UPDATE (July 1, 7:20 a.m.): Tuesday night, the U.S. women’s national team beat Germany 2-0, making this article’s headline even more prescient than usual. Below, Benjamin Morris looks at how America’s unique youth soccer culture has helped ensure the dominance of the USWNT. Even though the United States is a bit insecure about its place in the world’s most popular sport, the U.S. women’s national soccer team has been dominant on the world stage for nearly a quarter-century. Tonight it will face off in the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup against Germany, with nothing less than the title of “greatest of all time” at stake. Each team has two World Cup championships, and they’ve been the two top-ranked teams in the world since FIFA’s rankings began in 2003. The winner will take the lead in World Cup finals appearances and will have the inside track to finish atop 2015’s rankings.So how did we get here? Basically, it boils down to two things: 1) Women’s soccer has been on a great run for the past 30-plus years in the U.S., to the point where it’s poised to become our most popular women’s sport, and 2) the rest of the world has been relatively apathetic and/or hostile to the women’s game.U.S. women’s soccer truly seemed to arrive in the public’s attention after the 1999 World Cup. If you’re old enough to have experienced the excitement and drama of it, there’s no way you could ever forget:This success didn’t come from nowhere. Since almost immediately after the implementation of Title IX (which became law in 1972, with compliance required by 1978) U.S. women’s soccer has grown like crazy. Probably the cleanest and easiest venue to see how this has played out is at the high school level; the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has high school athletics participation data going back to the ’70s:In the late ’70s, the number of high school women playing soccer was in the low five figures. By the time America won the World Cup in 1991, there were more than 120,000. By the time it won in 1999, there were more than 250,000. Now it is approaching 20 percent of all high school female athletes — about 375,000 — and has surpassed baseball/softball as the third-most-played team sport.Soccer has grown both by taking women from other sports and by capturing a disproportionate share of “new” female athletes as more young women began to play sports. Note that the percentage decline for basketball — by far the most mature women’s sport in the country — looks steep, but the change in total number of players is fairly small (there were more women playing high school basketball in 2013-14 than in 1976-77.) Soccer, though, has still been adding numbers to its ranks rapidly, despite a bit of a slowdown in its growth shortly after 1999:Soccer looks like it has a good chance of taking the top spot in the next 10-20 years. Yes, volleyball has been on a nice run of late, and looks likely to pass basketball as the most-played sport as early as this year. But volleyball is down from its peak (see chart above), and the upper limit for soccer is still unknown.For as much as the rest of the world loves soccer, it has been much slower to embrace the women’s game than the U.S. In England, women playing soccer was effectively banned (at least at venues that hosted men’s teams) from 1921 to 1971, and in Germany it was banned from 1955 to 1970. At around the time Title IX was heating up in the United States, women’s international soccer basically didn’t exist. According to FIFA, there were only three national teams and two international matches played in 1971.And while the women’s game is still growing worldwide, it has a long way to go. The latest comprehensive statistics from FIFA come from its “Big Count” in 2006. In it, women made up about 11 percent of registered soccer players worldwide, and just 13 percent of youths. While the Big Count hasn’t been updated, more recent studies haven’t suggested any major shifts, and FIFA still uses a figure of 12 percent in its literature.What’s worse, even those numbers are being skewed — by the United States. In that same report, the U.S. had more than 1.5 million registered female youth players — more than half of the world’s total. Take all U.S. youth out of the equation, and just 8 percent of the young soccer players in the rest of the world were female in 2006.Also, in the U.S., women’s soccer has more parity the higher up the ladder you go. Of all FIFA-registered youth in the U.S., 40 percent are female. In high schools, young women make up 47 percent of all soccer players. In the NCAA, 53 percent of soccer players are female, including 61 percent of those in Division I.Given that we pretty much started out on a similar playing field and have devoted more interest to women playing soccer in this country, I’m actually led to wonder why it is that we’re not even more dominant.For example, Germany has probably the most robust network of young women playing soccer outside of the U.S. Per capita its network is about the same as America’s: The U.S. has about five times as many registered youth women’s players as Germany (based on the data in the FIFA country-by-country factbook), fitting well with a population difference of about 5x for 15-24-year-old females (judging by here and here).If all else were equal, the U.S. should be smoking Germany: Both countries have similar youth participation rates, and we have five times more youths to draw on.This isn’t the type of sports mystery that can be easily solved, but the best answer is probably something along the lines of “they take soccer more seriously.” And there are some pretty good hints of that in FIFA’s data: For example, 94 percent of all the FIFA-registered players in the U.S. are youths, compared with only 31 percent in Germany. In raw numbers, that means we have a little more than 100,000 relatively serious adult female players compared with Germany’s 650,000 plus. While I generally think youth or high school participation is a great proxy for potential talent pools, in this case I think the adult participation disparity tells you quite a bit about each country’s soccer culture. We may have the numbers advantage, but we don’t treat soccer as a national passion project.At least not yet. Give us a couple more wins in Canada and we’ll see.CLARIFICATION (July 1, 10:30 a.m.): The “rise of soccer” chart has been labeled to reflect that hockey includes both ice and field variants.
