2015: A year of sports scandals with a silver lining

first_imgPARIS (AP):For the past 12 months, scandals off the field of play eclipsed exploits on it. Beyond the usual cases of doping and cheating that are sadly common in modern sports, shocking corruption in football and athletics begged the question of whether the vast riches and accompanying greed generated by professional sports are rotting the entire multibillion-dollar industry to its core.On the upside, the stink got so bad that 2015 also saw the forces of law and order sit up and take action, opening criminal investigations, making high-profile arrests and recovering tens of millions of ill-gotten dollars. That legal pressure sped change, notably at football’s governing body FIFA, forcing administrators to abandon some of their old-school, shoddy, back room and amateur management practices, and enact reforms that should make them behave more professionally.”What we’re going through now, it’s like a tectonic shift,” says International Olympic Committee veteran Dick Pound. “Sports organisations are coming to realise – voluntarily or involuntarily – that they can no longer operate outside of the larger social and legal orders.””In the old days, sport was well outside of anything that governments had focused on,” Pound said in an Associated Press (AP) interview. “They were all private organisations and they were kind of run informally like clubs and so on, and have tried to pretend that they can do that even in 2015 – and they can’t.”Hope for brighter futureIn short, this was a year that left a sour taste for sports fans, but also offered some hope of a brighter future. It was bookended by “Deflategate,” which saw star NFL quarterback Tom Brady accused of throwing deliberately underinflated (and theoretically easier to grip) footballs in January’s AFC title game on his way to winning the Super Bowl, and by the disgrace of Sepp Blatter, kicked out of football in December forunethical conduct, ending his17 scandal-scarred years aspresident of FIFA.His heir-in-waiting, France’s former midfield star Michel Platini, also was banned for a dubious $2 million payment that Blatter approved for the FIFA vice-president in 2011. Their appeals of the eight-year bans that decapitated the leadership of the world’s most popular sport, as well as ongoing criminal probes in Switzerland and the United States of football bribery and corruption, promise to cloud FIFA’s ambitions for a fresh start with the election of a new president in February.In track and field, a cornerstone of the Olympic Games, a World Anti-Doping Agency-ordered investigation that Pound led concluded explosively in November that doping in Russia was not only widespread and deep-rooted, but also likely tacitly sanctioned by President Vladimir Putin’s government.A resulting blanket-ban from competition could see Russian track and field athletes miss the Rio de Janeiro Olympics unless the sporting powerhouse can convince the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that it has made real changes. In March, the IAAF’s ethics commission also started investigating alleged doping cover-ups in distance-running power Kenya, which topped the world championships medal table in August.Those probes were just the beginning of a scandal that threatened to sink the IAAF in 2015, gravely undermining not only the federation, but trust in the entire sport it oversees. In November, three months after stepping down as IAAF chief, Lamine Diack was taken into police custody in France, suspected of pocketing more than US$1.1 million in an alleged scheme to blackmail athletes and hush up their doping cases.Diack, who presided at the IAAF for nearly 16 years, is under formal investigation for corruption and money laundering. If proven by France’s investigating magistrates, the allegations could be even graver than football’s massive scandal. The US Department of Justice’s sprawling football case alleges more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks in the selling of media and marketing rights. Although grievous, the schemes seemingly didn’t affect the outcome of matches. The alleged wrongdoing at the IAAF, however, raised the possibility that on-track results were corrupted by off-track criminality, and that dopers may have robbed competitors of medals by paying the sport’s guardians to look the other way. Contacted repeatedly by the AP, Diack’s lawyer has refused to comment.Nike scandalTasked with cleaning up the mess is British former middle-distance running great Sebastian Coe, elected in August as Diack’s successor. But just months into his new job, the credibility of the chief organiser of the 2012 London Olympics suffered a blow when the BBC uncovered in November that Coe had spoken privately to an executive at Nike, his long-time personal sponsor, about hosting the 2021 world championships in Eugene. The Oregon city about 100 miles south of the sportswear giant’s headquarters outside Portland was subsequently and controversially awarded the competition without an open bidding process.Coe denied that working for both the IAAF and Nike represented a conflict of interest and severed his ambassadorial role with the company. But the affair left doubts about Coe’s judgement and, more broadly, fed into a dominant theme of 2015, which was that sports administrators often appeared chronically out of touch with a shift in the public mood against their clubby ways, and in worst cases, their criminal habits.”It simply won’t work in this day and age,” Pound said. “You have to be more transparent, which doesn’t mean that you run around buck naked, but people have got to understand how a decision was reached, and by whom, and for what reasons, and that sort of thing that never used to happen. There was a code of silence.””Sport has got to change …,” he added, “or it’s going to be changed.”last_img read more

