1995-96✓Magic1647Bulls18271737Bulls It’s practically unheard of for a matchup of this caliber to take place outside the NBA Finals, where both teams’ ratings are necessarily sky-high because they’ve made it through the notorious gauntlet that is the NBA playoffs. For it to happen during the regular season, you’d need two teams flirting with a 70-win pace — and that’s exactly what San Antonio and Golden State are doing this year.It’s fair to ask whether there’s also something bigger going on here: Three of the 10 best combined-Elo games in NBA history1After removing duplicate games from the same playoff series. have taken place in the last 10 months, and two in the last 32 days. Does the NBA suffer from an epic lack of parity these days? Is Elo itself miscalibrated? Those questions are beyond the scope of this post, but know that, by any metric, the Warriors’ and Spurs’ first meeting of the 2015-16 season makes for a titanic matchup.(Yes, we also know that ageless time lord Tim Duncan will be out tonight. Luckily, the Spurs are deep enough to cover for that.)Tonight’s game also poses a more specific question: What happens when historically great offensive and defensive units meet? The short answer is that the Spurs and Warriors are playing at such a high level that we don’t really have a good historical precedent.Here’s what we do know: Defense-oriented teams have a higher probability of winning the NBA title at a given level of (regular-season) performance than their offensive counterparts. This gap only widens as a defense (or correspondingly good offense) becomes more dominant. And great defenses also have a slight edge in head-to-head clashes against great offenses.In preparation for Monday’s tilt, we did some digging into historical battles between the league’s best teams on each side of the ball. It’s a phenomenon that occurred upward of a dozen times per season in the NBA’s first few decades, but it’s getting rarer and rarer in recent years because of expansion, scheduling constraints and a larger playoff field. SEASONPLAYOFFNAMEELONAMEELOAVG. ELOWINNER HOME TEAMROAD TEAM 2015-16Warriors1809Spurs17821796— 1996-97✓Bulls1798Jazz17521775Bulls 1996-97Bulls1792Sonics16781735Bulls 2014-15✓Warriors1802Cavaliers17121757Warriors 2014-15Spurs1702Warriors17881745Spurs The best opportunity we had to witness No. 1s face off in recent years came in 2005-06, when the Dallas Mavericks offense faced the Spurs defense 11 times. Offense prevailed in that case — Dallas won 55 percent of the time, scoring 11.4 more points per game than San Antonio usually gave up that season — but that’s an exception to the general trend since 1951.In 414 meetings over the past 65 NBA seasons,2Today’s Warriors-Spurs matchup will be the first No. 1-versus-No. 1 clash of the 2015-16 season, though it isn’t set in stone that these squads will finish the year No. 1 in their respective categories. the top-ranked defense has beat the top-ranked offense 55.3 percent of the time. In those games, 3Excluding the game in question if it’s a regular-season contest. the No. 1 defense gave up 4.1 more points than their average, but the No. 1 offense scored 5.3 fewer points than their average. Some of that is because the defensive teams have more often been better overall clubs — hello, Bill Russell-era Celtics! — but we can account for this using FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings, which set pregame odds based on the relative qualities of the teams. Elo would have expected the No. 1 defenses to beat the No. 1 offenses 54.9 percent of the time, so the defensive teams are winning slightly more than expected when they face their offensive doppelgängers.That’s the aggregate of matchups between No. 1s since 1951, though. What about since the mid-2000s, when the league finished a nearly decade-long project to overhaul its defensive rules and cut down on hand-checking? The trend is inconclusive: In the relatively small sample of 38 matchups since 2004-05, top offenses are winning less than Elo would predict — yet, they’re also taking more of a bite out of top-ranked defenses than those defenses are doing to them at the opposite end. Those recent rule changes certainly are having the intended effect at a leaguewide level (pace and offensive efficiency are up since the early 2000s); stay tuned to see if it translates to these kinds of strength-on-strength matchups as well.Those are all broader trends, though. What makes Monday’s Spurs-Warriors game historically unique is the sheer quality of each team’s dominant unit. Only four games in NBA history have ever seen an offense 8 points better than the league’s efficiency face a defense 8 points better than that same league standard, and all of those were between the Spurs and Mavericks during the 2003-04 season.4Somewhat under the radar, those Mavs had the best offense — relative to the league average — of all time, although this year’s Warriors might top them. This game will do those one better by pitting a plus-9 offense against a plus-9 defense, an NBA first. 2015-16Warriors1814Cavaliers16601737Warriors 1997-98✓Jazz1742Bulls17811761Bulls Tonight, the unstoppable Golden State Warriors meet the immovable San Antonio Spurs in a showdown between the NBA’s No. 1 offense and its No. 1 defense, two units that aren’t merely at the top of the league, but rank among the best we’ve ever seen. It’s the game of the season — no, check that, it’s the loftiest NBA game ever played according to our in-house Elo ratings. 2011-12✓Thunder1731Spurs17401735Thunder 1995-96✓Bulls1819Sonics17081763Bulls Under such extreme circumstances, it’s tough to say which side of the ball has the advantage — we simply don’t have enough of a sample of comparable matchups. And our other bits of evidence from history are mixed; defenses hold a slight all-time edge, but that may have eroded with recent seasons. (Or not.) Monday’s matchup won’t serve as a referendum in either direction, but it should be a spectacular clash of styles featuring basketball at perhaps the highest level it’s ever been played.