Dwayne Wade says there’s Michael Jordan and then everybody else.For now anyway.The Miami Heat star weighed his words carefully on Thursday when asked if teammate LeBron James warranted consideration in Air Jordan’s lofty stratosphere.“I don’t know if [James] has the ability to surpass [Jordan] or not,” Wade told ESPNChicago.com. “That’s yet to be seen. My version as LeBron being on par with Michael is this: They’re both on the golf course. Michael’s on the 18th hole; LeBron is somewhere on like the fourth hole. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on par to get to the 18th hole.”An eight-time NBA All-Star in his own right, Wade went on to laud the tremendous blend of speed, size and overall athleticism that has made James the unquestioned best player in the world today.But added that there was just one MJ.“Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time, so that’s who everyone shoots for,” he said. “So it’s going to be hard to surpass that.”Wade’s measured comments contrasted from those of a week ago, when he committed heresy in the eyes of some by saying that James, the three-time NBA MVP, had reached the same rarified air in which Jordan is held.An eight-time NBA All-Star and former league scoring champion in 2008, the 27-year-old James capped an amazing year earlier this month by leading Team USA to the gold medal at the London Olympic Games. The achievement came on the heels of third MVP award, his first NBA championship and an NBA Finals MVP award.Jordan was also 27 when he won the first of his six NBA championships.The two players are the ones to ever claim league MVP trophies, NBA team championships and Olympic gold medals in the same year.James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game for the Heat last season.
Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather made his media rounds in the Big Apple on Wednesday, stopping by “The Colbert Report” to discuss the chess problem in San Francisco.Stephen Colbert, started out talking about a famous street corner in San Francisco, where a large number of people hang out and play chess on a daily basis. Police are reportedly trying to shut down the popular hangout due to alleged illegal gambling, drug use, and violence.Colbert introduced Mayweather who commented on the issue:“Stephen, there are always going to be some bad apples on the chess board,” a rehearsed Mayweather said. “But you’ve got to understand, for kids in a tough neighborhood, chess is the only way out.”It’s a funny skit that is worth watching. Check it out in the video player above.
1936Chuck KleinPhilliesOF5333.252147+328.4 Includes career stats through the end of the season (or, for 2017, through June 6) in which the player hit 4 home runs in a game.Source: FanGraphs YEARPLAYERTEAMPOSPAISOWRC+BATTING RUNS 1948Pat SeereyWhite SoxOF2087.188108+20.4 1976Mike SchmidtPhillies3B2548.248139+113.5 1986Bob HornerBraves1B3966.229128+123.9 1954Joe AdcockBraves1B2426.166106+18.2 Before this week, Ryan “Scooter” Gennett was best known for being the first MLB player nicknamed after a “Muppet Babies” character. But that all changed Tuesday night, when the Cincinnati second baseman became just the 17th player in MLB history (and the 15th of the modern era) to crush four home runs in a game. If you were to draw up a list of players most likely to hit four homers last night, Gennett would have been near the bottom — probably somewhere between Cameron Rupp and Cory Spangenberg.Before his huge game, Gennett’s career was pretty nondescript. The second baseman had 38 career home runs to his name, and his lifetime weighted runs created plus (wRC+ estimates how many runs a player generates per plate appearance compared with the league average) is still just 99, slightly below league average.1wRC+ is scaled so that 100 is average each season. There was little to suggest he was about to become the first player in MLB history to record 5 hits, 4 HR and 10 RBI in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group.Remarkably, Scooter is not the first lightweight to slug four homers in a game. Although the four-homer club contains such all-time greats as Willie Mays and Lou Gehrig, it also includes the likes of Mark Whiten and Pat Seerey. So where does Scooter rank among the club’s most unexpected members? Here are some pertinent career stats for each player through the end of the season that contained their big game: 1959Rocky ColavitoIndiansRF2175.262143+111.1 1950Gil HodgesDodgers1B1944.172106+15.7 2017Scooter GennettReds2B1759.15099-1.5 1993Mark WhitenCardinalsRF1756.13996-8.9 2002Mike CameronMarinersCF3497.185105+20.6 2012Josh HamiltonRangersCF3151.246135+132.0 1932Lou GehrigYankees1B5470.297176+568.4 2003Carlos DelgadoBlue Jays1B5467.275140+283.7 2002Shawn GreenDodgersRF4866.236124+154.3 Scooter joins (mostly) elite company CAREER STATS THROUGH SEASON 1961Willie MaysGiantsCF5957.269155+407.9 By practically all measures, Whiten, the former St. Louis Cardinal, had the most unimpressive track record of any player at the time of his four-homer game. But Gennett isn’t too far off — he has the second-fewest batting runs above average, the second-lowest isolated power and second-worst wRC+. By contrast, most of the four-HR club’s members were either superstars squarely in their primes (Gehrig, Mays), up-and-comers who already had great rate stats (Mike Schmidt, Rocky Colavito) or at least solid veterans (Carlos Delgado, Chuck Klein).Gennett is the baseball equivalent of Devin Booker scoring 70 points in an NBA game, or Nick Foles tossing seven touchdown passes in the NFL. Part of why we watch sports is that in any given game there’s the chance that a mediocre middle infielder might explode for one of the best offensive performances ever.And in a 2017 season that’s tracking for the most home runs ever, perhaps more of these types of games are to come.
Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s episode (Aug. 8, 2017), we’re joined by Mike Goodman of The Double Pivot podcast for an all-soccer show. First, we discuss the $260 million, record-breaking transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain. Can that fee possibly be worth it for PSG? Next, we preview the English Premier League as the start of the season looms. Is reigning champion Chelsea in a bad spot? Can Manchester United win its first title since 2013? Plus, a significant digit on Major League Soccer’s expansion.Here are links to what we discussed on this week’s show:If you can’t get enough soccer, be sure to check out more of Mike Goodman on The Double Pivot podcast and on Twitter.The Neymar deal was eye-popping, but was it smart? Michael Caley investigates for FiveThirtyEight.SF Gate’s Sam Johnston identifies five teams to watch out for in the EPL.Significant Digit: 22, the number of MLS teams in the league. That’s up from 10 teams in 2004. This rapid expansion had Deadspin’s Neil deMause asking: Is the MLS a Ponzi scheme? More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed FiveThirtyEight Embed Code
At six of the last 10 Grand Slam tournaments, a woman has reached her first major singles final. All six first-time finalists lost the match, four of them in straight sets while winning no more than six games. Five then lost their first match at the next tournament. None has reached another major final since. Four of them failed to reach the quarterfinals at the next major they played. Three have fallen out of the Top 10 in the rankings.Breakthrough performances have been followed by letdowns.The most promising of the six players is Simona Halep. She came the closest to winning her major final debut, taking 15 games off Maria Sharapova at the French Open in June. Halep followed that by reaching the semifinal at Wimbledon the next month. And she enters the U.S. Open — which began this week — ranked No. 2 in the world. Yet she doesn’t look likely to reach the final in Flushing, New York. She won just two matches at warm-up tournaments, and Halep dropped the first set to unranked Danielle Rose Collins (the U.S. college singles champ) before coming back to win her opening match Monday.“Every day we have to work to reach the top and to stay there, because it’s more difficult to stay there than to reach it,” Halep said at a news conference after her win.It’s a bit early to declare the most recent first-time finalist a letdown; Eugenie Bouchard hasn’t gotten a chance to play another major since reaching the Wimbledon final this summer. On Tuesday, she begins her U.S. Open against Olga Govortsova. Early returns for Bouchard aren’t good, though: She’s won just one match in three tournaments since getting routed by Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon final.Like the current group of young contenders, Kvitova didn’t immediately back up her breakthrough performance. She won Wimbledon in 2011, at age 21, in her first major final. Then she lost three of her next five matches, including her first-round match at the U.S. Open. But she won two tournaments and the Fed Cup later that summer, and Wimbledon this summer. She has been a regular in the Top 10 since reaching her first major final.Victoria Azarenka followed shortly after Kvitova and was more consistently successful. She reached her first major final at the Australian Open in 2012, at age 22, and won it — routing Maria Sharapova, as Kvitova had done the previous summer at Wimbledon. Then Azarenka won the next two tournaments she played and held the No. 1 ranking for much of the next year, including during her successful defense of her Australian Open title the next year.It’s natural that an athlete who is playing her first major final against a player who has been there before would be an underdog. And it’d be unfair to expect the player to repeat her performance at the next major, rather than regressing a bit to the mean. Plus, the women who have broken through recently are young and have time to return to the sport’s most prominent matches.Among the six most recent first-time major finalists, Sara Errani was the oldest at the time of her breakthrough. She had just turned 25 when she reached the 2012 French Open final, relatively young in the aging sport of tennis. Four of the others were younger than 24 when they reached their first Grand Slam final. But only Bouchard was younger at her first breakthrough than Kvitova and Azarenka were.
