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Hattiesburg public schools implement clear-bag policy for athletic events

Hattiesburg public schools implement clear-bag policy for athletic events

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – High school football starts next week in the Hub City and Hattiesburg public schools are taking steps to make athletic events safer ahead of kickoff.

“It’s a policy that we’re implementing to further our means of safety for our fans,” said Greg Carter, Hattiesburg Public Schools athletic director. “You know, our ultimate goal is to keep our fans safe at all of our athletic events, and we feel like this clear-bag policy is a step in the right direction.”

The start of a new football season means new rules for Hattiesburg Public Schools.

The district is implementing a clear-bag policy at all athletic events.

“It’s the first year that we’ll be implementing it,” Carter said. “It’s been a policy for most colleges for a few years now. So, it’s starting to trickle down into high schools, and with the surge in violent crimes throughout the nation at large events, we feel like we need to do a little something further to keep our fans safe.”

The clear-bag policy goes into effect next Friday, Aug. 27, at Hattiesburg High’s first home varsity football game against Petal High School.

There are a few other different regulations fans need to keep in mind before getting to the stadium.

“It’s a clear-bag policy so the bag has to be clear but the dimensions of it is… the largest is 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches,” Carter said. “Now, you can also bring in a one-gallon size Ziploc-type bag.”

Small clutches also are allowed.

“The small clutch doesn’t have to be clear, but it has to fit the dimensions of 4 1/2 inches by 6 ½ inches,” Carter said.

While it may take a little getting used to, it all comes down to ensuring a safe environment while fans cheer on the tigers.

“We understand that this policy is going to inconvenience some, but we feel like that the safety aspect of it far outweighs the slight inconvenience that it may cause to some,” Carter said. “We do apologize in advance for any inconvenience that it might cause.

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Johnny Burt, a fixture at Utah high school sports events for decades, dies at 66

Johnny Burt, a fixture at Utah high school sports events for decades, dies at 66

If you attended a high school football or basketball tournament in the state of Utah anytime in the past three or four decades, chances are you ran across Johnny Burt.

The short, skinny, bald, bespectacled man with an irascible sense of humor and an infectious smile was a ubiquitous presence at Utah High School Activities Association events for more than 30 years, serving as a volunteer, doing everything from handing out stat sheets to sweeping floors postgame. Along the way, he endeared himself to athletes, coaches, referees, statisticians, parents, fans, and everyone in between.

Burt died Wednesday morning from liver failure at the age of 66.

He was born with phenylketonuria (PKU), the build-up of amino acid called phenylalanine in the body which can cause learning disabilities. The incurable disease is very rare, with fewer than 20,000 cases in the United States per year.

Burt grew up in South Salt Lake, but spent much of his life living in Sandy. While brother Doug and sister-in-law Peggy provided care for him, he was a longtime employee of the Murray Parks and Recreation Department, he lived on his own until the past couple years, and was a master at navigating public transit but also capable of driving himself around until about six years ago, according to Kevin Dustin, the athletic director at Salt Lake Community College, who has been Burt’s friend of 40-odd years.

“He was born with certain limitations, but he made it through life pretty well, and he did so in large part by being adopted by so many members of the community, especially in the sports world,” said Dustin. “He connected with people at sporting events. He just became a very endearing personality.”

Indeed, Burt loved the camaraderie of sports, and so became something of an addict for attending games.

More than once, Dustin remembered, he’d get multiple calls a day from Burt, letting him know that he was leaving a hockey game to attend an amateur softball game for 8-year-olds, following which he’d head off to some high school game or another.

And while Burt was also a fixture at Salt Lake Bees and Utah Grizzlies games, it was high school sporting events where he was known best.

“He was kind of a legend at state meets, particularly basketball and football — it seemed like he was always there,” said Tom Wharton, an ex-Salt Lake Tribune writer who has covered high school sports tournaments for more than half a century. “The [UHSAA] usually had him pass out stats to [writers], which was particularly a big job if we were at the Huntsman Center and working in the upper press box. He was kind of a tease — you’d want to get the stats, because you were on deadline, and he’d kind of hold ’em away from you, you’d try to grab [the stat sheet] and he’d pull it away. And then he’d just get this big, infectious smile like he was having a great time. You hardly ever saw him not smiling.”

