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Panthers seek NFL play-off revenge

first_imgNEW YORK (AP):The Carolina Panthers no longer appear apprehensive about playing the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks.In fact, they’re pretty confident.”We are the better team,” Panthers safety Roman Harper says matter-of-factly.Harper and his teammates want to prove it again tomorrow when the teams meet in Charlotte in the NFL divisional play-offs. The winner advances to play the Arizona-Green Bay winner for the NFC Championship.The Panthers took a big step forward when they went to Seattle and defeated the Seahawks 27-23 in Week 6, a victory that served as a springboard to their 14-0 start.But it was more than just that.That victory was about clearing a major obstacle for the Panthers. Before that, they had lost four times in three seasons to the Seahawks, including 31-17 in the divisional play-offs last January in Seattle.Harper says the Panthers are better prepared for the Seahawks in these play-offs than they were last January, when they reached the postseason with a 7-1-8 record. That team was just happy to make the playoffs. This one wants to win it all.Their defense forced an NFL-leading 39 turnovers and placed sixth overall in both yards and points allowed. They strutted to a 15-1 record, ruffling some feelings by their opponents along the way while scoring a league-most 500 points. Cam Newton made a strong case for the league MVP award, totalling 45 touchdowns and adding some flamboyant end zone dances.The Panthers have not lost at home since November 2014, a string of 11 straight games, but the Seahawks are the least likely team to be intimidated on the road, with the swagger built by consecutive Super Bowl appearances, a wealth of Pro Bowl players discovered later in the draft, and the momentum this season they rode to an 8-2 finish.Then there’s that last-minute loss to New England in the Super Bowl last season they’ve been determined to move past.The last divisional play-off of the weekend, the Denver Broncos hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, would be a lot more intriguing if all their stars were fit.The Steelers’ injury report was getting way too crowded. Wide receiver Antonio Brown (concussion) and running back DeAngelo Williams (foot) were ruled out yesterday, while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, dealing with a sprain to his right throwing shoulder, practised. Whether he plays will have a major impact on their chances.The Broncos, however, know passer Peyton Manning isn’t at 100 percent efficiency either. Manning has endured various injuries in the worst regular season of his 18-year career to make his first start in two months.Still, the Broncos are counting on his experience and the balanced attack they displayed when he returned to action in a victorious relief appearance of Brock Osweiler in Week 17. But if the Broncos are to advance, they may need to rely more on a defense that allowed the fewest yards in the league and had the most sacks (52).The winner advances to the AFC Championship game against either New England or Kansas City.last_img read more

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All square atop the Big 5 standings

first_imgThe performance was far from perfect, but the result was everything Del Norte could have hoped for, as the Warriors defeated the Tigers 7-2 in Big 5 softball action at Arcata High Tuesday afternoon.The win lifts the Del Norte girls into a tie with McKinleyville atop the Big 5 standings, with each team off to a perfect 3-0 start early in the campaign.The visitors broke open a tight game with four runs in the top of the third and took advantage of too many Arcata errors and some solid pitching …last_img read more

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Centre tackles HIV/Aids among truckers

first_img12 May 2011A new Trucking Wellness Centre based along the busy truck route in Epping, Cape Town will provide HIV/Aids counselling, testing and condoms to truck drivers using the route. Such centres are planned for major trucking routes throughout South Africa.Services extended to womenSpeaking at the launch of the centre this week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the services would also be extended to women and young girls who may be at risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).All services will be provided after hours in a confidential setting to secure the dignity of the user.Motsoaledi said the department was fully aware of the dangers that long-distance truck drivers were exposed to as a result of being away from their spouses for long periods, and that it was important to provide them with primary healthcare services including counselling to minimise the risks to themselves and their spouses.“I commend the South African Business Coalition on HIV/Aids and Mercedes-Benz SA for working with us in this regard,” Motsoaledi said.High-risk groupsLast year, Motsoaledi visited India to learn about integrating high-risk groups such as long-distance truck drivers into HIV/Aids prevention programmes.“What we saw in India forced us to think much more broadly in our fight against HIV/Aids and rolling out of primary healthcare services,” he said.Motsoaledi has since made a commitment to launch such wellness centres on major trucking routes throughout the country.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