The unofficial alliance between two iconic event-industry organizations strengthened this week with the announcement that CEIR and IAEE will combine their top management at the end of January. Over the past decade, CEIR and IAEE have maintained a strategic relationship, so this move mostly formalizes and streamlines a longstanding partnership. Breden has worked as managing director of CEIR since 2006, when IAEE took over the day-to-day operations of the foundation from outside contractors. The chairperson-elect of IAEE — soon to be Daniel McKinnon — will serve as the chairperson of the CEIR Foundation board of directors. Aaron Bludworth, the current chair of CIER, will serve on the IAEE board for at least one year to help with the transition. CEIR CEO Brian Casey will leave the organization, and CEIR operations will be headed up by Cathy Breden, COO of IAEE. The move was made to “simplify governance, fundraising and administrative responsibilities,” according to a statement from the two organizations. Despite the unified governance, the two organizations will remain financially sovereign, and CEIR will retain its nonprofit status. Research director for CEIR, Nancy Drapeau, will remain in her position, and a CIER project manager will be hired to work with Drapeau and Brenden. CEIR — the Center for Exhibition Industry Research — long noted for its deep library of event-industry trends and economic research, will now share a board of directors with the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the largest association for the tradeshow industry.
US President Donald TrumpAmnesty International said on Wednesday US president Donald Trump’s “poisonous” rhetoric on his way to winning the White House led a global trend towards increasingly divisive politics in 2016 that had made the world a “darker” place.In its annual report covering 159 countries, the human rights group said principles of human dignity and equality had come under assault from politicians seeking election and it zeroed in on Trump, who took office on 20 January.”Donald Trump’s poisonous campaign rhetoric exemplifies a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics,” Amnesty said in a statement issued in Paris. The world, it said, had become a “darker … unstable place”, with a rise in hate speech targeting refugees across Europe and the United States.”The early indications from (…) Trump suggest a foreign policy that will significantly undermine multilateral cooperation and usher in a new era of greater instability and mutual suspicion,” Amnesty added.Trump, a Republican former reality TV star and property magnate, has said he is “the least racist person” and “least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen” and that one of his top priorities is to protect the United States from terrorism.His administration has been marked by controversies in the early going, fierce attacks on the news media and legal battles over his executive order to ban people temporarily from seven Muslim-majority countries as alleged security risks.US vice president Mike Pence visited Europe this week Pence and pledged “steadfast and enduring commitment” to ties between the United States and the European Union, a message at variance with Trump’s far-right chief strategist.US allies in Europe have been seeking clarity on the Trump administration’s foreign policy strategy and its stance toward Russia.”The gap between imperative and action, and between rhetoric and reality, was stark and at times staggering,” Amnesty said.”Nowhere was this better illustrated than in the failure of states attending September’s 2016 United Nations summit for refugees and migrants to agree any adequate response to the global refugee crisis.”According to Amnesty calculations, some 75,000 refugees found themselves trapped between Jordan and Syria as the civil war in Syria entered its seventh year.Amnesty said populist movements and messages had also become more common in Europe, notably in Poland and Hungary.”The result was a pervasive weakening of the rule of law and an erosion in the protection of human rights, particularly for refugees and terrorism suspects, but ultimately for everyone.”