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Irving, short-handed Celtics earn win over Mavericks

first_imgBoston has won four straight and six of their last seven. The Celtics are 8-0 against the West.The Celtics played without Jaylen Brown and Morris. Brown sat with an inflamed right eye, while Morris was out due to left knee soreness.It forced Stevens to rely heavily on his reserves. They came through in the fourth, leading a 10-0 run to put Boston back in front 80-73.Dallas fought back to tie it up at 85. But the Celtics ran off eight straight points to push their lead to 93-85 with 2 minutes to play.“Just covering for one another. We’re a team. We’re pros for a reason,” said Terry Rozier, who led all Celtics reserves with 12 points. “You put all that hard work in and you have to be ready.”ADVERTISEMENT Mavericks: At Milwaukee on Friday.Celtics: Begin three-game trip Friday at San Antonio.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Celtics: Stevens said both Brown and Morris are expected to be with team when it departs for three-game trip on Thursday.QUOTABLE“Our first half was really good. Their second half was better, and that’s the game.” — Dallas coach Rick Carlisle.WILD THIRDThe Mavericks took a 59-47 lead earlier in the third quarter. But the Celtics erased the deficit with a 15-2 run. It was part of a fast-moving quarter that saw the lead change hands eight times.Barnes had 12 points in period for Dallas. Horford paced Boston with 10 points.NOEL SURGERYCarlisle announced before the game that forward Nerlens Noel will have surgery later this week in Cleveland for a torn ligament in his left thumb.“He’ll be out for several weeks,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know for how long.”Noel has appeared in 18 games this season, but hasn’t played since Nov. 22.DIRK’S LONGEVITYNowitzki hasn’t said whether this will be his final NBA season at age 39. He’s already tied Kobe Bryant for the most seasons spent with one franchise at 20. Another season would give him the outright record, but Carlisle said he believes it is still an open question.“I believe it’s going to depend on how he’s feeling. I don’t know any NBA player that wouldn’t want to continue playing into oblivion,” Carlisle said.UP NEXT That ability to bounce back was on display again to help them remain perfect against the Western Conference.Kyrie Irving had 23 points and five assists, and Jayson Tatum added 17 points and 10 rebounds and the short-handed Celtics slipped past the Dallas Mavericks 97-90 on Wednesday nightFEATURED STORIESSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’SPORTSBrian Heruela arrival bolsters Phoenix backcourt, defenseBoston’s Al Horford finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.“In the NBA you can have afternoons like today, where all of a sudden, you’re down to 11 guys, and the next man up has got to be ready,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. Jo Koy: My brain always wants to think funny Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks with 19 points and seven rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki added 16 points and six rebounds.Boston’s bench outscored their Dallas counterparts 36-23 for the game.“They have a good team, they keep coming,” Nowitzki said. “I wasn’t really good tonight. I didn’t close the game the way I wanted to.”Dallas had just three turnovers in the opening 24 minutes and led 57-47 at the half.The Celtics fought through periods of sloppiness offensively, committing seven turnovers in the first two quarters. They were also outscored 20-12 in the paint.Though it’s early, Horford said it feels good to be 22-4 after all they’ve been through.“I’m very happy,” he said. “Going into the season you never have any expectations. This is good. We want to keep building on it.”Stevens is also cautiously optimistic.“I feel good about where we’re headed,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”TIP-INSMavericks: Were outrebounded 53-45. … Were outscored 34-32 in the paint. Aldridge helps balanced Spurs top Heat View comments Phivolcs records 2 ‘discrete weak ash explosions’ at Taal Volcano Margot Robbie talks about filming ‘Bombshell’s’ disturbing sexual harassment scene Kiss-and-tell matinee idol’s conquests: True stories or tall tales? Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Coco’s house rules on ‘Probinsyano’ set It’s too early to present Duterte’s ‘legacy’ – Lacson Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, drives to the basket against Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr., right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Irving scored 23 points as the Celtics defeated the Mavericks 97-90. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are no strangers to adjusting on the fly this season.They recovered from Gordon Hayward’s injury on opening night and the early absence of Marcus Morris to reel of 16 straight victories following an 0-2 start.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours LATEST STORIES Jake says relationship with Shaina ‘goes beyond physical attraction’last_img read more