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Is organic worth it? It depends…

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest When someone asks me if buying organic is worth the extra cost, I tell them, “It depends.” To simply issue a blanket statement that organic production is better for the environment and better for you is simply inaccurate, though it is a message regularly touted as gospel by many in the organic industry. But, of course, we all know that “it depends” is a poor marketing ploy.The truth is, though, that “it depends” is a necessity of working with Mother Nature. Every factor of production on every farm (organic or not) has a wide range of complex components that make any claims or consumer-held beliefs that organic food is more nutritious, safer and better for the environment very misleading.Demand for organic production continues to grow. In recent years, organic food sales have risen by double digits annually and organic food revenue has tripled over the past decade to a record $36 billion in 2014. Organic sales are predicted to increase 12% to 15% annually for the next couple of years.With more options to choose from than ever before, which-food-label-is-better-for-my-family type questions are becoming increasingly prevalent. As the growing season starts to take off and the battle for consumer dollars in farmers markets and grocery stores heats up, there will be countless shoppers out there wondering while wandering the aisles: “Is organic really better and worth the extra cost?”Unfortunately it is hard for them to get a straight answer. At the farmers market, the guy selling the non-organic produce tells them his product is the best quality, and it is cheaper. At the next booth over, the organic guys says his is better for the environment and healthier. An Internet search will lead to more of the same. With such muddled facts at their disposal, concerned shoppers can be very tempted to err on the side of organic with the hope that their higher dollar purchase is really what is best for their family. After all, it costs more so it must be better, right?If shoppers are willing to pay more for their food and it benefits the farmer’s bottom line, then that is wonderful. The problem, however, is that amid the muddled information available to them, most consumers I have talked with do not really understand the realities of the differences between organic and non-organic food. They just don’t.How is it that in an era of the expectation of ever-increasing transparency in our food system, consumers (especially those paying more for their organic food) are more confused than ever? Most organic buyers I have talked with have the perception that organic food is more nutritious, safer and better for the environment. Is this true? Well, sort of, maybe, or a flat no depending on the specifics of the farm situation.Every farm I have visited (and I have been to more farms than most) is an intricate balance of working with the realities of Mother Nature and the realities of maintaining a profitable business. Without these two vital components, there is no viable farm. There are inevitable trade-offs between these two often-competing factors that vary widely based on the specifics. A great online resource for science-based answers to food-related questions is: www.bestfoodfacts.org.Weed control, for example, can be done with chemicals, tillage (cultivation), hand weeding or some combination of the three. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of the environment and the economic realities of the farm.Organic production tends to rely more upon tillage and hand weeding, while conventional production typically relies more on chemicals.Tillage leads to carbon release from the soil and dramatically increases the potential for soil erosion and decreases in soil health. Chemical control introduces something synthetic into the environment, but saves fuel consumption and reduces soil erosion from tillage. Hand weeding takes a huge amount of labor, which reduces the viability of the farm. The realities of weed control can be positive or negative for the environment, the farmer, and the consumer depending on the specifics of each individual operation.I have the unique and wonderful opportunity to work with all types of farms. And, honestly, some of my favorites through the years have been organic operations due to the ingenuity, incredible work ethic, dedication to the land, and success in terms of profitability of the operation. But I must say that I have met wonderful people with fantastic, environmentally sound operations of every type, size and scope. I have also seen failed attempts, mistakes and poorly run farms of every type, size and scope.I believe that anyone (organic or non-) who dedicates their life to combining seed and soil or harnessing the lifecycle of livestock to produce something deemed of value by society is participating in a miracle granted to mankind by God. I often get frustrated when we lose sight of this miracle while getting caught up in the mire of politics, marketing battles and opposing PR campaigns within agriculture.It is the responsibility of consumers to do the research (from reputable sources) to understand the details and, I believe, it is the responsibility of those in agriculture to transparently participate in that process. There are many ways to bring a high quality product to the marketplace and all of them have pros and cons. The various combinations of those pros and cons add up to a different value based upon the food purchasing goals of the consumer. So is organic worth the cost? It depends.last_img read more

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