Sandy Hook changed mother’s world view

Five years ago, something happened that changed the way I see the world. I didn’t know anyone who died in the Sandy Hook shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, but when I heard the news, my heart broke. I thought about the parents of the 20 first-graders killed two weeks before Christmas. I thought about the children who survived, left to cope with unbearable trauma. I thought about my own child, who would be born 11 days later, and wondered how I would ever drop him off at school, at a birthday party, at a movie theater, knowing this was possible.

Like so many, I thought, “Surely now something will change.” But five years later, very little has.

Florida legislators are considering dangerous bills that threaten to weaken our existing laws and make guns even more prevalent in Florida. For example: Senate Bill 120 would punish businesses that don’t allow guns on their properties by making them responsible for injuries that occur to concealed handgun permit holders.

Soon my son will turn 5, and I still feel a twinge of anxiety every time I drop him off at school. On the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, I hope Florida’s lawmakers will remember those murdered children and be the change we all hoped for.

Silent, heads bowed and dressed in scarlet robes, a group of women stood Tuesday as a symbolic protest to Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The protestors were costumed as the handmaids characters inspired by the 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was made into a TV series on Hulu this year. The women stood along U.S. 98 leading into the Oak Hollow Farm events venue just outside Fairhope. About seven others attempted entry into Moore’s rally with right-wing news giant Steve Bannon, but were asked to leave by security.

Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones during the Dec. 12 special election.

The so-called “Handmaid’s Resistance” took aim at a scandal that has erupted in the past month involving Moore and accusations that he sexually molested teenage girls. The former Alabama State Supreme Court chief justice has vehemently denied the accusations.

“Our hope for the ultimate message here is that people outside the state see that not everyone is backward here and that electing someone accused of multiple sexual improprieties and removed from the bench twice, is not fit to serve,” said Michele Harmon, 41, of Elberta, who spent the past three to four weeks organizing the protest.

“Women of Alabama, and across the country, we deserve to be treated better in the workplace and in life in general. And we stand with the women who have accused Roy Moore,” she said.

She also referenced Moore’s twice being ousted from the state bench, first for disobeying federal orders to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state’s judicial building in Montgomery in 2003, and again for instructing probate judges in 2016 to withhold issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.

“This isn’t about politics,” Harmon said. “It’s about standing up for what’s right and decent in this country.”

‘Abused, mistreated’

The protest tracks a series of similar handmaids displays elsewhere in the U.S., most of which have been spurred by lawmakers seeking new anti-abortion restrictions.

The women’s outfits are inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale and its story of dystopia following a religious coup that gives rise to theocracy and which treats women as property. “These women were abused and mistreated and anywhere they went they were forced to walk in pairs and were only allowed to say limited things,” Harmon said about the tale’s themes. “It shows the worst-case scenario for our country and state should Roy Moore be elected.”

Indeed, national media attention to other handmaids protests have drawn parallels to the present political climate.

The handmaid protests began in March, when a group of costumed women sat silently in the Texas state Senate balcony – surrounded by armed police officers – to show opposition to limitations on abortion access.

From there, the protests spread to state capitols in Missouri, Ohio and New Hampshire. In late October, a handmaids protest lined the streets on the way to a Denver hotel where Vice President Mike Pence spoke.

“Folks have been picking up and running with it,” said Heather Busy, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice in Austin, Texas, who helped coordinate the first protest. “It is very visually impactful and I think that is why people are drawn to it. It’s the visual impact and the resurgence of the book’s popularity and the Hulu show coming out.”

She added, “They are creepy to witness. It kind of takes you aback.”

‘Homegrown’ protest

In Fairhope, the women dressed in the handmaid’s outfits noted that their protest was not, in any way,  encouraged by the Jones’ Senate campaign.

Harmon also said the protesters weren’t paid, nor did they any of them come in from outside Alabama.

“Everything done by this protest are paid for out of our pockets … There are no outside agitators stirring the pot,” said Harmon. “This is homegrown. I’m a born and raised Alabama girl and I’ve had enough.”

Harmon said she was the victim of a sexual assault about 20 years ago. She said the women who have accused Moore of wrongdoing in recent weeks have inspired her because “their names have been drug through the mud and they have been called liars.”

Harmon said the women could be smeared again if Moore is elected.

“They were victimized once by Moore, a second time by an ugly campaign that personally and viciously attacked them,” she said. “If Moore wins, the accusers would be victimized a third time, by voters of Alabama who elected the man who committed this abuse, then denied it, then called the victims liars and frauds.”

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Zaevion Dobson, a former Fulton football player, would have been a member of the 2018 senior class. Diana C. Nearhos, USA TODAY – Tennessee

Was it a battle over gang territory or a beef over a woman that led to the fatal shooting of an innocent 15-year-old boy later hailed as a hero, and does motive even matter?

