James Harden Scores 26 to Help Houston Beat Toronto

Jeremy Lin poured in 31 points and James Harden scored 10 of his 26 points after regulation as the Houston Rockets outlasted the Toronto Raptors in a 110-104 double-overtime thriller at the Toyota Center.Lin finished 10-of-17 from the field and netted nine of his points in the two overtimes to help Houston bounce back from two straight home losses. The Rockets were nearly dealt a third after Toronto rallied from a 17-point third- quarter deficit to force extra time.Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons each had 18 points in the win, with Howard pulling down 24 rebounds and blocking five shots.“We just have to stick with it,” Howard said. “Second half we didn’t play as good as we wanted to, but we got a good win. We needed on especially at home, and I’m glad we got it.”Rudy Gay put up 29 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors before fouling out in the final stages. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry had 22 and 16 points, respectively, in the loss, with Jonas Valanciunas notching a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.After missing out on a chance to win at the end of regulation and failing to hold onto a four-point lead in the first overtime, the Rockets finally put a game Toronto squad away in the second extra session.Lin ended Houston’s opening possession with a successful jumper and Harden buried a 3-pointer with 3:19 left for a 100-95 advantage. Lowry sank a pair of triples around another Harden basket, however, and Gay was fouled while canning a short jumper and sunk the bonus shot for a 104-104 tie with 1:50 remaining.The Raptors didn’t score again, however. Howard grabbed an offensive board and fed Terrence Jones for a go-ahead layup with 1:13 left, and Lin scored in the lane after an unsuccessful offensive trip for Toronto for a four-point spread with 33.4 seconds on the clock.“We fought with them obviously through two overtimes and shots that we usually hit, weren’t falling, you could say fatigue or a lot of different things but they are a great team and they played well,” Gay said. “I just wish I would’ve hit the easy ones (shots) and maybe things would’ve worked out differently.”This was the seventh straight loss in Houston for the Raptors.Source: SportsNetwork.com read more

Ohio State mens volleyball coach Pete Hanson Libero the quarterback on volleyball

Freshman libero Gabriel Domecus (7) attempts to hit the ball during a match against Saint Francis Feb. 9 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThey’re often the first player to touch the ball when it enters their side of the court. They lead the defense every match while having top-of-the-line passing skills.Those are just some aspects of play that go into fulfilling the role as a libero on the volleyball court.Men’s volleyball consists of six players on each side of the court, and one position in particular stands out from the rest.“We wear a different color jersey and we are not allowed to play front row. Unfortunately, we don’t get to hit the ball or serve,” senior libero Danny Baker said.This specific player is called the libero, and can be defined as the rearmost roaming defensive player in volleyball, however coach Pete Hanson said the primary skill coaches are looking for in a libero is their passing ability.“The digging skill is very important, but recently we have looked at this position as more as an asset to the offense,” Hanson said.Hanson said a successful libero is similar to the “quarterback” role of volleyball and takes ownership of the back row. Along with excelling in particular athletic skills, this player also must portray many key personality traits.“You are looking for someone who is aggressive, confident, communicative and a take-charge kind of a player, and that is what we try to tell our guys who are playing that position,” Hanson said.A libero is considered to be a defensive and passing specialist that can sub for any player in the back row at any time during the match.“The main job of my position is to be the defensive leader on the court. It’s the libero’s job to cover as much of the court as possible when the opposing team plays it back to our side,” freshman libero Gabriel Domecus said.Because of the fast-paced nature of volleyball, these players need to have skill on offense and defense and the libero is in charge of communicating with the team and making sure every player is in place and on their toes, ready for whatever is going to happen next.“Our main job is to take control of the defense and passing. We need to communicate before, during and after each play to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Baker said.Next up, OSU is scheduled to take part in a weekend series against Grand Canyon Friday and Saturday at St. John Arena. Both matches are set for 7 p.m. read more

Opinion Braxton Millers chance to cement legacy potentially ruined by injury

Junior quarterback Braxton Miller lifts the Silver Football, awarded to the Big Ten’s football MVP Feb. 20 at the Schottenstein Center.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorWhen he announced in early January that he would be returning to Ohio State for one final ride along the banks of the Olentangy, Braxton Miller had a chance.A chance to rush or pass for the 505 yards he needed to become OSU’s all-time leader in total offense.A chance to win 11 games to become the all-time winningest quarterback in OSU’s history.A chance to throw for the six necessary touchdowns to own the record for total passing touchdowns as a Buckeye.A chance to pass for the 2,256 yards he needs to become OSU’s all-time passing yards leader.A chance to score the single touchdown he needed to become OSU’s all-time touchdown leader.A chance to become the most dominant statistical quarterback in OSU history, as evidenced by the very attainable numbers above.After throwing a pass on Monday that left his right shoulder in pain and the future of his football career uncertain, Braxton Miller is awaiting word following a Tuesday morning MRI that will reveal whether or not that chance remains.But as the star quarterback and legions of Buckeye fans await the news, as it stands right now, what does his legacy look like?While all the numbers above might merit placing him amongst OSU’s greatest quarterbacks, there’s one thing that holds Miller back.Art Schlichter, OSU’s quarterback from 1978 through 1981 and the holder of many of the aforementioned career records, won two Big Ten Championships and a Liberty Bowl matchup against Navy.Bobby Hoying, another famed quarterback and holder of the record for touchdown passes at OSU, won a Big Ten Championship and a Holiday Bowl against the BYU Cougars.Joe Germaine, another of OSU’s most legendary passers, won the MVP of the 1997 Rose Bowl when the Buckeyes topped Arizona State.Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy, in addition to the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, all the while leading the Buckeyes to the 2007 National Championship Game against Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators.Thus far, Miller has yet to win a postseason game. He has yet to finish higher than fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. Yes, he’s twice won the Silver Football given annually to the Big Ten’s most outstanding player, but that’s about the extent of the hardware sitting upon Miller’s proverbial shelf.2014 was Miller’s chance to receive some of the hardware he’s worked toward for the past three seasons. It was his chance to become the only three-time winner of the Silver Football. It was his chance to become OSU’s most recent Heisman Trophy finalist.It was his chance to clear that seemingly insurmountable hurdle and win his first postseason game, and maybe more, as a Buckeye.Instead, after committing to another year at OSU, avoiding the lure of the NFL, Miller lies upon a table, machines surrounding him, as he anxiously awaits the fate of his season, his career and his legacy.If the test results end No. 5’s time in scarlet and gray, how would he be viewed amongst the greatest players in Buckeye football lore?I’d say that Braxton Miller never really got a chance. read more

