If Humans Can’t Stop Corruption, Maybe Computers Will

first_imgSometime in February, we heard of two major developments in the area of computing. First, International Business Machines (IBM) announced that its supercomputer the WATSON, which has a vast brainpower, will be utilized in Africa to attempt to solve some of the continent’s most pressing problems. Days later, we heard of the QUANTUM COMPUTER from D-Wave Systems, a 13-year old company located in British Columbia. Each of these supercomputers is expected to bring radical changes to our way of living. But can these computers eradicate corruption which is Africa’s biggest problem?  In today’s article, I discuss these two supercomputers based on a Time Magazine and BBC report. I begin with IBM’s Watson!The WATSON is being brought to Africa by IBM in a bid to fuel development and spur business opportunities across the world’s fastest growing continent.IBM Watson is expected to improve and transform the agriculture, education, transportation and health sectors in Africa. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze huge amounts of data and can also understand human language. The WATSON’S cognitive capabilities hold enormous potential in Africa. It will help the continent to achieve in the next two decades what today’s developed markets have achieved over two centuries, according to a BBC report.The WATSON/Africa project dubbed, Lucy, after the earliest known human ancestor fossil which was found in east Africa, will cost $100m (£61m) and take 10 years to complete. Its ability to bring transformation to Africa has been compared to how mobile money has transformed banking and finance on the continent; even though this is yet to pick up in Liberia. But how is this transformation going to happen?In the area of agriculture, the WATSON is expected to help by analyzing weather patterns using vast amounts of data and its computational powers. In the education sector, schools with poor or non-existent computer resources could link into the cloud-based system via smartphones or portable devices with internet connectivity to benefit from resources made available by the WATSON. In the health sector, doctors, nurses and field workers could use the system to help diagnose illnesses and identify the best treatment for each patient. The WATSON could also help answer why sub-Saharan Africa currently accounts for 22% of all cervical cancers and suggest new ways to treat and prevent the disease.In the transportation sector, the WATSON will be able to analyze the state of Africa’s roads and its ability to offer routes to avoid potholes could save headaches. And analytics on the state of country roads and congestion levels in cities could prove useful for logistics firms that currently have to negotiate pothole-filled roads and traffic chaos. In other words, if a company like DHL or if the Ministry of Post has a delivery system and uses the WATSON, it will be able to improve on delivery times and schedules.The supercomputer is said to have the ability to help Africa leapfrog other economies. Clever data mining has already proved its worth in Morocco where it has been used to improve how crops are grown by predicting weather, demand and disease outbreaks.The QUANTUM COMPUTER: The QUANTUM COMPUTER has the potential to solve problems that would take conventional computers centuries, with revolutionary consequences for fields ranging from cryptography to nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals to artificial intelligence, according to the Time Magazine.Developed by D-Wave, a small Canadian company backed by Jeff Bezos, NASA, and the CIA among others, the quantum computer currently cost around $10 million a piece. The vast increase in power could revolutionize fields as disparate as medicine, space exploration, and artificial intelligence. But what is the quantum computer?A QUANTUM COMPUTER is a computation device that makes direct use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. QUANTUM COMPUTERS are different from digital computers based on transistors. They use Qu-bits or quantum bit which is the counterpart in quantum computing to the binary digit or bit of classical computing.The difference between a normal computer and a QUANTUM COMPUTER is that a normal computer has bits and each bit [is either] zero or one. A QUANTUM COMPUTER has quantum bits. These are made out of quantum particles that can be zero, one, or some kind of state in between. In a normal computer, a particular calculation might go through all the different possibilities of zeros and ones for a particular calculation. Because a QUANTUM COMPUTER can be in all the states at the same time, you just do one calculation. So it can be much quicker.Time magazine lists 9 Ways in which Quantum Computing could herald radical changes for several areas including but not limited to the ones that follow:Make air planes Safer by improving on software that is currently too complex for classical computers. Using quantum computing to analyze the vast amount of data collected by telescopes and seek out Earth-like planets or discover new planets. Win elections—Campaigners will comb through reams of marketing information to best exploit individual voter preferences. Boost GDP—Hyper-personalized advertising, based on quantum computation, will stimulate consumer spending. Detect cancer earlier—Computational models will help determine how diseases develop. Help automobiles drive themselves—Google is using a quantum computer to design software that can distinguish cars from landmarks. Reduce weather-related deaths—precision forecasting will give people more time to take cover. Cut back on travel time—sophisticated analysis of traffic patterns in the air and on the ground will forestall bottlenecks and snarls. Develop more effective drugs—by mapping amino acids, for example, or analyzing DNA-sequencing data, doctors will discover and design superior drug-based treatments.The current QUANTUM COMPUTER, the D-Wave Two, of which there are five in existence, is a black box 10 ft. high. Inside is a cylindrical cooling apparatus containing a niobium computer chip that’s been chilled to –459.6°F, almost 2° colder than the Boomerang Nebula, previously considered the coldest place in the universe?Will QUANTUM COMPUTERS look like desktops and laptops any time soon? Think about earlier computers like the ENIACs and others which filled rooms and were very bulky. It took years before we saw the computer as a desktop and laptop. This is the same with the QUANTUM COMPUTER. The very first QUANTUM COMPUTERS will probably fill a room. It’s going to take us a while to get to desktops. What’s going to happen is that we are going to see hybrid computing devices that have a quantum chip and a classAll that has been said about both computers, especially the WATSON which is expected to help Africa will face several challenges if it cannot find ways to eradicate Africa’s most UBIQUITOUS problem; CORRUPTION. Corruption has impacted all of the areas the WATSON intends to address: education, transportation, health, agriculture, politics, etc. It has retarded every level of advancement that Africa should have experienced and it is often perpetrated by leaders, those in authority and even the “ ordinary citizen.” Until the WATSON or any other computer finds a way to eradicate corruption all efforts to bring development to Africa will be just that; another EFFORT!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Brendan Rodgers out, one of these seven talented managers in at Anfield?

