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The fitness trends that are going to be big after Covid-19


HIIT, yoga and live stream sessions are going to be big (Picture: Getty)

Fitness fans have had to be extremely adaptable during lockdown. No gyms, no classes, no group training – the way we work out has changed drastically over the last few months.

While plenty of us are chomping at the bit to get back in the gym – it also looks like we are going to be sticking to some of our new fitness habits, even when lockdown ends.

Reebok health experts have predicted the top fitness trends that are going to be all the rage post lockdown.

So read up and get prepared for the new normal of fitness – and decide which trends you’re going to jump on over the next few weeks.

Virtual training

Virtual workouts are perfect for getting sweat session without leaving your house – great for while gyms are still closed, and also for more flexible lifestyles in the future.

Virtual workouts allow you to exercise at anytime time of the day, which is a big benefit for people who work erratic hours, or have jammed schedules.

‘The majority of people have adapted smoothly to virtual training,; says George Pearse, Personal Trainer at Fresh Fit London.

‘Armed with no more than a couple of dumbbells, perhaps a kettlebell and some bands, people have been enjoying new ways of training outside of the big lifts.’

Yoga for mental health

We’re all going to need to take good care of our mental health as we emerge into our new normal, and yoga is fantastic for that.

Yoga has long been renowned for it’s health benefits, increasing flexibility, strength and tone,’ so it’s no wonder it has become a staple for so many during lockdown.

‘Over the past few months, yoga has increased in popularity even more as people have had a massive shift in their working patterns and with more people working from home,’ comments Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer at MittFit.

‘People are spending an abundance of time sat behind a computer and yoga is the perfect remedy for stiffness and “tech neck”.’

Experts believe that we will come to rely on yoga more as we start to incorporate mental wellness into our fitness regimes.

‘Bodyweight training and running have been people’s favoured ways of training this past seven weeks, but yoga will continue to grow in popularity as people explore new, exciting methods of moving their bodies and calming their minds,’ says George Pearse, Personal Trainer at Fresh Fit London.

Group training

We’ve all been starved of human contact during lockdown, so it is unsurprising that we will flock to training in groups as soon as we get the chance

‘The lockdown has brought people together into fitness communities like never before and I think there will be a surge in people continuing with group training whether it be online or offline,’ says Joe Mitton Personal Trainer at MittFit.

With gyms and indoor group sessions closed, ‘personal training and boot camps in parks will see a big boom this year, as will small private studios and virtual one-to-one sessions,’ adds Keith McNiven, personal trainer and founder of Right Path Fitness

Coping without gyms

People have been really keen to keep training, despite the gym being out of bounds.

People have a strong need to keep moving, even if it’s not in the same way they were doing before.

This raises interesting questions on the other side of lockdown – will people want to rush back to the gym floor?

Experts believe that the customer is going to be a bit more discerning on the other side.

‘People will miss the gym, but the fact that they are adjusting so well to having intense, effective workouts at home and outside will change the mindset for many,’ says Keith McNiven, personal trainer and founder of Right Path Fitness.

‘Plus, it will be a while before they feel safe in gyms again.’

Instagram Live fitness

For gym-goers who felt apprehensive at the idea of exercising in a large group class, live, online classes are an excellent way of building confidence in a more private environment. 

‘The rise of Instagram live sessions has seen the public exposed to a huge range of different options,’ says Personal Trainer George Pearse, at Fresh Fit London.

‘While you aren’t physically sweating side-by-side on the mats with other people, it doesn’t mean workout together is not possible in quarantine. Even streaming by yourself, you feel as though you’re working out with others.’

More: Fitness

HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been revealed as the most popular fitness trend during lockdown with a 58% global increase in online articles during lockdown. 

Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer at MittFit says; ‘Lots of people are seeing the benefits of HIIT workouts and the ease of doing them from home combined with the abundance of great trainers offering incredible daily workouts across the world.

‘The soar in popularity will continue post-lockdown now that people have seen the benefit and created the habits.’

Physiotherapist, Emma James reveals that ‘there has been a sharp increase in HIIT and cardio classes online.

‘There will be a shift in how people exercise moving forward in a positive way, as exercising virtually helps to break down the barriers and fears that some people have about exercising in front of others.’

Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you.

Get in touch: [email protected]

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Big banks able to weather Bank of Canada’s worst-case scenario, but risks higher for households and businesses


Canada’s six biggest banks survived a severe stress test by the Bank of Canada, which is a relief since they might be the only thing standing between a relatively short recession and something much worse.

The analysis was part of the central bank’s latest Financial System Review (FSR), which is devoted to the COVID-19 crisis.

