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A valiant young heroine carries Amazon’s new series



Kariana Karhu and Olivia Welch in Panic

Kariana Karhu and Olivia Welch in Panic
Photo: Matt Lankes/Amazon Studio

Bingeable, high-stakes teen dramas seem to be all the rage on the streaming services, from Netflix’s teens-on-a-treasure-hunt Outer Banks, to Amazon’s distaff Lost/Lord Of The Flies riff The Wilds, to Netflix’s scandalous ballet-school series Tiny Pretty Things. Some of these are more successful than others, but putting teen girls at the center seems like a good bet. It definitely helped The Wilds, while Outer Banks faltered by sorting female characters into one of two categories: dream girl or tomboy.

Amazon’s latest teen adventure series, Panic, succeeds through the twists of the game and the strength of Olivia Welch’s multifaceted portrayal of Heather, our protagonist who’s both dream girl and tomboy. Based on Lauren Oliver’s YA novel and developed by the author, Panic is so named for an underground game that takes place in the unappealing hamlet of Carp, Texas, which even the area’s well-off residents are dying to escape. And winning the game of Panic may be the ticket: Every summer, the graduating high school seniors get a chance to compete, which involves a lot of trumped-up yet terrifying dares, like crossing a highway blindfolded, being buried alive in a coffin, or spending the night in an abandoned, reportedly haunted house. It’s not every fictional series that has a “don’t try this at home” disclaimer attached.

As season one of Panic opens, the stakes are even higher this year; two local kids actually died during the game the previous round, so local law enforcement will be trying even harder to shut the game down. But the teens are determined—not just because it’s tradition, like “The Lottery”—but because the winner of Panic gets $50,000, a.k.a. a chance at a new life somewhere else.

No one appears to want that chance more than Heather, who lives in a trailer park and whose own mother swiped the cash stash she’d been saving for college, squashing her meager dream of going to Longhorn State to study accounting (she actually wants to be a writer). Heather has lost her summer job, and with no other options, risking it all in Panic seems like the only chance she has to take care of not only herself, but also her little sister, Lily (Kariana Karhu). She also snags a gig working on the farm of Anne (a welcome Bonnie Bedelia), who happens to host a tiger on her property, which slinks around like a predatory Chekhov’s gun.

But Heather has some formidable competition, including her own best friend with Hollywood aspirations, Natalie (Jessica Sula); new kid/rodeo rider Dodge (Mike Faist), who harbors a secret revenge plot; and the bullyish Ray (Ray Nicholson), with whom Heather has an uncomfortable flirtation, although she’s torn between Ray and Bishop (Camron Jones), her bookish best friend.

The core cast of teens is solid, but Panic frays at the edges. The mean kids in Ray’s clique never move past caricature; Dodge’s trajectory gets a bit convoluted; and the actual villain is rather obvious from the get-go. None of the fledgling teen romances really land; Ray can be such a tool, we’re as disappointed as Heather’s actual friends that she’d give him the time of day. Also, casting notable Gen X actresses like Nancy McKeon (The Facts Of Life) and Moira Kelly (The Cutting Edge) as Carp’s older generation and then barely using them at all is a waste.

Still, Heather’s rapidly escalating efforts in the game, the core of Panic, will keep viewers hitting the “Next Episode” button until they are felled by exhaustion. The Panic clues become more difficult to decipher as the stunts increase exponentially in danger, until, like the contestants, we’re holding our breath to see what the next death-defying task will be. As our player stand-in, Welch is ideal: smart, brave, and determined. We can’t help but cheer when she conquers another challenge and even tries for an increased degree of difficulty—during an already perilous task, like jumping off of a cliff at night—to get extra points. The fact that she’s trying to carve out a safe life for herself and her sister away from her drug-addled mother adds a sympathetic foundation to her effort, unlike her more well-off friends, who have less at stake. Welch’s plucky, never-flagging resolve makes Heather a hero who’s easy to root for: She’s clearly terrified at the top of that cliff, but also determined to conquer those fears as the only possible path to winning the game.

Even as Panic’s first (hopefully not only) season draws to a close, questions remain: What is in this for Diggins (David Thompson), the somewhat benevolent game emcee, and Summer (Leslie Ann Leal), his assistant? What is the role of the enigmatic, anonymous Panic judges? The origins of the game also remain a mystery, but that’s likely by design, ideally offering a lead-in for Panic’s prospective second season. However, it would be tough for next year’s contestants to rival this group; much as we’d hate to see Heather still stuck in claustrophobic Carp, it would be difficult to draft a contender who could rival Welch’s skill in steering the audience through the various travails of Panic. For an enjoyable summer vacation binge-watch, the teens should eat this up—but please, kids, again: Don’t try this at home.


