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South Africa grants 36 new mining licences

first_img11 May 2015The Department of Mineral Resources approved 36 new mining licences in the past year, Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told Parliament at the tabling of his department’s budget on Thursday.Depsite the recent challenges, including a tough economic climate, the department had approved more than 36 new mining rights projects in the past 12 months, with a potential to create about 6 000 jobs, he said.Ramathlodi said the country’s economy was recovering after last year’s protracted mining strike. In the first quarter of 2014, growth slowed to 0.6%.Tabling his budget vote on Thursday, Ramatlhodi called on the mining sector to respect and implement the framework agreement for a sustainable mining industry.“Last year, we had to deal with the aftermath of the protracted platinum strike arising from wage disputes,” he said. “I am aware that wage negotiations are currently underway within the gold sector and urge stakeholders to draw lessons from experience and avoid a repeat scenario.”Mineworkers’ monumentsRamathlodi said the government would continue to honour the memory of workers who lost their lives in mine-related incidents. Mineworkers would always be acknowledged for the role they have played in shaping the economy of the country, he said.He said the National Union of Mineworkers had recently drawn the department’s attention to a gravesite near Evander in Mpumalanga province, where about 1 000 workers were buried during the apartheid era and whose names and origins remain unknown. The minister said his department would ensure “decent monuments” would be erected for them.Fatalities dropRamatlhodi said the intensified monitoring and enforcement measures at mines was helping the department inch closer to its goal of esuring zero harm on mineworkers.Improved health and safety of workers at the mines had led to a reduction of about 86% in fatalities reported by the mines. From the 615 fatalities in 1993, the rate now stands at 84 in 2014, Ramathlodi said.“In fact, 2014 was the safest year ever for the mining sector with the lowest fatalities of 84 recorded. This year up to 31 March, figures show that there has been a 41% reduction in fatalities when compared to the similar period during 2014,” he said.Source: SAnews.govlast_img read more

Outdated thinking on wireless could cripple UK smart cities

first_imgHow Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi… Surveillance at the Heart of Smart Cities The former head of U.K. mobile telecoms giant O2 warns an antiquated “analog” mindset among government could stunt the development of smart cities.Ronan Dunne mused on the challenges facing smart cities in the U.K. He recently left his role as head of Telefónica’s U.K. mobile subsidiary O2 to take over Verizon’s wireless unit.See also: Who are smart cities initiatives actually benefiting?Dunne said that the U.K. government needs to make it easier to roll out next generation mobile communications infrastructure. The consequences of lagging in 5G advancements could hamper the development of smart cities and related technology like connected cars.“In the longer-term, we will forget this stupid debate about rolling out fibre cables,” said Dunne. “The UK taxpayers have to pay BT for digging holes in the ground which doesn’t make a lot of sense in this day and age.”Many mobile operators have pushed for changes to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) for years, and are lobbying for coverage in the impending Digital Economy Act.The next stage of wireless5G is the proposed next stage of wireless communications standards. Though it is currently in development, it is seen as a necessary evolution from the current 4G systems.This is due to the massive increases in wireless data that are already flowing thanks to the advent of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.IoT sensors form the backbone of smart city strategies, with everything from streetlights to manhole covers generating data that needs to be transmitted, analyzed and utilized.Many telecoms experts have opined that 5G’s future role as IoT enabler will create new revenue streams for operators.However, there have been doubts raised that the introduction of new the 5G infrastructure will be ultimately advantageous to telecommunication firms. New Street Research partner Andrew Entwistle warned earlier this year that 5G will not offer “any business case for a telecoms operator.” For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… Tags:#5G#Internet of Things#IoT#o2#regulation#Smart Cities center_img Related Posts How IoT Will Play an Important Role in Traffic … Donal Powerlast_img read more

