Not afraid of the NRA, Mr. President? Then prove it.

first_imgCategories: Editorial, OpinionWho’s afraid of the National Rifle Association?Apparently, not President Donald Trump.At Wednesday’s White House gathering on guns, the president mocked Republican lawmakers for fearing NRA executive Wayne LaPierre and his team of D.C. lobbyists.“Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified,” the president told the bipartisan group of gobsmacked guests. “They have great power over you people, they have less power over me.” Even before the most recent mass shooting, the influence of LaPierre’s organization on elections was fading.In the Virginia governor’s race, Democratic candidate Ralph Northam cheerfully embraced his “F” rating from the NRA while campaigning for universal background checks.Despite the NRA pouring more than $1 million into ads against him, Northam easily defeated Republican Ed Gillespie.He is the second-straight candidate opposed by the NRA to be elected governor in the gun group’s home state.Tales of the gun lobby’s outsize influence also took a pounding in December’s Senate race in Alabama.There, the NRA spent nearly $55,000 on a mailer claiming that Democrat Doug Jones “can’t be trusted to support your Second Amendment rights” and “will be another vote for the Bloomberg-Schumer-Pelosi gun control agenda!”As did their counterparts in Virginia, Alabama residents ignored LaPierre’s fear tactics and voted again for the supposed gun-grabber. If LaPierre’s grip on Trump is loosening, perhaps it is because every poll published since the massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school shows that Americans want tougher gun-safety laws.Or maybe it is because the president spent the past week watching one Fortune 500 company after another sever ties with the NRA.For a businessman who holds corporate chief executives in far higher regard than he does political players such as LaPierre, the business world’s reaction to Parkland had to be eye-opening.Wal-Mart, the country’s largest private-sector employer, announced on Wednesday that it would immediately raise the minimum age for gun purchases to 21.The giant retailer emphasized that it already barred the sale of assault-style weapons, bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and “similar accessories.”Wal-Mart’s statement followed the announcement of Dick’s Sporting Goods that it, too, was ending the sale of assault-style weapons and raising its gun-purchase age to 21.The CEO of America’s largest sporting-goods chain, Edward Stack, told NBC News, “We don’t want to be a part of the story any longer.” Other corporate leaders reached that same conclusion earlier in the week.Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, MetLife, Avis, National Car Rental, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Lockton Affinity, First National Bank of Omaha and Republic Bank were some of the companies that cut ties with LaPierre’s lobbying organization after Parkland.FedEx, criticized for providing a standard discount to NRA members, took the extraordinary step of releasing a policy statement calling for a ban on assault-style weapons.“FedEx Corporation’s positions on the issue of gun policy and safety differ from those of the National Rifle Association,” it said.“FedEx opposes assault rifles being in the hands of civilians . . . [and] views assault rifles and large capacity magazines as inherent potential dangers to schools, workplaces, and communities.”The company then called for “urgent action” on the local, state and national level to prevent future tragedies.If Trump’s instinct is to fear the NRA less and follow the guidance of legendary business leaders such as FedEx’s Fred Smith more, data suggest it would be a wise political move. But that charge has proven to be just as baseless as the fear that Republican legislators in Congress hold for gun lobbyists – whose radical views are out of step even with Republican voters and many members of the NRA itself.Maybe Trump is finally on to something.Maybe he will decide that this is the time for real progress on common-sense gun-safety legislation.He could do it because it’s the right thing to do. Or he could do it because it’s the smart thing to do.But if he chooses instead to let his party continue to languish in fear, Republicans will just be giving Americans one more reason to vote them out of power – and relegate Trumpism to the ash heap of history.Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, hosts the MSNBC show “Morning Joe.”More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

