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Erling Haaland is our new poster boy for tantrums by entitled multi-millionaires. Why should we indulge this institutionalised thuggery a moment longer?

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I travelled a few stops on the London Underground yesterday. Somewhere on the Bakerloo line between Marylebone and Paddington, I found myself staring at a poster above the row of seats opposite.

It showed a series of hands raised in the air and a message had been spelled out across them by Transport for London. ‘We won’t stand for abuse of TfL staff,’ it read, alongside a message warning of action being taken against those who transgressed

Absolutely right, too. Because, apart from in football, where we are in thrall to the increasingly aggressive and unboundaried tantrums of a few over-entitled multi-millionaires, in what other walk of life would we look at the way Erling Haaland behaved towards referee Simon Hooper at The Etihad on Sunday and think it was in any way acceptable?

Where else other than football would we look at what Haaland did and then look the other way? Not in any other sport, that’s for sure. Not in rugby union or rugby league. Not in cricket. Not in hockey or tennis. Not anywhere. Why should football be an outlier any more? Why should we indulge this institutionalised thuggery a moment longer?

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Hooper made a mistake when he reversed his earlier decision to play an advantage and blew for a foul on Haaland when the Norway striker had put Jack Grealish clean through on goal in the dying minutes of the 3-3 draw between Manchester City and Spurs on Sunday evening.

Erling Haaland fumed at referee Simon Hooper as Man City were held by Tottenham

Erling Haaland fumed at referee Simon Hooper as Man City were held by Tottenham

Erling Haaland fumed at referee Simon Hooper as Man City were held by Tottenham

Haaland and his Manchester City team-mates circled the referee on Sunday after he blew for a free-kick when City were wanting the advantage to be played after Jack Grealish was through

Haaland and his Manchester City team-mates circled the referee on Sunday after he blew for a free-kick when City were wanting the advantage to be played after Jack Grealish was through

Haaland and his Manchester City team-mates circled the referee on Sunday after he blew for a free-kick when City were wanting the advantage to be played after Jack Grealish was through

Maybe Hooper panicked under pressure. Maybe he thought he saw a linesman’s flag. It would be helpful if there was a line of communication so we got an explanation. It was a mistake and it was a big mistake. That is obvious. It may have changed the outcome of the game. It may not. None of it excuses Haaland’s behaviour.

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Sure, City have been charged by the FA with failing to control their players after the melee that followed but they will not care about that. A fine is nothing to them. It is an irrelevance. Where is the individual accountability? Where is the threat of a punishment that actually hurts them and acts as a deterrent to Haaland and others? There is none.

Another reason City drew the game on Sunday is that Haaland made mistakes, too. He is a phenomenon as a player but there was a moment in the first half where Bernardo Silva played a square ball to him and, to general astonishment, Haaland put his shot wide from six yards out with the goal gaping.

It turns out that mistake cost City the victory. You could argue that, anyway. But I didn’t see anyone rushing towards Haaland and screaming in his face, gesticulating at him, crowding him, yelling so close that he’d be able to feel their hot breath on his cheeks on a bitter night in Manchester. Haaland is allowed to make a mistake but a referee is not?

I thought, by the way, that in our desperation to rid ourselves of VAR, we had reached a consensus we are prepared to accept good old-fashioned human error from referees. Errr, maybe mention that to Simon Hooper when he’s surrounded by a posse of City players and his reputation is being traduced up and down the land for an error under pressure.

This has been allowed to go on for too long. It is almost 24 years since Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham formed a vigilante flash mob and, veins popping, fingers pointing, eyes staring, mouths agape, pursued referee Andy D’Urso around the Old Trafford pitch because they disagreed with one of his calls.

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It became one of the iconic football images of its time. It was used to illustrate the idea that Manchester United were out of control, drunk on their own power, flushed with their own success, creatures running on the anger and righteous indignation bred in them by Sir Alex Ferguson.

It is dispiriting beyond belief but, fuelled by player-power and the arrogance and entitlement brought by new levels of wealth, the behaviour of top-flight players towards referees has got worse since then and is feeding an epidemic of intimidation and abuse in grassroots football.

It was a mistake and it was a big mistake by Hooper but Haaland's reaction was unacceptable

It was a mistake and it was a big mistake by Hooper but Haaland's reaction was unacceptable

It was a mistake and it was a big mistake by Hooper but Haaland’s reaction was unacceptable

And now we have a new poster to take the place of the United gang surrounding Andy D’Urso. Now we have another image that will be used for years to come to show how the abuse of referees has become normalised and sanctified and defended by too many within the game. 

We have another image that young footballers will already have seen, an image that legitimises the kind of thuggish, petulant, puerile, spoiled behaviour they will emulate up and down the country when they get right in the face of a referee and scream their hate at him.

Let me tell you what the image is not. It is not the artist’s portrayal on the front of the City-Spurs programme on Sunday showing Haaland sitting cross-legged on the pitch at the Etihad in a zen-like pose, his eyes closed, a serene smile on his face, his arms outstretched, his hands arranged so that his thumb is touching his forefinger and forming a circle.