Woman passenger from UK tests Covid positive at Hyderabad airport



Hyderabad: A 35-year-old international passenger who reached the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here on Wednesday has tested positive for Covid-19 after undergoing an RT-PCR test at the airport itself. The woman passenger had traveled from the United Kingdom, which has been categorised as an ‘At Risk Country’. 

The passenger has been admitted to the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) and samples were collected and sent for genetic sequencing. Officials said she did not have any symptoms and that her health condition was being monitored closely. 

According to officials, the woman hails from Rangareddy district and was on a visit to UK from Hyderabad. Though her close relatives tested negative, their health condition is also being monitored. 

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Revealed: how Sidney Powell could be disbarred for lying in court for Trump | US elections 2020



Sidney Powell, the former lawyer for Donald Trump who filed lawsuits across America for the former president, hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has on several occasions represented to federal courts that people were co-counsel or plaintiffs in her cases without seeking their permission to do so, the Guardian has learned.

Some of these individuals say that they only found out that Powell had named them once the cases were already filed.

During this same period of time, Powell also named several other lawyers – with their permission in those instances – as co-counsel in her election-related cases, despite the fact that they played virtually no role whatsoever in bringing or litigating those cases.

Both Powell’s naming of other people as plaintiffs or co-counsel without their consent and representing that other attorneys were central to her cases when, in fact, their roles were nominal or nonexistent, constitute serious potential violations of the American Bar Association model rules for professional conduct, top legal ethicists told the Guardian.

Powell’s misrepresentations to the courts in those particular instances often aided fundraising for her nonprofit, Defending the Republic. Powell had told prospective donors that the attorneys were integral members of an “elite strike force” who had played outsized roles in her cases – when in fact they were barely involved if at all.

A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020.
A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Powell did not respond to multiple requests for comment via phone, email, and over social media.

The State Bar of Texas is already investigating Powell for making other allegedly false and misleading statements to federal courts by propagating increasingly implausible conspiracy theories to federal courts that Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States was illegitimate.

The Texas bar held its first closed-door hearing regarding the allegations about Powell on 4 November. Investigations by state bar associations are ordinarily conducted behind closed doors and thus largely opaque to the public.

A federal grand jury has also been separately investigating Powell, Defending the Republic, as well as a political action committee that goes by the same name, for fundraising fraud, according to records reviewed by the Guardian.

Among those who have alleged that Powell falsely named them as co-counsel is attorney Linn Wood, who brought and litigated with Powell many of her lawsuits attempting to overturn the results of the election with her, including in the hotly contested state of Michigan.

The Michigan case was a futile attempt by Powell to erase Joe Biden’s victory in that state and name Trump as the winner. On 25 August, federal district court Judge Linda Parker, of Michigan, sanctioned Powell and nine other attorneys who worked with her for having engaged in “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in bringing the case in the first place. Powell’s claims of election fraud, Parker asserted, had no basis in law and were solely based on “speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion”.

Parker further concluded that the conduct of Powell, Wood, and the eight other attorneys who they worked with, warranted a “referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment to the appropriate disciplinary authority for each state … in which each attorney is admitted”.

Wood told the court in the Michigan case that Powell had wrongly named him as one of her co-counsel in the Michigan case. During a hearing in the case to determine whether to sanction Wood, his defense largely rested on his claim that he had not been involved in the case at all. Powell, Wood told the court, had put his name on the lawsuit without her even telling him.

A man holds a sign reading "The dead cannot vote" at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Trump supporters attend a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, where Sidney Powell spoke on efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Wood said: “I do not specifically recall being asked about the Michigan complaint … In this case obviously my name was included. My experience or my skills apparently were never needed, so I didn’t have any involvement with it.”

Wood’s attorney, Paul Stablein, was also categorical in asserting that his client had nothing to do with the case, telling the Guardian in an interview: “He didn’t draft the complaint. He didn’t sign it. He did not authorize anyone to put his name on it.”

Powell has denied she would have ever named Wood as a co-counsel without Wood’s permission.

But other people have since come forward to say that Powell has said that they were named as plaintiffs or lawyers in her election-related cases without their permission.

In a Wisconsin voting case, a former Republican candidate for Congress, Derrick Van Orden, said he only learned after the fact that he had been named as a plaintiff in one of Powell’s cases.

