Last night marked Phish’s return to the beloved Saratoga Performing Arts Center, returning to the famed Saratoga Springs, NY venue for July 4th weekend. After missing their July 4th festivities in 2015 (a certain guitarist had other plans…), the opening night felt like something of a homecoming for the band’s loyal Northeast fanbase.The show featured a number of great moments, including the debut of a great new song called “Let’s Go,” a 20+ minute instrument-swapping jam session on “Chalk Dust Torture,” covers of classic rockers like Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” and Rolling Stones’ “Shine A Light,” and so much more.Thanks to DrFunkenstein, we can share full show video of this great SPAC opener. Check it out below!You can see a full gallery of Andrew Blackstein’s photos, below. Load remaining images
Related GAZETTE: What about the insurers who are pulling out of the program? Will that increase costs? BAICKER: The goal of having privately provided insurance through an exchange is that insurers will compete for enrollees by offering higher-quality benefits at a more affordable premium. If you don’t have competition there’s very little advantage to having a marketplace. If insurers drop out to the point that there aren’t enough competitors, that could have real negative consequences in terms of the value of the plans that are being offered. And I think we did see that some of the withdrawals were relatively new insurers with relatively small books of business who came in with low premiums — thinking that they were going to be able to provide a really lean, competitive benefit — but discovered that their premiums were too low, and that they couldn’t continue to participate in the market. That pushes premiums up and competition down. And certainly too much consolidation on either the insurer side or the provider side undermines the competitive pressures that we would like to be driving higher value benefits and lower premiums. So that’s a real concern.GAZETTE: Another critical issue is that too many young people are choosing to pay the penalty instead of signing up in the exchanges. What do you think the fix is there?BAICKER: That’s definitely a related issue. Insurers price their policies based on their guess about who is going to enroll. If young healthy people don’t enroll, then it’s going to be more expensive per enrollee to cover the people who are left, and premiums are going to be higher.What’s the fix? My suspicion is that it may not be clear to people what subsidies they are eligible for, what the advantages of being insured are, what policies are available to them at what net premium. Making sure people are aware of those benefits is necessary but may not be sufficient. Even people who are aware may not be signing up, and maybe the penalties are not high enough. It might be that the benefits of being insured are not clear enough. It’s difficult to perceive the advantages of being insured if you don’t end up using your health insurance benefits in a given year. The financial protection that insurance provides is a pretty abstract thing if you are not sick. That’s really hard for people who are young and healthy to internalize.GAZETTE: Is the public perception of the effectiveness of the ACA a concern? A recent poll by Politico and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that a majority of voters say the law is failing. How will that affect efforts at reform?BAICKER: There are clearly some misconceptions about what’s going on in health care markets. What policies are available and how much people have to pay for them is not very clear from the coverage that you read. Also, there are millions of people who are insured now who weren’t before. So when you asked whether the ACA is working, it depends on what your goals are. Is it working to increase health insurance coverage? Yes. Is it working to slow health care spending growth? Much less clear.GAZETTE: What are some of the things that analysts agree could be improved?BAICKER: Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs and some haven’t. There’s an opportunity for more flexible options in expanding coverage for low-income populations, whether it’s private versions of Medicaid coverage offered through things like exchanges, or other kinds of Medicaid waivers. There’s also an opportunity to improve continuity of coverage for low-income populations with variable income. Having people transition from Medicaid to subsidized exchange plans and back again creates discontinuities in coverage that are both expensive and potentially harmful for health. Those could be addressed. There are also gaps in coverage that I think were not intended by the original law, either because some states didn’t expand Medicaid or because of the specifics of drafting that may not have been intended — for example, defining the affordability of coverage based on a single policy versus a family policy. When you look at any large-scale, complicated new program — whether it’s Social Security or Medicare and Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act — there are inevitably lots and lots of things that need to be