Major League Baseball Is About To Get Random

VIDEO: Rangers vs. Blue Jays is the series to watch Baseball’s playoffs are upon us once again, and as is the case every year, we don’t know much about what will happen. The postseason has a tendency to make fools of us all: Wild cards have won before, they will win again, and even the best team in the league doesn’t have much better than one-in-four odds of winning the World Series. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use all the sabermetric tools at our disposal — including FiveThirtyEight’s MLB Elo ratings — to make an informed guess.Roughly speaking, you can divide this year’s playoff teams into three tiers: On the top, you have three powerful division-winning teams in the Cubs, Dodgers and Red Sox, who together take up 60 percent of the available World Series probability (according to Elo). The next tier consists of the remaining division winners, all of whom are superlative in some respects but also have fairly significant flaws. And finally, you have the wild-card winners — some of which are more dangerous than others, but all of which have to fight through the dreaded play-in game.If you had to pick an eventual champion, you’d choose from the top tier of teams — though even in a year of decreased parity, they’re far from sure things. To sort out the teams within each tier, here’s a deeper look at every club in the playoff field. Tier B — The Good-But-Not-Great Division WinnersCleveland Indians (8 percent)The Indians claimed the relatively weak American League Central, with the Detroit Tigers serving as their only real competition. (Detroit eventually finished 8 games back.) Cleveland did amass 94 wins and posted the fourth-best run differential in baseball, although they also benefited somewhat from good sequencing (as measured by FanGraphs’ BaseRuns) and unexpectedly great performances from guys like Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez.Maybe the Indians’ biggest secret weapon is their bullpen. The team’s deadline trade for Andrew Miller gave it a bona fide relief ace; Miller has allowed only five runs to score in 29 innings pitched since coming to Cleveland. Plus, manager Terry Francona has been surprisingly flexible about using Miller in the most important situations, regardless of inning. If Francona can continue his innovative managing into the postseason, the Indians will have a slight but significant edge that the statistical projections don’t fully take into account.Washington Nationals (8 percent)The Nationals are sneaky good. Our Elo-based projections give them only a 16 percent chance of making the World Series, but they had baseball’s third-best run differential during the regular season. The Nats are well-rounded: They ranked among the 10 best in both runs scored and runs allowed per game, boasting a Cy Young candidate in Max Scherzer as well as the sixth-best bullpen in the league, as measured by wins above replacement.So why aren’t their chances better? Part of it is the quality of their competition, both in the past and in the future. They amassed such strong numbers partially by beating up on their NL East rival Braves and Phillies, two of the worst teams in the league according to run differential.1No other division has more than one of the five worst teams in the league, and Washington outscored the two in its division by a combined 66 runs during the regular season. What’s more, their path to the World Series starts with the Dodgers and may also go through the Cubs, two of the league’s top-tier teams. Making matters worse, they lost All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos to injury, and they won’t have Stephen Strasburg in the Division Series either. Add it all up, and Washington has a tough — if not insurmountable — road to the Series.Texas Rangers (8 percent)The most exceptional thing about the Texas Rangers so far this year has been their incredible record in one-run games. They have piled up a 36-11 mark in such contests, helping them win 95 games despite an overall run differential of only +8 on the season. In fact, that mark is the worst among all playoff teams, suggesting that the Rangers have spent the season playing above their heads.It’s easy to assume that because sabermetricians can’t explain one-run performance, it must be random. That would be a mistake: Such performances shouldn’t be completely discarded. But even if you believe that the Rangers have gotten special, sustainable contributions from their bullpen or manager, their .766 winning percentage in one-run games must be at least partially thanks to good fortune — and as a result, they may not be as good as their record suggests. Texas’s best-in-the-AL record gives it an inside track to the World Series, but since the Rangers also sport the worst Elo rating of any team in the entire playoff field, they have a mere 8 percent probability of winning it all, no better than the other second-tier division champions. Tier A — The PowerhousesChicago Cubs (26 percent odds of winning the World Series)The Chicago Cubs won 103 games, the most of any team since 2009 and eight more than any other team this season. But their season has very much been a tale of two halves. Through July 1 the Cubs had racked up a +161 run differential, a number on track to challenge the mark set by the 1939 Yankees as greatest of all time. Since then, in about the same number of games, they’ve only put together a run differential of +91, or a bit more than half as good as they were before.So which version of the Cubs will show up for the playoffs? It might not actually matter. Although having a more dominant team is always better, the randomness of the playoffs means that a great team can always lose. Either version of the Cubs — the record-breakers or the merely ordinary division-winning outfit — would likely be World Series favorites, but neither would have even 50-50 odds of winning it all. Our projections contain a little bit of both versions, and they easily give Chicago the best chance of any team to make, and win, the championship round, at 43 percent and 26 percent, respectively.Boston Red Sox (19 percent)The Chicago Cubs may have captured the lion’s share of the headlines this year, but the Boston Red Sox have been surprisingly dominant. They have the second-best Elo rating of any MLB team heading into the playoffs, 14 points behind the Cubs and 24 points ahead of their nearest competition (the Toronto Blue Jays).Although Boston won only 93 games, fifth-most in baseball, it also faced more difficult opposition in the American League East, which (as usual) featured three playoff-worthy teams. So the Red Sox are probably scarier than their record would indicate — particularly on offense, where they scored an MLB-best 5.42 runs per game during the regular season (topping even the Coors Field-inflated Colorado Rockies). Their major weakness — and the biggest factor separating them from the Cubs’ lofty perch — is mediocre pitching. But the format of the playoffs will allow them to hide their back-end starting pitchers and hand more innings to David Price and Rick Porcello, so expect the Red Sox to pitch a little better in the postseason than they did in the regular season.Los Angeles Dodgers (15 percent)The Dodgers have had the most eventful season of any division champion. Between injuries, broken perfect games, and the near trade and demotion of erstwhile star Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles has had more drama than you’d expect from a 91-win division champion. The injuries have taken a particular toll on the starting pitchers: No single starter for the Dodgers pitched as many as 200 innings during the regular season.With all of those injuries, you might expect the Dodgers to enter the postseason as a depleted husk of their former selves. And yet they are on track to start Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda, a top three that would be the envy of many other contenders. That talented starting rotation helps give the Dodgers the third-best shot at the title — assuming they can stay healthy through the postseason, that is. Tier C — The Wild CardsToronto Blue Jays (6 percent)Of all the wild-card clubs, Toronto has the highest probability of making (and winning) the Series. In fact, their Elo rating is higher than that of several division winners, which suggests that the Jays are a very good team. Toronto’s only fault is that they share a division with the superior Boston Red Sox, confining them to a do-or-die game that could end their postseason before it really begins. Even the most imbalanced matchup in MLB is usually a 60-40 proposition, so the Jays can’t count on a win against the Orioles.If they do win that wild-card game, however, the Blue Jays will see their postseason odds soar. Their starting pitching has been excellent, and their offense is great (as usual). Provided it can overcome Baltimore, Toronto could end up making a surprise run deep into the postseason. The one glaring issue is its bullpen, which ranks second-worst among playoff entrants in ERA. If the starters end up exiting games early, it will expose a relief crew with few reliable arms.Baltimore Orioles (4 percent)The Orioles’ Elo rates them as the second-weakest team of the playoffs, ahead of only the Rangers. However, unlike the Rangers, the Orioles must win a game against the Blue Jays to advance to the ALDS. Elo only gives Baltimore a 44 percent chance in that game against the Jays, and a depressingly low 4 percent probability of eventually winning the championship.The Orioles’ bullpen is good — it has the third-best ERA among the playoff contenders — and especially top-heavy, featuring a rare Cy Young-contending reliever in Zach Britton. But that won’t be enough to get them to the World Series unless their mediocre rotation pitches better. The Orioles didn’t have a single starter post more than three wins above replacement during the regular season, while most of their fellow playoff teams had two or three starters who were at least that good. Savvy bullpen management can only go so far; barring some very good luck, expect the Orioles to make an early exit.New York Mets (3 percent)The Mets are hard to figure out. On the one hand, they limped into the playoffs on the back of two surprisingly productive rookies (Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman) after their rotation collapsed because of injuries. Add to this toll the lingering problems with their starting lineup and it’s hard to believe the Mets could realistically overcome the strong top tier of National League teams to capture a second consecutive pennant.On the other hand, the Mets may have the best bullpen out of all the playoff teams, according to WAR. We know that relievers get a greater share of a team’s innings pitched in the postseason, so the superlative bullpen may make up for their rookie starters. If, that is, manager Terry Collins allows them to: He has a habit of leaving his starters in too long, which can be fatal in the postseason.San Francisco Giants (3 percent)While the Cubs fell in the second half from historically great to merely fantastic, the Giants dropped from probable division winners to meltdown–prone also-rans. Their collapse hasn’t quite been historic, but their second-half statistics don’t bode well for the playoffs (at least, to the very limited extent that second-half performance matters). More worrisome, their bullpen has been atrocious, stretching even Bruce Bochy’s ability to manage around it.Then again, the Giants have a tradition of overcoming regular-season problems to overperform in October, and they still have Madison Bumgarner. Still, when a team’s playoff hopes rest on numerology (it’s an even year!) and repeating one of the greatest postseason performances of all time, it’s reasonable to conclude that they simply aren’t very likely to win the World Series. Elo agrees with that assessment, giving them only a 3 percent shot, even-year magic be damned. read more

