January 26

Faircloth upbeat over PN-G’s practices

first_img The Indians will practice Wednesday and Thursday in shirts and shorts before strapping on pads for the first time on Friday. PN-G will then have a week to practice in pads to get ready for their first and only scrimmage of the fall at Texas City.“There’s urgency for teams who do spring practice,” Faircloth said. “We only get two weeks before the first scrimmage and three weeks before the first game. I think our urgency is good. We’ve got to keep that in the front of our minds, that Texas City is two weeks away. We’ve got a good energy and our seniors are leading well.”New turfMonday marked the first day the Indians got to play on their shiny, new turf that was installed this summer. The new turf looks good and plays well, according to Faircloth.“It’s unbelievable, It’s very comfortable, and a lot softer than our old stuff,” Faircloth said. “It’s prettier too. The kids were excited. The school and fan base takes care of our kids better than any that I’ve ever seen. Our kids will work hard and play hard for them, because of how well they take care of them.”The turf also features a couple new graphics, including the Indians’ logo at midfield and PN-G logos at the 20s.“It’s pretty good,” quarterback A.J. Smith said. “We finally have turf that doesn’t come up. And, we’ve got the Indian head out there, which is nice.”A.J. taking overSpeaking of Smith, he’s picked up right where he left off in the spring leading this offense.“No big changes coming in from the spring,” Smith said. “It’s no added pressure, The only change is I’ll be playing more on Friday nights. Second string always gets a lot of reps, so they can be ready to get in on Friday nights. You never know what might happen.”Despite not taking a snap yet in a varsity game, Smith has gotten plenty of recruiting interest, including an offer from Lamar. Smith’s primary backup will be sophomore Ky Walker, though he may play more on the JV team during the season to get more game experience.“We’re going to try to play him on the JV and get (Ky) as much playing time as we can,” Faircloth said. “He’s going to be our quarterback of the future. He’s built exactly for what we do. It’s going to be a good couple of years starting next year with him around.”The Versatile Mr. ClarkKaleb Clark may be the fastest player on PN-G’s team this season. That’s one reason why he’ll be used all over the field this fall, including working back in on offense after establishing himself as a defensive stalwart in his junior season. He’s liked what he’s seen from this year’s defensive unit.“They’re going better than I thought they were,” Clark said. “We’re working better than I expected, because we’ve got a lot of hotheads on this team. We’re coming together. We’re going to be pretty good on defense this year, better than I expected.”Last season, Clark moved over to cornerback and became a staple of the secondary. He also worked in on special teams as a returner and will see some time at receiver too.“You’ve got to work on getting in shape,” Clark said. “Playing five different positions isn’t going to be easy.  Last year was my first year ever playing cornerback, so I was always a receiver. This is nothing new. It’s fun to see the faces I grew up with playing over there.” PORT NECHES – Some new faces dotted the second practice for the Port Neches-Groves football team this fall. Over the summer, PN-G head coach Brandon Faircloth hired three new coaches for his staff.Mike Ballew was hired in time for spring practices and will coach the wide receivers. He previously worked with Faircloth at Odessa Permian and replaces former offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jared Wingfield, who took the head coaching job at Mabank last spring. Practice updatesFaircloth was pleased with how his team held up under its first two practices Tuesday. The team worked out twice Monday morning before sandwiching practices and walkthroughs around a media day, complete with team and individual pictures for the upcoming season.One thing the Indians haven’t done this spring is hold back on what they’ve thrown at this team.“We’ve looked fine,” Faircloth said. “Yesterday was really, really good. It felt like our 19th spring practice. There’s a lot of retention and practicing at a pretty good tempo. That was encouraging. We’ve got to continue to get better, but our tempo was good. We didn’t have to stop and explain a bunch of things.”center_img Co-defensive coordinator Ryan Cox left in the spring, too, to take a job as defensive coordinator at Lovejoy. In his place, Faircloth added Brett McPhatter to coach the defensive backs. McPhatter graduated from Orangefield and played fullback at McNeese State. He coached last season at East Chambers.The final spot opened up when last year’s offensive line coach Eddie Parker left to take a position on Wingfield’s staff at Mabank. Toby Latiolais takes over Parker’s duties after spending three seasons on staff at Orangefield under Brian Huckabay. Latiolais was also assistant head coach in his final season at Orangefield and graduated from Bridge City.The football staff also brought on Chad Luttrull, who will work with tight ends. Luttrull had a pro career after playing collegiately at Henderson State, spending time on the Dallas Cowboys roster before the 2001 season and playing for the Beaumont Drillers. He was an assistant coach at Lumberton last season as well as the head boy’s soccer coach. He will also coach boy’s soccer at PN-G.last_img read more

