High divergence across the whole mitochondrial genome in the “pan-Antarctic” springtail Friesea grisea: Evidence for cryptic species?

first_imgCollembola are one of the few hexapod groups adapted to live in the harsh environmental conditions of Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. Diversity is limited to a few species that can be very abundant in coastal deglaciated sites. A remarkable lack of overlap in Collembola species composition is evident between Western and Eastern Antarctica, and Friesea grisea is currently the only species whose distribution is thought to span these two main regions of the continent. However, our analysis of the complete sequences of the mitochondrial genomes from specimens obtained from each of the two regions showed unexpected genetic divergence, well above the average levels observed between populations belonging to the same species, and so indicating that these are actually separate species, despite their lack of distinguishing morphology. Detailed analysis of the two genomes showed the presence of a non-coding region observed between trnS (uga) and nad1. Other features of these mitochondrial genomes, such as base compositional bias, secondary structure features of tRNAs and the presence of regulatory elements in the control region, are described and discussed from an evolutionary standpoint. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Joseph Mariathasan: Venezuela – is the risk priced in?

first_imgThe late Hugo Chavez, elected President in 1998, undertook a radical nationalisation program and set up programmes to expand access to healthcare, food, housing, and education. That resulted in shifting masses out of poverty, but it relied on record-high oil prices and a quintupling of its external debt position between 2004 and 2013.The post-Chavez government, still referred to as Chavista, has proved to be a disaster in its economic mismanagement and in its attacks on the institutions that underpin democracy. Economic output has fallen by roughly 25% since 2013 and inflation in 2016 is estimated to have been around 400%. Society has become more violent, not only through protests and harsh reactions by the government but through criminality and an escalating murder rate.Oil production, critical for generating foreign exchange required for the imports that sustain its population, has fallen to 2m barrels a day due to lack of capital investment caused by the mismanagement of the state oil company, PDVSA. The depressed production, lower oil prices, and the proportion of the output that has been pledged to China have reduced the capability of the country to generate foreign exchange.As a result, the population is suffering from shortages of key essential goods including medicines. Venezuela suffered a 35%-40% contraction of its imports within the last couple of years, a situation that is unprecedented in the world. Venezuela is rapidly heading towards becoming a failed state.Venezuela’s total external debt is estimated at between $120bn and $160bn (€107bn-€142bn), of which $64.4bn is in US dollar-denominated international bonds. Around half of bonds are issued by the sovereign and half by PDVSA. The credit default swap markets are discounting a 95% or so probability of default within the next five years, and the 2038 sovereign bond trades around 45 cents to the dollar at the time of writing.Single most attractive opportunity?Venezuela is clearly a risky investment. For investors though, what matters is whether risk is priced in.Mohammed Hanif, CIO of Insparo Asset Management, argues that it is.Perhaps what is most surprising has been Venezuela’s almost perverse willingness to continue to pay its debt obligations. This is reflected in the price of its 2017 and 2018 bonds trading at over 75 cents to the dollar. If default is inevitable, that does not necessarily mean investors would lose out though. Insparo considers that the prices of sovereign and PDVSA bonds are already approaching expected recovery rates of 55%-65%.Aramco, the state-owned oil company in Saudi Arabia, is worth around $3trn. Valuations of PDVSA, Venezuela’s equivalent, should be comparable in magnitude, and any valuation of oil assets would suggest that there is significant asset coverage for the bonds.Whatever happens on the political front, with elections due in October 2018 and several thousand people engaging in daily and often violent demonstrations in Caracas, it is clear that the debt needs restructuring. There needs to be a credible government before a meaningful recovery can be made but the abundance of assets suggests that a strong recovery is possible.Hanif believes that, even after a default, investors should be able to receive sufficient assets to make Venezuela the single most attractive opportunity for the dedicated emerging market debt investor.Venezuela may be a mess, but the risks are clear and the issue is whether, and by how much, they have been discounted in asset prices. The same cannot be said for developed markets. The economist and entrepreneur Jerome Booth always says the distinction between emerging markets and developed is that in emerging markets the risks are fully priced in, while in developed markets they remain hidden.Political risk is clearly a case in point. It is political risk above all that characterises emerging markets and is the greatest challenge for potential investors. Argentina was one of the 15 richest countries in the world on a per capita basis for the first half of the 20th century. But a century of political instability with rule by populist politicians and military juntas eroded its relative wealth and its position to the extent that it was even downgraded to frontier market status by MSCI in 2009.Today, the Latin American tragedy that the world focuses on is Venezuela.Again, it is a rich country brought low by political mismanagement. Its oil reserves are comparable to – and larger than – those of Saudi Arabia. Its economy, like that of Saudi Arabia, is dominated by oil and Venezuela relies on imports for a major proportion of its industrial, construction, and household items.last_img read more

