Smith: Judges should be appointed on merit Jan Pudlow Associate Editor With the passion he summoned in his former role as a prosecutor in closing arguments in a big murder case, Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, delivered a rousing keynote address at the Bar’s Annual Meeting General Assembly, hitting hard on President Kelly Overstreet Johnson’s top goals. • On lawyer advertising:“Somehow, images of Webster, Darrow, Marshall, and Cox disappear when I am told of a television ad that suggests good legal counsel can be obtained by simply dialing 1-800-PIT-BULL. At the rate we are going, I expect law firm names emblazoned on the shoulder pads of star players of NFL games. Of course, in small print on their wrist bands you will be told that selecting an attorney is an important decision. When we hawk ourselves like has-been infomercial celebrities, the whole profession suffers, public respect is diminished, and legislative support becomes harder to sustain.” • On protecting an independent judiciary:“There are, of course, those in the executive branch or the legislature anxious to blame the courts or use the courts as an excuse for some unpopular social changes. Our governor and legislature, particularly the House, love to assail the ‘activist’ judges, albeit their complaints were noticeably less strident when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Bush v. Gore. “All of us should understand one thing and understand it well: The single most sustaining support structure for our form of democracy has been the independent judiciary.”At that point, the audience broke into applause.“From John Marshall to William Rehnquist, the exercise of judicial review, while differing in many ways, has acted as a critical counterweight to the excesses of the majority or the over-concentration of political powers in the legislative or executive branches. The unique need for balance in our federalism has always required a final arbiter. I want to challenge Justice [Barbara] Pariente [the new chief justice] this morning never to back down from a decision, ever, for fear of legislative reprisal or executive disapproval.” • On the need for judicial nominating commissions free of politics:“Our trial judges need particular courage and judgment as they face ever greater press and public scrutiny. There is always the temptation to simply follow the popular will. Because of my fear of an overly politicized judiciary, I share Kelly Johnson’s concerns that our judicial nominating process should not become an extension of the governor’s office, especially in a state that requires Senate confirmation for every appointment except our courts. Our judges should be appointed and retained on the basis of merit, not political allegiance. • On celebrating courageous lawyers and judges:“It is only when the courts and judges show fear the law is diminished and that which Justice Holmes called our ‘magic mirror’ becomes fogged and unclear. I am so proud that a trial judge in this state, notwithstanding pressure from the governor’s office and an unwise vote of the legislature, had the courage to follow the law in the tragic and private case of Terri Schiavo. To those who criticize the judge, I refer them to the words of the first great trial lawyer in America, Luther Martin, who, during his closing in defense of Aaron Burr, trumpeted to Justice Marshall: ‘It is easy to do our duty in fair weather, but when the tempest rages, when lightning blazes all around us — it is then that a truly brave man stands his post.’” July 15, 2004 Associate Editor Regular News Smith: Judges should be appointed on merit
Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionThe wealthy already pay enough in taxesI understand Paul Krugman has a Nobel Prize, but so does Obama. It shows how easy it must be to win a Nobel Prize. McGraw, fund-raiser deserve much praiseI was surprised to read Thomas Hodgkins’ Jan. 14 letter criticizing the Niskayuna Town Pool’s Wild Turkeys Swim and Dive team’s annual efforts to raise funds for the Donna M. Crandall Foundation that serves those living with cystic fibrosis, a devastating and life-threatening disease.Specifically, the letter attacked the team’s volunteer parent coordinator, Denise Murphy McGraw. Unnecessary wall will bankrupt the country Trump’s wall is a magician’s formula to divert our attention away from his problems. It’s also a formula for national bankruptcy. He demands $5.7 billion, essentially ransom, to reopen the government. It’s a sham, as the wall price would be trillions, really a pipe dream. Trump’s demand would cover wall maintenance alone, for less than a four-year presidential term of office. We’re paying this price already in the form of the highly effective FBI and Department of Homeland Security, assuming that their employees eventually do get paid.We can learn from the Israelis’ 2002 wall along the West Bank. A 2012 article by Haggai Matar in +972 Magazine reported its price after 10 years. Maintenance alone was $260 million per year, about $500,000 per kilometer in roughly 2007 dollars (halfway between 2002 and 2012). That includes active and passive surveillance to prevent tunneling, and staffed checkpoints to control passage of vehicles and people in both directions. Extrapolating to the full 3,145-kilometer U.S./Mexico wall suggests an annual bill of about $1.5 billion for maintenance alone.The