Bill says kids must consult lawyer before waiving rights

first_img February 1, 2006 Regular News Bill says kids must consult lawyer before waiving rights Bill says kids must consult lawyer before waiving rightscenter_img A bill requiring that juveniles charged with crimes have a meaningful opportunity to consult with a lawyer before waiving their right to counsel has cleared a key Senate committee. The Florida Bar supports the legislation.The Senate Judiciary Committee on January 11 approved SB 526, sponsored by committee Chair Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, which provides juveniles with that right and clarifies when a public defender is appointed to represent them.Wise told the committee that the Florida Supreme Court had asked the legislature to look at the issue. Carlos Martinez, a member of the Bar’s Committee on the Legal Needs of Children, testified that children frequently don’t understand the consequences of their actions.“In a lot of cases. . . the child would plead guilty without ever consulting with an attorney,” Martinez said. “A lot of times the problem is the courts have not done a good job in making sure there’s a good waiver in place.”He also noted that one state law allows for representation, but that doesn’t conform with another law that controls when a public defender is appointed. The bill addresses that problem.Although the bill passed unanimously, Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, a former state attorney, expressed reservations, saying in some cases the bill could slow down the criminal justice system. He cited as an example crimes involving an older juvenile and an adult, where the juvenile already has an extensive record.Typically in such cases, prosecutors will offer the juvenile a deal in exchange for evidence and testimony against the adult. Waiting for a conflict counsel to be appointed who will tell the juvenile to take the deal will be both expensive and waste time, Smith said.He added he would support the bill at the committee, but hope to see refinements when it is considered in future committees.The bill was next scheduled to go to the Judiciary Committee and the Justice Appropriations Committee. A similar bill, HB 529, has been introduced in the House.last_img read more

Aquatika freshwater aquarium as a top tourist content that foreign tourists have yet to discover