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Photos: Curry rebounds in Game 4 but it wasn’t enough to beat Houston

first_imgGolden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry admitted that he didn’t have the best game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday.For Game 4, he came out strong in the first quarter making several layups. These were shots he missed the previously time they played. It was enough to keep the Warriors in it. Unfortunately, after several rallies led by Curry and forward Kevin Durant, Golden State couldn’t break through. They ended up losing 112-108.Although they lost, the Warriors can take heart, …last_img

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Waste drive reaps rewards

first_imgThe TrashBack uphinda-phindo! projectgives community members an incentiveto collect rubbish by offering rewardsof food, clothing, and other items.(Image: TrashBack) The incentive scheme rewards top wastecollectors from the community for theircollection efforts.(Image: TrashBack) MEDIA CONTACTS • Nicholas Wiid TrashBack+27 76 507 4272RELATED ARTICLES• New solutions for water conservation• Rugby sewing initiative kicks off• South Africa’s auto industry to turn green • Plastic-bag billboard a world first • Obama’s trashy Karoo treasuresWilma den HartighA new community recycling initiative in the coastal town of Hout Bay in the Western Cape is changing the way people think about waste management.The TrashBack uphinda-phindo! project is more than just a waste collection scheme: it gives community members an incentive to collect rubbish by offering rewards of food, clothing, and other items.Uphinda-phindo! is a Xhosa expression meaning repeated returns or recycling.The project is the brainchild of three former University of Cape Town students, Nicholas Wiid, Andrew Mcnaught and Terence Goldberg. With the help of corporate sponsors, the project has put a scheme in place to encourage disadvantaged communities to manage their own waste.The initiative was launched in September 2011 in the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in Hout Bay, in partnership with local NGO Green Living and the local Hout Bay Recycling depot.“Through the rewards programme, we are trying to give people a reason to recycle and help people understand the value of recycling for their community,” Wiid says.Project goalsHe explains that the benefits of the recycling project are threefold. More waste will be recycled and directed away from landfills, residents can take ownership of their living space by beautifying their surroundings, and the project provides both informal and formal employment, contributing to local social upliftment.Although giving incentives for waste collection is a main feature of the programme, TrashBack is not just about giving handouts.The project hopes to encourage communities to take pride in their local environment and, in turn, be rewarded for doing this.“The TrashBack project wants to inspire a bit of competition in the local community,” he says.The initiative has already achieved great success in the few weeks it has been running.“The response has been phenomenal. In the first two weeks, over 270 participants got involved and we collected almost two tons of recyclable waste,” Wiid says. Since then, 370 participants have registered with the project.How it worksTo be eligible for rewards, participating individuals have to register with TrashBack. “Anyone can do it. We have children as young as four who have been registered by their parents and recently our top collector was 58 years old,” he says.The incentive scheme rewards top waste collectors from the community for their collection efforts. When community members bring in a set volume of recyclables, they are issued with points that are then registered under their personal profile on the uphinda-phindo! system.Those who have the most points at the end of each collection period are guaranteed a reward, with a predetermined number of rewards available for each collection period.Those who were not top collectors for a specific collection period will not lose their points. All the points are carried over to the next collection period, while the points of those who did receive rewards are reset to zero.Collectors who have earned rewards are notified by text message to come in and collect their goods.The rewardsRewards include food, clothing, shoes, shopping vouchers, stationery, mobile phone airtime and high school textbooks. “Before the project started we conducted a survey to find out what people would like and these are some of the items that were most popular,” he says.For the pilot project, TrashBack partnered with local sponsors to provide the incentives for recycling.A fish and chips shop, Fish on the Rocks sponsored meal vouchers and the Hout Bay SuperSpar provided 25 gift vouchers for the collectors to redeem.Siyavula, an open source school text book project, donated grade 10 physical science text books.He says that they are also thinking of introducing a lucky draw element to the project in the near future as an additional incentive.Finding a model that worksAlthough TrashBack is not the first scheme in South Africa to reward recyclers, Wiid says there is a great need for such projects in the country.With the benefits of rewards, the project can bring about social change. It has the potential to transform the way people think about recycling in communities across South Africa.In South Africa and other parts of the world there are many similar projects to promote waste collection for recycling.“In Brazil, the government subsidises discounted bus tickets for collection of waste. The other great thing about such projects is that collecting points also teaches people about saving,” he says.The pilot phase of initiative will run for the next six months and in this time the founding team will tweak the project model to ensure that it is sustainable.“Once we have a model that works, we want to take it to potential funders, government departments and potential sponsors to roll out the concept in other parts of Cape Town and the country,” he says.last_img read more

