Midwest RegionalIN BRIEFGame to watch: No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 10 Indiana (84.6) at 2:45 p.m. on CBSUpset alert! No. 12 Buffalo (32 percent) vs. No. 5 West Virginia at 2:10 p.m. on TNTMost lopsided matchup: No. 2 Kansas (89 percent) vs. No. 15 New Mexico State at 12:15 p.m. on CBSIN DEPTHWichita State (72 percent win probability) vs. IndianaPlayer to watch: Fred VanVleet, Wichita StateA year removed from a magical, near-undefeated season, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has led the mid-major standard-bearers to a round-of-64 game against Indiana, thanks to an excellent, balanced team. Both teams are great at protecting the basketball (and Indiana is one of Division I’s worst defenses at forcing takeaways), so don’t expect this game to be decided by points off turnovers. Instead, the Hoosiers’ path to the upset would seem to involve — what else? — 3-point shooting, a skill in which they ranked 7th nationally during the season. But Indiana also has a very shaky defense that placed among the bottom half of all Division I schools, and it could prove the ultimate liability against a Wichita State squad that shoots and rebounds well on offense and hardly ever gives the ball away. West RegionalIN BRIEFGame to watch: No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (82.5) at 6:50 p.m. on TBSUpset alert! No. 9 Oklahoma State (59 percent) vs. No. 8 OregonMost lopsided matchup: No. 1 Wisconsin (98 percent) vs. No. 16 Coastal Carolina at 9:20 p.m. on TBSIN DEPTHOregon vs. Oklahoma State (59 percent win probability)Player to watch: Phil Forte, Oklahoma StateOregon is the No. 8 seed, with a 25-9 record, but our model has 18-13 Oklahoma State favored, with a 59 percent probability of pulling the “upset.” Why? The Ducks are a small, one-dimensional team with a great offense but a vulnerable defense, while the Cowboys have greater balance, better size and the stronger backcourt combination with Phil Forte and Anthony Hickey. (Oklahoma State also played the tougher schedule during the season, which accounts for its superior power rating despite an inferior record.) Oregon’s chances, then, might depend on the play of big man Jordan Bell — a relative offensive non-entity but one of the nation’s top defensive players. His ability to block shots and shore up the Ducks’ interior defense could make him an equalizing force against the Cowboys. South RegionalIN BRIEFGame to watch: No. 7 Iowa vs. No. 10 Davidson (a harmonic mean of 83.6) at 7:20 p.m. on TNTUpset alert! No. 9 St. John’s (42 percent win probability) vs. No. 8 San Diego State at 9:40 p.m. on CBSMost lopsided matchup: No. 1 Duke (98 percent) vs. No. 16 Robert Morris at 7:10 p.m. on CBSIN DEPTHIowa (62 percent win probability) vs. DavidsonPlayer to watch: Aaron White, IowaIowa has an experienced, balanced team with great size, and its dynamic front-court duo of Aaron White and Jarrod Uthoff will be difficult for Davidson to match. It’s in the top 40 in both offense and defense, according to Ken Pomeroy, dean of college basketball stats.For the Wildcats to win, they probably need to catch fire from the 3-point arc: During the season, Davidson ranked 16th among Division I schools in 3-point accuracy and ninth in the percentage of field-goal attempts devoted to 3-pointers. We give Iowa a 62 percent chance of moving on, but Davidson’s long-distance shooting prowess does give it a fighting chance at the upset. That and its apparent love of advanced basketball statistics. After an upset-filled opening Thursday, the 2015 NCAA men’s tournament rolls on with 16 more games Friday. The marquee matchups of the day aren’t quite as strong as they were Thursday, but there are a few good 7-versus-10 games to keep an eye on, as well as an 8-versus-9 pairing (Oregon vs. Oklahoma State) pegged as a likely upset by our model and a compelling tossup between Providence and play-in winner Dayton.Read on for more of what to look for in the NCAA tournament Friday. East RegionalIN BRIEFGame to watch: No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Georgia (84.4) at 12:40 p.m. on TruTVUpset alert! No. 11 Dayton (49 percent) vs. No. 6 Providence at 9:57 p.m. on TruTVMost lopsided matchup: No. 2 Virginia (96 percent) vs. No. 15 Belmont at 3:10 p.m. on TruTVIN DEPTHMichigan State (62 percent) vs. GeorgiaPlayer to watch: Denzel Valentine, Michigan StateWe’ve written before about the incredible record of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who has led the Spartans to six Final Fours (and was about 16 minutes away from a seventh last March) starting from a collection of seeds unlikely to produce that many deep tourney runs. History may not repeat this year, though; Michigan State is a No. 7 seed (no Izzo Final Fours have come from a seed worse than 5th). Even Georgia is a tough draw — a matchup between the Spartans’ offense (15th-best, according to Pomeroy) and the Bulldogs’ defense (24th). Georgia’s style of play isn’t necessarily ideal for producing upsets, though — the team doesn’t shoot a lot of threes or force a lot of turnovers, which are some of the gambling hallmarks of strong underdog candidates. Still, Michigan State has its own Achilles’ heel: free throws. The Spartans were one of the worst foul-shooting teams in Division I, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that weakness becomes a real factor if the game comes down to the wire.
Serena Williams, the future No. 1 player in the world come Monday, was defeated in the Qatar Open finals on Sunday by defending champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3.Azarenka ended her 10-match losing streak against Williams to earn her 16th title. She had not defeated Williams since 2009, and had a 1-11 record against her going into Sunday’s final. But Azarenka has been on a roll lately, winning her last 14 matches, which included her second Australian Open title.“It feels incredible,” Azarenka told The Associated Press. “You know, this tournament is really great. … It had such a strong field going into it, and I’m really glad that in the end of the week I’m the one who’s holding the trophy.”Williams stumbled from the beginning of the match. She was unable to impose her fierce serve throughout the first set. Williams had a dismal 26 unforced errors. Despite her horrific start, Williams managed to stay in the first set of the game with a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. Ultimately, Azarenka won the first set after Williams hit a poor forehand into the net.Williams managed to bounce back in the second set, capitalizing on her potent serve and forehand. Azarenka only managed to hit 39 percent of her first serves.In the final set, Williams had control of the first game. Azarenka fell behind quickly 0-30, but administered a comeback to take a 3-0 lead. Williams made one last effort to stay in the match by saving a match point at 5-2, but Azarenka clinched the victory when Williams hit a forehand wide.“I just wanted to fight and give it my best, give myself every opportunity I can,” Azarenka said.Williams saluted Azarenka’s performance, but it was apparent that she was not at her best. She was still recovering from a right ankle injury that bothered her at the Australian Open and appeared to be managing a cold. Williams needed three sets to beat Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals.“This whole week, I just don’t think I played my best tennis, and I was fighting every match,” Williams told The Associated Press. “I can’t play that quality game against a top player like Victoria. I have to be able to pick up my game, and I wasn’t able to do that today. I stayed at a two out of a 10, and I can’t play that low.”However, Williams smiled when asked about her return to No. 1 ranking in the world.“It was such a long journey, and after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and the (WTA) Championships, I thought, I just don’t think I can win anymore,” she said. “I don’t know what it takes to be No. 1. So it was awesome to come here and achieve that goal.”Williams could easily lose the ranking next week in Dubai to Azarenka if she does not make it to the finals and Azarenka does.Another rematch would put the top two players in the world against each other once again.
Photo by espn.com/goThe Giants fan, 48-year-old Alexander Poulides, insists he did not intend to throw a banana at the Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones after doing just that.Jones, who is black, did not take kindly to the act—which had strong racial tones.Poulides told the San Jose Mercury News that he grabbed a banana off a catering cart at AT&T Park and threw it toward the field in frustration near the end of the Orioles’ 10-2 victory over the struggling Giants. That says a lot about a grown man right there.The banana landed in the vicinity of Jones, who angrily tweeted about the incident following the game, criticizing people who apparently defended the incident and hinting that he may no longer participate in social media.Poulides said he had no idea of the controversy until he got home and watched the local news.“Oh, my god,” Poulides told the newspaper he thought when he watched the broadcast. “I threw a banana on my way out. . . I’m embarrassed and shocked by the outcome. In hindsight, I wish I didn’t do it and I apologize. I’m very sorry.”“It’s unfortunate that things happen like that,” Jones said ,”but it ain’t going stop me, myself and the Orioles, We have games to win. It’s mid-August. I’ve got a bigger concern in my head than someone’s ignorance or act of whatever. You know what I mean?”The Giants released a public statement earlier Monday, saying:“We were extremely disappointed to learn about the incident involving Adam Jones at AT&T Park yesterday. The Giants have a zero tolerance policy against this type of behavior, which results in immediate ejection from the ballpark. While we have been investigating the matter since we learned of the situation, unfortunately we have been unable to identify the person responsible.“We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Adam and the entire Orioles organization for this unfortunate incident. The inappropriate actions of this individual in no way reflect the values of our organization and our fans.”Jones, who scored a home run and had four RBIs in the game, tweeted to his more than 129,000 followers: “I want to thank whatever slapd— threw that banana towards my direction in CF in the last inning. Way to show ur class u jacka–.”
