Gators Suspend Starting Point Guard Scottie Wilbekin

Florida coach Billy Donovan declined to divulge why he suspended junior starting point guard Scott Wilbekin indefinitely.The 6-foot-2 playmaker did not do anything criminal or anything that would be considered an NCAA violation, Donovan said. Donovan said “information was brought to me” early Thursday that led to the suspension.“Scottie is a good kid who made some choices and did some things that I’m not going to have him a part of,” Donovan said.Donovan was unsure when Wilbekin would return.“How long it lasts, I don’t know,” he said. “But right now, I felt like he didn’t need to be here or playing in this game.”The Gators also will be without swingman Casey Prather, who sustained his second concussion in nine days earlier in the week. Throw in the unexpected departure of forward Cody Larson last month and Florida will have just five returning players and four freshmen for the opener.“This throws a wrench,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to do some things in practice to make some adjustments going into this game. You’ve taken three veterans players off of our team. Instead of having eight guys, you’re really down to five. Our freshmen are going to get a chance to play.”Kenny Boynton will move to point guard, and Donovan said either freshman Michael Frazier or senior Mike Rosario will start at shooting guard.Wilbekin averaged 2.3 points last season playing behind Erving Walker. With Walker gone, the Gators expected much more from Wilbekin this season. He is the son of a minister and hasn’t been known to get into trouble.“I think Scottie will learn from this, grow from this and I think he’ll be better from it,” Donovan said. “Like anything else, when you’re dealing with anybody, none of are immune from making mistakes or making poor choices and doing things.”Donovan said Wilbekin regretted his mistake.“He’s very, very remorseful,” Donovan said. “He feels very, very bad. Internally, really, really hurt by it. Took responsibility, accepted being accountable. I think he understands. For me as a coach, I think a lot of times it’s a lot bigger than the outcome.” read more

Dont Give Up On Ben Roethlisberger Just Yet

Jim Kelly1995BUF85.87.567.86.387.07.1 Struggling 35-year-olds mostly rebounded nicelyQuarterbacks who posted subpar numbers in their first five games during their age-35 season and how they fared in rest of that year, 1978-2017 Jim Hart1979STL70.66.949.05.759.06.0 The Steelers may be 3-2, but the mood in Pittsburgh is dour. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a five-interception fiasco against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the latest and worst in a run of lukewarm performances this season. Plenty in Steeler nation are beginning to question whether the 35-year-old Roethlisberger has hit the wall. One of those people is the actual Ben Roethlisberger.The numbers are definitely not pretty, especially when compared to his career averages. That interception festival he hosted in Week 5 torched his passer rating, which has sunk to 75.8 and is way below his 94.1 career rating entering the season. More alarming than the spate of picks is that Roethlisberger’s yards per attempt, which for his career prior to this year stood at a near all-time-best 7.9, is a career-low 6.5 so far this season.But a closer look at the numbers shows there’s good reason to believe that this bad stretch is just that: a bad stretch. Here are the key reasons Steelers fans should still have hope — regardless of what Roethlisberger himself is saying or thinking.History is on his sideWe identified several quarterbacks who struggled in the first five games of their age-35 seasons when compared to what they did through age 34.1We looked at quarterbacks going back to 1978 to make sure all of them had played in the merged NFL for a decent amount of time. To qualify for the list, each quarterback needed to have a minimum of 125 pass attempts through five games. In almost every case, these QBs bounced back to something much closer to their established levels. To be sure, there’s some selection bias at play here — most of these quarterbacks are generally excellent, because erratic and unreliable passers do not usually last in the NFL until they are 35. Ben Roethlisberger2017PIT94.17.975.86.5 Drew Brees2014NOR95.37.591.87.299.67.7 CAREERGAMES 1-5GAMES 6-16 *Through age-34 season.Minimum 125 passes in first five games, with a QB rating worse than career numbers prior to that season.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com Trent Green2005KAN87.97.780.56.994.38.3 PLAYERYEARTMRATING*YPA*RATINGYPARATINGYPA Dan Fouts1986SD81.87.855.46.384.07.7 Matt Hasselbeck2010SEA83.36.974.86.472.37.0 Brett Favre2004GNB86.97.186.07.195.47.8 Ken Anderson1984CIN82.07.368.07.796.17.6 Among the passers on this list, the average QB rating improved from 71.2 in the first five games to 86.0 for the remainder of the season. Their yards per attempt also rebounded, from a pedestrian 6.7 to a solid 7.4, on average. If Roethlisberger improves at the same rate, his passer rating for the rest of the year would be 88.4 and his yards per attempt would bounce up to 7.2. But Hall of Famers Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly beat those averages, so it’s certainly possible that Roethlisberger could outperform them as well.Roethlisberger is still doing Roethlisberger thingsWhile the box scores have been ugly, many of Roethlisberger’s underlying numbers have been typical for his career. His accuracy hasn’t declined significantly: Only 17.5 percent of his throws have been off target, which is only a shade worse than the 16.9 percent rate he posted in the regular season from 2014 to 2016. And on deep passes,2More than 10 yards. Roethlisberger has actually been a hair more accurate, 28.2 percent of his throws have been off target this year compared to 28.3 percent in the past three years.You would think that as Roethlisberger ages, he would start to lose his trademark ability to move outside the pocket on broken plays and find something down the field. But in a limited sample so far this year, he has still been effective when chased from the pocket — he has posted a 101.2 passer rating on just nine dropbacks in these situations this year compared with 124.2 on 93 dropbacks in the prior three seasons.One logical explanation for Roethlisberger’s poor start would be that something was amiss with his offensive line. Perhaps he’s under more pressure than usual? But in fact, the Steelers QB is tied with Oakland’s Derek Carr for the least pressured quarterback in the league this year — both have been under threat on just 15.1 percent of dropbacks. And that’s the way it has been for a while in Pittsburgh; Roethlisberger had the second-lowest pressure rate in the league (behind Peyton Manning) from 2014-16.So if Roethlisberger hasn’t suddenly become inaccurate and he’s not suddenly facing more pressure, the Steelers’ offensive problems may extend beyond the QB and O-line.Bell and Brown are not helping mattersThe real explanation for Roethlisberger’s poor start may be the decline in efficiency of his two top targets, wideout Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell.On Roethlisberger’s 62 targets to Brown this year, his passer rating has dropped to just 71, down from 112.2 on 480 targets in the past three years. And while it’s hard to tell from a passer rating whether the quarterback or receiver is more to blame, other stats provide some evidence that the 29-year-old Brown is not quite himself this year. According to the NFL, defenses are playing Brown much more tightly at the snap — his average cushion has declined from 5.2 to 4.5 yards, one of the lowest among all receivers. But he’s not making defensive backs pay by running by them, as his average separation is unchanged (2.9 yards).Bell’s receiving ability, meanwhile, is downright ordinary this year. The prior three years, Roethlisberger had 105 passer rating when throwing to Bell. This year, it’s 85.4. Bell is averaging 3.85 yards before contact and just 1.48 after. The prior three years, those figures were 6.64 and 2.20. It’s hard to blame Roethlisberger for Bell being unable to get open and make defenders miss.Bell’s ineffective performance so far has also meant that Roethlisberger can’t use him as a safety valve, which has crushed the QB’s stats against the blitz. In the past three seasons, Roethlisberger had a 96 rating on 381 dropbacks against blitzing defenses — mostly because the underneath pass to Bell was so effective. This year, his rating on those plays is down to 54.6, the lowest in the league.Sunday, Roethlisberger travels to Kansas City to face the unbeaten Chiefs, who have been winning more with offense than defense, which may mean his receivers will be able to find a little more space. And Roethlisberger’s attitude about his ability to perform has undergone a 180-degree turn. “They can question me. I don’t question myself,” he said, three days after his “Maybe I don’t have it anymore” interview. “I think you guys are much more panicked than we are.”And unless Roethlisberger is a huge outlier and suddenly craters at age 35, or Bell and Brown have completely lost their ability to be dominant receiving threats, it seems there actually is little reason for Steelers fans to panic. read more