Health Institute Says Dont Be Like Mike

Is it really dangerous to want to be like Mike? The Public Health Advocacy Institute certainly thinks so. The group has petitioned for the Federal Trade Commission to pull a Gatorade ad that champions Michael Jordan’s famous 1997 NBA Finals performance, during which he fought through a 103-degree fever to lead his team to victory. The ad, tagged with the title “Win From Within,” shows Jordan suffering from flu symptoms during the game, but eventually overcoming it, while drinking Gatorade along the way. The institute claims that the glorification of Jordan’s decision to play could lead viewers to try to imitate him.“The Jordan Ad openly promotes engaging in vigorous physical activity while suffering from a very high fever, in Jordan’s case 103 degrees,” The institute said in its letter to the FTC via USA Today. “It is a generally recognized safety principle that teens and even professional athletes suffering from a severe fever and flu-like symptoms should not engage in vigorous physical activity.”PepsiCo, Gatorade’s parent company, has yet to respond to the PHAI. The group’s website suggested that PepsiCo should create an ad campaign to inform teens and potential consumers that not only is it dangerous to compete while sick, but also that Gatorade cannot treat flu symptoms. read more

Manny Machado Picked A Great Time To Have His Best Season

Machado is one of the modern era’s best hitting trade targetsBest pre-trade weighted runs created plus (wRC+) for players who were traded at the deadline, 1975-2018 C. Beltran2011MetsGiants150 It’s been a truly miserable summer for baseball in Baltimore. Not only do the Orioles currently have MLB’s worst record, but according to the FiveThirtyEight projections, they are also on pace to lose a staggering 111 games this season. That’s so bad, it would put them in the same company as such notably putrid clubs as the 2003 Tigers (119 losses), 2013 Astros and 2004 Diamondbacks (111 losses apiece). Not even Buck Showalter’s magical managerial touch could save the Orioles from their wretched fate. (Not that they necessarily want to be saved.)Amid such horrors, there has been one bright spot in the form of shortstop Manny Machado. Through Wednesday’s games, Machado has 23 home runs (sixth most in the American League) with a .314/.383/.573 slash line. That helps make him the AL’s seventh-best hitter so far this season according to weighted runs created plus (wRC+), which measures run production relative to the league on a per-plate appearance basis. Not only is it a massive improvement over the disappointing stats Machado put up a year ago, but it represents the best hitting season of his entire career to date.Machado picked a great time to put up career numbers, since he’s set to be a free agent after the season. And it’s good for the Orioles, too, though they’ll miss their star player. When Machado is inevitably traded before the July 31 deadline, he’ll command plenty in return, even if he’s just a three-month rental for a World Series contender.But it’s tough to say Machado isn’t worth the ransom — he’s having one of the best seasons by a trade-deadline target in modern history. Going back to the dawn of the free-agent era in 1975, here is how Machado compares to the top performances by batters who were traded at the deadline,1We also included Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto, whom MLB Trade Rumors has listed among the players most likely to be dealt at this year’s deadline in addition to Machado. in terms of their wRC+ for the team doing the trading: R. Henderson1993AthleticsBlue Jays182 In essence, Machado switching teams is as a big a deal as the A’s trading Mark McGwire at the 1997 deadline. (That one worked out pretty well for the Cardinals, too, with one major caveat.) Machado might not be the best fit for every contender, with questions about his defense at short and his reported unwillingness to switch positions in order to fit better with a potential trade suitor.2Maybe that stance makes sense in the free agent market, since shortstop is considered a premium defensive position. Then again, shortstops don’t seem to be paid more than other positions. But in terms of raw hitting, Machado is making the most of his walk year, and his bat could make a real difference for a top-shelf team looking for that extra edge in October — regardless of whether that team is willing to re-sign him for an increasingly exorbitant price this winter.Check out our latest MLB predictions. J.D. Martinez2017TigersD-Backs160 G. Berroa1997AthleticsOrioles145 PlayerYearTraded fromToPre-Trade wRC+Stayed w/ Acquiring Team? M. Teixeira2008BravesAngels136 M. McGwire1997AthleticsCardinals156✓ G. Parra2015BrewersOrioles138 B. Bonilla1995MetsOrioles154✓ M. Ramirez2008Red SoxDodgers141✓ C. Floyd2002MarlinsExpos147 K. Phelps1988MarinersYankees170✓ O. Gamble1979RangersYankees160✓ J. Guillen2003RedsAthletics159 H. Baines1989White SoxRangers157✓ X. Nady2008PiratesYankees142✓ S. Hairston2009PadresAthletics143 S. Pearce2016RaysOrioles147 Stats through July 10.Machado and Realmuto are both listed among MLB Trade Rumors’ top 10 2018 trade targets.Source: FanGraphs, MLB Trade Rumors M. Machado2018Orioles?155? F. McGriff2001Devil RaysCubs139✓ J.T. Realmuto2018Marlins?149? read more

