US pulling troops out of Kabul airport after devastating attack, two ‘high profile’ ISIS targets killed – Pentagon

The US is reducing its troop presence at Kabul airport, ahead of the planned American departure date and following a devastating suicide attack. The Pentagon claims to have killed two “high profile” terrorists in response.

The US has started to pull its troops out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Saturday. While some 5,800 American troops were stationed there at the peak of the US’ evacuation mission, that number had dwindled on Saturday to below 4,000, Reuters reported. The Pentagon will no longer provide updates on troop numbers.

The pullout comes as the US’ planned withdrawal date of August 31 draws closer, but also in the aftermath of a devastating suicide bombing that killed 13 American troops, two British nationals and some 90 Afghans, including 28 Taliban members.

Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), a regional offshoot of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), claimed responsibility for the attack. The US launched a drone strike early on Saturday morning in response, targeting an alleged “planner” behind the bombing.

The US strike killed an ISIS-K “planner,” and another “facilitator,” as well as wounding another member, Kirby told reporters on Saturday. “The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the Earth, that’s a good thing,” Kirby added. “It’s a good thing for the people of Afghanistan.”

Kirby said that the US would not release the names of the two men killed. He also refused to confirm or deny eyewitness reports that US troops opened fire on Afghan civilians in the chaotic aftermath of the suicide bombing.

ISIS-K and the Taliban share a hardline interpretation of Islam, but the groups are bitter adversaries. However, as the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan from the Afghan National Army over the last month, its fighters sprung droves of inmates from jails seized along the way. While many of these inmates – under American supervision until the recent US pullout – were Taliban members, others were ISIS-K fighters, now believed to be at large throughout the country.

“Thousands” of ISIS-K prisoners were let loose, Kirby told reporters on Friday. The Pentagon spokesman blamed the Afghan military for the jailbreaks, saying that “they did have responsibility for those prisons and the bases at which those prisons were located…and unfortunately those were the bases the Afghans didn’t hold.”

Though the Taliban and ISIS-K are opposing factions, the Taliban condemned the US drone strike. A spokesman for the militant group told Reuters that “the Americans should have informed us before conducting the air strike, it was a clear attack on Afghan territory.” The Taliban claimed on Friday to have arrested three ISIS-K members involved in the airport attack.

Kirby told reporters that the US still plans on completing its final withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31. “Nothing has changed about the timeline,” he said.

As of Thursday, some 1,500 Americans remained unevacuated in Kabul, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Also speaking at Saturday’s press conference, Major General Hank Taylor said that out of more than 117,000 evacuees flown out of Kabul since the US evacuation began, “the vast majority” were Afghan refugees and Special Immigrant Visa applicants. Approximately 5,400 were American citizens.



Pakistan intends to run Taliban govt in Afghanistan through Haqqani network: Experts

With the Haqqani commanders in Afghanistan being assigned important responsibilities in the last few days ever since the Taliban takeover of the war-torn nation on August 15, experts feel that Pakistan wants to run the Taliban government and will have a major say in the important decisions taken by the Afghan militia in the days to come.

Leaders such as Khalil-ul-Rehman Haqqani has been appointed as the new security chief of Kabul, while the son of Haqqani network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, Abdul Aziz Abbasin, has been given the charge of managing the supplies of arms and ammunition to Taliban troopers who have been trying to get control of the Panjshir valley.

Referring to the series of new responsibilities given to important commanders of the Haqqani network, experts said that Pakistan would try to dominate the important decisions in the war-torn nation.

They also admitted that the Taliban at this juncture will not open a channel of confrontation with any of the other militant groups operating in the region, including Al Qaeda.

Noting that the Haqqani network and the Taliban, in general, have been the domain of the Pakistani military and its intelligence wing ISI since the late 1980s, former diplomat Anil Trigunayat said that they fought with the US, Saudi Arabia, and the Soviet Union in the past and since then, they have been closely connected with the Pakistani design.

“The Haqqani network is a key of Pakistan to hold the Taliban. It is also one of the groups which are against India and have been trained totally by Pakistan. It takes most of the decisions on the behest of Pakistan,” Trigunayat said.

The Haqqani network is a powerful group that is part of the Taliban but takes instructions from Islamabad, and the Taliban are not in a position to stop them, he added.

