Connect with us

Latest News

Baseball team sack managers after $5m fine for snooping on rivals | US News

Published

on

The Houston Astros baseball team have sacked their manager and general manager over a cheating scandal that saw them snoop on opposition tactics during a historic championship-winning season.

AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired after receiving a one-year suspension from Major League Baseball – one of a series of penalties handed out to the Astros following an investigation into sign stealing allegations.

Sign stealing is when a team tries to decode signals given by their opponents as how the pitcher will deliver the ball, which are then passed on to the batter to try and gain a tactical advantage.

The Astros won the World Series title in 2017
Image:
The Astros won the World Series title in 2017

Claims against the Astros were first reported by The Athletic in 2017 after their former pitcher Mike Fiers came forward, sparking an MLB probe that found the team had used cameras to gain an unfair advantage.

While sign stealing is considered part of the game, the Astros’ conduct during their triumphant 2017 World Series campaign – the first time they had won the title – was seen as a breach of etiquette.

The investigation found that the Astros had used their video-replay staff to decode opposition signs, with the findings subsequently sent to the team bench via phone or text message.

Players in the dugout would then hit rubbish bins to indicate to the batter what kind of pitch they should expect, which league commissioner Rob Manfred said “raised questions about the integrity” of Astros fixtures.

In a nine-page ruling that came with a $5m (£3.9m) fine for the club – the maximum allowed – Mr Manfred said: “I find that the conduct of the Astros, and its senior baseball operations executives, merits significant discipline.

“And while it is impossible to determine whether the conduct actually impacted the results on the field, the perception of some that it did, causes significant harm to the game.”

Mike Fiers first spoke out about the cheating
Image:
Mike Fiers first spoke out about the cheating

In addition to the fine and suspensions, Mr Manfred also took away the Astros’ first and second-draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 seasons – leaving them at a disadvantage when it comes to picking their squad.

Following the ruling, Astros owner Jim Crane announced he had sacked Hinch and Luhnow.

“Neither one of them started this, but neither one did anything about it,” he said.

“We need to move forward with a clean slate.”

Hinch said he was “deeply sorry” for not stopping the cheating, while Luhnow said he was “deeply upset” that he was never informed about what was going on “because I would have stopped it”.

Both men deny any direct involvement in the scandal, with original whistleblower Fiers having identified former Astros bench coach Alex Cora as the mastermind.

Alex Cora has been accused of being the mastermind of the scheme
Image:
Alex Cora has been accused of being the mastermind of the scheme

Cora – who has not yet been disciplined – now manages the Boston Red Sox, who are facing their own MLB investigation into allegations of sign stealing during the 2018 season.

The Athletic reported that Red Sox players visited the team’s video-replay room and then passed on information to teammates on the field.

The Red Sox – who have said they will “fully cooperate” with the investigation – won more matches than any other side during that season.

Source link

Latest News

Red List: European hamsters, lemurs and North Atlantic right whales on the edge of extinction | World News

Published

on

European hamsters are on the brink of extinction and could vanish entirely within the next 30 years, according to conservationists.

The rodent, also known by its Latin name cricetus cricetus, has been named as a critically endangered species in latest listings from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Once a common sight across Europe and Russia, the hamster is said to have suffered severe population declines in recent years as females experienced reduced average birth rates from 20 pups each year to around five or six.

It is not currently known what has caused these changes to birth rates, but the IUCN says monoculture plantations, industrial development, global warming and light pollution are being looked into as possible reasons.

There are believed to be less than 250 North Atlantic right whales in existence
Image:
There are believed to be less than 250 North Atlantic right whales in existence

The development has been particularly felt in the hamsters’ original habitat in Alsace, France, where it has vanished from more than three-quarters of the area.

In Germany, it has disappeared from a third of its usual area, and a further 75% of where it would have been found in Eastern Europe.

Dr Mikhail Rusin, an author of the new Red List assessment, said conservation efforts may have started to slow the population decline in some places, but it has so far “failed to reverse the trend”.

He added: “In addition to these measures, more research into the various possible drivers of the European hamster’s disappearance is urgently needed to save it from extinction.”

The warning from the IUCN on Thursday also highlighted dangers to other animals – including many subspecies of lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale, which have been listed as critically endangered.

Almost the entire species of lemurs are under threat
Image:
Almost the entire species of lemurs are under threat

A third of lemurs, which live on the island nation of Madagascar, are at the highest risk of extinction – but almost the entire species is under threat.

