From captivity to classroom

first_imgIt was an unimaginable, Kafkaesque ordeal. Iranian police arrested Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh, on vague charges in July 2014. An Iranian journalist for The National, she was released a short time later, but Rezaian, an American who grew up in the Bay Area of California, remained locked away in a notorious prison for months, even spending several weeks in solitary confinement. He was convicted of espionage in October 2015 after what analysts outside Iran said was a show trial. Rezaian’s captivity became international news thanks to relentless efforts by his brother, Ali, Post executive editor Martin Baron, and others who took to social media via the hashtag #FreeJason to raise awareness of his plight and put pressure on top U.S. government officials, even as diplomatic negotiations heated up to strike what would become a landmark nuclear accord with Iran. In January, 543 days after his arrest, Rezaian was released along with three others as part of a prisoner swap in tandem with the controversial return to Iran of $400 million in frozen assets that had been held by the United States since the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1979. Now back in the United States, Rezaian, 40, has avoided the spotlight and hasn’t spoken publicly about his experience. He’ll spend the academic year at Harvard as part of the 79th class of Nieman Fellows studying the evolution of U.S.-Iran relations. His wife will be a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy this fall and write about the challenges facing female journalists in Iran. The couple recently spoke with the Gazette as they began their new lives in Cambridge.GAZETTE: How are you settling into campus life?REZAIAN: I love it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a campus, and all the schools I’ve attended have been very urban. Obviously, this is the campus, so it’s pretty exciting to be around it. For me, it’s just a lot of fun to experience that and see the undergraduates and their elation and anxiety about coming to a new place. I feel a lot of it as well. I think for me the challenge is going to be just keeping track after not having a lot of things to keep track of for a while (laughs).GAZETTE: What have you been up to since January?REZAIAN: I’ve been doing some writing for myself. I’m still with The Post on an extended leave.GAZETTE: Do you envision going back at some point?REZAIAN: I hope so. That’s the plan. I’m on staff. The news executives and I have spoken about not wanting to rush into assignments. Everybody’s been fantastic, and they said “You know what, let’s push it off until next year, and we can talk about it in early 2017.”GAZETTE: Outside of this fellowship, are you based now in D.C.?REZAIAN: For now. I’d never lived there before. I’d always lived in San Francisco; that’s where I grew up. And I had been in Tehran for seven years. But Yegi and I really love D.C., and I think ultimately that’s where we’ll probably end up. I had visited a few times in my early 20s and then eight or nine years ago. It’s a different town, and we’ve obviously had a really nice reception there since all of this happened to us, and it feels like the right place for us to probably lay some roots down for a while.GAZETTE: You haven’t spoken publicly yet about your experience? Why is that?REZAIAN: I’m planning on how I want to tell my own story. I feel like my situation and my experiences are unique in some ways. I was a journalist thrust into this really bizarre and, in some ways, incredible situation in the midst of the beat that I was covering. So I think unpacking this story is my job to do. I just have felt like it would be better to really process it and discover all the moving pieces before I reveal too much about what it was like.GAZETTE: You’re used to writing about other people. You know what to do, you know what to ask people, how to approach things and research things. How do you write about yourself, especially when you probably had the least information about what was happening?REZAIAN: Yeah. It’s difficult. There’s a lot of reporting I have to do. I’m always surprised when I read a story that’s reported from a great distance. And I think in this situation, to do justice to myself and my experience, I really have to be cognizant and mindful of really reporting it out and finding out what happened.GAZETTE: Were you surprised at the amount of attention your imprisonment received?REZAIAN: Oh yeah, sure. I had some knowledge from visits from my wife and my mom about the efforts that were being undertaken on my behalf, but there was no way in the isolation that I was experiencing that I could really comprehend the extent to which the support reached out in so many different directions.GAZETTE: Not just at the paper and your family and friends, but strangers. There was a hashtag #FreeJason going around, there was a letter to the Iranian government from famous academics like Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and others, a petition signed by people who don’t even know you …REZAIN: More than half a million people!GAZETTE: It was a cause célèbre. You became the face of journalists who’ve been persecuted and attacked, which is many.REZAIAN: I think it’s a challenging mantle to carry. But it was a really overwhelming thing to come out and witness.GAZETTE: It must have been very rewarding to see how committed your family, friends, and even strangers were about you, working so hard to get you released?REZAIAN: That was for me really the most — I don’t know if gratifying is the right word. … The