News Follow the news on Iraq to go further Three jailed reporters charged with “undermining national security” RSF_en Help by sharing this information News IraqMiddle East – North Africa Condemning abusesProtecting journalists Imprisoned RSF’s 2020 Round-up: 50 journalists killed, two-thirds in countries “at peace” February 15, 2021 Find out more Receive email alerts News News Jafeer has been placed in preventive detention as a result of a complaint filed by President Saleh’s lawyer about an editorial he wrote for the Peyser Press website on 29 August, entitled “How long will the President keep going in the wrong direction?” Jafeer addressed Saleh directly in the article, accusing him of failing to support Kurdistan since becoming Iraq’s president.Saleh is the founder of the Coalition for Democracy and Justice, a Kurdish political alliance that opposes the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the dominant political party in Sulaymaniyah.“Lodging a complaint that sends a journalist to prison for an article critical of the president is a practice worthy of the most authoritarian regimes,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East deck. “In the name of the ideals that the Coalition for Democracy and Justice, the movement founded by President Saleh, tries to embody, we call for the immediate and unconditional release of Bahroz Jafeer, who was just using his right to inform.”Jafeer, who also heads the Sulaymaniyah-based Mediterranean Institute for Regional Studies (MIRS), is facing the possibility of a year in prison and a 100-dinar fine on a charge of criminal defamation, according to the Metro Centre, a local NGO that defends journalists’rights.In article entitled “Who is Barham Saleh really?” that was published in December 2019, Jafeer analysed the evolution of democracy in Iraq and criticized government corruption.Iraq is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Bahroz Jafeer, an Iraqi Kurdish journalist held since 22 September in Sulaymaniyah, in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, on a charge of defaming Iraqi President Barham Saleh, a Kurdish politician from Sulaymaniyah. September 25, 2020 Iraqi Kurdish journalist jailed for defaming Iraq’s president IraqMiddle East – North Africa Condemning abusesProtecting journalists Imprisoned December 28, 2020 Find out more Iraq : Wave of arrests of journalists covering protests in Iraqi Kurdistan Organisation December 16, 2020 Find out more
TriggerPhoto/iStock(NEW YORK) –A year-long review into how the Archdiocese of New York was handling sexual abuse allegations has prompted some recommendations but found that overall they have been following the rules.Barbara Jones, a former District Judge, was asked by Cardinal Timothy Dolan to conduct the review which was pegged to whether the archdiocese’s policies were in line with those put forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, which was called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.“Overall, I have found that the Archdiocese has complied with the Charter in all material respects. It has faithfully followed its policies and procedures and responded appropriately to abuse complaints, and is committed to supporting victims-survivors of abuse,” Jones wrote in a summary of her findings which was released Monday morning.The most significant of the recommendations that Jones called for was the hiring of an individual whose sole job will be to oversee how the archdiocese responds to sexual abuse allegations, and to increase safe environment training both in terms of who goes through the training and how often.She also called for improvements to an existing database that would allow for easier updating and tracking of individuals’ information which “will help [the] communication and information flow between the parishes and other organizations,” Jones said at a news conference Monday. “This is vital.”Dolan was also at the news conference and said he had been almost holding his breath for the findings of the report.“I’ve asked them… not to leave a paper unread and I’ve held by breath. I’m very grateful and very relieved,” Dolan said of the findings.“I’m trying my best to serve my people. I love them and my main job is to serve them,” Dolan said.Zach Hiner, the executive director of The Survivor’s Network, also known as SNAP, told ABC News that “it is good” that Jones “feels confident in her assessment” and he said that they are glad that Dolan, “to the best of Judge Jones’ knowledge, has been transparent with her efforts.”“I truly hope that she did receive full access to personnel files,” Hiner said.He did take issue with some of the language in the report summary, however.“In terms of Judge Jones’ recommendations, it is distressing to learn that reports of ‘sexual abuse from non-consenting adults’ – carefully sanitized language for the crime of rape – or allegations of abuse by church staff or volunteers are not already included in the Archdiocese’s reporting requirements. These are obvious crimes that should be reported, and it is disappointing that it took a legal review by a judge in 2019 to make this plain. To us, someone who is in ‘full compliance’ with the charter would already have gone the extra mile to include these crimes underneath the ‘zero-tolerance’ umbrella,” Hiner said in his statement to ABC.The review of the archdiocese’s policies comes at a turbulent time in New York, in particular, as a year-long window opened in August that allows for any victims of child abuse to file civil complaints against accusers regardless of any statutes of limitations in those cases. Hundreds of such lawsuits have been filed since the New York’s Child Victim’s Act window opened on Aug. 14.