CALGARY — The arrival of a family of giant pandas to the Calgary Zoo last spring created a stampede of visitors once the guests on loan from China were introduced to an eager public.The zoo surpassed previous records for both attendance and memberships.“We got 1.48 million visitors — that’s a lot of people. If you look at the size of our community with just over 1.1 million citizens in Calgary, the penetration is immense,” Calgary Zoo CEO Clement Lanthier said Thursday.The zoo sold 100,000 annual memberships and saw an average of 4,065 visitors every day.Lanthier said the attendance actually came in slightly lower than the 1.5 million visitors the zoo expected.“We were severely hit in August when the wildfires in B.C. moved a lot of smoke within Calgary for almost 10 days, so that impacted dramatically our attendance,” he said. “Everything in Calgary went into a stall because the smoke was so intense.”Even with the lower-than-expected attendance, he said, the zoo is in good financial shape with people shelling out cash for panda stuffies, panda T-shirts and food. “On the revenue side, we are ahead of what we had budgeted.”The previous record year at the zoo was 2012 when 1.45 million visitors came to see the penguin exhibit, suggesting black-and-white attractions are the quickest way to stay in the black.“We also had the ring-tailed lemur, which was also black and white, and the snow leopard — arguably they’re black and white — so maybe that’s the way to go forward,” Lanthier said with a laugh.He isn’t expecting another attendance record in 2019.“Typically, with the second year of any attraction, panda or anything else, you have a little decline of the attendance.”The adult pandas, Da Mao and Er Shun, along with their cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue are housed in a 2,000-square-metre, indoor-outdoor habitat.The furry foursome was shipped to Calgary from Toronto in April and spent about a month in quarantine.The two adults are on loan to Canadian zoos from China as part of a 10-year deal signed in 2012. The cubs were born in Toronto in 2015.It cost around $30 million to house the pandas in Calgary, including $14.4 million for the exhibit itself. Expanded parking lots, washrooms and restaurants were also required to accommodate more visitors.The adult pandas are to remain in Calgary for the next five years, while the cubs are expected to return to China before their parents.— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
APTN National NewsThe family of an Indigenous woman that died in Toronto under suspicious circumstances is suing Toronto police for $14 million alleging the force was negligent in the events leading up to her death in April 2013 and during the subsequent police investigation that labeled it a suicide.Cheyenne Fox’s family alleges Toronto police didn’t properly respond to two 911 calls prior to Fox’s death April 25, 2013 when she fell to her death from a 24th floor balcony of a Toronto condo according to a statement of claim filed in Peterborough court Friday and obtained by APTN National News.None of the allegations have been proven in court and all defendants, including Toronto police, are expected to be served Monday.Fox died at about 11 p.m. that night, but the first 911 call came in at approximately 6 p.m. from someone who witnessed Fox jump from a moving taxicab on Highway 401.It’s alleged she lept from the “still moving” cab because the driver was sexually assaulting her.Two people stopped and picked her up on the side of the highway.The document states they drove Fox to her destination at 80 Harrison Garden Blvd. to meet an alleged “custumer” as she was working as a sex worker, potentially forced into it by a human trafficking ring.The second 911 call came about two hours later at 8 p.m. from someone inside condo unit 2419 at 80 Harrison Garden Blvd., the document alleges.The claim alleges someone from the unit called police upon Fox’s arrival claiming she was intoxicated, trespassing and refusing to leave the place.“No response from the Toronto Police Service Board ever came in respect of the two 911 calls that were made by third parties in relation to Cheyenne and the serious danger or harm that she was reported to be in,” alleges the statement of claim.It’s then alleged she tried to “escape” the home, but someone “physically forced Cheyenne to remain at his property.”The pair started drinking, according to the document.A third call to 911 was placed at 11 p.m. due to an alleged fight between Fox and the occupant.The caller said Fox had jumped over the balcony.Police arrived minutes later to “collect the badly beaten and lifeless body of Cheyenne.”Fox’s family say Toronto police also failed to provide “adequate or effective” reports or effectively communicate with the family after the death.The family alleges police failed, as well, in considering Fox “was murdered.”Last fall, the family said police told them the case was closed and Fox’s death was determined to be suicide.“(Police) blamed Cheyenne for her death attributing ‘risky’ behavior and a ‘high risk lifestyle’ instead of engaging an adequate or effective policing strategy to protect vulnerable women,” the document alleges.Fox’s father John Fox is scheduled to hold a press conference Monday at 2 p.m. in front of police headquarters in downtown Toronto.Attempts to reach Toronto police Saturday were unsuccessful.Kjackson@aptn.ca