first_img 7 7 5. Marcelo Bielsa (Free agent) – The Argentinian tactician did some excellent work with Chile, Athletic Bilbao and Marseille in recent seasons, but quit his job with the French side in August after conflicts with the management. He’s a perfectionist and gets his teams to work hard in pursuit of glory. 7 2. Carlo Ancelotti (Free agent) – One of the most decorated managers in the history of the game, Ancelotti is currently available. Controversially sacked at the end of last season by Real Madrid, he helped them claim their tenth European Cup/Champions League title in 2014. Elsewhere, he won the Champions League twice with AC Milan, the Premier League and FA Cup double with Chelsea and the Serie A and Ligue 1 titles with AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain respectively. 7 A disappointing 1-1 draw with Norwich City has cranked up the pressure on Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.Fans are beginning to call for the Northern Irishman’s head as the Reds struggle for form in the Premier League, despite his tactical tinkering.Jurgen Klopp is a man many of the Anfield faithful want to see in the hot seat should Rodgers find himself dethroned in the coming weeks, but who else could the Reds get in to replace him? talkSPORT takes a look.Click the right arrow to see seven possible replacements for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool… 6. Andre Villas-Boas (Zenit St Petersburg) – The ex-Chelsea and Tottenham boss has already revealed he’ll leave the Russian side at the end of the season, but the Reds could tempt him to quit earlier should Brendan Rodgers vacate the throne at Anfield. He won the Russian Premier League last season in his first full campaign. 7 1. Jurgen Klopp (Free agent) – take a look at six more possible successors to Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager by clicking the arrow above – The former Borussia Dortmund boss is a wanted man after his spell at the Westfalenstadion. His excellent tactical work and humorous characters will endear him to the Anfield faithful. Liverpool could talk to him in the coming months about the possibility of replacing Rodgers, but will the lure of managing a side in the Champions League rule out the Reds? 4. Frank de Boer (Ajax) – The Dutchman was linked with the Liverpool job when Brendan Rodgers took over and has since admitted he’d love to manage the club (and Tottenham). He won four Eredivisie titles in a row before Ajax lost the crown to PSV Eindhoven last year. De Boer was also named JFK Greatest Man in 2013 by JFK magazine in the Netherlands. 7 3. Unai Emery (Sevilla) – With Sevilla failing to register a single win so far this season in La Liga, the talented Spanish boss could possibly be tempted to jump ship. He guided his men to back-to-back Europa League triumphs in 2014 and 2015 but lost key players Aleix Vidal and Carlos Bacca in the summer. 7 7. Lucien Favre (Free agent) – A week ago Borussia Moenchengladbach had called Favre ‘unfireable’ as they struggled to follow up last season’s success but after another defeat at the weekend, he chose to leave on his own accord. He saved the club from relegation in 2011 and got them into the Champions League for the first time with a third place finish last season. Liverpool could snap up a talented manager if they choose to move for him.last_img read more

