Former Super Bowl guard on 49ers defense: ‘This is dangerous’

first_imgAnother (Sun)day, another raft of superlatives and rose petals tossed at the feet of the 49ers defense.You could dig into the numbers if you wish — the 49ers are holding opponents to 224 yards per game, and 4.12 yards per play, both league leading figures (by the width of a Wheaties flake over New England in both categories).Interesting, but you don’t need a spreadsheet to confirm what your eyes tell you. … CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile devicelast_img

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Sail the 7 Seas — Geocache of the Week

first_imgTraditional GC6GQB6 by JakeAsh Image by Dare2Geocache Location: North Carolina, USA N 35° 31.518 W 082° 31.232 Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.Share with your Friends:More Why are pirate-themed geocaches so addictive? They say once ye lose yer first hand solving a field puzzle like this, ye get hooked for life!  SharePrint RelatedPirate’s Booty / Bonaire — Geocache of the WeekJuly 20, 2017In “Community”Geocache of the Week — Pirates of the Grand: The Legend of DKs TreasureAugust 3, 2017In “Community”Arrrrrrr you fan of Pirates? — Nashuan’s First Cache (GC1D56C) — Geocache of the WeekAugust 28, 2013In “Community” Drop anchor at ground zero to start your voyage toward signing the logbook. The cache description indicates how to get the vessel carrying key information into the waters of the maze-like table. Make sure you keep your land legs, though—this is a tilting tabletop! Difficulty: 3 Terrain: 2center_img What do ye call a pirate with two eyes and two legs? A rookie.  Image by unimoggers In the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway, nestled just beyond the idyllic Blue Ridge Mountains, stands an oasis under a canopy of trees. Here amongst the greenery, 250 miles (402 km) from the Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina, a pirate can sail the seven seas. How is this possible? You don’t need to bring your own boat, just a pen and your best nautical navigational skills for this Geocache of the Week: Sail the 7 Seas. Image by ralphfix Don’t make the same mistake by villainizing gravity as you guide the capsule from its cave toward the exit. The seas may be rough and fraught with whirlpools or trap doors, but keep trying! With the wind in your sails, you’ll set the perfect course for retrieving the code for the ammo can nearby holding a pile of dubloons … and the logbook. Cache owner, JakeAsh is no landlubber when it comes to creating well-designed, creative caches. The container is made out of little more than wood and plexiglass, but it is foolhardy to underestimate it.last_img read more

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Mushrooms worth ₹10 cost tribal women dear in Madhya Pradesh

first_imgMushrooms worth ₹10-12 cost two tribal women their freedom and pride in Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha National Park last week.The duo from the Baiga tribe were arrested and produced before a magistrate court last Friday for collecting edible mushrooms from Sarai trees inside the park.Prohibited area According to forest officials, Herma Bai and Sukhwanti Bai, residents of Sijhora village located on the Mukki range of the park, were collecting putpura, edible mushrooms, from a prohibited area in the forest. They were arrested by a team of officials patrolling the park and taken to the Mukki range office.“The forest officials of Mukki range arrested the two women for venturing into the park area. The two were later produced before the court where they were granted bail. The two women were found in an area where movements of a tigress and her cubs had been reported in the last few days,” said Sanjay Shukla, field director, Kanha National Park.Herma and Sukhwanti were taken to magistrate Madhusudan Jungle’s court in Baihar in Balaghat district. While granting bail to the two, the court told the forest officials to issue warning before registering such cases.When asked if the officials issued any warning to the women or if the two were aware that they had ventured into a prohibited area, S.K. Khare, sub-divisional officer of Mukki range, said over telephone: “The two women have been released. I suggest you speak to the senior authorities of the park.”Sharp criticismThe action of the forest officials has drawn sharp criticism from wildlife experts. “The forest officials recovered putpuraworth ₹10-12 in the local market from the two women. The two were made to sit at the range office for nearly six hours before being produced in the local court on Friday. The officials could have warned them instead of dragging them to court,” said Ajay Dubey, a wildlife activist.Facing eviction”The tribals have co-existed with the tigers for thousands of years, but now they are facing eviction in the name of their protection. The eyes and ears which can detect and deter poachers are being evicted from the forest,” Mr. Dubey added.last_img read more

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a month agoMan Utd midfielder Angel Gomes expecting physical Rochdale test

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd midfielder Angel Gomes expecting physical Rochdale testby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United midfielder Angel Gomes is expecting a physical test against Carabao Cup opponents Rochdale.The United youngster is set to be involved tonight.He told MUTV, “They’re a League One side, a tough team and physical but that’s part of the game anyway. Every team we play against will be physical, that’s a given, so I don’t really take that into consideration.”We’ll try to play our football and attack as much possible, trying to show our strengths.“They’ll come out all guns blazing, I would imagine. It’s a big game for them, they’ve not played against our club for a long time and they have an ex-United player in Oli Rathbone.”I grew up watching him as he was two or three age-groups above me. I know him quite well so hopefully he’ll play and I’ll be able to play against him.“ last_img read more