Spring Training Matters

On opening day, every team has playoff dreams. Early on, the potential of the season outweighs our knowledge of each team’s quality. While our best predictions are modestly useful, they can’t tell us which team is destined for greatness with much certainty or which early-season trends to trust or disregard. That makes it tough for a baseball columnist — a pitiable lot, us — to write about anything with any certainty.But we do have spring training. Conventional wisdom holds that what happens in March is meaningless. But conventional wisdom can’t use R. Spring training results aren’t entirely worthless — either for players, as FiveThirtyEight’s own Neil Paine showed last year, or for teams. And I’m particularly interested in this idea that a team’s spring training may offer some indicators of how its season will go. What are the limits of its powers? And what is its potential?We know that spring training isn’t incredibly predictive. I gathered data on each team’s spring-training and regular-season performances in the last five years (2010-2014), checking to see whether there was any correlation between a team’s offensive performance in spring1I used on-base plus slugging percentage. and its average regular-season on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Just as with other spring statistics, there was a weak but consistent2The correlation is a statistically significant r=.2. relationship between the two. The teams that bash in spring tend to continue doing so through the summer.Even so, spring training results were somewhat faintly reflected in the regular season — teams have to bash a lot before the trend is noticeably continued once the season starts. But we’re not just interested in how spring training correlates to the regular season; we’re interested in whether spring training should make us adjust our expectations of what’s to come.If we look at spring training performances and then compare them against what sabermetric projections3By projections I mean estimates of players’ future production based on their past history and the history of players similar to them. For example, based on the three years of MVP-caliber performance that began his career — and the rarefied historical company that performance puts him in — Mike Trout is likely to be excellent again this year, to the tune of a .297/.382/.519 triple-slash line (his spring training performance of .441/.514/.847 only reinforces that belief). have to tell us, these preseason games become a lot more telling. So rather than just see whether offensive stats from spring training correlate to regular-season stats, let’s tally up all of a team’s player projections (I used PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus), average them, and combine that with spring training stats.Once I added in the projections, I had a workable system for estimating a team’s regular-season OPS — much better than the one based solely on spring training data.4A simple linear model, incorporating spring statistics and regular-season projections is able to predict team OPS with r=.35. This isn’t so far-fetched — we make these kind of calculations in our heads all the time. If a team is terrible on paper but slugs like the pre-humidor Colorado Rockies in spring training, we assume it’s likely to end up somewhere between those extremes in the regular season.After factoring in the projected performance, a 100-point increase in spring training OPS raises a team’s expected regular-season OPS by 15 points. While that’s not a huge increase, it’s also a much stronger relationship than what we find for individual players, where a hitter whose OPS is 100 points better than expected in the spring improves their expected regular-season OPS by only six points.5These are not perfectly comparable because Neil Paine used weighted on-base percentage in his analysis and I’m using OPS. However, if you scale each coefficient in terms of the standard deviation, player projections remain less responsive to spring-training performance.There’s a reason spring training has more to tell us about teams than individual players. It’s about signal versus noise. For an individual player, any set of 50 plate appearances (in spring training or otherwise) is extremely volatile and doesn’t say much about them individually. But bring together all the plate appearances of the nine players who make up a batting order and the volatility begins to cancel itself out. All of a sudden we have some sense of how good the nine are in aggregate.For example, New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares hit much better than expected for the past month, and there was probably some luck involved in his .359 spring training batting average. But Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit much worse (.212/.226/.288) than PECOTA would have predicted. If we gather together Lagares’s lucky singles and d’Arnaud’s unfortunate strikeouts, we get a decent measure of the average ability of Lagares and d’Arnaud together — even if we aren’t sure how much of the difference between the average and their individual numbers will come from d’Arnaud improving or Lagares regressing.Speaking of the Mets, they led all of baseball with an .817 average spring training OPS despite mediocre projections. Such a performance is good enough to raise their expected regular season OPS by 11 points, which ought to be worth something like two wins over the course of the season.6This estimate was obtained by regressing team runs against team OPS. That should bolster the fans’ dark-horse World Series hopes (or at least their hopes of making the playoffs for the first time in nine years).The success of other top spring performers had little effect on their OPS projections because they were already so high. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics were already expected to field excellent offenses, and so their spring performances only confirm what we already believed.7For the following predictions, I am using a different, more accurate model (r=.5) than the linear regression I mentioned above. On the other side, teams like the Rockies,8Because of the Rockies’ extreme park effect, which wouldn’t manifest in the spring, it’s possible that the model is being too pessimistic here. Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers showed unexpectedly anemic offenses in spring training, which drags down their regular-season projections. None of these teams had more than a faint hope at the playoffs anyway, but the third- and fourth-biggest decreases in expected offense belong to two potential playoff contenders — the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox — which may now find their paths more difficult.So you don’t have to wait months to begin worrying (or in the case of Mets fans, hoping) about the fate of your team. Once combined with a dose of projections, spring training results go a long way toward predicting how well a team will hit.CORRECTION (April 10, 2:56 p.m.): An earlier version of this article included a table with incorrect information on teams’ spring training OPS averages. It has since been updated. read more