The freeze on this year’s class of free agents is alarming. For one thing, it took much longer than usual for a team to break the free-agent ice. And, aside from a brief acceleration during the winter meetings in mid-December, the pace of signings has been markedly slower than normal — particularly early in the offseason, when the biggest flurry of signings usually takes place.Only the 2008-09 offseason, when just 53 percent of top-40 players were signed by this stage of the winter, came close to lagging as much as the current slowdown. And even then, most of the biggest available names had already been signed by this point in the offseason. Granted, three of those (Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett) were all picked up by spendthrift Yankees. By contrast, the current Yankees made their big splash in the trade market, where they acquired Giancarlo Stanton, and the team is now trying to squeak in under the luxury-tax threshold rather than adding free agents. Perhaps in the past, slow free-agent classes could always count on the Yankees to open the pocketbook and keep the money flowing — but not this year.Before we jump to any conclusions about the owners being in cahoots, it’s worth noting that many of the explanations for this year’s issues contain at least a kernel of truth. This class of free agents is indeed mediocre — in terms of wins above replacement2Using an average of the WAR metrics found at FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. produced by top-40 players in their previous three seasons, this is the worst crop of available talent since at least 2006.3Looking only at the most recent previous season improves this group’s standing slightly, bringing it up to sixth out of the 12 free-agent classes I examined. At the top of ESPN’s free-agent rankings, ace starter Yu Darvish is as good as any prized free agent from yesteryear, but many of the names further down the list come with legitimate issues, including Jake Arrieta’s declining value, J.D. Martinez’s inconsistent defense and Alex Cobb’s durability.It’s also true that more teams are tanking now than in years past. And the proliferation of statheads in MLB front offices over the past decade could explain why teams are no longer scrambling to offer big free-agent contracts to players who are already past their primes.As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan wrote in an excellent column last week, that final point is part of a bigger issue with the fundamental way baseball’s economics works, particularly as younger players generate more and more of the game’s on-field value. But if teams are suddenly realizing the folly of free agency, it’s also worth asking why they’ve chosen to simultaneously make their stand this year. (Bad deals still got made last season, though perhaps not as many as in the past.) The alternative explanation — collusion — is notoriously difficult to prove, however, and seems like an unbelievable risk for a group of owners who are already making money hand over fist.But the simple truth is that we don’t really know why the market for free agents is so sluggish this year. We can only prove that it is indeed historically slow-moving — and that fact alone demands an explanation. Something strange is happening with the baseball hot stove this winter. Not only is it not hot, it almost seems like it’s off.Available stars who would ordinarily have been snapped up long ago are still sitting on the shelf, which has the MLB Players Association panicking — and looking for answers. Is this simply a weak class of free agents? Have all 30 teams finally figured out that spending boatloads on veterans is usually dumb? Is the gap between contending and tanking teams to blame? Or is it just — gasp! — collusion, like the kind owners engaged in three decades ago?It’s difficult to pin down exactly why this offseason has proceeded so slowly. But the sluggish pace it has taken is quantifiable — and eye-catching. I gathered data on ESPN’s top 40 free agents1For all players ranked 40th or better on ESPN’s yearly free-agent rankings. In some years, the rankings skipped numbers, presumably because some players were ranked but did not actually hit free agency. This means that the top 40 doesn’t always include a full 40 players. for each winter going back to the 2006-07 offseason and tracked how many days it took after the end of World Series before those top players were signed. (Players technically become free agents the morning after the World Series ends.) For instance, today is Day 82 since the Astros beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the Fall Classic, and only 43 percent of the top 40 free agents — including only two of the top 10 — have put pen to paper. How abnormal is that? Between 2006 and 2016, the average offseason saw 76 percent of the top 40 free agents inking deals by Day 82 of the offseason.Here’s what this offseason looks like so far compared to how long it usually takes for top free agents to sign:
sara.ziegler: What, if anything, can the Blazers do to turn the tide as the series heads back to Portland?chris.herring: I think it goes without saying that they did enough to win Thursday.You’d imagine they can control the tempo better at home than they did at Oracle, where the Warriors play extremely fast and in transition during those ridiculous comebacks. I think maybe Terry Stotts would call timeout when he feels one of those runs coming on. And they need to clean up some mistakes, in terms of fouling and taking care of the ball. Andre Iguodala made a great steal on Lillard on the final play, and Lillard had that pretty brutal foul on Steph while he was shooting a three late.tchow: I’m actually not sure what else they can do. They played well on Thursday and still lost. I feel for Portland fans, I really do. But our predictions give them a 6 percent chance of making it to the finals which seems … high?chris.herring: Realistically, unless Golden State has another major injury, that was probably it. I don’t see a whole lot of adjustments for a scenario where you were in control most of the game. You just have to finish the game. Period.natesilver: I guess the one piece of good news for Portland is that it’s not obvious that KD’s going to play any time soon.tchow: Chris mentioned that they needed another huge bench performance to have a chance, but both Rodney Hood and Seth Curry had pretty decent games. I don’t know where else it could come from. Zach Collins?sara.ziegler: Meyers Leonard! He had a pretty good game.chris.herring: Collins had five fouls in eight minutes yesterday, somehow. Leonard was impactful, though.tchow: Yeah, some of those Collins fouls were bad fouls, too.chris.herring: That’s why it’s hard to see Portland doing this: Everything seems really scattered right now.Also, props to Draymond Green for raising his game to a ridiculous level lately. You can’t mention the Warriors looking like the Warriors of old without talking about how incredible he’s been on both ends.natesilver: Maybe Draymond secretly hates KD and so ups his effort level when KD is out?sara.ziegler: LOL. I kind of want that to be true. Since the NBA is just a soap opera, at its core.tchow: “The Plays of Our Lives”I’m sorry.sara.ziegler: OMG, yes.Moving on to the East: Chris, you wrote after Game 1 that the Raptors would likely be kicking themselves for letting that get away from them. How important was that outcome to the series?chris.herring: Not nearly as much of a killer as Game 2 for Portland. But still potentially big.There’s that saying that a series hasn’t begun until a road team wins a game. And on some level, that may be true. I just think that if you’re going to beat Milwaukee, it makes sense to grab the winnable game when it’s there. And the Bucks played really poorly in some regards, yet they still won. They are a complete team, whereas the Raptors look very stilted on offense at times.And it’s part of why I continue to like Milwaukee’s chances of winning this whole thing.tchow: It’s been really impressive seeing how well the Bucks have continued to play when Giannis Antetokounmpo is not on the floor.natesilver: The thing I’d hate if I were a Raptors fan is that I felt like my team played pretty well in Game 1, and it still wasn’t enough. Obviously, not everything was perfect — the cold shooting in the fourth quarter — but it felt like a relatively fair contest.chris.herring: Yeah. I guess there are two ways to view it:1) Lowry is probably never going to shoot like that again.2) There’s probably no way they’ll ever get less of a contribution from the rest of the team than they did in Game 1.tchow: 3) Brook Lopez will not have a game like that again.sara.ziegler: Lopez was EVERYWHERE.chris.herring: I’m not completely sure about No. 3! If Toronto doesn’t go smaller, the Raptors are going to have to sacrifice something defensively. I don’t know that he’ll have almost 30 again, but the Raps are going to dare Brook and guys like him to prove they can make that shot as opposed to letting Giannis run wild in the paint.That’s the risk.sara.ziegler: To your second point, Chris, you can’t imagine a scenario happening again where no Raptor aside from Lowry makes a single shot in an entire quarter.chris.herring: Yeah, those stats — 0 for 15 aside from Lowry in the fourth, and 1 for 23 in the second half outside of Lowry and Leonard — were some of the more insane ones I’ve ever seen.And the one second-half basket that someone else made was a buzzer-beating 3 by Pascal Siakam in the third! One he wouldn’t have even taken if not for how much time was left.tchow: The last time Lopez had a double-double while scoring more than 20 points was … one second, I’m still scrolling up on Basketball-Reference.sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: That part is true. But him scoring a bunch wouldn’t shock me based on how they’re defending him. Brook isn’t the biggest rebounder, in part because he’s more concerned with boxing out and making sure a teammate collects the miss. (But also, their minutes are longer in the playoffs, meaning he’ll have more chances.)tchow: Found it! Nov. 3, 2017, when he was on the Lakers. And it was the Lopez revenge game because they played the Nets.chris.herring: Remember: Milwaukee was 11 of 44 from three! That’s 25 percent. So the Bucks left a ton of points on the table. And many of them were wide-open shots.As I was saying, I think Toronto may want to consider playing a little smaller. That would potentially crank up the