Ahead of Wednesday night’s Chicago Blackhawks-Los Angeles Kings game, I wrote about the “hottest” goalies of the Stanley Cup playoffs to date. No. 1 on the list? Chicago’s Corey Crawford, who promptly had the worst game of his playoff career, allowing five goals on 30 shots in the Kings’ runaway victory.It probably seems self-serving not to merely chalk this up to a bad prediction (granted, I did note that “today’s hot goalie isn’t guaranteed to be a success tomorrow”) or even a jinx of some kind. But it might be more instructive if taken as an example of a few interesting philosophical concepts in sports.First, there’s the impact of randomness on performance. Goaltending statistics are incredibly noisy in the small sample of a game. It takes 3,000 shots faced for save percentage to be half-skill and half-luck; Crawford faced 1/100th of that amount in Game 2. Even the best prediction isn’t going to be very accurate in a given game when it goes up against that kind of volatility.Also, because of the outsize role of random chance, a goaltender’s numbers are a good illustration for the gulf between predictive and “retrodictive” metrics, which can also be framed as a tug-of-war between ability and value. A statistic that places its emphasis on value will reward past performance, regardless of whether that performance was driven by luck or skill. So when a mediocre goalie steals a game against a good team, he gets full credit for that performance in a retrodictive metric such as our “hotness” statistic — even if he’s unlikely to repeat it. But a predictive stat will not give extra credit for a fluky performance, beyond using the evidence from that performance to (slightly) update its expectations.Finally, some superstitious FiveThirtyEight readers may think I “stat-cursed” Crawford by anointing him the hottest goaltender of the 2014 postseason. There’s a long tradition of athletes and teams sustaining declines after being singled out for achievements. But in these kinds of cases, regression to the mean is the more likely culprit. To appear on the cover of the “Madden NFL” video game or Sports Illustrated, a player had to play at an incredibly high level, and was usually aided by luck (which includes staying healthy). When that luck dissipates, it seems there’s a curse attached to the accolade.This is more true for the hottest goalie list, because I set up that metric to find players who were playing above a level that could be explained by their previous performance baselines and even the shooting skill of the opposing team. Whatever’s left over is, by definition, going to be fueled largely by luck, and therefore primed for regression.In fairness to Blackhawks fans, regression rarely comes as abruptly (or as far in the opposite direction) as it did for Crawford on Wednesday night. Predictors who forecasted Crawford to allow five goals (if there were any) would have been engaging in the gambler’s fallacy, thinking he was “due” for bad luck to offset his previous fortune. In reality, luck is random. And the interplay between luck and skill is what makes sports interesting, especially in the high-stakes setting of the NHL’s conference finals.
ABC3160 ESPN3103 On Monday night the most anticipated NBA game of the year was played between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. Did you get a chance to watch it? No? You don’t have NBA TV, the peculiar channel that the NBA usually dumps its trash games onto? Damn shame, it was a lot of fun.Why on earth the best game of the year was on a network available in less than half of households with a television in them is a pretty good question! The NBA has deals with ESPN (in 81 percent of homes with a TV, also where I work), TNT (about 82 percent coverage) and ABC (you probably have ABC). In fairness, the schedule of the year’s nationally televised games is released way before the season starts, and it’s possible that a game between two of the best teams in the league was missed by the other carriers or simply couldn’t be crammed into one of the marquee network nights. Nationally televised games also tend to err on the side of featuring teams from major media markets rather than legitimately good basketball — this is why a wretched Lakers team parading around the mummified Kobe Bryant had, at the beginning of the season, 19 national games, tied for seventh in the league.Still, it got us wondering: NBA TV does suck, right? It’s not just in our head? It isn’t just a cheap joke about quarantining the Nets-Hawks playoff series in the farthest hinterlands on hand? TNT3133 NETWORKAVG. COMBINED ELO OF MATCHUP NBA TV3038 Yeah, it’s not in our heads. Games on NBA TV are of a lower quality by Elo than those on other networks. And that’s with those other guys eating an unfair share of Kobe this year, and a commensurate number of awful Lakers games the past two years.I pulled as many television schedules going back to the 2011-12 season1I used the Wayback Machine to get the schedules from 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16. Because of incomplete coverage, it’s possible I missed a few televised games relevant to our set. However, I pulled about as many games as expected based on contracts going back, so the effect would be minor. as I could. I cleaned the data2Stop announcing things in