LeBron James Is Still In His Prime

2013725.310.97.024.4 AVERAGE PER GAME 2012528.610.27.425.9 The only run of performances that surpassed it came in the closing three games of the 2013 finals. That year, James averaged a 26.7 Game Score over games 4 through 6 of the series — remember the headband-losing moment in Game 6 that seemed to activate his powers? — before dropping the very best game of his career (after adjusting for the stakes) in Game 7: 37 points on 52 percent shooting, to go with 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. The magnitude of that game helped make it LeBron’s greatest, but he’s been even better (with an average game score of 35.5) in games 4 through 6 this year. And on Sunday, James will get a chance to set a new standard in another Game 7, with the championship on the line again. 2014528.27.84.025.3 2007422.07.06.812.4 LeBron James has been so great for so long that, sometimes, it’s easy to take him for granted. This season was relatively ordinary by his standards — ho-hum, another 25, 7 and 7 campaign. There were differences from James’s earlier incarnations, such as an out-of-whack shooting stroke, but nothing so substantial as to much separate this LeBron from any LeBron of seasons past.But during these NBA playoffs, and the finals in particular, James has been playing at a level so superhuman that even the most jaded LeBron watchers have to sit up and pay attention.James’s best per-minute playoff campaign came in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ill-fated 2009 postseason, when they flamed out against the Orlando Magic in the conference finals. His per-game averages in that series were 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks. But apart from that one-man exhibition in a losing effort (something James knows well), these 2016 playoffs have seen the best statistical version of LeBron — and certainly the best version ever to appear in the NBA Finals.In fact, when it comes to production in the finals, James has also saved his best performance for 2016. According to Game Score, John Hollinger’s pet single-game productivity rating, LeBron is enjoying the highest (pace-adjusted) per-game average of his finals career right now, and it isn’t especially close: Game Score has been adjusted to a pace of 100 possessions per game.Source: Basketball-Reference.com 2011617.87.26.815.6 2016630.211.38.528.2 YEARGAMES PLAYEDPOINTSREBOUNDSASSISTSGAME SCORE 2015635.813.38.825.6 LeBron’s 2016 stats for games played in the NBA Finals are his best In Thursday night’s Game 6, James produced the top Game Score of his finals career (44.1 after adjusting for pace), thanks to a jaw-dropping stat line: 41 points on 59 percent shooting, 11 assists, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. He even splashed home three of six threes, bringing his finals 3-point percentage to 40 percent, a massive difference from the 31 percent rate we were all so worried about during the regular season.In other words, James’s game has rounded into peak form at exactly the right time for the Cavs. And I really mean peak form: If we look at his Game Scores relative to what a league-average player would produce in the same number of minutes and then weight by the importance of each game in terms of championship odds, we’re currently witnessing the second-best three-game stretch of James’s entire career, culminating in his second-best game ever on Thursday night: VIDEO: History will be made in Game 7Check out our NBA Finals predictions. read more

How FiveThirtyEights March Madness Bracket Works

In contrast to the parity of the recent past, this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament has a clear front-runner: the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness Predictions give the Wildcats a 41 percent chance to win it all and finish 40-0. Kentucky’s chances are well ahead of a group of teams — Villanova, Arizona and Wisconsin — that have about a 10 percent chance each.I’ll have a longer take on the Wildcats and this year’s top-heavy bracket on Monday morning. But for now, we wanted to be sure you saw our numbers as soon as they were ready. You can find our interactive here, including the probability of each of the 68 teams invited to this year’s dance advancing to each round of the tournament.The methodology behind our forecasts is largely the same as in past years. Our forecasts have done reasonably well — “calling” the winner of the tournament correctly in two of the past three years. And they’ve been well-calibrated historically, meaning the teams we’ve listed as (for instance) 70 percent favorites have in fact won about 70 percent of the time. We don’t see a lot of reason to mess with our system.At the core of the forecasts is a power rating for each team estimated from a composite of five computer-generated power rankings and two human rankings. By nature, our rankings are pretty conservative since they blend information from several different systems together.1You might consider deviating from them when filling out your bracket so as to have less duplication with others in your pool. These are the five computer systems we use:ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI). (Specifically, we use the variant of BPI called PVA, which translates team ratings into point spreads.)Ken Pomeroy’s pythagorean ratings.Jeff Sagarin’s “predictor” ratings.Joel Sokol’s LRMC ratings.Sonny Moore’s power ratings.The two human rankings are:The selection committee’s 68-team S-curve — that is, how it ranked the teams from 1 to 68 before placing them in the bracket.Preseason rankings from the Associated Press and the coaches poll.2The AP and coaches polls are weighted equally. The seven systems are weighted equally and adjusted to be on a common scale.3Specifically, they’re normalized to have the same mean and standard deviation. Here are how the various systems rated the North Carolina Tar Heels as of Sunday evening,4The Sonny Moore power ratings had not been updated to reflect Sunday’s play as of our publication deadline on Sunday night. We used Saturday’s ratings instead and adjusted them to reflect Sunday’s games based on the change in each team’s Sagarin rating from Saturday to Sunday. for example:While all of the Tar Heels’ ratings are pretty close, their worst one is from where the committee placed them on the S-curve, 13th, suggesting that they were slightly underseeded. Their best rating comes from their preseason ranking, by contrast. We know it might seem unusual to blend preseason rankings with six other systems that rank a team’s current form, but there’s a long history of teams reverting to preseason expectations in the postseason. That included last season, when UConn and Kentucky, who were rated highly before the season, overcame a middling regular season to meet each other in the national championship as No. 7 and No. 8 seeds. Maybe North Carolina can do something similar this year.The ratings are then adjusted for two factors:Injuries and other player absences. For instance, Louisville’s rating is harmed by the absence of Chris Jones, who was dismissed from the team after police charged that he raped two women. (He has pleaded not guilty.) Teams will also get credit in our system if they have key players back for the tournament who missed part of the regular season. (The adjustments are based on Sports-reference.com win shares.)Travel distance from the team’s home campus to the tournament site. A team that has to travel across the country to play a tournament game can face the equivalent of a 2- or 3-point disadvantage against one playing close to home. Essentially, it’s playing a road game.We’ll be updating the bracket at the conclusion of every batch of games. You may also see some minor changes before the First Four tipoff in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday night, based on the availability of new injury information and power ratings.Teams’ power ratings also change at the end of each game. If a No. 13 seed upsets a No. 4 seed, that’s a sign the team was underestimated originally, and our program will boost its rating for the rest of the tournament. If a No. 2 seed needs overtime to get by a No. 15 seed despite being a 30-point favorite, its rating will go down.However — this is a new feature this year — you’ll be able to “rewind” the bracket to see what our forecast said about each team at the conclusion of each day of play.Anything else new this year? The big news is that we’re going to be forecasting the women’s tournament for the first time. Those numbers will go up Tuesday morning.On the men’s side, there are a couple of methodological changes, but they’re very minor:In calculating the effect of injuries, win shares are now adjusted for a team’s strength of schedule. So our program won’t assume a player was a monster just because he was scoring 20 points a game against the likes of Abilene Christian and Austin Peay State.If a team wasn’t ranked at all in the preseason poll, we now estimate its strength using last year’s Sagarin rating, regressed to the mean.5Specifically, we regress to the mean of unranked teams. It almost always helps a team to have been ranked somewhere — even in the “also receiving votes” category — instead of receiving a mean-reverted Sagarin rating instead. Much more to come Monday and over the next three weeks. Happy bracketing!Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.CORRECTION (March 16, 2:20 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misidentified ESPN’s Basketball Power Index as the “basketball percentage index.” read more

