I wrote this week that Michael Sam, the Missouri defensive end who came out as gay in February, wasn’t certain to be picked in the NFL draft. Of those players at his position who had been rated as sixth-round picks before the draft — as Sam was — slightly less than 50 percent were chosen by an NFL team.I also wrote that I’d take Sam’s side of the bet given even odds:Personally, however, if the odds are something like 50-50 on Sam being drafted, I think I’d take his side of the bet. Why? A player only needs one team to draft him. A player like Sam who generates polarized opinions might have a better chance of being chosen in a late round by a team like the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks than one who everyone agrees is mediocre.Perhaps this counts as a “correct” (if well-hedged) prediction. But I got one thing pretty wrong. I assumed that Sam would be chosen by a team like the Patriots or the Seahawks or the San Francisco 49ers that play in an urban area especially tolerant toward gay people. But St. Louis was probably the best fit all along.How come? Public acceptance of homosexuality certainly varies from city to city and state to state. If we use support for gay marriage as a rough proxy, for example, I estimate that about 47 percent of voters approve of it in Missouri, as compared with 58 percent in California, 59 percent in Washington state and 66 percent in Massachusetts. (Obviously, the percentages are likely to be higher in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle specifically as opposed to the states as a whole. But that’s probably also true for St. Louis, which is considerably more liberal than the rest of Missouri.)What varies a lot more, however, is appreciation for University of Missouri football. Interest in the Tigers is about 50 times higher in Missouri than in the rest of the country, according to the number of Google searches.In other words, a higher percentage of people in St. Louis and elsewhere in Missouri will know of Sam as a football player and not just as a gay athlete. Here’s hoping that helps him to concentrate on what he does best.
Don’t look now, but Venus Williams is playing some good tennis. Serena’s big sister advanced to the third round of Wimbledon on Wednesday after an uneven start.Big Sis beat Japan’s Kurumi Nara 7-6 (4), 6-1 to reach the third round of a major for only the second time in her last 10 Grand Slam tournaments.The 30th-seeded Williams won six straight points in the tiebreaker and ran off six straight games in the second set to beat 41st-ranked Nara on Court 3 at the All England Club.“In the tiebreaker, that’s when it comes down to who’s going to be more consistent and more aggressive,” Williams said. “In the beginning she was, but, thankfully, I was able to turn it around.”Williams’ next opponent could be 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, the sixth-seeded Czech left-hander who was playing Mona Barthel later Wednesday.“I think we both play similar games, really go for it,” Williams said of Kvitova. “She’s one of the kind of players who can get kind of hot against me.”Williams, winner of seven Grand Slam titles, lost in the first round in her last appearance at Wimbledon in 2012. The only other time she has made it past the second round in her last 10 Grand Slams was at the 2013 Australian Open. She hasn’t reached the fourth round at a major since Wimbledon in 2011.The 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) Williams towered over Nara, the shortest player in the women’s top 100 at 5-foot-1 (1.55 meters).The American served seven aces and had 43 winners. Nara had only five unforced errors, but just 16 winners.Nara took a medical timeout at the end of the first set and received treatment from the trainer on her upper left leg during the second set.Williams was several minutes late in arriving on court, and also left the court after the warm-up. She looked sluggish at the start, falling behind 3-0. She then won five straight games, but was broken serving for the set at 5-4.Nara raced to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Williams won the rest of the points. Williams was broken in the opening game of the second set, then won the next six.Also advancing was second-seeded Australian Open champion Li Na, who beat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-2, 6-2.The second-seeded Li had two early service breaks and was also broken once on her service early in the second set, but took control at 4-2 and then broke the Austrian player a third time in the set.Serving for the match, Li clinched the win with consecutive forehands to the open court and then a cross-court backhand volley.Meusburger had only four winners in the match, compared to 33 for Li.Li, also the 2011 French Open champion, reached last year’s quarterfinals here.
This chart doesn’t give any bonus value to touchdowns, which are slightly more valuable than their equivalent in yardage, though it also doesn’t reflect returns with fumbles lost (which are rare, but still considerably more common than return touchdowns). While some endgame situations may arise where even a bad return is worth trying, and perhaps some of those returns were legitimate responses to openings presented by the kick-coverage unit, ultimately there is no reason to be significantly under the red line save poor judgment. If the entire league had simply taken a knee on these 356 kickoffs it returned out of the endzone, it would have saved a combined 1,108 yards of field position.Kick returners have been more judicious this season — just 23 percent of standard kickoffs have been returned from the end zone, compared with 33 percent last year2That 33 percent was also down from the 42 percent between 2011 and 2014. — but little has changed about the average result of such returns, other than whether they’re worth it.Some teams appear to be figuring this out and have been rewarded as a result. Others have declined the free yards and continued running it out, and they have been punished accordingly: In 2015, the Jacksonville Jaguars returned 24 percent of kickoffs out of the end zone, and had the seventh-worst average starting field position in the league. In 2016, they have the lowest return rate from the end zone in the league at just under 9 percent3Jacksonville returned 8.7 percent to the Carolina Panthers’ 9.3 percent. and are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the second-best starting field position after those kickoffs (both 0.8 yards better than if they’d taken the touchbacks). Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears went from returning 37 percent in 2015 to returning 48 percent in 2016. Yet, despite seeing their starting field position improve from the 23-yard line to the 24-yard line, their advantage fell from being tops in the league (by a wide margin) to being 20th — and one of the 25 teams that would have been better off always taking a knee.Further complicating matters, kickoffs that drop short of the goal line seem to be better for the kicking team than touchbacks (as you can see on the first chart above). Before the new rule came into play, the league anticipated that coaches and kickers might try to game the system by kicking just short of the end zone. This seems to have happened, at least somewhat, with 79 percent of kickoffs going into the end zone this season, down from 87 percent last season. That’s a low mark since the kickoff spot was moved in 2011 (in a stat that had been on the rise). But the fact that teams have been willing to inefficiently return out of the end zone may have limited the incentive to try.If this rule stays, it’s likely that teams will adjust eventually on both sides, meaning fewer returns out of the end zone but fewer kicks into the end zone, as well. Kickoffs may essentially go the way of punts, with how often a kicker pins the opposing team inside the touchback line (“In 25”) becoming an important stat for kickoff specialists.Check out our latest NFL predictions. Citing concerns about safety, the NFL adopted a rule change last offseason that moved touchbacks on kickoffs five yards out to the 25-yard line, ostensibly to reduce the number of kick returns, though perhaps with the added benefit of juicing the league’s offense.For its stated purpose, the effect of the rule change has been underwhelming. Of non-onside kickoffs this season, 39 percent have been returned. While this is an all-time low, it’s only down from 42 percent last season, which was already well below the 52 percent average from 2011-14, which was way below the average before the tee placement for kickoffs was moved to the 35-yard line in 2011. It’s not clear that this decline is any greater than what we would have expected if the rule change on returns hadn’t been adopted, based on the ongoing kicker improvement that has been taking place across the board.While there are multiple issues at play, the main reason the change hasn’t been more effective is straightforward: Despite kick returns out of the end zone being rendered a demonstrably worse bet, teams keep trying them.Below is a chart showing the league average starting field position for standard kickoff returns1Meaning returns from non-onside kickoffs kicked from the 35-yard line, excluding returns that ended in a lost fumble. from near the end zone:
Oh, and don’t forgetUgly helmets in vogue We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeVillanova team one of the best everVillanova defeated Michigan to win the NCAA Men’s tournament Monday evening and in doing so cemented a legendary tournament run for the ages. On average their margin of victory was 17.7 above their opponents — we’d expect only a +7.9 points for that figure — which makes them the fifth-best tourney winners by margin of victory. [FiveThirtyEight]Sergio donates golf equipment to Georgia pondDefending Masters champion Sergio Garcia — who recently named his newborn daughter Azalea after the trademark flowers of Augusta National — did his best to erase any fond memories he has of the iconic golf course on Thursday. At a respectable 2-over par to start the 15th hole, the Spaniard hit his second shot into the water that protects the par-5 green. He took a drop and hit his next shot into the water. Then he did it again. And again. And again. He eventually carded a 13 on the hole — tied for the worst score on any hole in Masters history — on his way to finishing a gruesome 9-over par. [ESPN]Frozen Four coming upThe college men’s hockey championship starts tonight in Minnesota. If you’re looking for the future of the U.S. game, it’s there; while the NHL is 45 percent Canadian and 27 percent American, the Frozen Four teams are 81 percent U.S.-born. Namely, it’s Minnesotans; of the 88 Americans, 26 are from Minnesota. [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?You can gamble on the draftThe lines are out for what goes down at the 2018 NFL Draft. The over/under for Alabama players selected in the first round of the NFL draft is set at 4, which is oddly higher than the over/under line for running backs (1.5) and wide receivers (2.5) in the first round. [ESPN]Chaos at UFC 223Conor McGregor is being stripped of his UFC title because he hasn’t bothered to compete at a UFC event since November 2016. He isn’t taking this well; McGregor and a group of about 20 others allegedly entered the UFC 223 arena area and attacked a bus, and several fighters were injured. [ESPN]In other ridiculous fighting newsWrestlemania is this Sunday, a seven hour time slot full of 13 scheduled fights (and purportedly an additional fight between the Undertaker and John Cena). If that last fight does occur, it’s interesting because despite being two of the top draws for the brand, Cena and the Undertaker have not in fact faced one another in a singles match in more than 11 years. [Deadspin]42 points over the second bananaTaylor Hall is a one-man offense, and in NHL history since 1951 ranks 30th when it comes to the gap between the number of points that the top scorer on the team racked up (93 for Hall) and the second-place scorer on the team (in the Devils’ case, 51 points), at +42. Hilariously, Wayne Gretzky is 10 of those 29 people. [FiveThirtyEight]Big Number(s)26 percentKyrie Irving is hurt and will miss the playoffs. This is devastating for the Celtics’ chances of a title. Their shot of beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in a seven-game series drop from 41 percent with Irving to 26 percent if Irving is replaced with a -1.0 Real Plus/Minus player. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slackkyle: geoff:oofHow surprising is this?kyletotally contradicts what celtics had said about it; team doctors are all fired after this season; the same team doctors who let this whole isaiah mess happen See more NBA predictions Predictions NBA All newsletters
The most anticipated match of the 2019 World Cup will take place Friday with the U.S. facing off against the home team, France, in the quarterfinals. Our model still has the Americans favored, but their performance in the round of 16 against Spain left some analysts concerned about the strength of the team. The Hot Takedown crew debates the U.S.’s chances at outmaneuvering France and discusses what we’ll be watching ahead of that epic matchup.The NBA offseason is as chock-full of takes as the season itself. The draft went mostly as predicted, and free agency formally kicks off this Sunday. On ESPN’s “Get Up!” Bobby Marks suggested that the whole system is doing a disservice to the NBA and recommended that free agency precede the draft. Our team breaks down what affect this could have on the league and who our CARMELO model sees as the highest-profile free agents.Our Rabbit Hole this week digs into sports boardgames.What we’re looking at this week:A recap of the Spain vs. U.S. round of 16 matchup that left us nervous for Friday.Fatigue from the NBA offseason speculation starting earlier and earlier.Need a new game in your life? Can’t get enough baseball? FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code
Saturday brings a handful of games that are close enough to be fascinating — or boring; it depends on your point of view. Love blowouts? We’re unlikely to see one in this set of games (Uruguay and Costa Rica’s predicted goal differential is just 0.7) . But we do have one of the most mismatched mascot matchups with Japan versus Ivory Coast.In briefSee our World Cup interactive for the latest probabilities. — Allison McCannIn depthToday’s sexiest matchup is, of course, England against Italy — a battle between the third-most and fifth-most successful countries in World Cup history. But it’s not quite as sexy as you’d think from the teams’ reputations.England currently ranks tenth in the Soccer Power Index, ESPN’s worldwide ranking of national teams, and that’s quite a bit lower than where it was in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup. Back then, the FiveThirtyEight model (which is based on SPI) gave England the third-best tournament win probability (13.2 percent) of any team in the field. This year, though, England has just the ninth-best chance, at 1.6 percent.Italy, meanwhile, sits even lower in the current SPI rankings — 15th — and its 11th-place showing in the current Elo ratings is the lowest it’s been going into a World Cup since 1986. According to SPI, Italy only has a 1-in-188 chance of winning the Cup this year.Both teams had a similar path through qualifying and friendlies. England played to draws against Ukraine (twice), Poland and Montenegro, and failed to win in four of its last five friendlies against top-10 Elo sides. Italy had draws against Armenia, Denmark, Czech Republic and Bulgaria in qualifying, and is currently riding a seven-game winless streak against international competition. Needless to say, both sides’ form could be better heading into group play.But the talent is still there. England’s roster includes a number of the best players in the English Premier League — Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling — making the team a worthwhile watch even if the Three Lions always seem to play beneath their skill level. Likewise, Italy has a host of recognizable names: Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo, Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele de Rossi, etc. (Although it’s worth noting that SPI’s plus/minus player-rating system, part of which looks at club team performance, doesn’t think quite as highly of Italy’s stars as it does of England’s.)So watch for the stars, and the tradition. One of the group stage’s most competitive games should break out, even if these particular squads aren’t quite at the level usually befitting the insignia on the front of the jerseys.YesterdayThe Netherlands’ 5-1 defeat of Spain on Friday was the worst for a defending champion in World Cup history, and one that ESPN’s Soccer Power Index gave only a 1-in-1,030 chance of happening. The result was almost impossible to predict, but the match’s opening 30 minutes