first_imgThe destination consists of all participants, and if there is no synergy and coordination, there is no quality tourist product. What is most important in the whole story, the motive for coming is not accommodation, but just quality, diverse and authentic content. Also, it is precisely this quality tourist content that we chronically lack that directly affects guest satisfaction, longer stays of guests and an increase in tourist spending by a certain tourist destination. If we meet or exceed his expectations, the guest will come back again and become our ambassador.  The idea of ​​the Karlovac freshwater aquarium started from the natural position of the city on four rivers – Korana, Kupa, Mrežnica and Dobra, a city that connects and is symbolized by a favorable traffic position at the crossroads. But also, regardless of the historical significance of Karlovac, there has always been the impression that Karlovac is a passing crossroads. Read more about the story of how the idea for the Aquatica freshwater aquarium came about in the attachment. From the very opening, Aquatika encourages the work of local artists, craftsmen and designers, sells their products in a souvenir shop, and also cooperates with local suppliers, associations and entrepreneurs.  It is commendable that the Public Institution Aquatika signed an agreement on joint cooperation for joint promotions with Una National Park from Bihać, as well as cooperation three public institutions from the area of ​​Karlovac County: Public Institution Barać’s Caves, Visitor Center Ivana’s Fairytale House and Public Institution Aquatika – Freshwater Aquarium Karlovac. Excellent examples of connections and synergies in tourism. Photo: Aqautika Thus, in 2019, Aquatic visited the whole 73.161 visitors, which is an increase of 3% compared to 2018. The majority of visitors are still visitors from Croatia, while only 3.893 foreign tourists visited this excellent museum. The largest share are tourists from Slovenia, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and who learned the most about Aquatika via the Internet. / / / HOW A DREAM AND VISION BECAME A REALITY – AQUATIKA FRESHWATER AQUARIUM Apart from being a tourist attraction, Aquatika has a great ecological, educational and scientific value, and at the same time it is a great support to the local economy and the development of the entire city.  Photo: Aqautika Photo: Aqautika / / / SOUVENIRS WITH AUTHENTIC OFFER ENCOURAGE THE LOCAL ECONOMY. HERE’S HOW THEY DO IT IN AQUATICA And that is why Aquatika, like all other tourist attractions and facilities, in the whole region should be promoted by everyone, not just selling themselves or accommodation. We need to look at a much broader story, because tourism is just that. It all makes a big tourist mosaic and every cube is important, no matter how small. If we look at the broader context, then we should definitely look at the inclusion of local family farms, ie local producers of dairy, meat, bakery products, honey, fruits, vegetables, fruit products, beverages, wild plants, souvenirs, cosmetics… because if we encourage imports through tourism, and not the local economy then we did something nasty wrong in our tourist story. HOW A DREAM AND VISION BECAME A REALITY – AQUATIKA FRESHWATER AQUARIUM This has created space for new jobs in Aquatica, but also indirectly in other companies, family farms and handicrafts. The richness of the offer ensures constant public interest in Aquatika and the city of Karlovac, and the development of new ideas has resulted in the fact that today Aquatika is recognized as an unavoidable address with a strong position in tourism, economic, educational and environmental significance for the city and its surroundings. It should be said that the importance of this project for the Karlovac area, but also the wider local and national community, was recognized in the beginning by the fact that the project was declared by the European Union among the most successful local EU projects in Croatia. The project was recognized by the profession through awards, but also membership in the UNESCO World Water Museum Network, of which Aquatika is the first Croatian member. It is quite certain that Aquatika returned the city of Karlovac and strongly positioned it on the tourist map of Croatia. In addition to all that, new programs are constantly being designed, so the book Freshwater Fish Aquatika, picture book and coloring book were published in their own edition, they hosted many events of the local civil sector, and regularly organize their own events, Aquatika points out. Aquatika, the first freshwater