The One That Got Away Comes Back to Haunt the Canadiens

As I wrote Monday, over the past decade or so, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers — who are playing in the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals — transformed themselves from a down-on-their-luck former champions to legitimate Stanley Cup contenders; both did this largely through shrewd drafting. One of Montreal’s most successful draft picks put on a fine show in Game 2 on Monday night, notching a goal and an assist.Unfortunately for Montreal, that player was defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and he was wearing a Rangers uniform in the Rangers’ 3-1 win (New York leads the series 2-0).In response to my article, a few FiveThirtyEight readers astutely pointed out that McDonagh ties together the parallel rebuilding stories of the Rangers and Canadiens. He was drafted 12th overall by the Canadiens in 2007, the top prize in a banner haul for Montreal that also included Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban. Pacioretty and Subban, along with 2005 first-rounder Carey Price, are currently three of the Canadiens’ best players (according to the modified version of point shares I described Monday).In his four-year NHL career, McDonagh has produced 28.1 modified point shares, a number in line with Subban (34.6) and Pacioretty (23.4) at similar points in their careers.The fact that he hasn’t produced any of that value for the Canadiens, though, traces back to a major blunder in the summer of 2009, when Montreal traded McDonagh (as part of a package of several players) to the Rangers for center Scott Gomez.Two years prior, New York had signed Gomez to a rather ill-advised seven-year, $51.5 million contract, and the returns had been disappointing; his 14 modified point shares in 2007-08 and 2008-09 (combined) ranked 60th among NHL forwards over that span. Rangers general manager Glen Sather was anxious to rid himself of Gomez’s albatross deal, so the media’s contemporary view of the Gomez-to-Montreal trade was essentially that of a salary dump, billing the Rangers’ primary return as nondescript forward Chris Higgins. Some NHL insiders knew better, however: Yahoo’s excellent hockey blogger Greg Wyshynski wondered at the time how the Rangers managed to unload the Gomez millstone and pick up a promising prospect like McDonagh.As a Canadien, Gomez played decent hockey for one season (6.2 modified point shares), then rapidly declined. He went on a notable goalless streak of 370 consecutive days. His contract was bought out by Montreal during the 2011-12 season, and he’s bounced around as a journeyman the past few seasons. Meanwhile, McDonagh has blossomed in New York; only six other defensemen have produced more modified point shares over the past three seasons. McDonagh even became the subject of Norris Trophy talk late this season. On top of his offensive numbers, McDonagh often finds himself matching up against the opponent’s toughest forwards and is on the ice for a disproportionate number of face-offs in the Rangers’ zone, both marks of a defensive workhorse on the blue line.Without McDonagh, it’s unlikely the Rangers would be sitting where they are, with a 2-0 series lead on the cusp of a Stanley Cup Final berth. The Canadiens have their own pair of good defensemen in Subban and Andrei Markov, but they have to regret letting McDonagh slip away — especially on nights like Monday, when he made them pay for their mistake in a direct way. read more

The Football Hall Of Fame Has A Receiver Problem

Former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, joining his longtime teammates Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith in Canton. As a key contributor to the Bills’ four Super Bowl berths in the 1990s,1The lasting memory of Reed’s career for many NFL fans may be his performance in this game — eight catches, 136 yards and three touchdowns — when he helped Buffalo mount the biggest comeback in NFL history. Reed is a qualified candidate for the game’s greatest individual honor. But while he was good, he wasn’t nearly as good as several other receivers the Hall has ignored. It’s not Reed’s fault — it’s the Hall’s. Canton hasn’t figured out how to best judge the careers of modern wide receivers.Even in a sport where an individual player’s statistics are contaminated by the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, his coaches and countless other considerations, wide receiver performance is a particularly tough nut to crack. Raw numbers rarely offer enough to help us properly distinguish between pass-catchers, especially across eras, and statisticians haven’t always agreed on how best to correct biases in the data.Take Reed’s career as an example. It’s a glossy one — at the time he retired, he ranked third all time in catches, fourth in receiving yards and sixth in touchdown receptions. But it’s also one that was entangled with the great ensemble of offensive talent, and one that was a beneficiary of the dawn of the NFL’s passing explosion. Moreover, some advanced stats show that Reed’s on-field influence wasn’t what it appeared to be — the evidence is surprisingly mixed with regard to his actual effect on team passing efficiency.In recent years, the Hall of Fame’s selection committee has reacted to its wide-receiver dilemma either by ignoring the position or by disregarding advanced stats when the committee does deign to induct those who played it. (Until Reed and Cris Carter were tapped in the last two elections, the Hall had only taken seven receivers since 2000, a number that included the controversial selection of Lynn Swann.) But Reed and Carter’s inductions signal that the WR logjam has become too much to ignore — and the tide of qualified receivers is only going to keep surging.2Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Torry Holt are either on the ballot or coming soon. It’s time to re-evaluate how we judge Reed and his contemporaries statistically.Wide receivers are products of their eras. When the NFL opened up the passing game in 1978, enacting new rules to make pass-blocking easier and to eliminate downfield defensive contact with receivers, league-wide passing output spiked almost instantly. As a consequence, the numbers that once automatically signified greatness quickly became devalued. For example, using a simple ratio of league passing yards per game in one season compared to another,3If the average passing yards per game in 2013 was 1.4 times as many as in 1960, I would multiply a 1960 player’s stats by 1.4 to “convert” to the equivalent in 2013. Reed’s 1,312-yard campaign in 1989 would have been the equivalent of a mere 883 yards a dozen years prior. What was, at the time, the 22nd-highest single-season yardage total ever becomes the 324th.To appreciate a receiver’s true(r) talent isn’t just about adjusting to his era, though, it’s also about adjusting to his team. The degree to which a receiver’s team throws the ball relative to the league norm has an effect on his stats. It’s a point that sounds laughably obvious, but somehow isn’t often considered when judging pass-catchers: Teams that run more plays through the air give their receivers more opportunities to put up eye-popping numbers.For Reed, this wasn’t a major factor; his Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins threw about 3.5 percent less often than other teams in the league over the course of his career, which would only be enough to take 35 yards away from a 1,000-yard season. But it does matter for someone like Calvin Johnson, whose Detroit Lions have chucked the ball downfield 12 percent more often than average in a league that already generates 10 percent more aerial yards per game than the historical norm. How we treat this adjustment can make a huge difference in how a receiver is perceived statistically.I tried to solve this issue last August by developing a metric called True Receiving Yards (TRY) with Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com. (You can download the raw career TRY data, along with some other metrics I introduce later in this piece, on GitHub.) TRY attempts to boil down a receiver’s production4Including catches, raw yardage and touchdowns. into a single (yardage-like) number that adjusts for differences in schedule lengths, league-wide passing environments and team passing volumes.We initially scaled a player’s TRY in lockstep with the frequency with which his team passed relative to the league average. That downgraded Johnson’s 2012 production by 23 percent, because, despite him breaking the all-time single-season record for receiving yards that year, Detroit also broke the all-time record for pass attempts in a season.But it wasn’t as simple as that. Teams that pass heavily tend to do so for a reason. Namely, because they have a skilled quarterback and/or receivers. And so when Chase and I looked into it further, it became apparent that a 5 percent increase in team passing frequency didn’t necessarily lead to a 5 percent increase in individual receiving output. Instead, we found that it was more like a 2.5 percent increase — for any given increase in team passing volume, a player only saw half that increase in production.Our difficulty in pinning down the real effect of something so simple underscores just how ambiguous receiving stats can be. Complicating matters, receivers — unlike players at just about any other position — are competing with their own teammates for touches during a game, in real time. That makes them more like basketball players, and we know that a guy like Carmelo Anthony, who uses a lot of his team’s possessions, appears to exert an influence that goes beyond his personal stats. Having a receiver who commands extra attention seems like an obvious benefit to a team — but it’s difficult to prove that’s true.Not that it’s stopped statisticians from trying. The most commonly cited advanced receiving statistics are generated by Football Outsiders, whose Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) metric tracks a team’s passing success on plays where a given player was targeted by the quarterback as the intended receiver. Measuring performance on a per-opportunity basis is rooted in the traditions of baseball’s sabermetrics, where discrete events can easily be identified as opportunities for specific players. But football is much more fluid than baseball, so we run into a curious phenomenon: By getting an opportunity — even an unsuccessful one — a receiver could be demonstrating a positive in-game influence, if not simply by stretching the defense and opening up opportunities for teammates.Some of this phenomenon also is rooted in Bayes’ theorem. Since coaches and quarterbacks both have strong incentives to funnel targets to their most talented receivers, the very act of being targeted for a pass is evidence of a player’s quality as an offensive threat. Because of this, looking at per-target metrics like catch rate and DVOA may miss the bigger picture of a player’s full on-field value. Those metrics aren’t taking into account how a receiver is shaping the game even when he’s not directly involved in a successful play.And then there’s the matter of adjusting for the quality of a receiver’s teammates, and quantifying how much his conventional numbers truly lead to better team outcomes. A year ago, I took a very rudimentary step in that direction by computing With Or Without You (WOWY) scores for historical receivers. Essentially, WOWY measures whether all of the quarterbacks who played with a given receiver were more efficient5According to Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (ANY/A) versus the league average. over their collective careers6After adjusting for aging effects. with him or without him. This is, in some ways, a more pertinent question to ask about a receiver — forget individual yardage, is he associated with a more efficient passing offense? But that question isn’t perfect either: It requires using an entire team’s passing-efficiency data, which can be noisy from season to season.Regardless, most of the usual suspects come out looking good by WOWY. For instance, Randy Moss, whose statistical sway over his quarterbacks was legendary, boasts a +1.1 WOWY,7Meaning the average True Receiving Yard gained in Moss’s career came on a pass from a QB whose ANY/A was 1.1 higher with Moss than without him. which ranks second only to Rod Smith’s8Whose influence on John Elway’s numbers was also very notable. among players with 10,000 career True Receiving Yards. And Tim Brown (the long-time Oakland Raiders receiver whom the committee did not select despite better individual receiving statistics than Reed) also ranks among the top WOWY receivers ever at +0.7.Reed’s WOWY, however, comes out tied for second-worst among players with 10,000 lifetime TRY. Despite his impressive raw (and adjusted) receiving numbers, he wasn’t associated with better play from his quarterbacks when they were throwing to him. How much of this merits a serious indictment of Reed as a player isn’t completely clear, but the Hall of Fame isn’t even having that discussion using new metrics.(Brown’s resume, on the other hand, was more impressive by every standard that doesn’t involve the postseason. And while 71 percent of Reed’s career yardage came on passes from Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, Brown put up his superior numbers with an aging Rich Gannon, Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George, Jay Schroeder and Vince Evans at quarterback.)Certainly the challenge of interpreting receiving data, especially across different eras of the game’s history, presents a daunting task to those seeking to fairly analyze Hall of Fame candidates. But the solution to the Hall’s wide receiver logjam isn’t to ignore the data entirely. It’s to dream up inventive ways of answering the pertinent questions about a player’s qualifications. Advanced analytics attempt to answer fundamental questions about a player’s actual on-field influence. Last I checked, that’s what’s supposed to put a player in the Hall of Fame. read more

