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What Are The Feds Hiding? Let’s Ask The Declassification Engine

first_imgHow to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… Each year, the U.S. government declassifies thousands of documents and releases them to the public through collections like the Declassified Document Reference System (DDRS) and the CIA’s FOIA Reading Room. Some, however, contain “redacted” information that’s too sensitive to be released — leaving, for instance, key details of an FBI memo blacked out for the average reader.Enter the Declassification Engine, which aims to harness Big Data analysis and some old-fashioned crowdsourcing to peer through the “black bars” of redacted documents and reveal what the government doesn’t want you to know. Using publicly available, declassified documents as its sources, the Declassification Engine aims to eventually make informed guesses about what those black bars are hiding, providing a “word cloud” of likely possibilities. Is that blacked out word “Aurora,” for example, potentially referring to new types of advanced aircraft? And, if so, does that imply that similar redacted memos refer to the same key words? A Tool For Historians And The PublicThe Declassification Engine could be an instrument for historians and conspiracy theorists alike. For now, though, it’s basically just a set of data-analysis tools developed by researchers at Columbia University.One finds correlations between specific words and often-classified memos, for example. Another was designed to help train the system to pick up on differences between redacted documents, and what was revealed years later when the government declassified them for public eyes. Eventually, they’ll form a more cohesive whole, the Engine’s creators say.To take the next steps, the Engine’s founders are asking for help. Last week, historians, journalists, legal scholars, statisticians, and computer scientists met at Columbia University to formally launch the Engine — and to ask for money. The Declassification Engine hopes to raise $50,000 to fund the project, and its founders have only raised a few hundred dollars at present.Matthew Connelly, a historian at Columbia and one of the creators of the Declassification Engine, explained that the group is consciously trying to put the Declassification Engine on the “white hat” side of the fence — the opposite side, in other words, from organizations like Wikileaks.The Engine’s source material consists of documents that have already been declassified and released by the government for public scrutiny. Furthermore, its users aren’t “cracking” redactions; they’re simply making guesses. What they hope are good guesses, but guesses nevertheless.How The Engine Revved UpDeclassification straddles a long-standing fault line in American politics, as Marc Trachtenberg, a professor of political science at UCLA explains:There is thus a built-in conflict between the consumer and the supplier of historical evidence: we historians want to see the ‘dirt,’ but those responsible for the release of documents want to make sure that the material released does not damage the political interests they are responsible for protecting.A redacted memo, made public by the Freedom of Information Act. (Source: http://www.foia.cia.gov/)Declassified documents are often a tool to better understand our own history. But getting at that understanding sometimes requires teasing out decades-old data.One of the first things the team did last year was to analyze which keywords were most closely associated with federal decisions to withhold documents among 1.4 million State Department cables. They then created a tool to analyze diplomatic activity over time depending on which terms were used, and the likelihood that a cable that included a specific term would still be classified.That analysis revealed that 1970s cables that contained the word “Boulder” or phrase “Operation Boulder” were much, much more likely to be withheld, Connelly said. As it turned out, Project Boulder was President Nixon’s plan, hatched following the hostage crisis at the Munich Olympics, to increase FBI scrutiny of Arabs entering the United States. In other words, 1970s-style ethnic profiling.In this case, Connelly said, the archive of scanned documents could have served as a historical context when people began discussing the treatment of Arab-Americans thirty years later, after Sept. 11. But without the digital archive of source documents, that context wasn’t readily available.“The reason that these historians have never even heard of it is because the vast majority of the documents have been withheld, in the archives,” Connelly said. “Without those documents, we can’t even begin to try and derive some of these lessons.”The government originally held back the majority of memos that contained the word “Boulder”. (Source: Matthew Connelly)Is It Legal?Given the political climate surrounding security in the decade-plus since September 11, the Declassification Engine’s creators said last week that they were somewhat nervous that the U.S. government might try to clamp down on it. (The creators, naturally, believe that it’s perfectly legal.) Connelly, however, said that the discussion during Friday’s conference gave him reason to believe that the Engine’s creators aren’t likely to face any investigation from law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, on Friday, the FAQ portion of the site was modified to eliminate all references to the project’s legality, including that the group sought input from the State Department and the National Archives to better understand the declassification process.“In some cases, we are using statistical methods to predict what is still classified,” the Declassification Engine’s FAQ said Thursday night.How The Tools WorkConnelly gave ReadWrite an early glimpse of one component of the Engine on Thursday night. That’s the Redaction Visualizer, which compares redacted and unredacted documents and highlights the differences. On the surface, this seems pretty obvious. Comparing an unredacted and redacted memo. (Source: Declassification-engine.org)But the Visualizer is also the basic equivalent of your math homework: the redacted document provides the problem to solve, and the unredacted document is the “answer”. This supervised data will  “teach the computer to teach itself about what’s in the redaction,” Connelly said.The text that the Redaction Visualizer pulls out. (Source: Declassification-engine.org)The real work for the Engine, though, lies in deciphering the redactions themselves. And the biggest arrow in its quiver is context. In total, the Engine uses 117,509 documents from the DDRS, with the most from the Eisenhower and Johnson administrations.The text of the documents themselves are just one part of the puzzle. But there’s a surprising amount  of unredacted metadata attached to each as well: the date, the author, the subject, who classified it, when it was declassified — 68 fields in all, Connelly said. All can be used as clues to make guesses as to what the redacted content contains. Connelly admits that he’s not even clear on how well the Engine could work, once it’s up and running.What the Declassification Engine hopes to do for each redaction is generate a “word cloud” of the words that are statistically likely to be hidden by the redaction. Granted, this is a lot easier to do with a short series of letters, such as a name or date. Still, any guesses could be used to tease out further possibilities, and cross-correlated with other, similar documents to make further guesses.Eventually, the Declassification Engine could become a Web site, where users could upload their own declassified documents, run them against the tools, and also add their own insights. “It would create a virtuous circle, and [users] would be able to make more and more powerful and accurate predictions,” Connelly said.Obama Turbocharges The EngineThe Declassification Engine received an unexpected boon from the Obama Administration on the eve of its launch: an executive order making machine-readable government documents the law of the land.“Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable,” President Obama wrote. “In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security.”The order could remove the need to optically scan some government documents, allowing the Engine to more quickly process bunches of files. It remains to be seen how executive agencies will protect their electronic documents, however. But, as Connelly noted, the order begs the question: if machines are now allowed to read government documents, shouldn’t they be allowed to guess what they’re hiding? markhachman Tags:#Big Data center_img Related Posts Why You Love Online Quizzes Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoidlast_img read more