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POET expansion means big demand boost for Ohio corn

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Agriculture has long been a victim of its own success. When doubts have arisen in the past about whether farmers could produce enough, they have every time been swept away in a sea of over production.Because of its astounding bounty, agriculture has been able to move beyond providing food to meet other needs of society, including energy.“Farmers are seeing we have far too much commodity on earth. This is the same thing that happened in the 1980s when biofuels were born. The way we solved that problem was to build ethanol plants and use up that extra supply. Today commodities are again oversupplied and we need the support of rural America because there are competing interests in the energy market that do not want to see us grow. We are constantly battling and we need to work together for higher ethanol blends in our gas tanks that are great for the environment and also great for Ohio’s farmers,” said Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, at the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s Marion ethanol plant expansion. “In recent years, I know farmers are struggling with low commodity prices, which is creating lower farm incomes and decreasing land values. Biofuels have been the only real growth sector for ag commodities in the past decade.”POET has 27 ethanol plants and selected the central Ohio site to double production.“Ohio is a great place to do business. We love your business climate and your corn supply is great. Working with your state and local governments has always gone exceptionally well. Infrastructure, rail lines, natural gas availability, and electricity availability are all things that go into deciding where a plant will be,” Broin said. “In all of our 27 plants this one was No. 1 to expand next.”Ohio is an important location for serving domestic ethanol markets on the East Coast and also for serving potential export markets in the future.“We are working really hard on export markets. We are now exporting ethanol and DDGs,” Broin said. “Corn export markets have not changed in 35 years, but we are now exporting a billion gallons of ethanol going out of the country in the form of energy and adding jobs right here. We are creating new manufacturing jobs to export energy around the world.”POET Biorefining – Marion will expand its production capacity from the current 70 million gallons per year to 150 million gallons per year. The project will also increase production of dried distillers grains from the current 178,000 tons annually to 360,000 tons.“This expansion will add 26 million bushels of new corn demand annually for the local area and create new jobs and economic activity for rural Ohio,” Broin said. “We are excited that the Marion plant expansion can play a small role in this important arena.” This expansion is the largest project in the Marion area since the construction of the original POET Biorefining – Marion in 2008. With the groundbreaking in August, site work has officially begun, with project completion slated for the third quarter of 2018.The $120 million project will provide 225 temporary construction jobs and 18 to 21 new permanent jobs at the site, said Rick Fox, general manager of the Marion POET facility.“We chose here because the community and the farmers in the area are very supportive of what we want to do. We’re going to essentially double our volume here at this facility and double our purchases of corn and double the ethanol we produce. We’ll hire about 20 people and that is a significant impact for the surrounding community,” Fox said.  “When these plants were built the expansion was anticipated. A lot of the infrastructure is already existing and we are basically putting an identical plant right next to our existing plant.”In addition to the direct economic impact of the new plant, the increase in corn demand will have a broad benefit for corn producers.