2014Kings1 2015Blackhawks1 Corsi is event-, score- and venue-adjusted.Source: Puckon.net, Hockey-Reference.com When the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup on Sunday night, it lifted Sidney Crosby’s standing among the game’s all-time greats and completed the redemption-story arc for once-maligned winger Phil Kessel. But it also provided some measure of atonement for hockey’s advanced statistics, which had been suffering through one of their worst seasons since hitting the scene in the mid- to late 2000s.For instance, “Corsi” — the proportion of total shot attempts (including misses and blocks) that a team amasses in its games — is a stathead favorite because it tracks well with possession time, making it a good long-term predictor of a team’s success. But Corsi also did a relatively poor job of telling us where a team would finish in the standings this season: 2009Penguins13 Stanley Cup winners have great Corsi ranks 2011Bruins6 2016Penguins2 2008Red Wings1 2012Kings6 2007Ducks8 And despite Corsi’s track record in the playoffs, the numbers were dealt a few early blows when the Los Angeles Kings (who ranked No. 1 in regular-season Corsi by some distance), the Anaheim Ducks (No. 5) and the Chicago Blackhawks (No. 9 this year but No. 1 last season) all bowed out in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.But things got a little better for the stats as the postseason grinded along. The Eastern Conference finals pitted the Penguins (No. 2) and the Lightning (No. 3) in an elite Corsi-off, while the sixth-ranked Blues made it to within two wins of the cup final in the West. At No. 11, the Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks weren’t anyone’s idea of a possession powerhouse — they would have been the lowest-ranked champ since the Penguins, of all teams, won in 2009 — but Pittsburgh’s victory ultimately contributed to a stat that still stands out as surprising (and impressive) for a sport that, at times, seems so random: 55 percent of Cup winners since the lockout have finished either first or second in Corsi. 2013Blackhawks1 2006Hurricanes15 SEASONCUP WINNERCORSI RANK 2010Blackhawks1 The fact that Pittsburgh did it in such possession-heavy style — the Penguins outshot the Sharks 353 to 267 in the final — was just an added bit of vindication for the numbers. Hockey’s advanced analytics movement still has a long way to go in its evolution, but even in a down year for the metrics, the cup winner ended up being a team with proven statistical bona fides.
OSU sophomore linebacker Raekwon McMillan (5) celebrates during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 7 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won 28-14. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorThe undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes are stocked with talent. Household names such as redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller and junior running back Ezekiel Elliott immediately come to mind whenever the Buckeyes are mentioned.Yet, there’s one player deserving of such notoriety that has flown under the radar for quite some time now.Through the first nine games of the season, sophomore linebacker Raekwon McMillan has quietly led the Buckeyes in total tackles with 83, good for third most in the Big Ten. McMillan has not only capably anchored the middle of OSU’s stout defense, but he’s become the heart and soul of a unit that has been the single most consistent entity on the team. His conservative temperament on the field explains the lack of buzz coming from the national media. He leaves the boisterous celebrations to the likes of other notable names on the defense, like junior defensive end Joey Bosa and his signature shrug.In spite of the shuttered spotlight, McMillan has outshined his fellow starting linebackers, senior Joshua Perry and redshirt sophomore Darron Lee. Overall, though, he’s been as good and as consistent as any linebacker in the country.Averaging roughly nine tackles per game, few teams have been able to successfully move the rock against the McMillan-led front seven of the Buckeyes. His sophomore campaign is going so well, in fact, that he’s been named as one of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which is given annually to the best linebacker in college football.With Curtis Grant currently pursuing a career in the NFL, McMillan has stepped up big time in what is his first season as a full-time starter. He attributes much of his success to newfound confidence, saying as much on Monday. “I wouldn’t say comfortable, but I would say confident,” McMillan said. “I’m out there making calls on the field; calling things out as I see it. Last year, I was more tentative on the field. But this year, I’m more confident in what I’m saying and I’m saying it loud.”That confidence is something that has helped the Buckeyes to a top-15 ranking in total defense. Despite that high level of play, McMillan is still yearning for more.“We’re steadily getting better every week,” he said. “That was one of our things at the beginning of the season: to progress every week and to be playing your best football at the end of the season. And I think we’re working toward playing our best football at the end of the season.”With only three more games left on the Buckeyes’ regular-season schedule, McMillan will look to continue what has been nothing short of tremendous play at the middle linebacker position. Guys like Bosa, Lee and Perry may make all of the headlines, but it’s No. 5 who quietly serves as the integral leader of the defense. All things considered, McMillan may just be the best kept secret in all of college football, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
On an overcast afternoon at Huntington Park, the Columbus Clippers were able to win their second-straight game over the Syracuse Chiefs on Sunday, 6-3.Following a 13-2 win on Saturday night, the Columbus offense came out firing on all cylinders early in Sunday’s contest.After Columbus starting pitcher Yohan Pino made quick work of the Chiefs’ top order, the Clippers’ offense picked up where it left off Saturday night plating two quick runs in the first inning and three more in the second.Despite a Michael Brantley groundout to start the bottom of the first, RBI singles from Shelley Duncan and Brian Buscher resulted in an early 2-0 Clippers lead.In the top of the second, Pino struggled to find the command he started the game with, but a strong throw to home plate from left fielder Brantley after a Chief’s double curbed the Chiefs’ offensive push at one run.In the home half of the second, the Chiefs’ Collin Balester once again had trouble finding the strike zone and after two walks, Jason Donald made him pay with a two out, two RBI triples that pushed the Clippers lead to 4-1.“We took advantage of the guy falling behind in counts,” Donald said. “Once he started falling behind in counts he gave us some good pitches and we started driving them.”Catcher Carlos Santana got in on the second inning fun as well, doubling off the wall in right center to score Donald before Duncan’s fly out to left ended the offensive surge at 5-1.Pino responded to the offensive help received from his teammates, shaking off his second-inning struggles and settling in on the mound.Over six innings of work, Pino held the chiefs to three runs on seven hits to push his undefeated record this season to 4-0.“He did a good job of not backing down and going after hitters,” Donald said. “He did a great job today just pounding the zone and continuing to throw strikes.”After adding an insurance run on a Jose Constanza RBI blooper to centerfield in the sixth, Pino was pulled in favor of reliever Frank Hermann, who continued Columbus’ strong performance from the mound.Pitching two innings of no-hit baseball in the seventh and eighth, Hermann gave way to closer Jess Todd in the ninth, who sealed the victory for the Clippers with his second save of the year.Clippers Manager Mike Sarbaugh said overall he was pleased with his team’s performance.“We scored some runs to separate ourselves for the lead and we were able to hold it,” Sarbaugh said. “The bullpen, especially Frank Hermann, threw the ball well today.”The Clippers will return to Huntington Park on Monday with a chance to lock up the series win in the third game of their four-game stand with the Chiefs.“I think our goal going in is always to try and win a series, but we just have to take it one game at a time,” Sarbaugh said. “Each day is a new day and we just have to go out and play hard and hope good things happen.”With Sunday’s win Columbus now sits three games ahead of the Toledo Mud Hens for the International League’s Western Division at 16-9.