‘Nuclearisation of India and Pakistan has acted as a deterrent to war’

first_imgIn Search of a Direction “Let nuclear warmongers bear in mind that a bloody battle does not determine what is right, but only what is left.” S. SANATH KUMAR, on e-mail Apocalypse Now Barking dogs do not bite and we have learnt with time that Pakistan barks whenever pushed into,In Search of a Direction “Let nuclear warmongers bear in mind that a bloody battle does not determine what is right, but only what is left.” S. SANATH KUMAR, on e-mail Apocalypse Now Barking dogs do not bite and we have learnt with time that Pakistan barks whenever pushed into a corner (“If Pakistan Nukes India”, June 10). However, if General Pervez Musharraf gambles on biting India with a nuclear strike, he will do so at his own peril as Pakistan will be wiped out. R.S. JOSHI, Bharuch In a nuclear war there are no winners, no losers and no survivors, only annihilation. There is still time for Musharraf to change his stance. But as the proverb goes, can a leopard change its spots? DR V.T. BALACHANDRAN, Chennai Why would Musharraf want to destroy terrorist camps in Pakistan when almost all successive rulers reign only by instigating the Pakistanis to become jehadis in their fight against India? G. BALATHANDABANI, Chennai Our no-first-use policy along with the possibility of a virtual extinction of our adversary should keep a nuclear exchange between the two countries at bay. NAVNEET DHAWAN, Delhi “Liberation is both a single woman’s bravado to conceal her insecurity and a euphemism for promiscuity.” H.R. BAPUSATYANARAYAN, MysoreTill now, the only mature act of Indian leaders has been to generate world opinion against Pakistan. It is time for them to exploit the situation and get Pakistan to enter into a dialogue with us to solve all disputes, including the Jammu and Kashmir one. SONIA GARG, on e-mail The nuclearisation of India and Pakistan has acted as a deterrent to war because the global community can no longer afford to look the other way. But for that, the current military brinkmanship would have burgeoned into another full-fledged, ruinous war. NALINI VIJAYARAGHAVAN, Thiruvananthapuram Despite a nuclear threat looming large on the subcontinent for the past few years, we cannot churn out gory facts about nuclear holocausts each time tensions escalate. Reporting the possible scenario is acceptable, making it look like the inevitable is not. NATASHA JOSHI, on e-mail The conjecture was inappropriate given the tension simmering between India and Pakistan. Instead of dealing with possible solutions for changing the hostile stances or elaborating on the developments in the conflict between the two countries, you chose to focus on the sensational subject of the effects of a nuclear war. Such writing only creates panic. A. ALEXANDER, on e-mail Perhaps your intention was to impress upon the enemy the dangers of nuclear warfare. Sadly, the images accompanying the article only helped in sparking fear in the minds of Indians. Humphrey Hawksley’s Dragonfire- an equally sobering but toned down interpretation of just such an event- makes for better reading. RISHABH GULATI, on e-mail Your article does not answer the obvious question: where would India’s command and control be to retaliate in case Pakistan’s nuclear weapons simultaneously destroy Delhi, Mumbai and a good part of north India? And who would be there to execute the counterstrikes? K.R. SHARMA, Mumbai Is there any way in which one could know if a missile is carrying a nu- clear warhead and how the targeted country should react to such an attack? COLONEL (RETD) RIAZ JAFRI, Rawalpindi Self Assertion It is baffling why India is looking for the cooperation and encouragement of other countries in its war against terrorism (“In Striking Distance”, June 3). In a real sense there is no friendship among countries, only interests-economic or political. It is about time India took an independent stand. DIPTANSU SHARMA, Guwahati Might is Right The prospect of war is never far but efforts to delay the battle should not be construed as India’s weakness (“Defending Kashmir”, June 3). In view of the present crisis,we have to defeat the nefarious designs of the enemy and fight a decisive battle. We cannot and should not suffer the terrorist torment forever. R.R. SAMI, Tiruvannamalai The present crisis reminds me of the words of former army chief General K. Sundarji: “Something deep down bothers me. We seem to be convinced that it is immoral to be strong and virtuous to be weak.” It appears that nothing has changed in the past two decades. C.B. DYUTHIKAR, Bangalore Blight Spirit After witnessing the state-sponsored anarchy during the wedding of Laloo Prasad Yadav’s second daughter, I would prefer dying in a war to living in a peaceful democracy where a Laloo-Rabri Devi combine keeps hurting my sensibilities beyond repair (“Married by the Mob”, June 10). SANKALP PRATAP, on e-mail After the wedding of Laloo’s first daughter, there was an income-tax raid at his