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The Greenest Man in the Mountains Lives On

first_imgNote from the author, July 2014: A few years ago, I wrote about my rural neighbor, Bill Banks, whom I considered to be the greenest man in the mountains. The 77-year-old Appalachian farmer didn’t look like a green hero; Bill was a born-again Baptist who wore overalls and was missing some teeth. Yet he was cooler and more committed to living off the land than even the hippiest New Age eco-villager.Bill died last week at age 79. He is deeply missed. Bill’s life reminded me the hardest part about truly being green: living simply doesn’t mean living easily. The simple life means dawn-to-dusk days of backbreaking labor: hauling manure, splitting firewood, digging fencepost holes. It means eating only what’s in season, which can seem dull and repetitive to our supermarket stomachs. It means staying put, without escaping to the beach for a few weeks in the winter or planning an exotic summer adventure.He also taught me life’s most important lesson: there is beauty everywhere if our eyes are open to it.Following is the original story from 2012:He’s not a tree hugger; in fact, he cuts them down regularly. Nor is he a vegetarian. He doesn’t belong to the Sierra Club or any environmental group. He’s never seen An Inconvenient Truth or read any books by Michael Pollan, though he knows a lot about climate and where his food comes from.I’ve met a lot of inspiring environmental activists protecting the planet and its people. I have spent time with the Occupy crowd, tree-sitters, and activists who have chained themselves to bulldozers to prevent coal companies from blowing up mountains. The courage of these activists is as impressive as that of gonzo paddlers plunging off waterfalls. But in their everyday lives—where most of our environmental impact takes place—none have as much integrity as my neighbor, Bill Banks.My family and I live a half-mile up the gravel road from Bill. We live on an off-grid organic farm, with solar panels on the roof of our green-built house. Yet even our solar-powered sustainability doesn’t measure up to Bill’s closeness to the land.Bill Banks is an Appalachian farmer. He has spent almost 50 years in the same small house that he and his family built. He grows most of his own food—corn, beans, squash, peppers, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, brussels sprouts—using heirloom seeds that his family and friends have passed down for generations. Most of his food is grown organically, although he doesn’t call it that.A small herd of cattle roam his pasture; he and a neighbor slaughter the animals and butcher the meat themselves.He heats his house with wood selectively harvested from the forest. For decades, he has used horses and chains to haul the logs down the mountain. In today’s eco-speak, that’s called sustainable forestry. He cuts, splits, and stacks all the wood himself.He owns no computer, cell phone, or other electronic gadgets. Instead, he watches the clouds roll over the mountains and the squirrels gathering walnuts.His house is surrounded by heirloom fruit trees, nut trees, and blackberry brambles, which today go by the environmentally fashionable name of edible landscaping. Though he has never heard of permaculture, he knows how to save labor, time, and money by using what’s available: manure from the cattle fertilizes his gardens; ash from his woodstove is used to make soap; rocks from the fields become walls for his root cellar.Most impressive of all is that Bill has been living with the land for 76 years. Unlike some well-intentioned environmentalists I know who are vegetarian (except on holidays and weekends) or carbon-neutral (except when jetting to the next conference), Bill has lived simply, sustainably, and self-sufficiently his entire life.His carbon footprint is negligible. He doesn’t buy anything. He fixes everything himself. He doesn’t travel. He is content to spend his days on the farm or in the national forest across the creek.“I don’t need to go anywhere,” he says. ”There’s no other place I’d rather be.”He has explored the mountains of Pisgah National Forest more thoroughly than any outdoor enthusiast. He roamed the mountains as a boy, racing to the top of Pinnacle Mountain with his cousins faster than most trail runners today. He knows where to find native trout better than any guide, and even as a septuagenarian, he can trek steeper and deeper into the mountains than most backpackers. He bushwhacks across ridgelines to find an old stand of chestnuts or a patch of ginseng, reading the cartography with his eyes and memory rather than a map or GPS.Bill resembles many Appalachian folk; there are probably others like him in these hills. They don’t call themselves eco-anything, but they are greener than most environmentalists. They’re not members of nonprofits or co-ops, but they give all of their surplus harvest to neighbors in need. They’re not Occupying Wall Street, but they are bartering food, labor, and skills in their own self-sustaining community economy.On our way to the trailhead in FlexFuel SUVs loaded with bikes and boats, we drive by many Appalachian farmers who know and love the forest as deeply as we do. In the past, I’ve been guilty of dismissing rural folk as overly conservative anti-environmentalists. Admittedly, some of them fit this description. But most mountain folk, especially old-timers like Bill, are greener than Prius-driving, eco-conscious city dwellers. We mountain bikers and trail runners may know a few narrow ribbons of trail through the forest, but our knowledge is often superficial. Blinded by adrenaline, we blast through the terrain checking our wristwatches and odometers. We don’t take the time to observe the whole forest beyond the trail, to listen to the hidden springs gurgling beneath the rocks, to explore the steep, overgrown thickets off-trail where bears and old trees take refuge.Bill is a born-again Baptist who wears overalls and is missing some teeth, yet I have learned more from him than any environmentalist about living sustainably in harmony with nature. He is also the most accomplished outdoor explorer I know, with seven decades of completely self-supported adventures in the wild.Bill’s life has reminded me the hardest part about truly being green: living simply doesn’t mean living easily. The simple life means dawn-to-dusk days of backbreaking labor: hauling manure, splitting firewood, digging fencepost holes. It means eating only what’s in season, which can seem dull and repetitive to our supermarket stomachs. It means staying put, without escaping to the beach for a few weeks in the winter or planning an exotic summer adventure.Bill’s wife Vernie, who passed away last year, worked even harder than him, he says. She taught him everything he knows, including life’s most important lesson: there is beauty everywhere if our eyes are open to it. Though Bill can name every species of tree in the forest and identify an animal by its tracks, he doesn’t claim to have any special knowledge or skills.“I just pay attention, that’s all.”Will HarlanEditor in Chieflast_img read more

