2 10 19

Every four years a sporting event comes around that unites the world for a month of fun, friends and football – or as its known in the U.S., soccer. The World Cup, coming again in 2014, is one of the most well-viewed sporting events in the world. With 32 countries worldwide taking part, it brings people together in a way no event besides the Olympics truly does. Even in the United States, a country where soccer generally takes a backseat to football, basketball and baseball, the World Cup is an event that draws many sports fans and patriots. But with an aging group of stars and a tight race in World Cup Qualifying, the status of United States soccer fandom could potentially hang in the balance this summer. Without a Confederations Cup spot this summer to help boost its reputation, like in 2009 when the United States upset Spain, 2-0, qualifying remains the only outlet for U.S. national team fans to cheer on their team. Sitting in third on goal differential in Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) World Cup Qualifying’s final round after three matches, the U.S. team’s qualification chances could be on the line when Mexico comes to Columbus on Sept. 10. But much more than that, soccer’s growth over the past few years could also be at risk in this qualification cycle. This is a country of short attention spans, and if a sport isn’t keeping its attention, it will move on. If the men’s national team fails to make it to Brazil in 2014 then it might be in danger of being forgotten. In recent years, the U.S. has reached an unprecedented level of success, making it to six straight World Cups, dating back to 1990, but the team is a state of flux. Although stars like Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan are still with the team, many players are getting older and might be participating in one of their last World Cup cycles. Without an attention-grabbing team, or even star, the U.S. could find itself in a precarious position of slipping into obscurity. Fortunately for the U.S., this is all just speculation. It is too early in the final round of qualifying to start talking about what will happen if the goal of a World Cup isn’t achieved. But once September rolls around, who knows? A win against Mexico could mean everything to the team. Will there always be a small group of loyal U.S. soccer fans? Of course, but for a sport that has been trying to break into the mainstream in this country for years, it is incredibly important not to slip up at one of its most vital moments. The U.S. is set to continue its qualifying push on a road game against Jamaica on June 7. read more

2 10 19

OSU redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) runs through Maryland defenders on his way to the end zone Oct. 4 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. OSU won, 52-24. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThere were a lot of unknowns heading into Ohio State’s matchup with Maryland, but the Buckeyes left College Park, Md., with a series of questions answered.Whether the question was whether OSU could find success against a bear defensive front from a Big Ten opponent, or if redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett could continue to develop, the Buckeyes are set to head into a bye week with improvement — but not overhaul — in mind.The Lantern sports editors picked five of the most important takeaways for OSU coming off Saturday’s 52-24 win.1. The Barrett era is in full swingThere’s no way around this one — no matter what co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman says. Barrett is simply light years ahead of where he was expected to be at this point in the season.Herman has continuously said he isn’t surprised by Barrett’s play, but if that’s the case, the Wichita Falls, Texas, native would have at least locked up the backup spot well before senior Braxton Miller went down with an injury.Barrett’s numbers against Maryland were — once again — highly impressive. He completed 18 of 23 pass attempts for 267 yards and four touchdowns, while also finishing second on the team with 71 rushing yards and another score.So far this season, the Rider High School product has accumulated 1,354 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, and run for 276 yards and two more touchdowns. His 186.3 passer efficiency rating is the best in the Big Ten and fourth best in the nation. Barrett’s average of 326 total yards per game also puts him atop the conference, and tied for 13th in the NCAA.Those numbers are good — really good — no matter who you are. The fact that he’s an inexperienced redshirt-freshman who would have been an afterthought if not for Miller’s injury just makes it that much more impressive.2. Sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa is probably the best player on the teamNot only is Bosa arguably the best player on the team, but he’s one of the most dominant players in the nation.His numbers aren’t earth-shattering quite yet, but he takes over games and causes a lot more havoc than simple sacks and tackles for loss can show. But that said, Bosa’s numbers are still very strong as he leads the Buckeyes with 3.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss.On top of tallying one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss against Maryland, he also helped force a throw from Terrapins’ redshirt-senior quarterback C.J. Brown that was intercepted by redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee. That play led to an OSU touchdown pass from Barrett to redshirt-junior tight end Nick Vannett and more or less sealed the game for the Buckeyes.3. The Buckeye offensive line is hitting its strideEver since the Buckeyes gave up seven sacks in a loss to Virginia Tech, the OSU offensive line is starting to impose its will on opposing defenses.Granted, they haven’t quite played a team as talented as the Hokies since then. But after breaking a school record against Cincinnati and keeping a balanced offense against the Terrapins, the Buckeyes have every reason to be excited about their line.In its last two games, OSU has turned the ball over just once and has amassed more than 1,200 offensive yards. Add Barrett’s impressive decision-making to the improving line play, and you have the makings of a top-tier offense.We’re not saying the Buckeyes boast one of the better offenses in the country, simply because they have done it against B-list opponents. However, think about this: three of OSU’s six offensive touchdowns Saturday were scored by freshmen or sophomores and there is just one starting senior on the offensive line.Plenty of cause for excitement if you are a Buckeye fan.4. Michael Thomas is emerging as a starWith uncle and NFL legend Keyshawn Johnson in attendance, redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas put on a show.Thomas led the Buckeyes with 75 yards on four catches Saturday, none more impressive than his lone touchdown in the back of the end zone and over the back of a defender.The catch was Johnson-esque and occurred right in front of the OSU section of Byrd Stadium.There is no doubt that Thomas is the Buckeyes’ best overall receiver right now, and if he continues to be Barrett’s go-to guy, he could very well go down as one of OSU’s best if he continues to play like he is.5. Special teams make a differenceThere’s no doubt that OSU would have won even without Lee’s interception and the ensuing Vannett touchdown, but there’s also no doubt that it was a big momentum shift in the game.And none of it would have happened without sophomore punter Cameron Johnston.His 69-yard punt that pinned the Terrapins deep in their own territory was one of the biggest plays of the game, and especially big for him after he struggled earlier this season.While stalled drives haven’t been a big problem for the Buckeyes, coach Urban Meyer can rest easy when OSU does have to punt if Johnston keeps booming kicks like that, instead of shanking them straight out of bounds.There’s still a problem with redshirt-senior kicker Kyle Clinton hitting the ball out of bounds on kickoffs, but the coaching staff seemed to fix that later in the game by having him kick down the hash marks instead of toward the right corner.The Buckeyes are scheduled for a bye week before taking on Rutgers on Oct. 18 at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. read more

2 10 19

OSU junior guard Kelsey Mitchell looks to move he ball inside against No. 9 seed Northwestern on March 3 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. OSU won, 99-68. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Sports DirectorOhio State junior guard Kelsey Mitchell was named an Associated Press second team All-American on Monday, collecting the honor for the third straight year. Earlier in the season, Mitchell received the Big Tens Player of the Year for her second consecutive season. This season marks the third year which she has led the Buckeyes in scoring.The Cincinnati native is also the quickest player to score 2,000 points in the NCAA. Mitchell leads the Buckeyes in three-points made and is on-track to become the Buckeyes all-time leading scorer, trailing OSU’s leading scorer, Jantel Lavender, by only 265 points.OSU lost to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 on Friday, ending its season. read more

2 10 19

Ohio State freshman Kyle Young looks to pass into the post against Walsh in an exhibition game on Nov. 5 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing Editor for ContentOhio State’s forward depth continues to wane thin as freshman forward Kyle Young is out with an ankle injury for the Buckeyes’ game against William and Mary, an Ohio State spokesperson said Saturday. With center Micah Potter’s continued absence from the team, Ohio State now will turn to sophomore forward Andre Wesson as the primary backup to center Kaleb Wesson and forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop. Young has averaged 2.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game. He registered a career-high six points and four rebounds against Michigan in the team’s 71-62 win against the Wolverines Monday. read more

