“We will ensure security in equal measures to all — from dignitaries to fans,” Sorokin told TASS.But he also expressed a hint of annoyance at Arsenal’s decision to put up the Foreign Office travel advisory after Friday’s Europa League draw.“To us, there is no difference which country people come from or what our diplomatic relations with them are,” he said.“There are absolutely no grounds for such warnings.”Sorokin has been fighting an uphill battle to clean up Russia’s image ahead of its first World Cup at home.The June 14 to July 15 tournament has been associated closely with Vladimir Putin ever since the Russian strongman wrested the hosting rights away from England in 2010.Organisers are keen to resolve all the controversies and the poisoning case does not help.Preparations have already been shadowed by concerns ranging from racism to hooliganism and doping that saw Russia perform at the Pyeongchang Winter Games under a neutral Olympic flag.British Prime Minister Theresa May decided to give the World Cup itself a snub by announcing that royals and ministers would not be attending.A boycott by the England team is thought unlikely despite wide-ranging speculations about it in the media and support from some British MPs.Share on: WhatsApp Moscow, Russia | AFP | Russia has issued a security guarantee to Arsenal fans who will visit Moscow for a Europa League clash in the heat of a diplomatic crisis over an ex-double agent’s poisoning.Moscow on Saturday announced the expulsion of 23 British diplomats in a tit-for-tar response to London’s “provocative” measures over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.Britain issued a travel warning to people in or planning to travel to Russia after expelling the same number of Moscow diplomats on Wednesday.And Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Friday said it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the attack.The Kremlin called his comments “shocking and unforgivable”.All of which has left Arsenal fans alarmed about the prospects of playing CSKA in Moscow on April 12 for the second leg of their Europe League quarter-final.One Arsenal supporters’ group called it “a hot potato of a draw in view of the political stand-off”.The club itself reposted on its website a Foreign Office travel advisory warning of possible “anti-British sentiment or harassment”.Russia’s World Cup organising committee chief Alexei Sorokin expressed disappointment about the tensions and said Arsenal fans have nothing to fear.“It is a shame that the games will be played in such circumstance,” said Sorokin, who is also a senior member of the Russian Football Union.
Laid-off workers in the Sunshine State should get money going retroactively to the day they tried to file, Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday.Since the middle of last month, thousands of workers who have been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic have attempted to file claims with the Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) CONNECT system.In many cases, they were unable to access the overwhelmed system.DeSantis did not take action to make the additional payments a requirement. According to state law, benefits are typically calculated from the date an unemployment application is filed.“If someone was trying to apply last Wednesday and the system wasn’t really working, you should count that as the day,” the governor told reporters. He says he also shared that sentiment with the DEO. In recent days, the state has reassigned hundreds of government employees to help process claims. It is also establishing a system to distribute and receive paper applications, which are already available through some libraries.Additionally, Gov. DeSantis has hired a private call center firm, waived several requirements that applicants must meet in order to expedite the filing process, and had more than 70 servers added to the state’s unemployment system to handle the large number of claims being submitted.
In this Dec. 18, 2012, file photo, Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins calls to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. If Johnny Dawkins and Craig Neal were still playing _ instead of coaching _ against each other, there’s no doubt which one you’d pick. The two will be back on opposing benches Friday night March 21, 2014, 28 years after they faced off as players. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)Welcome to BracketRacket.Think of it as one-stop shopping on game days for all your NCAA tournament needs. We’ll have interviews with celebrity alums drawn from sports, entertainment and politics, plus occasional “bracket-buster” picks, photos, news, gossip, stats, notes and quotes from around the tourney sites — all of it bundled into a quick read that gives diehard fans and office-poolers alike something to sound smart about.So without further ado:TAKE THIS JOB … AND DUNK ITThe business of America is business, and the NCAA tournament is bad for business; ergo, the NCAA tournament is bad for America.The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas proved it by wasting a few hours again this year calculating how much U.S. employers could lose while employees (like this one, via wordpress.com: http://bit.ly/1fYuFac ) obsess over the tournament. In an annual report, the company set the figure at $1.2 billion for every unproductive hour.“You have employees talking about which teams made or didn’t make the tournament. You have other workers setting up and managing office pools. Of course, there are the office pool participants,” Challenger’s statement cautioned, “some of whom might take five minutes to fill out a bracket, while others spend several hours researching teams, analyzing statistics and completing multiple brackets.”Never mind that the math behind the estimate is fuzzy, or that both academic researchers and corporate managers who looked at the problem concluded the real numbers were considerably lower, mostly because employees tend to make up for lost time by working outside traditional hours.So what should an employer do?