Lawyers sound off on parental leave continuances

first_imgLawyers sound off on parental leave continuances Dec 15, 2018 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Top Stories One lawyer told of attending a hearing outside her normal circuit on a Thursday. At the conclusion, the judge asked her to prepare a document and submit it in five days. The lawyer responded that would be impossible; after a difficult pregnancy, she was scheduled for a Caesarian section that weekend.The judge gave her 10 days to file the document.But routinely granting continuances to expectant lawyers could harm the handling of criminal cases, where the speedy trial rule could be impacted. They may also affect juvenile and dependency cases, which have strict statutory deadlines and goals for handling cases where the welfare of children is at stake.Family time versus the rights of defendants and the vulnerable dominated responses to the Supreme Court’s call for public comment on a proposed Rule of Judicial Administration that would require judges to presumptively approve a 90-day continuance when lawyers in cases before them are expecting children.The rule, pending at the Supreme Court, would require judges to grant the continuances unless the opposing side claims it would substantially prejudice its case. In those instances, the moving attorney would have the burden of showing there was no meaningful prejudice.Many of the commenting lawyers said the proposed rule would be particularly helpful for solo practitioners and small law firms, which might have trouble finding attorneys to cover when parental leave is sought.One such attorney is Tara S. Lynn of Oldsmar who experienced the difficult pregnancy mentioned at the start of this story. It was 2016 and she said the attorneys and judges in her circuit continually worked with her to circumvent the difficulties caused by her pregnancy.“However, I very distinctly remember an incident that occurred in a different circuit — I attended a hearing on a Thursday,” she wrote. “The court requested I draft a document and submit it to him in five days. I explained I was undergoing a Cesarean section that weekend and would not be able to comply with the deadline. In response, I was given 10 days.”Lynn met the deadline but observed, perhaps with a bit of understatement, that was the last thing that should have been on her mind.“It is my understanding that a large portion of the licensed attorneys in Florida are solo practitioners and/or small firms,” she continued. “It is imperative to provide us with a way to request time from the court when we expand our family. With this rule, it gives the request much more validity and requires the court to give the attorney reasonable time with the child; not 10 days.” St. Augustine attorney Jane West recounted an experience from about 10 years ago when she and her litigation partner in a small firm were preparing for a major trial against two other parties, which were represented by a total of eight male attorneys. By coincidence, she and her firm partner were both pregnant for the first time and both were due within three weeks of each other, at a time major pretrial work would be gearing up followed by the trial.“Rather than respectfully accommodating our pregnancies, I got set for 22 back-to-back depositions during the month of July, a mere three weeks after my son was born,” West wrote. “When we dared to request a continuance of the upcoming trial, much less a request to reschedule the depositions, we were met with a Motion to Expedite the trial and a Motion to Disqualify our firm from the case. The motion cited to a case where the lawyer was disqualified on the basis of her diminished mental competency.”It appeared, she added, that the opponents, rather than accommodating the dual pregnancies, were attempting to take advantage.“Professionalism is NOT always afforded and when it isn’t, exhausted mothers who spent the entire night nursing and in pain may simply not have the energy to stave off aggressive litigation tactics,” West went on. “The party that ends up suffering here is not just the mother, but the infant who most assuredly picks up on the stress of its mother, the other siblings in the home, the client, and our judiciary as a whole for failing to act compassionately.” Delray Beach attorney Erin Deady wrote that lawyers like certainty in the legal process and the proposed rule will provide that. She noted her recent mostly normal pregnancy ended in an emergency c-section 10 days before her due date.“I took a conference call that morning. I took a conference call two-days later while checking out of the hospital. I took my newborn to the office many days to continue a regular breast-feeding schedule. I have scheduled conference calls around nap times that just simply didn’t result in a nap or stress-free call,” Deady wrote. “The proposed rule provides a strong presumption in favor of granting such a continuance for a three-month period and it is warranted to avoid ‘creative’ arguments that somehow a pregnancy, delivery, and care for an infant child can be used intentionally to avoid attorney responsibilities or somehow be part of a case strategy.”It’s not only women who have experienced problems with taking leave for the birth or adoption of a child.Ft. Lauderdale attorney David Bear commented, “I know from firsthand experience that many in our profession do not respect the value of paternity leave. As a father who insisted on taking a modest two weeks off for each of my three children, I have experienced overt retaliation from a senior partner at a former firm and also casual shaming from partners. I share this only to illustrate that this ignorance is a very real dynamic within our profession. It would be foolhardy to assume that all judges have the wisdom and enlightenment that the aforementioned partners lacked.” The Florida Association for Women Lawyers, in a submission signed by President Jennifer Shoaf Richardson, listed several examples where lawyers had difficulty obtaining or were denied a continuance, adding it likely is a far more common practice than many think and doesn’t happen with other types of continuance requests.