30 09 19

After winning the U.S. Open in June, his second consecutive major victory, Jordan Spieth sought to pre-empt the eager golf press from christening a rivalry between him and Rory McIlroy, the man whose world No. 1 ranking he was rapidly threatening.“Rory has four majors and dozens of wins, and I’m just starting out,” Spieth told reporters.Spieth is correct about his relative inexperience; he turned 22 in July and is in only his third PGA Tour season. But what he has accomplished in 2015 is on pace to surpass anything achieved in a single season by McIlroy — or anyone else in modern PGA Tour history, for that matter — at such a young age.Spieth’s raw exploits this season are impressive: four wins, including two majors, and six other top-five finishes. But if we want a more exact sense of how his 2015 compares to other great seasons in golf history, we must place them all on a standard scale. To do that, I compiled data from GOLFstats.com, converting the leaderboard of every PGA Tour event since 1970 into a set of z-scores (a metric1Used previously at FiveThirtyEight and Grantland. that considers how many standard deviations from the mean2Computed using only players who made the cut in a given tournament. a player’s score was). The average z-score for all of a player’s tournaments in a given season represents his performance that year.According to that metric, here are the best 20 seasons in modern PGA Tour3Which includes all official PGA Tour tournaments except match-play events (which don’t lend themselves to z-scoring). history:The sheer dominance of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, who account for the first 11 spots on the list, is striking. Although it would generate little controversy to label them the two greatest golfers of all time, these numbers help emphasize how far ahead of the field they were. What is perhaps even more astonishing is that the first non-Tiger, non-Jack name to appear on this list is Spieth’s, for his performance this year.We’re in the midst of Spieth’s age-22 season (for this analysis, I defined a player’s age as the oldest he was at any point during the season in question), and thus far, he’s been a lot better than Woods was at the same age. Woods’s average z-score of -0.95 in 1998 ranks outside the top 50 seasons of all time. Likewise, McIlroy’s average z-score in his age-22 season was -0.58, which didn’t even rank among the top performances of 2011, much less the best seasons ever.4Even McIlroy’s age-23 season, in 2012 — his best year on tour, punctuated by a record-setting win at the PGA Championship — ranks 32nd on this list, 20 spots behind Spieth’s 2015. And Spieth’s rise could be even scarier for the rest of the tour, considering the leap taken by both McIlroy and Woods between the ages of 22 and 23.(As for Nicklaus, I don’t have complete data on his age-22 season, in 1962 — although Jack’s three wins and 16 top-tens compare favorably to Spieth on the surface.)Of course, Spieth will have to sustain his current pace for a few more months to fully warrant this praise. And if he emerges from this weekend’s PGA Championship with his third major of the season, his case will almost certainly be helped; the average z-score for PGA winners since 1970 is -2.39 (a mark that would help him cut ever deeper into the Woods/Nicklaus monopoly). But even if Spieth goes without another victory in 2015, his performance to date suggests that he will not be able to downplay his on-course credentials for long. read more

30 09 19

Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks 82-81 at Chicago’s United Center on Halloween night.Rose connected on a last shot with 5.7 seconds left to lift Chicago to the win in his first regular season home game since he hurt his left knee a year and a half ago.“That’s what builds your resume,” Rose said. “Leaves a mark on your legacy.”Rose it the final shot when it counted but he didn’t have a great night, scoring 18 points on 7-of-23 shooting and committed four turnovers.Tyson Chandler went 1 for 2 at the foul line to give the Knicks a 81-80 lead with 10.8 seconds remaining. Rose then drove to the baseline and hit a floater over Chandler and Raymond Felton for the winning basket.“I was right there. He just made a big-time play,” Chandler said. “I don’t know if he saw the basket to be honest with you.”The Knicks had another shot, but Carmelo Anthony missed a long jumper as the time ran out.“I got the look I wanted,” Anthony said. read more

28 09 19

After the Brooklyn Nets’ dramatic victory in Game 7 of the first round of the NBA playoffs on the road (itself a rare feat), the team’s next challenge will be facing the defending champion Miami Heat.The Heat are favored, with opening lines giving them around an 85 percent chance of advancing — and they’re relatively close to even money to take home their third consecutive championship. Miami’s 54-28 regular-season record was 10 games better than Brooklyn’s 44-38, and its 4.15 SRS (margin of victory adjusted for strength of schedule) led the East, while Brooklyn’s -1.58 SRS isn’t even better than average.Brooklyn mainly has one thing going for it1Well, sort of two: In calendar-year 2014, regular season and playoffs combined, Brooklyn is 38-20 while Miami is 34-21 (of course, that timeframe is cherry-picked). Our natural tendency is to weight recent performance more heavily than earlier performance, but outside of major injuries and trades, there’s not a lot of evidence for this approach’s accuracy in the NBA.: The team swept its regular-season series against Miami, winning all four games. Now, three of those four were decided by one point each, and the other went to double overtime, so it’s not as if the Nets had the Heat completely locked down. Still, if some teams match up better against certain teams than against others (independent of their relative strength), a result like this would make it more likely that Brooklyn is better — at least against Miami — than we might have thought.Intuitions about the importance of such head-to-head records vary substantially: Some commentators and experts cite them liberally, while some stats types dismiss anything that’s based on so few games and/or that doesn’t regard every sport as a weighted random walk. The truth is that there’s a real and demonstrable value of head-to-head record relative to a team’s record against other teams. But that value is limited.While Brooklyn winning four games out of four sounds impressive, it’s only two games above what we would expect to happen by chance. So to have any kind of significance, the relative importance of head-to-head results must be substantially higher than comparable results against other opponents.On the other hand, if a team like Brooklyn “matches up well” against a seemingly stronger team like Miami, its chances of going 4-0 increase dramatically. For example, a team with a 30 percent expectation of winning one game will go 4 for 4 around 0.8 percent of the time, while a team that’s even money in each game will sweep around 6.25 percent of the time. Thus, as a Bayesian matter, going 4-0 makes it much more likely that you “match up well.”That is, if “matching up well” is a real thing. And if it is, it should be a measurable statistical phenomenon. Which it is.To examine this, I gathered all regular- and postseason games from 1985 through 2013. Then, with the goal of predicting each playoff game,2The importance of head-to-head record to predicting game outcomes can be measured in either regular-season or postseason contexts, but focusing on the playoffs simplifies the problem for a couple reasons: 1) Since all regular-season games come before the playoffs, you don’t have to do tricks like using future games to predict present ones; 2) Most regular-season head-to-head records in recent years are out of two or four games with an equal number on the road or at home (with only a minority at three games with one extra home or away). This makes it easier to avoid potential home-court skew. I ran a logistic regression3The kind of regression most commonly used to predict binary outcomes like wins and losses. to estimate a given team’s chances of winning using the following variables:Whether the team is playing at home (1 for home, -1 for away).How well the team did against its opponent in regular-season games. The exact calculation of this is complicated,4For regression purposes, we have to account for series that have a different number of games at home and on the road, so these win differences are actually measured against each team’s expectation given any such advantage it might have. I should note that whether you make this adjustment or not, or even whether you just exclude unbalanced series, the relative value of head-to-head versus other games comes up almost the same. The adjustment allows us to increase the sample size, making the results more robust. but functionally it just means the difference in number of wins.The difference between the teams’ records against all other opponents.5Also slightly adjusted for any home/away imbalance. Essentially, the number of games above .500 one team wins (excluding games against its opponent) minus the number of games above .500 of the opponent (again, except for games against the first team).The result of my calculations:6The two main numbers to observe are the 0.2085 coefficient for H2H_win_difference (in scientific notation as 2.085e-01) and the 0.05478 coefficient (as 5.487e-02) for Not_H2H_win_difference. A prior win against an opponent should initially be weighted about 3.8 times (see coefficients in footnote) more heavily than a game against someone else. Since these games are already twice as valuable as other games by virtue of having both teams involved — a win by Team A is both one more win for it and one more loss for Team B — the bottom line is that previous head-to-head games are worth about as much as two non-head-to-head games per team (3.8/2=1.9).7You also get similar relative weights if you perform this analysis on margin of victory or some variant thereof (though that analysis is a bit trickier).Using the coefficients from that regression output, we can create a logistic function8This is the equation generated by the logistic regression above that we use to predict game outcomes. In Excel it looks like so: =1/(1+EXP(-([Intercept]+[HomeCoefficient]*[h]+[H2HCoefficient]*[H2H_win_difference]+[NotH2HCoefficient]*[NotH2H_win_difference]))). to tell us the odds that a team with given relative strength will win a particular playoff game.The x-axis is a team’s combined regular-season win differential against its opponent (using both head-to-head and non-head-to-head games). For example, Miami scores 10 against Brooklyn because Miami won 54 regular-season games to Brooklyn’s 44. The central black lines are the probabilities of winning home or away games based on win difference alone. The gray lines are the new probabilities when adjusted for a head-to-head difference of +4 or -4 (typically the best and worst possible).9In recent years teams play four games against each other at most during the regular season.So depending on how strong the favorite is, going 4-0 against that team in the regular season can gain the opponent up to a 5 percent better chance of winning a particular playoff game than if the teams had gone 2-2 against each other, and an almost 10 percent higher expectation of victory than if the opponent had gone 0-4.On balance, I think that’s a fairly pro-head-to-head development: Having a 5 percent better chance based on information from only four games that are already included in each team’s overall record is notable when dealing with razor-thin NBA margins.10So if you had that information and someone else didn’t, it would be enough for you to beat the vig betting against him in a sportsbook, easily.Compounded over the length of a series, this is enough to have a pretty significant effect on who advances and who doesn’t.These are calculated series odds for the home team in a best-of-seven series (i.e., the binomial probability of winning at least four games out of four home games plus three away games given the home and away probabilities generated by our regression). There are a couple of things to note from this chart:For teams of even strength, the home team is a 66 percent favorite if it was 4-0 against its opponent in the regular season, but a 45 percent underdog if it was 0-4.The shift in odds for a two-game advantage (usually because of a 3-1 or 2-0 head-to-head record) is approximately the same as the value of having home-court advantage for the series(!).While moderately impressive, this gets us nowhere close to making Brooklyn a favorite against Miami by virtue of its 4-0 record alone (though if this were all the information in the world, the 72 percent odds of Miami winning here would be much worse than the 85 percent predicted by the market).Finally, we can check how well our series estimates perform against actual results by running the same empirical analysis as above, except on series outcomes.As a gut check, the fitted series results and the predicted series results are similar enough. I should note that the sample sizes are too small for these curves (and particularly the head-to-head breakdown) to be completely significant (this is why I used binomial calculations above instead). But this graph has a few interesting points as well:In actual outcomes, home teams with similar overall regular-season win/loss records to their opponents seem to have much worse series records in reality than we would predict. Of the 75 series where teams with home-court advantage had zero to three more wins than their opponents, the home teams won only 39 (or 52 percent, where binomial probabilities would predict greater than 60 percent), including just 14 of 33 who had tied or had only one more win.11While it’s obviously a small sample, this is really a fascinating result: Close series are theoretically exactly the ones where we tend to think home-court advantage would be really useful.Teams with home-court advantage appear to have underperformed our model in series where the difference between teams is small, but have outperformed our model when it’s more of a mismatch.12The multitude of ways that NBA playoff series don’t track with estimated/simulated/calculated projections is a continued source of fascination for me.The head-to-head effect (though based on a smaller sample) actually appears to be a bit bigger than what we would expect from the effects we saw in individual games. A record of 0-4 can decrease a team’s chances of winning its series by up to 25 percent, while the opposite is true if the record is 4-0.Whether or not you find these results surprising, it’s clear that the effect is nowhere near strong enough to take a 10-game dog and make it a favorite. So no luck for the Nets, at least not from this angle. read more