PDFs, people. Also, that 2011 lockout has a habit of showing up and making me furious out of nowhere. and linked it up to the data from our NBA Elo interactive. Combining the Elo scores of the teams gives us a broad look at the game quality. Higher numbers mean the average team quality is higher in the matchup.3Elo is especially useful here because one of its characteristics is using past performance to inform a team’s current strength; this is handy for the model, but for our purposes also doubles as a proxy for how long a team has been relevant and presumably in demand. This means a matchup between a great team and a mediocre team could score about the same as two decent teams facing each other. I consider those both good outcomes, with two sucky teams playing as a bad outcome. The heuristic isn’t perfect, but bear with me.The difference between a game on ABC and NBA TV is 122 points. For some perspective, that’s roughly the difference between watching your team play the 53-29 Clippers and watching it mud wrestle the 45-37 Grizzlies. But even more, it’s not totally clear that the NBA is good at figuring out which of its basketball games are ripe for a national audience!Monday’s game between the Warriors (an 1809 Elo rating going in) and Spurs (1782) was, needless to say, an outlier.The average team Elo in the whole set — comprising both nationally televised games and the League Pass refuse — for the period we’re looking at is 1511. So we can say a matchup between two totally average teams would have roughly the combined matchup Elo of 3022. The games on NBA TV were at a 3038, just barely better than what a dude who knows nothing about basketball would pick randomly.I have seen a vision of hell, and it is a network where the only respite from watching Grizzlies-Pelicans ad infinitum is an occasional D-League game.
Arsenal719 Man. City544 Chelsea has opened up a seven-point lead on its Premier League rivals, and is threatening to run away with the title. Our ratings don’t consider the Blues to be significantly stronger than the other teams at the top of the table: We narrowly rate their defense as the league’s best, but their offense as just the third-best behind Arsenal’s and Liverpool’s. But even though Chelsea isn’t necessarily the best team in the league, seven points is a large margin with 17 games to play; we give Chelsea a 62 percent chance of taking the title. If our forecasted standings hold, both Manchester United and Manchester City will be left out of the top four for the first time in Premier League history. Chelsea96%62% Barcelona43%25% TEAMMAKING CHAMP. LG.WINNING PREMIER LG. CHANCE OF … Eintracht34<1 The group stage of the Champions League is behind us, with relatively few surprises. Tottenham and Dynamo Kiev probably were the two best teams eliminated: They had a 68 percent and 58 percent chance of advancing, respectively. AS Monaco and Benfica advanced in their stead.The knockout stage begins on February 14. Barcelona, which faces Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16, remains the favorite to win the title at 25 percent. Bayern, Real and Juventus are close behind. We give the other 12 teams just a 37 percent chance of winning, combined. Leicester City’s magic carried the club through the group stage, but its poor Premier League play has lowered its ratings. We give Leicester just a 29 percent chance of advancing past Sevilla to the quarterfinals, and a 1 percent chance of making the final.Check out our latest soccer predictions. Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League Sevilla823 Tottenham709 Real Madrid2312 Who will win the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Champions League? See our predictions » TEAMMAKING CHAMP. LG.WinningLa Liga Man. United29<1 Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of reaching the Champions League final Since FiveThirtyEight relaunched with ESPN, we’ve created predictions for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NWSL, the men’s and women’s World Cup, college football, college basketball and tennis. Now we’re adding another set for the world’s most popular sport. Introducing: Club soccer predictions!Our new ratings — which are a revamped version of the ESPN Soccer Power Index (SPI) of national teams, adapted to the club game — use in-game player and ball-location data to assess the quality of shots and opportunities that teams generate. This gives us a better picture of performance than can be gleaned from game outcomes alone; you can read more in our full methodology here. Based on each team’s performance we calculate an offensive and defensive rating, which are used to predict the outcome of matches over the rest of the season.Right now, our predictions cover Europe’s five strongest club leagues — England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 — and the Champions League. Our prediction pages are available in English and Spanish. Here’s how each league stands.Premier League TEAMMAKING FINALWINNING CHAMP. LG. Atletico Madrid68<1 Lazio222 Roma7823 Real Madrid>99%49% Bayer17<1 CHANCE OF … Arsenal105 Dortmund146 On the other side of the table, 2015-16 Cinderella Leicester City has fallen hard. While at the start of the season we projected the Foxes to finish ninth, they currently sit in 15th place, and we