Ohio State alumna working toward Olympic dreams after lone year of club

OSU alumna Katiann Scherer.Credit: Courtesy of Katiann SchererA single year of a club sport is paying dividends for one former Buckeye.Katiann Scherer, a 2014 graduate of Ohio State, is the current goalie for the USA women’s team handball squad. The animal science major played just one year on the club team handball team at OSU, while also volunteering and working at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.Her path is an unconventional one, but, perhaps, it is a fitting way to arrive on the national team for a sport that receives very little attention in the U.S.Considered to be “soccer with your hands,” team handball features six court players, along with a goalie. Team handball was first played in the Olympics at the 1936 Berlin Games, but it was not until the 1976 Montreal Games that women’s team handball debuted. The U.S. has never medaled at the Olympics in the sport. Both the men’s and women’s top finishes came at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, where the men placed ninth and women placed fifth.According to Scherer, handball is the “most American sport that Americans don’t know about.”Scherer’s journey to the sport began at OSU’s annual Fall Student Involvement Fair, where she and her sister were looking for a club team sport to play together. Since the sisters each played soccer in high school and enjoyed the physical aspect of the sport, the search landed the pair with the OSU Team Handball club.“I had played (handball) a couple times in middle school,” Scherer said. “But besides that, I really had zero experience or knew what I was doing before joining the club team.”With that being said, Scherer began attending practices for about six months, although she admitted she didn’t know just how much she would enjoy the sport. But as time progressed, the team’s then-coach, Mark Ortega, began to notice the potential in the goalie. “I took a shot to the face during the practice, and (Ortega) noticed that I got right back up and liked my hustle,” Scherer said.Ortega, a former men’s national team handball player, became coach of the club team at OSU in order to “recruit” players to possibly try out for the women’s national team.Ortega told Scherer that she had the skills and abilities to make the squad and recommended that she travel to Auburn, Alabama, for the tryout. Following the advice of her coach, Scherer made the trip south to the facility of the USA Team Handball Residency Program, the location of the tryout.The former Buckeye, filled with nerves and with less than a year of handball under her belt, performed sensationally. USA coach Christian Latulippe became aware of Scherer’s ability, and granted her a spot on the squad.“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to represent the United States,” Scherer said. “The opportunity I get to travel, and meet all of these other girls from different countries, is out of this world.”Members of USA team handball. Credit: Courtesy of Katiann SchererAfter making her way onto the national team roster, it was time to train and attempt to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro. “I was in Auburn for the past year, and we went to a few different countries to train, and also qualify through the (Pan-American) Games in Toronto this past summer,” Scherer said. Those training sessions and matches included trips to Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Cuba, as well as a meeting with the Canadian national team in Auburn. However, the women’s team did not qualify for this year’s Olympics, and will now attempt to work and win its way to a bid to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.Over this past fall, Scherer made her way to France to try out for professional handball teams in order to stay fit and train during the national team’s offseason. “It’s like baseball here in America,” Scherer said. “They have minor league teams for amateurs, and the goal is to work your way up to the professional level.” Scherer made a team in a small town of Hazebrouck, France. However, complicated visa requirements, combined with her little grasp of the French language, led her to opt to pass on the offer to play there. She is still remaining active in finding another professional team to join, she said. “I’m trying to go to a training camp in Hungary at the end of the summer and hope to make some connections there for other possible teams to play with,” Scherer said.Currently, Scherer is living at home in Canton, where she is working to use her animal science degree by applying for jobs in the field. The Buckeye trains in her spare time, both in Canton and at OSU, in order to stay fit for the upcoming handball season.Beyond that, Scherer is working hard to find ways to implement team handball in high schools on the state and national levels. This is an attempt to have others gain knowledge of and passion for the sport, just like Scherer developed. “After that one year down in Alabama, I realized how much I loved (the sport),” Scherer said. “Now I’ve shaped the rest of my life around handball and what (Team USA) is trying to do.” read more

OSU sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo claims second ITA womens National Indoors Championship

OSU sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo holding the ITA national indoor championship trophy. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsFor the second time in her career, Ohio State sophomore, No. 1-ranked Francesca Di Lorenzo was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Women’s National Indoors Champion after defeating University of North Carolina senior, No. 4-ranked Hayley Carter 6-1, 6-1.Di Lorenzo had won the title in the previous season as a freshman and had also won the ITA All-Americans tourney, making this victory her third ITA title in only her second season of play.The match began with an incredibly close game. On Carter’s serve, Di Lorenzo and Carter swapped points back-and-forth until the game went to deuce. After a first-serve fault, Di Lorenzo was able to pounce on the second serve and win the opening game. The match would be all Di Lorenzo’s from there.The Buckeye went on to win each of the next three games, including two that went to a deuce and one of Carter’s own serves.The fifth game, however, was all Carter. The only point she allowed was on the third serve of the match when Carter double-faulted, bringing the score to 30-15. But two more first-serve points helped Carter secure her first victory of the set. It would be her only victory as Di Lorenzo went on to win each of the next games, going to deuce in each of them.The second set was more of the same. After an opening victory in the first game of the second set, Di Lorenzo lost the second game after falling behind 40-15 when Carter was serving. But DiLorenzo bounced back in a strong way, scoring four straight points, including two aces to finish the match and shutout Carter.The next two games in the set went to deuce points, but Di Lorenzo won each of them. She then claimed a victory over Carter in what would prove to be Carter’s final serving game of the set after Di Lorenzo went up 40-30.The final game of the match followed suit with the dominant performance Di Lorenzo displayed all match. Though she lost the first point of the game, she won each of the next four points and claimed the title.At the end of the game, the statistics reflected an overwhelming victory for Di Lorenzo. She won 58 percent of the points played, including five out of eight break points she played in (62 percent). She was also able to hold off her opponent in all breakpoint situations, saving the game all four times she was down 30-40. read more

Gator Bowl ticket sales continue to disappoint

Ticket sales for the 2012 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl have improved for Ohio State, but don’t expect the university to exhaust its supply or make much more progress between now and game day. OSU might not even exceed the number of tickets sold by Big Ten rival Michigan for the 2011 Gator Bowl.  Brett Scarbrough, OSU’s senior director of ticketing, confirmed to The Lantern Thursday that the university has sold 7,500 of the 12,750 tickets it was allotted for the Buckeyes’ Jan. 2 bowl game against the Florida Gators in Jacksonville, Fla. As of Dec. 14, 6,500 tickets had been sold. The university will absorb the cost of any of the 5,250 remaining tickets, should they remain unsold. Ticket prices range from $60-$125. Scarbrough said he’s optimistic that there will be a good atmosphere when the Buckeyes take the field at Everbank Field, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. He isn’t optimistic many more tickets will be sold, though. “Not really — based on what we’ve seen over the last couple of days, we’re not expecting any big jump (in ticket sales),” he said. “It’s a little disappointing.” Scarbrough said any number of factors could be to blame for the slow ticket sales. “It’s the first time we’re not in a Bowl Championship Series bowl (since the 2004 season),” he said. “The economy could be a part of it. The fact that classes (at OSU) start the next day.” Michigan played Mississippi State in the 2011 Gator Bowl before a sellout crowd of 77,497. The Wolverines lost to the Bulldogs, 54-14. David Ablauf, Michigan’s associate athletic director, said that while he did not have a precise figure for ticket sales for the 2011 bowl game, he believes Wolverines fans purchased more tickets than members of Buckeye Nation have to this point.  “We think the number was 8,000 tickets sold,” Ablauf said.  Scarbrough said OSU football would not lack support when the 2012 installment of the Gator Bowl finally arrives on Jan. 2. “We sold through a good, fair amount of tickets,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of Buckeyes there to support the team.” The Buckeyes and Gators will kickoff at 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Tickets for the game can be purchased at ohiostatebuckeyes.com read more