2000LakersO’Neal10.0Bryant5.0Horry2.5 1987LakersJohnson8.2Abdul-Jabbar2.2Worthy2.0 This makes for a fairly intuitive list. LeBron, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are the league’s six Alphas. Chris Paul falls just short of the Alpha category; instead, he joins players such as Hayward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis on the Beta list. Gammas include players like Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, John Wall, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap.So then all you need is an Alpha, a Beta and a Gamma and — presto! — you win an NBA championship? Actually, your options are more flexible than that. A team with an Alpha and a Beta — say, this year’s Houston Rockets — could probably skip the Gamma if they had a deep rotation. A team with no Alphas but three Betas — say, Jimmy Butler, Antetokounmpo and Kyle Lowry — would more than likely be good enough to contend for a title. A team with a very strong Alpha could go without a Beta and make up for it with two or more Gammas instead — that’s sort of how the current Cavaliers are constructed.To help teams think through these decisions, let’s invent one more statistic, which I’ll call star points. The formula is simple: A team gets three star points for each Alpha on its roster, two for each Beta, and one for each Gamma. Next year’s Warriors project to have 9 star points, for example: three each for Curry and Durant, two for Draymond Green and one for Klay Thompson.Even having that much talent on your roster doesn’t necessarily guarantee a title. But historically, a team’s chances of winning a title are remote if it has four or fewer star points. It has a fighting chance with five or six star points, depending on how the rest of the roster is constructed. And its probability increases rapidly once it acquires seven or more star points. 725832.0– 216721.2– 1992BullsJordan8.7Grant5.7Pippen5.6 1986CelticsBird7.7McHale5.4Parish2.5 Rudy Gobert3.6Kevin Love2.4 2016CavaliersJames8.9Love3.2Irving2.1 2013HeatJames10.6Wade5.8Bosh1.2 1993BullsJordan9.4Pippen3.6Grant2.7 LeBron James7.0G. Antetokounmpo5.2John Wall3.0 114700.0 To no one’s surprise, the best players on title-winning teams are usually extraordinary talents. Among the 33 NBA champions since 1985, the top-rated player on the team, according to CPM, was one of the three best players in the league that season on 23 occasions. And the team’s best player was among the top 10 in the league on all but three occasions. The exceptions were Bill Laimbeer of the 1988-89 and 1989-90 Pistons (CPM, perhaps dubiously, rates Laimbeer ahead of his teammate, the other Isiah Thomas) and Ben Wallace of the 2003-04 Pistons. Pretty much all the other No. 1 players are current or future Hall of Famers, however, with the possible exception of Manu Ginobili, who may be a borderline case.No matter how brightly he shines, however, a superstar usually can’t deliver a title without a good sidekick or two.6Take LeBron James’s 2012-13 season, for example, when he had a CPM of +10.6 and played almost 38 minutes per game — about as good as an NBA player can be under modern conditions. A team with that version of LeBron, plus a roster full of replacement-level players, would still project to go only 41-41, according to our forecasting method. A team with that version of LeBron plus a roster full of league-average players (as opposed to replacement-level players) would project to go 59-23, which is closer to being a title contender. League-average players don’t just grow on trees, however. On average, the second-best player on these championship teams was the 14th-best player in the league, according to CPM. And although not every champ had a classic “Big Three” like LeBron James’s Miami Heat, the third-best player on the championship team rated as the 37th-best player in the league, on average — still very solid.So let’s get back to the idea of Alpha, Beta and Gamma players, which were meant to correspond to a typical championship team’s best, second-best and third-best players. By looking at the historical data, we can define these classifications as follows:An Alpha has a CPM of +6.0 or higher.A Beta has a CPM of between +3.5 and +6.0.And a Gamma has a CPM of between +2.0 and +3.5.I re-ran CARMELO using CPM instead of its usual blend of statistics, and it projected the following players to be Alphas, Betas and Gammas for the upcoming NBA season: 410321.9– 2008CelticsGarnett7.8Pierce4.5Allen2.8 2005SpursDuncan7.5Ginobili7.1Barry1.9 Kawhi Leonard6.8Anthony Davis4.3Paul George2.9 CONSENSUS PLUS-MINUS 2002LakersO’Neal8.4Bryant4.7Horry1.9 ALPHASBETASGAMMAS 1990PistonsLaimbeer3.8Rodman2.6Thomas1.7 STAR POINTSTEAMSCHAMPIONSCHAMPIONSHIP PROBABILITY Victor Oladipo2.1 1996BullsJordan9.4Pippen5.6Kukoc4.6 1997BullsJordan7.7Pippen5.5Kukoc4.1 2006HeatWade8.0O’Neal5.2Mourning2.4 1994RocketsOlajuwon5.8Horry1.9Thorpe1.6 314342.8– Kevin Durant6.7Karl-Anthony Towns4.1Mike Conley2.9 2011MavericksNowitzki4.9Chandler2.8Kidd1.9 2015WarriorsCurry9.9Green4.4Thompson4.3 1989PistonsLaimbeer3.8Rodman3.1Johnson1.3 DeMarcus Cousins4.1Isaiah Thomas2.8 1991BullsJordan10.9Pippen4.9Grant3.6 Draymond Green3.8Kyrie Irving2.8 1985LakersJohnson5.6Abdul-Jabbar5.3Worthy1.6 CPM reflects a combination of Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating.* Player was acquired midseason. His +/- total reflects performance for entire season, and not just for the acquiring club. 642614.3– Star points: 3 points per Alpha player, 2 points per Beta player, and 1 point per Gamma player. Table includes all teams since the 1984-85 season. 2009LakersBryant6.0Gasol3.6Odom3.0 2004PistonsB. Wallace4.3Billups3.8R. Wallace*1.7 How good were the best players on recent NBA champions?Player ratings based on Consensus Plus-Minus (CPM) Blake Griffin3.7Otto Porter Jr.2.5 8 or more13430.8– 2010LakersBryant4.5Gasol3.7Odom2.2 1995RocketsDrexler*6.1Olajuwon5.7Smith1.0 1998BullsJordan6.0Pippen5.0Kukoc2.5 1999SpursRobinson6.9Duncan5.2Elie2.8 YEARTEAMNO. 1 PLAYER+/-NO. 2 PLAYER+/-NO. 3 PLAYER+/- Hassan Whiteside2.0 Kyle Lowry3.7Paul Millsap2.6 James Harden7.4Jimmy Butler5.5Bradley Beal3.2 Gordon Hayward3.8DeAndre Jordan2.7 Who are the NBA’s championship-caliber players?Projections based on Consensus Plus-Minus for 2017-18 57479.5– Klay Thompson2.1 CPM reflects a combination of Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating CJ McCollum2.1 Russell Westbrook8.2Chris Paul5.9Damian Lillard3.3 Average188.8.131.52 2003SpursDuncan7.5Robinson3.8Ginobili1.1 1988LakersJohnson5.2Scott3.1Worthy1.9 Kemba Walker2.2 021600.0% 2017WarriorsDurant8.3Curry6.7Green3.7 2012HeatJames10.8Wade7.5Bosh1.7 2001LakersO’Neal8.9Bryant4.8Fox0.6 2007SpursGinobili7.2Duncan6.6Parker3.4 PLAYER+/-PLAYER+/-PLAYER+/- Stephen Curry7.0Nikola Jokic4.8DeMar DeRozan3.0 2014SpursGinobili4.8Leonard4.8Mills3.2 How much star power does an NBA team need?Probability of team winning a championship based on star points The Boston Celtics, after whiffing on trades for Jimmy Butler and Paul George, finally got some good news this week when Gordon Hayward announced that he was leaving the Utah Jazz to play for the Celtics. Although Isaiah Thomas would have some beef with this assessment, Hayward’s well-rounded combination of skills will probably make him the best player on the Celtics next year. He’s a good fit with the team’s approach.And yet, projection systems (including our own CARMELO) are somewhat skeptical of the Celtics, not expecting them to improve on last year’s 53-29 performance or to seriously challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for Eastern Conference supremacy. Hayward is also fairly expensive; he’ll cost the Celtics $128 million over four years (the fourth season, 2020-21, is a player option). So let’s ask a tough question of Boston and general manager Danny Ainge: If Hayward is the best player on your team, could that team plausibly be good enough to win a championship?The answer is probably not. Hayward made the All-Star team last season, but he’s a long way from being a superstar. A handful of modern NBA teams — the 1988-89 and 1989-90 Detroit Pistons, the 2003-04 Pistons, and the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs — won a title with someone about as good as Hayward as their best player. But this is unusual: It requires a team to be constructed almost perfectly, with above-average players at nearly every position, a deep bench, and a cohesive rotation. It sometimes also requires a fair amount of luck.1The “Bad Boys” Pistons peaked just as the 1980s Celtics and Lakers were declining, but before Michael Jordan’s Bulls really took off, for example.But Hayward can be a building block toward a championship. He’s roughly as good as the second-best player on a typical championship team. That might sound like faint praise, but it’s no small achievement.Let’s develop some terminology to describe degrees of the stardom in the NBA. I’ll introduce three types of players: Alphas, Betas and Gammas.An Alpha is a player who’s as good as the best player on a typical championship-winning team. This is an MVP contender — one of the half-dozen best players in the league.A Beta is as good as the second-best player on a typical NBA champion. As I mentioned, Hayward is a good example of a Beta. Betas are usually All-Stars, perhaps even All-Star starters, and they’re among the best players at their position. But they’re not among the very best players in the league.And a Gamma is good as third-best player on a typical championship team. A Gamma might be an All-Star, but he usually won’t make one of the three All-NBA teams. He probably has one or two weaknesses (defense, shooting, etc.) along with his obvious strengths. But