give them a 12 percent chance of being relegated. Swansea City, which skyrocketed from the fourth tier to the Premier League between 2005 and 2011, has a 61 percent chance of relegation.La Liga TEAMMAKING CHAMP. LG.WINNING LIGUE 1 Hertha Berlin32<1 Hoffenheim27<1 FC Cologne14<1 RB Leipzig836 AC Milan11<1 Bayern is in the driver’s seat here, seeking its fifth-straight Bundesliga title. RB Leipzig — which played in Germany’s second division last season but isn’t exactly a heartwarming underdog — is only three points behind in the table. Our ratings consider RB to be a much inferior team to Bayern, though, and goal differential agrees. We peg Dortmund as the second-best offense and fourth-best defense in the league, but an ugly 7-win, 6-draw, 3-loss start has the club in sixth place, with too much ground to make up.The battle for Champions League qualification is a bit more exciting. Bayern is a lock and we expect RB and Dortmund to qualify as well, but the league’s fourth spot is wide open. Hoffenheim — which narrowly avoided relegation last season — has a 27 percent chance of completing an impressive turnaround by finishing in the top four.Serie A Paris Saint-Germain entered the 2016-17 season as a heavy favorite to win its fifth-straight league title, with our preseason projections giving PSG a 91 percent chance against its relatively weak opposition. Twenty matches in, PSG sits at third in the table with 42 points, three behind Nice and Monaco. We have ourselves a race!We expect the title battle to come down to PSG and Monaco, which are now closely matched in our ratings (with Nice considerably lower). Fourth-place Lyon has only 34 points in 19 games, but it’s also much stronger than Nice and we expect the two clubs to closely contest the league’s third Champions League spot.Champions League Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League Bayern Munich>99%91% Liverpool7915 Napoli6413 Atalanta7<1 Dortmund803 Inter Milan211 Barcelona>9946 Italy’s club season also started with a clear favorite, as Juventus sought its sixth-straight title. The club currently holds a one-point lead with a game in hand, and we rate Juve’s defense as the best in Serie A. AS Roma and Napoli have slightly stronger offenses and a combined 36 percent chance of winning the league. Those three teams are the favorites to take the league’s three Champions League spots as well, with Lazio and both Milan clubs capable of making spoiler runs.Ligue 1 Monaco9748 CHANCE OF … CHANCE OF … PSG97%48% Sevilla94 Lyon512 Nice471 Real Madrid recently saw its 40-game unbeaten streak come to an end, but the club still holds a one-point lead in La Liga with a game in hand. Our ratings still consider third-place Barcelona to be the stronger team on both sides of the ball, which makes Real’s offense merely the second-best in the world. This leaves us with a neck-and-neck race for the league title, with a pivotal matchup between the two clubs looming in Madrid on April 23.Sevilla sits in second place, but we don’t expect the club to finish in first. Its goal differential is nearly half that of Real and Barcelona, and we rate Sevilla’s offense as about a goal per game worse than the other two teams’. Nevertheless, Sevilla is in good position to qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the top four in La Liga, after having qualified as the Europa League champion in each of the last two seasons.Bundesliga CHANCE OF … TEAMMAKING CHAMP. LG.WINNING SERIE A Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League Juventus93%60% Villarreal22<1 CHANCE OF … Juventus2110 Man. City146 Real Sociedad18<1 Napoli84 TEAMMAKING CHAMP. LG.WINNING BUNDESLIGA Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League Bayern Munich2816 Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League Atletico Madrid125
One day after being shut out by the Louisville Cardinals, the Ohio State baseball team was left wondering where its bats have been.The explosive hitting returned Wednesday for the Buckeyes, though they lost their second-straight game to the Cardinals (38-7, 14-4 in the Big East), 10-8, as throwing errors once again cost OSU (24-17, 8-7 in the Big Ten).Louisville third baseman Phil Wunderlich hit his 18th home run of the season, a solo shot in the top of the fourth inning off of OSU pitcher Brett McKinney to take a 9-5 lead.OSU catcher Dan Burkhart, who hit 5-for-5 on the afternoon, had an RBI single in the sixth inning, and center fielder Michael Stephens added another RBI single later in the inning to cut the deficit to 9-7.The Buckeyes closed the deficit to 9-8 after right fielder Brian DeLucia scored on a double play.In the eighth inning, Louisville shortstop Adam Duvall added an insurance run to push the final score to 10-8, singling home center fielder Drew Haynes who reached base on a throwing error.“I liked the way we competed a little bit,” OSU coach Bob Todd said. “But we dug ourselves in too deep a hole.”The error was OSU’s third of the game, which has been an Achilles’ heel for the team during a 3-8 stretch.Despite allowing eight runs in the first three innings, the Buckeyes responded with a Burkhart solo home run in the first, two runs in the second and two more off of an RBI double from shortstop Cory Rupert in the third to stay within reach at 8-5.