Norfolk

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

EU marks 25th anniversary of open-border Schengen pact with closed frontiers

first_imgAirports in all but five EU states are subject to restrictions on arrivals and flights, the Commission document said, warning about the disruption caused by such measures on the supply of goods, including essential ones such as drugs.”The very life of many of our citizens relies on unhindered movement across borders of workers, essential medical supplies and goods of first necessity,” Jean Asselborn, foreign minister of Luxembourg, where the town of Schengen is located, said on Thursday.He called for the lifting of checks and the reopening of borders as soon as possible.But even the founding members of the Schengen accord have shut their borders, despite experts’ advice that the measure is not effective against the virus.”I had heard in the news that the borders were closed, but I did not expect that there would be such strict controls. There’s nothing we can do about it,” said Dutch commuter Bart Jansen.He was trying to go to work from his home town of Breda in the Netherlands via a shortcut on Belgian territory, but was not allowed to enter Belgium.The two countries were, along with Luxembourg, France and West Germany, the signatories of the original Schengen agreement in 1985, 10 years before its application.  The European Union marked the 25th anniversary of its open-border Schengen agreement on Thursday with all its land borders shut or subject to heavy checks imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.The Schengen agreement, underpinning an increasingly integrated and united Europe, came into force on March 26, 1995.It initially abolished checks at frontiers between France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal. In the following months and years others joined, and today the Schengen zone has 26 members, including non-EU nations Switzerland and Norway. But on its 25th anniversary, the agreement is virtually suspended because of the coronavirus, which has frozen most economic and social activity, disrupted supply chains and turned most Europeans into prisoners in their own homes.”The COVID-19 outbreak is having a major disruptive impact on European cross-border mobility and transport,” an internal document of the European Commission said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.The document, dated March 25, said all EU member states had introduced border restrictions or closures, with the exception of Ireland, which is not a member of the Schengen area and does not share any land border with EU states following Britain’s exit from the bloc.”There’s nothing we can do “center_img Topics :last_img read more

Trump reimposes 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum

first_img Trump had exempted Canadian products from the tariffs as part of the USMCA free trade deal with Mexico and the United States, on condition that they “not flood our country with exports and kill all of our aluminum jobs.””Canadian aluminum producers have broken that commitment,” he said.In Ottawa, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called the tariffs “unwarranted and unacceptable” and vowed to “swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.””In the time of a global pandemic and an economic crisis, the last thing Canadian and American workers need is new tariffs that will raise costs for manufacturers and consumers, impede the free flow of trade, and hurt provincial and state economies,” she said. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced he had ordered a 10 percent tariff on Canadian aluminum be reimposed, saying America’s key trading partner was flooding the United States market with the metal.”Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual,” Trump said in a speech at a Whirlpool washing machine factory in Clyde, Ohio.”I signed a proclamation that defends American industry by reimposing aluminum tariffs on Canada,” he said. The tariffs, which take effect August 16, are in response to what Washington called a 27 percent “surge” in aluminum imports from Canada over the past year which “threatens to harm domestic aluminum production.””I have determined that the measures agreed upon with Canada are not providing an effective alternative means to address the threatened impairment to our national security from imports of aluminum from Canada,” Trump said in his proclamation.Ottawa has long rejected the national security concerns coming from a close ally – the two nations have been joined in a free trade area since 1994. The new USMCA pact came into force on July 1.Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to travel to Washington to join in the USMCA launch ceremony early last month, after Trump floated the idea of again hitting the country with the tariffs.The US National Foreign Trade Council said the “misguided” tariffs undermine USMCA, and urged Trump to reconsider them, warning of increased costs to American companies and consumers.”It was taken without meaningful justification or investigation and will undoubtedly hurt more US manufacturers than it helps, especially in the middle of an economic downturn,” said its president Rufus Yerxa.Auto parts manufacturers said they would be particularly hit hard by increased aluminum costs. The tariffs, said the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, “will place greater financial hardship on US vehicle parts manufacturers at a time when the industry is trying to recover from plant shutdowns and a declining economy.”The Canadian industry, meanwhile, disputed the US data, and urged swift and strong retaliation.”There is no surge for 2020 over 2019,” said Aluminium Association of Canada President Jean Simard, calling on Ottawa to consider “all options for retaliation.””Prime Minister Trudeau must respond with severe countermeasures,” echoed Jery Dias, head of Unifor, Canada’s largest public sector union.Trump first imposed punitive tariffs on imports of Canadian aluminum and steel in June 2018, in the midst of negotiating the USMCA.Ottawa hit back at the time with tariffs on American aluminum and steel, as well as whiskey, ketchup, orange juice, lawn mowers, sailboats and more. Topics :last_img read more