house. Wiser, he chose the son of an IT commissioner for his second daughter. Sure enough, there was no raid this time. For the next girl in line, he would perhaps be looking for a groom from a judge’s family. DR MANASH R. GHOSE, Kolkata The only silver lining is that Laloo-Rabri have seven more children to marry off so at least seven more villages in Bihar like Hichhanbigha can look forward to salvation. SHITANSHU PRASAD, on e-mail What is frightening businessmen dealing in cars, furniture and jewellery in Patna? The fact that there is a large brood of the Laloo dynasty which will also be married in the near future. UDITA AGRAWAL, Delhi Historical Court The story of a real king was a welcome departure from the self-made royals of modern India-the politicians (“Crowning Glory”, June 10). India is known around the world as the land of maharajas but sadly we are forgetting our history while Britain continues to accord privileged status to its royalty. NANDITA THAKUR, Nadiad The Other Half It is a relief to know that from now on men can be equally responsible for containing a family (“The Male Initiative”, June 10). In a sense, RISUG spells the actual liberation of women. ANUPAMA RAISANGHANI, on e-mail Messiah of Mute Maneka Gandhi needs to be lauded for her courage and for staying true to her principles in a political world where nothing is constant, certainly not principles (“Custodial Crisis”, June 3). There will come a day when we will recognise that she is far more than a politician- she is a national resource. If not for her, savage humans would be running amok and ruining the world of animals. SANGEETHA LAKSHIMI-NARAYANAN, Bangalore Maneka Gandhi’s idea of enforcing the rules of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) is ridiculous. In the new era, rules that are almost four decades old are obsolete. It is clear that Gandhi is doing all she can to remain in the limelight. She does not realise that the purpose of experiments on animals is for the betterment of human beings and not to exercise cruelty on them. ANSHU MATHUR, Ahmedabad Since most diseases result from a faulty lifestyle or bad eating habits, why should animals suffer in the search for a cure for these man-made ills? There is no logic in killing animals in the name of research to develop drugs that will save human beings. We should switch to other alternative systems of treatments where no such experiments are required. If this is not checked in time it will also encourage the cosmetic industry to try such experiments and the poachers to have their way. DR RAJIV CHOPRA, Dehradun advertisementadvertisementClan PrerogativeYour article on 50 years of my ascension to the throne covered the event honestly and was visually very pleasing with excellent photographs (“Crowning Glory”, June 10). Unfortunately, when it comes to covering traditional India the media invariably highlights the trivia – the “chiffons and diamonds” – and the exotica – the “pomp and pageantry” with marginalising sidelines like “Indira Gandhi made them relics of the Raj.” The point here is that she may have pulled the official ceremonial red carpet from under our feet but the Gaddi of the clan is very much our own business. Incidentally, contrary to what the article says, my ascension to it was recognised in 1952 by the then President Rajendra Prasad and accordingly I was recognised as a ruler as defined in the Indian Constitution. The privy purses, the official perks and the privileges went with the XXVIth Amendment to the Constitution but the centuries-old Gaddi of the Rathores will remain till such time as the clan and brotherhood will it and with it the social customs, our lifestyles and order of doing things. GAJSINGH, Jodhpur Passion Play With a budget of RS 50 crore, Devdas is the most expensive movie in the history of Bollywood (“Devdas: Bollywood’s Biggest Gamble”, May 20). One must not be surprised at the cost as the investment is not purely in terms of money but also in art and creativity. Devdas could open up new vistas in an industry that is addicted to schmaltzy love stories. RAKESH MOHAPATRA, Bhubaneswar Sanjay Leela Bhansali should be lauded and not criticised for the huge budget of Devdas because unless we pump in money we cannot be the best in any field-perhaps the reason why we lag in the fields of entertainment and sports vis-a-vis developed nations. HIPPU KANUNGO, Cuttack Learning by Rut Our entire system needs to be faulted for the board examination stress: students who do not fare well are shunned in society, they do not get admission into good colleges and lose out on career openings that a prestigious college offers (“Board Games”, May 20). Even at the high school level, those not doing well are denied the subjects of their choice for Class XI. Some schools even refuse re-admission to Class XI. Parents too have become ambitious. Everyone forgets that a three-hour examination is not the only way in which a student can be judged. MAHESH KUMAR, Delhiadvertisementlast_img read more