“Continuances are routinely granted without opposition for weddings, planned surgical procedures, football games, and Broadway shows. Yet, when months of advance notice of a need for continuance is presented by parents who are also trial lawyers, there seems to be a pattern of opposition and doubt as to the legitimacy of the request,” FAWL wrote. “Parents should not have to forego lead counsel opportunities or lose their clients in the absence of substantial prejudice. Lawyer spouses should not be unnecessarily put under undo stress or concern that their significant other could miss the birth of their children in the absence of substantial prejudice. Clients should not have to pay for a new attorney to learn their case on the eve of trial — to the extent that is even possible — in the absence of substantial prejudice.”Mothers Esquire and other FAWL chapters endorsed those comments.Constitutional RightsThe Florida Public Defenders Association said the proposed rule could affect criminal defendant constitutional rights under existing rules and particularly the Sixth and 14th amendments, and the right to a speedy trial.“These rights cannot be overcome by parenting considerations. Although the proposed rule contains a ‘substantial prejudice’ proviso, defendants are entitled to be brought to trial within the time periods specified in Rule 3.191, regardless of inconvenience to witnesses, attorneys, or judges,” the association said. “In the experience of FPDA members, absent a waiver of speedy trial, colleagues are substituted in pending cases for lead counsel who take parental leave. Failure to exclude criminal prosecutions from proposed Rule 2.570 will undermine this practice, cause avoidable delays in criminal cases, and imperil defendants’ speedy trial rights.”If the parental leave rule is adopted, the FPDA recommended that it specifically exclude criminal cases.Likewise, the Department of Children and Families said cases involving children’s dependency should be exempted. The department noted that F.S. Chap. 39 encourages rapid resolution in dependency cases and that there should be no more than 60 days of continuances in any 12-month period. The department endorsed separate comments from the Bar’s Florida Juvenile Court Rules Committee that the continuance rule should not apply in dependency and juvenile courts.The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program raised the same points and agreed with the juvenile rules committee that if a continuance rule is adopted, it should exempt juvenile and dependency cases. It could be particularly cumbersome for the courts in dependency cases because any such motion might require responses from the GAL program, the Department of Children and Family, and any attorney ad litem in the case.FAWL, in its comment, noted criminal and juvenile-related objections to the rule but said those problems are covered because they would constitute “substantial prejudice” that would justify denying the continuance.“If, however, the Court is concerned by the possibility of confusion related to continuances in these areas, it could add a sentence to the comment that clarifies that violation of constitutional rights or Chapter 39 would constitute substantial prejudice,” FAWL said.Orlando attorney Theodore F. Greene III, who identified himself as a single father of three, took a different view of the rule, saying it forces the personal problems of attorneys onto the courts and litigants — and it’s litigants, not attorneys, he added, who own the cases. Most attorneys and judges are willing to work with opposing counsel anyway, he added.“I understand first-hand that the demands of parenting can be a challenge to balance against the demands of professional life,” Greene wrote. “However, it can be managed — and it can best be managed — on an individual level by each attorney making their own decision about how they’ll achieve the balance they seek. Imposing upon others to achieve balance in your own life (and that’s what this proposed rule does) is also an act of selfishness.”As this News went to press, the RJAC filed a response to the comments recommending changes be made to accommodate the criminal, juvenile law, and related issues. Those will be presented to the Bar Board of Governors for its input at the board’s December 14 meeting.A story on that will be in the January 1 Bar News.The proposed rule reached the court by an unusual process. The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee twice considered a parental continuance rule recommended by one of its subcommittees but rejected it. Most members supported the idea but said it was a policy issue better left to the courts. About the same time, the Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee considered the issue and endorsed it.Then-Bar President Bill Schifino formed a special committee that recommended the adoption of a continuance rule nearly identical to the one before the court. The Board of Governors endorsed that proposal and sent it to the court. But the court rejected the filing, noting that only procedural rules committees, not the board, could propose rule changes.However, the court followed that up by requesting the RJAC to submit a report, with majority and minority opinions, on the issue and to get the Board of Governors’ opinion. The committee considered the issue in January and adopted a motion recommending no action, although a minority report supported the proposed rule. The Board of Governors supported the minority position.The court, on its own motion, converted the no-action report into an out-of-cycle rules case and invited feedback from other procedural rule committees. It then solicited comments from Bar members, which were due by November 15, The RJAC had until December 6, as this News went to press, to respond to those comments.All of the comments to Case No. SC18-1554 can be found on the court’s website.last_img read more

