Month: September 2019

  • Notre Dame Is Less OneDimensional Than It Was Last Year

    Notre Dame star Arike Ogunbowale is a big part of that, though she’s by no means alone. The whole team had to pitch in to guard Texas A&M star Chennedy Carter in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, and while Carter did manage to score 35 points, this number is deceiving: It took Carter 34 shots to do it. Ogunbowale scored 34 in the game but did so on just 25 shots.“I think we got stops when it mattered,” Ogunbowale said after the Texas A&M game. “Fourth quarter we held [Carter], we got stops. And like I say, we got stops when it mattered. So that’s all that matters.”This has been the case for much of the season. Notre Dame is allowing 0.73 points per possession this season overall, per Synergy Sports. But after timeouts, that number drops to 0.59, good for sixth in the country. So when McGraw and company have a chance to set up their defense, the Irish essentially become as effective as anyone, with that number besting everyone else still left in the NCAA field.So how do they do it? A combination of forcing turnovers, closing out on perimeter shooters and an elevated dose of protecting the rim.The Notre Dame steal percentage is up from last season, 12.0 percent this year from 11.1 percent a year ago. Much of that improvement comes from Ogunbowale herself, whose steal rate jumped from 2.3 to 3.2 percent. All five starters, however, have steal rates north of 2 percent, reflecting an ability to get into passing lanes, and those live-ball turnovers are immensely valuable for a Notre Dame team that scores at a rate of 1.12 points per possession in transition.The biggest change, though, is the element of rim protection provided by Brianna Turner after the Notre Dame center missed last season with an injury. No Notre Dame starter last season topped Jessica Shepard’s 2.3 block percentage. But this year, Turner checks in at 9.2 percent, and as a team, Notre Dame is at 11.5 percent. That’s 38th in the country, up from 225th in Division I last year.But while most attention goes to Turner’s blocks — a particular aesthetic favorite of McGraw when she watches her team — there are improvements by other players that have made a difference as well.Take Shepard’s ability to end possessions by simply anchoring herself in the right spot off of misses by opponents. Her improved strength and agility this season has led to a significant jump in her defensive rebounding percentage, from 17.1 percent last year to 20.5 percent this season.“Jessica is such a phenomenal player inside and out,” Turner said of her teammate when talking to reporters in Chicago on Sunday. “She’s the strongest player I’ve ever played against or with, so that just speaks for itself. Her ability to like chase down rebounds and just offensively, as well, just her strength is really one of her great assets.”Then there’s Marina Mabrey, known primarily for shooting threes and taking over at point guard last season out of necessity. But the versatile Mabrey is also a standout on defense. Already strong last season at 0.676 points per possession allowed, per Synergy, she’s dropped that number all the way to 0.625 in 2018-19, 45th in the country among 713 eligible Division I players with a minimum of 200 possessions. This stems from her ability to defend spot-up shooters. Her allowed points per possessions on these plays is down to .587 from 0.855 a year ago. The result is a Notre Dame team that allowed opponents to shoot 34.5 percent from three last year, 302nd in the nation, but now is giving up just 28.6 percent to opponents beyond the arc this year, 33rd best in the country.To be sure, there are still gaps in the Notre Dame defense. As McGraw noted last weekend, the team’s offense is what holds the key to its defense, an inside-out formulation compared with most teams.“We do like to run,” McGraw said. “We’re a transition-type team. I think our offense feeds our defense, which is kind of the opposite of the way it’s supposed to go.”It’s true: While the Irish are among the nation’s leaders in offensive efficiency both in the halfcourt and in transition, they have a far more effective defense in the halfcourt set (55th in the nation, per Synergy) than in transition (197th). Put simply, the best way for Notre Dame to defend is to make baskets and keep opponents from running.And while Notre Dame has every chance to repeat, don’t think of this 2018-19 Irish team as a clone of last year’s champion. Notre Dame’s defense has made big stridesHow the Final Four teams have changed from a year ago in terms of their efficiency on offense and defense Muffet McGraw has been worried all season about Notre Dame’s defense. When the Fighting Irish beat Bethune-Cookman in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, McGraw said in postgame interviews that her team had “a long way to go to be a good defensive team.” This was after Notre Dame conceded only 50 points and won the game by 42.Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and McGraw’s team has now reached the Final Four for a ninth time. Next up is a bitter rival — and the most decorated team in the sport’s history — in the Connecticut Huskies. It’s safe to assume which aspect of Notre Dame’s game concerns McGraw the most ahead of this epic rematch of last year’s semifinal.After all, Notre Dame is a juggernaut on offense. The Irish are first in the nation in points per game and third in offensive efficiency, according to — trailing only Oregon and Mississippi State. Both stats are on par with what the team posted last season en route to the national title.But despite McGraw’s concerns, Notre Dame has come a long way toward becoming a good defensive team. It’s just not on the same level as the impeccable execution Notre Dame displays on the offensive side of the ball. Last season, Notre Dame ranked 150th in defensive efficiency. For comparison with recent champions, South Carolina finished 18th in 2016-17, while UConn’s 2015-16 team finished first — in fact, the Huskies finished first in all four of Breanna Stewart’s title-winning seasons. (Not a coincidence.)Typically, championship teams play far more effective defense than the Irish did last season. So far in 2018-19, though, they’ve bridged that gap significantly. Though they are allowing 64.2 points per game, 153rd in the country, that number fails to account for Notre Dame’s pace. In defensive efficiency, they are up to 52nd in the country. Check out our latest March Madness predictions. Notre Dame114.2117.5+3.391.886.1+5.7 Team2017-182018-19Diff.2017-182018-19Diff. Baylor117.4113.1-4.377.276.4+0.8 UConn122.2116.8-5.473.779.6-5.9 Points Per 100 PossessionsOpp. Points Per 100 Possessions Source: Her Hoop Stats Oregon117.8121.9+ read more