Generally speaking, the central bank appears confident that its historic response to the shutdown of vast swaths of the global economy has averted disaster. Governor Stephen Poloz stuck to his contention that the recession will be brutal, but probably relatively short, in part because there appears to be little reason to worry about a financial meltdown.

The pandemic remains a massive economic and financial challenge, possibly the largest of our lifetimes, and it will leave higher levels of debt in its wake

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz

“The country’s banking system and financial market infrastructures are strong enough to deal with the situation,” Poloz said before taking questions on a conference call with reporters. “To be clear, the pandemic remains a massive economic and financial challenge, possibly the largest of our lifetimes, and it will leave higher levels of debt in its wake.”

Still, thanks to decent economic growth during the past few years and the hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency funds that Ottawa is pushing into the economy, the governor said he was “confident that a strong financial system will help Canada emerge from this episode in relatively good shape.”

Unlike many of its peers, Canada’s central bank doesn’t have any regulatory authority over financial institutions. But it does have moral authority, and it wields the country’s most impressive array of economic researchers. Thus, the FSR is an important instrument of policy, since central bankers use it to try to guide behaviour, just as they attempt to steer spending habits by raising and lowering interest rates.

Normally, the annual FSR is a warning mechanism. The Bank of Canada flags vulnerabilities it thinks could lead to pain in the event of a shock. Since we’re currently living through such a shock, this year’s review was more of a “state of play,” as Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Brian DePratto observed. “Vulnerabilities abound, but on balance the bank appears to be cautiously optimistic that the system can handle the current and emerging stresses,” he said in a note to his clients.

The Big Six and the hefty cash reserves they must maintain to satisfy federal regulations are a firebreak in this crisis

Policy-makers are confident that they have avoided a credit crunch, albeit only because they took the unprecedented step of creating tens of billions of dollars to buy government bonds and company debt. The policy seems to be working, since interest rates, which spiked in March as investors retreated when the coronavirus spread through Europe and North America, have returned to pre-crisis levels.

Poloz and the central bank’s other leaders are probably less sure about how many companies and households will survive the recession without declaring bankruptcy.

The central bank reckons about twenty per cent of mortgage borrowers entered the downturn with only enough cash and other liquid assets to cover two months (or less) of loan payments. Many companies are equally fragile, as some of the industries hardest hit by the crisis are also the ones in which companies were already operating with relatively little money in the bank.

“COVID‑19 has hit many households and businesses hard, especially those that are highly indebted or have low cash buffers,” the FSR said. “During this period, emergency measures that provide basic incomes to households and help businesses access credit are crucial.”

Government rescue efforts now exceed 10 per cent of gross domestic product, more than double the value of the fiscal stimulus deployed during the Great Recession a decade ago. Much of the assistance is in the form of emergency loans, and most of that funding is being administered by the biggest banks.

Canada’s banking oligopoly constrains competition and innovation in good times. But the Big Six and the hefty cash reserves they must maintain to satisfy federal regulations are a firebreak in this crisis. Things would be much worse if the banks were as fragile as airlines and oil companies. Fortunately, the banks should be able to withstand a deterioration of current conditions.

Policy-makers ran a simulation of what would happen to the six biggest banks — Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank — if the Bank of Canada’s worst-case economic outlook came to pass.

That scenario, which the central bank acknowledges is plausible, involves a 30 per cent plunge in GDP in the second quarter from the end of 2019 and a slow recovery that would leave economic output below pre-crisis levels for more than two years.

It’s ugly, but the banks survived the test: arrears peaked at a rate that was about double the peak during the financial crisis, and non-performing loans would exceed recent highs. But monetary and fiscal policy counter much of the pain, and the banks’ reserves do the rest. Capital requirements remain above the level required by regulation, which was made tougher after the Great Recession precisely so the most important lenders would be ready for the next economic calamity.

“The six largest banks entered the COVID‑19 period with strong capital and liquidity buffers, a diversified asset base, the capacity to generate income and the protection of a robust mortgage insurance system,” the FSR said. “With these strengths, as well as the aggressive government policy response to the pandemic, the largest banks are in a good position to manage the consequences.”

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Tiny airports rake in big cash after botched stimulus formula


The divergent outcomes for airports reveal how important obscure legislative language can be when it comes to the unprecedented economic stimulus packages Congress has passed. Across the multitrillion dollar federal rescue effort, there’s been a series of fits and starts, with some enterprises getting money quickly, while others suffer — often without knowing why.

The story behind the $10 billion in airport funding effort is simple: Airports with little or no debt and a decent amount of cash on hand were entitled to receive a relatively large share of the money. But that inherently benefited small airports because they don’t have the huge amounts of debt associated with capital projects at larger airports.