Similar views were expressed by defense expert Major General G.D. Bakshi (Retd), who said that Pakistan has been using the Haqqani group, Taliban, and other terror outfits to destroy Afghanistan. Now that the new Taliban have seized power there, Pakistan wants to play a pivotal role in Afghanistan, he said.

“Pakistan is trying to play smartly and it will pressurize the new administrative set up through the Haqqani network to have an important say in the governance of Afghanistan indirectly,” Bakshi said.

Another West Asia expert, Nishikant Dubey, said that within the Taliban, there are two groups — Pak Taliban and Afghan Taliban.

Pak Taliban comprises Al Qaeda and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which are in direct control of Pakistan and the ISI has been providing them all aid such as weapons, medical assistance, and free access to the country for long. Therefore, they will be working on the instructions of Pakistan, Dubey said.

“ISI is also pushing its trained terrorists to join the Taliban forces which are evident from the rising number of Taliban militia, which rose from 70,000 to around 1,10,000 in the last six or seven days,” Dubey said.

The Haqqani network is based out of North Waziristan in Pakistan and has been operating along the Afghan border since the 1980s.



Protests in Berlin for and against coronavirus restrictions

BERLIN (AP) — Protesters filled the German capital again on Saturday to demonstrate against the government’s coronavirus measures, despite bans against several gatherings.

Police had banned nine planned demonstrations for Saturday, including one from the Stuttgart-based Querdenker movement, the most visible anti-lockdown movement in Germany, which united a disparate mix of those opposing vaccinations, coronavirus deniers and right-wing extremists. A court ruled in favor of allowing one event, planned for 500 people, on Saturday and Sunday.

Still, like the last round of protests in early August, thousands ignored the bans and turned out to voice their opposition to government measures. With chants of “We are the people!” the protesters made their way through Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte neighborhoods.

More than 2,000 police officers were stationed around the city to respond to those who showed up despite the bans. At one protest Saturday evening in Mitte, German media reported that police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd unwilling to leave once the protest had ended. The crowd eventually thinned as it began to rain.

Meanwhile, a counter-protest complete with techno music drew a crowd of several thousand as well. Those demonstrators back government restrictions to slow the spread of virus and oppose the Querdenker movement, stressing Berlin’s diversity and advocating for more social cohesion.

Berlin police said they dispersed the counter-protesters when the crowd became too big to allow for social distancing.

The Saturday protests came amid a debate in Germany about whether to impose restrictions on unvaccinated people, a question taking on more urgency as daily infections rise. Germany reported 10,303 new daily infections on Saturday, up more than 2,000 since last week.

Similar protests took place in Berlin in early August, which ended in clashes with police and hundreds of people detained.


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Global Industrial WLAN Market Company Share Analysis Model by Syndicate Market Research by 2021

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Skeleton Technologies brings in additional capital to close a total of €70 million equity in Round D financing

Skeleton Technologies, the global technology leader in energy storage for automotive, industrial and grid stability applications, today announced the successful closing of a further €29 million in its Series D financing. The total financing in Round D amounts now to €70.4 million.

Several early backers of the company such as MM Grupp and Harju Elekter and more recent ones including European industrial investors and a group of entrepreneurs that grew payments company Adyen from its inception to successful IPO have decided to increase their stakes in the company, following Skeleton’s recent successes in sales and in the development of its next-generation graphene-based products.

Taavi Madiberk, CEO and co-founder of Skeleton Technologies, stated: “Skeleton is growing fast and preparing for the next stage in the company’s lifecycle, that will include a significant scaling up of our operations, supported by strong growth in customer demand. The company is backed by leading industrial investors from Marubeni and InnoEnergy to the founders of Adyen. Most of the investors who joined the company at the end of last year not only participated in the round but wanted to increase their stake in the company. It is a great proof of trust generated by the good progress all these investors have seen over the last six months since becoming shareholders.”

Whilst most of the energy industry focuses on incremental improvements of a generally similar li-ion battery technology, Skeleton has chosen to differentiate itself by focusing on materials technology, having created the patented Curved Graphene material.