28 09 19

Before the Ohio State men’s basketball team could make its game against Chicago State look easy, they made it puzzlingly hard. Such exertion ultimately made for little more than a speed bump for the No. 10 team in the country, though. After an exceptionally woeful shooting performance doomed the Buckeyes against No. 6 Kansas Sunday, Thad Matta’s crew handled the Cougars, 87-44, in its last non-conference pillow fight before Big Ten play. This particular triumph against Chicago State (3-12) Saturday came in similar form and flavor to OSU’s first nine wins. The Buckeyes (10-2), which shot just 25 percent from the floor in the second half of their game against the Jayhawks, had little trouble connecting against an overmatched opponent. But it didn’t come without a customary sluggish start. “We had a couple guys who weren’t ready to play today,” Matta said. “That was obvious.” And while such lack of preparation hardly was cause for panic for the Buckeyes, it made for an uneasy tone in front of a sleepy Schottenstein Center. Almost inexplicably, even after some players vowed to work harder at creating their own shot in Friday interviews, OSU settled for deep-albeit often wide-open-3-point tries early before seeming to realize that perhaps playing the team with the worst record in the Great West conference shouldn’t be so taxing. Chicago State’s zone defense, a brand admittedly not typically employed by the Cougars, tempted and baited OSU into taking jump shots. “I’m sure we did surprise them,” Cougars coach Tracy Dildy said. “I’m sure they watched film and they hardly saw any zone.” For about the first 12 minutes of the half, it seemed to be working. Against the zone, junior guard Aaron Craft said OSU “started chucking up 3s.” “We got kind of antsy at times,” Craft, who had 10 points and six assists, said. The Buckeyes, much like they did in a 2-of-18 jaunt from behind the arc against Kansas, clunked their way to a 2-of-9 outing from the 3-point line in the first half. Conversely, the long ball might’ve been the only thing offensively keeping Dildy’s squad in the contest. Then came OSU junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s moment of clarity, whose trio of long balls were met with the back of the iron and exasperated claps. “After I shot that third 3 and it didn’t go down, I told myself stop shooting 3s,” Smith Jr., who had 13 points, said. Matta’s crew seemed to start following suit. The Buckeyes, which found that they were far better slashing and sharing the ball through the zone, finished the half on a 23-10 run before connecting on five of its first six possessions in the second half. The 3-point shots, which had been kind to the Cougars early, weren’t falling anymore and OSU made certain to turn their misfortunes into points of their own off of swift play in transition and crisp ball movement. By the 10-minute mark of the second half, the contest, which started with the same shooting ailments that plagued the Buckeyes against the Jayhawks, turned into a comical battle to see if OSU could surpass the 70-point mark, which guarantees free small French fries from McDonald’s for each of the 16,881 in attendance. Back were the theatrics. Back were the dunks from sophomore forward Sam Thompson, who effortlessly floated toward the basket for an alley-oop late in the game that felt like a glorified shootaround. Freshman guard Amedeo Della Valle did his part too, and drained 3-of-4 3-pointers to push the Buckeyes’ lead to 45 points with 2:18 to play in the contest. Much how they had routed similar opponents like Albany, Northern Kentucky, Long Beach State and Savannah State and UNC Asheville, the Buckeyes proved their dominion over teams almost certainly inferior to them. With Big Ten play starting Wednesday against Nebraska, though, OSU likely needs to shore up alarming areas of concern after dropping its only two games to quality opponent in Kansas and Duke on Nov. 28. Rocking the Cougars, likely, didn’t answer any of those questions. Regardless, conference play knocks at the door. “Every night is gonna be fight night,” said OSU junior forward Deshaun Thomas. OSU is set to face Nebraska Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more

28 09 19

Sophomore guard Cait Craft (13) walks off the court during a timeout in a game against Iowa Jan. 19 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 81-74.Credit: Ryan Robey / For The LanternThe Ohio State women’s basketball team (12-9, 2-3) is currently on a two-game losing streak, but it has a chance to gain ground in the conference standings by notching a win against Big Ten rival Michigan (13-5, 4-1) Thursday.The Buckeyes are currently tied for seventh in the Big Ten with Indiana, Northwestern and Wisconsin, while the Wolverines are tied for first place with Penn State and in-state rival Michigan State.In the two teams’ first meeting this season, Michigan won against OSU, 64-49, in Columbus Jan. 5, in a game where offense was hard to come by. The Buckeyes only managed 13 first-half points, a performance that coach Kevin McGuff described as “ugly.”“We did not play well offensively,” McGuff said. “They had a good defensive game plan and we did not react well.”The Buckeyes shot just 31.3 percent from the field in the Michigan loss but showed improvement in that category during Sunday’s loss to Iowa, in which they shot 49.2 percent.Despite a better shooting performance against the Hawkeyes, the feeling in the locker room was still one of disappointment, sophomore guard Cait Craft said.“Lately, the games that we keep coming up short in … it is like we are not even there,” Craft said, referring to the team’s tendency to start slow. “To keep coming back and coming up just a little bit short is disappointing for everybody.”Craft’s comments pertained to the Iowa game in particular, since the Buckeyes dug themselves a 17-point hole and spent the entire game trying to catch up, ultimately losing 81-74.Although the team has been getting off to slow starts because of poor shooting, redshirt-junior guard Amy Scullion said she and her teammates need to keep moving forward and not dwell on losses.“You cannot focus on the past and what we have done wrong,” Scullion said. “Coach (McGuff) put in a new offense for us … (and) moving forward, we are going to try to get a lot more dribble penetration.”OSU has seen success when it rebounds effectively and is 10-0 on the season when outrebounding opponents. Consequently, rebounding well against Michigan during Thursday night’s matchup looks to be a focal point for the team.“It is something that we are always conscience of,” McGuff said. “That will be a big deal for us this week.”While the Buckeyes struggled offensively in their first matchup against Michigan, their defense did hold the Wolverines to more than eight points below than their season average of 72.7 points per game.“By and large, that was not the end of the floor that was our biggest issue,” McGuff said of his team’s defense in the earlier loss to Michigan. “We need to find a way to generate more offense.”The Buckeyes are set to tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. read more