“It was a good feeling to finally get a zero off the stats,” said Burkhart, who hit his first home run of the season Wednesday.Both starters, OSU’s Eric Shinn and Louisville’s Bob Revesz, failed to pitch more than two innings, as the teams combined for 10 runs in the first two frames.McKinney went three innings, giving up only the one home run to the Cardinals.DeLucia suffered a pinky finger injury in the seventh inning after being hit by a pitch.“Right now, it’s just a bruise” DeLucia said. “But I will know more tomorrow.”After only registering five hits in Tuesday night’s 6-0 loss, the Buckeyes pounded out eight runs and 14 hits on the afternoon.“Putting up eight runs should give our hitters confidence for the weekend series against Illinois,” Burkhart said.With the win, Louisville coach Dan McDonnell has won five straight contests against OSU in his three years as coach of the Cardinals.“They’re in the top 10 for a reason,” Todd said.OSU will host a three-game series against conference foe Illinois at Bill Davis Stadium beginning at 6:35 p.m. Friday.
Jeff Deibel, in his 35th year of stringing racquets for the OSU men’s and women’s tennis teams, is on call for the Buckeyes 24/7.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorOhio State’s tennis teams go through an estimated 1,600 racquet strings a year and someone has to be there to make sure the racquets are restrung for practice, matches and tournaments.Jeff Deibel has been stringing racquets at OSU for 35 years and is on call 24/7 for the Buckeyes men’s and women’s tennis teams.“I have strung on holidays on quite a few occasions,” Deibel said of his constant work schedule. “I have strung on Christmas Eve … I have strung on New Year’s Eve, I’ve also strung on New Year’s Day.”Deibel holds a day job as an accounting manager at Ice Miller LLP. But after work, he goes to the indoor facility to pick up equipment in need of new strings.“It could turn out to be an hour’s worth of work, to six or seven hours worth of work depending on what kind of mood they’re in,” Deibel said.By they, Deibel is speaking of the players who sometimes hold off until the last minute to turn in their racquets, he said.Sometimes that can mean racquets turning up just before the players have to leave for their next match.“You find guys and girls emptying their bags, having memory loss of when they turned stuff in last,” Deibel said.Although waiting until the last minute to turn in a racquet isn’t ideal, Deibel said some players go “overboard” turning racquets in early.“Last time I looked, you can only play with one racquet at a time, even though they think they got to have three fresh racquets for every match,” Deibel said.The players are aware that they do this to Deibel, but they look at it as a precaution, redshirt-senior Kevin Metka said.“We give him so many racquets sometimes, especially after matches he gets a little angry with us … We don’t want our racquet to be almost broken and then you go into a match and you break it in an important point,” Metka said.Deibel got his start while attending OSU, when former coach John Daly approached him to string for the Buckeyes.“One year turned into two, and two years turned into 10, and now we’re on our second coach,” Deibel said.In 1999, Ty Tucker took over the OSU men’s tennis program, and although the staff continued to change, Deibel continued on.“He was stringing racquets when I was playing here, so I’ve known him well and obviously we have complete faith in what he does,” Tucker, who played for OSU from 1989-1991 said.A lot has changed over the years, including Deibel’s responsibilities.Part of that change has come with an advancement in racquet technology, as well as the number of different racquets players might have, Deibel said.“It used to be a handful of racquets and a handful of strings,” he said. “Now there are so many different racquets and so many different strings.”The players choose the type of string they want for their racquets, along with the tension they prefer when coming to OSU. But finding the right strings isn’t always easy.“They have an idea of what they want, on the string side it’s a personal preference,” Deibel said. “If they are playing with an expensive string … we may not be able to get it, it might just be too much out of the budget.“They rely on me to figure something out.”There is the occasional player who is more picky than others about their racquets, Deibel said. How people string a racquet can vary and, in some cases, players will disagree with the choice made by Deibel.“Most of them, as long as it’s the right tension and the right feel, they don’t have any complaints, but there are some that can just be ridiculous,” he said. “Couple of them have sent them back and told me they don’t like the way it was done and then we have a come-to-Jesus meeting.”Deibel said he normally wins those meetings with backup from Tucker, who “tells them they’re being ridiculous.”“(Deibel) is a handful, but a good guy,” Tucker said.Come-to-Jesus meetings and all, the team and Deibel seem to have kept a good relationship overall.“He knows all of our racquets … He’s a really nice guy. We all love him,” Metka said.Even with all the time, complaints and last-minute phone calls, Deibel said his second job has a way of overall staying “sort of fun and interesting.”
