LeBron James’ I PROMISE school in Akron, Ohio, is slated to open its doors in the fall of 2018. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images)As part of his ongoing commitment to help students reach their fullest potential, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James on Tuesday, April 11, announced a partnership between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools to create a new I PROMISE school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.Eligible students will be selected via a lottery system to attend the elementary school, which will start with the first grade, Cleveland.com reported.“We’ve learned over the years what works and what motivates them, and now we can bring all of that together in one place along with the right resources and experts,” James said in a statement. “If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families.”The three-time NBA champion launched the I PROMISE program in 2011 with the goal of tackling the city’s high school drop-out rate. Each year, APS identifies a group of third-graders who’ve fallen behind academically. Through an expanded curriculum focused on hands-on learning and STEM activities, the I PROMISE program aims to help these students by providing them with the resources, encouragement and mentorship they need to make it to graduation.In addition, the program sponsors after-school programs, Hometown Halls for local parents and caregivers, and a week full of activities each August to accomplish its goals of aiding at-risk youth. Students who stick with the foundation’s program are promised a full-ride to the University of Akron upon graduation, according to Cleveland. com“We’ve seen the positive influence of the LeBron James Family Foundation on our students and we look forward to continuing to do everything we can to put our students in a position to be successful,” said David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools.Details on the new I PROMISE school will continue to be worked out in the coming months, but the learning hub is expected to utilize specialized programming to foster an environment that promotes social-emotional learning. The school will apply a continued focus on both academics and character building, while the University of Akron’s LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education offers support, research and regular assessments for the new institution.A master plan is slated to be submitted to the Board of Education for approval in October, after committees of local leaders, teacher, parents and other experts come to an agreement on logistics.Upon approval, the I PROMISE School will open in fall 2018 with newly identified third- and fourth-grade classes, Cleveland.com reported. First- and second-grade classes will be added by 2019, and the school hopes to house students through the eighth grade by 2022.“We know this is going to be successful,” said Michele Campbell, the foundation’s executive director, “because LeBron James has brought a community of partners, resources and expertise, and with the help of these partners, we’re ready to take this next huge step.”
Embed Code FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Here’s a list of all the records that were set or tied in Super Bowl LI.The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg picks eight numbers that highlight why this year’s Super Bowl was so shocking.Despite all the memes, Nate Silver notes that Super Bowl LI wasn’t really like the election.Across the NFL, players reacted to Terrell Owens’s Hall of Fame snub.SB Nation’s Harry Lyles Jr. argues that it’s ridiculous that Terrell Owens isn’t in the Hall of Fame.Significant Digit: 26.1, the player efficiency rating of Elena Delle Donne last season. Last week, Delle Donne was traded from the Chicago Sky to the Washington Mystics. Delle Donne said she would be willing to sit out the 2017 season if Chicago did not trade her. Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Feb. 7, 2017), we do a super-sized segment breaking down the record-smashing Super Bowl LI. The New England Patriots clipped the Atlanta Falcons’ wings in a 34-28 come-from-behind victory featuring the first overtime in Super Bowl history. Next, in his second year of eligibility, Terrell Owens did not make the Hall of Fame — does his #FlawedProcess claim have merit? We investigate. Plus, a significant digit on the WNBA’s Elena Delle Donne.Links to what we discussed:
28Nick Mullens1700.1570.478 17Dak Prescott4180.2300.492 35Cody Kessler970.1190.491 15Mitch Trubisky3520.2480.522 47Sam Bradford81-0.1560.329 42Tyrod Taylor84-0.0010.354 27Matthew Stafford4640.1700.482 2Drew Brees4160.4320.589 30Colt McCoy520.1340.492 21Andrew Luck5330.2050.52 37Case Keenum4520.1060.449 39Josh Allen2280.0790.435 24Derek Carr4520.1760.511 Kaepernick has outperformed Johnson, tooAttempts, yards per attempt, expected points added per play, success rate and yards after catch EPA per play for Kaepernick and Johnson, 20tk-18 41Nick Foles800.0240.398 3Matt Barkley250.4310.44 Josh Johnson1936.1-0.040.46+0.60 Data includes two-point conversions but does not include kneel downs. 11Carson Wentz4000.2810.535 31Joe Flacco3770.1320.454 44Sam Darnold314-0.0600.427 1Patrick Mahomes4830.4410.561 Colin Kaepernick1,9417.2+0.170.45+0.67 22Cam Newton4440.2010.521 25Andy Dalton3620.1750.508 Show more rowsSource: Elias Sports Bureau So what about moving forward? Could Kaepernick help Washington win? Our best predictors of future performance at the QB position are career efficiency measures like yards per attempt and EPA per play — far more useful than looking only at Kaepernick’s most recent season.The table below shows every player who has attempted at least 20 passes this season, sorted by total expected points added per play. Total EPA includes both passing and rushing production, and gives a full picture of a player’s offensive contribution. Kaepernick’s career numbers would put him 26th among quarterbacks this season, ahead of Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins — who are being paid a combined $50.5 million. 7Russell Wilson3390.3210.513 PasserAttemptsYARDS/ ATTEMPTEPA/PLAYSUCCESS RATEYAC EPA/PLAY 5Matt Ryan5050.3290.547 The contest wasn’t a contest at all. Kaepernick is superior to Sanchez over his career by a large margin and across a wide spectrum of metrics. Kaepernick’s career yards per pass attempt is higher than Sanchez’s by more than half a yard. His career EPA per play is on the order of 40 times better than Sanchez, despite their yards after catch EPA per play being relatively close.Kaepernick has been far from perfect. His career yards per attempt is no better than league average, and his career completion percentage is low at 59.8 percent. His greatest flaws as a passer show themselves at the intermediate depths, where his completion percentage is well below average. Whether this is because he struggles to make reads or because his decision making on slower developing routes is poor is an open question. What is clear is that neither Kaepernick nor Sanchez is particularly accurate across most depths of target. 18Jeff Driskel1010.2140.46 34Ryan Tannehill1960.1200.479 13Deshaun Watson3970.2620.526 14Aaron Rodgers4940.2550.49 Most starting quarterbacks with NFL experience did indeed create value per play above what we might expect from Kaepernick, but Kaepernick’s worst season is still better than 26 percent of the quarterbacks who have attempted a pass in the NFL in 2018. Kaepernick may be a fringe starting NFL talent, but he is likely better than many of the quarterbacks who have seen playing time this season, including even Alex Smith.It’s probable that Kaepernick could start for Washington and produce enough with his arm and his legs to salvage their playoff hopes. There remains the opportunity for Washington to sign him and find out for certain. Instead he continues to languish in free agency.Check out our latest NFL predictions.CORRECTION (Dec. 15, 2018, 11:45 a.m.): A previous headline on this story misspelled Colin Kaepernick’s name. 51Mark Sanchez35-0.6270.361 26Colin Kaepernick1,9410.1710.464 50Nathan Peterman82-0.5890.315 19Eli Manning4610.2130.462 33C.J. Beathard1710.1220.463 43Blaine Gabbert61-0.0150.453 After starting quarterback Alex Smith broke his leg in Week 11, the Washington Redskins rode their journeyman backup, Colt McCoy, to two losses and a 7-3 deficit against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 before he also broke his leg. Struck with misfortune at the most important position in professional sports, Washington trotted out Mark Sanchez, a player signed off the street to back up McCoy.This obviously didn’t work out well. Sanchez had not played an NFL game since 2015, and he went on to record the worst expected points added (EPA) per play (-0.627) of any NFL QB in 2018 with at least 20 pass attempts. This includes Nathan Peterman. Sanchez was promptly benched in a blowout 40-16 loss to the Giants in Week 14. His replacement: Josh Johnson, a 32-year-old journeyman who has played for 12 different NFL teams and who reportedly had to play Madden to learn the names of his new teammates.Hindsight is 20-20, but it’s worth asking if this skid could have been avoided — or at least somewhat mitigated — had Washington signed free agent Colin Kaepernick instead of Sanchez. It’s even worth wondering if they still should sign him. A playoff berth for the Redskins is highly unlikely, but they are still not mathematically eliminated. Could signing