Σάββατο 8 Φεβρουαρίου 2020

Imprisoned by cladding: The flat owners who cannot sell

Thousands in the UK are living in flats they can't sell, because the outside wall is covered in cladding.

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Syria war: Forgotten amid the bombs: Idlib's ancient, ruined riches

From a giant basalt lion to its own Notre-Dame, Idlib's ancient monuments are in danger.

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How come a doctor in his 30s has died from coronavirus?

How safe is it to travel? And is a face mask useful and how often does it have to be replaced?

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Should the Oscars rip up the ceremony rulebook?

Organisers have cultivated a ceremony that's "too long" and "boring" according to some film fans.

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What is the science behind The Goop Lab's claims?

Gwyneth Paltrow's exploration of alternative therapies has angered critics, including the NHS.

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Plan A Valentine's Day Date And We'll Reveal Your Marvel Soulmate

Something tells me this date is gonna be...~super~.

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The Ultimate Movie-Lover's Travel Guide

These movies spark some serious wanderlust. Here's how to live them out IRL.

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Seth Rollins Talks WWE, His Latest Heel Turn Ahead of Monday's Raw

February 08, 2020 at 03:32AM

Seth Rollins sat down for an interview with Sports Illustrated ahead of his eight-man tag at this Monday's Raw.

This Monday’s Raw will feature Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and The AOP in an eight-man tag against Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and the Viking Raiders.

Rollins turned heel this past November for the first time since 2016, and the change in character led to a phenomenal moment where he turned on Owens and aligned himself with Akam and Rezar of The AOP. Buddy Murphy was the next to join the group, and he has partnered with Rollins to win the Raw tag titles. This is the sixth tag title reign for Rollins, but it marks the first for Murphy, who is one of WWE’s most underrated stars.

Sports Illustrated spoke with Rollins about his decision to change the direction of his character, why he chose to work with Murphy and The AOP, the direction of WWE, and what is in store for this Monday’s Raw.

Justin Barrasso: The “Monday Night Messiah” character is a change for you after working as a crowd favorite for the past three years. What has been the highlight for you so far in terms of showing off a different part of your personality?

Seth Rollins: I suppose it’s two-fold. The first is the ability to be able to have an open forum on the microphone and tell the truth about some of the ways I feel when it comes to my relationship with the highly vocal portion of our audience. The other part of it for me is being able to bring along Buddy and The AOP, and watch them blossom into bigger stars.

They’ve always had a ton of potential but have been sitting on the sidelines for various reasons over the past year, and now they’re being thrust to the forefront. That is a position I’m familiar with from when I started back with The Shield. It’s a lot responsibility, so I know what it takes to be successful in that role and I’ve been able to impress upon them some of the things that I learned during my time way back seven years ago when I first broke into the WWE and was making huge waves.

Barrasso: To expand on the talents of Buddy Murphy and The AOP, how much of a role did you have in choosing to work with them? I know

Finn Balor had mentioned as recently as October that they would be a perfect fit in a faction, but what made AOP and Murphy the right partners for you?

Rollins: The opportunity was presented to me to go in this direction, and the AOP are guys who I’ve watched from afar for a while down in NXT. I was really impressed by some of the tag title matches they had down there, but they came up to Raw and were vastly underutilized right out of the gate and an injury to Rezar that took them out for a period of time.

It just seemed like the right fit at the right time. Obviously there is a ton of potential there. Potential is great, but if you don’t take an opportunity to allow it to shine, then it’s just going to sit there wasted. In our business, sometimes politics can get in the way of talent and potential. It was time to help some of the younger guys move up and get opportunities they deserve.

Buddy is really self-explanatory. He called himself ‘The Best Kept Secret in WWE’ for a long time, and that’s fairly accurate. He’s a guy who was flying under the radar having really great matches on 205 and then on SmackDown, and he’s someone I always thought was very close to being one of the most well-rounded guys we have. He’s in great shape, takes great care of himself and he wants to perfect his craft. He’s a student of the game, and in our era, there aren’t a whole lot of guys like that anymore.