Top performer sings: let’s go buy a site

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Scotland’s decarbonisation ambitions get cash boost from UK Gov

first_imgPale Blue Dot Energy, the Aberdeen-based lead developer behind the Acorn Project, is set to receive around £100,000 to develop its plans for deploying CO2 gathering and shipping infrastructure to decarbonise the industrial cluster in the Central Belt of Scotland.The second project, a partnership led by NECCUS (the North East Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage Alliance), attracted a similar amount to develop a roadmap, which will set out in detail how low carbon and Net Zero industrial clusters can be achieved in the coming years.Crucially, the funding allows both organisations to progress to the next round of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.This means they are eligible to compete for further funding, for which £131m is available for the deployment element of the industrial strategy, while £8m is available for the roadmap work.Minister for Energy, Connectivity, and the Islands Paul Wheelhouse said, “Scotland is delivering on its world-leading emissions reduction targets and ambition to be Net Zero by 2045, and CCUS is a vital component of our energy transition which supports industrial decarbonisation.”“The Climate Emergency remains, and it is therefore vital we have a strong, green economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”“Because these technologies are critical to the essential energy transition and to ensuring a just transition, we are supporting the development and implementation of CCUS technologies, including continued Scottish Government backing for Pale Blue Dot Energy and NECCUS.”Sian Wilson, Senior Manager of Crown Estate Scotland, which provides the rights for CO2 storage and is an active supporter of both projects, said, “The end goal for the work is that Scotland can offer the next generation a truly sustainable future with good quality jobs created from clean, inclusive, growth across a range of sectors.”“This is something we wholly support and are therefore pleased to be involved in this project.”last_img read more

Rebuilt Abbey Wood station takes shape

first_imgUK: Austrian timber construction firm Weihag has installed glued laminated timber panels which in combination with 31 tonnes of 45 m long steel beams will form a ‘landmark’ roof for Abbey Wood station. This is being rebuilt for its future role as the southeastern terminus of London’s Elizabeth Line.Network Rail began work to rebuild the station in 2013. Track renewals are now complete, the 1 500 m2 concourse built, and the current focus is on installing the zinc roof covering. Completion of the building is planned for autumn 2017, ahead of the start of Elizabeth Line services to the station in December 2018.‘After so many years designing the new station and preparing for the work, it’s fantastic to see this new, elegant timber roof taking shape’, said Matthew White, Surface Director at Crossrail Ltd. ‘The arrival of the Elizabeth Line represents a once in a generation opportunity to transform Abbey Wood, helping to create jobs and attract business and investment to the local area.’last_img read more

Nationals overseas encouraged to help build Dominica’s economy

first_img 12 Views   one comment Share Share LocalNews Nationals overseas encouraged to help build Dominica’s economy by: – August 27, 2012 Sharecenter_img Minister for Constituency Empowerment, Ambrose GeorgeMinister for Constituency Empowerment speaking at an open-mic discussion has urged Dominicans overseas to contribute to nation-building here in Dominica.Hon George stated that there are many ways to help develop Dominica’s economy from other countries.The minister noted that owning residential property on the island is one way to demonstrate national spirit.“Dominicans living overseas can participate in the actual development of your country. There are many investment opportunities. You can open up accounts at the Credit Unions and banks so that the money can circulate within the country. Those of you who have not built a home here in Dominica should consider buying some land and building a holiday home.”According to Hon. George, owning agricultural property in Dominica can also help to improve the local economy.“Those of you who have access to family agricultural lands should utilize those lands because there are many opportunities in agriculture in Dominica. You can do so while you are abroad by employing someone to tend the land on your behalf. There is tremendous scope for export of our produce in the region. Government has taken a decision to reconfigure Dexia which is in fact the export import agency in Dominica with a stronger focus on export.”Government Information Service Tweet Sharing is caring!last_img read more