UConn Won By 61 But Their Chances Of A FivePeat Dropped

With a halftime score of 61-13, this box score looked like a rendering error. Texas Southern isn’t top competition, but performances that dominating are rare against anyone. The 89-point margin was the largest in NCAA history.Moreover, though it was an extreme outcome, the game reflected Baylor’s strengths perfectly. The Lady Bears had the best per-possession defense in the NCAA this year. The Lady Tigers shot 13.8 percent from the field, including 4 of 38 (10.5 percent) from 2-point range. Baylor had the highest offensive and defensive rebounding percentages in the NCAA this season and out-rebounded Texas Southern 60-19 (gathering 18 of 29 possible rebounds on offense and 42 of 50 on defense). Finally, in addition to punishing defense and board-crashing, Baylor has shot 40.6 percent from 3-point range this season — also tops in the nation1At least among the top 50 scoring offenses. — and went 9 of 18 from 3-point range on Saturday night.From our model’s perspective, Baylor’s chances increased from 23 percent to 32 percent, moving it past “the field” (everyone but UConn and Baylor) whose chances dropped to 19 percent (from 25 percent before the tournament began). The model currently gives around a 73 percent chance of Baylor and UConn facing each other in the Final Four. UConn won their only matchup this season, 72-61 last November. You don’t normally expect the best team in college basketball to win its opening round game by 61 points, only to see its chances of winning the women’s NCAA tournament drop. But that’s what happened to the Connecticut Huskies. Despite beating the Albany Great Danes 116 to 55 — for UConn’s 108th win in a row — our model showed the Huskies’ chances dropping from 52 percent pre-tournament to 49 percent after round 1.How is this possible? In a word: Baylor.Before the tournament, we identified Baylor as perhaps the biggest threat in years to UConn’s dominance. Then Baylor went ahead and utterly crushed Texas Southern. I mean, wow: read more

Commentary Devoted NBA fans wont miss David Stern

When I heard that NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a potential blockbuster deal that would have sent former New Orleans Hornets and all-star guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers last season, I said a bunch of things that can’t be run in print. Well, Christmas came early for me this season as Stern said Thursday he would retire as league commissioner, effective Feb. 1, 2014. The NBA’s deputy commissioner, Adam Silver, has been selected to take his place. The decision to try and bar Paul from the Lakers, I thought, was the most blatant abuse of power I have ever seen by a professional commissioner. Los Angeles and the Hornets negotiated what they considered a fair deal and made it league official, only to be renounced hours later because one person, Stern, didn’t think it was “fair.” I understand Stern found a loophole. At the time, New Orleans’ team was up for sale. Consequently, the Hornets fell under the ownership of Stern and the NBA. Stern said the league made a decision “in the best interest” of the Hornets. Many people speculate that Stern’s decision was made due to enormous pressure from multiple owners, most notably Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But countless NBA analysts disagreed and felt the deal was more than adequate. Personally, I think most owners believed the league was getting too top-heavy with talent and smaller market teams would no longer be able to compete at a championship level. Now, if you fast forward to present day, the Lakers look like the predominant favorite to represent the Western Conference and the only team who can challenge the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. But today, Lakers fans only have one question: What could have been? Keep in mind, the proposed three-team deal that Stern vetoed only included current Los Angeles forward Pau Gasol and former Laker Lamar Odom in exchange for Paul. Comparatively, the Aug. 10 four-team trade that sent former Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard to the Lakers only featured injury-prone center Andrew Bynum from the purple and gold. So conceivably, the Lakers could have assembled a Western Conference version of the Miami “Big Three” with Howard, Paul and guard Kobe Bryant. As the New York Yankees of the NBA, the Lakers always seem to get who they want. Key acquisitions of longtime Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash and Howard have made painful memories of the failed Paul deal disappear. I’m not saying Stern robbed the Lakers of a title last season, but he sure didn’t help. Over the last few seasons, the Lakers have been torched by point guards and Paul is arguably the best at his position. What I am saying is that I hope Silver leaves the dealing to the general managers. Stern caused more harm than good and devoted NBA fans are not sad he’s leaving. Here’s to a bright future and let’s hope we see a “Silver-lining” with the new commissioner. read more