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It is almost 24 years since Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham formed a vigilante flash mob and pursued referee Andy d’Urso around the Old Trafford pitch

It is almost 24 years since Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham formed a vigilante flash mob and pursued referee Andy d’Urso around the Old Trafford pitch

It is almost 24 years since Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham formed a vigilante flash mob and pursued referee Andy d’Urso around the Old Trafford pitch

Mail Sport has launched a campaign to stop the abuse of referees at all levels of the game

Mail Sport has launched a campaign to stop the abuse of referees at all levels of the game

Mail Sport has launched a campaign to stop the abuse of referees at all levels of the game

Haaland missed a huge chance earlier in the match that could have given City the victory

Haaland missed a huge chance earlier in the match that could have given City the victory

Haaland missed a huge chance earlier in the match that could have given City the victory

No, this image is different. The image that will launch a thousand more copycat attacks on referees is of Haaland, his hands clamped to his head, pulling back his hair, a demonic expression of hatred mixed with disbelief on his face as he vents his fury at Mr Hooper in the immediate aftermath of his decision.

Haaland — along with Ruben Dias and Mateo Kovacic — confronts the official immediately, his fury uncontrolled. His face is contorted in an expression of anger, pain, misery and disbelief that makes him look like the figure in The Scream, the painting by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

It is hard to exaggerate the negative power this image will wield. Haaland is the greatest striker in the world. He is a brilliant, goalscoring machine, the figurehead of a City side that is the best club team in the world, a side bidding to become the first in English history to win the Premier League title four times in succession.

And when a decision goes against him, this is how he behaves. Young players — players of all ages — are highly impressionable. This is exactly the kind of image that will encourage them to get in the face of referees on Sunday League pitches. Get in the face of the referee and a lot, lot worse.

Apologists for Haaland’s behaviour — and there will be plenty — will talk about the pressure that young players are under these days and the best response to that remains the remark made by the Australian all-rounder Keith Miller who flew for the Royal Australian Air Force during World War Two.

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When asked by chat show host Michael Parkinson how he coped with pressure in cricket, Miller had a tart response. ‘Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse,’ he said. ‘Playing cricket is not.’

Haaland is a brilliant striker but this is how he behaves when a decision goes against him

Haaland is a brilliant striker but this is how he behaves when a decision goes against him

Haaland is a brilliant striker but this is how he behaves when a decision goes against him

Apologists for Haaland’s behaviour will talk about the pressure young players are under

Apologists for Haaland’s behaviour will talk about the pressure young players are under

Apologists for Haaland’s behaviour will talk about the pressure young players are under 

It is time to stop indulging this petulance we have suffered for too long. It is time to acknowledge that it is starting to endanger the fabric of football. Why would anyone want to be a referee when intimidatory behaviour from players is encouraged by the stars at the top of the game?

‘I will not do a Mikel Arteta,’ City manager Pep Guardiola said after the match, making reference to the hysterical outburst from the Arsenal boss after a decision went against his team during a defeat at Newcastle last month. Guardiola might not have done an Arteta but his players had already done it for him.

Hooper had a fine game but he didn’t just make one mistake. He made two. He booked Haaland for his protests when he should have sent him off.

Forget the collective slap on the wrist City are facing from the FA now. It means less than nothing. To get serious about protecting referees and protecting the game, Haaland should be looking at a three-game ban, the better for him to ponder how he would react if someone ran up to him and screamed abuse in his face the next time he missed an open goal. Not well, is my guess.

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International

Angry French Farmers storm into Paris agriculture fair ahead of Macron visit

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A group of French farmers stormed into a major Paris farm fair on Saturday ahead of a planned visit by President Emmanuel Macron amid anger over costs, red tape and green regulations.

Issued on: Modified:

1 min

Facing dozens of policemen inside the trade fair, the farmers were shouting and booing, calling for the resignation of Macron and using expletives aimed at the French leader.

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“This is our home!”, they shouted, as lines of French CRS riot police sought to contain the demonstration. There were some clashes with demonstrators and the police arrested at least one of them, a Reuters witness saw.

Macron, who is having breakfast with French farmers’ union leaders, was scheduled to walk within the alleys of the trade fair afterwards.

He canceled a debate he wanted to hold at the farm fair on Saturday with farmers, food processors and retailers, after farmers unions said they would not show up.

Farmers have been protesting across Europe, calling for better income, less bureaucracy and denouncing unfair competition from cheap Ukrainian goods imported to help Kyiv’s war effort.

The Paris farm show is a major event in France, attracting around 600,000 visitors over nine days.

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Farmers’ protests, which have spread across Europe, come as the far right, for which farmers represent a growing constituency, is seen making gains in June’s European Parliament elections.

French farmers earlier this month largely suspended protests that included blocking highways and dumping manure in front of public buildings after Prime Minister Gabriel Attal promised new measures worth 400 million euros ($433 million).

But protests resumed this week to put pressure on the government to provide more help and deliver on promises, ahead of the Paris farm show.