Kaepernick help the team win out, finish 9-7, and give them a shot at the postseason?Let’s look at this as a purely football decision and put aside any public relations baggage that would come with signing Kaepernick. Let’s also assume that Kaepernick is in decent enough shape to put on a jersey right now and play at the levels we have seen from him in the past. (For what it’s worth, he has said that he’s remained in game shape.)I looked at standard measures of quarterback performance like yards per attempt along with more advanced stats like EPA per play and success rate, which measures how often a player keeps his team “on schedule” or on track for a first down. The first question — “Should Washington have signed Sanchez or Kaepernick?” — is straightforward to answer.Using data from Ron Yurko’s EPA model, I analyzed both of the QBs over their careers to see which one has been better at creating expected value per pass. I also broke out the contribution of yards after the catch to help with the comparison. Yards after catch is probably best thought of as the product of scheme and wide receiver skill, but passes that are on time and on target from a QB surely help as well. 23Lamar Jackson1010.1910.519 Sanchez-0.05 4Philip Rivers4140.4240.541 29Kirk Cousins5250.1460.51 PasserAttemptsYards/ AttemptEPA/PlaySuccess RateYAC EPA/Play Career expected points added per rush for Colin Kaepernick and Mark Sanchez, 2009-18 32Baker Mayfield3790.1240.479 Kaepernick has easily outperformed SanchezAttempts, yards per attempt, expected points added per play, success rate and yards after catch EPA per play for Kaepernick and Sanchez, 2009-18 6Jared Goff4600.3280.517 9Tom Brady4760.2900.526 Mark Sanchez2,4036.6+0.000.45+0.60 12Ryan Fitzpatrick2480.2750.523 Kaepernick, however, has also affected game outcomes with his legs. He is not exactly young anymore, though, at 31 years old; we might expect a decline in rushing effectiveness that typically accompanies NFL QBs as they age. Still, Kaepernick’s legs are fresh, and Sanchez has never shown the ability to add value on the ground. 10Ben Roethlisberger5480.2830.517 8Jameis Winston2700.2910.542 38Brock Osweiler1780.1010.44 45Josh Rosen314-0.0870.425 49Derek Anderson70-0.3250.429 Kaepernick+0.21 EPA/Rush 20Marcus Mariota3000.2130.51 46Chase Daniel76-0.0960.47 36Alex Smith3270.1130.457 40Blake Bortles3700.0400.463 Colin Kaepernick1,9417.2+0.170.45+0.67 48Josh McCown109-0.2190.383 Meanwhile, Kaepernick adds roughly equal value to his team whether he runs or passes the football, making him a legitimate dual threat. It was this ability that took the San Francisco 49ers within 5 yards of winning the 2012-13 Super Bowl. What’s more, the league has become more open to the air raid concepts Kaepernick ran at the University of Nevada, as evidenced by the ascendancy of Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who played in an air raid system at Texas Tech. There are legitimate reasons to believe that Kaepernick could still fit in the league.Kaepernick’s path to snaps in Washington is blocked by current quarterback Johnson, who has just 193 total career pass attempts to his name and, like Sanchez, is a year older than Kaepernick. When we look at his career efficiency numbers compared with Kaepernick’s, we can see why Johnson hasn’t been allowed much opportunity to throw. Plays with Johnson under center have resulted in negative value for his teams. Kaepernick would be in the middle of the pack this yearEvery quarterback with a minimum of 20 pass attempts this season in the NFL, compared with the career numbers of Colin Kaepernick PlayerPass AttemptsTotal EPA/PLAYSuccess Rate Data includes two-point conversions but does not include kneel downs.Source: Elias Sports Bureau 16Jimmy Garoppolo900.2310.52
2NFLJan. 14JacksonvillePittsburgh24.33 Elo’s biggest playoff upsets of 2018Top postseason upsets of the 2018 calendar year, based on winners with the lowest Elo-generated pregame win probabilities, compared with other playoff upsets in the same sport since 2000 32018Mike TroutMLB10.0 WAR9 12018Mookie BettsMLB10.6 WAR4 SportDateUnderdogFavoritePregame Win prob.Rel. Rank Since 2000 4CFBSept. 22Old DominionVirginia Tech2.57 42018Jacob deGromMLB9.6 WAR15 * Current season still in progress† mWS = Modified Win Shares, a version of win share that also blends in a player’s VORP and PER to create a consensus statistical rankingPlayers qualified if their season either started or ended in 2018. NFL rankings include only skill-position statistics.Sources: Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, Pro-Football-Reference, Basketball-Reference 82018-19*James HardenNBA20.4 mWS†30 62017-18James HardenNBA21.2 mWS†24 Among teams in MLB, the NFL, the NBA, NCAA football and NCAA men’s basketball.MLB pregame win probabilities take into account the starting pitchers for each team in a given matchup.Source: ESPN 102018-19*Anthony DavisNBA19.1 mWS†39 52017-18LeBron JamesNBA22.5 mWS†19 Elo’s biggest upsets of 2018Top upsets of the 2018 calendar year among sports with Elo ratings, based on winners with the lowest Elo-generated pregame win probabilities, compared with other upsets in the same sport since 2000 rankSeasonPlayerSportValue MetricRelative Rank Since 2000 3MLBJuly 28Kansas CityN.Y. Yankees22.43 6CBBMarch 16MarshallWichita St.12.913 6MLBJune 22Kansas CityHouston24.411 4MLBOct. 7AtlantaL.A. Dodgers35.310 Now, I know what you’re all thinking: The first 16-over-1 win in NCAA men’s tournament history isn’t the top upset of the year? Perhaps surprisingly, Maryland-Baltimore County’s stunner over Virginia — which had a 2.5 percent probability of happening, according to Elo — was only the sixth-biggest college basketball upset of the 2017-18 season alone. (In terms of raw upset odds, St. John’s knocking off Villanova was about 23 percent less likely.) But it’s still a fair point; there are a ton of random regular-season upsets every year, but far fewer come in the postseason. So here’s a version of the ranking above that looks solely at playoff upsets (excluding the College Football Playoff, which has existed only since 2014): 5MLBJune 8Chi. White SoxBoston23.38 92018Max ScherzerMLB8.7 WAR34 NFL MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes was a very close second behind Betts, having produced one of the top individual skill-position seasons of the millennium while leading the Kansas City Chiefs’ explosive offense. (And he’s still going, of course.) Behind Mahomes is a mix of familiar names — Trout, LeBron James — and players whose award-winning 2018 performances propelled them into historic territory, such as Mets ace Jacob deGrom and Rockets star James Harden.Mahomes’s season isn’t the only great individual campaign still unfolding. Saints QB Drew Brees has also produced MVP-type numbers, though they have flagged a bit since the end of November. And amid speculation about where he might play next, Anthony Davis currently leads the NBA in win shares and player efficiency rating, while ranking second in value over replacement player. Finally, despite Houston’s disappointing start, Harden has quietly been playing nearly as well as he did last season, leading the league in VORP.Still, this is a case where the limits of our analysis — leagues for which we have Elo ratings — miss a lot. If you expand the search beyond the sports in which we track Elo, as ESPN’s Peter Keating did, American gymnast Simone Biles would give Betts a run for the No. 1 slot. In 2018, Biles won gold in every category at the U.S. championships, then fought off a kidney stone to win four more golds (plus a silver and a bronze) at the World Championships. Between Biles’s stellar performance and those of snowboarder Chloe Kim, WNBA star Breanna Stewart, top-ranked golfer Ariya Jutanugarn and swimmer (and FiveThirtyEight favorite) Katie Ledecky, we saw an outstanding crop of dominant female athletes this year.Biggest upset of 2018Baltimore Orioles 10, Boston Red Sox 3 — Sept. 26 (No. 1 upset in MLB since 2000)It’s fitting that the top upset of the year featured our worst team of 2018, the Baltimore Orioles, beating the best, the Boston Red Sox. In baseball, most games are pretty close to a coin flip, with only the most extreme mismatches (usually aided by a disparate starting-pitching matchup) straying very far from 50-50. But in the second leg of a late-season double-header, the Red Sox sent staff ace Chris Sale to the hill against rookie Jimmy Yacabonis. Boston was looking for its 108th win of the season; Baltimore was looking to avoid loss No. 113. Going into the game, our pitcher-adjusted Elo model gave the O’s a mere 18.8 percent chance of winning. And yet, Baltimore hung seven runs on the Sox bullpen in the last three innings (including four on closer Craig Kimbrel) to break a 3-3 tie and seal the historic upset.It was one of four upsets in 2018 that ranked among baseball’s 10 most improbable since 2000, helping MLB dominate the upset ranking below.2Granted, perhaps that is driven as much by tanking — which creates the sheer prevalence of record-setting mismatches — as anything else. 7MLBAug. 30DetroitN.Y. Yankees24.916 After making that change, we do see UMBC’s win rise to the top of the list as the most impressive postseason upset of the year. In fact, it was a pretty good year for underdogs all around, from the Philadelphia Eagles’ dog mask-fueled Super Bowl victory to the Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup Final run as an expansion team (and 200-1 title shot).While the Warriors won again and baseball’s best got even better, there was still room in 2018 for plenty of surprises and inspiring performances. Here’s hoping 2019 brings fans even more moments to enjoy on the fields, courts, rinks and everywhere else our favorite games are played. 