Ohio State mens hockey falls to No 1 Minnesota 51

Junior forward Tanner Fritz (16) outskates an opponent during a game against Michigan March 2 at Nationwide Arena. OSU lost, 4-3.Credit: Ben Jackson / For The LanternWhen you face off against the best team in the country, there’s no room for error.The Ohio State men’s hockey team (15-12-4, 5-8-4) found that out first-hand on Friday night as they fell 5-1 to No. 1 Minnesota (24-4-5, 13-2-2) at Value City Arena.The Gophers took the lead just 2:03 into the first period, and they were two goals up by the first intermission.OSU coach Steve Rohlik said he thought the team played a solid first period, but that falling behind made it hard for the team to continue to play its game, rather than press for an immediate response.“You never want to get behind, especially this time of year against good teams,” Rohlik said. “Good teams know how to play with the lead, and it forces you to try to do things you maybe shouldn’t be doing.”From there, the Buckeyes found their comeback attempts beaten back by the impressive play of Minnesota’s goalie Adam Wilcox. The sophomore stopper made 30 saves, many of them at crucial moments in the game.Rohlik said Wilcox’s impact on the Gophers’ play shouldn’t be understated.“I think people talk about their forwards, they talk about their (defensemen), and sometimes you forget about if not the best, one of the best goaltenders in the country,” Rohlik said. “We had some point-blank chances throughout the game, and he made some great saves.”A third Minnesota goal midway through the second period was followed almost immediately by OSU’s first tally, scored by junior forward Tanner Fritz. After sophomore forward Anthony Greco sent junior forward Max McCormick through on goal, Wilcox stopped the initial shot but not Fritz’s follow-up.But any momentum that accompanied the OSU goal quickly dissipated when Minnesota scored twice in 21 seconds to effectively end the contest. The first came on a tip in front by Gophers redshirt-freshman forward Connor Reilly and then, after OSU freshman goalie Christian Frey was replaced by freshman goalie Matt Tomkins, Minnesota’s freshman forward Vinni Lettieri gathered the puck behind the net and shot the puck past the Buckeye goaltender.Fritz said that the nature of Minnesota’s final two goals definitely had an impact on OSU’s psyche.“We got (our first) goal there and it kind of changed the momentum of the game. We thought it might get us back into it,” Fritz said. “But then they scored a quick one after that and that kind of just (took) the wind out of (our) sails.”While the loss means OSU remains in fourth place in the conference, the victory clinches a first-round bye for Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament, and coach Don Lucia said that was a task his team was focused on heading into the game.“(Clinching a first-round bye) was on our mind,” Lucia said. “It’s the only thing we can control, making sure that nobody from behind us can creep back in and steal a top two position.”The Buckeyes and Gophers conclude their series Saturday at 6:30 p.m. read more

2018 Big Ten Football Preview Purdue Boilermakers

Location: West Lafayette, Indiana2017 record: 7-6 (4-5 Big Ten) Head coach: Jeff Brohm 2018 record: 1-3 (0-1 Big Ten) All-time record vs. OSU: 14-39-2https://youtu.be/Rp8kCS1nDt8What has happened thus far in 2018:Purdue has been better than its 1-3 record might suggest. With two losses that ended with last-second field goals, the Boilermakers’ three losses have been by a combined eight points. In losses to Northwestern and Missouri, Purdue came back from double-digit deficits in the first half to fall short in the waning moments of each game. Purdue recorded its first win of the season against then-No. 23 Boston College, beating the Eagles by 17 on Saturday. In that win, Purdue’s defense had four interceptions and held the Eagles to a 25 percent success rate on third down. On the offensive side of the ball, redshirt senior David Blough threw three touchdowns with 296 passing yards. Impact Player:Wide receiver Rondale Moore has exploded onto the scene as one of the nation’s standout freshmen for the Boilermakers. This season, he leads the Big Ten in receiving yards (372) and in receptions (33). He can be dangerous in the ground game as well, recording a 76-yard touchdown run against Northwestern in the season opener.Strengths:Certain teams have an identity when it comes to their strengths in football. For Purdue, it’s the play of the quarterback. Blough is ranked second in the Big Ten in passer rating (164.2), and passing yards (990). He is currently tied for first in the Big Ten among qualifiers with just one interception. Purdue has the No. 2 pass offense in the Big Ten, averaging 318.3 passing yards per game, while completing 68 percent of passes thrown. Weaknesses:In one word, inconsistency. Purdue can be explosive offensively and defensively stout. Nonetheless the Boilermakers have gotten off to slow starts, and haven’t been able to finish close games. In two of its three losses, Purdue has not been able to strike first. In the loss against Northwestern, all of the points Purdue gave up were in the first half. In each of its losses, Purdue has had the chance to win and failed to capitalize on it. read more

Softball Ohio State blanks Rutgers in fiveinning 80 shutout win

Lilli Piper (22) celebrates after coming into home safely in a game against Indiana on March 24 at Buckeye Field. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The LanternThe Ohio State softball team (23-11, 7-2 Big Ten) earned a victory in the final game of the three-game series against Rutgers, shutting out the Scarlet Knights 8-0 in the five-inning win with the help of three home runs, including a grand slam..Ohio State freshman third baseman Ashley Prange began the offense in the third inning, hitting her first career grand slam down the left field line to give the Buckeyes the 4-0 lead. “We had a great warmup, and we all have a great time hitting,” Prange said.  “I think we are all prepared.”Sophomore catcher Claire Nicholson extended Ohio State’s lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two-run homer over the left field wall. In the bottom of the fifth inning, freshman Kaitlyn Coffman sealed the victory with another two-run home run to the left. “We had a rough game yesterday,” Coffman said. “I think we just want to really make a statement. This is our home field. We should [have] beat them yesterday.”Senior pitcher Morgan Ray added seven strikeouts in the complete game, earning her ninth win of the year. Overall, she has recorded 101 strikeouts in 108.1 innings of work this season and is the only player on the Ohio State roster with more than 32 strikeouts. Ohio State head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said Ray responded to yesterday’s loss in the way one of the team’s top pitcher should respond. “Just come out and put it on the line and just do what she needs to do,” Schoenly said. “I think having a determination to be better for her today was key. She is such a great player. I am glad she responded like that.”Ohio State will head to State College, Pennsylvania, to start a two-game series against Penn State, both of which take place on Tuesday. The first game will start at 5 p.m., and game two will start at 7 p.m. as the second part of the double header. read more