November 18

Global COVID-19 total tops 12 million; WHO weighs in on airborne spread

first_imgAs the global pandemic total topped 12 million COVID-19 cases today, the World Health Organization (WHO) today announced two major developments: the publication of a scientific brief about transmission, including the airborne route, and the initiation of an independent panel to review the world’s pandemic response.With the global number now growing by about 1 million cases a week, the total climbed to 12,128,406 cases, with 551,522 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.Airborne spread discussed in WHO briefEarlier this week, an international group of more than 200 scientists signed a Clinical Infectious Diseases research letter that made a case for airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and urged the WHO to take the possibility more seriously.As the letter was published, WHO officials said they welcomed interactions with scientists and said they were working on a scientific brief that pulls together the growing knowledge about respiratory pathways, including the potential for airborne spread in, for example, poorly ventilated indoor areas.Today’s scientific brief on transmission, last updated on Mar 29, covers the latest scientific publications, some of them preprints that haven’t been peer reviewed. The WHO said the brief, which also contains a related Q&A, reflects the work of its health emergencies program and its infection prevention and control experts and was reviewed by outside experts.The brief includes airborne spread as one of the possible modes of transmission but said studies are needed to determine if viable SARS-CoV-2 can be found in air samples from settings that don’t involve aerosol-generating procedures and what role aerosols might play in transmission.The WHO said that short-range airborne transmission can’t be ruled out in crowded, inadequately ventilated settings where infected people are present, such as churches, restaurants, and nightclubs where people are shouting, talking, or singing. However, they also note that droplet and fomite transmission could also explain human-to-human transmission in such scenarios and that superspreading events may also play a role in clusters in which airborne spread is a suspected transmission route.Many questions remain about transmission, though current evidence suggests that the virus primarily transmits though droplet and contact routes, the WHO said. However, studies to explore the role and extent of airborne transmission outside of health facilities, especially in closed settings with poor ventilation, are urgently needed, it added.Independent review committee leaders announcedAt a member state briefing today, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, announced the start of an independent panel to evaluate the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, following through on a resolution passed by the World Health Assembly in May.The panel will be led by Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former prime minister, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s former president. In a press release, the WHO said Clark and Sirleaf will choose other panel members, as well as an independent secretariat to support the group. Tedros said Clark and Sirleaf were selected after consulting with member states and global experts.”This is a time for self-reflection, to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control,” Tedros said. “The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation.”The panel is slated to present an interim report in November and a final report for next year’s World Health Assembly in May. Tedros also noted that an independent oversight committee continues to review the work of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.In his address to member states today, Tedros said the greatest threat now isn’t the virus but rather lack of leadership and solidarity at global and national levels. “How is it difficult for humans to unite and fight a common enemy that is killing people indiscriminately? Are we unable to distinguish or identify the common enemy?” Tedros said. “Can’t we understand that the divisions and the cracks between us are an advantage for the virus?”Countries grapple with resurgenceSeveral countries continue to report new or continuing rises in COVID-19 activity as governments relax restrictions, and Bulgaria today announced that it was closing bars and banning spectators at sports events because of a recent rise in cases, CNN reported.In other related developments, Indonesia today reported a record single-day rise, with 2,657 new cases, about half of them related to a military training center in West Java, Reuters reported.And in Japan, Tokyo reported a record daily high of 224 cases, and government officials said many of the cases are due to increased testing, especially among those working in nightclubs, many of whom in their 20s and 30s, the Japan Times reported.last_img read more