Opinion Where will Buckeyes at the Scouting Combine fall in the 2015

Doran GrantJust a year ago, many Buckeye fans were worrying about how the OSU secondary would improve on a 112th ranked pass defense after losing Bradley Roby to the first round of the draft.Grant not only filled Roby’s shoes, but ran out of them.Grant took on the likes of Tony Lippett and Amari Cooper during the 2014 season and greatly improved his draft stock, which many might say was nonexistent heading into the national title run.The Akron product led a defensive secondary that led the Big Ten in passes defended, as the Buckeyes collected 25 interceptions in 2014, five of which belonged to Grant.Grant earned a first team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, and in the process, also an invitation to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.While he might not go as high as Roby, he will likely give more effort to the team that selects him. OSU then-senior tight end Jeff Heuerman (5) attempts to set a block during the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship against OSU on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas. OSU won, 42-20. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorFor four now-former Ohio State football players, the next chapters of their football careers are just around the corner.Tight end Jeff Heuerman, cornerback Doran Grant, wide receiver Devin Smith and defensive lineman Michael Bennett all earned invitations to the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, set to begin Tuesday.Where will these former Buckeyes land? It all starts in Indianapolis. Michael BennettThe anchor in the middle of the national title-winning defense at OSU was once a projected first round pick before sliding down draft boards early in the season.Bennett, who did not record a sack until the fifth game of the year against Maryland, had a breakout game on the big stage in East Lansing, Mich., as he recorded a sack, and two tackles for loss in an upset win over Michigan State.That performance, combined with a dominating two-sack, four-tackle for loss effort against Wisconsin put Bennett back on the map as a dominant force in college football.While it might not be enough to get him back into the first round, his late-season dominance showed many teams that he can have a future at the nest level.Projection: Late 1st, early 2nd round Jeff HeuermanHeuerman, who was tabbed as the second-best tight end prospect by ESPN football analyst Mel Kiper before the 2014 season, might have fallen since that time because of a drop-off in production from the 2013 season.The Florida native, who caught 26 passes for 466 yards and four scores in 2013, caught just 17 passes in 2014 for 207 and two scores.The decline in production could be attributed to nagging injuries, one of which forced him to miss OSU’s third game of the season against Kent State.That being said, Heuerman has shown his ability to run and pass block in coach Urban Meyer’s complex offensive system and not many will argue with his pass-catching ability.If Heuerman can impress in Indianapolis, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be either the first or second tight end off the board. Projection: 4th round Devin SmithArguably one of the best wide receivers to ever play at OSU, Smith soared up draft boards with his performances in the Big Ten title game and the Sugar Bowl.The deep-ball threat not only led the Big Ten in yards per catch, he led the conference in touchdown receptions with 12, four of which came against Wisconsin and Alabama combined.Smith, who became famous in Columbus for his game-winning catch against Wisconsin in 2011, continued to help the Buckeyes win games as OSU never lost a game in which Smith caught a touchdown pass.It would be tough to argue that any player in college football helped his draft stock more than Smith down the stretch, and an impressive performance at the combine could even boost him higher. Projection: 2nd round Projection: Late 1st round read more

Ohio State womens lacrosse set to open Big Ten play against rival

Senior defender Taylor Donahue (left) streaks up the field during a game against Niagra on March 1 in Columbus. OSU won, 15-2.Credit: Leah Alexander / Lantern photographerAfter women’s rowing was added to the Big Ten in 1999, it took 14 years for another women’s sport to officially join the conference. That changed in June 2013 as the Big Ten announced that women’s lacrosse would be joining the conference as the 28th official sport.Almost two years later, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Northwestern and Ohio State are set to open the first Big Ten women’s lacrosse season this weekend.After playing in the American Lacrosse Conference throughout her career, OSU senior attackman Jackie Cifarelli said she is honored to be playing in the Big Ten.“It’s awesome. Being a Buckeye, just knowing you’re in the Big Ten, going against some of the best schools in the country, it’s exciting,” Cifarelli said. “Having the Big Ten logo on our jerseys now, it’s an honor.”Fittingly, the No. 14 Buckeyes (8-2, 0-0) are set to take on Big Ten rival, the Michigan Wolverines (5-4, 0-0), in their first game competing in the conference. Last year, the Buckeyes played the Wolverines for the first time in the program’s history and won, 18-3. But despite that blowout victory, coach Alexis Venechanos said she won’t overlook Michigan this year.“They are a more improved team and they play a physical brand of lacrosse, so we are excited to match that and use that to our advantage,” Venechanos said. “I think you just kind of throw away the records and throw away all the numbers when you play such a rivalry game.”The Buckeyes had high expectations entering the season after appearing in the NCAA tournament last year for first time since 2003. OSU started its 2015 season 8-2, but suffered losses to No. 15 Stanford and No. 19 Notre Dame. OSU has yet to showcase its true potential, Venechanos said. “We talked about playing a fearless brand of lacrosse. We haven’t played our best lacrosse yet, but we’ve had a great week of practice. And if we just continue to be aggressive and be fearless, we can be successful,” she said. The Buckeyes have the some key individual pieces in place, but Cifarelli said success comes from the whole team working together to play the full game. “Our team is so dynamic, so just being able to play the full 60 minutes, just finishing every game and finishing every goal,” Cifarelli said. “We are so fast, our midfielders are always working so hard down the field, but I think now just practicing and knowing when to slow it down, we can limit our turnovers and win the games.”Venechanos said the Buckeyes’ first Big Ten game presents an opportunity to improve after losing to Notre Dame on Saturday.“Every time we step on to the field we want to be better. We are excited to always leave a mark. Our program has continued to get better and we are excited for these opportunities,” she said.The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Wolverines on Friday at 5 p.m. and Hofstra on Sunday at noon. read more