“This is a 26 million bushel corn market opening up. We get excited about 5 or 6 million bushel corn markets that are new for Ohio. This will take Ohio over a half billion gallons of ethanol produced a year,” said Tadd Nicholson with Ohio Corn and Wheat. “We’ve been working on ethanol for 25 years. It was one of the first things the first boards worked on with the new corn checkoff. They knew we could make ethanol more efficient and they started to invest in research.”With this continued big investment, Nicholson said there are several key policy concerns moving forward to further build upon Ohio’s existing ethanol infrastructure.“There is one really obscure thing — the Reid vapor pressure. It is one of the reasons we can’t sell E15 here in Ohio all year long. It is an obscure regulation that allows for a waiver for E10, but nothing above E10. There is a summer period where we have to shut down the sale of E15 but you can sell it during the winter months,” Nicholson said. “This waiver was put into place before we even had E15 as a certified fuel. It is unnecessary and unscientific and does nothing for the environment, but it does block the sale of E15. We’ve been working hard to get a waiver for this, but it is difficult to get anything small that makes good sense done in Washington, D.C. We know that 15% ethanol and higher blends only get better for the environment and it makes no sense why we have a block on E15.”The other key for ethanol is continued support from the initial levels specified in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).“In the RFS there are various tiers for the mandates each year. The first generation ethanol mandate is 15 billion gallons and we’ve reached that. The EPA stood behind that. There are some areas we could do better at, especially in the biodiesel area, but overall we are pleased with ethanol being at the statutory levels,” Nicholson said. “It is important to understand why the ethanol industry in Ohio would be expanding at all. In this country we have hit our maximum and we don’t need a whole lot more production for domestic use. It is about exporting ethanol — that is the big new frontier. Mexico is a great example. It is the first big market. Today they don’t use any but they are now able to go up to 10% in their fuel. It is a market that if fully realized, it would require almost Ohio’s annual production of corn. Even if it’s only half realized, it is a big market.”With the potential in Mexico and other countries looking to expand renewable energy, trade agreements are very important, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement currently being re-negotiated, said John Linder, a Morrow County farmer and National Corn Growers Association board member.“You don’t necessarily have to deliver right here to POET to get to appreciate the value of this expansion. Basis everywhere in the area is going to have to increase,” Linder said. “The future of ethanol exports is bright. We didn’t realize that Canada would be our No. 1 export for ethanol. That is absolutely wonderful for our markets. We have to realize that 31% of ag income comes from exports. Any place we can build relationships to keep what we have and build new markets for corn is important to us.”In the end, the POET expansion will benefit the Marion community, the local corn price, and the state of Ohio, said David Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.“POET’s expansion will create even more market opportunities for Ohio’s producers and help the state’s number one industry, food and agriculture, continue to grow. Agribusinesses recognize Ohio’s growth environment and ultimately all Ohioans — consumers and farmers— benefit from this growth,” Daniels said. “We are so happy that POET has made the investment and chosen to expand in Marion, Ohio. We want to congratulate the POET team. We know you had plenty of places where you could invest your capital and we appreciate you choosing Ohio.”Anthony Bush, Morrow County farmer and National Corn Growers Association board member, Keith Truckor, Fulton County farmer and chair of the Ohio Corn Checkoff Board, Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, John Linder, Morrow County farmer and National Corn Growers Association board member, and Kelly Harsh, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association board member, attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the POET expansion in Marion.last_img read more

