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Top 100 firm Bircham Dyson Bell and Thames Valley practice Pitmans have revealed plans for a merger that would create an 80-partner firm. According to a joint announcement, the firms are in ‘exploratory merger discussions’. Partners will take a formal vote on Thursday 27 September. The announcement said that the firms had identified ‘a number of obvious synergies including sector focus, culture and geography’. A merger would ‘propel the firm towards the top 50 for revenue in the UK, with a headcount of 80 partners and 404 staff’, it added. ‘We have decided to make this announcement now so that we can be transparent with our staff and clients throughout the process. As the discussions progress we will make further announcements.’In the year ending 31 May 2017, Westminster-headquartered Bircham Dyson Bell reported profits of £10.9m on a turnover of £34.8m, respectively 7.7% and 3.4% up on the previous year. Its most recent expansion was last year’s acquisition of the real estate team of King & Wood Malleson’s European arm in Cambridge. Pitmans, headquartered in Reading with offices in London and Southampton, reported pre-tax profits of £5.7m on a turnover of £19.4m for the year ending 30 April 2017.
FILE – In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) What began more than a year ago with an NFL quarterback protesting police brutality against minorities by kneeling silently during the national anthem before games has grown into a roar with hundreds of players sitting, kneeling, locking arms or remaining in locker rooms — their reasons for demonstrating as varied as their methods.Yet people rallying to defend players or decry the protests aren’t talking about police brutality, or the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is no longer employed by an NFL team. Especially after President Donald Trump weighed in repeatedly to say that players should stand for the anthem or be fired for their defiance.Before NFL games began Sunday, the discourse had morphed into a debate over the First Amendment, Trump’s insults, how much the NFL has been paid by the U.S. government for its displays of patriotism and the overall state of race relations in America. Support and criticism came from fields well beyond the gridiron, including NASCAR, the NBA, MLB, activists, journalists, entertainers and politicians. “It wasn’t political when it was written and it shouldn’t be political today,” American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan said Monday. “Having a right to do something does not make it the right thing to do.”Fans are also noting the mixed messages.“The original issue was police brutality,” said Myles Conley, 42, a sales consultant from Atlanta. “The issue has moved past police brutality. Now it’s … racism in the NFL.”Conley said fans watch the NFL for entertainment and “now it’s turning into an activists’ platform,” referring to domestic violence, player safety, race and other issues.“All of these issues the NFL is making part of their program,” he said. “No one wants to hear that.”Protesters have supporters as well, including NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “This isn’t about football; it’s about freedom,” Johnson said Monday. “It’s about the ability of Americans to utilize their constitutional rights without punitive actions from their employers.”It’s unclear whether — or how — the momentum will continue. On Monday, Jackson called for a boycott of the NFL — some African-Americans have been doing that since the start of the season earlier this month — and picketing at pro football stadiums.Some want the original intent of the protests to become the focus again.Congressional Black Caucus chair Cedric Richmond noted that while some NFL owners, coaches and officials put out statements rebuking Trump, they didn’t include why players originally felt the need to protest.“They are taking a knee to protest police officers who kill unarmed African-Americans — men and women, adults and children, parents and grandparents — with impunity,” the Democrat from Louisiana said. “They are taking a knee to protest a justice system that says that being black is enough reason for a police officer to fear for his or her life.”Jozen Cummings, a columnist at VerySmartBrothas.com, wrote in a column Monday that the #TakeTheKnee movement has evolved into an “all-lives-matteresque, watered-down version of NFL players and owners against Trump.”“Kaepernick’s cause got distorted into a protest about flags and against Trump when it was never intended to be against anybody,” Cummings wrote. “It was for people of color.”Miles said that while the support has taken various forms, people are leveraging their platforms to keep issues of systemic racism top of mind.“Folks are elevating the conversation,” Miles said. “It’s all connected, and there’s a long list of things that have been going on. This is about recognizing that the responsibility is on all of us and there a role for all of us to play.”___Corey Williams in Detroit and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report. Williams, Holland and Whack are members of The Associated Press Race and Ethnicity Team. Holland reported from Washington and Whack reported from Philadelphia.http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland . Follow Whack on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous . FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, the Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)“The issue has morphed beyond that because Mr. Trump has interceded,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said.More than 200 NFL players and owners — even anthem performers — found ways to show dissent during pro football games over the weekend. Raised fists and other gestures came after Trump’s comments at a Friday night rally in Huntsville, Alabama, where he mused to the crowd: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out! He’s fired. Fired!’”Trump continued to criticize protesters Tuesday, saying in a news conference at the White House that he was “ashamed of what was taking place” with the kneeling protesters. Trump said Americans have died and been injured in defense of their country.“They were fighting for our flag, they were fighting for our national anthem and for people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem, I think that’s disgraceful,” the president said.Trump’s remarks set off a firestorm on social media. Ken Miles, a community organizer and entrepreneur living in Harlem, created a petition on Saturday around the emerging #TakeTheKnee hashtag in response.“This weekend was just a reminder of the role that power plays in this conversation,” said Miles, 32. “The president of the United States leveraging his influence to call out players exercising their rights is an abuse of power.”The topic continued to dominate discussion in sports Monday as NFL players reflected, NBA teams met with reporters and Trump doubled down on his position with tweets, saying the issue had nothing to do with race and using the hashtag “#StandForOurAnthem.”“He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country,” Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James said.Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James answers questions during the NBA basketball team media day, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Independence, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)Trump has rallied those to his side who are less interested in athletes’ opinions than a perceived lack of patriotism. The American Legion has called the protests and protesters “misguided and ungrateful.” In this Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Browns fans hold a sign following the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cleveland Browns in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)Some worry that the expanded reasoning for the protests — fanned by the president’s incendiary stance — could dilute the passion and the permanence of its original cause, drawing attention to interactions between police and minorities.