went very much according to plan.The first two-thirds of the first half showed why Spain looked like a bad matchup for the Dutch to test their recent switch to a 5-3-2 formation.All five Dutch backs were making their World Cup debuts, and simple turnovers led to a pair of early Diego Costa chances for Spain. Spain held a 56-9 advantage on touches in the attacking third, paced by a 40 for 58 passing performance into the final third. In that same span, the Dutch completed only 85 total passes, including just nine into the attacking third.A penalty kick goal from Xabi Alonso at the 27-minute mark put Spain up 1-0.The next 60 minutes were somewhat less predictable.One of the strengths of a 5-3-2 formation is the opportunities it presents fullbacks to get forward in attack, and Dutch left fullback Daley Blind was Exhibit A for what happens when it works. Blind struck a long ball to Robin van Persie, whose 17.5-yard header was the longest headed goal since 1970 (the start of ESPN Stats & Info’s data set).Blind kept his second assist shorter — a 31-yard chip behind Spanish defenders Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos that Arjen Robben ran onto for a golden scoring chance.Over the last 60 minutes of the match, the Dutch matched Spain’s attacking-third passing total (42 completed passes each), a rare feat for this generation of Spanish soccer. — John Parolin, senior stats analyst, ESPNOFF THE PITCHAn exciting foot chase between an English striker and an Italian defender may evoke a Rolls Royce racing a Fiat — both countries are known for their fine cars as much as their footballers. And sure enough, according to OECD trade data (if you’ll permit us to let U.K. figures stand in for English ones), cars represent the largest British export to Italy, at over 12 percent in 2011; and about 7 percent of Italians’ exports to the U.K. were cars or auto parts, too.Cars, buses and delivery trucks also make up the lion’s share of Japan’s exports to the
Junior linebacker Curtis Grant looks on from the sideline during a game against Florida A&M Sept. 21 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 76-0.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe Ohio State Buckeyes enter Big Ten season unscathed, outscoring their opponents 210-61 in the process. The No. 23-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (3-1) head to Columbus Saturday looking to avenge their 21-14 overtime loss to OSU last season.The Buckeyes are hoping to get their starting quarterback, junior Braxton Miller, back this week. Coach Urban Meyer said he is “around 90” percent back to full strength after spraining the MCL in his left knee against San Diego State week 2. Miller sat out the Buckeyes’ last two games.Meyer said he wanted to get Miller on the field against Florida A&M despite the reigning success of redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton.“I hoped all week that we would get him in there, even if it was for just a few series,” Meyer said. “But (Miller’s knee) wasn’t as stable as it could have been.”Meyer said it will be difficult to fit both quarterbacks into the offense moving forward.“I don’t know if that’s a reality,” Meyer said. “I keep thinking of a way — I just don’t know. Both (of) those players are good players.”Much like Miller, starting redshirt-senior center Corey Linsley has been working back from offseason foot surgery early in 2013. No matter the severity of an injury, Linsley said it can be tough to sit on the sideline during games.“I’m sure Braxton’s feeling a lot of the same emotions that I was feeling,” Linsley said. “It’s not so much you’re worried about yourself, you’re worried about everybody else getting better without you. You don’t want to be the weak link.”Whether he is snapping the ball to Miller or Guiton, Linsley said he is confident the team will be successful. However, having Miller in the game gives the Buckeyes an extra advantage.“You can talk about (Texas A&M quarterback and 2012 Heisman winner) Johnny Manziel all you want, there’s nobody out there quicker at the quarterback position than Braxton,” Linsley said. “He provides that type of spark and excitement.”On the opposing side of the ball, Wisconsin is having a new found success due to a change its defensive schemes.“They’re very active,” Meyer said. “They are very well-coached. They play (multiple defensive fronts)… Throughout college football you’ll see how that does cause problems like our defense (does), we do a little bit of both. It’s a much different scheme than a year ago.”OSU players have to focus on themselves if they want to win, Linsley said.“I know it sounds clichéd and corny, but we really are worried about ourselves and our game plan preparation,” Linsley said. “We’re not worried about anything else and that’s what makes us a really good team.”The Badgers rank third in the NCAA with just under 350 average rushing yards per game. The team is coming off a victory against Purdue in which Wisconsin running backs, redshirt-sophomore Melvin Gordon and senior James White, ran for 147 and 145 yards respectively. Gordon leads the country with 624 yards rushing, and is tied for second with seven touchdowns trailing OSU redshirt-senior Jordan Hall who has eight..Junior linebacker Curtis Grant said both players have a different style, but that does not change how OSU’s defense is approaching them.“One is bigger than the other, one is faster and one is more of a power back and one is more of a speedster,” Grant said. “You just got to play your gap and make some tackles.”Grant compared Gordon and White’s size and abilities to those of OSU running backs senior Carlos Hyde and Hall, and said that preparation will be the key to success.“First thing you think of about Wisconsin is a powerhouse team,” Grant said. “Big lineman and they’re going to pound the ball. They’re going to run it at least 40-50 times a game. You have to prepare for that.”Stopping the high-powered rushing offense of Wisconsin is accomplished in the trenches, according to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell.“The game is won up front, and I don’t care what kind of game it is,” Fickell said. “It will be evident this week. Whether it’s their offensive line or our defensive line, or our offensive line or their defensive line, that’s where the game is going to be won.”Getting back to playing physical football is something Linsley is looking forward to.“The intensity has never left, whether a spread team or a power I,” Linsley said. “They type of mentality, the power and physical mentality has never left us. It’s definitely nice to get back into that going against Wisconsin.”Wisconsin enters Big Ten play having won the last three conference title games. Meyer credited their success to their physical play, calling them the “King of the Big Ten right now.”“(I) have a lot of respect for Wisconsin,” Meyer
Credit:SWNS Credit:SWNS Credit:SWNS Ms Stevens and Ms Walker, who are television producers, and Ms Hunt, a lawyer, were also treated to a three-course meal and posed for selfies with the captain of the BA flight.Ms Stevens, from Sutton, London, said: “It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience that we’ll never forget.”We felt like celebrities, especially when we were given Champagne – it was the best Christmas present ever, we couldn’t believe how kind and lovely everyone was.”We were the only people in the departure lounge so staff let us use the executive suite, which is usually reserved for business flight passengers.”Then we mentioned how we’d hoped to buy our family gifts at the airport, and staff opened shops so we could browse. It was as though we’d hired out the place just for us.” But it was delayed by three hours, so having checked-in online they turned up late to the airport to “stretch out” the holiday.On arrival, they found passengers who arrived at the scheduled time had been squeezed onto an earlier flight.Ms Stevens said they “felt like A-listers” as cabin crew ushered them into business class seats – having paid just £80 each for an economy return ticket. She added: “The celebrity treatment continued on board when we were given front row seats and a private safety talk.”The plane took off really quickly because it was so light – it felt like we were on a private jet.”The cabin crew were laughing and even the pilot made an announcement stating he’d never flown a commercial flight with so few people.”On board, the women were given unlimited Champagne – and say they got through 10 mini-bottles