Mens Lacrosse No 5 Ohio State heads south to take on Jacksonville

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 ReporterThe No. 5 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team will leave behind Columbus’ gloomy weather in favor of a sunny Florida sky when it travels to take on unranked Jacksonville Sunday.The Buckeyes (3-0) said they approached this week’s practice in preparation for Jacksonville (2-2) with open minds and positive attitudes. Last year, Ohio State managed a substantial 16-8 win against the Dolphins. But this year the team has multiple aspects to improve, especially after its hard-fought battle against Hofstra on Saturday.“Hofstra was a win where we felt like we kind of grinded one out,” head coach Nick Myers said. “There was a lot of areas of the game where we felt like we really faltered in, and we certainly credit Hofstra for a great deal of that but also ourselves.”Ohio State players echoed Myers’ observations as well. Senior defenseman Erik Evans, one of the key barriers against Hofstra’s offense on Saturday, said that playing cohesively was an important takeaway for the team.“We realize that when we’re playing as a unit, not many teams are scoring on us that much,” he said.While the Buckeyes spent the week concentrating on improvement, Jacksonville won 15-8 against Detroit Mercy on Tuesday. Myers said the team looks forward to playing notable talent, such as senior attacking midfielder Hunter Forbes and junior midfielder Eric Applegate. Forbes won 23-of-25 faceoffs just two days ago against the Titans, affording the Dolphins considerable advantages through the extra possessions.Myers also pointed out senior midfielder and captain McLean Chicquen, senior attack Shawn Ewert, and junior attack Will Hendrick as potential impact players for the Dolphins.“I’d say those are their top guys from what we’ve seen and I think they’re going to create some challenges for us,” he said.Evans said Jacksonville’s early and rapid offensive play will be something for the team to watch out for, and that playing hard defensively for the first seconds of each possession would be especially crucial for success.“They do a lot in the early offense, so one of the things we tried to clean up is just getting our offensive midfielders down there, defend that first 15 to 20 seconds that they are comfortable with playing and attacking, and get them off the field and get our [defensive] personnel back out there,” he said.The Buckeyes will play the Dolphins at D.B. Milne Field at 1 p.m. Sunday. read more

Womens Gymnastics No 25 Ohio State falls to third in NCAA regionals

The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team huddles up at the close of the 2018 NCAA Regional gymnastics competition Saturday, April 7 at St. John Arena. Credit: Megan Russell | Senior Lantern ReporterAlthough not the favorite, the Ohio State women’s gymnastics team had the advantage of competing in its own gym for a chance of securing one of two berths in the NCAA championships.The No. 25 Buckeyes needed to close a gap of .250 with Arkansas in the final rotation. In the end, their season ended short by .225.“I’m going to be disappointed for a solid night when it’s that close,” head coach Meredith Paulicivic said. “To know that what I told them all year, that they’re good enough, that they could be in the mix, was true, and it was certainly a lot of fun being in the mix. It was so exciting for the girls, and so good for the returners to have a good experience like that, coming back for next year. But of course, we’re all a little disappointed because it was just that close.”The Buckeyes, however, will be represented at the championships on April 20-21 with junior Jamie Stone qualifying as an individual event specialist after sharing the podium on floor exercise and vault. “It didn’t really hit me until we were going into awards, and I was like ‘Wait, maybe this could be it, maybe not,’” Stone said. “When I landed [on vault] I was very excited to stick. We have a saying ‘stick city, baby’ and they said that before I went, so when I did it, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that really worked.’ So it was exciting.” Ohio State ended its season with a 49.150 team score on the vault. Arkansas scored 49.175 on uneven bars to send the Buckeyes packing. No. 3 UCLA (197.650) and No. 10 Arkansas (196.775) finished first and second, respectively, to qualify for the NCAA championship competition that will be held in St. Louis, Missouri. Ohio State’s 196.500 fell just shy of qualifying for the championship, finishing ahead of No. 15 Boise State (196.225) and ahead of Pittsburgh (195.125) and Kent State (194.900). The Buckeyes’ best event came in their third event on floor exercise where they earned a 49.300 mark, second behind UCLA (49.375). On floor exercise, junior Jamie Stone tied for second place with a 9.900 tally with Arkansas’ Sarah Shaffer, Kent State’s Abigail Fletcher, UCLA’s Felicia Hano and Gracie Kramer and Western Michigan’s individual event specialist Rachael Underwood. Stone earned her second 9.900 score of the night and a career-high mark on on vault, tying for first place with UCLA’s Anna Glenn and Pauline Tratz and Arkansas’ Braie Speed. Ohio State began the night on uneven bars with a 49.200 total. Sophomore Olivia Aepli led the team with a 9.875 finish to tie for fourth place.The Buckeyes finished with a 48.850 score on balance beam, the team’s second event of the night. Senior Alexis Mattern posted a team-high 9.825 score for the Buckeyes. Arkansas posted a 49.175 on beam.Heading into the final rotation trailing by a slight margin, Ohio State knew it had to be sharp to secure the national bid.“We were trying to put a little heat on Arkansas. That’s a more technical event [on bars], so we felt good thinking, ‘Gosh, if we just nail these landings,’” Paulicivic said. “We knew we were going to need a little help from them making little mistakes, and they didn’t, so kudos to them.”  The effort wasn’t enough, ending the Buckeyes’ season. “We were 100 percent prepared, that this was going to be a fight, and that we were going to have to leave everything out here, one last time, and see where it got us,” Mattern said. “It was really fun, a lot of hype, a lot of anticipation. We were really anxious to come in here, just because we knew we were ready. And for the first time, we hit 24/24 [routines] with no regrets and walked away with our heads held high.” read more