New York Yankees amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, left, presents New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge with a crystal gavel before a baseball game in New York, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Judge has hit 53 home runs in his rookie season for the Yankees. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)NEW YORK (AP) — The jury is out on AL MVP. And when a verdict comes in later this fall, giant slugger Aaron Judge has a great chance to join a very small club.Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) are the only major leaguers to win Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. To match that rare achievement, the 6-foot-7 Judge must fend off a little competition.In a baseball version of David and Goliath, the biggest challenger to the New York Yankees’ 282-pound slugger for American League MVP honors is tiny Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve .That means the main man standing in Judge’s way is generously listed at 5-6 and 165 pounds.“It’s the beauty of baseball. There’s not a whole lot of limitations,” Tampa Bay pitcher Chris Archer said. “You can be 5-5 or you can be 6-8 and a monster and be really talented at this game, so I love it.”Despite his diminutive stature, Altuve packs plenty of punch and has the numbers to prove it after hitting .346 for his third career batting crown. He also led the league in hits (204) and finished with 24 home runs, 81 RBIs and 32 steals for the AL West champions.Judge, of course, clocked an AL-best 52 homers to break a rookie record that lasted 30 years. He ranked first in runs (128) and walks (127) while helping the Yankees reach the playoffs as the league’s No. 1 wild card.The knocks against Judge are his 208 strikeouts — only five times has a player whiffed more in one season — and extended slump after winning the All-Star Home Run Derby. But he rebounded with a huge September when New York really needed it, leading the AL in homers (15), RBIs (32), runs (29), on-base percentage (.463) and slugging percentage (.889).Judge finished the season with a 1.049 OPS to .957 for Altuve, and the big guy is no one-dimensional player. He ran the bases well and played solid defense in right field while appearing in 155 games.“One of my goals was I wanted to be a consistent part of this lineup,” Judge said. “I wanted to be in there every day playing for my team through the good times and the bad times.”FanGraphs ranks Judge first in Wins Above Replacement, while Baseball Reference favors Altuve.Cleveland infielder Jose Ramirez also warrants consideration. So does perennial Angels contender Mike Trout, who figures to finish outside the top two for the first time after missing six weeks with an injury.But the court’s decision is Judge over Altuve.“It’s tough not to say that Aaron Judge is the MVP. What he’s doing, rookie or not, the numbers he’s putting up in the division that he’s in and in a playoff race is impressive, man,” Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said last week. “He’s having a special year.”Lynn and Suzuki, get ready for some company.All rise! Here comes the Judge.“I’m sure it’s something he hasn’t imagined in his wildest dreams,” said Longoria, the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year. “To be able to do both would be out of this world.”Voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America is held before the postseason begins, and results will be announced in November.Here are our selections for the other big awards:NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP: There are several worthy candidates from playoff teams: Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Charlie Blackmon , plus Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, twice a runner-up. Extra points for them. But the incredible season Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton had (MLB-best 59 homers and 132 RBIs) shouldn’t be discounted just because his team went 77-85. Same goes for Joey Votto of the last-place Cincinnati Reds, for that matter. So the pick here is Stanton, thanks to those astounding power numbers. “They make your jaw drop,” Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman said after wrestling with his choice. “Just kind of have to give it to him.”AL CY YOUNG: Earlier in the season, it seemed nobody could catch Boston newcomer Chris Sale . Cleveland ace Corey Kluber did. Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA) faded in the final two months but still racked up 308 strikeouts. Kluber (18-4, 2.25, 265 Ks) bounced back from an early injury and dominated the rest of the way. He wins his second Cy Young Award in four years, leaving Sale without one.NY CY YOUNG: Hard to separate Washington ace Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA) and Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31), other than the fact that Kershaw missed time with an injury. So he finished with 202 strikeouts in 175 innings to Scherzer’s 268 Ks in 200 2/3 innings. “I’d have to go Scherzer because he’s been healthy all year,” Freeman said. In this case, agreed. Scherzer gets the nod in a repeat from last year and joins Kershaw as three-time Cy Young winners. The right-hander won the AL prize in 2013 with Detroit.AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: An easy ruling for Judge.NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Also a runaway, by Los Angeles Dodgers bopper Cody Bellinger.AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Hall of Famer Paul Molitor took the wild-card Twins (85-77) to the playoffs after they had the worst record in the majors last season at 59-103. That made Minnesota the first team in history to lose 100-plus games and qualify for the postseason the following year. Pretty impressive.NL MANAGER OF THE YEARMilwaukee wizard Craig Counsell edges Colorado newcomer Bud Black and rookie skipper Torey Lovullo, who guided the Diamondbacks (93-69) to the top NL wild card after they went 69-93 a year ago.___AP freelance writer Scott Orgera contributed to this report.___More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Aaron Donald held out all spring and summer from Los Angeles Rams activities, finally reporting for duty right before the regular season began without the new contract he’d been seeking.His pursuit of the ball has been far more fruitful.Midway through his fourth year in the NFL, Donald has established himself as the premier defensive tackle in the game. Though comparing different positions is a difficult assessment, Donald might be the best defensive player in the league. His dominance in the interior of the line is a significant reason why the Rams (6-2) were the first-half surprise success of the season.“Hall of Famers aren’t made three years in,” Rams general manager Les Snead said during training camp. “But if there’s a race to the gold jacket, he’s started strong.”His consistent disruption and production since being drafted in the first round out of Pittsburgh earned him a unanimous first place finish for NFL defensive tackles from an Associated Press panel in voting revealed Friday. Donald is the only unanimous winner of the 10 positions ranked thus far by the 11-person AP panel in the weekly installments published this season.The two-time All-Pro pick has 32 sacks in 55 career games. He’s a force against the run, too. Fierce and fast at 6-foot-1 and 285 pounds, Donald is quite the bargain for the Rams this year with a rookie-contract salary cap hit of a little more than $3.2 million. The below-market price won’t last much longer, though.“He seems to have answered questions pretty quickly of how he would adapt to a 3-4 scheme under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips,” said the AP’s Schuyler Dixon, who is based in Dallas.Donald was one of six defensive tackles listed on every ballot. The other five were Miami’s Ndamukong Suh, who finished second; Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox, who was third; Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins, who came in fourth; fifth-place finisher Damon Harrison of the New York Giants; and Carolina’s Kawann Short, who was eighth.Minnesota’s Linval Joseph took sixth, Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy came in seventh, San Francisco’s DeForest Buckner was ninth and Jacksonville’s Malik Jackson finished 10th to round out the results.The Dolphins made Suh the league’s highest-paid defensive player in 2015, and he has remained the threat in the middle he was in Detroit. The knock against his game has stuck with him, too — the propensity for penalties and needless personal fouls.“If he could just harness his emotions,” said the AP’s Arnie Stapleton, who’s based in Denver.While quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense has stolen the spotlight, Cox has been a significant factor in the team’s NFL-best 8-1 start. Despite missing two games to injury, he has 4½ sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one touchdown.“Don’t forget this important part of a defense that’s doing its part,” Dixon said.With 57 career sacks for the Bengals, Atkins leads all active interior linemen.“When healthy, Atkins is as good as any defensive tackle in football. But like many of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, the folks around him don’t measure up,” said the AP’s Barry Wilner, who’s based in New York.There’s hardly a better story of overcoming the odds in the NFL than Harrison. He hooked on with the Jets as an undrafted rookie in 2012 out of a small NAIA school in Iowa, William Penn, after barely playing in high school and being cut from the team in middle school while growing up poor near New Orleans. Now with the Giants with a big-money contract to boot, the man nicknamed “Big Snacks” has been eating up offensive linemen for years.“No one is better as a run stuffer,” said the AP’s Josh Dubow, who’s based in the Bay Area.___EDITOR’S NOTE – The Associated Press is ranking the top 10 players at a different position every week of the NFL season, based on votes by Pro Football Hall of Fame member James Lofton and AP football writers Simmi Buttar, Dave Campbell, Schuyler Dixon, Josh Dubow, Howard Fendrich, Rob Maaddi, Arnie Stapleton, Teresa M. Walker, Dennis Waszak Jr. and Barry Wilner. This feature will move on Fridays.___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.pro32.ap.org
DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY cannot believe that Jesse James’ touchdown was reversed, in what the officials said was indeed the correct call of not “surviving the catch” in the end zone. (Photos by Courier photographer Brian Cook)Refs reverse touchdown by Jesse James, thenill-advised pass intercepted by Patriots spells doomsday for Steelers“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist.)The Pittsburgh Steelers lost—no, not lost, but gave away a victory to the New England Patriots, 27-24, Dec. 17 at Heinz Field. Christmas came one day plus one week earlier for the rebels from “Beantown.” Pittsburgh lost when New England intercepted an ill-thought-out and ill-advised pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone, with five seconds left in the game, killing the Steelers’ chance for victory—or at least a tie to go to overtime—once again leaving the Pittsburgh squad lying on the side of the road, like all roadkill victims.Bad decisions, mad decisions, and sad decisions. There are those of us that at times make all of the aforementioned and prefer to stand up and take the heat as opposed to “dilly, dilly dallying” around attempting to focus our microscope of incompetence on other folks as well as extraneous and fantasy-laced “visions of sugarplums” dancing in our heads. Yeah, Christmas is coming and it’s better to give than receive, right? Wrong…especially when it comes to professional football.AFTER A WILD FINISH, head coaches Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick shake hands. Tomlin’s Steelers were this close to pulling out the win, only to see Ben Roethlisberger throw an interception on the game’s second-to-last play. The pass was intended for Eli Rogers. The Patriots won, 27-24, Dec. 17.I have always been taught that giveaways are a baaaaad thing, or so I thought. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”On Feb. 1, 2015, the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28–24, in Super Bowl XLIX to earn their fourth Super Bowl title. The victory was sealed when Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted in the end zone from the 1-yard line. That should’ve been a red flag to Roethlisberger; I don’t care what play that the Steelers coaches were yelling about and trying to send in from the sidelines. Ben had the ability and the independence to attempt the pass only if the Patriots’ defensive alignment permitted such a play. Both Wilson and Roethlisberger, I would suspect, had the autonomy to scrap pre-called plays if the successful execution of those plays were called into question. The Steelers offense or their coaches weren’t confused, and the Patriots defense was certainly not confused. Roethlisberger appeared to be the only one confused. You have to learn from the mistakes of others, boys and girls, so as not to repeat them.I have viewed the assessments given to the Steelers defense, offense, and special teams, and the defense was given the lowest grade. How in the heck are such blatantly biased assessments even viable? The Patriots offense gained 77 rushing yards on 19 carries. The Steelers offense gained 143 rushing yards on 31 carries; advantage Steelers defense. Patriots QB Tom Brady was 22-of-35 for 298 yards. Big Ben was 22-of-30 for 281 yards; advantage Brady by a measly 17 yards.The Steelers passed for 17 yards less than the Patriots but outrushed them by 66 yards. Who was the better defense? Certainly not the Patriots’ “D.”The game was lost for Pittsburgh when Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone. People were grumbling about stupid stuff like, “Why wasn’t Le’Veon Bell available in the locker room for a nice toasty post-game chat with us media types?” Well, maybe some things are better left unsaid because there is still a lot of football left.The Steelers can still be the number 1 seed in the AFC if the Buffalo Bills can travel to Foxborough and beat the Patriots this Sunday, Dec. 24. The Bills (8-6) are fighting for their playoff lives so the Pats will not be on the porch drinking mint juleps. The Steelers still have to take care of business when they meet the Houston Texans (4-10) in Houston on Christmas night.(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at [email protected]) Like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hlFollow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier
By Russell Bennett Away from the sights of most local fans, West Gippsland teams have been excelling in recent weeks…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.
By Gavin Stubbs In a day of thrilling finishes amongst a highly charged atmosphere of competitive racing, Woolamai and District…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.
By DAVID NAGEL ROB Webster says there is no magic wand that Pakenham’s best-ever horse trainer, his father Ray ‘Darby’…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.