MLB Is Increasingly A FatherSon Game

Vlad Jr.? Like father, like son: But it’s how the progeny of former players are reaching the pinnacle of the sport, and at increasing numbers, that is misunderstood.“There’s a lot of misconceptions,” said Zach Schonbrun, author of the “Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience Is Redefining Athletic Genius.” “Everyone thinks two great athletes are going to come together and they are going to have a kid, and that kid is automatically going to become a superstar. It’s not so easy.”Imitation gameWhen Cavan Biggio and his brother, Conor (who was drafted by the Astros in 2015), were in elementary school, Craig Biggio picked them up from school when the Astros were at home. They traveled straight to Minute Maid Park for the Astros’ pre-game batting practice. During games, Cavan and Conor didn’t spend their time in the family section; rather, they confined themselves to the Astros’ concrete bunker of a batting cage in the bowels of the stadium. They would hit off the tee and play games in the space, only vacating it if an Astros bench player came to get ready for a pinch-hitting at-bat. They observed the swings and collected the balls swatted into the nylon netting. The only other time they would pause is to watch their dad’s at-bats when their attention turned to the bubble-screen TV attached above the cage.Like his dad, Cavan has a two-handed finish in his swing. This is not a coincidence. “The only thing he would say to me, mechanically, was ‘Two-handed finish, two-handed finish,’” Cavan said. “I still hear it today ‘Two-handed finish’ OK. I know [Dad]. I got it.”He’s not alone in mimicking what made his dad so successful. The swing of Bo Bichette is also similar to his father’s. It’s not just at the plate, too. In Pirates camp, Hayes is renowned for his defensive ability at third base. “My mom says that our mannerisms on defense, the way we stand and stuff like that, are exactly the same,” Hayes said.Driveline Baseball’s Kyle Boddy studies athletic movement patterns and is on the vanguard of player development in baseball. In speaking with Boddy for reporting on the “The MVP Machine,” he said the greatest advantage in being the son of a major leaguer is in mimicking movement patterns. After all, early-life imitation is key in motor learning. He cited the throwing motion of Astros’ McCullers Jr., which closely resembles that of his father’s. DUNEDIN, Fla. — Within a 30-foot radius in the Toronto Blue Jays’ cramped spring training clubhouse are locker spaces adorned with the nameplates Guerrero, Biggio and Bichette. Any baseball fan of the 1990s and early 2000s would recognize these surnames: Vladimir Guerrero, Craig Biggio and Dante Bichette combined for 20 All-Star Game appearances across two decades. But these lockers belong to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette, who have combined for zero big-league at-bats to date. They are on the cusp of the majors, prospects invited to camp in the sleepy Gulf Coast town of Dunedin, Florida.But expectations are high for the Blue Jays’ young trio. Guerrero is the No. 1 prospect in the game according to most evaluators. Bichette is considered a top 20 prospect. And Biggio dramatically elevated his prospect status last season. Another son of a former big leaguer, pitcher Mark Leiter Jr., was also in the clubhouse before undergoing Tommy John surgery.Second-generation prospects are not limited to the Toronto system, either. ESPN’s Keith Law has San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., another legacy, as the game’s No. 1 prospect, while Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes — son of Charlie — is also a top 20 prospect. And numerous legacy prospects are or will soon be contributing to their big-league clubs: Adalberto Mondesi (son of Raul) is expected to be in the Royals’ starting lineup, Lance McCullers Jr. is a fixture in the Astros’ rotation when healthy, and slugger Cody Bellinger (son of Clay) has already earned an All-Star nod for the Dodgers.If it seems like the kids of former big leaguers are taking over the sport this spring, it’s because they kind of are — they’re making the majors at rates far greater than the general population.Whether it’s Guerrero, Bichette, Biggio or another prospect, the next child of a major leaguer to reach the majors will set a record for legacy debuts in a single decade. Entering 2019, the 2010s (44 debuts) are tied with the 1990s for most such debuts, according to Baseball-Reference.com data analyzed by FiveThirtyEight. The share of debuts by sons of major leaguers this decade is the second-highest on record (2.1 percent), and could perhaps challenge the 1990s record (2.3 percent) by the close of the season. Boddy suspects the children of major leaguers succeed at abnormally high rates. With the available data it’s difficult to know exactly how their success rate compares to the general population, but there are suggestions that it’s far better.The proportion of U.S. high school players compared to domestic-born major leaguers has stayed more or less the same. In every year since 1978, there have been almost exactly 500 high school players in the country for every one U.S.-born major leaguer, according to Baseball-Reference.com and National Federation of State High School Associations data. That’s a success rate of about 0.2 percent. We don’t know the total number of major league progeny playing baseball, so we can’t make a direct comparison. But, over the last 30 years, the sons of majors leaguers have accounted for 2 percent of all debuts, and that number has gradually risen throughout the game’s history.1Baseball-Reference.com does not record data on family connecetions of top-level, non-major leagues like Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan) and the Negro Leagues. While data is sparse, there are examples of sons of Negro or NPB players to reach the the majors.Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Hayes’ pedigree played a role in moving him up their draft board, selecting him in the first round in 2015. Huntington is also confident the Blue Jays are “baking in” legacy considerations to their evaluation sauce.“There’s a lot to be said for seeing how things are done at the highest level whether it’s motor learning or whether it’s how people carry themselves,” Huntington said. “They see the drive, the work ethic it takes.”What’s also interesting about Hayes, Biggio and Bichette is not just what they observed but how they were taught.“I never really worked on mechanics,” says Hayes about his father’s tutelage. “ At a young age, I just kinda learned the right movement, the fundamental stuff.”Said Bichette: “We didn’t do a lot of drills.”Boddy is wary of burdening pitchers with too many internal cues. Similarly, Schonbrun says implicit learning is the most effective way to acquire a skill.“Ken Griffey Sr. probably didn’t show his son how to wiggle his bat and find that perfect arc for his swing,” Schonbrun says. “I’m guessing he probably told Ken Jr. ‘Here’s how you should get from A to B,’ and Ken developed that swing on his own. … In a lot of ways, that’s a better way for the brain to learn rather than following really detailed explicit instruction.”‘Specialization’ is not a dirty wordA common experience shared by Biggio, Bichette and Hayes is that they all grew up with a batting cage in their backyards. They all had access to travel baseball, equipment and facilities. Tim Lee, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, believes that those factors are perhaps the greatest advantage in having a professional athlete for a parent.“The relationship of the model to the learner is one of the important moderating variables in observational learning,” Lee told FiveThirtyEight. “My hunch, however, is that this plays a far less important role than does the availability of practice facilities and instructional opportunities.”While those spaces speak to the financial edge that also comes with being the son of a big leaguer, the cages, lessons and tools allowed them to be exposed to not just high-level motor patterns but enabled them to log thousands upon thousands of reps.In the backyard of their Houston home, Hayes estimates he took “anywhere from 400 to 500 swings a day.”Said Bichette of life in the backyard swing incubator: “At one point in my life we would go into cage and count at least 200 swings.”For his fielding work, Biggio said his dad taught him to throw a lacrosse ball off a wall to create unusual hops to improve his hands. Hayes was also taught the practice and still tosses a lacrosse ball off of a wall when killing time in the hallways of minor league clubhouses. It’s one reason he projects as having a 70-grade glove on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.When Bichette was a freshman in high school, he was also an excellent tennis player, but his parents urged him to choose one sport. Dante Bichette understood the importance of specialization.While there has been research and concern about sports specialization leading to injury and burnout, Schonbrun notes it’s difficult to excel without it. Florida State professor Anders Ericsson attempted to quantify the hours of specialization needed to become an expert in 1993, which Malcolm Gladwell later dubbed the 10,000-hour rule in his book “Outliers.” Schonbrun said specialization is “necessary.”“From a cognitive and neurological standpoint, the more you can focus on one task, the more practice that goes into it, the better you are going to be,” Schonbrun said.Baseball-Reference.com‘s database contains father-son pairs to play in the majors but it does not include minor league family history or other family connections. That means the advantage in growing up around the game is probably even more considerable than we’re showing here. Consider the case of another consensus top-five prospect this spring, a player who could be the next teenager to reach the majors: Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco.While he seems like a natural, dominating older competition at age 17 last summer, he is also the youngest of three brothers — each named Wander Franco — who each play in the Giants organization. His father, another Wander Franco, pitched in the minor leagues. His uncles Willy and Erick Aybar played in the majors. His neighbor growing up in the Dominican city of Bani was Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez.Franco IV was exposed to elite-level motor patterns when he was young, but he was also around people obsessed with baseball. There was a dry river bed near his neighborhood in Bani and that became their ballpark. They used whatever scrap they could find to create bases. They wound up a sock to use as a ball.“It was all games, every day,” Franco told FiveThirtyEight through an interpreter.The Rays gave Franco, the No. 1 international prospect in 2017, a $3.85 million bonus. “One of the things that helped us get comfortable with that level of investment was that he had grown up around the game,” said Chaim Bloom, the Rays’ vice president of baseball operations. “You see a lot of guys who have a tremendous amount of skill but don’t know how to apply it on a baseball field. The way that Wander was able to do that as an amateur was really, really rare.”Franco might seem like a natural, but his story might be more about nurture than nature.Genes do play a role in success, of course. Bichette said the “bat speed” he shares with his father cannot be taught. Biggio says he has better than 20-20 vision and so does his brother and father. There are things Guerrero Jr. does with that bat that are assuredly tied to genetics.But in some ways they are all lesser athletes than their fathers. Biggio is not nearly as fast as his father. Guerrero Jr. is not built like his father listed at a 6-2, 250 pounds, where his father was 6-3, 235. As a shortstop, Bichette has a much smaller frame than his father, who was a slugging corner outfielder.While they are the sons of former professional athletes, there are more talented natural athletes that never reach the major leaguers. Their advantages go beyond genetics, and for a variety of reasons, the advantage of being the son of a major leaguer is growing. read more

