The financial issues Evander Holyfield have faced in recent years continues. This time, the former heavyweight champion, who made more than $250 million in his career, is $372,000 in arrears in child support — and could end up in jail if it is not resolved soon.Holyfield, who filed bankruptcy in Fayette County, Georgia, in 2008, has been alerted that the Georgia Department of Human Services has gone to court on behalf of Holyfield’s 18-year-old daughter. It alleged he owes $372,097.40 in child support that has gone unpaid since April 2010, according to TMZ.The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2009 that Holyfield, whose 54,000-square foot house was up for foreclosure in 2008 and 2009, has child support payments of more than $500,000 a month. He has at lead 11 children.Holyfield, 49, once earned $34 million for a rematch with Mike Tyson in 1997, the so-called “Bite Fight,” in which Tyson bit off the tip of one of Holyfield’s ears. Holyfield has yet to announce his retirement, but hasn’t fought since stopping Brian Nielsen on May 7, 2011, in Copenhagen, DenmarkMany of Holyfield’s children live or have lived with him on his massive estate that on 104 acres, has 109 rooms, including 17 bathrooms, three kitchens and a bowling alley.
A Chicago man with an apparent appetite for barbeque sauce and an overwhelming appreciation for Michael Jordan spent $9,995 on eBay for a gallon of BBQ sauce intended for use on McDonald’s McJordan sandwich in 1992.The seller was surprised, to say the least.“I’ve got quite a bit of McDonald’s memorabilia,” said Mort Bank, a former McDonald’s owner-operator in North Dakota. “This was on my shelf, and my daughter who helps me with eBay said, ‘I wonder what something like this would be worth?’“I said, ‘I can’t imagine anyone else saved it.’ It only could have been another owner-operator. We decided to see what we could get . . . I said I can remember a chicken nugget someone said looked like Jesus that sold on eBay for what, $6,000? You have to use your imagination to to even think it looks like that. This is an actual product.”The sandwich was named after Michael Jordan during the Bulls’ run of championships, and Bank said the regional McJordan promotion was the first time McDonald’s named a sandwich after a person. Its limited production made the sauce a rare item.Bank would not disclose any information about the buyer other than he’s a male from Chicago.“I assume he’s a Bulls fan,” Bank said.Bank, 65, also is a big NBA fan and former Minnesota Timberwolvesseason-ticket holder.“I’m a Laker fan (from their days as the Minneapolis Lakers),” he said. “But I loved watching Michael Jordan and consider him one of the greatest ever.“If the Lakers weren’t in the Finals, I’d cheer for the Bulls.”Bank originally had the item up for auction on eBay several months ago, but no bid ever met the minimum price of $10,000. So Bank, who was getting offers for approximately $1,000, said he had to renew it every five days at a cost. He decided to apply a “buy it now” option at $10,000.“All of a sudden a news story broke, not sure how, but all of a sudden my daughter called and said we were getting all kinds of offers and questions about it,” Bank said. “It started spreading on the Internet. People paid attention and started making offers.”Once the offer for $9,995.00 came in, Bank decided to sell.“If I had known it was going to be red hot on the Internet, I might have done it differently, but $10,000 for barbecue sauce is pretty good,” Bank said.Bank said he sold his seven McDonald’s restaurants and started his own themed restaurant chain called Space Aliens with four in North Dakota and two in Minnesota.
Photo by The Washington Post.Kobe Bryant is almost amused by those who doubt that he will return from his recent knee injury to resemble the superstar player he has been all his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.For the first time since suffering a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee–only six games after returning from a torn Achilles–Bryant, 35, spoke on a number of issues:* On the idea of sitting out the rest of the season, as some have suggested: “I think I feel more locked in now than I’ve been my entire career because of this,” Bryant said. “The spirits are fine, the focus is great. Just going to see what happens when I come back. … My philosophy on that kind of stuff is: Do your job. You owe it to the organization and your teammates to get ready as fast and as quickly as you possibly can and to come back as strong as you possibly can.”* On whether the Achilles injury impacted the knee injury: “I don’t think one had anything to do with the other. We’ve evaluated it pretty extensively. The fact of the matter is any of us can get hurt at any moment and the key for us as an athlete is to block that fear out.”* On watching from the bench: “When you have injuries that fear is enhanced and you kind of put yourself under the microscope a little bit and start thinking about it too much,” he said. “The reality is it can happen to anybody, so you have to be able to tune that noise out and just go out there and perform.”* On what he learned in averaging 13.5 points in the six games before the knee injury: “I learned that I can pretty much do everything that I could before, particularly the last game [against Memphis]. The biggest part of my game, the last two to three years, has been getting to a space on the floor and being able to elevate and shoot pull-up jump shots and in the paint. It was a great test going up against Tony Allen, who in my opinion has been the guy that’s defended me the best since I’ve been in the league. So to go up against him on the fourth game in five nights, and respond to that challenge, felt pretty good.”* On the doubters: “It’s the same old tune. It’s just being sung a little more loudly now. Those type of things just really help me lock in more than ever.”
This includes a record 13 touchdowns (the previous career record for any punt returner was 10). Hester also has five touchdowns from kickoff returns (good for eighth on the all-time list9Despite playing for a good defensive team for much of his career and not even returning kicks full-time for parts of it.) and is looking to break his present tie with Deion Sanders for most non-offensive touchdowns in NFL history.Kick and punt returns normally aren’t a big enough part of the game for a good returner to produce much value unless he also does other things well. But Hester is so insanely good he may be as close to an exception as you’ll ever see.Determining how much value Hester added on kick returns is relatively simple. Taken on a season-by-season basis, a typical NFL kick returner would have scored about 1.8 touchdowns on Hester’s attempts, while Hester had 6.0. This leads to about an extra .20 points per game.10Actually it’s .204 points per game, compared to .208 if you estimate the value of additional field position directly.But where things get interesting is with punts. With teams taking such crazy measures to avoid giving him the ball, Chicago’s punt return game benefited greatly whether Hester actually touched the ball or not.11Giving Hester credit for Chicago’s entire return game is neither an aggressive nor a conservative assumption. If the rest of the special teams squad was below average, it’s possible that Hester provided even more value than the squad as a whole.Since 2006, when Hester joined the team, Chicago has had the highest number of yards per punt return, resulting in the best average starting position, and has scored a touchdown on one of every 21 returns. The average for teams other than Chicago was one TD every 82 punt returns. And that’s not even counting all the times other teams punted short or out of bounds to avoid a return.According to ESPN’s “expected points added” metric, Chicago’s punt return game was worth about .15 expected points over expectation for each of the 668 punts they faced, or about .80 points per game total.Combining this .80 with the .20 Hester gained returning kickoffs, he was probably worth around 1 point per game overall.We’re obviously not talking Aaron Rodgers-type value here. But football is a 46-on-46 sport: It’s hard for any one player (aside from a quarterback) to matter much. A reliable 1 point per game is pretty significant.Chicago had an average margin of -2.1 points per game last year, so with Hester’s departure, let’s say the team is starting out in a 3-point hole. If the offense gets worse or the defense gets better, it could