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The part about the guns I

first_imgFULL SPECIAL REPORTBy Jorge BarreraAPTN National NewsHer father was a preacher and she says she believes in God.And she swears she’s telling the truth about the guns.Juanita Cree, 48, says she smuggled two Arizona-bought guns into Canada and planted them in the house of her former boss, a Lebanese-born Canadian citizen named Michael Chamas, 47, who is now a fugitive.“I brought the guns…into Canada,” said Cree, whose Mohawk father was a Pentecostal preacher in Akwesasne. “I put them there.”A Quebec judge issued a warrant for Chamas’ arrest after he skipped a court date on Oct. 19. Chamas is facing trial on nine weapons charges stemming from the two Arizona-bought guns police found in his Lorraine, Que., home on March 26, 2008.Police raided his home as part of Operation Cancun, which targeted a drug smuggling network operating out of Kahnawake and Akwesanse that brought Quebec-grown marijuana into the U.S.Chamas claimed he couldn’t show up for court because he was sick, but the RCMP discovered he had been traveling the globe, including a stop in Mexico where he is involved in a bid to revive Mexicana Air, Mexico’s oldest airline that went bankrupt in 2010.Police suspected Chamas was the “banker” for the cross-border marijuana smuggling organization.Chamas denies this, saying he didn’t know police believed some of the individuals he was linked to were allegedly involved in laundering money from marijuana smuggling.Cree says she planted the guns in Chamas’ house at the suggestion of a Surete du Quebec sergeant, who was with the Aboriginal policing unit.The officer could not be reached for comment. When APTN National News phoned his last known office, one officer said he was on leave, while another said he had been transferred from the unit.The guns, however are only part of Cree’s story.She says she also worked as an informant in Kanesetake, the Mohawk community at the centre of the 1990 Oka crisis, for the Surete du Quebec (SQ) and the RCMP.She claims these things in a sworn affidavit, now sealed but available for download on Michael Chamas’ website, that was filed this past May into Chamas’ court case.None of the claims in the affidavit have been proven in court.With Chamas on the run, it may take some time before Cree is ever challenged about her assertions on the witness stand.To this point, Cree has not been subpoenaed to testify.The RCMP said they could not comment on Cree’s claims.“There is a sealing order in place on this matter, so the RCMP cannot confirm or deny the allegations made by Ms. Cree,” said RCMP Cpl. Carine Cordey. “We don’t want to jeopardize anything that is going on right now that could be before the courts.”The Surete du Quebec also said they could not comment on the matter.The Crown prosecutor, Danny Lemieux, who works for a special unit created to deal with cases involving the proceeds of organized crime, refused to comment on an ongoing case.APTN National News has learned that the prosecution was prepared to challenge the credibility of her statements in the affidavit and was prepared to call SQ officers as witnesses against her if the defence attempted to use Cree’s explosive claims.It’s also believed that the prosecution was prepared to argue that Cree was never technically an informant, but did supply information to the police.The prosecution was prepared to say that the SQ officer Cree says recruited her to become an informant may have been “playing his own game,” according to a source with knowledge of the file.The former officer, Daniel Beaudry, was the police force’s liaison officer in Kanesetake. He could not be reached for comment.Beaudry was disciplined over ties to Chamas while the businessman was under criminal investigation, according to a letter of reprimand from Feb. 8, 2006.The letter of reprimand.Download (PDF, Unknown)Cree maintains she was recruited by Beaudry to become an informant for the SQ between 1994 and 2000. She said she signed a contract with Beaudry and was given a “Confidential Informant” number along with a pager.Cree said relationship with the SQ lasted between 1994 and 2000.“I was trying to help them to gain information that was relevant to some of the operations they were trying to undertake,” said Cree.No money was paid directly for the information she provided, she said.The money moved through separate contracts with Quebec’s justice department for setting up meetings with prominent community members and police training programs, said Cree.“They were cautious and careful about how they gave me money,” said Cree.In one instance, Cree said she worked with the SQ in preparation for a drug operation in August 1995.“They were gathering information via surveillance and most of it was aerial surveillance and we had these large (air surveillance) pictures of the reserve,” said Cree. “And they were asking me to identify who lived where and what was around, pockets of families and people who were in certain locations.”The relationship with the RCMP, which started in 1995, was different.Cree said she acted more as a consultant to the RCMP on policing in First Nations communities across Quebec.