The 2011-12 Ohio State men’s basketball schedule was released Tuesday and a 31-game schedule awaits players, students and alumni alike. OSU begins its 2011 campaign with a seven-game home stand at the Schottenstein Center. After a Nov. 6 exhibition game against Walsh, the Buckeyes will open regular season play on Nov. 11 against Wright State. Four days later, the Buckeyes will get the first of several early-season tests when they host Florida, which claimed back-to-back NCAA national titles in 2006 and 2007. The four-time national champion Duke Blue Devils, along with coach Mike Krzyzewski, will then visit the Schott on Nov. 29 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Buckeyes’ first road game will come on Dec. 10 when they visit the University of Kansas’ famed Allen Fieldhouse, named for the late, former Jayhawks’ coach, Dr. F.C. “Phog” Allen. That matchup with the Jayhawks is one of 16 OSU games scheduled to be televised nationally by CBS, ESPN or ESPN2. The Buckeyes will close out the home portion of their schedule on either Feb. 25 or 26 against Wisconsin. OSU finishes the regular season with road games on Feb. 29 and March 4, 2012, at Northwestern and Michigan, respectively. The Big Ten conference tournament will take place from March 8-11. OSU finished its 2010-11 campaign with a 34-3 record, which included an undefeated, 20-0 record at the Schott. The Buckeyes were eliminated in the third round of the NCAA tournament on a last-second shot by Kentucky’s then-freshman guard Brandon Knight, who gave the Wildcats a 62-60 win. The Buckeyes lost David Lighty, Dallas Lauderdale and Jon Diebler to graduation, but return freshmen forwards Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas and guard Aaron Craft, as well as guard William Buford, the team’s lone senior.
Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) calls out a play in the Ohio State-Maryland game on Oct. 7. Ohio State won 62-14. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorAfter Saturday’s 62-14 victory against Maryland, Ohio State rose one spot from No. 10 to No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.The Buckeyes are one of four Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25. Penn State, which beat Northwestern 31-7 Saturday, rose to No. 3 this week. Michigan dropped to No. 17 following its 14-10 loss to Michigan State Saturday night. The Spartan victory put Michigan State in the top 25 for the first time this season as it appeared at No. 21 in the rankings. Wisconsin rose to No. 7 after defeating Nebraska 38-17. No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Washington round out the top five. Ohio State will look to continue its rise up the rankings Saturday when the Buckeyes take on Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, at 7:30 p.m.AP PollAlabama (43)Clemson (18)Penn StateGeorgiaWashingtonTCUWisconsinWashington StateOhio StateAuburnMiami (Fl.)OklahomaUSCOklahoma StateVirginia TechNotre DameMichiganSouth FloridaSan Diego StateNorth Carolina StateMichigan StateUCFStanfordTexas TechNavy
Exit slip of the northbound #M1 is closed at 11:Luton due to an incident – long delays (16:41)— Total Travel South E (@Traffic_SouthE) September 22, 2016 Sixteen people have been detained after police received reports of immigrants in a lorry travelling on the M1.The vehicle was stopped on the motorway on Thursday afternoon shortly before 3pm.Police intercepted the vehicle near junction 11 for Dunstable, Bedfordshire.The lorry is reported to have begun its journey in Romania and was heading northwards from Essex. Credit:South Beds News Agency Bedfordshire Police said: “We were called at approximately 2.55pm by Hertfordshire Constabulary after receiving reports of immigrants in a lorry heading towards Bedfordshire on the M1 northbound.”A number of officers attended and detained 16 people after the lorry was stopped just before junction 11.”The ambulance service is in attendance and will be taking some people to hospital as a precaution before they are taken to custody.”A spokesman for the force told the BBC that the driver was Romanian, “so it may be those on baord came from Romania”. The group were assessed by the East of England Ambulance Service. They were said to be in a stable condition.A police helicopter was deployed to search the area for any more suspected illegal immigrants.The case will now be passed on to staff at the UK Border Agency. The incident called tailbacks on the motorway for drivers. @Traffic_M1 what’s going on after the dunstable turn off (northbound) stationary traffic, nothing moving— Lisa Hayley Roberts (@LisaHRoberts) September 22, 2016 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.