Those were the questions raised Tuesday in opening statements in the trial of three young men accused in the fatal shooting of Fulton High School football player Zaevion Dobson.

Christopher Drone Bassett, 22, Richard Gregory Williams III, 23, and Kipling Colbert Jr., 22, are standing trial in Knox County Criminal Court on charges including first-degree murder and eight counts of attempted murder in a brazen shooting in the middle of a street in Lonsdale in December 2015.

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Of the more than 30 shots fired — via four different guns — Dobson was the only one among a group of friends hanging out after a basketball game who was struck. Assistant District Attorney General Phil Morton told jurors Tuesday a single bullet struck Dobson.

“Zaevion was hit with one bullet, cracking his rib, perforating his lung,” Morton said.

Dobson’s friends say he died shielding two teenage girls who thought the sudden eruption of noise they heard were firecrackers and were slow to react. His death became a nationwide symbol of gun violence and, in Knoxville, of gang violence. Posthumously, Dobson would garner attention from then-President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address and a prestigious sports award honoring his courage.

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ESPN produced a short documentary on Zaevion Dobson, who was killed protecting his friends from gunfire. Courtesy of ESPN Films

Prosecutor: Gang rivalry at root of slaying

Police quickly labeled Dobson’s death gang-related, and Morton outlined for jurors Tuesday the decadeslong territorial divide among rival gangs in Knoxville’s inner city he says was at the heart of Dobson’s slaying.

The “east side” — low-income neighborhoods in East Knoxville — has long been the territory of street gangs affiliated with the Bloods, while the “west side” — low-income neighborhoods in Northwest Knoxville — has been claimed by Crips-affiliated gang members.

Dobson wasn’t a gang member. Neither was his brother, who was there in Lonsdale on the night Dobson was slain, nor his friends. But Morton told jurors that didn’t matter to Brandon Perry, who, Morton said, rounded up a posse of fellow Bloods to exact revenge on the “west side” for a shooting at his mother’s home in East Knoxville earlier that day.

Morton said Bassett, Williams and Colbert were part of that posse. He identified two other young men as part of that same group, though none of them have been charged. One of those two uncharged suspects was later shot by Williams after being labeled a “snitch” and is expected to testify against Bassett, Williams and Colbert.

In a legally controversial move, Morton used screenshots from a rap video posted on YouTube seven months before Dobson was slain as proof of the trio’s gang affiliation. The video is entitled “loyalty is everything.” In it, the trio of suspects and a handful of other young men are seen lip-syncing to a song about gang allegiance.

According to Morton, Bassett, Williams, Colbert, Perry and the two other young men suited up in black clothing, armed themselves with guns, drove to a community park in Lonsdale, parked, walked as a group onto Badgett Drive and opened fire, spraying bullets along an entire block.

A few hours later, someone exacted revenge on Perry, fatally shooting him while he was behind the wheel of Bassett’s car and headed into an apartment complex in East Knoxville. His slaying remains unsolved.

‘Testosterone contest’

But attorney T. Scott Jones, who represents Bassett, told jurors his client isn’t a gang member. He’s Perry’s cousin. He told jurors Dobson was slain amid a series of shootings that had nothing to do with gang rivalry but instead centered on a dispute involving Perry’s girlfriend, Jasmine Mason.

“This isn’t gangs,” he said. “This isn’t ‘loyalty is everything.’”

Jones said the fatal series of events began a few hours before Dobson was slain when Paul Cornelius, the brother of the imprisoned father of Mason’s children, called Mason a derogatory name. He said the name-calling enraged Perry, and he wound up opening fire in the Western Heights community of Northwest Knoxville in a shooting targeting Cornelius.

“We get a testosterone contest going on,” he said.

Two hours later, at least two gunmen opened fire on Perry’s mother’s home in East Knoxville. She was struck in the back but survived.

Jones conceded Bassett has admitted he went with Perry to Lonsdale and fired a gun into the air. But he said the bullet that struck Dobson was later linked to a gun found under Williams’ seat in a car stopped by police months after Dobson died.

He told jurors that prosecutors Morton and TaKisha Fitzgerald want to label the shooting as gang-related so jurors will paint all the same suspects with the same brush of guilt. He mocked their use of the rap video.

“We’re going to show it to you white folks (on the jury) to scare you,” he said, adding the video was nothing more than teenage “stupidity.” “They’re not displaying guns (in the video). They’re not capping anybody.”

Morton and Fitzgerald are relying on a legal theory known as criminal responsibility — the notion that anyone who helps someone commit a crime is just as guilty.

Colbert’s attorney, Rhonda Lee, said her client was innocent. Attorney Kit Rodgers, who represents Williams, told jurors to “look at the actual evidence.”

“Don’t get caught up in the story,” he told jurors.