1CBBMarch 16UMBCVirginia2.5%2 The best MLB, NBA and NFL players of 2018Top players of the 2018 calendar year, based on relative value metrics compared with other player-seasons in the same sport since 2000 9NBAMarch 16SacramentoGolden State7.218 SportDateUnderdogFavoritePregame Win prob.Rel. Rank Since 2000 5NBAApril 16MiamiPhiladelphia17.710 8NBANov. 23PhoenixMilwaukee7.116 As 2018 draws to its conclusion, we wanted to look back at the year in sports — the best (and worst) teams, the results that surprised us most and the athletes who inspired us. On Friday, we covered the best and worst teams of 2018, so now it’s time to look at the best players and upsets of the year.You can read that first article for more detail on the methodology behind our rankings — but the “best players” are derived by taking a similar approach, this time using an all-in-one value metric of choice in each pro sport for which we have Elo ratings1I used Approximate Value for the NFL, wins above replacement for MLB (averaging together the versions of WAR found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs) and a mix of value over replacement player (VORP), win shares and player efficiency rating for NBA players (with those numbers for current NBA seasons prorated to 82 games). and ranking every player relative to other individual seasons since 2000. (Again, this includes all stats from seasons that either started or ended in the 2018 calendar year, so some numbers included in those seasons may have been compiled in 2017.) We’re also tracking the best upsets in the same manner, measuring the winner’s Elo-predicted win probability against the most unlikely wins in that sport over time.Without further ado, I give you the best professional player of 2018 in the NBA, NFL and MLB …Best player of 2018Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (fourth-best MLB season by wins above replacement since 2000)In a year that featured a number of standout performances, none was better than that of Boston’s 26-year-old right fielder. Betts earned American League MVP honors by becoming just the fifth player of the 21st century to crack 10.0 WAR in a single season — and he was the rare player to outduel WAR machine Mike Trout for the top slot in the league. Add in Boston’s World Series victory (which Betts punctuated with a home run in the clinching contest), and Betts had himself a year for the ages in 2018. 22018-19*Patrick MahomesNFL21 AV5 3NFLJan. 6TennesseeKansas City24.84 Among teams in MLB, the NFL, the NBA and NCAA men’s basketball. College football upsets weren’t included in the ranking because the College Football Playoff has existed only since 2014.Source: ESPN 8NBAMay 1ClevelandToronto21.827 10CBBMarch 18Texas A&MNorth Carolina19.536 7NBAMay 14Golden StateHouston21.725 2MLBJuly 15DetroitHouston21.42 10MLBApril 25MiamiL.A. Dodgers25.119 9NBAMay 3ClevelandToronto23.333 1MLBSept. 26BaltimoreBoston18.8%1 72018-19*Drew BreesNFL19 AV29
Remember the Seattle Seahawks? For all 137.6 decibels of noise at CenturyLink Field, they’ve been relatively quiet this year. The Seahawks have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL, rarely blowing anybody out and rarely getting blown out.Seattle’s 24-14 win in Philadelphia on Sunday was typical of its season. The Seahawks faced an excellent opponent — they’ve had one of the league’s tougher schedules — and they won clearly and cleanly, although not overwhelmingly. It was their sixth win in seven games. During that time, the Seahawks have gone from modest underdogs to make the playoffs to 94 percent favorites to do so.Seattle has also nearly regained the top spot in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo Ratings. The New England Patriots, who scored their own impressive victory over the San Diego Chargers, remain in No. 1, but it comes down to decimal points. The Patriots’ Elo rating is 1717.1; the Seahawks’ is 1716.6. The Denver Broncos remain in third and the Green Bay Packers in fourth.But although the Seahawks’ playoff chances were once imperiled, the Elo ratings were never down on their quality. Seattle started the season at No. 1 and fell only as far as No. 3 in the league before moving back into a near-tie for first place. Seattle didn’t fall that far, in part, because Elo factors in a team’s preseason standing. (Preseason estimates are based on where the teams stood at the end of 2013.)Seattle isn’t the only team that testifies to the value of accounting for preseason expectations. Among Elo’s preseason top four, Denver has remained in the top four every week of the season, and the Patriots have remained in the top four during all but two weeks.Meanwhile, teams that looked average to start the year before making a charge up the standings, such as the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs, have since fallen back into the middle of the pack. The only real exception has been the Packers, and Elo has a good excuse for them, because the system doesn’t account for the injury to Aaron Rodgers that harmed their 2013 performance and depressed their preseason rating.The Seahawks still have some regular-season work left: They’d much rather enter the playoffs as division winner, which would allow them to play as many games as possible at CenturyLink Field and probably get a first-round bye. Our simulation has Seattle with a 23 percent chance of repeating as Super Bowl champions if they win the NFC West, but just a 10 percent shot if they enter the playoffs as a wild card team.But Seattle’s situation is a little more favorable than it might appear from the NFC West standings. Although they’re a game behind the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks have beaten them once this season and will play them again Dec. 21. If Seattle wins that game, it’ll make up the game against Arizona and also clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker. Seattle rates as a slight favorite in that game even though it’s being played in Arizona, so it’s a slight favorite to win the division, too, per Elo.Here are the playoff odds for the Seahawks and the other 31 NFL teams:No team has clinched a playoff berth so far, although some are all but certain to make it. The Packers reached the playoffs in 98.7 percent of our simulations this week. And both the Broncos and the Patriots made it 99.9 percent of the time.Some other team will make the playoffs in far less glorious fashion. The 5-8 Atlanta Falcons, 5-8 New Orleans Saints and 4-8-1 Carolina Panthers are still competing for the division title in the NFC South; the “champion” will not only make the playoffs, but host a home game. The best the NFC South champion can do is an 8-8 record; there’s a 31 percent chance of that, according to our simulations. There’s a 59 percent chance the division winner finishes with just seven wins, and a 10 percent chance they’ll have only six wins (either a 6-10 record or 6-9-1 in the case of Carolina). For the rundown on everyone else — including this week’s extremely high-leverage games in the NFC East and AFC South — check out Mike Beuoy and Reuben Fischer-Baum’s playoff implications column.Elo point spreadsRecord against point spread: 105-86-3 on season (10-5 in Week 14)Straight-up record: 144-63-1 on season (12-4 in Week 14)Elo has been on a hot streak in Las Vegas; the point spreads the system spits out have been on the right side of the closing Vegas line about 55 percent of the time this year.This is almost certainly just blind luck. The system isn’t as sophisticated as what bookmakers use, and Elo only beat the point spread 51 percent of the time in our backtesting of it — not enough to make a profit after the casino’s take.But this has been a fairly predictable NFL season; for the most part, the teams that looked best when it began look the best now.CORRECTION (Dec. 11, 10:29 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly said New England has remained in Elo’s top four every week of the season. It has remained in the top four during all but two weeks.
Some of what we mentioned on this week’s show:Benjamin Morris breaks down Pete Carroll’s call.Nate Silver: Are the Patriots the greatest dynasty ever?Did the Hawks put together the greatest month in NBA history?Grantland’s ode to Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford.(This is part of the prelaunch experimentation for the FiveThirtyEight podcast. We’ll be posting audio of different kinds on SoundCloud and then launching the actual podcast this spring. Stay tuned! And let us know what you think by tweeting our podcast producer/host, @jodyavirgan, or emailing us.) By Jody Avirgan More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS Loyal FiveThirtyEight readers: This week we recorded a trial run of our new sports podcast “Hot Takedown,” and we’re eager for you to take a listen. We’re trying to add a little data perspective to the major storylines — and arguments — of the week.This episode, editor Chadwick Matlin, sportswriter Neil Paine and visual journalist Allison McCann discuss the Super Bowl and winning streaks in the NBA. FiveThirtyEight’s Reuben Fischer-Baum also stops by to provide this week’s “significant digit” — a historically bad free-throw performance in Brooklyn.Take a listen or download it below.