(REUTERS)

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Post Office launched fraud investigation into board member hired to represent sub-postmasters in wake of Horizon scandal

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  • Elliot Jacobs was hired in 2021 to show the Post Office culture had changed
  • Despite this he was investigated for an accounting discrepancy at his shops 

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The Post Office launched a fraud investigation into a board member, who was hired to represent sub-postmasters following the Horizon scandal. 

Elliot Jacobs, who was appointed to the board in 2021 to represents sub-postmasters, was part of an attempt by the Post Office to show the culture that allowed the horizon scandal to take place had now changed. 

Despite this Mr Jacobs, who owns eight post offices across North London which still use the Horizon IT system, was investigated by the Post Office’s legal team due to an accounting discrepancy of several thousand pounds.     

The Post Office concluded its investigation into Mr Jacob and found no wrongdoing.

However, the incident angered the Post Office chairman, Henry Staunton, so much so that The Daily Telegraph reports Mr Staunton confrontated with Ben Foat, the company’s group general counsel, about the investigation. 

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Post Office chairman Henry Staunton. The investigation into Elliot Jacobs angered Mr Staunton so much that he confronted Ben Foat, the company's group general counsel

Post Office chairman Henry Staunton. The investigation into Elliot Jacobs angered Mr Staunton so much that he confronted Ben Foat, the company's group general counsel

Post Office chairman Henry Staunton. The investigation into Elliot Jacobs angered Mr Staunton so much that he confronted Ben Foat, the company’s group general counsel  

The Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015 when the Post Office wrongly prosecuted 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for incorrect data provided by the computer system (stock image)

The Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015 when the Post Office wrongly prosecuted 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for incorrect data provided by the computer system (stock image)

The Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015 when the Post Office wrongly prosecuted 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for incorrect data provided by the computer system (stock image)

The Horizon scandal became much more widely known after Toby Jones, above, appeared in ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office

The Horizon scandal became much more widely known after Toby Jones, above, appeared in ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office

The Horizon scandal became much more widely known after Toby Jones, above, appeared in ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office

This incident allegedly contributed to Mr Staunton’s sacking by Kemi Badenoch.

In emails seen by The Telegraph Mr Jacobs wrote on January 24: ‘The culture that PMs (postmasters) are “guilty” and “on the take” is embedded in this company and whilst we continue to employee 40+ people who ensured innocent people were found guilty and who continue to believe that mantra, this will never change.’

Mr Jacobs says in another email that he raised his treatment with Mr Foat and that he was treated like he was ‘guilty until proven innocent.’ 

Three days after Mr Jacobs sent his email Mr Stuanton was sacked by Kemi Badenoch.

The Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015 when the Post Office wrongly prosecuted 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for incorrect data provided by the computer system. Shockingly, that works out to one person being prosecuted a week.

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While the public inquiry into the scandal has been ongoing since February 2021, it returned to the headlines this year due to a hit ITV dramatisation of the scandal – Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

The drama starred Toby Jones as the titular character Alan Bates, the former postmaster who instigated the court case that led to the ruling that the scandal was a miscarriage of justice.

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Negotiators in Paris for ceasefire talks as strikes continue in Gaza

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More than 100 people were reported killed early Saturday in overnight strikes across Gaza, as Israel’s spy chief was in Paris for talks seeking to “unblock” progress towards a truce and the return of hostages held by Palestinian militants.Read our liveblog to see how all the day’s events unfolded. 

A man walks amid the debris of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 22, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palesti
A man walks amid the debris of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 22, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. © Mohammed Abed, AFP

This live page is no longer being updated. For all the latest please in the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

Summary:

  • An Israeli delegation led by spy chief David Barnea is in Paris for ceasefire talks on Saturday with the US, Qatar and Egypt.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has proposed a post-war plan granting Israel security control over Gaza while Palestinians with no links to Hamas and other militant groups run the enclave.

  • A senior Hamas official on Friday dismissed Netanyahu’s Gaza post-war proposals, telling reporters in Lebanon that the Israeli prime minister knew “full well” his plan “will never succeed”. 

  • An annual UN report published Friday identified gross human rights violations committed by all parties in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

  • An Israeli delegation led by spy chief David Barnea arrived in Paris for ceasefire talks with the US, Qatar and Egypt Friday.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has proposed a post-war plan granting Israel security control over Gaza while Palestinians with no links to Hamas and other militant groups run the enclave.

  •  
  • A senior Hamas official on Friday dismissed Netanyahu’s Gaza post-war proposals, telling reporters in Lebanon that the Israeli prime minister knew “full well” his plan “will never succeed”. 

  • An annual UN report published Friday identified gross human rights violations committed by all parties in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

  • Leaders of major UN and humanitarian organisations are calling on Israel to provide food and medicine and facilitate aid deliveries to the 2.3 million Palestinians in conflict-wracked Gaza – and on world leaders “to prevent an even worse catastrophe from happening”.