go either way from there.Detroit LionsExpected wins: 8.3Playoff probability: 38 percent (25 percent to win the NFC North)Super Bowl win probability: 3 percent Last year, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers missing half the season due to a broken collarbone, the Packers finished with just an 8-7-1 record, and gave up more points than they scored. Despite all that, they still eked out an NFC North division championship for the third year in a row.In the eight games in which Rodgers played more than the opening drive, the Packers went 6-2 with an average margin of victory of 7.4 points. In the eight games that featured the smorgasbord1Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace all started games in Rodgers’s absence. of Packers backups, they went 2-5-1 with an average margin of defeat of 8.8 points. It’s difficult to disentangle a quarterback’s performance from that of his teammates (or his coaches), but the Packers’ 2013 results are perhaps the best evidence yet that Rodgers is the real deal.2Though not quite Peyton-esque.Since Rodgers took over for Brett Favre in 2008, the Packers have been one of the NFL’s best franchises. They’ve won the fourth-most games (they’re in essentially a four-way-tie behind the Patriots) and a Super Bowl (as many of those as anyone else over that period, and one more than the Patriots). ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) is one of the most all-encompassing quarterback rating systems out there today.3Note this isn’t necessarily a compliment. In a phenomenon I like to call “The Paradox of Quarterback Metrics,” beyond a certain point, the more information a QB metric takes into account, the less it tends to tell you about the quarterback. Rodgers’s QBR in the last six years is 72.9, second only to Peyton Manning’s 80.7. Rodgers performs fantastically well in a variety of other quarterback metrics.But that’s what happens when you a) play for a good team and b) don’t throw interceptions. These are strongly related. Most interceptions are thrown when the quarterback’s team is trailing (about twice as many as when it’s ahead), and they become more and more likely the more his team is down or the closer they come to the end of the game4Being ahead or behind one score is 0-8 points, two scores is 9-16 points, three scores is 17+ points.:Interceptions are often (even largely) a product of completely rational risk-taking by desperate quarterbacks. A logical implication of this is that if a quarterback is too conservative, he can throw too few interceptions, which can be just as bad as throwing too many.Despite his various successes, it’s possible Rodgers fits this description of an overly conservative quarterback. For example, with his team down by two or more scores (9+ points) he has thrown only three interceptions out of 354 passes attempted (0.8 percent) in his career. This is typically when quarterbacks throw the most INTs, because they’re trying to get their teams back into the game, and high-risk strategies often give them the best chance to win. Overall, quarterbacks throw interceptions about 3.5 percent of the time on average in those situations, with even most great quarterbacks breaking 3.0 percent. Peyton Manning, for example, has averaged 3.1 percent, Drew Brees has averaged 3.3 percent, and even Tom Brady has thrown 2.3 percent (slightly above his career average).5Based on play-by-play from 2001 through 2013.Being insufficiently willing to gamble even when circumstances are dire can be good for a QB’s stats, while bad for his team. And there’s evidence of this in Rodgers’s record as well: He has only engineered six fourth-quarter comebacks in his career — good for 149th all time (Russell Wilson already has eight).There’s nothing wrong with giving your team the lead and then keeping it.6I vividly but hazily recall this being Troy Aikman’s response when someone asked him about his lack of fourth-quarter comebacks back in the ’90s — and he had one about every 10 games. But Rodgers has averaged one fourth-quarter comeback every 14.5 games. This is staggeringly low, even for a player whose team isn’t behind that often. Brady has played for an even more consistently good team and has a fourth-quarter comeback once every 6.2 games. Both brothers Manning have averaged one every six games, Ben Roethlisberger has one every 6.2, Drew Brees and Joe Flacco have one about every eight. Favre (surprisingly) had one only every 9.9 games.But the good news for Packers fans is that Rodgers has some pretty low-hanging room for improvement: If he starts taking more calculated risks (likely sacrificing his stats a little in the process), the Pack may be even more dangerous.Chicago BearsExpected wins: 8.4Playoff probability: 39 percent (25 percent to win the NFC North)Super Bowl win probability: 3 percent Editor’s Note: FiveThirtyEight is running a series of eight NFL previews, one division at a time, to highlight the numbers that may influence each team’s season. America’s favorite weekly soap opera is about to begin; get prepped.Green Bay PackersExpected wins (using implied power ratings from Las Vegas point spreads): 9.4Playoff probability: 55 percent (41 percent to win the NFC North)Super Bowl win probability: 6 percent Last year the Detroit Lions finished 7-9, the second-highest win total of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s career. Despite throwing for 4,650 yards and 29 TDs, Stafford now faces headlines like this one from Fox Sports: “Stafford needs to bounce back in a big way.”According to that article, Stafford “must cut down on his crucial mistakes when it’s make-or-break time.” Presumably, this refers to the six fourth-quarter interceptions Stafford threw in one-score games last year.But, see above: Interceptions are hard to interpret. Stafford also had seven touchdowns under those circumstances, and four of his six interceptions were with his team trailing.12Also known as the best time to throw interceptions. So let’s break down Stafford’s interception rate a bit further:With his team down 2+ scores, his interception rate is 2.5 percent. If anything, this may be too low.With his team down one score or less, his interception rate is 2.8 percent. This is probably just about right.With the game tied, his interception rate is 2.2 percent, which is below average.With his team up 2+ scores, his interception rate is about 3 percent, which is a little high, but not necessarily a problem considering the sample size.With his team up one score or less, his interception rate is pretty high: 3.8 percent overall and a whopping 6.7 percent in the second quarter.In other words, if there’s one spot where Stafford has been making an unusually high number of mistakes it hasn’t been “make-or-break time,” it has been earlier in the game, when his team is up one or fewer scores and most QBs would play it safe (league average interception rate is around 2.3 percent under those circumstances).Of course, while throwing interceptions with your team up one score isn’t generally wise, it could be worth it if it’s helping you gain a ton of touchdowns. Indeed, Stafford throws a good number of TDs in these situations.While that 4.5 percent is good, it’s only 0.5 percentage points better than average — in other words, it’s not a very good trade-off considering his interception rate under these circumstances is 1.5 percentage points higher than average.To generalize a bit, you can think of the sum of a player’s touchdown rate and interception rate as his “aggression level.” Stafford is a fairly aggressive quarterback overall, but his aggression level while ahead by one score or less in the second quarter is 10.4 percent, which is off the charts compared to the league average of 6.8 percent. This isn’t really the best time to get aggressive, and it isn’t really working for him.Minnesota VikingsExpected wins: 6.5Playoff probability: 17 percent (9 percent to win the NFC North)Super Bowl win probability: 1 percent Last season, the Chicago Bears finished 8-8, fitting for a team with one of the best offenses (not led by Peyton Manning) and one of the worst defenses in football. That’s a good excuse to talk about their special teams.For as yet unknown reasons, Chicago let its best player7Relative to his position. go.While Devin Hester never developed into the double-threat for Chicago that the team hoped (much less the triple-threat he was at the University of Miami), he is almost certainly the greatest punt returner in NFL history.8Some of that field position is no