BLOG: It’s Time to Ban Gifts from Special Interests

first_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter BLOG: It’s Time to Ban Gifts from Special Interests By: Megan Healey, Deputy Press Secretary April 14, 2016center_img Read more posts about government reform.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf Government Reform,  Government That Works,  The Blog,  Transparency Did you know? Pennsylvania is one of only ten states with no specific law limiting gifts to public officials, who are free to take any gift—including cash—so long as the gift is disclosed.In the very first day he was sworn into office, Governor Wolf led on addressing this issue by instituting a gift ban for his entire administration.Certain boards and commissions – including the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the Turnpike Commission – have also implemented gift bans, but more action is needed to ensure that government works for the people of Pennsylvania, and not special interests.Special interests still wield too much power and influence in Harrisburg, which is one of the reasons why it has been, and continues to be, broken. We still have much work to do to take on the special interests and status quo — and a gift ban is good step to curtail the influence of special interests.For a better government that works, it’s time to ban public officials from taking gifts from special interests.Learn more about the “Government That Works” Reform Plan: governor.pa.gov/govt-reform.last_img read more

Tallebudgera creekfront owners in frenzy following $2.55m sale

first_img45 Murlong Cres, Palm Beach.THE SALE of a Tallebudgera Creek shack for $2.55 million last month has put the neighbourhood in a frenzy as nearby property owners look to cash in.The 602sq m block with 50m of water frontage was sold to a local Chinese buyer who plans to build a Hamptons-inspired residence on the site. Ray White Broadbeach agent Troy Fitzgerald, who took 2 Elanora Drive, Burleigh Heads, to auction, has fielded several calls from homeowners keen to take advantage of a red-hot market.“Everyone is realising how good it is down there,” Mr Fitzgerald said.“The water is always nice and it’s calm, and flat. It’s popular for stand-up paddle boarding and it’s a bit more family-friendly than the ocean.”The impressive result prompted homeowners Ursula and Ben Watts to take their three-bedroom house at 45 Murlong Cres to auction on March 18. 26 Murlong Cres, Palm Beach.Another Murlong Cres property is set to go under the hammer on March 4.McGrath Coolangatta/Tweed Heads agent Tony Holland said the Elanora Drive auction had put creek properties on the map.“Murlong Cres is very tightly-held and I think people are recognising that these opportunities don’t come up that often,” Mr Holland said.“This house could be bought to live in, renovated or demolished and a new home could be built.”The four-bedroom house at 26 Murlong Cres is on a north facing 556sq m block.The highest sale on Murlong Cres is $1.8 million in November, 2016 for number 30.Tallebudgera Creek divides Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach.Median house prices in both suburbs have increased by more than 30 per cent over five years.Corelogic data reveals the median house price in Burleigh Heads is $725,000 while in Palm Beach it is $706,000. 45 Murlong Cres, Palm Beach.Ms Watts said the Elanora Drive sale set a new benchmark for properties along Tallebudgera Creek.“The area is finally getting the attention it deserves,” she said. “The auction was just awesome resulting in a great outcome” she said.The pair, who own Bam Bam Bakehouse and Paddock Bakery, bought the property in 2015 and have installed a new kitchen, bathroom and deck.More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach North11 hours ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa1 day ago“Murlong Cres is the Hedges Ave of Palm Beach,” Ms Watts said.“From our home you can launch your paddle boards into crystal clear bright blue water right at your front doorstep — doesn’t get much better than that.”last_img read more