South Bay Pakistanis shocked by killing

first_imgAs the first female prime minister of Pakistan, Bhutto cultivated ties to the West and pushed for a more democratic society, drawing the ire of Islamic radicals. She also clashed with current President Pervez Musharraf, whom she sought to defeat in the Jan. 8 elections that may now be postponed. The evolution of Pakistani society in the past decade – via the spreading of satellite television and cell phones – put her in a precarious position, said Nayyer Ali, a Long Beach doctor and Muslim Public Affairs Council board member. “Part of that social change has been the conflict between social and conservative forces,” said Ali, who writes for the weekly Pakistan Link newspaper. “And Benazir was at one of the fault lines and victimized by this.” By midmorning, the Pakistani Consulate’s phones were jammed with calls as officials scrambled to make sense of what Pakistani Counsel K.K. Ahsan Wagan called “a national tragedy.” Pakistan already is in the throes of the Islamic prerequisite three days of mourning for its former prime minister. Several Southern California-based members of the Pakistan People’s Party, of which Bhutto was head, have also been in Pakistan helping with election campaigning. “We still are numb and can’t believe this has happened,” Adnan Shafiq, a Riverside resident and a senior vice president with the Pakistan People’s Party’s Southern California chapter, said in a call from Punjab. Shafiq and other party members were especially hard-hit by the assassination. “She was our only hope,” Shafiq said. “I don’t know what will happen now.” But in Los Angeles, many Pakistani-Americans still expressed hope that their homeland will continue moving toward democracy and away from military rule. “I do feel that processes that are in place will continue and that this will only be a temporary setback,” said Torrance electronics businessman Lodhiz Pervaiz. “I personally feel that we will see a good democratic process going forward, and I hope the elections are not put off.” Some, though, were not as optimistic. “I’m afraid the democratic system has taken a back seat over there,” said Adnan Khan, a Walnut resident and a businessman in the medical-technology field. “Pakistan is so much a part of the war on terror that right now it seems that while much of the world is fighting the war on terror, Pakistanis are fighting with each other.” Still, most local Pakistani-Americans appeared hesitant to join many of their countrymen in Pakistan and blame Bhutto’s death on Musharraf, who said Thursday that the assassination was the work of terrorists. Instead, some Pakistani-Americans wondered about the wisdom of Bhutto’s return to her country after years in exile. “The situation there was dangerous for her,” Pervaiz said. “It was especially so in that she was moving out so freely among the people.” Others like Ashraf Ali were even more direct: “She didn’t know the ground realities of Pakistan that have changed dramatically since 9-11.” Like Dada, Ashraf Ali was educated at PAF Model School and St. Patrick’s College in Karachi, where Bhutto’s husband also studied. And he said he believes Pakistani expatriates fail to understand the changes in their homeland. “Since 9-11, Pakistan has had all kinds of terrorists coming in from other countries, and it has changed the gun culture,” he said. “People who have been out of the country a long time don’t realize it. There’s a drug culture that has been channeled out of Afghanistan to Pakistan.” For Dada, his friend’s assassination is particularly disturbing because he feels that despite Bhutto’s intelligence and sophistication, she was a victim of hubris – the belief that her charisma, popularity and political ego protected her. “She was such an intelligent lady but at the same time power-hungry,” Dada said. “It’s beyond understanding. Part of you doesn’t want to accept the reality of what has happened.” tony.castro@dailynews.com Staff writer Paul Clinton contributed to this report. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! . ALSO: » Bhutto assassination throws wrench into US policy » Bhutto’s life a sweeping epic of blood and controversy » VIDEOS: Bhutto killed in suicide blast, Bhutto’s life » MORE PHOTOS Assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was remembered Thursday by countrymen in Southern California as a charismatic figure who raised expectations but whose family has been plagued by tragedy. “Her father was assassinated and so were two brothers – her whole family has been wiped out just like the Kennedys,” said Los Angeles Pakistani-American businessman Yaqub Dada, a longtime personal friend of the Bhutto family. “Why? Only God knows the truth, but basically, everything is related to power and nothing else.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonDada, who attended high school and college with Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was part of the group of 40,000 Pakistani-Americans in Southern California stunned by news of the assassination. “I started getting calls telling me of her death around 5:15 (a.m.),” said Syed Ashraf Ali, president of the Pakistani American Arts Council in Los Angeles. “These are very, very truly tragic events. Everyone knew she was in danger but, still, it’s shocking.” At Al-Noor restaurant in Lawndale, owners Hasan and Ghosia Zaidi watched news coverage with their three sons. The family emigrated in the 1990s from Karachi. “It’s shocking,” said son Syed, 21. “My mom woke up my father. Someone actually shot her. It’s sad.” last_img read more