In this new generation, this new crop of guys, a lot of people are entitled and think they’ve kind of got it all together and don’t need help. Buddy is not that guy. He's always asking for help, he’s always watching the show trying to figure things out, watching the matches, and trying to make himself better every day. You put guys like that with myself, with all the experience in the world, then hopefully we’ve got a recipe for success. I would say it’s gone very well so far.

Barrasso: Your character is very different than Daniel Bryan portraying “The Planet’s Champion” throughout 2019, but there are similarities in that both characters present as villains yet offer a healthy amount of truth. It is a detailed piece of storytelling when the good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys aren’t always evil. You make a lot of valid points as “The Monday Night Messiah,” and it’s been interesting to hear the crowd’s response to your passion-filled promos.

A key element of your success in pro wrestling is the pure, genuine emotion embedded in your work. Were you nervous before your heel turn, as you were sitting in the back waiting to turn on Kevin Owens?

Rollins: It’s moments like that I always get nervous for. This one in particular is funny because it was done backstage and not in front of a live audience, so you don’t get the full scope of the reaction. In our social media world we’re living in now, it’s nice that you can get online and get instant feedback on stuff like that, but a lot of moments I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of over the last few years have been in the ring in front of a live crowd, which stokes your adrenaline. This one was interesting because it was done backstage, but watching it back, I thought it was executed pretty well.

I thought the buildup and the lead up to it made a lot of sense. Even though the person sitting in that van may have been kind of predictable, I still felt it was a shock for people to see me in that role again. Whether they were ready for it or not, it was still a jarring visual. I loved it, I thought it was very well executed, and set the ball in motion for what the future of WWE is going to look like, especially in 2020.

I still get really excited for moments like that. I’ve been a fan of this industry my whole life, and this industry is built on moments. All I’ve ever wanted to do was make people feel by telling stories in pro wrestling. When you have big ones like that, that’s the fun of it and why I grew up wanting to do.

Barrasso: This marks the first eight-man tag for you, Murphy and The AOP against Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and the Viking Raiders. Your opponents are each special talents, and all made themselves into commodities before they ever signed with WWE. What excites you most about your opponents this upcoming Raw?

Rollins: I can’t say enough about my opponents for the match this upcoming Monday. You just spelled it out right there, but these are guys who are well accomplished, well-traveled, extremely talented, and they’re all hosses. They’re all big boys. I’m looking at this as a coming-out party for our group. Those guys are established and everyone knows what they’ve done and what they’re capable of. For us, the writing is on the wall. This is our first time together, so we need to look at it like this—if we don’t come through in the clutch, then people could lose faith in us.

We can’t have that, so I’m expecting a game-changing, career-altering performance from my guys. This is a huge opportunity for them to step up and step to the level of the Viking Raiders, Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and myself. I expect nothing less from them. I wouldn’t have recruited them. I wouldn’t have put them in this position if I didn’t think they were capable of doing just that.

We’ve talked all the talk, and we’ll talk some more, but it’s really time to walk the walk this Monday. You’ll see the group in full force—‘The Monday Night Messiah’ and the guardians behind me will be ready, and I’m looking forward to seeing my guys step up.

Barrasso: You’re one of the faces of WWE. When you look around at the industry as a whole, you see all kinds of creativity, including Jon Moxley’s cutting-edge work in AEW that was as close as we may ever see to a deathmatch from a major promotion. You are constantly challenging yourself. I know a deathmatch will not happen to close out a pay per view in WWE, but do you want to explore and take different chances as a performer and see that happen throughout the company in 2020?

Rollins: I’m always interested in trying new things. To me, the matches are the matches. It’s not really what you do, it’s how you do it. I preach that when it comes to my wrestling school and when it comes to the guys I’m trying to help out on our roster. I think when the opportunities come along, you obviously want to try to capitalize on them.

Look, we’re doing this so often. There is so much content that WWE churns out from a pay per view perspective, from a live television perspective. There is so much we do, so everyone is always trying to come up with the next big thing or the next new idea to change the industry. That doesn’t happen overnight.