Skeptical Football Thanksgiving Preview Edition

The Bears have a rich 30-year history, dominating the game under George Halas, winning the very first NFL championship in 1933, drubbing the Washington Redskins in 1940 by a record score of 73-0, and amassing four championships under star quarterback Sid Luckman. But in the 60-plus years since, the Bears have struggled. Since 1950, they’re down in cumulative point differential overall, and in 2011 they gave up their all-time margin of victory throne to the Green Bay Packers.The Lions had a promising start in the NFL, winning a famous “iron man” game in 1932 (in which they beat the Packers with only 11 men playing and with no substitutions), and winning a championship with QB Dutch Clark in 1935. But since the 1940s, the Lions have mostly tread water or gone downhill.Things have looked a bit better for the Lions in the Matthew Stafford era, and this season started out very well. Although they have lost their past two games (to conference leaders New England and Arizona), they enter this matchup two games ahead of the 5-6 Bears, they’re playing in Detroit, and they have an SRS2“Simple Rating System,” or average margin of victory adjusted for strength of schedule advantage of 6.8 points (meaning they’ve been nearly seven points per game better). But it’s hard to know that much about the teams after only 11 games, and their franchise histories have been average for the past few years. So, to get some more insight into Thursday’s game, let’s focus on the QBs.A few weeks ago, I introduced my experimental QB “win curves,” which compare a QB’s expected win percentage to his actual win percentage at any given point in the game. One of the craziest of these win curves was Matthew Stafford’s — which indicated that he won way more than he was expected to when his team was trailing, but lost way more than he was expected to when his team was ahead — and he had easily the most extreme such effect in the league.But as I’ve also discussed in past columns, Stafford has gotten pretty terrible support from his defense and special teams. While I like the purity of the original win curve, I thought it might be interesting to see what happens if we try to remove non-offensive contributions from the picture. So I came up with “adjusted” win curves, which are basically the amount that each QB would have won if his defense and special teams had no positive or negative impact on their chances of winning at any time.3 OK, here’s the nitty-gritty: To do this, I took the win percentage added from all of a QB’s subsequent offensive drives and then added them to the win percentage he had at the start of the present drive (on a drive-by-drive basis). So, if his chances were 40 percent at the start of a drive and he added 30 percent between that drive and all future drives, it would count as an expected win percentage of 40 percent and an “approximated actual win percentage” of 70 percent. Note that technically these numbers can go higher than 100 percent or lower than zero percent for a given drive and situation (for example, if a QB’s defense keeps trying to give the game away, but he keeps bringing them back), but they typically don’t. I’ve also tweaked the curves to make them a little less sensitive to deviations.4I did this a couple of ways. First, as mentioned in the previous footnote, I did the analysis on a drive-by-drive basis instead of a play-by-play basis. This cuts down on the amount that a single crazy game can affect the overall analysis, because the number of drives per game is much more constant than number of passing plays. I also forced the smoother to use a “loess” (local regression) fit, so that larger samples would be treated the same as smaller ones. Also, by virtue of using win percentage added instead of binary wins/losses, we get a little additional granularity.Here’s how the new Stafford curve compares to the old:The magnitude of the curve is a bit less extreme (particularly Stafford’s habit of losing in what should be winning spots), but the basic phenomenon remains: Stafford appears to be much better at coming back than he is at holding on to wins. But more importantly: Stafford’s “adjusted” curve increases continuously, meaning the Lions no longer have to consider falling behind just so they can win.Now, using these adjusted win curves, let’s compare Stafford and Jay Cutler, Chicago’s QB:Get ready for some excitement, as both of these guys have been better at digging out of holes than at burying their opponents.Philadelphia vs. DallasThe Dallas Cowboys began playing their traditional Thanksgiving game in 1966 not long after joining the league as an expansion team in 1960. This was right about the same time they started getting good. Really good:During the Tom Landry/Roger Staubach era, the Cowboys had one of the most dominant runs in the post-merger NFL. Then, after a brief slump in the late 1980s, Jerry Jones seemed to have the team back on its winning track under coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, and the potent QB/RB combo of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.5The Cowboys were also generously aided by the infamous Herschel Walker trade/outright larceny. Since Aikman’s retirement in 2000, however, Jones’s squad has struggled to recapture its old magic.And that’s despite Tony Romo. Although I love watching Romo play and usually I’d wager that he is a very good quarterback, the Cowboys experienced only a modest bump in their historical chart since Romo has been under center. And though judging an individual based on team performance is somewhat unfair, having pored over these charts repeatedly for weeks, I’ve noticed that the arrival or departure of a top QB normally has a pretty noticeable effect on his team. It may not be enough to make an awful team a winner, but there is usually some kind of turn (like with Stafford).Or, for example, with Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. Or Nick Foles,6And yes, I’m aware that a lot of these turns also correspond to head coaching changes, but that entanglement question is a constant issue in the NFL. We can think of them as two-headed QB/coach monsters, and the analysis is mostly the same. my gunslinger of the first quarter. In Foles’s short tenure, the Eagles have been on a nice upturn, but unfortunately he will be out of this game.So, the Eagles will rely on Mark Sanchez (someone who didn’t move the New York Jets’ chart much) to take on the enigmatic Romo, our gunslinger of the first half of the season.How do these two stack up on the win curve scale?Sanchez came out looking surprisingly OK in the chart’s non-adjusted version but ends up a little Stafford-y in the adjusted version. Romo — as expected — is a lot like Peyton Manning when behind, but is average or below average when ahead.Philadelphia has a slightly higher SRS (3.7 vs. 1.6) – and, very marginally, the better recent history to corroborate that, while Dallas has home-field advantage and more of a known quantity at QB. But again, be prepared for potential comeback-y goodness when either of these teams falls behind.Seattle vs. San FranciscoSince 2006, the NFL has added a prime-time game to the usual Dallas-Detroit fare, and this year it’s showcasing a rematch of last year’s NFC championship game, featuring divisional rivals Seattle (the dynasty hopefuls) and San Francisco (the original modern NFL dynasty). Presently, the two teams are battling for the NFC’s wild card spots (with Arizona their surprise divisional leader), but they’ve both been on strong trajectories the past couple of years, since the arrivals of Jim Harbaugh/Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson in Seattle.While the most dramatic effect is the amazing 1980s and 1990s 49ers run (which I discussed last week), the Seahawks trend is a great example of why I love these historical charts.From the Seahawks’ record, we know that they’ve lost more games this year (four) than all of last year (three), leading to a slight deceleration in their chart. But it’s barely even a blip in their multiyear trend. As discussed earlier, most major shifts on these charts happen for pretty transparent reasons: the departure/arrival of a great QB or coach, major injuries, etc.7In fact, the more I contemplate these histories, the more I suspect that QBs may be even more important to their teams than even I previously thought. We have no such event in Seattle and every reason to think they should stay good for awhile.But San Francisco has a solid trend and a dynamic young quarterback as well. In fact, these two have been such consistent winners that I also plotted Peyton Manning (generally the gold standard for these things) curve for comparison:Wilson’s unadjusted curve, which I showed last week, looked otherworldly, but I warned that it might be partly due to the strength of the team around him — especially the Seahawks’ defense, which crushed the league in yards allowed per play in 2013.But with the defense-adjusted curves, he comes down to earth a little — to excellent but not-quite-Peyton-esque levels (note that Wilson’s curve is impossibly high on the far left as the odds ought to be approaching zero, but that’s because bad losses have been so rare for the Seahawks that the data is unreliable). He’s in a fierce competition with Andrew Luck for best win curve of the 2012 quarterback class.Kaepernick’s curve is more Romo-esque. That makes sense considering he has been featured as my Goatslinger of the Week8Though not a fixture, I must note that the Goatslinger Award for Week 12 goes to Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer, who threw three interceptions with his team up less than a touchdown while his team still eked out the win. I’m going to covertly give the week’s Gunslinger Award to Peyton Manning, who did not have any interceptions but did futilely try and connect with some wide open receivers who could have scored him touchdowns. If you never miss a wide open receiver downfield, you probably aren’t throwing downfield enough! Too many open receivers go streaking down the field only to see the ball dumped off to some running back for a -2 yard screen. At least Manning was trying. for making the kinds of mistakes I like (interceptions!) at times when I don’t like them (when his team is ahead).Seattle has the far stronger SRS in this game (5.6 vs. SF’s 0.5), but it’s playing on the road. San Francisco is apparently the slight betting favorite in this one (-1 — I probably would have made it a slight underdog). I won’t say the game will be close, but it could go either way.Reminder: If you tweet questions to me @skepticalsports, there is a non-zero chance that I’ll answer them here.Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum. On Thanksgiving Day 1892, the Allegheny Athletic Association — featuring the world’s first professional football player, William Heffelfinger — beat the Cleveland Athletic Club with a single touchdown, by a score of 4 to 0. Back then, field goals were worth five points — meaning, yes, a field goal was worth more than a touchdown — and the forward pass was illegal (it wouldn’t be allowed for an additional 14 years). In other words, teams have been playing football on Thanksgiving since long before it was football as we know it.The NFL has embraced that tradition since its inception. The NFL played six Thanksgiving Day games in its inaugural year of 1920 and has played games on the holiday every year since (except from 1941 to 1944, during World War II). So, as we prepare to stuff ourselves with turkey and ham, and sneak away from relatives to watch some gridiron on the big screen in our uncle-in-law’s den — we’ll be doing Skeptical Football a little differently, with historically oriented previews for each of the day’s games.Let’s get started.Chicago vs. DetroitThe Detroit Lions have been playing home games on Thanksgiving since 1934 and haven’t taken the holiday off since 1945. Their inaugural home game was against these same Bears, who won 19 to 16. Eighty years later, the two teams are back for more.They’ve come a long way since then. Here’s what their franchise histories have looked like, based on their cumulative regular-season margin of victory/defeat:1These charts come from the interactive graphic we introduced in last week’s Skeptical Football, which has been updated to include the latest games. read more

Podcast Hello CARMELO Bunched NFL Wins And A Startup Hockey League

Hot Takedown If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS Welcome to this week’s episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s show (Oct. 20, 2015), Chadwick Matlin is on vacation, so Slate’s Mike Pesca sits in as we discuss what our new CARMELO basketball projections can tell us about the upcoming NBA season, why only 10 NFL teams have winning records and what that says about parity, and whether the National Women’s Hockey League will learn the lessons of other startup leagues. Plus, a Significant Digit on the Mets’ Daniel Murphy and his postseason hot streak.Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above. Are NFL wins weirdly bunched? read more

Beside The Points For Monday April 9 2018

Big Number(s)46 percentThere are only six teams who are on the bubble for a playoff spot in the NBA right now. Three of them are effective locks; the Spurs, Jazz and Thunder each have a higher-than-97 percent chance of making the postseason. This leaves three teams jockeying for two playoff spots. The Pelicans and Timberwolves are in the best position, each projected to finish 47-35 and each with just over an 80 percent chance of getting in. But there’s still hope for the Denver Nuggets, who have a 46 percent chance of making the postseason. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slackchris.herring:Shoutout to @kyle’s timing this year. He’s had at least 3 stories in which a team or a player had a huge win that same night. Jokic last night, Blazers a couple weeks back. Good stuff, man.Predictions NBA Things That Caught My EyeWoods and Nicklaus are the only draws in golfTiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are the only two players where high finishes have a statistically significant effect on Sunday ratings for the Masters tournament. When Tiger finished in the top 10, the average rating was a 10.0, and when Jack finished in the top ten the average rating was a 9.5. [FiveThirtyEight]When Dinosaurs Ruled The EarthThe fullback position is a tough one in the NFL these days. For college fullbacks, they’ve got to make an argument they can also contribute considerably on special teams lest teams overlook them in the draft. This is just part of the position; fullbacks averaged 182.4 plays per season last year, while offenses averaged 1,015.7 snaps per season, meaning you’re only going to see a fullback on offense 18 percent of the time. With a 53-man roster, that’s a tough sell. [ESPN]Sleep; it’s important!I don’t mean to blow your mind with science, but athletes need adequate sleep in order to perform at their peak performance levels. Due to the nature of the NBA schedule and also the width of America, that isn’t always feasible. There were 54 games this NBA season where one team faced a significant competitive disadvantage because of scheduling. For instance, the Denver Nuggets played in Memphis, then left immediately and traveled overnight, then lost an hour en route to Cleveland where they played their third game in five days. Indeed, the Nuggets have been the victims of these “schedule alert” games more than any other team, six of the 54 total games. [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Big Ten lost in Frozen FourThe Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs best out Notre Dame this past weekend to win the Frozen Four NCAA men’s hockey tournament. They were the distinct underdogs; Minnesota Duluth spent just $655,000 on men’s hockey to Notre Dame’s $1.6 million. [ESPN]College Football Playoff probably happens without a Big 12 teamWith Oklahoma sending Baker Mayfield to the NFL, the Big 12 will see its chances of sending a team to the College Football Playoff slashed to 26 percent, lower than any of the other Power 5 conferences. Part of this is that the Big 12 lives and dies based on Oklahoma’s disproportionate performance. The SEC has an 84 percent chance of sending at least one team to the playoff, the Big Ten has an 80 percent shot and the ACC has a 65 percent chance. [ESPN]Cavs should consider preventing the other team from scoring so muchThe Cleveland Cavaliers would ideally prefer to make the NBA Finals, but they have a tough time preventing the other team from scoring the ball a lot, a strategy that other teams have taken to calling “defense.” Yes, interfering with the capacity of opponents to score is, for 28 other teams, a higher priority than for the Cavs and their 29th ranked defense. If they want to beat the Raptors, Celtics or Sixers — again, all who make any attempt, however small, to stop the other team from getting points — LeBron James should consider it! [ESPN] See more NBA predictions All newsletters Oh, and don’t forgetThis is a pro-Nikola Jokic zone haters go elsewhere We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe read more