With Big Ten championships looming Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan preaching

With four of the top 10 teams in the nation competing in the 2013 Big Ten Championships this weekend, the road to a conference title will not be an easy one for the Ohio State wrestling team. The No. 6 Buckeyes posted a 5-3 record in Big Ten play this season, earning victories against Michigan, No. 14 Illinois, No. 23 Wisconsin, Indiana and No. 16 Northwestern while suffering losses to three higher-ranked opponents – No. 1 Penn State, No. 2 Minnesota and No. 4 Iowa. They did not face No. 12 Nebraska, Michigan State or Purdue. “We have to perform to our best,” said 141-pound sophomore Hunter Stieber. “The Big Ten is stacked with five of the top teams in the nation. It’s a smaller bracket so there’s going to be more of a chance for one team maybe than others. It’s going to be tough.” OSU is one of only four teams to have a seeded wrestler in each weight class. Six Buckeyes were voted in by the conference’s coaches as top five preliminary seeds for the championships. Redshirt sophomore Logan Stieber (133) and his younger brother Hunter Stieber earned No. 1 pre-seeds after going undefeated in the regular season. Logan Stieber, who missed most of January with a leg injury, posted an impressive 19-0 record and will be in search of his second consecutive Big Ten title. Hunter Stieber boasted a 27-0 record and led the team with 10 major decisions. “I feel pretty good (about the tournament),” Hunter Stieber said. “It’s the end of the year so it’s exciting. This is what we’ve been training for all year. I’m ready for it. I’m excited to wrestle.” Earning No. 4 pre-seeds were redshirt junior Nick Heflin (174) and sophomore Andrew Campolattano (197). Heflin holds an overall record of 12-3 while Campolattano went 15-8. Senior Nikko Triggas (125) and sophomore Cam Tessari (149) were awarded No. 5 pre-seeds after finishing the regular season with records of 17-10 and 13-7, respectively. Rounding out the lineup for OSU are redshirt sophomore Josh Demas (157), redshirt senior C.J. Magrum (184), freshman Mark Martin (165) and freshman heavyweight Nick Tavanello who earned sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth pre-seeds, respectively. Coach Tom Ryan said that in order to have a shot at a conference championship, the team will have to improve the way it trains. “Overall, I just think it’s discipline, that’s definitely a problem for us,” Ryan said. “The discipline of rest, the discipline of warming up right, the discipline of being ready to compete at a high level. We have to do all the little things right.” Redshirt sophomore Matthew O’Hara (174) agreed that the team needs to work on some areas but feels confident that it can come out of the tournament victorious. “Conditioning has been kind of a problem for some people, so we’ll have to work on that,” O’Hara said. “We’ll have to get that under control. But we definitely have the talent, so it’s definitely in our grasp. We’ll be able to do it.” The Buckeyes’ first match is set to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill. The Big Ten Championships will conclude on Sunday. read more

Ohio State mens volleyball falls to Lewis 31

Freshman setter Christy Blough (5) sets the ball during a match against Saint Francis Feb. 9 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe struggles against the nation’s top teams continue for the Ohio State men’s volleyball team.The Buckeyes (5-6, 2-2) fell to No. 10 Lewis, 3-1, Saturday at St. John Arena in their second match of a five-match homestand. So far this season OSU is 0-6 against teams ranked in the top 15.After a 3-1 win against Saint Francis Feb. 9, OSU was unable to hold their own against Lewis, a private school in Romeoville, Ill.OSU freshman setter Christy Blough said the Flyers did a great job of controlling the game with their serves, something the Buckeyes have been trying to get better at.“To help go against that we have been working a lot more on staying aggressive with our serves,” Blough said.The serving and passing game has been an area of focus during practice and games for the Buckeyes, since they fell to Penn State 3-0 Feb. 5.“We are spending lots of time with serving and passing … While working on being more aggressive, and building our confidence as a unit in serve receive,” junior outside hitter Michael Henchy said.Against Lewis the Buckeyes struggled serving the ball, finishing with a .791 serving percentage.“I think if we can keep the pressure on from the service line we will be in good shape for upcoming matches,” redshirt-junior opposite Andrew Lutz said after the loss.The Buckeyes were expecting a very competitive match against Lewis, and that is what they got. Although OSU lost the match, the team kept it close every set and were not lacking when it came to their offense.Henchy led the Buckeyes with 11 kills. Redshirt-freshman middle blocker Driss Guessous totaled 10 kills, while Lutz finished with 11. Freshman outside hitter Miles Johnson contributed eight kills and junior middler blocker Dustan Neary chipped in five kills and three blocks.The Buckeyes are scheduled to host Grand Canyon for a pair of conference matches on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22. The matches are set for 7 p.m. both nights at St. John Arena. read more

Football JT Barrett wants one team to believe in him

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is honored on the field for Senior Day. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorINDIANAPOLIS — For four years, J.T. Barrett was the man. The Ohio State football team followed the quarterback everywhere he went and the city hung on his every word.Now as he prepares to take a shot in the NFL, everything has flipped. A crop of 15 to 20 reporters circled around the podium on which Barrett spoke, but the attention paled in comparison to the media circus three podiums away encapsulating former USC quarterback Sam Darnold, the player who led the team which Barrett beat in his final collegiate game.When asked whether if it felt weird to not be the center of attention, he took a long look over his right shoulder at the throng of journalists surrounding Darnold, then simply said, “Nah, I’m good.”He no longer must worry about the spotlight he could never seem to avoid at Ohio State.Despite setting the all-time Big Ten records for total offensive yards (12,697) and touchdown passes (104), holding 34 school records and becoming the first three-time team captain in program history, Barrett might not have a spot in the NFL. Teams have plenty of questions about his arm strength, pocket presence and ability to play in a professional offensive system.But Barrett said he does not pay much attention to draft experts or their projections. Instead, he is focused on finding a team willing to prove its belief in the quarterback by selecting him in the NFL draft.“I feel like if you’re going in the first round or you’re going in the seventh round, I think at the end of the day, that’s what you want,” Barrett said Friday at the NFL combine. “So you need one opportunity to showcase who you are as a football player and as a person. Like I said, I just need one opportunity, one team to believe in me and go show them who I am.”Given Barrett’s experience as a four-year starter, there should not be many questions about his strengths and weaknesses. Scouts and general managers can watch 44 starts and an Ohio State-record 38 wins.In those victories, Barrett often found success behind center when utilizing his vision and power in the run game, and he hopes to translate that pocket mobility to the NFL.“Strengths are being able to extend the plays, have the ability to run the ball, not just standing in the pocket like a light post,” Barrett said. “I’m going to move around, be able to make throws on the run. Elevate the game of the people around me.”Some have questioned whether he will switch positions at the professional level. Barrett said no team has asked him to play another position, saying “it’s all been about quarterback.”Instead, he has been working at quarterback in Orlando, Florida, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to prepare for the combine and the draft. Barrett has worked heavily to increase his footwork and timing.“When you look at great you look at great throws, you first starting off with footwork,” he said. “You talk about somebody’s arm, but at first, you have to have your feet in place to make those throws, so I’m working on that constantly.”Barrett will be the latest in a long line of former Ohio State quarterbacks — including recent  Buckeye signal-callers Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller and Troy Smith — to head to the NFL. He said he talks to Jones every couple days and saw Miller once in Columbus. Barrett said the NFL veterans told him to be himself and to enjoy the process rather than let it stress him out. That becomes key if Barrett slides further than he anticipates.Less stress comes with being a low-round pick. But with that comes a greater doubt.This year, though, Barrett dealt with hordes of skeptics who favored Dwayne Haskins replacing him. He has faced these questions many times before. They don’t bother him.“How much faith do I have in myself? Uh, I have have some confidence,” Barrett said with a smile. “I think, I don’t know, I’m not the type to voice it. I want to showcase it on the field. So with that, that’s what I plan to do. I think I did a good job preparing and trying to be ready for this moment. I have confidence in myself.”Barrett’s physical tools might never match those of the quarterback who he peeked at over his right shoulder, but that confidence and his leadership have a chance to place him on an NFL 53-man roster. read more