astronomical construction price shows that a U.S./Mexico border wall is a non-issue. The Israeli construction price converts to U.S. $2.6 billion for 525 kilometers, about $5 million/kilometer. Extrapolating to the full U.S./Mexico border suggests a 2007 construction price of about $15.6 trillion. We must protect ourselves against becoming victims of Trump’s practice of bankrupting institutions fiscally and morally. We also must maintain our focus and protect ourselves from being diverted away from critically important, real issues.Dr. Robert A. MichaelsNiskayuna Horrified by conduct of Covington kidsI’m horrified, shocked and nauseated to read about the total disrespect the students of Covington (KY) Catholic High School showed toward a Native American elder and a military veteran, no less, at the Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 18.Chanting “Build that wall,” these idiots didn’t even realize that if original people built such a wall, their great-grandparents, grandparents and parents would have been walled out. Have compassion for federal workersIn his Jan. 17 letter, Dr. Arthur Salvatore seems to denigrate sympathy “for these [federal] workers who will be fully recompensed.” Yes, they may eventually get paid, but for now, how do they buy food for their family? How do they pay to keep a roof over their children’s heads? The good doctor may have the financial means for performing those actions without additional current income, but many people don’t. I suggest that a little sympathy just may be in order.Jerry BoehmAlbany Something is missing in how these young people are being educated. They disgraced their school, but may only be practicing what they have been taught: intolerance. The rest of us who watched news tapes and read articles about the incident will never know, but their educators will. They are raising the next generation of leaders. I can only say: God pity us all.Sally MagidSchenectady Mr. Trump, I can’t even bring myself to call him my president, has created his own national crisis. He calls some media news “fake.” He creates the fake news with all his lies and then blames them. The border wall is a joke. Everyone knows that for a century since this country has been using drugs illegally, cocaine and marijuana have been shipped through air transport from Miami, New York, Canada and Los Angeles. El Chapo is now on trial for trafficking drugs through underground tunnels big enough to drive a truck through. A border wall isn’t a fix. Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s attorney, needs to retire. He’s an old attorney who thinks he’s still the mayor of New York City and that whatever he says about the Russian collusion, someone is going to believe.Dianne BurnsSchenectady His comment that imposing heavy taxes on the rich makes economic sense is garbage, pure garbage. Unless of course you wanted to slow our roaring economy down to, say, Obama’s economy. Then it makes sense. Krugman is nothing but a demo-hack. You know, someone that just wants to find fault with President Trump or any high-profile Republican. He cites Christina Romer, Obama’s first economic adviser, claiming 80 percent is a good rate for the highest earners. Ha. She also claimed Obama’s economic plan would result in 4.5 percent to 5 percent growth!The Democrat god JFK knew that lower taxes made for a booming economy. President Reagan cut the highest tax rates from 70 percent and the amount of revenue collected by the government exploded. Democrats immediately mention the deficits that resulted. The deficits were because of spending, not the tax cuts. Again, this is a fact that is inconvenient for the left.Perhaps Krugman can start a liberal wave and voluntarily pay more in taxes to help out.The top 10 percent pay in excess of 50 percent of the taxes. They pay enough. Our government doesn’t need more in tax revenue, it needs to cut spending. New York keeps raising taxes and the wealthiest keep moving out. Eventually, when the Democrats run out of the wealthy to punish, they will move down the economic ladder and punish you.Dave EdwardsHalfmoon Congress: Fully fund VA and keep it publicA Daily Gazette Jan. 13 news article reported the Trump Administration is intensifying efforts to privatize parts of the Veterans Administration (VA) health service, despite “critics, which include nearly all of the major veterans’ organizations.” Suzanne Gordon, a health care journalist for 30 years and author of “The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare,” spoke in Troy Nov. 16. She acknowledged the VA is not perfect, but insisted the VA is vastly better suited to provide health care to veterans than the private sector. Unlike the private system, with its many providers and separate practitioners, the VA provides integrated care. VA physicians can literally walk veterans down the hall to colleagues with different specialties and make a “warm hand-off.” Without change, get used to wetter futureMr. Moody raised two questions about global warming in his Jan. 18 letter. First, global climate models: Why don’t they include water vapor? Actually, climate models certainly do include water vapor. Water is the most important greenhouse gas. Without it, even the tropics would commonly experience frost warnings at night.Water vapor, however, is short-lived because it rains-out on a time scale of only days. That means it