doubt due to Hester’s reputation and the fact that teams went to great lengths trying to avoid kicking him the ball — so he probably grabbed the ball in better positions. But the average Chicago field position from a non-Hester return was around the 30 yard line. And the fact that Hester was able to take so many returns and still do so much with them is remarkable in its own right. Adrian Peterson now has more than 10,000 yards rushing and 91 touchdowns in his seven-year career, giving him over 2,000 more yards and 24 more touchdowns than anyone in the last seven years. Yet the Vikings finished 5-10-1 last year, their third 10-loss season in four years. They haven’t had a top-10 offense since Brett Favre’s miracle year, nor before that since the Randy Moss era.The utility of the running game in football is still an open question. While pass-heavy offensive approaches typically gain points (and wins) more efficiently than run-heavy ones, we’re nowhere near game-theoretical dominance. In other words, however marginal it may become, the running game still has its uses:The threat of the running game forces defenses to defend multiple strategies, which makes the passing game more efficient.It’s low-risk and eats up the clock: A team that is ahead may be willing to give up a small amount of per-play value in order to shorten the remainder of the game and decrease the chances of a costly turnover.Runs gain positive yards more consistently than passes, which can be useful in a number of ways beyond average yardage. For example, very good running backs (or running games) set up a higher number of second-and-short situations than passes do, and these can be better than first downs.Of course for Nos. 1 and 2 to work most efficiently, you have to run effectively. And running effectively mostly means No. 3.While Peterson breaks a larger share of long runs than typical running backs, he is neither a consistent gainer nor a producer of high-leverage situations.Obviously Adrian Peterson’s long runs are worth something: They’re worth a lot of yards. But yards are easier than ever to come by in today’s game. No matter how great a running back is at breaking long ones, he’s not going to be as efficient at gobbling up yards as his team’s passing game is (no matter how mediocre the team’s quarterbacks are).On the other hand, the better a team is at strategically maximizing the running game, the more valuable those “bonus” yards become — because the running plays that produce them are no longer taking the place of passes.In other words, if you can’t run consistently, it doesn’t matter if you can break a bunch of long runs, because you’d still be better off passing. But if you can run consistently, those long runs become gravy.None of this is to say that Peterson’s shortcomings necessarily reflect poorly on his running skills, no more than we can say the same for any running back’s underperformance. Peterson has simply produced a little below average at the bread-and-butter stuff that keeps the running game relevant, and this undercuts the value of his long runs considerably. With a better offensive line, or quarterback, Peterson’s value would improve doubly.Read more of FiveThirtyEight’s NFL season previews.
If you haven’t already, you really need to sign up for the Significant Digits newsletter — be the first to learn about the numbers behind the news.And, as always, if you see a significant digit in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey. 5th-most productiveWillie Mays saw his career home run record eclipsed by beleaguered Yankee Alex Rodriguez last Thursday, but the stats still appear to show that Mays was the better ballplayer. Looking at all-time wins above replacement, Mays is in fifth place in the annals of baseball history, while A-Rod is 17th. [FiveThirtyEight] You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this as an email newsletter, please subscribe.4 percentThat’s Alabama’s existing tax on rentals of “tangible personal property.” The state’s department of revenue wants to extend that tax to rentals on, say, Netflix, which generally speaking is pretty intangible and impersonal. [The Washington Post] $50 billionUber is considering raising another $1.5 billion in funding, which would value the company at $50 billion, basically making it a herd of unicorns if my Silicon Valley terminology is up to date. [The New York Times] 11 percentThe new cigarette tax rate in China, up from 5 percent. About 1 million Chinese citizens die annually from smoking-related illnesses. The last time China raised the tax, the State Monopoly of Tobacco Administration — which owns the country’s cigarette manufacturer because, you know, communism — isolated actual smokers from the tax and just ate the costs. So let’s just wait and see how this goes. [Bloomberg]At least 12 arrestsPlease never change, Massachusetts: More than 100 people were involved in a brawl at Revere Beach in Massachusetts on Mother’s Day. There were at least 12 arrests after an altercation that began between two women and their friends spiraled into an all-out fight at the beach. [NECN]60 kimberlite pipesNew research suggests that the plant Pandanus candelabrum can grow the presence of kimberlite pipes, or underground columns of volcanic rock. Who cares? Well, there are about 6,000 known kimberlite pipes, and a tenth of them have diamonds in them, and about a tenth of those have enough diamonds to be worth digging up. So keep your eyes peeled for Pandanus candelabrum. I don’t really know how this works but between you and me, this weekend I’m going to check to see if there might be diamonds under the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Shh! [CNET]$86Current projection for the fare to ride California’s future bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco. If you follow technology at all, you probably know by now that Californians are really bad at estimating the actual value of things — be it a train ticket or a startup — so it should come as no surprise that the estimate has been as low as $50 and as high as $105. [Los Angeles Times] $1.1 million to $2.3 millionThat was the range of the value of former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke’s assets back when he was running America’s favorite helicopter-based cash-distribution entity. He’s probably a little bit further in the black now that he’s consulting for Pacific Investment Management Co. and the hedge fund Citadel. [Bloomberg] $5.4 millionThat’s how much the U.S. Department of Defense paid NFL teams to honor and thank the nation’s troops from 2011 to 2014. The funds mostly came from the National Guard. [NJ.com via Scout]$11,118,775.13As of Friday, that’s how much money has been spent by the state of New Jersey on legal bills for the parties involved in the “bridgegate” scandal. About $7.8 million went to foot the legal bills of members of the governor’s office. [WNYC’s Matt Katz]
PLAYERTEAMTOTAL Eric GordonHouston Rockets183 The Warriors’ offense already has a cheat code of sorts because of how thin they spread defenses with their shooting, but they also get a ton of mileage out of the threat Thompson poses aside from his 22 points per game. Thompson’s star teammates find far more openings when playing alongside him because defenders know they can’t step too far away from the lethal shooter. That gives the two former MVPs on the roster true single coverage as opposed to double-teams. Curry and Durant each took advantage and shot nearly 50 and 57 percent from the field, respectively, when playing together alongside Thompson, per NBA Wowy. Watch here as the Clippers lose track of Durant while trying desperately to account for each member of the Warriors’ three leading scorers. The threat of Thompson’s jumper helps create an easy bucket underneath.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/klaykdsteph.