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Armed with that information, he said, researchers can understand whether a molecule will possess the properties desired — whether it will bind to an enzyme or protein, whether it will catalyze certain reactions, and whether a material will possess specific traits.“This is arguably the most valuable application for a quantum computer,” he continued. “Commercially, the market for fine chemicals is estimated to be worth $3 trillion. A number of other teams, including researchers at Microsoft and national labs, have made this area a priority.”But without quantum computers, Aspuru-Guzik said, that search would amount to little more than a guessing game.That is why “I like to call this a disruptive innovation,” he said. “All the methods we have now are approximations, which means if we want to discover a new battery or a better LED, our calculations will sometimes fail. But the change a quantum computer brings is that the answer is exact. Period. That trust will allow us to discover molecules much quicker, make molecules that are much more interesting, and explore chemical spaces significantly faster. When I started at Harvard in 2006, I never imagined that 10 years later we would be at this point.”The future is likely to bring hardware advances.“We are currently fabricating a new generation of quantum chips that will enable much larger calculations,” said co-author Ryan Babbush, a quantum engineer at Google. “We are optimistic that these chips will be large enough to model small transition metal complexes, which are notoriously difficult for classical computers.”The study has implications to other areas of study, such as machine learning.“I very much like to think of variational quantum algorithms as a quantum generalization of neural networks,” Google co-author Hartmut Neven said. “Naturally we expect quantum neural networks to be more capable than their classical counterparts in describing quantum systems. An interesting open question is whether they will also prove superior in learning classical data.”Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has filed several patent applications relating to the software that drives Aspuru-Guzik’s quantum computing platforms.The study was funded by the Luis W. Alvarez Postdoctoral Fellowship in Computing Sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. Breakthrough could change myriad science fields Related Imagine a future in which hyper-efficient solar panels provide renewable sources of energy, improved water filters quickly remove toxins from drinking water, and the air is scrubbed clean of pollution and greenhouse gases. That could become a reality with the right molecules and materials.Scientists from Harvard and Google have taken a major step toward making the search for those molecules easier, demonstrating for the first time that a quantum computer could be used to model the electron interactions in a complex molecule. The work is described in a new paper published in the journal Physical Review X by Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and several co-authors.“There are a number of applications that a quantum computer would be useful for: cryptography, machine learning, and certain number-theory problems,” Aspuru-Guzik said. “But one that has always been mentioned, even from the first conceptions of a quantum computer, was to use it to simulate matter. In this case, we use it to simulate chemistry.”“There are millions or even trillions of possible molecules,” said Jonathan Romero Fontalvo, a Ph.D. student in Aspuru-Guzik’s lab and one of the lead authors of the study. “If you are an experimentalist hoping to find a new molecule for a drug, you need to consider a huge number of possibilities, and you need to synthesize and test them all. That is extremely costly and requires a great deal of time and effort.”Classical computers can model simple molecules, but they lack the horsepower needed to model all the possible interactions that take place in more complex molecules.A molecule like cholesterol, Aspuru-Guzik said, is all but impossible to model exactly in traditional systems because it would require decades to describe how its electrons interact.Though Aspuru-Guzik and colleagues had described an algorithm to model molecules using quantum computers more than a decade ago, quantum computing resources were limited at the time, meaning the team was only able to test certain parts of the algorithm.The new study not only marks the first time the entire algorithm has been tested in a scalable manner, but also implements it with a new algorithm, dubbed the variational quantum eigensolver. Even more importantly, Aspuru-Guzik said, both algorithms were implemented in a scalable approach, meaning that while they were tested on a small molecule, they would work equally well on a larger, more complex compound.“We were actually able to compare our old algorithm against the new one,” he said. “The machine is so powerful we can do that. And because it’s scalable, the same algorithm we would run against any molecule in this case was run against a small molecule.”Using the algorithm, Aspuru-Guzik and colleagues are able to model the electronic structure of a given molecule, and then to “read” that information, giving them precise data about behavior and interactions. Quantum (not digital) computing