Excompany director lay dead at £2m home for two days after tractor

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. House in Hernhill, Kent This is a tragic story about a man doing what many men do on the weekend – cutting the grassCoroner Christine Freeman The tragedy unfolded in the village of Hernhill, KentMr Gradus had two children, Natasha and Jack, and a granddaughter Amelia.He was the founder of Systems Technology. His ex-wife Zana Gradus is the current managing director and owner of the firm – which is owned by Tallgrand Ltd and has an annual turnover of around £9m – which Mr Gradus set up in 1989.Writing on Facebook on the day Mr Gradus was found dead, his son Jack wrote: “I don’t think words can ever describe our feelings right now. Every day was lived as if it was your last, we’ll all miss you dad, and we’ll love you always xx.”His daughter Natasha Hildyard wrote on Facebook on May 16: “No words could ever describe how awesome he was! Even though he’d hate being on any sort of social media. We will miss you always xxxxxx.” Spencer Gradus was expecting potential buyers to look round the large property in Hernhill, KentCredit:STIAN ALEXANDER His ex-wife, Zana Gradus, told the inquest: “I was with him from about 10am until 2.30pm on the Saturday (May 14) as we had somebody coming round the next morning to view the house. He was on really good form.”He loved cutting the grass. We had a full-time gardener, but he liked to spend a lot of time on the mower.”He didn’t like the gardener doing the lawnmowing. I didn’t realise he was going to cut the grass that day, but he was going to tidy the garden before the people came round to look at it.”I texted him later that day to say it was so nice to see him so happy and healthy. The potential buyers arrived at 10am on Sunday and could not get an answer.”Emergency services were called to the scene on the morning of May 16 and Mr Gradus’ body was found at the bottom of the bank, pinned underneath the tractor. Spencer Gradus is believed to have lost control of the tractor and mowing attachment after accidentally reversing over the side of a steep bank in the grounds of his homeCredit:STIAN ALEXANDER A retired  businessman lay dead in the grounds of his £2million Victorian house for two days after his tractor toppled over and crushed him as his mowed the lawn.Spencer Gradus, who stepped down as director of IT firm Systems Technology last year, had just returned from living in Spain as he and his ex-wife Zana prepared to sell their eight-bedroom home in the village of Hernhill, Kent.The 52-year-old had gone out on Saturday, May 14 this year to mow the lawn of the four-acre gardens – which includes an orchard, tennis court and outdoor swimming pool – when the tractor fell on top of him.An inquest into the father of two’s death heard how Mr Gradus and his ex-wife were expecting potential buyers to come on Sunday, May 15 to look round the large property. Detective Sergeant Andrew Lambert told the inquest that the tractor is likely to have “slipped off the bank” as Mr Gradus reversed, causing him to fall out of the vehicle – which then fell on top of him.Pathologist Salim Anjarwalla said Mr Gradus had suffered a heart attack and positional asphyxia.Coroner Christine Freeman said: “This is a tragic story about a man doing what many men do on the weekend – cutting the grass. We may never know the exact sequence of events.”The evidence identifies two significant potential causes of death and it is quite probable he had some sort of cardiac event, but at the same time, if one is in a position where one has a tractor on their chest, asphyxia is a very likely cause of death.”Given the circumstances and the contributory factors, I am going to conclude that this was a tragic accident.” But, as he mowed the lawn with the tractor and mowing attachment, he is believed to have lost control after accidentally reversing it over the side of a steep bank.The inquest at Folkestone Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Gradus is believed to have fallen out of the tractor, which then fell on top of him and killed him.The alarm was not raised until Monday, May 16, despite potential buyers turning up on May 15 and not getting an answer at the door.His body was not found until May 16, when colleague Robert Field spotted the tractor was missing from the garage and then saw the tip of the machine poking up from the steep bank.Mr Field told the inquest: “I called for him but there was no answer, but then I saw the garage door was open and the tractor was not in there.”That’s when I went to look around the grounds. I could see the tip of the tractor poking out and, as I got nearer, I could see the tractor was on its side and was down a bank.” Spencer Gradus homelast_img read more

Its officially the end of summer – but the good weather is

first_imgSorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the summer is officially over.August 31 marks the day our summer finishes and our awaiting for the start of autumn begins, likely to be followed by some Game of Thrones-inspired jokes that winter is coming. Blue skies on the last day of summer 😎☀️🎉👏🏼 #CaledonianPark #caledonianroad #blueskies #su… https://t.co/HePGny2Yxd pic.twitter.com/knUtoRpE6B— Andréa Avena (@andrea_avena) August 31, 2016 People enjoy the hot weather on Boscombe Beach, DorsetCredit:PA Others celebrated the last day of summer  The end of summer has not gone down well on Twitter According to the Met Office: “The meteorological seasons consists of splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each.“These seasons are split to coincide with our Gregorian calendar making it easier for meteorological observing and forecasting to compare seasonal and monthly statistics.”For the weather optimists out there however, there are still a few more weeks of summer left to enjoy if referring to the astronomical calendar.“The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the sun. Both equinoxes and solstices are related to the Earth’s orbit around the sun.”This year, the astronomical summer began on 20 June 2016 and ends on 22 September 2016. What can we expect in September? “The weekend and into next week look likely to be rather unsettled with some rain and strong winds,” the Met Office says. “Thereafter some further unsettled conditions are expected but a more settled period is possible during the middle to latter part of September.”The Met Office’s long range forecast (5-14 September) adds: “An unsettled start to the week across most parts, with outbreaks of rain at times, heaviest in the northwest where gales are possible.“Towards the middle of the week southern parts will probably see a more settled spell develop, with plenty of dry, fine and warm weather.“There is a reasonable chance that this fine weather will spread to all parts later in the week.”Earlier this month, this spectacular red rainbow illuminated this historic English town – but what caused it?Meanwhile, another photographer captured this blood red moon looming over New York in these stunning photos. @metoffice this makes us sad… it’s surely too early to say goodbye to #Summer :(— PRM Waste Systems (@PRMWasteSystems) August 30, 2016 Last day of summer today, back to work tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/NooIu6hfrP— Sam Flynn (@l0x2a) August 31, 2016 So when does summer officially end?It depends on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological summer, according to the Met Office.The meteorological summer began on 1 June 2016 and ends on 31 August 2016, meaning today is officially the last day of the sunshine season. The last day of summer couldn’t be better pic.twitter.com/bQDmYegRcy— Alexander™️ (@IfeverIgetthere) August 31, 2016 @metoffice would have been nice to have had some of it… 😩🌧— Craig (@CNoz1986) August 31, 2016 Damn, meteorologically it’s the last day of summer but I’m not done with it yet :/— Matthias Daniel (@MatthiasDaniel) August 31, 2016 end of summer  August is set to become the hottest on recordand forecasters believe the warm weather will continue this week.Chris Page, a forecaster at the Met Office, said many places had seen “wall to wall sunshine” over the Bank Holiday weekend, with the weather remaining “quite fine and settled”. Bookmakers slashed the odds on the month breaking previous records following highs of 25C on Sunday. Last day of friggin summer and I’m stuck working until 5— Jillian Maghini (@jillian_maghini) August 31, 2016 Oh no! It’s the last day of meteorological summer!Who let this happen!!! pic.twitter.com/LSPaoAJA2v— Scott Ealy Now (@TheScottEaly) August 31, 2016  A man sunbathing in Hyde park, London Some reasons to be cheerfulThe warm weather looks set to continue, at least for the next few days. Last day of summer……. School tomorrow………. pic.twitter.com/63c1YiTQfG— ㅤ (@drinkwithgomez) August 31, 2016 Did you know? Today is the last day of meteorological #summer https://t.co/u7XVc8YlTU pic.twitter.com/zYyKn5egGg— Met Office (@metoffice) August 31, 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. The long range forecast (5-14 September)  A man sunbathing in Hyde park, LondonCredit:PA Love autumn? Tomorrow is the last day of meteorological #summer! Learn how we define seasons https://t.co/u7XVc8YlTU pic.twitter.com/QfT1R6tdJA— Met Office (@metoffice) August 30, 2016 Meteorologists say that today is the last day of Summer, but we might think otherwise! pic.twitter.com/LWT3unfD12— Church Lane Flowers (@churchlanepetal) August 31, 2016last_img read more