tempo to a level Lopez isn’t comfortable with, and potentially give him more defensive responsibility, to where he has to come out farther to defend.natesilver: I dunno, I feel weird about slicing-and-dicing the Raptors’ shooting stats into so many little pieces. Overall, they shot 15 of 42 on threes, which is pretty average/good.chris.herring: Lowry was 7 of 9 by himself!natesilver: They didn’t shoot great on twos, but a lot of teams don’t do that well against MIlwaukee. They made 85 percent of their free throws.chris.herring: The other Raptors will likely shoot better. But Milwaukee did plenty to make Kawhi Leonard get his points. This team is really great at pushing star scorers to drive with their weaker hand.tchow: Sixers should take note. Too soon?sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: The statistics illustrated that in Game 1. Leonard drove 15 times, and 11 of them were to his left. During the season, he drove to his right a little more than 57 percent of the time.sara.ziegler: That seems to be a huge focus for the Bucks — and it looks like it’s paying off. But again, the Raptors almost stole Game 1. It would be huge for them to get Game 2 tonight.chris.herring: Agreed.While I still think Milwaukee is clearly the stronger team in this matchup, I wouldn’t be foolish enough to say that Toronto is out of this, regardless of what happens tonight. This is a more evenly matched set of opponents than with Portland and Golden State, clearly.sara.ziegler: So let’s end on some soft predictions. How long will each series go?tchow: I’m predicting a gentleman’s sweep for the Western Conference finals.natesilver: Yeah, five games seems like the smartest bet.sara.ziegler: It would be only fair to the Curry parents.tchow: I believe Dame and CJ can do enough to get at least one win in Portland.chris.herring: Agreed on the West.In the East, I’ll go six, with the Bucks winning. Though if Milwaukee wins tonight, I wouldn’t be shocked if they closed it in five.natesilver: I’m going to go seven games for the East. Despite what I said earlier about Game 1 being a bearish indicator for Toronto, I still think they’re a liiiiiiittttle underrated, and Nick Nurse probably has more ways to make adjustments than Mike Budenholzer does.tchow: I think it’ll be Bucks in six, too.natesilver: I have a hot take.sara.ziegler: 🔥natesilver: Steve Kerr’s comments about Kevin Durant’s injury sound fairly ominous.WHAT IF DURANT HAS PLAYED HIS LAST GAME FOR THE WARRIORS?!?!?sara.ziegler: Ooooooohtchow: * searches in google * Durant Knicks jerseychris.herring: That doesn’t sound as crazy to me as some people might think.If it’s a more serious strain, and it’s closer to a month than it is a one-week or two-week injury, then the NBA Finals or the middle of the finals would be more realistic for him.But if the finals aren’t competitive …natesilver: So Knicks fans should be rooting for a Warriors sweep?chris.herring: I don’t know. It would be really interesting. If the Warriors win easily without him, it would be weird for him to stay if he wants validation. If the Warriors LOSE, it gets interesting. Because, obviously, the last time the Warriors lost, he went and signed with them.tchow: I just really want Curry to win his first finals MVP trophy.sara.ziegler: Would THAT push KD to the Knicks?natesilver: I think the BEST-case scenario for the Knicks would be if the Warriors are like up 3-1 over Milwaukee in the finals, and then KD comes back and they LOSE.tchow: grinchgrin.gifCheck out our latest NBA predictions. sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports editor): The NBA conference finals are just three games old, but we’ve already seen two of the most entertaining games of the entire playoffs.After Golden State easily dispatched Portland in Game 1 in the West, Milwaukee needed a furious comeback to take down Toronto in the East’s first game. And then came Thursday night, when the Trail Blazers led the Warriors by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, but Golden State used a 27-8 run to get back into the game. The teams traded leads down the stretch, but the Warriors prevailed.Let’s start with the Golden State-Portland series. What have you made of these first two games?tchow (Tony Chow, video producer): The “Warriors are better without Kevin Durant” crowd has gotten REALLY loud.I’m not stupid enough to say they’re better without KD, but I can see the argument being made that they might be more fun to watch?natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Tony, that feels like a way to rationalize the idea that KD will feel dejected or something by the Warriors because they can win without him so he’ll have to come to the Knicks.sara.ziegler: LOLtchow: I’m still auditioning for my Knicks GM job, Nate.chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior sportswriter): I think they are more fun to watch this way, for sure. It’s a good reminder of what they were before Durant ever signed with them. The up-tempo, heavy ball-movement, “we can be down by 15, but still come back to beat you” Warriors.I think Portland losing on Thursday was pretty brutal. It’s sounding more and more like Durant won’t be back in the conference finals, and a win would have gone a long way toward making this a series again. It’s hard to imagine them winning four of the next five.tchow: You’re not kidding about the heavy ball movement, Chris. Per Second Spectrum, the Warriors have averaged 42 more passes per 100 possessions when KD was not on the floor during these playoffs.natesilver: I guess the question is whether the Warriors could win grind-it-out, slower-paced, half-court-type games at the same rate without KD.chris.herring: And that’s the thing. When the Warriors play that way, it’s changing the pace of the game. If you have a game with fewer possessions, I’d venture to guess it leaves things to random chance more often and helps the underdog.Kind of why Virginia was seen as vulnerable in the NCAA Tournament for so long. (A loss to UMBC helps with that, too.)natesilver: Beating Portland twice at home is just not all that rigorous a test, however.tchow: That’s important to keep in mind. All the Warriors did was hold home court.chris.herring: It may not be. But the Blazers played really well on Thursday, and then that third quarter happened. I just think we’re used to these sorts of onslaughts at this point.tchow: Yeah, even with that scoreline at halftime, after the first three minutes of the third quarter, I think all of us kinda went, “Oh, the Warriors are winning this.”natesilver: The Game 6 closeout against Houston, in a game where the Rockets played pretty well, was impressive. But I’m still not sure I really have a great sense for how Golden State is going to match up with Milwaukee or Toronto, with or without KD.sara.ziegler: A Portland win would have completely changed the tone of this series. And it was close to happening — even after the Warriors stormed back!natesilver: “Were the Blazers actually close to winning or was it all just an illusion” is a fun epistemological question. I mean, obviously, a win probability model or whatever would have them ahead for a lot of the game. But the Warriors have made SO many third-quarter comebacks over the years that I just don’t really know.sara.ziegler: When the Blazers were up 8 with 4:28 left, I thought they could really win it.Silly me.chris.herring: I grow somewhat tired of the Curry vs. Curry storyline at times. But it was pretty awesome to see Seth play so well last night, and to try to get into his brother’s head at one point.Crazy to think that, if Pau Gasol were healthy, there would be two sets of brothers playing against each other this round.tchow: That’s very interesting. I’m kinda loving the Curry vs. Curry storyline. It’s pretty cool IMO to have siblings play against each other at such high stakes.I found myself pingponging between “Where’s Steph? OK, where’s Seth now?” when they were both on the court.chris.herring: I like the storyline. I just think it’s being milked pretty heavily in terms of showing their parents in the crowd, that’s all. But Seth was huge last night.I think the challenge for Portland is that there’s a lot of “your turn, my turn” from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. McCollum owned the first half, and then Dame got hot in the second half.And it kind of feels like they may need more of a balance, or another huge bench performance from someone, to get over this hump.natesilver: What if Seth Curry woke up one day and had Steph Curry’s skills, and vice versa? That feels like a weird/bad movie plot.tchow: “Freaky Friday 2”natesilver: Would the Blazers play McCollum at the 3 or something? It would be a really weird team.chris.herring: I already feel like it’s a weird team as is.Credit to them for adjusting heavily after how bad Game 1 was.tchow: You knew they had to do something about that pick-and-roll defense.chris.herring: Enes Kanter was back at the free-throw line in Game 1 and then moved much farther up to contain their pick and rolls in Game 2. That made Golden State’s looks far more challenging, which you almost have to do in order to have a chance.sara.ziegler: The Blazers didn’t get much on offense from Kanter on Thursday, though. What was going on there?chris.herring: His impact is going to be a bit less on a night where they shoot as well as they did from three. Because he doesn’t get any offensive rebounds that way.But also, when he’s playing so much higher up on D, it probably wears him down a bit.Not to mention the fact that he’s fasting during daylight hours, which seems like such a tough thing to do during such a high-stakes series.sara.ziegler: That does seem brutal.chris.herring: Now THAT storyline I find fascinating.sara.ziegler: I can barely edit when I’m hungry. Can’t imagine trying to play basketball at the highest level!natesilver: If I fasted during daylight hours, I don’t think I could even do a Slack chat, let alone play in an NBA game.sara.ziegler: Hahatchow: Muslim soccer players do it all the time! (during Ramadan)It is pretty cool the Blazers have three Muslim players on the roster (Kanter, Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu).chris.herring: Hakeem Olajuwon did it as well, and apparently Kanter reached out to him to figure out what all he did to maintain his game during that stretch of the postseason.natesilver: I didn’t realize that the dates of Ramadan shift around a lot from year to year. It doesn’t always coincide with the playoffs.