responds to global warming caused by long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and is not a primary cause of it. As Mr. Moody correctly pointed out, the warmer the world gets, the more water the air can hold, making global warming that much worse.His second question was about melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet: What can we expect from its melting? Greenland is indeed melting, ever-faster, and meltwater from there and elsewhere is contributing to rising sea levels.At the beginning of the last century, sea levels rose at about 0.8 mm per year, 1.9 mm in most of the 20th century, and 3.2 mm (about 1/8 inch) now. This rate is expected to increase. That’s why coastal areas worldwide must plan for a wetter future.Kurt HollocherSchenectady Help countries protect vulnerable citizensTo fix the immigration problem, a holistic approach to South America is required. Walls alone are a Band-Aid that can be tunneled under or cut through. While the Middle East has been the focus, the elephant in the room is right at our doorstep. Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy recognized it. Why are we so blind? Climate scientists know effect of vaporRecently I’ve heard twice that the models of climate change are wrong because they don’t include the water vapor.The first time I heard this, I was worried because it seemed logical that there was lots of water vapor in the atmosphere and that it would absorb sunlight and heat up the atmosphere.I was told that it was because the climate change scientists were dishonestly trying to put the blame on CO2 and methane. However, when I checked, to my surprise, there was an order of magnitude less water vapor than CO2 in the atmosphere and that its effect is insignificant relative to CO2 and methane. The second time I heard about water vapor and climate change was in Richard Moody’s Jan. 18 letter, when he claimed the water vapor is left out of the models because “it’s too difficult to model.” I’m confident that the hundreds or thousands of climate scientists around the world have the equations and data to model water vapor if it was “far more common than CO2 or methane in the atmosphere. Rudy Macander Clifton ParkMore from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccineEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Trump and Giuliani spread lies and blame VA staff are far better equipped, she said, to care for the very specific, complex problems veterans have: chronic pain, suicide, toxic exposures, hearing loss, mental health, substance abuse and sexual trauma. Each war has a specific set of toxic exposures. Many veterans have post-service adjustment problems non-vets do not have. Veterans who have killed people in war often need special care. All VA staff work on salary, so they have no incentive to over-prescribe drugs. The VA staff is one-third veterans; they know the veteran’s culture and are thus more effective healers. Rather than being hoodwinked by the greedy privatizers, who are primarily concerned about maximizing profits, Congress should adequately fund the VA and keep it a public entity.Tom EllisAlbany Democracies do not dehumanize peopleFear is a very powerful emotion. Fear is routinely used by dictatorial leaders to unite people around them and against a perceived enemy. The most extreme example in the past was the dehumanizing of the Jews in Nazi Germany. All it took to turn a population was constant media lies and an amoral leader. Besides being divisive, fear promotes anger which in turn results in violence against the people who are demonized.Today, according to our leader, we have many groups to fear: Central American migrants, Muslims, Mexicans and others. This implies we can inflect violence and inhuman treatment against them, which is wrong and un-American. Most, if not all, are peaceful and decent. True democracies do not demonize groups of people. The people who are coming from Central America come in desperation with their small children.These people are trying to escape the rapists, murderers and drugs. The reason for the mass exodus is the result of uncontrolled violence in their native country. Their only crime is wanting to live and work in our country, like our immigrant forefathers. I have been a part of the Niskayuna Town Pool community as an athlete, coach, lifeguard and pool manager since I was in elementary school. I grew up at the pool, and it has contributed to my work ethic, spirit of cooperation, commitment to voluntarism and appreciation of community.Mrs. McGraw’s volunteer work is largely responsible for the positive influence the pool has had on my life and lives of so many others.Certainly, her guidance while organizing the swim-a-thon has made me realize the power in community-based action for effecting change.Today, I’m a scientist working towards my PhD in Neuroscience focusing on the biochemical mechanisms of psychiatric disorders with a particular interest in substance abuse disorders. I know my career path has been shaped by my experiences working for the benefit of others, experiences I may not have had were it not for the town pool, swim-a-thon and Mrs. McGraw’s guidance.The swim-a-thon is the highlight of the summer for dozens of Niskayuna children, and it should not be misinterpreted and attacked. Even more assuredly, the volunteer who makes it possible should not be attacked; she should