Football Haskins remains on the outside looking in after Heisman Trophy ceremony

Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) calls out a play in the first half of the game against Purdue on Oct. 20. Ohio State lost 49-20. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorDwayne Haskins seemed to do enough to win the Heisman Trophy. Ohio State’s redshirt sophomore quarterback led the country with 4,580 passing yards and 47 passing touchdowns. He was one of six players in college football to complete more than 70 percent of his pass attempts, and averaged 352.3 passing yards per game, No. 2 in the country. This was enough to earn him a trip to New York City as one of three Heisman finalists alongside Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma redshirt junior quarterback Kyler Murray. But without a trip to the College Football Playoff in his future, Haskins will leave New York City without a trophy to bring home. Murray earned Oklahoma’s second straight Heisman Trophy after Baker Mayfield won it in 2017. Murray and Mayfield are the first duo from the same school to win in back-to-back seasons since 1974 and 1975 when Ohio State running back Archie Griffin won two straight Heisman trophies. Even with a statistical lead in many categories compared to both Murray and Tagovailoa, there was always one thing that kept Haskins on the outside looking in: the 49-20 loss to Purdue. This loss cost Ohio State its chance at a national championship, keeping the Buckeyes at No. 6 in the final College Football Playoff rankings despite a dominant win against then-No. 4 Michigan and a decisive win against then-No. 21 Northwestern to secure their second consecutive Big Ten title. But as Ohio State left the field in West Lafayette, Indiana on Oct. 20, as his teammates walked to the locker room with their heads down after suffering their first loss of the season, Haskins realized he could not lead the offense by himself any longer. “I never thought I would have to throw 72 times to win the game,” Haskins said after the loss to Purdue. “But you gotta do what you gotta do to win and this ended today.”Haskins did everything he could to succeed in that game, completing 49 passes, 15 more completions than he had had in any other game this season, breaking a school record, for 470 yards, which at the time was also a school record. He broke his own record five games later with 499 yards against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship. Identity for the Ohio State offense was a struggle for this team all season. Coming off a season with the No. 1 running game in the Big Ten and with both sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior Mike Weber returning, the expectation coming in was the run-heavy, pass-when-needed offense would return. But this did not match Haskins’ style, throwing for more than 400 yards in three straight weeks against Indiana and Minnesota before breaking the passing yards record against the Boilermakers. The Haskins-run offense really did not take shape until the end of the season, throwing for 895 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final two games of the season, what many considered as the coming out party for a quarterback who was fighting for a starting job back in April. Ohio State and Haskins are in a similar situation. The Purdue loss defined the season for both, keeping the Buckeyes out of both the Orange and the Cotton Bowl. The Purdue loss kept Haskins away from earning Ohio State’s first Heisman winner since Troy Smith in 2006, a year in which he threw for 2,542 passing yards with 30 touchdowns, numbers which Haskins surpassed easily. The Buckeyes were 12-0 when Smith was picked as the Heisman winner before losing to Florida in the National Championship.In recent years, there seems to be a game that defines the season for Ohio State, a single game that the Buckeyes wish they could have back. As Ohio State prepares for the Rose Bowl and Haskins leaves New York empty handed, something that a better performance from Ohio State in its one loss this season could have prevented. read more

Foreign aid budget should be used to plug social care bill as

first_imgPhilip Davies, the MP for Shipley, said: “The first priority for the Government should be to look after the old, vulnerable and disabled people in our country.”We’ve got an absolutely desperate need and people in this country are really suffering because of the lack of social care. “Its unjustifiable to ask people to pay more tax while we are giving money away in overseas aid, particularly when so much of it gets wasted. I believe its an absolute scandal and charity should begin at home.”His colleague Peter Bone added: “Most people would think it was better to spend money in this country looking after the frail and elderly. “I would think 85 per cent of the nation would support taking money from the foreign aid budget and using it for social care. I think it is ludicrous to say we can’t pay the money when we can find lots of money going on overseas projects the EU determines.” Philip Hammond The UK’s foreign aid budget is over £12billion and the Government expects to raise around £382million through the social care precept added to council tax bills in 2016/17.But Downing Street raised concerns on Monday that some councils are not doing enough to deliver social care efficiently and warned money is not the only answer.A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said that while many councils are providing good social care services within existing budgets, many are failing.  But MPs and campaigners are warning that any additional costs on families are unfair and have called on the Government to invest more money into social care without forcing tax payers to stump up over £120 more.  Its unjustifiable to ask people to pay more tax while we are giving money away in overseas aid, particularly when so much of it gets wastedPhilip Davies, MP for Shipley The worst 10 per cent of councils take 20 times longer to discharge patients from hospital into care than the top 10 per cent and warned that over half of all so-called delayed discharges are in just 20 local authorities, she said.The spokeswoman added: “This isn’t just about funding, it is about how we deliver an effective and efficient social care system.”We do think there is a significant variation in how well councils manage social care services.”Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, denied reports that he was pushing for a rise in the social care precept in his Autumn Statement.He said that the Government is listening to the “cacophony” of concerns raised by local authorities about care funding.He said: “We recognise that the substantial increase in funding that social care will receive over this Parliament is back-loaded. We recognise local authorities are challenged to deal with that profile.”It is also clear that money alone is not the issue. It’s about effective co-operation and collaboration between the NHS and social services.” George Osborne introduced the preceptCredit:Ben Stansall /AFP / Getty I think it is ludicrous to say we can’t pay the money when we can find lots of money going on overseas projects the EU determinesPeter Bone, MPcenter_img Philip Hammond denied that he pushed for a rise in the social care precept in the Autumn StatementCredit:Jane Barlow /PA Millions of people could face council tax rises of almost £80 next year to help plug the social care gap, prompting growing calls by Conservative MPs for the foreign aid budget to be spent on pensioners in the UK instead. The Telegraph understands that ministers are working on plans to allow local councils in England to collect two bumper social care payments rather than spread the tax hikes evenly over the next three years. Councils are currently allowed to raise bills by up to 1.99 per cent to cover the cost of general services and up to 2 per cent each year to pay for social care under a new precept introduced by George Osborne.  But a new plan to deliver an immediate cash injection could allow councils to collect the six per cent increase due between now and 2020 over two years, as long as they do not collect further payments in the third year. It means some families could be forced to pay five per cent extra next year, around £76 on the average band D property, and the same again in 2018/19 then just two per cent extra in the following years. Ministers are understood to support the plan as a short-term fix because it is cost-neutral over the long term.Some councils may choose not to increase the tax by as much as five per cent as it is up to them whether to charge extra, although most have said they plan to. On average, bills have risen by around three per cent in recent years.  And there are fears that areas which have the greatest need for extra social care funding will not be able to raise extra money through tax hikes because many local residents are exempt from paying or pay only a small percentage, leading to a postcode lottery.Paul Burstow, the former Care Minister, said the plan to allow councils to hike the precept in the short term was not only a “sticking plaster” at best but would also make matters worse for the social care sector in the long term. “It will entrench disadvantage,” he said.It came as Conservative MPs demanded Ministers look again at the foreign aid budget and consider spending some of the money in the UK on caring for older people. George Osborne Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Prince Charles warns of return to the dark days of the 1930s