refined in the years that follow. There were lots of changes to the Medicare law after it was initially implemented. I think there are parallel changes needed in the Affordable Care Act that would make it work much better than it does now. And if there isn’t willingness to address some of the technical fixes, that’s really problematic for having it function well.Interview was edited for length and clarity. From the very beginning, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, has been beset with problems: bitter debate among lawmakers, a Supreme Court challenge, and crippling technical difficulties with sign-up site Healthcare.gov, to name a few. More recently, insurers have been pulling out of the law’s insurance exchanges, and just last week the federal government announced that the cost of some health care plans would jump next year by 25 percent. Still, some 20 million more people have health insurance thanks to the ACA, and the new law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. To assess the ACA landscape the Gazette spoke with Katherine Baicker, the C. Boyden Gray Professor of Health Economics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.GAZETTE: Do you think the Affordable Care Act has worked? Has it achieved the goals that the president and Congress set out for it?BAICKER: I think there were two goals, broadly speaking. The first was to get more people covered with affordable health insurance and the second was to slow the rate of health care spending growth.I think a lot of progress has been made toward the first goal, if not covering everyone. The number of uninsured people has been reduced through expansion of Medicaid and subsidized health insurance plans through the health insurance exchanges. That in some ways is the easier goal, even though it’s expensive and is perhaps is more expensive than some people had hoped — we fundamentally know how to get people health insurance. You have to make affordable plans available, and you have to suitably encourage people to be enrolled in those plans.The much harder goal is slowing the growth of health care spending. And really, the goal shouldn’t be to spend less on health care, the goal should be to get high value for what we are spending. We frequently talk about spending less, which is shorthand for having spending grow less quickly. And what we really mean is spending less for every unit of health we are getting. So the shorthand can sometimes be misleading about what the real goals are — improving value in the health care system. And that’s a much harder nut to crack. How do you discourage spending on care that’s of low value, while ensuring that there’s really good access to care that’s of high value, particularly for low-income populations? A number of strategies have been deployed, but they have had mixed success. It’s also much harder to know the effects of those levers — to assess what trends in health care spending can be attributed to the ACA versus not.GAZETTE: What are the main drivers of medical costs and what if anything can be done to reduce the rate of growth?BAICKER: First of all, the main driver of health insurance premiums is health care utilization. We use a lot more health care resources in the U.S. than some other countries do. We use a lot more resources in some parts of the country than we do in others. And all of that is evidence that we could be getting better value out of the system. There are pockets of the U.S. where people are getting really high-quality care at a lower cost with better outcomes. And those are models for parts of the country where we seem to be spending a lot more money and not achieving the health outcomes that we could. Part of it is the disconnect between the people who pay for health care and the people who make the decisions about the health care that’s used. And that can be about insurance and what it covers with what co-payment; it can be about providers’ decision-making; and it can be about patients not having the information they need to decide what care is really right for them.GAZETTE: Data released by the federal government indicates some premiums will rise 25 percent in 2017. In addition, a number of insurers have pulled out of the program. What do those factors mean for the ACA moving forward?BAICKER: It’s important to realize that the premium increases people are talking about are for a very specific subset of of health insurance policies: those sold on the health insurance exchanges, the non-group market. It’s not about the premiums people are paying for employer plans. It’s not about people who are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. It’s a pretty narrow slice of the population we are talking about. That doesn’t mean it’s not important — it’s just that sometimes people think that means everybody’s health care costs are going up by 25 percent and that’s just not what’s happening.Most of the people who get health insurance through the exchanges are heavily subsidized, with premium and cost-sharing subsidies. So individuals’ costs are not going up as much as the total premiums are going up. That means it’s going to be more expensive