aquarium in Croatia that due to its originality and the fact that such a freshwater aquarium with endemic species exists in the heart of Croatia, made a positive tourist step forward as an excellent motive for arrival and quality content, not only Karlovac but the entire region. (from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes).center_img Photo: Aqautika By the way, Plitvice Lakes National Park has made an excellent product – Lika destination or # Plitvice experience which offers a wider range of tourist activities and experiences in Lika-Senj County. Plitvice Lakes National Park is visited annually by over a million tourists, and a significant part should certainly be redirected to Aquatica because it is an excellent link and supplement. There is certainly an important segment of tourists from the city of Zagreb, who can visit Karlovac and the surrounding area to fill the day with interesting content. Also worth mentioning is the collaboration with travel agencies, which, among other things, sell tourist packages from Zagreb to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, but with a mandatory visit to Aquatika. Great added value and addition to the trip. There is also cooperation with the portals for group purchase CrnoJaje.hr and Kupi.me. Yes, it’s all tourism, but let’s get back to the topic of Aquatics. It is an excellent authentic and quality content, and the challenge of how to increase the number of foreign tourists is certainly in the whole destination, and by that I mean much wider than the city of Karlovac or Karlovac County. Of course, the responsibility is in the city of Karlovac as the owner and founder of the institution should increase funding for advertising and communication, because coming to Aquatik is coming to Karlovac and additional spending for coffee, lunch or other tourist content. In 2019, the freshwater aquarium Aquatika was still one of the most visited tourist attractions in Karlovac and the county.  Proof of this thesis is certainly the story of the souvenir shop, which with its authentic offer stimulates the local economy. Aquatika souvenir shops offer exclusively domestic unique products from local suppliers, crafts, local handicrafts and family farms. At the beginning, there were only a dozen suppliers at the opening in Aquatica, and today they work with even more than 60 suppliers, which are mostly from the area of ​​the city of Karlovac and its surroundings. Read more about this topic in the attachment. RELATED NEWS: Attractive and interesting content is there, actively working on promotion, various entertainment and educational programs, recognized by the profession (Artur 2017, Brand Leader Award 2018, Bled Water Festival, A + Awards, etc.), but obviously lacks better promotion and communication . Not so much from the museum itself, because the museum itself as a public institution does not have such a budget for promotion, but more than the entire destination. We must care that the guest sees and experiences as much as possible, especially when we have so many great facilities and attractions in the vicinity of an hour by car. It would be a problem if we did not have Aquatika, Barać’s Caves, Visitor Center Ivana’s Fairytale House, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Paklenica National Park, Northern Velebit National Park, Velebit Nature Park… and when great facilities are there, then we must promote and round them off. through the common tourist product of the entire continental destination. Also, I have to repeat here my mantra that I emphasize from the first day – the motive for coming is not accommodation, but authentic, diverse and quality content. And authenticity is the main ingredient of tourism. People want to experience something new and different. If we look at all the trends again, they are the ones that talk about authenticity, organic food and ecology. And here we are or we can be in a great position. In conclusion, Aquatika as a phenomenal unique content must certainly be visited by more than 3.893 foreign tourists. This is the next challenge that must become an imperative for the entire destination. A great example of synergy and looking at the bigger picture On the other hand, it remains a great pity that only 3.893 foreign tourists visited Aquatika. A ratio that definitely needs to change for the better, because it really is about unique, authentic and quality content. In the structure of visitors, 44% are children, 32% families, 14% adults, 7% retirees and 3% students. SOUVENIR SHOPS WITH AUTHENTIC OFFER PROMOTE THE LOCAL ECONOMY. HERE’S HOW THEY DO IT IN AQUATICAlast_img read more