OSU senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington speaks to the media during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago in July 2015. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Assistant Sports EditorNewly released court documents show it was a Columbus Division of Police sting operation that led to the citation of senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington.Washington was charged and released by the Columbus Police Vice Squad Unit on Wednesday night with a first-degree misdemeanor charge of solicitation for prostitution. The incident took place at the Extended Stay America hotel in Worthington, Ohio.An affidavit filed Friday by Columbus Police stated Washington first contacted an officer who was acting as a “decoy prostitute” in response to an ad posted by detectives on the classified advertising website Backpage.com.The advertisement was posted in the “escorts” section, stating “New to Columbus, Experience the Best.”Washington called the officer with a request to visit and asked for the address, before following up with a text message just after 10 p.m., according to the document. Washington texted again about 20 minutes later, stating he had arrived at the hotel.At 10:36 p.m., Washington entered the hotel room, where the decoy asked how long Washigton intended to visit, to which he responded, “a short stay.”The officer told Washington that a visit of that length would cost $60. However, after the officer stated she did not have change for Washington’s $100, Washington began to negotiate, asking, “Well, what will $100 get me?”The officer responded that $100 would pay for a one-hour visit. Washington agreed to the new price before placing his cash on the hotel dresser.The officer then offered Washington ”some head.” Upon agreeing to receive fellatio, Washington was detained by detectives, according to the document.OSU coach Urban Meyer announced that Washington has been suspended for the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame. The game was scheduled to be Washington’s last with the Buckeyes.In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Washington expressed remorse for his actions.“I want to sincerely apologize to my family, to coach Meyer and the coaching staff, to my teammates and my friends for my lack of judgement (Wednesday) night and for my actions that I truly regret. I have wanted to be a high-character teammate, a contributor to the success of this program and, most importantly, someone my family can be proud of,” he said in the statement. “I am extremely disappointed in myself, and I can honestly say I will learn from my mistake and I will accept the consequences that deservedly will come my way. And I hope that people will know that I am truly sorry and that I sincerely do apologize.”Washington’s arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 17.Wednesday’s citation was the second in less than two months for the Buckeyes, as redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett was cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated early in the morning of Oct. 31.
OSU junior Emma Baranski won the solo national title on April 16. Credit: Courtesy of OSUAnother Ohio State athlete, synchronized swimmer Emma Baranski, has made a splash in the national circuit, as the junior won the solo national title during the U.S. Collegiate Championships.But this was not Baranski’s first brush with collegiate success. Last season, the OSU synchronized swimming team, which finished in second place this year, won the team title for the 29th time. The feelings following the victories, Baranski said, are different.“With team, you’re working together with seven other girls, so it’s amazing to get the team title,” Baranski said. “But as solo, it’s a lot more pressured because everyone’s eyes are right on you. Individually, it felt really good, and I was proud of myself just getting through it.”OSU coach Holly Vargo-Brown’s sentiments mirrored Baranski’s, saying that the sense of pride she receives from coaching an individual champion versus a team champion has its differences. “We are fortunate in that last year we had a team title, and we didn’t have an individual one,” Vargo-Brown said. “I think this year to have done that is some extra pride because in the midst of everything not necessarily going Ohio State’s way, to know that this person that worked so hard was rewarded, I think that was extra special.”In addition to the second-place team finish, the Buckeyes also placed second in the duets and had two trios tie for third. Baranski, who dabbled in figure skating and dance before becoming involved in synchronized swimming, is studying arts management with minors in dance and business. She said hopes to own a dance studio one day. A desire to participate in a team sport pushed the Hamden, Connecticut, native toward synchronized swimming, but she said her dance background has helped her in solo routines.“In the team routine, you’re swimming a lot sharper, and your goal is to be synchronized with everyone else. With a solo performance, you’re trying to be one with music almost,” she said. “From the very beginning of when you start to train a solo, you’re training almost a story and an emotional piece. “It’s more of a dance routine in the water.”The Buckeyes’ coaching staff assigned a primary coach for Baranski to help her build a bond with the choreography. That, alongside Baranski’s work ethic and skill set, is what Vargo-Brown said she believes helped the junior to find success.“Emma is amazing. She’s a very hard worker, and she really brings a passion to whatever part of the synchronized swimming that she’s working on,” Vargo-Brown said. “Because she is a dancer, she has really been able to improve on the expression that she brings to the performance, which I really think has helped her achieve the success that she has.” While synchronized swimmers are rewarded for making their routines look effortless, Vargo-Brown said she does not want the athleticism of the swimmers to go unnoticed.“Synchronized swimming is not what you see in the movies or the renditions of people making fun of it; these are athletes, and they train like athletes,” said Vargo-Brown, a former OSU synchronized swimmer who is in her fourth season at the helm. “They lift weights, they’re in the water and they can’t touch the bottom, they’re holding their breath and they really do have to be in the most-fit shape possible to accomplish all of that.” The level of work that goes into synchronized swimming is not lost on Baranski, who said that staying ahead of the competition is the hardest part. With a dream to participate in Cirque du Soleil’s synchronized swimming show in Las Vegas, she knows it won’t come easy.“It’s pretty competitive and it’s very international. You have the best talent from all over the world coming to Cirque du Soleil, so the competition is first,” Baranski said. “You really can’t stop training, it’s just go, go, go all the time.”
Lantern file photoThen-sophomore Ryan Shazier overlooks the sidelines during a game against Michigan State on Sept. 29, at Spartan Stadium. OSU won, 17-16.It is officially game week for the 2013 edition of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, and coach Urban Meyer said football is all he wants to talk about.“I just can’t wait to play football,” Meyer said Monday, deflecting a question asking if he is the same guy he was when he coached at the University of Florida. “All due respect, I just want to answer questions about football.”A constant throughout camp has been talk about how impressive younger players such as freshmen Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliot, Jalin Marshall and Joey Bosa have been performing and how they are expected to contribute right away. Meyer said a few of those freshmen will see the field against Buffalo.“For sure, Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliot will play,” Meyer said. “On defense, Joey Bosa for sure will play.”Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said OSU would “be foolish” not to let Wilson touch the ball on offense, but doing so is a delicate balance.“I think that you have to be careful with a true freshman that has to play some running back, has to play some wide receiver, has to flex out and run routes,” Herman said. “So the package will be small to start the year off, and let him become an expert at the few things we are asking him to do.”Meyer said Wilson is “going to return the opening kickoff of the 2013 football team,” but is more “anxious” to see how he reacts to being in front of a large crowd at Ohio Stadium.“I think coaches have a tendency to devalue what happens when you jog out that tunnel, especially at a place like Ohio Stadium,” Meyer said. “There will be a lot of deep breaths being taken and you just can’t create that animal until you get that opportunity.”Senior safety C.J. Barnett called the feeling he got when he ran out onto the field for the first time at the Horseshoe “unexplainable,” but has simple advice for Wilson for Saturday’s opening kickoff.“The only thing I could tell him is just take a deep breath and he’s out there for a reason,” Barnett said. “We all have confidence in him that he can get the job done, so just relax.”Another position that younger, more inexperienced players could see time at is running back, due to both senior Carlos Hyde and redshirt-junior Rod Smith being suspended for three and one games, respectively. Meyer, however, said he is not worried about the spot, thanks to the return of redshirt-senior Jordan Hall from the injuries that plagued him in 2012.“Jordan Hall is the best running back on our team right now, and so he’ll have to lose that spot,” Meyer said. “Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball are the next two in, and we want to get Ezekiel (Elliot) in to see how he responds in that kind of environment.”Meyer also said Wilson could see some time at running back, depending on the offensive sets they go with, but for the time being, Hall is the guy.“Jordan is a little smaller but he is arguably one of the toughest guys pound-for-pound on our team,” Meyer said.During OSU Media Day Aug. 11, Meyer spoke about how there were four or five units on the team that were causing him to be uncomfortable as fall camp came to a close. His thoughts on those units have since changed.“Offensive line, I feel very good about (it),” Meyer said. “Quarterback, feel very good about. The receivers (are) probably one of the most improved areas on our team. Running back feel very good about.”There is one position, however, that Meyer believes the team is still lacking at: linebacker.“The area we are still trying to solidify is linebacker,” Meyer said. “Curtis Grant has not really played a whole lot of Mike (middle) linebacker, but he’s catching up quick.”Meyer noted how Grant is behind because he suffered a concussion during training camp, but is doing his best to get on the same level as his teammates before Saturday.Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Luke Fickell said Grant is in a tough position, because even though he is a junior, he has yet to see consistent playing time.