3 Things That Could Decide The Second AlvarezGolovkin Fight

The prime of a boxing career is ephemeral, the sport’s history littered with the legacies of those who stayed too long. The 2015 study “Hand Speed Measurements in Boxing” found that peak performance is often achieved between the ages of 20 and 30. Alvarez is 28 years old, at the zenith of his career. Golovkin is 36, closing in on the sunset of his. “A boxer who fights after 35 is pushing on the gas pedal, accelerating toward an early demise,” wrote Ferdie Pacheco of The New York Times. And yet, Golovkin has been so ruthlessly efficient in the ring that before last year’s Alvarez matchup, he hadn’t so much as seen the final round of a fight in more than eight years, preserving the bloom of his career to such a degree that most sportsbooks give him a 59 percent to 63 percent implied probability of winning on Saturday, consistent with last year’s odds. Those odds support a 36-year-old’s ability to crush his opponent, coming off the longest layoff of his career, in 36 minutes or less. Golovkin’s skill set has been among the best in the sport for years, but he was unable to land lucrative fights because, simply, no one wanted to fight him. Alvarez seemingly does, but he’d be wise not to turn the upcoming nine-figure payday into the blow-for-blow melee his opponent seeks. Almost exactly one year after they fought to a controversial draw — prompting a near-aneurysm from ESPN’s Teddy Atlas — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin will meet once again in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena in a middleweight world title rematch. Alvarez-Golovkin has been the best pure bout that contemporary boxing has produced in essentially three years, so it’s perhaps no surprise that a slab of contaminated meat couldn’t delay its second installment for more than six months.Boxing’s ecosystem subsists on manufactured hatred and braggadocio. Both are far more evident this time around, the mutual respect of their first fight a distant memory. The animosity has risen steadily between the two world champions raised thousands of miles apart: Alvarez grew up hawking ice cream on the streets of Juanacatlan, Mexico, while Golovkin was forced at a young age to fight grown men in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 knockouts) and Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 knockouts) are two of the finest active fighters, universally considered to be among the sport’s top pound–for–pound talents. Here are three keys to their fight:Will Golovkin’s jabs take their toll?A jab is a fighter’s appetizer, a small taste before the main course of hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Certain studies have found the punch capable of packing more velocity than a cross, but typically it’s a weapon deployed to accrue points, find a boxer’s range and conserve energy — not end a fight. How then to strategize against an opponent whose hors d’oeuvres crack like howitzers?Golovkin carries what may be the most lethal jab in the middleweight division. He uncorks it at a high volume to dictate the pace of a fight and to coerce his opponents into vulnerable positions as they try to earn back points. “I don’t think anybody in the past I’ve trained has had such a good jab,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, who has coached 18 world champions.Over his past five fights other than the Alvarez bout, Golovkin connected on 39.7 percent of his jabs to his opponents’ 20.3 percent, landing an average of 12.7 jabs per round, according to CompuBox data. He threw 128 more jabs than Alvarez did the last time the two met, landing 53 more and boasting a superior connection percentage. Alvarez landed more jabs than Golovkin did in just one round (the sixth) and was out-landed 42 to 12 over the final four rounds.Alvarez’s jab has earned the endorsement of Floyd Mayweather Jr., but Alvarez doesn’t often use it more than his opponents do. He has out-jabbed three of his past five challengers other than Golovkin — with a trouncing of hapless Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. largely skewing the data. Miguel Cotto in 2015 more than doubled Alvarez’s total jabs landed. When Mayweather dolled out the lone loss of Alvarez’s professional career, he more than tripled the Mexican’s jab-landed total.Blows wear on a fighter over time. As Golovkin once put it: “Who wants to get hit in the face?” It’s paramount for Alvarez to avoid the unrelenting power that has made it difficult for Golovkin to keep sparring partners. Alvarez cannot afford to let Golovkin impose the rhythm of the fight by way of his jab.Can Alvarez find any space?If Muhammad Ali turned the ring into a stage worth exploring, Golovkin turns it into a treadmill, relentlessly closing in on his opponent as if drawn by a magnet. Golovkin bouts typically resemble bullfights, with the Kazakh fighter charging his opposition with abandon. “I don’t like dancing,” he said upon vaporizing Marco Antonio Rubio in the second round in 2014. “I like fighting.”The surgical precision of his footwork is deliberate, an inverse of the speed-driven, complicated maneuverings of fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and Ali. Golovkin cuts off the ring — using lateral footwork to force his opponents into close quarters or trap them against the ropes — because it isolates his prey and allows him to apply unyielding pressure in a forced slugfest. Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has said Golovkin may have the best footwork in boxing.Not unlike the fictional Ivan Drago, Golovkin has aluminum-bat strength and a rhino-like neck (he’s capable of completing sets of chin pushups). He has never been knocked down in his professional career. Golovkin seems to want to prove the integrity of his jaw by lunging at his opponent, suffocating his space. In the ninth round of last year’s bout, Alvarez unloaded an overhand right that landed flush. Golovkin let it slide across his cheek like a washcloth and continued to move forward, stalking his opponent as if nothing had happened at all. Watch the video, and you can see fear in the eyes of Alvarez in that moment.Stylistically, Alvarez agitated some in the boxing community — most notably Golovkin’s team — during last year’s clash by snaking around the ring, idling along the ropes and largely eschewing the knock-down drag-out brawl Golovkin sought. For Alvarez, a roving, defensive-minded counterpuncher, this was the optimal blueprint. Those who aim to out-punch Golovkin nearly always end up on the canvas.The game plan was mostly effective in their first fight: Golovkin landed 32 percent of his power punches, a drop-off of 14 percentage points from his previous 13 fights. Alvarez was certainly out-hit, but he kept Golovkin to 18.2 shots landed per round — well below his average of 26.2.It didn’t go unnoticed by Sanchez, who told ESPN that he has since asked Jordan Brand — one of Golovkin’s sponsors — to “make some shoes so that we can go a bit faster and are able to catch [Alvarez].”“It’s one thing to be coming forward like a donkey,” Alvarez countered. “It’s another thing to be moving.”Despite the verbal barbs, Alvarez should stay on the outside and pick his moments to earn points when possible, even if it comes at the expense of entertainment for the fans. Alvarez has ample power behind his punches, but he’d be wise not to play into a strategy that would clearly favor the man who has earned 89 percent of victories by knockout.Who gets the late-round advantage?The prevailing opinion of last year’s fight is that Alvarez didn’t earn a draw. He especially didn’t help his case down the stretch.In the opening four rounds, Golovkin out-landed Alvarez by 2.5 punches per round but was out-landed when it came to power punches: Alvarez averaged seven per round, while Golovkin averaged six. But over the final five rounds, Golovkin landed an average of six more total punches per round than Alvarez did (21.6 to 15.6) and generated a higher connection percentage (34.5 percent to 32.4 percent).If we break the bout down into thirds, Alvarez averaged a higher connection percentage than Golovkin in the first through fourth rounds (36.5 percent to 30.8 percent) and the fifth through eighth rounds (31.1 percent to 27.3 percent), but fell behind Golovkin in the ninth through 12th rounds (33.3 percent to 35.1 percent).Controlling the waning rounds is easier said than done, of course. Golovkin’s punches register like those of a heavyweight, with a higher severity than typical of fighters from lower weight classes. Vanquished opponents have compared facing Golovkin to “being hit by a train.” To be sure, after your central nervous system has suffered 24 minutes of battery, elevating your performance over the final 12 minutes is an arduous task. But when the decision is in question, those memories are freshest in the minds of the judging panel, so a strong finish carries considerable weight. read more