he’s still a very good player and might be the best player on a non-contending team. Thomas, although he’s somewhat difficult to evaluate because of his defense — various statistical systems rate it anywhere from mediocre to execrable2There’s a big difference between mediocre and execrable. If Thomas’s defense is merely somewhat below average, as the NBA’s opponents’ shooting data suggests, then his offense more than makes up for it and he’d probably qualify as a Beta. If it’s terrible, as RPM suggests, then Thomas is barely even an above-average player overall. Classifying Thomas as a Gamma, as CPM does, is something of a compromise between these assessments. — is a reasonably good example of a Gamma.At any given time, only a few dozen players in the league will rated as Alphas, Betas or Gammas. (CARMELO projects that there will be 35 of them in 2017-18, for example.) It’s these players who determine who competes for NBA championships. Doesn’t depth matter also? Well, sure. A well-rounded roster is often the difference between winning a title and losing one. But a team needs its share of star-level talent to compete for a championship in the first place. Otherwise, it’ll usually wind up like last year’s Celtics, a well-constructed team that was overmatched in the playoffs.Below, you’ll find a table listing the top three players on NBA championship teams since 1984-85 — the first year the league used a salary cap — as rated by a statistic called Consensus Plus-Minus. Consensus Plus-Minus, or CPM, is a statistic I use when I don’t want to get into arguments about the value of individual players. It reflects a combination of four popular statistics — Real Plus-Minus,3RPM is available from the 2000-01 season onward. For seasons prior to 2000-01, I use BPM twice in the average. Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating — equally weighted and translated to the same scale. It also adjusts for the player’s position, which the other metrics do not,4CPM measures a player’s value relative to the positional average, rather than relative to the league average. Right now, there’s an excess of good centers and point guards but less depth among small forwards and shooting guards. This adjustment helps Hayward, who plays both those positions. and it regresses players’ ratings to replacement level if they fall below a certain threshold of playing time.5If the player plays less than 20 minutes per team game — or 1640 minutes over an 82-game season — his actual CPM is blended with a replacement-level CPM of -2 points per 100 possessions. For predictive purposes, we think CPM is liable to be slightly less accurate than the blend of statistics CARMELO uses (a combination of RPM and BPM), but CPM is still a perfectly reasonable stat and much more in line with the consensus view of NBA players. Like BPM and RPM, CPM is expressed in net points added or subtracted per 100 possessions. So a player with a CPM of +2.5, teamed with four average players, would help his team to outscore his opponents by 2.5 points per 100 possessions, for example. This system isn’t perfect, but it lines up intuitively with how we evaluate teams. After the Warriors and their nine projected star points next season, the Cavaliers and Rockets are the closest thing the league has to ready-made title contenders, as they’re tied for second at five star points each. They’re followed by the Thunder, Timberwolves and Pelicans at four each; these four-point teams probably need at least one more thing to click (say, George taking the next step in Oklahoma City) to be title-worthy. The Celtics are one of several teams with three star points.This measure can underrate the importance of team depth; the Spurs, who have only three star points, are rated too low, for instance. The Celtics — although they’re losing a few players to make room for Hayward — are also a deep team, with lots of average or slightly-above-average players and lots of draft picks to keep priming the pump. They could probably compete for a title with five star points, therefore, instead of needing six or seven. Adding another Beta-level player might be enough to do the trick.It’s hard to see where that player comes from, however. The Celtics lost some of their financial flexibility in signing Hayward. And while they could develop a star player rather than acquiring one, giving more playing time to young players such as Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum could make them less competitive in the short run.If there’s one Celtics move that looks bad in retrospect, it isn’t necessarily trying and failing to acquire Butler or George, it’s trading the No. 1 draft pick for Philadelphia’s No. 3 pick, with which they chose Tatum. While Tatum has a fairly promising projection, he doesn’t have the upside of No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, whose comparables include players such as Harden, Westbrook and Wall. The trade might have made sense for a team that already had its stars in place and wanted to develop complementary