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VALE – TOUCHWEST PATRON AND OLYMPIC CHAMPION

first_imgBelow is an article from the TouchWest homepage re the loss of Shirley de la Hunty. Olympic track and field champion and TouchWest patron Shirley de la Hunty has passed away at her Perth home aged 78. A winner of seven Olympic medals, including three gold medals, Shirley was always thrilled to attend recent TouchWest State Championships and schools Touch events. She was without question one of WA’s finest sports people of all time. All the members of TouchWest pass on our sympathy to the family of Shirley de la Hunty.last_img read more

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22 days agoJuan Mata adamant trophies not far away for Man Utd

first_imgJuan Mata adamant trophies not far away for Man Utdby Ansser Sadiq22 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveJuan Mata says it won’t be long until Manchester United win trophies again. The Premier League’s leading title winners went trophy-less last season.”I think when the club and the manager said we would take time we believe it’s not going to be too long,” said Mata before Thursday’s Europa League clash with AZ Alkmaar.”I think this club is always winning and he has won here a lot as a player. I have won a few things here and in my mind is to win something really important with United. “I believe we can do it, we know other teams are playing very good football and now in the last part of my career my biggest thing is to win.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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Alberta RCMP on lookout for suspect in death of woman on Bigstone

first_imgChris StewartAPTN National NewsRCMP in Alberta is asking for the public’s help in the search for Dwayne Beauregard, 20, who is a suspect in the death of Joelle Cardinal, 21.According to the police, an incident was witnessed by a number of people Monday morning at a residence in Bigstone Cree Nation, 325 km north of Edmonton.Police say Beauregard is 5’10 and 170 lbs. He has a tattoo on his left forearm that says “Arissa Love,” and a cross on his right forearm.Police are advising people not to confront him but instead to dial 911.Contact Chris here: [email protected]last_img read more