The strange case of the ancient Assyrian curse and the Commissioner of

first_imgThe King’s right hand is raised in a gesture of worship and his left hand holds a mace. Lebanese art dealer Halim Korban, who is suing Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe Lebanese art dealer Halim Korban, who is suing Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-HoweCredit:Facebook The country’s most senior police officers often face criticism, but rarely do they have an ancient Assyrian curse hanging over their heads.With just a few weeks left in the job, and no doubt looking forward to a peaceful retirement, Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has become embroiled in a legal dispute over the ownership of a 2,800-year-old artefact.Worse still the rare artefact, worth an estimated £800,000, comes with a chilling curse placed over anyone who tampers with it or moves it from its place of origin.On the black basalt slab, part of a larger piece depicting King Adad-Nirari III, are carved the words: “Whoever discards this image from the presence of Salmanu . . . and places it into a taboo house which it is inaccessible, may the god Salmanu, the great lord, overthrow his sovereignty; may his name and his seed disappear in the land, may he live in a contingent together with the slave women of his land.”In a saga worthy of a Hollywood archaeological adventure film the Met’s Commissioner is being sued by a Lebanese antiques dealer after his officers seized the slab, known as a ‘stele’, following claims it had been stolen. The Treasure was eventually sold by Mr Korban and a colleague as agent for the seller to former Sotheby’s chairman Peter Wilson, who in turn sold it to the Marquess of Northampton. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe in front of his New Scotland Yard headquartersCredit:Steve Brown/BBC The lower portion of the stele (L) along with the upper portion (R), currently held by the British Museum 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 Eighteen months after the raid police charged Geneva-based antiques and jewellery dealer Emile Chayto with fraud by false representations in connection with the artefact.But Mr Korban has gone to court to have the artefact returned and is demanding £200,000 compensation for loss and damage as part of his claim.A spokesman for the art dealer told the Sunday Telegraph: “The stele is a valuable object which Mr Korban considers his and he wants it back. He can show proper provenance and utterly rejects the notion that it was obtained illegally.”The British courts may seem like an unlikely venue to settle the fate of an artefact brought into being by master craftsmen in 800BC.The complete stele would have measured 2.1 metres tall, and depicts King Adad-Nirari III, ruler of Mesopotamia between 810 BC and 783 BC, in a position of worship.Alongside him are the symbols of the winged sun disc of Shamash; the star of Ishtar/Venus, goddess of human passions in love and war; and the thunderbolt of the weather god Adad. The lower portion of the stele (L) along with the upper portion (R), currently held by the British Museum Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe in front of his New Scotland Yard headquarters The upper half of the stele, showing King Adad-Hirari’s profile, has been held at the British Museum since it was acquired in 1881 from the private collector Joseph M Shemtob, two years after its discovery at the Tell Sheikh Hamad site.But the museum declined to buy the lower portion of the piece when offered the opportunity by Mr Korban in November 2011.The dealer turned to the open market, but on the eve of the auction officers from Scotland Yard’s art and antiques unit raided the Bonham’s warehouse where it was being stored and seized the King Adad-Hirari stele as evidence in any future trial. Before the planned auction Bonham’s had said that the stele was “given as a gift from father to son in the 1960s” and that although no details about how it left Syria were available, it was confident of its provenance.Mr Korban holds Mr Hogan-Howe personally responsible for the actions of his men in seizing the stone and preventing its planned sale.In his writ against the Commissioner he said: “At all times since their seizure of the stele the police have been aware of the claimant’s [Mr Korban] claim in respect of it, namely that he is its owner, and that he is who is entitled to its possession.”But Scotland Yard intends to mount a robust defence against his claims, curse or no curse.It maintains that the artefact is held legally as part of a criminal investigation.In a written submission the Met’s solicitors have told the High Court that “there are reasonable grounds for believing that the provenance provided is false and the object of the false representation was to disguise the theft and illegal export of the stele from Syria.”This is not the first time Mr Korban has become embroiled in controversy over the provenance and ownership of a valuable piece.He was at the centre of the sale of the Sevso Treasure, a collection of 14 pieces of Roman silver worth up to £200 million. The J Paul Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, had hoped to buy the treasure, but declined, believing that Lebanese export documents had been forged. The controversy began when it became known in art circles that Halim Korban was planning to auction the stele at Bonham’s, in Geneva, in April 2014.The Beirut-based Saadeh Cultural Foundation informed UNESCO that the stele had been obtained illegally, probably after being looted from a site in modern Syria, and should be returned to that country “as soon as circumstances permit”.last_img read more