Uli Hoeness: Bayern Munich club PresidentBerlin, Germany | AFP | Bayern Munich want to find a successor to sacked coach Carlo Ancelotti within the next two weeks, club president Uli Hoeness said on Friday.Ancelotti was abruptly dismissed on Thursday in the wake of Bayern’s 3-0 Champions League loss at Paris Saint-Germain the previous night.Hoeness told German radio station FFH: “We’re not under any pressure, but after the two week (international) break we want to have a solution.”Assistant coach Willy Sagnol, the ex-France international, will be in charge of the team for Sunday’s Bundesliga outing at Hertha Berlin.Local media suggest two German managers, Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann, could be in the frame to replace the Italian.Tuchel was let go by Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season after differences with the club’s management, while 30-year-old Nagelsmann is currently in charge of Hoffenheim.Earlier this month, Bayern lost 2-0 at Hoffenheim and then relinquished a two-goal lead at home to Wolfsburg to draw 2-2 before Wednesday’s bruising loss at the Parc des Princes. Share on: WhatsApp Facing criticism from the fans and the media for his failure to accomodate Thomas Mueller, Ancelotti’s relationship with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery was also reported to be under strain.The defeat in Paris was Bayern’s heaviest since losing 3-0 away to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg in May 2015.Bayern are currently third in the Bundesliga table after six games, three points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund, before visiting Hertha Berlin on Sunday.Ancelotti led Bayern to a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title last season in his first campaign in charge after succeeding Pep Guardiola at the Allianz Arena.However, the Bavarians lost to Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and to Dortmund in the semi-finals of the German Cup.
AUBREY BRUCEThere is only one positive thing that I can take from the MLB American League defeating the National League in the 2014 All-Star game. The Pirate that can “man” all of the battle stations, Josh Harrison may be a perfect DH, (designated hitter) when needed for the Buccos if they happen to advance to the 2014 World Series.Anyway, using Harrison to fill the DH position would probably cause little or no fanfare. Why? Because the potential move just makes sense, even to those who don’t.Ladies and gentlemen did you guys see the way Adam Wainwright, the ace of the pitching staff of one of the Pirates NL Central Division rivals St. Louis Cardinals got rocked by the crème de la crème of the American League sluggers? Now the Pirates as well as the rest of the NL Central can at least pick their jaws up off the ground. They should all now realize that they don’t need kryptonite or may not be required to remove all of the nation’s phone booths because contrary to popular belief, Wainwright is not Superman and doesn’t remotely resemble Clark Kent. Wainwright told mlb.com before the game that, “he will prepare for the All-Star start just like he does all others.” He found out very quickly that the starting assignment for the All-Star game is a bit different than facing the Chicago Cubs. Judged on his performance, the scouting report had to be severely flawed or he was over confident in his pitch repertoire. Wainwright even had the gall to suggest that he “allowed” Yankees future hall-of-famer shortstop Derek Jeter to get a hit (Jeter hit a double) almost as a show of honor. Wainwright was quoted by Jeff Passan the MLB columnist for Yahoo sports as saying, “I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it. I didn’t know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind.”
Other awards included, Nathan Bernhardtwinning the Todd Matheson Memorial; Arjun Bhabra the Walter Clarkson memorial, Simon Forrester the Scotia Bank Achievement award; Jack Centrone the Alf Baker award; Nick Jenner the Marc Severyn memorial; Bantam Rep Ryan Kooznetsoff the Mike Laughton Sr. Award, Casey Harrison the R.C. Wright memorial; Kyle Patton the Barry Geist trophy; Midget Rep Hayden Klashinsky taking home the Brian Naka memorial; Taylor Harrison the Baker Street Esso Award and Liam Ingram and Andrew Falcone the Sarge Sammartino award for the top junior and senior officials, respectively.Leif Luttmer won the Ted Hargreaves coaching award while Sue Lakeman took the Robert Jeffs participation and dedication in advancing minor hockey in Nelson honour.Cash Nay (Atom), Rhett Hamilton (Peewee), Joe Davidson (Bantam) and Max Spielman ( Midget) were recipients of the Jackson Hole Three “A” award.Esso Medal of Achievement awards for most improve, most dedicated and most sportsmanlike went to Sawan Bhabra, Xavier Tinholt, Ryder Nash, Dane Jones, Nathan Jackman and Sebastien “Seabass” Conne-Corrent in the Atom Division.In Peewee House, winners included Wyatt Groenhuysen, Ryan Durocher and Jack Steer.In Peewee Rep, winners were Nathan Medeiros, Dakoda Fizzard, Reid Gerrand, Joe Laren, Karim Nephin and Matthew Lehr.Bantam House were Ethan Grill, Pax Arrowsmith and Jackson Cousins.Bantam Rep were Carson Pottle, Logan Smart and William McLeod.Midget House winners were TJ Winters, Charles Curiston, Noah Marsh, Ben Price, Kyle Patton and Mike Zarikoff.Midget Rep were Jake Laplante, Adam Volansky and Matthew Zwick. Hats off to the Nelson Leafs for winning the West Kootenay Minor Hockey Atom B Championship.However, this night was for all of the players as Nelson Minor Hockey culminated another successful campaign on the ice with its annual awards banquet Wednesday at the Selkirk College Tenth Street Campus.Once again the evening was led by former NHLer and Nelson Minor Hockey Association grad Mike Laughton.The Nelson native saluted the award winners along with giving the banquet goers a history lesson on the greats from Nelson Minor Hockey past.Laughton and Nelson Minor Hockey even went out of their way to invite a head table of guest that included past family representatives of the night’s major awards.The presenters took the players, parents and coaches on a trip down memory lane with many great stories from Nelson Minor Hockey history books.Some of the award winners included Grady Groenhuysen winning the Barry Pearce Memorial and Mitchell Erickson taking home the John Reichardt Memorial, both awards for Atom Player who displays team dedication, good sportsmanship, desire and love of the game.