Ohio State then-freshman Tre Leclaire maintains possession of the ball in the first quarter against Loyola Maryland in the first round of the NCAA tournament on May 14, 2017 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterAfter being pushed out of the NCAA’s top 20 for the first time this season following Saturday’s 12-7 loss to No. 5 Denver, the now-unranked Ohio State men’s lacrosse team must clash with No. 4 Notre Dame and prove it has what it takes to make it back.The Buckeyes have lost two games in the past two weeks and are 5-3 on a season that began with a three-game win-streak. The imposing Fighting Irish are 4-2 with wins against Denver and No. 10 Virginia, but they are also coming off Wednesday’s 13-12 loss to Michigan. Notre Dame’s impressive offense boasts sophomore midfielder Bryan Costabile and junior attack Ryder Garnsey who scored three and five goals, respectively, in the team’s close game against the Wolverines. Costabile’s hat-trick was his third of the season, while Garnsey added one more to his six career hat-tricks. Notre Dame senior defenseman John Sexton and senior attack Mikey Wynne were named the ACC’s Defensive and Offensive Players of the Week, respectively, and are forces Ohio State will have to contend with in its upcoming tilt with Notre Dame.The Buckeyes will need to rely on big performances from their key players to keep up with a solid Irish team. Ohio State freshman attack J.T. Bugliosi scored two goals against the Pioneers Saturday, while five other Buckeyes recorded goals. Sophomore attack Tre Leclaire had two assists in the game, tying his season high. Offensive and defensive efforts alike will need to work in tandem to keep the Irish at bay. The Buckeyes expect to play under sunny skies on Sunday when they welcome the Fighting Irish for a noon faceoff at Ohio Stadium.
Rachel Hunter and Brendan Cole reveal all in a Strictly Christmas special Credit:BBC Greg Rutherford covers upCredit:BBC Rutherford, the long jumper, said he has asked to avoid revealing too much of his chest, after seeing his body “out there” in his day job on a regular basis, while Balls said he is having no glitter or sequins. I genuinely have,” he said. “I’ve gone into costume and said ‘I do that so much in what I do, can I just not be naked please?’ So initially they [the costumes] are very conservative. T-shirt, blazer, the lot.”He added of showing off his chest: “I do it all the time for everything else, magazine shoots and whatever. I’d like to not be that guy who’s out there all the time.” Ed Ball has eschewed sequins and glitter, preferring a classic lookCredit:BBC Anastacia on the Strictly red carpetCredit:David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock Louise Redknapp has opted for a more demure outfit Credit:BBC “You take your age into consideration, and your family. I naturally as a person would take into consideration my circumstances because I think you owe that to yourself.”Balls, the 49-year-old former Shadow Chancellor, said he was having “no sequins and no glitter”, being “very classical” in his formal suits on the dance floor. Can I just not be naked please?Greg Rutherford 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 2014, dancer Ola Jordan warned skirts were getting shorter, admitting she understood why celebrities might now feel “uncomfortable” with expectations.“It is happening to the boys now,” she added. “The producers love it, they are taking the boys’ tops off.” The new series of Strictly will get underway tonight on BBC One, with an opening night show featuring the celebrities’ first dance and revealing their partners.Speaking ahead of the show, Rutherford, 29, said he had “specifically asked not to” take his shirt off. He told journalists he hoped to lose weight on the show, admitting getting in shape was one of the reasons his wife Yvette Cooper thought he should do it.Describing himself as looking like a “camp rugby player” on the dance floor, he added he had received support from fellow politicians who had text him to confess they “wished they could do it” too. Redknapp, the singer who has been married to footballer Jamie Redknapp for 19 years, said she had requested to have high necklines.“I’m the boring one,” she said. “I need to feel comfortable. Mark Foster, the swimming, became famous for his bare-chested antics in 2008Credit:BBC As the glitziest show on television, Strictly Come Dancing has never been afraid to show off its stars’ figures in all their glory.But this year’s contestants appear to have turned shy, as celebrities request more demure outfits to protect their modesty.Strictly contestants including Greg Rutherford, the Olympic athlete, Louise Redknapp, the pop star, and former Labour politician Ed Balls have disclosed they have made special requests to the costume department, toning down the revealing, sequinned suits of yore. The quartet will be joined on the Strictly dance floor by pop star Will Young, model Daisy Lowe, Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane, BBC presenter Naga Manchetty and Lesley Joseph, the actress and oldest woman to ever take part in the show at 