  • At least 29,514 people have been killed and 69,616 wounded in Israeli strikes in Gaza, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave. Around 1,140 people were killed in the Hamas-led October 7 attacks, according to Israeli officials. Around 250 people were taken hostage during the attack and 132 are still in Gaza, according to Israeli figures.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, Reuters)

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Dead dolphin bleeding from its eye and jaw that washed up on New Jersey beach sparks investigation – as locals claim sonar blasting from  offshore wind farm companies is to blame

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The gruesome scene of a dead dolphin on a New Jersey beach has sparked an investigation into its cause of death.

The marine animal was spotted on February 19, as it lay on the sands of Avalon bleeding from its eye and a gaping hole along its mouth.

Locals have claimed that sonar blasting from an offshore wind company to map the seafloor is to blame as the technology has been suggested to disrupt animals’ movements, sending them into boats or onto the shore. 

Evidence has shown that when exposed to high sonar frequencies, marine mammals swim hundreds of miles and rapidly change their depth, which can cause bleeding from the eyes and ears.

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Ship tracking data showed a vessel fitted with the technology was off the coast of New Jersey around the time of the dolphin’s death. 

But experts told DailyMail.com that ‘evidence of sonar trauma is not something that would be found in an external exam.’

The gruesome scene of a dead dolphin on a New Jersey beach has sparked an investigation into its cause of death

The gruesome scene of a dead dolphin on a New Jersey beach has sparked an investigation into its cause of death

The gruesome scene of a dead dolphin on a New Jersey beach has sparked an investigation into its cause of death

Bonnie Brady, executive director at Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, told DailyMail.com that the marine animal was a short-beaked common dolphin, which can be found along the continental slope in waters between 650 to 6,500 feet deep.

She noted that it is very rare that this type of dolphin would be found close to the beach.

Jamie Steiert, an Avalon local, spotted the dead dolphin on the beach.

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‘NJ conservation officer picked it up while I was there and said he was meeting up with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center,’ Steiert told DailyMail.com.

‘I hear they are already saying the dolphin was scavenged. We have been asking consistently to prove that there is no hearing damage but we are always shut out.’

The only way to determine whether a marine animal died due to sonar is to perform a necropsy and analyze the ear bone for damage.

The marine animal was spotted on February 19, as it lay on the sands of Avalon bleeding from its eye and a gaping hole along its mouth

The marine animal was spotted on February 19, as it lay on the sands of Avalon bleeding from its eye and a gaping hole along its mouth

The marine animal was spotted on February 19, as it lay on the sands of Avalon bleeding from its eye and a gaping hole along its mouth

Locals have claimed that sonar blasting from an offshore wind company to map the seafloor is to blame as the technology has been suggested to disrupt animals' movements, sending them into boats or onto the shore

Locals have claimed that sonar blasting from an offshore wind company to map the seafloor is to blame as the technology has been suggested to disrupt animals' movements, sending them into boats or onto the shore

Locals have claimed that sonar blasting from an offshore wind company to map the seafloor is to blame as the technology has been suggested to disrupt animals’ movements, sending them into boats or onto the shore

The Mexican-owned HOS Browning vessel was identified off the coast of New Jersey four days before the dolphin was found on the beach

The Mexican-owned HOS Browning vessel was identified off the coast of New Jersey four days before the dolphin was found on the beach

The Mexican-owned HOS Browning vessel was identified off the coast of New Jersey four days before the dolphin was found on the beach

The ears of a dolphin sit in their lower jaw area, but it is unclear if the hole is in the exact location. 

Steiert said the eye appeared to be missing, but the blood pouring out of the hole was fresh.

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‘I was specifically curious about the bleeding area by the lower jaw. I question if it wasn’t already bleeding when it washed up and then maybe something tried scavenging,’ said Steiert.

‘I can tell you that when I got to the 75th Street beach there wasn’t anyone around except a police officer sitting in the car…and not one sign of any seagulls or other birds in the area.’ 

Justin Viezbicke, the stranding coordinator from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told DailyMail.com: ‘When carcasses float around or sit on the beach they typically get fed on by birds and the round circular hole that you see as well as the bloody eye socket is mostly likely the result of a bird eating the eye and pecking at the lower jaw.’

The images of the dolphin were shared online, sparking attention from many New Jersians, with one posting on X: ‘This is hemorrhaging caused by sonar and they know it but it is not something they check for.’

Gary Kellstrom also shared: ‘This is not normal, but happens frequently. This sonar assault must be halted. 

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‘Historically, projects putting endangered species at risk have been blocked by lawsuits. What do we need to do to organize a legal action to stop these atrocities?’ 

NOAA has previously stated: ‘Increasing evidence suggests that exposure to intense underwater sound in some settings may cause some dolphins to strand and ultimately die. 

‘NOAA Fisheries is investigating all aspects of acoustic communication and hearing in marine animals, as well as the effects of sound on whale behavior and hearing.’

The Mexican-owned HOS Browning vessel was identified off the coast of New Jersey four days before the dolphin was found on the beach.

HOS is working with Fugro, a Dutch company that performs geotechnical, survey and geoscience services.