players around them, but the Celtics have plenty of complementary players and are short on stars.At the same time, it would be easy to underestimate the challenge Ainge faced. The Celtics’ 53-29 record last year was deceptive, in that it came against a weak conference and relied on what were arguably career years from several players, including Thomas.7The Celtics also outperformed their 48-34 Pythagorean record by several games. In many respects, they were a rebuilding team dressed up as a competing team. And precisely because the Celtics weren’t just one player away from contending for a title, Ainge needed to acquire a player like Hayward or Butler without compromising the Celtics’ ability to acquire or develop another such player down the road. Even if the Celtics are still a star away from seriously contending for a title — maybe even a superstar away — that’s closer than they were last week.
WILMINGTON, MA — Here are highlights of the Wilmington Police Log for Wednesday, July 24, 2019:A Lowell Street resident was concerned about the well-being of a bird in their yard. Animal Control Office responded and retrieved bird. (8:36am)A caller reported a tractor trailer unit rear-ended his vehicle and pushed it 30 feet before continuing north on Ballardvale Street. Caller refused ambulance for himself and passenger. No airbag deployment. Police located tractor trailer unit and operator at Interra Innovation on Junction Road in Andover. Police filled out crash report and assisted with paperwork exchange. (9:30am)A 2-vehicle crash occurred on Lowell Street at 93 North ramp. One driver transported to hospital with back pain. (1:30pm)A caller wished the police log that at some time in February, he was verbally assaulted by an RMV employee. Caller had minimal information. Caller will come to station tomorrow to provide additional information. (2:07pm)Shelton J. Oliver (61, Billerica) was issued a summons for Operating A Motor Vehicle With A Suspended License and Motor Vehicle Not Meeting RMV Safety Standards. Oliver was pulled over on Shawsheen Avenue. (5:18pm)(DISCLAIMER: This information is public information. An arrest does not constitute a conviction. Any arrested person is innocent until proven guilty.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email email@example.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedPOLICE LOG for August 26: Wilmington Man Arrested For OUI; Tractor Trailer Takes Out Wall, Signs & HydrantIn “Police Log”POLICE LOG for September 5: Train Conductor Helps Locate Missing Puppy; Rented Trucks Not Returned To UHaulIn “Police Log”POLICE LOG for July 12: 2 Juveniles Laying On Train Tracks; Motorcycle Crash; Tractor Trailer vs. PoleIn “Police Log”
The IL&FS group is facing serious liquidity crisis and has defaulted on interest payments on various debt repayments since 27 August.ReutersThe audit report by Grant Thornton India on debt-ridden infrastructure financier, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), has highlighted severe irregularities such as conflicts of interest, inadequate risk assessment and deviation from banking norms. As per the interim audit report submitted to the board of the beleaguered IL&FS, transactions of more than Rs 13,000 crore could be directly linked to rampant irregularities.The report underlined that in at least 29 instances, loan proceeds to borrowers was eventually utilised by the group companies to repay existing debt obligations with IL&FS Financial Services Limited (IFIN).In the financial year 2016, SKIL Infrastructure’s Gujarat-Dwarka Portwest Ltd took a loan of Rs 253 crore and during the same period, SKIL Infrastructure repaid Rs 230 crore to IFIN. Similarly, between 2017 and 2019, Rs 365 crore was disbursed by IFIN to Flemingo Group at the same time, its group companies repaid Rs 407 crore to IFIN. Uday Kotak, newly appointed Non-Executive Chairman of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS) addresses a news conference at the company’s headquarters in Mumbai, October 4, 2018.REUTERS/Danish SiddiquiMoreover, in the last fiscal, India Cements’ Chennai Super Kings Ltd borrowed Rs 65 crore from IFIN and, at the same time EWS Finance & Investment Pvt Ltd paid Rs 40 crore to IFIN, the report said. The draft report scrutinized all high-value transactions carried out by IL&FS Limited and few of its group companies for the period between April 1, 2013, and September 30, 2018.Over Rs. 6,000 crore is linked to the transaction at IL&FS Financial Service Ltd (IFIN) that violated banking governance norms laid by the Reserve bank of India (RBI). Around Rs 2,270 crore, proceeds to borrowers of IFIN was utilised by certain IL&FS group companies out of which Rs 1,150 crore was injected into IL&FS Transportation Network Ltd (ITNL). Notably, the crisis broke out in July 2018 when the road arms started facing difficulty in making repayments due on its bonds.The audit report showed that there were many instances where funds worth Rs. 541 crore were taken for short-term purposes and utilised for long-term purposes. “We reviewed the Asset Liability Management Committee (ALCO) minutes and noted the details of funding gaps (i.e. funds not available for estimated committed disbursement). Based on the details, it appears that since May 2013, IFIN was under stress to borrow funds in order to fulfil the commitment of loans already sanctioned,” the report mentioned.