70.This year’s cohort of completed by soap actors Danny Mac and Tameke Empson, presenters Laura Whitmore, Ore Oduba, Melvin Odoom, and television’s Judge Rinder who said he hoped his friend Benedict Cumberbatch would be supporting him in the Strictly audience.Strictly Come Dancing begins on Saturday at 6.50pm on BBC One. Redknapp, a 41-year-old mother of two, said she wanted to take her age and family “into consideration”, politely asking for higher necklines and longer skirts than are often seen on screen.This season may be a notable difference from previous years, where celebrity contestants have joined professional dancers in high hems, bare midriffs and tight lycra. Anastacia, the singer who will be donating her television fee to breast cancer charities after undergoing a double mastectomy, said she will also be paying special attention to her costume.”I have big scars on my back which I don’t know whether I’ll have the guts to reveal or whether I’ll have to cover them up,” she said, adding she had initially told the dress department: “I’d really like you to reserve my costumes to be a little more tailored to this.”
Three servicemen who face being prosecuted for manslaughter over the death of an Iraqi teenager were cleared a decade ago, after it emerged that key witnesses had lied about the claims and were paid expenses in exchange for their testimony.The Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday that three soldiers, including a decorated major, have been told that they could be charged in relation to the death of a 19-year-old who drowned in 2003, after the invasion of Iraq.The three men, two of whom are still serving soldiers, face becoming the first servicemen to be prosecuted as a result of criminal investigations carried out by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat), which was set up in 2010 to examine allegations of abuse by troops. However, it has now emerged that the three were cleared by a military courtroom in a behind-closed-doors hearing a decade ago, after their defence teams proved that two key witnesses had lied and had been promised cash for their testimony by the Royal Military Police.The investigation followed the death, in May 2003, of Said Shabram, 19, who drowned in the Shatt al-Arab waterway, near the southern Iraqi city of Basra.A man who was with Mr Shabram claimed that the pair were forced into the water at gunpoint, by British soldiers, after being accused of looting electrical cable containing copper.The troops, however, say that the teenager fled into the waterway after being surrounded by locals who warned that the British would execute them, in a grisly echo of the practice employed by henchmen of Saddam Hussein. A scimitar of the Queens Dragoon Guards watches as a striker vehicle also of the Queens Dragoon Guards fires a sidewinder missile at an Iraqi bunker March 30, 2003 near Basra in southern Iraq. Credit:Paul Grover Soldiers from the The Royal Welch Fusiliers mount helicopter borne Eagle VCP’s (Vehicle Check Points), July 2, 2004 around the southern Iraqi town of BasraCredit:Getty Images The servicemen told senior officers that they had searched the murky waters for nearly an hour, attempting to rescue the young Iraqi.Finally admitting defeat, the major – then a second lieutenant – filed a report stating that he and his men had done all they could to try to rescue the man, but that he had drowned.Three years later, a secret hearing in Basra, known as a formal preliminary examination, cleared the men, after their legal teams exposed a catalogue of errors in the RMP investigation. British troops trying to keep the peace in Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasionCredit:Getty Images Emails also showed that RMP special investigators took “strategic decisions” not to interview independent witnesses who backed up the soldiers’ description of what happened, and that a brigade commander thought the investigation “farcical”.Defence documents were also “lost” by Army prosecutors, who had previously ordered the investigation to be “temporarily discontinued” because of the unreliability of the Iraqi witnesses.Hilary Meredith, the lawyer acting for the major, who has two bravery medals and was wounded in Afghanistan, said this weekend that her client, had “lost his career and his sanity” over the claims. She added: “It is a disgrace. The death was investigated by the military, the case against the major dropped in 2006 and he was cleared.”A Ministry of Defence spokesman refused to comment on the claims, but said: “Our armed forces are rightly held to the highest standards and, whilst rare, where there are credible claims of criminal behaviour, we should investigate them. Stamping out the many spurious claims will mean Ihat is better able to focus on the few credible ones.” After just two days of the hearing, which had been scheduled to last 10, the defence barristers were able to show that two witnesses were not telling the truth, and had been promised payment for their testimony by the RMP, to cover their expenses.A military dossier leaked to the Telegraph in 2006, also showed that there was doubt that the body presented to the pathologist for post-mortem examination was in fact the man who had allegedly been killed.It was also claimed that an Iraqi witness had come forward to give a statement backing the soldiers’ version of events, but had been murdered by friends of the drowned man after being refused protection by RMPs. 