Banker killed with a single punch for talking to a group of

first_imgOliver Dearlove lived with his long-term girlfriendCredit:Chris Greenwood  The victim, who was punched in the head and neck, collapsed in the street and was pronounced dead less than 24 hours later.Asked why he did it, Timon allegedly told one of the women: “I’m p***** off.”Mr Orchard said the defendant had pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denies murder.He said the only issue was whether he intended to cause Mr Dearlove “really serious bodily harm” when he punched him.After the attack, Timon walked away and later tried calling one of the four women, three of whom are sisters.In an attempt to explain what happened, he allegedly told her that one of Mr Dearlove’s party appeared to lean down to their socks.Mr Orchard told jurors to examine CCTV footage which showed Mr Dearlove was not wearing socks and his two friends were in flip-flops. 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. She went on to tell Mr Dearlove that it was her first night out since giving birth, and he commented to his friends: “She had a baby four weeks ago, doesn’t she look well?”The woman produced pictures and Mr Dearlove was “very polite” as he complimented her on having a beautiful baby, jurors heard.Timon, who knew the group of women, allegedly stormed in and demanded to know what they were talking about.He allegedly shouted: “Who the f*** are you boys?” and told Mr Dearlove: “If you don’t move on, I’ll knock you out.”One of the women stood between them and told Timon to “just go”, jurors heard.Mr Orchard said: “The next thing that happened was the defendant hit Oliver Dearlove.”The punch skimmed her face. She saw Oliver Dearlove fall and as he fell his whole body twisted. She screamed ‘He hit him, he hit him’.” Timon, of Heavitree Road, Plumstead, south-east London, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murder.Prosecutor Anthony Orchard QC told jurors: “The attack upon Oliver Dearlove took place on a warm August Bank Holiday evening, in the quiet leafy streets of Blackheath.”He stood on the pavement not far from a nightclub. The attack was unprovoked and senseless. It appears to have been motivated by the defendant’s perceived sense of grievance that Oliver Dearlove and two of his male friends were talking to a group of young women, whom Trevor Timon knew.”The victim lived with his long-term girlfriend in New Eltham and worked in the City as a banker, the court heard. Oliver Dearlove’s girlfriend Claire Wheatley attends the trialCredit:Ed Willcox /Central News Oliver Dearlove's girlfriend Claire Wheatley attends the trial It appears to have been motivated by the defendant’s perceived sense of grievance that Oliver Dearlove and two of his male friends were talking to a group of young womenAnthony Orchard QC, prosecutor On Saturday Aug 27 last year, he was on a night out with friends in Blackheath, ending up at Zerodegrees bar and restaurant until just after midnight.Timon was in the nearby Morden’s nightclub along with the women, who cannot be named for legal reasons.The women left the club, followed by Timon, just as Mr Dearlove and his friends emerged from Zerodegrees and set off in the same direction, the court heard.Mr Dearlove had politely asked one of the women if she was hurt after she took off her high heels and began walking slowly along Tranquil Vale.She laughingly replied: “You know what, my feet are killing me”, jurors were told. Trevor Timon A former Coutts banker was killed with a single punch by a man who flew into a rage when the victim talked to a group of young women about high heels and baby pictures, a court has heard.Oliver Dearlove, 30, was friendly and polite as he chatted with the women in the street after a night out in Blackheath, south-east London, on Aug 28 last year, jurors were told.The casual exchange, lasting no more than 20 seconds, prompted Trevor Timon, 31, to fly into a rage and launch his “unprovoked and senseless” attack, the court heard. Oliver Dearlove and girlfriend Trevor Timon is accused of murderCredit:Central News last_img read more

How are we letting trained jihadis back into the UK without knowing

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid take Sadiq Khan to task about why the security authorities do not appear to know where jihadis returning to the UK are located.Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, the Mayor of London lends some blame to diminished police funding. He also says he’s too busy to get involved in a Twitter spat with US president Donald Trump.last_img

Ofsted chief attacks Church for preventing inspections of Sunday schools

first_imgMs Spielman said that one of Ofsted’s greatest concerns is “what is happening under the radar in so-called out-of-school provision”.  She said it is “hard to think of a more British institution than a Sunday school”, adding that other faiths provide positive and enriching activity groups for children.  The head of Ofsted has attacked the Church for preventing inspections of Sunday schools “That is why I am afraid to say it is a matter of regret that the church has resisted changes in the law to allow Ofsted to inspect these settings,” she said.“This is not about infringing religious freedom: no one is proposing a troop of inspectors turning up at Sunday schools. Instead, it is about ensuring that the small minority of settings that promote extremism are not able to evade scrutiny.  “If we are to protect many of the tenets that the Church holds dear, we need the power to tackle those trying to use education to undermine them.” The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Credit: MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH The head of Ofsted has attacked the Church for preventing inspections of Sunday schools.Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector, said it is a “matter of regret” that the Church of England blocked changes to the law that would have allowed out-of-school provisions to be inspected. She called on ministers to update legislation and give Ofsted more powers to scrutinize settings where children are educated outside of school hours, in order to protect them from being indoctrinated by extreme religious views. Speaking at the Church of England’s Foundation for Educational Leadership annual conference, Ms Spielman said Ofsted must be able to inspect out-of-school provisions – such as Sunday schools and Bible clubs – so that “the small minority of settings that promote extremism are not able to evade scrutiny”.“There are segments of particular faiths who are determined to use our schools to promote beliefs and practices that are an anathema to British values,” she said.“If we are to tackle this practice effectively, we will require changes to legislation to give us better powers.”  Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, agreed that Church schools “must not and will not shy away from challenging fundamentalist practice in the name of promoting tolerance”.He said: “To that end we support tackling potential extremism in out-of-school settings including, potentially, through targeted inspections. “We did have concerns over proposals in 2015 which, at the time, could have ensured that everything down to village Sunday schools might have to be registered.“We have worked closely with Government since then, and are happy to go on working them on any proposal that would target areas of concern rather than imposing a new burden of bureaucracy across the board.”center_img The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby 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 head of Ofsted has attacked the Church for preventing inspections of Sunday schoolsCredit: Adrian Sherratt / Alamy “But some other out-of-school settings operate less benignly,” she warned. “These institutions, some of which operate as illegal schools, use the opportunity to – in the words of the former Prime Minister – put ‘poison in the minds, hatred in hearts’ of young people. They need to be tackled.” She took aim at the Church’s role in preventing this, as she recalled how a government plan to require all groups caring for children for more than six hours a week to submit to inspection was dropped in 2016, following an intervention from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and a group of crossparty MPs, who labelled the proposals “bewilderinglast_img read more