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Mayweather ready to start MMA training soon

first_imgAustria, San Miguel remain cautious as 3-1 deficit ‘still manageable’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina LATEST STORIES Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew “I’m going to start soon,” Mayweather said. “We’ve been texting back and forth. We talked a couple times, but we’re going to start working out real soon.”Mayweather, 41, came out of retirement last year for a one-off boxing bout against MMA star Conor McGregor in Las Vegas.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkAlthough Mayweather has previously ruled out any chance of him taking part in an MMA fight, speculation that he could yet be persuaded has continued.Mayweather told TMZ he believed he would need between six to eight months to get ready for any potential MMA bout. Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Scarlett Johansson, Sterling K. Brown among SAG Awards presenters Recto seeks to establish Taal rehab body to aid community, eruption victims MOST READ “I’ll probably need a little bit longer (than three months),” Mayweather said. “A little bit longer. Even if it takes six to eight months, whatever it takes, we just want to make sure everything is done correctly, and everything is done the right way.“I can wrestle. My wrestling game is not that bad. On a scale from one to 10, I would say it’s probably a seven. We can take it up to a nine, if possible. Of course my hand game, on a scale of one to 10, it’s 100. The kicking game, on a scale from one to 10, it’s probably a four.“We have to tweak a few things to take things to the next level.”Mayweather has claimed he made $300 million from his cross-combat superfight against McGregor last year, one of the richest fights in history.ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown Floyd Mayweather Jr. APLOS ANGELES – Former welterweight boxing king Floyd Mayweather has teased the possibility he may come out of retirement for a mixed martial arts bout, revealing that he plans to start training for the octagon later this year.In remarks to TMZ.com, Mayweather said he planned to accept an offer from former UFC champion Tyron Woodley to train with him.ADVERTISEMENT Cabuyao City rising above the ashes through volunteerism In Liverpool, Man United sees the pain and path to recovery Conor McGregor seeks to emerge from controversy in UFC comeback View commentslast_img read more

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Levi Williams School Inducts Student Leadership

first_imgThe Levi C. Williams Middle School in Congo Town has inducted into office a new leadership of the 4th student council government to stir the affairs of the school for the next academic year.Performing the induction ceremony recently, the deputy director-general of media services at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Mr. Ledgerhood Rennie, Sr., cautioned the students to remain disciplined and respectful at all times if they should succeed as students and good citizens.Rennie further urged the new student leadership to serve with humility and be selfless, while at the same time, making the best out of every critical issue.    Those inducted under the leadership of the 4th Student Council government were the president, Jeanne-Marie Johnson, vice president, Olga Kulee Bloh, and the secretary-general, Tred Service. Others were the speaker, Nula Vapila, student representative to the council, Dakale Momolu, and the Chaplin-general, Gibson Kollie.The Jeannie-Marie Johnson‘s leadership, which has already launched its first project of air condition and marker board will serve for one academic year. The air condition and the marker board projects are expected to be completed in May.In her statement of acceptance from Rennie’s charges to her leadership, Ms Johnson called on her fellow students to be unique and see themselves as “one of a kind, special, different, rare and especially undefined.”“We need to be identified by the attributes bestowed on us that will set examples for our future generation, therefore, I must inform you that being a president of this student body is a challenge, but I believe that I am qualified for this position,” student Johnson assured.To the faculty members, mentors, and her fellow elected officials, she assured them of her leadership preparedness to make the difference.“My mother once said, all people are unique, but there are good and bad fruits that can be noted in a leader. While no one is perfect, a leader must go by a higher standard because yelling, fist throwing and back biting is unacceptable in a leadership.”       She then assured the administration that her leadership will prioritize hard work, creativity, studiousness and progressiveness that will help the image of the school.Ms Johnson now president of the student council government, is a prospective graduate (9th grade). She has been in the school since she was three. She is now 14. Over the years, she has been an outstanding student; recipient of the school Eloquent and Super Reader Awards; a member of the French Club, and for two consecutive years, Jeannie-Marie diligently served as chairperson, Levi C. Williams Middle School Election Commission.The Levi C. Williams Middle School, which runs on the motto, “If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher,” was established to mould the minds of the young people mentally, socially, physically and academically. Over the years, the school has been training its students not only in academics, but also in student politics, drama, debate and mostly showcasing their talents as they progress.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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For Bringing Our Girls Back from Lebanon Preacher Calls Ellen, Ngafuan ‘Good Shepherds’