YLKI Minta Pemerintah Hilangkan Bilik Rokok di Dalam Bus AKAP

first_img( Sebagai bagian dari fasilitas, bus antar kota antar provinsi (AKAP) tak sedikit yang dilengkapi dengan bilik khusus merokok. Kehadirannya sendiri di bus AKAP guna memudahkan penumpang yang merokok dan agar tidak mengganggu penumpang lainnya yang tidak merokok. Selain itu membebaskan penumpang dari penumpang dari risiko sebagai perokok pasif.Baca juga: Masih Adakah Bilik Rokok di Dalam Bus?Namun, kehadiran bilik merokok sendiri tidak menutup kemungkinan penumpang lainnya bisa mencium dan menghirup asap rokok. Biasanya hal ini terjadi karena sekat untuk bilik tidak terpasang dengan benar dan pintu pemisah rusak serta belum diperbaiki oleh agen atau PO bus itu. Baru-baru ini Yayasan Lembaga Konsumen Indonesia (YLKI) menyoroti ketersediaan fasilitas bilik rokok tersebut. Pasalnya, YLKI mendapat masukan, keluhan dan menjumpai secara langsung bilik rokok dalam bus AKAP, ironisnya hal itu terdapat dalam bus DAMRI dan Bus Trans Jawa. Tak hanya itu, pihak YLKI pun melihat, sebagai pengguna angkutan umum, khususnya bus AKAP dimana konsumen atau penumpang berhak mendapat keamanan, keselamatan dan kenyamanan selama menggunakannya.Ketua pengurus harian YLKI Tulus Abadi mengatakan, keberadaan bilik atau area merokok dalam bus adalah anti regulasi karena melanggar peraturan. Dia menyebutkan dalam Pasal 115 Undang-undang No.36/2009 tentang Kesehatan, menyebutkan bahwa angkutan umum adalah Kawasan Tanpa Rokok dan dilarang keras ada area merokok. Ketentuan ini juga ada dalam PP No.109/2012 tentang pengamanan rokok sebagai zat adiktif.YLKI sendiri meminta Dirjen Perhubungan Darat Kementerian Perhubungan Republik Indonesia untuk melarang atau membatalkan ruang merokok di semua bus AKAP. Selain itu juga mematuhi regulasi yakni UU tentang kesehatan dan PP No.109/2012.“Contohlah PT KAI yang sukses dan konsisten menerapkan kereta api tanpa rokok, selama dalam perjalanannya. Tak kenal KA jarak pendek, atau KA jarak jauh,” ujar Tulus yang dikutip dari (23/2/2019).Tulus meminta semua pihak untuk konsisten dalam melindungi konsumen atau penumpang yang tidak merokok, terbebas dari kontaminasi racun asap rokok baik langsung atau tidak langsung.“Lagipula, armada bus yang akan cepat kumuh, kumal dan lebih cepat menjadi bus rongsok akibat dampak asap rokok dari bilik merokok itu. Salah-salah armada bus terbakar oleh perilaku merokok penumpang yang acap teledor dan sembrono,” tutupnya.Sebenarnya beberapa bus antar kota yang berseliweran di DKI masih memiliki ruang khusus merokok hingga tahun 2014 lalu. Namun, semenjak adanya Peraturan Daerah Propinsi DKI Jakarta No.5/2014 mengenai transportasi, bus antar kota tidak memiliki lagi areal ruang merokok di dalamnya.Baca juga: Berani Langgar Aturan, Tak Ada Ampun Bagi Perokok di Dalam KeretaPadahal, dalam bus antar kota yang berseliweran di DKI saat itu, ruangan khusus perokok sudah mendapat izin yang pasti dan segi keamanannya sudah diperhitungkan. Untuk larangan kawasan tanpa rokok sudah di atur dalam Peraturan Pemerintah No.13/2003 tentang pengamanan rokok bagi kesehatan, pada Pasal 22-25 terdapat peraturan Kawasan Tanpa Rokok (KTR). Selain itu di UU No.36/2009 tentang kesehatan, pada Pasal 115 ayat 1 dan 2 tentang Kawasan Tanpa Rokok dan kewajiban Pemda menetapkanShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading… Relatedlast_img read more

