession since Jan. 30. B.J. Mack is now averaging 16.8 points in his past four games.

    San Diego State Aztecs: The Aztecs lost their grip on first place in the Mountain West with a road loss at Utah State but responded with a 32-point win at Fresno State on Saturday. They held Fresno to 0.69 points per possession, their best defensive performance of the season and their best since December 20, 2022, against UC San Diego.



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    The VAR Review: Should Man United’s Maguire have been sent off?

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    Video Assistant Referee causes controversy every week in the Premier League, but how are decisions made, and are they correct?

    After each weekend we take a look at the major incidents, to examine and explain the process both in terms of VAR protocol and the Laws of the Game.

    How VAR decisions have affected every Prem club in 2023-24
    VAR in the Premier League: Ultimate guide

    In this week’s VAR Review: Manchester United‘s Harry Maguire escaped a red card against Fulham, but was it the correct decision? How does it compare to similar incidents, such as the challenge by Chelsea‘s Moisés Caicedo on Ryan Gravenberch or Billy Gilmour‘s dismissal for Brighton & Hove Albion? Plus, Burnley‘s disallowed goal at Crystal Palace.


    Possible red card: Maguire challenge on Lukic

    What happened: Fulham attacked on the break in the 35th minute after referee Michael Oliver had played advantage. When the move ended, Oliver went back to book Harry Maguire for a late challenge on Saka Lukic. The VAR, Rob Jones, checked for a possible red card for serious foul play.

    VAR decision: No red card.

    VAR review: This weekend saw two challenges of similar nature, neither of which resulted in a VAR intervention, and both caused their own controversy. So how does a VAR assess a challenge and what’s needed for the threshold to be crossed for a red card?

    – VAR Review: Why Liverpool’s goal was ruled out in Carabao Cup final

    Much has been made of the VAR looking for the buckle of a player’s ankle as evidence of excessive force. This has resulted in an expectation that a buckle should automatically always result in a red card. Yet it has only ever been one of many factors a VAR will take into account when judging a challenge. The others include, but are not limited to, the speed at which a player goes into the challenge, the height of contact, if it’s made with a straight leg, and whether it leads with studs showing.

    Referees get accused of inconsistency because every late tackle with contact by studs isn’t given as a red card. Yet, like every subjective decision, it’s a judgement call. Consistency can only be possible if all result in a red card, instead there’s the perceived inconsistencies produced by interpretation.

    If the contact point is low and the player is stepping into the challenge, that may produce evidence of a buckle but it’s not likely to suggest excessive force; it’s only likely to result in a yellow card at most.

    Maguire comes out of a challenge with Andreas Pereira and steps into Lukic after the ball has gone. He catches the Fulham player around the top of the boot and it’s a yellow card, but the Manchester United player isn’t lunging in or using force.

    A challenge to compare it to was Moisés Caicedo on Ryan Gravenberch in the Carabao Cup final. That’s covered in full in Sunday’s VAR Review, yet like Maguire it should be considered that Caicedo has stepped into the Liverpool player; while the challenge caused the injury it wasn’t because of the way it was made.

    There have been a number of comparable challenges this season, and none of them have led to a VAR intervention for a red card. All those decisions have been unanimously judged to be correct by the Premier League’s Independent Key Match Incidents Panel.

    Last month, Chelsea‘s Malo Gusto caught Willian around the top of the boot with a late tackle.

    A week later, Liverpool supporters felt that AFC Bournemouth‘s Justin Kluivert should have been sent off after he caught Luis Díaz. While this challenge was slightly higher, importantly Kluivert is stepping in.

    In both cases, the panel noted that «the defender is coming out of a challenge into another. He is off balance and there is no real force or intensity.» The panel will say the same about the Maguire incident.

    Low contact can still result in a red card if the challenge itself produces force, such as Rhian Brewster‘s VAR dismissal for a tackle on Emerson for Sheffield United against West Ham United. He came in fast, was off the ground and late in a way which had to endanger an opponent.