Even though Burt was having a good time, he also took his volunteer responsibilities extremely seriously.

Dustin, who used to work for the UHSAA, recalled with a laugh the one time he unthinkingly went to pass out stat sheets to media members, only to have an irate Burt confront him and remind him that was his job.

In 2018, Burt was honored by the Activities Association upon his “retirement” from volunteering “after over 30 years of service to Utah students.”

“The passion around high school sports is what unites our communities, and Johnny certainly had that passion,” Rob Cuff, UHSAA’s Executive Director said Wednesday in a statement. “Johnny’s life was marked by an inordinate amount of hardship and struggle, but the same passion he displayed for high school activities allowed him to overcome the many adversities he faced during his life. Our thoughts and condolences are with all his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Dustin first met Burt in 1983 while working as an assistant basketball coach at Alta High, and Burt was the “team manager.” Because Dustin befriended him then, Burt remained a constant fixture in his life throughout the years, even as he moved to Cache Valley, then returned to the Salt Lake Valley to work for UHSAA and SLCC.

“Never a day went by [I didn’t hear from him]. In fact, if 5 o’clock came by and I hadn’t got a call from Johnny, then I’d start to worry,” Dustin said. “Usually he’d call me five, six, seven times a day.”

Despite his cognitive disability, Burt apparently had an innate knack for making lifelong friends. Dustin recalled heading to Burt’s 60th birthday party figuring there would be a few people there, only to discover a line of people waiting to greet him that took 30 minutes to navigate.

“What he really liked was the interaction with people. And when people recognized him, when they called him by name, he was instantly a friend of theirs,” said Dustin. “He was very loyal … once you helped him, once you recognized or acknowledged him in any way, you had a friend for life.

“… They broke the mold with him.”

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Hamden cannabis rules could bring back High Bazaar, other events

Hamden cannabis rules could bring back High Bazaar, other events

HAMDEN — A cannabis business incubator could be in Hamden’s future, as could temporary cannabis events like the High Bazaar.

Both would be allowed, with restrictions, under a proposed set of zoning regulations that also permit cannabis entrepreneurs to set up shop in certain parts of town.

The Planning & Zoning Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal Tuesday, when it can decide whether to request changes or move forward and schedule a public hearing, said Town Planner Eugene Livshits.

Though the draft specifically addresses retail establishments, a corresponding zoning chart applicable to other license types such as cultivation and manufacturing also will go before the commission, said Director of Economic Development Erik Johnson.

Depending on the type of license, cannabis establishments would be allowed in certain transect zones or in manufacturing zones, the chart shows. Those wishing to open such establishments would need to submit a special permit or a site plan application, per the chart.

In addition to limiting precisely where cannabis retail establishments could be located — at least 500 feet away from a school and no closer than 250 feet from each other — the proposed regulations outline two rather unusual provisions.

The first would create an exception to the rule regulating the proximity of cannabis establishments and allows one “accelerator establishment,” with up to four cannabis businesses, to open in town.

Concerns about social equity inspired the provision, said Johnson, who guided a cannabis task force in drafting regulations. It is the same idea behind any business incubator, Johnson said: that allowing fledgling businesses to co-locate and share resources makes them “more likely to be successful.”

The goal is to support efforts to grow cannabis business opportunities in Disproportionately Impacted Areas, or DIAs, Johnson said.

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CM attends three events in Kozhikode amid high security

The harrowing sequence of events from a father

Kozhikode city was under a thick security blanket on Sunday with the city police pulling out all the stops to thwart any protest bid by Opposition parties during the events that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan attended here in the evening.

Congress, BJP and their frontal organisations have been holding protests in various parts of the city following the revelations of Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case. There was anticipation of violence here too after the heavy security deployment during the events Mr. Vijayan attended in Kottayam and Kochi on Saturday and the reported ban on people wearing black face masks.