“A guy that’s a junior in college maybe wouldn’t miss a beat because he’s been here for two years and had a lot of experience,” Fickell said. “But the reality is he has not had a whole (lot) of game experience.”Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier echoed his position coach, but said the inexperience goes beyond just Grant.“I feel like the biggest concern right now is because we have a lot of inexperience and a lot of young guys,” Shazier said. “When we get a lot of guys that haven’t played together, it’s kind of a struggle.”Fickell said even though the concussion set the starting middle linebacker back, he still has confidence in him.“The reality is if that was a freshman that missed 10 or so days or 10 practices or something like that, you would be much more worried,” Fickell said. “I’m not worried about Curtis Grant, because his passion and his energy is what’s going to show.”According to Meyer, the team held a meeting Monday afternoon to decide the 2013 captains. An OSU athletics spokesman told The Lantern that the decision has not been made as of late Monday evening.Kickoff against Buffalo is scheduled for 12 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) attempts a pass in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings. The Cleveland Browns defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 31-27, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sunday, September 22, 2013. Credit: Courtesy of MCTOn Sunday afternoons on Ohio State’s campus during the fall, chances are that plenty of people will be wearing brown and orange in support of their favorite NFL team.The Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals play each other twice every year in a rivalry known as the “Battle of Ohio.” Columbus is located roughly between the two cities, 127 miles southwest of Cleveland and 97 miles northeast of Cincinnati.The “Battle of Ohio” began in 1970 after the AFL/NFL merger and the two teams have played 79 times. The Bengals lead the series, 42-37.The Bengals have held an advantage since the new Browns franchise joined the NFL in 1999, after the original franchise relocated to Baltimore. The Bengals have won 18 of 28 games in this time span, giving Cincinnati fans reasons to brag to Clevelanders.Last season, the Bengals finished 10-6 with a spot in the playoffs while the Browns finished 5-11, a typical record for the team in recent years.The histories of these two teams are very closely related. The Browns were formed in 1946 and named after their first head coach, Paul Brown. Brown, who was the head coach at Ohio State for three seasons, including their 1942 National Championship year, continued his success as he led the Browns to seven league championships in their first 10 seasons.Brown’s time in Cleveland came to an unexpected end when he was fired by the new owner Art Modell in 1963. He wasted no time returning to football, and joined the newly-formed Cincinnati Bengals as their first head coach in 1968, bringing many of his own traditions, such as similar uniforms of dark brown jerseys and orange helmets as well as tactics like the two-minute drill and player intelligence tests that he created in Cleveland.The rivalry has been very tense for players and fans both on and off the field. An example of this was during a game between the Bengals and Seattle Seahawks in 1989 when Bengal fans threw snowballs at Seahawk players, prompting Cincinnati coach Sam Wyche to grab a microphone and say, “Will the next person who sees anyone throw anything on the field point them out, so we can get them out of here! You don’t live in Cleveland; you live in Cincinnati!” Cleveland fans took this shot personally, and the next time the Bengals played in Cleveland, Wyche was booed by Browns fans.Both teams have had successes and failures, and the number of fans supporting either one may depend on who is having the better season.The “Battle of Ohio” will be played twice this year, on Sept. 29 at First Energy Stadium on the Cleveland lakefront and on Nov. 17 at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati.Football fans at Ohio State will proudly wear scarlet and gray on Saturday afternoons in support of the Buckeyes, but the brown and orange many wear the next day depends on where they are from, and which Ohio team they are rooting for.
Sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson (4) is welcomed in to home plate by junior infielder Troy Kuhn (5) and redshirt-junior infielder Nick Sergakis (21) before scoring an OSU run. The Buckeyes beat in-state opponent, Akron, 9-4, on March 25 at Bill Davis Stadium.Credit: Ethan Scheck / Lantern photographerFor Ohio State baseball coach Greg Beals, the 2015 season has been five years in the making. After being named the head coach in 2010, Beals said he dedicated the first five years of his career toward forming a balanced program.“It’s been five years of developing, it’s the idea of recruiting, the idea of talent and having a balanced baseball club,” Beals said.For the Buckeyes, the five-year plan has been a long process, but it all starts with recruiting, Beals added.“When you are developing your program you have 35 guys, and only 11.5 scholarships so you can’t just throw out a bunch of scholarships and build it in a year,” he said. “It takes some time to find that depth and find the right type of guys.”The Buckeyes showed the depth and balance of their team Wednesday night, beating the Akron Zips, 9-4, at Bill Davis Stadium.Akron started the game off strong by scoring the first two runs in the second inning before the Buckeyes tied the game at 2-2 going into the third.After two innings of three up, three down baseball, the Buckeyes took control of the game, scoring six runs in the fifth inning.“In the fifth inning, it’s a situation where we figured out their starter,” Beals said. “It was our third at-bat, the lineup had flipped and it was our third line through. That’s when we figured him out and were able to get some extra base hits.”After struggling with their bats in the first few innings, the Buckeyes showed their tenacity to get the win as sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson slammed a two-run homer. After struggling throughout the beginning of the season, Dawson said he feels that he’s gaining some of his confidence back.“I was struggling a little bit, but the coaches have faith in me and talk to me every day,” Dawson said.Dawson said the issue had come from his mentality, feeling like he wasn’t able to relax and be patient at the plate.“I just put a lot of pressure on myself. When I didn’t do so well, I got mad, but as I play more people are going to figure out who I am and how to pitch to me so I just have to patient,” Dawson said. “I’m just starting to relax again.”Along with Dawson, senior outfielder Pat Porter blasted a home run, maintaining his offensive leadership with one double and three RBIs.But the real standout for the night was junior Zach Ratcliff, who went 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. The first baseman began the season starting for the Buckeyes, but struggled at the plate with a .185 batting average heading into Wednesday’s matchup.Wednesday was the day to test what Ratcliff could do when given an opportunity, Beals said.“I thought today was a good matchup for Zach to get in there and get his shot back and he took advantage of it,” Beals said. “I’m happy for him. He got the call tonight and answered the bell.”Ratcliff was humble to acknowledge his multiple double performance and grateful for the opportunity presented. But the junior said his mentality is to “just keep working.”Akron was consistent in the batters box, having seven of nine batters with at least one hit on OSU’s junior left-hander, John Havird. The Buckeyes’ starter tossed 84 pitches in 5.2 innings, with nine hits, only allowing one walk, four strikeouts and three earned runs, tallying his third win of the season.“The depth in our pitching staff is something we take pride in. We have multiple guys, we went two midweek games without any of our starting pitchers,” Beals said.The Buckeyes will look to maintain their consistency against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J., on Friday at 3:05 p.m., Saturday at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Experts said patients were being put at risk by a scarcity of family doctors Credit:Alamy The national shortages have contributed to lengthening waiting times to see a doctor and a sharp rise in the number of practices refusing to take new patients. Official figures show the number of patients waiting at least a week to see a GP has risen by one third in three years, with more than 14 million patients waiting a week to get an appointment, or giving up, in 2015.Last week plans for a national ‘Uber– style’ system of private GP appointments using NHS doctors prompted a backlash from some medics.The new service will match patients who are prepared to pay up to £70 for an appointment with GPs working in NHS practices in their spare time. It came days after figures showed a rise in average earnings for GP partners, with 15,000 doctors earning more than £100,000 a year. A Department of Health spokesperson said: “This Government is committed to making sure that patients get the right care at the right time from well-resourced GPs as part of our commitment to a seven-day NHS. “”Total investment in general practice in England rose to over £9bn in the last year; an increase of almost 5% from 2014/15. We have also backed NHS England’s GP Forward View with a further £2.4 billion a year by 2020/21, which will be used to support general practice, including increasing GP numbers, reducing pressure on staff and retaining a healthy GP workforce well into the future.” NHS out-of-hours services are being run without a single doctor in some parts of the country, as other practices turn to refugee medics to plug desperate shortages of GPs.Experts said patients were being put at risk by a scarcity of family doctors, which could result in up to 600 practices closing their doors by 2020.The growing crisis means parts of Yorkshire covering up to 300,000 patients have been left without any doctor to send out at night, an investigation found. Senior doctors said the situation was “appalling” and in need of urgent action, with patients left in danger by “poor quality, unsafe care”.NHS leaders in Cumbria are drawing up plans to recruit refugee doctors, amid warnings that the state of local GP services has become “very fragile”.Forecasts suggest that on current trends, Britain will face a shortfall of almost 10,000 GPs within four years. Rising numbers of family doctors are retiring early, partly fuelled by Treasury rules which have increased tax rates for those with pension pots worth more than £1 million.Meanwhile, the number of trainee doctors choosing to become GPs is falling far short of demand, as waiting lists to get an appointment rise.In Yorkshire, NHS Doncaster clinical commissioning group admitted that its out-of-hours services had been operating without a single GP to treat patients who fell sick overnight.FCMS, which provides cover for a population of 300,000 people in south Yorkshire, said that on eight occasions during August it had no GP present.On six of the instances a doctor was available by phone, while on two occasions, including an eight-hour overnight shift, there was simply no doctor available at all, the firm admitted. 