    We’ve spoken previously how Liverpool fans now have a Curtis Jones-ometer for all such challenges. The angle of the challenge is important, too, so Jones’ red card for Liverpool at Tottenham Hotspur provides a good comparison. While he’s unfortunate in how the contact on the opponent came about, with a touch on top of the ball first, his studs went into Yves Bissouma higher on the shin with an angled boot. The height and angle, coupled with the buckle, combines to provide sufficient evidence for a VAR review for endangering the safety of an opponent. Liverpool lost their appeal against this dismissal, and we should expect the VAR to intervene in challenges of this exact nature.

    Indeed, it’s similar to the red card Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Billy Gilmour received against Everton on Saturday, a decision given on the field by referee Tony Harrington which would never be overturned.

    Even though Gilmour’s challenge didn’t have a high level of force, his contact on Amadou Onana was high above the ankle. When contact moves above the ankle and onto the leg then, as with Jones, it becomes as increasingly important as point of contact.

    Liverpool fans would argue Kluivert’s challenge on Díaz was also above the boot, yet the angle makes all the difference.


    Possible red card overturn: Brownhill DOGSO on Lerma

    What happened: Burnley‘s Josh Brownhill was sent off by referee Lewis Smith in the 35th minute. Goalkeeper James Trafford played a short pass to Brownhill just outside the D, but he was robbed by Jefferson Lerma. The Crystal Palace player was brought down before he could move forward on goal.

    VAR decision: Red card stands.

    VAR review: It’s a textbook example of a red card for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO.) Lerma had taken the ball off Brownhill and he’s dragged down when he would have had the chance to shoot.

    The player is running towards goal, there’s no covering defender able to make a challenge, and the ball is within his control. It’s similar to the dismissal of Liverpool‘s Virgil van Dijk against Newcastle United earlier this season.

    Possible penalty overturn: Vitinho challenge on França

    What happened: Crystal Palace were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute when Matheus França was brought down inside the area by Vitinho. The VAR carried out a lengthy check to see if the spot kick should stand (watch here.)

    VAR decision: Penalty, scored by Jean-Philippe Mateta.

    VAR review: This took a bit too long, but the check wasn’t about the foul by Vitinho, which the VAR, Michael Salisbury, determined fairly quickly was a correct decision.

    The question was over the position and whether the foul contact had taken inside the area. With holding, a penalty is given if it continues into the area; with a foul it’s the precise point at which a player is fouled.

    Possible offside: Assignon on Fofana goal

    What happened: Burnley scored a consolation goal in the 87th minute when David Datro Fofana headed home from just inside the six-yard box, but the VAR began a check for a possible offside.

    VAR decision: Goal disallowed.

    VAR review: We can discuss this one alongside the Wataru Endo offside for Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, which led to Virgil van Dijk‘s goal being disallowed. Is it the VAR getting involved in a decision which can be supported in law, but feels like an unnecessary intervention?

    When Fofana plays the ball, Lorenz Assignon is in an offside position. That in itself isn’t an offence as he doesn’t touch the ball; the VAR has to consider if he’s impacted goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.

    The officials don’t have to consider that Johnstone will definitely make a save. Indeed, it’s highly unlikely he’d keep out the header from Fofana. The consideration is about impact upon the ability to challenge for the ball.

    It’s the same area of the offside law as Endo, where Assignon is «a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball, this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball.»

    The VAR will take into account a few factors: that the shot comes from a short distance which means the goalkeeper has less time to react, that Assignon is stood directly in front of Johnstone inside the six-yard box, and that the ball passes an area that the Burnley player has blocked off.

    If Assignon had been a couple of yards further forward the goal would likely have counted, but his proximity to Johnstone means the VAR is always likely to get involved.

    Jakub Kiwior‘s goal for Arsenal against Newcastle United on Saturday is a good comparison. At the point Kiwior heads the ball, William Saliba is in an offside position inside the six-yard area. Yet he isn’t in front of goalkeeper Loris Karius, and the ball passes the area between the players — so Saliba wouldn’t be considered to be stopping the goalkeeper getting to the ball.

    The only question is whether Saliba was «clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent,» but the ball appeared to be on Karius before the Arsenal player raised his right leg.


    Possible penalty: Handball by Dawson

    What happened: In the 19th minute, Rhian Brewster had a shot on goal which was blocked by Craig Dawson. Was there a case for a penalty for handball?

    VAR decision: No penalty.

    VAR review: A quick check by the VAR, Jarred Gillett, with Dawson having his arm close to his body.

