Several major infrastructure development contracts valued at $1.69 billion have been approved by Cabinet, says Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid.Addressing a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on July 11, the Minister said of the sum, $887.3 million was awarded to ASHTROM Building Systems Limited for infrastructure works, under phases three and four, for the Colbeck Castle Development between the parishes of St. Catherine and Clarendon.Senator Reid said $141 million has also been awarded to N.F. Barnes and Company to undertake civil infrastructure works for the Jacksonville Housing Scheme in Clarendon.“Cabinet took particular note of the need to monitor the construction of adequate draining systems, in light of the tendency for flooding in this community,” the Minister pointed out.Additionally, $400 million has been awarded to Trevor Dunkley and Company Limited to undertake civil works for the Windsor Housing Development project in Trelawny.Another $100.8 million was awarded to Surrey Paving and Aggregates Limited to undertake infrastructure works in keeping with the Maxfield Park Housing Development.Also, $161.5 million was awarded to ASHTROM Building Systems to carry out a design-and-build contract for the buildout of Longville Park Housing Development, Phase 3A.
OTTAWA — Contentious wording in Ottawa’s summer jobs program that tied pro-abortion beliefs to funding eligibility is being dropped after a backlash to what was styled last year as a values test.Instead, the federal Liberals have re-tooled the 2019 version of the Canada Summer Jobs program to require applicants to declare they don’t work to infringe on any Canadian’s legal rights.Wording on the application for the 2018 version of the program required groups to say neither their core mandate nor the jobs being funded actively worked to undermine constitutional, human and reproductive rights.Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says the change — made after informal consultations over the past few months — should clear up concerns from faith-based groups who expressed outrage over this past year’s requirements.“They felt this was about their values and beliefs and not about the jobs and the performances of the students in particular roles and we took that to heart,” Hajdu said in an interview.“We’ve been working on making sure we do what we intended to do, which is to stand up for the rights of Canadians…but that we also work closely with faith-based groups and others so that they can see how they themselves would fit into this program.”Additional changes have been made to the program’s eligibility criteria to disqualify any project or summer job that tries to restrict access a woman’s ability to access sexual or reproductive health services. Other disqualifying traits include jobs that restrict the exercise of human rights or that discriminate based on sex, religion, race or ethnic origin.“This is a program about quality jobs for kids, so we shouldn’t be asking kids in any circumstance to do work that would put them into a position to have to undermine or restrict the rights of others,” Hajdu said.“That’s not the kind of job experience we would want young people to have, especially for, often times, their first (job).”The change is one of several made to the popular program to be outlined today to MPs. Employers can begin to apply later this month.The Liberals are opening the program to any young person age 15 to 30, no longer requiring them to be students in order to have their position qualify for funding. Widening eligibility is a step towards a revamp of the summer jobs program that a government-struck expert panel called for last year.The panel’s final report recommended the Liberals expand eligibility for the Canada Summer Jobs program to include those who are not in post-secondary studies and make funding accessible throughout the year and not just during the summer months.Available positions will also be posted on a newly released mobile app that lets users search through the federal government’s job bank.At the end of the summer, employers and employees will be required to fill out a survey so the government can get better feedback about their experiences to help fine-tune the program going forward. Hajdu said employers will also be required to follow mentorship plans for their workers as part of efforts to ensure only “quality” jobs are funded.The data collected won’t be used to screen out employers in subsequent funding years, but to evaluate the program overall, Hajdu said.“This is a really great jobs program for kids, they make some money, they get that experience, but we want to make sure it is actually resulting in quality experience,” she said.— Follow @jpress on Twitter.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