between them.They took videos and selfies on board and tucked into breaded chicken and potato salad with cheese, hot crusty rolls and chocolate pudding. Three women have said they were treated like “rock stars” when they found themselves alone on a British Airways flight for 150 people.Laura Stevens, 34, said she and friends Sarah Hunt, 35, and Laurie-Lin Waller, 33, were upgraded to business class, drank Champagne and took selfies in the cockpit on the 2.5-hour flight.The women were due to fly back to the UK on the 5.20pm flight from Gibraltar to London Heathrow on December 18 after enjoying a three-day break. Credit:SWNS Ms Stevens said: “We put on our shades and had a great time partying on board. We joked about being a girl band and took videos of us strolling up and down the aisles.”Cabin crew warned us that the fog meant it could take a while to land but we were having such a fantastic time we told them to take their time – we wanted the flight to go on forever.”When the plane landed, Ms Stevens and Ms Hunt, who is from Gibraltar, and Ms Walker, from Glasgow, took selfies in the cockpit and say ground staff “couldn’t believe” there were just three passengers aboard.”Even strolling through passport control we felt like celebs as there were no queues. The whole thing was so surreal,” added Ms Stevens.”People pay thousands for the kind of experience we had, but we got it all for the cost of an economy ticket – it was a real one-off.”We can’t thank BA enough – they made our Christmas!” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
In attendance at Worcs Cathedral with @HWFireWorcs @HWFireMalvern for rescue of male from bell tower #notjustfires pic.twitter.com/AgGGubxKvP— Grant Wills (@HWFireGCWills) February 11, 2017 A bell ringer had to be rescued from Worcester Cathedral after he got trapped in the ropes and hoisted into the air.Ian Bowman, 51, was in the historic bell tower of the 13th century cathedral when his foot got caught in one of the moving ropes.In a “freak accident”, the experienced ringer was lifted a couple of feet into the air before being slammed into the floor, injuring his back and cutting his head.Fire crews, including a specialist rope rescue team, were called around 5pm on Saturday when it emerged Mr Bowman could not be safely moved without being lowered 80ft from the bell tower. “I am waiting for a call to see if I have fractured my spine or not,” he said.“I might have to go to Torbay Hospital if that is the case and that is quite a drive away but I am not sure yet.”Mark Regan, the ringing master at Worcester Cathedral, praised the emergency services as he described the incident as a “freak accident”.He added: “Mr Bowman, an experienced ringer from Devon, got his foot caught in a rope and he fell and hurt his head.”He got his foot caught when a rope was moving and he went up in the air a couple of feet and landed awkwardly.”He is fine, the emergency services were brilliant. They had been here to practise, so they knew what to do. It was quite dramatic.” Mr Regan said it was “very reassuring” to know the firefighters are trained to deal with this kind of emergency situation.He added: “It has nothing to do with the safety of bell ringing, it was a freak accident.”The Devon ringers had travelled to Worcester to ring for the hour-long evensong, which started at around 4.30pm.The tower at the cathedral contains 16 bells, including a bourdon bell, which together weigh 16 tonnes – the fifth heaviest ring in the world. It also has a teaching centre, which has been purpose-built to allow people to learn how to ring on eight training dumb-bells. 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. He was eventually rescued after the crew opened up several trapdoors in the cathedral and use a rope system to lower the stretcher to its marble floor during the evensong service.Mr Bowman was taken to Worcestershire Royal Hospital where he was treated for a cut to his head and back pain.He was recovering at his home in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon, on Sunday, where he said he was waiting to find out more information about his injuries and was concerned he may have fractured his back. Technical and challenging job to rescue one male from bell tower, professional crews a credit to the community they serve pic.twitter.com/vEOxNuUnWk— Grant Wills (@HWFireGCWills) February 11, 2017 Dramatic pictures taken during the rescue showed a member of the fire service holding on to the stretcher as it was lowered past the cathedral’s organ.After the incident, Grant Wills, a group commander from the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, wrote on Twitter that it was a “technical and challenging job”.“Professional crews [are] a credit to the community they serve,” he added.Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s control room confirmed two crews and a specialist rope team had helped with the rescue, which took around 30 minutes.A spokesman for West Mercia Police said officers were not called to the incident. Emergency services outside the cathedral Credit: Grant Wills Fire crews, including a specialist rope rescue team, were called when it emerged Mr Bowman, who also hurt his back in the incident, needed to be lowered 80ft from the bell tower to the cathedral’s floorCredit:Grant Wills
A police officer has been filmed punching a man in the face as he was being detained under the Mental Health Act.The mobile phone video shows the handcuffed man being held down by three officers, one of whom is seen drawing back a clenched fist.The officer is then seen hitting the man in the face, before he is turned over and led away following the incident in Yeovil, Somerset, on Wednesday.In response to the footage being posted online, Avon and Somerset Police released its own 24-second clip of the arrest, which was filmed on an officer’s body-mounted camera.The police footage includes audio and shows a different angle as the man was repeatedly ordered to let go of an officer’s arm.A male officer tells him: “Let go of my arm now. I will ask you one more time to let go of my arm. Let go of my arm. Five…” Handout body-mounted camera still dated 31/05/17 issued by Avon and Somerset Police of a man being detained under the Mental Health Act as he was punched in the face by an officer in Yeovil, SomersetCredit:Avon and Somerset Police/PA Handout body-mounted camera still dated 31/05/17 issued by Avon and Somerset Police of a man being detained under the Mental Health Act after he was punched by in the face by an officer in Yeovil, SomersetCredit:Avon and Somerset/PA An onlooker interrupts and says: “Go on mate punch him.”The male officer continues: “Four… three…”A female officer adds: “Let go of his arm.”Another voice can be heard saying in the background: “Punch him in the face.”Moments later an officer can be heard striking the man, who releases his grip a few seconds later. Handout body-mounted camera still dated 31/05/17 issued by Avon and Somerset Police of a man being detained under the Mental Health Act before he was punched by in the face by an officerCredit:PA/Avon and Somerset Police A witness then says: “Oh, that’s a bit naughty. That is definitely on video. That’s on Facebook, mate.”The original video was put online without audio, but offers a clearer view of the punch. “This decision is always taken to safeguard the individual from harming themselves and others.”While we always act in the best interests of the person in crisis, there is sometimes a need for restrain to protect the person, our officers and members of the public.”This man was taken to a mental health facility where he can receive the treatment he needs.”The public rightly expects police officers to use force reasonably so we welcome their scrutiny. 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. Luke Harris, who posted the video on his Facebook page, wrote: “This guy was detained under the Mental Health Act.”Whilst three officers had him in cuffs, he was punched without being able to defend himself. I think this is wrong.”Avon and Somerset Police said its professional standards department was investigating the incident.”We were called shortly before 5pm from the ambulance service regarding a man acting aggressively towards their staff,” a force spokesman said.”It appeared the man was suffering from a mental health episode, so officers took the decision to detain him under the Mental Health Act. “Our professional standards department will now make their own enquiries into this matter.