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‘Don’t overreact’: Chinese envoy responds to Indonesia’s travel ban amid virus fears

first_imgBeijing is seemingly displeased with Jakarta’s decision to impose a travel ban to and from China amid its efforts to prevent a deadly coronavirus from spreading to the archipelago, with a Chinese envoy saying that such a ban could harm Indonesia’s tourism and economy.The travel ban, which is to be in effect from 12 a.m. on Wednesday, would prevent people who have stayed more than two weeks in China to visit or transit in the country. Indonesia is to also suspend visa-free and visa-on-arrival provisions for Chinese nationals.Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian asked Indonesia to follow the advice of the World Health Organization, which — despite having declared a global emergency over the deadly coronavirus — is not recommending countries restrict travel or trade with China. Read also: ‘We are not overreacting’: Indonesia responds to China’s criticism of trade restrictions“In this situation, we need to be calm. Don’t overreact and cause a negative impact on investment and the economy,” he told reporters in Jakarta during a press briefing on Tuesday.By imposing a travel ban, Indonesia has followed in the footsteps of some other countries, such as the United States and Singapore — all countries with confirmed coronavirus cases — in implementing travel restrictions to and from China.Xiao said he understood that some countries were taking “rational action” in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, such as by tightening immigration security. However, he said the ban was against the WHO’s recommendation. “Indonesia and China are neighbors and good friends,” he said. “I believe that actions other than restrictions will have a direct impact on the relationship.”He said China is one of the biggest sources of investment for Indonesia, as well as the second-largest contributor of foreign tourists with roughly 2 million Chinese travelers going to the Southeast Asian country per year.“[The ban] actually harms Indonesia’s tourism and economy,” Xiao said, adding that the impact from the restrictive measures still needed to be calculated but he hoped that such measures would not need to be taken.“We hope that Indonesia can be rational and not experience any negative impact,” he said.As of Friday, the new coronavirus originating from the city of Wuhan in China has killed 427 people, including two deaths outside China, and infected nearly 20,000 people globally, Reuters reported. (eyc)Topics :last_img read more