Womens soccer Ohio State picks up pair of victories over weekend

In the 52nd minute, OSU senior forward Nichelle Prince was fed a ball through Purdue’s defense to face off 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper, ultimately resulting in a score for the Olympian.  This upped the Buckeye’s lead to 3-0.  Two minutes later in the 54th, Prince’s shot again found the back of the net, making it a 4-0 lead.  Strong defense continued throughout the game, but ultimately could not be perfect, as Purdue senior midfielder Milaro Gianna snapped the shutout, scoring Purdue’s only goal of the day.OSU prevailed with a 4-1 victory in the end. The Buckeyes hit the road Thursday, first traveling to College Park, Maryland to face off against the 4-9-1 (1-5-0 Big Ten play) Terrapins.  OSU began with a powerful and quick attack, where senior forward Lindsay Agnew scored the first goal in the first minute to propel the Buckeyes to the lead.  Less than a minute later, junior midfielder Emma Firenze netted her first goal of the season, doubling the Buckeyes’ lead to 2-0. Quick goal-scoring was a common theme on the weekend, as the Buckeyes had a fiery start again versus the Boilermakers, with a goal in the eighth minute by Edwards.  This marked her third goal within the two weekend matches.  Near the end of the first half, senior midfielder Nicole Miyashiro assisted a goal by redshirt senior forward Morgan Wolcott to put the Buckeyes up 2-0. OSU’s shots doubled that of Purdue’s at the end of the first half, with 10 shots to five.   The Buckeyes improved to 9-4-2 on the season (3-2-2 Big Ten play), recording a total of eight goals in two games while maintaining strong defensive play, only conceding one goal.  OSU’s next game is against the Indiana Hoosiers at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday. OSU senior defender Nicole Miyashiro battles a Northwestern defender for the ball on Oct. 1, 2016 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Credit: Aaron Tomich | Lantern reporterA week of practice that constantly emphasized finishing offensive attacks led to a frenzy of goal-scoring this weekend for the Ohio State women’s soccer team.   OSU entered the second half versus Maryland having nine shots against 5.  Agnew created multiple scoring opportunities, including two crosses connecting with junior forward Sammy Edwards, both resulting in goals.  This put the Buckeyes up 4-0 after 58 minutes.  The Buckeye defense held strong, closing the game with a shutout over Maryland, earning the team’s eighth win on the season. Sunday, OSU made its way to West Lafayette, Indiana, to play the 3-10-1 (1-6-0 Big Ten play) Purdue Boilermakers.   read more

OSU studentathletes prove blood is thicker than pool water

Ohio State synchronized swimmer Meghan Kinney didn’t think it was serious when she experienced pain in her knee. Doctors told her otherwise. “I had been training on national team in California for six months and I noticed this pain in my knee,” Kinney said. “I was expecting to hear maybe I needed surgery … instead they sat me down and told me they found a tumor.” Osteosarcoma, or cancer of the bone, was causing the knee pain that Kinney had believed to be nothing more than a tear in her meniscus. “I felt like my life was in jeopardy,” Kinney said. Kinney was diagnosed Oct. 5 and left the synchronized swimming team to recover from her chemotherapy treatments and the surgery to remove the tumor in her knee. “It was complete shock. It was one of those moments they always say, ‘You never thought this could happen to you,’ it was exactly like that,” Kinney said. “I just felt right away nothing else mattered.” Doctors removed the tumor from her knee, and followed up with full body scans to make sure there were no other tumors. They did not find any. After the removal, Kinney has no cancer in her body, but is going through extensive chemotherapy to make sure the cancer never comes back. “The only cancerous tumor they found was in my knee,” Kinney said. “I am getting eight more months of chemo to prevent anything in the future, because if it came about in the first place it could come back in a while.” When word got around to other OSU athletes, the rowing team took charge to help raise money for her. The effort became known as Team Meghan and has been a collective effort of multiple teams across campus to raise money for Kinney. “I think it’s just really cool to see the Buckeye family, especially in athletics, just coming together to support one of their fellow Buckeyes,” said Monica Finnigan, a senior synchronized swimmer. “Some people don’t even know Meghan. Nobody on the rowing team knew Meghan before they started this fundraiser.” Those involved in the effort, which has been going on for nearly two months, set the goal to raise $10,000. The money will be used to help Kinney with medical expenses throughout her fight with osteosarcoma. “I want to do this,” said freshman synchronized swimmer Julia Gaylard. “It’s not something that we just needed a few people to do this. I want to help her family and help her because she’s a Buckeye and one of us.” Team Meghan has raised nearly $4,500 for Kinney from selling wristbands, including $1,925 that was raised during the men’s hockey games on Feb. 18 and 19. The wristbands, which are teal and have “Support TeamMeghan.com” written on them, have no set price. Whatever the amount of the donation, the supporter receives a wristband in return. “We can talk about how Buckeyes are there for each other, but it’s happening. It’s so powerful to see. And the other teams have been huge in helping. It’s so meaningful,” said Katherine Greene, a junior synchronized swimmer. “It’s been so incredible to see that.” Kinney’s teammates said she has impacted the team and holds a place in their hearts, and helping to raise money and support her in her fight with cancer was something that they were more than happy to do. “Meghan is so dear to my heart, that I wouldn’t do this for just anybody. The fact that she is such a close friend, I feel very privileged to be able to help her,” Greene said. “I just feel so happy to do this for her. I really feel so blessed.” Other teams involved in Team Meghan, whether through donating money or volunteering time, are fencing, men’s swimming and diving, men’s hockey, men’s track, women’s volleyball and men’s golf. Kinney said she is grateful that so many people, most of whom did not know her before Team Meghan, are willing to help her. “It means the world to me,” Kinney said. “The rowing team started selling these bands, before I knew it the whole team was involved in this fundraising effort for me.” Kinney said the hardest part for her has been not having control in her own life because of the cancer. “I feel like something’s been taken away from me,” she said. Kinney has hopes to return to the pool when she recovers from the surgery, which also included a knee replacement, and her treatment. “Swimming, it’s my passion, it’s my second home, being in the water,” Kinney said. “As soon as I can I’ll be back in the water.” read more

