Posted on

Aaron Judge’s status among top concerns for returning Yankees


When spring training was knocked out by the coronavirus on March 12, the Yankees were the favorites to win the AL title despite knowing they would start the season with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, James Paxton and Luis Severino on the injured list.

Three-plus months later, the Yankees remain the favorites and, barring further injury, will have Stanton, Hicks, Paxton and possibly Judge when the season opens in late July after three weeks of summer camp at Yankee Stadium that starts Wednesday.

When we left off

Injuries to Stanton (calf), Hicks (Tommy John surgery), Judge (top right rib fracture) and Paxton (back surgery) severely altered the starting outfield and created an opening in the No. 5 spot of the rotation.

Brett Gardner was going to play center field with Mike Tauchman (right) and Clint Frazier (left) in the corners instead of Hicks in center, Judge in right and Stanton in left.

Jonathan Loaisiga was a contender for the rotation’s fifth spot with Mike King.

Those landscapes have changed. Hicks said last week he would be ready for Opening Day. While Stanton will get a lot of action as the DH, he should be able to play left field when Gardner plays center or doesn’t start against a lefty. Judge is the wild card. If he isn’t ready, figure Tauchman and Frazier for right field. When the rib injury was discovered in March, the Yankees privately felt Judge wouldn’t be ready until June or July and they have been mum for the past month on Judge’s situation.

Yankees
Giancarlo StantonRobert Sabo

Other developments before March 12 were Gleyber Torres committing five errors in 10 spring training games at shortstop, where he is replacing the slick-fielding Didi Gregorius, who signed a one-year deal with the Phillies as a free agent.

And there was Gerrit Cole’s introduction to the team after signing a nine-year deal for $324 million. Everything appeared to go smoothly from a pitching standpoint and he quickly demonstrated a thirst for knowledge.

What to look for upon return (non-COVID)

How first-year pitching coach Matt Blake handles a condensed Spring Training 2.

Instead of the normal six weeks to get arms ready, Blake will have roughly half that many to prepare what many believe to be the top staff in the American League.

The biggest challenge for Blake will be to make sure the pitchers, especially starters, understand the difference between the workouts they did at home and what lies ahead.

“Most will feel they are ready to go and say they have been throwing a lot, but they haven’t been throwing under stress,’’ a former big-league pitching coach said Thursday. “You have to put the reins on them a bit.’’

Had Severino not required Tommy John surgery in late February, there wouldn’t have been room for Jordan Montgomery in the rotation that is headed by Cole and houses Masahiro Tanaka, Paxton and J.A. Happ. Now, after working four innings in two games at the end of last year following Tommy John surgery in 2018, the 27-year-old lefty is a heavy favorite for the fifth spot.

The delayed start likely cost Frazier early playing time, but he will be in the mix because the rosters expand from 26 to 30 players on Opening Day before shrinking to 28 on the 15th day of the season.

What to look for upon return (COVID)

What will the players look like after being away from the game for three-plus months? More importantly, where will their heads be concerning COVID-19?

For the most part players work out during the offseason and outside of a few cases, the majority are in good physical shape when they report to spring training in the middle of February. That will likely hold here, too, even though not all had access to the same type of facilities.

As for the mental side of it, this is new to everybody. Last weekend the Yankees had four members of the organization test positive in Tampa. How will a player react to a positive test? How will a player deal with the possibility of contracting the virus and bringing it home to his family? This is so much different than a pulled muscle, broken bone or Tommy John surgery. Safe to say it will be an issue for many and a serious one for players, coaches and everybody throughout the organization.

How about bad feelings toward baseball owners following an ugly labor situation?

When it comes to the extra four players at the start, it is possible some teams will use all those extra spots on relief pitchers, but some might go with a position player and three arms. A third catcher is an option, but a three-man taxi squad for road games must include a catcher.

New year. Way different game.



Source link

Posted on

U.S. Senate returns to Washington amid concerns about coronavirus risk


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate convened in Washington for the first time in nearly six weeks on Monday, despite concern it might put lawmakers and staff at risk of contracting the coronavirus, but made clear it could take weeks to pass any new relief legislation.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters inside the U.S. Capitol as senators returned to Capitol Hill amid concerns that their legislative sessions could put lawmakers and staff at risk of contracting the coronavirus in Washington, U.S., May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Party leaders raised partisan differences as soon as the Senate opened over the next step in how to combat the pandemic, nominations for senior government posts put forward by President Donald Trump and even the decision to return.