Michael Phelps Natalie Coughlin travel to Ohio State for Columbus Grand Prix

The McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion is no stranger to Olympic medalists, and the nation’s best have descended on campus to compete this weekend. Before taking to the pool in the 2012 NCAA Championships, some members of the Ohio State swimming and diving teams will participate alongside headliners Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin in the Columbus Grand Prix Friday through Sunday. “Many swimmers from around the world will be here,” said OSU men’s swimming coach Bill Wadley. “There’s a lot on the line.” OSU is the fourth stop on the USA Swimming Grand Prix Series, a seven-city tour that allows swimmers the opportunity to compete against the best in the sport and prepare for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are scheduled to take place June 25-July 2 in Omaha, Neb., and U.S. Olympic Games in London. First place performances are awarded five points. Three points go to second place and one point for third. The athlete with the most points at the end of the series is given $20,000. Frontrunner and 14-time Olympic gold medalist Phelps leads the pack with 41 points. Defending Grand Prix Series winner Missy Franklin trails by six going into the meet. Additional visiting American Olympians include Jason Lezak, Matt Grevers, Christine Magnuson, Allison Schmitt and more. But to other contenders, the competition site will feel like home. Former OSU swimmer, Elliott Keefer, who broke school records in his senior season as a Buckeye last year, will compete in the breaststroke representing the U.S. National team. Keefer’s former teammate, junior Tim Phillips, is on the roster of the OSU men’s swimming team but chose to redshirt this season. “He has decided to sit this year out because he is so close to making the Olympic team,” Wadley said. “It’s difficult to balance 20 to 30 hours of studying and 20 to 30 hours of swimming. One of them is going to suffer.” Phillips will participate in the Columbus Grand Prix in the same bout as Phelps. “Tim is in the butterfly event and they only take the top two to the Olympics,” Wadley said. “In order to be in the top two, you either have to be No. 2 behind Michael or beat him.” Preliminaries begin daily at 9 a.m. with finals beginning at 6 p.m. Time trials will be held in between. read more

Football No 4 Ohio State heads to Happy Valley for battle with

Penn State senior quarterback Trace McSorley (9) carries the ball during the game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 21, 2018. Penn State defeated Illinois 63-24. Credit: Courtesy of Caitlin Lee | The Daily Collegian Photo EditorThe latest edition in the Ohio State-Penn State saga will continue on Saturday when the two best offenses in the country battle in Happy Valley.The Nittany Lions come in as the top-ranked scoring offense in the country with 55.5 points per game. Ohio State comes in second by only a point behind with 54.5.These powerhouse offenses headline the clash of two undefeated top 10 teams that have come together for some of the most memorable moments of the past two seasons, including a game-winning blocked field goal for a touchdown by Penn State two years ago, and an 11-point comeback with less than five minutes to go led by J.T. Barrett at Ohio Stadium last season.Add that to the game being on the road at Happy Valley, No. 4 Ohio State likely won’t see a matchup this challenging again all season.“That’s one of the tops in the country. Very loud and the fans are very into it just like our Horseshoe,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “You’ve got to be ready for that kind of environment.”No. 9 Penn State comes in off back-to-back 63-point games, the last being a 63-24 victory against Illinois. The top-scoring offense in the nation ranks No. 16 in total offensive production, with a top 10 rushing attack at 275 yards per game on the ground.Redshirt senior quarterback Trace McSorley leads the Nittany Lions offense as the program leader in total touchdowns with 77. This season, McSorley has 998 total yards and 14 touchdowns — eight through the air and six on the ground — and two interceptions while competing 53.7 percent of his passes.Meyer praised McSorley’s competitive edge.“A winner, a guy that can do it all and a competitor,” Meyer said.Meyer also complimented the play of junior running back Miles Sanders, who is No. 6 in the NCAA with 495 rushing yards, and has five touchdowns in the first four games. Sanders ran the ball for 200 yards against Illinois, helping break open a game that remained close for much of the first half.Meyer said the Penn State team this year is very much the same team that lost to the Buckeyes by a point last year.“Offensive line is better. And that running back is really good,” Meyer said. “We don’t see much difference at all. Scheme’s very similar to what they’ve done in the past and obviously the quarterback’s the guy that makes it go.”McSorley is the major threat Ohio State will be looking to contain in Happy Valley. The redshirt senior brings a dual-threat ability and energy to the offense that becomes even more impactful in big games.In last season’s Fiesta Bowl, McSorley completed 78 percent of his throws and amassed 402 yards of offense and two touchdowns in Penn State’s win over Washington. A year before, he threw for 382 yards and four touchdowns in the Big Ten championship win against Wisconsin.He also has never lost a collegiate start at home.Sophomore linebacker Pete Werner said he sees McSorley’s winning attitude in the film.“He has a lot of toughness. He’s a great quarterback — the best one, most likely, we’re going to see this year,” Werner said. “He’s just a guy that has a drive to win games.”The Nittany Lions defense ranks No. 8 in sacks per game with 3.5. Redshirt junior defensive end Shareef Miller leads the team with three, and 12 separate players have recorded a sack on the year.Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins said he is expecting a strong defense in the Nittany Lions.“Experienced players, really sound defensively,” Haskins said. “Yeah, they make a couple of mistakes but every defense does. When they get things rolling, they’re pretty good.”Penn State ranks No. 29 in passing defense at 173.3 yards per game, while allowing the 48th most rushing yards per game with 172.5.PredictionOhio State might have won five of the past six meetings against Penn State, but the series has dramatically picked up in intensity since 2016. Happy Valley is going to come out loud, and Haskins is going to be in the most hostile environment he has faced since Michigan a season ago.Haskins will have to be as strong and composed as he has been all season for Ohio State to win, while McSorley will need to bring the energy and vocal leadership he’s known for in big games to give the Nittany Lions an advantage.The run games have been strong points for both teams overall this season, but Penn State’s has been clicking more as of late, as sophomore and redshirt junior running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber each ran for less than 60 yards each against Tulane.Penn State’s weak point on the defensive side has been the run, and the Buckeyes will have to exploit that to allow Haskins to open up the passing game.Ohio State has the stronger win under its belt, a 40-28 victory against TCU, and that added experience could help against a Penn State team that has not faced a ranked opponent this year.But Penn State has the benefit of playing at home in one of the most intimidating stadiums in college football, and will face an Ohio State defense missing its best player, junior defensive end Nick Bosa.The Buckeyes did not get real game-time experience for the Bosa-less defensive line against Tulane, but the line still has plenty of talent without him.This game may very well come down to the cool and collected Haskins vs. the energetic, enthusiastic McSorley, and from what 2018 has shown, I give the edge to: Haskins.Yes, McSorley has proved his ability in the crunch time, but his lackluster completion percentage and lack of strong opponent this year gives me more worries than the Ohio State quarterback who breaks a record with each new start.This is a matchup that could go either way, and one that could be a shootout. In either case, Haskins has sold me as the guy who can get it done, and if his 16 touchdowns, 1,194 yards and single interception haven’t sold you, a winning performance against the No. 9 team in the country on Saturday will.Wyatt Crosher: 38-36 Ohio StateColin Gay: 35-31 Ohio StateEdward Sutelan: 42-35 Ohio StateRachel Bules: 32-28 Ohio StateChase Ray: 45-35 Penn StateSydney Riddle: 35-27 Ohio State Amanda Parrish: 38-35 Ohio State read more

SFA to set up independent review into allegations of child sex abuse

first_imgPolice forces across the UK, including Police Scotland, are investigating more than 80 potential suspects and 98 clubs in an abuse scandal that has rocked the game.The SFA said it was “imperative that we take the necessary time and guidance” to ensure its review complemented the work of the police.Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive, added: “Police Scotland has reaffirmed that it is the investigatory authority regarding reports of child sexual abuse in football.”It is therefore crucial to draw the distinction between their ongoing investigation and what lessons football can learn from historic allegations.”According to a BBC Scotland investigation, the former youth coach and referee Hugh Stevenson, who died in 2004, was allowed to carry on working in football for several years after being reported to police and the SFA over child sex offences.In another developed last week, Jim McCafferty, 70, a former kit man for Celtic, Hibernian and Falkirk, was arrested in Belfast after allegations were made against him.Rachael Hamilton, the Scottish Conservative MSP, welcomed the move and said that as long as the review was “truly independent” it would help people have confidence in Scotland’s governing body.The move follows pressure from various quarters, including the Deputy First Minister John Swinney.He said on Sunday that he would not extend the Scottish Government’s historical abuse inquiry – looking into the treatment of children who were in institutional care – to include football.He urged the SFA to set up an inquiry conducted by an “authoritative, independent, respected figure” The Scottish Football Association is to set up an independent review into allegations of historic child sex abuse in the sport.Football has been rocked by claims from several former players that they were abused by people in positions of authority.The SFA said it had taken steps towards establishing the scope of the review to see what lessons could be learnt, but stressed that Police Scotland remained the main investigatory authority.The announcement followed meetings between the SFA, police and representatives from PFA Scotland, the players’ union.The association said it wanted to reassure people that football was a “safe and enjoyable environment for children” and the review would focus on “processes and procedures” in place both currently and historically in Scottish football. Hugh Stevenson Youth coach and referee Hugh StevensonCredit:Universal News and Sport 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