US president Trump gives thumbs up during campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: reutersDonald Trump faced greater restraints on his presidency and intrusive investigations from Democrats who won control of the US House of Representatives and pledged to hold the Republican accountable after a tumultuous two years in the White House.Trump and his fellow Republicans expanded their control of the US Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, following a divisive campaign marked by fierce clashes over race and immigration.But they lost their majority in the House, a setback for the president after a campaign that became a referendum on his combative leadership.The split power in Congress combined with Trump’s expansive view of executive power could herald even deeper political polarization and legislative gridlock in Washington.The Democrats will now head House committees that can investigate the president’s tax returns, possible business conflicts of interest and any links between his 2016 election campaign and Russia.There may be some room, however, for Trump and Democrats to work together on issues with bipartisan support such as a package to improve infrastructure or protections against prescription drug price increases.Trump made an unlikely gesture toward Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House Democrats who he has frequently ridiculed, saying her party should pick her to be House Speaker in the new Congress that convenes in January.”In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats. If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor,” Trump wrote on Twitter.Earlier on Wednesday, he was less conciliatory, describing the elections results as a “very Big Win” and taking a swipe at the media. Trump was due to hold a news conference at the White House at 11:30 a.m. (1630 GMT).The Democrats fell short of a tidal wave of voter support that would have won them control of both chambers of Congress. But in the 435-member House, the party was headed for a gain of around 30 seats, beyond the 23 they needed to claim their first majority in eight years.A Senate majority would have allowed Democrats to apply even firmer brakes on Trump’s policy agenda and given them the ability to block any future Supreme Court nominees.The House Democrats could force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico, pass a second major tax-cut package, or carry out his hardline policies on trade.“Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” Pelosi told supporters at victory party.Losing the House will test Trump’s ability to compromise, something he has shown little interest in over the last two years with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress.He hit back at the prospect of investigations by House Democrats, saying on Twitter that Republicans in Senate would counter with their own investigations of Democrats.GRIDLOCK?US stocks opened higher on Wednesday after the elections, while the dollar dropped on the reduced chances of further US fiscal stimulus.Financial markets often favor Washington gridlock because it preserves the status quo and reduces uncertainty.A Democrat-controlled House will hamper Trump’s pro-business agenda and could lead to uncertainty about his administration, but corporate tax cuts and deregulation measures that have played a large hand in the US stock market’s rally since the 2016 election are likely to remain untouched.”With the Democrats taking over the House we will now have to see what gridlock in Congress means for policy. As for the market impact, a split Congress has historically been bullish for equities and we expect to see the same pattern again,” said Torsten Slok, Chief International Economist of Deutsche Bank.Democrats will use their new majority to reverse what they see as a hands-off approach by Republicans toward Trump’s foreign policy, and push for tougher dealings with Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.Foreign policy has been an area that Trump has approached in a very personal way, sometimes antagonizing allies such as Canada while making what critics see as unduly warm overtures to traditional rivals or foes.Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Democrats could work with Republicans to produce a long-awaited bill to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges and airports.”Of course, we want to work in a bipartisan fashion. I think we can get an infrastructure bill,” he said.Trump had hardened his rhetoric in recent weeks on issues that appealed to his conservative core supporters. He threw himself into the campaign, issuing warnings about a caravan of Latin American migrants headed through Mexico to the US border and condemnations of liberal American “mobs” he says oppose him.DEMOCRATIC PROBESEvery seat in the House was up for grabs on Tuesday and opinion polls had pointed to the Democratic gains. The party with the presidency often loses House seats in midterm elections.The Republicans had an advantage in Senate races because elections were held for only 35 seats in the 100-member chamber and many of them were in states that often lean Republican.Republicans built on their slim Senate majority by several seats and ousted four incumbent Democrats: Bill Nelson in Florida, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.Those gains are sure to bolster Republicans’ efforts to