For the nearly 200 commercial airports that received only enough money to pay the bills for a few months, the federal bailout means uncertainty about their futures and tough decisions to make about services or projects to cut back on once the federal money runs out. That could make recovery even more complicated for communities that rely on airports to boost tourism or provide essential services, not to mention travelers, private pilots and others who hope to return to using them when air travel picks up again.

“It’s highly skewed towards small airports with zero debt and something like one dollar in the reserves,” said Mark Sixel, a consultant who counts a dozen airports as clients and who prepared an analysis for them. “It stands out like a sore thumb.”

That means airports like Merrill Field, a small airport in Alaska that largely serves small planes, would receive nearly $18 million, worth about nine years of its expenses. Its manager told the Anchorage Daily News that it was the “most money invested in Merrill Field in the past five years, if not ever.”

And John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport — no stranger to federal largess, considering the late lawmaker who is the airport’s namesake was known for bringing home pork — was set to receive over $5 million. It averaged about a dozen daily passenger boardings in 2018.

In all, nearly 3,300 airports are getting a piece of the $10 billion allocated in the CARES Act. The individual grant amounts range from $1,000 to $338,535,265 and can be used for capital costs, operations or debt payments.

In the hasty process of developing the bill, House Democrats had a simpler proposal that relied almost exclusively on the number of passengers flying through an airport. That would have benefited airports roughly proportionally to how busy they are.

“We pushed back against [the plans to take debt into account], but the process happened so quickly,” a Democratic aide said.

A Senate Appropriations spokesperson noted that the plans for distributing funds were developed in consultation with the FAA and ultimately with the sign-off of Democratic and Republican appropriators in both chambers. The spokesperson argued that the language Congress crafted gave the agency flexibility.

“The fact that FAA has been able to make necessary adjustments without new language shows sufficient flexibility was provided to begin with,” the spokesperson said.

But at least one lawmaker has publicly decried how FAA is handing out the money. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), whose district includes Memphis International Airport, asked the FAA to suspend the grant payments until Congress has a chance to fix them. He pointed out that Memphis International, the second-busiest cargo airport in the world, got less than the nearby McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, which had half as many passengers travel through it compared with Memphis in 2019.



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Trump promised a big announcement. Then he read off a long list of names.



“Now, we have a list of people that I’ll be speaking to over the next very short period of time, in many cases, tomorrow,” Trump said. “We have a list of different industries that I’ll be discussing by, meeting by telephone, because we don’t want people traveling right now.”

Trump read off names of just about every leading corporation in America — all of whom he said would advise the administration in the coming weeks about how to reopen the economy from its coronavirus-induced shutdown.

After the president concluded his news briefing, the White House released a list of nearly 200 corporate executives, faith leaders and thought leaders broken out by sector in what the announcement called “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”

“These bipartisan groups of American leaders will work together with the White House to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” the statement said. “The health and wealth of America is the primary goal, and these groups will produce a more independent, self-sufficient, and resilient Nation.”

At no point did Trump or the White House explain the way the committees would work, or the types of suggestions they sought or the benchmarks the White House would use to determine whether it was safe to reopen shuttered businesses, send children back to school, reopen stadiums or resume work in offices.

Trump also did not indicate who would lead the effort emanating from the various industry groups from the White House; on Monday, the councils had seemed like a potential new project for chief of staff Mark Meadows. Throughout the past week there were also confusing signals about the involvement of senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The back-and-forth deliberations over the “Opening Our Country Council,” as Trump called it at one point last week, laid bare for the American public the way decisions often are made in the Trump White House — through power struggles, the loose and very public airing of possible ideas and then the president making adjustments on the fly with a goal of having a big announcement.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Tuesday the president would likely make an announcement later this week on when and how he intended to reopen the economy, a choice Trump has called one of the toughest decisions of his presidency.

Inside the White House, aides have been zeroing in on the estimates from the nonpartisan Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which show the U.S. is now past its peak outbreak and estimates that hospitalizations related to Covid-19 will start to rapidly decline beginning in late April.

Aides are reluctant to identify May 1 as a target date given how things panned out last time — when Trump identified Easter as his target and then had to walk it back — but the president and vice president do think May is a realistic timeline for some parts of the country to begin reopening.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he could see the country re-opening in phases, depending on the infection rates.

In an Associated Press interview, Fauci indicated the U.S. needed stronger and more efficient testing to be in place before parts of the country reopened. That was in sharp contrast to the president’s more upbeat, congratulatory messages about the administration’s coronavirus response.

Fauci did not speak at the briefing on Tuesday and no government officials spoke apart from the president.

One senior White House official described the IHME estimates as “promising” and a “positive sign.” This official also said there are “many plans in development” right now that are aimed at safely reopening the economy, including ways to boost surveillance testing across the country.

The administration conducted a stress test of the current surveillance testing system last week to see if it works and views that as one of the main areas that needs improvement before people return to work.