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. In Glasgow, out-of-hours services have been closed at short notice, during the summer period, after health managers were unable to find GPs to work shifts.An NHS Glasgow spokesman said: “Despite the assistance we get from GPs, including the support of many who come in at short notice, we have had to make short notice closures of centres when we do not have GP cover.”Health service managers in Cumbria are drawing up plans to recruit refugee doctors to work as local GPs. The proposals to employ foreign doctors granted asylum status, follow NHS research warning that general practice in the region is “very fragile,” with 47 per cent of GP partners planning to retire within a decade.The area is among several offering trainee GPs “golden hellos” of £20,000 on top of their salaries, in a bid to fill gaps.Dr Geoff Jolliffe, interim clinical chairman of NHS Cumbria CCG and a GP in Barrow, said: ‘If there are competent people who can speak English and are properly trained and can pass our procedures then I think that is a valid thing to do, but I don’t think it will solve our problems.“The long-term solution will be to understand what attracts people and redesign the job accordingly.”An NHS spokesman said the plans, which could also lead to the recruitment of ex-forces doctors, were not formal proposals, and were part of schemes which would go to public consultation.Rising numbers of family doctors are retiring early, with average retirement age dropping to 59 by last year. One in three GPs surveyed last year said they intended to retire in the next five years. A spokesman said the problem was exacerbated by a lack of doctors, market forces pushing up locum rates for doctors, and changes in tax rules.Dr Dean Eggitt, medical secretary for Doncaster’s local medical committee, said the system was not safe.“It is an appalling situation that they are running an out-of-hours service that is supposed to be GP-led, subcontracted to GPs, without GPs,” he told Pulse magazine.“This is NHS care on a shoestring budget, cutting corners and only doing what you can afford – which is poor quality, unsafe care.”He urged regulators to examine the matter, in order to protect patient safety.
“A given renter is more likely to be newer to the area than a homeowner, so they won’t have those local connections and they won’t have relationships with other people in the local area. “That reflects both the flexibility of the rented sector and the lack of security, which creates this churn, because of rents going up and landlords taking back their property, or ending a tenancy early. “People are likely to be caught up in that and finding themselves in a new home and a new neighbourhood with people, often sharing with people they don’t know very well. That all adds up to it being quite isolating.”He said plans to explore incentives for longer tenancies, which were announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in last year’s autumn Budget, could help fix the problem. Figures published earlier this year by think-tank the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that just one in four of those born in the late 1980s owned their own home at 27, compared with one in three born in the early 1980s and 43 per cent of those born a decade earlier. Women felt lonely more often than men, with just over half saying they felt lonely occasionally or more often, compared to 40 per cent of men. Being unable to get onto the housing ladder is creating a generation of lonely young people who do not feel part of their communities, an Office for National Statistics report has found. The ONS identified “younger renters with little trust and sense of belonging to their area” as a group with a high risk of loneliness. It said this group, aged between 16 and 34, had little trust in their neighbours and did not have a strong sense of belonging in the area where they lived. Just one in four said “many” of the people they shared their neighbourhood with could be trusted, compared with an overall average of 45 per cent, while 55 per cent said they belonged in their neighbourhood “not very strongly” or “not at all”, compared with 38 per cent overall. Of the people in this group, 61 per cent said they felt lonely occasionally, or more often, compared with 46 per cent overall. Almost one in ten renters reported feeling lonely often or always, compared to less than four per cent of homeowners. Dan Wilson-Craw, of Generation Rent, which campaigns on behalf of renters, said: “This is what we’d expect from a rented sector where renters are moving frequently. 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. Being single or widowed was also a risk factor, with the least lonely group named as married homeowners, in good health, who were living with others. Experts also called for more support to help people form stable relationships.Chris Sherwood, chief executive at charity Relate said: “Although being in a relationship is not a guarantee against loneliness, the statistics indicate that people living alone are at greater risk. “This suggests that supporting couple relationships and reducing relationship breakdown should form a key part of the government’s approach to preventing loneliness.”The figures suggested that financial insecurity and poor health are major drivers of loneliness, with another high-risk group identified as unmarried, middle-aged people with a long-term health condition, who were more likely than average to be renting, disabled and unemployed. Also at risk were widowed people aged over 65, who were likely to be homeowners, living alone and coping with a long-term health condition.
But in an unprecedented incident, her reserve parachute then failed.Two slinks were missing, meaning that the main lines on one side of the canopy were not connected to her harness, with a brake cable the only thing attached on that side.This caused the reserve to not inflate properly and led to her spiralling out of control and at high speed to the ground.Describing the final moments of her rapid descent, Mrs Cilliers, 42, said: “The last thing I remember is trying to get some kind of control over it, trying to open as many cells as I could – then everything went black. I do not know if it was the G force or the impact but everything cut out.” The missing slinks from Mrs Cilliers’ parachute were never found and the prosecution case was that the defendant had taken them out and disposed of them.Soft patch of ploughed field saved wife’s lifeA soft patch of newly-ploughed field was the only thing that saved the life of Victoria Cilliers after her near-fatal fall.On Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015, the highly-experienced parachutist made a routine recreational jump at Netheravon Airfield in Wiltshire.As she jumped from the aircraft, first of all her main parachute malfunctioned.A rare but not unheard of problem had occurred where her lines were twisted, and she followed her training and cut away the canopy of the main parachute. She also cast doubt on whether or not he had tried to cause a gas leak at their home days before the parachute jump. Wanting to expand his knowledge, he enrolled in an advanced course in packing reserve parachutes.The trial jury learned that reserve parachutes, which are rarely deployed, are required to be checked and repacked every six months.Cilliers attended a course at Netheravon in October 2012 run by chief rigger of the Army Parachute Association George Panagopoulos.He described the defendant as a “very good, confident” packer who “became good and pretty quick and efficient”.The trial was told that Cilliers had a short window of opportunity to tamper with his wife’s parachute in the hangar toilets at Netheravon. The humiliated mother of his two youngest children should have been the prosecution’s star witness.A highly-experienced parachuting instructor, she suffered near-fatal injuries when both her main and reserve parachutes failed as she jumped from a Cessna Caravan Light aircraft at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon, Wiltshire, on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.She immediately knew something was wrong and cut the main parachute away. But the reserve was all twisted and she spiralled helplessly to the ground.One expert said it was the most tangled and knotted parachute he had ever seen after a malfunction.Two of four vital components called slinks, which help keep the canopy lines attached to the harness, were missing.Cilliers, who served with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, was described as being of “quite exceptional callousness,” someone who would “stop at nothing to satisfy his own desires, material or otherwise.”He certainly made no attempt to hide his contempt for his wife.As she lay on her hospital bed, having miraculously survived the 4,000ft fall, he could barely bring himself to acknowledge her, choosing instead to send lewd texts to his Austrian lover, Stefanie Goller. Chief instructor Mark Bayada was tasked with replicating the actions that Cilliers was accused of within the confines of a toilet cubicle and he managed this in slightly over five minutes.This involved taking out the main parachute container and turning it around in order to twist the lines so that it would malfunction on the jump.He secondly removed vital parts from the reserve parachute – two slinks, a nylon link which connects the harness to the canopy.The court was told that only two slinks had ever failed and these had been in badly maintained main parachutes but never in a reserve.The court was told that a main and reserve parachute had not failed together worldwide. She was the key witness and the case hinged on her account. Cilliers had told his wife he was going to spend the night at his barracks in order to avoid Monday morning traffic.Before he left, he loosened a nut on a gas isolation valve in a cupboard next to the oven.But the plan to kill her in a massive explosion failed when, after texting him to say she could smell gas, she declined to turn on the oven as he suggested.The court heard that Cilliers’ blood was found on the valve and that forensic evidence proved it had been loosened with his mole grip.But Mrs Cilliers explained her husband had cut himself a few days earlier while preparing food and entered the cupboard where the gas valve is to fetch food.She denied she was attempting to help her husband.Following his conviction, Detective Inspector Paul Franklin of Wiltshire Police, said: “The real danger with Emile Cilliers is he is cold, calculated, deliberate, and done for financial and sexual motives, and there was absolutely no consideration of his wife or anyone else, he serves his own needs and that makes him a very dangerous man.”Describing the impact on Mrs Cilliers, Mr Franklin said: “I don’t think we can underestimate the ordeal that she has been put through. Victoria Cilliers arrives at Winchester Crown Court on May 1Credit:Morten Watkins/Solent Emile Cilliers was desperate to get rid of his wife.The “cold and calculating” Army sergeant was in the throws of a passionate affair with a woman he met on Tinder, sleeping with his ex-wife and had various prostitutes on