IND67%IND57%HOU 37, IND 34+9.8– DAL37.810.9HOU6.43.814.71450 Going into this season, the biggest questions surrounding the Atlanta Falcons had to do with the team’s inexplicably anemic offense under new coordinator Steve Sarkisian in 2017. So if somebody had told you that, through four weeks, Atlanta would be averaging 29 points per game in 2018 — about a touchdown more than last year — and that Matt Ryan would once again rank among the league’s most efficient quarterbacks, you might have assumed that the Falcons were back to their high-flying, Super Bowl form of a few seasons ago.Unfortunately, things haven’t exactly followed that script so far. Instead, Atlanta is 1-3 and ranks last in the NFC South, a division it was a co-favorite to win before the season. Now our Elo projections have the Falcons on pace to finish 8-8 with just a 33 percent chance of making the playoffs. The reason is easy to pinpoint: Just as Atlanta’s offense has returned to greatness, its defense has deteriorated completely, giving away all of the gains made by an offensive attack that looks genuinely scary again. The end result could be another wasted Falcons season — and Ryan might not have many more of those left before his prime ends.Defensively, the Falcons have never been the most fearsome outfit under coach Dan Quinn, who made his name as an architect of the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Atlanta ranked 25th in defensive expected points added (EPA) even while they nearly won it all in 2016.1They made up for it that season with the league’s top overall offense and a top-10 special teams corps. However, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel had the unit performing better last season, his first year at the helm. Aided by breakout second-year defenders Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, Atlanta was much better up front against the run and applied more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, upping its adjusted sack rate from 5.4 percent to 6.6 percent.In terms of defensive EPA, the Falcons improved from 25th to 18th a year ago — modest but encouraging progress. This season, though, they’ve fallen down to 30th, including 28th against the pass and 31st against the run. Early long-term injuries to both Jones and Neal robbed Atlanta of two Pro Bowl playmakers, and few of the remaining regulars have impressed. According to ProFootballFocus.com, eight of the Falcons’ nine veteran starters grade out worse in 2018 than in 2017, with DB Damontae Kazee standing out as the lone exception. By Football Outsiders’ calculations, the Falcons’ front seven have allowed the NFL’s sixth-most adjusted line yards per carry, and they also have the sixth-worst adjusted sack rate of any team.The result has been a defense letting up a staggering 30.5 points per game — including 43 in an overtime loss to the Saints in Week 3 and 37 in a last-second defeat against Cincinnati this past Sunday.The cruel irony is that even a repeat of last year’s mediocre-but-not-terrible defensive showing would have worked wonders for the Falcons in concert with their rejuvenated offense. Although stellar wideout Julio Jones still can’t find the end zone (he somehow has only three TD catches in his past 20 games, including zero so far this year), Ryan has been much more efficient throwing the ball than he was last season, and rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (who has six TD grabs already) appears to have emerged as the complementary threat Atlanta has been trying to line up across from Jones for years. The Falcons’ running game isn’t what it used to be — leading rusher Tevin Coleman is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry2Regular starter Devonta Freeman has been out since Week 1 with an injury, so things should improve some when he returns. — which in turn has often left Atlanta in unfavorable down-and-distance situations. But the team’s big-play potential in undeniable. The trouble is, opponents have been able to say the same thing all too often.What might be most frustrating for Atlanta is that each season it fails to sync up a great offense with a serviceable defense is one fewer year left in Ryan’s prime. He’s the best player in franchise history — but at age 33, he won’t be able to play at an elite level forever. Although we’ve seen a number of recent passers (such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees) remain hyper-productive into their late 30s and beyond, the historical aging curve for QBs sees a rapid decline after Ryan’s current age. That’s why, among the 20 QBs most similar to Ryan last season (according to my modification of Football Outsiders’ similarity scores), the average retired member of the list3So, excluding currently active QBs such as Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers because we don’t know how many years they have left as starters. had just 3.4 seasons left in his career as an NFL starter — and that’s including the equivalent of Ryan’s 2018 campaign.With the window to capitalize on Ryan’s greatness closing faster than you might think, the Falcons’ disappointing start is an even greater concern. Of course, below-market QB contracts are seen as the formula for success in 2018, so some of the Falcons’ defensive struggles do come back to Ryan’s own record-setting contract preventing the team from stockpiling the rest of the roster with talent. But if Atlanta can’t find some way to right the ship, it could have serious negative implications for the best sustained era in franchise history.All of which brings us to Week 5, when the Falcons will face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. It’s a game our Elo model considers the third-most important of the week (by the potential swing in playoff odds) and fourth-best overall in terms of matchup quality — despite the two