Irish Government proposes new maximum stake and payout limits for gaming machines

first_imgShare StumbleUpon Submit Related Articles Share Irish government passes amendment to Gaming and Lotteries Bill December 5, 2019 Irish gaming bill advances to the next stage June 21, 2019 Paschal Donohoe backs 2% betting levy despite Irish job concerns June 20, 2019 The Irish Government has proposed a €500 limit to maximum payouts on gaming terminals, down from the €750 put forward in March. The current limit of €5.00, which remains unchanged since 1956, has been described – according to a government spokesperson – as “archaic, unpractical, and unimplementable”.The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has, therefore, outlined a number of changes to the bill which determines both the maximum payouts and maximum stakes for the machines, which is currently being reviewed by the Oireachtas.As well as the €5.00 cap on payouts, the Gaming and Lotteries Bill also currently limits the maximum stake for any game to a sum of 6 pence per player, or around 3 cent in modern currency. Flanagan has proposed a new maximum stake limit of €5, down from the €10 suggested in March.The minimum age to place a bet would also be increased from 16 to 18 under new proposals. The slight backdown comes as a number of lobby groups across Ireland had expressed that the previous proposals did not go far enough in tackling problem gambling, and that further measures were required. Earlier this year, a Northern Irish government department launched a public consultation on the creation of a new gambling policy and the effects of problem gambling.The public consultation will help gain an insight into the policies needed to combat problem gambling in the country. Operators across Northern Ireland have already voluntarily agreed to implement the £2 maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).last_img read more

FAVORED TARIS TAKES GRADE II, $200,000 LA CANADA STAKES BY 5 ¼ LENGTHS AS STEVENS & CALLAGHAN TEAM FOR WIN; MARE BY FLATTER GETS 1 1/16 MILES IN 1:44.38