for the federal government as the subsidies are going up commensurately with premium increases.GAZETTE: So that cost falls to the taxpayers.BAICKER: Yes, more expensive for the government equals more expensive for the taxpayer — either today or tomorrow, depending on whether it’s financed through deficits or current taxes.GAZETTE: So why are these premiums going up?BAICKER: Some of it is about general rise in health care spending, but some of it is really specific to the way the health insurance exchanges were implemented and phased in. For example, because it was a new market, because insurers were entering an exchange that didn’t exist to cover a population that hadn’t been covered, there was a lot of uncertainty about how much it would really cost to deliver health insurance to that population. So the law had subsidies to protect insurers against unexpectedly high costs: reinsurance. As those subsidies phase out, premiums will necessarily go up because the cost of that insurance for very high-risk people is being transferred from the federal government to the insurance plans. Another part of it was that some insurers might have priced their premiums too low in the beginning, making guesses about who was going to be covered and how much those people were going to cost. The costs of inequality: Money = quality health care = longer life Federal insurance has helped many, but system’s holes limit gains, Harvard analysts say
Source: The GrocerGreat buyers have an extensive knowledge of what’s on their competitor’s shelvesMarket awarenessSuccessful buyers have a genuine interest in their category and know exactly what’s going on in the market. They’ll read lots of trade magazines, know what their competitors are doing and have a good grasp on the effect their category decisions have on the wider market.They’re tasked with growing market share, so buyers for big retailers need to be aware of what’s happening within their category at the discounters and in the convenience market, too.There’s also the small matter of understanding what consumers want from a category and trying to anticipate their needs. Outside of market data, buyers also deal with spreadsheets for their promotional calendar, pricing, volume vs profit and forecasting, so strong excel skills are a must.And to top it off, all categories have a regular flow of NPD to be managed. Every new product will come with its own calendar of tasks to be completed.Sharp commercial acumenBuyers need to understand how to plan, manage and implement budgets. Not only should they be aware of their top line sales, but also their bottom line in the short and long term.They’re also joint business planning, considering the commercial outcomes for their retailer and suppliers – so a buyer has to have strong money management skills.Master negotiating skillsBuyers spend a lot of time sitting in front of suppliers. They need to be able to negotiate the best deals that work for both parties: that might mean convincing suppliers to provide marketing support, or asking them to shell out money for certain shelf space. It’s always a case of give and take, and a great buyer can use their influence to get the best outcome. Buyers who work in chilled categories also have to juggle the short shelf lives of productsThe ability to keep calm under pressureBuyers need to be incredibly fast decision makers. If their boss sets a target and there’s limited space on shelf, there’s no time for flapping. If the category is underperforming, buyers need to act quickly and make tough decisions to still make their KPIs.And on top of this, buyers working in chilled have to work even faster because of their products’ short shelf lives. Are you a buyer working in own-label? Enter The Grocer’s Best of Own-Label Awards for free today and get the recognition you deserve. We’ll be crowning Best Own-Label Buyer, Best Own-Label Range and Best Own-Label Team among several other enviable titles. Check out the rest of the categories and enter for free here. They’re at the forefront of food and drink trends, they introduce exciting new flavour combinations that excite the masses and take part in endless tasting sessions. To the outside world it can look like buyers have one of the best jobs in the world. But, the reality is, there’s a lot more to the job than trying out new products.We spoke to Emilie Gregson from specialist fmcg recruitment agency Signature Career Management to find out the most important skills that all of the UK’s best fmcg buyers have in their arsenal.,Strong excel skills are important to keep track of promotional calendars and pricingStrong data and organisational skillsSomeone who can’t read and interpret data isn’t going to cut it as a buyer.Buyers can’t rely on suppliers to give them the market analysis they need to plan their category. Some suppliers might offer up unbiased reports, but others will only provide the figures they want a buyer to see. And buyers could be dealing with up to 50 different suppliers all telling them different things – it’s their job to cut through the noise and find the real story within the data. And startups won’t have any data at all.