The trial continues Wednesday.

 

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The FBI issued more than 4,000 orders last year to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives for agents to seize guns from people who failed background checks, a report says.

An extensive review of federal records by USA Today found that the retrieval requests reached a 10-year high — thanks in large part to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which conducted a record 27.5 million background checks in 2016.

While the number of successful gun seizures is unclear, similar operations in years past have resulted in a fairly high recovery rate.

The spike is surprising, though, seeing how seeing how Air Force veteran Devin Kelley managed to purchase the semi-automatic rifle that he used in his Texas church massacre — despite having a prior conviction for domestic assault — in April 2016.

Gun owners who were targeted by the feds were either barred from purchasing a firearm due to their criminal backgrounds, mental health issues or other various problems.

“These are people who shouldn’t have weapons in the first place, and it just takes one to do something that could have tragic consequences,” former ATF official David Chipman told USA Today. “You don’t want ATF to stand for ‘after the fact.’”

The FBI launched an internal probe last month of its criminal background data check system after the Air Force admitted that it failed to disclose Kelley’s conviction.

In total, the FBI referred 4,170 gun purchases to the ATF last year for seizure — up from the 2,892 requests that were made in 2015.

A review of 125 transactions made between 2008 and 2014 found that 116, or roughly 93 percent, of the guns that were bought were later recovered.

John Fashanu

RUSSIA 2018 WORLD

  • America’s CBS lists Nigeria/Argentina match among top 10

From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Former Wimbledon striker, John Fashanu has issued a chilling warning to Nigeria as the countdown to next year’s World Cup begins to gather pace.

His warning was in the wake of the draw that pitted Nigeria in Group D alongside Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

While assessing the teams, the former England international tagged Iceland as the bogey team because of their nondescript international profile.

In an exclusive chat with THISDAY, Fashanu said that World Cup first timers, Iceland, which population is roughly 400,000 is the team Nigeria should fear because of the little information about them.

“I am quite happy to be in the same group with Argentina because when we play Argentina, we raise our game. I don’t want to be in the same group with Iceland being the first time they qualified for a World Cup. That is a bogey team- a team nobody knows anything about. They are the team with nothing to lose, everything to gain. They the smoking guns for the Super Eagles,” Fashanu warned.

Three-time Africa champions Nigeria, will be pitted against the Icelanders in Volgograd on June 22, 2018 after igniting their campaign against Croatia in Kaliningrad on June 16before playing their final group match against Argentina in St Petersburg on June 26.

Though the Croats, who finished third at France 98, look fearsome with the likes Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic available for selection, Fashanu considered them an inconsistent team.

While conceding that the Europeans are brilliant bunch of players, Fashanu insisted same cant be said about Iceland who has Gylfi Sigurdsson of Everton as their key player.

“It is not that we don’t know Croatia which is always a middle of the road team. The Croats are never brilliant and never terrible. They might scare you but they are not a team that has consistency. The one you are going to worry about is Iceland, not Argentina, even though Argentina have Lionel Messi, arguably one of the best players in the world’’.

Fashanu advised the Nigeria Football Federation to organise pre-World Cup warm up matches against teams whose style is similar to that of Argentina and Brazil and not the English type of football.

“Having said all this, I will warn that you don’t underestimate the Super Eagles. We have the players who are equally excellent and brilliant that is why I say to you don’t look to where we know, look to where we don’t know—that is the black hole, the one that will come out and surprise us,” he concludes.
In a related development, America’s commercial broadcast television network, CBS has listed Nigeria against Argentina last group D match as one of the top10 matches the sporting world should watch out for at the group stage of Russia 2018.

The match is slated for June 26 in Saint Petersburg incidentally, the June 26 match comes a day after the 24th anniversary of their first encounter in Boston at the USA ’94.

According to the analysis by the CBS the Super Eagles just crushed Argentina 4-2 in a friendly last month, “but that wasn’t a game that tells us much. It’s still fun when they get together”.

Their match will be fifth time out of six World Cups that they have been in the same group. Vengeance, on both sides, will no doubt be the recurring thought.

For Nigeria, it will be an occasion to avenge the earlier four defeats inflicted on previous squads of the Super Eagles who lost all the encounters by the odd goal.

For Argentina, it will also be a time to revenge on the humiliating 4-2 defeat of last month in a friendly tie in Krasnodar, Russia.

The other nine matches listed by the CBS as top group games are host, Russia against Saudi Arabia which is the opening match of the tournament, Portugal versus Spain in group B on June 15th just as Argentina against Iceland was listed.

The Mexico and the defending champion, Germany match on June 17 is seen as a high profile group stage tie just as Belgium and Panama encounter on June 18th and the Belgium and England match on the 28th of June were was also listed among the rest.