first_imgSINGLE WINNING TICKET IN PICK SIX PAYS $85,158.60 ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 16, 2016)–Favored Taris made short work of her competition in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita, as she took command mid-way around the far turn under Gary Stevens and cruised to a 5 ¼ length victory while getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.38.Trained by Simon Callaghan, the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Flatter sat a comfortable third leaving the half mile pole and engaged dueling leaders Illuminant and Yahilwa approaching the three furlong pole.“It was a perfect trip,” said Stevens. “It set up, the fractions were realistic and when Mike (Smith, aboard second choice Yahilwa) came up on the outside of me going into the far turn, the pressure really picked up.“She reminds me of Beholder. She has the same tendencies, the same high cruising speed and they’re both very intelligent. She deserved this today.”In a race reduced to five older fillies and mares due to the game-day declarations of Tara’s Tango and Honey Ride, Taris, who was well beaten in her only other career try going two turns, was heavily favored at even money and paid $4.00, $260 and $2.10.Owned by John Magnier, Derrick Smith or Michael Tabor, Taris followed up on a 2 ½ length score going a one turn mile in the Grade III Go for Wand Handicap Nov. 27 at Aqueduct and registered her seventh win from 11 career starts. With the winner’s share of $120,000, she increased her earnings to $807,700.“I was a little anxious down the backside when she just took hold of the bridle a little bit,” said Callaghan. “She’s such a smart filly. She just dropped it then and relaxed. I kind of knew there were no worries about the distance.“Gary knows this filly, not quite as good as me, but almost. I left it to him. It was one of those races with five runners where I didn’t know where the pace would be. I thought someone might try to take us on, so we just left it to Gary to see how the race unfolded.”Ridden for the first time by Drayden Van Dyke, Birdatthewire, who was stretching out off a half length win in the Grade I, seven furlong La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26, was bothered by longshot Oscar Party going into the first turn.“I was completely taken out by Santiago (Gonzalez, aboard Oscar Party),” said Van Dyke, in reference to the fact that Oscar Party’s bridle broke, leaving Gonzalez rudderless. “I didn’t know what was happening at first. He came flying by me, which made my horse get really rank. Poor Santiago though, it wasn’t his fault, but I got stuck outside of him and he was way out there.”Despite the trouble, Birdatthewire was a close second going into the far turn, but fell far back straightening for home due to the fact she has a habit of getting out. Although she appeared hopelessly beaten a furlong from home, she rallied wide-out for second, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Yahilwa.Off at 7-2, Birdatthewire paid $3.40 and $2.20.Ridden by Mike Smith, Yahilwa pressed the pace and tired late to finish a half length in front of Illuminant. Off at 9-5, Yahilwa paid $2.10 to show.Fractions on the race were 23.93, 47.35, 1:11.71 and 1:37.51.There was just one winning ticket in Saturday’s Pick Six, and it paid $85,158.60. The ticket was purchased at an as-yet undetermined location.First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open 10:30 a.m. FAVORED TARIS TAKES GRADE II, $200,000 LA CANADA STAKES BY 5 ¼ LENGTHS AS STEVENS & CALLAGHAN TEAM FOR WIN; MARE BY FLATTER GETS 1 1/16 MILES IN 1:44.38 center_img –30–last_img read more

DON VALPREDO CALIFORNIA CUP SPRINT STAKES QUOTES – SATURDAY JANUARY 28, 2017

first_imgNOTES: The winning owner is Rockingham Ranch. FLAVIEN PRAT, RICHARD’S BOY, WINNER: “I felt pretty good. I rode him before so I kind of know him. He’s a very classy horse and he knows where the wire is.“I felt like I had plenty of horse left into the stretch. He was pretty aggressive down the backside. He’s really fast so I just tried to get him to relax and he has a great turn of foot.” GARY HARTUNIAN (ROCKINGHAM RANCH), RICHARD’S BOY, WINNER: “I thought it was going to be a little tough because he loves the grass so much. I was nervous about running on the dirt to be honest with you. He’s a fighter. He’s the best horse in our barn by far. He’s solid and so professional. He just does everything right.”             PETER MILLER, RICHARD’S BOY, WINNER: “He’s so game. He’s one of those horses, that if you had a barnful, training horses would be easy. He’s tougher than nails, he’s hickory, this horse. I think he’s a little better on the grass, honestly, but he’s just so game and tries so hard that I knew he’d give it all he had.“We’ll look at the Cal Cup races (beyond this) but I think we might even consider the Turf Sprint in Dubai (March 25). We’ll keep all our options open, and hopefully he comes out of the race good.”center_img JOCKEY QUOTES TRAINER QUOTESlast_img read more