  • Vegas Has The Best Expansion Team In The History Of Pro Sports

    The Vegas Golden Knights are only halfway through their inaugural season, and they’ve already redefined what anyone thought was possible for an NHL expansion franchise. Against all odds, the Knights are currently 29-10-3 with 61 points, good for the best record in the Western Conference — and only 4 points shy of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the best record in the entire league. It’s enough to make the Knights hockey’s greatest debut team ever, hands down.But that’s not all: Vegas is also lapping the field of expansion teams across every major pro sport. Even after adjusting for the way records are distributed in other sports, no other brand-new club in modern history came close to doing what the Knights have done so far. Expansion teams just aren’t supposed to have this kind of success this early.Constructed as a Frankenstein’s monster of unwanted parts from the rest of the league, a new club is usually very bad indeed. In a franchise’s first season, merely being “competitive” — code for losing but keeping things close most nights — is an admirable goal. And going into this season, there were plenty of people who had trouble seeing the Knights even reaching that modest level of success. Most outlets picked Vegas to finish either last or next-to-last in the Pacific Division.That was a reasonable expectation based on the past performance of first-year clubs. Our own analysis found that Vegas had dredged more talent out of the expansion-draft pool than normal — but that was just supposed to mean the Knights would exceed historical expectations. It didn’t mean we thought they’d make the playoffs, much less that they’d contend for the Stanley Cup.So far this season, however, Vegas has picked up 73 percent of the maximum number of points in its games and outscored its opponents by 0.7 goals per game. To compare those marks across NHL seasons, we converted them to z-scores, or the number of standard deviations they sat above or below league average. (This helps us account for changes in the league’s spread of talent over time and allows us to make comparisons between different sports — which will come in handy later.) In both categories, Vegas’s z-scores are easily the top marks for an NHL expansion team since the league blew up the Original Six and added six new teams in 1967-68:1Excluding the four World Hockey Association teams (the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets) that merged into the NHL in 1979. Although those teams held an expansion draft, they were also able to keep some of their existing players, and they had existed in the WHA since its founding, making them different from brand-new franchises starting from scratch. 1967Chicago Bulls-3.7-0.740.7-0.5 2018Vegas Golden Knights+0.7+1.372.6%+1.7 21994Florida Panthers49.4-0.06 1961Los Angeles Angels-0.3-0.343.5-0.7 Point percentage 61968Minnesota North Stars46.6-0.40 2018Vegas Golden Knights+0.7+1.372.6%+1.7 YEARTEAMPOINT %–Z-SCORE Goal differential 1969Milwaukee Bucks-5.1-1.132.9-1.1 41968Los Angeles Kings48.7-0.16 31968Philadelphia Flyers49.3-0.08 101994Mighty Ducks of Anaheim42.3-0.76 12018Vegas Golden Knights+0.7+1.28 81968Los Angeles Kings-0.3-0.62 51968St. Louis Blues47.3-0.32 YearTeamValueZ-ScoreValueZ-Score 1968Seattle SuperSonics-6.5-1.328.0-1.3 41968St. Louis Blues-0.2-0.36 12018Vegas Golden Knights72.6%+1.73 61968Pittsburgh Penguins-0.3-0.54 1961Minnesota Vikings-8.7-0.921.4-1.3 Vegas beats other sports’ expansion teams, tooHow the Vegas Golden Knights stack up against top expansion teams in each league by z-score* of winning percentage, 1961-2018 1993Colorado Rockies-1.3-2.141.4-1.2 *Z-score is the number of standard deviations above/below average, relative to the overall league that season.Sources:,, 1969Seattle Pilots-1.0-1.339.5-1.1 The Florida Panthers used to be the model for a successful NHL expansion team. Florida was more than merely competitive in 1993-94 — it finished one win shy of a .500 record and scored exactly as many goals as it allowed. Then, with the good core of talent they had picked up in the expansion draft, the Panthers made the Stanley Cup final three seasons into the franchise’s existence. Before Vegas came along, that was the gold standard for brand-new clubs: solid in the first year, outright good within a couple seasons. But the Knights’ debut has flipped those expectations on their head.(Yes, it should be noted that the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues made the Cup final in their first season. But that was solely because the NHL dropped all six of its new teams into the same division, the winner of which had to make the final. Every team in the new West division, which housed all the expansion clubs, had a negative goal differential during the regular season, but someone had to win it — and the Blues were that team. They were also swept by the mighty Montreal Canadiens when they played for the Cup.)2In fairness to St. Louis, it was as close a sweep as you’ll see; each game was decided by a single goal.Vegas’s season becomes even more impressive when you compare its z-scores to those of the top expansion teams from other sports. No modern MLB expansion club finished a season any better than the 70-win 1961 Los Angeles Angels; no debut NBA team ever topped the 33 wins of the 1967 Chicago Bulls; no NFL expansion team could beat the 7-9 Carolina Panthers from 1995. Hockey does tend to see its teams’ records more tightly bunched than in such sports as football and basketball, but even after adjusting for that with our z-scores, the Golden Knights’ current season blows away any would-be challenger from the NFL, NBA or MLB since the early 1960s: 2018Vegas Golden Knights+0.7+1.372.6%+1.7 Vegas vs. MLB expansion teamsScore DifferentialWin percentage 21994Florida Panthers+0.00.00 YearTeamValueZ-ScoreValueZ-Score 1968Cincinnati Bengals-8.1-0.821.4-1.1 Vegas vs. NFL expansion teamsScore DifferentialWin percentage 1990Minnesota Timberwolves-4.2-0.926.8-1.3 71968Pittsburgh Penguins45.3-0.57 1962Houston Colt .45’s-0.8-1.040.0-1.0 Full-season statistics are used for all teams except Vegas.Source: 31968Philadelphia Flyers-0.1-0.15 YearTeamValueZ-ScoreValueZ-Score 91971Buffalo Sabres40.4-0.65 1971Portland Trail Blazers-4.5-0.935.4-1.0 1967New Orleans Saints-10.4-1.221.4-1.3 Vegas is destroying its NHL expansion competitorsBest z-scores (standard deviations relative to average) for point percentage and goals per game differential, NHL expansion teams (1968-2018) 1969Kansas City Royals-0.6-0.842.6-0.8 Vegas vs. NBA expansion teamsScore DifferentialWin percentage 81973Atlanta Flames41.7-0.57 71973Atlanta Flames-0.6-0.58 1995Carolina Panthers-2.3-0.443.8-0.4 1966Miami Dolphins-10.6-1.221.4-1.4 91971Vancouver Canucks-0.9-0.77 One thing that jumps out is that many NHL expansion teams had better z-scores than the best expansion teams in the other sports. But why is it so much easier to build a strong NHL expansion team (relative to the league) than in the other Big Four North American sports? I don’t have a great explanation.Hockey is the sport with the least reliable individual stats — while scouts’ eye tests can be swayed by recency and other biases — so it may be that the caliber of players left available in the expansion draft is higher than in other sports. Or perhaps the outsize value of goaltending means one good pick between the pipes is enough to carry a team of talent-strapped skaters to respectability. Or maybe good coaching deserves more credit than it sometimes gets around the league. Whatever the reason, expansion teams have done better on ice in general, even before Vegas started to blow the doors off the league.We know that, in the NHL, it takes a lot of games to tell who’s good and who’s bad — which is why even a hot half-season can turn cold overnight. For Vegas, the heat has been generated by MVP-candidate seasons from the likes of William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault and a near Vezina-worthy performance from Marc-Andre Fleury — all players who were considered expendable as recently as seven months ago. Peeking under the hood, the Knights’ ratio of shots taken to shots allowed at even-strength is nothing special, even after adjusting for score effects and other factors. And let’s face it: Few teams can sustain this pace for an entire season: Of the 24 teams with at least 60 points in their first 42 games since 2005-06,3Excluding the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. only one (last year’s Capitals) had a second-half point percentage as good as it did in the first half of the season.So it would be logical to assume that a second-half regression could be lurking around the corner for the Golden Knights. But the advanced stats don’t suggest that Vegas has been particularly lucky. In terms of expected goals (which measures where a team’s chances come from in addition to their volume), the Knights have the ninth-best ratio in the league.Regression or no regression, various projection systems consider the Knights all but a lock to make the playoffs, which would make Vegas the first expansion team to claim that honor since the 1968 season’s standings guaranteed that four new clubs would qualify. Even the in-town sportsbooks are paying attention to the possibility of playoff action in the desert: The Knights are currently tied for the second-best Stanley Cup odds of any team in the league.For an expansion team, all of this seemed unthinkable going into the season. New franchises aren’t supposed to be instant contenders. They’re supposed to struggle, to require years of building before achieving this kind of success. Vegas clearly doesn’t care about any of that. And now we have an entirely new yardstick with which to compare every other expansion club that comes along in the future, no matter the sport. YEARTEAMGPG DIFF.–Z-SCORE 101971Buffalo Sabres-1.0-0.85 51994Mighty Ducks of Anaheim-0.3-0.37 read more

  • Gareon Conley confident in young secondary Malik Hooker

    OSU redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker (24) carries the ball after an interception during the spring game on April 16 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Lantern file photoLast season was a standout year for the Ohio State secondary. The Buckeyes excelled in 2015 with the likes of now NFL players Vonn Bell and Eli Apple. Redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley is now the veteran member of the unit—and only returning starter—with fans eager to see how he and the rest of the defensive backs will respond to the immense pressure of living up to expectations. Conley had a solid 2015 campaign where he recorded two interceptions and 49 tackles and earned high praise from the OSU coaching staff. During his freshman campaign, he also found his way into a role with the special teams, and he contributed as a reserve cornerback. Coach Urban Meyer believes Conley is the next cornerback in a lineage of NFL-ready players“Gareon is playing, man, he’s playing at a high, high level right now,” Meyer said. “He’s an NFL corner someday.”With Conley the go-to guy, the secondary for the Scarlet and Gray has a scarcity of snaps played under their belts. The young players will turn to the now No. 1 defensive back for guidance, and Conley feels ready for the challenge. “It’s going to be a great challenge because I got a lot of guys who I’ve gotta bring up,” Conley said. “I just gotta help the guys right now learn the game.”Even though the task is tall, Conley feels the unit will respond to the pressure with poise, and there should be no drop off from last year’s secondary. “They all play at a high level already,” Conley said. “It’s just getting that experience right now so we can be ready for that first game.”One of the top candidates for the secondary for OSU, redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore, is coming off a season-ending hamstring injury. The injury ultimately led to a redshirt season for the Cleveland native, but his teammates expect he won’t be affected in 2016. “When he’s out there, he’s going full speed,” Conley said. “He looks real good. You can’t even tell when he’s out there.”Of all the candidates to start as a defensive back for the Scarlet and Gray, Conley said redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker has been one of the top performers of the summer so far. Hooker played in all 13 games last season, where he earned 10 total tackles on the year. He was listed as the No. 1 safety in the spring and has been named as a possible replacement for Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell.“(Hooker), that’s my best friend,” Conley said. “He’s always been a great athlete. I say he’s one of the best on the team. His game right now, he’s playing at a high level. Off the charts.”The former New Castle, Pennsylvania, standout wide receiver and cornerback knows he has plenty of expectations by coaches and players. However, Hooker said he feels the backing of Conley is a testament to the effort he has put forth during the offseason, and his teammate’s confidence will keep him putting forth as much effort as possible. “For (Conley) to be a major key in the defense this year and last year, to say something like that just motivates me to work even harder and be the best I can be for the defense,” Hooker said.While starters have yet to be named for most of the team, Hooker appears to have an edge with two weeks before the season starts. Only time will tell if OSU enjoys another year of dominance in the secondary. read more