Dartmoor National Park Authority plans to scrap parking honesty boxes in favour

first_imgSome people think, ‘If I don’t have to pay, I won’t bother’ – it’s just human natureAndrew Watson, head of recreation, access and estates at Dartmoor National Park Dartmoor National Park Authority plans to scrap parking honesty boxes in favour of ticket machines in a bid to get drivers to pay up.  Visitors to Dartmoor have been asked to make the £1 voluntary contribution for the past six years with the money going towards the upkeep of the countryside.But the average donation per vehicle has been just 15p – creating a huge shortfall in funds. In a bid to combat motorists who avoid paying, the Authority introduced a trial pay and display scheme in Princetown in the heart of Dartmoor – and seen revenue soar four-fold. But despite that some locals are furious at the plan – and say a lot of the money will go back to the machine operators and not into the local area.Jan Jackson, 57, said: “At least with an honesty box all monies go to the people who put them there. I daresay that these machines will be leased from operators, and only a cut will go back to the organisation.”The potential income to Dartmoor from these machines might well go down, especially if people don’t want to pay.”They will just look for a handy roadside pull in, instead – which will then impact other vehicles using the roads.” Joy Easterbrook, 55, added: “It might put people off stopping to see Dartmoor.” A Dartmoor Hill pony foal runs on the moor in Princetown Under the previous scheme and annual income in the village for parking was just £6,000 but it has now increased to £24,000.The park authority now wants to bring in parking meters at car parks in Meldon, Newbridge, Postbridge and popular tourist spot Haytor.They would charge visitors an hourly rate instead of the optional one-off donation and say money raised would go towards maintaining the car parks.Head ranger and emergency officer Robert Steemson said: “An honesty box is an honesty box – people can choose to put money in if they want. But with compulsory machines, people will turn up and pay or move somewhere else.”Andrew Watson, head of recreation, access and estates at Dartmoor National Park, added: “Some people think, ‘If I don’t have to pay, I won’t bother’ – it’s just human nature.center_img A Dartmoor Hill pony foal runs on the moor in PrincetownCredit:Matt Cardy/Getty Images 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 thought the new pay and display might deter people at Princetown but that has not been happening. Most people expect to pay and we will charge £2 for a full day’s parking.”last_img read more

Feeling stressed Sniff your partners jumper to calm down say scientists

first_imgThe study may help understand why a sweaty commute is so objectionable  Women became more stressed when asked to smell the sweat of strangers  “With globalization, people are increasingly traveling for work and moving to new cities,” said Dr Chen.“Our research suggests that something as simple as taking an article of clothing that was worn by your loved one could help lower stress levels when you’re far from home.” The women were then asked to smell either an unworn t-shirt, a shirt from their partner, or one from a stranger, before undergoing a mock job interview to raise their stress levels.The researchers found that women who smelled their partner’s shirts felt less stressed both before and after the interview.Those who smelled their partner’s shirt also felt less stressed before and after the test.  And the effect was greater in the woman that recognised that the scent belonger to their partner, suggesting the benefits are strongest when people know what they are smelling.Conversely, women who has smelled a stranger’s scent had higher cortisol level than the control unworn t-shirt group throughout the stress test. For the study, researchers recruited 96 straight couples and the man was asked to where a clean t-shirt for 24 hours without using deodorant, or other scented products. They were also asked refrain from smoking or eating strong smelling foods. Women became more stressed when asked to smell the sweat of strangers  Women may complain about the smell of their husband’s dirty laundry but a new study has found the odour of a romantic partner’s clothing can help lower stress.In new research published this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, academics found that sniffing the sweaty cast-offs of a loved one, decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and instills a sense of calm.But be warned, the opposite effect happens when smelling the body odour of a stranger, an effect to which most commuters can relate.Canadian researchers, from the University of British Columbia, said the new findings explained why women sometimes choose to wear a partner’s jumper or t-shirt when they are away from home.“Many people wear their partner’s shirt or sleep on their partner’s side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realize why they engage in these behaviours,” said Marlise Hofer, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology.“Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress.” The authors speculate that evolutionary factors may influence why the stranger’s scent makes people feel more stressed.“From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol,” added Hofer.“This could happen without us being fully aware of it.”Dr Frances Chen, the study’s senior author and assistant professor in the UBC department of psychology, said the findings could have practical implications to help people cope with stressful situations when they’re away from loved ones. The study may help understand why a sweaty commute is so objectionable last_img read more

Older mothers on the rise as over40s become the only group with

first_imgOver-40s are the only age group with a growing pregnancy rate for the first time ever, new figures show. The Office for National Statistics said younger women were putting off having children, with many choosing to prioritise their careers. There were 28,744 conceptions to women in their 40s in 2016, a rise from just 12,032 in 1990. While every other group saw pregnancy levels fall, there was a rise in conceptions among over-40s from 2015 to 2016. The conception rate per 1,000 women has grown from 15.1 in 2015 to 15.4 in 2016, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show. Among all younger women conception rates dropped, with the biggest drops seen in the youngest age groups. Teen pregnancies have fallen by more than half in just under 30 years, with just 56,111 girls under 20 getting pregnant in 2016, compared to 113,330 in 1990.Fewer women in their early twenties are getting pregnant than at any point since the year 2000, while among women in their late twenties and thirties conception rates have dropped for the first time in a decade.  Nicola Haines, of the organisation’s vital statistics outputs branch, said: “Conception rates in England and Wales, for women aged under 18, declined by 8 per cent in 2015. Similar decreases were recorded for both maternities and abortions in this age group. “Under 18 conception rates have declined by 55 per cent since 1998, whilst for women aged 30 and over conception rates have increased by 34 per cent.”Some experts have suggested that teen pregnancy rates are dropping because young people are now more likely to be communicating remotely on social media.  The ONS said that “increased participation in higher education; increased female participation in the labour force, the increasing importance of a career, the rising opportunity costs of childbearing, labour market uncertainty and housing factors” were behind the shift.  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 A governmental teenage pregnancy strategy, launched in 2000, focused on halving the under-18 conception rate, has also been credited with the successful reduction in teen motherhood. Millennials and younger generations are also considered less reckless than previous generations, with rates of smoking and drinking both falling among young people. However, the UK still has one of the highest teenage birth rates in western Europe, with 6.4 live births to every 1,000 women aged 15 to 17 in 2015, compared to 4.1 in France, 3.6 in Germany, and 2.1 in Italy, according to sexual health charity FPA.Natika H Halil, its chief executive, said: “Teenage pregnancy can be a result of many different factors, but we know it can be reduced by investing the right time, resources and expertise into services and education.  “This investment not only saves money in the long term, but also helps prevent the range of negative long-term educational, health and social outcomes that young parents and their children are more likely to experience.”Most conceptions are now happening to women who are not married or in a civil partnership, with just 42 per cent of pregnancies in 2016 happening within a marriage. Almost one in three pregnancies to unmarried women end in abortion, compared to eight per cent of those to married women. The abortion rate among women over 40 has also dropped, from 43.2 per cent in 1990 to 28 per cent last year. last_img read more