Mermaid Beach house values hit a record $1.5 million

first_imgMermaid Beach. Picture: Regi VargheseIt is the most expensive suburb on the Gold Coast and the fourth in Queensland — beaten only by Brisbane’s Teneriffe, New Farm and Pallara — and the first time a Gold Coast suburb has broken the $1.5 million threshold.The median house price on the Gold Coast is $640,000.Luke Henderson, director at John Henderson Professionals Mermaid Beach, said demand was out-stripping supply, causing house prices to soar.“We are seeing a lot of people who want to build their dream home here so we’re also seeing a strong demand for properties that hold older houses,” he said.“There are several factors driving people (to Mermaid Beach). The low height limit is a key driver. We have a high owner-occupancy community and you have the redevelopment of the Nobbys restaurant and cafe strip.” People enjoying a swim on the beach, Mermaid Beach. Picture: Regi Varghese Mermaid Beach Surf Club, Gold Coast. Picture: Regi VargheseMore from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa18 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days agoKollosche Prestige Agents’ Michael Kollosche, who this week sold a beachfront property for $11.6 million, shared a similar view.“It would be anchored off the sales happening on the beachfront but the side streets of Mermaid have also been quite strong,” Mr Kollosche said.“It’s getting very difficult to find shacks in those side streets for under $1.4 million.”He said the lack of stock was causing the market to “grow consistently”. Cyclists along Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast. Picture: Regi VargheseIt comes as the Gold Coast’s prestige market emerges as the star performer of 2018 with a flurry of multimillion-dollar sales wrapping up this month.Experts are predicting the boom to continue with over 20 properties changing hands for at least $3 million each this year.center_img BSKT Cafe at Mermaid Beach. Picture: Regi VargheseThe elite million-dollar club on the Gold Coast has increased considerably over the past five years.Other suburbs clearing the $1 million median house value include Broadbeach Waters ($1.1 million), Bundall ($1.05 million), Clear Island Waters ($1.1 million), Paradise Point ($1.0425 million) and Surfers Paradise ($1.35 million) Hot on their heels are Runaway Bay ($985,500), Coolangatta ($955,000), and Tallebudgera Valley ($945,000). Mermaid Beach is the most expensive suburb to buy a house on the Gold Coast.MERMAID Beach house values have soared to a record $1.5 million as cashed-up buyers wrestle to secure prime beachfront property.The latest CoreLogic data shows the median price for houses in Mermaid Beach rose to $1.562 million, a 9.1 per cent increase over 64 house sales in the past 12 months.last_img read more

Big cannabis in the UK: is industry support for wider patient access motivated by promises of recreational market worth billions?