My model has always been consistency. When you go out there and you’re passionate about what you do, that shines through and people will eventually appreciate that.

As for taking chances in 2020, we already started by taking a chance in 2019 with the ‘Monday Night Messiah’ character. You look at someone like Drew McIntyre winning the Royal Rumble, you look at how things are setting up on SmackDown with The Fiend, you look at where the women are at, taking a chance with Rhea Ripley and Charlotte and weaving in NXT, so I think the company is taking more chances in different ways. I’m looking forward to seeing what these people who were given new opportunities can do to step up and take the business into the next decade.

I’m always down for more chances and more character turns, but if you’ve got passion and you go out there and execute, that’s what it’s all about for me.

Barrasso: There is already an abundance of wrestling-related content available at people’s fingertips, so why should wrestling fans go out of their way to make sure they watch your eight-man tag on Raw this Monday?

Rollins: They’re always clamoring for something new, right? The wrestling world, they want new, new, new, fresh, fresh, fresh. You’re getting it right here with AOP and Buddy Murphy in a major spotlighted role. You’re getting them in primetime Monday night in a huge main-event match. This is the future of the business right in front of your very eyes, and you should tune in Monday night to get a glimpse of that future.

These guys are hungry. There are a lot of hosses here, and it’s going to be all-out. We’ve been building this up since November. If you love professional wrestling, you’re going to get a hell of an eight-man tag team match.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

Report: Darren Collison to Decide on Potential Return Next Week

February 08, 2020 at 03:07AM

Darren Collison is reportedly planning on meeting his agent, Bill Duffy, early next week to make a final decision regarding his comeback.

Free agent point guard Darren Collison is planning on meeting his agent, Bill Duffy, early next week to make a final decision regarding a potential comeback,

according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.  

If Collison decides to return, Collison's camp will set up meetings with both the Clippers and Lakers, per Wojnarowski. 

On Thursday's trade deadline special of ESPN's "The Jump," Matt Barnes said that Collison texted him and said he's "50/50" right now on coming back. 

In late June, the UCLA product announced his abrupt retirement, following 10 years in the league. Collison said he wanted to concentrate on helping the less fortunate through his Jehovah's Witness faith.

"I could never imagine finding anything that brings me more joy than I get from playing the game," Collison wrote in an article for The Undefeated. "While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith. I am one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and my faith means everything to me. I receive so much joy from volunteering to help others and participate in a worldwide ministry. The joy I feel is unmatched. With that being said, I have decided to retire from the NBA."

Collison sat courtside with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss at Thursday's game against the Rockets.

Collison, 32, averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 39.4% from three in 10 seasons, including two years under current Lakers coach Frank Vogel from 2010 to 2012 with the Pacers.

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Report: Astros Front Office 'Laid the Groundwork' for Sign Stealing

February 08, 2020 at 02:49AM

The Astros' cheating began with an application programmed to decode the opposing catchers’ signs, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Houston Astros’ sign-stealing operation appears to have involved more than just trash can banging and occurred in some form at both home games and on the road.

Details from the Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond reveal that the team also utilized an Excel-based application, programmed with an algorithm that could decode the opposing catchers’ signs. The program, called “Codebreaker,” suggests it was the Astros’ front office that laid the groundwork for the team’s electronic sign-stealing scheme.

During MLB’s investigation into the Astros, then general manager Jeff Luhnow said he had no knowledge of any misconduct from his club. However, in a Jan. 2 letter sent by commissioner Rob Manfred to Luhnow obtained by the WSJ, Manfred wrote that “there is more than sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that you knew—and overwhelming evidence that you should have known—that the Astros maintained a sign-stealing program that violated MLB’s rules.”

Luhnow responded to Manfred’s letter with a binder including more than 170 pages that attempted to cast doubt on the letters’ contents, according to the Journal.

Both Luhnow and then-manager AJ Hinch were suspended one year for allowing the illegal sign stealing to happen on their team, regardless of their specific involvement in the scheme. Astros owner Jim Crane fired both Luhnow and Hinch shortly after MLB levied the suspensions.