“Unlike Tesla, Panasonic, or LG who use similar raw materials and compete in engineering, Skeleton has taken an alternative approach and has focused on vertical integration based on our proprietary curved graphene material. In terms of commercialization, we have started with a relatively niche market of supercapacitors and are now moving to Superbatteries, covering the high efficiency, high power niche of the battery market. As the next step of our strategy, we aim at merging the long lifetime, fast charging supercapacitors and high energy, long-duration battery technology, to allow to offer a more competitive long range EV battery than currently on the market or in the development pipeline,” Madiberk explained.

This additional internal funding follows the initial €41.3 million close in Series D financing round completed in November 2020 and the €51 million funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Free State of Saxony announced in March 2021 and brings Skeleton’s total capital raised in the preceding twelve months to €121.3 million.
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Skeleton Technologies
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Skeleton Technologies is the global technology leader in ultracapacitor energy storage in automotive, transportation, grid and industrial applications.

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Our ultracapacitors, based on patented “curved graphene”, represent the biggest technological advancement in the industry in the last 20 years and the use of this innovative material provides our products with an unparalleled advantage in power and energy density.

Skeleton Technologies Group has three main locations: its manufacturing in Großröhrsdorf, Saxony, Germany, materials development in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Saxony-Anhalt and electrical engineering in Tallinn, Estonia.


Encephalitis Vaccine is thriving worldwide by 2021 focuses on major key companies Valneva, Sanofi Pasteur, Biken, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products

The Greeley Stampede opens its 99th annual event on Thursday, June 24 at the Island Grove Regional Park.

The 13-day festival has been a Colorado tradition since 1922 focused on celebrating and preserving our state’s Western heritage through rodeo, concerts, a carnival, vendor fair, food and more.

The Greeley Stampede, which runs through Sunday, July 4, also features a large Independence Day celebration.


Global Encephalitis Vaccine Market Growth Status and Outlook 2021-2025

The new report on the Encephalitis Vaccine market outlines various aspects of the global market landscape and explains them in the following document. The Encephalitis Vaccine research study consists of descriptive account of aspects like demand, revenue estimates, volume, share, growth, types, applications, sales etc. The intelligence study details growth prognosis and describes various trends in the current scenario as well as in the forecast prediction.

Companies Profiled in this report includes:

Valneva, Sanofi Pasteur, Biken, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products, Liaoning Chengda

This report presents a comprehensive overview, market shares, and growth opportunities of Encephalitis Vaccine market by product type, application, key players and key regions and countries.

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Research objectives
 To study and analyze the global Encephalitis Vaccine market size by key regions/countries, type and application, history data from 2015 to 2019, and forecast to 2025.
 To understand the structure of Encephalitis Vaccine market by identifying its various sub segments.
 Focuses on the key global Encephalitis Vaccine players, to define, describe and analyze the value, market share, market competition landscape, SWOT analysis and development plans in next few years.
 To analyze the Encephalitis Vaccine with respect to individual growth trends, future prospects, and their contribution to the total market.
 To share detailed information about the key factors influencing the growth of the market (growth potential, opportunities, drivers, industry-specific challenges and risks).
 To project the size of Encephalitis Vaccine submarkets, with respect to key regions (along with their respective key countries).
 To analyze competitive developments such as expansions, agreements, new product launches and acquisitions in the market.

Fundamentals of Table of Content:
 1 Report Overview
1.1 Study Scope
1.2 Key Market Segments
1.3 Players Covered
1.4 Market Analysis by Type
1.5 Market by Application
1.6 Study Objectives
1.7 Years Considered

2 Global Growth Trends
2.1 Encephalitis Vaccine Market Size
2.2 Encephalitis Vaccine Growth Trends by Regions
2.3 Industry Trends

3 Market Share by Key Players
3.1 Encephalitis Vaccine Market Size by Manufacturers
3.2 Encephalitis Vaccine Key Players Head office and Area Served
3.3 Key Players Encephalitis Vaccine Product/Solution/Service
3.4 Date of Enter into Encephalitis Vaccine Market
3.5 Mergers & Acquisitions, Expansion Plans

4 Breakdown Data by Product
4.1 Global Encephalitis Vaccine Sales by Product
4.2 Global Encephalitis Vaccine Revenue by Product
4.3 Encephalitis Vaccine Price by Product

5 Breakdown Data by End User
5.1 Overview
5.2 Global Encephalitis Vaccine Breakdown Data by End User

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Tyler Herro, two Miami Heat coaches offer help after 12-story condo building collapses

MIAMI — Heat guard Tyler Herro was working out Thursday morning with assistant coaches Chris Quinn and Eric Glass, when they were told there was a more pressing need.