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Restaurants small B2C entities under scanner for GST evasion

first_imgNew Delhi: GST officers are working out a mechanism to deal with non-payment of taxes by large number of small restaurants and B2C entities which are collecting taxes from customers but not depositing the levy with the government. Several consumers have filed complaints through a mobile app -Iris Peridot – that GST was charged by small restaurants but the eatery neither deposited taxes with the government nor filed GST returns. Many customers have downloaded the Iris Peridot app, developed by a GST Suvidha Provider, allowing them to scan the unique GST Identification Number (GSTIN) of a business and find out whether the returns have been filed by the entity. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: Icra Complaints of consumers about non-filing of returns by the entities which are charging Goods and Services Tax (GST) are being forwarded on a real-time basis to the tax department for further action. Small businesses with an annual turnover of up to Rs 1.50 crore can opt for the composition scheme and file returns quarterly. However, such businesses are not allowed to charge GST from consumers and are required to print on their invoice that they are under the composition scheme and hence not supposed to charge GST on supplies. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 days Under the composition scheme, traders and manufacturers pay 1 per cent GST on their turnover, while restaurants and service providers pay 5 per cent and 6 per cent taxes respectively. “We have received several complaints from consumers with regard to charging of GST by entities who have not been filing returns. Some customers have also flagged the issue of charging of GST by small local restaurants who otherwise would be under the composition scheme,” an official told PTI. As the number of complaints is very large, the tax department is developing a mechanism to find out the quantum of possible tax evasion and refer them to field offices for follow-up actions. “In absence of sufficient manpower to deal with such huge number of complaints with relatively small tax implication, it has become an administrative nightmare for the department,” the official said, adding similar complaints have also started coming in against small B2C entities dealing in hardware, sanitary ware, furniture, electrical goods. PwC India Partner and Leader (Indirect Tax) Pratik Jain said tax evasion at B2C level remains a big concern for the government. “To achieve over 20 per cent projected growth in GST collection in current fiscal, it’s important that evasion in B2C segment significantly reduces. Governments across the globe are trying to find ways to incentivise consumers to help in creating a more compliant eco-system, which we need to explore as well. Also the tax policy should be aligned to check tax evasion,” Jain said. Jain further said restricting input credits for restaurants and real estate sector may disincentivise the businesses to come in the tax chain and such policies need to be carefully reviewed. EY Tax Partner Abhishek Jain said “with a significant growth in GST collections envisaged in this Financial Year, the focus of the government would be to plug GST leakages”. For 2019-20, the government proposes to collect Rs 6.10 lakh crore from Central GST and Rs 1.01 lakh crore as compensation cess. The Integrated GST balance has been pegged at Rs 50,000 crore. The Central GST collection in 2018-19 fiscal was Rs 4.25 lakh crore, while compensation cess was over Rs 97,000 crore.last_img read more