“It was how to approach communities, how to make a difference in community policing aspects…They were very interested in (Quebec’s) far north,” said Cree. “I actually flew on the RCMP commissioner’s plane…I spent time with their liaison officer going to different communities, looking at different training things, making connections…making sure they got in to speak to the right people.”The RCMP also gave Cree grants to run sensitivity and cultural training programs for police officers and justice officials.Cree said she eventually drifted away from the police and Kanesatake and by 2000 had reinvented herself in the business world.She became heavily involved in a project to create a free-trade zone at Montreal’s Mirabel airport. Free-trade zones allow goods to be imported, manufactured, reconfigured and then exported tax-free.The free trade zone project ended in the fall of 2001 after Bombardier was allowed to build a hanger that encroached on one of the runways. The airport suddenly didn’t meet the regulations to handle the volume needed for a free-trade zone.Cree said she met Chamas during a gala at the Sheraton related to the proposed free-trade zone.“He was standing in the lobby of the Sheraton and he was very striking, very tall,” said Cree.Chamas wanted in on the free-trade zone and Cree said he had lined up about $50 million worth of investments from China before the project fell through.A self-styled high-flying, international financier, it appears Chamas has business links all over the world; from China, to Switzerland, to Dubai to Venezuela.Chamas has also been the subject of police investigation in two other countries: Switzerland and France.Before becoming a fugitive in Canada, Chamas was gaining altitude. He was attending political fundraisers promising jobs, planning to buy a Quebec bank and promising to set up international construction deals in Dubai.He projected the image of an international financier with limitless access to overseas capital and high-level international connections.Yet, through most of it, he battled the tax man and eventually lost. Chamas had been fighting Revenue Canada in the courts before he fled the country.Tax authorities put a $1.8 million lien on his luxury home in Lorrain which has since been seized and put on the market. He also owed $1.5 million to Quebec in taxes, according to court records.Tax authorities also seized his $200,000 Rolls Royce and over $700,000 from two CIBC bank accounts, according to court records.Chamas, who obtained his Canadian citizenship in 1995, said he didn’t owe tax authorities any money because he maintained his residency overseas where he conducted the majority of his business.Tax authorities and the courts disagreed.But it was his relationship with Cree, who was his personal assistant on his North American dealings, which offered him the biggest prize: access to the Conservative government.Cree was a close associate of David Bernstein, a Montreal bankruptcy lawyer and former Tory candidate who ran unsuccessfully against former Independent Senator and Liberal MP Marcel Prud’Homme in 1976, 1979 and 1980.Bernstein was friends with John Crosbie, a former Tory cabinet minister in the Brian Mulroney government and current lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.Bernstein was also close to John Reynolds, a former Tory and Reform MP who chaired Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party leadership bid in 2004 and he chaired the Conservative’s federal campaign in 2006.Both men are mentioned in Bernstein’s obituary, along with Jerome Choquette, who was the minister of justice for the Quebec Liberal government of Robert Bourassa during the October crisis in the 1970s.Chamas, through Cree, began forming a business relationship with Bernstein who believed the self-styled international financier could raise $1.5 billion in capital for the purchase of the Laurentian Bank in Quebec.Everything, however, came crashing down on Chamas on March 26, 2008, when RCMP and SQ police officers with the Aboriginal Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit executed a search warrant at his home in Lorraine, just north of Montreal.The RCMP had traced a $1 million transfer into one of Chamas’ account from individuals investigators believed were laundering money for a cross-border smuggling network operating out of the Mohawk communities of Kahnawake and Akwesasne.Chamas said the transfer was for money he was owed.Revenue Canada and immigration officials were also present during the raid, which was part of Operation Cancun, an investigation aimed at dismantling the drug network which moved Quebec-produced marijuana to New York City.The RCMP’s Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit was also involved in the Cancun investigation and targeted the suspected money players, including Chamas and one of his associates named Nicolas Anthis.Investigators found two Arizona-bought guns when they searched Chamas’ house in Lorraine, just north of Montreal.One was a Taurus .38 calibre hand-gun bought at the Cash Box Jewellery & Pawn Co. in Tucson, Az., on Feb. 13, 2008, according to a gun trace supplied to the RCMP by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.The other gun was a Glock .40 calibre bought at Sportsman’s Warehouse in the same city on the same day, according to the gun trace.The gun trace.Download (PDF, Unknown)Chamas was charged with nine weapons offences in connection with the guns. None of the offences included gun smuggling.