Following the release of the league’s investigation into the Houston sign-stealing operation, Luhnow said in a statement: “The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management. The trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach. I am deeply upset that I wasn't informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it."

The Journal’s report based on Manfred’s letter contradicts Luhnow’s statement denying his involvement. His participation in the organization’s sign-stealing system appears to now be in question.

The team’s Codebreaker system involved a person watching an in-game live feed and logging the catcher’s signs into the spreadsheet, as well as the type of pitch that was actually thrown, according to the Journal. The system then decoded the corresponding sign for each pitch. Once the signs were known, baserunners would steal and relay them to batters.

By June 2017, players started watching a live game on a feed and began banging on a trash can to communicate signs. The scheme lasted through the 2017 World Series. Houston’s bench coach at the time Alex Cora and then-designated hitter Carlos Beltrán were the only two other members of the team named in MLB’s report. Cora was hired as the Red Sox’s manager before the 2018 season, and he led Boston to a World Series title in his first season there. Beltrán was hired as the Mets’ manager this offseason. Both Cora and Beltrán were fired by their clubs for their involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.

According to the Journal, even though the banging scheme had ceased by the end of the 2017 regular season, the Astros continued using Codebreaker during the 2018 season, relaying signs more discreetly than by making loud thumping sounds. Houston also used Codebreaker to steal signs in away games, too, according to the Journal, which also reported that Luhnow received had received at least two emails documenting the scheme.

One was sent by Tom Koch-Weser, the team’s director of advance information on May 24, 2017, and was titled “Road Notes (April-May).” According to the Journal, the five-page email included six underlined topic headings, with the fifth one called, “The System”—a reference to what Koch-Weser described to investigators as “all kind of covert operations,” including sign stealing.

The Journal reports that Luhnow told investigators he didn’t read the full note because of its length, and that he was unfamiliar with the term “the system.”

On Aug. 26, 2017, in another “road notes,” Koch-Weser reportedly wrote: “The system: our dark arts, sign-stealing department has been less productive in the second half as the league has become aware of our reputation and now most clubs change their signs a dozen times per game.”

Luhnow replied to Koch-Weser in an email two weeks later, per the Journal, saying, “Tom, this type of write up is very helpful. Seems like our baserunning is still pathetic. What the hell happened to our pitching this series? I mean that was historically bad...”

However, the Journal reports Luhnow told MLB investigators that because of its length he did not read Koch-Weser’s whole email, to which he was responding, claiming he would have followed up on anything related to “dark arts,” because it sounded “nefarious” and “sinister.”

The Journal published its report about an hour before MLB Network aired Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci’s exclusive interview with Hinch, whose response to the scandal starkly contrasts Luhnow’s comments. While Luhnow blamed the players and distanced the baseball operations department from the scandal, Hinch repeatedly took ownership for his failure to act.

“I’m the man up front,” Hinch told Verducci. “As the manager I always feel responsibility for everything that happens in and around the team. I was in a position of knowledge, and that’s been mentioned. I’m going to serve a pretty stiff penalty, and I just want people to know I’m sorry for being a part of it.

“It happened on my watch. I’m not proud of that. I’ll never be proud of it. I didn’t like it. But I have to own it because I was in a leadership position. And the commissioner’s office made it very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure nothing like this happened—and we fell short.”

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17 Songs From The '90s That People Thought Were Catchy, But Are Actually Really Dark

"Crash Into Me" isn't as cute as you think.

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Are You Remy From "Ratatouille" Or Just A Regular Functioning Member Of Society?


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Sources: Collison to decide on return next week

Free-agent guard Darren Collison will meet with his agent next week to decide whether he wants to pursue a comeback to the NBA, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. If so, he'd then meet with both the Lakers and Clippers, sources said.

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Steve Kerr on Andrew Wiggins: He's a 'Better Positional Fit For Us'

February 08, 2020 at 02:27AM

Steve Kerr seems excited about Andrew Wiggins' arrival in Golden State.