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A bond beyond boundaries

first_imgMaa, is the strongest emotion. A bond that binds us forever. Lucky are the ones who are blessed to have her for long. As long as she is around, we can care to be a ‘child’. Today is Mother’s Day and for the lucky ones, here are a few ideas. Buy her a gift: Not just anything that you wish but something that she desires. Try to find something that she would want to have. You never know, she might have longed for one special thing but never uttered a word. Also Read – Feel what you fear Cook a dish: Whatever she would wish! In this internet blessed life, I’m confident that you can rustle up her favourite dish by exploring the recipe online. Don’t worry if the effort fails. She would love it anyway. A movie or a theatre: Why not spend an evening just enjoying and relaxing? A Chinese dinner at her favourite restaurant after that will always be wonderful. A drive: To the lanes and bylanes of the past. Her childhood neighbourhood, her school, her college, her best friend’s home or the first house where your parents started their life together – nostalgia can never fail and ice cream should always follow. Also Read – Homecoming Organise a small musical adda at home: A few friends, a guitar, a harmonium and you, that’s all you need to organise a memorable evening for her. She can sing her favourite Rabindra sangeet or Ghulam Ali while you can record her. She would blush, forget a word or two and still win hearts with her performance. Mothers are the greatest. If she is away from you: Video call her or surprise her with a video conference along with your siblings and make her super happy. You can always book a cake or some flowers wherever you are and send it across to her on this special day. Spend more time: Just promise yourself to spend more quality time with her. Flip through the old albums, let your head loose on her lap, sniff the smell of her saree while she softly runs her fingers through your hair. Feel heaven on earth. Whatever you do, do remember – nothing lasts forever. We never know when there will be no tomorrow. Today is the best day and remember to celebrate in your best way. (Send your questions to [email protected])last_img read more

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Bradley Beal Is Finally The Player He Was Meant To Be