Brain-damaged babies will be “robbed” of compensation under government plans to speed up negligence claims, safety campaigners have warned. The plans are due to be announced next month, following a consultation earlier this year. Ministers are poised to announce reforms of medical negligence, which they say will speed up access to damages for families devastated by maternity blunders. It follows revelations that claims for babies left brain-damaged by such blunders has soared by almost one quarter in just one year, bringing… But patients groups and lawyers have criticised the proposals – saying that parents who take up the scheme will be left without enough compensation to care for their children.
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. Did BBC News at 10 cover the Shashi Kapoor story but just showed footage of Amitabh Bhachan and Rishi Kapoor? I’m no Bollywood expert but that’s what it looked like to me. My sister thought Amitabh had died as well!? 😳— Trishna Bharadia (@TrishnaBharadia) December 4, 2017 Among his memorable films were Deewar, Kabhie Kabhie, Namak Halal and Kaala Pathar. He made his debut as a leading man in the 1961 film “Dharmputra” and went on to appear in more than 116 films. Kapoor, a prolific Bollywood actor and producer from the 1970s and 80s, died after a long illness in Mumbai early on December 4. Shashi Kapoor was a megastar: the error of showing pictures of 2 other actors is appalling & insulting, particularly in the context of a story about death.— Harini Iyengar (@Harini_Iyengar) December 5, 2017 BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live presenter Aasmah Mir also joined the chorus of disapproval: The BBC has landed itself in a new racism row after it used footage of the wrong Bollywood star in a 10 O’Clock News obituary.Actor Shashi Kapoor died aged 79 on Monday, but the tribute to the star on the broadcaster’s flagship news programme mistakenly used footage of Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor.It comes just days after BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour mixed up a Japanese doctor and a Vietnamese film maker.The BBC said that Trinh T Minh-ha had mistakenly stood up when a junior member of the programme’s production team came into the waiting area and called for Dr Riko Muranaka, but listeners described the error as a “car crash”, with one suggesting that “perhaps all Asians look the same to the Woman’s Hour team”.There was a similar backlash to the 10 O’Clock News mix-up, with viewers describing it as “shocking”. Other viewers also complained on social media: Someone at the BBC thought the brown person in this VT is the same person. Worse still neither of them are the deceased actor Huw refers to. It’s poor when it would have taken them seconds to verify. Not enough care. https://t.co/iFARRcqe19— Adil Ray OBE (@adilray) December 4, 2017 Please give an apology on news at ten tomorrow with the right picture— Azhar_Bihari (@azhar_bihari) December 5, 2017 Actor Adil Ray, who stars in BBC comedy Citizen Khan, said it was “poor when it would have taken them seconds to verify”: #BBCNewsTen is very sorry wrong images were used to mark the death of Shashi Kapoor. Not our usual standards and I apologise for any upset.— Paul Royall (@paulroyall) December 4, 2017 Hang on @bbcnews Shashi Kapoor has died not Amitabh Bachan or Rishi Kapoor, who you’ve weirdly used to illustrate the story. pic.twitter.com/48jo6DGjU6— Media Diversified (@WritersofColour) December 4, 2017 Trishna Bharadia, a multiple sclerosis fundraiser and campaigner who appeared on the Comic Relief special The People’s Strictly on BBC1 in 2015, also expressed surprise at the mistake: BBC News at 10 editor Paul Royall apologised for the error in a statement on Twitter, saying the slip was not of the programme’s “usual standards”: I’m really annoyed about the BBC Shashi Kapoor thing. DOES ANYONE GIVE A DAMN? If you do, please tweet the editor @paulroyall— Aasmah Mir (@AasmahMir) December 4, 2017
The armed forces have been forced to cut back on car hire and the use of mobile phones in order to help raise an additional £300m to finance the renewal of the nuclear deterrent, it emerged last night.Lt Gen Mark Poffley said the Ministry of Defence has been forced to cut back across the board in order to meet its spending obligations, as he warned that “small incremental hits” to serving personnel’s quality of life could have a negative impact on retention rates.Giving evidence before the Commons defence committee, Lt Gen Poffley said in its quest to make efficiencies, the MoD had to be “vigilant” that restricting soldiers access to items such as mobile phones did not damage morale.Asked if it was “fair” that the quality of serving personnel lives should be reduced, he added: “The reality of life is fairness is not the issue. It’s about where is the best spread of our resources to deliver an output.“We are conscious that if you damage morale how that potentially manifests itself in the role of retention rates.”His warning follows reports in October that the Army had been forced to make £100m in efficiency savings to meet the costs of the Trident programme, with cuts falling on training, accommodation and travel. Answering questions from the Commons defence committee yesterday, Mr Williamson said: “I have very serious concerns about the proposed takeover.“It’s not that I’m against changes in terms of the industry, but what I want and the department wants is reassurance about the military side of the business.“This is why I have taken the decision to get in touch with Greg Clarke because we have a whole series of questions about the potential takeover and the future ownership.” It came as Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, suggested to MPs that the Government could intervene in a hostile takeover of a major British defence company, amid fears that it poses a risk to national security.Mr Williamson said he had “very serious concerns” over the planned acquisition of aerospace giant GKN by Melrose Industries, an investment company accused by critics of being an “opportunistic asset stripper”.Addressing the £7bn bid yesterday, Mr Williamson said that he had written to the Business Secretary Greg Clark to seek urgent reassurances about the future of GKN’s military business.It comes several weeks after details of the bid surfaced, with MPs expressing concern that the takeover could result in GKN, which makes parts of the F-35 Anglo-American fighter jet, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the US’s B-21 stealth bomber, being broken up and sold off to firms across the world.A spokesman for Melrose said: “As a British public company we are fully aware of our ownership responsibilities with regard to all commercial stakeholders whether they be corporate customers or government.”We are happy to make this clear in any forum.” Defence Secretary Gavin WilliamsonCredit:David Mirzoeff/PA GKN, which one of the Ministry of Defence’s closest partners, employs 6,000 people in the UK and is a key supplier to aerospace firms including Airbus. The cuts are being imposed in order to control the long-term costs associated with the £31bn upgrade of four nuclear-armed submarines, with the Treasury so far failing to cede to the MoD’s demands for money. 