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Danish roundup: PFA Pension, Sampension

first_imgPFA’s with-profits or average-rate pension product returned 6.7% in 2016, according to the early financial figures.The firm said interest-rate hedging and the bond portfolio contributed the most to the with-profits pension return, though corporate bonds, alternatives and real estate had also made positive contributions. Damgaard said that, in the light of an investment environment of low or negative interest rates and uncertainty on the stock market, a central element of PFA’s investment strategy was to find good alternatives to shares and bonds.“PFA has therefore strengthened its skills in alternatives investments and expects to expand its investments in, among other things, property, infrastructure – for example, via public/private partnerships – and sustainable energy,” he said.Meanwhile, labour-market pension fund Sampension reported that returns on its market-rate pensions had bounced back in 2016, to end the year between 5.4% and 9.7%, depending on customer age and risk profile.In 2015, Sampension made losses of between 0.1% and 1.8% on its market-rate product.The pension fund said: “Sampension ended the year with a good plus in all three asset classes – equities, bonds and alternatives – despite the ultra-low interest rates in the year and turbulence on the equity markets.”Brexit and the election of US president-elect Donala Trump had been two of the year’s most important political events on the financial markets, it said.“But, despite the enormous media discussion, neither the British ‘no’ vote to the EU nor the Americans’ ‘yes’ vote for Trump had great significance for the return,” Sampension said. Denmark’s biggest commercial pension provider, PFA Pension, reported higher-than-forecast returns on its unit-link pension product for 2016 and said it was pleased with the results given difficult market conditions.Anders Damgaard, group finance director at PFA Pension, said: “We are proud we have delivered a return for our customers with market-rate products this year of between 6.5% and 8.2% – particularly in the light of Danish inflation, which is at 0.1%.”In 2015, returns on the market-rate product PFA Plus ranged from 5.3% to 12.3% depending on customer age and product profile.The returns are higher than the firm forecast this time last year, when PFA predicted PFA Plus 2016 full-year returns would come in at between 2% and 7% – though it did say this prediction depended on prevailing interest rates staying at their early 2016 levels.last_img read more

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Easter trading rules should be the same everywhere, says Wellington City Council

first_imgStuff co.nz 16 December 2015The Government’s attempt to “pass the buck” over Easter trading hours has not gone down well with Wellington City Council.Parliament is currently considering legislation that would allow local councils to decide whether shops stay open on Easter Sunday within their boundaries or within smaller, specific areas.But at a meeting on Wednesday, many Wellington city councillors saw this as little more than the Government getting local councils to pass laws it did not have “the intestinal fortitude” to pass itself.Councillors were concerned that if each city and town was setting its own rules then the public would get confused, particularly since many people travel over Easter.Deputy Mayor Justin Lester said it was the same script the Government had followed on issues like fluoridation, psychoactive substances and opening hours for bars. If it could not decide on a national approach then it would get councils to make the call.Councillor Andy Foster said getting every council in the country to pass their own Easter trading bylaw would unnecessarily soak up time and ratepayers’ money.“The Government, yet again, has ducked one of these moral-type issues … the Government has basically said, ‘here’s a hospital pass, councils’.”http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/better-business/75175269/easter-trading-rules-should-be-the-same-everywhere-says-wellington-city-council.htmlKeep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

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Former Africa footballer Abdulkadir Mohamed Farah dies after suffering from coronavirus

first_imgLondon: The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Somali Football Federation (SFF) have announced the passing away of Somali legend Abdulkadir Mohamed Farah after suffering from coronavirus.Abdulkadir Mohamed Farah passed away at a Northwest London Hospital on Tuesday after testing positive to the deadly virus last week. He was 59.Before his death, Farah was acting as an advisor to the Minister of Youth and Sport in Somalia.Farah was born in the city of Beledweyne, about 342 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu on February 15, 1961. His football career dates back to 1976 when he first appeared in the national school’s football tournament.He got promoted to regional level representing his home Hiiraan region in the 1979 regional football tournament.The regional tournament became a platform for him to showcase his talent and from there he was recruited by Batroolka Football Club where he had an illustrious playing career until late 1980s.Farah becomes the first African football star to be lost to the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 20,000 lives across the world. IANSAlso Read: Iain O’Brien turns to crowdfunding project on Twitter to get back to his familyAlso Watch: East Siang District Administration in Arunachal Pradesh cautious over corona viruslast_img read more