10 months agoAston Villa boss Smith denies Chelsea want Abraham recall: I’d be amazed

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Aston Villa boss Smith denies Chelsea want Abraham recall: I’d be amazedby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveAston Villa manager Dean Smith says he would be surprised if Chelsea ended Tammy Abraham’s loan prematurely. Reports have claimed 21-year-old could be recalled by Chelsea and then loaned out to a Premier League club, with Wolves particuarly interested in signing the England international.Given Abraham has scored 16 goals for Villa this season, Smith insists the Blues are happy with the striker’s progress.”He’s enjoying himself as a person and developing as a player,” said Smith. “All three parties (Abraham, Chelsea and Villa) seem very happy with what’s going on.”There will always be speculation but I’ll be amazed if he, Chelsea or ourselves would want to upset that.” last_img read more

Video: Michigan State Fan Caught On Camera Checking Out Girl’s Backside

first_imgA general view of Michigan State's basketball court.EAST LANSING, MI – NOVEMBER 24: General view of the Breslin Student Event Center as the Michigan State Spartans play against the Santa Clara Broncos on November 24, 2014 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)Michigan State lost to Illinois Saturday night, but at least one Spartans fan may have been too distracted to notice. The below video, which has now gone viral, shows a MSU supporter somewhat infatuated with the female standing in front of him in the stands. He seemingly can’t believe his eyes when he looks at her backside.Discreet, he is not. The below video seems appropriate.last_img read more

Young Engineers to Help Develop Alpart/Gansu Industrial Park

first_img Approximately 60 engineering graduates, who are benefiting from skills upgrading in China, will be engaged in the expansion of the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart bauxite refinery and development of the Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone in Nain, St. Elizabeth, when they return to the island.The projects together represent investment of approximately US$6 billion by Chinese entity JISCO, generating approximately 60,000 jobs.The graduates, from the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTEC) and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) were sent to China in March on a one-year engineering course.Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Mike Henry, who is wrapping up a two-week visit to China, said the young people will have key positions at the bauxite company.The Minister, who was speaking in an interview with JIS News, said that training is part of the agreement signed with the Chinese firm in order to ensure exchange of skills and knowledge.“We intend to develop that process of continuation so that we can identify skills that are required and to train ahead of time, so that Jamaicans will be able to extend the skills that are necessary to all the changes in the mining industry,” he told JIS News.The Minister said that part of his visit to China is to examine areas of investment for Jamaicans in the Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone.The project is pivotal to Jamaica’s Logistics Hub Initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA). The graduates, from the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTEC) and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) were sent to China in March on a one-year engineering course. The projects together represent investment of approximately US$6 billion by Chinese entity JISCO, generating approximately 60,000 jobs. Approximately 60 engineering graduates, who are benefiting from skills upgrading in China, will be engaged in the expansion of the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart bauxite refinery and development of the Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone in Nain, St. Elizabeth, when they return to the island. Story Highlightslast_img read more

