Russia’s Hurdles for People with Disabilities
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Regardless, it isn’t Tebow’s fault that he isn’t in Jacksonville. Owner Shahid Khan and general manager David Caldwell have seemingly done nothing to bring him onto a team destined to finish near the bottom of the NFL this season. Given the semi-surprising lack of interest in him, Tebow should not have refused the offer to play in Russia. American football in Russia is a few steps down from the NFL (OK, more than a few), but having success at any level would be enough to open the eyes of teams thinking about giving him a call. If anything, Tebow could use the opportunity in Russia to show teams that he can stand in the pocket and pass. Given the low stakes of playing there, he could stay in the pocket and not look to run. It would essentially be an overseas tryout for teams looking into acquiring his services. Andy Lyons/Getty Images Tebow’s inability to show any consistency throwing the football is his biggest downfall. In three seasons, he has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes. To put that into perspective, his 47.9 percent for his career is six full points worse than Chad Henne’s league-worst 53.9 percent passing from last season. In two games in Russia, Tebow could have worked on his pocket passing skills and shown off what he’s got to NFL scouts. Scouts would have either been in attendance or closely monitoring both of his games, so Tebow’s refusal to play is interesting.
Security Council resolution endorsing that plan have run into difficulties due to disagreements between Russia on one side and the United States, Britain and France on the other, U.N. diplomats say. The U.S.-Russian deal came after an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack near Damascus that Washington says killed over 1,400 people, many of them children. Following are questions and answers about the plan to dismantle Syria’s poison gas program. WHAT IS THE SIZE OF SYRIA’S CHEMICAL ARSENAL? Syria has roughly 1,000 tonnes of chemical toxins – including mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin and VX – spread over as many as 50 sites around the country. WHAT HAPPENS AT THE HAGUE’S CHEMICAL ARMS AGENCY? The 41-member Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons ( OPCW ) in The Hague is expected to vote on a joint Russian-American proposal to rapidly verify and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile on Tuesday. That vote has been repeatedly delayed. According to the U.S.-Russian framework agreement, the chemical arms agency’s Executive Council will detail “special procedures for expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof.” The chemical arms agency’s decision must be approved by a simple majority of council members, though agreement is almost always reached through a consensus, which is expected in Syria’s case. The council meets behind closed doors, but may be open to observer countries that are not yet members. Syria is not yet a full member. Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention this month in line with the U.S.-Russia deal. Its accession to the treaty comes into force in October.
Maria has limited use of her legs and uses a wheelchair. Sitting in a room dimly lit by a window, she told me that she is usually shy and doesn’t like to speak publicly about her disability, but that she has things she needs to say about living with a disability in Sochi. “On television, they talk and talk about how everything will change in the city by the time of the Olympics,” Maria told me “They have said that for years, and nothing has changed.” At the time of our meeting, Maria hadn’t left her apartment for four months. The elevator in her building works only sporadically because of frequent power outages in the neighborhood. The steps at the building’s entrance are fitted with narrow metal rails for wheelchairs, ubiquitous in buildings and pedestrian underpasses across Russia, but the rails are too steep for Maria to use. The six month countdown is underway to the March 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. The Paralympics are an opportunity for hundreds of athletes with disabilities to compete in five winter sports, including alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling. But as Russia prepares for plaudits over hosting the Paralympics, it is important to underscore the profound obstacles faced by the millions of people with disabilities living in the country today. In Sochi I visited some of the venues where several of the Paralympic competitions will take place. I toured buildings with gently sloping ramps and elevators to make entrances easily accessible; lowered shower knobs and clothing hooks in the athletes’ dressing rooms; contrasting paint lining doorways for people with low vision; and elevator buttons with Braille. All in all it felt like a lot of effort had gone into making sure Paralympic athletes and other visitors with disabilities would feel welcome in the Olympic Park.