be celebrated.Andrew StewartNiskayuna Labeling any group of people as criminals is a lie and immoral. We cannot become a country of fear because our nation of “we the people” will no longer exist. We must come together to solve America’s problems. Fear and anger make us weaker as a nation. This letter does not attempt to solve the immigration issue or dictate a solution. And it does not support open borders. John DworakRotterdam Soviet-style socialism, bad governance and the United States’ demand for illegal drugs corrupts societies from the police to the presidents. The people suffer under lawlessness from gangs that prey on unarmed victims. The government has assured their helplessness. Citizens who can’t pay extortionists or tolerate rape of their daughters are killed. Police are unable to protect them. We have a microcosm of this in the United States, in cities like Chicago and Baltimore, where strict gun control assures that only the criminals have guns.The caravans will continue solely out of sheer desperation. This plays into Trump’s hand. He should address the cause, not the effect. Border security is critical to our nation and it includes walls, but not exclusively walls. A Marshall Plan is needed to address these countries to restore the rule of law and to allow people to live free of terror. In Brazil, people are now being permitted to defend themselves. A free society needs legal immigration to prosper. We need all kinds of skills here. However, more people can be helped, and helped better, by helping them where they are, not by bringing them here. Let’s give them that chance with our foreign policy.Bruce MartindaleCharlton
Halcyon Lakefields at Bli Bli on the Sunshine Coast.“We are very excited about this next chapter, living in our new home at Halcyon Lakeside.”The Chapmans said their lives were enriched from the moment they moved into their first home at Halcyon Parks and it would continue to flourish at Halcyon Lakeside.The Lakeside community is just minutes from the town centre of Bli Bli, with the Recreation Club set to include a sunset bar, gymnasium, circuit room, resort and lap pool, rooftop tennis court, bocce court, bowling green, pickleball courts, work shed and a storage area for boats and caravans.Each Halcyon community is made up of modern architect-designed homes surrounded by lush landscaping and five-star resort style facilities. Halcyon Lakefields at Bli Bli on the Sunshine Coast.While the Halcyon Lakeside Recreation Club is currently under construction, homeowners have already tested out some of the completed facilities.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor7 hours agoThe community gathered to welcome the Chapmans during the afternoon happy hour.“It’s the warm, friendly, community feel that we love most about Halcyon,” Mr Chapman said.And it’s that community spirit that helped them make the decision to remain in a Halcyon estate when they decided to make a tree change.“We love Halcyon, and we wouldn’t have sought a home anywhere else,” Mr Chapman said.“The homes are beautifully designed and the community living experience and social life that comes with the homeowners of this unique development was pivotal to our decision to stay with Halcyon. Len and Willy Chapman are the 100th buyers at Halcyon Lakeside retirement village on the Sunshine Coast.A COMMUNITY where greenery and lakeside living is the norm, has just welcomed its 100th homeowner during a celebratory happy hour.Len and Willy Chapman, who originally lived at Halcyon Parks in Caloundra seven years ago, have just clinked glasses with their newest neighbours at Halcyon Lakeside in Bli Bli on the Sunshine Coast.“The Lakeside community is beautiful,” Ms Chapman said. “It’s surrounded by an abundance of greenery and overlooks two lakes, with walking trails and views of the hinterland.“There is a sense of countryside living here at Lakeside, it’s just so quiet and peaceful.”
Mojo Maritime, a part of James Fisher Marine Services (JFMS), has, together with Ecole Centrale de Nantes, enabled Floatgen to supply energy to the French electrical grid from the SEM-REV marine energy test site, near Le Croisic in France.Ecole Centrale de Nantes and Mojo Maritime worked at the Floatgen floating wind turbine, which is one of the few prototypes installed in the world today, to replace a defective connection box which was preventing an electrical connection to marine energy converters.Ecole Centrale de Nantes installed the subsea connection hub, to which three demonstrators can connect simultaneously on the SEM-REV site two years ago.However, final validation checks on the connection revealed an insulation defect on one of the phases of the 25 km long underwater cable, which had to be repaired to ensure it wouldn’t jeopardize future projects and was ready to supply energy to the French electrical grid.The Ariadne offshore construction vessel was chartered for the task. The 8MW electrical connection is now operational and will start supplying its first kWhs this summer, the company noted.Mojo Maritime France project manager, Maxime Morandeau, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Ecole Centrale de Nantes on this project. To optimize operations we used Mermaid for accurate modelling and scenario planning, which reduces the risk of any unexpected situations or costs, and meant that the project was completed according to plan.”