first_img“That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is to me beyond all belief. We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.”The Prince is said to have been deeply affected by a report released last month by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which warned that Islamic extremists were involved in “systematic attempts to annihilate” Christians and other groups.He told listeners: “The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East.”In an appeal to both Muslims and Christians, the Prince spoke of how Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed had both been forced to leave their homes because of religious persecution. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The rise of populist groups has “deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s”, the Prince of Wales said, as he warned of growing religious persecution across the world.Appearing on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day slot, the Prince spoke of “increasingly aggressive” attitudes towards refugees fleeing Islamic State, and asked listeners to remember that Jesus had once been forced to escape religious persecution.Aides to the Prince were quick to stress that the strongly-worded address, which he is understood to have written himself, was not aimed at any particular politician or group. He said: “Normally at Christmas we think of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder though if this year we might remember how the story of the Nativity unfolds, with the fleeing of the Holy Family to escape violent persecution.“And we might also remember that when the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina he did so because he too was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship.”Whichever religious path we follow the destination is the same: to value and respect the other person; accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.”The Prince has now delivered Thought for the Day on three occasions, having last filled the Radio 4 slot in January 2000, to mark the start of the new millennium.He also delivered the daily address in May 1995,to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day. But his intervention comes after Donald Trump, the newly-elected US president, called for a ban on immigration from Muslim countries, while police have recorded a spike in race and religious hate crimes after the Brexit vote.In unusually stark language, the Prince warned that people were “struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect” of religious persecution by Islamic extremists in war-torn Syria and Iraq, which has led to millions fleeing their homes.He said: “The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.“All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s. I was born in 1948 just after the end of world war two in which my parents’ generation had fought and died in a battle against intolerance monstrous extremism and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.last_img read more

Factcheck Tony Blairs imperfect Brexit claims

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Claim 4: Sterling fall highlights future economic difficultiesMr Blair said the pound’s decline in value was proof that “we are going to be poorer”. The latest figures suggest it has been great news for UK exporters, particularly for those who want to trade outside of Europe.The Office for National Statistics noted that exports of goods rose by £2.1bn to £26.8bn in October, the highest level since records began, while exports to non-EU countries jumped to a record £14.4bn.Claim 5: Getting a deal will take yearsThe Brexit negotiations “could take years”, Mr Blair estimated. Given that Britain will have two years to strike a deal with the EU after triggering Article 50, he is correct. Claim 6: The Brexit vote was not about laws, but immigration“No one would seriously argue that the European Court of Justice alone provides a reason for leaving Europe,” Mr Blair said. “Immigration is the issue.” That is not what a post-referendum poll by Lord Ashcroft of over 12,000 people found. The top reason Leave voters gave for backing Brexit was not immigration, but because “decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”.Claim 7: Brexit risks breaking up the UKIndependence for Scotland, Mr Blair said, is “back on the table” but “much more credible” due to the Brexit process. The Scottish people disagree, as every poll since Theresa May entered Downing Street has found that they would vote to reject it.Claim 8: Philip Hammond said leaving the Single Market would be ‘catastrophic’The Chancellor was not speaking about ending Britain’s membership of the Single Market, which is the Government’s plan, but about the risk of losing “access” to it. The US, China, Japan and South Korea aren’t members, yet have little trouble trading with the EU.Claim 9: The people do not want a second referendumMr Blair started out by saying “right now there is no widespread appetite to re-think”.On this he is right, as the latest polls show that the British people remain keen to get on with Brexit.center_img The British people voted to leave the European Union due to “imperfect knowledge”, according to Tony Blair, but the former Prime Minister made several imperfect claims of his own.Claim 1: Britain benefits from EU enlargement.Mr Blair called EU enlargement one of the “great achievements of British diplomacy of the last decades”. But his failure to impose controls on migrants – as most EU states did – meant that migration from Eastern Europe ballooned.Claim 2: Britain is worried about non-EU migration, not EU migration.“For many people, the core immigration question… is immigration from non-European countries,” according to Mr Blair. In fact, Britons are concerned about EU and non-EU immigration alike, as The Migration Observatory at Oxford University has noted.Claim 3: Britain gains from being in the single marketThe “enormous benefit” Britain gets as part of the single market includes “billions of pounds of wealth, hundreds of thousands of jobs and major investment opportunities”, Mr Blair said.His claim is based on estimates of how many jobs depend on Britain’s trade with the EU, not on its membership of the single market. One of the academics behind this research previously told the Telegraph that it would be “a false perspective” to suggest these jobs would disappear after Brexit.Also, the European Commission admitted in 2007 that the volume of foreign direct investment had been on the decline for years as the market was “losing its attractiveness”.last_img read more