Mr. Vijayan reached the Kozhikode Guest House at West Hill in the city from Malappuram at around 1 p.m. The first event, the release of a book on the late communist veteran K. Chathunni, was scheduled at a private hotel near the Sarovaram Biopark at 3.30 p.m. Heavy downpour delayed the event and the Chief Minister stepped out of the guest house only by 4 p.m.

By the time his convoy reached Karaparamba Junction, some Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists waved black flags. Earlier, a similar protest was staged at Pantheerankavu Junction on the Ramanattukara Bypass Road. When the vehicles turned to the Mini Bypass Road, activists of the Youth Congress and the KSU also waved black flags from near the biopark. The police swiftly took them into custody.

From there, the Chief Minister went to the Kozhikode District Cooperative Hospital at Eranhipalam, a few km away, where a new block for women and children was being opened. Muslim Youth League activists staged a protest there. The third and final event was the centenary celebrations of the Calicut Diocese, held at the St. Joseph’s Church ground on Kannur Road at around 6 p.m. Organisers there had reportedly requested the participants to avoid wearing black face masks. K. Praveen Kumar, DCC president, boycotted the event in protest against this alleged ban. In view of the protests by pro-Opposition activists, a group of CPI(M) activists were seen outside the venue expressing solidarity with Mr. Vijayan.

Hundreds of police personnel were stationed at each of these venues. It was reported that eight assistant commissioners of police were given charge of the routes the convoy was passing by. Each junction was under police control. Participants were allowed to get in only an hour before the event was to start. The extent of road from Eranhipalam to Arayidathupalam on the Mini Bypass Road and the area around Malabar Christian College on Kannur Road were completely closed to traffic in the evening. The Chief Minister returned to Kannur by road by around 7 p.m.

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Daphne Bramham: Is paying the high price for mega-events worth it?

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As Vancouver waits to find out how many 2026 World Cup matches it will host, a new study puts the cost of mega-events into perspective.

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There is no doubt that hosting some of the men’s World Cup soccer games in 2026 will provide Vancouver with a spectacle unlike most others we get to experience.

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Soccer fans — especially at matches at this level — are a show unto themselves. They will be wearing outrageous costumes, singing songs, waving flags — hopefully without the hooliganism that has attended some other international matches, and without a similar ticketing debacle that recently resulted in fans being pepper-sprayed by Paris police.

Next Thursday, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association will announce whether Vancouver will get three or five of the 60 matches, and which teams will be playing.

But as people breathlessly await the announcement, a study published recently by three University of Lausanne researchers puts into perspective not only B.C.’s $250-million share of the spectacle, but Vancouver’s potential bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

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Canadian players celebrate after qualifying for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar after beating Jamaica 4-0 in March.
Canadian players celebrate after qualifying for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar after beating Jamaica 4-0 in March. Photo by CARLOS OSORIO /REUTERS

Lead author Martin Mueller and his colleagues looked at the costs and revenues from 14 Summer Olympic Games, 15 Winter Olympics and 14 World Cups held between 1964 and 2018.

With combined costs of more than $120 billion US and combined revenue from broadcast rights, tickets and sponsorships of nearly $70 billion US, the average return on investments was a loss of 38 per cent.

“Are the Olympics and the football World Cup profitable for the IOC and FIFA (who own the rights to these events)? Yes, very much so,” they write.

“Are they profitable for the organizing committees that need to put them on? Sometimes, but not very often. For the host city and government? Hardly ever.”

Here’s how it works:

For World Cup events, all of the revenue goes to FIFA, with the organizing committee bearing most of the operational costs. For the Olympics, revenue goes to both the IOC and the organizing committee (although not necessarily equally), with the costs paid by the organizing committee and the host government.

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In economic terms, these events have a structural deficit. That means they are not financial viable without external subsidies. And it means that the problem is systemic, rather than the result of poor decision-making by the hosts.