“The data is looking better and better each day, and ultimately we want the data to drive the decision-making in terms of reopening the economy,” the senior White House official said.

A second official said White House aides were aware of a widely circulated timeline put out by Morgan Stanley for restarting the economy and disagreed with it slightly. According to that timeline, the first wave of Americans returning to nonessential businesses would be in June, which is farther out than the current timeline being discussed by task force and other administration officials.

A number of conservatives outside of the administration, along with top officials like Kudlow, Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have been pushing Trump to relax the administration’s guidelines on social distancing as soon as possible to urge businesses to reopen.

Health officials have been sifting through state-by-state data to determine when the economy could reopen, including diagnostic rates of new infections as well as the availability of hospital beds.

Even before the flurry of discussions about forming the new economic council, top economic and Treasury officials had been meeting to discuss ways to boost the economy once people return to work; that could include tax cuts, such as temporarily suspending the payroll tax cut for employers and employees for up to a year, or easing regulations even further.

In just three weeks of the crisis, 16.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department, and millions more are expected to be added to that tally in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, governors are making their own plans to reopen the economy without the president’s input. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that state officials would consider the state’s ability to track the virus; the protection of vulnerable people; and the capacity of hospitals as he weighed reopening schools and businesses throughout the state.



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CCW class for black women at Cincinnati church draws big crowd


ROSELAWN, Ohio – New Prospect Baptist Church is home to one of the largest black congregations in Cincinnati. On any weekend there you’ll find weddings, funerals, and three Sunday services.

Not exactly a place you think you’d find 179 women firing .22-caliber handguns in the church basement.

But that’s exactly what happened on Feb. 8, when the church opened its doors to what state officials believe is one of the largest women-only, concealed carry gun certification classes held in the state of Ohio. 

Over and over, the women cited the same reason for coming to the class. They were tired of being scared – of guns, of being alone in a home, of walking in some neighborhoods. 

Ariel Gresham, left,  Nancy Robb, both of Finneytown hold an unloaded revolver during an all-female concealed carry and weapons class Saturday, February 8, 2020, at New Prospect Baptist Church in Roselawn sponsored Arm the Populace.

Karen Bolden, 56, was so scared of her husband’s guns she asked him to get rid of them when they got married two years ago. He did, but she’s working to conquer her fear. When Bolden’s sister alerted her to the class – and suggested they go together – she jumped at the chance.

“This is why this class is so important,” Bolden said. “We can’t be afraid.”

The class was organized by two men: the church’s pastor Rev. Damon Lynch III and Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor, a Republican who appeared at the class sporting a t-shirt reading “All gun control is racist.” 

On Jan. 8, Pastor spread the word of the class on Facebook. 

“FREE All Women CCW Course! After hearing about those girls in Columbus being kidnapped and other young ladies around the country being sold into sex trafficking, rape, domestic violence, and other acts of violence against women, I felt the only thing I could do is host another free basic gun course for all women!”   

Within a week, the class was sold out.

Two hundred women signed up. Despite an early morning snowfall that made driving treacherous, 179 women turned out for the class, all with varying comfort levels with guns. Some had never touched one. Others owned a gun, but wanted the license needed to carry it with them. Some came because their moms or sisters or friends suggested it.

The class was taught by certified CCW licensing firm Arm the Populace. It was an intense, nine-hour class, complete with a built-just-for-the class shooting range in an empty storage area above the church’s community center.

Opinion:Don’t pit slavery descendants against black immigrants. Racism doesn’t know the difference.

Women paid $25 each to cover the cost of the space, cheaper than the typical $65 class fee.

Arm the Populace, a Cincinnati-based company that offers firearms and personal defense training, donated its time. It billed the class as the largest CCW class of all women ever in Ohio.

A spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which keeps CCW records, said the office does not track class size, but from his experience, 179 women in a class could be the largest. The office does not keep CCW permit statistics by race.  

A Pew Research Center report in 2017 delved into “America’s complex relationship with guns.” It found gun ownership varied considerably by race and gender. About four-in-ten men (39%) said they personally owned a gun, compared with 22% of women. And while 36% of whites reported that they were gun owners, only about a quarter of blacks and 15% of Hispanics said they own a gun.





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Canadiens’ Carey Price becoming like a big brother to Cayden Primeau


Canadiens rookie goalie Cayden Primeau was asked after practice Friday in Brossard to describe his relationship with Carey Price.

“I’m not sure … probably big brother, little brother,” Primeau said. “But he’s been nothing but great and super supportive. I try to stay out of his way, but like I said he’s been super supportive. So I can’t say any more nice things about him.”