RPSergio RomoTwins0.4 RFShin-Soo ChooRangers1.5 BenchEric ThamesBrewers1.1 SPRyan YarbroughRays1.7 DHEdwin EncarnacionYankees1.9 2BDee GordonMariners0.3 RPAnibal SanchezNationals1.3 RPNick WittgrenIndians0.6 RPAnthony DeSclafaniReds1.5 3BAsdrubal CabreraRangers0.8 RFGiancarlo StantonYankees0.2 RPJason VargasPhillies1.1 CFChristian YelichBrewers6.1 BenchAustin BarnesDodgers0.5 BenchAdeiny HechavarriaMets0.2 SPChris PaddackPadres1.6 2BKetel MarteDiamondbacks4.8 As the MLB trade deadline approaches, the Miami Marlins are at it again, trading reliever Sergio Romo on Saturday to the Minnesota Twins for a prospect. We shouldn’t be surprised — trades are essential to the Marlins’ identity: The franchise has won two titles, in 1997 and 2003, but hasn’t made the postseason otherwise. Both titles were immediately followed by major trades of key players from the championship runs.Of the top 25 players in Marlins history by wins above replacement,1According to FanGraphs’ measurement. 23 were traded away, and the other two were meant to be traded, according to Miami executives, but the trades fell through. The team’s history is littered with fire sales and payroll slashes. Some deals were merely ill-advised, such as the buy-now moves that sent away key prospects in 2016 — a season that ended with 79 wins. Others were more absurd, such as sending then-prospect Trevor Williams to Pittsburgh as compensation for a pitching coach who was let go by Miami after two seasons.This got us thinking: Could you make an entire lineup of Marlins trade castaways? An entire roster even?As it turns out, you can. And it’s a fairly good team. A 25-man roster of players who, at one point in their careers, were traded from Miami would project to win at least 90 games over the course of this season, based on the WAR those players have accumulated with their current squads. Through Monday, the team would be roughly 61-43 and in line for a wild card. Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs You could even name a manager in Craig Counsell, who scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and was traded to the Dodgers in 1999 for a player to be named later.2That player would be minor leaguer Ryan Moskau.We used the current WAR of the former Marlins to construct this lineup, with some slight adjustments for injury: We would start Giancarlo Stanton, even though Cameron Maybin and Jake Marisnick have had better seasons so far, and Nathan Eovaldi, who could be replaced by Anthony DeSclafani in the rotation and Steve Cishek on the roster. And we moved some players out of their regular positions, including stashing the aforementioned DeSclafani in the bullpen and putting regular right fielder Christian Yelich in center field to make room for Stanton.That 25-man roster doesn’t even include two of the most notable traded-away players: future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, who is at -0.4 WAR for the season, and two-time All-Star Andrew Miller, sitting at -0.1 WAR.3The other active players left off are outfielder Josh Naylor and relievers Cishek, David Phelps, Dillon Peters, Dan Jennings and Kyle Barraclough It’s also worth noting that this roster isn’t one the Marlins could realistically have if they had just stood pat: Some of the players on this list were at one point acquired by the Marlins in a trade for another player on the list: Dee Gordon, for instance, was acquired in a 2014 trade that sent four current major leaguers to the Dodgers, including Kiké Hernandez.The total WAR from this 25-man roster, from their 2019 performances with non-Marlins teams, is 30.3, breaking down to 16.6 for position players and 13.7 for pitchers. The hitting WAR roughly equates to that of the Brewers, and the pitching WAR is close to that of the Astros. Both groups of former Marlins would rank in the top 10 of baseball. Using the winning percentage expected from a replacement-level team,4Roughly 29 percent. we can extrapolate the former Marlins’ WAR to 162 games from the 104 the Marlins have played through Monday. Without adjusting for playing time, we find that the team would project to 95 wins over a 162-game season.5This team would have fewer plate appearances than expected for an MLB team but slightly more innings pitched.If you think all of these trades should have netted the Marlins good players in return, well, they’re last in the National League by four games and have a farm system consistently ranked in the bottom 10 of the majors (though that may be improving).The Marlins aren’t the only team that could fill out a roster of traded-away players: The Seattle Mariners have executed big trades in recent years. A roster assembled of the very best of once-traded Mariners, aided by recent trades of Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce, can compete with the Marlins.6The Mariners’ team has accumulated more WAR this season, but the Marlins have far fewer plate appearances. The Pirates similarly have a potentially solid team of cast-offs, if not quite as good, but they don’t have a catcher (unless someone drags David Ross out of retirement.) BenchJake MarisnickAstros1.4 RPJason VargasPhillies1.1 RPShawn KelleyRangers0.5 SPDomingo GermanYankees1.7 1BJustin BourAngels-0.1 RPAndrew HeaneyAngels0.5 RPEmilio PaganRays0.8 LFMarcell OzunaCardinals1.7 SPMichael PinedaTwins1.8 CManny PinaBrewers0.8 The Mariners also let go of some major playersHypothetical roster of former members of the Seattle Mariners, projected to win at least 90 games based on their 2019 performances through July 29 CFBen GamelBrewers0.7 RPAlex ColomeWhite Sox0.5 The Marlins traded an entire playoff-caliber rosterHypothetical roster of former members of the Miami Marlins, projected to win at least 90 games based on their 2019 performances through July 29 RPPaul FryOrioles0.6 SPTrevor WilliamsPirates1.1 BenchCameron MaybinYankees1.2 LFChris TaylorDodgers1.3 1BCarlos SantanaIndians3.0 SSEnrique HernandezDodgers1.3 Seattle has 50 eligible active players for its all-trade team, so half can be left off the roster; the Marlins have “only” 34. That’s a major difference: The Mariners’ current team is built from their sheer number of trades. Sure, they’d love to have Ketel Marte, but they got Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura, both 2018 All-Stars, in return.The Yankees could also assemble a full roster of players they traded away, though it would project to a sub-.500 team. So it’s definitely hard to argue that they’d be better had they not made those trades. The Marlins, meanwhile, would almost certainly rather have Chris Paddack or Luis Castillo on their team right now than the three months of Fernando Rodney in 2016 or the two seasons of Dan Straily they received in return. Of the five players sent to Florida in the Cabrera trade, Maybin contributed the most value with just 2.3 total WAR in his stint with Miami — and four years later, all the players the Marlins had received were gone. Miami got a disappointing return in the 12-player 2012 trade with the Blue Jays; none of the prospects the Marlins received for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, etc. remain with the franchise or made a major impact. The recent trades under new CEO Derek Jeter have netted some prospects and are probably too early to truly be graded, but they’re still not enough to push Miami’s farm system into the top tier.Of course, there’s another reason the Marlins are so accomplished at trading stars: money. Most trades for the small-market Marlins, last in baseball in attendance by a large margin, have been aimed at cutting costs.The Marlins probably couldn’t have fielded their all-trade team because they couldn’t afford it. The 2019 contracts, according to Spotrac, for the 25 traded-away players total $134 million,7That number doesn’t count Cabrera’s $30 million or Miller’s $11 million contracts since both players have been below replacement and don’t make the top 25. nearly double of the team’s opening-day payroll of $72 million.Check out our latest MLB predictions. RPFreddy PeraltaBrewers0.8 Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs SPWade MileyAstros1.8 CJ.T. RealmutoPhillies3.0 RPJ.A. HappYankees0.9 BenchJay BrucePhillies1.2 PositionPlayerCurrent TeamWAR BenchLuis RengifoAngels0.6 SPPablo LopezMarlins1.6 SPLuis CastilloReds2.3 SPJames PaxtonYankees1.7 RPSam DysonGiants1.1 RPEdwin DiazMets0.4 3BColin MoranPirates0.8 SPNathan EovaldiRed Sox-0.2 PositionPlayerCurrent TeamWAR SSJean SeguraPhillies2.3 RPYusmeiro PetitAthletics0.7