“I learned through social media today that my name was included in a lawsuit without my permission,” Van Orden said in a statement he posted on Twitter, “To be clear, I am not involved in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in Wisconsin.”

Jason Shepherd, the Republican chairman of Georgia’s Cobb county, was similarly listed as a plaintiff in a Georgia election case without his approval.

In a 26 November 2020 statement, Shepherd said he had been talking to an associate of Powell’s prior to the case’s filing about the “Cobb GOP being a plaintiff” but said he first “needed more information to at least make sure the executive officers were in agreeing to us being a party in the suit”. The Cobb County Republican party later agreed to remain plaintiffs in the case instead of withdrawing.

Leslie Levin, a professor at the University of Connecticut Law School, said in an interview: “Misrepresentations to the court are very serious because lawyers are officers of the court. Bringing a lawsuit in someone’s name when they haven’t consented to being a party is a very serious misrepresentation and one for which a lawyer should expect to face serious discipline.”

Nora Freeman Engstrom, a law professor at Stanford University, says that Powell’s actions appear to violate Rule 3.3 of the ABA’s model rules of professional misconduct which hold that “a lawyer shall not knowingly … make a false statement of fact of law to a tribunal”.

Since election day last year, federal and state courts have dismissed more than 60 lawsuits alleging electoral fraud and irregularities by Powell, and other Trump allies.

Shortly after the election, Trump named Powell as a senior member of an “elite strike force” who would prove that Joe Biden only won the 2020 presidential race because the election was stolen from him. But Trump refused to pay her for her services. To remedy this, Powell set up a new nonprofit called Defending the Republic; its stated purpose is to “protect the integrity of elections in the United States”.

As a nonprofit, the group is allowed to raise unlimited amounts of “dark money” and donors are legally protected from the ordinary requirements to disclose their identities to the public. Powell warned supporters that for her to succeed, “millions of dollars must be raised”.

Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, Powell told prospective donors that Defending the Republic had a vast team of experienced litigators.

Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Among the attorneys who Powell said made up this “taskforce” were Emily Newman, who had served Trump as the White House liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services and as a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security. Newman had been a founding board member of Defending the Republic.

But facing sanctions in the Michigan case, some of the attorneys attempted to distance themselves from having played much of a meaningful role in her litigation.

Newman’s attorney told Parker, the judge, that Newman had “not played a role in the drafting of the complaint … My client was a contract lawyer working from home who spent maybe five hours on this matter. She really wasn’t involved … Her role was de minimis.”

To have standing to file her Michigan case, Powell was initially unable to find a local attorney to be co-counsel on her case but eventually attorney Gregory Rohl agreed to help out.

But when Rohl was sanctioned by Parker and referred to the Michigan attorney disciplinary board for further investigation, his defense was that he, too, was barely involved in the case. He claimed that he only received a copy of “the already prepared” 830-page initial complaint at the last minute, reviewed it for “well over an hour”, while then “making no additions, decisions or corrections” to the original.

As with Newman, Parker, found that Rohl violated ethics rules by making little, if any, effort to verify the facts of the claims in Powell’s filings.

In sanctioning Rohl, the judge wrote that “the court finds it exceedingly difficult to believe that Rohl read an 830-page complaint in just ‘well over an hour’ on the day he filed it. So, Rohl’s argument in and of itself reveals sanctionable conduct.”

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Govt to introduce important Bill, Covid situation likely to be discussed



The government on Thursday will table ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill 2021’ in the Lok Sabha. A discussion on Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its various related aspects is also likely to take place in the lower House.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will move the ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill’ in the Lok Sabha to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998.

Under rule 193, a discussion on Covid-19 pandemic and various aspects related to it will likely take place. According to sources, the members may also raise their concern and ask for the government’s preparedness for the new Omicron variant. Under Rule 193, members can seek details about the new Covid variant. “Short duration discussion is likely to be held in the Lok Sabha on the Covid and its various aspects, including new Omicron variant,” sources said.

Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Prahlad Singh Patel, General V.K. Singh, Krishan Pal, Bhanu Pratap Verma, Rameshwar Teli and Kaushal Kishore will lay papers on the table. Reports and action reports of different standing committees will also be laid in the day.

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Amendment) Bill 2021 (ART) by voice vote as the amendments moved by the DMK MP N.K. Prem Chandran, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy and Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut were negated. The ART Bill seeks to regulate fertility clinics. All such clinics will have to be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.

The opposition is likely to continue to raise its voices on price rise, unemployment and extended jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in some states. The opposition parties are also demanding a law guaranteeing the minimum support price (MSP).

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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