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Documents from the US Department of Homeland Security also noted: ‘HOS Browning, call sign XCBK8, will be conducting geotechnical survey operations, using a mobilized vibracoring system

Documents from the US Department of Homeland Security also noted: ‘HOS Browning, call sign XCBK8, will be conducting geotechnical survey operations, using a mobilized vibracoring system

Documents from the US Department of Homeland Security also noted: ‘HOS Browning, call sign XCBK8, will be conducting geotechnical survey operations, using a mobilized vibracoring system

‘Operations will occur within Lease 0541 area and have been ongoing since 2022 and continue to approximately June 30, 2024,' according to documents about the surveying.  Lease 0541 sits 27 miles from the coastline and covers 79,351 acres of water.

‘Operations will occur within Lease 0541 area and have been ongoing since 2022 and continue to approximately June 30, 2024,' according to documents about the surveying.  Lease 0541 sits 27 miles from the coastline and covers 79,351 acres of water.

‘Operations will occur within Lease 0541 area and have been ongoing since 2022 and continue to approximately June 30, 2024,’ according to documents about the surveying.  Lease 0541 sits 27 miles from the coastline and covers 79,351 acres of water.

The images of the dolphin were shared online, sparking attention from many New Jersians

The images of the dolphin were shared online, sparking attention from many New Jersians

The images of the dolphin were shared online, sparking attention from many New Jersians

Fugro is performing a third year of integrated site characterization services for Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and is using HOS to survey the ocean floor.

‘They are doing geophysical vibracoring, which is various sonars, some seismic in nature,’ said Brady.

Documents from the US Department of Homeland Security also noted: ‘HOS Browning, call sign XCBK8, will be conducting geotechnical survey operations, using a mobilized vibracoring system.

‘Operations will occur within Lease 0541 area and have been ongoing since 2022 and continue to approximately June 30, 2024.’

Lease 0541 sits 27 miles from the coastline and covers 79,351 acres of water.

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The site is east of Atlantic City, which is just 36 miles from Avalon where the dolphin was found on the beach.

However, it is unclear if the sonar impacted the dolphin that was found dead on the shore this month. 

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A Ukrainian soldier in France speaks about writing and recovery

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Ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, Ukrainian soldier and author Oleksandr “Teren” Budko spoke to FRANCE 24 about his path to recovery after losing both legs, his approach to writing and his patriotism.

On a recent evening at the Ukrainian Cultural Institute in France, Oleksandr “Teren” Budko stood with his interpreter before a large audience of Ukrainians and other nationalities. Blond and with a boyish face, the 27-year-old Ukrainian soldier was on the French leg of his European book tour for “Story of a Stubborn Man”. The autobiography interspersed with memories from the front lines recounts his road from civilian to soldier and then to battle-scarred veteran.

Budko began writing the book in October 2022, just two months after losing both legs after a shell landed near him in a trench during the counteroffensive for the city of Kharkiv. “I found inspiration for my writing on the front lines,” he said. Even before the injury, he had been publishing short texts accompanied by pictures of him and his buddies in combat gear as they worked to repel the Russian enemy.

Athletically built and wearing a quilted blue shirt and shorts that showed his prosthetics, Budko was as comfortable as a stand-up comedian in front of a crowd. “There is no truth in the leg,” he said, repeating a Ukrainian proverb that suggests a person who has walked a lot cannot tell the truth because they are tired.

Appreciation for a war hero

Yet he wanted to get as close to the truth as possible while writing his book. He wanted to capture the voices of his comrades and the sights and the sounds of what he experienced in eastern Ukraine. He would try to write, but then get stuck with month-long bouts of writer’s block. A trip to Florida, where he went to get fitted with sports prosthetics so he could participate in the Invictus Games, finally changed something in him. “I was there under the sun, I swam in the sea in Miami, I ate at McDonald’s – and this gave me the perfect circumstances to write this book,” he said.

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Thousands of miles away from Ukraine, he revisited his prior experience as a Ukrainian soldier. His days were filled with rehabilitation but, at night, he would write. Like plunging into the nearly clear waters off the Atlantic coast, he immersed himself in his memories of fighting the war and typed them up on a computer.

“Some of the people I wrote about in the book are dead, and that’s why it was so hard to write the text,” said Budko. Luckily, many people in the book did survive, “including my comrade Artem”, he said, nodding toward a young man in a wheelchair sitting in the front row. The audience responded with lengthy applause in appreciation of the two young men for their sacrifice – and for coming home alive.

Memories from the war

Budko agreed to an interview the next day to talk about what led him to fight in the war and his memories from that time. After a visit to Paris’s Carnavalet Museum, with its elaborate displays dedicated to the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, the young man in a black hoodie settled at a kebab restaurant on the Rue des Rosiers, an eclectic street in the Marais neighbourhood of central Paris. He was accompanied by his editor and a lively group of young Ukrainians who, judging by their level of excitement, appeared to be visiting the French capital for the first time.