Liverpool are only the third team in the history of the European Cup to recover from such a large semi-final deficit.Barca boss Valverde conceded his players failed to match Liverpool’s intensity and lost their cool after the Reds scored twice in quick succession in the second half to level the tie on aggregate.“Things got on top of us after those two quick goals. We didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet and they rolled us over really,” he said.“It’s a terrible result for our fans and for ourselves. It’s really, really unfortunate, but credit to Liverpool.“They started really well, and they pinned us back. Early goal, we reacted well after that.“We managed to control things a little bit in the second part of the first half. We had half-chances to score.“We tried to sit a little bit deeper, but the tie ended for us with the fourth goal. We couldn’t respond.”It was a second successive Champions League humiliation for Barca after they squandered a 4-1 first-leg lead in the quarter-finals last season, going out on away goals to Roma after losing the return 3-0.Valverde has just led Barca to another Spanish title, but he was asked if the collapse at Anfield would undermine his position at the Camp Nou.“I do not know how it’s going to affect me, here we are, the coach has to take responsibility,” he said.“It’s very painful for us, especially for our people, it’s the second year they’ve come back like that.“When you have a battle like tonight, you’re going to go through some really tough few days, like all our fans as well.“You’re going to suffer. That’s what it is like. You have to go through this penitence and we’ve not got long to go until the end of the league season.“We’ve got the Copa del Rey final (against Valencia) still to fight for and we’ve got to really finish the season well on a high after this.“But at the moment we’re blown away, it’s terrible.”The Catalan club haven’t won the Champions League since 2015.Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets was quick to say sorry for one of the most chastening results in their history.“I apologise to the fans because after the Rome thing, it happens again, it is very hard to fall like that with a good result in the first leg,” Busquets said.0Shares0000(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Barcelona’s Ernesto Valverde reacts during his side’s shock defeat at Liverpool © AFP / Oli SCARFFLIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, May 8 – Ernesto Valverde admitted Barcelona had only themselves to blame for their “terrible” Champions League semi-final collapse at Liverpool on Tuesday.Barca were blown away on an incredible night at Anfield as Liverpool won 4-0 to overturn a three-goal first-leg defeat.