John Richard Jones QC, 58, and his wife Heather of Wrightington have been granted permission to be buried at the churchCredit:John Morris / Alamy Stock Photo They said that the application would allow others to reserve graves, filling up the churchyard, which has just 90 slots left. Mr Jones, 58, was baptised and confirmed at the church and the couple were married in the church in 2000. He also lived in the parish between 1959 and 1995. His grandparents and father are buried in the same churchyard. John Bullimore, Chancellor of the Diocese of Blackburn, said that the QC, who wanted to reserve spots for him and his wife, should not be penalised even if they do not attend the church regularly. Mr Bullimore, a judge in the Church of England’s Consistory Court, said there were “no extra Brownie points” to be gained by frequent church attendance. He said he believed the testimony of the rector, Reverend Canon Andrew Holliday, who said the couple had gone from being “occasional” to weekly attenders since their son was confirmed. 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. John Richard Jones QC A top barrister has won a dispute with villagers over reserving grave space in a churchyard – despite their claims that he never came to church.John and Heather Jones applied to be buried in St Wilfrid’s churchyard in Standish, near Wigan, despite living five miles away, outside the parish. Locals objected to the reservation, saying that Mr Jones did not attend the church as much as he claimed and that there was a policy against reserving spaces in the churchyard. Many of them said they would like to have reserved spaces themselves, but had not done so because they believed the rules did not allow it. He added that because the couple were on the parish electoral roll, they had the same rights to be buried in the churchyard as those who were resident there, and added that villagers’ belief that the parish had a policy against reserving grave spaces was “mistaken” and that there was “no such policy that I can implement”. Mr Bullimore added that his judgement should be “carefully explained” to the congregation to avoid further misunderstanding.The Consistory Court is a medieval body established by William the Conqueror which makes rulings on church property, including headstones, pews and burial plots.Many Church of England churchyards are now full and are not accepting any more burials. How do I get buried in a churchyard?Parishioners have right of burial in their local churchyard, as long as there is space. This includes people who are on the parish electoral roll at their time of death and anyone who dies within the parish. The Church of England says that this applies whether or not they attend church. A specific grave space can be reserved in advance by applying for a “faculty” from the Consistory Court. Applicants must first discuss their application with a minister, who will give them a plan of the churchyard with the space they wish to reserve indicated. They must then fill out a form called Petition for the Reservation of a Grave Space, and the local priest must give their assent. A fee must be paid to apply for the faculty. This varies from diocese to diocese but is usually around £250 to £300. Reservations usually last for a limited period of time, often around 30 years.
No adornments please, we’re BritishCredit:Alamy Her warning are in accordance with regulations from the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts and which in November 2016 changed the breed’s standard to stop people showing dogs with bows in their topknots.The wording reads: “It is strongly recommended that the hair on head is tied up without adornment.”But Mrs Maule’s admonition has prompted an angry backlash from owners overseas, where bows are regarded as more acceptable and who were planning to exhibit their dogs in Britain.Kathy Garcia, a shih tzu breeder from Rancho Palos Verdes, California, said: “The self-righteousness of the statement and the overall UK arrogance about their shih tzu rubs the rest of us wrong. The bow is completely irrelevant when it comes to judging the dog…..such a ridiculous thing for her to say!”Sharon Murray, an Australian breeder, added: “For many of us putting bows in the top knot of our shih tzu is a long held tradition. To state it’s only done in an effort to misrepresent an exhibit is so offensive to those who have put many years into breeding high quality dogs but also enjoy using the bow.”Sydney breeder Greg Lamb said: “If a judge has been judging for 26 years they should be more than capable of judging structure regardless of a bow.”Mrs Maule says she has been taken aback by the vitriol aimed in her direction by shih tzu exhibitors she claims are “hell bent on being nasty”.She said she had only posted the note to help visitors from abroad who may not be aware of the rules regarding bows and topknots at UK shows.“I’ve been called a c— judge because supposedly I’m unable to judge under a bow,” she told Dog World magazine.“I’ve awarded challenge certificates for 26 years and have more experience in the breed than most. In America the bow is used to hide faults from the judge and it’s something we don’t want here in the UK.” The intensely passionate world of dog grooming has been riven by bitter divisions over one particularly delicate issue – decorative bows.Angry words have been exchanged after a judge warned exhibitors at Crufts, which opens in Birmingham on Thursday, that she would not judge shih tzus wearing bows or “adornments” of any sort.Pat Maule said such fripperies would not simply be permitted in the ring.In a post on a shih tzu Facebook group the veteran judge warned sternly: “Plain elastic band holding the topknot only please.” 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.