first_imgBMJ 18 March 2020Family First Comment: The British Medical Journal has uncovered links between companies, campaign groups, and individuals lobbying for wider patient access to cannabis for medical use and a parallel campaign to create a lucrative recreational market for the drug in the UK.We always said to ‘follow the money’.We need a similar investigation in New Zealand.The BMJ has uncovered links between companies, campaign groups, and individuals lobbying for wider patient access to cannabis for medical use and a parallel campaign to create a lucrative recreational market for the drug in the UK, Jonathan Gornall reportsWhen Charlotte Caldwell arrived at Heathrow on 11 June 2018 with a six month supply of cannabis medication to treat her son Billy’s epilepsy, it was no coincidence that journalists and TV crews were on hand for the press conference that followed the inevitable seizure of the drug by customs officers.READ MORE: https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1002Why is the tobacco industry supporting wider access to medical cannabis?News Medical 18 March 2020A new study published in the BMJ reveals disturbing connections between organizations and groups that are lobbying for broader access to medical cannabis and those who are fighting for the legalization of recreational cannabis. This raises questions as to the reasons behind the industry’s support for measures that will make it easier for patients to gain access to medical cannabis – is it because of the knowledge that by so doing, they will also be able to market the drug for recreational use in the UK?The projected market for medical cannabis in the UK is estimated to be $1.3 billion, while that of recreational cannabis is thought to be still more significant, at about $1.7 billion.Linkages between recreational and medical cannabis promotersThe study report has two parts and is authored by investigative journalist Jonathan Gornall for the BMJ. The first part deals with the nexus between the commercial groups that are campaigning to allow new markets to be opened for recreational cannabis and those individuals or patient groups that are working for a broader range of access to cannabis for medical use.One such example he cites is that of Steve Moore, who was formerly the CEO of the Big Society Initiative headed by David Cameron. Moore helped Charlotte Caldwell, the mother of a severely epileptic boy called Billy Caldwell, to fly to Canada to obtain medical cannabis for her son from a company called Tilray. However, when she flew back, the drug was seized at customs – a predictable outcome that was duly captured in the press and used to promote the legalization argument. Moore has helped to promote Caldwell’s case. However, his interest in cannabis is not just to ensure it can be used medically in a broader setting.Moore is also a strategic counsel for the Center for Medicinal Cannabis, which is a trade organization representing businesses and investors that deal with medicinal cannabis products. It has members such as the Supreme Cannabis Company, a Canada-based organization. Again, he is strategic counsel for Volteface, which is an advocacy group that was founded in 2017, to campaign for the legalization of recreational cannabis. Volteface and the Center for Medicinal Cannabis are the brainchildren of and are funded by Paul Birch, while Tilray’s chief executive was once an advisor to Volteface. Birch has said he supports both medicinal and recreational cannabis use. At the same time, Moore suggests the legalization of cannabis would not benefit any legal cannabis companies, nor is the government considering such reforms. However, the moves made by their organizations and by big cannabis companies do not support this view.The implications of these connectionsIan Gilmore, who directs the Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research, has sympathy for the plight of patients who would like to exploit the medical effects of cannabis and cannabis extracts in their particular situations, but cannot because it is not legally available.On the other hand, says Gilmore, there is the ever-present danger that false arguments from third parties will prompt such a move to legalize recreational cannabis. In his words, “We must not drift into the situation we found ourselves in with tobacco and alcohol, where global companies seeking to maximize their markets distorted the arguments, often through third parties. We must protect patients from having groups with conflicts of interest, building up unrealistic hopes.”Psychiatrist Marta Di Forti, who serves on the government task force to review the safety and effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of pain, says she is unhappy about this association of patient cannabis groups and commercial cannabis companies. Her main concern is that this kind of lobbying could result in obtaining medicinal cannabis for many more medical conditions for which there is limited or no evidence of its efficacy.The problem with the current conversation on the medical use of cannabis is that it is making it easier and more normal to talk about cannabis in all kinds of settings where it would have been unacceptable earlier. This shift is acknowledged and welcomed by Stephen Murray, the executive director of Prohibition Partners. This is a private investment organization based in the UK, bent on making cannabis “more accessible and acceptable.” Murray observes that big investors in the corporate world are now becoming more and more involved in the spectrum of business opportunities that cannabis offers.The parent company of Murray’s firm, European Cannabis Holdings, recently split into a media wing and the Lyphe group of medical cannabis clinics, besides a medical cannabis ‘academy’ for clinicians, and an import-distribution company. The Lyphe group is also involved with Drug Science, headed by David Nutt, a sacked chairperson of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Drug Science is behind Project Twenty21, a huge trial of cannabis for seven different conditions from anxiety disorder to Tourette’s syndrome, to provide “largest body of evidence for the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis” – but without a randomized controlled trial format, rather a general health questionnaire.Links between tobacco and medical cannabis researchThe second part of the report deals with the investigation of how the tobacco industry is funding research into medicinal cannabis. Here, Gornall examines the intricate network that has been woven between big commercial firms and the drive to legalize medical cannabis.In this second part, he uses Gavin Sathianathan as an example of the “new breed of cannabis entrepreneur.” Sathianathan is both the founder and the main shareholder of a private limited company based out of London, called Alta Flora, which markets “wellness products from natural sources.” In addition, he is one of the trustees managing United Patients Alliance (UPA), which is a cannabis support group led by patients; the chief executive of Forma Holdings which is an investment fund specializing in cannabis; and co-founder as well as director of Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, which is a collaborative research effort including Oxford Universities.Among these companies, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies is funded in part by Casa Verde Capital; an American venture capital firm co-founded by Snoop Dogg, US rapper, and influential promoter of recreational cannabis, and Imperial Brands (formerly known as Imperial Tobacco), the giant tobacco company. In defense, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies’ spokesperson says that Imperial Brands holds only a small percentage of the company’s value and that the firm will not be interested in the UK recreational cannabis market even if restrictions in that country are relaxed.Twisting the narrativeHowever, Marta Di Forti is not convinced. She remembers the story of how tobacco and alcohol companies fed their own skewed version of facts to the public and the medical establishment through paid research and managed to get away with actively peddling deadly and addictive substances to young and old alike for decades before their bluff was called.Calling the fact that Imperial owns any stock in this cannabis research firm “dreadful and shocking”, Di Forti says, “It is always very dangerous to forget history and we are now seeing the sort of connections that we have seen happening before. We are lacking in funding for cannabis research from independent organizations such as the Wellcome Trust or the Medical Research Council. The result will be that more and more, you are going to see even prestigious and reputable academic institutions accepting money from some of these companies.”Ian Gilmore supports this stance: “It is vital that there is complete transparency in those making the case and supporting patient groups. We must not drift into the situation we found ourselves in with tobacco and alcohol, where global companies seeking to maximize their markets distorted the arguments, often through third parties. We must protect patients from having groups with conflicts of interest, building up unrealistic hopes.”https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200318/Why-is-the-tobacco-industry-supporting-wider-access-to-medical-cannabis.aspxKeep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