4 May 2007After three-and-a-half years on the America’s Cup class circuit, South Africa’s Team Shosholoza remains the darling of the international sailing media. But the name increasingly being mentioned in specialist sailing publications is that of Jason Ker, principal designer of the team’s campaign yacht RSA 83.It came as no surprise then that Ker – like most of his Shosholoza teammates an America’s Cup first-timer – has been nominated for the prestigious Seahorse Magazine’s “Sailor of the Month” accolade.“Take a good young IRC designer and put him in charge of a small AC Class design team with an even smaller budget,” the nomination reads. “Offer him two new boats and then switch to a single boat campaign, meaning radical modifications to Boat 1 to stay competitive against teams with 20 times your design budget.“Well, the new kid’s doing pretty well, and tacticians in the top teams are taking care to treat Shosholoza with respect.”As principle designer for Team Shosholoza, Ker assembled and headed up a team of South African and international experts, most of whom were based in South Africa, for the first phase of a design process which started in September 2004. This was soon after the team had returned from the opening Acts of the 32nd America’s Cup in Marseille, France and Valencia, Spain in 2004.RSA 83 was launched a full seven months earlier than the next new boat designed and built to the Version 5 rules for the 32nd America’s Cup. It was intended as an early first boat to give the South African sailors a better chance to compete in 2005 and also to give the design team a good starting point from which to develop further.The hull of RSA 83 was built in a boat yard in Somerset West outside Cape Town and revealed to the South African public on 22 April 2005. The 2007 America’s Cup rules stipulate that the hull of the campaign yacht be built in the team’s home country.The hull was then shipped to Valencia, where the keel and first mast were fitted and the yacht officially launched on 19 May 2005.South Africa chose not to build a second new campaign yacht, based on the excellent performance of RSA 83 and the team’s very tight funds. However, fairly substantial modifications were made to RSA 83 over the 2006/07 European winter to eke out more speed from the boat and ensure that the South Africans’ remained competitive for the Louis Vuitton Cup, which it certainly has done.“The bow has been made much finer, so it goes through waves rather than over them,” Ker said of the changes to RSA 83. “We have added a bowsprit which is designed to enable the spinnaker to be attached as far forward as the rules allow, which would otherwise not have been possible as we’ve made the bow shorter.“The keel fin has had some minor adjustments. There is a new rudder, new bulb, loads of new sail designs, and the mast was new near the end of 2006.“In each case we found a performance gain that was worth the little money we could find to spend on it,” Ker said. “For us that’s a very important criterion. We can’t afford to chase after every tiny improvement we can think of, so we focus on only the best value ones – which are also not necessarily the cheapest.”Ker believes the newly modified RSA 83 is clearly faster than she was before. “The manoeuvrability is also substantially improved, so it has been easier to get good starts.”Shosholoza’s performance in the Louis Vuitton Act 13, and in the Louis Vuitton Cup so far, have certainly confirmed this. By Thursday, the South Africans were lying 7th after four flights of match races.When asked if he would tackle an America’s Cup campaign again, Ker’s reply was hardly surprising: “I would certainly want to do it again, yes, I’m addicted to it.”Ker described Shosholoza’s design team as “a small group of highly intelligent and effective individuals who have worked very well together as a team, improving sails, appendages, rig, hull and structures,” adding that he hoped the nomination by Seahorse would be seen “as recognition of their combined efforts.”SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
18 February 2009Soweto, South Africa’s famous township, is well known to tourists who’ve visited Johannesburg and gone looking for a taste of the city’s African culture and history of resistance against apartheid.Now, adventure tourists can also board the bus to Soweto, as a project to develop a “vertical adventure centre” with a distinctive township feel starts coming to fruition.And, if you’re a local and you’ve already done the bungee swing between the two 100-metre-high Orlando Towers in Soweto, and need to push the boundaries further: no problem. For a new adrenaline rush, you can now do the swing inside one of the towers.Zoopy TV takes a flying leap from Soweto’s Orlando Towers. Click arrow to play video.Yes, from this weekend you can line up for the internal bungee swing, says Bob Woods, the project director and rope expert. The external swing involves falling 30 metres from the top of the tower, then swinging back and forth like a pendulum and eventually being lowered to the ground.On the internal swing, you swing high inside one of the towers and then are lowered to some 15 metres above the ground before taking a foefie slide (zip slide) back to earth.Soweto’s Orlando site is dominated by the huge, colourful twin towers, which used to supply electricity to the former white suburbs of Johannesburg, but which are now defunct. The disused power station building is a cavernous structure some five storeys high, overlooking a dam.Phase one almost completeThe internal swing and other features will complete phase one of the adventure tourism project taking place at the towers, made possible by a loan of R3.6-million from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).