But the study’s structural deficit figures likely fall far short of the real losses because security expenses and other “indirect costs” were not included in the calculation, even though the study notes that indirect costs typically range from $1 million to $1 billion.

The study defines indirect costs as Olympic villages, media centres, and other “event-induced costs” such as new public transportation, highways, improved power supplies, and so on.

But indirect costs for the Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Games were far higher: the $2.1-billion Canada Line to the airport, the $883-million Convention Centre built for use as the media centre, and the $883-million expedited improvements to Sea-to-Sky Highway.

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Based on their findings, the authors urge citizens and politicians to think differently about the “opportunity” being offered to host mega-events.

“They are not offering the rights to a profit-making business deal, but asking for subsidies for a loss-making venture.”

Citing other studies, the Swiss authors note that mega-event proponents often fall prey to “optimism bias”. Others engage in “strategic misrepresentation”.

That misrepresentation is possible because of “a principal-agent situation and information asymmetry, in which the agent (for example the city bidding for a mega-event) knows more about the real costs of a mega-event than the principal (the taxpayers), but communicates a lower cost estimate to make hosting the event more palatable to the public.”

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Canadian alpine skier Brodie Seger during training prior to the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Canadian alpine skier Brodie Seger during training prior to the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY /REUTERS

Studies such as these, along with more media attention paid to the skyrocketing costs of recent mega-events and a growing number of venues that are never used after the events, have caused taxpayers to be less enthusiastic about being hosts, even if politicians aren’t.

In the past eight years, votes in plebiscites and referenda have quashed Olympic bids in Calgary (2018), Rome (2017), Hamburg (2015), and Oslo (2014).

And it is why the IOC has recently been urging frugality by potential host cities. It has also flattened its lengthy and expensive bidding process, with the (perhaps) unintended consequence that the new system is both shorter and less transparent.

As for the 2026 World Cup, Premier John Horgan withdrew Vancouver’s name in 2018 citing FIFA’s demand that the province “write a blank cheque.”

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Chicago, Minneapolis and Glendale, Calif. also dropped out that year because of cost concerns and what were described as FIFA’s “heavy-handed demands” that included visa-free entry to FIFA representatives and exemptions from taxes and labour laws.

But three months ago, Vancouver was back in, with Horgan telling reporters that FIFA was no longer “looking for the sea and the sky in their ask from host cities.”

However, turfing the fake grass at B.C. Place — literally putting real stuff over top of the fake — was one of FIFA’s non-negotiable demands, even though the Crown-owned B.C. Pavilion Corp. spent $3.1 million completing the installation of artificial grass earlier this year.

So, good luck snagging a World Cup ticket. But even if you don’t, enjoy the party because you’re going to be paying for it.

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on events in the occupied West Bank

GENEVA (14 May 2022) – I am following with deep distress events in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. Footage of Israeli police attacking mourners at the funeral procession of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in East Jerusalem on Friday 13 May was shocking. Reports indicate that at least 33 people were injured. 

The Israeli use of force, which was being filmed and broadcast live, appeared to be unnecessary and must be promptly and transparently investigated. 

There must be accountability for the terrible killing not just of Shireen Abu Akleh but for all the killings and serious injuries in the occupied Palestinian territory.

International law requires prompt, thorough, transparent, independent and impartial investigation of all use of force resulting in death or injury.  

So far this year, 48 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces. Today a young man, Walid al-Sharif, succumbed to the serious injuries he sustained at Al Aqsa Mosque Compound on 22 April. 

As I have called for many times before, there must be appropriate investigations into the actions of Israeli security forces. Anyone found responsible should be held to account with penal and disciplinary sanctions commensurate to the gravity of the violation. 
This culture of impunity must end now.   


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East High runner Olyvia Mamae sweeps 4 events at state meet tuneup

East High runner Olyvia Mamae sweeps 4 events at state meet tuneup

For Olyvia Mamae, the Anchorage Invitational track and field meet was an exercise in perseverance, a barometer for how much suffering she’ll be in store for later this month at the state meet.