The big brother had the little brother’s back after Primeau recorded his first NHL victory Wednesday night, making 35 saves in a 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. The Senators’ Brady Tkachuk picked up the puck after Ben Chiarot scored the winning goal in OT and was leaving the ice with it when he was stopped by Price.

Tkachuk handed the puck over and Price presented it to Primeau after the rookie was named the first star in only his second NHL start since getting called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket.


Carey Price congratulates rookie goalie Cayden Primeau after his first NHL victory, a 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Dec. 11, 2019.

Minas Panagiotakis /

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“That means so much,” Primeau said. “(Price) probably doesn’t even realize how much it means to me that he got a piece of that night there I’ll be able to have for the rest of my life.”

Tkachuk, who is known as a pest and tangled with Shea Weber during Wednesday’s game, claimed he was going to give the puck to a fan as a souvenir, but most likely knew exactly what he was doing when he tried to take away the special souvenir. Primeau and Tkachuk were teammates for international play at the U-18 level with Team USA.

“He messaged me and he told me that he was doing that (giving the puck to a fan),” Primeau said. “But it’s all part of the way he plays and I respect that. When people don’t like him, that’s what he’s supposed to do. I’m going to take his word for it, but definitely part of his game.”

“Nothing can surprise me with Brady,” the goalie said with a big smile.



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Sooners head to final four after winning Big 12 in overtime thriller


TODD SAELHOF

Postmedia Network

Jalen Hurts is headed back to the final four.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are not.

And neither are the Baylor Bears after Hurts and the Oklahoma Sooners beat them in the Big 12 Championship Game — a 30-23 overtime thriller Saturday at Jerry’s World in Arlington, Texas.

“These are hard to win,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley told reporters post-game. We found a lot of ways to win football games. We certainly did today.”

Hurts agreed.

“People act like it’s supposed to be easy,” Hurts told reporters post-game. “It’s not supposed to be easy. Winning championships is hard.”

With this hard-fought win, the Sooners are most likely headed to the final four but have to await official word from the College Football Playoff selection committee, which is slated to announce the post-season combatants Sunday (noon ET, TSN2).

“I hope they see the Big 12 champions,” Riley told reporters post-game. “They’ve got a job to do — I get that. We’ve had a job to do as a team, which was continue to improve through the year, trust the things that we could and ultimately win the Big 12 championship. We’ve done that.”

Hurts has been the major reason why.

While Baylor has shown remarkable resilience in rebounding and rebuilding from a program-debilitating sexual assault scandal a few years back, Hurts rebuilt his college career with Oklahoma after losing his starter’s job with Alabama in the second half of the national championship game in 2018.

The dynamic QB used the transfer portal last summer to join Riley’s squad, and his subsequent stellar play has made him a likely Heisman Trophy finalist.

“I’m blessed to be where my feet are,” added Hurts, who’s now headed to his fourth straight College Football Playoff, while ‘Bama missed out with two-losses during the regular season. “How crazy it is to be here after starting as a true freshman for (Alabama) and winning the SEC championship and going to the national championship to be a Big 12 champion?”

The answer was in his performance Saturday, throwing 17-of-24 for 287 yards — teaming up with superstar receiver CeeDee Lamb on 173 of them — and running for another 38.

“I wrote a note to (Lamb) before the game, and I handed it to him when I shake everybody’s hand,” Hurts told Fox post-game. “I told him, ‘I said it’s time to let the dog off the leash and he’s loose. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.”
It didn’t help Baylor that it lost its dual-threat QB, Charlie Brewer, to an early-game injury and was forced to turn to its two backups.

Nonetheless, the never-say-die Bears rebounded from two 10-point leads built up by Oklahoma.
Redshirt freshman QB Gerry Bohanon proved ineffective for Baylor after an early TD throw, bringing on true freshman QB Jacob Zeno, who hit for two long majors to force OT.

But Hurts found Lamb and Rhamondre Stevenson rumbled for the five-yard TD to put Oklahoma up after its possession in overtime.

Then the Sooners defence slammed the door on Zeno and the Baylor offence to score the victory for the conference crown and — likely — the fourth and final berth in the CFP.

Well-deserved, for sure.

“There’s a narrative out there that the SEC is a different animal,” Hurts told reporters. “But the Big 12 is tough.”

It’s Oklahoma’s fifth-straight Big 12 crown.