11Cincinnati154011Kansas City1532 27Chicago141927Cleveland1409 25N.Y. Jets144025N.Y. Jets1458 9Philadelphia15459New Orleans1540 2New England16752New England1653 32Tennessee133932Oakland1346 29Tampa Bay137729Tampa Bay1358 RANKTEAMRATINGRANKTEAMRATING 10Arizona154110Pittsburgh1536 We relaunched our NFL Elo power ratings on Thursday with a nifty interactive that lets you track where your team stands and how likely it is to win each game. But Elo isn’t the only statistical power rating out there; in fact, our NFL previews used predictions and rankings generated by ESPN’s new Football Power Index (FPI), a system of far greater complexity.1While Elo simply takes last year’s overall end-of-season ratings and regresses them to the mean, FPI adds some intricacies: It breaks a team’s quality down into components that measure its offense, defense and special teams, incorporates Vegas expectations, and employs subjective survey data from NFL experts. Since we plan to use both metrics in our NFL coverage throughout the season, we thought it would be interesting to look at how closely the two ratings mirror each other, as well as which teams fare better in each. (Note: To make an apples-to-apples comparison, I converted FPI to the same scale as Elo. I also updated the Elo-equivalent FPI ratings of New England and Pittsburgh to reflect Thursday night’s season-opening game.) 8Pittsburgh15528Baltimore1553 23St. Louis147723Minnesota1477 26Cleveland142226Chicago1444 28Oakland138928Washington1394 16San Francisco152916Buffalo1510 18Houston150518Detroit1501 30Washington137130Jacksonville1351 24Atlanta146224San Francisco1463 For the most part, Elo and FPI agree about the landscape of the league; the correlation coefficient between the two metrics is 0.94. But the fit isn’t perfect. 17San Diego152317Houston1508 13Detroit153813Arizona1526 12Kansas City154012Miami1530 20Miami148420N.Y. Giants1496 1Seattle16781Green Bay1653 22Minnesota147922St. Louis1484 5Dallas15905Denver1622 15Buffalo153415Carolina1515 4Denver15954Indianapolis1635 3Green Bay16013Seattle1642 6Indianapolis15816Dallas1592 ELOFPI 7Baltimore15777Philadelphia1564 14Carolina153614Cincinnati1525 31Jacksonville135731Tennessee1349 19New Orleans148619San Diego1497 Elo thinks more highly of 17 teams — including the San Francisco 49ers,2Probably because Elo has no idea they lost so much talent during the offseason. Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks3Thus continuing Elo’s ongoing crush on the Seahawks. and San Diego Chargers — than FPI does. Among the teams that FPI favors, on the other hand, are the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.It’s tough to pinpoint exactly why the discrepancies exist in many cases (so many factors go into the FPI’s construction, in particular), but they’re worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses. 21N.Y. Giants148021Atlanta1495
OSU redshirt senior first baseman Erika Leonard (15) swings at a ball. Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe Ohio State softball team is finally headed home. With 22 games already in the books in 2016, OSU (15-7) has the chance to make a statement on its own field. The Buckeyes, who are coming off a 4-1 trip to San Diego, which included a 9-6 win over then-No. 22 Fresno State, are set to face Maryland (7-20) in their home opener Friday at 6 p.m. at Buckeye Field. The three-game series stretches from Friday to Sunday and marks the beginning of conference play. Up to this point, OSU has seen action in five tournaments since February. “We won, but we aren’t even at our best yet,” said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “Everyone has been like, ‘Wow, imagine what we will be like when we put it all together,’ which is great.”Maryland at a glanceThe Terrapins have not had a winning season since 2013, and this season has been more of the same. Maryland failed to tally a winning weekend at any of the six tournaments it attended, including an 0-3 showing at its own invitational last week.Maryland checks in at last place in the Big Ten for both win percentage and team pitching. The Terrapin pitching staff, which is led by redshirt junior Madison Martin, currently owns a 6.08 ERA while allowing 238 hits. Starter Brenna Nation has only 19 strikeouts in her 19 appearances, although the redshirt junior’s slow start might just be an adjustment to a larger role than in her two previous seasons.Sophomore Skylynne Ellazar has 13 RBIs and a .388 batting average, while senior infielder Lindsey Schmeiser leads the team with four home runs, despite having only 11 total hits so far.The Terrapins’ opponents are outhitting them .327 to .281 and have nearly 60 more RBIs than the younger Maryland squad. The team has only two seniors, but its key advantage is the versatility of its players. Eight of the 20 Terrapins play multiple positions, enabling the team to rotate and increase its endurance.Strength from the moundUnlike the Terrapins, the Buckeyes’ greatest asset is their cohesive pitching staff. OSU still boasts the lowest ERA (2.30) in the conference, and its five pitchers continue to fill both starting and relieving roles. Junior Shelby Hursh continues to dominate from the mound with 69 strikeouts, only 23 behind her total in 2015. The right-hander retains the lowest ERA in the conference.“Shelby’s ability to step in and execute her pitches immediately allows us to take the momentum back into our dugout,” Schoenly said.Junior Lena Springer also has performed well, ranking in the top 10 with a 2.17 ERA, while surrendering only four extra-base hits to opponents.More top honorsBuilding off senior Cammi Prantl’s Big Ten and Louisville Slugger honors last month, two more Buckeyes earned conference awards last week. Senior first baseman Erika Leonard earned Big Ten Player of the Week, while second baseman Emily Clark was named co-Freshman of the Week. Leonard and Clark recorded strong weekends in Arizona and California, as both players posted a batting average north of .350. Leonard hit two home runs, while Clark recorded her first-career four-bagger against Fresno State. In late February, Leonard was announced as one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which will be given to one NCAA Division I softball player in May. The award, which focuses on community, classroom, character and competition, encourages players to use their platforms to act as leaders in their community, according to its website. “This team is lucky to have such strong seniors this season,” Schoenly said, referring to Leonard, Prantl and shortstop Maddy McIntyre. “They’re leaders and role models, and I never want them to leave.” Eight other Big Ten players were selected as candidates. Leonard’s nomination marks the first time an OSU player has been selected since the award’s inception in 2007.Coming upAfter their series with Maryland, the Buckeyes are set to head to Wisconsin for another three-game matchup spanning from April 1 to 3. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. on April 1.
OSU freshman pitcher Morgan Ray (6) throws a pitch during a game against Maryland. Credit: Gabriella DiGiovanni | Lantern PhotographerThe Ohio State softball team might be only one weekend into its Big Ten schedule, but the Buckeyes (18-7, 3-0) are currently sitting atop the conference after sweeping Maryland in their home debut. This first-place standing could give OSU the upper hand as it looks to continue its win streak in its three-game matchup against Wisconsin (16-12, 2-1), which is set to start Friday at 5 p.m.The Buckeyes have not faced the Badgers since the 2013 season, so the matchup will be a change of pace. Still, OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said she is aware of the momentum and energy Wisconsin will likely bring this weekend.“We will play a tough team this weekend in Wisconsin,” she said. “We know what to expect, but we still need to focus on what they are going to generate against us.”Scouting WisconsinThe Badgers are coming off a winning weekend against Michigan State, headlined by a 10-1 win in which they scored all of their runs in one inning.Schoenly mentioned Wisconsin’s heavy use of small ball, as well as wearing down pitchers by strategically putting the ball in play.“They have a very unique brand of softball,” she said. “They do a lot of base stealing, a lot of hit-and-runs, a lot of squeezes, so we have to be on our toes nonstop.” Nine Badgers on the roster bat left-handed, giving the lineup the opportunity to take advantage of bunting, slap hitting and its overall speed. For OSU’s pitching staff, this week’s practices will be dedicated to preparing to stop its opponents’ agility.“We’re going to have to take their speed away with strikeouts. We’ve got to get to work,” Schoenly said.Wisconsin sophomore Kelsey Jenkins is hitting .410, while junior Chloe Miller has racked up 32 RBIs. Last season, Jenkins started every game and led the team in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Miller added two team highs of her own in RBIs and doubles.Following in Jenkins’ footsteps is catcher Melanie Cross, who is having her own stellar freshman year. Cross was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday after batting .500 in the Badgers’ past five games, including a 3-for-4, two-RBI performance in their loss to the Spartans on Saturday.From the circle, Wisconsin falls near the middle of the Big Ten in overall ERA, but the duo of junior Kirsten Stevens and senior Taylor-Paige Stewart have combined for 117 strikeouts. Like last weekend against Maryland, the Buckeyes will face another left-hander when batting against Stevens, who was named the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year last season at Mercer prior to transferring. Before facing OSU on Friday, the Badgers are scheduled to go head-to-head against South Dakota on Wednesday in their home opener. This game will give Schoenly and the Buckeyes one last chance to scout the Badgers before heading to Madison, Wisconsin, to take them on for themselves.“What’s nice is that we don’t have any midweek games this week, so we can fully focus on what they’re going to do,” Schoenly said.Top of the conferenceFour Big Ten teams pulled off sweeps of their opponents last weekend, but OSU’s strong tournament showings and domination of Maryland have sent it to the top of the conference for the first time this season. Schoenly said she was impressed not only by the run her team is on but also by who stepped up against Maryland, especially the players who generated more than just singles.“We’re showing a ton of power, and I hope we can continue with a lot more of these doubles, triples and home runs,” she said.This commanding offense might be the key to staying atop the conference. The Buckeyes have finished the past two seasons in sixth place in the Big Ten, but Schoenly said she sees promise in her players to remain on top as the season progresses.“I’d rather be No. 1 than not,” she said. “We’re feeling good, and the girls have a lot of confidence, which I think breeds winning.”Up nextAfter their trip to Wisconsin, the Buckeyes are scheduled to return to Buckeye Field on April 6 for a doubleheader against Penn State in another Big Ten contest, which is set to begin at 4 p.m.