The battle is on, says Hondina

first_imgRugby League BY SIMON KESLEP Rugby League is set to kick off on July 4 despite the Covid-19 pandemic in Port Moresby and Lae. PNG National Rugby League Competition (PNGNRLC) manager Stanley Hondina said it will be a shorter season with 15 rounds of competition. “It is a short 15-week competition so let us all work together, support each franchise, match officials, sponsors, staff at PNGRFL and the PNG NRLC,” he said. “The battle is on, the game kicks off in Port Moresby at 1pm on Saturday, July 4 at the Sir John Guise Stadium, the place where we will be playing our games. Oil Search National Football Stadium (NFS) is going through some maintenance and they had shut the venue for the year.” He said two venues have been chosen and all franchises are aware already following a meeting with them last week. “At the venues both in Port Moresby and Lae, there will only be 30 per cent supporters accepted to maintain social distancing and other protocol because we wrote this document (protocol) and we must implement it. Otherwise, they (Government authorities) will say what’s all these documents for when you are not enforcing and making it happen, it will cost us, a loss for us to gain revenue.” “Until we see something coming from PNG Sports Foundation (PNGSF), we can uplift that but as it is now we will have to go with it…ticket pricing, entry, venues and all other updates we will update as we go through,” said Hondina. He said the season is set to start with the competition getting bigger and better with the inclusion of SP PNG Hunters and PNG LNG Kumuls players. “The competition is going to get better. Kumuls coach Michael Marum and Hunters coach Matthew Church will be here, visiting all clubs. “They will talk about standards, skills and we are using this as an opportunity to up-skill our franchise clubs. Up-skill the way we can play our game so in the big picture – when other nations are not playing, only Australia and PNG, we can have a better chance come, 2021 Rugby League World Cup to improve our standing. “This is the big picture we want to work towards and aspire so what you are doing is not only in your confinement but to a bigger vision and see it happening,” said Hondina. Round one (July 4 kick-off) of the 2020 season for matches in Port Moresby includes; Agmark Rabaul Gurias Vs Wamp Nga Mt. Hagen Eagles, PRK Gulf Isou Vs Central Dabaris, Kroton Hela Wigmen Vs Kimbe Cutters and Moniplus NCD Port Moresby Vipers Vs Enga Provincial Government Enga Mioks. In Lae will be a double header Lae Snax Tigers Vs Jiwaka Provincial Government Waghi Tumbe while PRK Mendi Muruks take on Bintangor Goroka Lahanis.last_img read more

Eagles resurgent

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. We are young Smart’s Siklab Saya: A multi-city approach to esports Shanghai officials reveal novel coronavirus transmission modes Many attributed to luck the Eagles’ defeat of the defending champion Tamaraws almost two months back. Now, pundits say the Blue Eagles can’t be overlooked after tearing apart two of the best teams in the league in succession.“Again, it was a great team win,” said Ateneo pivotman Isaac Go. “FEU is the No. 2 rebounding team, and one way to beat them is through heart and effort. That’s what our team showed today.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra teammates show love for SlaughterSPORTSWe are youngSPORTSCone plans to speak with Slaughter, agentFor the second straight game, Go was a pillar of strength for Ateneo, fighting off FEU big men Prince Orizu and Raymar Jose in the shaded area, just as he made life difficult for La Salle’s Ben Mbala.“I guess we just came out to fight,” said Thirdy Ravena, whose knifing layup in the closing minutes energized the Eagles as they held off the Tams’ fightback in the closing minutes. “We knew we’re the underdogs and our game plan was to work hard for every possession.” The Falcons, whose semifinal appearance came in 2011 under coach Leo Austria, moved up to 7-5 and sent the Tigers reeling to their 10th defeat in 13 games.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next PH among economies most vulnerable to virus 30 Filipinos from Wuhan quarantined in Capas Smart hosts first 5G-powered esports exhibition match in PH Chinese-manned vessel unsettles Bohol town Where did they go? Millions left Wuhan before quarantinecenter_img Go tossed in a floater in the next sequence and Ateneo was safe again with a 13-point lead.With their fourth straight win, the Eagles caught the Tamaraws at second with an 8-4 record but could eventually wrest the No. 2 seeding should both teams end up tied entering the Final Four.Adamson completed the Final Four cast with a 76-61 triumph over the University of Santo Tomas Tigers in the other game.“Nobody expected us to be here in the Final Four,” said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren. “If this is a dream, I hope I don’t wake up.”While La Salle has already sealed the top ranking, Ateneo, FEU and Adamson are still in the race for the No. 2 berth, which offers a twice-to-beat privilege in the Final Four.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan PLAY LIST 01:31Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan01:33WHO: ‘Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient’01:01WHO: now 31,211 virus cases in China 102:02Vitamin C prevents but doesn’t cure diseases like coronavirus—medic03:07’HINDI PANG-SPORTS LANG!’03:03SILIP SA INTEL FUND Mainland China virus cases exceed 40,000; deaths rise to 908 View comments Pacman still big draw EDITORS’ PICK Ateneo Blue Eagles vs FEU Tamaraws in a UAAP Season 79 game. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netBad news for Ateneo’s opponents: The resurgent Blue Eagles are playing with new-found confidence at the most crucial juncture of the season.Five days after their shock upset of the La Salle Green Archers, the Eagles thumped the Far Eastern U Tamaraws anew, 74-59, yesterday in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.ADVERTISEMENT As fate of VFA hangs, PH and US forces take to the skies for exerciselast_img read more