Employers face landmark legal action over sexual harassment

Four major employers face a landmark legal action over the sexual harassment of staff, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said. Organisations in the legal and education sectors could be subject to an official investigation by the Government-funded office after staff came forward to complain of ill treatment. The announcement comes after the commission’s report earlier this year which found that “corrosive” working cultures had silenced victims and normalised harassment. The identity of the employers is unknown as the Commission has not yet decided whether or not to launch the investigations, but the Daily Telegraph understands that they are high-profile within their sectors. The EHRC has launched only one other such investigation within the past few years, into unlawful harassment, discrimination and victimisation of black, female and gay police officers in the Metropolitan Police. The enforcement action could end in a court case and fine if the employers do not comply with the Commission’s recommendations. One of the current cases was brought to their attention after an individual woman approached the Commission with a dossier of evidence, while the other three were raised by solicitors who notified the EHRC of alleged sexual harassment victims that they were representing.”We’re currently looking at four potential enforcement actions in relation to sexual harassment. That’s up from not having looked at any last year and I think that reflects the fact that more is coming to us now,” said Elizabeth Prochaska, the organisation’s legal director.  Employers were unprepared for Me Too, which “caught people flat-footed”, added Sue Coe, also of the organisation. Both the legal and education sectors have had complaints and issues emerge in response to Me Too. Last November Susan Bassnett, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Glasgow, wrote in Times Higher Education that she had experienced unwanted attention from “some very senior men, including a handful of vice-chancellors, professors and well-known writers”.In March US law firm Latham & Watkins said its married chair and managing partner Bill Voge would step down after admitting the “exchange of communications of a sexual nature with a woman whom he has never met in person and who had no connection to the Firm”.  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. “One of the issues we face is that it’s hard for us to get our hands on the evidence. Individual victims of harassment are not coming to us in significant numbers,” she added.Speaking to MPs on the Women and Equalities committee on Wednesday morning, she argued that women should not have to “endure a protracted legal process in order to get access to justice in order to remedy a terrible situation at work”. She said policymakers needed to lift the “crushing burden” of whistleblowing off individual women. The revelation follows the “Me Too” movement, which has prompted many women and men to speak up about their experiences of sexual harassment. In February it emerged that a partner at another firm, Baker McKenzie, had lost his job after allegations that he had sexually assaulted a female colleague several years ago. Several law firms have since told employees that they must declare romantic relationships with colleagues to a manager or their HR department.  read more

He wasnt in there to die he was in there to recover

The Gosport Independent Panel is to… The family of a suspected Gosport victim has called for prosecutions over the death of their father, who they say was recovering from a “mini-stroke” aged 65 when he rapidly and suspiciously died under the care of the notorious hospital. The ‘jolly, smiley’ 65-year-old who was recovering from a ‘mini-stroke’ 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. Many said their relatives were happy and relatively healthy before being given an excessive amount of pain relief – after which, they fell unconscious, never to wake up. As the report into the suspicious deaths of elderly people at the notorious Gosport hospital was released today, families of the victims have spoken out. Here are some of their stories. read more

Teacher at leading boys school arrested on suspicion of sexual misconduct with

A teacher at one of Britain’s leading boys’ schools has been arrested on suspicion of sexual misconduct with pupils.Surrey Police are investigating after Hampton School, which charges £20,000-a-year, reported him to the authorities.The member of staff was sacked from the 450-year-old south-west London school following an internal disciplinary probe earlier this year.Hampton School, which educates boys aged 11 to 18, is among the highest performing for GCSEs and A-levels in the country.Its alumni – known as Old Hamptonians – include Lord Kenneth Baker, who was education secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government, and Brian May, the guitarist in the rock band Queen. It boasts one of the top rowing clubs in the country and counts two Olympic Gold-winning oarsmen – Greg Searle and Jonny Searle – among its former pupils.Founded in 1557, when the businessman and local brewer Robert Hammond bequeathed land and property for a school, it became a grammar school in 1910 but changed to independent status in 1975.A spokesman for the school said: “The welfare of all pupils at Hampton School is always our highest priority.“As soon as we became aware of concerns, we immediately informed all the relevant authorities. We have been working very closely with them ever since. The welfare of all pupils at Hampton School is always our highest priority.Hampton School spokesperson “The member of staff was dismissed with immediate effect following an internal disciplinary investigation. Given the continuing police investigation, it would not be appropriate to say more at this point.”The school says on its website that The Hampton School Trust takes the safety and wellbeing of its pupils “very seriously”.“The School fully recognises the contribution it makes to the safeguarding of children and the responsibility it has to have arrangements in place to safeguard and promote the welfare of children,” it adds.Earlier this week, a teacher at Christ’s Hospital School was convicted of assaulting eight of his pupils.Five teachers from the school, which charges £35,000-a-year for boarders, have now been prosecuted after police investigated complaints made by 22 former students.On Thursday the school apologised to victims and praised their courage in reporting the abuse. In a statement it said: “The actions of these men were not only criminal but also an utter betrayal of the trust placed in them and of the values of Christ’s Hospital.”While the school is “worlds apart” from that described in court, with a range of safeguarding measures now in place, the cases served as a “brutal reminder” there is no room for “complacency”, it said. 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