first_imgA priest serving with the St. Stephen Episcopal Church, Monrovia, yesterday called President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan “good shepherds.” “They and other government officials,” the Reverend Naime K. Garley declared in her sermon at St. Stephen, “are good shepherds because they brought back home our girls who had for years been lost in Lebanon.”Taking her text from the day’s Gospel lesson found in John 10:11-16, Rev. Garley recalled that Jesus had described a good shepherd as one who cares for his sheep and was prepared even to lay down his life for them.“I must commend the government of Liberia, especially our President and Foreign Minister, for bringing back our girls from Lebanon.The other government officials she had in mind were Labor Minister Neto Z. Lighe, Sr. and Immigration Commisssioner Lemuel Reeves, who led the delegation to Beirut and accompanied most of the Liberian girls back home.The girls had allegedly been taken to Lebanon by unscrupulous Lebanese businessmen under the pretext of finding them good paying jobs.  But once there, they were inhumanely treated, some as sex slaves and their passports confiscated.  The Lebanese businessmen also seized whatever wages were due them.  But due to persistent media reports about their plight, the GOL sent the Labor Minister and Immigration Commissioner to Lebanon to release the girls, most of whom have now returned.  Four more of them returned over the weekend.Rev. Garley also commended the Liberian government, especially Foreign Minister Ngafuan, and by implication Liberian Ambassador to Pretoria, Lois Brutus, for making sure that all Liberians in South Africa are safe and accounted for.Millions of Africans in South Africa have in recent weeks been subjected to xenophobic attacks by native South Africans who are demanding that other Africans leave the country because they were taking their jobs and their women.President Jacob Zuma belatedly reacted to the violence by calling for an investigation and a halt to the attacks while the Zulu king, who had earlier called on other Africans to leave the country, said he had been “quoted out of context.”But Rev. Garley said she was pleased to learn that Foreign Minister Ngafuan had been doing everything to ensure that all Liberians, especially those in Durban, the epicenter of the xenophobic attacks, were all accounted for and safe.Preacher Garley frowned upon Liberians who mistreat people working for them and those who assume a cruel attitude towards other people.  “Remember that a good shepherd always has empathy (compassion, sympathy).The characteristics of a good shepherd, she told her congregation, are first, “you must lay down your life for your sheep, as Christ did on the cross; second, discipline your sheep; third, prevent them from fighting one another; fourth, show your sheep a sense of belonging; fifth, be with your sheep in good and bad times; and sixth, know your sheep by name, feed them and find the lost ones.”    Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Pres. Weah Accepts Gregory Coleman’s Resignation

first_imgGregory Coleman, former Director General, NBC…Appoints acting boss for NBCPresident George Weah has with immediate effect, accepted the resignation of Gregory O.W. Coleman, formerly of the National Bureau of Concession (NBC), an Executive Mansion said in a release late yesterday.Mr. Coleman, in a letter dated November 24, 2019, and addressed to President Weah, resigned as director-general of the NBC.“My time as head of the NBC was filled with challenges and rewards. It is time that I become a private citizen,” Coleman said in his letter of resignation.According to the release, President Weah has meanwhile appointed Daddy Gibson to act as director-general of the National Bureau of Concession (NBC) pending the appointment of a proper director-general.Daddy Gibson is the current Deputy Director for Administration at the National Bureau of Concession.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Clippers’ loss is in the family