South Africa’s adventure diversity

first_imgNight-time miracle Also, the cultural/historical/political dynamic that is prevalent in this land was fascinating to observe. The apartheid era ended only about 15 years ago and the Asian, black and white people are apparently still feeling each other out, so to speak. On our sojourn, we were delighted at how beautiful and varied the South African landscape is. From rolling green hills, fertile lands, soaring mountain ranges, plunging canyons, near jungle environments, Indian Ocean-side paradises, semi-desert regions, big city settings, and a non-stop montage of small African villages, it was one unexpected surprise after another. The lesson here is that there is more to South Africa than the great game parks. Pay a visit to the Drakensberg Mountain Range and other parts of this wonderful land and I guarantee that you won’t regret it. 15 January 2009 We came back sunburnt, cut, scraped, sore – and thoroughly satisfied, as the end result of adventure tourism should be! Our tour guide took us on a 16-kilometre hike as part of our time spent in the Drakensberg Mountains. It was a challenging experience, to be sure, as my bad knee swelled up like a grapefruit during the course of this adventure, as a result of all the climbing and descending. It was the big game parks and the country’s post-apartheid era of change that initially drew us to this land. But it was our observation that there is a relative sense of peace and security here that is missing in many other parts of Africa. Just me and South Africa in the middle of the night. The Barrier of Spears Still, the mountain vistas, the alpine meadows, the plethora of local flowers, plants and insects, a cascading waterfall, examples of Bushman rock art, and the curious mountain antelope and noisy baboons made for a memorable day. It was a breathtaking, emotional moment and it ended up being one of the highlights of a fantastic 18-day tour of this beautiful country. William Lindsay of Vancouver teaches at the University of British Columbia. The Lindsays’ tour was hosted by Drifters Adventure Tours. Particularly beautiful and memorable was the Drakensberg Mountain Range, a world heritage site in the northeast corner of the country. Called “The Barrier of Spears,” this impenetrable-looking wall of mountains looks like a cross between the Grand Canyon and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Drakensberg is a favourite vacation spot for many South Africans and they take justifiable pride in it. As well, visiting the famous Paul Kruger National Park and the historic and political black township of Soweto were certainly everything advertised and expected. The big game animals that Africa is famous for were a thrill to see. I awoke and walked outside my mountain cabin to a night-time miracle of sight and sound so spectacular it took my breath away: a three-quarters full moon lighting up the alpine landscape, the nearby mountain range a mixture of moon-tinged clarity and shadowy quarters, moonlit clouds reaching over a part of the range like a ghostly waterfall, croaking frogs and chirping insects adding a background harmony of natural sound, the Southern Cross and Orion constellations standing out in the midst of a starry belt above, with the lights of a faraway African settlement providing an earthly contrast. Cultural/historical/political dynamic However, it was a middle-of-the night event that caused my visit here to rise to the level of the sublime. Our family completed a wonderful tour of South Africa this past December. Our 18-day adventure tour took us from Johannesburg to Cape Town and interesting points in between, with a set of international travel companions from three continents. This article was first published in The Vancouver Sun. Republished here with kind permission of the author.last_img read more

Greed, ego, complacency turn Team India into ‘losers’