Shelby Lum / Photo editorSenior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) spikes the ball during a match against Dabrowa Sept. 4, at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-2.The No. 23 Ohio State women’s volleyball team won a five set exhibition match against Polish professional team, Dabrowa.OSU looked like the stronger team in the first set, winning 25-22 Wednesday, but Dabrowa stormed back with a 25-6 statement in the second set before the Buckeyes dropped the third set and finished off the fourth and fifth.Senior defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo said the Buckeyes were not playing like themselves throughout the second set.“We were playing way too intense and that’s not how we play at practice,” she said.The senior was took charge in the huddle after the set.“I was just saying ‘we need to all calm down,’” Mandolfo said. “I was just reiterating how, when we play at practice, how well we do with each other.”The Buckeye offense was inconsistent through the first two sets, finishing with 18 kills and 17 errors and Dabrowa, led by Natalia Brussa, pulled out the third set 25-18.Coach Geoff Carlston said his team was not playing their normal game to that point, especially during the second set.“I let them know how I felt,” Carlston said. “It was more about the effort, though.”The coach said he was happy with how his team responded as OSU looked like a new squad in the fourth set, led by freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe.OSU never wavered throughout the set, getting consecutive Sandbothe service aces to stretch the lead to 17-9. The freshman, who moved to the right side for the match, said she wanted to attack from the service line, even though she also made a few mistakes.“Just keep serving aggressive,” Sandbothe said. “If you go back there and just lob it in, you’re not helping anybody.”A kill from sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits finished out a 25-20 fourth set victory for OSU to even the match at two sets apiece.The Buckeyes were up early in the final set, with a Sandbothe block eventually making it 6-5.After trading blows with Dabrowa, consecutive kills from Kacsits gave OSU the lead at 13-10 before a kill from junior outside hitter Erin Sekinger sealed the victory, 15-13.Kacsits, with a huge smile on her face, said “it feels so good” to beat a professional team after the match.She said her teammates were not sure what to expect from the match and it was fun to see them pull out a victory, even though the play was ugly at times.“I think it says a lot about who we are as a team and a lot about our captains and our leadership,” Kacsits said.Kacsits led the Buckeyes with 12 kills on the night, as senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary added 10. Sandbothe finished with eight kills and two service aces. Junior setter Taylor Sherwin chipped in with 42 assists.The Buckeyes travel to Tallahassee, Fla., for the Four Points by Sheraton Seminole Invitational this weekend.Ohio State is scheduled for two matches Friday, first against No. 16 Western Kentucky at 11 a.m. and later, tournament host No. 15 Florida State at 7 p.m. The Buckeyes close out the tournament against Florida Gulf Coast at noon Saturday.
The decline is threatening once-common British flowers such as ragged-robin and harebell, which are closed to being listed as “threatened with extinction”.The Prince of Wales is calling for more Coronation Meadows to be planted to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.The project, which began in 2014, has so far seen 90 new meadows established across the country, including the recently completed Queen’s Meadow in Green Park, London.Ahead of National Meadows Day on July 1, homeowners are also being urged to leave a section of their garden unmowed to allow wildflowers to reestablish. Grazing cattle on wildflower meadows can improve health and the nutrition of meat Credit:Alamy Stock Photo Marian Spain, Plantlife chief executive, said: “Meadows, once a feature of every parish, are now an increasingly fragile part of our national heritage, but all is not lost.“Coronation Meadows is the largest initiative of its kind in the UK and it’s thrilling to see the ambitious challenge sown by the Prince of Wales being brought to life.”Besides being a quintessential sight of summer which enrich our lives, wildflower meadows are also a haven for wildlife; meadow plants like ragged-robin, lady’s mantle, burnet saxifrage and eyebright support an astonishing variety of wildlife from bees to butterflies to skylarks and lapwings.” Flowers flourish in Priddy churchyard, Somerset, as part of the parish meadows project Credit:Plantlife Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A Marsh Fritillary butterflyCredit:Giles Knight Studies have shown that the meat of animals grazed on biodiverse pasture contains high levels of Vitamin E, and quantities of omega-3 fatty acids previously only found in oily fish. Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist at Plantlife, said: “Essentially you are what you eat. Animals that are able to graze on rich, diverse sources of plants will be healthier and their meat will be better. And livestock make meadows, they help them to thrive and improve diversity.“We would like to see a wildflower meadow on every farm and we would like to see more food branded as ‘wildflower meadow grazed’ as a sign of quality, one step up from organic.” The UK has lost more than 97 per cent of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s, an area equivalent to one-and-a-half times the size of Wales. Grazing farm animals in wildflower meadows could reverse the disastrous decline of Britain’s plants and wildlife and usher in a new era of super-organic food, the charity Plantlife has said.Conservationists at the charity, of which the Prince of Wales is a patron, are calling for every farm in Britain to plant at least one wildflower meadow on which cattle and sheep can live.Animals which graze on species-rich natural meadows of flowers, herbs and wild grasses consume far more minerals, proteins, and amino-acids, making them healthier and their meat more nutritious. In the past, Welsh farms often kept a wildflower-rich field called a “Cae Ysbyty” or “hospital field” where sick or recuperating animals were grazed so they could benefit from the mixture of herbs to aid their recovery.
The prosecution case against Mr Duckenfield represents one of the largest number of homicide victims ever brought before the courts in a single case. Two other senior former officers and South Yorkshire Police’s lawyer were charged with perverting the course of justice, while Sheffield Wednesday’s then club secretary was charged with health and safety offences. He said: “I am disappointed to be charged with misconduct in a public office. The charge is not in relation to my actions around the time of the disaster but in relation to comments I made years afterwards. I will vigorously defend my innocence as I have been doing for nearly five years.” A date for Mr Duckenfield’s court appearance is yet to be fixed. The others will appear at Warrington magistrates’ court on Aug 9. A date for Mr Duckenfield’s court appearance is yet to be fixed. The others will appear at Warrington magistrates’ court on Aug 9. “No one should have to go through what the families have gone through for 28 years to try and get to the truth and to get accountability.” Trevor Hicks, who lost daughters Sarah and Vicki, said: “There will be six people facing criminal charges who might not have done if we hadn’t have been resilient and all stuck together and fought this long fight.” Ian Lewis, solicitor for Mr Duckenfield and Mr Denton, said it would be “inappropriate” to comment. In a statement, Sir Norman vehemently denied any wrongdoing. 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, stewards and supporters tend and care for wounded supporters on the pitch at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, England in 1989Credit:AP The decision follows a dogged campaign by the Hillsborough families to bring authorities to account for the events leading up to the tragedy – and the alleged cover-up after it.Margaret Aspinall, chairman of Hillsborough Family Support Group said relatives had suffered “hell on Earth” in pursuit of the truth.“To me now this is the beginning of the end, definitely the beginning of the end,” said Mrs Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son, James, died in the tragedy. Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall speak to the press outside Parr Hall, where the Crown Prosecution Service announced its Hillsborough disaster charging decision, in WarringtonCredit:Andrew Yates Mr Duckenfield, 72, who was the officer in command on the day of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, faces manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children.The Crown Prosecution Service was unable to charge him with the manslaughter of the 96th victim, Anthony Bland, on a technicality because he died almost four years later. Sir Norman Bettison, 61, who retired as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, was charged with four offences of misconduct in public office for allegedly lying over his involvement in the aftermath and about the “culpability of fans”. Former chief superintendent Donald Denton and ex-detective chief inspector Alan Foster were charged with intent to pervert the course of justice. So too was Peter Metcalf, who was the solicitor acting for South Yorkshire Police at the previous Taylor inquiry and the first inquests. The prosecution case against Mr Duckenfield represents one of the largest number of homicide victims ever brought before the courts in a single case. Two other senior former officers and South Yorkshire Police’s lawyer were charged with perverting the course of justice, while Sheffield Wednesday’s then club secretary was charged with health and safety offences. Former Merseyside Chief Constable Sir Norman BettisonCredit:Peter Byrne Trevor Hicks, who lost daughters Sarah and Vicki, said: “There will be six people facing criminal charges who might not have done if we hadn’t have been resilient and all stuck together and fought this long fight.” Ian Lewis, solicitor for Mr Duckenfield and Mr Denton, said it would be “inappropriate” to comment. In a statement, Sir Norman vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He said: “I am disappointed to be charged with misconduct in a public office. The charge is not in relation to my actions around the time of the disaster but in relation to comments I made years afterwards. I will vigorously defend my innocence as I have been doing for nearly five years.” “No one should have to go through what the families have gone through for 28 years to try and get to the truth and to get accountability.” Mr Duckenfield, 72, who was the officer in command on the day of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, faces manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 “men, women and children”.The Crown Prosecution Service was unable to charge him with the manslaughter of the 96th victim, Anthony Bland, on a technicality because he died almost four years later. The decision follows a dogged campaign by the Hillsborough families to bring authorities to account for the events leading up to the tragedy – and the alleged cover-up after it.Margaret Aspinall, chairman of Hillsborough Family Support Group said relatives had suffered “hell on Earth” in pursuit of the truth.“To me now this is the beginning of the end, definitely the beginning of the end,” said Mrs Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son, James, died in the tragedy. Sir Norman Bettison, 61, who retired as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, was charged yesterday with four offences of misconduct in public office for allegedly lying over his involvement in the aftermath and about the “culpability of fans”. Former chief superintendent Donald Denton and ex-detective chief inspector Alan Foster were charged with intent to pervert the course of justice. So too was Peter Metcalf, who was the solicitor acting for South Yorkshire Police at the previous Taylor inquiry and the first inquests. The families of the Hillsborough victims have hailed the “beginning of the end” in their 28-year struggle for justice following the decision to prosecute the match day police commander over 95 deaths. Five other people were also charged with offences surrounding the deaths of Liverpool fans at Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989. The victims’ relatives broke into applause at being told that the former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield and retired chief constable Sir Norman Bettison would be facing criminal charges. Hillsborough match commander David DuckenfieldCredit:John Giles The families of the Hillsborough victims last night hailed the “beginning of the end” in their 28-year struggle for justice following the decision to prosecute the match day police commander over 95 deaths. Five other people were also charged with offences surrounding the deaths of Liverpool fans at Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989. The victims’ relatives broke into applause at being told that the former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield and retired chief constable Sir Norman Bettison would be facing criminal charges.