Crufts competitors are pulling their dogs leads too tight RSPCA warn as

first_imgThe RSPCA have an opportunity during Crufts to make hay, they do it every year, it is very boring.Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary She said: “We are talking about people’s much-loved pets, they are not going to be nasty to them. But they do want to get the best out of them.“If we had seen harsh handling, as has happened in the past, we deal with it immediately. We are a big organisation and a worldwide dog show with a massive reputation to protect. No way would we allow dogs to be harmed.” And the winner is: Afterglow Miami Ink – Crufts 2017 Best in Show (he’s an American Cocker Spaniel) Hearing the noise the dog raises its head and pricks up its ears. While some claim the technique simply adds excitement and atmosphere to dog shows, animal-behaviour experts say it leaves the dogs stressed and anxious.Ms Richards, who has been monitoring Crufts coverage for the past four years, said: “When we’ve seen it, it’s when dogs are shown on judging table or on the floor. “The leads are held tightly on their necks but right at the top of their neck behind their ears, to show off the length of the dog’s neck or an aspect of a dog’s neck.”She is it is “really disappointing” that such superficial displays are “held above a dog’s welfare”.“It seems to be something we have noticed a lot this year. It has the potential to be quite uncomfortable, it could cause them pain. It is not necessary to cause a dog discomfort in order to show them.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A border collie is judge on the final day of the Crufts Dog Show at the NEC Arena on March 12, 2017 Veteran handler Lynne Cousins, 71, retired local government officer from Exeter said: “A tight lead pulls the head up and may give a handler with a bit of a zany dog more control. But if your dog is obedient you shouldn’t need to do.”The Kennel Club’s regulations on handling of dogs at shows state that “some breeds are shown with a tighter lead as a matter of constraint or to emphasise the outline of the dog’s neck, which does not cause the dog distress. “However, there have been instances where dogs have been moved around the ring in a manner which could potentially cause distress to the dog.”They say it is not acceptable to handle dog in such a manner that “which causes its feet not to touch the ground when on the move”, as this would constitute “harsh handling”. The criticism of lead-pulling provoked a furious response from Caroline Kisko, the Kennel Club Secretary who claimed the RSPCA were being “boring” and “niggling away” and “silly, non-issues”. Lisa Richards, the RSPCA’s dog welfare expert and senior scientific officer, said that the issue of handlers pulling hard on their dogs’ leads appeared to be more prevalent this year.She added that the Kennel Club’s crack-down on double handling may have been a contributing factor, as breeders looked for other ways to impress judges and gain competitive edge. The controversial practise of double handling involves a second trainer located incognito among the show’s spectators who attracts the dog’s attention using a squeaky toy, a whistle or their own voice. The issue divided opinion among handlers at Crufts. Lesley White, 60, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk told The Daily Telegraph: “Some people hold the lead high and tight to pull up the head to show off the dog but it’s wrong to tarnish us all with that comment. Not all of us do it.”Geraldine McEntee, 71, who won best puppy dog with her Rough Collie Spike, added: “It may look to the spectator the lead is being held too tightly by some handlers but we don’t do that with our breed. You hold the lead high with bait in hand, a piece of meat or whatever treat, but it’s not being yanked or held too tightly.”   Poodle getting into position before the judge arrives to inspect him Crufts Dog Show Credit: Sandra Mailer/REX/Shutterstock Dog owners with their dogs in competition on the first day of Crufts, the world’s largest dog showCredit:London News Pictures Ltd Dog owners with their dogs in competition on the first day of Crufts, the world's largest dog show And the winner is: Afterglow Miami Ink - Crufts 2017 Best in Show (he's an American Cocker Spaniel) Poodle getting into position before the judge arrives to inspect him Crufts Dog Show  A border collie is judge on the final day of the Crufts Dog Show at the NEC Arena on March 12, 2017Credit: Getty Images In the refined world of pedigree dog-showing, the graceful curve of a dog’s neck could be the all-important difference between winning praise and accolades from judges, or coming home empty handed.A well-known method of improving a canine’s posture is to pull firmly on the lead, encouraging the dog raise its head. But now a row has broken out over the practise after the RSPCA accused handlers of holding leads too tightly, causing the dogs distress and risking physical harm.It comes after the Kennel Club cracked down on “double handling” on animal welfare grounds towards the end of last year. Ms Kisko said of the RSPCA: “They have an opportunity during Crufts to make hay, they do it every year, it is very boring.“We have far, far bigger more important issues that we and the rest of the dog world are looking at. The RSPCA are niggling away and worrying about silly points that are non-issues. I would far rather they concentrated on actual animal cruelty like puppy farming”Ms Kisko denied that there was any evidence of harsh handling on Saturday night but conceded that there “certainly a few people that had their leads tighter than would be ideal.”last_img read more

British response to Hurricane Irma found wanting senior MPs say as Royal

first_imgSoldiers board a Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, before they are flown to help out in the areas affected by Hurricane Irma as winds of up to 175mph left death and destruction in the Atlantic. Once arrived at the British Virgin Islands, a Royal Navy helicopter had found “devastation”.One source said: “The islands haven’t escaped and it’s pretty grim out there.”A runway on the islands had been closed and engineers were on Friday working to reopen it to allow more aid in.More transport aircraft are expected to fly from the UK to the Caribbean over the weekend, with a C-17 transporter ferrying two Puma helicopters to the area.Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said the UK was “determined to get as much help as possible” to those affected. UK Armed Forces disaster relief operation in Anguilla. Pictured is a Royal Navy Wildcat from 815 NAS (Naval Air Squadron) lifting off from the flight deck of RFA Mounts Bay with vital stores for Sandy Bay Village beach, Anguilla Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Naval sources said RFA Mounts Bay had arrived at the British Virgin Islands after dropping off aid at Anguilla, where engineers had also repaired a police station and the only hospital.Troops of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment put a new roof on the pre-natal facilities just in time for a local woman to give birth. HMS Ocean, which is due to be retired next year, has been redirected from the Mediterranean to sail across the Atlantic after picking up Chinook helicopters at Gibraltar to join the relief effort. He said: “Mounts Bay is there and has been helping the people of Anguilla, getting emergency supplies ashore, and she’s now moving on to the British Virgin Islands to assist there and we will be sending further planes today, transporting engineers and medics and emergency shelter, to get help where it’s needed.” Britain’s response to Hurricane Irma has been “found wanting” and many British territories in the Caribbean are in “grave need”, senior MPs have warned.Tom Tugendhat, a Tory MP and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Stephen Twigg, a Labour MP and chairman of the International Development Committee, warned that the UK’s response “requires improvement”. In a letter to Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, they say that the arrival of HMS Ocean in a fortnight’s time will be “later than any of us would have wished”.They say in the letter: “The devastation caused by Hurricane Irma has been greater than expected. It has left thousands without shelter, power, and the supplies needed to survive. It has also seen many responses tested, and some found wanting.”We are concerned that many in the UK’s overseas territories in the Caribbean are still in grave need.  Responding to accusations of a slow British response, he said: “We had a ship in the region ready to help with a helicopter, ready to provide help where needed, and we’re backing that up and are determined to get as much help as possible to the people of those islands.” On Friday the Royal Navy arrived at the British Virgin Islands to scenes of devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma.The support ship RFA Mounts Bay arrived off the British overseas territory as hundreds of troops were due to begin arriving in the Caribbean to bolster relief efforts.Transport aircraft full of Royal Marines, engineers, medics and logistics experts left RAF Brize Norton as the Government fought accusations it had done too little to help the territories.The Government announced a military task group earlier this week to reinforce RFA Mounts Bay after its emergency response was criticised as “pathetic” compared to French and Dutch efforts in the region.Ms Patel, the Development Secretary, denied Britain had been caught under prepared by the biggest storm to hit the region in decades.She said: “We’ve had the vessel out there and that vessel has been equipped with the right people and the right skills and the right equipment and the reality is of course, it’s been a difficult environment to get into because of the scale of the hurricane and the extent to which the devastation has hit the countries as well.” A Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter ferrying emergencies supplies ashore to AnguillaCredit: Royal Navy “In Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Turks and Caicos, our response still requires improvement and the arrival of HMS Ocean in two weeks’ time will be later than any of us would wish.”Experts and many in the area have been critical of the overall level of relief currently on offer as well as the apparent lack of forward-thinking once the storm’s route to Florida became more than just a possibility.” Troops board an RAF C-17 at Brize Norton en route to areas hit by Hurricane Irma’s 175mph windsCredit: Andrew Matthews/PAlast_img read more