“Those guns, that wasn’t him. That was me,” said Cree, who also had her phone tapped and was under surveillance during the Cancun investigation.Cree says she used Chamas’ birthday as cover to plant the guns.Cree said she phoned Chamas, who was born on Feb. 9, to tell him she had a belated birthday present for him. She carried the guns inside a bag with the present, a magnetized globe.She said she planted the .38 in a basement closet while Chamas showed her some renovations she had done to his home theatre section.Under the pretext of wanting to see newly bought baby furniture in the adjacent room, Cree said she slipped the Glock into the inside pocket of one of this suit jackets hanging in the master bedroom closet.Police found the guns in those locations.Cree said she planted the guns on either March 12 or 13, two weeks before the raid.The proximity between the dates she says she planted the guns and the raids was pure coincidence, said Cree. She said she was not told about the looming raid or tip police about the guns.Cree, however, stayed in contact with Chamas after she says she planted the guns.“I wasn’t working directly with him,” said Cree. “After Cancun hit, he distanced himself from me…some of the associates around him kept telling him I was working for the police.”Cree, however, admits that as time passed, she again entered into Chamas’ sphere and finally told him in April over a lunch of steak and grilled chicken Cesar salad that she planted the guns.  She said a glass of wine spilled.The continued relationship, however, raises the possibility that Chamas made a deal with Cree to file the affidavit and claim the guns were planted.They had worked together for several years and she had intimate knowledge of many of his business dealings.If Chamas went down, he could also take Cree with him.Cree’s affidavit gave Chamas a golden ticket to beat the weapons charges.Cree denies there was any deal.“He never paid me to do a deal for him or to take this or do anything. None of that,” said Cree.Chamas, in a separate interview, also denied there was a deal and used a vulgar term to describe Cree.“Are you out of your mind…that bitch, she ruined my life, why would I pay her?” he said.Cree said she arranged for the guns to be bought legally by a nephew. She then smuggled them into Canada.APTN National News traced the name of the individual whose driver’s license was used to buy the guns, but could not reach him for comment.APTN National News did reach the individual’s former partner, who is Cree’s niece, and she said he did buy guns for a family member, but she wasn’t sure about the date.“If the ATF comes to me and charges me, okay, I have to take responsibility for that. It was me. I don’t want them to go and find another scapegoat and say it was somebody else or whatever,” said Cree. “It was me. Am I running away from it? No.”Police seized hundreds of documents from Chamas when they raided his house, including an application for an Arizona driver’s licence.Cree says the application had nothing to do with the purchase of the guns.Chamas said he lived in Arizona in the 1980s after he came to North America from Lebanon for the first time.Cree said the decision to plant the guns began during a meeting in November 2007 with the SQ officer who spoke about Beaudry and Chamas.“He talked to me about who he was, that he was working in Aboriginal policing, (and) he said I know you, you have a reputation here,” said Cree.“(The officer) then stated that it would be better to take them all down,” her affidavit states. “He suggested this using the example of illegal weapons being discovered at the residences of individuals.”Cree said she had other conversations with her acquaintances that also pushed her toward the decision to plant the weapons.“I remember having a conversation with (one lawyer) in his office and he said ‘are you sure you know who you are dealing with?’” said Cree. “He was really pressing in terms of ‘are you sure of these things? Are you sure of these facts? Are you sure you know who this person is?’”But it was a conversation Cree had with Bernstein in January 2008 that finally convinced her to plant the guns.“It was almost like Chamas’ money smelled,” said Cree. “(Bernstein) was told something…and started referring to (Chamas) in a very negative way.”Cree said there were dark hints about financing terrorism.Cree said she decided to come clean about the guns this past spring after talking with Bernstein who was dying in hospital from cancer.Bernstein died in April.“When he was lying in bed and talking about doing things that we were having a lot of regret for,” said Cree. “I knew he was dying and he was talking directly about Chamas. I could do nothing else but come forward with the truth.”She says she just wants to clear her conscience.“My responsibility is to take responsibility, to take accountability for what I had done,” said Cree. “Yes it is a matter of conscience.”Cree says she is ready to face the consequences for committing the crimes of smuggling guns across an international border and using them to frame her former boss.Now she waits.“They are either going to say I am charged with something and get it over with or they are going to come out and call me a complete psycho,” said Cree.jbarrera@aptn.calast_img read more