SECOND & LONG
No. 5 Utah (11-2) blew its chance to shine on the big stage Friday night — and along with it lost what might be its best shot ever to make the final four. Utah got steamrolled early in a 37-15 drop to No. 13 Oregon (11-2) in the Pac-12 finale in Santa Clara, Calif. Oregon played its best game of the season, building a 20-0 halftime lead and getting 208 rushing yards game-long from CJ Verdell to slice apart a vaunted Utah defence. The decision gives Oregon its third conference title and sends it to the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, while Utah misses out on a golden opportunity to make the CFP. A win by Utah coupled with Georgia’s loss to LSU would have put Utah into the playoff … Anybody still doubting No. 2 LSU (13-0) after the SEC championship game isn’t paying attention. Heisman frontrunner Joe Burrow shredded arguably the country’s best defence for 349 yards and four TDs through the air in a 37-10 takedown of No. 4 Georgia (11-2). Saturday’s result should push LSU to No. 1 in the final CFP rankings, while Georgia misses out on a return to the final four. UGA had the inside track but needed the victory in Atlanta. LSU is just too good, though. “Just so proud of my football team and my coaching staff,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron told CBS post-game. “But we said tonight, ‘This is not our final destination.’ Wherever they tell us to play next, we’re going to be ready.” … No. 1 Ohio State (13-0) took it on the chin early but rallied to dump No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3) 34-21 for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis late Saturday … Nothing wrong with the defending champs, as No. 3 Clemson (13-0) destroyed No. 23 Virginia (9-4) 62-17 in the ACC finale in Charlotte, N.C., to become the first team ever to win a fifth-straight conference championship game.

THIRD & GOAL
Give No. 17 Memphis (12-1) a conference crown and the Group of Five’s New Year’s Day berth in the Cotton Bowl after a 29-24 defeat Saturday of No. 20 Cincinnati (10-3) in the ACC finale. A six-yard TD pass from QB Brady White to Antonio Gibson with 74 seconds remaining proved to be the difference from host Memphis in what was a rematch from last week’s regular-season wrap-up. Now, Memphis awaits its official invitation to the Cotton Bowl … Same teams, same result, as No. 21 Appalachian State (12-1) topped Louisiana-Lafayette (10-3) for the second straight Sun Belt championship game. Saturday’s final in Boone, N.C., saw App State hold on for a 45-38 victory in a game during which it never trailed … No. 19 Boise State (12-1) topped Hawaii (9-5) 31-10 in the Mountain West Championship Game, getting bend-but-don’t break defence on the blue carpet Saturday in Boise … The MAC finale saw Miami-Ohio (8-5) upset Central Michigan (8-5) 26-21 Saturday in Detroit.

FOURTH & INCHES
Lane Kiffin is climbing the college football coaching ranks again, as he’ll join Ole Miss as the head coach fresh off Saturday’s Conference USA title take with Florida Atlantic. FAU (10-3) dominated UAB (9-4) in the conference finale in Boca Raton, Fla., with UAB allowing season highs in points and yards allowed (585) … Watch for Memphis head coach Mike Norvell to be named sidelines boss of Florida State on Sunday … Penn State likes what James Franklin’s done, going 55-23 during his tenure so far, inking the head man to another six seasons. It’s believed to be a contract worth $5.3 million per year plus bonuses.



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Australia fires: blazes ‘too big to put out’ as 140 bushfires rage in NSW and Queensland | Australia news


Dozens of fires will burn across Australia for weeks, fire authorities say, including a “mega-fire”, already the size of greater Sydney, that is too big to put out.

At 6am on Sunday there were 96 bush and grass fires in NSW – 47 of which were not contained. Five fires are at a watch and act level.

Conditions eased on Sunday morning, allowing firefighters a chance to do critical back-burning and containment work ahead of Tuesday, when the mercury is tipped to soar into the 40s in parts of the state.

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said overnight conditions had improved.

“We’ve got much more benign conditions, particularly a dominant easterly influence which will stretch pretty much right across most of our fire grounds,” he told Seven News.

“Which means hundreds – as a matter of fact more than 1600 – firefighters are around again today doing really important and critical back burning and containment-line consolidation to try and gain the upper hand before we see those conditions deteriorate into Tuesday.”

Already this fire season, six people have died and more than 1,000 homes have been lost across NSW and Queensland.

The largest conflagration, the “mega fire” at Gospers Mountain near Sydney’s north-western outskirts, was likely to burn for weeks until substantial rain falls, likely at the end of January or early February.

The NSW Bureau of Meteorology said the largest fires simply could not be extinguished by water-bombing aircraft or firefighting crews on the ground.

“The massive NSW fires are in some cases just too big to put out at the moment … they’re pumping out vast amounts of smoke which is filling the air, turning the sky orange and even appearing like significant rain on our radars,” the bureau said.

The bureau has forecast a grim week ahead, with strong winds forecast for fire-affected areas and no rain relief in sight. A months-long drought in eastern Australia has left bushland tinder dry and prone to ignition, especially from dry lightning strikes.

Temperatures are expected to reach 43C in western Sydney, and 44C in the Hunter region immediately north of Australia’s largest city.