Does loosening Cancon rules hobble Canadian TV creators

first_imgOn Sunday, Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany became the first Canadian to win a lead actor Emmy for her role on a Canadian series. But many homegrown TV creators worry she could be the last, given a recent change by Canada’s broadcast regulator.The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) revealed on Aug. 25 it was dropping the minimum certification points required for projects seeking access to funds that support Canadian independent productions.According to the CRTC, the decision provides “flexibility” for creators and could “facilitate the hiring … of non-Canadian actors or creators, who may increase a project’s attractiveness and visibility in international markets.” Advertisement Advertisement Login/Register With: But Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson says it’s a “vote of non-confidence.” Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

Innu elders annual walk ends early following snowmobile incident

first_imgJustin Brake APTN NewsOn Monday, Tshaukuesh “Elizabeth” Penashue embarked on her annual trek to Nutshimit — the Innu term for “on the land” — but had to turn back after an incident that may have left her injured.A Facebook post by Penashue’s daughter-in-law Tuesday said the elder was on the back of a snowmobile trying to pass through slush on the ice when the snowmobile tipped over and Penashue hurt her knee.“She says that she didn’t want to go back home. She really wanted to stay out in Nutshimit. She says that there was a lot of slush on the ice which made the skidoo tip over while she was on the back of it,” Bernice Webber Penashue wrote in the Facebook post.“She said that she will wait for her sons to finish the Cain’s Quest [snowmobile] Race and talk to them with her family members about her walk. She is hoping she can still continue her walk if all is well with her knee. She is still waiting for results at the hospital. Please keep her in your prayers.”For almost 20 years the respected Innu elder from Sheshatshiu First Nation has led the weeks-long journey into the Labrador backcountry as a way to highlight the importance of maintaining the traditional ways of the Innu, and of preserving Innu culture and identity.Among the greatest threats to loss of language, culture and traditions are large-scale industrial development projects in Nitassinan, the Innu word for “our land,” she said.Penashue cites the Voisey’s Bay mine and the Muskrat Falls hydro project as two projects where she feels government did not listen to the people and went ahead with developing on Innu lands in ways that would hurt Innu people.“Sometimes the government said, oh, the people, he don’t hunt, he don’t go anymore in the bush; it’s not true. It’s not true,” she said ahead of her walk, which began Monday afternoon.“We want to show government, Innu people…respect the land, animals, and the water. And my people, the children, young children — I don’t want the children get lost, our culture.”Penashue opens her walk to anyone who would like to join her, but she’s particularly interested in bringing along Innu youth, who she says are at risk of losing their identity.“I explain many times [to] my grandchildren — I said it’s very, very important, school, and our culture. You’re Innu. Don’t ever ever think, ‘I’m a white person’. No. You got to know, you Innu people. And you’ve got to learn. I don’t want you to get lost. Our culture is so important.”Fifteen-year-old Jolene Tshakapesh of Natuashish First Nation was one of several youth who are accompanying Penashue this year.She said Monday she was looking forward to “[going] hunting with Elizabeth,” and to “enjoy the nature.”Penashue said she wanted to show those joining her the traditional Innu ways of hunting and setting up camp in the woods — and that she planned to share stories before bed in the evenings.Lucas Meilach-Boston traveled to Sheshatshiu from Toronto; it was to be his second walk.“I just wanted to come back again and be part of it again, and be here to walk in solidarity with Innu people as they celebrate their culture and their heritage and show their strength,” he said Monday.“What Elizabeth wants from [the walk] is what I want to share, and that’s to show people how important the land is, and how important animals are, and how important the trees ard, and that the Innu people know how to respect those things, and that their way of life is strong — and that it’s important and still exists.”Penashue has long advocated for Innu rights in the face of colonial encroachment on Nitassinan and amid the ongoing dispossession of Innu people from their homeland.She has been arrested while defending her land from the harms of the NATO low-level flying exercises in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, and subsequently the Voisey’s Bay mine.In recent years she has been an outspoken critic of Muskrat Falls, which she says threatens the water Innu and wildlife depend on.In 2014, she wanted to walk to the Muskrat Falls site to visit the falls one last time before they were flooded. Nalcor Energy, the Crown corporation building the dam, denied her request.“Old people very sad what happened, like Muskrat Falls, and Voisey’s Bay. It damage our land, our river, and…we want to make government understand why the people always concerned.”Penashue and the approximately 12 others were planning to hike across Lake Melville to the base of the Mealy Mountains, where they would set up camp for a day or two before continuing into the mountains.The walk was to last three weeks.last_img read more