commitment of my family, my employers, my colleagues in the media [was] just above and beyond what anybody could ever ask for.GAZETTE: Will you or Yegi ever go back to Iran?REZAIAN: That’s such a hard question for me to answer. I think that I’m a really optimistic person, and I believe that we will. But a lot will have to happen globally and personally [laughs] before the stars would align.GAZETTE: Could you see yourself being a foreign correspondent somewhere else at some point?REZAIAN: I haven’t thought about it too much yet. I feel like I need to process and tell this story before I move on to other possible beats, but I can tell you I’m not going to stop writing.GAZETTE: I read that you went to Iran with the hope of telling stories that better reflected the complexity and richness of daily life there. Will you continue to do that in some fashion, if not from Iran? And why is that important to you?REZAIAN: For me, the best journalism is usually the best storytelling, and the best stories are those of real people. Sometimes those real people are people in positions of great prominence or power or adverse situations, and sometimes it’s just normal folks who help illuminate a situation, a place, a culture. And for me, that’s always been the best way of telling a story.GAZETTE: In your interview with Anthony Bourdain on CNN’s “Parts Unknown” [filmed a couple of weeks before his arrest], you sounded very optimistic and positive about where Iran is headed (politically, economically, socially). Do you still feel that way?REZAIAN: I think in any country you have macro situations and micro ones. Like a lot of places, it’s a country that’s evolving, and the thrust of that evolution I think is still being played out right now. And as I told you before, I’m a very hopeful person.GAZETTE: Bourdain said Iran wasn’t what he expected. What is it about Iran today that Americans don’t know, but should?Shorenstein Fellow Yeganeh Rezaian (left) and Nieman Fellow Jason Rezaian are pictured in front of Lippman House at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerY. REZAIAN: I can just generally say that Iran is a very multilayered, controversial country. There are so many contrasts and controversies that question themselves within whole different layers. It’s not an easy place to wrap up in one answer or one question. It’s a very multicultural, multiethnic place. There are millions of things that if you never travel there, it’s easily possible that you never see or never hear of them. The people, culture, ideas, things that are happening in normal situations every day. It’s seven months that I’m here in America, and I just know that there’s a huge gap between the two nations. I’m not talking about the two governments. I’m just talking about the two nations. I just found that the knowledge of ordinary Americans about Iran is very small — which is totally expected.REZAIAN: And I think that response of “Wow, it’s so different than what I expected” is pretty much the response of every foreign visitor we ever had — and we had a lot of them. And it’s a big part of why I chose to do that job. I’ve been very clear about this over the years: “No value judgment. There’s great things about this country, there’s terrible things about this country. Here it is.” This is my interpretation of that.GAZETTE: Do ordinary Iranians view the U.S. government as darkly as many Americans view Iran’s?Y. REZAIAN: It’s difficult to generalize it. In terms of how Iranians see the U.S. government, that’s a difficult question. But in terms of how Iranians see Americans, there is a very good mutual belief that they have so much in common with American people and they feel totally related to them. In terms of government, definitely there are some hardcore hardliners who hate the U.S. government, but at the same time, there are some more moderate.GAZETTE: What attracted you both to Harvard, and what will you be doing?REZAIAN: This is incredible. It’s the greatest university in the world, and really the greatest program for journalists, so it was an incredible opportunity to be around some really accomplished and varied colleagues from different backgrounds covering different parts of the world and bringing different skills and talents. I’m just really excited to be a part of it. I’m going to try and soak up as much as I can and try to get smarter. [Laughs.]Y. REZAIAN: For me, I feel totally honored and blown away just to be here. It’s the greatest opportunity, and I’m very happy just to learn, see, and experience things that maybe a girl who just left Iran seven months ago cannot have the opportunity to see or learn. I’m very happy and excited to be here … I’m hopeful not only do we have so many things to learn, but also we have something at least to offer. At the Shorenstein Center, I have to do a research paper. It’s not definite yet, but the main focus is about female journalists in Muslim, patriarchal societies and what they go through to do their job, what are the hardships or difficulties.REZAIAN: It’s really incredible, and just looking at our schedule, the people who we’ve come across in this first week of orientation, it’s awesome. You asked why we were drawn to this. I mean, it’s just the culmination of all these things. I’m just really looking forward to undoing some of the rough patch and the road that we went through over the last couple of years. Overall, I’m just looking for ways to enhance my storytelling skills and learn new skills and add them to what I already know, just to become a better journalist.This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.last_img read more