The day after the Warriors

completed a trade with Minnesota shipping D'Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Wolves in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a lightly-protected 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr explained the rationale behind the deal. 

"We know that Andrew is a better positional fit for us than what D'Angelo was, just given that Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) will be back by next season—hopefully before then in Steph's case, " Kerr said. "So he's a good positional fit, athletically—now it's a matter of catching Andrew up to speed with what we like to do here and really trying to make an impact on him regarding our process and how we like to do our business and how we can help him get better and how he can help our team get better."

Wiggins' pace and speed at the three is another thing that Kerr likes about the former No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. The Kansas product is averaging 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists on the season. After this year, Wiggins will be left with three years on his deal, worth just under $95 million.

The Warriors are currently just 12-40, the worst record in the Western Conference, but are poised to be at full-strength in future seasons.

Kerr acknowledged that there were initial concerns when Russell was signed this past offseason. 

"To be perfectly blunt, the fit was questionable when we signed him. Nobody questioned that," Kerr said. "When you already have Steph and Klay and you add a ball-dominant guard you can rightfully question the fit. That was one of those reasons the trade rumors started before the season even began and I think D'Angelo understood that before he signed the contract."

The 23-year-old Russell agreed to a four-year, $117 million deal this past offseason upon joining the Warriors, having notched his first career All-Star appearance last season when he was the centerpiece of the Nets. The Lakers originally selected Russell with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft out of Ohio State. Los Angeles jettisoned him to Brooklyn in 2017 in a trade that netted Brook Lopez.

He is averaging 23.6 points, 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. 

Curry will miss at least another month as he rehabs his broken wrist, but the Warriors are hopeful for a March return, the team announced Saturday.


Labour shadow minister Jon Ashworth in 'end of the party' warning

Jon Ashworth says Labour could be out of power for 15 years - and Michael Gove defends Tory strategy.

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Joe Wicks: Body Coach star to read Valentine's bedtime story

The fitness coach is the latest star aiming to send children to sleep on CBeebies.

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Newspaper headlines: Support for TV's Phillip Schofield, and cabinet reshuffle 'warning'

Many of Saturday's front pages react to the ITV host's decision to publicly come out as gay.

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Only A True "Grey's" Fan Will Remember All Of These Patients

You need to take this quiz, STAT!

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Report: Astros intern introduced sign-stealing ploy

A program called "Codebreaker" was introduced to the Astros by an intern in the organization in September 2016 and laid the groundwork for the team's electronic sign-stealing ploys.

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DEAL: To πιο συγκλονιστικό επεισόδιο – Η μεγαλύτερη προσφορά του Τραπεζίτη (Video) - Newsbomb

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USWNT vs. Mexico Live Stream: Watch CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Online, TV Channel, Time

February 08, 2020 at 02:00AM

Find out how to watch USWNT vs. Mexico in Friday's CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying.

The U.S. Women's National Team has an opportunity that could turn into a golden one when it

takes on Mexico in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying on Friday. With the finalists of the tournament both making the Olympics later this year, the winner of this semifinal match will secure a spot in Tokyo. 

How to Watch USWNT vs. Mexico:

When: Friday, February 7

Time: 10:00 PM ET

TV Channel: FS1

Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)

The U.S. has torn through the Olympic qualifying tournament thus far, outscoring its three opponents 18-0. The team's most recent victory was a 6-0 win over Costa Rica, which saw the U.S. score three goals in each half. Christen Press led the Americans with two goals and an assist, while Carli Lloyd assisted on the opening two goals to put the team ahead for good. The defending world champions will be motivated ahead of this game knowing that a loss will cost them a chance to defend their title.

Mexico lost its final game in the group stage when it dropped a 2-0 decision to Canada. The North American rival went 2-1-0 in the group stage, which was good enough to finish in second in its group. Mexico's Renae Cuellar is dangerous and will be vital to her team's upset chances. She has scored three goals in the tournament so far and will need to be at her best to keep pace with the vaunted American attack.