  • Ohio State victory fueled by big plays in the secondary

    OSU redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore (2) guards Tulsa redshirt sophomore wide receiver Justin Hobbs (29) during the first quarter against Tulsa on Sept.10. The Buckeyes won 48-3. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorA pick-six and three interceptions against Bowling Green in Week 1 was the start coach Urban Meyer was looking for out of his defense. However, all along, he knew Tulsa’s offense would be more of a test for his secondary.From the very first play from scrimmage, the OSU defense made its presence felt.Tulsa redshirt senior quarterback Dane Evans threw to his left on the first play of the opening drive where redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore made a diving interception the pass inside the Tulsa 20 yard line.OSU only mustered a 29-yard field goal from the short field, taking an early 3-0 lead, and continued to look sluggish throughout the first quarter.Redshirt quarterback J.T. Barrett was 2-for-6 passing for 19 yards in the first quarter. Junior H-back Curtis Samuel — who accumulated 261 yards of total offense against Bowling Green — didn’t register a touch on the team’s four possessions in the first quarter, three of which ended in three-and-outs.The offense started to move the ball in the second half, but only could add another short field goal to extend the lead to 6-0.OSU was likely heading into the half without a touchdown when the defense decided to take matters into its own hands.Redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker intercepted a pass from Evans and returned it 26 yards for his first touchdown as a Buckeye, giving the Scarlet and Gray a more comfortable lead heading into halftime.Then, right before the half, the defense struck again. Lattimore returned to the scene in the middle of an intense rainfall at the end of the second quarter, making his second interception of the game when the intended Tulsa wide receiver lost his footing and the ball fell right into the hands of Lattimore, who returned it 40 yards for his first-ever pick six.“Just getting here on defense and having the whole team get hyped for you, it’s a blessing,” Lattimore said. “I love it. I loved getting everybody hyped like that.”The play of the defense thus far has lifted the team at several points in OSU’s first two games. Hooker and Lattimore each sit with a touchdown and five combined picks in just the first two weeks of the season. Hooker said after the game that he had been battling a stomach bug and a nagging back injury throughout the week, yet his performance yielded more raving reviews of his athleticism.At halftime, the Buckeyes led 20-3 without having an offensive touchdown and with just 161 total yards of offense. Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell that his defense prides itself on harnessing momentum when it’s available.“Whether it’s the offense, defense or special teams, there is momentum in every game and once you get it, you got to keep it,” Fickell said. “If you don’t have it, you got to find a way to get it. We have to be able to feed off of each other, and I think we did a good job of that today.”Fickell compared the 2016 defense to that of 2006 when the Buckeyes had to replace several starters, yet caused turnovers at will.Meyer credits the play of the defense thus far to coaching and the ability of young players to buy into the coaching. He said guys like Lattimore, Hooker and sophomore cornerback Denzel Ward have waited for their opportunity and it’s paying off now.“Secondary tonight, we knew they were going to come out and try to throw the ball around a lot,” Hooker said. “We just wanted to go out there and play our technique, our fundamentals and it ended up working out for us.”Gareon Conley had his first pick of the season late in the third quarter for the defense’s fourth on the day. Moving forward, OSU has its toughest opponent yet of the young season in No. 14 Oklahoma next week in Norman.The secondary has been the best unit on the team for Meyer and company through the first couple weeks, but it knows the road that lies ahead.“The great thing is we have some depth and we have talent,” Fickell said. “But we have to make sure we understand this is a process that we’re going to continue to grow.” read more

  • Lone ranger Sole Ohioan took different route to OSU

    Of the 23 players on the Ohio State women’s ice hockey team, senior forward Michele Tonnessen is the only Buckeye born and raised in Ohio. The other 22 members hail from dominant hockey domains like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada.The Gahanna native has been ice skating for as long as she remembers, but didn’t start playing hockey until she was 10 years old. With two older brothers who played, Tonnessen said she grew up around the sport and quickly became familiar with it.“After watching them play and having to travel around with my parents, I guess I just kind of decided I wanted to play rather than watch,” Tonnessen said.But Tonnessen encountered a dilemma many young girls face in non-traditional hockey states: women teams can be few and far between.Coach Jackie Barto said Ohio doesn’t possess as much strong talent as traditional hockey states, so the “bulk of our recruiting is up north.”“We’re looking to bring in the best hockey players at Ohio State,” Barto said. If there’s an Ohio girl who shows promise at the Division I level, “we’re going to try and make it work.”It was Tonnessen’s sophomore year of high school when college hockey became a real possibilities. After attending OSU’s summer camp, she weighed her skills against other campers and solicited advice from the coaches about her potential.“We knew she would be a hard worker, that she would continue to grow and develop while she’s here in our program,” Barto said.“Once I knew I had a chance, I knew that I wanted it,” Tonnessen said.So Tonnessen played with the boys until her senior year of high school. She switched to the women’s game after OSU coaches told her she’d need experience in the women’s game to be recruited.“It was kind of a no-brainer to switch over,” Tonnessen said.Tonnessen joined the Ohio Flames, a women’s club team, during the 2005-2006 season. The Flames advanced to nationals after becoming the 2006 Under-19 Mid-Am District Champions.Although playing the women’s game took some adjusting for the first two years, Tonnessen believes her experience in men’s hockey has helped her in the long run.“It makes you more physical, it makes you tougher, a bit faster,” Tonnessen said. “I think it just gives you an edge on everybody else. It makes you more competitive.”Even though the women’s game proved to be slower for Tonnessen, she said it took hard work to play the women’s way.“It was a lot more skill and finesse with stick handling,” she said. “You could see plays develop.”But despite the hockey program, Tonnessen said she came to OSU because it was close to home and her two brothers graduated as Buckeyes. It was more about the school and academics. Hockey was just a “bonus that ended up coming along with it,” she said.As Tonnessen’s collegiate hockey career comes to an end, Barto credits Tonnessen for being a great representative of OSU hockey.“She’s been a good teammate; … a positive influence and member of the program,” Barto said. “She’s become the best hockey player she can become.” read more

  • Report 3 Ohio State football players named in search warrant regarding alleged

    Three Ohio State football players are named in a search warrant filed by OSU police in an investigation of an alleged rape, according to a report from Columbus television network ABC 6. According to the ABC 6 report, a female student reported the rape, which she said happened on Oct. 21, to police on Nov. 10. No charges have been filed. OSU police logs indicate that a rape was reported by a female student on Nov. 10. The log listed Neil Avenue Building as the location of the incident, and stated that an investigation was pending. The ABC 6 report indicated that the search warrant is for a cell phone of one of the named players, which may contain evidence of the alleged rape. According to the ABC 6 report, the three players are OSU freshmen, and one of those players left the football team last week. Gayle Saunders, OSU’s assistant vice president of media relations, confirmed to The Lantern in an email that “there is an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct involving Ohio State students.” “As this is an ongoing investigation, the university is not at liberty to discuss the matter at this time,” Saunders said in the email. read more

  • Opinion Michigan bringing in former Alabama coordinator Buckeye fans should take notice

    Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (left) and coach Brady Hoke share a smile after a news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., Jan. 10.Credit: Courtesy of MCTUnder coach Urban Meyer, the Ohio State football team has yet to lose to Michigan, but a recent big-time move on the Wolverines’ coaching staff could inflict some uneasiness into Buckeye fans.Offensive coordinator Al Borges, the same coach who helped the Michigan offense put up 41 points against Ohio State in November, was out of a job Wednesday morning. By nightfall, however, his replacement was already announced.That replacement is former Alabama offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier, who will become one of the highest-paid coordinators in college football.While the details of his hiring are still a bit cloudy, rumors are swirling that Alabama head coach Nick Saban was pushing out Nussmeier in order to bring in his new buddy, Lane Kiffin, to take the reigns of the Alabama offense.In any case, this somewhat-shocking hire by the Wolverines should motivate OSU players and fans.Even with the aforementioned Borges at the helm, the Wolverine offense torched the Buckeyes’ defense and was even a single play away from winning The Game. But under control of Nussmeier and a revamped pro-style offense more suitable to Michigan’s personnel coming along with him, the Michigan offense could certainly take leaps and bounds forward.If OSU wants to continue its dominance against Michigan, the defense will have to at least match the improvement of the Michigan offense.In hiring Nussmeier, Michigan might have started a domino effect that will definitely have an impact in Columbus. Should Borges have stayed, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell’s job might have been safe. Now, however, Michigan has challenged OSU even further to resurrect the formerly fantastic “Silver Bullet” defense.If the Buckeyes stand pat, meaning Fickell is retained and the entire defensive outfit continues its less-than-stellar production, OSU will certainly have taken a step backward while Michigan has taken a step forward. That’s something no one involved with OSU football would be content seeing.Be it the firing of Fickell, a change in scheme, or just an overall closer examination of certain players, something needs to change defensively for OSU. Michigan made its move and is challenging the Buckeyes to answer with a counterattack.If the Buckeyes don’t take measures to improve their defense, a loss to Michigan next season in Columbus will be no one’s fault but their own.A word to athletic director Gene Smith and Meyer, in this century-long chess match between OSU and Michigan: it’s your move. read more

  • Buckeye Brief Ohio State running back Mike Webers reward struggles of defensive

    Ohio State redshirt junior H-back Parris Campbell races to the end zone for a touchdown that was called back due to a holding penalty during the second quarter of the Buckeyes’ game against Army. Credit: Nick Clarkson | Social Media EditorOhio State rebounded well Saturday after its 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, beating Army 38-7. Coach Urban Meyer shared his view on what he expects to see from the team in the next couple days before its next matchup against UNLV at a press conference Monday afternoon. Here are some of the key takeaways.Struggles of passing defenseA game in which Ohio State’s defense allowed just 19 passing yards could be viewed as a positive for the team, but only if the context is removed. Ohio State faced off against the least-productive passing offense in college football, as Army had accumulated just 17 passing yards over its first two games of the season. The Black Knights almost solely relied on the triple-option for offensive production. After the game, Ohio State went from ranking last in average passing yards allowed per game (403 yards) to ranking 101st (275 yards), but Meyer said Monday that passing defense is still an area the team is looking to improve.He added that the team’s younger and more inexperienced players could earn themselves playing time if he doesn’t notice improvements, listing freshman cornerbacks Shaun Wade and Jeffrey Okudah as two players who have caught his eye.“Wade’s been dinged up a little bit. He didn’t practice at all,” Meyer said. “Okudah is scratching the surface of playing time. [Cornerback Kendall] Sheffield is getting better. He had his best week of practice last week. And I know it’s [Sheffield’s] third year in college, but he’s not had a lot of experience. And [cornerback Denzel] Ward’s gotta continue to get better. Those are the guys we keep moving forward.”Going back to Oklahoma filmIn preparing for their matchup against the Black Knights, the Buckeyes had to put away the film from the Oklahoma game as they prepared for a team that could not have been much more different than the Sooners. Now that Ohio State has beat Army, it can go back to look at and learn from the Week 2 film as it prepares for more commonly used spread offenses in UNLV and Rutgers.In fact, Meyer said the team already has.“[The defense] spent all day yesterday on Oklahoma,” Meyer said. “Graded the effort and rewarded the effort in here with me and the team, and they went to work. And they’ll continue to work on, because now we’ll see another spread offense.”Campbell being used moreWith six wide receivers listed as starters, it could be viewed as a challenge for any one player to stand above the pack. But if anyone in the receiving corps has looked like he could take that next step, it would probably be H-back Parris Campbell. Campbell leads the team in receiving yards with 217, ranks fifth in rushing yards with 32 on three carries and has averaged 36.5 yards on kickoff returns in four attempts. The redshirt junior first flashed his explosion against Indiana in the opening week, when he caught a pass on a short crossing route and bolted through the secondary, taking the ball 74 yards for a touchdown. He used that speed again versus Army, nearly scoring his first rushing touchdown of the season when he broke out past the defense and into the end zone, before it was brought back due to a holding penalty. Meyer said he sees a lot of former Buckeye H-back and current Carolina Panthers wideout Curtis Samuel in Campbell, and added he’d like to get the ball in Campbell’s hands more often.“Everybody can see [the comparison]. I was so upset we had another holding call,” Meyer said. “Parris has that kind of skill set.”Weber could be ‘rewarded’For the bulk of this season, redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber has been helplessly watching from the sideline as freshman running back J.K. Dobbins dominates on the field. Weber has been limited to 42 yards on seven carries due to a lingering hamstring injury that has prevented him from seeing regular playing time.However, Weber is coming off a season as Ohio State’s primary running back in which he rushed for 1,096 yards on 182 carries and added 91 receiving yards on 23 catches.Despite his injury and Dobbins’ success as the No. 1 running back so far, Weber could still return in a major role for Ohio State’s offense once he is fully healthy.“He’ll be rewarded once he gets back full speed,” Meyer said. “It’s not that Mike’s a lost soul around here … He’s very critical for us as we continue to move forward in conference play coming up in a few weeks.”The third-year running back had just four carries for 13 yards in Saturday’s 38-17 victory over Army.Nuernberger could start as kickoff specialistAnother area Meyer cited kickoff coverage of an area needing dire improvement. Freshman kicker Blake Haubeil has handled kickoff duties so far this season, and Meyer said the freshman and the rest of that special team have not been effective thus far.“Kickoff coverage is a mess right now,” Meyer said. “We don’t have a kicker that can kick the ball. If you notice, one almost went out up in the seats.”Army returned five kicks during the game and averaged 23.2 yards in returns, including a 43- yard return. The Black Knights twice began a drive after a kickoff twice beyond their own 25-yard line, and Oklahoma was able to bring the ball out beyond its own 25-yard line three of its times in four returns. Meyer suggested the poor start for Haubeil could lead to a change, stating that redshirt junior kicker Sean Nuernberger could become the team’s new kickoff specialist. read more

  • Buytolet crackdown will end the dreams of middleclass investors

    first_imgHe said: “This change is a proactive move that recognises the need to help safeguard rental cover for landlords over the coming years, and in advance  of the forthcoming changes to mortgage interest tax relief.” While would-be landlords are being locked out of the market, current landlords are rapidly looking to sell, studies have indicated. One survey of almost 1,000 experienced private landlords by the  Residential Landlords’ Association found a quarter of buy-to-let investors  are planning to sell their rental properties as a result of the  Government tax changes.  Philip Hammond will deliver his Autumn Statement next weekCredit:Rex / Shutterstock From Jan 1 the Prudential Regulation Authority, the lending arm of the Bank of England, will impose new minimum affordability thresholds which will reject borrowers who make less than 25 per cent profit from their investment, or would no longer be able to afford mortgage repayments if interest rates  rise to 5.5 per cent. For example, someone with a £200,000 interest-only mortgage borrowing at  1.79 pc would have monthly mortgage payments of £299.However, as these repayments would rise to £917 if their rate of repayment interest rose to  5.5 per cent, they would need to prove they could charge rent of £1,146 a month to  be approved for the mortgage.   As the Bank rate is currently at a record low of 0.25 per cent, mortgage deals are cheaper than ever with many charging less than 2 per cent interest.  Prior to the announcement of the Bank’s new rules, some lenders went further and tightened their criteria voluntarily with some, including Nationwide, now refusing to lend to landlords making rental profits of less than 45 per cent of their mortgage repayments. When the building society announced the change in April this year, Paul  Wootton, managing director of its buy-to-let arm, The Mortgage Works, said  the move was a response to the change on tax relief.  Philip Hammond If interest rates were to move up quickly that would cause buy-to-let  investors a huge problem as they are too acclimatized to low ratesRay Boulger Many have turned to buy-to-let to fund retirement income after being effectively barred from putting more money in to their pensions by the Government. Low mortgage rates have made the investments attractive. However, ministers have recently targeted buy-to-let properties with aggressive new taxes, including higher rates of stamp duty and the removal of tax relief on mortgage interest. Experts fear that the announcement will make the investments unaffordable for many middle class people, closing down another potential  saving opportunity. Mr Hammond and Theresa May, the Prime Minister, are expected to come under pressure to ease the burden on savers with new tax breaks or government help in next week’s  Autumn Statement.  Andrew Montlake, director at Coreco, a mortgage broker, said: “Many people will see this as the beginning of the end of the middle class buy-to-let dream which is a big shame. “Until recently middle-class savers have helped fuel a buy-to-let boom in  Britain with more than two million savers funnelling cash into rental properties to help fund their retirement.  The Bank is forcing lenders to “toughen up”  over concerns they have relaxed standards for landlords.  Ray Boulger, from John Charcol, a mortgage adviser, said: “The rationale for these stress tests are the same as those which were brought into the residential market to avoid people being unable to repay their mortgages if interest rates rise.”If interest rates were to move up quickly that would cause buy-to-let investors a huge problem as they are too acclimatized to low rates. If rates rose sharply and they were unable to repay their mortgages en masse the market could suddenly be flooded with properties.” Many people will see this as the beginning of the end of the middle class buy to let  dream which is a big shameAndrew Montlake, Coreco Property investors will face tough new mortgage affordability tests from next year which will herald the “beginning of the end of the middle-class buy-to-let dream”, experts have warned.Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, announced additional rules on buy-to-let which will result in ordinary investors being able to borrow far less towards their purchase.Mr Hammond indicated he was concerned about “financial stability” following a boom in residential property investment as savers desperately try to find profitable places to put their money.  Under the plans to give the Bank of England extra powers, affordability checks are to be introduced for investors, who will now have to prove they can make a profit of 25 per cent profit from tenants even if large interest rate rises make their mortgage more expensive. The Chancellor said: “It is crucial that Britain’s independent regulators  have the tools they need to keep our financial system as safe as possible. “Expanding the number of tools at the Financial Policy Committee’s disposal will ensure that the buy-to-let sector can continue to make an important contribution to our economy, while allowing the regulator to address any potential risks to financial stability.”  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