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Calabar Tragedy: Kanu, Others to Stage All-Stars Match for Victims

first_imgBY Bassey Inyang in CalabarIt has been disclosed that former Nigerian international, Nwankwo Kanu, would stage an All-Stars football match to raise funds for electrocuted victims of last Thursday’s tragedy at a viewing centre in Nyaghassang Community, Calabar Municipality, Cross River State.A high-tension cable, the UNICAL 11KV Feeder, collapsed on the  viewing centre constructed with zinc, when some football enthusiasts were watching Manchester United FC versus Anderlecht FC in the UEFA Europa League quarter final match. This is coming as Senator Florence Ita-Giwa led hundreds of mourners and sympathizers on a candle-light procession through the community to the scene o the incident where it became apparent that eight people had died following the incident.The deceased from the incident are Mr. Emmaneul Edet Okon, David John, Ejiofor Chukwuebuka, Elder James Edem Akpan, Miss Blessing Okon Udo, Samuel Edet Sam, Marshall Pius Akpan, and Mr Ekemini Samuel Monday.Participants in the procession from all walks of life wore black Tee-shirts with the inscription: “Rest in Peace Dear Football Enthusiasts.”Prayer session was the candle-light procession was conducted by a former Special Adviser to the state Governor on Religious Affairs, Pastor Eyo Okpo-Ene. Ita-Giwa, who made the disclosure to journalists after leading a candle light procession and prayer session, to commemorate one week of the incident, said Kanu who is one of the legends of Arsenal of England, would be working with other former football stars to ensure that the proposed All-stars match succeeds.Ita-Giwa who said the procession was organized under the auspices of Concerned Mothers of the Efik Kingdom also promised that a standard football-viewing centre and a modern playing field will be constructed for the community.“I had reached out to someone like Kanu Nwankwo, who is so sympathetic. In fact he is talking about an All-Stars Football Match to raise money to come and develop this community, and he is serious about it. Kanu has promised. I have spoken to Joseph Yobo, and he is ready to also collaborate with Kanu so that they bring their colleagues.“Such a profound incident to happen to a community like this it is not something we should be quiet and let is just pass. In civilized communities, when people die for such a cause, you come out to remember that day. You come out to commiserate with the people. You come out to create activities that would commemorate that day that this thing happened. We thought that for innocent people to come and die like that for something they were passionate about, which is football, we should come out and remember that day that it happened and we are overwhelmed by the turnout today. We have to start showing love as Nigerians to each other. We have to show compassion to each other.“If I have a voice to cry to the world to cry to the world to hear what has happened to this innocent people, then I would use that voice to cry out. Like I said, I am expecting Nigerians to come to our aid. I also have spoken to John Shittu, Pinnick. Also spoke with Multichoice and they are coming on board to assist us in building the viewing centre and provide television and provide indefinite subscription.“We are here as mothers and we feel the pain. If this people died watching Manchester United, we would find a way to make sure that Manchester United come here to make their presence felt. We are not going to give up. We are going to use all our connections to call the world and let the world know the presence of this place. People love football and especially in Cross River State, it is unbelievable. Their passion for football is unbelievable and we would not let them die and go like that. We should turn them to stars. We should keep their memories alive and the viewing centre we are going to build, on the wall of that centre, there would be the photographs of all them. All the children they left behind, we are going to make sure they have education and grow up properly. We are going to share with the families throughout,” Ita-Giwa said.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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UW tees off at Purdue