“If it’s essential that the brave healthcare workers, grocery store workers, truck drivers and many other Americans continue to carefully show up for work, then it’s essential that their U.S. senators carefully show up ourselves and support them,” Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer accused McConnell of calling senators back to pursue a Republican political agenda, not help the country.

“As we return to work under the cloud of crisis, Senate Republicans should concentrate on helping us recover from COVID-19, not confirming right-wing judges or protecting big businesses that threaten to put workers at serious risk,” Schumer said.

Democrats and Republicans are at odds over the contents of any new coronavirus legislation. Democrats want up to $1 trillion to help state and local governments. Republicans are demanding liability protections for businesses, as a condition for moving forward on any bill.

Trump said during a Fox News town hall on Sunday that he would not consider any measure that did not include a payroll tax cut.

With Washington still under a stay-at-home order, lawmakers were advised by the congressional physician to wear masks, stay six feet (2 meters) apart and limit the number of staff on Capitol Hill.

Senators wore masks during their first vote on Monday evening, walking into the chamber only one or two at a time and raising their hands, mostly in medical gloves, to indicate their approval.

The Senate confirmed Robert Feitel as inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by 87 to 0.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives chose to remain in recess this week because of potential health risks and has not announced when it will reconvene.

With some Democrats warning the Senate’s return could risk spreading the virus, the Trump administration last week offered Congress 1,000 coronavirus tests.

McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned down the offer over the weekend, which drew fire from Trump.

“By Congress not wanting the special 5 minute testing apparatus, they are saying that they are not ‘essential,’” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, also said he disagreed with the decision in an interview with Politico.

Senate committees scheduled nomination hearings on Tuesday, for Republican U.S. Representative John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence and Brian Miller, a White House lawyer, tapped to oversee the Treasury’s handling of coronavirus relief funding.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and David Morgan; additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert; writing by David Morgan and Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatisnand Tom Brown

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



Source link

Posted on

Iran defends its virus response, citing economic concerns


TEHRAN, IRAN —
Iran’s president on Sunday lashed out at criticism of the country’s lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, saying the government has to weigh economic concerns as it takes measures to contain the pandemic.

Hassan Rouhani said authorities had to consider the effect of mass quarantine efforts on Iran’s beleaguered economy, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions. It’s a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between restricting human contact and keeping their economies from crashing.

“Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,” Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting. “We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”

“This is not the time to gather followers,” he added. “This is not a time for political war.”

Even before the pandemic, Rouhani was under fire for the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear deal he concluded with the United States and other world powers. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement and has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran that prevent it from selling oil on international markets. Iran has rejected U.S. offers of humanitarian aid.

State TV on Sunday reported another 123 deaths, pushing Iran’s overall toll to 2,640 amid 38,309 confirmed cases.

Most people suffer only minor symptoms, such as fever and coughing, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe illness and death, especially in elderly patients or those with underlying health problems. It is highly contagious, and can be spread by those showing no symptoms.

In recent days, Iran has ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and banned travel between cities. But those measures came long after other countries in the region imposed more sweeping lockdowns. Many Iranians are still flouting orders to stay home in what could reflect widespread distrust of authorities.

Iran has urged the international community to lift sanctions and is seeking a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Elsewhere in the region, Qatar reported its first death from the new coronavirus late Saturday, saying the total number of reported cases there was at least 590.

The tiny, energy-rich nation said it flew 31 Bahrainis stranded in Iran into Doha on a state-run Qatar Airways flight. But since Bahrain is one of four Arab countries that have been boycotting Qatar in a political dispute since 2017, Doha said it could not fly the 31 onward to the island kingdom.

“Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future,” the Qatari government said in a statement.

Bahrain said it planned a flight Sunday to pick up the stranded passengers. The kingdom said it had its own repatriation flights scheduled for those still stuck in Iran and warned Qatar that it “should stop interfering with these flights.”

In Egypt, at least 1,200 Sudanese are stranded at the border after Sudan closed all its crossings, according to Egyptian officials at one of the crossings. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

Sudan, which is still reeling from the uprising that toppled President Omar al-Bashir last year, has five confirmed cases, including one fatality. It’s one of several countries in the region where the health care system has been degraded by years of war and sanctions. Authorities closed the borders to prevent any further spread.

Sudan’s Information Minister Faisal Saleh said Sudanese authorities are looking for lodging in Egypt for the stranded passengers. He said authorities have quarantined at least 160 undocumented migrants who were sent into Sudan from war-torn Libya earlier this month.

Residents in Egypt’s southern city of Luxor say they are providing shelter to the stranded Sudanese.

“We have provided food and medicine to the Sudanese brothers,” said Mahmoud Abdel-Rahim, a local farmer. “People hosted women, children and elders in their homes.”

Egypt, which has reported 576 cases and 36 fatalities, imposed restrictions on cash deposits and withdrawals to prevent crowding at banks as payrolls and pensions are disbursed. Authorities began imposing a nighttime curfew last week.

——

Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Samy Magdy in Cairo and Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed.



Source link

Posted on

Concerns raised after facial recognition software found to have racial bias


In 2015, two undercover police officers in Jacksonville, Fla., bought $50 worth of crack cocaine from a man on the street. One of the cops surreptitiously snapped a cellphone photo of the man and sent it to a crime analyst, who ran the photo through facial recognition software.

The facial recognition algorithm produced several matches, and the analyst chose the first one: a mug shot of a man named Willie Allen Lynch. Lynch was convicted of selling drugs and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Civil liberties lawyers jumped on the case, flagging a litany of concerns to fight the conviction. Matches of other possible perpetrators generated by the tool were never disclosed to Lynch, hampering his ability to argue for his innocence. The use of the technology statewide had been poorly regulated and shrouded in secrecy.

But also, Willie Allen Lynch is a Black man.

Multiple studies have shown facial recognition technology makes more errors on Black faces. For mug shots in particular, researchers have found that algorithms generate the highest rates of false matches for African American, Asian and Indigenous people.

After more than two dozen police services, government agencies and private businesses across Canada recently admitted to testing the divisive facial recognition app Clearview AI, experts and advocates say it’s vital that lawmakers and politicians understand how the emerging technology could impact racialized citizens.

“Technologies have their bias as well,” said Nasma Ahmed, director of Toronto-based non-profit Digital Justice Lab, who is advocating for a pause on the use of facial recognition technology until proper oversight is established.

“If they don’t wake up, they’re just going to be on the wrong side of trying to fight this battle … because they didn’t realize how significant the threat or the danger of this technology is,” says Toronto-born Toni Morgan, managing director of the Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.

“It feels like Toronto is a little bit behind the curve in understanding the implications of what it means for law enforcement to access this technology.”

Last month, the Star revealed that officers at more than 20 police forces across Canada have used Clearview AI, a facial recognition tool that has been described as “dystopian” and “reckless” for its broad search powers. It relies on what the U.S. company has said is a database of three billion photos scraped from the web, including social media.

Almost all police forces that confirmed use of the tool said officers had accessed a free trial version without the knowledge or authorization of police leadership and have been told to stop; the RCMP is the only police service that has paid to access the technology.

Multiple forces say the tool was used by investigators within child exploitation units, but it was also used to probe lesser crimes, including in an auto theft investigation and by a Rexall employee seeking to stop shoplifters.

While a handful of American cities and states have moved to limit or outright ban police use of facial recognition technology, the response from Canadian lawmakers has been muted.

According to client data obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared exclusively with the Star, the Toronto Police Service was the most prolific user of Clearview AI in Canada. (Clearview AI has not responded to multiple requests for comment from the Star but told BuzzFeed there are “numerous inaccuracies” in the client data information, which they allege was “illegally obtained.”)

Toronto police ran more than 3,400 searches since October, according to the BuzzFeed data.

A Toronto police spokesperson has said officers were “informally testing” the technology, but said the force could not verify the Star’s data about officers’ use or “comment on it with any certainty.” Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders directed officers to stop using the tool after he became aware they were using it, and a review is underway.

But Toronto police are still using a different facial recognition tool, one made by NEC Corp. of America and purchased in 2018. The NEC facial recognition tool searches the Toronto police database of approximately 1.5 million mug shot photos.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has been testing the accuracy of facial recognition technology since 2002. Companies that sell the tools voluntarily submit their algorithms to be tested to NIST; government agencies sponsor the research to help inform policy.

In a report released in December that tested 189 algorithms from 99 developers, NIST found dramatic variations in accuracy across different demographic groups. For one type of matching, the team discovered the systems had error rates between 10 and 100 times higher for African American and Asian faces compared to images of white faces.

For the type of facial recognition matching most likely to be used by law enforcement, African American women had higher error rates.

“Law enforcement, they probably have one of the most difficult cases. Because if they miss someone … and that person commits a crime, they’re going to look bad. If they finger the wrong person, they’re going to look bad,” said Craig Watson, manager of the group that runs NIST’s testing program.