  • Bird flu confirmed in chickens and ducks in Wales as disease spreads

    first_imgTurkeys on a farm 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 means extra biosecurity measures for all poultry and captive birds to protect them from the risk from wild birds.The zone covers the whole of Wales and is due to remain in place until Jan 6.It requires the immediate and compulsory housing of domestic chickens, hens, turkeys and ducks, or where this is not practical, their complete separation from contact with wild birds.For farmed geese, game birds and other captive birds, keepers should take practical steps to keep them separate from wild birds.  Bird flu has been confirmed in chickens and ducks in Wales, in the latest instance of the spread of the avian disease across Britain. The decision was taken to cull the birds before confirmation, amid strong suspicion of avian influenza H5N8 on a premises near Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire.It follows previous outbreaks across the country, including cases last month in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, and Somerset and Leicestershire.  Welsh Government environment secretary, Lesley Griffiths said: “This case of Avian Influenza H5N8 in a backyard flock near Pontyberem in Carmarthenshire follows the findings of infection in wild birds and a confirmed case in Lincolnshire.”It serves to reinforce the need for all bird keepers, particularly back yard flock keepers, to adhere to the requirements set out in the Prevention Zone, remain vigilant for signs of disease and practice good biosecurity at all times.”center_img Show more The disease has also affected other parts of Europe where thousands of farmed birds have been slaughtered following outbreaks. A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place to limit the risk of the disease spreading in the latest instance, as part of the wider surveillance and disease control measures.An avian influenza prevention zone declaration was made by Welsh ministers on Dec 6 last year. Restrictions have been placed on poultry farming following bird flu outbreaksCredit:Niall Carson /PAlast_img read more

  • Britain dragged into Donald Trump dirty dossier row amid claims Whitehall knew

    first_imgThe dossier contained allegations about President-elect TrumpCredit:Seth Wenig /AP  MI6 The document, which contained allegations of lurid sexual behaviour by Mr Trump in Russian hotels, was leaked earlier this week, and Britain now finds itself caught in the crossfire of accusations between Russia and the US. Mr Steele was the MI6 case officer in the Litvinenko poisoning Credit:PA  Show more The FBI declined to comment, and the US embassy in London did not respond to requests for comment.As the row over the dossier continued, the US vice-president Joe Biden said the FBI had felt obliged to tell President Barack Obama about the information it contained because of concerns it would go public and catch the president off guard.Mr Biden said neither he nor Mr Obama asked US intelligence agencies to try to corroborate the unverified claims that Russia had obtained compromising sexual and financial allegations about Mr Trump.Members of the US intelligence community have said it would have been a “dereliction” of duty not to mention allegations that the Russians had material with which they might try to blackmail Mr Trump. Britain has been dragged into the frantic row over the “dirty dossier” on Donald Trump after it was claimed that the Government gave the FBI permission to speak to the former MI6 officer who compiled it. Sources in the US have told The Telegraph that Christopher Steele, a former spy, spoke to officials in London before he handed the document to the FBI and met one of its agents. Mr Trump has angrily rejected the information in the dossier as “fake” and the involvement of a former MI6 officer is unlikely to help Britain’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US when he becomes president later this month. Sir Tony Brenton, a former British ambassador to Russia, described the dossier as looking “pretty shaky”. He told Sky News: “For example, it claims that the Russians began to cultivate Donald Trump five years ago.”If they did that they showed remarkable prescience because at the time he had nothing to do with American politics.”It emerged that he was the MI6 case officer assigned to Alexander Litvinenko, the former FSB agent murdered in London with a radioactive substance. Mr Steele was hired to find information on Mr Trump by a Washington-based consultancy that was being paid by Republican opponents of the president-elect – the BBC claimed they were acting on behalf of fellow nominee Jeb Bush – and, later, by Democrats.However, he decided the information was so sensitive that it should also be passed on to the FBI and to his old colleagues at MI6.The Daily Telegraph was told during a meeting with a highly-placed source in Washington DC last October that the FBI had contacted Mr Steele asking if they could discuss his findings with him. The source said that Mr Steele spoke to officials in London to ask for permission to speak to the FBI, which was duly granted, and that Downing Street was informed.center_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. On Thursday Russia publicly accused MI6 of “briefing both ways” against Russia and Mr Trump and suggested Mr Steele was still working for the Secret Intelligence Service.The Russian embassy in London used its official Twitter account to say: “Christopher Steele story: MI6 officers are never ex: briefing both ways – against Russia and US President.” Donald Trump Mr Steele was an MI6 officerCredit:Anne-Marie Palmer /Alamy Downing Street and the Foreign Office refused to comment, while security sources said that it would have been a “professional courtesy”, though not an absolute requirement, for Mr Steele to seek permission for a meeting with the FBI.Once he had been given the all-clear, he met an FBI agent in another European country, where he discussed the background to the file he had compiled. His contact with the FBI reportedly began in July last year and ended in October, after he became frustrated by the  bureau’s slow progress.Dominic Grieve, chairman of the Commons intelligence and security committee, said he expected the committee to discuss the fallout from the dossier and the question of whether British intelligence agencies had been involved in handling it.  Mr Steele, who friends say fears for his safety, has gone into hiding while the veracity of the claims made in his dossier, and his own reputation, continue to be fiercely debated. Christopher Steele story: MI6 officers are never ex: briefing both ways – against Russia and US President— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) January 12, 2017 Alexander Litvinenkolast_img read more

  • Dont call us millennials Majority of young people say term does not represent

    first_imgThe word “millennial” has become synonymous with the young – but evidence suggests that they are starting to reject it.According to new research three quarters of under-30s say they do not feel the term represents them and more than a third say they don’t even know what it means.The study, carried out by marketing agency ZAK, argues that those aged between 18 and 30 have been misunderstood by society. The research suggests that young people have had enough of the negative connotations of the word, and experts say they may have a point.  She added that she was “not convinced” that young people were less hard-working than their parents.  “They see it as a marathon not a sprint – it’s much more about where that job can take you in the future,” she said. The term “millennial” came about because young people were unhappy at being called “Generation Y” – because it was too closely related to the previous group, Generation X, those born in the mid 1960s to early 1980s, added Professor Kelan.But now the new term is also falling out of favour. Professor Cary Cooper, of Manchester business school, said that the term “millennial” had become meaningless because it encompassed too many different groups. It is normally defined as including those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s.  “It’s really quite a wide-ranging group of people. “What I would rather do is seeing other differences examined too – for example between men and women you find big differences,” he said. Young people were shaped by watching their parents divorce, lessening their enthusiasm for romantic commitment, and watching older family members be laid off during the financial crisis, reducing their faith in employers, he added. 18-24 year-olds probably have some things in common but the full age group is over 10 years – I don’t blame them for getting angry at being lumped together. “People make generalisations, and no-one likes being put into a category where they don’t agree with what the findings are. “It puts them into a category of being selfish and self-interested, and they’re not.  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 Ritson, marketing professor at Melbourne Business School & Singapore Management University, told researchers that “brains don’t change in a decade. We’re still driven by the same goals as our ancestors.”The paper is one of a series in which scientists challenge the widely-held idea that young people are selfish and workshy.  Elisabeth Kelan, professor of leadership at the Cranfield School of Management, who has researched millennials in the workplace, agreed that many of the stereotypes about young people have come out of their economic and social circumstances. “Much of the research is not based on really good evidence. I think it’s much more about the experiences that led you to have a specific mindset,” she said.  It puts them into a category of being selfish and self-interested, and they’re notlast_img read more