Temperatures will also soar in the state’s north-west, where they are forecast to hit 44C in Bourke and 43C in Colbar.

In Queensland late on Saturday, a shipping container filled with fireworks exploded and residents were forced to flee their homes as an unpredictable fire threatened homes in Bundamba, on the outskirts of the state capital, Brisbane.

Residents within an three-kilometre-squared exclusion zone were ordered out as the firefront was waterbombed but fire crews warned they might not be able to stop the fast-moving blaze.

Conditions have eased off, a spokeswoman for Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services said on Sunday morning, however are expected to pick up later in the day.

A high fire danger rating is in place for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt to Cape York Peninsula, and will ramp up to severe in the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders on Monday.

One home was reportedly destroyed in the Bundamba fire on Saturday night.

The chief scientist at the Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dr Bidda Jones, said that, beyond the human cost of the fires, the widespread blazes would have a “major impact of biodiversity”.

“Depending on the intensity of the fire, it will have had a massive impact on wildlife,” she said. “And not just on those iconic species like koalas. You have to think of this in terms of how it affects the entire ecosystem.

“You have animals relying on the eucalyptus trees for their primary diet – greater gliders are another example of that. Then you have a whole range of other species living off nectar or the insects in that environment, and there’s going to be a considerable loss of insect life in those fires.”

Jones said animals often preferred old large trees for nesting, the trees most likely to be destroyed by the fires.

“And then with fires that have been burning even at low intensity, leaf litter and all the understorey is gone. That’s providing food and refuge to animals there and the animals they would eat.

“So if you look at the overall picture … the damage has been so extensive, it’s going to have a major impact on biodiversity.”

Much of Jones’s own property, which backed on to national park at Braidwood near the Australian capital, Canberra, was lost to fires this week.

“At this point almost all of that has been burnt, all of that continues forest, up to 31,000 hectares,” she said. “The big trees are still there and we have greater gliders that live in the forest, as well as powerful owls.

“So I’m hoping that they’ll be OK. They’ll have lost nesting holes because the big trees have fallen and it’s the big old trees that have the nesting holes.”

Jones’s property was home to a huge variety of birds, as well as eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and red wallabies.

“We were going out and meeting kangaroos and red neck wallabies that were moving away from the fire,” she said. “A lot of wombats, I’m not sure what they’re going to eat. All of the forest floor, any grass any shrubs, are gone.”

Jones said her rainfall records showed last month to be the driest November in 40 years. The November average is about 100ml but this year it was 18ml.

The role of climate change in contributing to Australia’s unusually early and fierce fire season has been the subject of acute political debate. The federal government has refused to concede that climate change – and in particular Australia’s continued rising carbon emissions and massive fossil fuel exports – have played any role in the current fire crisis.

The Australian, prime minister Scott Morrison, has consistently said it was “no credible scientific evidence” linking climate change with the fires. This has been rejected by climate scientists, who have said politicians are “burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them”.

“Anytime I hear ‘don’t talk about climate change’,” Jones said, “anyone in my situation has absolutely no doubt these conditions are extreme and are connected to climate change.”

with Australian Associated Press



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Australia bushfires north of Sydney ‘too big to put out’


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Media caption‘Sydney’s mega fire is getting out of control’

A “mega blaze” raging across a 60km (37 mile) front north-west of Sydney cannot currently be put out, Australian fire officials have warned.

The fire across almost 300,000 hectares (1,150 sq m) is just an hour’s drive from the nation’s most-populous city.

People who cannot defend their property from approaching fires have been told they should leave immediately.

Since October, bushfires have killed six people and destroyed more than 700 homes across Australia.

The severity of the blazes so early in the fire season has caused alarm, and prompted calls for greater action to tackle climate change.

Fires have also raged across Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

What’s the latest on the ground?

Several fires have combined to form the Gospers Mountain mega blaze, which is more than 283,000 ha in size.

At 12:00 local time Saturday (01:00 GMT) 95 fires were burning, with half yet to be contained, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) tweeted.

It said that more than 2,200 firefighters “were out in the field”.

At one point on Friday, nine fires had been raised to emergency level warnings, although these decreased markedly amid a brief respite in conditions later in the day.

The blazes north of Sydney were sending black fumes across the city, causing a rise in medical problems.

NSW RFS deputy commissioner, Rob Rogers told national broadcaster ABC: “We cannot stop these fires, they will just keep burning until conditions ease, and then we’ll try to do what we can to contain them.”

He said the 60km stretch from Hawkesbury to Singleton was “just fire that whole way”.

Video footage from the Orangeville area showed firefighters running from a wall of fire and the Walkabout Wildlife Park has evacuated hundreds of animals.

Fire officials in Ingleburn warned: “If your property is not prepared for the bushfire season and you’re not sure you are able or capable of defending your property if a fire approaches you need to leave straight away.”