Sitting with his back against the wall, a bit apart from the group, Budko suddenly seemed less like a comedian and more like a wise old man. “I wrote this book for civilians and for people who had never seen war, so they could understand what happens on the front lines,” he said. 

Through his interpreter, Budko said he was in Kyiv when the war began on February 24, 2022. “I signed up as a volunteer because I wanted to defend my country from the enemy and help it gain independence,” he said.

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Although he had never held a weapon before in his life, he joined the Carpathian Sich 49th Infantry Battalion, a battalion of the Ukrainian Ground Forces established in May 2022. After some training and taking part in the defence of the capital Kyiv, Budko was deployed to northeastern Ukraine near Izium.

Most people in the battalion were volunteers who accepted the consequences of their choice, remembered Budko. “Of course Bakhmut and Avdiivka exist (two besieged cities known for scenes of the most ferocious violence of the war), but the life of a soldier is not only about fighting,” he added.

Budko recalled one moment when he ate a slice of foie gras for breakfast: “For me, it was a sign I was still alive,” he said. Despite being trained as killing machines, Budko said he and his fellow volunteers continued civilian life to the best of their ability, preparing traditional meals like borscht, a red beetroot soup, and taking the time to enjoy them with each other. This also meant saving abandoned cats and dogs and evacuating elderly people from zones that had become too perilous for them to stay.

An invincible optimism

From the trenches, the soldiers watched Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speeches and followed news reports on military support from abroad. “We were interested in how the war was going to end, but of course the weapons situation was important too, because without weapons it was going to be impossible to end the war,” said Budko. “Despite the many weapons given, it was never enough.”

Writing the book also allowed Budko to relive some of the moments from “one of the best times of my life”, he said. The adventure, the camaraderie and the moments of peace, such as when he would lie down on the ground with a book, seem to have left Budko with a sense of nostalgia devoid of any bitterness. But today he preferred not to talk about the day he suffered the injury that caused him to lose both legs: “There is no trauma, but I’ve told the story too many times.”

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Budko said he has always been endowed with an invincible optimism. He said what changed after the injury is that he “became braver and more open to people”.

Thinking back to his time in the service, the young man recalled the discovery of a small kobzar (a Ukrainian bard) figurine he made one day while digging trenches in the Kharkiv region. The statue was more confirmation that the lands were Ukrainian, he said, because kobzars never existed in Russia. It further convinced him of his role in preserving Ukrainian territorial integrity.

Ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Budko likened the war to a “David against Goliath” struggle and voiced a warning about the existential nature of the threat: “The less support Ukraine gets, the closer the enemy gets to other European countries.”

With this in mind, his goal today is to “contribute to the Western population’s understanding of the war, and encourage them to support us so that they can help obtain a Ukrainian victory as soon as possible”.

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Standing charges on energy bills rise AGAIN despite gas and electricity prices falling

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  •  The cost of energy is dropping, but standing charges keep going up
  •  The average home will pay £219 a year in these daily fees from April

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Millions of households will see their daily electricity standing charges rise to a record £219 a year from April – despite overall energy bills falling.

The problem of soaring standing charges is a sore point for many households, as these charges cannot be avoided by cutting down on gas and electricity used.

Yesterday, energy regulator Ofgem confirmed the average household energy bill will soon fall by £238 to £1,690 due to a cut to the £1,928-a-year price cap from 1 April.

Falling: The energy price cap may be falling, but standing charges continue to rise

Falling: The energy price cap may be falling, but standing charges continue to rise

Falling: The energy price cap may be falling, but standing charges continue to rise 

The current price cap sets the energy bills paid by more than 80 per cent of UK homes, though the exact amount varies depending on gas and electricity use.

Energy bills are made up of two parts – unit rates, which pay for gas and electricity used, and standing charges, which are paid regardless of how much energy is used.

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The overall decrease in the average price-capped energy bill conceals the fact that while unit rates are falling, standing charges continue their steep rise.

The average electricity unit rate is falling 14.39 per cent, from an average 28.62p per kilowatt hour (kWh) now to 24.5p per kWh from 1 April.

But the electricity standing charge is rising by 12.6 per cent in the same time, from 53.35p a day now to 60.1p in April.

For gas, the typical 7.42p per kWh unit rate is falling 18.5 per cent to 6.04p from April. The average gas standing charge of 29.6p a day is rising 6 per cent to 31.43p from April.

In the summer of 2021 the typical electricity standing charge was 25p a day, and 27p for gas – meaning these charges will have risen 219 per cent and 16.4 per cent respectively by April.

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Ballooning: The cost of energy standing charges has rocketed in the past three years

Ballooning: The cost of energy standing charges has rocketed in the past three years

Ballooning: The cost of energy standing charges has rocketed in the past three years

Why have electricity standing charges gone up?

Because energy firms are passing on costs through daily fixed standing charges, and not through unit rates.

Some of this is due to Ofgem rules, such as its demand that energy firms recover certain costs through standing charges, such as the cost of network costs such as maintaining electricity cables.

Another big reason for electricity standing charges rising so fast is that the cost of failed energy firms is mostly paid for through standing charges.