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‘New’ sports are bringing the glory

first_imgIt may be tempting for armchair critics to rubbish India’s campaign in the Guangzhou Asian Games as the gold medal tally has been abysmally low till now, with the shooters and lifters being the culprits.However, having traversed many miles from one venue to the other in Guangzhou, Foshan and Dongguan to the rowing complex outside the city, it is clear there is something positive which has emerged for India from these Games. Unlike the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where venues were in clusters and travel was easy for the average fan, it has been a different experience in this part of China.Just to jog the readers’ memory, when we saw empty stands at venues in New Delhi, the first question was whether tickets had been hoarded, or printed in fewer numbers.A 100 Yuan ticket may not seem a big price, but not every venue in Guangzhou has reported high attendance. Questions on this subject were posed to the Olympic Council of Asia bosses, but their answers were evasive as they spoke of more tickets being put up on sale and how sponsors had perhaps bought blocks of tickets.Without going into the nittygritty, one thing is certain and that is how there are several sports for India where gains have been tangible. An assortment of gold , silver and bronze in rowing, silver in wushu, bronze in tough sports like swimming and gymnastics plus good results till now in volleyball have been eye-openers.At the risk of sounding invidious, I am convinced that it is the new individual sports where India has done well that we need to take a hard look at.advertisementWay back in 1994, when pistol prodigy Jaspal Rana won the standard pistol junior gold medal in at World Championship in Milan, nobody knew what this sport was all about. Agreed, we had maharajas shooting for the country.But the way shooting has evolved as a sport in India and how shooters have been performing in a plethora of championships is praiseworthy.There is no doubt, India have failed in shooting this time at the Asian Games. This should serve as a wake-up call for those who run the sport in the country, where their fetish for holding trial after trial for shooters is ridiculous.Agreed, present performances should be given weightage, but a comprehensive selection policy is a must where one does not rely just on trial scores to pick teams.The second aspect relates to quality of coaching. While in rifle we had Stanislas Lapidus as coach and Marcelo Dradi to help in shotgun, the pistol shooters, barring Vijay Kumar, were orphaned. The National Rifle Association of India needs to urgently address the pistol shooters’ demands.Look at sport like swimming, rowing, wushu, gymnastics and even hockey. The pattern is very clear. Either you get the best coaches from abroad or ensure at home you have committed coaches, like Ismail Baig in rowing, who work with the team like a father figure.In fact, one of the oarsmen was saying that when the rowing team trains in Hyderabad, Baig will even cook up a meal if required.Enough has been written on how coach Vladimir Chertkov ditched our star gymnast Ashish Kumar. But the fact remains Chertkov has made a huge difference and we need to find the right replacement.As for wushu, it is indeed amazing how in a sport where speed, technique, reflexes and style matter, India won a medal through Sandhyarani Devi.What this means is that there is obviously talent at home in these sports and we need not weep that all is lost. From now to the 2012 London Olympics, we need harder training for our athletes. And it is medals from the ‘unknown’ sports which need further encouragement as from rowing to swimming, the cry is for more exposure and training abroad.If in an expensive sport like shooting, the government can spend crores of rupees, some planning has to be done for a pool of athletes who can aim for glory at the 2012 London Olympics.Minus funding, Olympic and Asian Games sport in India will be dead. Since the government has now more or less made up its mind that it will not host the Asian Games in 2019, the least which can be done is invest in Indian sport.We need to get rid of this pessimism. Reality is, today Indian athletes do not go abroad just for exposure. There are talented people in various sports yearning for more encouragement.advertisementSince we cannot adopt a Chinese model for sports promotion, the Indian government needs to fund sport with tight controls in place.Hopefully for that, one will not need to wait till the 2011 budget for getting more money!last_img read more

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Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh offers DSP post to cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur

first_imgOwing to her stellar performance at the recently concluded ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 the 11 players received an overwhelming response from politicians to celebrities of the country.Harmanpreet Kaur, who is the toast of the nation, with an unparalleled score 171 not out in the semi final against Australia, has won an admirer in Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.The Punjab Chief Minister, immediately after the Indian Women’s team lost the match against England, congratulated the team by tweeting that they showed an excellent fight. Not only did he shower praise, the chief minister also went on to say that he would be happy to appoint Kaur as DSP if she desired to.Proud of @ImHarmanpreet, they gave an excellent fight to England in the World Cup final, would be happy to appoint her DSP if she desires.- Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) July 23, 2017The cricketers who put out a tough battle against England today were appreciated for their gritty performance.Incidentally, in 2011 the Punjab government had snubbed Kaur’s job application to the state police department even after playing for two years in the national team.ALSO READ |  Harmanpreet Kaur 171* India’s greatest World Cup innings since Kapil Dev’s 175*?Wanted to prove myself, thanks to God my plan worked: Harmanpreet Kaur after 171 not out  ALSO WATCH |  Harmanpreet’s stellar show in World Cup semi-final: From Moga to pinnacle of world cricketlast_img read more