Batesville, IN—Batesville Community School Corporation is providing a “Grab and Go” Breakfast AND Lunch for your student. You may pick the meal up at Batesville Middle School or the designated drop off points. Forms need to be completed online by 8 am each day to receive a meal. Click here for the form. This service will be available on:Today – (Lunch Only) Pick up at Batesville Middle School from 10 AM-Noon (no matter what school your child attends).Wednesday, March 18 – Pick up at Batesville Middle School from 9 AM-Noonor visit the drop off locations at the designated times (Grab and Go will include Breakfast and Lunch).Thursday, March 19 – Pick up at Batesville Middle School from 9 AM-Noonor drop off locations listed below at the designated times (Grab and Go will include Breakfast and Lunch)Drop off/Pick up locations include:Route #1 Oldenburg – (Holy Family School Lot) (From 9:00 – 9:30 AM)Route #1 Pheasant Run Drive (At the first corner inside main entrance, not on the highway) (From 9:30 – 10:00 AM)Route #2 YMCA (From 9:00 – 9:30 AM)Route #2 Morris (St. Anthony’s Church Lot) (From 9:30 – 10:00 AM)Route #3 Arlington Drive (At Oakbrook Court and Canterbury Apartments) (From 9:00 – 9:30 AM)Route #3 McNair Manor at Tekulve Road (From 9:30 – 10:00 AM)
Laurel, IN — The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department was called to investigate an alleged burglary Sunday on Chapel Road in northwestern Franklin County. Among the items taken, was a 2008 Polaris Trail Boss 330, red in color with black cargo racks.Deputies are asking anyone with information to call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department at 765-647-4138. Callers can remain anonymous.
For Pellegrini, the result rather than the scoreline was all that mattered, adding: “We were not trying to send a message, we were trying to add points which is more important. “For us it was important to win away, and we’ll try to do it again on Saturday (at Southampton) before we then play Arsenal.” West Brom head coach Steve Clarke rightly acknowledged City as being “a really, really good team” and that the two early goals killed off his side’s challenge. Clarke said: “We wanted to stay in the game as long as possible, but they managed to pull away with the two goals in the first half. “That then makes it difficult when you are playing a good team. “You can risk a little to try and get back in the game, but if you risk too much then you can end up doing serious damage to your goal difference. “We tried our best to get back into the game in the second half, and even in the first we had some moments, some opportunities, we could have have created something, but didn’t quite. “It was a game where it had to go to 2-1, which at any stage in the second half would have given us a fighting chance. “But the third goal from the penalty was a shocking goal to concede, and that more or less killed it. “But credit to my players because we kept going and got our reward in the end with two late goals, which in my opinion puts a fairer reflection on the game.” Clarke, meanwhile, had no complaints with the two penalty decisions from referee Chris Foy. The first was for Kolarov’s tackle on Shane Long five minutes into the second half, and the second when Claudio Yacob brought down Kolarov that led to Toure’s spot kick even though the midfielder appeared to get the ball first. Clarke added: “Their penalty was a penalty, and the tackle on Shane, if given, would have been very soft.” Yaya Toure then produced a deft touch 15 minutes later to a low ball from Aleksandar Kolarov, and but for a fine save from Boaz Myhill to deny Aguero it could have been 3-0 before the interval. A Toure penalty after 72 minutes gave City their third before Albion pulled one back courtesy of a Costel Pantilimon own goal four minutes from time and added a second four minutes into injury time from Victor Anichebe. The scoreline was perhaps rough justice on City, who remain six points behind leaders Arsenal at the top of the Barclays Premier League, but it at least ended back-to-back away defeats. “We played very well. In other (away) games we played as well as we did in this game, but for some reason we didn’t score the two early goals like we did here,” assessed Pellegrini. “We had a lot of chances to score, and for 45 minutes we were very good. The scoreline doesn’t tell the story. It was not such a close match as the score says. “Maybe we were thinking of the next game before we finished this one, and in football the game is not over until the final whistle. “So they scored two late goals, which is why it finished 3-2, but we certainly had more advantage over the whole game. “The game was more easy than we thought which is why we relaxed in the final few minutes.” Press Association Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hailed his side’s return to form away from home even though they took their foot off the gas in the dying stages. City totally controlled the game at The Hawthorns, opening up a 3-0 lead over West Brom before conceding two late goals. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring in the ninth minute, sweeping home his 17th goal of the season, as many as West Brom have managed from their entire squad.