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Unsurprisingly, Curry and Durant’s field-goal percentage numbers fell to 46 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in their almost 400 minutes without Thompson.In turn, the other Warriors are engaging in near-perpetual motion to help spring Thompson free. Many of his jumpers stem from the Warriors’ unusual network of screens and picks — with the stars often setting improvisational back screens for role players and guards springing free big men. Still, Golden State works hardest to get Thompson open: He had a whopping 516 separate plays in which they brought him off a screen — a figure that led the NBA by a country mile. For context, Thompson got more shot attempts following a screen than 20 different teams in 2016-17, according to Synergy Sports.His role this past season was a far cry from what it was just four seasons ago, before Steve Kerr took over as coach, when the young Warriors utilized a much different style of offense. Back then, their attack was heavily rooted in stagnant 1-on-1 plays as opposed to the free-flowing system they currently run to perfection. In the course of one year, Golden State went from being dead-last in the NBA with 246.6 passes thrown per game in 2013-14 to seventh in the league with 315.9 passes per night in 2014-15 under Kerr.Under former coach Mark Jackson, Thompson got a steady diet of entry passes on the block and finished the 2013-14 season with an eye-popping 130 post-ups — the fifth-highest total among NBA guards that year, according to Synergy Sports. As jarring as that number sounds, consider this: Thompson has only posted up 137 times total in the three seasons since then.“I knew I wanted to install plenty of movement, and it just so happened that Klay turned himself into Reggie Miller and Rip Hamilton,” Kerr told me this week, citing two of the more elite shooters off screens in modern times. “To me, Klay’s the best guy in the league now at moving without the ball. It just comes natural to him, and it made him a natural fit with our offense.”One of Thompson’s best skills is his ability to score in bunches without possessing the ball all that much. These outbursts have become his trademark since his heroic 41-point, 11 3-pointer performance two seasons ago when the defending champion Warriors were on the cusp of postseason elimination in Oklahoma City. Among those averaging 20 points per game last season, Thompson tied with Brook Lopez for the league lead in lowest time of possession per game, at just 1.6 minutes, while the Warriors guard averaged the highest points-per-touch average. “This is a gunslinger that’s spitting out the ball before anyone can even get to him,” said Fraser, the Warriors assistant.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/klaydefendedbykd.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Thompson told me that he’s made it a point since the age of 15 — when he attended a shooting camp and watched renowned shooting instructor Dave Hopla drill dozens of jumpers — to unload the ball faster.“[Hopla] said, ‘It doesn’t matter where your feet are as long as your shoulders are squared,’ ” Thompson said. “That’s really resonated with me ever since I was a kid. So now, every time I just try to get a good shot off and make sure my shoulders are square toward the rim, even if my feet are in an awkward place. If I’ve got a good base, and I can get some lift, that’s all I need.”Thompson’s uncanny ability to find the basket while barely able to see it — he tested this notion by taking, and making, triples in a Sports Science lab with the lights turned off — simply confirmed what many already knew about him: He can make the sorts of shots others wouldn’t even dream of taking.Asked about having a teammate of that stature, Durant smiled. “That’s the great part about it. I don’t have to play against that no more,” he said. “You can’t relax for a split second, or he’s gonna get a shot off.”Check out our latest NBA predictions. Thompson connected on 131 of 302 attempts within that release window, for a mark of 43.4%. For context, the leaguewide average percentage on all 3-pointers was 35.8%.Source: STATS SportVu C.J. MilesIndiana Pacers192 Trevor ArizaHouston Rockets152 OAKLAND, Calif. — Humans need oxygen, plants need sunlight, and NBA shooters need space to breathe. A cushion from a defender allows a player to do his job successfully: It gives him time to turn and face the basket, bend his knees to develop rhythm and square his feet.Then there’s Klay Thompson, who often does none of these things yet still hits threes at a better-than-40-percent clip and strikes fear in just about every NBA defense. “You ever had someone walk right up on you and talk a few inches away from your face?” asked Warriors assistant Bruce Fraser. “That’s Klay. It’s like he doesn’t mind not having space when he shoots.”Any number of things would correctly explain why the Warriors, who open their season tonight, are on the cusp of becoming a dynasty. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry is a game-breaking playmaker capable of bringing defenses to their knees in a way we’ve never seen. Pair his skill set with that of Kevin Durant, and you have a legitimate title contender. None of that even speaks to the defensive presence and edge Golden State often gets from Draymond Green.Yet Thompson’s quick-trigger attempts from deep might be the best barometer of success for the Warriors. Golden State won 95 percent of its games last season (going 43-2) when the swingman hit at least 40 percent of his shots from 3-point range, but the Warriors won just 69 percent (23-10) when Thompson connected on less than 40 percent.Guarding the 6-foot-7 Thompson is like a formal job interview: If you merely show up on time, rather than getting there a little early, it often means you’ve arrived too late. And God forbid you actually show up a little late — you might as well turn around and go home. Part of this is because Thompson is such a talented, pure shooter, but it’s also because he gets the ball out of his hands faster than any player in the NBA and can connect on his jumpers without having to dip his knees to generate a rhythm.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/klayquicktrigger1.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/klayquicktrigger2.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.While Houston coach Mike D’Antoni has his Seven Seconds or Less strategy, Thompson has established his own version of hot potato this past season, in which he launched a total of 302 catch-and-shoot triples within 0.79 seconds of touching the ball, according to an analysis run by STATS SportVu at FiveThirtyEight’s request. The next-closest player, C.J. Miles, had just 192. What’s more, Thompson hits the quick-trigger triples at nearly the same clip, 43.4 percent,1131 of 302 as when he takes his time and composes himself. When told of these numbers, Thompson put it best: “Sheesh.” Tobias HarrisDetroit Pistons184 Stephen CurryGolden State Warriors180 Kristaps PorzingisNew York Knicks163 Channing FryeCleveland Cavaliers182 Nicolas BatumCharlotte Hornets160 Klay Thompson is the fastest sharpshooter, East or West3-pointers attempted within 0.79 seconds of catching the ball, 2016-17 Klay ThompsonGolden State Warriors302 Tony SnellMilwaukee Bucks157
Senior captain Lance Palmer topped off his career with his first conference title this weekend.The Ohio State wrestling team met its goal of taking 10 wrestlers to the Big Ten Championships and finished fourth overall at the meet in Ann Arbor, Mich.The number dropped to just three after Saturday’s session for who would compete for the conference title in their respective weight classes.Junior Colt Sponseller joined Palmer and senior Reece Humphrey on the mat Sunday.At 141 pounds, No. 1 Humphrey defeated No. 8 Cole Schmitt of Wisconsin 6-5 and recorded a major decision 14-4 over Penn State’s No. 4 Adam Lynch.In a hard-fought match, Humphrey lost to No. 2 Mike Thorn of Minnesota 3-1.At 149 pounds, No. 2 Palmer defeated Minnesota’s No. 7 Mario Mason 12-4 followed by a 2-1 decision over Wisconsin’s No. 3 Kyle Ruschell.Palmer earned the conference title after a 9-3 decision against No. 1 Brent Metcalf, a sweet revenge after falling to Metcalf during the 2010 regular season and four career matchups. Palmer was named the Cliff Keen Wrestler of the meet. At 165 pounds, Sponseller added three victories to his resume Saturday afternoon after defeating Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa. In his third match of the afternoon, Sponseller faced No. 2 Ryan Morningstar of Iowa, but they were far from strangers. Sponseller fell to Morningstar in the 2009 postseason at both the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships and more recently in a regular season bout. Sponseller broke his streak of bad luck after scoring a reversal late in the third and defeating Morningstar 3-1. Sponseller faced No. 1 Andrew Horne of Wisconsin Sunday for the conference title.The bout ended with Sponseller on the short end, 4-2. The Buckeyes have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Championships in Omaha, Neb.