English Heritage launch scheme to nominate more black and Asian people for

first_imgChildhood home of pioneering footballer Laurie Cunningham in Stroud Green,Credit:PA Jimi Hendrix is one of the few BAME figures who already has a blue plaque Childhood home of pioneering footballer Laurie Cunningham in Stroud Green, 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. Jimi Hendrix is one of the few BAME figures who already has a blue plaque English Heritage is launching a new initiative to honour more black and minority ethnic public figures on their famous blue plaques.The organisation said just four per cent of the 900 plaques currently on buildings in London commemorate black or Asian figures from history.As of today, they are setting up a new working group tasked with nominating key people to join the prestigious list of names under the 150-year-old scheme.Those who are already remembered include Jamaican Crimea War nurse Mary Seacole, Chinese writer Lao She, Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and guitarist and songwriter Jimi Hendrix.The low numbers are partly down to a lack of public nominations for people who fulfil the blue plaque criteria and an absence or inaccessibility of historical records establishing a definitive link between the person and the building where they lived, English Heritage said. “And peoples from places that we have touched, have found their way here, to not just make London their home, but to make London and this country what it is.”We want to celebrate that rich complex, sometimes, difficult history, through the lives of those that truly made it.”English Heritage’s curatorial director, Anna Eavis, said: “Since 1866 when the blue plaques scheme was established, our idea of which figures from the past are significant has changed.”Today we are honouring an incredibly gifted footballer who paved the way for many other black players.”But there are many others of national importance within the black community who have not been nominated for plaques – we’ve established this group to help get their names and stories in front of our panel and ensure that their achievements are considered for recognition. Previous English Heritage drives have included efforts to nominate more women Previous English Heritage drives have included efforts to nominate more women “We want the blue plaques scheme to celebrate the contributions of those groups which traditionally have been under-represented in history including women and the working class, Black and Asian communities.”The initiative was launched as a plaque to honour pioneering footballer Laurie Cunningham, the first black player to play for England in a competitive international match and the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid, was unveiled.The plaque marks his childhood home in Stroud Green, north London, where he lived when he was first spotted by a Leyton Orient scout before making his professional debut with the team in 1974.He is only the second footballer to be recognised with a blue plaque after England World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore was honoured earlier this year. To qualify for a blue plaque, nominees must be regarded as eminent within their field and their achievements have made an exceptional impact or deserve national recognition.They must have been dead for 20 years and have lived in London for a significant period in time or importance, while the building where they lived must still survive without significant exterior alterations.The working group will be led by English Heritage blue plaque panel member and cultural historian Augustus Casely-Hayford, who said: “This great city has always been an ethnic melting pot.”We are linked through language, culture, political alliance and economic partnership to every part of the world.last_img read more

Too much needless NHS treatment says Royal College as it draws up

first_imgstatins  Simon Stevens GP earnings are linked to meeting NHS targets, which include those for drug prescribing Credit:Alamy  It came as Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, said GPs were being driven by “box ticking” systems – which link their pay to treatment targets – which would now be phased out.The list drawn up by medics includes a string of investigative procedures which it says are of little or no benefit. For example, patients with lower back pain should not be offered X-rays, unless there are other concerning symptoms, the report says, while children suffering “buckle” fractures do not need plaster casts.In other cases, it says patients should be told more about the side-effects they may face before deciding whether to embark on treatment.Most controversially, it suggests chemotherapy for advanced cancer should be carefully considered, as “benefit is likely to be small, and the harm may be great,” the report says.It also recommends against regular scans for terminally ill patients, and routine checks for patients who have undergone cataracts and other common forms of surgery.Dame Sue said the changes were not primarily about saving the NHS money, but about having an “intelligent conversation” with patients.“Patients should ask ‘what would happen if I do nothing?’” she said.In time, the Academy will draw up a list of up to 150 treatments in common use which should be reconsidered, she said. NHS sign Fertility  “We all have a duty to look after resources in healthcare, especially when the NHS is under so much pressure, but that’s not the main motivation for this initiative,” Dame Sally said.“What’s much more important is that both doctors and patients really question whether the particular treatment is really necessary. Medicine or surgical interventions don’t need to be the only solution offered by a doctor and more certainly doesn’t always mean better.”Making better decisions would speed up access to treatment for other patients, in need, she said.“For some of these treatments it would simply be better for the patients if they weren’t being used,” she said. “In others, the fact you are giving them to patients who do not need them is meaning that the patients who do need them need to wait longer.” The new campaign urges patients to ask questions of doctors when treatment is recommendedCredit:Dominic Lipinski/PA center_img Fertility charities say IVF ratioining is the worst it has been for more than a decade Credit:PA  The intervention follows a survey of 500 doctors which found 83 per cent had prescribed or carried out treatments they considered unnecessary.The research by the Medix consultancy found that 20 per cent of cases involved antibiotics, while 16 per cent related to X-rays, and 14 per cent to CT scans or blood tests.Overall, 63 per cent of doctors polled said they had proceeded with treatments or prescriptions because of fear of litigation, with just as many saying they had been driven by patient pressures. When it came specifically to decisions to order interventions which were thought to be needless, patient expectations were the key factor cited.Dame Sue said too many doctors were ordering interventions from force of habit, or in order to satisfy patient expectations.Adrienne Betteley, From Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Every single person living with cancer, regardless of what stage they are at, should have access to the treatment and the support they need.“Chemotherapy is a crucial part of cancer treatment, having had an enormous impact on rising survival rates over the years,” she said. “However, it can result in severe side effects therefore, it’s important that health care professionals consider the full impact when delivering something so powerful.”Last year the NHS recorded a deficit of £2.45bn – the highest in its history – amid deepening rationing of treatments, including IVF and cataracts, as services draw up plans to attempt to reduce spending.The academy said doctors needed to help the NHS spend money wisely, but said the needs of patients must be put first. The head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, last week said a system of performance pay for GPs had “descended into too much of a box ticking exercise”Credit:PA  Doctors are giving too many patients tests and drugs they do not need, senior medics have warned, as they published a list of 40 treatments which should no longer be in routine use.The unprecedented intervention by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) follows research which found doctors commonly ordering X-ray, scans and drugs, in cases they believed to be pointless.More than six in 10 medics said their decisions had been driven by a fear of litigation, with just as many saying they ordered interventions because they felt under pressure from patients.The Academy – which represents all 21 medical royal colleges in the UK – has today drawn up a list of 40 treatments and procedures which it says are of little or no benefit to patients.Prof Dame Sue Bailey, AMRC chairman, said doctors and patients should question whether interventions were “really necessary” before embarking on tests and treatments. It came as a study suggested that up to 46,000 patients a year are dying because NHS treatments are not as good as those available in other countries.Former cabinet minister Owen Paterson said it was time to “debunk the myth” that the UK has the best healthcare system in the world.The study examined 32 countries, for treatment of a range of diseases, ranking the UK 23rd or lower for each condition. Speaking at the launch of the report by think tank UK2020, Mr Paterson said it was considered “almost unpatriotic” to criticise the NHS, which was preventing improvement being made.An independent review of drugs access, commissioned by the Government, today pledges  to speed up access to new advances in treatment.The report said streamlined processes could bring forward access to new drugs by up to four years.Health Minister Lord Prior said: “This Government has a strong commitment to the life sciences and to building a long-term partnership with the life sciences industry. We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to develop new drugs and other products that can transform the health of patients.”Treatments and investigations that may bring “little or no benefit to patients,” according to the Academy of Medical Royal collegesX-rays for lower back pain, if no other concerning featuresPlaster casts for children suffering small wrist fractures which will heal themselves with a removable splintChemotherapy for those in the final months of terminal cancerBlood tests to diagnose the menopause, if women are over 45 and suffering typical symptomsAspirin, heparin or progesterone to reduce the chance of miscarriagesThe new campaign Choosing Wisely urges patients to ask doctors five questions when seeking treatment. These are:Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?What are the risks or downsides?What are the possible side effects?Are there simpler, safer options?What will happen if I do nothing? Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Revealed in the Telegraph the mystery of the Sherlock baby name