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 BBC has faced a backlash from female politicians and comedians after Have I Got News For You team captain Ian Hislop claimed women were “too modest” to put themselves forward for the show.A number of women argued that they had never been invited on the show, after the team leaders Paul Merton and Hislop said the reason the gender ratio was so poor was because women reject offers from producers to appear.Merton told Radio Times: “The producers always ask more women than men. More women say no.”Hislop agreed, explaining: “On the whole, women are slightly more reticent and think, maybe modestly: ‘I can’t do that.’ Maybe more men in public life say: ‘Yes I can do that.’”Janey Godley, an award-winning comedian who also presents shows on the BBC, replied: “I’ll do it but never been asked.”Lynne Parker, the founder of the Funny Woman Awards, said the show had never shown interest in the female comics she works with. “I know people like that. That’s why they love the programme – it’s so successful. I just find it too vicious, too abrasive.”It’s all about banter – women don’t banter in that way, or very rarely. You might get the odd woman who would, but most women don’t banter in that way, don’t have that degree of aggression.” The first episode of the 55th series is on Friday, with Jeremy Paxman in the hot seat. Ayesha Hazarika, a comedian and former Labour Party adviser, said she would be more than happy to host the show, but had never been asked to appear, while comedian Rosie Fletcher offered her services, tweeting: “Luckily I am not too modest for anything and would do this, and be brilliant at it, in a heartbeat.”While many women poured scorn on Ian Hislop’s words, with some accusing him of “mansplaining”, Nadine Dorries said that the show was “too vicious” for women.The Tory MP told the BBC: “I just don’t think Have I Got News For You is a programme which lends itself to women feeling comfortable. I find it too vicious. She tweeted: “15 years and (as far as I’m aware) #HIGNFY never shown interest in what we do, ever. We’ve showcased nearly 1,000 Women comedy performers, writers & film makers in #FWAwards2017 and many more over the years.”Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP, said she had turned down being a guest twice, but when she had offered to host the show she was rejected. Achievable if #HIGNFY producers start looking at who’s coming through the live circuit and platforms like @funnywomen – lots of Amazing #funnywomen. https://t.co/qzRLLmNdfR— Lynne Parker (@FunnyWomenLynne) April 3, 2018 She tweeted: “A charming #IanHislop called & invited me on the panel of #HIGNFY (again). I declined not because I’m a woman but because I’m a politician & not daft! I offered to present it but he turned me down! I’m still available boys.” Maybe we all missed the call?— Kate Williams (@KateWilliamsme) April 3, 2018 Ian Hislop and Paul Merton have come under fire for their remarksCredit:Ian West/PA Wire Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
One nine-year-old was reportedly admitted to rehab after becoming so addicted to the game Fortnite Fortnite and other addictive video games can have a similar effect on children’s brains as drug abuse or alcoholism, MRI scans reveal.They show the “reward” system in the brains of young heavy users of social media and video games display the same changes in function and structure as those of alcoholics or drug addicts.A series of studies by California State University found the impulsive part of the brain, known as the amygdala-striatal system, was not only more sensitive but also smaller in excessive users so that it processed the stimuli of social media or games faster.The findings come as Britain’s children are gripped by the Fortnite video game, with one nine-year-old reportedly admitted to rehab after becoming so addicted she wet herself rather than leave the screen and primary schools urging parents to ban their children from playing them.On Monday, the Daily Telegraph launched the Duty of Care campaign calling on ministers to make social media and online gaming companies subject to a statutory duty to protect children from harms such as addiction, bullying and grooming when using their services. One leading internet addiction expert who has treated children playing the game said Fortnite’s addictive quality was such that it made Beatlemania look like a passing whim and had captivated the young in the same way as the nation was swept up by the “Princess Diana effect”.According to the studies led by Professor Ofir Turel, of California State University, the impact on the young’s brains is marked: “Say someone sees a video game or cellphone, this reward system in the brain lights up. It’s a very strong activation compared to other people.