25 09 19

first_imgThis is basic hygiene. It’s not rocket science, it’s common senseProf Hugh Pennington More than a quarter of abattoirs fail to take basic hygiene precautions to prevent contaminated meat reaching butchers and supermarkets, it has been reported.Consumers could be at risk of acute food poisoning from exposure to E.coli, salmonella or campylobacter due to breaches identified at the slaughterhouses.Analysis of government audits at 323 abattoirs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by The Observer and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism identified failings at 86 of them.The breaches, logged during inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), included instances of carcasses touching dirty factory floors while others were splashed with water potentially contaminated with faecal matter. 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 newspaper said a whistleblower also reported records being falsified, raising the risk that contaminated meat had entered the food chain.When animals arrive for slaughter they are often covered in faeces and dirt from farms or transport.Under safety rules any visibly contaminated meat has to be removed from a carcass.However an expert who led a review into fatal E.coli outbreaks warned the precaution does not go far enough as microbes invisible to the naked eye could be missed.Among the bacteria in the gut of animals including cattle is E.coli O157, infection with which can cause severe food poisoning with stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.The pathogen killed more 20 people during an outbreak in Scotland in 1996 and a young boy in Wales in 2005.Professor Hugh Pennington, an eminent microbiologist who chaired inquiries into both outbreaks, said the rate of failure uncovered by the investigation was unacceptable.”This is basic hygiene. It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense,” he told The Observer. “The FSA should be coming down on this like a ton of bricks. It’s very disappointing this is going on.”The main risk is E.coli O157, which my review looked into. The consequences can be catastrophic. People died.”The FSA said abattoirs that are continually non-compliant with safety precautions risked having their licences revoked.”Hygiene failures are not tolerated by the FSA, and robust enforcement action is taken in a risk based and proportionate way,” a spokesman said.”Ultimately if standards are not improving or the risk to public health is high enough, this could mean taking away a premises approval.” Show more last_img read more

25 09 19

first_imgAn NHS hospital is refusing to ban smoking on its premises because it believes doing so would put patients in danger of speeding vehicles.The bosses of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals in Dorset are defending their use of designated smoking areas despite pressure from Government health officials.The trust said it had previously tried a ban of smoking on its grounds, but that this had only forced smokers dangerously close to the adjacent main road where cars and lorries frequently travel at 50 mph. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the campaign group ASH, said: “Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable premature death in Britain killing nearly 100,000 people a year compared to less than 2,000 who die from road traffic accidents.“The single most important change that smokers can make to improve their health is quit – Bournemouth should be doing more to support quitting not facilitating smoking.”Mr Renaut said his trust took proactive measures to persuade smokers to give up their habit. Last week Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie wrote to all NHS trusts urging them to impose total bans on their premises, despite the fact around one quarter of patients smoke.Royal Bournemouth’s stance has provoked criticism from anti smoking groups, who have pointed out that tobacco causes 50 times more deaths each year than road accidents.But the trust’s chief operating officer, Richard Renaut, said: “We currently have a number of designated smoking areas across the Trust.“If we ban smoking on our grounds altogether, as we have tried, it pushes staff, patients and visitors to smoke close to the main roads around the hospital which compromises their personal safety, especially at night.”Nearby Poole hospital is also allowing smokers to continue lighting up on their premises in designated shelters “away from the main hospital buildings”.The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which sets guidance for clinical practice, states that hospital premises, including the grounds, should remain smoke-free.An article in the British Medical Journal last month argued that allowing patients to smoke was a form of “collusion” and “misguided sympathy” on the part of hospital staff. If we ban smoking on our grounds altogether it pushes patients and visitors to smoke close to the main roadsRichard Renaut, Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 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

25 09 19

first_imgThe veterinary nurse was later suspended and sacked from her job and the clinic contacted the Scottish SPCA over its concerns.She was charged with causing her pet unnecessary suffering, including collapse, convulsion and seizures, by injecting it with insulin on June 23, 2013.Bretman denied in court that she “took a dislike to the dog”, and claimed Florence was her “companion”. She will be sentenced next month.The charge carries a maximum penalty of a £20,000 fine or a year in jail. Her former employer Lesley Herd grew suspicious after the dog needed emergency treatment on several occasions after collapsing, twitching and vomiting. Every time, tests showed a low glucose level.Mrs Herd told the court: “The dog was fine between episodes so I really didn’t know what was going on with the dog at all, we couldn’t understand why she was having these episodes.”She added that initially Bretman did not want blood samples sent to a vet school for testing but eventually agreed to it. However, after volunteering to take the blood herself, it never arrived at the institution.Mrs Herd added: “Because of the pattern of collapse and low blood glucose on each occasion, and the fact that the dog was normal between episodes, I was suspicious insulin had been administered to the dog.”The court heard that after Bretman was given an evening off on June 2013, the dog collapsed and they came in for treatment, as Mrs Herd predicted. The spaniel was re-homed after the allegations against Bretman came to light and the court heard she had since returned to good health.Her former owner started working as a veterinary nurse in 2011 for Pet A&E, a clinic in the Kinning Park area of Glasgow which provides care for animals outside normal working hours. The spaniel has been re-homedCredit:Sprindrift An “attention seeking” veterinary nurse at a private clinic deliberately poisoned her pet dog in a bizarre case of animal cruelty that is thought to be the first of its kind to come before the courts.Georgina Bretman, 28, injected her black-and-white cocker spaniel, Florence, with insulin, which made the animal collapse and suffer convulsions and seizures.The damage was so severe that the two-year-old dog could have fallen into a coma or died.Vets at the out-of-hours practise where Bretman worked became suspicious after Florence was brought in for emergency treatment on several separate occasions, always suffering from the same unusual symptoms.Although no explanation was offered as to why she harmed her pet, Glasgow Sheriff Court was told that she was an “attention-seeker”. Georgina Bretman arriving at courtCredit:Spindriftcenter_img vet spaniel On one occasion her employer gave Bretman an evening off, then correctly predicted that within a few hours the dog would suddenly become ill and be brought back to the surgery requiring emergency treatment.In what is understood to be the first prosecution and conviction of its kind of an owner harming their dog in such a way, Sheriff Joan Kerr found Bretman, of Giffnock, Glasgow, guilty of injecting her own dog with insulin resulting in her requiring immediate treatment to “avoid coma or death”. 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