  • Parents budget for term time holiday fines rather than keep their children

    first_imgJon Platt lost his legal challenge today at the Supreme Court, over a fine for taking his daughter on holiday during term-time After passing through the Magistrates, High Court and Court of Appeal, the high-profile dispute was finally settled in the Supreme Court, where it was concluded that even half a day’s absence was a breach of the law.Mr Platt was subsequently sent back to the Isle of Wight Magistrates, where he was fined £2,000 for failing to pay a £60 truanting fine.The most recent figures released by the Department for Education show that the number of parents taking their children on term-time holidays has risen despite a Supreme Court ruling that such absences are unlawful.Official statistics show that 8.9 million days in unauthorised absence were recorded during the autumn and spring terms of the last academic year, up from 7.4 million the previous year.Meanwhile, nearly two million pupils took at least one day off without permission, up from 1.7 million during the same period. Jon Platt lost his legal challenge today at the Supreme Court, over a fine for taking his daughter on holiday during term-timeCredit:Dan Kitwood 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.center_img One of the councils which issues five times more than the average number of penalties is the Isle of Wight, which fought a prolonged legal battle against Jon Platt, a local businessman who took his daughter on a trip to Disneyland Florida without her school’s permission. Parents are budgeting for term time holiday fines rather than keeping their children in school, as figures show that the number of penalties issued by many councils is on the rise.In England and Wales, 155 local authorities have issued around 400,000 penalties over the past three years. On average, 12 penalties were issued per 1,000 children – whether for truancy or for parents taking children away on holiday during term time – during the last academic year.However, there is wide variation among councils, with some issuing at rates five times the average, according to figures obtained by the BBC under freedom of information laws.Campaigners have warned that many parents are prepared to pay the £60 fine when they are planning a holiday during term time, since they are saving far more than this by travelling outside of the peak season.Craig Langman, of the group Parents Want A Say, told The Telegraph: “For those who can afford it, they will factor in the fine to the price of the holiday and they are still saving a fortune.”last_img read more

  • Hairdresser Daryll Rowe sentenced in Scotland for trying to infect more men

    A hairdresser who was sentenced to life in England for deliberately infecting men with HIV has been jailed for eight years for similar offences in Scotland.HIV positive Daryll Rowe admitted having unprotected sex with four men in Edinburgh with a total disregard to the consequences after being diagnosed with the virus and passed on the infection to one victim.One of the men went on to contract HIV as a result of the “utter callousness” of Rowe’s actions. A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh told Rowe – who is already serving a life sentence for similar offences in England – he had “grossly breached the trust of the men involved”.Rowe, of Musselburgh, East Lothian, admitted culpably and recklessly exposing the four men to the risk of contracting HIV between June and September 2015 at an address in Edinburgh.Police said the 27-year-old hairdresser, who was diagnosed with the lifelong condition in April 2015, would meet men using online dating apps and enter into sexual relationships without disclosing his illness.He would either refrain from wearing a condom during sex, or tamper with the protection, as he sought to deliberately infect others. Judge Lady Scott told Rowe he had shown a total disregard for the consequences of his actions. Handout video still issued by Sussex Police of Daryll Rowe, 26, during a police interview where he denied having HIV. Rowe was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court of ten charges of deliberately trying to infect men he met on Grindr with HIV in Brighton, East Sussex and the North EastCredit:PA Handout video still issued by Sussex Police of Daryll Rowe, 26, during a police interview where he denied having HIV. Rowe was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court of ten charges of deliberately trying to infect men he met on Grindr with HIV in Brighton, East Sussex and the North East He was caught following a “significant” investigation by police on both sides of the Border. Detective Chief Inspector Martin MacLean, of Police Scotland, said: “Daryll Rowe is a devious and deceptive predator who has shown absolutely no remorse for the extensive suffering and distress he has caused his victims.Kenny Donnelly, Procurator Fiscal for sexual offences, said: “There is no doubt that Daryll Rowe knew what he was doing and that had no regard for the safety of his victims or the consequences of his actions.”The fact that his victims had the courage to come forward to report what had happened to them has allowed us to bring him to justice.”Shelagh McCall QC, defending, said it was clear from medical notes that Rowe was not coping with the HIV diagnosis at the time. She said: “He accepts his behaviour was reckless. It is fair to say he regrets it enormously.” Lady Scott handed Rowe an eight-year prison term, which can only be served concurrently with life sentence imposed in England, and she placed him on the sex offenders’ register for life.Last month, he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years at Brighton Crown Court for trying to infect 10 men with HIV, the first man to be convicted of intentionally trying to spread the virus.He met men on the gay dating app Grindr and had intercourse with eight men in Brighton between October 2015 and February 2016 before fleeing to Northumberland where he targeted a further two men.But Rowe had begun threatening to spread the virus in June 2015 when he first had sex with a man in Edinburgh without using a condom knowing that he was infected and that HIV could be transmitted during intercourse after his earlier diagnosis. In a sentencing statement released following the hearing, she said: “On one occasion you were asked to wear a condom and you falsely assured your victim you would, but did not do so.”On another occasion you specifically requested unprotected sex and falsely reassured your victim you were not HIV positive. You grossly breached the trust of the men involved and caused them considerable fear and anxiety.”She said it had been a traumatic experience for the man who did contract the virus, saying it has had a “profound effect upon his life.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

  • Richard Branson steps up his astronaut training as first space flight is

    The New Shepherd, seen here blasting off from its Texas launchpad, is the reusable rocket for Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin space companyCredit:AFP/Getty Richard Branson and his co-pilots were joined by Buzz Aldrin in the capsule of the Virgin Global Challenger before the 1996 around the world attemptCredit: Philip Hollis/ Philip Hollis This year the ship’s successor, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, completed its first supersonic test flight.In an interview to be broadcast on Monday, the Virgin founder told the BBC’s You and Yours programme that commercial passenger space flights were tantalisingly close. The New Shepherd, seen here blasting off from its Texas launchpad, is the reusable rocket for Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin space company In 1985 an attempt on the Atlantic Ocean crossing record saw his boat capsize, leaving him in need of rescue just of the Cornish coast.A second attempt a year later in the powerboat Atlantic Virgin Challenger II made history by making the trip in three days, eight hours and 31 minutes. In the 1990s he set speed records in hot air balloons, but the goal of becoming the first man to circumnavigate the world by balloon continued to elude him.The Swiss-British team of balloonists Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones achieved the first round-the-world trip in March of 1999. 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. Richard Branson and his co-pilots were joined by Buzz Aldrin in the capsule of the Virgin Global Challenger prior to his 1996 attempt to fly non stop around the world in a balloon. Sir Richard Branson has stepped up his astronaut training in preparation for a space flight he believes is just months away.His optimism looks set to intensify a three-way-race between rival billionaires to conquer the private space market.He told the BBC: “I’m going for astronaut training, I’m going for fitness training, centrifuge and other training, so that my body will hopefully cope well when I go into space.”Instead of doing one set of tennis every morning and every evening, I’m doing two sets.”I’m going kiting and biking – doing whatever it takes to make me as fit as possible.”In centrifuge training, memorably depicted by Roger Moore in the James Bond film Moonraker, the subject is subjected to high G-forces to simulate and prepare for the physical stresses of take-off.It comes four years after tragedy struck the Virgin space programme, when its SpaceShipOne passenger rocket ship exploded, killing one pilot and leaving the other seriously injured. “We’re talking about months away, not years away. It’s so close. There are exciting times ahead,” he said.Two more of the world’s richest men are also engaged in the new space race.SpaceX, funded by Paypal founder and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, is increasingly dominant in the cargo market.Mr Musk has said he wants to die on Mars, “but not on impact”.But the first passenger flight looks likely to happen courtesy of either Mr Branson or Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.Mr Branson said of Bezos: “I think we’re both neck and neck as to who will put people into space first.“Ultimately, we have to do it safely. It’s more a race with ourselves to make sure we have the craft that are safe to put people up there.” Earlier this month the Amazon boss – whose $130 billion fortune dwarfs Mr Branson’s twenty times over – said he is liquidating more than a billion dollars a month to invest in his space company Blue Origin.He told a finance magazine: “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel.He said his own timetable was to put humans in space “at the end of this year or at the beginning of next.” Mr Branson’s ambitions to exit the world’s atmosphere follow decades of effort to enter the world record books. read more