“It is associated with structural change in that this brain area is smaller in people who are excessive users. The smaller system can process associations much faster. But like a car, you need to put more gas into it to generate more power.”There was, however, an up-side in that the studies showed the part of brain responsible for “self-control” over their impulses was not affected in the same way for excessive social media users as other addictions such as drink or drugs. Another added that her son, aged nine, had become addicted and she had imposed a ban on the game after his ‘behaviour deteriorated massively’. She wrote: “It was awful to see how angry he was becoming … I seriously wish I’d never let him on it.”The nine-year old girl now in rehab would secretly play the survival shooter game during the night and didn’t even get up to use the toilet because she couldn’t prise herself away from the screen. More worrying, however, was the risk that excessive usage could be changing children’s brain reward systems in the long term, making them more susceptible to other addictions later in life.“The question is if you sensitise their reward system at a young age with video games and social media, does it increase their risk to become addicted to drugs or drink later in life?” said Professor Turel.His initial research suggests there is an association between heavy video game users aged 13 to 15 and an increased likelihood of misusing at least one of 15 substances from cocaine to amphetamines.A third study by his research team found the internet addiction also disrupted the connections between the left and right sides of young people’s brains. “When the tracks that connect these parts of the brain are not efficient, people are more prone to develop addictions,” said Professor Turel.“There’s a much bigger risk factor for [addicted] children because their brains are flexible. Some parts of the brain develop until they are 17, others are not fully developed until they are 25. “The development of the reward or impulse system is much faster compared to the development of the self-control system. It means that if you take someone who is 13 years old,they will have a mature reward system but self-control system is not as well developed. The girl, who is now in intensive therapy to combat her addiction, would play for up to 10 hours a day. Worn out from all-night sessions, she dozed off at school.She even lashed out at her father when he tried to confiscate her Xbox gaming console. The girl’s mother said: “We had no idea, when we let her play the game, of the addictive nature or the impact it could have on her mental health.”The World Health Organisation declared in January that internet gaming addiction will be classified as a mental disorder. Last weekend The Daily Telegraph revealed a 15-year-old boy was set to be diagnosed with the condition in the first case of its kind in Britain. He has spent eight weeks in hospital due to his addiction and has not been to school for a year after losing confidence to go outside. Ministers are considering new measures to rein in the worst excesses of online tech companies amid fears a generation of young people is being harmed by unregulated use of social media and online gaming platforms. Protect yourself and your family. Find out more about our Duty of Care campaign to regulate social media Concerned parents have taken to forums such as Mumsnet to voice their fears. One mother wrote of her primary school age son: “Yesterday he saw a poster with a man and child in a swimming pool … and commented that it would be a perfect shot to blow their heads off.” The nine-year old girl now in rehab would secretly play the survival shooter game during the nightCredit:Getty “It means most people can control their social media behaviour but they just don’t have the motivation to do so,” said Professor Turel. This was less evident for heavy video gamers, where self-control appeared to be impeded. “So they are much more pre-disposed for impulsive and risky behaviours. With children there is room for regulation. They need our protection. Their brains are not as efficient as ours.”The addictive quality of Fortnite, which has been downloaded 40m times since last July, has been picked up by Dr Richard Graham, who set up the UK’s first internet addiction clinic at the private Nightingale hospital in London.He said all the young patients he was treating did play the game alongside other internet activities, with one playing it through the night.He said: “In six months, it has made Beatlemania look like a passing whim. You are dealing with something akin to the massive Diana effect that swept up everyone.The multi-player format, where, in the Battle Royale version up to 100 players fight each other until one is left standing, engendered a “crowd mentality.”“You have a mass crowd effect where you have engagement that sweeps you along,” said Dr Graham. “The fear of missing out is also part of what drives it. It’s something you can’t almost not be a part of.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? 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