25 09 19

first_imgScotland’s chief constable has stepped aside with immediate effect after fresh allegations of bullying were made against him.Phil Gormley is now facing two separate inquiries by the police watchdog into alleged gross misconduct after a total of three complaints about his behaviour in a matter of months.He said the latest complaint came from a colleague in the force’s senior management team and announced that he would stand down while investigations were carried out.The beleaguered chief constable said he had sought and been granted “special leave” while the claims against him were properly assessed.He also said he denied and rejected the allegations, and intended to resume his duties in the future.Mr Gormley, who has led Police Scotland since 2016, was already facing an earlier allegation of bullying from a superintendent, which emerged in July.He released a short statement saying: “I have been notified by the SPA of a complaint made against me. This complaint originates from a member of the Force Executive.“In the interests of the office of Chief Constable and the broader interests of Police Scotland, I have sought and been granted special leave to enable this matter to be properly assessed. I deny and reject the allegations and will co-operate with the SPA’s assessment and procedures. It is my intention to resume my full duties when this matter has been resolved.” The latest complaint comes from a member of the force’s senior management team, made up of officers ranked at Assistant Chief Constable, or higher, as well as the force’s deputy chief officer and the director of information and communications technology.Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said it had taken Mr Gormley “too long” to make the right decision to temporarily stand aside but commended him for doing so.He added: “The investigation needs to be completed effectively and swiftly so that a police Scotland can move on.  There is a lot to fix in Police Scotland and we need effective leadership to fix it.” Phil Gormley is now facing two inquiries by watchdogCredit:PA Iain Livingstone, one of Police Scotland’s deputy chief constables, will take over the top job while Mr Gormley is on leave.The inquiries are being carried out by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc), which is led by a former prosecutor and investigates allegations of serious misconduct.It will pass its findings to the SPA, which must hold a misconduct hearing, that could lead to dismissal, if it considers there is a case to answer.It is understood the first complaint being looked into was made by a colleague, Supt Graham McInarlin, who was the chief constable’s aide as head of executive support. Willie Rennie said Mr Gormley had finally done the right thingCredit:PA willie renniecenter_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The Scottish Police Authority, which holds the force to account, said it had approved the request and would keep the decision to approve Mr Gormley’s leave request under review on a four-weekly basis. The bullying allegations are just the latest in a series of controversies that have enveloped the national force since it was created by the SNP through the controversial merger of eight regional forces. Sir Stephen House, Mr Gormley’s predecessor, stood down after the force failed to rescue a woman who lay dying in a car for three days that had crashed off one of Scotland’s busiest motorways. phil gormleylast_img read more

25 09 19

first_imgThe artist also said that trustees should be doing more to lobby the government for funding, so museums and galleries do not have to close to the public in order to raise money.A National Portrait Gallery press spokesperson said in a statement: “The gallery is a charity and has to self-generate over 70% of the funds needed. A key income stream is hiring out gallery spaces. Every effort is made to ensure that this activity does not impact on public access, but sometimes due to the nature and complexity of an event some closure is necessary.” Alexandra Shulman, former editor of British Vogue and former trustee of the National Portrait Gallery said it was “very sad” for the estimated 5,000 people who would have otherwise gone to the gallery today.However, she said that it is necessary for it to close in order to raise funds, and that it is important for institutions to support London Fashion Week, which is an important British business event. He explained: “We used to spend 7p in every £100 on the arts and now that’s down to about 3p. That’s just wrong.” 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. Ms Shulman explained: “As I understand it, Erdem has hired the NPG for his fashion show, as we all know public institutions are having their funding cut and to run a fantastic gallery like the National Portrait Gallery is, you need to raise funds. The closure is in the small print on the website and is not advertised on the front page The National Portrait Gallery is closed to the public today for a London Fashion Week show, in a closure which is uncommon for an institution which relies on public funding.Independent British designer Erdem Moralioglu, a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle, has hired out the gallery to showcase his work — but a leading artist has described the closure of the public gallery as a “dangerous precedent.”The National Portrait Gallery has also only announced the closure in small print on its website — which some have argued could lead to disappointed potential gallery goers.Patrick Brill, who creates art under the pseudonym Bob And Roberta Smith, is displayed in the Tate and is a lecture at London Metropolitan University, argued the government should increase funding for the arts so galleries would not have to close to the public.He argued on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme that the situation is “Orwellian…you have to close to stay open”. “I believe that at the moment the Cezanne show, which was a paid-for show, is off, and they’re between shows so they need to find other ways of getting some revenue.” She said she guesses the show will raise a “reasonable” amount of money but warned: “I’m not saying that Erdem as an independent British designers is going to have millions — it’s not like Ralph Lauren taking it over.”Mr Smith described the decision as a “cry for help”, adding: “This is actually a pretty awful precedent, I agree with Alexandra, I don’t think it’s been done on a whim, nobody in these museums wants to close to the public, that’s why these institutions are here, to be open to the public — we own these paintings and the people’s jobs in these museums is to open the doors and get the public in to look at them.” The closure is in the small print on the website and is not advertised on the home pagelast_img read more

25 09 19

first_imgEmoji have become more personliased in recent years Credit:Emojipedia Emoji with darker skin tones are helping people feel included on social media, researchers have found, as they call for even more diversity in the little cartoons.When the inclusive emoji were first introduced in 2015 there were fears that the icons could be used inappropriately or abusively, and could even stoke racial tensions.But when researchers analysed a sample of a billion tweets they found that most people who choose to personalize the colour of their emoji do it to make it more aligned with their own skin tone.And even in tweets where the selected skin tone was different from that of the user, posts were found to be mostly positive.The researchers, from the University of Edinburgh have called for even more options to personalise characters to a greater degree.Alexander Robertson, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, said:  “This result should encourage the addition of more emoji options for self-representation – adding to those that have been recently made available, such as red hair.“I would expect to see options like more combinations of skin and hair colour (at the moment the number of combinations is restricted, for example you can’t have blonde hair and darker skin) and perhaps a wider range of skin tones than the current five.” Emoji have become more personliased in recent years  The study found that users with darker skin, according to their Twitter profiles, were most likely to modify their emoji, while users with light skin were less likely to make any changes. This underlines the importance to users of being able to express their identity online, researchers say.center_img Almost half of modified emoji used a light skin tone, because most users are white, the study found.The darkest skin tones were used least throughout most regions of the world, even in Africa, perhaps reflecting the lack of internet access in developing regions.Dr Walid Magdy, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, who led the research, said: “The introduction of skin tone choices for emoji has been a success in representing diversity and their extensive use shows that they meet a real demand from users.”The study, by scientists at the University of Edinburgh,will be presented at the 12th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media in Stanford, California, in June. 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

25 09 19

Stephen’s murder is the most high profile racially motivated killing in BritainCredit:AFP/Getty Images One of the Stephen Lawrence murder suspects has been arrested by police as he left a gym in Barcelona.Jamie Acourt, one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives, was detained following a joint National Crime Agency (NCA), Metropolitan Police and Spanish National Police operation.Acourt, 41, has been wanted by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of conspiracy to supply cannabis resin between January 2014 and February 2016, the NCA said. The Met Police said: “Today, Friday May 4, Spanish authorities arrested Jamie Acourt, 41, in Barcelona on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.”The EAW was issued as part of the Met’s efforts to trace Acourt in relation to an investigation into the unlawful supply of controlled substances. Ian Cruxton, Head of International Operations for the NCA, said: “Acourt thought he could evade capture.”But as a result of an intelligence-led operation his days on the run have ended.”We were able to direct the Spanish authorities to his location in Barcelona. Both Dobson and Norris were later found guilty of his murder. The other men were never charged.Acourt is the 81st fugitive to be located out of 96 publicised through Operation Captura – an initiative involving the NCA, Crimestoppers and the Spanish authorities. Jamie Acourt has been arrested in Spain 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. “Our ability to share information and work at speed with our international partners ensures there is no safe haven for fugitives. We will never stop pursuing these individuals.”The 25 year anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in the most high profile racially-motivated attack ever, was remembered recently. One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives, Jamie Acourt, was captured in Barcelona today following a joint operation with @metpoliceuk and Spanish National Police.Full story here: https://t.co/yq35UIK458 pic.twitter.com/HX0IMmZjpY— NationalCrimeAgency (@NCA_UK) May 4, 2018 Acourt thought he could evade capture… but as a result of an intelligence-led operation his days on the run have ended.Ian Cruxton, Head of International Operations for the NCA Dobson, left, and Norris, right, were jailed for the murder The south Londoner is allegedly believed to be a principal member of an organised crime group involved in the large-scale supply of cannabis.Armed officers detained Acourt after he left the Metropolitan Sagrada Familia Gym on Friday afternoon, an NCA statement said. He was the subject of a European Arrest Warrant. Jamie Acourt has been arrested in SpainCredit:Granada TV/PA Stephen's murder is the most high profile racially motivated killing in Britain Dobson, left, and Norris, right, were jailed for the murderCredit:PA Acourt, along with his brother Neil and suspects Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris, were all arrested in connection with the crime. Show more “This relates to an investigation launched in 2016 by detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Command.”Extradition proceedings now await.” read more