No. 18 Ohio State opened their 2012 season with a 56-10 victory against Miami (Ohio) in Urban Meyer’s first game as head coach. There is still much to be learned about the Buckeyes this season, but a few things were made evident in OSU’s route of the RedHawks. An offense can be fast while going nowhere Even in the first quarter, when the Buckeyes punted four times in four possessions, it was evident how fast Meyer wants his team to play. As the stagnant OSU offense managed just 48 yards in the opening quarter, sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller continued to hurry his teammates back to the line of scrimmage for another play. This offense will struggle at times, but they will not compromise their game plan, or their aggression. But when moving it’s a thing of beauty After a shaky first quarter the Buckeyes responded with an offensive barrage. It took the offense only four plays to move the ball 83 yards for their first touchdown of the season, and from that point forward the Buckeyes moved down field at a rapid pace. In the second quarter alone, OSU accounted for 297 yards of offense; more yards in one quarter than they had in five games last season. With Miller at quarterback, Ohio State had four touchdown drives of more than 50 yards. None of those drives took more than nine plays. Braxton Miller in a nutshell Miller’s performance was essentially a microcosm of what I expect his season will look like. At times, his play will remind everybody that he is just a sophomore learning a brand new system. He showed that he still struggles throwing the deep ball, missing an open Evan Spencer three times in the first half. The first pass attempt was overthrown and the next two were underthrown. All three could have been touchdowns. But after starting the game by completing just 1 of 7 passes for five yards, Miller caught fire, connecting on 13 of his next 17 attempts for two touchdowns and no interceptions. Miller also broke the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a game, accounting for 161 yards on the ground. The secondary was second best The Buckeyes’ secondary could be a cause of concern this season. Miami quarterback Zac Dysert finished with 303 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, but could have had an even better game. The Buckeyes benefited from several dropped passes by Miami receivers, and will have to tighten up their coverage as the move closer to conference play. Give an extra helmet sticker to… The OSU wide receivers. Last season, the team’s leading receiver had 14 receptions. Yesterday, Corey “Philly” Brown led the team with seven. That’s a testament to how anemic OSU’s aerial attack was last year. But it also indicates how improved the receivers, and in particular Brown, are. Brown is clearly a focal point of Meyer’s offense, and one of Miller’s favorite targets. He was used in a multitude of ways, lining up out wide, in the slot and occasionally, in the backfield. Sophomore Devin Smith’s acrobatic, one-handed touchdown reception in the second quarter could be the play of the year in college football. It also ended OSU’s offensive drought, and provided a much-needed spark of excitement to the entire stadium.
Junior midfielder Ellyn Gruber (5) attempts to win the ball during a match against Pittsburgh Aug. 28 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 2-0.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorNearly three weeks after the team’s last home game, the Ohio State women’s soccer team is scheduled to return to Columbus to face Illinois. The matchup with the Fighting Illini (5-2-1) will be the conference opener for the Buckeyes, as they look to improve upon their current 6-1-1 record, including a 3-0-1 slate at home.The Buckeyes are currently on a three-game winning streak, continuing last week with a sweep at the Hoosier Classic. After goals from junior midfielder Ellyn Gruber and senior midfielder Danica Wu, the Buckeyes defeated Central Michigan 2-0 Friday.Buckeye goalies, senior Rachel Middleman and sophomore Jillian McVicker, helped shut out a St. John’s team, 1-0, that had been averaging 3.5 goals per game.“I (was) very proud of our squad… to be put in a situation to play a rested team on a Sunday morning was unfortunate,” said coach Lori Walker. “We stepped up to the challenge and played very well as a team.”Following Sunday’s match, the Buckeyes have moved up near the top of the Big Ten in some defensive categories as they begin conference play Friday. OSU now ranks third in goals against and corner kicks allowed, and fourth in total goals allowed, only giving up five goals through its first eight games.The teams last met in Bloomington, Ind., for the 2012 Big Ten Tournament championship. The Buckeyes took home their third Big Ten tournament title when they defeated the Illini, 2-1.Coming into the season, the Fighting Illini were picked to finish third in the preseason coaches poll, one spot better than the Buckeyes.Offensively, Illinois is led by redshirt-junior forward Janelle Flaws with eight goals and senior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, who has four goals of her own. Although the Illini have scored 28 goals on the season, they have given up 18 goals defensively in eight games.The game is set to start at 5 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Ohio State junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon (1) scored the final touchdown in Ohio State’s 55-24 loss to Iowa on Nov. 4. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThere was some thought that redshirt junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon might forgo his final year of eligibility at Ohio State and enter the NFL draft since he was finally healthy for a full season.But Dixon decided to turn down the opportunity and stay at Ohio State for one last season.Dixon posted a tweet of a video with the text “1 more” and a caption that read “Unfinished business!” The return gives head coach Urban Meyer a key cog on the outside for a new quarterback next season.Unfinished business! 1 last ride #Gobucks pic.twitter.com/NB9ehwe2te— Johnnie L. Dixon III (@YoungKing_JD5) January 12, 2018Dixon is the second receiver to announce his return to Ohio State for a fifth season. H-back Parris Campbell tweeted he would remain a Buckeye for his redshirt senior season.Dixon has dealt with continual knee issues since enrolling at Ohio State in 2014. He hadn’t been able to play more than half-season for the first three years in college, but he remained mostly injury free in 2017.Dixon caught 18 passes for 422 yards with eight touchdowns for the Buckeyes this season. He was one of quarterback J.T. Barrett’s best deep threats in the passing game, catching three touchdowns of more than 40 yards.The 5-foot-11 wideout from West Palm Beach, Florida, had his highlight moment against then-No. 2 Penn State in October, when he caught two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Ohio State’s 15-point comeback victory against the Nittany Lions.He started in all but one game in 2017.
Senior goalkeeper Sean Romeo looks down the ice during the second period of Ohio State’s hockey game vs. Minnesota on Feb. 15. Ohio State lost 4-3. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The Lantern The Ohio State Men’s Ice Hockey team took on Minnesota on Feb. 15 and Ohio State lost 4-3 Photos by Nick Hudak
A soldier who admitted rape has failed in an attempt to reverse his guilty plea after claiming he was put under pressure following the emergence of an incriminating video.Johnny Toulson, 22, launched the unusual legal challenge after a jury cleared his friend of raping the same woman on the same night.After seeing video footage which seemingly caught him in the act, Toulson said he felt he “didn’t have a choice” but to admit guilt.But a Teesside Crown Court judge has rejected his claims and refused to let him change his plea. Toulson, from Thornaby, and Jamie Hill, 25, both denied raping a woman at her home in November 2014. The Army Reserve soldiers were accused of taking advantage of her when she was too drunk to consent after a night out in Middlesbrough.An eight-second video of Toulson with the woman, which was filmed by Hill, was seen by Johnny’s lawyers for the first time on the morning of his trial.The video showed the woman with naked Toulson covering her face and Hill laughing and saying “it’s her phone”.Mr Toulson said he was told by his barrister at the time, Robert Mochrie, that the situation was “not looking good” and he was given a choice of “a longer sentence or a shorter sentence”.He added that a Sergeant Major accompanying him to court advised him to change his plea as “you’ll be out sooner”.Mr Toulson said: “I was under pressure. I wasn’t able to think straight. I felt as if my world has just collapsed.“I just felt a bit of hopelessness that I’d go to prison anyway so I may as well take a lesser sentence. I didn’t personally believe I was a rapist.” Robert Mochrie said he told Toulson it was up to him whether he had a trial Mr Mochrie said: “I told him it was capable of destroying his defence. I told him in my opinion the jury would most likely convict him in the face of that evidence.”He said he told Toulson it was up to him whether he had a trial and added: “I’ll do everything I can to defend you but the evidence is what it is.”I would never ever tell somebody to plead guilty to something if they haven’t done it. I was there for a trial.”I wouldn’t expect someone to plead guilty to rape if they hadn’t done it.”I gave this man time. I left him alone to consider what he wanted to do.”Pamela Brain, now representing Toulson, said he was put in a pressurised and impossible situation with advice which was “far too strong”.Prosecutor Jason MacAdam said Toulson made a free choice to accept his guilt. Recorder Richard Wright QC said Toulson “made a fully informed decision” on proper legal advice because he agreed the video looked bad for him.He added: “He didn’t want to take his chance of a longer sentence. The acquittal of Mr Hill now means that he bitterly regrets his decision and wishes he had taken his chances.”He bailed Toulson until sentencing at a later date. Jamie Hill was cleared of rapeCredit: Katie Lunn/ Evening Gazette 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.