How Worried Should Real Madrid Bayern Munich And Barcelona Be

Bars in orange indicate Real Madrid seasons with Ronaldo.Source: Opta Sports 2015-1627.7– In its last three league matches, Bayern has taken only 1 point — a draw against Augsburg — and scored just one goal while conceding six. However, its expected goals difference for those matches is roughly 4.8 to 2.5. These are performances typically good enough to win in the Bundesliga, and the points should come.But even the expected goals numbers do not reflect outright dominance. Bayern has struggled to produce spectacular attacking numbers. In particular, 30-year-old striker Robert Lewandowski is having a surprisingly down season, which comes on the heels of a surprisingly down World Cup. After scoring 27, 29 and 37 nonpenalty goals in the past three seasons between domestic and Champions League competition, with underlying numbers to match, the Polish forward has scored just two nonpenalty goals this season. His expected goals per 90 minutes has been more than 0.8 each of the last three seasons, and it’s down to 0.28 now. Arjen Robben and James Rodriguez have carried the shooting load for Lewandowski so far, but that has meant a decline in their creative passing numbers, which has weakened the whole team. It is possible that this is just an early season slump or World Cup-related fatigue, and Lewandowski will snap out of it. If he doesn’t, Bayern could be in for a disappointing year.Striker problems also have beset Real Madrid, but for them it’s even worse. Real sold Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer and shocked observers by simply not replacing him. The club eventually purchased Mariano from Lyon, but no one expected that to be a like-for-like replacement. In nearly the same number of minutes last season, against weaker competition, Mariano attempted 130 shots, exactly half of Ronaldo’s 260. Mariano has yet to start a match this season for Real; Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have now been promoted to the point men in the attack after serving as Ronaldo’s support crew for years. The results have been as expected. 2010-1125.0– The big leagues in continental Europe have been dominated by their superpowers for years. Bayern Munich won the German Bundesliga title each of the past six seasons. In 13 of the past 14 seasons in Spain’s La Liga, either Barcelona or Real Madrid has taken the crown. The trio has also combined to win the past six Champions League titles. But right now, you can say something about these teams that’s been largely unthinkable for nearly a decade: They look vulnerable.Bayern is sixth in the Bundesliga, 4 points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund and trailing smaller clubs like Werder Bremen and Hertha BSC as well. Sevilla currently tops La Liga, with Barcelona and Madrid trailing close behind, but the two Spanish giants have each won just four of eight matches this season. Over the past decade, both teams have typically won at least 28 of their 38 matches per season, and the lowest win total either has posted was 22. These numbers are well off their pace.How worried should the superpowers of soccer be? The Soccer Power Index suggests reason for both confidence and concern. At the start of the season, Bayern was projected as 82 percent favorites to win the title. That has fallen, but only to 70 percent. Real Madrid has seen its La Liga title chances drop from 41 percent to 37 percent, but Barcelona’s have actually increased to 47 percent from opening at 43. For now, it seems likely that these teams have enough of a head start in talent that they can still win their domestic leagues.The Champions League may be another story. At the beginning of the year, the continental big three plus Manchester City were dead even with one another at the top of the projections. Now City leads, Juventus has caught up, and the gap to Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain is narrowing. And this is particularly striking because all three clubs are still massive favorites to progress out of their groups. What’s changed is that the Soccer Power Index is starting to downgrade its projections.The early season struggles of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are not merely a matter