25 09 19

However, Ms Young claims to have evidence that Mr Young retained an interest in the property until his death after which it was “silently removed”.She believes another individual had “considerable control” of Mr Young’s business interests and accuses him of  lying about them in court.She claims that in an email, he told Mr Young it was time to get tough with “her” or he could see £20million “walk out the door.”Another told the court he did not act for Mr Young in a professional capacity when it later emerged he had control of two Lichtenstein foundations and six off-shore entities known as Project Moscow. Michelle Young, the ex-wife of British businessman Scot Young Determined to take a stand against what they believe is a lack of adherence to the law in the family courts, They have written to Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), urging her to review the evidence and take action to send a message that the failure to disclose assets in the divorce courts will not be tolerated.Their letter warns: “The alternative is to permit the growth of a culture of impunity whereby wealthy men entering divorce proceedings feel it is permissible to mislead, conceal assets and frustrate the course of justice, safe in the knowledge that the Family Courts will almost never treat such misconduct as either necessitating contempt proceedings or worth the trouble of a reference to the Attorney General for an investigation.”Ms Young has spent years fighting for access to what she insists are her late husband’s missing millions. She believes he concealed up to £300 million and hid the assets in a complex web of offshore accounts and companies.Mr Young claimed to have lost his entire fortune when a vast property deal in Russia, known as Project Moscow, collapsed in 2006, leaving him with debts of £30 million. In 2013, Mr Young was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to disclose details of his complex finances. His ex-wife was eventually awarded a £20 million settlement but has yet to receive a penny.In her statement to police, Ms Young accuses her former husband’s associates of providing false evidence to support a conspiracy to defraud by insisting they had no business links with him and concealing his considerable assets, which she says has had a “devastating” effect on her and her two daughters.One of them gave a witness statement insisting that he had never been involved in any joint business venture with Mr Young, who had no legal or beneficial interest in a specific London property. Ms Young claims she was “just a pawn in a twisted game of chess” and is determined to see those she alleges lied on her husband’s behalf face justice.A source close to Ms Hobbs claimed the judge in her own divorce case “completely ignored” a schedule of non-disclosure and false statement prepared by her barrister which she believed proved her former husband had lied under oath, which “beggars belief”.“There is judicial reluctance to deal with non-disclosure and perjury,” the source added. “It is a gentleman’s club, misogynistic to the core.“Both women’s lives were devastated and it was a case of winner takes all.”When approached for comment, Ms Young’s spokesman Richard Hillgrove confirmed that both woman had taken their perjury complaint to the DPP after the police had failed to pursue it.He said their lawyers were resolute they would succeed and that their complaints would be taken seriously and had worked “tirelessly” to bring about a change to the system.He added: “Perjury undermines and corrupts the whole of the legal process. It would heap shame and disgrace on the British legal system if it continued to be ignored and would make a mockery of the system if allowed to become the accepted ‘norm’. “If these cases are prosecuted it would act as a strong deterrent to clean up the system.” 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. Michelle Young, the ex-wife of British businessman Scot YoungCredit:ohn Nguyen/JNVisuals They are founder members of the First Wives Club – divorcees who say they were left with “next to nothing” by their husbands after they refused to fully disclose the true extent of their wealth in the divorce courts.Now Michelle Young, who was locked in a bitter and protracted legal battle with her former husband Scot Young, is seeking perjury charges against three of his associates whom she claims lied in court about his assets, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.She claims to have evidence that they lied about their knowledge and involvement in his various business interests, properties and trusts before his death in December 2014 when he plunged from a window of his fourth floor apartment.Another member of the so-called club, Vivien Hobbs, a successful businesswoman, is demanding that the CPS bring charges against her former husband, a naval architect and ex-CEO of public companies, whom she has accused of aggressively refusing to fully disclose his assets, at enormous cost to herself.The women, who are both being represented by the same heavyweight legal team that includes Imran Khan QC, argue that judges in the family courts know that wealthy tycoons routinely lie about their wealth and yet allow it to happen as they are so obsessed with “driving cases through at the rate of knots”, creating “an unholy mess of injustice.”   Vivien Hobbs and Michelle Young visiting Doughty Street ChambersCredit:Joe Newman for the Telegraph Vivien Hobbs and Michelle Young visiting Doughty Street Chamber They gave statements to the Metropolitan Police but officers declined to investigate. read more

25 09 19

Britain’s defence spending has fallen below two per cent and the MoD is using pension contributions to mask its true figure, an MPs report has said. A Special Report by the Defence Select Committee, using figures covering the last four years, claims that the real level of Defence spending has been below the figure agreed by Nato members for some time. Although the government says it spends 2.1 per cent of GDP on Defence, the new figures suggest Britain first dipped below two per cent in 2014/15 and has not recovered since.The MPs claim that the MoD only met the two per cent benchmark by adjusting what was counted as being part of defence expenditure, such as £1 billion in war pensions and MoD civilian pensions, in 2016. The new accounting method also allowed for British defence expenditure to be officially increased if troops were deployed overseas in greater numbers than anticipated. The Treasury has allocated around £500 million annually for such an eventuality.The government accepts it included new sources of spending in the figures three years ago, but that this was in line with Nato guidelines and was not a Whitehall decision. The figures in the Special Report had not included these new provisions in order to compare current spending with levels before the policy change.   Speaking in a Commons debate on defence spending on Tuesday, Julian Lewis, Chair of the Defence Select Committee, asked if spending 1.8 per cent was credible against an “adversarial Russia and the revival of a terrorist threat from Islamist terrorists”.He said he had written to both Conservative Party leadership contenders seeking assurances that the MoD would be adequately supported were they to win the contest.  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. Mark Lancaster, the Minister for the Armed Forces said that Britain was one of very few Nato members that meets both of the alliance’s core spending guidelines: two per cent of GDP on Defence with 20 per cent of that spend on major equipment and associated research and development.It was “vitally important” he said “that the UK maintains our position as a leading player on the world stage”.“The international situation is darkening, the rules-based order which has kept peace for so long is under constant pressure, and the external threats which confront us are increasingly coming from multiple directions,” he said.“Malign cyber and proxy warfare are rapidly changing the face of conflict [and] the nation’s approach to future spending decisions must reflect these new realities.” Boris Johnson has said “I can give you an absolute commitment to fund defence fully”.  Photo taken at tug of war event during the launch of London Poppy Day on October 27, 2015.Credit:Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images Replying on July 2, Boris Johnson had written: “I can give you an absolute commitment to fund defence fully. “I believe military spending should be dictated by the threats we face and it is clear that these threats have multiplied in both scale and complexity in recent years. “I guarantee of course that we will exceed the minimum two per cent Nato spending target and the defence budget will continue to grow at a minimum of 0.5 per cent annually.”In response Mark Francois, a member of the Select Committee and former Minister of Defence, said “I think in the nicest possible way we should bank that and endeavour to hold him to it, if and when he becomes our Prime Minister”. In Jeremy Hunt’s reply he pledged to increase the defence budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP over five years.  Jeremy Hunt has said: “I have argued that additional funds will need to be made available for new capabilities, not just plugging gaps in existing plans”. Photo taken in Senegal with Royal Marines and Senegal troops. April 29, 2019. Credit:Andrew Parsons / i-Images “I have argued that additional funds will need to be made available for new capabilities, not just plugging gaps in existing plans,” he wrote. “Were I to become Prime Minister I would consider the path of further increases in spending once the 2.5 per cent had been achieved.” Boris Johnson has said “I can give you an absolute commitment to fund defence fully".  Photo taken at tug of war event during the launch of London Poppy Day on October 27, 2015. Jeremy Hunt has said: “I have argued that additional funds will need to be made available for new capabilities, not just plugging gaps in existing plans". Photo taken in Senegal with Royal Marines and Senegal troops. April 29, 2019.  read more