“Despite all of the scary numbers, Challenger suggests that employers not try to clamp down on March Madness,” the statement added. “Initiatives to block access to sports sites and live streaming in order to boost productivity in the short term, could result in long-term damage to employee morale, loyalty and engagement.”Is this a great country or what?___CELEBRITY ALUMThink the folks in Congress have trouble making up their minds now? Just wait. Nothing gets politicians procrastinatin’ and prevaricatin’ like the NCAA tournament.Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia dispatched at least one representative into the 68-team field that began play Tuesday night. California topped the list with five, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas boasted four each, six others had three and Indiana — a.k.a, the “heartland of hoops” — had zero.Generally speaking, elected officials from states with more than one entrant fear voters so much they’d rather talk about raising taxes than which school they’re backing. They make picking between them sound like “Sophie’s Choice.”That made Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow thumbing her nose at the maize-and-blue recently seem refreshing.“Oh, Michigan State! Michigan State,” she gushed during a groundbreaking ceremony at the university Monday.“I have to tell you, after yesterday,” Stabenow added, referring to the Spartans’ win over state rival Michigan in the Big Ten championship game, “we are back. We’ve got the full team going, Coach (Tom) Izzo is primed and ready and I think we’ll take it all.”Just to rub it in, she unveiled the little rhinestone number — courtesy of MSU Today alumni magazine — pictured here: http://bit.ly/1eiqiFKStabenow received both her undergraduate and graduate (magna cum laude) degrees from Michigan State, so while she might need those Democratic votes over in Ann Arbor someday, it won’t be until 2018 at the earliest.Even then, Stabenow barely cracks the “how-to-alienate-alumni” list. Since-retired North Carolina Sen. (and UNC alum) Brad Miller locked up the top spot in 2012 when he told BracketRacket: “I have said very publicly that if Duke was playing against the Taliban, then I’d have to pull for the Taliban.”___DON’T I KNOW YOU FROM SOMEWHERE?Speaking of “Sophie’s Choice,” a Pennsylvania high school coaching legend named John Miller could be facing one come early April.That’s when Miller’s sons — Sean, who coaches No. 1 West seed Arizona; and younger brother Archie, who coaches No. 11th South seed Dayton — could meet in the Final Four. It’s a longshot, sure, especially since the Flyers only got off the bubble and into the bracket after winning nine of their last 10 games.Then again, what were the odds that brothers from a tiny town in western Pennsylvania would wind up coaching in the same tournament? (Short answer: Who knows? The Beaver County (Pa.) Times said it was believed to be the first time that’s happened, but added such record-keeping at the NCAA was “sketchy.”)“Sean, you kind of always figured he was going to be a coach. Archie always said he wasn’t going to coach,” John Miller, who won four state titles and more than 650 games before retiring from Blackhawk High in Beaver Falls, told the newspaper. “It was only three or four days after graduation, though, when we talked. He said, ‘All my contacts are in basketball, maybe I should try coaching.’”After a number of stints as an assistant elsewhere, Archie’s best contact (and brother) came through with a two-year deal at Arizona.“No question, being part of the tournament is going to be great for him,” Sean said.John will be on hand Thursday in Buffalo, when Archie makes his NCAA tournament debut against Ohio State and coach Thad Matta, whom both Millers served under as assistants. But he’ll have to settle for watching Arizona’s opener Friday against Weber State in San Diego on TV. And even if both boys somehow get their teams to Arlington, Texas, on the tourney’s final weekend, John, who still coaches a youth team now and then, isn’t making any promises.“This March Madness,” he fumed, “is getting in the way of basketball.”___DON’T I KNOW YOU FROM SOMEWHERE (Part 2)?If Johnny Dawkins and Craig Neal were still playing — instead of coaching — against each other, there’s no doubt which one you’d pick.The two will be back on opposing benches Friday night, 28 years after they faced off as players. But it looks like Neal has the upper hand now. His No. 7 New Mexico squad will be a slight favorite over Dawkins’ No. 10 Stanford when they meet in St. Louis.The last time they did — competitively speaking — was the 1986 ACC tournament title game. Neal, who kicked around basketball’s minor leagues for seven seasons, played for Georgia Tech in that one. Dawkins, who was in his senior year at for Duke, went on to win the game and become the NCAA tourney MVP in 1986, as well as Duke’s career scoring leader until 2006.Small wonder the Cardinal coach was happy to reminisce with AP’s Janie McCauley.“He was younger than I was, so it was a little different,” Dawkins recalled. “We played in a great game. … It was an amazing environment.”After a 13-year NBA career, the coaching racket hasn’t gone quite as smoothly. Stanford finally made the tourney in Dawkins’ sixth season there, amid talk that his job depended on it.