  • Largescale illegal gun factory found on Sussex industrial estate

    A large-scale illegal gun factory has been discovered on a Sussex industrial estate, the National Crime Agency has announced.  Investigators responded to what was believed to be gunshots coming from inside what the NCA called a warehouse unit describing itself as a gearbox repair business on an industrial estate in Hailsham, East Sussex. Officers raided the building on Saturday night and found what they believe to be a “sophisticated” operation producing guns, of which the NCA has subsequently seized around 30. Three men found leaving the building were arrested and police had to use a Taser on one of them, an NCA spokesman said.On the weekend, two guns were found as well as ammunition, but further searches uncovered the true magnitude of the factory.Rob Hickinbottom, head of the national firearms threat centre at the NCA, said on Wednesday afternoon: “We believe we have disrupted a group involved in the criminal production of firearms, and as a result we have prevented a potentially large quantity of weapons from getting into the hands of criminals and being used in violence on our streets.” Police officers at Diplock Way industrial estateCredit:Jessup/Mitchell “Schools have been decimating their workshops over the past couple of decades and selling off equipment like this, but they’re perfectly sound to do the job, very accurate and very easy to use. “Every engineering workshop around the country that use shaping metal in their trade will have a lathe like this one. It’s used to to manipulate metal, make it rounded. “It would also be used to create the slots for bullets in the cylinder of an older, traditional handgun and would be used to form the barrel of a gun. “The milling machine – the machine on the right – would be used to very accurately create grooves on the outside of the gun. “Between those two machines, you’ve got all you need to create the basic shape and starting point of a gun.”  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. “We have found a range of machinery and components used in the criminal manufacture of firearms and ammunition from scratch.”We have found what we suspect are a number of handguns in various stages of production, as well as templates and metal for use in their manufacture.”Those are now being analysed by forensic experts to determine what category of firearm they fit into.”Mr Hickinbottom, citing operational reasons, said he could not comment on how the NCA were tipped off about the site, but told reporters at a news briefing: “Officers heard loud bangs consistent with gunshots emanating from inside an industrial unit on the estate.”The unit was an engineering workshop, with signage outside showing it to be a gearbox repair business.”The NCA believe the factory was producing ammunition as well as the weapons, and could not rule out whether or not the guns were in circulations.  Two police officers during the raid in Hailsham Three bags of bullets seized by the NCA The raid at the industrial unit in HailshamCredit:Jessup/Mitchell The NCA believe that the two weapons recovered on Saturday night had been made in the unit, and that the bangs heard inside were likely to have been the discharging of those weapons.Greg Akehurst, 29, of no fixed address, and Mark Kinman, 63, of Bramwell Mews, Hailsham, were both charged with possessing a firearm.Kyle Wood, 30, of Gratwicke Drive, Littlehampton, was charged with the same offence as well as possessing ammunition. The raid at the industrial unit in Hailsham Three bags of bullets seized by the NCA Police officers at Diplock Way industrial estate Two police officers during the raid in HailshamCredit:Jessup/Mitchell A source told The Telegraph no 3D laser printers were found in the industrial unit, but rather decades-old metalworks machinery typically associated with pre-21st century classrooms. Among the machines were a lathe and a milling machine, both used to manipulate metal. Phil Davies, a retired metalworks teacher who worked for 30 years in Cardiff, said: “The green lathe on the left-hand side of the picture is typical of the type of machine you’d get at schools back in the day.  The trio were remanded in custody and are due to appear at Kingston Crown Court on September 17. The NCA and Sussex Police officers have remained at Diplocks Way, combing the industrial estate for more evidence. Mr Hickinbottom added: “That search has taken several days, but during that time we have found what we believe to be a sophisticated gun factory. read more

  • St Georges Day will not actually happen until next week as Church

    The Labour party apologised yesterdayfor accidentally uploading their St George’s Day message a day early and reposted it on Twitter today – however theologians explained that Jeremy Corbyn was still six days early.He posted: “Happy St George’s Day to everyone celebrating in England and across the world.”Meanwhile, Theresa May posted on Twitter earlier this morning: “The St George’s Cross flies above Downing Street today to mark the feast day of England’s patron saint. My warmest wishes to all celebrating.” Saint George and the DragonCredit:Imagno, /HULTON ARCHIVE  Saint George and the Dragon The Mayor of London, Saiq Khan, also tweeted a “happy St George’s day” to his followers.Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch Professor of the History of the Church, in the Theology Faculty at the University of Oxford said that Easter takes precedence over feast days and has done for around one thousand years. “In this way, Easter is extraordinary,” and as a result, St George’s day is literally a moveable feast.Professor MacCulloch, who co-edited the Journal of Ecclesiastical History for two decades, added that Mrs May’s tweet shows that “Downing Street is obviously illiterate about the Church”.Common Worship, the church’s volumes of guidance for services, notes: “When St George’s Day or St Mark’s Day falls between Palm Sunday and the second Sunday of Easter inclusive it is transferred to the Monday after the second Sunday of Easter.”However the College of Arms, the UK’s heraldic authority, confirmed that April 23 remains fixed as the flag-flying date for St George’s Day, regardless of changes in the church calendar. When the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition took to social media to wish the nation a happy St George’s day, they failed to realise that they got the date wrong.The patron saint of England is celebrated on April 23. However, this year the celebration, also known as the Feast of Saint George, will be delayed until next week as the Church of England says it is literally a “movable feast”.According to church rules, no feast days are allowed to be marked during Easter week. If a saint’s day does end up falling during this period, it is “transferred” to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter. The last time this happened was in 2011.However the lack of understanding surrounding these rules among politicians has prompted one church historian to accuse Downing Street of being “illiterate about Christianity”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

  • GIIAA to host Garv Aur Izzat at NCC tonight

    Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedIndo Guyanese must protect their contributions to Guyana – activistsMarch 5, 2017In “Local News”British universities to mark abolition of Indian indentureshipOctober 5, 2017In “Entertainment”PHOTOS: Abolition of Indian indentureship anniversary event at LeonoraMarch 6, 2017In “Local News” …in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Abolition of Indian Indentureship in Guyana (Bharat Ko Janiye Image)March 2017, marks 100 years since the Indian Indentureship Scheme was abolished in the then British Guiana. To mark this historic occasion, the Guyana Indian Indentureship Abolition Association (GIIAA), which is representative of the organizations listed below, will be hosting, “Garv Aur Izzat” (Pride And Dignity), tonight, at the National Cultural Centre commencing at 19:00 hrs.The event is a national symbolic launch of activities which are to be held across the country by the various organizations over the next few weeks to commemorate this milestone.“Garv Aur Izzat”, is presented in collaboration with the High Commission of India in Georgetown and the Ministry of Social Cohesion.GIIAA says it has been informed that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo who is currently performing duties as Acting President, will attend and deliver remarks.The programme also includes presentations from prominent Guyanese Ravi Dev and Ryhaan Shah on the historical perspective of the occasion, the role of women, where we are and where we are going. In addition, Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr George Norton; People’s Progressive Party Member of Parliament and Attorney-at-Law, Adrian Anamayah and High Commissioner of India to Guyana, H.E. V. Mahalingam, will also address the gathering.An enthralling rich cultural showcase capturing glimpses of Indo-Guyanese performing arts will provide the evening’s entertainment.According to the GIIAA “as Guyanese, especially those of East Indian ancestry, use this occasion to reflect on the contributions of their fore-parents to the development of Guyana, there is a profound sense of pride over their achievements and the dignity which they instilled through their sacrifices. While those values will be celebrated as this momentous occasion is being commemorated, how it has been impacted over time will also be put into perspective.”The GIIAA says it is therefore extending an invitation to all to be part of this historic occasion. Admission to the event tonight is free.For further information, the following persons can be contacted: Dr. Seeta Shah Roath – 655-2533; Petamber Persaud – 644-1889 and Neaz Subhan – 624-5002.The GIIAA is comprised of the following organizations: Gandhi Youth Organization, Girmitya Research Council (Guyana), Guyana Arya Samaj, Guyana Indian Indentureship Abolition 100, Guyana Islamic Forum, Guyana Maha Sabha, Guyana Pandits Council, Hindus for Selfless Service, Indian Action Committee, Indian Commemoration Trust, ISKCON, Muslim Youth League, Oral Tradition, Pandit Sabha Region 3, Saraswati Vidya Niketan, Viraat Sabha Guyana and the Vishnu Bandhu Group. read more