Jarry Consumo diedof a gunshot wound on the body, a police report showed. ILOILO City – A42-year-old resident of Barangay Quipot, Janiauy, Iloilo was shot dead. According topolice investigating, Jarry and Ronald figured in an argument that ended upwith Ronald shooting his uncle using a 12-gauge shotgun around 3 p.m. on Jan.31. Itwas however not immediately established what triggered the altercation. Jarry’s nephew Ronald,26, also a resident of the village, was tagged suspect. The suspect wasarrested and detained in the lockup cell of the Janiuay municipal policestation, facing charges./PN
AHMEDABAD: Jasprit Bumrah cannot wait for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to kickstart, and the Indian ace pacer took to social media on Thursday to share his excitement.The BCCI will be organising the IPL at three UAE venues — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah — from September 19 to November 10 after it was postponed from March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s almost time,” said Bumrah in a tweet with a photo of him celebrating after taking a wicket in a Mumbai Indians jersey. Bumrah had played a crucial role in Mumbai’s record fourth title win in IPL last season. On Wednesday, India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane had also expressed his excitement for IPL 2020. Rahane was traded by Rajasthan Royals to Delhi Capitals in November last year. “New beginnings for me in the @ipl this year. Looking forward to the season,” Rahane said in an Instagram post along with a photo of him batting. Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to suspend the partnership with title sponsors Vivo for IPL 13. This development came after the IPL Governing Council had on Sunday decided to retain the company as title sponsors. IANS Also Watch: #NewsMakers: Exclusive chat with Jeevan B, DC, Lakhimpur with Oineetom Ojah
by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow â€” The following are a list of criminal court complaints recently filed by the Sumner County Attorney’s office.These are formal charges introduced into the Sumner County District Court system. The suspects listed in the complaint have not been tried by a judge or jury. All citizens are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Bobby Altis, born in 1996, of Wellington was charged with theft, a level 9 felony, which was his third and subsequent offense. He was also charged with theft of land or mislaid property, a Class A misdemeanor; and two counts of criminal use of a financial card, Class A misdemeanors.Altis is accused on July 17, 2014 of getting unauthorized control of $100 cash in a bank bag that belonged to someone else after being convicted of theft on two prior occasions.He then allegedly found a wallet of a person he had gone fishing with and instead of returning it, he kept $10 cash that was in the wallet and used the ATM card in it without permission.Then on July 28, 2014 at the Wellington Pizza Hut, Altis allegedly used the young manâ€™s ATM card without permission to purchase pizza for $35.05.Allegedly on July 27, 2014 at Caseyâ€™s General Store at 1021 W. 8th he used the same credit card without permission to purchase $25.39 in gasoline and signed his own name to the receipt.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Amanda Adams, born in 1984, of El Dorado, was charged and pled guilty to theft, a Class A misdemeanor. Her identity theft charge, a level 8 felony, was dismissed.Adams was convicted of using an ATM card issued to another person who had an account at Valley State Bank in Belle Plaine. She also was convicted of stealing a Gold Nuggett ring, Gold Nuggett bracelet; Saffaire/Diamond ring; and an opal cubic zirconia ring valued less than $1,000 from a Wichita pawn shop.Adams was sentenced to having to pay court costs and serve six months in county jail which was suspended on one-year probation provided she pay restitution of $596.08 she received from the personâ€™s ATM card she used at two Sumner County convenience stores.She is also to pay $150 to Money Town Pawn Shop in Wichita and have no contact with the she had taken the credit card from.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Travis Williams, born in 1982, of Wellington was charged with possession of narcotics, a level 5 drug felony; interference with law enforcement, a level 8 felony; and interference with law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor. Williams pled guilty to the third count of interference with the police officer. The other two charges were dismissed.Williams was accused of possessing a drug known as hydrocodone pills which are schedule 3 narcotics in a plastic bag in his hand when he was arrested and allegedly put the pills into his mouth and ate them to try to prevent being caught. These charges were dismissed.However, he was convicted of walking away from the arresting officer during a disturbance in progress. The officer asked him to stop and he allegedly refused to do so. He was accused of resisting being handcuffed.Willams is to serve six months with a controlled sentence, pay $250 in court cost and $400 KBI lab fees if applicable, be placed on probation for one year and be up for drug and alcohol evaluation.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢ Charla Lambrecht, born in 1961, of Mulvane pled guilty to disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor.Lambrecht was accused of cussing at another person by threatening to destroy his car. She must pay a $100 fine and court costs.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Tyler Rusk, born in 1986, of Wellington was charged with disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor; possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor.Rusk is accused on July 14, 2014 of punching holes in a closet door during an argument with his girlfriend.He also allegedly had a bag of marijuana and a marijuana pipe in his pocket when he was arrested.Rusk court deposition is set for Sept. 4 at 9 a.m.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Laura Cheuvront, born in 1969, of Belle Plaine was charged with disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor; pedestrian under the influence, a traffic infraction; and interference with law enforcement, a Class misdemeanor.Cheuvront is accused on July 30, 2014 of using abusive behavior causing people to leave the Belle Plaine City Park.She then allegedly was walking in the 300 to 400 block of East 4th in Belle Plaine while allegedly intoxicated and walked past the car of the people who was leaving the park. She yelled at them while pounding on the car. She then allegedly physically resisted being arrested, handcuffed and placed in the police car.Cheuvront failed to appear in court on Aug. 14. Her new bond is set at $5,000.