St Pauls Cathedral appoints first female chorister in 1000year history

first_imgSt Paul’s Cathedral has appointed the first-ever female chorister to join its choir full-time. Carris Jones, 35, a Cambridge history graduate, was unanimously confirmed as the choir’s newest alto singer by a panel after several rounds of auditions. The £24,000-a-year full time role as a “Vicar Choral” – the name for an adult member of the choir – will start in September, as Ms Jones is due to give birth to a baby daughter in May. The former freelance singer has worked on soundtracks to Harry Potter and the Hobbit, and joined Sting on his “lute tour” in 2006. Ms Jones will be the first permanent female member of the choirCredit:Stefan Rousseau/PA Choristers in St Paul's Cathedral in London after a rehearsal ahead of their busiest weeks of the year. Pedestrians battle high winds as they cross Millennium Bridge in view of St Paul's Cathedral  St Paul’s has never had a full-time female choristerCredit:Luke MacGregorcenter_img “These posts just don’t come up very often.  I feel really privileged to have been in the right place at the right time,” she said. She knows many of the choir members already, having worked with them on other projects – and says she only anticipates awkwardness when touring. “I’m sure things will come up. I’m sure touring with a largely male group will be interesting.”But a number of people in the choir are already colleagues of mine so it’s all very friendly,” she said. Now a practising Christian, Ms Jones did not grow up going to church but found religion while at Cambridge, where she also met her husband, who was in a rival college choir. St Paul’s Cathedral choir includes 26 boy treble choristers, eight probationers and 12 Vicars Choral, the professional adult singers who take the alto, tenor and bass parts.Almost all other cathedral choirs have started accepting girls. Last year, St Paul’s was one of four Anglican cathedrals left without girl choristers. Andrew Carwood, director of music at St Paul’s, said: ‘We are delighted that Carris is joining the Choir. The final round of auditions was of a very high standard and her appointment was a unanimous decision.’ The singer, who has a son, Robin, 2, with husband Oliver Hunt, also a musician, had ambitions to work in the Foreign Office after she graduated from Cambridge with a 2:1 in her master’s degree in history. Instead – after a brief period in the Civil Service – she became a musician, singing on film soundtracks and in operas before joining the choir at Catholic church the London Oratory.She got the job after responding to an advert which made it clear women and men would be considered, and beating tough competition – from both genders – over several rounds of auditions. She feels a “responsibility” being the first woman in the cathedral choir. “It wasn’t just for me, it was for lots of my other female colleagues as well. I feel very lucky to be joining a choir that has been so keen for so long to get women involved. 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

Marine A to be freed soon supporters hope after murder conviction replaced

first_imgA Royal Marine imprisoned for murdering a wounded Taliban fighter could be freed in months or even weeks his supporters hope, after senior judges quashed his conviction.Alexander Blackman’s crime should be downgraded to manslaughter because he was mentally ill at the time of the killing and under “quite exceptional” stress, an appeal court ruled.The 42-year-old former sergeant now faces a substantial cut in sentence at a new hearing expected later this month and could even be released immediately because of time already served. Blackman, better known as Marine A, has already spent nearly three-and-a-half years in prison, so any new sentence of less than seven years is expected to see him immediately freed on licence.His wife, Claire, appeared tearful as the Lord Chief Justice announced in the High Court that her husband’s murder conviction was to be overturned after a high-profile campaign to see him freed.Speaking afterwards, she said: “We are delighted at the judges’ decision to substitute manslaughter by diminished responsibility.”This is a crucial decision and one that much better reflects the circumstances that my husband found himself in during that terrible tour of Afghanistan.”We must now wait for the sentencing hearing and hope to secure a significant reduction in Al’s sentence.” Show more Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman The men became physically tired and Blackman in particular was deprived of sleep.The threat of insurgent attacks was constant and “there was a constant threat of apparently friendly people acting as insurgents”.The judges ruled Blackman “regarded himself as responsible for the member of his troop, particularly those with children (he had none); he therefore undertook more patrols and risks to himself so that his troops could all get home safely”.Blackman also felt he was not being supported by his commander, Lt Col Ewen Murchison.Jonathan Goldberg QC, Blackman’s lawyer, said afterwards: “In a long career as defence counsel I recall few cases that were prosecuted as remorselessly as this one from first to last.“And they involved dangerous criminals, not a hitherto exemplary British soldier driven way past his breaking point in an impossible war by hellish conditions and inadequate moral and material support.”Despite quashing the conviction, the judges ruled they “could see no basis for any criticism of the conduct of the court martial” by the military judge who presided. Claire Blackman (C) stands with veteran Royal Marines in Parliament Square during a rally calling for her husband The 30-page ruling in the Court Martial Appeal Court said Blackman’s decision to kill “was probably impulsive and the adjustment disorder had led to an abnormality of mental functioning that substantially impaired his ability to exercise self control.” Five judges led by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said Blackman’s original court martial should have heard evidence from psychiatrists about his mental health, so that it could have considered the lesser charge.Blackman had been an “exemplary soldier” before his deployment to Afghanistan in March 2011 as part of 42 Commando. Describing the conditions Blackman had been under during his Helmand deployment, the judges said Blackman had been posted to a small, undermanned checkpoint he felt was insecure and could be overrun.“There was powerful evidence that members of the multiple under the command of [Blackman] were always on edge and did not feel safe at night.” The case will be heard by five judges at the Court Martial Appeal CourtCredit:Eddie Mulholland Daily dangers faced at the checkpoint were “acute”. Marines were required to patrol for five to 10 hours each day in 122F (50C) heat, carrying up a minimum of 100lb of kit. Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander BlackmanCredit:Andrew Parsons/PA Claire Blackman (C) stands with veteran Royal Marines in Parliament Square during a rally calling for her husbandCredit:Peter Macdiarmid/LNP The film showed Blackman shoot the unnamed insurgent in the chest at point blank range and then turn to his comrades admitting he had broken the Geneva Convention.But judges yesterday ruled that the stress and the disorder “substantially impaired his ability to form a rational judgement”.They said there was “little doubt” that Blackman was “angry and vengeful and had a considerable degree of hatred for the wounded insurgent”, but on earlier deployments he had been able to control himself. The case will be heard by five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court But while stationed in a small checkpoint in Helmand’s Nad-e Ali district, he suffered from “quite exceptional” stresses that led to him developing a mental illness called an adjustment disorder.Blackman was originally sentenced to life for murder and told he would have to serve at least eight years in prison after helmet camera footage of the killing was discovered. 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

Damien Hirsts £3m Cotswolds manor home left as heap of scaffolding as

first_img“Locals have asked if the scaffolding is going to be removed but he’s never approached the parish council. When Damien Hirst bought it… When Damien Hirst bought Toddington Manor, it was hoped that British art’s enfant terrible would restore the dilapidated Cotswolds estate to its former glory. Joe Humber, chairman of Toddington parish council, in Gloucs, said: “People with a view of Toddington Manor are a bit fed up. It is not illegal to cover a property with scaffolding, but it is not the best look.center_img But 13 years on, the Grade I-listed house still stands clad in scaffolding, and locals complain that little of Hirst’s estimated £270  million fortune appears to have been spent on refurbishment.last_img

Salisbury poisoning Two men charged over Novichok attack are Russian military intelligence

Two Russian men charged over the Salisbury poisonings are officers of Vladimir Putin’s military spy agency, Theresa May has told the House of Commons. Two Russian nationals accused of carrying out Salisbury attack Enough evidence to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov Theresa May: Pair members of GRU, Russia’s military spy service Step-by-step: CCTV timeline reveals suspects’ 54 hours in the UK Novichok found at two-star London hotel where suspects stayed Jeremy Corbyn accused of ‘weaselly’ response to naming suspects Russia’s GRU: Murky spy agency accused of being behind attack 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. Prosecutors said there is enough evidence to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with offences… read more