Due to an operational incident on the service between Bedford and Bletchley all lines are blocked. More info when known.— London Midland (@LondonMidland) January 3, 2017 A man has died after a crash between a car and a train in Bedfordshire on Tuesday morning.London Midland Trains service between Bedford and Bletchley have been suspended and motorists are being told to avoid the area following the incident in Lidlington. It is believed the crash occurred on the level crossing on Marston Road. According to Network Rail’s website, around 36 trains and 1,200 vehicles use the crossing each day.Trains can pass through at up to 60mph. The crossing has automatic barriers which cover half of the road.A British Transport spokesman said: “Just after 10am today we were called to Marston level crossing close to Lidlington station following reports that a car had been struck by a train.”Officers attended alongside Bedfordshire Police and the East of England Ambulance service however a man, believed to be the driver of the car, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene. Motorists advised to avoid Marston Road near #Lidlington following a collision between a car and a train. Closures are in place— Bedfordshire Police (@bedspolice) January 3, 2017 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “The Rail Accident Investigation Branch have been notified of this incident.”An East of England Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “We were called to reports of the crash on Marston Road at 9.54am this morning.”We dispatched a rapid response vehicle, ambulance crew and hazard area response team which remain on the scene.”A spokesman for the fire service also confirmed on they are on the scene.A spokesman for Network Rail, which manages level crossings in Britain, said: “We are assisting emergency services with an incident at Marston level crossing, near Bedford, in which a train has collided with a car.”British Transport Police are investigating the cause of the incident.” “The car was struck by the 09.34 Bedford to Bletchley London Midland service with 11 passengers and two members of staff on board. There are no other reported injuries.”At present the man’s death is not being treated as suspicious, however officers continue to examine exactly how the car came to be on the tracks.
Ms Lynn, the Historic Dress Curator at Hampton Court Palace in the store rooms on site at the palace which houses hundreds of royal garments dating as far back as Tudor timesCredit:David Rose I knew immediately that it was something special. I felt I had found the Holy Grail, the Mona Lisa of fashionEleri Lynn They say all the evidence points to it having once been a skirt worn by the Tudor queen, making it the only known survivor of her famously lavish wardrobe.Eleri Lynn, curator of historic dress at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), first discovered the cloth hanging on a wall in the 13th-century church of St Faith, Bacton, last year. She said: “When I saw it for the first time I knew immediately that it was something special. As I examined it, I felt as though I had found the Holy Grail, the Mona Lisa of fashion. None of Elizabeth I’s dresses are known to have survived, but everything we have learnt since then points to it being worn by Elizabeth.” The botanical pattern on the cloth bears a striking resemblance to that on a bodice worn by Elizabeth in the so-called Rainbow Portrait of 1602 and Ms Lynn believes it is “not inconceivable” that the skirt, which cannot be seen in the painting, is part of the same outfit. It was while researching a blog on Welsh connections to the Tudor court that Ms Lynn came across the Bacton altar cloth and paid a visit to the church.She said the embroidered design, featuring roses, daffodils and other flowers, was typical of the late 16th century, and noticed straight away that it was made from cloth of silver, which, under Tudor sumptuary law, could only be worn by the monarch or immediate members of the royal family.The connection to St Faith’s made sense because its parishioners included Blanche Parry, Elizabeth’s favourite lady-in-waiting, to whom she is known to have given clothes. The Bacton Alter Cloth, believed to be made from a royal dress given to Blanche Parry, who was born in Bacton and later became Elizabethâ s favourite personal attendantCredit:David Rose Animals embroidered on the cloth, including butterflies, frogs, squirrels and caterpillars, were added at a later date, and Ms Lynn’s team discovered an illustration of a bear in a book published in 1594 that exactly matches a bear embroidered on the fabric.When St Faith’s realised the importance of the find, it loaned the altar cloth to HRP, which is about to undertake an 18-month restoration, unpicking stitches from a crude Edwardian renovation and sewing it on to a new backing cloth.It will then be displayed in its rightful home in the Tudor palace. Dress historian Eleri Lynn, left, with the Bacton altar cloth. The pattern is strikingly similar to a bodice worn by the Tudor queen in a portrait, rightCredit: David Rose A piece of fabric described as the Holy Grail of fashion history will become one of the star attractions at Hampton Court Palace after it was identified as the only surviving piece of clothing worn by Elizabeth I.The country’s leading experts on royal garments have spent the past year piecing together clues about the provenance of the beautifully embroidered textile, which had been cut up and used for hundreds of years as an altar cloth in a Herefordshire parish church. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The story of how the cloth came to be hanging in a glass case in the church is almost as fascinating as the fabric itself.Ms Lynn explained: “We have 10,000 items of clothing and accessories in storage here, including many items worn by kings and queens, but there is almost nothing from before the reign of Charles II.“In Tudor times, clothing was so expensive that it would be passed on from one generation to the next, or taken apart and reused for something else, like cushion covers.“On top of that, Oliver Cromwell sold off every item of clothing in the royal stores, so the only things we have, including a hat which might have been worn by Henry VIII, have come back to Hampton Court after they have survived elsewhere.” Elizabeth I, The Rainbow Portait, c. 1600
The current method of gaining patient feedback needs to be looked atSir Keith Pearson Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The system was introduced in 2012, in the wake of Harold Shipman and other NHS scandals.But the new report finds that for many locums, some of whom demand £155 an hour to work in understaffed hospitals, this is barely more than a tick-box exercise.Sir Keith Pearson, who led the review, said hospital managers would tell locum agencies “please don’t send that doctor again”, but not give reasons why.The head of Health Education England also revealed he had found evidence patients were failing to give honest feedback about doctors, which is a critical part of the relicensing process, for fear of being identified and mistreated.Many doctors are only providing 10 pieces of patient feedback a year for their revalidation reviews, Sir Keith said.GMC rules also allow doctors to select only the best comments to pass on to their appraiser, although the report found the profession was getting gradually better in this respect.“The current method of gaining patient feedback needs to be looked at,” he said, adding that there was “no obvious mechanism” for identifying concern about a doctor’s competency.The Government has introduced an agency cap on how much should be paid to locums, although some hospitals are forced to compete for staff and pay above these rates.The new report found that more than a third standards appraisals are deferred for agency doctors, more than twice the rate for medics with fixed employment.“Doctors are under increasing pressure, and it is vital they are given the appropriate time and support for their own learning and wellbeing,” said Charlie Massey, GMC chief executive.Dr Mark Porter, council chair of the British Medical Association, said the appraisal process must be applied equally to all doctors to avoid “locums falling through the cracks.” More than 8,000 highly paid locum doctors could be putting patients at risk by escaping proper checks on their fitness to practice, a new report warns.An investigation for the General Medical Council also found hospitals are failing to raise the alarm when they come across stand-in medics whose skill levels are unsafe.Doctors in the UK are supposed to undergo annual appraisals and must get their licence to practise revalidated every five years.