The list of Aspen Olympians is long, and includes athletes who have represented the U.S. at recent Winter Games in alpine and cross country skiing, snowboarding and figure skating. An elite subset have climbed the podium to accept a medal for Team USA.

Most recently, native son Jeremy Abbott won a bronze medal in the team figure skating event during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In 2002 at the Salt Lake Winter Games, Aspenite Chris Klug earned bronze by laying down a gutsy final run in snowboard parallel slalom. It came just 19 months after receiving a life-saving liver transplant.

In Torino, Italy, four years later, Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club product Gretchen Bleiler, pioneer of the Crippler 540 inverted maneuver, brought home the Olympic silver medal in snowboard half pipe.

As the opening of 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, ticks closer, five athletes with Aspen connections have emerged as bonafide medal contenders in multiple winter sports: skier half pipe, snowboard big air, cross country skiing and alpine skiing.

Alex Ferreira
Four years ago, Alex Ferreira missed a berth on the 2014 U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Team by a single spot. A more mature Ferreira is again gunning for a place on an American Olympic team loaded with talent, and this time he’ll have the ammunition of two recent World Cup wins to make his case.

Ferreira’s 2017/18 season started with momentum carried over from last year, with the 23-year-old standing atop the podium in a World Cup skier half pipe contest on Sept. 1 at Cardrona Alpine Resort, New Zealand. There his huge score of 93.4 earned gold. That followed closely behind a World Cup half pipe win in Tignes, France last March.

A broken collarbone this fall was a small setback, he said, but a relatively minor one that hasn’t caused Ferreira to deviate from his charted course.

The Aspen High School graduate is meticulous in his preparation and said he sticks by a regular routine of workouts in the gym and on the trampoline. Ferreira’s schedule also includes time for video review and a regular stop in the steam room, “where I do a lot of my visualizing.”

Eric Knight, freestyle/freeride director at Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, said this week that “Alex has spent a tremendous amount of time training at the club all summer and fall.” Knight has worked with the athlete since he was a kid, as has coach Elana Chase, who is based in Vail.

Ferreira doesn’t disagree: “Victory lies within preparation. I would say I’m prepared,” he said on a recent cloudless, snowless November day. “Health is wealth.”

His current focus is on the upcoming Dew Tour Olympic qualifying event, Dec. 14-17, at Breckenridge, where Ferreira plans to further up his game.

“I do have a certain run I want to do for the Olympics,” he said. “I’m planning on executing four double flips in one run. Possibly five, which would be the first of its nature.”

Another goal would be for he and lifelong friend and teammate Torin Yater-Wallace to both represent their country, and their home town, in South Korea this February. That’s not a stretch by any means given they’ve each had two victories in the past year.

“I think it would be really special if two people from Aspen can represent such a small town in such an amazing way. The more Aspen the better,” said Ferreira.

Knight said it’s his hope that both athletes will “come out with guns blazing and hopefully claim those Olympic spots. It would be a dream come true to see them both on the podium.”

There’s precedent for that as in March 2016, Yater-Wallace and Ferreira took gold and silver in half pipe at the European X Games.

Here at home, Ferreira has earned a pair of bronze X Games Aspen medals but given the success of the past half year, it’s obvious he won’t be satisfied with the status quo in this Olympic season and before the X Games home crowd.

“Be as passionate in your skiing as possible. Success will grow from that,” Ferreira said.

Torin Yater-Wallace
On the cusp of the 2014 Winter Olympics season, Torin Yater-Wallace of Basalt seemed to have it all: His face was emblazoned upon boxes of Wheaties cereal and the teen was in high demand for television appearances, including the Today Show.

As an Aspen High School freshman, Yater-Wallace’s talent just couldn’t be held back, demonstrated by his silver medal earned in 2011 in the Aspen X Games super pipe. He would medal here on home snow the next two years while also picking up gold medals in the European X Games events.

“Things took a very fast turn for me,” he said recently. “I stopped going to Aspen High School after my freshman year. One trip to Europe and I’d max out my absences.”

The fast start was followed by some huge challenges, including a collapsed lung during the last Olympic season. Yater-Wallace was still named to the Olympic team, by virtue of prior results, and competed in the slushy Sochi half pipe to a lackluster finish.

Yater-Wallace turned 22 on Dec. 2 and his emotional maturity is evident. In February, he won the Olympic skier half pipe test event and followed that up with a World Cup victory at Mammoth Mountain.

“It’s been quite the ride,” Yater-Wallace said recently during a sit-down interview at the Inn at Aspen.

That “ride” included a serious infection attacking his gall bladder and liver that landed him in the hospital in 2015 in a medically induced coma.

“The strange incidents and life battles and health scares have made me a stronger person for the better. I think it really builds you as a person and teaches you life lessons,” he said.

Yater-Wallace skipped the season-opening event in New Zealand won by Alex Ferreira, but appears ready to jump with both feet into this Olympic season.