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Bellegarde email urges MPs to support bill on UN Indigenous rights declaration

first_imgAPTN National News OTTAWA—Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde wrote an email to MP’s urging them to support Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private members bill to have UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People apply to new federal laws.Bellegarde sent the email to MPs across party lines Tuesday urging them to support Bill C-641 during Wednesday’s House of Commons second reading vote.If the bill fails to get enough votes it won’t go to committee for hearings and study.“Statements that the declaration is incompatible with Canada’s constitution are untrue and undermine Canada’s standing and reputation in the international community,” wrote Bellegarde, in the email, which was obtained by APTN National News. “The declaration offers a road map to correct the entrenched patters of system discrimination and the many barriers to First Nations enjoying all fundamental human rights and freedoms.”The Harper government is opposing Saganash’s bill arguing it is not compatible with the constitution and that it would give First Nations a veto over federal legislation.“Adoption of Bill C-641 provides a crucial opportunity for the federal government to engage in genuine partnership with Indigenous peoples,” wrote Bellegarde. “I urge you to vote for Bill C-641 at (second) reading…and to provide your unequivocal support to its passage and fulfillment.”news@aptn.ca@APTNNewslast_img read more

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Noncooperation by SP govt delayed beautification project in Varanasi PM

first_imgVaranasi (UP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday claimed that “non-cooperation” by the previous Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh was responsible for the delay in start of a beautification project in his Lok Sabha constituency. He was addressing a gathering here after laying the foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath Temple’s approach road and its beautification. “In the first three years there was non-cooperation of the state government. The developmental projects here picked pace after you (people of Uttar Pradesh) made Yogi Adityanath the chief minister,” he said. “Had there been cooperation earlier, we would have launched the project instead of laying the foundation,” Modi said. Attacking previous governments, the prime minister said, “In the past 70 years no government thought of Baba (Lord Shiva) and were silent. They took care of themselves but not of this place.” Noting that it was his “pleasure” to have initiated the work at Kashi Vishwanath, he said, “I have dreamt for a long time to work for this place. When I was not in politics I came here several times and used to think that something should happen here.” “Bhole Baba ney tai kiya hoga baatein bahut karte ho yahan aao kuch karke dikhao,” (Lord Shiva must have decided that you talk much, so now you should come here and do something),” he said, adding that due to the blessings the fulfillment of his dream has started. After offering prayers at Kashi Vishwanath Temple, he said that he was blessed to be associated with the project of Kashi Vishwanath Dham. About the beautification project, Modi said this is “mukti (freedom) for Kashi Vishwanath Dham” which was surrounded with encroachment. He said the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has survived the vicissitudes of centuries and praised Queen Ahiyabai Holkar for her work on the shrine over two centuries ago. He said not much thought had been given by those in power to the area around the temple. “For the first time, we acquired nearby buildings, removed encroachments after which 40 ancient temples came to the fore. Many of them were encroached, kitchens were set up and people were living there,” he said. Modi said the entire temple complex is now in the process of rejuvenation and the results are becoming visible, with a direct link being established between the Ganga river and Kashi Vishwanath temple. He said this project will become a model for similar projects elsewhere and give a new global identity to Kashi. The prime minister not only complimented the officers involved with the project for performing their task with devotion, but also thanked all the people who had property around the temple and allowed its acquisition for the project. It was difficult to take people into confidence to give their properties and ensure the project does not take political colour, he said. “I thank people of Kashi, who gave their properties for Baba. This is the biggest ‘daan’ they have given for Baba,” the prime minister said. “I have seen a lot of government employees as I was CM for a long time. But I want to say with pride that the team of officers deployed here by Yogi ji is doing work with ‘Bhakti’ (devotion) and ‘sewa bhav’,” Modi said. Stating that the Kashi Vishwanath temple was “targeted by enemies”, he said they tried to destroy it but it again took “rebirth due to the faith” of people. “When Gandhiji came here, he was pained why is this place is like this. In his address in the BHU, he expressed his thoughts,” Modi said, suggesting the university should make a case study of the project so that when it is completed the world can know how it happened. “We will also try to trace the history of the 40 temples discovered here and the government will also take care of them,” the PM said, adding the project will be a model for “protection and preservation” of temples and a combination of modern technology with ancient faith. “It will give new identity to Kashi in the world. Maybe it’s in my fate. In 2014, when I came here I said ‘mai aaya nahi mujhe bulaya hai’ (I did not come here on my own, I was summoned). Maybe I came here for this work,” he said. Earlier, the prime minister visited the Kashi Vishwanath temple and also inspected the project site. During his brief stay in his constituency, Modi attended the National Women Livelihood Meet 2019 at Deendayal Hastkala Sankul and distributed appreciation letters to five Women Self Help Groups, whose members shared their experiences with the prime minister. Women SHGs aided by Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – NRLM, Uttar Pradesh handed over a cheque to the prime minister for contribution to the ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ Fund. Addressing a gathering at National Women Livelihood Meet, Modi said he could carry out development projects now that “middleman and corruption have been abolished and every penny is spent on people”. “Now there are no middleman and corruption. Modi did not have to take anything for himself. If he takes, what will he do…125 crore people of the country are my family. Keep trusting me,” he said. Listing the schemes launched by his government for women, Modi said these were playing an important role in the making of a new India.last_img read more

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These Kings Are Better Than Gretzkys Kings