2013-144.524.47392.250.7 Sources: synergy sports technology, Basketball-Reference 2016-174.822.896.3109.560.4 2014-154.326.16692.452.1 2012-132.718.3%86.492.351.5% 2013-142.010.789.792.250.7 SEASONPLAYS/GAME% OF ALL PLAYSPTS/100 PLAYSPTS/100 PLAYSTRUE SHOOTING % Bradley Beal’s pick-and-roll points per play 2015-165.229.58197.954.7 Even with all the puzzling players floating around the NBA, Bradley Beal has always stood out. He was drafted as a dead-eye shooter, a seemingly ideal foil for John Wall, the Wizards’ supersonic point guard. But despite shooting about as well as can be expected from long distance, and despite possessing many of the tools required of an All-Star guard, Beal has never quite matched his potential.But this season, amid the Washington Wizards’ rise to legitimate Eastern Conference dark horse, Beal has become the version of himself that Washington fans have always hoped would show up.The change looks simple: Beal is attempting more 3-pointers than ever before (he’s up to 7.4 per game this season) and making them as well as he ever has (40.6 percent). This has brought his true shooting percentage up to an elite level (60.4 percent), and it has been crucial to the Wizards posting their best offensive efficiency in his time with the team. But Beal’s transformation from a bundle of unrealized potential into a true partner for Wall is not merely the result of taking more threes. He has also made fundamental changes to his game in search of those shots.Let’s start with the basics: Beal has always been a perfectly good spot-up shooter, but being an NBA star who specializes in shooting is about more than just stroking open jump shots. Just about any NBA-level guard can stand in the corner and hit a decent percentage of the threes that come his way. In the past, the Wizards tried to get Beal to fill out his game by acting like a traditional star guard, running the high pick-and-roll and doing his best Kobe Bryant impression. This didn’t work out so well. Bradley Beal’s off-screen points per play SEASONPLAYS/GAME% OF ALL PLAYSPTS/100 PLAYSPTS/100 PLAYSTRUE SHOOTING % Sources: synergy sports technology, basketball-reference 2012-132.416.5%5692.351.5% PICK-AND-ROLLOVERALL 2015-162.715.290.597.954.7 OFF-SCREENOVERALL 2016-174.722.1101109.560.4 2014-152.817.077.492.452.1 Until this season, Beal ran the pick-and-roll the way most guards in the NBA do. He’d hold the ball, wait for his screen to arrive, and then feel out the space the defense gave him, looking to drive or pass. He has improved this part of his game over the years, but he was never better than about average (and often was far worse than that). That’s mostly because, while he has a good first step, he has never been a strong dribbler; when he can’t go in a straight line to the basket, he’ll often lose his handle and have to reset or will dribble ball off his foot and out of bounds.Having Beal play as though he were a prototypical star shooting guard was not a great use of his talents. So the Wizards have switched things up, getting him open in other ways, away from the ball. After years of spending the greatest portion of his possessions churning out mediocre pick-and-rolls, Beal now gets more shots from running off of screens than from any other play type. And focusing on the off-ball movement has opened up the rest of his game, making him much more effective when he does have the ball. This season’s Wizards commonly start plays with Beal on the wing (or making a run across the baseline to emerge on the opposite wing) and run off a screen that gets him toward the middle of the floor. Because Beal is a threat to shoot off of the screen, the defender has to chase him over it and the screener’s defender has to help discourage a shot. If neither closes him out, Beal can rise up for a shot. If one or both defenders contest, he can use his first step to drive to the rim, which is less congested than it would be if he’d begun the play holding the ball and staring down the defense.That’s a fairly common play type in the NBA, and one that the Cleveland Cavaliers will often run to get Kyle Korver open. But the important thing about these plays isn’t how effective they are — though at 95 points per 100 plays, they’re a perfectly good option for Beal in the half-court — but how much they’ve helped Beal improve those same pick-and-roll plays that had been weighing him and the Wizards down. Last season, Beal scored a career-high 81 points per 100 plays as a pick-and-roll ball handler; this season, he’s taken that to 103 points per 100 plays. That’s due in large part to the space and matchups he’s able to create coming off of screens, which comes from excising a bunch of the slow, pounding, high pick-and-rolls that get him into trouble.Many of this season’s Beal pick-and-rolls are hardly recognizable compared to those of past seasons. In fact, some are more like extensions of Beal’s off-the-screen work than they are traditional pick-and-rolls.Instead of beginning possessions with the defense set, and therefore having to create openings with his dribbling, Beal now often receives the ball after coming around a screen — essentially the play you see above — and then re-engages with the screen for the pick-and-roll going back the other way, or he runs around a second screen set by another Washington big. Instead of immediately exploring the space, however, his first move is now to look for the pull-up 3. It may not sound like much, but the idea is to build Beal’s biggest strength (his jumper) into a primary weapon while minimizing his reliance on things he doesn’t do as well (dribbling and passing).Not every play can be quite that complex. But even when Beal isn’t curling around screens, he’s finding more opportunities to begin the pick-and-roll action early in the shot clock, when the defense is not yet set (which is when he’s looked his best in previous years). Other times, Beal simply needs to run a standard high pick-and-roll while Wall takes a break. Even then, however, it seems like he goes to his jumper more quickly than he used to and looks a little sharper driving into traffic (though he’s still not above occasionally dribbling the ball off of his shin or missing a rolling Marcin Gortat by several feet).These tweaks put several kinds of pressure on the defense. First, it has to guard Beal’s initial run off of the screen, which he’s perfectly happy to use to create a shot. But then, if the defense is successful, Beal can turn his defender back the other way around the same screen to begin the pick-and-roll, where he’s also a threat to pull up. And because all this is happening on a dynamic play instead of in a grinding two-man game, Beal has more clear lanes to the hoop that don’t require any of the fancy moves that get him into trouble, like “changing direction” or “avoiding a defender.”We have to go back to the crates to find someone who both runs a lot of pick-and-rolls and uses them the way Beal does. It turns out that this new-and-improved version of Beal plays a lot like the player he was compared to coming out of college: Ray Allen.Allen didn’t have a partner like Wall to draw attention away from him, but the way he navigated his screens and made defenders come to him would be right at home in 2017’s NBA.For the Wizards to make much noise this spring, a lot of things will have to break their way. The defense will have to snap out of a troubling recent downturn (they’ve allowed 111 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star break, compared to 108 before it), and fellow Zards breakout Otto Porter will need to emerge from a cold spell (he’s shooting 35 percent from three since the break, down from 47 percent before it). But those are more temporary, will-they-or-won’t-they type problems. The biggest change to the Wizards this season is more hardwired than that: Bradley Beal has developed a game that suits his skills, and it’s the game of a perennial All-Star. read more

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3 notes from Urban Meyers Monday press conference

Redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller (1) carries the ball while being hit by a Hawaii defender during a game at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 12. OSU won, 38-0. Credit: Muyao Shen / Asst. Photo EditorOhio State football coach Urban Meyer addressed the media on Monday afternoon to discuss the Buckeyes’ victory over Hawaii on Saturday as well as to discuss their upcoming matchup against Northern Illinois. Here are highlights from Meyer’s press conference:Gameday championsAfter each game, Meyer and his staff evaluate the performances of players and name the game’s best performers “champions.”Meyer announced those Buckeyes that obtained those honors against Hawaii.For the defense, which pitched a shutout against the Rainbow Warriors, the champions were rather abundant.Redshirt sophomore cornerbacks Eli Apple and Gareon Conley, as well as redshirt junior safety Tyvis Powell, were evaluated as champions for their performances in the 38-0 win.“Our secondary is playing at very, very high level,” Meyer said.A pair of linebackers, senior Joshua Perry and sophomore Raekwon McMillan, graded out as champions. Redshirt sophomore defensive end Tyquan Lewis also was named, making it six Scarlet and Gray defenders.As for the offense, which Meyer said “didn’t play very well,” there were only two players who graded out as champions: junior tailback Ezekiel Elliott and sophomore H-back Curtis Samuel.He added that Elliott, who rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns, was the offensive player of the game for the Buckeyes.An update on the quarterback battleMeyer confirmed that redshirt junior Cardale Jones is still the team’s starter, for now.“He’s the starting quarterback. I met with him yesterday,” Meyer said.Redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett, who quarterbacked the final eight minutes of the first half after a shaky start for Jones, continues to get reps in practice.Meyer said Barrett “has not beaten (Jones) out yet” but that he will keep getting opportunities to do that.As for the quarterbacks’ performances against the Rainbow Warriors, Meyer wouldn’t say he was disappointed but he wasn’t overjoyed.“I think we have two excellent quarterbacks, and I expect them to play very well. Neither of them played very well Saturday,” he said.The use of direct snapsSo far in their opening two games, the Buckeyes have run a lot of direct snaps to players who aren’t quarterbacks, especially redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller.Against Hawaii, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year had the ball snapped directly to him eight times.Meyer offered some insight as to the decision to run these types of plays with players like Miller, junior H-back Dontre Wilson, redshirt sophomore Jalin Marshall or even Percy Harvin from his time at the University of Florida.“It’s hard to get receivers the ball. If they roll up on you or double you, you can’t get them the ball,” he said. “It’s not real hard — if you want to really give them the ball, put them behind center five yards and snap it to them.”Running those wildcat-like plays works at times, but Meyer said it’s “a little more complicated when people know you’re not going to throw.”However with Miller, a former quarterback, the possibility to throw does exist, but the question was if the shoulder he injured in August 2014 would be healed enough to pass.Meyer all but answered that question on Monday.“The good thing is Braxton can throw and will throw,” he said.Up nextThe Buckeyes are scheduled to be back in action on Saturday, against Northern Illinois. Kick off is set for 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. read more

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Spalletti believes that his team gave their best

first_imgInter Milan have been fighting for the Champions League spots but they have been out of form recently – and they proved it once again by losing against 1-0 against Torino this weekend.Coach Luciano Spalletti insisted that he could see how hard his players tried and he was just disappointed it didn’t work out – but he couldn’t really complain about the overall performance as each of the players gave the best he could.The former AS Roma coach spoke about this bitter loss as he said, according to Calcio Mercato:Stefano Sensi, inter milanReport: Inter go top with win over Udinese George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Inter Milan are top of Serie A after beating Udinese to make it three wins out of three.Antonio Conte’s career at Inter Milan, could…“We had less skill in circulating the ball and allowed too many counterattacks, and Torino forced us to run too much and spend energy: we had to manage better and stifle them more in their own half.”“Today and the Milan derby two opportunities wasted? We played these games and there are also opponents, so I wouldn’t say wasted. We gave our best”“The moment with Mazzarri at the end? When shaking hands he is always a bit timid, even when he wins the games. In the end, he won, I complimented him and he offered only his fingertips. I took them in closer and gave a bit of a squeeze.”last_img read more

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