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Sisal

Sisal, with the botanical name Agave sisalana, is a species of Agave native to southern Mexico but cultivated and naturalized in many other countries. It yields a stiff fibre used in making various products; the term sisal may refer depending on the context. It is sometimes referred to as "sisal hemp", because for centuries hemp was a major source for fibre, other fibre sources were named after it; the sisal fibre is traditionally used for rope and twine, has many other uses, including paper, footwear, bags, carpets and dartboards. They are being used as fibre reinforcements for composite fibre-glass and cement products; the native origin of Agave sisalana is uncertain. Traditionally it was deemed to be a native of the Yucatán Peninsula, but there are no records of botanical collections from there, they were shipped from the Spanish colonial port of Sisal in Yucatán. The Yucatán plantations now cultivate henequen. H. S. Gentry hypothesized a Chiapas origin, on the strength of traditional local usage.

Evidence of an indigenous cottage industry there suggests it as the original habitat location as a cross of Agave angustifolia and Agave kewensis. The species is now naturalized in other parts of Mexico, as well as in Spain, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, many parts of Africa, Madagascar, Réunion, China, the Ryukyu Islands, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, the Solomon Islands, Polynesia, Fiji, Florida, Central America and the West Indies. Sisal plants, Agave sisalana, consist of a rosette of sword-shaped leaves about 1.5–2 metres tall. Young leaves may lose them as they mature; the sisal plant has a 7–10 year life-span and produces 200–250 commercially usable leaves. Each leaf contains an average of around 1000 fibres; the fibres account for only about 4% of the plant by weight. Sisal is considered a plant of the tropics and subtropics, since production benefits from temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius and sunshine. Sisal was used by the Aztecs and the Mayans to make crude fabrics and paper.

In the 19th century, sisal cultivation spread to Florida, the Caribbean islands, Brazil, as well as to countries in Africa, notably Tanzania and Kenya, Asia. In Cuba its cultivation was introduced by Fernando Heydrich in Matanzas; the first commercial plantings in Brazil were made in the late 1930s and the first sisal fibre exports from there were made in 1948. It was not until the 1960s that Brazilian production accelerated and the first of many spinning mills was established. Today Brazil is the major world producer of sisal. There are both negative environmental impacts from sisal growing. Propagation of sisal is by using bulbils produced from buds in the flower stalk or by suckers growing around the base of the plant, which are grown in nursery fields until large enough to be transplanted to their final position; these methods offer no potential for genetic improvement. In vitro multiplication of selected genetic material using meristematic tissue culture offers considerable potential for the development of improved genetic material.

Fibre is extracted by a process known as decortication, where leaves are crushed and brushed away by a rotating wheel set with blunt knives, so that only fibres remain. Alternatively, in East Africa, where production is on large estates, the leaves are transported to a central decortication plant, where water is used to wash away the waste parts of the leaf; the fibre is dried and baled for export. Proper drying is important as fibre quality depends on moisture content. Artificial drying has been found to result in better grades of fibre than sun drying, but is not always feasible in the developing countries where sisal is produced. In the drier climate of north-east Brazil, sisal is grown by smallholders and the fibre is extracted by teams using portable raspadors which do not use water. Fibre is subsequently cleaned by brushing. Dry fibres are machine combed and sorted into various grades on the basis of the previous in-field separation of leaves into size groups. Sisal farming caused environmental degradation, because sisal plantations replaced native forests, but is still considered less damaging than many types of farming.

No chemical fertilizers are used in sisal production, although herbicides are used this impact may be eliminated, since most weeding is done by hand. The effluent from the decortication process causes serious pollution when it is allowed to flow into watercourses. In Tanzania there are plans to use the waste as bio-fuel. Sisal is considered to be an invasive species in Florida. Traditionally, sisal has been the leading material for agricultural twine because of its strength, ability to stretch, affinity for certain dyestuffs, resistance to deterioration in saltwater; the importance of this traditional use is diminishing with competition from polypropylene and the development of other haymaking techniques, while new higher-valued sisal products have been developed. Apart from ropes and general cordage, sisal is used in low-cost and specialty paper, buffing cloth, geotextiles, carpets, wire rope cores, Macramé. Sisal has been utilized as an environmentally friendly strengthening agent to replace asbestos and fibreglass in composite materials in various uses including the automobile industry.