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Jimmy McArthur, born in 1986, of Winfield was charged with criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor; and disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor.McArthur is accused of going onto property at 111 W. College in Oxford knowing he was not authorized to do so and getting into an argument with a female. He was told to leave by the owner, but refused to do so. McArthur also allegedly told the owner he couldnâ€™t make him leave.McArthurâ€™s case is continue to August 28 at 9 a.m.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Jason Lee Johnson pled guilty to domestic battery, a Class B misdemeanor.Johnson admitted to shoving a couch for which a family member was sitting, and then shoving the family member on Aug. 3, 2014.Lee has been sentenced to six months in county jail to be suspended for one year of probation provided he adhere to the following conditions:â€¢obtain a drug and alcohol evaluation;â€¢obtain domestic violence assessment and treatment as recommended; â€¢and no contact with the person he admitted to abusing unless approved in advanced by a Court Service Officer.He also must pay a $200 fine and court costs.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Jamie Treadway, born in 1986, of Moore, Okla. was charged with speeding 85 in a 75 mph zone, a traffic infraction; transporting an open container, a misdemeanor; failing to maintain a single lane, a traffic infraction; driving while suspended, a Class B misdemeanor; and interference with law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor.Treadway was driving a 2000 Chevrolet Colorado on Aug. 6 after going 85 mph in a 75 mph zone.Treadway failed to appear in court on August 14. His new bond is set at $10,000.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Danielle Howe, born in 1988, of Wichita pled guilty to transportation of an open container.On July 25, Howe admitted to having a glass containing whiskey and cola in the passenger door of a vehicle and an open bottle of whiskey elsewhere while riding as a passenger down Sixth Street in Belle Plaine.Howe is to pay $100 fine and court costs.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Joshua Brown, born in 1982, of Wilson, Kans. was accused of fraudulent use of a driverâ€™s license, a Class A misdemeanor; interference with law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor; possession of methamphetamine, a level 5 drug felony; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor.Brown is accused on Aug. 6 at the Kansas Star Casino of attempting to get into the casino using a California Identification Card belonging to someone else. After the casino questioned him about using a false ID, he then allegedly used a name of another Brown, who was in prison. When authorities checked his vehicle, he allegedly had a small plastic baggy containing methamphetamine in his friend Sophia Deweyâ€™s purse. He also allegedly had a glass smoking pipe in the car console, two small baggies and syringes in a Crown Royal bag.Brown failed to appear for district court on August 14. His new bond is set for $10,000.Dewey, born in 1963, of Ellsworth, Kans. was charge with possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor and possession of methamphetamine, a level 5 drug felony.She is accused of having a glass pipe in her purse and a bag of meth that Brown allegedly gave to her to hold.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢William Baker, born in 1969, of Wellington was charged with disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor; and battery, a Class B misdemeanor.Baker is accused on June 12, 2014 of yelling at two other people who were walking near his yard, calling them words disparaging to black people. He then approached one of the maleâ€™s and punched him with his fist.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Terry Wood of Wichita was charged with driving under the influence his third offense in a lifetime which if convicted requires a mandatory 90 days in jail and a maximum one year sentence with a minimum fine of $1,750.On January 25, 2014, Wood is accused of failing to pick a lane while on Interstate 35 in Sumner County before being stopped.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Joshua Bodner, born in 1990, of Wellington was charged with aggravated burglary, a level 5 felony; theft, a Class A misdemeanor; reckless driving , a misdemeanor; and driving while suspended, a Class B misdemeanor.On Aug. 14, Bodner is accused of entering a combination garage and apartment with the intent of committing a theft of a minibike while the owner was at home. After allegedly stealing the bike and loading it into his 1996 Ford Taurus, the minibike owner approached the carÂ and grabbed the car door handle as Bodner was about to leave. In an attempt to elude the minibike owner, Bodner allegedly sped away too fast causing the car to skid sideways and causing the minibike owner to let go of the car in hopes of not being dragged.Bodner also allegedly had no valid drivers license during theThat case has been continue to Aug. 28.During this alleged altercation, Clinton Jeffery, born in 1992, of Wellington was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, a level 9 felony; aggravated burglary, a level 5 felony; and theft, a Class A misdemeanor.Jeffrey is accused of allegedly helping Bodner in the alleged theft of the minibike.â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢Bodner was then charged on a separate complaint of criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor; possession of marijuana – a second offense, a levee l5 drug felony; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. hen Bodner is accused of an earlier crime on Aug. 12 at the Michigan Street Apartment Complex, in which at 12:30 p.m. at the request of the apartment manager that he was to leave and not return to the apartment complex. At 5:23 p.m. , he was back at an apartment and he was arrested for criminal trespass. He allegedly had a small quantity of marijuana in a glass smoking pipe and a small keychain canister in a black bag.Bodner had pled guilty on April 9, 2009 of possession of marijuana and was placed on probation.