    The case for a spot kick would be whether Dawson leant into the shot to stop it with his arm, though there would also be a question of whether the ball hit low enough on the arm for it to be handball.

    Possible red card: Robinson and Souza

    What happened: In the 37th minute there was an off-the-ball altercation between two Sheffield United players, Jack Robinson and Vinicius Souza. The VAR checked for a possible red card for violent conduct by both players.

    VAR decision: No red cards.

    VAR review: Shades of Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, the Newcastle teammates who were sent off after coming to blows in a Premier League game against Aston Villa in 2005.

    The VAR looked for evidence of violent conduct, and while Robinson and Souza went head to head there was no movement by either player, and the pushing that followed was to the upper body.

    Possible penalty: Handball by Souza

    What happened: In the 56th minute, João Gomes tried to flick the ball on inside the area and it hit the arm of Souza. Referee Darren Bond wasn’t interested in a penalty, and it was checked by the VAR.

    VAR decision: No penalty.

    VAR review: Souza had his arm outstretched away from his body, so why wasn’t this a penalty kick even with a brush off the chest? The VAR determined that the ball was played against the Sheffield United player from close range and he had no time to react.

    Yet we have seen similar arm positions lead to a spot kick through a VAR intervention, most notably against Arsenal’s William Saliba vs. Chelsea.

    The VAR will take into account that the ball is travelling towards goal, especially if it’s a shot, and also if the defending player would expect the ball to come towards them from the direction of play.

    These subjective considerations for handball can only lead to confusion and perceived inconsistencies.


    Some parts of this article include information provided by the Premier League and PGMOL.



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    Middle East conflict live updates: Palestinian prime minister, cabinet offer to resign in step toward post-Gaza war overhaul

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    Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh offered the resignation of his government on Monday, opening the door for a new technocratic government under President Mahmoud Abbas. The United States and Arab allies have been seeking to revitalize the governing body with the hope it can take on a role in Gaza following the war.



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    Prince Harry is risking everything he’s ‘broken bonds over’ with US citizenship


    Experts break silence on whether Prince Harry stands a chance at getting his American citizenship


    Prince Harry chances at becoming a US citizen have just been referenced by experts.

    For those unversed, this news has come to light considering the fact that US immigration policy dictates “any applicant who has any titles of heredity or positions of nobility in any foreign state must renounce the title or the position.”

    Even Ms Ingrid Seward doubled down on everything and said, “He would have to renounce his royal titles if he were to become an American citizen.”

    Read More: Prince Harrys true feelings about King Charles abdication laid bare

    A conversation surrounding the topic arose during Prince Harry’s interview with Will Reeve, the son of Christopher Reeves.

    He asked the Duke, “Do you feel American?”

    This prompted Prince Harry to say, “Do I feel American? No… I don’t know how I feel.”

    However, “I have considered it but I have no idea. I’m here standing next to these guys. The American citizenship is a thought that has crossed my mind, but certainly not something that is a priority for me right now.”



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    Philadelphia suspect arrested after striking victim with hatchet near SEPTA station: police


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    A Philadelphia man who allegedly struck another man with a hatchet multiple times near a SEPTA station early Sunday has been arrested, authorities said.

    The attack happened around 1:18 a.m. in the SEPTA concourse under 8th and Market Streets near the Broad-Ridge Spur of the subway, the Philadelphia Police Department said.

    The victim survived the attack and told responding officers that a man hit him in the head with a hatchet six times and kicked him in the face four times before fleeing, FOX29 Philadelphia reported.

    Officers later spotted a man who matched the victim’s description of the suspect and took him into custody. 

    LOUISIANA CONVICTED KILLER ON THE LOOSE AFTER ESCAPING CUSTODY BY PEPPER-SPRAYING DEPUTY: OFFICIALS

    Kenneth Rogers, 28, also has an active warrant in Philadelphia for a separate attempted murder that occurred last year, according to reports. (Philadelphia Police Department)

    Police said the suspect did not have a hatchet in his possession and no weapon was recovered at the scene, WPVI-TV reported.

    The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Kenneth Rogers, who reports say has an active warrant in Philadelphia for attempted murder last year.