“I’m feeling really good right now. I’m excited not just for the Olympics. I love the Dew Tour and the X Games and skiing in front of an Aspen crowd. There’s nothing else like that feeling.”

The owner of seven total X Games medals from domestic and European events, Yater-Wallace said, “I’ve never won here in Aspen. That’s something I’d love to do.”

He described the exhilaration of looking down the Buttermilk half pipe and seeing thousands of assembled friends and fans, but also said that he still gets the same kind of butterflies in his stomach as when he was a grade-schooler competing in a mogul contest at Aspen Highlands.

“You’re going to get nervous. What you learn to try and acquire is the skill of using those nerves as strength,” he said.

Yater-Wallace was back on the Today Show during November, part of an American crew invited to mark the 100-day countdown to the 2018 Olympics. Soon, his telegenic, 100-watt smile will also appear in commercials for Smuckers and Comcast.

Chris Corning
The preternaturally talented snowboarder Chris Corning landed at Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club four years ago, a transplant who moved here as a 14-year-old with coach Nichole Mason and lived with a host family.


 Courtesy photo

Alex Ferreira’s victory in the season’s first half pipe event should bode well for his chances to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

In just over a year, Corning became the youngest winner of a FIS World Cup crystal globe in history. Ironically, the then 15-year-old unseated fellow AVSC athlete Torin Yater-Wallace in that distinction by one month, AVSC freestyle/freeride director Knight said this week.

Corning’s first victory in a World Cup event came in slopestyle, during an August 2015 event in Cardrona, New Zealand. In 2016, after a year that included gold medals in both slopestyle and big air at the Junior World Championships, Corning was elevated from the club ranks to the U.S. Snowboarding Pro Slopestyle Team. That year also included a gold medal in slopestyle at a World Cup venue in the Czech Republic.

In doing so, he completely skipping the normal pipeline of the rookie team ranks, according to Mason.

At the 2017 World Championships in Spain, Corning won silver in big air and a bronze medal in slopestyle. Then last month, Corning scored a dominating win at the first World Cup big air event of the season, held under the lights in Milan, Italy.

“He is one of the number one hopefuls for the Olympics at this point,” Mason said Friday, as she coached AVSC athletes practicing on small jumps near the Aspen Highlands base.

“Chris is a very hard worker,” Mason added, recalling how that’s been the case since they joined forces when he was a 13-year-old from Summit County.

By 2014, the duo had relocated to Aspen, where Corning was able to train long seasons thanks to a new airbag and “super tramp” to hone aerial maneuvers. Following the 2015/16 season he was honored by AVSC as its top club snowboard athlete.

A foot injury that hampered him earlier this year appears to be healed, Mason said, and the 18-year-old snowboarder looks to continue his ascent during this Olympic season.

Simi Hamilton
Aspen native Simi Hamilton, 30, probably should have been an alpine ski racer, given that his grandfather DRC Brown led the Aspen Ski Corp. as president and general manager for more than a generation.

Instead, the multi-talented athlete steadily rose through ranks of the Nordic skiing elite, and by the end of last season had solidified his position as the world’s ninth best cross-country sprinter.

His 2016/17 highlight was a second place during a January skate sprint in Italy, in a race where the margin of victory was 3/100ths of a second. The result was a near carbon copy of the same event the prior year.

Were it not for a a slight tactical error in the FIS Cross Country World Cup Finals last March, Hamilton would have scored another podium for the season. Instead, he was a respectable fourth before thousands of fans who assembled in downtown Quebec City for the races.

Hamilton has one World Cup career win, during a 2013 stage race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, to his name and a total of four podiums. And as he seeks to qualify for his third straight Olympics, Hamilton feels he is nearing the apex of his career

The Aspen High School graduate attended Middlebury from 2005-2009 and was an NCAA champion before earning a spot on the national team post graduation.

“The nature of our sport takes such a big foundation period of about 800 to 1,000 hours a year for a decade to reach your prime,” he said. Hamilton said his mental focus is stronger now than it’s ever been.

Hamilton’s coach on the national team, Matt Whitcomb, has seen the Aspen native develop from a junior skier to a master skier.

“He understands what I need to be doing to be getting the best training, to stay happy and motivated,” Hamilton said.

At the end of last season, Whitcomb observed that Hamilton had all the tools in place to vie with the world’s elite: “He wants to be the best sprinter in the world. He can be that guy.”

Hamilton said he’d like to compete at least another season beyond the 2018 Olympics, perhaps retiring after the 2019 World Championships.

This would be his third Winter Games, as Hamilton qualified for and competed in both Vancouver and Sochi.

Hamilton reflected upon the rich field of diverse Aspen-trained athletes who could be named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic squad: “It’s cool to feel like you’re not representing this valley, or Aspen, alone. You have this awesome crew of hardworking (skiers and snowboarders). You feel you are part of a collective team,” he said.