They call it Murphy’s Law, the adage that “everything that can go wrong will go wrong”. For the organisers and stakeholders of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, it’s a law that is being self-perpetuated with grim consequences. Days before the Games were to begin, two men on a motorcycle sprayed,They call it Murphy’s Law, the adage that “everything that can go wrong will go wrong”. For the organisers and stakeholders of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, it’s a law that is being self-perpetuated with grim consequences. Days before the Games were to begin, two men on a motorcycle sprayed a bus carrying Taiwanese tourists with pistol fire in the Jama Masjid area, critically injuring two and triggering a fresh security scare; an overbridge meant to ferry athletes and spectators from the main stadium to the car park collapsed, injuring 23 labourers; parts of the false ceiling of the weightlifting venue at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium came crashing down and an advance party from New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland raised serious concerns about the unhygienic conditions in the residential zone of the Games Village constructed under the supervision of the DDA.Collapsed footover bridge near the main venue.The Village was to be officially opened on September 23 and just two days before that it was in an “uninhabitable and filthy” condition, says the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), Mike Hooper, with human excreta clogging the toilets, stray dogs sleeping on beds meant for athletes and officials, and switches, faucets and lifts that didn’t work.To add to the embarrassment, the secretary general of the Organising Committee (OC), Lalit Bhanot, came out with the shocking, even bizarre statement, “Our hygienic standards and foreigners’ hygiene standards are different”; thereby implying that Indians are fine with excreta and filth in their living accommodation. If that wasn’t enough, the security arrangements were exposed by an Australian TV crew that managed to smuggle ammonium nitrate, an explosive, in a detonation box into the main venue, Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, an ominous sign in view of a purported Indian Mujahideen e-mail received by a media house soon after the Jama Masjid firing, threatening to target foreigners at the Games.advertisementIt’s a chain of disasters that sends a dubious message to 70 other participating nations on the eve of the arrival of athletes. There’s more. The heavy rains have ensured that the Yamuna, adjoining the Games Village, is flowing above the danger mark, heightening the scare over dengue. It was no great surprise that some top athletes from England declared they were pulling out of the Games, including world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu.Countdown to CrisisJawaharLal Nehru Stadium: Rs 961-crore project by CPWD. 11 days before the Games the ceiling of the weightlifting complex falls; a pedestrian overbridge in the main complex constructed by the PWD collapses.Commonwealth Games Village: Worth Rs 1,000 crore, constructed by DDA. Termed “uninhabitable” on the eve of the arrival of participating athletes.Indira Gandhi Sports Complex: Renovated at a cost of Rs 669 crore by the Sports Authority of India. The velodrome has suffered damage due to waterlogging and seepage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pressed the panic button and deputed Delhi Lt. Governor Tejendra Khanna, also DDA chairman, to personally oversee the clean-up operation. In contrast, Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, who heads the Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted last year to ensure effective coordination between 54 agencies to make the Games a success, seems unfazed. Calling the concern about cleanliness as “not major”, he stressed that “the Games next month would be absolutely world class”.Such is the Nero-like fiddling by officials, with top dog Suresh Kalmadi maintaining an eerie silence, that the threat to the conduct of the Games and the prospect of other hurriedly built venues and structures collapsing, mean India’s image has taken a serious beating. “The writing was on the wall,” says a senior member of GoM who insists that he will come out in open with details of mismanagement after the Games are over. “If they are to happen, that is,” he adds. The Government opened the doors of the treasury in the name of country’s honour, with the cost of the Games now reaching an estimated Rs 70,000 crore.The Games Village, worth more than Rs 1,000 crore, with 14 blocks and 34 towers having 1,168 air-conditioned flats that can house over 8,000 athletes and team officials, was handed over to OC by the DDA as late as end of