Before long, Herro, Quinn and Glass had left the team’s arena for the short drive north to Surfside, Florida, where a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed around 1:30 a.m. At least one person was killed, dozens were unaccounted for and teams of rescuers were searching rubble with hope of finding anyone alive.

The Heat trio helped load a truck with water, food and other essentials.

“This is 12 miles from our arena,” Heat vice president and charitable fund executive director Steve Stowe said. “We heard about this, and our immediate reaction was that we had to find a way to help.”

Herro also addressed the frontline workers, thanking them for their heroism and efforts.

The Heat, through some of their corporate partners like World Central Kitchen and Direct Relief, were arranging for more help to arrive. Food trucks were secured to keep rescuers and other personnel at the scene fed through hot meals and grab-and-go boxes, and the team was working to help find accommodations for the displaced by the collapse.

“These are the moments when a community has to come together, rise up and help,” Stowe said.

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Foden, Pedri, Gosens starring at rescheduled tournament

Timing is everything in sports. Success requires both quality and well-timed opportunity.

One might not figure that a year would make that much of a difference, but a few of the teams on display at Euro 2020 look quite a bit different than they would have had the tournament gone on as planned last summer. Certain players’ stock fell during that period of time — hello, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dayot Upamecano — but the delay created quite a bit of opportunity, both for some of the sport’s rising young stars and a few veterans who made particular use of the past 12 months.

Let’s take a look at 15 players who have especially benefited from the tournament’s odd timing.

Locatelli enjoyed a breakout year for Sassuolo in 2019-20 but didn’t make his Italian debut until September 2020. After a brilliant 2020-21 Serie A campaign — four goals, 38 chances created, 239 ball recoveries (fifth in the league) — he has quickly become a prime option for Italy manager Roberto Mancini.

The 23-year old has played 160 minutes in the Euros and made a lasting mark in Italy’s 3-0 win over Switzerland. He showed up in the box on a counterattack and poked in a cross from Domenico Berardi to make it 1-0 in the 26th minute, then boomed in a 23-yarder to put the match away in the 52nd minute. His game isn’t just about scoring, but he’s making the most of his chances.

– Euro 2020 on ESPN: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)
European Soccer Pick ‘Em: Compete to win $10,000
– Euro 2020 bracket and fixture schedule

Half Dutch and half German, Gosens was not on his national team’s radar early in his career. He ground away at second-division Dutch club FC Dordrecht for one season, then moved to Heracles for two before attracting the attention of Serie A’s Atalanta in 2017, already aged 23.

Fast forward four seasons, and he was playing the match of his life in a must-win game against Portugal. The most natural wing-back in the German pool, he produced a goal and an assist against Portugal’s disheveled defense in a 4-2 win, and he created a dangerous chance for Toni Kroos during Germany’s comeback against Hungary. Less than a year after his initial call-up, he’s become one of Joachim Low’s most important players.

Benzema took the “timing is everything” theme to a new level in France’s draw against Portugal, scoring twice … at the same time. He scored one minute and 44 seconds into first-half stoppage time, then again at 46:44 of the second half. The goals were the 33-year old’s first for France in a non-friendly since the 2014 World Cup.

Ostracised from the national team for nearly six years due to his alleged role in a blackmail scandal, he was brought back to the team by manager Didier Deschamp, and he didn’t need much time to do what he always does: score goals. He has scored 360 of them in all club competitions, and after a long wait, he’s up to 29 for his country.

After a sluggish start in a must-win match against Russia, Denmark found the spark it was looking for when the 20-year old Damsgaard scythed an arcing, 25-yard goal past keeper Matvey Safonov. It was his third goal for his country since making his debut last November. And this came after he created two dangerous chances in an unfortunate loss to Belgium.

Used mostly as a left midfielder for Sampdoria, Damsgaard scored twice and created 25 chances in his first full Serie A season this year. Danish manager Kasper Hjulmand has used him in a more central attacking role at the Euros, and it has paid off. Safe to say, Denmark wouldn’t be in the round of 16 without him.

What a story. Phillips was born in Leeds and spent most of his youth career at Leeds United. He has played only for his hometown club in seven senior seasons, and after helping to lead Leeds back to the Premier League for the first time in 15 years last summer, he made his England debut at age 24 in September.