get conservative federal judges through confirmation proceedings. In the 36 gubernatorial contests, Democrats won in several states that supported Trump in 2016 but lost high-profile races in Florida and Ohio.Democrats could infuriate Trump by launching another congressional investigation into allegations of Russian interference on his behalf in the 2016 election. A federal probe by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s role in that election is ongoing.Moscow denies meddling and Trump, calling the Mueller probe a witchhunt, denies any collusion.A House majority would be enough to impeach Trump if evidence surfaced of collusion by his campaign, or of obstruction by the president of the federal investigation. But Congress could not remove him from office without a conviction by a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate, an unlikely scenario.Most Democratic candidates in tight races stayed away from harsh criticism of Trump during the midterm campaign’s final stretch, focusing instead on bread-and-butter issues like maintaining insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, and safeguarding the Social Security retirement and Medicare healthcare programs for senior citizens.WOMEN, YOUNG, HISPANIC VOTERS FUEL GAINSThe Democratic gains were fueled by women, young and Hispanic voters, a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll found. Fifty-five percent of women said they backed a Democrat for the House this year, compared to 49 percent in the 2014 midterm congressional election.A record number of women ran for office this election, many of them Democrats. There were 237 women on ballots for House seats and at least 95 had won their races as of early Wednesday morning, shattering the previous record of 84 women in the House, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.The party picked up seats across the map but some of the campaign’s biggest Democratic stars lost.Liberal Beto O’Rourke’s underdog Senate campaign fell short in conservative Texas against Republican Ted Cruz. Andrew Gillum lost to Republican Ron DeSantis in his quest to become Florida’s first black governor.In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams was seeking to become the first black woman to be elected governor of a US state. Her opponent, Brian Kemp, was ahead in a very close race early on Wednesday and Abrams said she would not concede until all the votes were counted.
Around 20,000 families living in Cox’s Bazar hills amid landslide risk. Photo: UNBAround 20,000 families have been dwelling on hill slopes of Cox’s Bazar district town and other areas amid growing risk of landslide in the monsoon season.Increasing rains with the advent of monsoon and unabated hill cutting have intensified the risk of landslide, creating panic among the hill residents.Azmul Huda, general secretary of Cox’s Bazar forest and environment conservation council, an environmental organisation, said, “The Rohingya people who have been living in Ukhiya and Teknaf areas by cutting down over 6,000 acres of forest also brace for possible landslide.”Besides, over 10,000 families in Badshaghona, Light House, Dakshin Diggul, Dakshin Hazipara, Pahartali, Sahikkika Palli, Ghonarpara, Maheshkhailla Para, Kalatali Adarsha Gram, Borachara, Boidyaghona, Mohajer Para, Link Road, Muhuri Para, Janarghora areas of Cox’s Bazar town are at the risk of landslide, he added.Azmul Huda said around 10,000 families are living amid danger in the hilly areas of Ramu, Maheshkhali, Teknaf, Ukhiya and Pekua upazilas. Most of the houses have been built on the land of forest department and government (khas) lands.Around 20,000 families living in Cox’s Bazar hills amid landslide risk. Photo: UNBTalking to UNB, some residents of the town said many illegal structures have been built by clearing forests and hills owned by the district administration.Cox’s Bazar Bachao Andolon president advocate Ayachhur Rahman said it was necessary to evict the illegal structures from the vulnerable hills well before the monsoon set in.”Now the list of casualties will be long if landslides occur in the area,” he said.Cox’s Bazar environment department deputy director Nurul Amin said at least 54 people, including six members of Bangladesh Army, were killed in landslides in different areas of the district in 2010.The number of deaths in landslides was 200 from 2010 to 2017 in the district, he added.Around 20,000 families living in Cox’s Bazar hills amid landslide risk. Photo: UNB”Eviction drives alone can’t solve the problem. Massive awareness programmes are also necessary to stop people from dwelling on hill slopes,” he added.Nurul Amin said miscreants are cutting down hills secretly at nights despite regular raids against illegal hill cutting. “Manpower crisis hampers our drive.”Cox’s Bazar forest department sources said around 5,341 hectares of land of the south forest department and 7,053 hectares under west forest department have been grabbed.Hundreds of people are also illegally living in hilly khas land of the district administration, the sources said.Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner Md Kamal Hossain told UNB that people living in hills will be shifted to safer places like previous years.”There had been no serious accident last year due to the collective efforts. We’ve formed several committees to conduct eviction drives in the hills,” he added.