last month. When the chefs-de-mission from participating countries, who started moving in by September 15, raised concerns about the cleanliness, the OC promptly shifted them from their allotted towers to the one meant for the Indian contingent.”I have never seen such under-preparedness in my life. I don’t think we’ll get any big event, such as the Olympics, in future.”Kunjarani Devi, weightlifter advertisementTroubled Trio: (From left) Kalmadi, Dikshit and Gill are shirking responsibility.During this time, there were some 12,000 labourers engaged at the site putting overlays in place, and without effective monitoring by the OC. They defecated in the bathrooms meant for players and no cleaning up was carried out before they were opened for inspection just two days before the players were to shift in. Weightlifter Kunjarani Devi slammed the shoddy work for the Games, saying “I have never seen such under-preparedness ever in my life”. Adding that she was ashamed of what was going on, the ace weightlifter said the CWG mess will affect India’s chances to bid for sporting events. “I don’t think we’ll get any big event, such as the Olympics, in future,” she said.As the situation stands today, there can’t be a bigger contrast to the stated objective: to deliver the best Games ever, showcase project India as an economic power and Delhi as a global destination. Documentary proof of the mess was provided by the Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC) probe in August this year when it carried out inspection at 16 Games-related projects by agencies such as the PWD (under the Delhi Government), CPWD, DDA, NDMC and MCD (all under the Government of India).Shattered window pane of the bus attacked near Jama Masjid.Explaining the modus operandi, the CVC said that agencies created alarming circumstances and used them as an alibi to demand more funds and induct favourite contractors without adhering to the safeguards. These conditions were artfully created under the nose of the GoM which kept sending positive signals while the Government kept hiking budgets. The allocation in the last two years to the tune of Rs 7,271 crore while a paltry sum of Rs 378 crore was given for the preparation of teams. These renewed targets and budget need to be approved by the GoM, but nobody in the Government questioned the cost escalations.Sports Minister M.S. Gill was forthright in articulating his ministry’s resolve to keep things open and transparent, but has been an embarrassment himself by first refusing to acknowledge world wrestling champion Sushil Kumar’s coach, even pushing him aside, and then refusing to answer questions when the excreta literally hit the fan. He brushed aside the CVC report, saying action has to wait as the “focus must now be on the success of the Games”.The swollen Yamuna with the Games Village in the background.Top functionaries in the ministry are now looking for a face-saver even as the hostess of the Games, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, known for her great working rapport with Gill and Reddy but not with Kalmadi, took no action. She wanted to wait for the full report, assuring “account and accountability will be fixed”.Dikshit blamed the rains for the mess which is a politician’s favourite ploy to divert attention and accountability. The national shame is as much about shoddy workmanship, corruption, inefficiency and lack of transparency as it is about how India is exposed as a country with First World ambitions and pompous declarations with Fourth World mentality. India’s biggest Games are becoming its biggest embarrassment and no one knows when the next disaster will strike.advertisement
Juventus defender De Ligt: I can’t split Van Dijk and Ronaldoby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveJuventus defender Matthijs de Ligt says Holland teammate Virgil van Dijk deserves his individual success.The Liverpool defender ultimately lost out to Barcelona star Lionel Messi for FIFA’s The Best gong.De Ligt told TMW: “It is a great honour to be here. “I was fortunate to have played with both Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo, but frankly I can’t choose between the two.” While De Ligt attended the awards last night, Ronaldo stayed at home. About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
SEC West Hype VideoWill there be a better division in college football in 2015 than the SEC West? Probably not. The division that has ruled the sport for the majority of the last decade is expected to be great once again this fall. In ESPN’s first “Football Power Index” poll, the SEC West has five teams in the top 10 and a sixth team, Auburn, ranked No. 17. In anticipation of the 2015 season, a fan created an awesome “Vengeance” hype video about the SEC West. It’s pretty great.