Alice McKennis
On a postcard perfect day in St. Anton, Alice McKennis won a women’s World Cup downhill race, quite the feat considering the deep field of veteran athletes.

“As usual in Austria, a massive crowd came to cheer for the racers,” FIS-Ski press reported at the time.

The Jan. 12, 2013, World Cup victory would be the only one — to date — for the New Castle-raised alpine skier and horsewoman, who worked with several clubs on the Western Slope before landing in Aspen, where coach Casey Puckett brought out the best of her potential. From there it was on to the national team for the now 28-year-old McKennis, whose trajectory upon bursting onto the World Cup stage nine years ago seemed a sure thing.

Less than two months after McKennis’ best day in St. Anton, a terrible crash in a downhill shattered her right tibial plateau, an injury that stymied her for more than two years.

But the stalwart U.S. Ski Team member started the 2017/18 season fitter and more determined than ever to contend for a coveted Olympic berth among the world’s best.

“Alice trained super well over the summer and physically, she’s in great shape,” said U.S. Ski Team women’s head coach Paul Kristofic. “She’s skiing really well and has a good attitude.”

That said, McKennis will have to fight hard to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team against top speed skiers like Lindsey Vonn, Jackie Wiles, Breezy Johnson and now Mikaela Shiffrin, who won her first downhill Saturday.

“This is the healthiest I’ve been since I was 20,” McKennis said last month, during pre-season training at Copper Mountain.

She was especially thoughtful in the days following French national team member David Poisson’s fatal crash in downhill training, as her long-time struggle with nagging injuries was seen through a new prism.

“It’s a terrible tragedy. You expect to injure a knee, that’s a given. But you don’t really expect to see death. That’s shocking for the whole community,” she said.

“Live each day as best as you can,” McKennis added.

Strong in training this week for the opening downhill races of the season in Lake Louise, Canada, McKennis’ first race result of the year — a 24th on Friday — wasn’t what she’d hoped for.

“What I’ve been focusing on is how I can be my best every day. I’m making sure I’m looking at every detail and compile it all together and hopefully those small percentages will lead into larger gain,” she said.

Added the kid who started skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort before the tender age of 2 and was a Winter Olympian by the age of 20: “At the end of the day, it was the passion and love for ski racing that’s kept me driving forward.”

Twitter, @Madski99

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Women move to Illinois if you get married or boyfriend! Lowest rate of murders there!

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AUSTRALIA’S women’s sevens team have put a year of disappointment behind them to claim the opening World Series Tour stage in Dubai.

After taking out the 2015/16 World Series, the Olympic champions failed to register a win on the tour last season.

LIVE: AUSSIE MEN PROGRESS TO FINALS

But Australia put last season’s misery behind them with an emphatic win in the desert, crushing the United States of America 34-0.

“To beat a very good Canadian team and to go and blow away the USA in the final was very pleasing and there were some outstanding performances,” Australian coach Tim Walsh said.

“Everyone banded together and put into practice what we have been working on over the last few months.

“We had a really good lead into the tournament with the Aon Sevens Series, Central Coast Sevens and the games against New Zealand.

“We stuck to our guns about what we wanted to achieve and peaked at the right time.”

The USA dominated possession in the opening minutes, but some excellent work from Emilee Cherry allowed outside back Emma Tonegato to get on the scoresheet first.

Sharni Williams then extended Australia’s lead midway through the first half, before Evania Pelite put the icing on the cake to score her side’s third try on the stroke of half time.

A try to Cherry and a second half double to Dominique du Toit sealed a clinical victory for Australia.

The World Series Tour continues in Sydney next month.

Meanwhile, Australia’s men’s team will meet England in the quarter-finals (7:06pm AEDT).

Andy Friend’s coached side easily won their opening two pool matches against Wales (37-8) and Russia (47-0), but narrowly went down to Fiji (26-19) in their final match.

When James Pickens Jr. got the call from his manager 12 years ago to read for a pilot called “Grey’s Anatomy,” little did he know it would lead to him holding a record for the longest running African-American male role in television history.

“I never thought it would last this long,” said the Ohio native who portrays Dr. Richard Webber on the ABC medical drama. “As actors, we’re guns for hire. We go in and do a job and then before that one ends we’re looking for the next one. Eriq La Salle was on “E.R.” for quite a long time, but I don’t know if he was there for 14 seasons.”

That kind of longevity is rare especially on a Shonda Rhimes series.

“I’ve had such great storylines and she’s written me some incredible stuff as an African-American mature actor,” Pickens said. “This is Hollywood. I never assume anything, but at this point I feel pretty secure.”

While on hiatus, he is co-hosting with Aimee Garcia (“Lucifer”) the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors’ 35th annual Caucus Awards Dec. 3 at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center.