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Jamaica Records Most Successful Winter Tourist Season

first_img The 2018/19 Winter Tourist Season has emerged as Jamaica’s most successful based on earnings and visitor arrivals, Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has said. Mr. Bartlett said the boom in visitor arrivals to Jamaica has spurred investment interests, while advising of the impending commencement of several projects to construct thousands of additional hotel rooms islandwide.Meanwhile, the Minister, who emphasised that coffee has several value-added components that are not fully exploited by local entrepreneurs, urged them to explore these and not focus solely on exporting only coffee beans.Noting that there is growing demand for volunteerism, “which will enable you to earn”, Mr. Bartlett said the Volunteer Training Programme afforded the participants an opportunity to explore this.Under the Tourism Linkages Network initiative, which is a partnership with the Tourism Product Development Company, participants are provided with Team Jamaica certification.Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (centre, back row), and Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Dr. Andrew Spencer (fourth left, back row), with several participants in the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Volunteer Training Programme, during an awards ceremony at the University of Technology (UTech) in St. Andrew, on Tuesday (April 16). Mr. Bartlett added that 121,000 persons directly employed in the sector, and another 375 who work indirectly, benefited from this out-turn. The 2018/19 Winter Tourist Season has emerged as Jamaica’s most successful based on earnings and visitor arrivals, Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has said.He notes that over the last three months of the season, which commenced on December 15, the industry welcomed nearly 800,000 stopover visitors while generating more than $1 billion in earnings.Mr. Bartlett added that 121,000 persons directly employed in the sector, and another 375 who work indirectly, benefited from this out-turn.“Our growth has been phenomenal. This is the greatest and most productive tourism winter season that Jamaica has ever seen in its history,” the Minister said.He was addressing the gathering at an awards ceremony for the first cohort of graduates under the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Volunteer Training Programme, at the University of Technology (UTech) in St. Andrew on April 16.Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left), converses with several of the participants in the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Volunteer Training Programme, during an awards ceremony at the University of Technology (UTech) in St. Andrew on Tuesday (April 16). He notes that over the last three months of the season, which commenced on December 15, the industry welcomed nearly 800,000 stopover visitors while generating more than $1 billion in earnings. Story Highlights The first cohort included 28 students from UTech and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.The programme aims to assist coffee farmers to boost production, and provide locals and visitors with experiences highlighting Jamaica’s authentic coffee culture.last_img read more

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Danny Ainge Rajon Rondo is Major Part of the

The Boston Herald talked to Danny Ainge on Monday and once again he was asked if the Celtics were at all interested in trading Rajon Rondo. Clearly, Ainge is getting a little annoyed by the question that has been asked repeatedly since Rondo tore his ACL.“I haven’t talked to any teams about Rajon Rondo,” Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, said.He has, however, fielded a number of calls wanting to know if the rumors are true.“It’s frustrating,” Ainge said.He reiterated that Rondo, still rehabbing from ACL surgery, is a major part of the Celtics’ plans going forward.Rondo has been involved in trade rumors for nearly three years now, which leads many to believe Ainge is shopping. Upon Rondo’s return, Boston will not be a better team. Rondo is perfect for trading right now. He has concerned the Celtics by being both an All-Star and a player of questionable growth for years.He’s a phenomenal point guard who doesn’t get along well with others, clashes with his coaches, struggles shooting, and can make the most amazing plays at both ends.If other teams are calling for Rondo, Ainge is listening. It may be he’s not being completely upfront on this one. read more

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