Singer/songwriter Gary Barlow has used Korg musical equipment Credit:LEON NEAL/AFP “We are a very small part of the overall music industry and we are concerned that we have warranted this investigation.” The world-famous guitar maker Fender and four leading keyboard manufacturers are at the centre of a price fixing investigation after “dawn raids” were carried out at their British offices.In total, four keyboard companies and the American guitar giant were targeted by staff from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).Although the companies have not been officially named, The Sunday Telegraph understands they include Yamaha, one of the biggest musical instrument manufacturers in the world, Roland, Korg, Casio and Fender.The CMA website states that five separate “initial investigations” have been launched into “suspected breaches of competition law by various parties”. It adds that inquiries “relate to alleged anti-competitive agreements and/or concerted practices in relation to musical instruments and equipment”, adding that it is focusing on “suspected anti-competitive agreements”.The investigations all began in April, when CMA officers arrived unannounced at the five offices. Its officers can enter a business without needing a warrant and demand documents.However, the CMA stresses that the investigations are “at an early stage and no assumptions should be made that competition law has been infringed”. After the initial “information gathering” operation, the CMA will decide whether to open a formal investigation. The inquiry is thought to be focusing on whether any attempt has been made to manipulate sales of musical instruments and pro-audio equipment with, among other things, price fixing or controlled sales to specific areas of the country.A music industry source said as many as 10 CMA staff visited the offices of the music manufacturers, some carrying out searches for up to four days. Meanwhile, 14 leading music shops have been asked to provide details of their dealings with the companies. The shops are not under any suspicion of wrongdoing.The sale of musical instruments and sheet music in online and from shops is worth around £500 million a year in Britain.A CMA spokeswoman said: “We are in the initial, informal evidence gathering stage of five investigations in the musical instrument sector.” Yamaha, established in 1887, produces high end electric guitars, pianos, synthesizers, drums and stringed instruments.Roland makes keyboards used by top musicians including the Brockett Parsons who performs with Lady Gaga. Korg is also a famous keyboard manufacturer with the likes of British pianist Rick Wakeman, who played with Yes, and Gary Barlow, from Take That, using their gear.While it is not clear what triggered the investigations, one music industry insider said it may be linked to a complaint from Germany. Spokespeople for the UK operations of Fender, Yamaha, Roland and Korg refused to comment. Casio failed to respond to repeated telephone calls and emails.In response to the inquiry the Music Industries Association (MIA), the UK trade body for the musical instrument industry, reissued advice explaining the intricacies of competition law.It advises both suppliers and retailers not to agree with one another to sell an instruments at a set price or denote specific geographical areas as exclusive to one store.The article warns that the CMA can carry out “dawn raids” on businesses it suspects may have rigged the market, adding that staff should not shred any documents.“Any business, regardless of its size, could be under suspicion, and subject to a dawn raid. All staff should cooperate with the lawful requests of the investigators (not doing so is an offence in itself),” it says.It warns that breaking competition laws can see companies fined up to 10 percent of their global turnover, prison terms of up to five years and company directors being disqualified for up to 15 years.Paul McManus, chief executive of the MIA, said: “As the trade body for the UK musical instrument industry we have naturally offered all possible support and help to the CMA in their investigation. UK offices of Fender, the American guitar manufacturer, have been visited by Companies and Markets AuthorityCredit:Dan Kitwood/ Getty Images David Gilmour with his Fender Telecaster guitarCredit:Steve Gillett/Livepix Fender has been a household name since its iconic Stratocaster was the instrument of choice for guitar heroes including Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour and Eric Clapton. The instrument was designed in the US in 1954 by Leo Fender. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Women can now apply to join special forces units including the Special Air Service (SAS), after all roles in the armed forces were opened up to female recruits.Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced yesterday that all roles in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, including frontline infantry units, are now open to female recruits as he paid tribute to “the phenomenal” women already serving in the military.Confirming that female soldiers are now eligible to serve in elite special forces units, he said that for the first time the “armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender”.Speaking during a firepower demonstration on Salisbury Plain, which saw elements of the British Army 3rd Division deploy Challenger 2 tanks as Apache helicopters and Tornado jets flew overhead, Mr Williamson said that women already serving in the army will now able to transfer into infantry roles if they wish, while new female recruits will be able to apply for infantry roles in December of this year.Mr Williamson told the Daily Telegraph that “every single role in our armed forces will be open to women” and said that he and senior officers expected to see women applying for roles with the SAS and other special forces units. Defence analysts have broadly welcomed the move, saying that the traditional understanding of the ‘frontline’ has become outdated and point to the fact that female helicopter pilots, intelligence specialists, medics, drivers and linguists operating alongside male infantrymen throughout Britain’s recent campaigns.However, retired officer Colonel Richard Kemp said the new policy would “cost lives” as it would “lead to divisiveness” and undermine teamwork.Lance Corporal Kat Dixon, 28, who became the first female gunner of a main battle tank after that role became open to women last year, said: “Female soldiers are already here, and my gender hasn’t posed a challenge because if you meet the requirements there isn’t a role that is off limits.”Lance Corporal Dixon, who serves with Royal Wessex Yeomanry and is one of about 35 women to have served with or joined armoured forces since the rule change in 2016, added: “The brilliance of the army that is if you pass the fitness and other tests you are part of the team”.Asked for her response to those critical of women in the military are said: “I wouldn’t say anything to them, I’d just prove them wrong.” He sad, said: “Women have led the way with exemplary service in the armed forces for over 100 years, working in a variety of specialist and vital roles. “So I am delighted that from today, for the first time in its history, our armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender.“Opening all combat roles to women will not only make the armed forces a more modern employer but will ensure we recruit the right person for the right role.”A ban on female soldiers serving in close combat units, including the Royal Armoured Corps, was lifted in 2016, but women were not allowed to serve in frontline infantry units where they would be expected to “close and kill the enemy”.Now though, female soldiers will be able to serve in frontline infantry units, and an army source told the Daily Telegraph that senior officers expected female soldiers to be serving with the SAS and other elite formations within 12 months, while new female infantry recruits would be eligible to take the arduous SAS selection after three years of service.All female soldiers will have the pass the same gender-neutral physical fitness tests as male recruits. The test, which was updated earlier this year for the first time in 20 years, demands a high level of stamina, muscular endurance and strength, officers said yesterday.The move to open infantry roles to women comes after MoD research recommended ways to limit the risk to women of musculoskeletal injury and psychological and reproductive health issues. Women and men now have full parity in the armed forces, defence secretary announces Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “They were picking piglets up, cuddling them – there was a lot of screaming going on. Piglets don’t want to be cuddled. Then unfortunately, they were putting the piglets back in the wrong pens. A farmer has accused vegans of crushing two piglets to death after causing a stampede during their efforts to cuddle the newborn pigs.200 vegans from the group “Meat the Victims” stormed a farm in Lincolnshire in order to protest against pork.However, in their efforts to raise awareness about the “cruelty” of pig farming, they were accused of causing distress to the animals and inadvertently causing the death of two. Farmer Sylvia Hook, from Sandilands Farm on Newark Road in Laughterton, said the vegans terrified her family and caused damage to the farm.She told Lincolnshire Live: “About 50 of them all piled into a farrowing house, immediately the sows are jumping up and down.“It’s caused the death of two young piglets through being squashed and two other piglets I’ve had to be taken away to get up and running again.” The farmer added in an interview with BBC Look North: “The sows were very stressed initially with all the noise and the commotion, jumping up and down, squashing piglets, causing general havoc.
The 56-year-old cousin of the Queen is preparing to celebrate his first wedding anniversary with James Coyle, who works as senior cabin crew for an airline. As the first member of the Royal Family to marry someone of the same sex, it is perhaps fortuitous that Lord Ivar Mountbatten likes to shock. But he has admitted he has no idea how his decision to separate from his wife and become the first member of the extended royal family to come out as gay was received in royal circles. At home though, the younger son of the 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven, is enjoying a new lease of life;… “They don’t really talk about it,” he told Tatler magazine. “I mean, the royals, they don’t communicate very well.”