Fears of a Spring crime wave as fatal stabbings soar

first_imgThe Met Police’s Deputy Commissioner, Sir Craig Mackey Theresa May, former Home SecretaryCredit:Paul Ellis/PA The Met Police’s Deputy Commissioner, Sir Craig MackeyCredit:Martin Rickett/PA Sir Mike Penning, a former Conservative police minister and MP for Hemel Hempstead, said: “Rising crime is a real threat to the government’s credibility. I know from my own constituency that housing and education are real concerns, but what many people are most worried about is crime and feeling safe in their communities.”Figures he obtained from the House of Commons library show that a 21 per cent drop in police stop and searches in 2016/17 compared to the previous year coincided with a 20 per cent increase in police reported knife offences. Last year there were 303,845 stop and searches carried out, compared to 383,595 the previous year. Last year also saw 34,700 recorded knife crimes, compared to 28,877 in 2015/16. Knife crime is often associated with inner London gangs, but experts fear the problem is far wider spread across the country New Scotland Yard sign Sir Mike Penning, former police ministerCredit:Mark Makela Knife crime is often associated with inner London gangs, but experts fear the problem is far wider spread across the countryCredit: Katie Collins/PA Theresa May, former Home Secretarycenter_img New Scotland Yard signCredit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Sir Mike Penning, former police minister Meanwhile, Jermaine Lawlor, a reformed gang member who now works as a youth mentor, claimed street crime often has a “pattern” of seasonal behaviour.“Come Spring and Summer people are out and about more, so the likelihood of confrontation increases because you’re more likely to see a member of an opposing gang on your territory,” Mr Lawlor, 26, said. “It’s only going to get worse. Unfortunately, 2018 may well be the bloodiest year yet.”The prospect of a spike in violent crime is worrying many Conservative politicians, who fear the Tories are losing their reputation as the party of law and order. Peter Kirkham, a retired Met Police Detective Chief Inspector who appeared in the broadcast, warned that support for the Conservatives among rank and file officers was falling.“The Tories have become the party of crime and disorder. I think support for Conservatives among police has dropped from, say, 75 per cent to below 50 per cent, and could be as low as 25 per cent.”A Home Office spokesperson said: “Every death from knife crime is a tragedy and this Government will take action and do everything it can to break the deadly cycle.“The Home Secretary has been clear that stop and search is a vital policing tool and officers will always have the Government’s full support to use these powers properly – it a targeted and intelligence-led way.“We have also consulted on new laws on offensive and dangerous weapons and our new Serious Violence Strategy, to be published this Spring, will have early intervention at its heart and will challenge behaviour among some young people who view knife possession as normal and necessary.” Britain is facing the prospect of a Spring crime wave with anti-knife campaigners warning that 2018 could become the bloodiest year yet as the number of fatal stabbings soars.The latest figures show that in January and February, London alone saw 16 fatal knife attacks, many of them believed connected to gangs. In total, 80 people were stabbed to death in the capital last year.But campaigners fear the menace of knife crime is destined to get worse as warmer and longer days often bring a rise in street crime.Patrick Green, of the Ben Kinsella Trust said the latest statistics were “ominous”.“By the end of February, a total of five teenagers lost their lives to knife crime in London, compared to two for the same period last year,” he said.“Our fear is that as days get longer we will see an exponential increase in violent crime. Crime data shows that the arrival of Spring brings with it an unwelcome increase in offending.”Danny O’Brien, who founded Anti-Knife UK and compiles knife crime data, said: “We are two months in to 2018 and across the UK we have had 50 fatal stabbings. We are seeing this kind of crime throughout the country, including in villages where you would not expect such things.”He said the latest figures are particularly concerning because the colder winter months normally see fewer such crimes, adding “come March and April things tend to pick up.” In 2014, then Home Secretary, Theresa May, limited the powers of officers to stop and search suspects amid fears the powers were not being used legally.“Knife crime is a particular problem,” Sir Mike said. “Feral youngsters are rampaging around our streets because they know they are not going to be stopped and searched. We have to move this up the political agenda.”He insisted stop and search remains the “best weapon” in the fight against knife crime, adding: “The boys on the beat tell me that unless they can physically see a weapon they aren’t allowed to do a stop and search. That was not what the Prime Minister intended. She wanted us to stop harassing young black and ethnic men, but the consequences are that the rules have been tightened so far that we aren’t stopping and searching anyone.”Labour recently released a party political broadcast highlighting concerns that police cuts have led to the loss of 21,000 serving officers. The programme featured three retired police officers warning of the impact of such cuts. The Met Police’s Deputy Commissioner, Sir Craig Mackey, said tackling knife crime remained a “number on priority” and urged the local community to help eradicate the problem.“We need to find out why some young people think it is acceptable to carry knives, and this is where community organisations and local initiatives, charities, schools and educators, youth workers and families all have an important role to play in changing this mindset.””We can all do more to protect young people, and I would urge anybody who has information about those engaged in violent crime to speak to police. Your call could help save a life.”last_img read more

Father who blamed his son for murder he committed jailed for at

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Lee Holt, who died in hospital from a single wound to the chest Mr Holt, with his partner, Kate Phelan, 34, and her 15-year-old son, Wesley Metcalfe, went to confront Thomas over an ongoing dispute between the two schoolboys.Witnesses said Ms Phelan banged on the front windows and Mr Holt kicked the front door as they shouted for the Moseleys to come out. A man who pressured his 14-year-old son to take the blame for a murder he committed has been jailed for at least 26 years.Tree surgeon Matthew Moseley, 50, shot Lee Holt, 32, dead before he handed the firearm to son Thomas and told him to tell police he was the one who pulled the trigger outside their home near Accrington, Lancashire, last October.Thomas made the fake confession and his father stayed silent as the teenager was arrested and led away in handcuffs last October.The teenager later changed his account of the incident in Oswaldtwistle and told police that his father was in fact the shooter but the defendant maintained his innocence.Last week, Moseley was found guilty of murder by a jury at Preston Crown Court following a three-week trial. On Tuesday, at the same court, he was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum term of 26 years. The judge added: “From that moment on, you falsely sought to blame your son for the shooting.”How any father could do that to their son is difficult enough to comprehend but what is truly incomprehensible is the cynical way in which you sought to manipulate and pressurise your son into accepting responsibility for the shooting and death of Lee Holt.”You allowed your son to be arrested and questioned on suspicion of murder when all along you knew you had shot Lee Holt.”Your continual denial of guilt resulted in him having to give evidence against his own father and members of Lee Holt’s family having to relive the terrible events of the night in question.” What is truly incomprehensible is the cynical way in which you sought to manipulate, and pressurise, your son into accepting responsibilityMr Justice Bryan Lee Holt died in hospital from a single wound to the chestCredit:Lancashire Constabulary  Matthew Moseley opened the front door after he had loaded a semi-automatic Beretta shotgun, and blasted Mr Holt once in the chest from up to 10ft (3m) away.Passing sentence, Mr Justice Bryan told the defendant: “There was no possible justification for your actions, nor was there any suggestion that you were acting in self-defence.”But matters did not stop there. Far from unloading the gun and providing first aid to your victim, you passed the shotgun to your 14-year-old son, Thomas – itself an irresponsible act in the context of an ongoing volatile situation.” read more