A small lesson from a large project

first_img 52SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr A trait of my elementary school teaching years, I often find that children’s literature captures lessons still applicable in adulthood. It’s strange, as adults, we spend hours digesting complex situations, analyzing and cross-referencing data, studying focus groups, research and the like; and still often times the solutions can be a simple as the lessons inspired by grade-school stories and nursery rhymes.Within our organization, I spent months purposing, convincing, and training our teams to care about member experience.  Creating compelling cases to better understand member’s needs – not just on a transactional level – but to truly understand how it feels to be a member. Within this I had my own visions – creating process efficiencies, enhancing workflows, telling stories to our leaders with data.  What I did not anticipate was that when I asked our teams to capture the feelings of our members—they would do just that.As our team members were empowered to engage with our members differently, the member’s stories were given a voice, and our CRM became the vehicle calling these stories to life. Transforming beyond just a call center or branch, our front lines felt empowered to use our CRM not just as a means for problem resolution, but as an engine to create impact. continue reading »last_img read more

“Our customers aren’t ready” and other excuses

first_imgThere are plenty of excuses to stick with the status quo instead of accepting the need for change and working toward improvements. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with the familiar. Change can be hard work. And where’s the guarantee that striking out in a new direction will lead to success? But few excuses ring true when it comes to stepping up your branch experience in line with evolving consumer expectations. What accountholders want and need when they visit a branch is changing, and financial institutions that aren’t keeping pace are losing ground to competitors that are committed to upgrade their service delivery. Let’s consider—and debunk—some of the common excuses that bank and credit union leaders may cite as rationale not to step up their game.“Our accountholders aren’t ready for change.”This argument is especially likely to resonate with frontline staff who are on a first-name basis with the “regulars” at their locations. And it is true that some accountholders prefer to stop by their neighborhood branch for even the most routine transactions and don’t mind waiting for service. On both counts, but especially when it comes to patience for queuing up, those numbers are dwindling. When consumers are introduced to a better way to receive service—that doesn’t involve standing in line and wasting valuable time—their expectations change quickly. And they are already encountering innovations in convenient access at a variety of retail outlets, as the Kronos 2019 Branch Appointment Study notes: Starbucks’ mobile app gives customers the option to order and pay for their coffee in advance for pickup without waiting in the cashier line. McDonald’s is rolling out self-service ordering kiosks to reduce congestion at the front counter. And Apple invites customers to schedule in-store appointments via online and mobile channels for product consultations and technical support. Opportunities for similar technology assists are available to financial institutions to enhance branch service delivery. Appointment apps allow accountholders to schedule consultations with financial service professionals, and lobby tracking software can guide staff scheduling for periods of peak transaction volume and alert managers when wait times exceed service standards so they can redirect employees to help handle the extra demand.“This is the way we’ve always done things.”Sticking with standard operating procedures over years and even decades is rarely a recipe for long-term success. Delivering branch service the same way you did 15 or 20 years ago is no longer acceptable, largely because of evolving consumer expectations for prompt, professional service. The saying, that doing things the same way and expecting different results is one definition of insanity, is attributed to Albert Einstein, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that if you want better results for your branches, you need to improve service delivery. “We have online and mobile services for people who want them.”It’s not an either/or for most accountholders. Consumers today want the option to sign online for account access, to use mobile services—and to visit a branch. The J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Retail Banking Advice Study reports that bank and credit union branches remain the go-to choice for consumers looking for guidance on topics such as savings options, retirement strategies, and mortgage products. As the Kronos appointment