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 is inevitable that some women will experience delays in receiving a diagnosis, or peace of mindBaroness Morgan Promises to offer all victims of the NHS breast screening scandal a mammogram within six months are unrealistic – and could leave those with suspected cancer to “pay the price,” leading medics say.More than 300,000 women in their 70s who were denied screening over the last decade have been promised the opportunity to have scans this year. It follows blunders in the national programme, which date from 2009 which meant many were not offered check-ups.In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the Presidents of The Royal College of Radiologists, the Royal College of Radiographers and Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said there were too few staff to cope with the workload facing them.And they said that even if existing staff worked evenings and weekends, there would be still be too few of them to uphold the commitment. In the letter, the three state: “We are extremely concerned that the breast screening workforce does not have the capacity to absorb such a crisis,” highlighting a 20 per cent shortall of radiographers and mammography staff.Baroness Morgan said attempts to rectify the “colossal failure” by screening services could leave women with suspected cancer worse off, forcing some to wait longer.“Thousands of women are rightly being offered catch-up screening, but it will fall on the same workforce responsible for performing mammograms for those referred urgently with symptoms of breast cancer to pick up the strain – and it’s vital we ensure women do not pay the price,” she said. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “NHS England is taking major steps to make sure screening services are expanded to meet this extra demand – including over evenings and weekends – working closely with all local services and commissioners to fill any extra screening required. “We are confident that all areas of the country will be covered.” 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 charity is calling for extra resources for the catch-up programme, to ensure routine screening, and that for women with suspected cancer is not disrupted.Baroness Morgan said: “Unless these staff shortages are addressed, it is inevitable that some women will experience delays in receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, or peace of mind, which would be extremely distressing.“This is completely unacceptable and we need the Government to heed these wake-up calls and deliver on its promise to expand the screening workforce as soon as possible.While the total number of women attending screening rose by 13 per cent from 2012-2016, the breast radiologist workforce grew by just 6 per cent, the experts said.Up to 450,000 women aged 68 to 71 eligible for breast cancer screening checks were denied mammograms as a result of an error that was not spotted for almost a decade. Show more The scandal only came to light two weeks ago, when Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said up to 270 women may have had their lives cut short as a result.Around 140,000 of the women have since died. Health officials have now embarked on efforts to contact around 300,000 women in their 70s, offering them the chance to have mammograms should they choose to.However, there is much debate about the benefits of screening later in life, with an increasing risk of women suffering needless tests and treatment for cancers which were growing too slowly to have caused them harm.
It also showed that after he returned from a trip out to buy food that night, he had gone upstairs after he pretended to find his wife’s stricken body, dashing into a bedroom to hide the house’s CCTV hard-drive.Research of Jessica Patel’s health app showed her handset moved 14 steps at 7.44pm – the exact time Patel left her lifeless body and fled the house to create an alibi.He claimed his wife was still alive when he ventured out, but his story crumbled when the app showed her phone remained motionless outside the couple’s Middlesbrough home until 8.40pm that night. That was when a police officer picked it up near their front door, where it had been left by Patel to make it look like it had been dumped by an intruder.The jury unanimously found Patel guilty. The judge told him: “You have been convicted by the jury and you will be sentenced to life imprisonment and that will happen tomorrow morning.” Mitesh Patel ransacked the home to make it look like an intruder had been in the house A pharmacist was found guilty of murdering his wife after an iPhone app allowed the police to track his movements while she lay motionless in their home. Mitesh Patel, 37, injected his wife Jessica with insulin and strangled her with a Tesco bag at their Middlesbrough home, then staged a break-in to make it look like an intruder had attacked her and bound her with tape.The couple ran a successful pharmacy together but their marriage was unhappy, with the husband repeatedly seeking sex with men he met on the Grindr dating app.And he was secretly in a relationship with Dr Amit Patel, his “soulmate”, who had emigrated to Sydney and with whom he hoped to bring up his and Jessica’s IVF baby after her death.The court heard Patel stood to profit from his wife’s death to the tune of £2 million from insurance policies.The husband was convicted of her murder at Teesside Crown Court after the jury heard that Patel had made internet searches dating back years, including “I need to kill my wife”, “insulin overdose”, “hiring hitman UK” and “how much methadone will kill you?” The court heard that a health app helped convict him in what was thought to be a legal first in the UK. After his arrest, police seized Patel’s handset and downloaded critical information. The health app uses motion processors in the phone to monitor a user’s steps and when the handset is taken up a flight of stairs, and that evidence was used in court to show the killer’s movements around his home, going upstairs to ransack rooms to stage a break-in after he had strangled his wife, 34, in the living room. 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 child killer who was freed twice from prison must not be allowed to endanger the public again, a judge told the Parole Board today.Stephen Chafer, 57, had already been paroled twice when he launched a frenzied knife attack on 60-year-old Fay Mills during a row over a garden rake at her home in Peterborough, Cambs.Chafer was first jailed when he was 17 after he raped and murdered three-year-old Lorraine Holt near her home in Derby in 1979. He received a life sentence but was released in 2002, after 23 years, when he was granted parole. Chafer was returned to prison in 2013 for endangering the lives of his neighbours after he torched his flat, but was released again in 2017. He was on licence when he battered Mrs Mills, who suffers from dementia, on June 23 last year.Last month Chafer was convicted of attempted murder and assault of Mrs Mills’ neighbour Mark Patchett, who tried to help her, following a trial at Cambridge Crown Court. The 57-year-old was sentenced today to life with a minimum term of 17 years.Judge David Farrell QC urged the Parole Board to “consider” his sentencing remarks before any future decision to release Chafer, who appeared at court under his pseudonym Stephen Leonard. Three-year-old Lorraine Holt was murdered by Chafer in 1979Credit:SWNS He said Chafer, who he described as a “serious risk to members of the public and particularly women”, would be 74 years of age before he could be considered for release from prison.Flanked by three security officers in the dock, Chafer looked downwards throughout the hearing and showed no reaction as he was led to the cells.Mr Patchett, who previously served in the Armed Forces, said in a statement the scene was “like a house of horrors” and that there was “blood everywhere” after Mrs Mills was attacked.Prosecutor Charles Falk said it was “frankly a miracle that (Mrs Mills) has survived”.The court heard that Mrs Mills’s daughter Sheila Mills had gone away to Kent on the weekend her mother was attacked and believed her mother was in the care of a “close friend”. Fay Mills was beaten so badly police believed she was deadCredit:SWNS “Whilst this represents an extremely small proportion of cases considered, we do take each case extremely seriously and work with others in the criminal justice system to ensure that lessons are learned to help to prevent further tragedies.” 