A £40 test could tell from birth how likely you are to

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. Show more Senior author Sir Nilesh Samani, Professor of Cardiology at the University of Leicester and medical director of the British Heart Foundation charity, said: “At the moment we assess people for their risk of coronary heart disease in their 40s through NHS health checks.But we know this is imprecise and also that coronary heart disease starts much earlier, several decades before symptoms develop.”Therefore, if we are going to do true prevention, we need to identify those at increased risk much earlier.”He said he hoped to see routine use of the tests by the NHS recommended within a decade, with screening carried out on children and statins offered to teenagers and those in their 20s, if lifestyle improvements were not enough to cut their risk.“If you wait until people are in their 40s or 50s you are wasting an opportunity; it is much better to be able to take action in your teens or early 20s.”Prof Samani cautioned against sharing such information with young children.“I’m not sure I would want to see a five year old being told they were at greater risk,” he said.Currently, heart health is normally assessed during a midlife MOT check by GPs, which usually tests cholesterol levels and blood pressure.But this method is imprecise, age-dependent, and misses a large proportion of individuals who appear “healthy” but still develop the disease, the researchers claim.Because DNA sequences are generally fixed from birth, the test could be used at any age.The findings, reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that men who were healthy by NHS standards but had a high test score were just as likely to develop heart disease as those with a low score and two conventional risk factors.Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and claims 66,000 lives each year in the UK.Overall, around one in five people will develop it by the age of 75.Lead researcher Dr Michael Inouye, from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Cambridge University, said: “The completion of the first human genome was only 15 years ago. Today, the combination of data science and massive-scale genomic cohorts has now greatly expanded the potential of healthcare.”While genetics is not destiny for coronary heart disease, advances in genomic prediction have brought the long history of heart disease risk screening to a critical juncture, where we may now be able to predict, plan for, and possibly avoid a disease with substantial morbidity and mortality.”The study was part-funded by the British Heart Foundation. A simple £40 test could tell from birth who is most likely to develop heart disease – and see statins offered at an ever younger age.Research found the one-off gene test was able to identify those at greatest risk of going on to suffer the condition which leads to heart attacks and strokes.Experts said the tests were cheap enough to allow population-wide screening of children.Those who scored worst could be monitored, and offered statins as a teenager, if lifestyle improvements were not enough to cut their risk, they said.The study involving Cambridge University tested a scoring system called the Genomic Risk Score (GRS) on the DNA from nearly half a million people aged 40 to 69 years, including more than 22,000 with heart disease.The study found those with scores in the top 20 per cent were four times as likely to develop the disease as those with scores in the bottom 20 per cent.The test was better at predicting a person’s risk of developing heart disease than any single classic indicator – such as high cholesterol or blood pressure. read more

Part of Frogmore gardens out of bounds during annual charity opening to

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the grounds during their wedding reception For fans of the Royal Family it has all the hallmarks of a perfect day out, seeing them welcomed into a pictureqsue royal residence for an exclusive three days to benefit charity.But those visiting Frogmore House and Gardens this year may notice a small change to the programme, after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved into the grounds.A “small area” of the garden closest to their new home of Frogmore Cottage will be out of bounds, it has been confirmed, to prevent intrigued fans of the Sussexes getting too close to their newly-renovated home.By the time of the opening, between the 28 and 30th of May, the couple will be joined by their first baby, living as a family of three in the large home.The couple have had a close affinity with Frogmore, known to have spent time there when they were dating and releasing engagement photographs taken on the steps of the house. The Queen, Prince Philip and their children at FrogmoreCredit:Rex The Queen, Prince Philip and their children at Frogmore The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the grounds during their wedding receptionCredit:AFP In May 2018, they held their wedding reception in the grounds, later issuing a Christmas card with a photograph of them watching the fireworks at the end of the night.Built in the 17th century, Frogmore House became a royal residence in 1792 when it was purchased by Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III.In 1867, Queen Victoria described its 35 acres as “this dear lovely garden…all is peace and quiet and you only hear the hum of the bees, the singing of the birds.” This year’s opening, run by the Royal Collection Trust, will benefit three charities: the National Garden Scheme, the British Heart Foundation, and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.Tickets are expected to be particularly popular with fans of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who will be intrigued to see more of the place they call home.The Duchess is reported to be planning a home birth at the cottage, which has rarely been photographed and will be subject to the utmost security from now on. read more

Imitation guns found in jails as gangs escalate drug violence

Specialist police firearms teams were drafted in to search the jail after it was put into lockdown. Officers discovered an improvised weapon and explosives thought to have been used in the incident. The Daily Telegraph understands that an imitation firearm was found on a prisoner in Winchester jail only hours after drugs were seized on the same wing. It is thought to be the first evidence of weapons… Prisoners are turning to imitation guns and improvised explosives to enforce drug dealing in a dramatic escalation of drugs-related violence in jails. It follows a similar incident at Gartree jail in Leicestershire last week, where a prisoner fired what appeared to be a gun, which was caught on CCTV. read more

New Chinese Ambassador pays courtesy call on Dr Jagdeo

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedBaroness Scotland pays courtesy call on Dr JagdeoMay 27, 2016In “latest news”New Israel Ambassador pays courtesy call on Opposition LeaderFebruary 25, 2016In “Local News”Chinese buyer reneged on paying US$5M debt – Dr JagdeoNovember 26, 2016In “latest news” The New Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency Cui Jianchun yesterday paid a Courtesy Call on Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, MP., at his Church Street, Queenstown office. The meeting entailed discussions on Guyana/China relations. read more