Thanks to England manager Gareth Southgate’s defensive predilection, Phillips played every minute of the group stage alongside a second defensive midfielder, Declan Rice. Considering Phillips led the team with 17 ball recoveries and England didn’t allow a single goal, it’s safe to say he did his job remarkably. He usually does.

After steadily improving over three and a half seasons with Belgium’s Genk, Maehle has seen his career take a rapid rise in the past year. He debuted for Denmark last September, then moved to Atalanta in January, where he quickly became a stalwart for the annual Champions League club.

At the Euros, the 24-year old has done a little bit of everything. He’s made 24 ball recoveries (second on the team), attempted seven shots (second) and created five chances (second), and he put away Denmark’s 4-1 win over Russia with a poised and precise 16-yard strike on a counter.

Luke Shaw | 25 | Defender | England

The 25-year-old made his England debut in 2014, when he was just months away from a Southampton-to-Manchester United transfer, but he had played just 60 total minutes for his country in the four years between summer 2016 and summer 2020. But his stock rose considerably during his brilliant 2020-21 campaign for United, and in two group-stage matches he created four scoring chances — including a gorgeous pass that resulted in an early shot off the bar for Raheem Sterling against the Czech Republic — with 13 ball recoveries.

The best version of Shaw both fulfills every defensive role required of a full-back and sends a delectable pass or two into dangerous areas each half. That’s the version of Shaw we saw in England’s last two matches.

Pedri | 18 | Midfielder | Spain

A year ago, Pedri was an exciting 17-year-old prospect, a mainstay at 2019’s U17 World Cup and a recent Barcelona addition. His future was obviously bright.

Almost instantaneously, his future became his present. Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman played him in 37 La Liga matches — he scored three times and created 39 chances — and he not only made his national team debut in March, he also played every minute of Spain’s bumpy group-stage journey. He averaged more than a touch per minute and completed 90% of his nearly 79 pass attempts per game. Almost overnight he has become one of this country’s most reliable and trusted ball progressors.

After a brilliant run to the Euro semifinals in 2016, Wales have positioned themselves well again, finishing second in Group A and drawing Denmark in the round of 16.

While the core rotation includes plenty of veterans who were part of the 2016 go-round, they have also benefited from a burgeoning group of younger players forcing their way into the lineup. Chief among them is the 23-year-old Rodon. You can’t say the 6-foot-4 central defender wouldn’t have played a role had the Euros been played a summer ago — he had already made his national team debut in 2019 — but Wales have a lot of defensive options, and his October move to Tottenham Hotspur probably didn’t hurt his stock. He has played every minute of the tournament thus far.

Phil Foden | 21 | Midfielder | England

Southgate asked big things of the 21-year-old midfielder in their first two group-stage matches, commanding him with a creative role for a defence-first squad. If we’re being honest, Foden didn’t respond all that well, creating just one scoring chance with two shot attempts (neither on goal) in 134 minutes. But the fact that he was thrust into that role at all spoke volumes.

Foden hadn’t made his England debut until last November in a UEFA Nations League win over Iceland. But after his brilliant 2020-21 season with Manchester City — 12 goals and eight assists in the Premier League and Champions League — it’s safe to say he’ll be a Three Lions mainstay for quite a while.

Chelsea’s academy player of the year in 2020, Gilmour made 11 appearances in all competitions for the Blues this season. After making his Scotland debut in early June, he earned man-of-the-match honors in his very first start, a brilliant Euros performance against England. In 76 minutes, he completed 40 passes (six in the attacking third) and made eight ball recoveries. He was everywhere … and then he got sidelined by a positive COVID test and had to watch as Scotland got eliminated by Croatia.

Scotland took a pretty experienced team to its first European Championship in 24 years, but Gilmour’s rapid rise has provided a solid boost of hope for the future.

Dani Olmo | 23 | Midfielder | Spain

Like Rodon, Olmo had made his national team debut before last summer’s stoppage, scoring in his first appearance in November 2019. But the 23-year-old became a mainstay with German challengers RB Leipzig in the past year — he scored five goals with nine assists in the 2020-21 Bundesliga season and scored in a vital 4-3 Champions League win over Basaksehir last December.