DUP Terrorists are not vitcims

The DUP has called for the definition of a victim to be changed to ensure that an innocent victim of a bomb plot is not placed in the same legal category as a terrorist bombmaker.Arlene Foster, the leader of the Unionists, has expressed “major concerns” about how the Northern Ireland Office’s planned legislation to categorise paramilitaries injured during attacks in the same bracket as their targets or innocent bystanders.In a response to the Government consultation addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past, she said: “In our opinion, there is a clear distinction in law between a terrorist perpetrator and their innocent victim. To equate the two is morally wrong and indefensible.“The Government should bring forward plans now to change the definition of a victim so there is a clear distinction made between perpetrators and victims.“We believe this could improve the existing climate and context and offer the best prospect of new bodies proving successful.”A Government consultation on addressing the legacy of past violence is closing, with bodies suggested including an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to seek criminal prosecutions and an information retrieval organisation. She added that without significant amendment any new legislation would not meet the objective of properly addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past. A soldier patrols the Falls Road area of West Belfast in the pouring rain at the height of the TroublesCredit:RUSSELL BOYCE /Reuters She added: “The DUP considers the best opportunity for justice to come from an investigatory team with full police powers.“It is important that any new structures would be proportionate given that 90 percent of deaths were caused by terrorists, and there should be an end to witch hunts against those in the forces of law and order who acted bravely, honourably and appropriately.”Meanwhile, Sinn Fein said the Unionist’s stance was an attempt to introduce an amnesty for British state forces and could scupper the whole legal process.Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillon said she backed the current definition of a victim that dates back to 2006, adding that all should be equal under the law.Sinn Fein has described as “appalling” the Police Federation for Northern Ireland’s (PFNI) stance on legacy issues.Serving police officers have urged the Government to scrap its “one-sided and unfair” legacy proposals for Northern Ireland.The Federation characterised the HIU as a parallel police service and said a suggested new offence of “non-criminal police misconduct” could be construed as another word for collusion.Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly said: “For the Police Federation to warn that PSNI officers and former RUC and PSNI officers will not co-operate with legally-constituted bodies dealing with the legacy of the conflict is appalling.” A soldier patrols the Falls Road area of West Belfast in the pouring rain at the height of the Troubles He challenged the Federation to clarify whether its members are withholding information about past crimes, following comments by its chairman Mark Lindsay. 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

Viktorija Sokolova murder Teenage killer convicted after fingerprint was lifted from video

Video footage of a fingerprint helped convict a teenage boy of the “inexplicably” violent murder of a 14-year-old in what is believed to be a legal first.The 16-year-old, who cannot be identified because of his age, launched a “ferocious and sustained” attack on Lithuanian-born Viktorija Sokolova after she refused to have sex with him when they met in a park.He “smashed her head in” with at least 21 hammer blows so brutal that three of her teeth came out, then left her semi-naked body slumped on a bench before fleeing the scene and going to great lengths to cover his tracks.He hid his mobile phone behind his wardrobe but detectives investigating the crime recovered a video from his brother’s Huawei mobile phone that proved crucial to their case.In the hours after the murder, in the early hours of April 12, the killer had scrolled through his iPhone for passwords as he prepared to delete evidence linking him to Viktorija.He recorded information in the Notes app, relating to log-on details and and email addresses but filmed himself doing so, on his brother’s phone. 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 boy, who refused to give evidence, claiming to be suffering from learning difficulties, initially denied even meeting Viktorija.The hammer-like weapon used to batter the schoolgirl to death and the trainers and clothing he wore have never been found.Adjourning the case for psychiatric reports, High Court judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker told the boy: “As has been explained to you there is only one sentence which can be imposed upon you.”However I do have to consider the appropriate minimum term that you will have to serve, and for that purpose I am going to ask for various pieces of information about you.”Viktorija’s mother and stepfather, Karolina Valantiniene and Saidas Valantinas, who had reported her missing, were eliminated from the inquiry at an early stage using CCTV footage.But the couple were called to give evidence after jurors heard that microscopic traces of Mr Valantinas’ semen were found on Viktorija’s underwear, believed to be from innocent transfer from clothing to clothing.Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield said “It’s impossible to imagine what it is like to learn of the murder of your child, then to hear the horrific details of that murder – which are inescapable because they have to be presented in court. “But in this particular case the defence pointed the finger of blame very specifically at Viktorija’s parents – they were asked in court whether they had murdered Viktorija.”In a statement, the couple said: “We were a family, now there are only two of us.”Viktorija will never be replaced and will always be missed dearly. She will remain in our hearts forever.” Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Crown Court, that the brother’s mobile had also been used to conduct a search for “How to delete your Facebook account permanently”He added: “The film recorded on the brother’s phone shows a person holding the defendant’s phone and manually going through the list of notes, opening those that he wished to record.”It has been established that the defendant is the person who is holding his iPhone and going through the notes because the images are of such good quality and definition, that the ridge detail of the left thumb holding the phone could be compared to the corresponding fingerprint of the defendant, and they were found to match.”The boy remained composed in the dock as the jury foreman announced that had unanimously agreed he was guilty of Viktorija’s murder.The defendant, who was cleared of sexual penetration of a corpse, faces an automatic life sentence when he is sentenced on February 22.The three-week trial had heard how Viktorija was lured to Wolverhampton’s West Park late on April 11 after being contacted by her killer on Facebook Messenger.The male youth was later caught on CCTV as he attempted to cover up the offence by hiding clothing, having deleted Facebook messages and hurled his victim’s phone towards a lake. The footage did not show his face, but a recognisable fingerprint on the phone in the video was “lifted” and used to prove his identity. Karolina Valantiniene, mother of Viktorija SokolovaCredit:Aaron Chown/PA Karolina Valantiniene, mother of Viktorija Sokolova read more

Jack Shepherd to return to UK as court hears he will not

Jack Shepherd stands in a court room in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday, Jan 25, 2019Credit:AP Miss Brown’s family urged Shepherd to abandon the appeal against his conviction and accept responsibility for her untimely death.Her parents, Graham Brown and Roz Wickens, have described how his decision to abscond had only compounded their grief, forcing them to wait for justice to be served.James Brokenshire, Mr Brown’s local MP, said he had been in contact with them on Tuesday.“They clearly welcome the news that Jack Shepherd is no longer contesting extradition in Georgia & can now return to the UK to face justice,” he wrote on Twitter.“With Shepherd’s return to the UK it is their wish that he now accepts responsibility and atones for his actions. Also that he drops the appeal against his conviction which can only cause more pain & anguish for the family.”Shepherd first appeared in a Georgian court on January 23 after handing himself into his local Tbilisi police station. In the initial hearing, a judge decided he would be preliminary detained in a Georgian prison for three months after his defence team argued that his life “would be in danger” if he returned to Britain.Three days later, the prosecution called an emergency hearing to offer Shepherd the option of a fast track extradition which he declined.Shepherd’s lawyers claimed in court that they had also been victims of abuse, with Ms Kublashvili adding: “It is pressure put on me, it is insulting and denigrates my personal privacy and dignity.“We are seasoned lawyers but these threats really intimidated us.” The father-of-one has previously claimed his life would be in danger if he had to serve his sentence in Britain.His lawyers used yesterday’s hearing set out a list of “demands” to ensure their client’s “future safety” when he returns to the UK, after they alleged he had been threatened on numerous occasions. Miss Brown died when she was flung into the river from a speedboat in December 2015 Maiko Tchanturidze She said: “The UK authorities completely observe human rights, the rule of law and the civic rights of its citizens.“We are sure that, in the case of his extradition, no one will threaten his life. The defence did not hand over any evidence that proved the threats will be dangerous or violent.” Jack Shepherd, the speedboat killer, will be brought back to Britain after telling a court he will not fight his removal from Georgia.Shepherd today appeared at a court hearing in Tbilisi, Georgia, where a judge confirmed that he will be extradited to the UK within days after an official request from the Crown Prosecution Service was filed earlier this month.The 31-year-old, who had previously vowed to fight extradition, fled to Georgia in March last year after he was charged with killing Charlotte Brown, 24, in a speedboat crash on the River Thames whilst on an alcohol-fuelled date.He was convicted in his absence and jailed for six years for manslaughter by gross negligence.Supported in court yesterday by his rumoured girlfriend Maiko Tchanturidze, 24, Shepherd told the court he would not fight extradition because he “wished to participate in the appeal process for my freedom and to be reunited with those I love – my family my son.” Shepherd was supported in court today by his rumoured girlfriend Maiko TchanturidzeCredit:Sam Tarling/The Telegraph Jack Shepherd stands in a court room in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday, Jan 25, 2019 However Judge Arsen Kalatozishvili refuted the requests, saying he is not in a position to decide. “Why are we talking about this? I am not the person who can say yes or no,” he told Ms Kublashvili.Shepherd is set to appeal his manslaughter conviction in the Court of Appeal upon his return to the UK and Tariel Kakabadze, another one of Shepherd’s lawyers, said it is “impossible” for him not to be acquitted.“I am sure the three judges who consider his case and hear his evidence will acquit him. This conviction was wrong. The chances are enormously high that he will be acquitted,” Mr Kakabadze told the hearing.Nanuka Zazunashvili, prosecuting, said it was a matter of “national principle” that Shepherd is extradited to face justice in the UK and challenged suggestions that he would be unsafe when he returns. Miss Brown died when she was flung into the river from a speedboat in December 2015Credit:Tim Stewart Lawyer Mariam Kublashvili told the hearing: “He demands around the clock 24 hour video and audio control when he is in his prison cell.“He demands he is in a prison cell alone and that he has special guards in a special cell.“He demands transparent imprisonment until the Court of Appeal acquit him. He says that is all of these demands are met, he will be able to participate fully in the retrial.” 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

Prince Charles criticised by official sex abuse inquiry over misguided relationship with