teams’ combined 2-5-1 record to begin the year. OAK71OAK52OAK 45, CLE 42-17.5– MIN34.710.9PHI68.910.321.21580 PHI60PHI65TEN 26, PHI 23-8.8– LAC68LAC76LAC 29, SF 27+2.4– ATL32.611.3PIT29.011.222.51556 PIT63PIT58BAL 26, PIT 14+4.0– CIN57.714.2MIA48.713.928.01504 LAR83.110.0SEA44.016.126.11574 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS LAC42.011.0OAK5.13.914.91477 The best matchups of Week 5Week 5 games with the highest average Elo rating, using the harmonic mean, plus the total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions JAX74JAX75JAX 31, NYJ 12-1.1– BAL71.99.4CLE1.51.410.81441 NE70NE64NE 38, MIA 7-6.7– Home teams are in bold.The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. LAR65LAR66LAR 38, MIN 31-1.5– Pittsburgh is another team that’s disappointed so far, starting the season 1-2-1 after its Sunday night loss to the archrival Baltimore Ravens. Unlike the Falcons, the Steelers haven’t really been able to figure things out on offense without star RB Le’Veon Bell, dropping from third in offensive EPA to 16th. But with each team’s playoff odds rapidly dwindling, this game could represent something of a last stand for both clubs. The Steelers, currently sitting at 29 percent playoff probability, could see their chances drop to a mere 16 percent if they lose to Atlanta (they’d go up to 39 percent with a win). And the Falcons would fall to 23 percent with a loss — or, conversely, could build themselves back up to a respectable 46 percent playoff probability with a win.That’s still behind where Atlanta was at the start of the year (59 percent). But it would go a long way toward salvaging the season — and helping the Falcons actually capitalize on the great offensive performance they’re getting from Ryan and Co.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersOn top of our NFL Elo prediction interactive, which updates after every game to help you keep tabs on the league’s pecking order, we also offer a prediction game, in which you can pick against our model (and your fellow readers). Each week, we take a look at where Elo made its best — and worst — picks against the field, so here’s how it did in Week 4: IND6.43.1NE66.27.010.11497 DEN15.88.3NYJ8.34.512.91433 CHI53CHI52CHI 48, TB 10-3.2– JAX66.2%+/-10.2KC94.0%+/-4.114.31605 ATL68ATL63CIN 37, ATL 36+4.1– GB53GB67GB 22, BUF 0+8.8– Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 4Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 4 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN.com NO61.810.7WSH31.310.521.21542 KC65KC69KC 27, DEN 23+0.4– Playoff ChancePlayoff Chance Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality CAR53.58.4NYG4.32.711.11475 DET18.49.0GB184.108.40.20688 BUF18.48.5TEN62.412.521.01498 SEA57SEA62SEA 20, ARI 17+2.3– DAL62DAL51DAL 26, DET 24-12.2– NO65NO67NO 33, NYG 18-0.4– ARI1.31.3SF16.06.67.91429 Elo capped off a surprisingly strong first month of the season with another solid week, beating the average reader by 19.6 points. Although the field was right to doubt Indianapolis at home against Deshaun Watson and the Texans, and correctly brushed off Buffalo’s bizarre thrashing of Minnesota to call a Bills loss at Green Bay, Elo picked up big points with home wins for the Cowboys and Raiders. Now the average reader is down a whopping 154 points to Elo for the season as a whole — time to pick it up, folks!Congrats to reader Shaun Anderson, who led all users in points for Week 4, and to Scott Duhaime, who leads all (identified) users on the season in total. Thanks to everyone who played last week — and if you didn’t play, it’s not too late to get in on the game. You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you missed the first month of the season.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Bahamas debuts in Beach Soccer Cup Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppBahamas, March 31, 2017 – Nassau – Fifteen countries are gearing up for a phenomenal showdown on the sands of Malcolm Park Beach in The Bahamas when the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup unfolds there from April 27-May 7. Less than 30 days to go reminds organizers as Nassau continues to gain traction as a prime location for hosting world class, international sporting events.Countries set to come in for the competition are: Tahiti, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Nigeria, Senegal, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Panama, Mexico, Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Japan and the Local Organizing Committee said this is a huge TV event and gives The Bahamas unprecedented exposure. It is reported to media that the beach arena is 93% done and that on the ground already is the beach soccer trophy which will make rounds to several Bahamas islands, including Grand Bahama, Abaco and Cat Island.The fan space at the park will be expanded said Chairman of the LOC, Jeffrey Beckles; going from a capacity of 3,500 to 6,500 people and if you are wondering, at the foot of the famous Sir Sidney Poitier bridge, the FIFA World Cup Beach Soccer will feature the matches on jumbo trons.#MagneticMediaNews#FIFABeachSoccerNassau#MalcolmParkBeachNassau#SoccerWorldCupcomestoBahamas Recommended for you Related Items:#FIFABeachSoccerNassau, #magneticmedianews, #MalcolmParkBeachNassau, #SoccerWorldCupcomestoBahamas