IMCA Modified, SportMod drivers chasing Bob Harris Enterprises special event awards

first_imgAMES, Iowa – Special events drivers in three IMCA divisions are in the running again this season for awards from Bob Harris Enterprises. Certificates for the shock rebuilds are mailed after special events results are re­ceived at the IMCA home office. Race Tech Info seminar certificates will be mailed in December.  A drawing will be held following the regular point season to award Race Tech Info Dirt Chassis School packages to one Modified driver and one SportMod driver. Drawing winners last year were Kody Scholpp and Josh Appel.  Harris, of Ames, Iowa, will give two free shock rebuilds to a top five finisher at each of 30 IMCA Modified specials, and at 15 Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod and Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMod specials.  BHE begins its seventh season as an IMCA sponsor. Owner Bob Harris has been associated with the sanctioning body since the early days of the Modified division and also promotes the Harris Clash. center_img “This will mark my 37th year being involved with IMCA and the competitive teams that participate in weekly races and special events,” said Harris. “BHE is proud to support drivers in these division through shock rebuild awards. It’s been a privilege to watch IMCA grow and to continue to give back to these outstanding racers!” “Bob is currently in the middle of his winter chassis school schedule as he continues to help educate IMCA racers on how to improve the performance of their race car,” IMCA Marketing Director Kevin Yoder commented. “His knowledge is invaluable and he continues to be a valuable resource to our members.” Information about the Race Tech Info chassis schools and shock rebuilds is availa­ble by calling 515 292-9200 and at the www.bobharrisent.com website.last_img read more

Benitez backs Torres to lead Blues

first_img Benitez added: “He has to keep working in the same way and I think that with a pre-season he will have plenty of team to improve himself physically. It’s a question of keeping training the same way that he’s training now and with confidence, he has the potential.” Torres, who last found the net in the Premier League against Aston Villa in December, has cut a forlorn figure at times, ploughing a lone furrow up front. Benitez added: “When you see a striker that is not scoring as many goals as he wants to score, this can happen. Now he’s enjoying himself.” On his arrival, Benitez felt Chelsea could mount a Premier League title challenge, but a congested season – Sunday’s match will be the Blues’ 69th of the campaign – has played its part in ensuring that ambition was never close to being fulfilled. To take on Manchester United, Benitez felt Chelsea needed to sign players in January and augment a squad which is packed with quality, but short of numbers in a transitional period, following the departures of the likes of Didier Drogba. Benitez refused to criticise the board for not weighing into the transfer market, with striker Demba Ba the one major January addition, but he has fulfilled his brief by delivering a Champions League return. “Always [it] can be better,” Benitez said. “We cannot change what happened and we have to think of the future as a positive. The club had an idea. We have been successful in one of the big competitions and we are virtually qualified for the Champions League. So in the end it was fine.” Rafael Benitez is confident striker Fernando Torres can return to being an unstoppable force as the interim boss prepares for his final competitive game at Chelsea. Torres has endured a challenging two-and-a-half year spell at Stamford Bridge since his £50million move from Liverpool in January 2011, but netted six goals in six Europa League appearances this season, including in the final as the Blues beat Benfica in the Amsterdam final on Wednesday. “It’s more than just me,” said Benitez, when asked about Torres’ improvement, before he cited assistant coaches Steve Holland, Boudewijn Zenden and fitness coaches Paco de Miguel and Chris Jones for their efforts. “They have improved him. He has more pace, more confidence and he can score important goals for us.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more