Among the nominees for this year’s ceremony are producers Kenya Barris (“Black-ish”) and Ilene Chaiken (“Empire”); writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (“American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson”); and directors Ken Olin (“This Is Us”) and Ava Duvernay (“Queen Sugar,” “13th”).

A portion of the proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Caucus Foundation, which has provided grants and awards of $1.6 million to 164 worthy students to complete their film, television or new media projects.

Pickens believes it’s important that groups like the Caucus bring awareness to those that are giving a creative conscience to the industry.

“Hollywood is finally realizing they have to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk,” he said. “[Recent events have] brought to light that they have to ramp back up the moral barometer of Hollywood. This is nothing new. It’s just now that women are not going to take being objectified and rightfully so.”

“I think it’s more incumbent on the men in Hollywood to understand they have a responsibility,” Pickens added. “These awards shows now can bring that to light and hopefully we can move on. Not forget it, but highlight and find ways to adjust in a way that’s going to be positive.”

“The big thing was that no one was held accountable,” he added. “I think, especially with the things with Harvey Weinstein, folks are finally saying no. You’re not going to get a pass on this one. We got to look at this for what it is and address it for what it is. And not sugar coat it.”

Pickens, who is an experienced horseman and roping champion, has just entered a producing partnership with Morgan Freeman on a longtime dream project for both to bring the story of Bass Reeves to television.

Of the black man who was the first deputy U.S. Marshall and basis of the Lone Ranger, he said, “We had a great meeting with CBS and have two great young writers that have a clear and exciting way to tell it, so we’re moving forward.”

“[Morgan] always wanted to play this role,” said Pickens, who will now have a hand in searching for the right actor. “He’d been tracking this thing for 25 years as I have. It’s such an incredible story. I think we have something that will be pretty special.”

CLIPPETTES: The 60th Grammy Awards nominations were announced with Jay-Z receiving the most with eight, including Album of the Year for “4:44.” Kendrick Lamar garnered seven including one in the same coveted category for “DAMN,” giving a hip hop artist a rare chance to receive the honor at the ceremony to be held Jan. 28 in New York

A variety of genres are represented on Dec. 1 with country singer Valerie June at the Globe, soul diva Teedra Moses at the Troubadour and Lizz Wright at the Catalina Jazz Club. Also that night, En Vogue, Blackstreet, Ginuwine and Midnight Star jam at Anaheim’s House of Blues

Will Downing’s Soulful Sounds of Christmas will fill the City National Grove of Anaheim on Dec. 3 with special guest Avery Sunshine …

Alan Govenar’s feature-length documentary “Extraordinary Ordinary People,” described as “a music-fueled journal through folk and traditional arts in America,” has its L.A premiere Dec. 1 at Laemmle’s Music Hall to be followed by a question-and-answer session with the director

Classical soul duo Black Violin is in concert Dec. 5 at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, with jazz crooner Gregory Porter set for the next evening

Debbie Allen’s “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” returns Dec. 7 for a three-night engagement at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, where she will be joined by Tisha Campbell-Martin, Tichina Arnold, Carlo Imperato, Matthew Johnson, Kristopher Nobles and Dada …

Andra Day, Dave Matthews, Pharrell Williams, Savion Glover and Tony Bennett have been revealed as the special guests for Stevie Wonder’s 21st annual House Full of Toys Benefit Concert on Dec. 10 at Staples Center.

TASTY QUIP: “They’re trying to change the name of Harlem to So Ha and No Ha. That’s BS. When I was growing up we called D.C., Chocolate City. Now, Vanilla Swirl. Gentrification is all over the world. And no one talks about how the black and brown people are missing. Where do they go after being misplaced?” – SPIKE LEE to News One Now

TC ON TV: Dec. 1 – “All Def Comedy” (HBO): Tony Rock hosts this all-new six-show revival of Russell Simmons’ landmark stand-up series with turns from well-known comedians such as DeRay Davis and Gary Owen, along with emerging talent. DJ Mustard is the new music supervisor for the episodes taped in October at L.A.’s Avalon Theatre. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC): The cast of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” “The Tonight Show” (NBC): Queen Latifah, Sam Smith.

Dec. 3 – “Miss Me This Christmas” (TV1): Erica Ash, Redaric Williams and Eva Marcille star in this holiday tale of a marriage on the rocks.

Dec. 7 – “Psych: The Movie” (USA): The fan favorite series starring James Roday and Dule Hill returns as an original movie with Zachary Levi and John Cena. “The Great American Baking Show” (ABC): The British hit gets a domestic makeover with Ayesha Curry and former NFLer Anthony “Spice” Anderson as co-hosts. “Top Chef” (Bravo): Kicks off season 15 in Colorado with its most diverse group of chefs ever including Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen guru Tonya Holland; Brooklyn’s Butterfunk Kitchen owner Christopher Scott; Adrienne Cheatham, former head chef at Harlem’s Red Rooster; and Fatima Ali, the first Pakistani woman to ever win on “Chopped.”