Olmo hasn’t made a massive contribution for Spain in the Euros yet, but he could be due. In 135 group-stage minutes he attempted six shots and placed three on goal. Early in Spain’s draw with Sweden, he placed a dangerous header on goal but was stonewalled by a brilliant save by Robin Olsen.



Steve Nicol is adamant that Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal shouldn’t be discounted because of their moderate performances.

Everyone’s career path unfolds differently. The 28-year-old AS Roma full-back had to wait quite a while for a full-fledged opportunity. He made a handful of national team appearances while serving as part of Juventus’ loan army — he played for six different teams in seven different loans (including two to Atalanta) across seven seasons before making a permanent move to Rome in 2019 and igniting.

Spinazzola has had a lovely tournament thus far, playing in every minute of Italy’s 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland, progressing the ball well and attempting three shots with two chances created. His name has been linked to Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the transfer rumour mill. Better late than never.

Long regarded as one of the best Ajax academy products, the 6-foot-3 midfielder made his senior club debut in 2018 at the age of 16, then debuted for his national team this March in the middle of a three-goal, 37-chance Eredivisie campaign.

The Netherlands cruised through a pretty easy Euro group, with Gravenberch playing 106 minutes in two matches. He completed 84% of his 95 pass attempts and won seven of his 11 duel attempts. He’s not a key contributor yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

Reece James | 21 | Defender | England

Things have moved very quickly for the 21-year-old Chelsea defender. An academy product, he made his club debut early in the 2019-20 season, then earned his first English call-up barely a year later.

James started in Chelsea’s Champions League final win over Manchester City, and he created two of England’s more dangerous chances (while completing 80 of 81 passes) in the draw with Scotland. That was his only Euro appearance thus far, but even that’s more than would have been expected of him last summer.

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Will move to smaller market help Panthers’ Sam Darnold turn his career around?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As much as Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold seemed to embrace the New York City spotlight that turned Joe Namath into “Broadway Joe,” the spotlight can take its toll when you’re not succeeding. It can swallow you up and spit you out like a failed Wall Street stockbroker.

Darnold, 24, failed. He went 13-25 as a starter for the New York Jets after being selected with the third pick in the 2018 draft. He completed only 59.8 percent of his pass attempts and threw almost as many interceptions (39) as he did touchdowns (45).

So the Jets split with Darnold and traded him to Carolina, where for many years the fan base was known as a “wine-and-cheese” crowd, more laid back at games more for the experience and not the most enthusiastic in terms of creating a home-field advantage.

Several former Carolina quarterbacks who are familiar with going from a large market to a smaller one — New York is the largest market in the country, Charlotte ranks 22nd — believe the change will be good for Darnold. They agree there will be fewer demands on his time and more time to spend on football and enjoying life.

They agree it will be good for him to get away from a fan base that is as likely to greet you with an improper gesture as they are to applaud you.

Few understand more than Rodney Peete, who, like Darnold, went to USC and spent most of his career in big markets such as Dallas and Philadelphia before coming to Carolina in 2002.

“The fans at Carolina are passionate and they love football,” Peete said. “But it’s not the nastiness of a Philadelphia or New York, where it can get extremely personal. So that’s going to be a relief for him.”

Steve Beuerlein, who played for the Panthers (1996 to 2000) after stops in Los Angeles (Raiders), Dallas and Phoenix, agreed.

“This could end up being the best thing to ever happen to Sam,” Beuerlein said. “He gets a chance to rejuvenate his career in a city that is as welcoming as any in the country.”

Jamie Ortiz, Darnold’s high school coach in San Clemente, California, said Darnold is the only NFL quarterback without a Twitter account and had to be forced to open a Facebook page for college recruiters to contact him.

His point: Darnold is private and doesn’t crave the spotlight, even though his position puts him in it, so Charlotte will be good for him.

“Sam’s a very old-school, old-soul kind of guy,” Ortiz said. “So maybe the Southern charm of Carolina is something that will fit him very well. The aggressive New York drivers, who give you the middle finger, that’s just not his nature.”

‘Reminds me of home’

Carolina wide receiver Robby Anderson recently noticed a “glow” and “aura” in Darnold that he never saw with the Jets when they were together in 2018-19.

He didn’t elaborate, and neither did Darnold when asked what Anderson meant.