See the Guinness World Record highlights from the London Marathon over the last 10 years, including fastest time in a superhero costume and most consecutive runs in under three hours. 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.
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. Women’s body change to store large amounts of fat, which without breastfeeding may accumulate Credit:Andrew Matthews PA “The findings should encourage more widespread breastfeeding for the benefit of the mother as well as the child,” said Dr Zhengming Chen, Professor of Epidemiology, at Oxford University.”The study provides support for the World Health Organization’s recommendation that mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively for their first six months of life.”The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers say that breastfeeding may help restore a woman’s fat clearing systems after the birth. “Although we cannot establish the causal effects, the health benefits to the mother from breastfeeding may be explained by a faster “reset” of the mother’s metabolism after pregnancy,” said Dr Sanne Peters, research fellow at Oxford University. Just one in 200 women in Britain continuing breastfeeding after the first year Credit:Blend Images/Alamy Breastfeedingis not only beneficial for babies but it could prevent women suffering a stroke or developing heart disease in later life, scientists have concluded.Previous studies have suggested that mothers get short-term health benefits from breastfeeding, such as weight loss and lower cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels after pregnancy, but there have been no research into the long-term impact.When researchers at Oxford University and the Chinese Academy for Medical Sciences studied nearly 300,000 middle-aged women for eight years, they discovered that those who had breast fed were nine per cent less likely to develop heart disease and eight per cent less less likely to suffer a stroke.And the health benefits increased the longer they had breast fed their children. Women who put off the bottle until two years old lowered their risk of heart disease by 18 per cent, and stroke 17 per cent. For every additional six months after that the risk lowered by an extra four per cent and three per cent respectively. Although the authors cautioned that women who breastfeed may be more likely to engage in other beneficial health behaviors that lower their risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women who do not breastfeed, they said the findings provide more evidence of the long-term benefits for both mother and child. “Pregnancy changes a woman’s metabolism dramatically as she stores fat to provide the energy necessary for her baby’s growth and for breastfeeding once the baby is born. Breastfeeding could eliminate the stored fat faster and more completely.”British women have the some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world with just one in 200 women (0.5 per cent) still breastfeeding a year after becoming mothers. The figure is 23 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in the United States. The World Health Organisation recommends that all babies are breastfed for up to two years or longerOnly around two per cent of women is unable to lactate, and experts believe social reasons, such as the desire for life to return to normal after the birth, is behind the disparity. More than half of British babies have had some formula by the end of their first week, according to the University of Swansea. It is estimated that increasing breast feeding rates could save the NHS around £40 million a year.
Thousands of homes have been empty for more than a decadeCredit:id each month. Photographer: More than 11,000 homes across the country have been lying empty for longer than a decade, figures show.The data, collected from freedom of information requests to local authorities also showed that 60,000 properties had been empty for two years or more while just one in 13 councils make use of powers that would allow them to take over properties that have been empty for at least six months.Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said such properties should be used to provide homes for some of the most vulnerable in society and called for an urgent government review of the system.“At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a national scandal that thousands of homes across the country are sitting empty,” he said.The areas that responded with the largest number of homes empty for six months or more were Durham with 6,500, Leeds with 5,724, Bradford with 4,144, Cornwall with 3,273 and Liverpool with 3,093.An analysis of government figures last winter showed that the number of empty homes in the UK had nearly doubled in 20 years, with more than one million homes above those which are required for the number of households in the UK. Government data suggests that more than 200,000 homes in England with a total value of £43bn were empty for at least six months in 2016 but information on longer-term vacant properties is not routinely published. 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. Only 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales said they had made use of empty dwelling management orders (EDMO) in the past five years and of these, only six had used one in the past year.The Liberal Democrats, who conducted the research, called for reform of EDMOs and tougher powers for local councils to be able to bring long-term empty homes back into use.Mr Cable told the Guardian: “Councils need to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use. This must form part of a wider package to tackle the housing crisis, including building more homes on unused public sector land and clamping down on land-banking.”In total, councils returned about 23,000 empty homes back into use, including through direct action and the work of empty home teams.