first_imgThe best golf colleges in the Midwest compete against one another every April in West Lafayette, Ind., and the University of Wisconsin men’s golf team received its annual invitation to this year’s Boilermaker Invitational.The Badgers look forward to teeing off on the Kampen Course at the Brick Boilermaker Golf Complex, where they hope to have success.The Kampen course, built in 1994, is one of two courses at the Brick Boilermaker Golf Complex. It measures more than 7,300 yards and is filled with large greens and treacherously placed sand bunkers.There will be many Big Ten teams at this year’s Boilermaker Invitational, including Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa. Other strong Midwest golf schools will be smacking balls around as well, such as Wichita State and Missouri.The Boilermaker Invitational, in terms of the Big Ten, is essentially a measuring stick to see which teams are on top in the conference. The Badgers, who haven’t won a Big Ten Championship since 1994, would love to make a statement in West Lafayette this weekend, but the level of competition is no joke.UW head coach Jim Schuman calls this weekend’s Boilermaker Invitational “an unbelievably strong field.” The Badgers are confident, however, because they believe their team is right in the mix with the other Midwest teams.The confidence comes partly from the level playing field in the Big Ten conference this year and partly from the “outstanding effort” Schuman has been recently seeing in his team.”I’m happy with how we’ve been striking the ball,” Schuman said.”[Our team’s] talent is there,” he added, referring to his golfers’ ability to get the ball in the hole with great consistency. “It’s exciting. We’re only three weeks away from the Big Ten Championship.”The Boilermaker Invitational will be a potential preview of the Big Ten Championships this year but will be missing some of the conference contenders. The past two Big Ten champions — Michigan State and Ohio State — will not be in West Lafayette.The Badger coach was optimistic but also said success will only occur if there is improvement. The coach seems to be most concerned with the Badgers’ “experience factor,” as he calls it, and also said the players’ “management could be better.”According to Schuman, “management” refers to getting his players to make the best decisions while on the golf course. Whether with club selection, green speeds or a lack of aggressive play, Schuman thinks his players need to play the mental game better.Coach Schuman will play three freshmen and a sophomore for this weekend’s tournament. The Badgers’ lone sophomore, Jeff Kaiser, and junior Garret Jones have finished first and second on the team in every 2006 tournament except one.If the Badgers are to win this weekend’s invitational, the two elder statesmen will have to lead the way.Wisconsin, on the whole, was not particularly impressive in last year’s Boilermaker, where they finished in ninth place behind Big Ten schools Purdue (second) and Indiana (fourth). Jones was not on his “A” game, either. He shot a sky-high 228 and was 10 strokes worse than his 218 average for 54 holes in 2005.last_img read more

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Football fans call on African Origin and Sports Tourism CEO to lead them to FIFA.

first_imgHundreds of Football Fans besieged the premises of the African Origin Travel and Tour offices on Thursday to petition the Group Chief Executive of African Origin Group Limited, Samson Deen to lead their campaign to the Headquarters of FIFA in Switzerland.The fans were refused visas to visit Canada for the ongoing U-20 World Cup, and as a result, they embarked on a demonstration Wednesday through the principal streets of Accra to protest the decision.The petition to the 2013 Travel and Tour best entrepreneur comes as a result of his good relationship with the football governing body and his rich experience globally when it comes to sports tourism, the leadership of the group tells JOY Sports.Meanwhile, the aggrieved Ghanaian supporters have already petitioned FIFA on Tuesday according to the group’s lawyer, Tetteh Wayoe.“We have already communicated to FIFA and our case has been forwarded to the legal department of the World ruling outfit for the needed response,” he said.last_img read more

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Grassley and Vilsack together in D.C., touting USMCA

first_imgWASHINGTON — Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, joined forces Tuesday in the nation’s capitol — making the case for ratification of the USMCA, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.Vilsack, who served eight years as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, is now president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.“I have a simple message for the committee: exports matter to American food and agriculture industry,” Vilsack said. “Thirty percent of all agricultural production and 20% of all agricultural income is directly related to exports.”Grassley opened the Senate Finance Committee hearing by reading a prepared statement.“Nobody could consider NAFTA to be better than USMCA,” Grassley said, “and nobody should dismiss the importance of a half-trillion dollar market for U.S. agriculture products.”Vilsack said the new trade deal would “bring strong benefits” to the rural economy.“Whatever helps the U.S. food and agriculture industry helps the country,” Vilsack said.Vilsack urged congress to “swiftly” ratify the deal.“It will build momentum for progress, hopefully, in other trade discussions, especially in Japan and possibly China,” Vilsack said.Vilsack mentioned nearly a thousand U.S. food, ag and trade groups recently signed onto a letter to congressional leaders — to make the argument that the USMCA will cultivate “more fair and robust” trading relationships with Canada and Mexico.last_img read more