25 09 19

Emissions of the gas in the UK and the rest of the EU in 2017 were the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3million cars on the road.”As renewable projects are getting bigger and bigger, we have had to use it within wind turbines specifically,” Costa Pirgousis, an engineer with Scottish Power Renewables, told the BBC.”As we are putting in more and more turbines, we need more and more switchgear and, as a result, more SF6 is being introduced into big turbines off shore. 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. “It’s been proven for years and we know how it works, and as a result it is very reliable and very low maintenance for us offshore.”In the UK, Ofgem, the energy regulator, says it is working with companies to try to limit leaks of the gas.”We are using a range of tools to make sure that companies limit their use of SF6, a potent greenhouse gas, where this is in the interest of energy consumers,” an Ofgem spokesperson told BBC News. The most powerful known greenhouse gas has been leaking into the Earth’s atmosphere due to the green energy boom, it was reported on Friday night.Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents.It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2), and just one kilogram warms the Earth as much as 24 people flying London to New York return.The drive to use mixed sources of power, including wind, solar and gas, rather than coal as fuel has resulted in a rise in the number of electrical devices that use SF6, the BBC said.A study from the University of Cardiff found that across all transmission and distribution networks, the amount used was increasing by 30-40 tonnes per year. read more

25 09 19

…in light of public outcry to have imposition repealed -Too many questions unanswered- O’TooleDr Brian O’TooleDirector of School of the Nations, Dr Brian O’Toole, whose organization has been fervently articulating against Government’s move to impose 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education, has issued several thought provoking questions to the APNU/AFC Administration, the intent of which it would seem is, to get Government to reconsider its recent Cabinet decision to keep the tax in place, with a view to re-evaluate it in 2018.O’Toole has also garnered responses from prominent figures, who have put the Administration on blast for its ‘unilateral’ decision to continue to impose the tax, even tough many stakeholders have decried the consequences the imposition of such a tax would have on the future of education in Guyana, particularity as it relates to the poor and the middle class.O’Toole quoted, one such prominent figure, Roy Beepat Chairman of the Giftland Group of companies who said “On Behalf of the Giftland Group of companies we urge the Government to repeal this tax on our students, apart from the marginal families who would have to drop their children from private education, somewhere inside there we may be depriving a future Leader the opportunity to develop and achieve.“This cannot be a better life for our people when it is so oppressively against our poor and aspiring, as the rich will not feel the effects of this tax, if the Government feels that there is unfairness in tax collections do this against the offenders not the innocent. This single Tax can and may be the difference between being re-elected and not, as when the 15,000 petitioners go to the poll they will surely remember this.”See O’Toole’s full statement below: With so much coverage in the media over the past several weeks about the imposition of a 14% VAT tax on Private Education – is there anything more to say?  I think there is. At the very least, there are many unanswered questions. We are in the midst of Grade 6 assessments where the children of Guyana have to answer a host of questions. This letter is an attempt to pose some questions, not to children but to Guyana’s decision-makers.  This does not pretend to be a research study on the issues rather it is a summary of simple questions posed to about 30 of Guyana “leaders” in search of clear answers on where they stand on this matter.Some of the answers I received to the questions include the following:Minister Rajmatan was very candid in stating that that he supports the VAT saying simply that “the government has to raise money” as they have a significant deficit. I should have asked him what other sources of additional revenue the Cabinet considered and why they were rejected. Another omission on my part, as an inexperienced “reporter” was the failure to ask for an explanation on their ‘about face’ on VAT on private health services, how much they had expected to collect from that source and how is the shortfall to be made up?I then told him that already 10% of our ABE students have dropped out of the course. He said he was “very sad to hear about that.”By comparison, Marlon Williams the General Secretary of AFC​, was very clear that, in giving a personal not party response, that he was completely opposed to the 14% VAT, saying, that “there should be no VAT on education…. the human capital in any country is its people, as such there can be no such punitive tax on education. …… Guyana has fought for free education for almost 50 years and we simply cannot turn our back on it now”.The Deputy Mayor of Georgetown, Lionel Jaikaran said, “I sincerely think that the 14% VAT on private education should be rescinded. We are a developing country and the education of our young citizens is preeminent for our long-term growth and economic success.  I give kudos to our public school system, however, it’s a known fact that it is hard pressed to keep up with the demand for higher quality educational services. I myself happen to have three children in the private school system and therefore I’m well aware of the sentiments of other parents that are in my position. While I’m cognizant and appreciative that our Government has to garner finances through taxation to run the Country in an efficient manner, I do believe the private schools that are evading the tax net need to be brought into line and sanctioned, instead of the parents who choose to send their children to the above mentioned institutions.One of the leaders of the business community, Roy Beepat, said, “On Behalf of the Giftland Group of companies we urge the Government to repeal this tax on our students, apart from the marginal families who would have to drop their children from private education, somewhere inside there we may be depriving a future Leader the opportunity to develop and achieve. This cannot be a better life for our people when it is so oppressively against our poor and aspiring, as the rich will not feel the effects of this tax, if the Government feels that there is unfairness in tax collections do this against the offenders not the innocent. This single Tax can and may be the difference between being re-elected and not, as when the 15,000 petitioners go to the poll they will surely remember this.”Christopher Ram shared the following in his interview, “As one who was “rescued” by private education offered by the privately-owned Cambridge Academy which later became a victim of the failed no private education policy, I find the imposition on VAT on education to be disappointing, depressing and distressing at a national and personal level. I fear for the potential loss of opportunities for the children of poor parents across the country who might find that the VAT has stretched to breaking point their ability to find an additional 14% on a significant chunk of their meagre budget.At the personal level, disappointed that a number of key political figures who privately claimed to oppose VAT on education could not convince their colleagues that the removal of the tax was not only the right thing to do, but the bright thing to do; disappointed at some of the uneducated excuses offered for the retention of the tax and the Government’s duplicity when compared with VAT on medical services; disappointed that the Education Minister from the WPA was unwilling to take a stand on an issue which he and his Party have embraced even before its foundation; and most of all disappointed at President Granger who before this fiasco, could properly lay claim to be Guyana’s first Education President. “Another prominent businessman, Peter Bouchard, stated, “The figures are quite simple –  a $250 billion budget and $350 million expected revenue from private education VAT.   Apart from the fact that VAT is not a service tax, this revenue is a very small portion of the total budget.  We all have to live within our means – in private life, in Companies, in all walks of life.  If the Government has to wring blood from the stone of education to meet its target then I strongly suggest it revisits its target, lest the blood of education in Guyana should dry up and cease to flow and our future so-called” good life” should prove to be empty electioneering words, words which will never again be believed when it comes time to vote”.A leading Educator from Trinidad, Ravi Ragoonath, simply observed, “It is truly an unfortunate time when Government opts to tax education.”There were about 20 others that I invited to comment, including a number of Cabinet Ministers. It could be that the contact information for them was incorrect or they were simply too busy, but there was no response.In preparing this letter I decided to re-read all 1,500 comments that have been published on our Ipetition (see: www.ipetitions.com/petition/education-vat-free). It makes fascinating reading.  On February 24th the petition was delivered to the President & Ministers Jordan and Roopnarine. There was no response until Gordon Mosley “reported” that the President was going to rescind the VAT decision. Two days later, after this mistake or “fake news”  or change of position it was reported that the President had “changed his decision.”   We continued with the petition, more persons signed and again it was ignored.There is not one comment, amongst the 1,500 comments published on the on line petition, that supports the 14% tax – not one.  