Riders have told how their horses have been spooked by drones, throwing them off or bolting and only being brought under control after a struggle.Joanna Jeans said she was lucky to avoid a serious accident when a drone came within yards of of the horses she and her husband Simon were untacking after a ride in the Mendip Hills last November.She told Horse & Hound: “Both horses went into full flight mode. Simon’s mare is very spooky, but luckily he managed to hang on to her.”Ms Jeans said the drone operator appeared to be indifferent. “He could have caused a serious accident, as well as killing one of our horses,” she said. “But he was completely deadpan. I don’t think he had any understanding of what he’d done.”The Government is currently drafting a new bill to allow police to order drone owners to ground their machines and force the owners to register their drones before being able to fly them.The BHS said it had lobbied for tougher legislation on the use of drones, with heavy penalties for owners who fly their machines near riders, above fields where horses are tethered and above stables.A BHS spokesman said: “Our members are increasingly concerned about the use of drones where they ride. FLying drones near horses can have consequences. Users should avoid flying over horses – in fields or ridden.”The CLA, which represents rural land and business owners, has joined the call for tougher rules.“An increase in recreational drones with cameras is a worry to farmers and landowners over privacy, potential for damage to property and the safety of people with livestock.“We will continue to push for change to the Civil Aviation Act, so users would need landowners permission to fly over their land.”Baroness Sugg, the aviation minister, said the new legislation would “strike a balance”, allowing the majority of users to carry on flying responsibly while still allowing drone technology to be used by businesses and public services.She added however: “If we are to realise the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns.” Increasing numbers of riders are being thrown from their horses and suffering injuries after their steeds have been spooked by low flying dronesAround a dozen incidents of drone horse scares have been reported over the past year, but the actual figure is feared to be far higher – with many riders not reporting their experiences.The British Horse Society has now called for the law to be strengthened to allow police to clamp down on drone owners who fly them close to horses.The society has said the 11 incidents of drone scares reported to it between 2016 and 2017 is “just the tip of the iceberg” and that it has received numerous from members worried about the increased use of drones.Alex Hiscox, the BHS’ director of Safety, told The Telegraph: “We’ve received dozens of calls from concerned members, who are worried about the increase in drones.“Many drone users may not realise that they can frighten horses, causing them to quickly move away from what they perceive as a threat. This can cause them to run and injure themselves, or if they are being ridden, could result in serious injury of the horse and rider.“We are asking drone users to be mindful and not set off drones around horses. Avoid flying a drone near stables or bridleways. We have met with the Department of Transport to discuss this issue and will continue to raise awareness.” 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 drone being flown safely above Goodwood Motor Circuit in SussexCredit:Christopher Pledger/The Telegraph
A BBC antiques expert claims he has received death threats for supporting a near-total ban on ivory sales in the UK.James Lewis, who has featured on Flog it, Bargain Hunt, and Cash in the Attic, helped politicians draw up new laws regarding ivory sales after he gave evidence advocating the move.The 45-year-old auctioneer claims his involvement has resulted in death threats from figures within the antique industry who fear toughened legislation could harm their careers.He said: “I got a couple of phone calls saying, ‘I don’t know why you’re worried about the elephants being shot, the way you’re going you’ll be next’. Then emails written in red. Nasty things.“I know a lot of antiques dealers don’t like it, but it (the ban) is needed.”Current rules state ivory cannot be sold if it less than 70 years old, but ‘worked’ or carved items before 1947 can be traded legally.The bill has its final reading in the House of Lords this month and could represent some of the tightest restrictions on ivory sales in the world. 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. Mr Lewis said: “When the new ivory ban was being drawn up here at Westminster, I showed politicians this little piece of ivory. It was offered to me at an antiques fair in London, and it was described as Japanese, about 1880. “I had it tested and it wasn’t that period at all. It was taken from an elephant killed much later than that. It could even be as late as 2005. “This proves that modern, poached ivory is for sale at our antiques fairs here in the UK.”Although Mr Lewis feels threatened by the menacing emails and calls, he said he had not reported any communications to police.He said: “There was no point. I didn’t see it as an immediate threat to my life.”
Royal Mail has detected a rise in Dark Web dealers sending drugs through one of its sorting offices, police have revealed.A number of Christmas and greetings cards containing cannabis have been intercepted in recent days at Royal Mail’s office in Swindon, addressed to destinations nationwidePolice were alerted by staff who could smell the Class-B drug through the envelope.Inspector David Tippets, from South Swindon Police, said the force had identified around 30 similar packages in Swindon over the last six months.”It’s normally cannabis, because it’s got such a strong smell, if it’s in an envelope and there’s an obvious lump it gets easily identified,” he said.”Some dealing must go on online but in Swindon we deal with the more traditional methods of dealing, with a customer being supplied directly or by a runner as a cash business. “Certainly the birthday card we found is still effectively supplying controlled drugs. Money doesn’t have to change hands for it to be an offence.”Generally what we do is seize the item at the sorting office and it gets destroyed and we record it as intelligence.”Police can have difficulty in tracking down the senders of drugs by post. A postal worker sorting cards and lettersCredit:Joe Giddens/PA It has has become a popular method among dealers who use encrypted online market places to sell and deal drugs which are then concealed in harmless-looking packages and cards.Around 800 cases of posted drugs are thought to have been reported in the past year.A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Royal Mail understands the tremendous harm that illegal drugs cause in the community.“We work closely on the ground with law enforcement agencies, including the police for domestic mail and with Border Force for international mail.“We support these agencies to stop the carriage and delivery of illegal drugs that are ordered on the dark web, We also encourage our postmen and women to report to their managers any suspicious items which we then promptly refer to the authorities.” 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.