first_imgMonday’s Daily Telegraph births column includes a message from the characters of the show, revealing the name to be Rosamund Mary Watson.The tidbit is the latest in a string of hints for Sherlock fans, who have embarked on their annual examination of available clues for this year’s series. Martin Freeman plays Dr John Watson from the new series of SherlockCredit:BBC The four-part drama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, will air in early January, with episode titles and a few key pictures already revealed.A statement released today reads: “Congratulations!  Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, appears in a publicity still for the new seriesCredit:BBC Telegraph birth annoucement Martin Freeman plays Dr John Watson from the new series of Sherlockcenter_img Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, appears in a publicity still for the new series It has been leaving fans guessing for months.But the mystery of the Sherlock baby name has finally been revealed, after an announcement was placed in The Telegraph’s births, marriages and deaths register.The new infant character, the child of Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington’s characters John and Mary Watson, will join the show for the New Year’s Day episode. “To John and Mary Watson on the birth of their beautiful baby daughter, Rosamund Mary Watson.”From your friends, Mrs. Hudson, Molly and Sherlock, although he hasn’t helped us with this at all as he’s always on his phone.”The final line is also a hint towards the plot of the new series, which includes a villain played by Toby Jones, a mystery involving six smashed busts of Margaret Thatcher, and the rumoured appearance of a third Holmes brother. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Staff made redundant at Exeter Cathedral after row over spending

first_imgIn the monthly cathedral newsletter, published last week, the cathedral’s management admitted that the Cathedral’s day-to-day running was being propped up by legacies, which “is not a sustainable position”. A spokesman said that the cathedral was struggling more than others because it does not have any large endowments or properties.He added: “The cathedral has had to take the very difficult decision of making a small number of posts redundant in order to balance the books. “A consultation process has been commenced with the three members of staff that have been placed ‘at risk’ of redundancy. “As we wish to avoid compulsory redundancies if possible, we have also made an offer of voluntary redundancy to all members of staff.” 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. Three employees of Exeter Cathedral are set to be made redundant after a row between the Dean and the Bishop of Exeter about the cathedral’s overspending. Cathedral management have embarked on a series of high-profile and expensive projects including a failed £8.7m plan to restore Roman baths on the site. But in September the Dean of the Cathedral, Dr Jonathan Draper, was criticised by the Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell, in a report which said that management had not grasped the severity of the financial situation. The Cathedral has now put three administrative members of staff at risk of redundancy after accounts showed that it faced a funding shortfall of £175,000.Mr Atwell also criticised the cathedral’s management for failing to realise the severity of its financial difficulties and for spending money on the failed Roman baths project. The report said: “The fact is that the project cost money which will not be recovered. “It put back the development of some other projects which would enhance the visitor experience and therefore increase income.”In May 2015 the project was rejected for funding by Heritage Lottery after the fund said protecting the cathedral itself should be the priority. The Dean had also embarked on an ambitious plan to construct a visitor centre, shop, cafe and new sound and lighting systems. He was told that this should be reviewed and that the Roman baths project must be shelved for five years. The report also hinted that jobs could be cut. last_img read more

Britain set to rival Ibiza in temperature on what could be the

first_imgA river cruiser makes its way past Turf Fen Mill along the river Ant at How Hill in Norfolk Temperatures are expected to reach nearly double the average for the time of year on Tuesday on what could be the warmest day of 2017 so far.Parts of the UK will be as warm as Spanish hotspots Ibiza, Barcelona and Madrid. In the South East, temperatures could be as high as 18C, the Met Office said, well above the average maximum 10.3C for the region this time of year.  Temperatures will have to soar higher than the 18.3C (65F) recorded on February 20 in Northolt, north-west London, and Kew Gardens, south-west London, to become the hottest day of 2017. The average maximum temperature for this time of year, taking in all of the UK, is 8.9C (48.02F) – significantly lower than highs reached on Monday.Murlough in County Down reached 15.9C (60.62F), the Giant’s Causeway hit 15.8C (60.44F), Usk in Monmouthshire enjoyed 15.4C (59.72F), and Saint James’s Park in central London reached 15.3C (59.54F). Towards the end of the week temperatures will fall but remain just above the average maximum highs for mid-March.Forecasters quashed hopes that it could be the hottest March week ever, as thousands of race-goers prepare to descend on Cheltenham.It is thought that it is unlikely that the mercury will reach 25.6C (78F) – the highest-ever March temperature, recorded on March 29 in 1968 in Mepal, Cambridgeshire.Race-goers can expect cloudy skies but will enjoy largely dry conditions. center_img A river cruiser makes its way past Turf Fen Mill along the river Ant at How Hill in NorfolkCredit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Twins found dead at White Cliffs of Dover were carrying ashes of

first_imgMuriel and Bernard Burgess died in an area of the White Cliffs of Dover known as Langdon CliffsIn the case of Mr Enion, of Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, Mrs Harding recorded a conclusion of suicide after hearing that CCTV footage captured a figure jumping from the cliffs.The inquest heard Mr Enion had served in the British Army from 1988 to 1996, and was deployed to the Gulf during the first Gulf War in January 1991. They were struggling to come to terms with the death of their parentsPatricia Harding, senior coroner Twins whose bodies were found at the White Cliffs of Dover on New Year’s Day had rucksacks containing the ashes of their dead parents, an inquest heard.A coroner said Muriel and Bernard Burgess, 59, had been struggling to come to terms with their parents’ deaths, particularly their mother’s in 2014.The siblings fell more than 200ft in an area known as Langdon Cliffs in Dover, Kent, and were found by rescue teams searching for Gulf War veteran Scott Enion, 45, whose body was also recovered.One rucksack recovered near the twins contained ashes with their mother’s name, and it emerged a second rucksack had their father’s ashes inside. 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. An inquest in Maidstone, Kent, into all three deaths heard Mr and Miss Burgess were recluses who lived together in a static caravan and were single and had no children.Detective Sergeant Stuart Ward, of Kent Police, said their late parents were also called Bernard and Muriel. Mr Burgess senior died in 1984 and Mrs Burgess senior died 30 years later.Senior coroner Patricia Harding said that in September last year the Burgess twins attended a consultation with their GP amid reports of having “low mood” since their mother’s death.Both were unemployed, struggled financially and sold the family home in north Wales to buy a caravan together in the village of Elton, Cheshire.For three months last year, the brother and sister disappeared for three months and went into rent arrears, according to the caravan park manager.Mr Ward said: “They returned and said that they went walking somewhere in the UK.” Mr Ward said: “He had spoken in the past that he had been bullied in the Army due to his racial background and he had considered suicide.”Mr Enion also felt he suffered from Gulf War Syndrome, which culminated in health problems, including fatigue and headaches, and had witnessed comrades killed after coming under friendly fire.However, his suicidal thoughts were described as “historical” and he was last seen by his GP last October 13 for a headache. No relatives for either Mr Enion or the Burgess twins attended the inquest. On Christmas Day, police were called to the pair on the Dover clifftop after Mr Burgess was spotted by a concerned passer-by sheltering by a large rock.Miss Burgess told police they had travelled to Dover to do some walking over the Christmas period, and the officer reported no concern for them.Mr Ward said there was “no indication” they came to scatter their parents’ ashes and Mrs Harding said she could not be sure they intended to take their own lives.Recording an open conclusion for both Mr and Miss Burgess, Mrs Harding said: “They were struggling to come to terms with the death of their parents, particularly the death of their mother in 2014.”It is clear from the evidence that they were both of the view that they could be assisted by counselling. Muriel and Bernard were reclusive and would keep themselves to themselves and disappear and go for walks within the UK.”Mrs Harding added: “The evidence doesn’t disclose to the required standard of proof whether there was an intention by them to take their own lives or was indeed simply a tragic accident.”last_img read more