Nicola Sturgeon Theresa May has to concede that Britain must remain in

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of talking down the importance of the UK market after she claimed Theresa May would have to concede “sooner or later” that Britain must remain in a customs union with the EU.She said it was the “only credible” option after Brexit, adding that the Prime Minister was only listening to “mad Brexiteers” – naming Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, and the Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.The First Minister claimed the UK Government’s position of pulling out of the single market and the customs union was “unsustainable”.She was speaking in Brussels after meeting Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, on a trip her political opponents claimed was about “weaponising” Britain’s departure from the EU to help her push for another independence referendum.Ms Sturgeon said: “It is important for Scotland to trade freely across the UK. It’s vital for the rest of the UK to trade freely with Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon met the chief EU negotiator for Brexit in BrusselsCredit:AFP “But it’s really important for Scotland also to continue to be able to trade freely within the single market. The single market is eight times the size of the UK market, so we shouldn’t have to be in a position where we are having to choose one or the other.” Annie Wells, the Scottish Conservative MSP, said her comments on the single market were “plainly misleading” as the SNP government’s own figures showed the “UK single market” was four times more important to Scotland than the EU. In the audience event with the website Politico, she also argued a customs union was important to prevent the return to a hard border in Northern Ireland, adding that without similar arrangements for Scotland it could be left at a “competitive disadvantage”.She told BBC Scotland the “clock is ticking” and said the longer it took for the UK to reach a sensible position, the greater the risk of a “no deal” outcome, which would be in “absolutely nobody’s interest”.Asked whether she thought there would be sufficient clarity on Brexit by the autumn to make a call on indyref2, she said: “Clearly, there are lots of issues that have to be resolved between now and then, but I don’t hear anything from the UK Government or indeed from the EU side of this negotiation that is moving away from there being a fairly detailed political statement about the future relationship in the autumn. So that remains my working assumption.”She said she would give her view on what she thought the “correct thing is to do at that stage”. She also said that if Mrs May refused to support a referendum, as she did last year, she would “confront” the issue when it arose. She also criticised the First Minister for claiming the independence referendum in 2014 was a more pleasant experience than the Brexit vote.Ms Wells said this was a “fantasy analysis”, adding: “The behaviour throughout that campaign, and since, from some of her most fervent supporters was appalling, and the SNP would do well to confront that.”The Tories also said the First Minister was distancing herself from some of the key findings of the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission report – on the economy of an independent Scotland – which was published on Friday.Ms Sturgeon described proposals for a separate Scotland keeping the pound informally as “recommendations” rather than policy.Meanwhile, Jim Fairlie, a former SNP deputy leader, and George Kerevan, a former MP, both attacked its findings.Mr Fairlie said the policy meant a second referendum would be lost before it started, while Mr Kerevan said it had let down the SNP’s working-class base. nicola sturgeon Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

British soldier taking part in DDay celebrations drowns in France

A serving British soldier set to take part in the D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations in Normandy has died, the army has confirmed.Lance Corporal Darren Jones, 30, of the Royal Engineers, drowned in a canal at Bénouville near the historic Pegasus bridge, the first site to be liberated by the allies on June 6, 1944.”It is with sadness that we must confirm the death of a service person in France. Our thoughts are with their family at this difficult time,” a British army spokesperson said.   Fire-fighters pulled LCpl Jones’ body of the water early on Sunday morning and he was declared dead at the scene, according to French media reports.   French police are investigating the incident and are said not to be looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.  A post-mortem is yet to be carried out. Jones reportedly went missing on Saturday night after an evening out near the canal de Caen with other soldiers, who alerted the emergency services when they lost sight of him. Many heads of state, including President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Prince Charles along with 30 000 people, including 500 WWII veterans, are expected  o attend the ceremonies in France marking D-day.On June 6, 1944 over 150,000 allies landed in Normandy in a massive operation which was crucial in the liberation of western Europe from Nazi rule. Around 5,000 allied and French soldiers were killed that day.  The Bénouville canal bridge near where Jones is thought to have drowned, has a particular resonance for the British.   Early morning on June 6, hours before the first wave of allied boats arrived on the Normandy shore, the 6th Airborne Division troops captured the bridge along with the Rainville bridge over the Orne river. The mission was critical in blocking a Nazi counterattack on allied forces landing on Sword beach. The Royal Engineer was stationed at a military camp at Rainville near Caen along with thousands of British soldiers to participate in the official D-Day commemorations set to kick off in France this week.   Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

PM Nagamootoo urges journalists to report accurately on current situation

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Related”Retrograde and intolerable” – GPA concerned about Gov’t stance on State mediaSeptember 1, 2015In “Politics”Prime Minister’s Office to approve all headlines in Chronicle NewspaperAugust 26, 2015In “Politics”Acts of domestic terrorism must be condemned – PM NagamootooJune 8, 2016In “Crime” Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo today (Monday), at the conclusion of the National Security Meeting at Camp Ayanganna, urged journalists to report accurate and factual information relating to the current situation in the country.Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo “People need the information. It is a moment of anxiety and before you (media operatives) allow the rumours to take root, you need to fill the space with accurate and factual reports. It is very important in situations like this,” the Prime Minister was quoted in a government release as saying.Additionally, Prime Minister Nagamootoo commended government media operatives, particularly for the coverage and information that was provided last evening to the public as events unfolded at the Georgetown Prison, the release added. read more

Ponting slams Kohli boos as disgraceful

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedAustralia and India play down Kohli v Paine banterDecember 17, 2018In “latest news”Virat Kohli achieves double honour as Wisden 2019 is publishedApril 10, 2019In “latest news”How Virat Kohli rules T20 cricketMay 6, 2016In “Sports” Virat Kohli wore colours fitting of the Pink-day Test (Getty Images)Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has slammed the reaction Virat Kohli got from the Sydney crowd as “disgraceful”. Kohli walked out to a mix of cheers and loud boos from the SCG crowd on Thursday. He was subject of “Kohli is a w***er” chants in Melbourne, and was booed in Perth.“If it was booing then it’s absolutely disgraceful,” Ponting said on Seven. “I said that in the Perth Test as well. Show some respect.”Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts wasn’t too happy with it either: “I don’t like seeing that,” he told SEN Radio. “We talk about making Australians proud, we talk about the fact our goal is to win but our non negotiable expectation is to compete with honour and I’d urge our fans to support the game with honour. It’s bigger than all of us, respect our visitors, give them the best possible experience of our country, hopefully beat them on the field, but in all seriousness we need to go about this with respect whether we are a player, administrator, fan, broadcaster. Respect is a really core foundation of the game and hopefully we can see that evident.”Commentator Tim Lane was more scathing of the crowd. “I must say I thought the reception he was given as he came out was poor and it was graceless in that he is the captain of a visiting team,” Lane said on Macquarie Sports Radio. “To welcome a visiting captain like that … is classless. He has not done anything wrong, he has just been too good…“We should be better than that as a nation. I didn’t like it. All Kohli has been guilty of is leading his country in Australia and winning. If the people don’t like it, they should at least recognise it and applaud it.”Kohli has always polarised opinion, in Australia more than any country. On his first tour of the country, Kohli was photographed flipping the bird to someone in the crowd, which led to an ICC sanction. On his last tour of the country, he won over the crowds with four centuries and as co-captain of a side that gracefully made last-minute adjustments to schedules in the wake of Phillip Hughes’ tragic death. Even in this Test, Kohli was so supportive of the Glenn McGrath foundation that he wore pink gloves; his bat had a pink grip on to go with the pink MRF sticker as well.Kohli, though, has also been mindful of the crowds in Australia. In the lead-up to the Test, he spoke of how much they get behind the home team. “It’s not only the team you are playing against, it’s the whole nation because they get behind the team so well,” he said. “When you walk in to bat, you feel there are 40,000 people who want your wicket, not just the 11 guys on the field. So we understand as cricketers how difficult it is and purely just to take that challenge on, we want to win here.” (ESPNCricinfo) read more