A limousine in the motorcade believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels to an entrance to Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, China on 9 January 2019. Photo: ReutersKim Jong Un’s train left Beijing on Wednesday after the North Korean leader visited his key ally on a trip seen as a strategy session ahead of his expected summit with Donald Trump.Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for his fourth visit to Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic friend, meeting president Xi Jinping and reportedly visiting a factory.The North Korean leader’s motorcade was spotted entering the Beijing central railway station on Wednesday afternoon, and the train departed shortly after on a day-long ride back to the northeast border, according to AFP journalists.The unannounced trip was largely shrouded in secrecy. Beyond confirming his presence in Beijing, no details have been provided by either North Korea or China on his schedule, with no coverage in state media even in the nightly news broadcast hours after the train’s departure.Kim met for one hour with Chinese president Xi Jinping on Tuesday — believed to be the North Korean leader’s birthday — and the two later dined with their wives at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.”Chairman Kim Jong Un’s visit to China was at the invitation of president Xi Jinping, of course president Xi would hold meetings and talks with him,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing, adding that more details would be released later.Tuesday’s meeting focused on Kim’s expected meeting with Trump, according to Yonhap.In a New Year speech, Kim warned that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.Relations between China and North Korea had deteriorated in recent years over Pyongyang’s nuclear activities, but Kim has made sure to keep Xi informed about his dealings with the United States and South Korea as ties appear to have warmed.”In order to resist the high pressure of the US, he must communicate with Xi in advance to see what steps he can take to deal with Trump,” Beijing-based independent political commentator Hua Po told AFP.”Kim needs the support of Xi so as to ask the US to make substantial steps, such as providing assistance to North Korea and normalising relations with North Korea.”Kim chose China for his maiden official trip abroad last year before holding meetings with South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Trump.The American leader said Sunday that the United States and North Korea are negotiating the location of their next summit.Discussions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal have stalled since Kim and Trump’s high-profile summit in Singapore in June where they issued a vaguely worded declaration about denuclearisation.The US insists that UN sanctions must remain in place until North Korea gives up its weapons, while Pyongyang wants them immediately eased. China also wants the sanctions to be relaxed.’Turning point’But Chinese officials also likely want to impress on Kim — who has so far pursued only limited reforms to his statist economy — the benefits the giant Communist country has enjoyed in its transformation from impoverished nation to economic powerhouse.Yonhap, citing unidentified sources, reported that Kim toured a factory operated by medicine firm Tongrentang for about half an hour in an economic zone in the Chinese capital.He then went to the Beijing Hotel, where he was expected to have lunch with Xi before his departure.”For North Korea itself, 2019 is his strategic turning point. If he wants to shift his focus to the development of the economy, he needs China’s cooperation,” said Lu Chao, a North Korea expert at China’s Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.In the New Year speech, Kim focused on North Korea’s moribund economy, saying that improving people’s lives was his top priority and tackling energy shortages was an urgent task.Beijing-based analyst Hua said changes in the economic model will affect politics, “which poses new challenges to his control over the country.””For this point, he must ask for advice from China.”The visit coincided with negotiations between US and Chinese officials in Beijing to resolve a bruising trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.Some analysts say China could use its cooperation on the North Korean issue as a bargaining chip in the US trade talks.But Hua said Kim’s visit would have a “limited” effect on the trade negotiations.”The Sino-US trade negotiations are a matter between China and the US,” he said. “The weight of North Korea is limited and cannot play a decisive role.”