first_imgOn the third day of the third cricket Test in Perth, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni , 30, kept the door of his $200-a-day Hyatt Regency hotel room open for more than two hours. It was Team India ‘s third straight loss in the four-Test series. Two teammates stepped in,On the third day of the third cricket Test in Perth, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni , 30, kept the door of his $200-a-day Hyatt Regency hotel room open for more than two hours. It was Team India ‘s third straight loss in the four-Test series. Two teammates stepped in to ask if he was expecting any visitors. “I am expecting all of you. May we discuss why we are in this mess?” he said. No one dropped in.Perhaps the cricketers, having already lost the Test series 0-3, were thinking of the auction for the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), scheduled in Bangalore on February 4. In the T20 capital of the world, ipl earnings have become critical for top players since the cash-rich league started in 2008. What began as a frivolity has become the primary interest of cricketers tempted by wealth rather than motivated by national pride. The brand value of ipl in 2011 was $3.67 billion (Rs 18,350 crore), according to a Brand Finance report. The sideshow appears to be taking over the main event.In 2011, Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, 38, earned Rs 9 crore each from playing the fourth edition of IPL for Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians respectively, while Gautam Gambhir, 30, who captained Kolkata Knight Riders, earned the highest last year, Rs 11 crore. This was almost five times the amount they would have earned from playing Tests, one-day internationals (ODI) and T20s in 2011. Top Indian players in Grade A get an annual retainership of Rs 1 crore and earn Rs 7 lakh per Test, Rs 4 lakh per odi and Rs 2 lakh per T20 match. In 2011, some cricketers played, on an average, 15 Tests and 30 odis, earning a maximum of Rs 2.25 crore in match fees.advertisementMahendra Singh DhoniIn this new commercial culture of the game, there is little incentive for good players to raise their game and become members of the elite club, Team India. Take Yusuf Pathan, 29, who is yet to play a Test but earned Rs 10 crore by playing ipl for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011. Or Robin Uthappa, 26, uncapped in Tests and who played his last odi game in 2008. He earned Rs 10 crore from Pune Warriors. Contrast ipl earnings with what cricket boards hand out to their players. Cricket Australia’s highest paid player gets around Rs 7 crore. The maximum annual contract fee paid by the England and Wales Cricket Board is Rs 3 crore. Fast bowler Umesh Yadav, 24, is a classic example of divided loyalties bred by divided royalties. He is a Grade C player in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) contract system and gets Rs 25 lakh a year. In 2011, he earned Rs 3 crore by playing for Delhi Daredevils. His ipl value in 2012 will multiply after his impressive showing in Australia. At its best, IPL can be a force multiplier for a young cricketer with promise. At its worst, it can be a deterrent to performance for a player who is avaricious and lazy.Cricketers alone are not attracted to IPL lucre. So is their governing board, the BCCI. In 2010-11, BCCI earned Rs 1,667 crore in revenue-Rs 973 crore came from ipl. Sixty per cent of BCCI revenues come from TV and TV loves the Indian Paisa League. IPL-4 had an average TRP of 3.91, the lowest for any season. Even that was better than the depressing TRP figures for the first three Tests between India and Australia-0.89, 0.7 and 0.6. Set Max earned Rs 900 crore from IPL-4 from about 60 days of the intense cricket circus, with ad rates of Rs 1.5 lakh for 10 seconds. The India-England series, billed as a fiery face-off, earned Rs 100 crore for the broadcaster ESPN Star Sports, over 24 days of cricket at Rs 80,000 for every 10-second ad spot.”Even selectors know that the players want to earn the maximum as quickly as possible. No one is worried about Test losses,” says former Indian coach Aunshuman Gaekwad. “Everyone wants a slice of IPL,” adds former Indian bowler Manoj Prabhakar. “IPL brings loads of money, Tests only get you the contract money and match fee.”A sullen Team India after losing the last Test against Australia in Adelaide.IPL often breeds greed and it has led to angry debates when players appeared to have chosen club over country. Take Gambhir, who sustained a shoulder injury during the World Cup. He went on to play all 15 matches in IPL-4 despite knowing he was not fit. He then dropped out of the West Indies tour where he was to captain the ODI side and eventually had to return home after two Tests in England when the injury flared up.As if that was not enough in the deadly mix that is killing the soul of Indian cricket, there is ego. And it begins at the top, with the man who scripted India’s success at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, icc World Cup in 2011 and helped India become the No. 1 Test team in the world. After eight successive defeats in Tests (India lost 0-4 in England in 2011 immediately after the World Cup win and 0-4 in Australia), he is looking like a loser, and a sore one at that. Minutes after Australia pulverised India by an innings and 37 runs to wrap up the series in Perth, Dhoni refused to lead the team to the ground for the prize distribution ceremony. He had to be persuaded by coach Duncan Fletcher.advertisementClick here to EnlargeDefeat has turned the A-team of Alpha Males into a B-team of Bored Passengers. There is little camaraderie on the field, at the nets, or in the hotel. It hasn’t helped that some in Team India have openly aligned with vice-captain Virender Sehwag, 33, thinking he will soon be made skipper of the Test side. There have been several rumours to this effect but Dhoni has made no effort to tell bcci President N. Srinivasan that he is troubled by them. His attitude during defeats has also been distant. Once known for his morale-boosting