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. He said: “The worrying aspect of this offence is, as with the previous murder, that you have attacked a particularly vulnerable person and the attack was with a knife with particular severity.” Mr Falk, summarising a victim impact statement from Sheila Mills, said: “She trusted Stephen with everything. He betrayed her trust. She cannot understand how wrong she could have been.”Jim Holt, the father of Lorraine Holt, has criticised the Parole Board for giving Chafer the chance to reoffend. Speaking outside court after the sentencing, he said: “I think the Parole Board should look long and hard at some of their decisions because they were warned that he would reoffend. I warned them personally that he would reoffend.”In a statement read outside court by Detective Inspector Lucy Thomson, the Mills family said: “We’d like to say that we are very pleased with the life sentence that’s been given to Stephen Leonard and we’re pleased that we have some justice for our mum.”We feel so sorry that Jim Holt’s family had to relive their trauma through this case.”Our mum continues to fight every day and we hope that one day we’ll have her home so we can be a family.”Chafer admitted Lorraine Holt’s murder and was granted parole, after serving 23 years, in 2002.He was returned to prison in 2013 for torching his flat, risking the lives of the other residents in the building, but was released again in 2017.Andrew Radcliffe QC, mitigating for Chafer, said the defendant suffers from “multiple mental disorders”.A spokeswoman for the Parole Board said in an earlier statement: “Tragically, there are rare occasions when offenders go on to commit serious further offences after being released by the Parole Board. Chafer was sentenced to life with a minimum of 17 years at Cambridge Crown Court
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 FCO advises against travel to much of the country, but popular tourist areas such as Hurghada, Abu Simbel and Luxor are considered safe.Three Egyptian airport security sources told Reuters that British staff were checking security at Cairo airport on Wednesday and Thursday.Egypt’s tourist industry has declined in recent years following a spate of terror-related incidents.More than 1.5 million British visitors travelled to the country in 2010, but the number had fallen to 415,000 last year, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). British Airways has suspended flights to Cairo for seven days amid security concerns.Some passengers at Heathrow Airport were told after they travelled there to board their flights on Saturday.A letter handed to travellers and later posted on social media said the decision was made “as a precaution” following a review of “security arrangements”.The latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance states there is a “heightened risk of terrorism” against flights from the UK to Egypt and says here are already “additional security measures are in place”.It adds: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt. Although most attacks occur in North Sinai, there is a risk of terrorist attacks across the country.” BA and Egypt Air are the only two airlines that run flights from Heathrow to Cairo. BA said in a statement: “The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so.”A spokeswoman later added: “We are rebooking customers who wish to travel this week on flights with alternative airlines. Customers who no longer wish to travel will be offered a refund.”It is understood British Airways made the Department for Transport aware of its decision ahead of the announcement.German airline Lufthansa has also suspended flights to Cairo but says it plans to resume them on Sunday.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedStaff shortage cannot be an excuse for breaches – AliMarch 4, 2017In “latest news”PAC grills REO’s as major discrepancies found in several RegionsApril 11, 2017In “latest news”Drug purchases in Region 7 placed under PAC’s microscopeApril 16, 2018In “latest news” The need to recruit staff to fill administrative positions was highlighted yesterday, when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held an extraordinary meeting with Regional Officials.The necessity for staff, particularly in the financial departments of the regional Administrations was brought to the PAC’s attention by the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Communities, Emile Mc Garrel.Regional officials during the Public Accounts Committee MeetingPS Mc Garrel informed the meeting at Parliament Buildings, that there are three chief accountants instead of the required 10. This issue was among several that came to the fore during discussions about lapses and errors in regional administrations, in terms of handling procurement, contracts and finances.PS Mc Garrel opined that the regional financial management system was negatively affected. He cited the example of the National Regional Accounting Unit which currently operates at 14 percent of its full staffing strength. The PS said an assessment showed that 260 staff members were required for effective management, but only 150 persons were employed in the unit.The PAC was also informed that the need for staff was critical at the authorisation and certification levels in Regional Administrations. Mc Garrel described this as, “Levels with responsibilities for checks and balances, the controls, to ensure the laws and regulations and that circulars are observed and expenditures for regional councils are in keeping with the requirements.”These challenges, he added, are further amplified at regional oversight and administrative levels.The meeting was also notified by Mc Garrel, of the need for more Finance Secretaries, pointing out that up to a maximum of 40 accountants are needed, but there are only six.He urged that immediate steps be taken to boost the system so it will be able to serve the residents, in the delivery of services being sought regionally.Previously, the Regional Officials met with Ministry officials on the same day, for discussions on the financial management structures. One of the issues brought to the fore during those discussions was the need for better inventory and internal control, across the Regions, in addition to having the work of storekeepers and field auditors be upgraded.In closing, Mc Garrel stated that the Ministry of Communities was aware of the problems and challenges. These were among issues addressed during a Regional consultation forum held earlier this year.The PAC has the responsibilities to examine the audited accounts, as presented in the Auditor General’s Report, showing the appropriation of sums granted by the National Assembly to meet public expenditure, and such other accounts laid before the Assembly, and to exercise general supervision over the functioning of the Auditor General in accordance with the Rules, Policies and Procedures Manual and any other law.It also nominates members of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) for approval by the National Assembly, and thereafter, the appointment by the President and to determine the emoluments and allowances of the PPC members in consultation with the Commission. (GINA)