___STAT OF THE DAYFrom 2005 through 2009, a No. 1 seed was like an invitation to the Sweet 16. During that stretch all 20 top seeds got there. More recently, though, the big dogs haven’t been quite as lucky, according to research by STATS. One No. 1 has been eliminated in the first weekend three of the last four years. The mighty who fell: Kansas in 2010 (to Northern Iowa), Pittsburgh in 2011 (to Butler) and Gonzaga in 2013 (to Wichita State).But if it’s any consolation, Butler and Wichita State wound up riding those upsets all the way to the Final Four.___QUOTE OF THE DAY“She’ll probably be in tears, so that will be good.” — Peter Hooley, one of four Australians who play for the University of Albany, about how his mother and 20 other family members who got up at 3 a.m. to watch the game back home would react to the Great Danes’ win over Mount St. Mary’s.___TUESDAY’S RESULTSAt Dayton, OhioFirst FourAlbany (N.Y.) 71, Mount St. Mary’s 64N.C. State 74, Xavier 59WEDNESDAY’S GAMESCal Poly (13-19) vs. Texas Southern (19-14), 6:40 p.m.Iowa (20-12) vs. Tennessee (21-12), 30 minutes following
Facebook35Tweet0Pin0Submitted by YMCA of Olympia Three Girls Media CEO, Erika Taylor Montgomery.According to the Shriver Report, two out of three households depend on the wages of working moms. However, childcare is expensive and can be hard to find for some women. Many workers have limited or no sick or maternity leave. Some women use restroom stalls to breastfeed their infants. The facts are sobering, but some businesses are stepping in and stepping up to remove these barriers and create family-friendly workplaces that support and empower women and families.Three Girls Media works hard to create an environment that supports working parents, which is why it was selected as the 2014 YWCA of Olympia Business of Achievement. Three Girls Media is an award-winning boutique Public Relations & Social Media Management Agency located in Olympia, WA. The firm works with clients worldwide to help them raise their brand awareness and name recognition through both traditional and digital public relations tactics. “This business is very empowering for women! Noteworthy benefits include extremely flexible schedules, family leave, telecommuting, and even Costco memberships.”“The business doesn’t just talk about families being first…they live it! Whether that means office dogs barking occasionally or kids at staff meetings, each member of the team is encouraged to make whatever scheduling allowances are needed to ensure the health and welfare of their families and themselves.”While providing excellent service and dedication to their customers, Three Girls Media emphasizes a healthy work/life balance, allowing employees to make their own schedules. This enables employees to avoid prohibitive day care costs, obtain advanced education, and be involved in nonprofit and school-based volunteer opportunities.“We are proud to honor Three Girls Media as our inaugural Business of Achievement.” says YWCA executive director Hillary Soens. “They exemplify the YWCA’s goal to support the economic and social advancement of women each and every day in their business practices.”“I’m so humbled and honored by this award! When I started Three Girls Media nine years ago it was incredibly important to me to have a business model that honored putting families and my team’s personal lives first. To be recognized for something that is a core belief and practice of mine and my business is truly fantastic!” stated Erika Taylor Montgomery, Three Girls Media Founder & CEO.A Business of Achievement biography is available on the YWCA of Olympia website.The 20th Annual Women of Achievement Gala, presented by Titus Will, will take place on Thursday, November 6th from 5:30pm – 8:45pm at the Red Lion Hotel Forest Ballroom. The event is open to the public and tickets ($80) will be available by contacting the YWCA of Olympia at 352-0593 or online at www.ywcaofolympia.org under Events or Donate. Once again Titus-Will Cars will serve as the Women of Achievement Gala Presenting Sponsor, with WSECU and Lucky Eagle as the Gala Sustaining Sponsors.For more information about the Women of Achievement Gala or for media inquiries, please contact Cherie Reeves Sperr, Special Events & Communications Director at 352-0593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Muriel J. SmithRED BANK – Let the governments of the United States and Cuba quibble and argue over their policies, but two volleyball players from Red Bank Catholic High School took positive action last week and demonstrated to Cuban teenagers just how friendly Americans really are.Junior Catherine Curtin of Atlantic Highlands and senior Ava Zockoll of Bay Head spent a week in Havana, traveling with parents Dan and Tricia Curtin and Nancy Zockoll, under the auspices of Cuba Educational Travel, to bring GUEST – the Girls Universal Empowerment Sports Tour – to this third world country which suffers as much poverty and need as many other nations where assistance programs are already in place.It was Catherine’s idea to bring friendship, knowledge, and the start of an easy camaraderie among young people in the largest city of a country 90 miles off the U.S. Southern border. “I was fortunate enough to travel with my parents to Cambodia several years ago,” Catherine said, “and the sight of the poverty there has remained with me since then. I wanted to do something to help someone less fortunate than us, and with Cuba just opening for American visitors again, I thought that would be the perfect place.”Pavel Garcia of Barrio Habana (center, green shirt) accompanied the group to the nightly cannon firing at Morro Fortress. Volleyball coach Reyneer (far left) and Muriel Smith (blue shirt) also joined the entourage.Catherine also knew that as popular as volleyball is in the United States, it’s even more so in