Ufa vs Rangers: Europa League preview, team news, predicted XIs, plus more

first_img 2 England’s most successful clubs of the past decade, according to trophies won Rangers take on Ufa in Russia on Thursday afternoon knowing they have one foot in the Europa League group stages.Manager Steven Gerrard, though, can’t take anything for granted as they only take a slim 1-0 scoreline away with them. 2 Every current Premier League club’s best kit from the past decade Rangers star Ryan Kent in action against Ufa. Best clips, calls and talkSPORT moments of 2019, feat Hearn, McCoist and more Latest Football News BEST OF gameday How the Premier League table could change after the Boxing Day fixtures possible standings Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade highlights Every Championship club’s best signing of the decade, including Taarabt and Dack RANKED MONEY Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? silverware smart causal Steven Gerrard (Rangers): “I always knew we were going to get some bumps in the road, and this [draw with Motherwell is] our first real bump.“It is my job to make sure this is out of the system as quickly as possible and re-prepare for a huge game in midweek.”Team news:Ross McCrorie returns from his domestic suspension, but Borna Barisic is ineligible for the second leg of the tie. Jamie Murphy, Graham Dorrans, and Jordan Rossiter are all sidelined, while Lassana Coulibaly is also a major doubt. REVEALED impact Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions And Gerrard will be urging his men to forget their upcoming Old Firm derby, which threatens to distract his team from their European adventure.What is being said?:Sergei Tomarov (Ufa): “We were very excited to play in Glasgow, it was unbelievable for us, that atmosphere with 50,000 fans. Okay, we don’t have as many here but we have the best fans and they always support us.“We hope their positive energy rubs off on us against because it always gives us power and strength. Our supporters are our 12th man.” Tottenham v Brighton LIVE: talkSPORT commentary and team news for Boxing Day opener Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade Will Rangers star Kyle Lafferty start against Ufa? Predicted XIs:Ufa: Sheliya; Zhivoglyadov, Diveev, Alikin, Tabidze, Jokic; Salatic, Paurevic; Igboun, Sysuev; Bizjak.Rangers: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Flanagan; Jack, Ejaria; Candeias, Arfield, Kent; Morelos.last_img read more

Zidane does not want Manchester United job, claim reports in France

first_img Jose Mourinho’s position as Manchester United manager is uncertain 2 Zinedine Zidane enjoyed amazing success in two-and-a-half years as Real Madrid boss The Red Devils have failed to win any of their last four matches and stuttered to a goalless draw against Valencia at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.Mourinho has been criticised by a number of former United stars, as well as supporters, and is the favourite to be the next Premier League boss to lose his job.Speaking on Tuesday night, Paul Scholes said of the Portuguese: “He’s coming out in press conferences and constantly having a go at players, he’s having a go at people above him because he’s not getting what he wants.“I think his mouth is out of control and he’s embarrassing the club.” Zinedine Zidane has little interest in taking over from Jose Mourinho as Manchester United manager, according to reports in his native France.The legendary former midfielder is currently out of work having left Real Madrid in May despite leading the club to three consecutive Champions League trophies. With Mourinho currently under intense pressure at United following their miserable start to the season, Zidane has been made the odds-on favourite to get the job should it become available.But, according to Le Parisien, the 46-year-old does not seem interested in becoming United manager should the offer present itself.It has been suggested that Zidane is currently enjoying his life in Madrid and is concentrating on spending more time with his family, including watching his four sons play football.Furthermore, the report says Zidane’s closest friends are not aware of any desire to manage United because he hasn’t even mentioned it.For now, one day taking a job at Juventus seems more likely while the report also states his inability to speak English might prevent him from managing in the Premier League too.Zidane is still widely regarded as the frontrunner to take charge of United should they dispense with Mourinho’s services. 2last_img read more