speed dial.His debts had spiralled out of control and he was of the mistaken belief that if Victoria Cilliers died, he would receive £120,000 in life insurance.When he had tried to tell her he wanted to end the marriage she threatened suicide so he decided on a more sinister option, first trying to cause a gas explosion at the family home in Amesbury, Wilts, and then, when that failed, sabotaging her parachute after organising a skydive as a “treat”.The “very dangerous, coercive and manipulative” physical training instructor showed no emotion as he was convicted on Thursday of two counts of attempted murder and a third count of damaging the gas fitting recklessly endangering life following a retrial at Winchester Crown Court.But despite the overwhelming evidence, South African-born Cilliers, 38, almost got away with it, thanks largely to his wife. Her survival has been described as a “near-miracle” and the only reason she did not suffer fatal injuries was the soft soil of the ploughed field where she landed.Her light weight was also attributed as a factor in helping to minimise her injuries.But her final piece of luck was that the spot where she landed was just 16ft (5m) from a small country lane, which would undoubtedly have caused fatal injuries. How did Cilliers do it?Army sergeant Emile Cilliers used his extensive knowledge of packing parachutes to sabotage his wife’s device.The 38-year-old took up the sport after meeting his future wife, Victoria, who has been described as one of the best parachutists in the country.He went on to become an experienced packer at Netheravon Airfield, where he would pack hundreds of main parachutes. Victoria Cilliers But the original jury was unable to reach a verdict after she took to the stand and gave a vastly contradictory version of events to that she had given to police.She claimed she had “lied” to officers because she wanted to make him suffer and had exaggerated her story.”During statements I was angry, very angry. I was out for blood,” she said.”I made it sound worse than it was.”I didn’t always tell the truth, no. I got to the point where the extent of his lies and deceit had been disclosed to me and I wanted to get my own back.”Midway through the six-week trial, Mrs Cilliers was declared a “hostile” witness following an application by the prosecution, allowing them to cross examine her and cast doubt on her evidence.Mrs Cilliers had originally told police Cilliers had disappeared into the lavatory with her parachute, where he removed the vital metal slinks, for between two and five minutes.Later, she claimed he had actually disappeared for up to ten minutes.In her first police interview she described her husband as “awesome” but days later, “painted him as the devil”. A view of the gentlemen’s toilets at Netheravon Airfield in WiltshireCredit:Steve Parsons/PA The gas valve, circled, which Cilliers tampered with Emile Cilliers and his wife Victoria Mrs Cilliers, 42, inexplicably and to the shock of everyone in court, threw his first trial into chaos when she appeared to defend his behaviour, telling the jury she had lied to the police and exaggerated her evidence. “Physically she is well but obviously she is still traumatised.”Hannah Squire, junior counsel for the prosecution, said: “The jury heard details of his coercive behaviour towards his wife and his continued manipulation of all the women in his life to satisfy his own desires, whether financial or sexual.”He showed complete and utter contempt for his wife and this culminated in his desire to have her dead, whether that be to start a new life with his lover Stefanie Goller, benefit financially from the death of Victoria Cilliers, or both.”Mr Justice Sweeney remanded Cilliers in custody until sentencing on June 15, and asked for a probation report to be prepared on his “dangerousness”.The court heard he would be kicked out of the “Army within seven days”. The Ministry of defence declined to comment.WATCH: Clip appears to show Victoria Cilliers moments before near-fatal jump 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.
Ebrahimi targeted police officers and a judge after he became obsessed with “limitless revenge” against authority figuresCredit:West Yorkshire Police/PA A police spokesman said: “The effects of this action sowed the seeds of a deep hatred of the police that grew exponentially from that moment.”He believed that the police were committed to destroying his life and set about seeking to take extreme violent action against them.” “He developed a deep-seated and consuming hatred and loathing for people in authority, in the main police officers, and set about research and planning his limitless revenge against them.”Mr Stevenson said: “The volume of weapons, substances and associated material recovered from his property were to enable him to commit the most serious harm to others and I strongly believe that he would have eventually executed his plans in harming a police officer on the streets of West Yorkshire.” Ebrahimi had 90 videos saved that related to the creation of explosives, fuses, detonators and gunpowder.Detective Chief Inspector Warren Stevenson said: “Ebrahimi is a very dangerous individual who posed a significant and very serious threat to police officers, police staff, solicitors and the judiciary. Ebrahimi amassed chemicals and weapons including swords, crossbows and air riflesCredit:West Yorkshire Police/PA His home was raided and officers found a book detailing 21 vehicle registration plates of cars belonging to people he was interested in and photographs of their addresses.His sat-nav revealed that he had visited the address of the judge who issued the non-molestation order and of a police chief inspector.The full home addresses were also found of other police officers he had encountered as well as that of the solicitor working on behalf of his ex-partner.Police also found he had researched the use and effects of chemicals, how police officers are protected when not at work and sophisticated surveillance equipment.A large amount of chemicals were also recovered from Ebrahimi’s address, along with an extensive collection of weapons including knives, swords, crossbows and high-powered air rifles, the spokesman said. He said Ebrahimi was arrested in October 2015 after concerns were raised by Calderdale College about his unusual interest in chemicals and wanting to develop a science lab at home. A man who targeted police officers and a judge after becoming obsessed with “limitless revenge” against authority figures has been jailed for 20 years.West Yorkshire Police said Ashkan Ebrahimi, 33, conducted extensive research on 38 different individuals as he amassed chemicals and weapons including swords, crossbows and air rifles.Senior officers said they “strongly believe that he would have eventually executed his plans in harming a police officer on the streets of West Yorkshire”.The force confirmed that Ebrahimi, of Halifax, was sentenced on Tuesday after being found guilty of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life, possession on an offensive weapon, possession of a bladed article in a public place and stalking offences.A jury at Bradford Crown Court heard how Ebrahimi became obsessed with revenge against the authorities after was he issued with a non-molestation order against his former partner by a judge in the county court and was subsequently separated from his young child. He developed a deep-seated and consuming hatred and loathing for people in authority, in the main police officers, and set about research and planning his limitless revenge against them Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Harriet Wistrich, who successfully represented two rape victims in a landmark judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys, told The Telegraph that in some areas police are demanding “almost unlimited” access to the mobile phones of victims and other data before pressing ahead with cases. She said: “There is evidence that there’s a real problem with rape victims, including teenagers, being told to hand over their phones. Rape victims are dropping allegations over fears defence lawyers will use personal information on their phones against them, the solictor who took on John Worboys has warned. “We are hearing from rape crisis groups that women are refusing…
awaited.passively.landings – the What3Words address for StonehengeCredit:What3words / SWNS Costly Awesome Florists – the What3Words address for the Eden Project in CornwallCredit:What3words / SWNS Thousands of other organisations have also adopted the technology, including the UN, which uses it for disaster relief, Mercedes-Benz, which recently launched the world’s first car with built-in What3Words voice navigation, and Domino’s Pizza.Individuals can also use it to meet in crowded places such as on beaches or at festivals.The technology was the brainchild of British entrepreneur Chris Sheldrick, who says it is more specific than postcodes, which were invented when posting letters was the main form of communication, and simpler than GPS co-ordinates.Mr Sheldrick and his friend Jack Waley-Cohen, a mathematician, who met when they both played chess at Eton, came up with the idea in 2013 and spent a year developing the product. They ensure that words that have two different spellings and profanities are carefully screened out.To generate 57 trillion three-word addresses, the company uses the cube root of that figure – a pool of about 38,500 words. Sam Sheppard, of Avon & Somerset Police, said it had changed the way the force dealt with incidents when the location unknown.He said: “We are moving away from the old style questioning – ‘Where have you come from?’, ‘Where are you going?’, ‘What can you see?’ etc. “These questions take time and aren’t always that accurate. Asking for a three word address or sending an SMS so they can easily provide their three word address, has meant we have saved valuable time locating incidents.” Two other police forces, Humberside and West Yorkshire, also use the system, as does the British Transport Police and three fire services; Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.Call handlers can send a text to the caller with a link to a page that generates their three-word address. Terrified and utterly disorientated after flipping her car into a ditch, Valerie Hawkett found herself stranded with absolutely no idea where she was. After managing to pull herself and her four-year-old daughter free from the vehicle, she called the police. But she could not be seen from the road and was unable to direct them to the scene.Incredibly, officers were able to pinpoint her exact location using new technology that assigns three random words to every 3m X 3m square on the planet.As such, after being sent the relevant web link, the words “weekend foggy earphones” led officers straight to the scene – a field on the A36 heading out of Norton St Philip, Somerset.The geocoding system, called What3Words has divided the world into 57 trillion squares, each of which has its own unique address.Avon and Somerset Police were among the first in the UK to pilot the technology last year and Ms Hawkett, 33, and her daughter are believed to be the first rescued with it. 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.