Ball was deemed too ill to give evidence to the inquiry in person, but submitted a lengthy statement in which he said he had got to know Charles better after his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, and that their relationship “was one of support and respect”.Following the publication of the report, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, said that lessons should be learned from the report.“Whilst the report acknowledges the progress the Church has made in safeguarding, we recognise that our work must continue at pace in order that we can ensure that the Church is as safe as possible for all.“We are committed to working to bring in specific changes that will help us better protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual and all other forms of abuse. If anyone is affected by today’s report I would urge them to come forward.”A Clarence House spokesman said: “It remains a matter of deep regret to The Prince that he, along with many others, was deceived by Peter Ball over so many years.  “As he made clear in his voluntary witness statement to the Inquiry, at no time did he bring any influence to bear on the actions of the Church or any other relevant authority. His thoughts remain with victims of the abuse suffered over many years.” A spokesman for Carey said he offered “no comment”. Meanwhile investigators concluded that Carey’s response to allegations surrounding Bell was “weak” and that he failed to have regard for the wellbeing of complainants, victims and survivors. The Archbishop’s Council has accepted that the institutional response to the allegations against Ball displayed “moral cowardice”. Ex-Bishop Peter Ball Credit:ANDREW LLOYD /ANDREW LLOYD  Prince Charles has been criticised for his “misguided” friendship with a paedophile bishop which could have “influenced” how the Church’s handled abuse allegations.The official child sex abuse inquiry yesterday published its damning investigation into disgraced bishop Peter Ball. It revealed how he “seemed to relish contact with prominent and influential people” and particularly sought to use his friendship with the Prince of Wales “to further his campaign to return to unrestricted ministry” after he received a police caution in 1992.The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report investigated the Diocese of Chichester – where Ball and several other convicted paedophile priests once officiated – and the response to allegations against Ball himself.In 2015 Ball, 87, was convicted of sexual offences against 17 teenagers and young men – one of whom took his own life. He was released from prison in February 2017 after serving half of his 32-month sentence. Show more One of Ball’s victims, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph: “Throughout all of this Prince Charles has tried to distance himself from Ball and play down their close friendship, the nature of which can be seen in letters disclosed to the inquiry. Ex-Bishop Peter Ball   Disgraced ex-bishop, the Rt Rev Peter Ball Prince Charles, Prince of Wales Credit:JENS KALAENE /AFP Ball, the former bishop of both Lewes and Gloucester, “ensured that Lambeth Palace and Archbishop Carey were aware of his friendship with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,” the report said.“He did so in the hope this would influence their treatment of him and, ultimately, ease his return to ministry.” He also let it be known that the Duchy of Cornwall also purchased a property specifically to rent to Ball and his brother, and his “charm, charisma and reputation” enabled him to avoid criminal conviction for decades. It accused the Church of “putting its own reputation above the needs of victims and survivors” by offering secrecy and protection for child abusers which allowed them to “hide in plain sight” for decades.Last year IICSA heard from the Prince of Wales, who was not forced to provide a formal witness statement and instead provided a letter to be read out, sparking concern from victims and lawyers that he was being treated differently from other witnesses.The Prince maintained a correspondence with Ball for more than two decades after his police caution and told the inquiry that he regretted being “deceived” by him over a long period of time “about the true nature” of his activities. He also denied seeking to influence the outcome of police investigations and said he was unsure whether he was told about Ball’s caution until 2009.In one letter, sent from the Prince to Ball in February 1995, he said: “I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated.” “To say that he was simply misguided in continuing that friendship, even after he was made aware of Ball’s police caution, seems to be letting him off rather lightly. He must have been fully aware of the power and influence that his support would bring.“I welcome the work of the inquiry but I can’t help but feel that we will never know the full truth and so those who did contribute to the cover-up may never be properly held to account.”Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who acts for a number of victims, addedthat the report “is a damning indictment of years of church cover up, facilitation of child abuse and denigration and dismissal of victims”.He added: “We may never know the true harm caused by Charles’ intervention and support for Ball, but welcome the fact that the inquiry did not shy away from highlighting his role in this scandal.”The IICSA report also found the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) missed an opportunity to charge Ball with a slew of offences in 1992, which he subsequently admitted in 2015. It concluded that of the 42 Dioceses in England and Wales, Chichester received the most reports of child sexual abuse – with 18 convictions over 50 years. Much of this was as a result of “clericalism and tribalism” in the Diocese and many of these convictions were not secured until years after the offences had taken place. It also said the church’s apology “remains unconvincing”. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales   Disgraced ex-bishop, the Rt Rev Peter BallCredit:David Jones /PA Wire Furthermore, investigators also found that Prince Charles’s correspondence with George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, “could have been interpreted as expressions of support” for Ball and an attempt to influence Lambeth Palace in his favour.It was during this period of Ball’s campaign to woo members of the Royal Family and his “allies” within the clergy’s upper echelons – including figures such as former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Donald Coggan – that the Prince of Wales and his private secretary spoke about Ball with the former Archbishop.As a result, the IICSA report concluded that “the actions of the Prince of Wales were misguided. His actions, and those of his staff, could have been interpreted as expressions of support for Peter Ball and, given the Prince of Wales’ future role within the Church of England, had the potential to influence the actions of the Church.”The report added that while the Prince of Wales has stated that he “took no position on Peter Ball’s return to ministry, he and his private secretary enquired about Peter Ball within Lambeth Palace. He should have recognised the potential effect that his apparent support for Peter Ball could have had upon decision-making within Lambeth Palace.” 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

6 bandits rob mother daughter at Cornelia Ida

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedE-Networks staff, customers robbed at Cornelia Ida by armed duoAugust 3, 2017In “Crime”Cornelia Ida family traumatized as bandits invade their homeOctober 27, 2016In “Crime”2nd stolen Toyota Premio car belonging to taxi driver recovered by policeJanuary 30, 2018In “Crime” …Quick response by police leads to arrest of 4Quick response and diligent work by ranks of ‘D’ Division yesterday resulted in the apprehension of four of six suspects along with a firearm and ammunition, shortly after they executed an armed robbery on a shop located at Cornelia Ida, W.C.D, escaping with valuables inclusive of cash, jewellery and a cellular phone.Investigations revealed that about 13:25hrs  four males entered the business operated by a mother and daughter and pretended to be customers. Minutes after, two of the men whipped out firearms, pounced and subsequently relieved the victims of their valuables and fled the scene in a waiting Spacio Motor Car while discharging several rounds in the air.The matter was reported and ranks promptly responded and intercepted the getaway car (Spacio) several villages east of Cornelia Ida, with only the driver who hails from ‘D’ Field Sophia.According to the police the driver disclosed that the other occupants (bandits) entered another vehicle driven by another of their associates, heading towards the Harbour Bridge.Observing that police ranks were in place at a “road block” at the Western end of the Harbour bridge, the car transporting the bandits sped away into Parfaite Harmonie, and crashed into a concrete culvert, during which the driver who hails from Section ‘K’ Vryheid, E.C.D, was alleged to have been accidentally shot in his upper right arm by one of his armed accomplices.The bandits, reportedly, desperate in wanting to get across the Harbour bridge to escape from the police, abandoned their injured accomplice and boarded separate vehicles destined for Georgetown. Two of them were nabbed at the Harbour Bridge; one who hails from Lamaha Park Georgetown  with the unlicensed firearm and five rounds.According to the police he has since admitted to the crime and for shooting his accomplice, who was treated at the West Demerara Regional Hospital and discharged. Efforts are being made to have the other two suspects arrested.The two vehicles involved in the crime were lodged.Investigations are in progress. read more

Lindo Creek CoI Govt Pathologist says he never conducted autopsies on

Government Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh today (Thursday) testified at the ongoing Lindo Creek Commission of Inquiry (COI) that he never conducted post mortem examinations on the eight (8) miners who were killed.Government Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh at the COI on ThursdaySometime between June 12, 2008 and June 24, 2008, miners Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres were shot and killed, and their bodies burnt at the Upper Berbice River mining camp, which was being operated by Leonard Arokium.Sigh told the CoI that after initial attempts to reach the scene of the crime failed, he recalled being at home watching the news when he saw that the police were able to bring out the bones of the miners to the City.The veteran doctor said however, that he was never contacted to do an independent autopsy on the bones. He noted further that he became aware by then Police Commissioner Henry Greene that an Indian National from Jamaica was hired to conduct the examinations  and as such, he did not participate.The Government pathologist also told the CoI that he did not see the report done by the other pathologist  from Jamaica.Moreover, he posited that the police should have placed the recovered bones in eight separate bags. “You got to be careful how you removing these things. The problem is that you need to get it separated as much as possible. You just can’t go and scoop them up and put them in a bag and bring them” Singh said while outlining that if he was present at the crime scene he would have ensured that the bones were separated since it would have provided  a better opportunity for examination.Singh also said that it would be “very difficult”  after 10 years to make any findings now, even if the bones were exhumed.Commissioner, Lindo Creek CoI, retired Justice Donald TrotmanChairman of the CoI Justice (ret’d) Donald Trotman, told this media group in an prior interview that the 10-year time lapse is proving to be a disadvantage as the Commission does its work.Trotman had explained that because of the time that elapsed, the DNA evidence that would have been important in giving the Commission more valuable information and leads have been disposed of.However, he noted that although the majority of the DNA evidence has been disposed of, the Commission has been furnished with the remaining which it intends to use “very importantly and valuably” to further its work.The Lindo Creek CoI is the first of what the coalition Government has said would be a series of inquiries into the hundreds of killings, which occurred during a crime wave that began in 2002. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedFineman’s gang was responsible for the Lindo Creek Massacre -Top CopMarch 13, 2018In “Crime”Deputy Superintendent of Police testifies at Lindo Creek CoIMay 15, 2018In “Crime”Lindo Creek CoI: Slain prison escapee Varswyck was part of team hunting ‘Fine Man’ says HughesApril 4, 2018In “Crime” read more