first_imgThe Pacers took control with a 16-0 run at the end of the second quarter and built their lead to 23 points early in the third period. The Clippers rallied within seven points midway through the final quarter, but O’Neal then hit two straight baskets and Dunleavy added another to push Indiana’s lead to 89-76. Los Angeles came no closer than 11 points the rest of the way. Indiana 94, Clippers 80Today: at Detroit, 4:30 p.m. Ch. 5, KSPN/710 “I asked him, `Do you always shoot this well against your dad?’ ” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of the younger Dunleavy’s shooting. “He said it’s usually feast or famine.” Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Ike Diogu came to Indiana as part of an eight-player trade between the Pacers and Warriors last month. “He’s playing comfortably in this (Pacers) system,” said Mike Dunleavy Sr., who has won nine of 14 matchup against his son’s teams. “It used to be the worst thing there was, playing against your son, because it’s the first time in your life you don’t want him to win. Now that part has gotten a little bit easier, and it’s just a game.” O’Neal had four blocked shots, giving him 1,113 for his career with the Pacers and breaking the franchise record of 1,111 by former Pacers center Rik Smits. The Clippers, losing for the 22nd time in the past 26 games against the Pacers, were led by Cuttino Mobley with 23 points and Elton Brand and Sam Cassell with 14 each. “We missed easy shots, easy threes,” Mobley said. “We didn’t play any defense. When the offense is stagnant like it was, we allowed them to tip balls, get easy lay-ins and let them run their offense and get easy fastbreaks.” CLIPPERS NOTES: Doug Christie signed a second 10-day contract before the game and was scoreless in 8 minutes. … Cory Maggette, who missed the past two games with the flu, was activated and had eight points in 26 minutes for the Clippers. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! (delayed, 5:30 p.m.) INDIANAPOLIS – Take that, Pops. Mike Dunleavy, playing against his father’s Clippers for the first time since he was traded from Golden State to Indiana last month, hit nine of 12 shots, scored 20 points and had three steals in the Pacers’ 94-80 victory on Sunday. Jermaine O’Neal had 21 points and set an Indiana franchise record for career blocked shots as the Pacers snapped a three-game losing streak. “I have mixed emotions,” Dunleavy said of playing against the team coached by his father, Mike Dunleavy Sr. “I wanted to beat him real bad, but I also want to see them do well. I hope they win the rest of their games, but the most important thing is our team.” last_img
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Indian center to benefit from silent auction

first_imgParaffin Hand Treatment from Second Wind Skin, Body and Wellness Spa Two complimentary Camping and Day Use Passes valid at any of our 278 California State Parks Two Hearst Castle Experience Tour tickets for San Simeon State Park Parks-themed Scrapbooking Package from A Moment In Time Action kites from Penney Lynn’s Wind Toys Four tickets to the California Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento Two Safari Tour tickets for Shambala Wild Animal Preserve Complimentary T-shirt and image printing from Copy House Holiday Pet Gift Basket from Critter Country Eight tickets to upcoming performances at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center Personal docent-led tour and picnic lunch at the Reserve, compliments of Margaret Rhyne Clothing, posters, books, Native American games and other gift-shop items from the Poppy Reserve and the Tomo-Kahni Resource Center will also be available for purchase. Proceeds directly benefit the local outreach programs and activities for the community and are tax-deductible. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is located at 15101 Lancaster Road. From state Route 14, take the Avenue I exit and go west 15 miles. Avenue I becomes Lancaster Road, and the reserve is on the right. From Interstate-5, go east on Highway 138, turn right on 170th Street East, and go left at the end onto Lancaster Road. The reserve is two miles on the left. To post your own stories and photos, log on to valleynews.com.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! On March 10 from 2-6 p.m., the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve will host a benefit silent auction to save the Tomo-Kahni Resource Center in Tehachapi. The center is dedicated to the preservation of the local Kawaiisu Indian culture, but the funding to pay for rental of its facility will run out in July. Help is needed to secure the future of the center. The silent auction will feature a variety of local gift items and services. The event will also feature live entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, exotic reptile demonstrations courtesy of Reptile Rescue, and guided tours of the reserve. The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center will be open for the event ahead of opening for the wildflower season. The Resource Center, located on East F Street in downtown Tehachapi, actively promotes information, school programs, and community workshops relating to Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park and the Kawaiisu Indians of Tehachapi. By working with the remaining dependents and elders of the Kawaiisu tribe, the center has made tremendous contributions to the preservation of the Kawaiisu language and culture, such as publishing a dictionary of the Kawaiisu language. The primary funding source for the resource center is the springtime operation of the Poppy Reserve gift shop benefiting the nonprofit Poppy Reserve/Mojave Desert Interpretive Association, which funds local State Park educational programs and events and pays the Tomo-Kahni Resource Center rent. Unfortunately, due to the disappointing wildflower bloom California experienced last spring, attendance was down and not enough revenue was generated to continue support of the Resource Center the rest of the year. Silent auction items include: Two original Jane S. Pinheiro wildflower paintings A beautiful poppy-themed quilt, hand-made by docent Margaret Roberts Complimentary wine tasting, winery tour and bottle of the winner’s choice from the Antelope Valley Winery A beautiful framed large-format photograph of a Joshua tree among wildflowers, compliments of local wildlife photographer Frank Steinwachs last_img read more