“Adventure tourism is a major growth market around the world, and the creation of an adventure tourism facility will undoubtedly contribute towards Soweto’s economic diversification and tourism attractiveness,” says Kate Rivett-Carnac, the DBSA’s tourism specialist.Woods says the vast walls of the towers will be developed into a “vertical adventure centre the scale and nature of which describes a truly unique and legendary facility.”He promises that by late March you can expect to be abseiling down the towers, and by early May you are likely to be bungee jumping between the two towers. He has brought in Canadian experts to help with the final rigging for the bungee jumping.Climbing the wallsAlso in the pipeline is climbing the internal walls of the towers, a climb of some 60 metres. Woods is concerned that climbing is an elitist sport – he’d like to bring it to young Sowetans.“I would like to promote climbing among the people of Soweto. It can often be a tool in helping to channel energies in a positive way,” he says. Other facilities below the towers he foresees are a restaurant, a music venue and bar, and a small skateboarding park.“We want to create the feeling of a park, where families can spend the day.”Since opening in June last year, Woods says he has had 15 to 20 jumpers take to the towers each day. Most visitors to the site are Gautengers, with 18 percent being foreign tourists. But it seems most people can’t quite bring themselves to jump off the towers, preferring instead to take the lift up, and stand admiring the view.Otherwise, from March you will be able to take a foefie slide ride from 10 metres up the side of one of the towers.You pay R360 for the swing, or R60 to take in the view from the top. The swing is open on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 5pm. You can book your place on the website.Source: City of Johannesburg
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest I went into this winter with the most firewood ever. I was ready to take on winter’s worst after battling multiple severe winters with a less than adequate firewood arsenal in the past.But, due to what has been a fairly mild season, it looks that I will have a head start on next year. I can give my chainsaw a bit of a rest in part thanks to the El Niño this winter that been shaping the weather patterns throughout the Midwest.According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an El Niño develops when sea surface temperatures are warmer than average in the equatorial Pacific for an extended period of time. In El Niño winters, the polar jet stream is typically farther north than usual, while the Pacific jet stream remains to the south.With the Midwest positioned between the storm tracks, warmer and drier conditions can develop during El Niño winters and typical extreme cold weather may be milder and less frequent. Warmer conditions may reduce total snowfall and the frequency of heavy snowfall events in the Midwest.This winter’s weather does share some similarities with the typical El Niño winter pattern. Temperatures have been clearly above normal with the warmest December on record for Ohio and Michigan and areas have seen below normal snowfall. On the other hand, overall precipitation has differed from the typical El Niño winter pattern with some very wet regions in the Midwest this winter.The February-April outlook for the Midwest from NOAA calls for enhanced chances of above-normal temperatures for Ohio and greater chances of below-normal precipitation, mainly across the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins. But, at this point, there is a high degree of uncertainty about predictions.A key to anticipating the weather trends moving forward according to climatologist Elwynn Taylor from the Iowa State University is watching what the El Niño does next.“If the El Niño manages to stay with us at least until the first of July, we have a 70% chance of an above average crop yield for the whole Corn Belt. If it switches out of El Niño to a La Niña, it is a 70% chance of a below normal average yield with extremely volatile weather. We hope the El Niño stays with us because it is the friend of the Midwest farmer. Should it disappear, keep track of it. It takes about a month before its effects go away,” Taylor said. “It is No. 3 of the top five recorded El Niño events and it is still going strong. A strong El Niño is often followed by a drought. Around April 15 will be a good time to assess the weather situation with the El Niño.”Another trick Taylor suggests for getting a good estimate on yield by watching the weather is to track the nighttime temperatures during the growing season.“If we want a large yield, we like to see the nights being a little cooler than usual with normal daytime temperatures. Clear nights will make things cooler. If the nights are warmer than usual, it shortens the time for our crop to put on weight and we do not want to shorten that,” he said. “From the first of July to the first of September, if the nights are cooler than usual, it is helping our yields. If they are warmer than usual it hurts them.”Looking out longer term, Taylor points out that sometime around 2025 could be a tough year for U.S. agriculture.“The Gleissberg cycle has to do with the condition of the sun. We pay attention to this roughly 89-year cycle. The harshest year of the 1800s was 1847. The harshest year of the 1900s was 1936. These were the coldest wettest winter followed by the warmest driest summer and they are 89 years apart,” he said. “If we are going to have Dust Bowl like weather in this century, that would put the harshest year for this century around 2025.”There is also a long-standing weather pattern that leads to periods of increased yield variability in the United States.“There is a pattern of 25 years of highly variable yields followed by 18 years of more consistent yields. Bet on that pattern,” Taylor said. “This year was the first year in the period of variability for 25 years.”Ultimately, understanding that variability can lead to more profitable farms.“Weather is the No. 1 risk we have. We can’t manage the weather, but we can manage the risk,” Taylor said. “Risk always has numbers. Uncertainty never has numbers. Uncertainty can be avoided and risk can be managed. You can make money on your farm from the volatility. Sometimes that is by accident, but you can make it on purpose. By knowing the weather, you can come out ahead.”