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedInterpol warrant issued for four N. Koreans: MalaysiaMarch 16, 2017In “World”Chemical weapon VX nerve agent killed N.Korean leader’s half brother: Malaysian policeFebruary 24, 2017In “World”Malaysia releases Kim Jong Nam’s body in deal ending spat with North KoreaMarch 30, 2017In “World” Two of the wanted men are Kim Uk II (left) and Hyon Kwang Song (right) AFP Image(BBC) Malaysian police have named a senior North Korean embassy official they want to question in connection with the killing of Kim Jong-nam.Hyon Kwang Song is one of three more North Koreans being sought. One of the others is a state airline employee.Police also confirmed Mr Kim, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, died after two women wiped a toxin on him at Kuala Lumpur airport.North Korea’s embassy in Malaysia angrily denied the claims.In a statement, it said the fact that the substance was on the hands of the women proved it could not have been a poison and called for the immediate release of the “innocent females” and a North Korean man.Speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur earlier on Wednesday, Malaysian Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar said they were looking for three North Koreans in addition to the previously announced suspects.One of them is Hyon Kwang Song, 44, the second secretary of the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.The others are Kim Uk II, 37, who works for Air Koryo, and another North Korean Ri Ju U.Mr Abu Bakar said they had written to the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia asking him to allow police to interview Mr Hyon and the other two men, who are believed still to be in the country.If the ambassador does not co-operate, “we will compel them to come to us”, he said, without giving details.Four other North Koreans named earlier in the case are thought to have left Malaysia already.The police chief also said security had been stepped up at the morgue where Mr Kim’s body is being kept after an attempted break-in earlier in the week.“We knew there were attempts by someone to break into the hospital mortuary. We had to take precautions,” he was quoted by the Malay Mail as saying.Mr Abu Bakar also confirmed widely reported details of the 13 February killing.Kim Jong-nam’s death has sparked a diplomatic row(AFP Image)A leaked video of the incident shows a man resembling Mr Kim being approached by one woman at Kuala Lumpur airport, before another woman lunges from behind and grabs his face.‘They knew it was toxic’Mr Abu Bakar said the two female suspects had wiped a toxin on Mr Kim’s face with their bare hands “and after that they went away”.Indonesian authorities have said Siti Aisyah had thought she was taking part in a TV prank, but Mr Abu Bakar said the women had clearly been “instructed to clean their hands” and knew the substance was toxic.He added that the women practised the move several times beforehand in shopping centres in Kuala Lumpur.Authorities are still waiting for the results of the post-mortem examination of Mr Kim’s body, and are seeking his family members to provide a DNA sample.North Korea has demanded that Mr Kim’s body be returned to them, and has angrily objected to Malaysia conducting an autopsy of the body.Malaysia has cited the need to carry out an investigation as Mr Kim died on their soil.Relations between the two countries have become strained over the incident, with North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia saying he did not trust the police investigation and Kuala Lumpur recalling its envoy in Pyongyang.Who are the suspects?Ten people have either been named as suspects or are wanted by Malaysian police for questioning in connection to Kim Jong-nam’s killing.DetainedA woman seen in CCTV footage is thought to be Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (REX/Shutterstock)Doan Thi Huong, 28, Vietnamese, one of two women suspected of wiping toxins on Mr Kim’s face. She is thought to be the woman seen in CCTV footage wearing a white top emblazoned with the letters “LOL”.Siti Aisyah, 25, Indonesian, the other female suspect. Indonesian authorities say she claims she thought she was taking part in a TV prank.Ri Jong Chol, 47, a North Korean.Muhammad Farid Jalaluddin, the Malaysian boyfriend of Siti Aisyah.Sought for questioningHyon Kwang Song, 44, second secretary at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Believed to still be in Malaysia.Kim Uk Il, 37, staff member of North Korea’s state airline Air Koryo. Believed to still be in Malaysia.Ri Ju U, 30, a North Korean also known as “James”. Believed to still be in Malaysia.Ri Ji Hyon, 33, a North Korean. Believed to have fled to Pyongyang.Hong Song Hac, 34, a North Korean. Believed to have fled to Pyongyang.O Jong Gil, 55, a North Korean. Believed to have fled to Pyongyang.Ri Jae Nam, 57, a North Korean. Believed to have fled to Pyongyang.
Further to statements in May regarding the signing of an Memorandum Of Understanding for uranium exploration of CanAlaska Uranium’s Cree East project in conjunction with a Korean Consortium led by Hanwha Corp, CanAlaska has announced further details on the progress of the proposed transaction. Preliminary agreement has been reached between Hanwha and CanAlaska towards the overall contribution of C$19 million by the Korean consortium to effect an earn-in of a 50% ownership interest in the Cree East project over a four-year period. Both the structure of the proposed transaction and the composition of the Korean consortium are presently being finalized. Cree East is located in the southeast of the Athabasca basin, approximately 25 km west of the Key Lake uranium mine, and 20 km south west of the newly announced Millenium uranium deposit of Cameco. The project was staked by CanAlaska in 2004, and covers 559 km2 of the Wollaston-Mudjatik domain rocks. Historical drilling tested alteration zones and targets, generally to the south and east of the property, and current exploration by other companies is revisiting these areas. The depth to the unconformity varies from 100 m in the south to an inferred 800 m in the north. From geophysical evidence and past drilling, there appears to be a number of step structures at the unconformity boundary and in the basement. CanAlaska carried out airborne surveys across the property area in 2005 and determined priority targets. In 2006, detailed collection of over 2,000 surface rock samples and over 400 lake sediment samples by CanAlaska’s field crews defined three large areas of dravite and clay alteration on surface, and localised boulder samples containing anomalous uranium (highest at 13.1 ppm uranium). It is thought that the dravite and clay alteration, coupled with the anomalous uranium in the lakes and boulders in this vicinity indicates the proximity of unconformity and basement style uranium mineralization. The shallow depth to basement also allows close definition of conductive zones and geological structures, using the airborne survey data. Initial ground geophysical data from the first lines of IP-Resistivity surveys have also provided the Company with evidence of strong alteration in the sandstone horizons overlying these basement conductors.
Full-year production for 2009 is expected to be approximately 2.4 to 2.5 Moz gold equivalent, consistent with previously stated guidance for the year, an increase of some 32% over 2008 production As mentioned previously, Kinross is now in the process of assessing goodwill impairment. As a result, Kinross expects to record a goodwill impairment accounting charge in the range of $900 million to $1.2 billion at year end, related primarily to goodwill recorded in the 2007 Bema acquisition. The average cost of sales for 2008 is expected to be in line with the previously stated guidance range of $425 to $445/oz gold equivalent Highlights of Kinross Gold’s outlook for 2009 and an update on key developments include: The average cost of sales per gold equivalent ounce for 2009 is expected to be in the range of $390-420 Production1 for the full year 2008 is expected to be in line with the previously stated guidance range of 1.8 to 1.9 Moz gold equivalent, an increase of approximately 16% over 2007 production Tye Burt, Kinross President and CEO, commented that the company “had a truly outstanding year in 2008. We delivered on our commitments with record production, the successful start-up of our three growth projects, and two major acquisitions. Kinross went against industry trends by growing our production and cash flow while our costs decreased over the year.“In 2009, we will continue to execute on our strategic plan to grow cash flow and continually improve our portfolio of assets. Our three new projects at Paracatu, Kupol and Buckhorn are expected to increase production by approximately 32% compared to 2008, while significantly reducing our overall cost of sales per ounce. As a result, we expect strong cash flow from our operations in 2009.“We will continue to pursue opportunities to optimise Kinross mines and new projects. At current operations, we will be driving improvements and organic growth, including our heap leach project at Fort Knox, as well as potential expansions at Paracatu and Maricunga which are under preliminary review. We will also be preparing the foundations for our next round of new projects, including Lobo Marte and Fruta del Norte. In the third quarter, we also expect to update the market on options for Cerro Casale.The ramp-up in production at the Paracatu expansion is advancing in accordance with the update provided in the third-quarter 2008 release, with mill throughput reaching about 60% of design capacity as of year-end 2008. The project is expected to reach full capacity within the first quarter of 2009. As part of the expansion project, Kinross expects to commence construction of a new tailing impoundment facility at Paracatu in May of 2009, subject to obtaining the requisite construction permit from government authorities. In addition, the company is negotiating with local parties to acquire those land rights for the facility not presently owned by the company, and expects to complete these negotiations before the end of the second quarter of 2009.Construction of the heap leach project at Fort Knox has been concluded for the season and is scheduled to restart in the spring. Construction is complete on some 78% of the leach pad area required for initial ore placement and leaching. Start-up of leaching operations is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2009.As previously announced, on December 16, 2008, Kinross acquired a 40% interest in Minera Santa Rosa SCM from certain subsidiaries of Anglo American. On January 7, 2009, Kinross’ previously announced purchase of the remaining 60% interest in Minera from a subsidiary of Teck Cominco was closed in escrow pending registration of the share transfer by Chilean authorities. The share transfer registration was completed on January 7, 2009 and the company expects to clear escrow and complete the transaction on January 8, 2009, at which time Kinross will own 100% of Minera.Minera owns 100% of the Lobo-Marte gold project located in the Maricunga district of northern Chile, roughly midway between Kinross’ Maricunga and La Coipa mines. This acquisition adds approximately 5.9 Moz of gold resources to the front of Kinross’ development pipeline. Kinross has completed due diligence on the project and plans to begin a development program in early 2009. This work will involve drilling, design, engineering, metallurgical testing, with the expectation of upgrading the current resource base to an NI 43-101 compliant reserve.Kinross has substantially completed the integration of Aurelian Resources, following its recent acquisition of the company, and is actively seeking to advance the Fruta del Norte project. Assuming successful passage of new legislation in support of responsible mining in Ecuador, the company plans to invest about $45 million in 2009 to support recommencement of the in-fill drilling program, advancement of project evaluation and environmental permitting, and implementation of an expanded community relations and corporate responsibility program.At Cerro Casale, work is continuing on the update to the project’s technical-economic feasibility. Progress is being made with the project team substantially in place and numerous trade-off studies well underway. A feasibility study is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2009. Capital expenditures for 2009 are forecast to be approximately $460 million