A Glimmer of Hope for Connecticut Homeowners With Crumbling Foundations

first_imgThousands of Connecticut residents whose homes are threatened by failing concrete foundations got some encouragement this week with the visit of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who expressed hope that federal assistance might be possible.As many as 34,000 homes in eastern and north central Connecticut could be at risk because aggregate used in the concrete contained a pyrrhotite, a mineral that in time causes the concrete to crack and degrade. Homeowners face bills of as much as $200,000 to repair the damage, and until now help has been slow in coming.But on Monday, Carson toured the home of a couple in Willington, Connecticut, whose basement began developing cracks three years ago. Damage has since spread upstairs, and now Maggie and Vincent Perracchio fear the house could collapse, The Associated Press reported.The Perracchios and other Connecticut families facing the same problem have been largely turned away by insurance companies. Although the state has started a fund to help homeowners that will generate $10 million a year, the federal government until now hasn’t offered to help; the Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down the governor’s request for a disaster declaration more than once, according to The Hartford Courant. A long-simmering problemThe rock aggregate bearing pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide, was mined in a Willington, Connecticut, quarry and used in ready-mix concrete supplied by the J.J. Mottes Company for homes built in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements (CCACB). The state estimates that as many as 30,000 houses could be affected, although the number of homeowners who have filed formal complaints is far lower.It can take years for the problem to surface. The cost of replacing a foundation can exceed the value of the house, leaving homeowners with crippling financial problems. Insurance claims by many homeowners have been rejected.The J.J. Mottes company, which supplied the concrete, has said the problem is “an installation issue.”In addition to the cluster of pyrrhotite-induced problems in Connecticut, more than a thousand buildings in Quebec near Trois-Rivières showed similar structural issues. The provincial government has established a website explaining the problem to homeowners and set aside more than $50 million to help pay for repairs.The American Geosciences Institute says that structural damage to buildings due to pyrrhotite or pyrite, another iron sulfide, have been observed globally since the mid-1950s. In the U.S., “pyrite-induced swelling” has been observed in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Kansas, according to the institute.Ben Mandler, a researcher and program supervisor at AGI, said in an email that many of the problems associated with pyrrhotite occur because the mineral is present in backfill used around new foundations, not because it’s found in the construction materials themselves. This is the case with most of the examples mentioned on the AGI website.“But there are some cases similar to the Connecticut case, where concrete damage has been linked to the presence of pyrrhotite in the aggregate mix used to make concrete,” he added. “This has been observed in some dams in Spain, for example, and likely elsewhere to some extent. I’m not aware of this being a major problem in concrete used for foundations elsewhere in the United States.” RELATED ARTICLES Connecticut Lawmakers Consider Aid for Homeowners With Failing FoundationsFailing Concrete Foundations Linked to Aggregate There’s No Relief in Sight for Beleaguered Connecticut Homeowners New interest from the concrete industryThere are currently no known national standards limiting the amount of pyrrhotite that can safely be included in concrete, but the American Concrete Institute, an industry trade group, says that it is focusing new attention on the problem.In an email, Matthew Senecal, the institute’s director of engineering, said that an ACI committee has received approval to write a technical note about pyrrhotite, a process that could take a year to complete. Separately, he said, there have been attempts to write an article about the issue for the institute’s magazine, Concrete International, but there hasn’t been enough technical data on file to support it.“I think the failure mechanism is fairly well understood,” Senecal said. “What seems to be less understood is the accuracy in detecting pyrrhotite; what environmental conditions lead to activation of the mechanism; and what material properties or environmental conditions control the rate of the mechanism. I have not seen any research in the U.S., but Canada has had similar problems in the regions around Quebec.”center_img Carson had a different message Monday.“As compassionate individuals, we all should care about our neighbors,” Carson said, according to the AP. “That was one of the reasons that this country succeeded early on, because people cared about each other. As long as we adopt that feeling of truly caring, we will solve this problem.“I can’t imagine what it’s like for the homeowners,” he said. “By working together with the other federal agencies, with Congress, with the state and with the local officials as well as the private sector — I can’t emphasize enough the fact that this is something that impacts a lot of people — and the solution really needs to be relatively comprehensive and involve all those different entities.”Members of the state’s congressional delegation and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, a Democrat, accompanied Carson on the tour of the couple’s home. U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, are sponsoring legislation that would provide $200 million in aid over five years, half of which would come from Housing and Urban Development. Reports from MassachusettsThe ready-mix plant where the Connecticut concrete was made is close to the Massachusetts state line. Eighteen months ago, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office had not received any consumer complaints about faulty concrete in the area. But this week, the office said it has received two complaints about concrete provided by the J.J. Mottes company. The office didn’t provide any further details.In addition, the Massachusetts state senator whose district includes a number of communities in the south central part of the state sponsored an amendment to the Senate budget calling for the establishment of “a commission on crumbling concrete foundations.”Lesser said in a tweet last month that the budget amendment had passed. A similar amendment was offered in the House, but apparently was not approved, so the fate of the study commission rests with the conference committee working on a compromise budget bill.last_img read more