study notes, “When it comes to complex and sophisticated transactions, most accountholders still prefer to meet in person with a knowledgeable staff member at a branch location.” Offering the option to schedule an appointment allows them to plan for those consultations at their convenience and lets branch staff know what services are requested so they can be prepared to respond promptly and efficiently. “We’re known for our personal service.”That used to be an effective knock against big banks, but the J.D. Power survey notes that large retail FI’s have steadily improved customer satisfaction ratings in recent years due to technology investments aimed at improving banking convenience and providing more consistent products and services. “These findings suggest that financial institutions should continue to invest in technology solutions that make each retail branch experience as satisfying as possible for the account holder,” the Kronos study advises. “We can’t afford to change.”Some financial institutions are making major investments to revamp their branch operations. According to business research cited in the appointment study, 55 percent of the financial services respondents to a 2017 survey planned to increase spending on customer service initiatives.It is possible to make significant service improvements without a big budget and to offset technology investments by streamlining operations and increasing sales. Staff scheduling and lobby tracker software can increase branch efficiency by aligning employees’ schedules with periods of peak demand, and appointment-setting technology can underscore that your financial institution values your account holders’ time as much as they do. Appointment apps can also help expand sales, since consumers are more likely to schedule a visit to discuss revenue-producing products like mortgages and auto loans. As the Kronos study concludes, “As credit unions across the country continue to redefine and reconfigure their branches, appointment-setting technology can help financial institution leaders improve the service experience, increase operational efficiency, and increase sales for better business outcomes.” In other words, there’s no excuse not to keep pace with consumers’ evolving expectations for their branch experience. 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Chad Davis Chad Davis is Industry Sr Solutions Marketing Manger, F5 Networks, which is the leader in app security and multi-cloud management. He can be reached at [email protected] Web: Detailslast_img read more

Fraudster Madoff is dying, wants out of prison: Lawyer

first_imgThe Post said the Bureau of Prisons rejected Madoff’s petition for compassionate release in December, with a lawyer for the federal agency saying “in light of the nature and circumstances of his offense, his release at this time would minimize the severity of his offense.”Madoff is appealing that ruling under the terms of a criminal justice reform law passed in 2018.A pyramid, or Ponzi, scheme is a form of fraud in which returns on investments are generated only by bringing in fresh investments from new victims. Cash from new clients is used to pay existing clients until the scheme eventually collapses.Madoff’s fraud was revealed during the financial crisis in 2008 when he was unable to satisfy growing client demands to withdraw their investments, and many lost their savings or were unable to retire.US authorities have seized about $4 billion related to Madoff and aim to return it to tens of thousands of his victims around the world.”I never got a break, why should he get a break? He’s terminally ill? I’m terminally broke,” Gregg Felsen, a 72-year-old who came out of retirement to work as a photographer after his savings were wiped out in the scam and has not received restitution, told the Post.Topics : “The Bureau of Prisons concluded in September 2019 that Madoff has less than 18 months to live because of the terminal nature of his kidney failure,” Sample wrote.The Washington Post reported that Madoff needs a wheelchair and 24-hour care, and is asking for compassionate release so he can mend fences with his grandchildren and die at home.”I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it,” Madoff told the paper in an interview.”You know, there hasn’t been a day in prison that I haven’t felt the guilt for the pain I caused on the victims and for my family,” he said. Bernie Madoff, jailed in the United States for perpetrating the world’s largest fraud, is terminally ill and wants to leave prison to die, his attorney said Wednesday.Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2009 of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that saw investors bilked out of an estimated $65 billion.In a letter to a US federal judge, attorney Brandon Sample petitioned for his early release, saying Madoff suffers from “terminal kidney disease, among other serious medical conditions.”last_img read more