Unexpected item in the bagging area Rafael Nadal spotted using Tesco selfcheckout

first_imgSharing the picture on Twitter, Nick Roberts said he had assisted the tennis star with the self-service checkout.”Just done Rafa Nadal’s shopping for him on the self service tills on the tesco express in Wimbledon village. Surreal,” he said.He added: “It was very exciting. He bought a 6 pack of Diet Coke. Didn’t need a bag. Environmentally conscious and awesome at tennis.” Nadal played his first match of Wimbledon on MondayCredit:OLI SCARFF/AFP 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. Just done Rafa Nadal’s shopping for him on the self service tills on the tesco express in Wimbledon village. Surreal. pic.twitter.com/8762fxkpOc— Nick Roberts (@followthatnick) July 4, 2017 Shoppers were surprised to see tennis player Rafael Nadal picking up his own groceries in Tesco during the Wimbledon tournament.The former Wimbledon champion was spotted in the self-service till area of the local Tesco Express.He bought six cans of Diet Coke and did not take a carrier bag, according to the fan who spotted him. Nadal was “lovely with everyone in there”, Mr Roberts said. BBC presenter Clare Balding said on Today at Wimbledon that a colleague had also seen Dustin Brown, who faces Andy Murray on Wednesday, in Marks and Spencer.  Spain's Rafael Nadal takes a break during a practice session last_img read more

Judge writes to teenager to explain why he cant live with his

first_imgA High Court judge has taken the unusual step of writing to a teenager to explain why he has turned down his wish to be allowed to live with his father.Mr Justice Peter Jackson wrote to the 14-year-old boy, known only as Sam, to inform him that he would not allow him to move to Scandinavia following the collapse of his parents’ marriage.In a near-unprecedented step he set out his judgment in a letter written directly to the teenager, following a family court hearing into the case, during which Sam gave evidence.Turning down his request to be able to follow his father Justice Jackson told the boy that he was a “self-centred” and “troubled” man who exerted too much influence over him and did not appear to have his son’s best interests at heart.He stated in the letter: “I believe your father has in some ways lost sight of what is best for you. I would worry about how it would be for you if things started to go wrong. I think you would find it exciting at first, but when reality set in, you might become sad and isolated. I also don’t think it is good for you to be with your father 24/7.” But Justice Jackson goes on to tell Sam that he has concluded that it would not be in his interests to move abroad with his father.“All fathers influence their sons, but your father goes a lot further than that. I’m quite clear that if he was happy with the present arrangements, you probably would be too. Because he isn’t, you aren’t. My view is that you brought the proceedings mainly as a way of showing your dad how much you love him,” he wrote.Justice Jackson points out that Sam’s father had made no concrete plans for the proposed move to Scandinavia and had made no effort to find work or accommodation there.He ruled that the teenager should remain with his mother until he has finished his education and is old enough to decide for himself where he wants to live.Justice Jackson has previously taken steps to make his family court judgments comprehensible for the children they affect, replacing dry terminology with a down-to-earth phrases and even a smiley face emoji.In a sting in the tail the letter to Sam concludes with a reference to the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny, in which two New Yorkers get their cousin, a newly qualified lawyer, to bail them out of trouble during a trip to rural Alabama. Justice Jackson told Sam: “I wanted to tell you that your dad and I enjoyed finding out that we both love the film My Cousin Vinny, even if it might be for different reasons.“He mentioned it as an example of a miscarriage of justice, while I remember it for the best courtroom scenes in any film, and the fact that justice was done in the end.”In a preamble to the ruling Justice Jackson said Sam, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had received his decision with “apparent equanimity”. 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. Justice Jackson added: “I believe that (maybe sincerely and without realising it) he needs you to fall in with his way of thinking. I also think it would be very harmful to be living so far away from your mum.”The case came to court after Sam’s father announced that he wanted to take him to Scandinavia, despite the objection of his mother – who has had custody of her son since he was a baby – his stepfather and his Cafcass children’s representative.Sam himself said he wanted to move with his father and appeared in court to answer questions from both his parents put to him by the judge.In a move backed by the teeanger’s mother, but opposed by his father, Justice Jackson yesterday published his letter to Sam announcing his decision.In the letter the judge goes on to state: “You told me that you have long wanted to live in Scandinavia and that you could see yourself living there with your dad. You feel that your father helps you more with your education. If your dad goes to Scandinavia without you, you would be extremely unhappy.”He added: “I believe that your feelings are that you love everyone in your family very much, just as they love you. The fact that your parents don’t agree is naturally very stressful for you, and indeed for them. I was impressed with the way you gave evidence. You are of an age where your views carry a lot of weight with me.”last_img read more

Pandagate row at Edinburgh Zoo as keepers narrow escape leaves staff turning

first_imgA zoo keeper fleeing to safety after a giant panda was mistakenly let back in to its enclosureCredit:Deadline News Yang Guang, the male, chomping away on bamboo Yang Guang, the male, chomping away on bambooCredit:DEADLINE NEWS Yang Guang, Edinburgh Zoo’s male giant panda, turns 10 Yang Guang, Edinburgh Zoo’s male giant panda, turns 10Credit: Deadline News The email sent to management stated: “We have found out that there was a very serious near miss last year when a panda was let back into the enclosure with a keeper still cleaning in there and she could have been seriously injured or even have died. The zoo refused to comment on other claims in the email, except to say that it contained “inaccuracies”. A leaked email alleged that the worker could have died or been badly maimed in the incident.It was sent to officials  with further claims that the institution is in “crisis”; morale is at rock bottom; and that animal welfare is at risk.The email also claimed that the giant panda, thought to be the male Yang Guang, could have escaped into the public areas of the zoo. Yang Guang and the female Tian Tian arrived amid much fanfare in 2011 after being loaned to the zoo by China. The breeding pair have so far failed to produce offspring.The zoo, owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, initially dismissed the claims of the “near miss” as “scurrilous and unfounded”, but admitted yesterday that the incident had taken place. The zoo refused to comment on other claims in the email, except to say that it contained “inaccuracies”.The spokesman added that the organisation took staff welfare and morale “extremely seriously” and had a well-established “employee consultation board”.Despite their “cuddly” image, adult giant pandas have a powerful bite and can be extremely dangerous.In 2006, a drunken 28-year-old man had his right leg badly savaged by a panda after climbing into its enclosure at Beijing Zoo to try to pet the animal. 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. Tian Tian, a female giant panda sits in her enclosure at Edinburgh zoo The spokesman added that the organisation took staff welfare and morale “extremely seriously” and had a well-established “employee consultation board”.The leaked email stated: “We have found out that there was a very serious near miss last year when a panda was let back into the enclosure with a keeper still cleaning in there and she could have been seriously injured or even have died. Tian Tian, a female giant panda sits in her enclosure at Edinburgh zooCredit:David Moir / Reuters It is being dubbed, perhaps not surpsingly, Panda-gate. A zookeeper could have been “seriously injured or even killed” after one of Britain’s two giant pandas was accidentally allowed back into its enclosure while the area was still being cleaned.A photograph of the incident was made public by disgruntled staff who blamed the security lapse on staff shortages at Edinburgh Zoo.The image shows the female keeper leaving the enclosure through a door with the panda just a few feet behind her. A brush and bucket lie abandoned on the floor. “We got to hear about the near miss with the panda a while after it happened, just through rumour at first and then the keeper who experienced it went off sick and never came back.“She heard it behind her just in time to be able to get out of the enclosure. If she hadn’t she could have been mauled, seriously injured or even killed.“We also know that the panda could have escaped into the public area of the zoo. Are we going to wait for a disaster to happen before things change at the zoo?”As well as revealing the panda incident, it made a range of complaints and allegations and said staff were worried about their jobs and the future of the zoo.It added: “Some of the keepers are concerned about the welfare of the animals as sometimes they are so short-staffed and have little time it stops them giving proper care to the animals.“There is a dreadful atmosphere around the zoo with staff morale the lowest we have ever known it.”  A zoo keeper fleeing to safety after a giant panda was mistakenly let back in to its enclosure The email concludes by stating that the staff involved have no confidence in senior management.The zoo remains the second most popular paying visitor attraction in Scotland, although visitor numbers have dropped recently.A spokesman said: “Staff reported a near miss within the panda enclosure last year. This was fully investigated and Edinburgh Council were kept informed throughout the process. No staff or animals were harmed during the incident.”last_img read more