Firefighters from Canada were briefed in Sydney on Friday and will be deployed across New South Wales over the weekend, to be joined by teams from the US.

What’s the outlook?

There was some respite overnight but another dry and windy day is predicted.

“They were able to strengthen a number of containment lines [overnight]… in preparation of some of those challenging conditions we are expecting this afternoon,” RFS Chief Superintendent Ben Millington told the ABC.

But he added: “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

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EPA

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A smoky haze has enveloped much of Sydney

Tuesday is the next big concern, with temperatures inland of Sydney likely to reach above 40C (104F).

Some firefighters have expressed concern that volunteer numbers might not be enough and that there are inadequate water supplies.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said that “some fires were too big to put out” while the NSW RFS said late Friday the blazes would only be extinguished “when we get good rain”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFirefighters flee intense flames in Sydney, in a video shared by them to show the dangers of bushfires

Sydney may be blanketed in smoke for weeks, if not months.

Is this fire season particularly bad?

It hasn’t come close to the fatalities of 2009, when nearly 200 people died, but the scale of the damage has been huge.

  • How bad is bushfire smoke for health?
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More than 1.6 million hectares of land have burned in New South Wales alone.

The season has hit earlier than normal and has been exacerbated by drought conditions.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: “There is an absolute lack of moisture in the soil, a lack of moisture in the vegetation… you are seeing fires started very easily and they are spreading extremely quickly, and they are burning ridiculously intensely.”

Is climate change to blame?

The BOM says that climate change has led to an increase in extreme heat events and raised the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought.

Last week, the bureau noted that NSW had endured its driest spring season on record. It also warned that Australia’s coming summer was predicted to bring similar conditions to last year’s – the nation’s hottest summer on record.

  • Australia may see 50C days ‘in decades’
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The government has been criticised over its efforts to address climate change. PM Scott Morrison has dismissed accusations linking the crisis to his government’s policies.

  • Final call to halt ‘climate catastrophe’
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Hundreds of bushfire survivors and farmers converged on the nation’s capital, Canberra, this week in protest. One woman displayed the charred remains of her home outside Parliament – on which she had written: “Morrison, your climate crisis destroyed my home.”

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Dean Sewell/ Greenpeace

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Melinda Plesman called for the government to take action on climate change





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‘We are hiring big time’: Calgary tech companies join forces to attract job seekers – Calgary


A Calgary-based group of tech companies held a hiring fair downtown on Saturday to help get the word out that the technology sector needs skilled workers.

Jason Moore was working as a geologist in Calgary for the past eight years until September when he was laid off.

“I left on good terms. They treated me very fairly but it was more just a side effect of what all of Alberta is going through at this time,” Moore said.


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Moore is one of the hundreds of people who attended the first Tech West Collective hiring expo on Saturday. He now considers himself lucky. Moore is learning the world of coding and discovering a passion he never knew he had.

“I think one of the great things about coding is you get to build stuff, and you get to see if it works right away. It’s like the mouse pushing the button and you get the pellet,” Moore said with a laugh.

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The Tech West Collective is a group of Calgary tech companies that have teamed up to help fill vacant positions.

“We are feeling a talent gap. Now we want to build up the talent pool,” said Tech West Collective organizer Kat Lesperance.

Lesperance works at Showpass, a Calgary-based tech company that provides ticketing solutions for event organizers. Showpass and Avanti Software are two of the seven members of the collective.

“We are hiring big time,” said David Owen Cord, Avanti Software co-CEO.

He said the company is looking for people of all backgrounds — not just tech-related positions.

“It’s been interesting because of the negative headlines here in Calgary and the layoffs that are going on but we are having a very different reality in the business we live in every day. One of our biggest challenges is actually filling the open spots that we are trying to hire for,” Owen Cord said.

Part of the problem is a lack of people with tech skills.

EvolveU is a non-profit educational institution that is helping job hunters transform their careers to adapt to the rapidly changing digital economy.

“There’s so much opportunity right now that people don’t even know about. That’s exciting for me and it’s exciting to watch the students go through the transformation,” said Jen Morrison, program manager with EvolveU, at the job fair on Saturday.

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Members of the Tech West Collective said it’s time for tech companies to stop poaching talent from each other and get the word out that Calgary’s economy goes beyond oil and gas. Those transitioning from the energy industry said the job hunt in the tech world is more encouraging.

“There [are] more jobs than would be for my old profession. It’s not that they’re handing them out, but there definitely does seem to be more excitement and more opportunity and a desire for more people to enter this industry,” Moore said, adding that he’s taking courses at EvolveU.

According to Calgary Economic Development, the city has over 2,000 open tech jobs.




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