Families of soldiers who died in IRA Hyde Park bombing win legal

first_imgA Legal Aid Agency spokesperson said: “We can confirm legal aid has been awarded to families of the victims of the 1982 Hyde Park bombing. We reviewed the application in accordance with the information provided and the legal aid regulations.“Our deepest sympathies remain with those affected by this atrocity.”Sarah Jane Young, the daughter of Lance Corporal Young, told paper: “When I heard the news, I burst into tears. It’s the best day I’ve had in years.”She added: “I only dreamed we’d ever get to this moment, but now anything’s possible.” A suspect accused of being behind the IRA Hyde Park bomb could face a High Court hearing into his alleged role in the blast that killed four British soldiers and injured several others.A criminal trial against John Downey, 66, collapsed over Government and police errors but he now faces a civil action after Legal Aid chiefs agreed to fund it.It comes after they refused five times to pay for attempts to bring him to justice, The Sun reported, after a long campaign by families of the victims.Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, Corporal Roy Bright, Trooper Simon Tipper and Lieutenant Anthony Daly were all killed in the attack on 20 July 1982. A further 31 were injured, and seven cavalry horses also died.Downey denies any involvement in the attack and claims he was framed in a conspiracy between MI5, the Met, the CPS and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He was due to face an Old Bailey trial four years ago until it emerged he had been wrongly sent a letter promising immunity from prosecution in a secret scheme under the Good Friday Agreement. Dead horses are covered up and wrecked cars left at the scene after an IRA bomb exploded as the Household Cavalry was passing in Hyde Park, Londoncenter_img Dead horses are covered up and wrecked cars left at the scene after an IRA bomb exploded as the Household Cavalry was passing in Hyde Park, LondonCredit:PAlast_img read more

Russian trolls attempted to manipulate view of Salisbury poisoning

first_imgPolice in protective suits and gas masks work to remove the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned Credit:London News Pictures  Ben Nimmo, a senior research fellow at the lab, concluded that the retweets of the poll appeared to be an “attempt by pro-Russian users to influence the online poll, and thus to create the appearance of greater hostility towards the UK government than UK users themselves showed”.One of the users who tweeted the poll,  @malinka1102 normally focuses on Russian politics and  Kremlin disinformation operations, such as the annexation of Crimea and the shooting down of the MH17, whilst another @znaetymka is a Russian language account said to interact at a bot-like rate of 285 times a day. Researchers also suspect that one of the most retweeted accounts mentioning the poisoning of Mr Skripal could be linked to the troll factory, which “shows the power which anonymous trolls with demonstrably falsified profiles continue to wield online”. Mr Nimmo added: “The large-scale amplification by Russian accounts of a UK Twitter poll demonstrated the ease with which connected accounts can amplify and, most probably, manipulate online debate, even from far away…”Together, they show the aggression, coordination and impact with which pro-Kremlin accounts, often anonymous and polemic, continue to operate.”Researchers have estimated that there are up to 150,000 accounts operated by Russians that meddle in British political and cultural life. https://twitter.com/Rachael_Swindon/status/975053363065835521?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fmedium.com%2Fmedia%2Fea0bd160fc9e6b44e57b1b58fb41cc4f%3FpostId%3D5d0bb3dc30ae 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. Police in protective suits and gas masks work to remove the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned  Twitter, which did not respond to a request for comment, has faced increasing pressure to deal with trolls and bots and say that they suspend accounts which are found not to be genuine. Russian trolls have previously been accused of meddling in both the US Election and the Brexit campaign.It comes as Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, remain in a critical condition in hospital. Questions have been raised about whether he was still working alongside the British intelligence services as a member of the community told Channel 4 that in recent years he had visited Poole to give a lecture to the UK Special Forces, at Special Boat Service headquarters. Mr Skripal was know to regularly dine with a well dressed man believed to be his MI6 handler in the Côte Brasserie in Salisbury and gave lectures at military academies on the GRU, Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency. Sir Andrew Wood, former British Ambassador to Russia, told Russian Spy Assassins: The Salisbury Attack, which will air tonight (MONDAY) at 10pm on Channel 4, that it would be “unusual” for a handler and a spy to stay in touch. He said: “It’s essential to the person who has taken refuge with us that he is not seen to be acting against his former service on a continuing basis. I suppose its conceivable a deep friendship would have sprung up between them but you’re also exposing the handler and you don’t really want to do that.” Russian Twitter trolls have been attempting to show that the British public do not believe Vladimir Putin is behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, it has been claimed. The potentially fake accounts, which experts say could be linked to the bot factory in St Petersburg, retweeted a poll by a British user which ended with more than 15,700 votes. Less that two weeks after the former double agent and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury city centre, Twitter user Rachael Swindon asked if people thought Theresa May “has supplied enough evidence for us to be able to confidently point the finger of blame towards Russia?”77 per cent voted no, leading the blogger, who is a vocal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and has more than 57,000 followers, to conclude that “the mood of the British public is starting to shift”.However, an analysis by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, showed that some of the most influential retweets originated from pro-Kremlin accounts which seemed to be organised. It comes amid outrage over the Russian Government’s use of troll or bot factories, which are organised groups of anonymous political commentators which use trolling and disinformation campaigns to promote pro-Putin and pro-Russian propaganda.last_img read more