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Ravens fans, men and women, wear No 27 for Rice

first_imgRacquel Bailey wears a Ray Rice jersey as she tailgates before the Baltimore Ravens’ NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)BALTIMORE (AP) – Music blared from the purple bus, and Baltimore Ravens fan Racquel Bailey stood with drink in hand amid her usual tailgate buddies while making a bold fashion statement: a black, rhinestone-decorated jersey with the white No. 27.A Ray Rice jersey.“There’s two sides to every story,” said the 23-year-old waitress from Baltimore. “I saw the video. That’s their personal business, and it shouldn’t have affected his career. I don’t agree with domestic violence, but she’s still with him, so obviously it wasn’t that big of a deal. Everyone should just drop it.”Ravens fans male and female, young and old, arrived for Thursday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers debating the events that have affected their team over the last few days. Their once beloved running back has been kicked off the team and banned by the NFL after a video surfaced that showed him punching his then-fiancee – and now wife – inside an Atlantic City hotel elevator.All condemned Rice’s actions, but there was little consensus as to what his punishment should be. The NFL did the right thing by suspending him, some said, but the Ravens shouldn’t have terminated his contract as well. Or maybe the suspension should have remained at two games, where it stood before the punch video became public.Meanwhile, those who wore Rice jerseys were getting heckles and high-fives.“You support a wife-beater!” one female fan yelled at male fan wearing a No. 27 about 90 minutes before kickoff.Outside of at least one entrance, a memo explained the “Ray Rice Jersey Exchange” policy, aimed at “particularly families, women and children” who wish to exchange a Rice jersey for that of another Ravens player. The Ravens are no longer selling Rice jerseys, but at least one independent vendor had some Rice action figurines on sale next to his collection of vintage Baltimore Colts wares.The somber nature of the Rice saga jarred with the usual merriment surrounding a night game. The NFL Network set outside the stadium included panelists discussing serious issues on the air, while raucous fans hoping for a win over the Steelers cheered in the background.Paul Kilduff, 65, put two pieces of duct tape over the letters “Ray R” on the back of his faded shirt so that it read “Be Nice” instead of “Ray Rice.” But the tape kept falling off, so he took off the jersey, then put it back on without the tape while uttering, “Ah, I might as well.”“Everybody deserves a second chance,” he said, a refrain heard often in the parking lot.This, after all, is the franchise of Ray Lewis, who was charged in a murder case in 2000 but now has a statue outside the stadium. His No. 52 remains arguably the most visible jersey among tailgaters.But there were plenty of No. 27s, and many of them said they were deliberately making a statement.“I took the bus here, so people were, like, ‘Good, I’m glad to see to someone out here showing support,’” said Gage Friend, 18, as he learned against the barrier by the players’ entrance. “But I’ve also seen a lot of people giving me dirty looks and people saying stuff to me like, ‘I can’t believe you’d wear that. Don’t you know what he did?’“Yeah, I’m pretty aware of what he did. And, yes, it was awful and it was definitely a mistake on his part, but he deserves a second chance. … People have done so much worse in this league.”Others supported the team’s decision to get rid of Rice, including one who called out Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti for not acting sooner.“He’s a coward,” said Stephanie Wright, 43, from Shrewsbury, Pa. “He was just scared of public opinion so that’s why he just terminated (Rice). … You should be held accountable. If he was a policeman or a firefighter, he would have lost his job immediately.”___Associated Press writer Juliet Linderman, AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi, AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski and AP freelance writer Pete Kerzel contributed to this report.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL__Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAPlast_img read more