London Bridge terrorists took steroids before launching attack court hears

first_imgChief Coroner Mark Lucraft QC said he hoped the inquests would provide grieving families with answers and give “comfort in such difficult circumstances”.Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the coroner, said the inquests were of great public importance and would be “full, rigorous and fair”. 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 terrorists who killed eight people in the London Bridge and Borough Market attack were pumped up on steroids, a pre-inquest hearing has been told.Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba had all taken a substance called DHEA shortly before the attack on June 3 last year, the Old Bailey heard.A toxicologist will be called to give evidence at their inquest next year after it was found levels in their systems were above the acceptable physiological range.Eight people were killed when the three men ploughed into pedestrians in a white van on the bridge then stabbed evening revellers in the nearby market with 12-inch ceramic knives.The victims were: Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, Frenchmen Xavier Thomas, 45, and Alexandre Pigeard, 26, as well as Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.The attackers were shot and killed by police at the scene. He said he would first hear the inquests into the deaths of the victims at the Old Bailey in early 2019 followed by a jury inquest into the deaths of the attackers.Lawyer Victoria Ailes, representing five of the victims’ families, said they were particularly concerned to find out about any CCTV footage or mobile phone film showing the attacks on their loved-ones.Mr Lucraft ordered that any applications for anonymity in the inquests, including from two families of the attackers, be made in advance. London Bridge terrorists Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef ZaghbaCredit:Metropolitan Police/PA center_img Among those to be represented are the security services, police, fire authority and ambulance service as well as the families of both victims and attackers.The inquests would examine what MI5 knew about Butt before the attack, the court heard.The coroner ordered the inquests into the three knifemen be heard separately to their victims during the pre-inquest hearing attended by family members.Video: How the attackers brought terror to London Some 1,800 witness statements have already been taken for the inquests. Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghbalast_img read more

Nurse and midwife misconduct hearings may be held in secret

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. It’s a step back for openness – dealing with concerns behind closed doors without systematic public scrutiny is not in the public interestPeter Walsh, Action against Medical Accidents Ms Smith told The Telegraph: “For a long time we and others have been saying that the Fitness for Practice process is distressing and adversarial and cumbersome.”She questioned whether there was any point having public hearings if the nurse or midwife had admitted their failings, and shown willingness to learn from them. Around six in ten cases are closed after initial assessment, with around 1,500 public hearings annually. Latest figures show that in 2016/17, 23 per cent of those facing such hearings were struck off, with 28 per cent suspended and 18 per cent subject to conditions, such as only working under supervision or undergoing retraining.In theory, nurses can already be subject to sanctions without a hearing in public, if they admit their errors, but just 11 “consensual panel determinations” take place each month.’Improved customer experience for nurses’Next week the NMC’s board will consider proposals to greatly expand this system, saying the current approach encourages “a culture of blame and denial”.The board papers suggest the new approach would mean “an improved customer experience” for the nurses subject to misconduct hearings, as well as to those who refer cases of concern.This would mean “enabling nurses and midwives to remediate regulatory concerns” while “holding full hearings only in exceptional circumstances,” the documents state. Nurses and midwives will rarely be subject to public misconduct hearings and could avoid any sanctions for errors if they admit blunders early, under controversial new plans.The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) wants to replace “cumbersome and adversarial” fitness to practice processes with a system that could mean most cases being heard behind closed doors.Under the draft strategy, nurses who might currently expect to be struck off could continue working if they admit failings early and convince the watchdog that they have learnt their lessons.Such an approach will apply even in the most grave cases, including those which resulted in patient deaths, the regulator’s head said.Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive, said the plans, which would mean full hearings held “only in exceptional circumstances,” were an attempt to protect patient safety without “punishing” nurses and midwives for mistakes.“This is not about doing deals behind closed doors,” she insisted, adding that the proposed system – which is due to go to public consultation – would put patient safety first. “If you have a registrant who says ‘yes it happened, it shouldn’t have happened’ and they reflect on it then what is the purpose of the hearing?” she said. “It is distressing for everyone especially the witnesses because it is so adversarial.”If facts were disputed, a public hearing would be required, she said.  Otherwise a panel would consider the case, and impose any sanctions, without any meetings in public.Such changes could also save significant funds she said, with three quarters of the watchdog’s £85 million budget spent on fitness to practice processes.Even if clear failings by nurses had resulted in the death of a patient, it was not always necessary to impose sanctions, she said.“It depends on whether the nurse recognises what they have done and learns from it,” stressing that any sanctions would be publicly on the record, even if there was no public hearing. However, patient safety campaigners described the moves as “shocking” and a “step back for openness”.The watchdog receives more than 5,000 referrals a year from hospitals, patients and the public. Some of the worst scandals of recent years have taken place in maternity unitscenter_img Around 1,500 public hearings take place each yearCredit:PA Around 1,500 public hearings take place each year In a briefing document, the regulator said: “Under our new strategy, where a nurse or midwife makes a clinical mistake – even a mistake which causes serious harm – but they admit to it early, engage with us, and demonstrate learning, we may no longer need to impose a more restrictive sanction – such as a long-term suspension or conditions of practice. If they remediate properly and learn from their mistakes, this may be enough to protect the public. We want to resolve as many cases as possible by consent with the nurse or midwife – ie without the need for a full hearing.” The NMC chief executive acknowledged that the proposals – which will go to public consultation next month, if agreed by their board – could be met with a public backlash.“This is a consultation,” she said.  “If other organisations come back and say this doesn’t look right we will take that seriously.  The key thing for us is what patients’ groups think, what the public think. We want to get this right, we know there will be different views.”Ms Smith said she had been interested in recent statements from the Health and Social Care Secretary, who raised concerns over the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was struck off by the General Medical Council over the death of a six-year-old boy.Jeremy Hunt had warned off “unintended consequences” if medics were unable to reflect openly on their mistakes.Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents, warned the “shocking” new proposals would place too much reliance on the honesty of individual hospitals and which could lead to further cover-ups.“It’s a step back for openness – dealing with concerns behind closed doors without systematic public scrutiny is not in the public interest,” he said.James Titcombe, who has campaigned for better NHS accountability since losing his baby son Joshua in the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal, said: “The NMC hasn’t been a fit for purpose organisation for some time. Rather than moving to a more closed and secretive approach, the NMC  urgently needs a change in leadership and top to bottom reform.” A major report by the Professional Standards Agency into the NMC’s handling of the Morecambe Bay cases is due to be published next week. Some of the worst scandals of recent years have taken place in maternity unitsCredit:Alamylast_img read more