For NHL fans of a certain age,1Full disclosure: I am of this demographic, albeit one of the younger members. the definitive Los Angeles Kings team is Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings team. The franchise existed for 21 seasons before Gretzky arrived in Los Angeles in 1988, but the banality that he single-handedly made hockey relevant in LA is largely true. Kings attendance soared with No. 99 in the fold,2Increasing 27 percent in Gretzky’s first season with LA and another 11 percent in his second, per Rodney Fort’s data. the team’s value increased sharply during his tenure there,3The Kings ranked as the NHL’s third-most valuable team in 1994, according to contemporary estimates by Financial World magazine. In 1995, the team sold for a price ($113 million) nearly three times its value in 1988, when Bruce McNall bought 51 percent of the team for $20 million. and Gretzky instantly transformed the on-ice product into a legitimate contender by powering one of the best offenses in the game. Behind a 40-point postseason by Gretzky, the Kings reached their apex in 1993 — losing in five games but earning what was, at the time, the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup Final berth. For years, the Gretzky era easily represented the high-water mark of hockey’s four-decade experiment in Southern California.Not anymore. The Kings now are back in the finals for the second time in three years, and are looking for another Stanley Cup victory to follow the one they won in 2012. But this team isn’t Gretzky’s. It’s constructed differently and it plays a different game. And it might be better for it.If you’re looking for an NHL “Moneyball,” the modern Kings may be as close as any team to embodying the ethos of hockey’s sabermetric revolution. As FiveThirtyEight contributor Eric Tulsky has noted before, the current Kings pursue a strategy of constant control of the puck. With a host of possession superstars, the Kings have led the NHL in close-score4To filter out the influence of score effects. Fenwick percentage — a proxy for time of possession that measures a team’s share of all unblocked shots directed at either net during its games — for two years running, and the year before that they dominated the metric down the stretch after swapping defenseman Jack Johnson5A particularly poor Fenwick player, it should be noted. for center Jeff Carter at the trade deadline.No opposing team can score (or even shoot) when it doesn’t have the puck. During the regular season, LA allowed the league’s third-lowest rate of unblocked shots per minute of 5-on-5 play, and its second-lowest rate of total shots allowed per game. Along with decent goaltending from Jonathan Quick, that’s how the Kings helped clinch the William Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltenders on the team that allows the fewest goals all season. Maximizing possession is a hockey hack that helps at both ends of the rink.But all that possession hasn’t guaranteed the modern-day Kings a bushel of goals. The Kings spent most of the 2013-14 regular season struggling to light the lamp, despite firing the league’s second-highest rate of unblocked shots at the opposing net.6Per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play. Their 5-on-5 shooting percentage with the score close, which had been average in 2012-13, slumped to third worst in the NHL this season. Still, LA kept emphasizing possession and putting the puck on net, seeming to trust that shooting percentages tend to regress heavily to the mean.And the Kings rediscovered their scoring touch at just the right time. During the playoffs, they’ve scored on a substantially higher proportion of shots than they did during the regular season. It doesn’t hurt that they also acquired right wing Marian Gaborik — whose career shooting percentage ranks among the best of any active player’s — at the trade deadline. But the biggest reason for the Kings’ offensive resurgence is that they rode out their poor shooting luck and continued to focus on dominating the puck, the way statheads have been calling for teams to do for years.The Kings squad that Gretzky tearfully joined on Aug. 9, 1988, played a very different kind of hockey.We don’t know for sure because play-by-play records from that era are not available, but it’s unlikely that Gretzky’s Kings dominated possession of the puck. According to estimates of close-score Fenwick percentage for older seasons, Los Angeles ranked among the top half of teams in possession rate just once (1990-91) in the eight seasons the Great One wore silver and black. Most of the time, they were actually somewhat bad at keeping control of the puck, ranking 18th out of 26 teams in estimated close-score Fenwick percentage during Gretzky’s tenure.Instead, they lived off a suspiciously high shooting percentage that modern analysts might decry as luck. During Gretzky’s first three seasons as a King, LA finished no worse than second in goals per shot. But Gretzky’s playmaking wizardry was probably a very real effect. Over that span, he paced the league in assists by a wide margin,7He notched 107 more helpers than No. 2 Adam Oates. You could have finished 70th in assists over the same period with the leftovers Gretzky didn’t need to pass Oates. and his teammates shot 9.1 percent better in those seasons than they would over the rest of their careers.The defense couldn’t measure up to the offense, though. Those Kings allowed the league’s second-highest number of shots8Only the miserable San Jose Sharks, in their second year of existence, played softer D. and its fourth-highest number of goals.Gretzky’s squad didn’t have a deep roster, either. According to Tom Awad’s catch-all summary stat Goals Versus Threshold (like Value Over Replacement Player for hockey), the 1992-93 Kings were a notably top-heavy team. They were led by stars such as Luc Robitaille and Jari Kurri. (Not to mention Gretzky, who recovered from an injury in time to post 65 points in 45 games.) But they also lost 17.8 goals because sub-replacement-level talent was on the ice, one of the largest totals in recent memory by a team that won more than half its games.The current iteration of the Kings has superior depth, and nary a Gretzky type to be found. Since LA’s top scorer Anže Kopitar debuted with the club in 2006-07, his best offensive season was 86 adjusted points. Gretzky’s worst full-season mark as a King by far was 83 adjusted points9Adjusted points are, well, adjusted — meaning they remove the influence of scoring environment — so Gretzky doesn’t get an unfair advantage for playing in a more high-flying era. in 1994-95 — and he cracked the century mark in five of his six full seasons in Los Angeles. Today’s Kings rely less on a single superstar to carry the bulk of the offensive workload.Superior depth and puck possession don’t automatically equal a better hockey team, though they often do. The proof is in the results for the current Kings, who over the last three seasons are already twice as close to a quantifiable dynasty as the franchise was during Gretzky’s entire stay in Southern California.10200.0 dynasty points compared to 97.6. If advancing deep into the postseason is the standard for success, today’s Kings beat No. 99’s in a landslide.Gretzky himself has said that the present-day Kings are impressive. Of the Cup-winning 2012 team, the Great One said, “They’re a much better team than we were in ’93.”He’s right. Gretzky’s team was an exciting offensive squad, and one of the last successful relics of the high-octane playing style that had ruled the game in the 1980s. But today’s Los Angeles Kings are exemplars of the modern game. They know that if you always have the puck on your stick, you can’t lose. read more