This is thought to be due to their habitat being destroyed by agricultural expansion.

More than half of all primate species in Africa are now under threat, according to the IUCN, including 17 species of red colobus monkey.

IUCN acting director-general Dr Grethel Aguilar said the new listings expose “the true scale of threats faced by primates across Africa”.

She added: “It also shows that Homo sapiens needs to drastically change its relationship to other primates, and to nature as a whole.

“At the heart of this crisis is a dire need for alternative, sustainable livelihoods to replace the current reliance on deforestation and unsustainable use of wildlife.

“These findings really bring home the urgent need for an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework that drives effective conservation action.”

Caterpillar fungus is now under threat due to over-harvesting
Image:
Caterpillar fungus is now under threat due to over-harvesting

For the North Atlantic right whale, there are believed to be less than 250 in existence.

Climate change has been touted as reason for guiding the whales into waters where they are more likely to encounter humans, where they have experienced troubles with entanglements with fishing equipment, being hit by boats, and lower reproduction rates.

The IUCN has assessed 120,372 species for its Red List, having put 32,441 in at least one of its three categories signifying the species is under threat.

Also on the list is the world’s most expensive fungus – the caterpillar fungus – which has a popular use in traditional Chinese medicine and has been given its vulnerable status due to over-harvesting.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

‘Political prosecution’: Donald Trump blasts Supreme Court ruling on his tax returns | US News

Published

on

Donald Trump’s tax returns can be seen by a New York prosecutor, the US Supreme Court has ruled.

The request to view the documents is part of a criminal investigation into alleged hush-money payments to women who claim they had affairs with the US president.

However in a separate ruling, Supreme Court justices said Mr Trump does not have to hand over his financial records to Congress, which has sought them for more than a year.

In response, the US president – who has strenuously sought to keep his financial records private – tweeted: “This is all political prosecution.”

US President Donald Trump sits with his arms crossed during a roundtable discussion on the Safe Reopening of Americas Schools during the coronavirus pandemic, in the East Room of the White House on July 7, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Image:
Mr Trump’s tax returns are held by the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA

“I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York,” he wrote.

“Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!”

He added: “Courts in the past have given ‘broad deference’. BUT NOT ME!”

In the New York case, Supreme Court judges rejected arguments by Mr Trump’s lawyers and the US Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office, or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the records.

The tax returns are held by the president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, which has said it would comply with a court order.

It is likely to be at least several weeks before the court issues a formal judgment that would trigger the turnover of the documents.

Because the grand jury process is confidential, the rulings make it unlikely any of Mr Trump’s financial records will become public soon.

Unlike other recent presidents, Mr Trump has refused to release his tax returns and other documents that could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organisation.

:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker

As part of a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, court writs were issued to Mazars for financial records – including nearly a decade of Mr Trump’s tax returns – to be turned over to a grand jury in New York City.

The investigation launched in 2018 into Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation was spurred by claims of hush payments to two women who said they had past sexual relationships with him; adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Mr Trump has denied having relationships with the women.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said: “This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one – not even a president – is above the law.”

The ruling on Congress’ request for Mr Trump’s financial returns the case to lower courts, with no clear prospect for when the case might ultimately be resolved.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Toddler thrown from burning building caught by former American football player | US News

Published

on

Video footage shows the moment a toddler was caught by a former American football player after being thrown out of a burning building by his mother in Phoenix, Arizona.

The three-year-old boy was “twirling in the air like a propeller”, Phillip Blanks told ABC7 – adding that it was just “instinct” that led to him rushing out, barefoot, to help.

The 28-year-old ex-player said: “There wasn’t much thinking. I just reacted. I just did it.

Toddler saved from burning building
Image:
Phillip Blanks said his instinct had led him to rush to help

“I just did my best. His head landed perfectly on my elbow. His ankle got twisted up as I was diving. The guy who was there with me – it looked like he wasn’t going to catch him. So that’s why I stepped in.

“I just wanted to make a better catch.”

The child’s mother, Rachel Long, 30, did not survive the fire; her other child, an eight-year-old girl, was taken to hospital, along with her younger brother, according to local reports.

Mr Blanks, a former US marine and wide receiver for Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, said their mother was “the real hero”, saying “she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children”.

The fire started on the third floor of the building on the morning of 3 July, and several residents were evacuated before the fire department arrived, it is claimed.

Spokesman Captain Kenny Overton has been quoted as saying that no firefighters were hurt, but that an adult victim was taken to hospital with a leg injury.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending