RELATED: Playoff standingsElliott Sadler clinched the regular-season championship last weekend, but the XFINITY Series playoff field is not yet set.The Chicagoland 300 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will lock in the last three drivers to compete for this season’s championship. William Byron currently leads the way with a series-leading three victories while two of his other three JR Motorsports teammates are also postseason bound. But two drivers who were in last year’s title hunt go into this weekend feeling the pressure.Let’s break it down.WHO’S INRookie sensation William Byron sits atop the playoff standings on the strength of three wins and 17 playoff points. He’s followed by teammate Justin Allgaier, who has a win and the second-most playoff points going into Chicago with eight. Also locked in through wins are Ryan Reed and Jeremy Clements.The best of the non-winners is Elliott Sadler, the series points leader. However, Sadler’s position will greatly improve following the race as he will be awarded 15 playoff points (to go with the five he currently has) for being the regular-season champion. Behind Sadler comes Brennan Poole, as well as three more rookies in Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Matt Tifft.The final three spots are still up for grabs. After just narrowly missing the final four last year, Blake Koch sits 10th in the playoff standings with a healthy 51-point advantage. Michael Annett, who will look to ensure all four JRM cars make the playoffs, is 11th. And veteran Brendan Gaughan holds down the final playoff spot at 12th place.BUBBLE WATCHThe good news for Dakoda Armstrong is he does not have to win Saturday’s race to earn a playoff spot. Armstrong is just 25 points behind Gaughan and 26 behind Annett. A mistake or bad day for either of those two drivers puts Armstrong and JGL Racing in a position to strike.It’s a different story for JJ Yeley on back. Yeley sits 14th in the standings for TriStar Motorsports, but he’s 65 points below the cut line. JD Motorsports driver Ross Chastain sits 15th while Ryan Sieg from the single-car entry of RSS Racing is 16th. Making the playoffs would be a huge accomplishment for any of these teams while rookie Brandon Jones in 17th hopes to join his Richard Childress Racing teammates at the front of the pack.OUTLOOKWith a good point advantage on those sitting on the outside, Koch looks all but assured of again making the playoffs. Annett and Gaughan, however, will be sweating it out for 300 miles. With both drivers having outrun Armstrong through much of the season, that should not be a problem one more time.What none of the three drivers on the bubble can be sure about, though, is a new winner. If Armstrong or anyone else currently without a playoff spot wins — and is also in the top 20 in points — that driver automatically takes a postseason position. A tall task yes, but not impossible. Especially when considering this race is off limits to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitors with more than five years of experience, such as the drivers who have won the last two XFINITY Series races: Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.Plus, the series will be in Chicago and if the Cubs can win the World Series after 108 years, an XFINITY Series regular can also pull off a much-needed victory.
The preservation of cross-border legal practice rights should be among the top priorities for negotiating the UK’s new relationship with the EU, MPs say today. Reporting on its inquiry into negotiating Brexit priorities for the justice system, the House of Commons Justice Committee urges ministers to ensure that both criminal and civil links are preserved whatever happens elsewhere in the negotiations following the triggering of article 50. Echoing the findings of a House of Lords inquiry earlier this week, the committee says the government should maintain access to the EU’s regulations in inter-state commercial law and retain efficient mechanisms to resolve family law cases involving nationals of EU member states. Cross-border legal practice rights and opportunities must also be preserved, saying that there is ‘clear evidence of reciprocal benefit’. The report recommends that the government should consider and promote the legal services sector in the context of its post-Brexit trade recalibration and the pursuit of new deals.Co-operation on criminal justice should continue ‘as closely as possible’, the report says. This would include retaining the European arrest warrant, as well as access to investigative resources in the Europol and Eurojust agencies and sharing data on suspects’ criminal records and biometric information.Committee chair Bob Neill MP said: ‘We welcome the government’s signals that it intends to continue to cooperate with the EU on criminal justice. The seriousness of the matter and the degree of mutual interest give weight to the suggestion that this aspect of negotiations be separated firmly from others – it is too precious to be left vulnerable to tactical bargaining.’The Law Society, which gave evidence to the committee, strongly welcomed the report. Society president Robert Bourns said: ‘English and Welsh law not only underpins global trade but the jurisdiction of England and Wales is also a first choice for business because of our world-renowned legal sector. The justice select committee report highlights this and it also emphasises the importance of cross-border co-operation on tackling crime and family law as well as addressing issues like the near-automatic recognition of civil and commercial judgments, and enabling business.’It is in the interests of both the UK and EU that legal certainty is maintained throughout the process of our withdrawal. Businesses and individuals need time to adjust – so transitional arrangements and a proper implementation period should be agreed well ahead of entering into a new framework.’The Bar Council said the committee had reached ‘some sensible conclusions’. It said that ‘effective cross-border arrangements to ensure continued co-operation with the EU on criminal justice need to be maintained. Likewise in civil justice, choice of jurisdiction together with mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments (as well as equivalent arrangements in family law) are in the UK’s interest as well as in the EU’s interest post-Brexit.’