Clearview AI has not been tested by NIST. The company has claimed its tool is “100% accurate” in a report written by an “independent review panel.” The panel said it relied on the same methodology the American Civil Liberties Union used to assess a facial recognition algorithm sold by Amazon.

The American Civil Liberties Union slammed the report, calling the claim “misleading” and the tool “dystopian.”

Get more of today’s top stories in your inbox

Sign up for the Star’s Morning Headlines email newsletter for a briefing of the day’s big news.

Sign Up Now

Clearview AI did not respond to a request for comment about its accuracy claims.

Before purchasing the NEC facial recognition technology, Toronto police conducted a privacy impact assessment. Asked if this examined potential racial bias within the NEC’s algorithms, spokesperson Meaghan Gray said in an email the contents of the report are not public.

But she said TPS “has not experienced racial or gender bias when utilizing the NEC Facial Recognition System.”

“While not a means of undisputable positive identification like fingerprint identification, this technology provides ‘potential candidates’ as investigative leads,” she said. “Consequently, one race or gender has not been disproportionally identified nor has the TPS made any false identifications.”

The revelations about Toronto police’s use of Clearview AI have coincided with the planned installation of additional CCTV cameras in communities across the city, including in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue West area. The provincially funded additional cameras come after the Toronto police board approved increasing the number placed around the city.

The combination of facial recognition technology and additional CCTV cameras in a neighbourhood home to many racialized Torontonians is a “recipe for disaster,” said Sam Tecle, a community worker with Jane and Finch’s Success Beyond Limits youth support program.

“One technology feeds the other,” Tecle said. “Together, I don’t know how that doesn’t result in surveillance — more intensified surveillance — of Black and racialized folks.”

Sam Tecle, a community worker with Success Beyond Limits youth support program, said the combination of facial recognition technology and additional CCTV camerias in communities across the city, is a recipe for disaster.

Tecle said the plan to install more cameras was asking for a lot of trust from a community that already has a fraught relationship with the police. That’s in large part due to the legacy of carding, he said — when police stop, question and document people not suspected of a crime, a practice that disproportionately impacts Black and brown men.

“This is just a digital form of doing the same thing,” Tecle told the Star. “If we’re misrecognized and misidentified through these facial recognition algorithms, then I’m very apprehensive about them using any kind of facial recognition software.”

Others pointed out that false positives — incorrect matches — could have particularly grave consequences in the context of police use of force: Black people are “grossly over-represented” in cases where Toronto police used force, according to a 2018 report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Saunders has said residents in high-crime areas have repeatedly asked for more CCTV cameras in public spaces. At last month’s Toronto police board meeting, Mayor John Tory passed a motion requiring that police engage in a public community consultation process before installing more cameras.

Gray said many residents and business owners want increased safety measures, and this feedback alongside an analysis of crime trends led the force to identify “selected areas that are most susceptible to firearm-related offences.”

“The cameras are not used for surveillance. The cameras will be used for investigation purposes, post-reported offences or incidents, to help identify potential suspects, and if needed during major events to aid in public safety,” Gray said.

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of Toronto, said when cameras are placed in neighbourhoods with high proportions of racialized people, then used in tandem with facial recognition technology, “it could be problematic, because of false positives and false negatives.”

“What this gets at is the need for continued discussion, debate, and certainly oversight,” Owusu-Bempah said.

Kate Allen
Kate Allen is a Toronto-based reporter covering science and technology. Follow her on Twitter: @katecallen
Wendy Gillis





Source link

Posted on

Pentagon concerns spike in pro-Russian sentiment among U.S. troops – Defence Blog


The U.S. military officials have concerned the spike in pro-Russian sentiment among the households of military members.

More than 1,000 U.S. adults responded between Oct. 24 and Oct. 30, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points to the second annual national defense survey conducted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Almost 46% of the households of military members viewed Russia as an ally even considering the increase in tension between the two countries.

The Voice of America has reported that while a majority, 71% of all Americans and 53% of military households, still views Russia as an enemy, the spike in pro-Russian sentiment has defense officials concerned.

“There is an effort, on the part of Russia, to flood the media with disinformation to sow doubt and confusion,” Defense Department spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Carla Gleason told VOA.

“This is not only through discordant and inflammatory dialogue but through false narratives designed to elicit sympathetic views,” she said, adding, “we are actively working to expose and counter Russian disinformation whenever possible.”