CRPF jawan killed in encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh

first_imgA Central Reserve Personnel Force jawan was killed in an encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh on Thursday, officials said here. The encounter took place in the Tonguda-Pamed area of Bijapur district at about 4 am, they said. The jawan belonged to the 151st battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force and this team along with the commando unit of the force, CoBRA, and the state police was out for an operation in the jungles, the officials said. Some Maoists are also suspected to have been killed in the exchange of fire and the security forces are combing the area, they said.last_img

Youth dies of injuries in Srinagar hospital restrictions reimposed in parts of

first_imgSrinagar: A Kashmiri youth who was injured during protests last month died at a Srinagar hospital in the early hours of Wednesday, prompting authorities to reimpose restrictions in parts of the city, officials said. Asrar Ahmed Khan was part of a mob holding protests in Soura on August 6, a day after the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and announced its bifurcation into two union territories, they said. Restrictions were reimposed Downtown Srinagar and parts of the Civil Lines area as a precautionary measure. Khan, who was admitted to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Soura, died shortly after midnight on Wednesday, officials said. “He did not have any bullet injuries,” a top police official said.last_img

Technology gives a face to mother of baby found dead in Calgary

first_imgThe Canadian PressPolice have released a high-tech image they say is a likeness of the mother of a baby girl found dead in a dumpster on Christmas Eve.They have also released a composite sketch of the baby.Police say the mother’s image was produced by a company in Virginia that specializes in DNA phenotyping, which can predict physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA.It’s the first time Calgary police have used the technology.“They have had success in the United States,” Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta of the homicide unit said Wednesday. “This technique actually has been publicly utilized in Canada twice already in Ontario – in Windsor and Sudbury.”Police said they received numerous tips after the baby was found in the northwest community of Bowness, but all were investigated and ruled out.“We have exhausted all other investigative inquiries,” said Schiavetta. “We are really at an investigative standstill.”As part of that investigation, police found biological material at the scene that they sent in for the DNA phenotyping.The results indicate that the mother is likely to be of mixed race – possibly Indigenous – with fair skin. Her hair is described as dark, probably brown or black, and her eyes are hazel that may also appear green.Schiavetta said the technology cannot predict age, weight, height or hairstyle.“This is a scientific approximation and obviously a mother’s – or anyone’s – physical appearance can change,” he said. “Concentrate on the hair colour, the eye colour and the ethnicity.”Schiavetta said investigators hope the image will lead to tips that help find the mother.An autopsy showed the baby was breathing on her own at some point after being born.Police said identifying the mother will help determine what led to the baby being placed in the dumpster. They still don’t know whether the death is suspicious, so the mother is not being sought as a suspect.“We have some really difficult and challenging questions to ask the mother, but please do not assume that the mother placed the baby there,” said Schiavetta.Anyone who may know the identity of the woman in the Calgary case is asked to call the homicide tip line at 403-428-8877 or the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234.Another Canadian case where the same technology was used in 2017 was the homicide of Renee Sweeney in Sudbury, Ont. The case has stymied police since 1998 when she was repeatedly stabbed behind the counter of the adults-only video store where she worked.In Windsor, Ont., police used the technology in the 1971 murder of a six-year-old girl named Ljubica Topic. She was playing outside her home with her older brother when a man approached the pair and offered her money to come with him. Her body was found nearby four hours later.Both cases remain unsolved.The company, Parabon Nanolabs, said on its website that the images from the DNA profile have helped in several U.S. cases – including police arresting and charging a Baltimore resident with murder in January for the 2017 death of his girlfriend.A Texas man confessed to murder in November 2017 after police released an image matching his description.The technology also helped identify and convict a North Carolina man who gunned down a couple in their home in 2012.last_img read more