The lower-grade fibre is processed by the

2016 Moto3 season

The 2016 Moto3 season was a part of the 68th F. I. M. Road Racing World Championship season. Danny Kent was the reigning series champion but did not defend his title as he joined the series' intermediate class, Moto2; the riders' championship title was won by Ajo Motorsport rider Brad Binder, after a second-place finish at the Aragon Grand Prix gave him an unassailable lead over his title rivals with four races remaining. Binder, who finished each of the first seven races on the podium, took the championship lead after the second race in Argentina, took his first Grand Prix victory at the Spanish Grand Prix – starting from 35th on the grid. With four additional wins prior to Aragon, Binder was never headed in the championship thereafter to become South Africa's third world motorcycle racing champion, after Kork Ballington and Jon Ekerold. Binder took two further victories before the end of the season, in Australia and Valencia, en route to an eventual championship winning margin of 142 points over his next closest competitor.

Compared to Binder's seven wins, no other rider was able to take more than two, with eight fellow riders taking at least one win during the 2016 season. A fourth-place finish in Valencia sealed the runner-up position for Gresini Racing's Enea Bastianini. Despite missing two races through injury and a slow start to the season, Bastianini achieved six podium finishes in nine races, including his only win of the season in Japan. Five riders were in position to take third place at the finale. Bagnaia was taken out of the race by Gabriel Rodrigo, with a ninth-place finish for Navarro allowing him to take third position by five points. Both riders took two victories during the season. Mir and Di Giannantonio battled on-track in Valencia for the top rookie position, which went to Mir, as he finished second to Di Giannatonio's fifth position. Mir won the Austrian Grand Prix, one of two rookies to win during 2016. Four other riders won races during the season. Single race wins went to Romano Fenati in Austin, before a mid-season dismissal from Valentino Rossi's team, Niccolò Antonelli won the season-opening race in a photo-finish in Qatar, while John McPhee took his, Peugeot's, first Grand Prix win in wet conditions at Brno.

With nine wins during the campaign, KTM won their fourth Moto3 constructors' title in five years, finishing 32 points clear of Honda, with six wins. All four full-season manufacturers took. French oil and gas giants company Total was selected to become official fuel supplier of Moto2 and Moto3 beginning from 2016 onwards, replacing Eni after five seasons as a fuel supplier of Moto2 and Moto3; the following Grands Prix took place in 2016. The 2016 season looked set to see the return of the Austrian Grand Prix to the series' schedule after 19 years absence; the race will be held at the Red Bull Ring, the venue of the last Austrian Grand Prix, when the track was called A1 Ring. Having been on the calendar since 2008, the Indianapolis round has been discontinued. A provisional entry list was announced on 7 November 2015. Joan Mir, Andrea Locatelli, Fabio Quartararo joined Leopard Racing, filling seat vacated by Danny Kent and Efrén Vázquez who moved up to Moto2 and Hiroki Ono joining Honda Team Asia.

2015 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion, Bo Bendsneyder set to make his Moto3 debut with Red Bull KTM Ajo, filling the seat vacated by Miguel Oliveira who moved up to Moto2. Karel Hanika rode for Platinum Bay Real Estate, replacing Alessandro Tonucci moves to Moto2. After Catalan GP, Hanika replaced by Danny Webb for 2 rounds. Replaced by Marcos Ramírez for the rest of season. Fabio Spiranelli made his Moto3 debut, joining CIP. Replacing Remy Gardner who moved up to Moto2. Fabio Di Giannantonio made his Moto3 debut, joining Gresini Racing after riding for them as a replacement for Andrea Locatelli in the 2015 Valencia GP. After 2015 season as wildcard in Valencia, Nicolò Bulega made his Moto3 debut, joining Sky Racing Team VR46. Adam Norrodin rode for SIC Racing Team. Arón Canet made his Moto3 debut, joining Estrella Galicia 0,0. Juanfran Guevara joined RBA Racing Team. Replacing both Isaac Viñales moves to Moto2 and Ana Carrasco left the team. Khairul Idham Pawi made his Moto3 debut. Both Stefano Valtulini and Lorenzo Petrarca will rode for 3570 Team Italia, filling seat vacated by both Stefano Manzi and Manuel Pagliani.

Notes The official website of Grand Prix motorcycle racing

Catherinette

Catherinettes was a traditional French label for women of twenty-five years old who were still unmarried by the Feast of Saint Catherine. A special celebration was offered to them on this day and everyone wished them a swift end to their single status. Since the Middle Ages women had been under the protection of St Catherine. Women participated in group devotion to the saint and were responsible for the confection of a beautiful headdress to "cap" her statue each year on 25 November. Young women left the group when marrying, hence "capping Saint Catherine" became synonymous with "still being a single woman at/after 25". Following the changes in the status of women and marriage in society, this custom progressively died all over France, with the exception of the hatmaking and dressmaking trades, wherein unmarried women, after they turned twenty-five, would attend a ball on St Catherine's Day in a hat made specially for the occasion. Although the term has become rather old-fashioned in France, it is still sometimes used to refer to 25-year-old single women.

The term spinster or old maid used to be used in a similar context in the English-speaking world. Legend of the Catherinettes and its English translation