4 min read Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global July 11, 2016 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Most people don’t realize that simply firing up their laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile device contributes to massive use of energy. When we think of energy, it tends to be in very broad-based terms: electric companies, oil refineries and green energy solutions. Technology companies, however, are playing a growing role in the energy sector.Opportunity awaits.It seems as though we’ve recently hit a wall in finding solutions for a greener world. We’ve harnessed wind power, converted solar rays and mass-produced electric cars. In the past few years, organizations have sprung up to help advance the greening efforts. But with fierce competition for capital, the kind of green that spends often is in short supply for sustainable causes. In contrast, the tech space is constantly innovating and appears to have no shortage of funders on the horizon.Related: 5 Exploding Niches Within TechAs companies realize the vast energy needed to operate cloud-based platforms and other emerging technologies, they understand they must do more than switch to smart bulbs and mobile-controlled thermostats. At the same time, energy companies are starting to see the need for updated technology. During the past three years, technology has skyrocketed in the energy sector. That’s particularly true for data collection services such as locating and extracting real-time information.New technologies allow oil and gas companies to monitor their equipment from start to finish. This gives them opportunity to streamline the refining process and produce more at a lower cost. The problem lies in maintaining profit upstream while lowering prices for consumers downstream. The tech industry isn’t quite ready to provide these solutions. Budgets of more than $20 million upward are projected to fund analytical programming capable of tracking all this streamlined data. In other words, huge business opportunities exist for tech companies who can take advantage of the increasing cloud-based need to run the energy sector more efficiently.Skepticism still exists.It remains to be seen whether the tech industry can build solutions that are appealing enough to be acceptable for major players in the energy industry. There’s plenty of skepticism about allowing technology to do the job of consulting. And there’s at least one self-fulfilling reason why: Data drawn from technology is consistently more simplified than data gathered by consultants. Related: How Analytics and Data Can Undermine LeadersMany energy companies make the issue even more convoluted. Leaders as Opportune LLP confirm that “energy firms have been widely reported as delaying or cancelling many billions of dollars in capital project additions. Technology consulting firms are vital to improving the capabilities of current working assets to optimize output until additional units can be put in service.” No one wants to reinvent the wheel — or the microprocessor chip. But it wouldn’t hurt to make the ride a little smoother. In the very near future, companies will need to adapt if they wish to reduce production costs and achieve greater efficiencies.Technology is just part of the solution.While data processing will continue to become more tech-savvy, we’ll still need analysts to sort through the data and provide context. Technology merely makes it easier for those analysts and consultants to find solutions that don’t require customers to pay higher prices. Energy leaders who loosen the reigns a bit will discover real excitement. After all, these very changes will allow their companies to perform at extremely high levels while enjoying lower costs.Visionaries who helm the largest energy companies stand to face the most resistance to new business models. The conventional wisdom has been to supplement upstream costs with downstream cash from end-users. But as oil prices drop for consumers, energy companies haven’t done much to change how they acquire it, or the expenses they incur. Energy companies already use technology to find stable wells below the surface. But they’re only starting to apply technology’s power to the analytical process and inform their consulting efforts. But there’s no denying technology is poised to become a huge player in the energy marketplace. And once analytical tech is implemented, energy companies will really start to fire on all cylinders. Related: This is Why You Should Become Green Energy Entrepreneurs Register Now »