The Deutsche Welle reported that in order to manipulate public discussions, especially in times of elections or referendums, information providers controlled by the Kremlin have purposefully disseminated disinformation, extremely hyperpartisan news and populist narratives. This is not an extension of pluralism of opinion through balanced and objective information that is acceptable in the sense of a free public sphere, but rather illegitimate interference.

These novel disinformation campaigns exploit the increased information overload experienced by people in the digital world. They flood the information space with a multitude of lies, half-truths or absurd news.

A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the Russian propaganda uses every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to users’ interests to influence they.

* If you wish to report grammatical or factual errors within our news articles, you can let us know by using the online feedback form.



Source link

Posted on

Uber sexual assault report prompts concerns over ridesharing in B.C. But are taxis any safer?


In the wake of damning data from Uber that found more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported inside U.S. rides last year, B.C. is asking how safe ridesharing will be when it eventually arrives on the province’s roads.

But a lack of similar data regarding sexual assaults in taxis across B.C. makes it difficult to draw comparisons.

In its safety report, Uber said 464 people were raped while using its U.S. services in 2017 and 2018. Almost all of them — 99.4 per cent — were riders. It’s difficult to compare those statistics to other modes of transportation because U.S. taxi companies and transit agencies generally do not collect similar national data.


READ MORE:
Uber reports more than 3,000 sexual assaults during U.S. rides in 2018

That appears to be the case in B.C. as well. The RCMP and other police agencies said they didn’t have that data on hand, adding it’s “not something that can be easily teased out.”

Story continues below advertisement

Although Vancouver police said they have received “a number of complaints” over the last two years, a spokesperson said it’s “not an epidemic by any means”, considering the number of rides that take place.

The Passenger Transportation Board, which is tasked with dealing with driver complaints, also said it doesn’t track those specific incidents.






Fraser Valley temple president charged with sexual assault


Fraser Valley temple president charged with sexual assault

Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said the province demands “the highest level” of criminal background checks for taxi drivers, and is assuring the province the same standard will be set for ridesharing drivers.

“We have a very strict policy with taxis where we do follow up if there are assaults,” she said. “We obviously want people to be safe however they’re travelling, whatever form of transportation they’re using.

“There are, sadly, always going to be incidents and I think this is extremely concerning that there are. We do everything we can to make sure that those people who are driving a vehicle to earn an income are assessed, are checked … to ensure people who are driving are as safe as we can attest.”



READ MORE:
Uber weighs next steps after report showed more than 3,000 sex assaults during U.S. rides in 2018

In its report, Uber noted that drivers and riders were both attacked and that some assaults occurred between riders. It added its data was based solely on reports from riders and drivers — meaning the actual numbers could be much higher. Sexual assaults commonly go unreported.

Story continues below advertisement

In B.C., at least two taxi drivers have been charged with sexually assaulting a passenger while on the job this year, including a July case in Kelowna and another in North Vancouver this past March.

Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver, said sexual violence is bound to happen when vulnerable people, particularly women, find themselves in a confined space.






Uber safety report reveals nearly 6K cases of alleged sexual assault


Uber safety report reveals nearly 6K cases of alleged sexual assault

“We know that many women are experiencing sexual violence in taxi cabs, including women that are vulnerable such as Indigenous women, women with disabilities,” she said. “It is a big concern.”

MacDougall also took issue with Uber noting the number of sexual assaults in 2018 pales in comparison to the 1.3 billion rides across the U.S. that year. In her view, just one case is too many.

“We shouldn’t be in a situation where a woman needs a ride to work or home from work, or from a night out, and is at risk of sexual violence,” she said.

“We expect ridesharing companies will take this very seriously and will take action and to prevent it.”


READ MORE:
North Shore Taxi driver charged for allegedly sexually assaulting passenger in cab in West Vancouver

No one from the Vancouver Taxi Association or the city’s taxi companies responded to requests for comment.

Story continues below advertisement

In the past, the association has taken issue with ridesharing drivers not being required to mount cameras inside their vehicles like taxis do. MacDougall said that’s also not the point.

“It maybe provides some deterrent, maybe some evidence, but we also know that cameras can be disabled,” she said.

“The point is, rather, that the company is taking very careful action in their recruitment and monitoring of those in the ridesharing program, and that they take swift and serious action any time there is an allegation or evidence of sexual violence.”

Lyft said last year it would also release a safety report. A company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that it “remained committed” to releasing a report, but did not say when.

—With files from the Associated Press




© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.







Source link