The following is a collection of some of those comments;Jerry Bacchus, Pompano Beach, USA, “VAT on education is a backward step”Keith Gordon, Guyana, “.. find another way to raise revenue … please speak out Minister of Education.”Charlotte Francis, Guyana, “..there must be at least one person with a heart in this decision.”Francis Gittens, Guyana, “private education should be funded not taxed.”Sunrita Ramlall, Brooklyn, New York, “…. I am a retired Head Teacher ..its unreasonable ..what a shame people.”Yashoda, Guyana, “don’t raise an ignorant nations please.”Christopher Williams, Guyana, “education is the only way out of poverty.”Keshawn McAllister, Linden, “how do you know that I man not paying a loan to afford private education?”Oswin Lynch, Guyana, “where is the study which validates this measure?”Maria, Guyana, “this is discriminating against private school children.”Renee Chester, Guyana, “this is not what I voted for.”Annika Narine, Guyana, “can I ask the persons responsible for this to highlight the benefits of this to us?”Geetanjali Lu, Guyana, “ if you want to help the country let education be VAT free”Darma Persaud, Guyana, “VAT on education means Yes to school drop out.”Gordon Britton, Grand Bend, Canada, education is a human right not a good or service to be taxed like a luxury car.”Merle Huntley, Cape Town South Africa, “the benefit to the state of an educated population is way more valuable than any amount of tax revenue.”Janet Joseph, USA, “President Burnham promised free education from the womb to the tomb.”Joanna Phillips, Guyana, “why should you pressure me for wanting to educate my child?”Jason Alli, Guyana, “why should this administration punish me for wanting the best for my child?”Rajkumarie Singh, Missassauga, Canada, education should be free …give everyone a chance.”Alicia Isaacs, Guyana, “for better future leaders lets say VAT free education.”Hemchand Balli, Guyana, “the government should show that they care for the people.”Azad Khan, Guyana, “..terrible …retrograde move.”Aaron Josiah, Guyana, “the poor find it difficult and sometimes impossible to afford higher education …VAT makes it even harder.”Anne Pearson, Dundas Canada, “education is far too important to discourage persons from attending schools.”Vaidehi Narine, Guyana, “the future depends on us, don’t try to make it even harder.”Dominic Kibak, Kenya, “we have to honour the UN Declaration of Humna Rights.”Vera Zhigalova, Czech Republic, education is not a thing by which we should build a country’s finances.”Rajeev, Guyana, “so much for free education.”Anil Balli, Guyana, “show that you really care for the people of Guyana.”Marieo Chung, Guyana, “taxing education is not conducive to the development of this country.”Somava Stout, USA, ä tax on education risks the future.”Mona, USA, are we trying to go back to the time when no one could read and write?”Hussain Abdelaziz, Milan Italy, education is the key to our future.”Kevin McKenzie, Guyana, “people expect the government to be compassionate towards its people.”Sharon Kwok, Missassagua Canada, “how is it possible for a government to put a tax on education?”Andrew Budhram, Arima Trinidad, “draconian at best.”Rondecia Wallace, Guyana, “this move by government is heartless.”John Edwards, French Guiana, “to tax education is absurd.”Imran Bacchus, Guyana, adding VAT just makes the future of many Guyanese more difficult.”Amanda B, Guyana, “Yes I have a choice … 2020.”Jason Joseph, Guyana, “it demonstrates backward thinking.”Peter Boucard, Guyana, “this is one of the most backward steps ever taken by any government in the world.”Jaime Singh, Guyana, “I am presently studying at a private school …VAT means I may have to drop out.”Eudo Singh, Guyana, “by destroying the buds you will see no flowers.”Deen Sharma, Guyana, “the tax on education is unfair and counterproductive.”Yonette Gordon, Guyana, “APNU/AFC said education should be free for all.The questions therefore are:Question #1:  How does a coalition government, with a majority of one, manage to ignore a petition signed by more than 15,000 persons?  How can it be accepted that such a statement by more than 2% of the population, and a significantly higher percentage of the “voting” population, can be totally ignored?Question #2: ​How can the mantra that there is a “huge budget deficit” be repeated so often by those in power in recent weeks and yet none of the leaders suggest other possible sources of revenue? In our homes throughout this country if we have a “deficit” we simply cut spending.  Is the huge unpopularity that the 14% has created worth the extra dollars in government coffers?Question #3:  Another often repeated statement has been that ‘so many of the private schools are not paying their taxes’.   Nobody against the 14% VAT has argued against this point. Nor should they. If the defaulters paid what they should there would be no need for extra burdens on those who are already paying significant sums in taxes. Why is it seemingly so difficult for a government with all its powers to resolve such a flagrant injustice?Question #4: If it is accurate, as some Ministers have suggested in the media, that certain schools have been granted tax free status as a “religious school” why is the same concession not given to schools run by persons of other Faiths?  Is that justice?  As Christopher Ram observed when he was interviewed for this article, “the laws are very strict on tax exemptions and Government needs to explain the law under which either they or their predecessor made some schools exempt from income tax. The same is true of UG.Question #5: Senior Cabinet Ministers have repeated the statement, “they have a choice” presumably meaning that the parents can save significant sums by simply returning to public schools.  Has the government stated that the public education system, which is presently the target of a Commission of Inquiry because of “shortcomings” as stated by various Ministers, has the capacity to re-integrate the thousands of persons who may be forced to leave public schools?Question #6: The handful of commentators of the pro 14% lobby assert that there is no need for private education as the results from public schools is more than adequate. Have any of those statements been supported by research evidence?  The overwhelming body of evidence from national Primary examination results is that private schools are significantly over represented in terms of “success”.  Another commentator talks about CSEC success at the top public schools – did he factor out of the equation the contribution of the lessons machine before school, after school and at weekends?  Are lessons teachers liable for the 14%?Question #7: If you cannot afford the 14% increase why not simply return to the free government provision?  Within a few weeks of the 14% imposition more than 10% of the 800 ABE students at Nations have dropped out and joined the ever-swelling ranks of the unemployed and unemployable in Guyana. The public system has no equivalent course to the ABE programme offered at a small handful of private centres.  Furthermore, if the thousands of students at the 8 Off Shore Medical schools cannot find the additional 14% where will they go? Many will return to India, Nigeria, Rwanda, Bangladesh with a jaundiced view of Guyana.  The Aerontaical School attracts students from Guyana and the wider Caribbean – the government makes no attempt to provide them with state sponsored training.  In addition, what will happen to the Jamaican Law school that was introduced across the front pages of our newspapers a few weeks ago, will the Jamaican Consortium simply look for a more conducive country to do business?Question #8: Do we care as a people about the international image that has been created by this tax. Many thoughtful and serious commentators who have actually researched this issue, such as Monique Ifill, cannot find a single example anywhere in the world that has imposed a similar tax on private education. By contrast the critics of the 14% give example after example of enlightened governments throughout the world giving financial incentives to private schools as they reduce the burden on the state? How have we been able in Guyana to fly in the face of all this evidence?Question #9: Is it true, as some government Ministers assert that “private schools are making significant sums of money?”   That may be a simpler question to answer. Yes, some are making “significant” money.  Is that wrong?  We could instead create a state like North Korea where we would not have that problem. A more pertinent question is “do those schools pay their fair share of tax?” – the ones that are tax compliant pay millions of dollars in Income Tax and Corporation Tax, as indeed we should, but not an additional 14%.    We need to be careful that we are not developing an anti-private enterprise culture in Guyana – with a huge oil flow around the corner that will not send the right message to the international developers who will be essential to develop those prized riches and who are, no doubt, watching this VAT saga.Question #10: Why don’t the private schools simply pay the 14% themselves?  Yes, that can be done – once all the other businesses in Guyana do the same then the private schools can follow suit.Question #11: Minister Ramjattan supported his Yes vote by saying simply that there is a significant deficit in the budget and that no Ministry would agree to a cut in “their” expenditure.  If this happened before elections, rather than after, would they not have been obliged to sincerely listen to and respect the views of the people?Question #12:  A large public “consultation” was held at the Cultural Centre last week. Just before the majority of persons walked out, while the Prime Minister was still talking, it was announced that no change re the 14% would be made for at least 9 months. If such a decision had already been made what was the purpose of the meeting?  Would such unilateral action have been successful prior to elections?  Why can it be thought to be acceptable now?Question #13: In conclusion, where does that leave us?  By abandoning any decision for almost a year the government has succeed in exhausting and frustrating thousands of persons.   A significant number of the youth of this country, already disenchanted by politics are now totally disillusioned. They look for their leaders and can’t find them.Question #14: In retrospect are the dollars taken worth the pain, suffering and disenchantment of thousands and thousands of persons?For the children to succeed at their exams this week they would have been required not only to attempt all the questions but more importantly give clear and concise answers.  We surely deserve answers to each of the above questions. Is that too much to ask for?Dr Brian O’TooleDirectorNations Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedAgainst public outcry: President says 14% VAT on private education remainsMarch 2, 2017In “Business”WPA opposed to Govt’s imposition of VAT on private educationJune 20, 2017In “latest news”PM Nagamootoo says education tax removal off the cards this yearApril 8, 2017In “Business” read more