One thing’s for sure: Darnold is comfortable in his new surroundings. He compares his new home to San Clemente, a beach town with a population of about 65,000 although it is much smaller than Charlotte (estimated 900,000).

“Honestly, it reminds me of home,” Darnold said. “Where I live, there’s kind of a small-town feel, which I like. It’s nice to be able to walk around.”

While Darnold wasn’t a hermit in New York, he knew the paparazzi were lurking. For example, there was a 2019 story in “Page Six,” the gossip column of the New York Post, saying Darnold was “wasted” after a win over the Oakland Raiders.

When Darnold missed three games in 2019 with mononucleosis, it was all over the tabloids that the quarterback got the “kissing disease” from a random woman who showed up at a game wearing a No. 14 Darnold jersey and holding up a sign that said “I gave Darnold mono,” even though the two never met.

When mic’d up for a 2019 Monday Night Football game, Darnold was caught saying “I’m seeing ghosts” during a loss to New England that had fans laughing at him. He became the butt of jokes.

It wasn’t even a story in the Charlotte Observer when Darnold recently celebrated his 24th birthday with star running back Christian McCaffrey — who was celebrating his 25th birthday — and McCaffrey’s girlfriend, model Olivia Culpo.

However, pictures posted by Culpo were turned into a story in “Page Six.”

“Charlotte’s such a great place to live, such an easy place to live,” McCaffrey said. “People are always extremely nice and respectful of people’s boundaries and space and time.”

To Darnold’s credit, he never expressed angst over reports about his personal life in New York. The one that seemed to irk him the most was the “ghosts” comment that he and the Jets believed never should have gotten out.

If anything, Darnold felt playing at USC prepared him for the New York market.

“When I was the backup, I was actually third string when Cody Kessler was the starter at USC,” Darnold said at the 2018 combine. “Then Max Browne got the starting job my redshirt freshman year, and I thought during that process I was preparing every single day to be the starter.

“Being in L.A., being at USC, has prepared me really well for the opportunity to go to a big stage like New York City.”

Still, those who know Darnold and have played for the Panthers believe Charlotte will be a better fit for the player who is more comfortable in sandals than designer shoes.

Former Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme said he would be living in Charlotte now instead of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, if he and his wife didn’t grow up there and still have family in the area.

The few times he was booed in Charlotte, he felt he deserved it.

“If ever they were against me, it was the 2009 season,” said Delhomme, who threw 18 interceptions and only eight touchdowns two years after leading the Panthers to a 12-4 record and six years after taking them to the Super Bowl. “And you know what? I sucked.

“And even at that time, I had my kids in school and I picked them up from school when I could, nobody never, ever said anything [bad] outside to me.”

Peete says that atmosphere will benefit Darnold.

“He’s not Mr. Flashy, Mr. Big City New York guy,” said Peete, who has gotten to know Darnold through their USC connection. “He’s more laid back and ‘I don’t crave the limelight.’

“He’s not Hollywood.”

‘Flannel jeans and a hat’

Ortiz got a chuckle out of seeing a recent Panthers video of Darnold wearing San Clemente High shorts.

It reminded him of draft night when Darnold was backstage with him, a few high school buddies, his parents and long-time quarterback coach Jordan Palmer. There weren’t any big names from USC or other high-profile people.

“To me, that’s a sign of the character of the kid,” Ortiz said.

Darnold wore a simple navy blue suit that night. Nothing flashy like a lot of draft picks.

“He usually wears flannel, jeans and a hat,” Ortiz said. “He wears the same stuff he wore in high school.”

You won’t see Darnold wearing edgy to over-the-top outfits like those of former Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who was as flashy off the field as he was on it.

But a big part of Newton’s popularity also came from playing a big role in the community, something other former Carolina quarterbacks say is almost as important to the fans as winning, and not as essential in larger markets.

“The more Cam was in the community, the more people respected him,” said Derek Anderson, Newton’s backup from 2011-17. “Cam was to the point he was riding a scooter through town at 6 in the morning to practice. There’s not a lot of places somebody like him can do that.”

Talent greater than market

While the external pressure on Darnold to succeed may be less in Carolina, the internal pressure is the same.

“I’ve always had high expectations for myself,” Darnold said.

Big market or small, Darnold expects to win. If he doesn’t, he’ll be looking for another market.