David Luiz hits back at his critics after heroic performance against Man City

first_imgDavid Luiz produced a sensational display against Man City in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final win (Picture: BT Sport)David Luiz sent a pointed message to his critics are producing a magnificent display at the heart the Arsenal defence during Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final victory against Manchester City. The experienced centre-half turned in a nightmare performance last month against the same opposition, gifting a goal to Raheem Sterling before he was sent-off for a professional foul on Riyad Mahrez. Luiz was roundly criticised afterwards with Jamie Carragher offering a particularly damming verdict on the 33-year-old, claiming Arsenal would be foolhardy to offer the former Chelsea star a new deal.Mikel Arteta stood by the Brazilian and his faith was rewarded with a tigerish performance against City at Wembley. Arsenal progressed to their 21st FA Cup final thanks largely to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace but their commitment in defence helped secure a rare clean sheet against City.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTLuiz, in particular, was outstanding and afterwards spoke eloquently about the way in which he dealt with the abuse he suffered following last month’s horror show. Advertisement He told BT Sport: (There was) a lot of criticism of me you can say that. It is part of the football, I understood during my career football is about surviving every day you are going to defend your team and other people are going to support their teams it is about surviving. ‘It is what I did I was working very hard every day after my mistakes I took the blame I was mature enough to understand that and I was humble to do that for the team.’More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing ArsenalHe added: ‘It was a great result against one of the best teams in the world, we were humble, understood the way we had to play. We took the opportunity to score, we have to be mature to understand which level we are in the process. ‘We are in the process, we have an amazing coach who wants to bring us the best football for this club but not 0-100 we have to understand that day by day we are improving. The spirit was great and I am happy for the team they deserved it.’MORE: Robin van Persie picks out ‘absolutely fantastic’ David Luiz as Arsenal stun Man City in FA Cup semi-finalMORE: Arsenal to trigger Sporting Lisbon teenager Joelson Fernandes’ £40m release clause ‘imminently’Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.For more stories like this, check our sport page. Comment “A lot of criticism on me, you can say it!”“Football is about surviving. That’s what I did.”David Luiz was a monster for @Arsenal tonight 💪🎙 @TheDesKelly | #EmiratesFACup— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 18, 2020center_img David Luiz hits back at his critics after heroic performance against Man City Metro Sport ReporterSaturday 18 Jul 2020 10:24 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link4.6kShares Advertisementlast_img read more

Australians unveil 1.1 GW offshore wind project

first_imgThe offshore wind resource within the area covered by WA-481-P has been measured to have an annual mean wind speed greater than 9 m/s at a hub height 100 metres. WA-481-P covers 130 graticular blocks and is one of the largest offshore exploration permits in Australian Commonwealth waters covering most of the offshore portion of the North Perth Basin extending from North of Oakajee, Western Australia to south of Cervantes, Western Australia, covering over 8600 km2 along approximately 250 km of the offshore Western Australian coast. For the purposes of undertaking the feasibility studies, Pilot Energy has developed a conceptual development layout for a four-stage development of up to 1.1 GW of offshore wind capacity. It will also focus on looking for opportunities to utilize existing facilities, easements both offshore and onshore to simplify the overall development and reduce footprint of the project The eastern boundary of WA-481-P is approximately 10 km offshore in relatively shallow water depths ranging between 20 to 40-metre water depth along the entire eastern portion of the permit from 10 km to 30 km offshore. Out of the 8600 km2 area of the permit, over 7600 km2 (88%) is in water depths of 60 metres or less. The study will assess the viability of supplying energy for hydrogen production for domestic use and/or for export, taking advantage of existing nearby gas supply and infrastructure. While Pilot Energy intends to own 100 per cent of the project at the feasibility stage, the company regards the project as having the potential to attract strategic co-investors, should the feasibility study demonstrate its economic potential. The wind farm is comprised of up to 78 14 MW wind turbines installed at least 14 kilometres offshore and in water depths of between 20-40 metres. The wind farm is located in the area covered by the Offshore Exploration Permit WA-481-P which is 60 per cent owned and operated by Pilot Energy. Pilot’s Chairman, Brad Lingo, said: “This is exactly the type of development that demonstrates the ability to substantially redefine how the Australian offshore oil and gas industry can, in parallel with existing operations, participate in a low carbon future through offshore renewable energy projects delivering substantial low cost energy to Western Australia. The substantial nature of the offshore opportunity in Western Australian also presents the option to supply renewable hydrogen for domestic residential and industrial consumption as well as the potential to supply international markets.” Australian oil and gas specialist Pilot Energy Limited is starting a feasibility study to pursue the development of an offshore wind project off the coast of the Mid West Region of Western Australia. The wind farm is part of a larger renewable energy project. The Mid West Wind and Solar Project combines the offshore wind farm with an onshore wind farm and a solar farm.last_img read more