Women left out of HIV services as they focus too much on

first_imgWomen’s HIV is not being treated early enough, the Terence Higgins Trust has said, as it warns that campaigns are too focused on gay men. The charity’s research shows that almost half of women with HIV thought they had been diagnosed late, which could shorten their lives and mean their health is worse. Public health experts interviewed by the charity “felt that overall there had been a disproportionate focus on men who have sex with men (MSM) in the HIV response with one stakeholder suggesting that the sector had ‘taken its eye off the ball’ when it came to HIV and women”, the report said. In 2016, 28,479 women in the UK were receiving care for HIV, around a third of the total.Women who had been diagnosed late “were less likely to rate their quality of life as very good, were more likely to rate their quality of life as poor or acceptable, and were more likely to say that their quality of life had got worse since diagnosis”, the report added. Almost half of women interviewed had had a mental health diagnosis since their HIV diagnosis and a similar proportion were living below the poverty line.  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. ‘We hope this project will send a strong signal to researchers, service providers, decision-makers and the HIV sector as a whole, to support the urgent need to make sure women are invisible no longer in HIV.”Commenting on the report, Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, said: “There have been incredible female activists who have stood up, and continue to fight for the rights of women living with HIV.”But women have too often been the silent partner when it comes to HIV. This must change.”The issues raised in this report are familiar to me in many ways – time and again women’s issues are not prioritised and addressed.”center_img Jacqui Stevenson, a trustee of the Sophia Forum, which also worked on the research, said: ‘We must see gender equity in funding, data, services and research to ensure adequate support is available for any woman living with HIV who needs it.last_img read more

All smiles as Fab 4 put on united front at Sandringham Christmas

There has been speculation of a rift between the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, supposedly at odds over their contrasting approaches to Royal family life. But on the traditional stroll to the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, both women and their husbands put on a concerted display of cheer, recreating the famous “Fab 4” photograph taken a year ago. The Queen preached a message of unity in her annual Christmas address to the nation and her own… Chatting and laughing as they emerged through the gates of Sandringham on Christmas Day, it was clear the new generation of the Royal family intended to finish this year as they did the last – presenting a united front.

Britains worst female paedophile to be released from prison

A former nursery worker who was dubbed Britain’s worst female paedophile, is to be released from prison after convincing a parole board she no longer poses a “significant risk”  to children.Vanessa George, 49, who worked at the Little Teds nursery in Plymouth, was given an indeterminate sentence in 2009 after being convicted of a series of sickening attacks against youngsters. The mother of two was part of a paedophile ring, who along with her lover Colin Blanchard, admitted a total of seven sexual assaults on children.The group who met on Facebook egged each other on to see who could be the most depraved and George began taking indecent images of the children at the nursery where she worked.It was feared she may have abused up to 30 youngsters but she always refused to name which children she had targeted leading to further heartache for parents who did not know whether their loved ones had been victims.George was described in court as having a “voracious” sexual appetite that had “plumbed new depths of depravity”.During her sentencing at Bristol Crown Court, Mr Justice Royce stressed that while he was passing an indeterminate prison term, it was in effect, “a life sentence”. A spokesman said: “The Parole Board has directed the release of Vanessa George, following a parole review that was concluded in July 2019.”Parole Board decisions are solely focused on whether a prisoner would represent a significant risk to the public after release.”The panel will have carefully looked at a whole range of evidence, including details of the original evidence and any evidence of behaviour change.”This is done with great care and public safety is the number one priority.”Last night the Parole Board’s decision was criticised by Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, who called for an urgent review.He said: “Vanessa George’s crimes against children in Plymouth cannot be forgotten and it’s very hard to forgive her for them.”I know I can’t and that’s why her release from jail is a kick in the teeth for our city and all her victims. George was told she would have to spend a minimum of seven years in prison before she would be even be considered for release and only then when she could prove she no longer posed a risk to youngsters.But the parole board has now decided that following a review she is safe to be freed from jail. “I am very concerned about the safety of our city’s children with the imminent release of Vanessa George and have today written to the Justice Secretary asking for the decision to release Vanessa George to be urgently reviewed in light of the public outcry and continuing risk to children that I believe she poses.”Harry Fletcher, Director of the Victims’ Rights Campaign, also said those affected by George’s crimes would be ‘horrified’ by the decision of the parole board to release her.He said: “These were extremely serious offences. She was clearly a major danger to small children and I hope the parole board are utterly satisfied she poses absolutely no risk in the future to any child.”It is no wonder that the victims in these cases are horrified at the prospect of release.”News of her impending release was also met with dismay in the community where her crimes had been committed.Local resident Lynn Barnes said: “She should have been kept locked up, she has not given one thought to the families who have no idea whether their children were abused. Until that was disclosed parole board should not have even considered letting her out.” Vanessa George was part of a sick paedophile Facebook group Vanessa George was part of a sick paedophile Facebook group 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. read more

Atheist parents take primary school to court as they say assembly prayers 

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. Atheist parents are taking their children’s primary school to the High Court, claiming that biblical re-enactments and praying in assembly are a breach of their human rights.  Lee Harris and his wife Lizanne have won permission to bring a judicial review against Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) after arguing that Burford Primary School is acting “unlawfully”.They allege that since ODST took over the running of the community school in 2015, they noticed “harmful aspects of evangelism spreading into assembly” and other parts of their pupils’ education. In the first case of its kind, the parents are arguing that this interferes with their children’s right to receive an education “free from religious interference”.ODST is a multi-academy trust that runs 33 schools, all of which are Church of England bar four, including  Burford Primary, which are designated as non-religious “community schools”.  The trust says on its website that it “operates within the family of the Diocese of Oxford” adding: “We are motivated by our Christian values to serve our local communities, but we do not impose those values”.Humanists UK, which is supporting Mr and Mrs Harris, believe this will be a test case to challenge schools which hold a daily act of Christian worship without providing a suitable alternative for non-Christians. Parents are arguing that this interferes with their children's right to receive an education “free from religious interference” All church and community schools are required, by law, to provide a “daily act of collective worship”. Burford Primary holds a daily assembly for children which features “exclusively Christian prayer”, Mr and Mrs Harris say.They add that once a week there is a longer assembly which involves an external Christian group “dressing as biblical characters” and acting out Christian stories including the crucifixion. When they asked to withdraw their children, aged eight and ten, from the longer assembly, they were “left to play with an iPad” while a teaching assistant watched over them, according to the parents.By failing to provide an alternative that is of “equal educational worth”, the school has breached it public sector equality duty to have “due regard” to people’s beliefs and has also breached the children’s human right by denying them education.The school also holds various functions in a Church, including a harvest event and the Year Six leavers event, where every pupil is given a bible.Mr and Mrs Harris say that they do not want their children to attend these events, which leaves them “deprived of the benefit of what should be important elements of school and community life”. This amounts to another breach of equalities laws since their children are effectively being discriminated against, they argue. In a joint statement, they say the parents say are bringing the case “reluctantly”, but added that they “feel strongly that we need to try to make our children’s education as inclusive as possible”.Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, said: “We are the only sovereign state in the world to require schools to hold daily Christian worship, yet 80 per cent of our young people and 75 per cent of people of parental age are not Christians.”He added that requiring children to participate in religious worship and then “marginalising them if in good conscience they cannot”, ignores their right to freedom of religion or belief.Anne Davey, chief executive of ODST, said it is “not appropriate” to comment on legal proceedings while the case is ongoing.  “ODST is confident that Burford Primary School has acted entirely appropriately, and has followed statute in ways that are similar to all local or indeed national schools,” she said.  “It has provided exactly what the law requires, which includes provision for children to be withdrawn if parents so request.”  Burford Primary was judged to be “Good” in its most recent Ofsted report. Inspectors  said that pupils “speak with confidence about different faiths and cultures”, and added that pupils “have a keen sense of equalities and their work demonstrates a deep understanding of British Values”. Parents are arguing that this interferes with their children’s right to receive an education “free from religious interference” read more