TASTY QUIP: “America will survive once it recognizes the position it’s in, and the trials that it’s facing. Once people stop being nonchalant to it and recognize it, that’s when. When it’s not something that’s just swept under the rug because we’re the quote-unquote ‘greatest country in the world.’” – KENDRICK LAMAR to Variety

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to tastyclips@yahoo.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.

 


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Priorities these as faith, teamwork, non-confrontational scenarios, as well as openness are usually all the particular around a slipping increase along with just about every single civilization. The particular correspondence actions of each one culture reflect many for these priorities and possibly might absolutely ascertain only just how any culture will for certain engage inside of negotiations. Generally, Japanese and perhaps other Wok cookware negotiators will for sure plan any societal occasion and possibly meal preceding to any type of actual transactions happen. Similarly, Americans area a focus regarding acquiring highly valued consumers in order to often be able towards dinner time along with even a new round about golf. Moving inside involving type about task generates have confidence in in addition to even goes into business the particular type of letters regarding the a couple of celebrations.

Acquiring Right down to business: Working with Culture to be able to Persuade Perhaps specific of the most significant features inside discussion is truly a understating associated along with the society inside a person are generally engaging throughout negotiations. Ethnics fluctuate in their openness and in many cases inside the moment which inturn company on the inside performed. Terms and conditions of contracts could get consumed once again into thing to consider; for model, Madeira offers a 90-day billing pedal vs this “normal” USA 30-billing bike. Many about these cultural norms are typically fairly vital for learning the best way to be able that will attain success inside of bargaining in relation to a global scale. Creating affairs is actually the unique important to get developing rely on despite couples or just chance highly valued clients. Faith can unquestionably turned into any just about every encompassing consideration when considering this would generate a final determination, your entire comprehension of what precisely is estimated and besides that using suggests allows transactions that could movement without problems.
Proper now there is no people appropriate function associated with relief. Extremely, perfect now now there can be a selection of talking styles and additionally behaviors, each suited that could a distinct scenario. Essentially at this time there usually are really a couple of different models of negotiation your wants could do possibly corporative, aggressive and also perhaps subordinate that might this. The quick check will identify which design and style your requirements prefer.

Creating use with gripping strategies to be capable to “connect” next to a diverse person may possibly certainly produce trust and even the perception of often the union staying developed. The particular settlements styles of those a couple of countries mesh beautifully, and thus permitting these individuals to have the ability recognize the particular priorities of every other’s culture.
As before long as a new union happens to be built around trust, those negotiators could possibly certainly start off sharing advice. This distinct measure of openness is definitely rather reliant about the sum of openness is actually nation. This stage throughout negotiations would like every event to become able that will accomplish most of their ending involving reciprocation – which could most certainly often set up specified gathering think these types of as the exact 2 tend to be generally getting confronted instructions however, in case that completed the right way could certainly mature “rapid trust” (Brett, 207). Swift Trust evolves whenever a pair of groups show information along with facts and even let often the specific some other get together towards be able to find out their not strong side. Definitely growing faith is essentially essential, with the additional hand some of the cultures only could not necessarily be easy alongside giving away information together with facts swiftly.

Ask yourself, but only if I achieve my goals and objectives, can typically the complete various party is someway in a position that might reach theirs? If perhaps perhaps your answer will be yes, personal style is definitely possibly corporative. If possibly your own reply to isn’t an you’re thoroughly used the entire competing design. In case perhaps you provide with regard to very when compared with danger contradiction your desires a number of very likely taken the particular entire subordinate style.
The entire competitive style has it’s difficulties. It is quite simple which would attain caught up with regard to you and furthermore them all problem and also emotions develop into embroiled with regards to a polarized question. Counterarguments, being successful things in addition to additionally control become a lot more necessary than dancing as well as additionally bathroom up reasons.
Sometimes are more important as opposed to subject staying negotiated. Within this style, strategies tend to be able to be unsophisticated. They require egos as well as loss with face.

A number of in close proximity own relationships apply this design of negotiating for example if you actually do which will, leaf or simply if a person don’t clear room people won’t purchase the car a prior weekend not too long ago night. The situation with the following style is definitely that provocations must possibly be carried out during a several stage or perhaps credibility may be lost. Company calls your blog and also we tend to returning down us won’t possibly be taken heed of inside the long term.
Hazards moreover allow for bit of place for handle for a polarized the persons. Though should you be there for you to win plus we get the guns, have used them. Whenever you experience significantly dynamic and also prodding personalities regarding your side, be sure to let them have their heads.

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