Talent That Got Away!

first_imgIt is no wonder why Purdue and IU struggle in football every year.  Here are some players that they failed to recruit.  Tyler Williams, a punter for Marshall University, went to Ft. Wayne Snider.  Gunner Kiel, UC’s quarterback, played for Columbus East.  Raymond Wright is a running back for Stanford who went to Bishop Dwenger in Ft. Wayne.Joel Hale, an offensive lineman for Ohio State, played for Center Grove.  Josiah Price is a tight end at Mt. Saint Joe University and graduated from Eastern.  Ted Karras, of the famous Karras family which includes Alex, is offensive lineman at Illinois. He played at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.Deshawn Bond is a center from Warren Central High School and also plays at UC.  If just a few of these went to IU or Purdue they may at least compete in the Big Ten rather than bring up the bottom every year.  How about doing some recruiting in your own state?  Not all football players have to come from Ohio or Texas.last_img read more

Di Maria set to join United tour

first_img Louis van Gaal gave Di Maria, Marcos Rojo and Javier Hernandez an extended period of leave this summer following their international commitments at the Copa America and Gold Cup. But they were all due to report for duty on July 25 and that still remains the case despite speculation a deal for Di Maria is almost done. “I expect them (Di Maria, Rojo and Hernandez) here tomorrow,” the United manager said at a press conference in San Jose on Friday. “We have communicated (with them) and they have responded to that.” Van Gaal refused to discuss whether Di Maria is leaving for PSG. “I am not answering questions about transfers or the process in transfers,” the Dutchman said. Di Maria will not be considered for United’s third pre-season game, which is against Barcelona at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Saturday. “For the (Barca) game he cannot play because we have to build him up,” Van Gaal said. Angel di Maria has agreed to join Manchester United’s pre-season tour of the United States even though he appears to be edging closer to a move to Paris St Germain. Press Association “When you come out of your holidays you can’t play immediately so that is out of the question.” Interestingly, United’s fourth and final game of the tour is against PSG in Chicago on Thursday morning. Another United star who has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford is David de Gea. The goalkeeper is wanted by Real Madrid, but United are refusing to deal with the 10-time European champions unless they get Sergio Ramos in return. De Gea missed the first two games of United’s tour through injury, but trained with the first-team on the eve of the Barcelona match and looks set to feature against the Spaniards. “He shall play tomorrow,” Van Gaal said of De Gea United are willing to play hardball with Madrid over De Gea. They would be happy to let the goalkeeper’s contract run out if they meant they got another year’s service out of their two-time player of the season even though they would lose him on a free next year. Although De Gea has missed the first two matches of the tour, Van Gaal is hopeful the 24-year-old will be fit for the start of the season. “When a player is injured you have to wait and see, but I give them time to recover and build up their fitness,” Van Gaal said. “It is still possible (he will be fit to play against Spurs on August 8) because he shall play tomorrow.” One player who is unavailable for the Barcelona friendly is Bastian Schweinsteiger. “He cannot play because he had a little injury,” Van Gaal said of the £15million summer signing. Van Gaal’s men have recorded relatively easy wins over Club America and San Jose Earthquakes on tour so far. He believes the Barcelona game will be a much tougher test and the result will show just how his new-look team is shaping up ahead of the new season. “I have said to the players it is fantastic to play against Barcelona because then you know a little bit if you are at a certain level, to play, to win the Champions League,” said Van Gaal, who managed Barcelona twice. “Our aim this season is not to win the Champions League but to be close.” The meeting of the two sides means Van Gaal will be reunited with Luis Enrique, who played for the Dutchman during his time at the Nou Camp. “I have a fantastic memory of Luis Enrique,” Van Gaal said of the Spaniard, who won the treble in his first season as Barca boss last year. “He was my player. He played always for me and he played always 100 percent – more or less like Wayne Rooney. “And he scored a lot of goals also for me. As a person, I like him very much.” PSG are interested in signing Di Maria, who endured a difficult first season at Old Trafford following his £59.7million move from Real Madrid. United have refused to comment on reports they have agreed a fee of 65 million euros (£46million) with the French champions for the Argentinian, who has struggled to settle in the Manchester area following an attempted burglary at his Cheshire home in February. last_img read more

