“We came up with different management options for the growers, they followed one, and eventually the pathogen was eliminated,” Buck said. “Like other rust fungi, it causes lesions and produces spores primarily on the foliage,” he said. “Basically, it makes the plant unattractive to everybody but a plant pathologist.” Ugly flowers don’t sell well. When word of the disease got out, one Florida grower lost 30 percent of his business from a large supermarket chain, Buck said. A University of Georgia scientist wants to keep an exotic disease from striking one of the most popular cut flowers: gladiolus. “When a pathogen affects a crop that’s imported, it becomes a trade issue,” he said. “You can’t move plants around that have exotic diseases on them.” Best control measureBuck was asked to join an expert panel to evaluate the extent of the pathogen’s infestation and to develop a plan to control it. Gladiolus rust is a fungal pathogen that attacks the leaves of gladiolus and a few other flowering plants. It was first found in the U.S. in 2006 when it showed up on plants in two Florida nurseries. Florida is now free of this particular rust, but it’s now in California. “We haven’t found it in Georgia. Knock on wood,” he said. Hurricane travelNo one knows how the rust reached the U.S, but experts speculate its spores hitched a ride from Central America or South America on hurricanes that moved over the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, Buck said. The disease is in Mexico, and some Mexican-grown gladiolus flowers are sold in the U.S. “This pathogen is not native to U.S. and [is] of quarantine significance. So the government quarantined these large 700- to 800-acre farms,” said James Buck, a plant pathologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. To keep the disease from crossing the border into the U.S., Buck is working with Alberto Botin of the University of Guadalajara (in Mexico) and Steve Jeffers of Clemson University. They are testing fungicide treatments and evaluating varieties in fields south of Mexico City. “Since it’s new to the U.S, we don’t have much management data,” he said. “The disease is down there, and we want to keep it down there.” Dishonest touristsBut that can be difficult, he said. Inspectors do search incoming plants at airports, shipping ports and border crossings. “Unfortunately, people sometimes fib when inspectors ask them if they are bringing anything into the country,” Buck said. “It’s a slippery slope. “Tourists stop at a market, buy some beautiful inexpensive fresh flowers, hide them in the trunk of their car and don’t realize they are creating a huge problem. It definitely keeps my job interesting.”
In a note to aid groups, seen by Reuters, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed Russia’s withdrawal.”The United Nations is concerned about the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the notification mechanism and is examining the implications of this decision for humanitarian personnel and operations in Syria,” the UN note said.The United Nations said in the note that it would discuss the situation further with Russia. It also said all parties – whether they participated in the deconfliction arrangement or not – were still bound by international humanitarian law.”If Russia thinks this will help them escape accountability for war crimes, they’re dead wrong,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director for Human Rights Watch. “We and other groups will continue to investigate and document the deliberate bombings of hospitals and other grave crimes in Syria.” Topics : “We do not see withdrawal as a threat to the humanitarian workers on the ground if information provided is accurate and trustworthy,” Nebenzia told Reuters.Russia has provided military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war, which erupted after Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in 2011.Russia and Syria have said their forces are not targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure and have long-questioned the sources used by the United Nations to verify attacks.Under the UN deconfliction arrangement, the locations of UN supported facilities and other humanitarian sites like hospitals and health centers had been shared with the warring parties in a bid to protect them. However, the United Nations has questioned whether it made them a target. Russia said on Thursday it has quit a voluntary United Nations arrangement that aimed to protect hospitals and humanitarian aid deliveries in Syria from being hit by the warring parties.Russia made the decision following an internal UN inquiry in April found it was “highly probable” the Syrian government or its allies carried out attacks on three healthcare facilities, a school and a refuge for children in northwest Syria last year.Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused “various ‘opposition groups’ and terrorists through their proxies” of abusing the humanitarian deconfliction process. Russia believed the United Nations should give any relevant information to Syrian authorities, he said.
Johannes Waldstein, FanAIFanAI Inc., a platform that ‘unlocks the value of fan data in order to optimise sponsorship engagement within esports’, has today announced the closure of a $2.5m (£1.7m) round. This makes it an impressive total of $4.5m (£3.2m) raised to date. The round was led by Courtside Ventures and CRCM Ventures, and saw participation from a number of parties including BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, BDS Capital, Catalyst Sports, Deep Space Ventures, Everblue Management, Greycroft GC Tracker Fund, M Ventures, Rosecliff Ventures, and Sterling VC.FanAI is already in use by a selection of top teams including Cloud9, OpTic Gaming, Overwatch League’s LA Valiant and NYXL, and Cav’s Legion GC – the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA2K League team. This new round of funding will reportedly be used to expand the product and data science teams and round out the client engagement structure needed to support the startup’s growth.Despite the clear upward trajectory of esports, esports enthusiasts still spend significantly less than fans of traditional sports. The latest Newzoo report, out yesterday, stated that the typical esports enthusiast is expected to spend an average of $5.49 annually. By way of comparison basketball fans reportedly spend an average of $15 each. The aim of FanAI is to change this disparity by ‘driving potential for monetization across the entire esports ecosystem’, while providing a personalized experience for fans to engage the most effectively with sponsors.Johannes Waldstein, Founder & CEO of FanAI noted: “Brands and sponsors are flooding the esports industry, but are still struggling to prove return on investment in order to justify marketing spend. Until now, this was next to impossible within the esports ecosystem.“FanAI unlocks the value for our esports clients by providing unique purchase behavior and lifestyle data on their fanbase, opening the doors for sponsors and brands to invest with confidence.”FanAI enables esports teams, leagues, game publishers, event organisers, broadcasters, agencies and brands to understand, to grow, to predict and, finally, to monetise esports audiences by analysing purchasing behavior, psychographic, social and demographic information. With this vital data on board, sponsors can utilise it in order to improve their ROIs (return on investment) with targeted sponsorships. Rights holders meanwhile can turn audiences into a far better monetised asset, whilst the idea is that consumers stand to benefit too from better segmented content.Deepen Parikh, Partner at Courtside Ventures commented: “As esports investments have grown by orders of magnitude, the sponsorship ecosystem remains an enormous and untapped opportunity. From teams and publishers to agencies and brands, the lucrative demographic of the gaming industry has sparked a lot of interest.“Johannes and the FanAI team have created a rapidly growing and scalable platform that for the first time enables all parties in the ecosystem to apply actionable data and measurement to their purchasing decisions.”Esports Insider says: Another considerable sum of money invested into the esports ecosystem, by way of fan monetistion platform FanAI. With the stature of clients already on board including OpTic Gaming, NY Excelsior and Cloud9 the team at FanAI must be doing something right. With this extra funding we’d be surprised if we didn’t see some more big name clients added to that list in the near future.