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The toddler’s cancer was treated successfully; however she has since suffered complications following a bone marrow transplant and is currently unable to leave hospital.Jessie has also suffered severe side effects from intense chemotherapy treatment and a rare genetic abnormality in children which made her leukaemia difficult to treat. Her mother Mel, 37, launched a social media appeal asking for people to send her daughter postcards to decorate her hospital room with and the response has been incredible.Thousands have shared the Facebook appeal and Ms Stocks admits the outpouring of support has been “mind-blowing”, adding that postcards have arrived from “all over the world”. A toddler recovering from cancer has been inundated with messages of support from kind-hearted strangers around the world.Two-year-old Jessie Stocks, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was diagnosed with leukaemia last year and has spent most of her early life at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Her mother told the BBC she has been “overwhelmed” by the response, adding: “It’s already made a massive impact on Jessie.”You can follow her progress on Facebook and send any postcards to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.Heartbroken girl spends 18th birthday alone – the internet had an amazing response
Mr Johnson, who is a Business Analyst, said: ” I just put it on Twitter – I don’t have thousands of followers – I was just hoping that word would get spread. I didn’t think it would be shared as much as it did. Alan Shearer posted it to his followers and sent me a message!” Miya is able to speak to her parents by looking at pictures on the screen, which then tracks her eye movements. He explained: “It’s called an accent 1400, it’s called an eye gaze, she looks at the pictures and that’ll speak for her – if it’s a picture of her mum it’ll say mum. “It’s got little interactive cartoons, it helps her be active with her brain.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The family is desperate to get the device back, and her father has been searching high and low for it, and after he reported the theft to the police he went around every second-hand and computer shop in the area.He said: “Every one is designed for a different client as her eyes look differently to anyone else so it would have to be designed specifically for her needs.”Everything would have to be designed for Miya. That could take time, it wouldn’t be an overnight thing.”To scrape together money for the first device, the family had fundraised including holding bake sales and members of the public helped with the efforts. Because of this, the family is loath to start up a fundraising campaign for a new one until it is certain the stolen device won’t be returned. Maya using her computerCredit:PA Miya Thirlby with her mother Kerie and twin MacieCredit:PA The devastated parents of a teenager with cerebral palsy have launched a campaign after her speech machine, the one way she has of communicating, was stolen from their car.16-year-old Miya Thirlby’s specially-programmed machine, called a liberator accent 100, costs £6,000 and took the family six months to acquire and program three years ago.The theft took place overnight between January 8 and 9 when someone gained access to a blue VW vehicle in Pennycross and snatched a speech generating device.Her father, Paul Johnson 40, said she has been unable to communicate since Tuesday when a thief broke into his car and stole the device. He has started a social media search, and his tweet has been shared 6,000 times.Mr Johnson, from Pennycross, Plymouth, told The Telegraph that he was shocked by the kindness of strangers, who have offered to help him pay for a new one, and the many people, including former footballer Alan Shearer, who have messaged lending their support. Mr Johnson put out an appeal to the thief and said: “If the thief has a conscience and realises what it is they stole, they should hand it in to the police.”
Who is Sir Norman Bettison?Sir Norman Bettison had a 40-year career in policing before facing charges over his involvement following te Hillsborough disaster.In 1989 he was working as a chief inspector in South Yorkshire Police. Sir Norman was accused of lying to Merseyside Police Authority when he said he had never attempted to shift blame for the disaster “on to the shoulders of Liverpool supporters”. In 1998, after some time working for West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman applied for the job of chief constable in Merseyside.His appointment caused controversy and it emerged that he had not mentioned his work on Hillsborough in his application form. Steve Kelly, the brother of victim Michael Kelly, speaks to reporters Credit:Peter Powell/PA In it he criticised the Hillsborough Independent Panel report and the ongoing investigation into the disaster.In June last year, he was charged with four counts of misconduct in a public office, relating to alleged lies he told about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans.The charges were dropped at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday after the Crown Prosecution Service said it would offer no evidence against him. Mr Ellaby, a local government officer at Sheffield City Council at the time, has died.Mr Greaney told judge Sir Peter Openshaw it took “repeated requests” from the defence for the other students to be traced by the IPCC.When “eventually” they were, 15 students and a lecturer were contacted and “not a single one” recalled Sir Norman expressing any “inappropriate view” about Hillsborough.Another witness identified only as Mrs J, who is now aged 85, had given different accounts with major inconsistencies, the court heard. In 2012, when the Hillsborough Independent Panel report was published, Sir Norman issued a statement saying he had never altered any documents following the disaster.In the statement, he said the behaviour of some fans in the stadium on the day made the job of the police “harder than it needed to be”.The following day, he released another statement in which he apologised for his initial comments and said his role was never to “besmirch” the fans.He resigned from the role of chief constable the following month as criticism continued. Sir Norman Bettison addresses the gathered mediaCredit:Christopher Furlong/Getty A source close to the case said: “I think there was a strong case that Sir Norman was felt to be this iconic figure of hate, there was a strong determination amongst politicians that he should be prosecuted.”In a joint statement, Ms Eagle, Mr Rotheram, Mr Burnham, Wirral South MP Alison McGovern and Halton MP Derek Twigg said: “We are disappointed to hear this news and we fully support the decision of the families to seek a review. Sir Norman Bettison Credit:Malcolm Croft/PA Sir Norman gave evidence to the Hillsborough inquests in May 2015 and the following year, after the hearings concluded, he published the book Hillsborough Untold. Sir Norman BettisonCredit:Lorne Campbell/Guzelian But the Telegraph understands that Mr O’Dowd changed his statement and now could not be sure the word was used.Mr Greaney claimed the IPCC was put under “considerable political pressure to place the ‘peripheral’ issue at the heart of its investigation.” Sir Norman, 62, who went on to become chief constable of Merseyside Police, had been charged with four counts of misconduct in a public office, all relating to alleged lies he told about his role in the aftermath of the 1989 tragedy in which 96 Liverpool supporters died. A former police chief accused of blaming Liverpool football fans for the Hillsborough disaster has blamed “political interference” for the charges brought against him as his case collapsed.Lawyers for Sir Norman Bettison, a former South Yorkshire chief inspector, criticised Maria Eagle MP for using parliamentary privilege to assert that he was part of a unit that “orchestrated a black propaganda campaign” to deflect blame for the tragedy from the police onto football fans.Paul Greaney QC alleged that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was put under “considerable political pressure” to construct a case around a narrative that was largely fabricated.A source told the Telegraph that the minutes of several meetings that took place between the IPCC senior investigator and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Hillsborough Disaster before charges were brought suggested that MPs including Ms Eagle, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram, the mayor of Merseyside, had sought to “direct the course of the investigation”.“This was parliamentarians saying ‘these are the questions that need to be asked of Norman Bettison when he’s interviewed’ the source said.