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Russia says spy poisoning, not incomplete stadiums, hurting World Cup

first_imgThe nerve agent attack in England sparked mass expulsions and a decision by Britain and a few of its allies not to send officials to the June 14 opening.It marked the first known use of chemical weapons in western Europe since World War II.“Our main problem rests abroad — not with infrastructure,” said Sorokin.“Any incident, whether it occurred naturally or was created artificially, is being used to put pressure on World Cup organisers.”Sorokin said there was “nothing we cannot finish on time” despite work still remaining at six stadiums and airports in the smaller host cities.But he accused Moscow’s critics of trying to use the fallout surrounding the poisoning to drive down attendances at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s prestige event.“I think the intention was there, but it is not working,” said Sorokin.– Diplomatic barbs –Moscow and London have been trading diplomatic barbs almost daily since Skripal and his daughter Yulia fell ill in Salisbury on March 4.Britain accuses Russia of poisoning Skripal in retribution for passing on state secrets to London.Russia’s foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin on Wednesday called it a “grotesque provocation” concocted by UK and US security services.The diplomatic crisis does not appear to have dampened international interest in the first World Cup ever held in eastern Europe.Football’s world ruling body FIFA said Tuesday it was happy foreign demand had accounted for a strong 53 percent of the 1.7 million tickets purchased to date.Yet sales in England have been atypically weak.FIFA distributed a new batch of 400,000 tickets between March 13 and April 1.Fans from England accounted for less than one percent of that figure and have purchased just 31,000 tickets to date.Their fears have been compounded by an attack by hundreds of Russian hooligans on English supporters in the French port of Marseille during Euro 2016.Sorokin told the Sport Express news site he had discussed Russia’s security measures with British embassy staff in a bid to appease English concerns.“We explained everything to them in detail,” said Sorokin.But he said there would be no extra precautions for either England’s squad or its fans.“Each team will receive equal, full protection,” added Sorokin.The other cloud hanging over the tournament has been Russia’s past history of racist behaviour in both domestic and European competition.The extent of the problem was underscored when France’s Ousmane Dembele and Paul Pogba were targeted during their 3-1 friendly victory over Russia in Saint Petersburg last week.Sorokin told Sport Express that police were still looking for the perpetrators and had made no arrests.“We need to do public outreach so that people understand that by doing such things, they are damaging Russia,” he said.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Alexei Sorokin, the organising committee chief for Russia 2018, believes Moscow’s critics are using a spy poisoning controversy to heap pressure on World Cup organisers © AFP/File / Mladen ANTONOVMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Apr 4 – Russia World Cup organisers are more worried about Moscow’s latest diplomatic standoff with the West than stadiums being completed on time, said top official Alexei Sorokin.Sorokin, chief of the Russia 2018 organising committee, told the Kommersant newspaper the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal was “not helping” preparations.last_img read more

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