A FEAST OF OPERA, BALLET AND CLASSICAL FOR CENTURY CINEMAS

first_imgCentury Cinemas in Letterkenny is lining up a feast of live performances.A feast of culture is to be screened at Century Cinemas.Be it ballet, opera or classical music, people from across Donegal need no longer jump on a plane and go to London or New York to enjoy the Nutcracker or classical symphonies.All the events will be streamed live via satellite and will include Live From New York the world’s greatest opera from the stage of the Metropolitan, to the captivating Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and not forgetting the invigorating Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin. The METs Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky will open the season on Saturday 05 October, followed by many other amazing performances such as Puccini’s Tosca and Mozarts Così Fan Tutte.The Bolshoi Ballet presents Grigorovich’s Spartacus and Sleeping Beauty is the Christmas ballet this season, while the South American conductor Gustavo Dudamel will lead the way with the Berlin Philharmonic.Further events are yet to be announced.To book your ticket and find out more information on all our events please visit www.centurycinemas.ie or call the box office on 074 9121976.  A FEAST OF OPERA, BALLET AND CLASSICAL FOR CENTURY CINEMAS was last modified: September 30th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Century Cinemaslast_img read more

PUBLIC MEETING ON TEXT ALERT SCHEMES AS PEOPLE URGED TO LOOK OUT FOR EACHOTHER

first_imgA public meeting is to be held for anyone interested in setting up a community alert or text alert scheme.The Chair of the Donegal Joint Policing Committee, Cllr Noel McBride, is urging interested to attend in the Radisson Hotel, Letterkenny on Monday 24 March at 8pm.“This meeting is being held to inform people about the setting up of Community Alert and Text Alert schemes and to help and assist groups throughout the county who have already set up, who are in the process of setting up or who wish to look at ways of linking with other groups in conjunction with the Gardaí. All members of the public are invited to attend” said Cllr McBride. In attendance will be Chief Superintendant Terri Mc Ginn, Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Paul Wallace and Vanessa Clarke from Muintir na Tire.There are currently over 30 registered community alert groups in Donegal and Cllr Noel Mc Bride believes that we need to strengthen this network of community alert groups.He stated “the key message that we want to get across is that people need to look out for each other. That is the main objective for these meetings, getting the public involved and working with each other and the Gardaí in protecting our public and neighbourhoods from petty crime sprees.”This message was echoed by Sergeant Paul Wallace Crime Prevention Officer in his address to the Joint Policing Committee on Friday last. He stated that “we need to be good neighbours and we need to keep a look out for older people and vulnerable neighbours whilst always respecting their independence. By working together we can create a better and safer community”. PUBLIC MEETING ON TEXT ALERT SCHEMES AS PEOPLE URGED TO LOOK OUT FOR EACHOTHER was last modified: March 18th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:schemestext alertlast_img read more

JUDGE ASKS GARDAI IF MAN WHO HEAD-BUTTED CELL CAUSED MUCH DAMAGE TO WALL

first_imgA Judge asked Gardai if a man who head-butted the walls of a holding cell caused much damage to it.Richard Kelly was arrested by Gardai for being intoxicated in Carrigans on October 2nd, 2014.However, when taken to Letterkenny Garda station h began headbutting the walls and split his head open. Garda Inspector Goretti Sheridan told Letterkenny District Court that it cost €200 to clean up the blood and to have the cell disinfected.Judge Paul Kelly asked “I take it the cell withstood the impact of his head?”Solicitor Patsy Gallagher told the court that the 33 year old farm labourer from 455 New Houses, Carrigans had a serious issue with alcohol.He said Kelly was prepared to reimburse the taxpayer he €200 it cost to clean the Garda cell.Judge Kelly heard the accused was seeking to attend the Whiteoaks Addiction Centre and adjourned the case until February 23rd.JUDGE ASKS GARDAI IF MAN WHO HEAD-BUTTED CELL CAUSED MUCH DAMAGE TO WALL was last modified: February 9th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:bloodcellheadbuttletterkennyRichard Kellylast_img read more