The Lynx Have The Best Stathead In The WNBA

The Minnesota Lynx have dominated the WNBA this season, as they have much of the last half-decade. The team has reached the finals in five of the past six seasons, including this one. And since Cheryl Reeve was hired as head coach in 2009, the Lynx have won three WNBA titles. They entered this year’s postseason as the top seed, with a 28-6 record, quickly dismantled the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals, and now face the Los Angeles Sparks, a team the Lynx went 2-1 against during the regular season. The two play for the title tonight in a winner-take-all Game 5.The engines of this success are obvious: Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles both ranked in the league’s top five for Player Impact Estimate,1Among players who played in at least 10 games. a statistic that measures a player’s overall importance to her team’s success when on the court, and Moore’s offensive rating (1.11 points per possession) led the league.2Again among players who played in at least 10 games. Fowles has had double-doubles in three of four games in the finals, and Moore scored 31 points on 9-17 shooting to take Game 4.But for all of Minnesota’s obvious weaponry, it has a secret one as well: Paul Swanson — the reclusive, in-house statistician for the Lynx and Timberwolves who is integrated seamlessly into the Lynx coaching staff. “Swanny has this unique ability to provide us with stats I wouldn’t think to ask for,” said Reeve, who carries around pieces of paper full of what the coaching staff calls “Swanny Stats.” “There isn’t another team in the WNBA that has the resources to employ someone like him.”Just as the Lynx aren’t any ordinary pro franchise, Swanson isn’t any ordinary stat geek. He entered analytical lore as the unofficial creator of the net plus-minus formula, which he unveiled in 2003 to demonstrate the legitimacy of Kevin Garnett’s MVP candidacy (which he lost to Tim Duncan). And since the beginnings of the WNBA, he’s been one of the few people breaking down and logging the advanced stats of an WNBA team and the league as a whole.To hear it from the coaches and others within the WNBA statistical community, Swanson’s input has helped shape coaching decisions during the team’s title runs. But his effect on the game extends even further: His meticulously curated stats site (which, though publicly accessible, is buried on Google) was a beacon for those who were disappointed by the WNBA’s output.“For a long time, Paul was virtually the only person providing these sorts of advanced stats,” said Richard Cohen of WNBAlien.com, who has corresponded with Swanson over email for years. “This season is the first time the WNBA has actually provided decent stats, but for a long time, his site was the only place you could get anything of value.”Kevin Pelton knows about the league’s statistical desert first-hand. Before joining ESPN, Pelton worked for the Seattle Storm as its advanced stats guru. “There were more independent resources in the NBA that were stepping in to fill that void whereas that never really existed in the WNBA,” Pelton said. “It’s up to Paul.”Not that you’ll hear any of this from Swanson, who wouldn’t comment for this article and has next to no web presence. Other than his frequent postings on the women’s basketball forum RebKell and a handful of mentions by longtime Lynx assistant Jim Petersen (“I try to mention his name and give him shout-outs anytime I can,” he said. “I call him the Great Paul Swanson.”), Swanson is a ghost.There are conflicting accounts of when Swanson began working for the Lynx and the Timberwolves. According to Ashley Carlson, the Lynx’s PR manager, Swanson has been employed as the statistician for both franchises since their inceptions (the Wolves began operations in 1989, the Lynx in 1999). But both Reeve and Petersen said Swanson was a freelancer until the 2000s, when his position became more solidified within the organization. “It’s evolved as a whole from being an independent contractor to now a full-time position,” Reeve said.Initially, it was Swanson’s meticulous game notes that drew attention. He would stay up all night after a game compiling and then updating not only the standard box sheet, but also the so-called “advanced” basketball stats that focused on per-possession numbers.“He was putting out the best game notes in the NBA,” said Petersen, who doubles as an announcer for Timberwolves games. He was one of Swanson’s early converts: “I just looked at it as rebounding numbers and never thought about if a team played fast or played slow and how that impacts the number of shots that go up,” Petersen told MinnPost in 2012.The analytical community didn’t take notice of Swanson until 2002 or 2003, around the time he started including net plus-minus in his game notes. “We didn’t understand how to use it because obviously there are a lot of limitations to just looking at raw plus-minus and that one player only has so much control over what happens on the court,” Pelton said.What kicked things off was when Petersen repeated a few of Swanson’s per-48-minute computations during several Timberwolves broadcasts. Those stats found their way to the Association for Professional Basketball Research message boards — an early petri dish for basketball analytics — and incited a vigorous debate. According to Pelton, there were many skeptics, but because he had access to the game notes, he knew the stats were legit. “Paul was the first I saw to present the argument, ‘Let’s physically compare how a team does with a specific player on the court versus how they do with a specific player off the court,’” Pelton said.But while Swanson’s ideas were clever and gaining steam in the mathier circles, it took longer for them to take hold in the WNBA. “A lot of coaches had learned to work without it and weren’t searching for it,” Pelton said.That meant there was opportunity for the Lynx. “No one in the WNBA was crunching the per possession numbers, and we had access to, but didn’t use, efficiency stats that were unprecedented for the league,” Petersen said. “When Cheryl came in, I told her what Swanny could do for us in terms of advanced stats.” Swanson’s role slowly began to evolve. “He would come to practice, and you don’t ever really think about him,” Reeve said. “I was told he was a fabric of the organization, so I started him off with small tasks, like charting practice.”Those charts, which Reeve refers to as “heat zones,” formed the basis of the Lynx’s defensive philosophy when the coach first arrived in Minnesota. “We were really interested in what our opponents shot at different spots on the court,” she said. Eventually, Swanson began charting the Lynx’s own shots, which Reeve said helped the coaching staff better formulate the team’s offensive execution. “If we really know something, and we want to highlight it, we’ll support it with the stats that bear it out,” Reeve said. “That resonates more with our players, rather than just saying we watched game video.”Two years ago, Reeve extended Swanson an invitation to the daily coaches meetings — an uncommon situation for a statistician. Although both Petersen and Reeve declined to go into detail about Swanson’s specific contributions — “I don’t want to give people ideas of what we do,” Reeve said — the coaches’ conversations with Swanson help shape their game prep and decision making. “We formulate scouting reports based on his information,” Reeve said. “And we’ll use his analysis to put together lineups, whether it is whole lineups or just post pairs and perimeter trios. If Swanny said it, then it is so.”If the Lynx win tonight, they’ll tie the Houston Comets’ record for WNBA titles with four. But whatever the outcome, their sustained run of excellence over the past few years is, from a certain angle, proof of the value of having information and having the good sense to put it to use in a league that’s starved for it. read more