SMSs to players, he has remained confined to his hotel room with wife Sakshi. Srinivasan is aware of the heightened talk about a rift. “I have heard of some ego issues in the dressing room. These two (Dhoni and Sehwag) are competent enough to iron out their differences, if any,” Srinivasan told India Today.But Dhoni’s unhappiness runs deeper. In private conversations with friends, the India captain has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the selectors led by former skipper K. Srikkanth. “I have often told him he should voice his concerns but doubt he will talk,” says Arun Pandey, Dhoni’s partner in Rhiti Sports Management, which handles his endorsements. “I wonder whether he can put things across bluntly. No one speaks his mind in the Indian cricket team,” argues Santosh Lal, longtime friend and member of the Jharkhand Ranji team.Dhoni has dropped broad hints. On the first day of the first Test against England in June last year, he unstrapped the wicket-keeping pads and started bowling after Zaheer Khan, 33, picked up a hamstring strain. Khan’s injury had left India with three specialist bowlers for the rest of the match. “It was risky to have an injury-prone Zaheer in a team that has four specialist bowlers,” says former India captain Kapil Dev. “Why can’t he speak to the selectors?”Click here to EnlargePerhaps because they don’t listen. Consider the England fiasco in August-September 2011. Despite his warnings not to include injury-prone cricketers, the selectors name Khan, Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, 31, and Harbhajan Singh, 31, in the squad. They were declared fit when their names were included. But trouble started almost immediately. Khan was the first to go after the hamstring injury, followed by Gambhir two Tests later. Sehwag, who batted with buds in his ears, was eventually diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. More exits followed-Yuvraj, out with a fractured thumb, and Harbhajan, who picked up a hamstring injury. “Selectors must be answerable to the board,” says Gaekwad.In England, the Indian cricketers, having won the World Cup and having played the fourth edition of IPL, seemed complacent. Suddenly, Test cricket was not important for the cricketers. “England was one big party, it was not cricket,” says ESPN commentator Harsha Bhogle. The Indian team for the four-Test series Down Under was chosen on November 26 in Mumbai. Dhoni tried hard to push Tamil Nadu batsman Abhinav Mukund, 22, and Harbhajan, but both requests were turned down, as also his demand for a vote in the selection process. The five selectors-Mohinder Amarnath, Raja Venkat, Narendra Hirwani, Surendra Bhave and chief selector Srikkanth-were reluctant to remove “creaking gladiators” V.V.S. Laxman, 37, and Rahul Dravid, 39, from the side. Tendulkar was considered an automatic inclusion. Retaining all three is not mere sentiment. bcci knows television viewers tune in to watch familiar faces.advertisementDhoni’s leadership has suffered. Gone is the game-changer who, as former Australian skipper Ian Chappell puts it, “took bold decisions”. In its place is tentative experimentation. Dhoni went with an all-pace attack in the Perth Test, dropping off-spinner R. Ashwin, 25, to include debutant pacer Vinay Kumar, 27, who was pasted all over the ground. “Dhoni was definitely not in command in Australia,” former Indian coach Gary Kirsten told India Today from Cape Town.A frontline spinner, if included in the side, could have saved the day for the team at Perth. Much of the blame should be shared by the new bowling coach, South African Eric Simons. Head coach Fletcher has not helped with his stoic silence. Paddy Upton, the team’s motivational speaker, left with Kirsten. The fielding has been dodgy but no one questioned the role of fitness trainer Ramji Srinivasan. The team skipped practice as many as four times during the Test series. Pictures of them relaxing on the beachfront in Melbourne instead of sweating it out in training solidified the sense of drift.The message to the cricket fan is clear: wealth breeds indifference. Ironically, money may well be the imperative that wakes BCCI and persuades it to act before the slide becomes a swamp. The BCCI cannot make money out of a defeat-prone team. The BCCI working committee is meeting on February 12 and at the top of the agenda should be a list of fix-its. Sourav Ganguly, chairman of the BCCI technical committee and a commentator, has been asked to attend the meeting for a larger role in shaping national selection.Perhaps Dhoni sees in adversity an opportunity to ensure that BCCI splits the captaincy so that he can focus on the shorter versions of the game. That appears to be his plan, as evident from his comment on January 31: “Captaincy is just a position I hold. If there’s a better replacement, he can come in.” He had earlier hinted at retiring from Tests on January 12 to focus on the 2015 World Cup. There may be pressure from family. His father, Paan Singh, says in Ranchi that “my son will not cling to anything. I will ask him to quit. We have enough”. Also, as his first coach in Ranchi, Keshav Ranjan Banerjee, says, Dhoni has told him he has little patience for Test cricket. He certainly doesn’t want to keep wickets in Tests, says long-time friend in Ranchi, Shabbir Hussain. In fact, the BCCI annual general meeting in Kolkata on October 26, 2011, discussed the issue of split captaincy but did not come to any conclusion. There is talk though that Dhoni’s no-Test agenda has Srinivasan’s complete backing.So, will IPL kill Test cricket in India? It will definitely tire the players. Since the World Cup campaign ended on April 2, 2011, India have played 10 Tests, 20 ODIs, and three T20s. Australia, in contrast, have played seven Tests, 11 ODIs and two T20s. Don’t forget many of them have not had the distraction of attractive cheerleaders who are “walking porn”, glamorous after-parties and team owners determined to milk their investments. No wonder the champions of 2011 are looking like the hapless losers of 2012.-With Kaushik Dekalast_img read more