Road To Riches and Apache Stronghold to duck Durkan, says Noel Meade

first_img Press Association Apache Stronghold, one of last season’s leading novice chasers, has not yet made his comeback after suffering a minor injury. Meade said: “We’ll run Texas Jack in the Durkan. “Apache Stronghold won’t run. He just had a very slight setback, so we’ll look towards Christmas for him now. “Road To Riches will be out over Christmas somewhere as well, hopefully. “We’ll see where we go nearer the time.” Noel Meade is set to rely upon likely outsider Texas Jack in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday after the trainer confirmed Road To Riches and Apache Stronghold will miss the Grade One.center_img Cheltenham Gold Cup third Road To Riches heads the ante-post betting for the two-and-a-half-mile contest after he made an impressive reappearance in the Clonmel Oil Chase earlier this month. But he is instead being held back for an appearance over the Festive period, with the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown among his options. last_img read more

Trump admits he deliberately played down coronavirus threat to prevent panic

first_imgABC NewsBY: BEN GITTLESON(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has admitted to deliberately minimizing the seriousness of the novel coronavirus to the public despite understanding its true danger, in an interview with journalist Bob Woodward, according to reports Wednesday.“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said on March 19, according to CNN, which obtained an audio recording of the interview, and The Washington Post. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”Trump had acknowledged to Woodward over a month before that the recognized COVID-19 was “deadly stuff,” according to CNN — in contrast with the president’s public assertions the virus would “work out fine” and was “very much under control.”His statements to Woodward, as reported by CNN and The Washington Post, reflect a greater recognition of the threat than he let on publicly.ABC News has not obtained copies of Woodward’s book or the audio recordings and could not independently confirm the reports. The book is titled “Rage” and scheduled to be published next Tuesday.“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in call with Woodward on Feb. 7, according to The Washington Post and audio aired on CNN. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”But less than two weeks later, the president said in a television interview: “I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine.”About 190,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus since the outbreak began earlier this year.Trump also told Woodward on Feb. 7 that COVID-19 was “more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” according to CNN.But 19 days later, during a news conference, he said: “This is a flu. This is like a flu.”White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted at a White House briefing Wednesday the president “never lied to the American public on COVID” but rather “was expressing calm.”Despite Trump’s saying on the March 19 audio recording obtained by CNN that “I wanted to always play it down” and “I still like playing it down,” McEnany said: “The president never down played the virus. The president expressed calm and he was serious about this.”The book also contains harsh assessments of Trump’s behavior from some of his top former national security officials, including former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former director of national intelligence Daniel Coates, according to the reports.Mattis called Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” and said “the president has no moral compass,” Woodward wrote, according to The Washington Post.ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more