other countries. So, with the help of her parents, Catherine contacted the American Embassy in Cuba who put her in touch with Cuba Educational Travel and GUEST, Catherine’s newly formed group, was launched.Catherine’s teammate senior Ava Zockoll, captain of the RBC girls’ team who also plays for Central Jersey Volleyball Academy, and a seasoned traveler herself, was ready, willing and able to take on the challenge of bringing American friendship to Cuba.Cuba Educational Travel put them in touch with Pavel Garcia Valdes and his wife Sandra Sotolongo Iglesias of Proyecto Comunitario Barrio Habana. The couple work tirelessly on the streets of Havana to give a better life to people of all ages. Pavel is as comfortable and efficient encouraging a group of teens on the street through the educational and social aspects of improving their lives as he is trying to find enough drinking water to keep a day care center open so senior citizens can enjoy the friendship and social benefits of others of all ages.All good things must come to an end – Curtin and Zockoll felt the new friendships they formed made a positive impact on their counterparts’ opinion of the U.S. On the last day, there were tears and promises of return visits.The American teens came to Cuba armed with gifts for their soon-to-be friends – volleyball nets, kneepads, volleyballs, game shirts in two colors for opposing team play, as well as open hearts and huge smiles. They left the comfort of air-conditioned gyms and well-polished courts and quickly adjusted to old, cracked concrete outdoor courts with boundary lines faded by the hot sun. All play was wrapped up by noon on any day when afternoon temps went well into the mid-90s.Volleyball, the warm-ups and exercises are all international, so not knowing the language did not present a disadvantage. What were shy exchanges of broken English and Spanish on the first day turned to laughs and friendly handshakes on the next, and later genuine laughter and friendship. On the last day, there were tears when they said their goodbyes amid promises of return visits.“If you can help people in one way, such as by sharing a sport, then you can connect on another level,” Catherine explained. She was surprised at the English speaking skills – however limited – that many of the girls had, and loved the welcoming attitude they exuded from the very first day.Ava agreed, pointing out that one of the reasons she wanted the experience was to be absorbed in another culture and help people with fewer opportunities than she herself has. She was surprised the Cuban teens did not appear to be as poverty-stricken as she had heard they were, and was impressed not only by the quality of the coaches but also their intensity and excellence in training the girls. Both teens commented on how polite, courteous, and well-mannered their Cuban counterparts were.Afternoons were spent with Pavel and an Educational Travel rep who took the American visitors through a series of cultural and educational experiences including a visit to a senior care center where the oldest client at 102, walks from his home on the third floor of a once well-maintained apartment the few blocks to the center where he can enjoy games, friendship, song and meals with other older Cubans. The group also visited a third floor walk-up apartment of a husband and wife renowned for their hip-hop music in clubs and cabarets across the country. The couple, who are black, were eager to speak about racism and said they both believe strongly it exists in Cuba.There was also a visit with Edel Bordon and his wife, Marina, and their children Pablo and Lucy. One of the finest artists in the country, Edel teaches art in his large and elegant 10th floor apartment overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a home filled with the artwork of both Bardon and his students, as well as the photography of son Pablo.In between, there was a salsa dance lesson and a visit to Morro Castle where they experienced the nightly cannon firing by Cuban soldiers, dressed in colonial garb which dates back to the Spanish rule of the 17th century. Citizens set their watches by this 9 p.m. ritual, which commemorates the centuries when the cannon was fired each evening to tell residents to hurry behind the protective walls of the fortress before the gates were locked against marauders, pirates, and other evils.Although trips to private homes and historic sites were all planned by Cuba Educational Travel, the group could go their own way individually or together in the afternoons and evenings. Even with the limited experience, both Catherine and Ava felt they had made new friendships and had a positive effect on their counterparts’ opinion of the United States.Ava felt the best gift she left behind was showing the Cuban students they too can meet and interact with people they have never met in a positive way. Catherine agreed, and felt she also had given her new friends a better understanding of the American people.
The winning woes, scoring woes . . . and every other conceivable woe continue to plague the Nelson Leafs hockey club.Columbia Valley Rockies skated into the NDCC Arena Saturday night, leaving with a 5-2 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory over the Leafs. The loss, Nelson’s fourth straight and 11th in the past 14 games, dropped the Leafs into fourth spot in Murdoch Division standings.Grand Forks Border Bruins leapfrogged over the Leafs after stopping visiting Spokane Braves 8-3 Thursday in the Boundary City.Ray St. Jean, Doan Smith, Colton Sandboe, Kellen Marchand and Luke Bellerose score for the Rockies.Koleton Nelson and Brendan Smith replied for the Leafs.Nelson returns to action Tuesday in Grand Forks with a game against the Border Bruins.