“We are not talking about a one-way process.” Charges dropped against Hillsborough disaster police chief Sir Norman Bettison (right)Credit:David Cannon/Christopher Furlong/Getty It was claimed he lied in a statement issued on September 13 2012, following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, when he said he had never offered any interpretation other than that the behaviour of Liverpool fans did not cause the disaster.And he was accused of misconduct over a a statement released the following day in which he said he had never “besmirched” Liverpool fans.He was alleged to have told Mark Ellaby, with whom he attended evening classes, in the pub in May 1989 that he had been “tasked with making sure that South Yorkshire Police bore no blame for the Hillsborough disaster and it was all the fault of the drunken Liverpool supporters”. Some members of Merseyside Police Authority resigned over his appointment, but he told the authority his role had been “peripheral”.He served as chief constable in Merseyside from 1998 until 2004, when he left to become chief executive of Centrex, a firm which offered training to police forces.In 2006 he was knighted in the New Year Honours for his services to policing.Later that year, he took the chief constable’s job at West Yorkshire Police. But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced yesterday (TUES) that the case had been dropped after one witness died, one had given different accounts with major inconsistencies and another had partly retracted his evidence, meaning the “thread” of the narrative had been lost.Sarah Whitehouse QC, for the CPS said the case had been reduced to interpreting the use of a single word some 20 years ago. Sir Norman was also alleged to have abused public trust by describing his role in the post-disaster investigation as “peripheral” in a comment to Sir David O’Dowd, then chief inspector of constabulary, when applying for the top police job on Merseyside in 1998. The decision prompted fury from the families of Hillsborough victims who immediately called for an independent review and said they had “no trust or confidence” in the CPS, the IPCC or Operation Resolve.Steve Kelly, whose brother Michael died in the disaster, said: “I’m absolutely devastated. I feel as if I’ve been beaten up this morning. The feeling is just unbelievable.”Sir Norman said outside Preston Crown Court: “Six years ago, I was driven from the job that had been my vocation for 40 years, and some commentators, who didn’t really know anything about me or the facts, rushed to judgement and predetermined my guilt.”Something I learned, though, early in my police service, is that no injustice was ever satisfactorily resolved through being unjust.” Sir Norman Bettison arrives for a stay of proceedings hearing at Preston Crown Court on August 21, 2018 in Preston, EnglandCredit:Christopher Furlong/Getty He was at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium on April 15, the day of the disaster, but was off duty, attending the FA Cup semi-final as a spectator.In the aftermath of the tragedy he was assigned to a team which was tasked with finding material for police lawyers to present to the public inquiry led by Lord Justice Taylor. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? 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The NHS says the bacterial infection is usually harmless, but that it can cause serious problems in some people.Normally, the fever is successfully treated with antibiotics and it is rare for it to develop into chronic fatigue syndrome.The disease may cause mild symptoms similar to the flu. However, many people have no symptoms at all. Mild forms of the disease may clear up in a few weeks without any treatment.The MOD follows the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which does not recommend vaccination for Q fever.The Australian government has cleared Q-VAX, a Q fever vaccine, for issue, but it is not currently licensed for use in the UK.An MOD spokesperson said: “As legal proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment.” 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. A former soldier is suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after claiming he caught the debilitating infection Q fever while dodging Taliban bullets in Helmand province, in the first case of its kind.The former infantryman says he contracted the bacterial infection during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.Wayne Bass, 34, was medically discharged from the Army in June 2012 suffering Q fever and chronic fatigue symptoms. He says his life has been ruined by the Army’s failure to provide antibiotics which would have protected him from the disease.In 2011 Mr Bass was serving as a private in 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment. His platoon was responsible for reconnaissance and protecting other forces in a part of Helmand Province known for its heavy Taliban presence. It is there that he believes he contracted Q fever, an infection caused by bacteria most commonly found in cattle, sheep, and goats.He said: “To avoid enemy fire I was constantly having to dive into ditches on the ground where farm animals had been, there were animals all over the place”.Mr Bass, from Redditch, Worcestershire, is testing the MoD’s duty to protect troops against Q fever claiming he should have been given antibiotics by the Army. After experiencing flu-like symptoms Mr Bass was treated with intravenous antibiotics. Following periods in hospital and at the MoD’s Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey, he was diagnosed with Q fever chronic fatigue syndrome.“On some days I’m OK, I can walk a few hundred metres,” he said.“But often I get breathless, have aches and pains all over my body for which I have to take very powerful painkillers.”The nerve pain in my lower back and legs means that my back can lock up and I’m immobile.”Justin Glenister of Hilary Meredith Solicitors, representing Mr Bass, said: “This is the first case in which the question will be asked whether the MoD had a duty to protect soldiers against this known risk of Q fever, which we say was a preventable risk, and what steps it ought to have taken to protect them. There are other similar cases being prepared.”The five-day trial, which started on Monday at the Central London County Court, will examine the extent of any duty owed by the army to Mr Bass in relation to Q fever, and whether that duty was breached.Q fever is an infection caused by bacteria found in cattle, sheep, and goats around the world. Humans typically get Q fever when they breathe in dust contaminated by the faeces of infected farm animals.
“When surveyors visit these sites, they typically record fewer than 10 adders. Only 10 per cent of sites have large populations, which seem to be doing ok.”If these trends continue, within 10-20 years, adders will be restricted to just a few sites in the UK, significantly increasing the extinction risk for this priority species in Britain.”Although the scientists cannot say what the exact UK population of adders is, over the last 11 years “small population sites” have seen their numbers decline by 55 per cent.It is feared that human disturbance – including people trying to photograph them or vegetation being mechanically cut – could be contributing to their demise.The decline also has prompted concern for other species which depend on similar habitats. The adder is in danger of vanishing from the UK countryside within two decades, according to research by the University of Reading.The findings, published in The Herpetological Journal, are the culmination of 11 years of the venomous snake’s habitat being monitored across the UK by so-called ‘citizen scientists’.The data shows that 90 per cent of the adder population surveyed was in decline. Experts warn that if that trend continues adders could be restricted to just a handful of sites within just 10 to 20 years.Although concern has been growing among reptile experts for decades that the numbers of adders was is in decline, this latest study suggests the creatures are in “serious trouble”.The data was collected by Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK) through the ‘Make the Adder Count’ project, a citizen science survey set up in 2005. 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. Each spring, volunteers visited their local adder sites to count the numbers of animals, in order to assess whether populations were changing. Dr Emma Gardner, a researcher from the University of Reading, said: “Our analysis shows that 90 per cent of the sites surveyed have small populations and on average these small populations are declining. Adders are Britain’s only venomous snakeCredit:John Cancalosi/Photolibrary RM