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Whats New In Our 201718 Club Soccer Predictions

Costa RicaCONCACAF0.09-0.300.02 HondurasCONCACAF-0.61-0.61 SpainUEFA2.012.102.01 There aren’t too many surprises at the top; out of the five biggest European leagues, four are in the top five, with La Liga in Spain and the Bundesliga in Germany pretty far ahead of the pack. The Premier League in England, despite being the most valuable league in the world, has struggled to compete in the Champions League recently, and their match-based rating lags far behind their market value rating. Another league whose recent performance according to our ratings has lagged behind their market value is Major League Soccer in the U.S., whose last CONCACAF Champions League title was in 2000. MLS shows up in 28th place, between the Danish and Croatian leagues and a long way behind their regional rivals Liga MX in Mexico.To generate these league strength ratings, we’ve set up a system where we first assume that all leagues are of equal strength and determine how far above or below expectation each league has performed over the past five years. In order, we:Run through all domestic matches in history and calculate domestic team SPI ratings throughout time.Look at each inter-league match from the past five years and calculate the expected score of the match based purely on each team’s domestic rating at the time.Take the difference between our expected score of the match and the actual score and run these results through Massey’s Method to find a rating for each league, expressed in how many goals better or worse than average that league is.Regress these calculated ratings toward market-value based ratings, weighted by how many inter-league matches we have for each league.Run through all matches in history again, incorporating league strengths into the predictions for any inter-league matches to improve the final team ratings.Our league strengths can be interpreted as a bonus (in goals) given to each team in an inter-league match. So, for example, if Real Madrid (league strength of 2.01) were playing PSG (league strength of 1.48) and Real Madrid were a 0.2 goal favorite based only on their domestic SPI ratings, our model would give Real Madrid an extra 0.53 goal bonus because of the difference in the two teams’ league strengths.A nice feature of these league strength ratings is that they let us generate global SPI ratings for any club team in the world. These global SPI ratings are a combination of each team’s domestic SPI rating and the strength of the league they play in. To generate them, we set up a mock match on neutral ground against a team with a domestic offensive and defensive SPI rating of 1.35 that plays in a league with strength of 1.25. (These values are just arbitrary ratings that we use for a baseline team against which we can compare any other team.) We calculate the number of goals we expect each team to score in the match as well as the chances of each team winning. So each team’s global SPI ratings can be interpreted as follows:Offensive SPI: the number of goals the team is expected to score in such a matchDefensive SPI: the number of goals the team is expected to concede in such a matchOverall SPI: the percentage of points the team is expected to take in such a matchWe’ll be adding a list of all SPI-rated teams to our club soccer predictions soon. For now, you can find forecasts from 24 leagues. They’re available in three languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese) and will be updated after every match. Czech RepublicUEFA0.710.440.69 PortugalUEFA1.181.161.18 COUNTRY▲▼CONFEDERATION▲▼INTER-LEAGUE MATCHES▲▼MARKET VALUES▲▼OVERALL STRENGTH▲▼ HungaryUEFA-0.360.11-0.29 GermanyUEFA1.891.881.89 GreeceUEFA0.810.620.80 ItalyUEFA1.481.891.50 SwedenUEFA0.730.290.70 Not all leagues have market values on Transfermarkt.Sources: ESPN, Transfermarkt MaltaUEFA-1.65-0.63-1.44 COUNTRY▲▼CONFEDERATION▲▼INTER-LEAGUE MATCHES▲▼MARKET VALUES▲▼OVERALL STRENGTH▲▼ GuatemalaCONCACAF-0.64-0.64 IsraelUEFA0.220.230.22 NetherlandsUEFA0.711.050.73 IcelandUEFA-0.31-0.69-0.36 UruguayCONMEBOL0.600.150.58 BulgariaUEFA-0.150.27-0.10 BelgiumUEFA0.971.000.97 AustriaUEFA0.860.590.84 DenmarkUEFA0.590.380.57 MacedoniaUEFA-0.74-0.88-0.76 BoliviaCONMEBOL0.530.53 LuxembourgUEFA-1.41-0.84-1.29 WalesUEFA-1.60-0.88-1.46 PeruCONMEBOL-0.06-0.03-0.06 BrazilCONMEBOL1.481.641.49 ArgentinaCONMEBOL1.480.711.45 Faroe IslandsUEFA-1.70-0.88-1.54 STRENGTH BASED ON … CroatiaUEFA0.550.490.55 Relative strength of club soccer leagues from Europe, North America and South America, by countryBased on matches played in the past five years and the current market value of each league FranceUEFA1.511.011.49 ParaguayCONMEBOL0.900.90 ChileCONMEBOL0.740.180.71 KazakhstanUEFA0.400.270.39 EstoniaUEFA-1.67-0.52-1.47 ScotlandUEFA0.140.440.17 ArmeniaUEFA-1.05-0.42-0.92 RussiaUEFA1.491.271.48 AlbaniaUEFA-0.77-0.30-0.70 CyprusUEFA0.04-0.300.02 USACONCACAF0.540.660.56 AzerbaijanUEFA0.01-0.040.01 SwitzerlandUEFA1.070.751.06 Northern IrelandUEFA-1.63-0.88-1.48 BelarusUEFA0.150.020.14 TurkeyUEFA1.111.161.12 GeorgiaUEFA-0.79-0.30-0.71 MexicoCONCACAF1.120.931.09 ColombiaCONMEBOL1.020.460.99 All our significant changes are in how we assess the relative strength of domestic leagues. The goal was to improve our forecasts for the Champions League and Europa League and to better compare clubs in different countries — say, Juventus in Italy to Ajax in the Netherlands. We’re using recent matches played between teams from different leagues, supplemented with league market values (from Transfermarkt), to assign a strength rating to every league that we’re forecasting. Our new league ratings also give us the ability to a calculate a global Soccer Power Index (SPI) rating for each team — a number from 0 to 100 that represents the overall strength of each team.We’ll get into more detail about that methodology below, but to start, here are our league strengths for most of the top-tier domestic leagues in Europe, North America and South America: FinlandUEFA-0.45-0.38-0.44 This methodology article is for an old version of our club soccer forecasts. See how our latest club soccer predictions work.We’ve launched a big expansion of our soccer predictions here at FiveThirtyEight. We’re now forecasting 24 club soccer leagues, with two more — Champions League and Europa League — to come in a few weeks. We’ve added leagues from South America (Brasileirão and the Argentine Superliga), along with 14 new European leagues, including five second-tier leagues, such as the English Championship.For the most part, the methodology behind our forecasts is the same as last year’s. We’re still using four metrics from each match — goals scored, adjusted goals, shot-based expected goals and non-shot expected goals — to evaluate team performances. Those evaluations are expressed as offensive and defensive ratings for each team. And those ratings, in turn, let us calculate win/loss/draw probabilities for future matches and simulate the season thousands of times to estimate each team’s chances of winning the title. RomaniaUEFA0.750.240.71 SerbiaUEFA-0.110.12-0.09 EnglandUEFA1.582.281.60 El SalvadorCONCACAF-0.46-0.46 PanamaCONCACAF0.070.07 UkraineUEFA1.100.881.09 MontenegroUEFA-0.99-0.43-0.87 AndorraUEFA-2.79-0.88-2.25 VenezuelaCONMEBOL-0.09-0.11-0.09 LatviaUEFA-1.46-0.35-1.27 STRENGTH BASED ON … IrelandUEFA-0.28-1.07-0.40 BosniaUEFA-0.61-0.03-0.51 EcuadorCONMEBOL0.770.460.75 LithuaniaUEFA-2.08-0.43-1.69 SlovakiaUEFA0.19-0.160.15 PolandUEFA0.630.210.60 MoldovaUEFA-0.63-0.88-0.67 SloveniaUEFA-0.160.01-0.14 NorwayUEFA0.500.190.48 read more