There are also other, less financially significant factors, such as government policy costs and the smart meter rollout. The full breakdown is below: 

Where it goes: According to Ofgem, the majority of standing charges goes to 'customer service' and 'network costs'

Where it goes: According to Ofgem, the majority of standing charges goes to 'customer service' and 'network costs'

Where it goes: According to Ofgem, the majority of standing charges goes to ‘customer service’ and ‘network costs’

Why have gas standing charges risen far less?

Simply because households using gas pay for things like failed suppliers and network costs through unit rates and not standing charges.

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What is the future for standing charges?

The most trustworthy predictions for the future of standing charges come from analysts at Cornwall Insight, which accurately predicts changes to the price cap.

Cornwall Insight believes the electricity standing charge will fall slightly to 58p in July and then rise again to 60p in October.

For gas, Cornwall Insight thinks standing charges will fall to 30p in July then increase slightly to 31p in October.

Ofgem said that while increasing network costs has contributed to the rise in standing charges it is currently reviewing more than 40,000 responses to its call for input over the charges that it asked for in November 2023.

Why do standing charges vary? 

Standing charges vary depending on several factors, including where you live and what sort of meter you have.

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Previous analysis by This is Money found that homes in Liverpool have the highest overall standing charges, at a combined £362 a year.

Meanwhile, households in London pay the lowest, at an average of £276 for gas and electricity.

Households with a smart meter pay less than those with pre-payment or standard energy meters.

It is even possible to get an energy tariff with no standing charge at all, though these are rare.

These also tend to be just as expensive as standard deals as unit rates will be higher.

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What to do if you are struggling with energy bills 

Just one in five (18 per cent) of us are putting the central heating on as much as we need to, according to research by survey firm YouGov late last year. Even worse, 15 per cent of people cannot afford to heat their properties at all.

If you can’t afford your energy bills, regulator Ofgem has three steps to follow.

1) Speak to your energy firm – it may set up a payment plan, give you a hardship grant or give you more time to pay

2) See what help is out there – in addition to energy firms’ schemes and grants, the Government has several cost of living payments you might qualify for. Citizens Advice has a full list 

3) Get proper advice – speak to an organisation such as the Money Advice Service, National Debtline or StepChange  

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International

From ‘carparked’ to ‘cabbaged’: Britons have over 500 words for ‘drunk’ – so, what’s your favourite?

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  • Britons have 546 different words for ‘drunk’ according to researchers
  • Almost any word can be used to mean drunk as long as it ends with an ‘-ed’ 

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If you’ve ever felt ‘gazeboed’, ‘carparked’ or completely ‘cabbaged’ after a night out, this may come as no surprise.

Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a ‘drunkonym’ – a synonym for intoxicated – simply by adding ‘ed’ at the end.

The study found we have an astonishing 546 words that are formally defined as meaning drunk, including ‘trolleyed’, ‘hammered’, ‘wellied’ and ‘steampigged’.

It confirms a theory first suggested by comedian Michael McIntyre, who said Britons could understand any word as meaning drunk if it is preceded by ‘I got completely…’

Professor Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer, of Chemnitz University in Germany, believes it may be due to Britain’s deeply-rooted culture of social drinking and Monty Python-style absurdist humour.

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Researchers have found that Britons have 546 words for drunk and  that almost any word can be used  so long as it ends with an '-ed' (stock image)

Researchers have found that Britons have 546 words for drunk and  that almost any word can be used  so long as it ends with an '-ed' (stock image)

Researchers have found that Britons have 546 words for drunk and  that almost any word can be used  so long as it ends with an ‘-ed’ (stock image)

She said: ‘In English, there’s an extremely large number of words that can mean drunk, and more can be formed simply by adding ‘ed’ to the end.

‘It means pretty much any word in Britain can inherit the meaning “drunk” automatically from the context.

‘This humorous modifying of words is only possible because of the way sentences are constructed in English, and because the British really enjoy witty wordplay. For example, it would not work in German.’

She said the funny effect of drunkonyms is often achieved through their indirectness, adding: ‘For example, “gazeboed” and “carparked” are funny because there is no direct relation between the base word and the meaning “drunk”.’

Prof Sanchez-Stockhammer said indirectness is also present in other types of playful language, such as Cockney rhyming slang, which includes drunkonyms like ‘Brahms’ and ‘Schindler’s’ – short for ‘Brahms and Liszt’ and ‘Schindler’s list’, both of which rhyme with ‘pi**ed’.

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If you've ever felt 'gazeboed', 'carparked' or completely 'cabbaged' after a night out, this may come as no surprise. Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a 'drunkonym' – a synonym for intoxicated – simply by adding 'ed' at the end (stock image)

If you've ever felt 'gazeboed', 'carparked' or completely 'cabbaged' after a night out, this may come as no surprise. Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a 'drunkonym' – a synonym for intoxicated – simply by adding 'ed' at the end (stock image)

If you’ve ever felt ‘gazeboed’, ‘carparked’ or completely ‘cabbaged’ after a night out, this may come as no surprise. Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a ‘drunkonym’ – a synonym for intoxicated – simply by adding ‘ed’ at the end (stock image) 

She added: ‘We studied for a year in Great Britain and witnessed British culture first-hand. Drunkonyms fit in well with the humourous British outlook on drinking and life in general.’