On Friday, the junior from Bettye Davis East High ran the 100 meters, 200 and 100 hurdles. Saturday, it was those same three events plus her signature event, the 300 hurdles.

“This is nice because it’s the first time I’ve run all four events,” Mamae said. “Before this I’ve been running three or two to work on focus or some of the things I need to complete. But today is a big preview of how state is going to feel because I’m running all four events for state. Right now, I’m really just trying to get used to this kind of hurt.”

Mamae swept all four events Saturday, despite hitting a strong headwind along the final turn in her 300 hurdle race at Dimond High.

“I was just trying to maintain my speed and hit my hurdles in stride,” she said. “I’m not disappointed, but I can’t say I’m happy because it’s a whole second off my PR, but you get what you get. I’ve already done like five races leading up to this. I finished, that’s all that matters.”

South’s Cody Tirpack got used to running the 100 on Saturday. He run the 100 and was part of the South 4×100 relay team. But his key 100 meters of the day was the final stretch of the 400. He pulled away from a big pack of runners to win with a time of 52.33 seconds.

“I ran a couple hundreds before this,” said Tirpack, a junior. “That definitely helped me in the end there.”

Tirpack, who ran a personal record, said he treated the meet as a bit of a dress rehearsal for state.

“The lanes are pretty narrow, but other than that, it’s not much different than other meets, at least running the 400,” he said.

Among the most-watched races of the day was the girls 1,600, where Chugiak junior Campbell Peterson and West senior Payton Smith continued their season-long tete-a-tete.

Smith, who is headed to Oregon State to compete as a runner next fall, took the season’s first matchup at the Big C Relays. But Saturday, it was Peterson who pulled away in the final 300 meters.

The 5:13.66 finish was a two-second PR for Peterson, who found herself in a new role in the race.

“I’m usually a frontrunner but I’ve really been working on my pacing and my kick on the end,” Peterson said. “I’ve been doing a lot of speed work. My goal was kind of just to stay with her, if she wants to take the lead, let her go. But then try and kick past her the last 250 meters. I think it worked out pretty well.”

Peterson was runner-up at the state cross-country meet in the fall and hopes to take the next step later this month when the state meet is at the Dimond track.

“I’m hoping for a state title,” she said. “I think it’s definitely within reach but I’m going to have to play it kind of smart.”

The West Valley track and field team was thrilled to be arriving in Anchorage for the meet. The Fairbanks school has struggled all season with the immense snowpack in the area and have had precious few competitions or even practices this spring.

West Valley coach Hannibal Grubis said he finally got the track plowed in mid-March over spring break, but even that has only provided some respite.

“We haven’t been throwing or anything (outside) because of the snow,” he said. “Almost nothing with hurdles, some of the jumping we haven’t been able to do. Some sprints and miles, that’s about it. It’s going to take a lot of patience and it’ll come. It’s going to be a steep curve.”

As if the season hadn’t already been a uphill climb, the team’s bus broke down in Healy on the trip to Anchorage on Thursday evening, leaving them with a five-hour delay.

“We were there until a little after 9 and didn’t get in until 2,” Grubis said. “It was just exhausting.”

Even the team’s likely top competitor was absent from this weekend’s Anchorage trip. Daniel Abramowicz, the 2021-22 Gatorade Alaska Boys Cross Country Player of the Year was back in Fairbanks taking Advanced Placement tests. The dedication to academics is not surprising for Abramowicz.

Abramowicz has maintained a 4.35 GPA according to information that accompanied his Gatorade honor.

That absence meant West Valley teammate Shane Fisher had to change his strategy a bit. Instead of tucking in behind Abramowicz, Fisher started out like a shot in the 1,600, but eventually fell to second with Dimond’s Jared Gardiner taking the race.

“I didn’t want to get stuck in, there were way too many guys,” he said. “It’s a good experience being in the lead. Usually I just sit behind Daniel back at home.”

Fisher had a knee injury during cross-country season and with the recovery plan, he hasn’t had quite as many issues with the weather as his teammates.

“It’s been so bad,” he said of the conditions. “I really don’t know how they’ve been doing it.”