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Wrestling looking to take down the team up north

Any Buckeye will tell you there’s not much that tops the feeling of defeating “that team up north.” The Ohio State wrestling team is no exception. “It’s Ohio State — Michigan. We don’t like each other,” senior captain Colt Sponseller said. “That’s evident when we wrestle each other.” The misconception that the rivalry is limited to football is something the team looks to dispel. “A lot of people think it’s just football, but it’s all sports,” Sponseller said. “It’s a real big deal.” The Buckeyes have beaten Michigan the past three years, and look to extend that to four when they host the Wolverines at 7 p.m. Friday. “We’ve won the last three; we want to continue to win against Michigan,” coach Tom Ryan said. “Our group understands the importance of the rivalry.” The competition brings a different approach to the week preceding it. Ryan said he showed his team a video of the football rivalry, and the wrestlers know it is not just an ordinary dual. “The whole Ohio State atmosphere with Michigan — we want to beat them; they want to beat us,” sophomore captain Ian Paddock said. “So, that always adds to the competition.” Members of the winning team will receive gold singlets, like the gold pants trinkets given to victorious football players. Though their records are near opposites — Michigan is 7-2 and the Buckeyes are 2-6 — Ryan said he believes a win is within the Buckeyes’ sights. “We’re looking for a win,” he said. “Despite the struggles we have had, I think the matchups are favorable for us.” A Buckeye victory against the Wolverines rests on the outcome of one key matchup. “It’ll come down to the 197 pounds,” Ryan said. “It’ll be the key match of the night for both programs.” Sponseller said his team is ready for the dual and eager to take on its rival. “Everybody gets geared up,” he said. “It always feels like there’s a rivalry.” Ryan said his captains need to step up for the dual and lead the team to victory. Sponseller said he isn’t taking the challenge lightly. “Not trying to be an enforcer,” he said, “but trying to be a motivator.” The fans will play a key role in Friday’s dual, Sponseller said. “The crowd means a lot,” he said. “It feels like you have an 11th man out there.” Sponseller said he has one plan. “I just plan on going out there,” he said, “and beating Michigan.” read more

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