Rio delivers a simple, but spirited, Olympic welcome

first_imgRIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — What it lacked in flash, Rio made up for with feeling.With a limited budget, the consequence of a biting recession that roiled preparations for South America’s first Olympics, Brazil laced its high-energy opening party for the games of the 31st Olympiad with a sobering message of the dangers of global warming.Graphic projections of world cities being swamped by rising seas set Rio de Janeiro’s otherwise fun and festive gala apart from the more self-congratulatory and lavish celebrations that Beijing and London wowed with in 2008 and 2012.“The heat is melting the icecap,” a voice intoned in the Maracana Stadium. “It’s disappearing very quickly.”But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. After all, nowhere parties quite like Rio.Supermodel Gisele Bundchen shimmered to the tune of “The Girl from Ipanema.” Fireworks formed the word “Rio” in the skies. The colossal Christ the Redeemer statue was bathed in Brazilian yellow and green. Dancers, all hips and wobble, grooved to thumping funk and sultry samba.After one of the roughest-ever rides from vote to games by an Olympic host, the city of beaches, carnival, grinding poverty and sun-kissed wealth celebrated Brazil’s can-do spirit, biodiversity and melting pot history.The crowd roared when Bundchen sashayed from one side of the 78,000-seat arena to the other, as Tom Jobim’s grandson, Daniel, played his grandfather’s famous song about the Ipanema girl “tall and tan and young and lovely.”In a video preceding the show, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the games “celebrate the best of humanity” and appealed for an Olympic truce, calling on “all warring parties to lay down their weapons” during the two weeks of sporting achievement.There were times after the International Olympic Committee selected Rio ahead of Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid in 2009 when it seemed that the city of 6.5 million people might not get its act together for the world’s greatest sporting mega-event. The spreading health crisis of the mosquito-born Zika virus kept some athletes away. Promises to clean up Rio’s filthy waters remained unfulfilled. The heavy bill for the games, at least $12 billion, made them unpopular with many. Heavily armed security stopped a small group of protesters from getting close to the stadium ahead of the ceremony.But with more than a dash of “gambiarra,” the Brazilian art of quick-fixes and making do, Rio is ready.Just.“Our admiration is even greater because you managed this at a very difficult time in Brazilian history. We have always believed in you,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.The honor of officially declaring the games open fell to Michel Temer, Brazil’s unpopular interim president, who was loudly jeered and faced shouts of “out with Temer.” He was standing in for suspended President Dilma Rousseff. Her ouster less than four months ahead of the games for alleged budget violations was one of many spanners in the works of Brazil’s Olympic preparations and impacted the opening ceremony itself. Fewer than 25 foreign heads of state were listed as attending, with others seemingly staying away to avoid giving the impression of taking sides amid Brazil’s leadership uncertainty.The cannonball-shaped cauldron was lit by Brazilian marathoner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima. At the 2004 games, an Irish spectator wearing a kilt, knee-socks and a beret tackled de Lima while he was leading the Olympic marathon. Instead of gold, he fell back to take bronze.Another cauldron was lit in the city’s port area early Saturday that will be displayed for Rio residents to enjoy.Greece, the historical and spiritual home of the games, led the march by athletes into the stadium. They were joined by a first-ever Refugee Olympic Team of 10 athletes, displaced from Syria, South Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia. Their flag-bearer, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, fled war in South Sudan and ran her first race in a refugee camp in northern Kenya. Only Brazil’s team, which marched last, drew a louder roar from the crowd than the refugees.The athletes were given tree seeds, plus cartridges of soil. When the seeds sprout, they will be planted in a Rio park.With “USA” emblazoned on the back of his jacket, Michael Phelps carried the flag for the U.S. team, the largest with 549 competitors. At his fifth and last Olympics, it was the first time the record holder of 22 medals had marched in an opening ceremony, having skipped previous ones to save energy for competition.On behalf of all 11,288 competitors (6,182 men; 5,106 women), Brazilian two-time Olympic champion sailor Robert Scheidt pledged that they won’t take banned drugs — an oath likely to ring false to fans after the scandal of government-orchestrated cheating in Russia. As a consequence, Russia’s team was whittled down from a hoped-for 389 athletes to around 270.Iran picked a woman, archer Zahra Nemati, as flag-bearer for its team made up overwhelmingly of men. Another woman pushed Nemati’s wheelchair. She was paralyzed in a car accident as a teenager.Shoals of samba dancers flowed in a rainbow of colors, but many showed less flesh than normal for Brazil, seemingly mindful of their global TV audience.After the grandeur of Beijing’s opening ceremony and the high-tech, cheeky inventiveness of London’s, Rio’s was earthier and less swish but more sobering with its gloomy environmental look at the future and deliberate penny-pinching. Creative director Fernando Meirelles said their budget, slashed by half as Brazil’s economic recession bit ever harder, “is 12 times less than London, 20 times less than Beijing.”“It is pretty tacky to be overspending,” he said. “It is not a good message for the world. When 40 percent of the homes in Brazil have no sanitation, you can’t really be spending a billion reals for a show.”“In the end I feel good that I am not spending money that Brazil hasn’t got.” TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more