    PHILADELPHIA POLICE SEEK SUSPECT WHO STOLE $100K IN SPINE IMPLANTS FROM CAR

    Train in station

    The alleged hatchet attack happened around 1:18 a.m. Sunday in the SEPTA concourse under 8th and Market Streets near the Broad-Ridge Spur of the subway, police said. (Getty Images)

    The victim was being treated at a hospital for lacerations to the back of his head and bruising to his face. His current condition was unclear.

    As of Feb. 18, a reported 634 aggravated assaults citywide have been reported year-to-date compared to 636 reported during the same period last year, according to public police data.

    CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

    Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and urged anyone with information about the incident to contact the police department.



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    Sperm whale’s slow death trapped in maze-like Japanese bay raises alarm over impact of global warming


    Tokyo — The slow demise of a stray whale that spent its last days circling Osaka Bay not only saddened TV viewers across Japan, it also alarmed cetacean experts who called the whale the latest casualty of a warming planet.

    «Whales used to lose their way every three years or so,» Yasunobu Nabeshima, a visiting researcher at the Osaka Museum of Natural History, told CBS News. «Until now it was a rare phenomenon. But these incidents have increased.»

    Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), side view
    A file photo shows a sperm whale swimming near the Ogasawara Islands, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan.

    Getty


    This month’s tragedy marked the second case in as many years.

    Nabeshima said global warming has reduced the temperature differential between the Pacific Ocean and Osaka Bay, rendering the powerful Kuroshio Current «a warm-water conveyor belt» that propels whales from their usual deep ocean haunts into the shallow waters along the coast.

    The most recent episode began in mid-January, when the sperm whale — one of the world’s heaviest animals — was first sighted off the coast of Nishinomiya City in Hyogo Prefecture. TV cameras and local authorities intently tracked the doomed whale as it swam futilely eastward toward Osaka.

    Deprived of its primary food, giant squid, the whale’s spout grew noticeably listless.

    Unlike Japan’s easy-to-navigate harbors like Kobe, Osaka Bay, which serves Japan’s third-largest city, is a maze of artificial islands and landfilled peninsulas, packed with theme parks and shopping malls as well as warehouses and industrial plants. It’s effectively a death trap for marine mammals, with numerous nooks and crannies and bounded by wharves and breakwaters that can make it impossible for the creatures to find their way back out to the blue water.

    Osaka Bay in Japan aerial view from airplane
    An aerial photo shows some of the inlets, wharves and reclaimed islands of Japan’s Osaka Bay.

    Taro Hama/Getty


    Another sperm whale died near the mouth of the Yodo River in Osaka in January 2023. Nabeshima, of the Osaka museum, told CBS News that a pod of short-beaked common dolphins ended up stuck in Osaka Bay last fall and they could be seen from Yumeshima, an artificial island and site for Expo 2025, which opens in April. Sea turtles have also become stranded in the area.

    The severely emaciated body of the latest sperm whale casualty, a male that weighed over 30 metric tons and measured 50 feet in length, was recovered and temporarily buried after officials decided it would be cheaper than hauling the carcass out to sea. After two years, the skeleton will be recovered and donated to a local museum.

    Stray whales can be a jumbo-sized headache for local governments. The cost to taxpayers of the offshore burial for last year’s stranded sperm whale was more than half a million dollars — 10 times the cost of a land burial, according to the Mainichi daily newspaper.

    TV viewers watched in real time as the whale, lying on its side, its enormous jaws open in a «V,» was tethered to the wharf and then carefully placed in an enormous sling. In a delicate procedure lasting over an hour, an oceanside crane gingerly lifted the carcass and placed it onto a flatbed truck, which carried it to its temporary resting place.

    A researcher told the local network MBS TV that the creature would first undergo a forensic analysis to determine its cause of death, age, history of injuries and illness and a DNA test to determine its origin. The whale that became trapped last year was 46 years old. Sperm whales have been recorded to live as long as 62.

    Experts also planned to search the creature’s intestines for chunks of ambergris, an extremely rare and strange waxy substance produced in sperm whales from undigested pieces of squid and other cephalopods. Known as «floating gold» and found in only 1 to 5% of sperm whales, ambergris is used in French perfumes. In 2021 one chunk sold for $1.5 million.