Head coach John Carver was grateful for Newcastle’s decision not to sell striker Papiss Cisse in January after he fired the club to their first home win of 2015 against Aston Villa. “This season, he has probably scored more scruffy goals than he ever has, but I am not bothered because he is actually scoring goals. That’s why it was important to keep him here and that’s why it was important to get him in the team and put him in the right area.” The decisive moment arrived against the run of play with 37 minutes gone, with the quality of Daryl Janmaat’s cross and Cisse’s control and finish, if not Jores Okore’s defending, out of keeping with a poor game. Substitute Ayoze Perez might have added a second with a 76th-minute header which came back off the post, but, had it not been for two Tim Krul saves from Christian Benteke and Tom Cleverley either side of the break, Villa would have emerged with something to show for their efforts. It was just Newcastle’s second league win in eight attempts under Carver and, while it was unconvincing, it was definitely welcome. The head coach said: “The one thing I will so is we did actually show that professionalism that we didn’t show against Stoke City when we conceded the late goal, so maybe the guys have learned from it. “Let’s not hide the fact that today has not been a classic, has it? It’s not been a proper classic.. But I’ll tell you what, the thing that’s pleased me is we have kept a clean sheet, we have had players who have put their bodies on the line – and I have to mention Fabricio Coloccini in particular. “His block towards the end of the games was outstanding. That’s as good as scoring a goal at the other end.” For Villa boss Tim Sherwood, there were positives to take from a seventh successive league defeat as he prepares for next week’s double header against derby rivals West Brom. The Senegal international was the subject of interest from the Middle East during the winter transfer window, but the Magpies hierarchy supported Carver’s desire to keep him and were rewarded when he struck to secure a 1-0 victory at St James’ Park with his 11th goal of the season. Carver said: “His goal ratio is fantastic – but we have got to provide him with the service. If we don’t provide him with the service, then he won’t score goals, so I need to make sure that the team provides him with service because he is valuable to us. Press Association He said: “That [the performance] is a consolation, yes, but it’s still no points, so I want a really poor performance on Tuesday night and three points, please. “But listen, two wins this week and we will bounce into the next game. We need a shot of confidence here. There’s not a lack of desire in that dressing room. The boys really care, they really do care – they are low in there. “A lot of managers try to take the pressure off you – I think Paul Lambert has probably been trying to do that to the guys all season. I’m going to try the other way, I am going to put in on them, ‘We’re under pressure, boys, we are under pressure, this is a massive football club with a lot of good people involved in it and the fans are magnificent’. “The pressure valve is up already; let’s put pressure on ourselves to try to get points in these last few games.” Meanwhile, Carver revealed that the knee injury which forced left-back Massadio Haidara off on a stretcher is not thought to be too serious.
-GTTA given A+ for preparationELEVEN countries, including host Guyana, will battle in the 61st Senior Caribbean Table Tennis Championship, which officially serves off this morning at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.Included in the mix are a strong Puerto Rican side and The Dominican Republic. The two nations are early favourites to repeat as male and female team champions respectively.Aruba and Suriname were the only two original teams that were scheduled to travel that did not make the trip. The other teams here are Cuba, Martinique, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and Guadeloupe.Prior to today’s competition, several of the teams were battling in the Pan American Qualifiers, and President of the Caribbean Region Table Tennis Federation, Teddy Matthews, was quick to point out that the organising body– the Guyana Table Tennis Association– had so far done an excellent job.A+ FOR PREPARATION Speaking at the official launch of the Caribbean Championships last evening, Matthews said that he was pleasantly surprised with the efforts of the GTTA and said that without a doubt he would give them an A plus for preparations.“They (the GTTA) did a fantastic job in just six months, the hotel is great, the food is great, and the transportation is of a high class.”Matthews added that some of the services are better than what he was exposed to at previous World Championships.President of the GTTA, Godfrey Munroe, told Chronicle Sport that the tournament is key for the further development of the sport locally.“This positions us as a table tennis nation, more than the ability for the players to compete for medals, this positions us to be strategically placed in terms of the new direction of the ITTF.”Last evening the teams were expected to do a draw for the start of this morning’s team battle. The countries will also play in the male doubles, the female doubles, the mixed doubles, the male singles, the female singles, the U-21 female singles, the U-21 male singles and an over-45 open competition from today until March 31.Guyana has a team of 30 players and Munroe is confident that several players will medal.The top three male and female nations will qualify for the Pan American Cup, which is scheduled for Paraguay in September. That event would be used as qualifications for the World Championships.Along with Munroe and Matthews, Latin American TT president Juan Vila, former Caribbean champion Sidney Christophe, and Director of Sport Christopher Jones, were at the opening for remarks and the meeting of the teams.