While the transhipment of coal continued to grow in the first quarter, it came to a standstill in the second quarter. This resulted in a 13.1% drop in dry bulk transhipment in January-June 2020 compared to the same period last year. This decrease is partly attributable to the growing supply of green energy, which reduced the need for coal, partly by reduced demand for coal from the steel sector and partly by a strong second quarter in 2019. Fertilisers, which represent the largest share of dry bulk volumes, grew slightly (+1%) compared to January-June 2019. Total goods throughput down by 4.9%; first signs of recovery visibleThe total throughput of the Port of Antwerp fell by 4.9% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2019. After a strong first quarter, the port experienced a decline in the transhipment of all flows of goods, with the exception of the container sector. Despite the impact of the coronavirus crisis on global production and logistics chains and a pandemic-driven drop in demand, the port remained 100% operational. Impact coronavirus and prospects Slight recovery in breakbulk sector in June Seagoing vessels The automotive sector was already struggling in 2019 with the introduction of stricter rules on passenger car emissions in Europe and this trend continued in 2020. From March onwards, the coronavirus crisis only compounded this situation: less exports of new European cars, less supply of new Asian cars and downtime in the second-hand market due to travel restrictions. As a result, the total RoRo throughput fell by 21.8%. Bulk cargo declined due to reduced demand for energy Container traffic status quo For the third quarter, while the Port of Antwerp is still expecting blank sailings, it is also seeing the first signs of recovery and an upturn in the European economy. The Port of Antwerp is making every effort to continue to ensure the efficient functioning of the port. Liquid bulk decreased by 7.5% compared to the first half of 2019 because of the coronavirus crisis, which wiped out demand for oil products, combined with price wars. Thanks to the gradual lifting of the coronavirus measures and the recovery of the oil price, fuel throughput increased in May and June. Moreover, chemicals decreased by 8.9% compared to the first six months of 2019, mainly due to reduced demand from the automotive sector. Over the past six months, 6,797 seagoing vessels called at Antwerp, representing a decrease of 5.6% compared to the same period in 2019. The gross tonnage of these vessels fell by 7.9% to 193 million. Following discussions with the Antwerp port community about the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, the Port Authority decided to grant a postponement of payment for the shipping and inland navigation dues and for the domain concessions. Container traffic increased in the first quarter of the year, but felt the effects of cancelled sailings from April onwards. Nevertheless, for the period January-June 2020, container traffic recorded a slight increase of +0.4% in TEUs compared to the same period last year (with April and May 2019 as absolute record months). The number of calls made by vessels decreased, but this was compensated by a higher average volume per vessel and by additional calls on top of the normal sailing schedules. Notable climbers in this special period were the transhipment of pharmaceutical products, e-commerce and health foods. At the beginning of June, the port also welcomed the world’s newest largest container ship, the HMM Algeciras with a capacity of 23,964 TEU. Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp: “Port of Antwerp is a world port that follows the pace of the European and world economy. The impact of the shutdown of the global supply chain due to the coronavirus crisis has been felt from the second quarter onwards and will affect the total throughput of goods this year. The Port of Antwerp is holding up well in the Hamburg-Le Havre range because it is active in many sectors, it is not dependent on a single continent and because of its role as Europe’s largest integrated chemical cluster.” Sea News, July 9 Port of Antwerp grants postponement of payment Annick De Ridder, Port Alderman: “As the port of Antwerp, we are an important link in the chain between producers and consumers, and as such a perfect barometer for the global economy. Much will depend on how quickly industry is able to start up again and consumer confidence to return. As Antwerp port community, we remained 100% operational during this global crisis and our knowledge and experience are well documented as a valued trademark all over the world.” Since mid-2019, global trade issues continue to adversely affect goods flows in the conventional breakbulk sector. This has culminated in an overall 29% decrease for the period January-June compared to 2019, with inbound and outbound flows being affected to the same extent. The throughput of iron and steel, the most important freight group within this sector, experienced its best month of 2020 in June but a total decrease of 33.1% for the first six months of this year. Author: Baibhav Mishra