  • Adil Rashid could be persuaded back to Test cricket says Trevor

    (ESPNCricinfo) Could Adil Rashid be persuaded to make a return to Test cricket on the strength of his white-ball form? Don’t rule it out, is the message from Trevor Bayliss, after describing Rashid’s recent performances against Australia and India as “the best I’ve seen him bowl” since he took over as England’s head coach in 2015.Adil Rashid celebrates the wicket of Marcus Stoinis (Getty Images)Rashid claimed 20 wickets at 23.95 in England’s nine-match ODI campaign this summer (and a further five in four T20s), including arguably the collector’s item of his career to date – a big-ripping legbreak to bowl Virat Kohli in the series decider at Headingley, a ball that turned so sharply the India captain was left open-mouthed in astonishment.An unusually hot and dry summer has enhanced the conditions for spin bowling in England, and India have already responded by drafting the left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav into their Test squad after his own starring role in the limited-overs campaign.The chances of Rashid following suit would still appear to be slim, given that he retired from red-ball cricket earlier this year, saying that “his heart was not in it” after picking up ten wickets at 50 in seven Championship appearances last summer.He had not played a Test match for England since 2016-17, when he finished as England’s leading wicket-taker in India and Bangladesh with 30 scalps in seven Tests, and was overlooked for the home series against South Africa and West Indies, as well as the subsequent Ashes tour.However, England’s selection panel has been overhauled since the winter, and as Bayliss pointed out, the new National Selector Ed Smith set a precedent for Test selection on white-ball form with his very first squad.Against Pakistan in May, Jos Buttler returned to England’s Test team as a direct consequence of his hot run of form for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, and made an immediate impact with two half-centuries, including a match-defining 80 not out in the second Test at Headingley.Asked if England would urge Rashid to consider and follow Buttler’s example in Test cricket, Bayliss replied: “Possibly,” but added that the ball remained in the player’s court.“This year is probably the best we’ve seen him bowl,” Bayliss said of Rashid. “He’s bowled well in one-day cricket over the last few years but his control and his consistency this year has been top class and probably the best I’ve seen him bowl since I’ve been here.“That’s a decision he’s got to make,” he added. “I’m not sure whether Ed Smith’s had a chat with him or not. Could he get picked in the Test team on white-ball form? Well, it’s already been proven this year it’s happened once. So, look I’m sure he’ll be up for discussion definitely.”The desire to lure Rashid back to the fold is a reflection of England’s ongoing struggle to find a Test-class spinning option. In the wake of Moeen Ali’s loss of form during the Ashes, England blooded three new caps in their first four Tests in 2018, with Mason Crane and Jack Leach both suffering injuries that left Dom Bess as the man in possession by the end of the Pakistan series.Bess, 20, let no-one down with his attitude against Pakistan – not least with the bat, in making vital runs in both Tests, including a maiden fifty at Lord’s. However, he didn’t claim a wicket until the final day of the series, and Bayliss hinted that, all things being equal, he would likely defer to his senior Somerset colleague, Leach, whose broken thumb had given him his opportunity in the first place.“I think at this time of their careers that’s probably right,” said Bayliss.” I think Bess has got a lot of his career in front of him. But Leach was the one who was identified a couple of years ago and has done well over the last few seasons. I think if he shows any form at all, having a left-arm spinner in there would be of benefit.”A return for Moeen cannot be ruled out, however. Like Rashid, he finished the one-dayers flushed with confidence after out-performing his Indian counterparts in the decisive moments of the series, and with Ben Stokes set to miss the second Test due to his court case in Bristol, Moeen’s allround qualities may well bring him further into the frame.“He’s a confidence player and that’ll be a decision we have to make before that first Test. Do we take in two spinners for some of these games? Is it a bit drier this year and if we do we need to decide who those two are going to be.”The spin situation aside, Bayliss believes that England’s plans for the first Test, starting at Edgbaston on August 1, are fairly clear-cut. Dawid Malan’s timely runs for England Lions against India A ensure that the top-order that finished the series against Pakistan are all in a decent vein of form – not least the Test captain Joe Root, whose back-to-back hundreds against India were a timely statement of intent.“He was not necessarily out of form but he had a lack of runs I suppose in the last month or two,” said Bayliss. “Sometimes you get into a bit of a rut when the runs aren’t coming so to actually get that confidence back and play as he has done in the last two innings has been fantastic for Joe but also for the team as well.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedEngland leave door open for Ben Stokes recallAugust 13, 2018In “latest news”Roston Chase bags eight as West Indies crush EnglandJanuary 26, 2019In “Sports”West Indies, England prepare for round two in battle of heavy-hittersFebruary 22, 2019In “latest news” read more

  • Inmet and Petaquila Copper reach agreement on acquisition

    first_imgInmet Mining and Petaquilla Copper (PTC) have signed a letter agreement pursuant to which PTC’s board of directors has agreed to unanimously support a revised offer by Inmet to acquire all the outstanding common shares of PTC. The Minera Petaquilla Copper Project in Panama has been ranked as one of the top five copper projects in the world by CRU International in its 1996 Next Generation of Copper Mine Projects report. This worldclass copper deposit encompasses most of the mining district of Donoso in the Province of Cocle. The project area covers 795 km2 and contains a massive porphyry deposit, which hosts 1,461 Mt of mineralisation grading 0.493% Cu, 0.015% Mo, and 0.11 g/t Au. The resources occur in three project areas: Botija, Petaquilla, and Valle Grande. The minimum recoverable contained metal reserves (non NI-43-101 compliant) are: 9,400 Mlb of copper, 1.37 Moz of gold, 24.1 Moz of silver, and 131.1 Mlb of molybdenum. Fluor Daniel Wright performed the first of two feasibility studies in 1997-8 before the enactment of NI 43-101. A copper oxide cap has been discovered in Botija Abajo. The area is characterised by a sulphide-enriched, granodioritic intrusion that appears to be capped by an extensive oxide zone of copper mineralization. The prior, widely spaced, drilling program at Botija Abajo intercepted significant amounts of pyrite and chalcopyrite, with minor gold indicating the outer zone of copper-gold porphyry. Recent drilling, however, intercepted significant chalcocite (oxide copper) beneath epithermal gold mineralization.Petaquilla Copper controls 52% of the project while Inmet retains the remaining 48%.The directors and officers of PTC have indicated, and Petaquilla Minerals which owns 20,418,565 common shares of PTC has agreed, that they will enter into lock-up agreements with Inmet pursuant to which they will tender their PTC common shares to the revised offer. A total of 37,836,429 common shares of PTC, or approximately 25.4% of PTC’s outstanding common shares on a fully diluted basis will be subject to lock-up agreements.Inmet and PTC will work together to settle and execute as soon as practicable a support agreement containing usual and customary terms providing for, among other things, minimum acceptance of the revised offer by PTC shareholders holding at least 66.66% of the outstanding shares of PTC calculated on a fully diluted basis (excluding PTC common shares currently owned by Inmet and its affiliates), a non-solicitation covenant,m customary fiduciary out provisions, a right in favour of Inmet to match a superior proposal and the payment to Inmet of a termination payment in certain circumstances The support agreement will also provide for the immediate cessation of PTC’s activities on or relating to the Petaquilla concession. PTC and Inmet expect the support agreement to be finalised and executed by them by no later than Friday, August 29, 2008.Inmet also expects to mail to PTC shareholders a notice of extension and variation related to the revised offer of $2.20 in cash per PTC common share subsequent to execution of the support agreement. In the meantime, Inmet will extend the current offer of $2.00 per PTC common share until 11:59 p.m. (Toronto time) on September 8, 2008.last_img read more