of a few bad bounces. Expected goals, a measure of the quality of scoring chances created and conceded, shows that this is no fluke of hot or cold shooting — these sides’ underlying production numbers are off, too. The following chart shows the goal difference and expected goal difference for Barcelona, Bayern and Real Madrid in their first 10 matches of the season between domestic and Champions League play since 2010-2011, according to data analytics firm Opta Sports. For all three clubs, these are among their slowest starts to the season ever.1Bayern Munich has played only nine matches, so its numbers are prorated to 10 to match up with the rest of the chart. 2018-1919.4– 2011-1232.4– 2012-1330.5– Real has consistently produced about 2.5 or more expected goals per match over its first 10 games of the season, and that number is under 2.0 per match this year. The attack is no longer elite, and it’s hard to see how Real can improve without an injection of talent. Real Madrid looks headed for year in the wilderness as merely one of Europe’s 10 to 15 best teams rather than a top Champions League contender.For Barcelona, the problems are more complicated but perhaps no less severe. And unlike with Bayern and Real, they do not start at the top. Lionel Messi is still Lionel Messi, with 11 goals and four assists. Rather, Barcelona is struggling in the midfield, and that’s leading to defensive problems. Last season, Barcelona conceded just 29 goals, second-fewest in La Liga. It is hardly unusual for the Catalan side to put up dominant defensive numbers, but last year’s effort involved a change in tactics from manager Ernesto Valverde.In 2017-18, Barcelona relaxed the high press that had been a feature of its play at least since Pep Guardiola’s reign ended in 2012. With midfielders content to allow opposition teams to hold possession in less dangerous areas, Barcelona broke up only about 48 percent of new open-play possessions for the other team before they completed three passes. This year, Valverde has brought the old press back, and Barca is breaking up 55 percent of new opposition possessions.This has not worked to their advantage. The 2017-18 team conceded shots at a reasonably high rate — 444 shots, seventh fewest in La Liga. But it prevented quality chances by keeping numbers back and not allowing passes in behind the defense. Barcelona’s 0.087 expected goals per shot was second-best in La Liga after only Atletico Madrid. Valverde drilled his team to defend deeper rather than dominate midfield, and it worked. This year, the new style is having the opposite effect. Barca’s expected goals per shot conceded has exploded to 0.148, the worst in La Liga.Barcelona’s midfield depends on two 30-year-olds, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, and last year Valverde’s tactics already suggested he knew he needed to cover for their deficiencies in the press. The results of the new, more aggressive midfield tactics confirm he was right to pull back.So Barcelona’s problems seem fixable, at least compared to those of Real Madrid and Bayern. If Valverde can accept once more the limitations of his midfield and play the more basic, defensive style he rolled out last season, there should be more than enough talent in the forward line to carry Barcelona deep in the Champions League. But if the team persists with this press, the Catalan side may end up in just as much trouble as Bayern and Real.Check out our latest soccer predictions. SeasonExpected goals through first 10 matches 2013-1425.3– Among all these starts to the season, the only one that was significantly worse than the three this year was Bayern Munich’s in 2010-11, when the club ended up in third place in the Bundesliga on 65 points.These numbers suggest three things. First, Bayern has been better than its table position suggests. Its goal difference is the second-worst of any of these clubs since 2010, but its expected goal differential is merely eighth-worst. Barcelona’s good goal difference, by contrast, is covering up problems in the underlying numbers. And Real Madrid is simply in trouble. 2017-1828.6– 2014-1526.5– 2016-1724.9– Losing Cristiano Ronaldo has zapped Real’s offenseReal Madrid’s expected goals through the first 10 matches of its season, 2010-19 read more