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedHelicopter attacks Venezuela court, Maduro denounces coup bidJune 28, 2017In “Helicopter attacks Venezuela court”Anti-Maduro protests break out across Venezuelan capitalJanuary 22, 2019In “latest news”Four dead in clashes ahead of Venezuela protestsJanuary 23, 2019In “Regional” CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuelan authorities yesterday arrested five members of a “terrorist cell” linked to self-proclaimed rogue Venezuelan helicopter pilot Oscar Perez, and killed several other militants during a shootout in a poor area outside Caracas.Perez appeared with a bloody face in nearly a dozen dramatic Instagram videos early on Monday, saying that he was surrounded by authorities shooting at him with grenade launchers.Oscar PerezState television later read out an official statement that said two police officers were gunned down in the clashes but did not specify Perez’ fate.A former police pilot, Perez is wanted for using a stolen helicopter to lob grenades and shoot at government buildings in June as well as for breaking into a National Guard unit in December to steal weapons.President Nicolas Maduro’s leftist government has described him as a “fanatic, extremist terrorist” and a manhunt has been under way for months. Some Maduro critics have questioned whether Perez’ attacks were staged in cahoots with the government to justify a further crackdown on the opposition.Authorities finally tracked Perez down in the poor hillside neighborhood of El Junquito on Monday.“We’re wounded … they’re killing us!” said Perez in one video, seemingly wearing a bulletproof vest as he crouched in what appeared to be a small house. Gunshots were heard in the background.“Venezuela, don’t lose hope… Now only you have power so that we can all be free,” he said in an earlier video, staring into the camera and telling his children he loves them and hopes to see them again.His last video was posted about 10:30 am (0230 GMT). A Reuters witness in the area later saw an ambulance speed by and said gunshots were no longer heard.The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Members of Maduro’s government scoffed at Perez yesterday.“What a coward now that he’s caught like a rat!” tweeted Prisons Minister Iris Varela. “Where is the courage he had to attack military units, kill and injure officials and steal weapons?”Perez, who also has been an action film star and portrays himself as a James Bond or Rambo-like figure on social media, has added surreal twists to Venezuela’s long-running political drama.He rose to fame in June after allegedly hijacking a police helicopter, flying over Caracas’ center and firing shots at and lobbing grenades on the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Court.Perez claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was to fight what he said was a tyrannical government. He went into hiding afterward, only to pop up two weeks later at an opposition vigil for anti-government protesters killed during demonstrations that rocked the country last year.In December, a video posted on Perez’s YouTube account shows armed, masked men taking control of military barracks under cover of night.They smashed photos of Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, handcuffed about a dozen soldiers and berated them for supporting “dictatorship” in Venezuela. Perez says his team stole about 26 AK-103’s and more than 3,000 munitions for the rifles, as well as pistols.Opposition politicians called for due process on Monday.“There is no death penalty in Venezuela,” tweeted opposition lawmaker Yajaira Forero. “We demand that Mr. Oscar Perez’ right to life be respected. If he committed a crime he must be judged by a court, as the law establishes.”
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedEmployment discrimination: PPP GECOM Commissioners have written to ERC- JagdeoJune 14, 2018In “latest news”GECOM Deputy CEO position: Chair overlooks top ranking candidate Vishnu PersaudJune 12, 2018In “latest news”It would be more transparent for the UN to conduct local elections- Opposition LeaderSeptember 6, 2018In “latest news” By Ramona LuthiFollowing claims of employment discrimination, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says it intends to continue their monitoring of the ethnic composition at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and “expose every breach at the entity’s level, so as to ensure free and fair future elections.”Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo“We will continue watching the issue. We will keep watching it because we believe that that Elections Commission has a critical role to play in the future and we intend to expose every single breach that could lead to the elections not being free and fair,” Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said on Thursday during a press conference at his Church Street office.His comment came on the heels of the recent disclosure by his Party’s Executive member Dr Roger Luncheon who said that the matter was brought to his attention by several sources who indicated their observations that the People’s National Congress (PNC) Commissioners at GECOM are allegedly engaged in a process to eliminate candidates for advertised positions at the GECOM Secretariat.PPP’s Executive member Dr Roger LuncheonIn addition to that, the former Head of the Presidential Secretariat also alleged that the Commissioners were finding extraneous reasons for eliminating top candidates of Indian origin from appointment to positions at the GECOM Secretariat.Following this, during the Election Commissions statutory meeting earlier this week, the PPP GECOM Commissioners walked out of the meeting after being disallowed by the Commission’s Chairman, James Patterson, from probing the issue.In a subsequent press conference called by the GECOM Commissioners on the Government’s side, Commissioner Vincent Alexander stressed that the ethnic makeup remained the same as previous election years but he could not provide figures to support that information.Alexander also told the media that the burden of proof resides with the Opposition.Later the same day, information disseminated by the GECOM Chairman indicated that Afro-Guyanese account for 46 per cent of the staff at GECOM, while Indo-Guyanese account 21 per cent, mixed 20 per cent, Amerindians 12 per cent and others one per cent.In his press conference today, the Opposition Leader questioned “who is lying” since the comments from both the Commissioner and Chairman of GECOM are contradicting.“Vincent Alexander said ‘we don’t keep information on ethnicity’ and the same day he said that, the Chairman of GECOM released to the media, the alleged composition of the staff based on ethnicity. Who is lying?”Nevertheless, Jagdeo asserted that his Party’s decision to raise the issue of the ethnic composition of staff at GECOM has nothing to do with race but more to do with ensuring equality for Guyanese. “This is not about a race issue. This is a fairness issue. This is about equity, this is about rights of Guyanese to be treated fairly, equally, and not have …APNU people in there discriminate against people for political purposes… This is the worry that we have. This is about fairness, about the right to be treated fairly as a Guyanese,” he said.According to Jagdeo, anyone who is aggrieved should go to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) to have a full fledged investigation launched.