    Cityscape of Osaka bay
    Osaka bay, Japan.

    Getty


    Scientists have been calling for new measures to keep the mighty animals out of harm’s way, including sensor-activated «acoustic deterrent devices» placed at the Kii Strait, the entryway to the Inland Sea from the Pacific Ocean, to prevent the whales venturing near the coastline. 



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    Prediction: Wolves vs Brighton – Soccer News


    Verdict: Wolves to qualify 

    Best Odds: 19/20

    Bookmaker: Luckster

    In an all-Premier League FA Cup showdown on Wednesday night, Wolves will welcome Brighton to Molineux.

    Wolves

    Starting with the hosts, while Wolves might have opened the 2023/24 campaign dealing with some real financial issues behind the scenes at Molineux, Gary O’Neil’s side have continued on a real domestic romp this season. Receiving a string of plaudits from across England’s elite, they have skyrocketed their way into the top-half of the table and the mood in their camp appears to be at a red-hot high. Picking up a gritty 1-0 victory against relegation scrappers Sheffield United over the weekend, the former Bournemouth boss has seen his squad win three of their previous four top-flight appearances. Extending on their FA Cup adventure on January 28th thanks to a fiery 2-0 win away at bitter local rivals West From, O’Neil’s men have suffered just a pair of defeats from any of their previous 12 showdowns across all formats.

    Team News

    While attacking talisman Matheus Cunha might be inching towards a return from a recent thigh injury, the former Atletico Madrid striker is not expected to feature here. Although South Korea international Hee-Chan Hwang might have featured against Sheffield United over the weekend, the 28-year-old could be handed a rest on Wednesday night.

    Despite continued speculation over his long-term future at Molineux, Pedro Neto will have a leading role to play in midweek. With O’Neil potentially looking to make a handful of changes here, the likes of Matt Doherty and Jean-Ricner Bellegarde will be hoping for a recall.

    Brighton

    As for the visitors, while Brighton might have snatched a last-gasp 1-1 stalemate against Everton over the weekend, Roberto De Zerbi’s men have largely struggled with their consistency this season. Signing off January with an infamous 4-0 drumming at the hands of Luton, the Seagulls have failed to collect back-to-back victories across any competition since the end of November. However, getting their Europa League knockout stage adventure underway next month, the former Sassuolo boss is still dreaming of the chance to punch another top-seven finish in 2024. Although Brighton might have been forced to settle for a 0-0 stalemate when they met Wolves in Premier League action on January 22nd, they do hold a rampant record against Wednesday’s hosts. in fact, De Zerbi’s men have collected 13 points from their previous five top-flight showdowns against Wolves – a run that stems back to December 2021.

    Team News

    Shown a straight red card against Everton over the weekend, Brighton will be without the suspended Billy Gilmour on Wednesday night. Likewise, all still dealing with respective injury issues, the Seagulls will once again be without the likes of Joao Pedro, Solly March, James Milner and Japan international Kaoru Mitoma.

    However returning from a long-term knee injury over the weekend and making a cameo appearance at the Amex, 20-year-old Julio Enciso could make a first start since opening the New Year. Likewise, Barcelona loanee Ansu Fati should be handed a full recall in the Midlands.

    Key Factors to Consider

    • When Wolves and Brighton last met on January 22nd, Wednesday’s opponents played out a 0-0 stalemate.
    • The Seagulls have collected 13 points from their last five Premier League meetings against Wolves.
    • Likewise, Brighton have won all of their previous three trips to Molineux by an aggregate score of 10-3.
    • However, Wolves have lost just a pair of their previous 12 domestic appearances across all competitions.
    • Brighton have failed to register consecutive victories across any competition since the end of November.

    Conclusion

    While Brighton might hold a rampant record against Wednesday’s hosts, the Seagulls should be bracing themselves for a tricky test when they travel to Molineux. With Wolves in the midst of what has been a stellar domestic romp, O’Neil’s men have skyrocketed their way into the top-half of the Premier League table and the mood in their camp appears to be at a red-hot high. Losing just a pair of their previous 12 showdowns across all competitions, we are backing Wolves to extend on their FA Cup adventure.

    Verdict: Wolves to qualify 

    Best Odds: 19/20

    Bookmaker: Luckster



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