In March the Holocaust Educational Trust called for a review into the sale of Nazi memorabilia – which remains legal in the UK – amid the rise in visible anti-Semitism. It is, however, illegal to sell Nazi memorabilia or items linked to the Holocaust in other European countries such as Germany, France and Austria. 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 Nazis were walking to a monument that honoured the Bavarian Army when they met a police cordon across the road.”Karen Pollock MBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, suggested that regulation was needed to prohibit the sale of Nazi memorabilia and criticised the comments.She told The Telegraph: “It has long been our view that it is not appropriate for items like this to be on the market for personal profit or macabre interest but rather placed in archives, museums or in an educational context.”“Several leading auction houses and online sites already rightly refuse to sell such material and many countries have banned the sale of Nazi memorabilia. Perhaps it is time for clearer regulation on the sale of these items here in the UK.” A medal awarded to a Nazi soldier who took five bullets meant for Adolf Hitler has sold for a “world record” price.The Blutorden Blood Order Medal was awarded to Ulrich Graf, who helped protect Hitler when he tried to seize power in Bavaria in November 1923 – an event known as The Beer Hall Putsch.The item fetched nine times its £3,500-£4,000 asking price at auction after selling for £36,500 at Derbyshire-based Hansons Auctioneers’ Militaria Auction on July 26.However, the auction house was criticised after saying that banning the sale of Nazi memorabilia would do a “disservice” to Holocaust victims.Adrian Stevenson, a militaria expert at Hansons auctioneers, said: “It’s a world-record price for a medal of its type – a phenomenal result. Interest in this medal was high right from the start. It’s a remarkable historical piece with a huge story to tell.”We know that in the 1950s Ulrich Graf’s family sold everything of his. They wanted no connection with his Nazi past.” He added: “Our vendor was a British doctor who had a large collection of German Third Reich medals which are among the most popular genres of medals.”Some countries like France ban the sale of Third Reich but I think that does a disservice to the victims of the Nazis, it is almost like sweeping it under the carpet. Ulrich Graf, seen right of centre, alongside the Fuhrer at an event commemorating the Beer Hall Putsch, 15 years later, in 1938Credit:Hugo Jaeger/Timepix/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images After the buyer’s premium and VAT were added to the overall price, the figure paid by the private overseas buyer was £47,450.The silver medal, which features the Nazi eagle on one side and an image of the Munich monument on the other, was given to Graf after he threw himself on Hitler and survived after being shot.The former wrestler, who was one of the earliest members of the Nazi Party after it was founded in 1920, was one of Hitler’s personal protection squad during the battle – which ended with 16 party members and four officers killed. Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, has called for a review into the sale of Nazi memorabiliaCredit:Tele/Tele A spokeswoman for Hansons said: “We fully respect and understand Karen Pollock’s viewpoint. However, we also fully respect the historical importance of the objects we sell. It’s impossible to ignore history or brush away the past. This item was sold purely as an historical object.”Militaria items are collected worldwide by people who have a passionate interest in wartime history. Museums or educational establishments are free to obtain these items if they wish.”
Responding to the figures, Ms Longfield said: “There are an increasing number of teenage children in the care system and too many of them are ‘pin-balling’ around the system, changing home and family, school and social worker.“Often they have the most complex and expensive needs. In one local authority, 20% of the entire children’s services budget is being spent on just ten children. This is completely unsustainable.“It is clear that we have a care system which is playing catch up. The new norm is shifting so that fewer babies and very young children are being taken off parents who cannot cope. Instead it is teenagers who are being taken into care because they are experiencing issues such as criminal or sexual exploitation, going missing from home, and parents being unable to protect them.”She added: “The result is a care system that is struggling to cope and which in turn is not providing the stability that many highly vulnerable children need. We should be alarmed that one in ten children in care moved home four or more times in three years. These children are being denied the chance to put down roots, to feel part of a family and to settle at school. It is not surprising that they are often the ones most at risk of exploitation.“All children in care have a right to expect that the state does all it can to improve their chances of growing up in stable and loving environments.” The Stability Index was launched in 2017 and is an annual measure of the stability of the lives of children in England and Wales. It records data on the number of times children in care move home placement, school or social worker. For the first time this year, it has recorded figures for each council.The data reveals that older children are six times more likely than children under 13 to be living in residential or secure children’s homes, and nearly half are living in privately-run accommodation.It also found that there was a large increase in the number of over 16s entering care during the year. This number grew by 25% between 2013/14 and 2017/18 – much higher than for any other age group. As a result, nearly 1 in 4 children in care (23%) is now over 16. A further 2 in 5 (39%) are aged 10-15.These changes have transformed the children’s care model from one based on very young children living in foster homes, to one where more and more older children are entering care and needing more specialist homes. The Children’s Commissioner said that these are teenagers who are significantly more likely to have the following issues flagged up by social workers: child sexual exploitation (6 times more likely), going missing from home (7 times more likely), gangs (5 times more likely), trafficking (12 times more likely) and child drug misuse (4 times more likely). Gang violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking are forcing a rising number of teenagers into care, the Children’s Commissioner has warned. Credit:Katie Collins /PA 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. Gang violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking are forcing a rising number of teenagers into care, the Children’s Commissioner has warned. The “explosion” in the number of older children entering the care system over the last five years has sparked concern that the stability of the care system is under threat.The latest government data reveals how the profile and needs of children in care has changed over, driven by a growing share of older children and teenage care entrants who have more complex needs and potentially more expensive living arrangements. The Children’s Commissioner’s annual Stability Index shows how the number of teenagers (aged 13 or over) in care rose by 21% between 2012/13 and 2017/18, while the number of number of 0-5 year olds fell by 15%. Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England is today warning that councils and the Government “have yet to catch up with this new normal” of an increasing number of teenagers “pin-balling around the system” – which she claims is “unsustainable”.She warned that services are struggling to cope with rising numbers of teenagers being taken into care because they are experiencing issues such as criminal or sexual exploitation, going missing from home, and parents being unable to protect them.There were 16,620 children aged 0-5 in care in 2012 however this dropped to 14,090 children in 2019. In contrast there were 37,730 children aged 10 and above in care in 2012 – a figure which rose to 47,040 in 2018. For those aged 16 and above, 13,580 were in care in 2012, and by 2018, this figure increased to 17,330.