“In a smaller market you have less to deal with,” Palmer said. “So yes, that’s an advantage. But for Sam, it’s not a huge advantage.”

Darnold still doesn’t know the Carolina offense — which Robby Anderson insists is much easier to grasp than New York’s — well enough to consistently win. But coach Matt Rhule seems pleased, choosing to call Darnold’s offseason good with the potential to get great.

McCaffrey likes what he’s seen.

“He’s just been very consistent,” he said. “When you stack a bunch of consistent days on top of each other, you’ll ultimately create a lot of growth, and that’s what he’s done.”

Being surrounded by McCaffrey, wide receivers Anderson and DJ Moore, and a respected coaching staff full of teachers, ultimately will be more beneficial to Darnold than Southern hospitality.

Ortiz likes that Rhule talks about the “process” more than he did at San Clemente.

Peete likes that Darnold won’t have to win games on his own, as was the case at USC and in high school.

“You could put Patrick Mahomes in Detroit or with the Jets, and he doesn’t have the success he’s had in Kansas City,” he said. “Why? Because of the weapons.”

The weapons, more than the market, are why Peete and other former Carolina quarterbacks believe Darnold has a chance to succeed. As much as Darnold failed with the Jets, they believe the Jets failed Darnold by not providing that.

“I’m confident saying he won’t be in a situation where he is down by 25 at halftime and has to throw the ball 40 times, as he often was with the Jets,” Peete said.

Beuerlein, who lives about 15 miles from San Clemente, agreed. He also doesn’t downplay the benefit of the smaller market.

“There’s still going to be pressure,” he said. “But the Southern hospitality, people are just more welcoming and understanding and polite than what he’s used to.

“People likely aren’t going to walk by and say ‘you suck’ like in New York.”

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Seattle Kraken name Dave Hakstol as their first head coach

The Seattle Kraken have named Dave Hakstol as their first head coach.

Hakstol, 52, was an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs for the past two seasons. He previously coached the Philadelphia Flyers for three and a half seasons, before he was fired in the 2018-19 season. When he was hired by Philadelphia in 2015, Hakstol — a longtime coach at the University of North Dakota — became the first coach to jump from the NCAA to the NHL in 33 years.

The Kraken begin play next season as the NHL’s 32nd franchise. They will hold their expansion draft on July 21, using the same rules as when the Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL in 2017.

The relationship between GM Ron Francis and Hakstol was formed during a car ride in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, according to sources. Both men have strong ties to Hockey Canada. Francis appreciates attention to detail. According to a source close to the interview process, Hakstol was “incredibly well prepared for the interview process, clearly laying out his philosophy to take the players from draft into the inaugural season.”

“Dave possesses great experience, a strong work ethic, a solid technical understanding of the game, and the remarkable ability to communicate clearly and effectively,” Francis said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Dave as we strive to build a team our fans will be proud of.”

The Kraken cast a wide net to identify a coach and were quite secretive through the entire process. Former Arizona coach Rick Tocchet had multiple interviews with Seattle, and the team also considered former Rangers coach David Quinn, Buffalo interim coach Don Granato, AHL coach Kevin Dineen, Sharks assistant coach Rocky Thompson and Boston Bruins assistant Joe Sacco. Gerard Gallant, the first coach for the Golden Knights — who led the team to the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season — was long rumored to be a target but recently signed a four-year deal to coach the Rangers.

Hakstol, the head coach at North Dakota for 11 seasons, is a native of Warburg, Alberta. Thirty of Hakstol’s players at North Dakota went on to play in the NHL, including Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Capitals winger T.J. Oshie. Hakstol was named a finalist for national coach of the year in eight of his 11 seasons, and he compiled a 289-143-43 record (.654 winning percentage). North Dakota reached the Frozen Four seven times under Hakstol, the most of any program during that span.

Hakstol went 134-101-42 (.560 points percentage) in his three-plus seasons with the Flyers. He took the team to the playoffs twice, though they were eliminated in the first round each time.

Hakstol has been coaching hockey — across the NHL, AHL and USHL — for 26 consecutive seasons. “I am honored to be joining this tremendous group of staff and fans,” Hakstol said in a statement. “When I first saw the arena, I was blown away — it is such a unique venue. I am looking forward to being a part of the group that builds a team that plays with pride, passion and selflessness for the city of Seattle.”

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