Army urged to do more after female veterans tell of sex assaults

Instead, they discovered 52 out of 100 women questions said they had been sexually assaulted while serving. Forward Assist, an organisation based in the North East of England, conducted a series of interviews with 100 female veterans expecting to find the greatest challenge they faced in civilian life was overcoming post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following recent conflicts. An Armed Services veterans’ charity is urging the Government to do more to protect female soldiers after a survey found more than half of women who had served in the RAF, Army or Navy were sexually assaulted. Meanwhile, 26 women claimed they had been physically assaulted, 66 said they were bullied and 49 of them admitted…

Poor governance responsible for NICILs financial performance PPPC

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedNICIL alleges ill-informed, politically motivated assaultJuly 2, 2014In “Politics”Govt’s rush to privatise Stockfeeds “highly suspect” – PPPDecember 4, 2017In “Business”“IT’S A LIE” – Ramotar challenges Govt to bring the evidence showing remaining US$5M was paid over for GT&T sharesApril 22, 2016In “Business” In observing recent media reports about the poor financial performance of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has criticised Government, saying the agency’s performance is reflective of two years of mismanagement.The PPP/C said in a scathing statement that under its leadership, the Privatisation Unit of NICIL contributed tens of billions of dollars to the Treasury from dividends and privatisation receipts. However, according to the Party, under the coalition Government, NICIL’s finances have been allowed to dwindle due to grave mismanagement and neglect. It was also noted that legal proceedings involving billions of dollars against the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/Alliance For Change (AFC) are not being actively pursued.“Valuable real estate that could have been sold or rented are poorly managed and are allowed to deteriorate,” the Opposition PPP further pointed out.The Party said given the billions of dollars NICIL contributed to the Treasury, it is still to be known, “How much has been transferred under APNU and where the audited accounts are.”NICIL produced and laid in Parliament clean audit reports, for both NICIL and its subsidiaries, up to the time that the PPP left Government, the Party said.As such, PPP is now questioning what APNU/AFC has done.The PPP recalled that when former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran’s report on NICIL was handed back to him, it contained over 100 plus pages of responses. However, the APNU/AFC has never published these responses or similar type responses to the many forensic audits.It was however noted that the Privatisation Unit has published details on all its transactions, including details relating to transparency and transaction values.Under the PPP, the Party said, NICIL made economic contributions and investments and loss-making entities were restructured, privatised or improved and NICIL found ways to ensure that its assets were properly managed and contributing financial with economic returns.“Under the PPP, NICIL was not handed a golden spoon – it was innovative and created substantial value; it investments were not white elephants like the D’Urban Park project,” the PPP statement said.The Opposition party said if NICIL’s investments in the Berbice Bridge, Marriott or Skeldon Energy have not performed in accordance with its feasibilities, there is a clear connection with how the APNU/AFC policy decisions, incompetence, or action, have directly contributed to any sub-par performance.“The PPP calls on these matters to be debated in the National Assembly and for APNU to provide all relevant information,” the statement added.The Opposition said NICIL/PU was relentless in saving the bauxite industry, where hundreds of millions of dollars were injected to maintain the operations in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) from Linmine, Bermine and then Aroaima Bauxite.Even after privatisation, from 2004, the now acting Chief Executive Officer of NICIL, Horace James, and a large secretariat, were maintained and funded by NICIL to ensure that all matters relating to Linmine were fully addressed and that maximum development was achieved.“No one mentions these today. Government similarly injected billions of dollars for decades. Linden residents receive electricity at highly subsidised rates today relative to the consumers who pay GPL for power, including power generated by SEI of almost 90 billion KWH,” the PPP noted.The party said for decades monies were used for support; saving jobs and keeping bauxite alive.Despite the Marriott, Berbice Bridge and Skeldon Energy Inc as described as “blunders” committed by NICIL, the PPP/C said Marriott today provides many jobs and is the largest taxpayer in the hospitality sector.“It is no secret that the Marriott project was handicapped when the APNU/AFC Government shelved completion of the casino that was going to be operated by Marriott; funding was already arranged from Republic Bank but it was delayed by court proceedings filed by an APNU Member of Parliament.”The party said shortly after the APNU/AFC took office, the coalition Government immediately withdrew the legal proceedings and signed the debenture – yet the monies were never utilised to complete the casino and reimburse NICIL for its investment.In respect of Skeldon Energy Inc (SEI), the Guyana Suagr Corporation (GuySuCo) is yet to transfer the energy assets, which have been held up by its Chairman Clive Thomas. The Opposition party believes therefore that GuySuCo should pay back the monies advanced by GPL and NICIL, since Clive Thomas has breached this agreement.A few months ago, SEI Chairman Lloyd Rose exposed that GuySuCo had never transferred the assets that GPL and NICIL had paid for. The PPP/C said that means that the US$20 million plus in funds paid by GPL and GuySuCo, have not benefited the 50,000 persons that are affected by GuySuCo.In making reference to the Berbice Bridge Project, the PPP/C said when it left office in May 2015, NICIL had no investments in the Berbice Bridge. However the coalition Government attacked the Berbice Bridge project and breached the agreements with the many Private Sector investors, yet, according to the PPP, it is now investing in the Berbice Bridge.The Party also thinks Government was simply playing politics when it reduced tolls, especially since in less than one year, it passed on massive tax increases and fees including the Demerara Bridge toll increase, and attempted to push through the Parking Meter Contract.“The problems of NICIL today is directly linked to the failure of the APNU Government to properly manage this entity.  Economic mis-management and squandering opportunities to create or save investment and jobs, have become the hallmark of this APNU-AFC Government” said the PPP/C. read more