This time of year it is not uncommon to hear the phrase “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell that to the No. 3 USC men’s volleyball team (7-4, 5-3) as it returned to the friendly confines of the Galen Center last Friday with a clunk.One would assume the team would be happy to return home, after spending the entire month of February on the road. However, the Trojans were routed by the No. 7 Pepperdine Waves in three unimpressive sets (30-28, 30-28, and 30-26), leaving the one-time No. 1 team searching for answers to their newfound woes.“The team has been able to battle through some tough challenges over the last week,” senior middle blocker Hunter Current said. “With that, there is a renewed energy and confidence that we are ready to compete again.”Thanks to quirky schedule makers, who in a few short months have made the Trojans the road warriors of collegiate sports, the team will have a chance to mend its bruised heart with back-to-back home games this weekend against two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference foes: Pacific (6-10, 0-10) and No. 2 Stanford (7-3, 6-3).Friday night’s 7 p.m. tilt against the Tigers of Pacific University is subtly one of the most important matches USC will face all season. The Tigers are at the bottom of the MPSF, have yet to win a conference game and are fragile to say the least, and the Trojans are in desperate need of a morale boost after dropping three of their past four matches.This season, Pacific is led by Serbian sensation and freshman middle blocker Nikola Vukicevic, not to be confused with USC men’s basketball big man, Nikola Vucevic. The freshman star from Belgrade is second on the team in kills per set (2.33) while also hitting at an efficient rate of .426.Although the Tigers lack the fire power compared to other teams USC has faced, like Pepperdine, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine, the Tigers started the season 4-0 en route to a top-10 standing throughout the first month of competition. Since its hot start however, the team has fallen on hard times, losing 10 of their previous 12 matches, with seven of the losses coming by way of a three-set sweep.If Friday night’s match is the tune-up game of the weekend for USC, Saturday afternoon’s clash with the No. 2 Cardinal is far and away the premiere showcase. While USC is limping into this weekend, searching for answers after the recent slump, the Cardinal are in the midst of a season-best four-match winning streak.Led by reigning National Player of the Week sophomore outside hitter Brad Lawson, Stanford heads into Saturday’s match looking like the team more apt to make a run at an NCAA title. Lawson, who leads the team in kills per set (4.91) and service aces (16), is joined by senior leader and fellow opposite hitter, Evan Romero, who last year set the school record for most kills in a season.After wins against perennial powerhouses UCLA and UC Irvine last weekend, a 4 p.m. showdown at the Galen Center with the Trojans is well worth the price of admission — which for students is free with a school I.D.For Bill Ferguson and the Trojans, the key to repairing the damage of last week’s embarrassing loss to Pepperdine is playing with the same heart and passion the team displayed so effortlessly while atop the nation’s standings just weeks earlier. While the team has found success this season as a unit, in order to regain the stride and swagger necessary to get back to the NCAA Final, junior team leaders opposite hitter Murphy Troy (4.05 kills per game), setter Riley McKibbin (552 assists this season) and middle blocker Austin Zahn (.460 hitting percentage this season) will need to do just that during this weekend’s home stand: lead.If the Trojans fail to regain that sense of leadership, résumé-boosting matches like the ones they will face this weekend will go in a bad direction and a once-promising season has the potential to follow suit.“As a senior, I would say this team has experienced worse problems than losing three of past four games,” Current said. “We are fortunate to experience some valuable ‘downs’ this early in the season, ultimately helping us to peak at the right time.”