September 28

News focus: Greece crisis

first_imgWhat are the implications of the Greek crisis for legal business and the rule of law? At a roundtable held under the Chatham House Rule, Jonathan Rayner heard City lawyers consider the potential fallout.,Greek riot police silhouetted against the flames from petrol bombs. Pensioners barred access to shuttered banks.Office workers queuing for their daily cash ration of just €60. Striking doctors, air traffic controllers, ferries. One in four working-age Greeks unemployed. A quarter of Greece’s GDP comprising black market deals. Some £65bn owed in unpaid taxes. European finance ministers issuing daily ultimatums. A referendum result ignored within days. German chancellor Angela Merkel accused of bullying. Bailout plans ditched. Greek money migrating to more robust economies.Mourning families too poor to bury their loved ones. And above it all, the spectre of a Grexit – a voluntary or forced Greek exit – from the eurozone and the EU, and all the uncertainty that potential exit entails.That is the public face of the financial, political and social meltdown that is the Greek crisis. Newspapers and broadcasters have been tireless in their coverage of the ills besetting Greece – feckless government borrowing, uncollected taxes, populist politicians U-turning on policies. But what are the legal implications of the crisis? Are UK law firms able to help or should they be running for the hills? Would a Grexit spark an EU-wide constitutional crisis? Would it have a domino effect, with other member states also heading for the door?Overriding all this, there is the complication that there is currently no treaty provision for either a voluntary, unilateral eurozone exit by a member state or for the expulsion of a non-compliant member state. If Greece were to leave the eurozone, it would need to pass legislation establishing not only the fact of its exit, but also a new currency and a fixed exchange rate for the automatic conversion of existing euro payment obligations into that new currency. This would take time and require the cooperation of other member states, piling yet more uncertainty upon the country.Greece’s political turmoil, as if the country did not have problems enough, is also fuelling scepticism in other member states that the Greek government is able and willing to stick to its new commitment to unpopular reforms – to tax increases, pension and labour market reforms, and wholesale privatisation. More than 40 MPs in the ruling Syriza party are known to oppose prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ proposed reforms to secure a European bailout.This opposition could not only prompt a snap general election, deepening the sense of insecurity that surrounds everything Greek. It could also stall the reforms themselves – reforms that must be put in place, say Greece’s creditors, before debt relief can be considered.But wait – some positive news at last. On 22 July the Greek parliament voted through a package of reforms, including a new code of civil procedure to overhaul Greece’s notoriously sluggish justice system. The new code, which could help attract more foreign investors, was one of the conditions demanded by the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for opening talks on a third rescue package.These and other issues were the subject of a roundtable discussion, held under the Chatham House Rule, attended by City firm partners and senior representatives from a number of government departments.The discussion was chaired by Stephen Denyer, the Law Society’s head of City and international, who went on the record to say: ‘English law and British legal services have a key role in the unfolding events relating to Greece. The UK may not be in the eurozone, but the vast bulk of eurozone financing is documented under English law and subject to dispute resolution in this country. The City of London has for decades been the home of a world-beating array of legal expertise and talent focusing on Greece, not only in relation to finance, but also shipping, insurance and wealth management.’Denyer invites the government representatives to start the ball rolling. One says: ‘The government is naturally interested in a stable and economically growing eurozone because, unless the Greek crisis is resolved in a satisfactory way, there is likely to be a considerable impact on UK interests.’ Another explains that her department, since ‘before 2012’, has been supporting UK business in the face of eurozone instability.‘We are researching the scale of British exposure in Greece, both for major UK corporations with significant interests and for smaller businesses with supplier and other contracts.’ She adds: ‘Our helpline for British businesses with Greek connections has received a mere eight calls in the last two weeks. It’s clear that British business saw the crisis coming and is keeping commercial relationships alive and well.’A City law firm partner is next to comment. ‘We have been looking at constitutional aspects of the Greek crisis for the last three years and have come up with three disaster scenarios,’ he begins. ‘There is a unilateral exit from the eurozone, for which there is no treaty provision as the law stands. There is a negotiated exit from the eurozone, which would require the agreement of the other member states and takes time. And there is Greece’s expulsion from the eurozone following its defaulting on IMF loans; this is an as yet theoretical scenario, but one that would certainly make the country’s banks collapse.’He adds that the very word ‘Grexit’ is a ‘misnomer’. The eurozone, he says, is ‘an amalgam of various provisions of a treaty; it is not an international organisation from which you can exit’. Nonetheless, he concludes, ‘under EU law, the European Commission could bring Greece to the Court of Justice of the European Union [the successor to the European Court of Justice]’ to answer for its failings.Another City firm partner comments that the impact of Grexit on the UK economy ‘will be quite small because the Greek economy is quite small’. He observes that the primary law in a case of insolvency is that of the country where the insolvency takes place. ‘This could hit the bar hard,’ another remarks. ‘The bar traditionally deals with a lot of financial services work from overseas jurisdictions.’A fourth City law firm partner adds another gloomy note. ‘A further emergency loan of €86bn is being talked about,’ he says. ‘But the privatisation of state assets [to raise funds] hasn’t really got going yet and the hedge funds are steering clear [of a risky investment in Greece’s future]. Sadly, the restructuring of Cyprus’s banks in 2013/14 holds few lessons for Greece. There was a big foreign depositor element in Cyprus, which is not the case in Greece.’The discussion moves to private client issues. ‘After tourism,’ says a partner, ‘the shipping sector is the biggest element of the Greek economy. It would be a disaster if the ship owners upped and left. It’s quite feasible. After all, the ship owners believe that the communists are now in charge [of government] and fear the confiscation of their assets.’Another partner is quick to agree. ‘Greece’s ship owners are contemplating moving their offices abroad,’ she says. ‘Two have recently gone to Cyprus and more are expected to follow. They might relocate to Cyprus, as well, or to Singapore or Hong Kong.’ She adds that shipping, which is primarily governed by English law, has been less affected by the economic squeeze than other sectors: ‘It is international in nature and so has avoided the worst of Greece’s internal problems.’The discussion returns to more general issues. A partner says, ‘more in hope than expectation’, that if Greece is serious about making reforms, a priority should be to become friendlier to foreign investors. ‘The previous government made directors and even non-executive directors liable for the losses of their companies. The same applies to shareholders if they own more than 10% of the company. You could go to jail for three years if you fail to pay up.’ She pauses. ‘You would be out of your mind to invest in Greece. This is a problem that is going to linger even if Greece secures a bridging loan.’‘At what stage,’ a partner asks, ‘would debt relief offered to Greece become too attractive for other troubled states to resist? Is there not a danger that, for example, Portugal would ask for a slice of the action? Maybe the EU should anticipate this by offering several countries the option of a bailout.’Another partner reflects: ‘Our Greek clients have exposure to the Greek government, Greek banks and international banks. Business is stalled in Greece. There are no mergers and acquisitions. Investments aren’t flowing and the lack of investment is creating all the downsides that we are witnessing. The best advice for British law firms is to maintain a watching brief.’A lone voice speaks up for altruism. ‘We should do everything we can to help Greece,’ it declares. ‘The crisis is not just Greece’s. It is the whole of Europe’s.’That rarity at this roundtable, a non-lawyer, speaks next. ‘How can Greece salvage its national reputation in the eyes of investors?’ he wonders aloud. ‘As Angela Merkel said, the most important currency that Greece has lost is “trust” – investors, the European institutions and other sovereign states simply no longer trust it. What and how long is it going to take to attract companies to Greece to create jobs for the 25% of the population that is unemployed? Greece needs new ways to engage with the international community – it can’t survive without it.’Stephen Denyer, on the record again, winds up the discussion: ‘We will look for opportunities to invite leading Greek lawyers to London to explore common approaches to Greek-related challenges.’In the meantime, the Law Society is to maintain contact with all the participants at the roundtable and help circulate papers firms have written about the crisis. Denyer ends: ‘We will probably need to reconvene this group after the summer break. There’s much work to be done.’Jonathan Rayner is Gazette staff writerlast_img read more