Scottish wildcat nicknamed the beast may be largest ever seen

first_imgPaul O’Donoghue said he had never seen anything like itCredit:Wildcat Haven An “enormous” wildcat that could be the largest specimen recorded anywhere in the world has been caught on camera in Aberdeenshire.It was recorded by a camera trap in Clashindarroch Forest and is estimated to measure 4ft from nose to tail, making it around one foot larger than an average Scottish wildcat.The footage was caught as part of a conservation project run by Wildcat Haven, which puts out food to attract animals to hidden camera sites. The large predator has since been nicknamed the “Clashindarroch Beast”.Kev Bell, a field worker for the organisation, said: “I’ve been fortunate to get footage of quite a few of these ghost cats; there’s about 10 to 15 of them here in the Clashindarroch. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw this cat, he is enormous, a magnificent animal.””The cameras give us amazing insight to this priceless group of wildcats which have somehow survived here and avoided hybridisation. wildcat “Some people say that the wildcat doesn’t exist anymore but we know different and wildcats like ‘The Beast’ prove it.”Steve Sleigh, another fieldworker with Wildcat Haven, added: “These cats are a vital part of Scotland’s wild nature and ecology, and they must be protected wherever they live; they are one of the rarest animals in the world.” wild cat The project involves the neutering of all feral and domestic cats across more than 1,000 square miles of the Highlands to prevent inter-breeding with wildcats. Fears have been expressed previously that there may be no genetically pure wildcats left in Scotland but Dr Paul O’Donoghue, chief scientific adviser on the project, said they believe there is a population of around 13 pure wildcats in the area.He said the large cat caught on camera was in excellent condition and he had never seen anything approaching its size in the past.The organisation is also monitoring wildcat populations in Caithness and Lochaber. A Scottish wildcat in the Cairngorms National ParkCredit:Barcroft Media Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

NHS will offer free insomnia app to millions of poor sleepers

One group was prescribed a six week course of Sleepio, while a control group was given standard advice about how to tackle sleeping problems – such as having a regular bedtime routine and avoiding alcohol.The new programme is funded by a grant from the UK’s Innovation Agency to Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), part of the NHS.  The app costs £200 a year for private subscribers.Dr Michael Mulholland, Buckinghamshire GP and clinical lead for the Oxford AHSN roll out said: “In my role as a GP I  see the impact of insomnia on people’s’ lives everyday. “Sleepio offers a real opportunity to transform lives for the better and to reduce reliance on sleeping tablets. This collaboration will explore the potential of digital innovations to improve people’s lives. ” Around one in five adults are estimated to suffer from chronic sleeplessness at some stage of their lives – and around half of those end up sleep-deprived as a result.Treatment is dominated by medication, with 12 million prescriptions for insomnia written last year, but such pills can have unpleasant or harmful side-effects. The NHS is to offer free therapy via smartphones to millions of insomniacs.Under the programme being piloted across the South East, patients will be able to download an app which has been dubbed “a digital sleeping pill”.The strategy is the first NHS roll-out of “direct access” digital medicine – meaning that the health service is funding the app which anyone living in the area can download.The approach uses cognitive behavioural therapy techniques and sleep tracking to help those with persistant insomnia find their best sleeping patterns, and to overcome the “racing mind” that can prevent a good night’s sleep.It comes as research led by Oxford University found that almost three quarters of those following the programme saw an improvement in their well-being, largely a result of reduced insomnia.The study of 1,700 adults, mostly female, with an average age of 40, found than on average, “sleep-related quality of life” was boosted by almost a fifth, six months after starting the six-week programme.The research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, found those following the programme saw a fall in depression, anxiety, and fatigue symptoms, as well as seeing a productivity boost at work.The Sleepio app, which can be accessed via smartphone or web, will be offered in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire this month before being rolled out across other parts of the South East next year. The one-year study involved 1,700 adults with sleeping problems, 78 per cent of whom were female. 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. But GPs are increasingly being encouraged to recommend psychological approaches, including online therapies.Study lead author Colin Espie, Oxford University Professor of Sleep Medicine, said the research showed that online therapy – which involves sleep tracking, weekly advice sessions and techniques to calm the mind – is an effective treatment for insomnia.“Sleep ranks with air, water and food as one of the essentials of life, yet 10 per cent  to 12 per cent of the population don’t get enough of it due to insomnia,” said Prof Espie.“Furthermore, most people who seek help with insomnia do so because of its negative impact on their daytime quality of life.Our study suggests that this new form of ‘digital medicine’ could be a powerful way to help millions of people not just sleep better, but achieve better mental and physical well-being as a result,” said Prof Espie, who is chief medical officer of the company Big Health, which makes Sleepio. read more

Sevenyearold boy threatened to stab pregnant teacher in stomach  as union warns

Scott McGimpsey, on the executive in Scotland, added: “We have seen pupils say or do pretty much whatever they want.”Emma Thomas, county secretary in Huntingdonshire, told the conference of a case where a pupil pushed a member of staff “with enough force that his arm went through a double glazed window”.She said that violence is “getting out of control, not because of the way the students are but because way back somebody hasn’t dealt with the way they behaved.” The number of “refusal to teach” ballots has doubled in the past five years, from four in 2013 to eight in 2017 Alfredo Gualda, a teacher from Doncaster, said that families need to be held accountable for their children’s behaviour, explaining: “If your child is constantly disruptive, if they are violent, if they are abusive, I think it’s about time that schools and teachers question the parenting of those children. Because it does not happen”.Teachers passed a motion that criticised some headteachers’  “unacceptable” attitude that violence is “part of the job” for teachers and even blame them for misbehaving pupils.The motion called on the union to defend them from threats of violence “through all legitimate means, up to and including industrial action” when their health, safety and welfare is at risk.Figures released by NASUWT earlier this year revealed that school staff are increasingly refusing to teach unruly children,  amid incidents of violence and sexual assault. 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 seven-year-old boy threatened to stab a pregnant teacher in the stomach over a literacy lesson, it emerges as a union warns of a rise in children who do not respond to any form of punishment.Pupil indiscipline and violence is a “significant and worsening problem” in schools, according to the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT).Addressing the delegates at the union’s annual conference in Belfast, David Baxter, a member of the union’s executive in Northern Ireland, said teachers need to find a way to deal with “Teflon kids – the ones that no sanction seems to stick to”.John Devlin, another member from Northern Ireland, described some of the shocking examples of aggressive and violent threats teachers have been subjected to. One pregnant teacher was told by a seven-year-old boy who did not want to do literacy “I’m going to stab you in your pregnant belly”, he said.Meanwhile, another teacher  was left with a bleeding neck from a pupil attack and a third was punched in the face by a ten-year-old boy.Russ Walters, the union’s honorary treasurer, said: “We cannot continue to put up with this lack of dignity, this absolute prostitution of our professionalism.” The number of “refusal to teach” ballots has doubled in the past five years, from four in 2013 to eight in 2017.Under a “refusal to teach” ballot, staff in a particular school can take industrial action as a last resort, to protest against the behaviour of a particular pupil. They can also take action short of a strike, which could involve refusing to cover lessons for colleagues or take on voluntary duties.Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, has previously said that bad behaviour in classrooms is being fuelled by fashionable “restorative justice” schemes.Some schools are interpreting restorative justice as merely having a conversation with a pupil about the incident, without any sanctions being applied, she said.Poor implementation of the policy can lead to teachers becoming “disempowered” and discipline getting worse. The number of “refusal to teach” ballots has doubled in the past five years, from four in 2013 to eight in 2017 read more

IAC calls on Govt to publicly state plans for distressed sugar

The Indian Action Committee (IAC) today said it is extremely concerned with the ‘distressed state’ of the sugar industry in Guyana in light of the closure of a number of estates in the country.In a statement issued earlier today, the IAC said it feels strongly about the matter and would continue to raise its voice in support of all those sugar workers, their families, and their dependents, and all other persons who will be indirectly adversely affected by their dislocation.“The IAC is of the opinion that the sugar workers of the recently closed Wales Sugar Estate have been abandoned, and the organisation is fearful that this pattern of abandonment will be repeated as the sugar estates are closed down”, the statement noted.The IAC said it believes that “the time has come for sugar workers and the nation as a whole to be told in clear language what is the plan to safeguard the livelihood of the workers and their communities, which are predominantly populated by Indo-Guyanese”.According to the IAC, this matter cannot be postponed any longer and is demanding that the short and long term plans for sugar workers and their communities be made known to all relevant stakeholders publicly. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedMass termination of workers, distressed state of sugar industry worrying says IACDecember 6, 2017In “Business”Arrival Day messages 2018May 5, 2018In “latest news”PPP slams Govt’s decision to shut down LBI EstateApril 15, 2016In “latest news” read more