The study, published in the Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association, found that English speakers regularly use a range of alternative words for ‘drunk’.

By the time Britons reach adulthood, most will have experienced so many different drunkonyms that it allows them to recognise even unknown words ending in ‘ed’ as meaning ‘drunk’ in many contexts.

Even though excessive alcohol consumption may come with negative consequences, Britons commonly discuss drunkenness in a light-hearted way, the researchers added.

Britain’s favourite words for ‘drunk’ 

Researchers have found that Britons have over 500 different word that we can use to mean ‘drunk.

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They discovered that almost any word can be used to mean drunk so long as it ends in ‘-ed’ and follows an adverb like ‘very’, ‘totaly’, or ‘absolutley’

For example: ‘I was totally gazeboed last night’.

Here are some of the most common British words for ‘drunk’: 

  • Bladdered
  • Langered
  • Legless
  • Mashed
  • Mullered 
  • Pickled
  • Trashed
  • Bevvied 
  • Cabbaged
  • Fuddled
  • Hammered 
  • Paralytic 
  • Ossified 
  • P****d
  • Rat-a***d
  • Sozled 
  • Well-oiled 
  • Cottled
  • Clobbered
  • Lambed 
  • Leathered
  • Pixilated
  • Schnockered
  • Spannered 
  • Squiffed 

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International

Health bosses admit physician associates have ‘illegally’ prescribed drugs to NHS patients

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  • PAs had access to electronic prescribing system for seven months due to IT error

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Physician associates have ‘illegally’ prescribed drugs to patients at NHS hospitals, health bosses have admitted.

Details released under Freedom of Information laws show that support staff at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust prescribed medications including opiates and sedatives on 22 occasions.

According to the trust, PAs were given access to the electronic prescribing system for seven months due to an IT error.

PAs are healthcare workers who only have two years of training, rather than five years of medical school. They are supposed to assist doctors by carrying out basic clinical tasks and have no legal right to prescribe drugs.

Their role in the NHS has become increasingly contentious, with critics arguing their training is insufficient and could put patients at risk.

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Details released under Freedom of Information laws show that support staff at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust prescribed medications including opiates and sedatives on 22 occasions (Stock Photo)

Details released under Freedom of Information laws show that support staff at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust prescribed medications including opiates and sedatives on 22 occasions (Stock Photo)

Details released under Freedom of Information laws show that support staff at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust prescribed medications including opiates and sedatives on 22 occasions (Stock Photo)

According to the trust, physician associates were given access to the electronic prescribing system for seven months due to an IT error (Stock Photo)

According to the trust, physician associates were given access to the electronic prescribing system for seven months due to an IT error (Stock Photo)

According to the trust, physician associates were given access to the electronic prescribing system for seven months due to an IT error (Stock Photo)

The revelation of illegal prescribing was made in response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by a member of the public and seen by the Telegraph.

The hospital trust has refused to say if any PAs who prescribed the drugs without legal authorisation had lost their jobs as a result.

In nearly all circumstances, it is a criminal offence for anyone other than a doctor, dentist, pharmacist or vet to supply controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The Telegraph said it understands that the trust has not referred any of the PAs involved in this incident to West Yorkshire Police.

Between July 2023 and January this year, PAs at the trust – which runs two hospitals – prescribed controlled medications to patients including the opiate painkillers oxycodone and codeine.

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They also prescribed the sedatives lorazepam, diazepam and midazolam – the latter of which is often used in end-of-life care.

The medications are classed as ‘controlled’ by the Government because of their risk of harm and addiction.

Calderdale and Huddersfield said that ‘a hard control has now been implemented to prevent any further PA prescribing incidents’ and insisted that no patients had been harmed.

On Monday, peers will debate a motion that could derail government plans to give the General Medical Council power to regulate PAs and their training.

The British Medical Association – the doctors’ union – wants the draft legislation to be amended so that the Health and Care Professions Council have oversight of PAs instead of the GMC.

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It claims licensing doctors and non-doctors together ‘increases the risk of patients mistakenly believing PA care equals doctor expertise’.

Solicitor Sean Caulfield at Hodge Jones & Allen said: ‘If a physician associate has innocently carried out acts of supplying controlled drugs, which they were not authorised to do, it might not be in the public interest to prosecute them.

The British Medical Association - the doctors' union - wants the draft legislation to be amended so that the Health and Care Professions Council have oversight of PAs instead of the GMC (pictured: BMA headquarters in London)

The British Medical Association - the doctors' union - wants the draft legislation to be amended so that the Health and Care Professions Council have oversight of PAs instead of the GMC (pictured: BMA headquarters in London)

The British Medical Association – the doctors’ union – wants the draft legislation to be amended so that the Health and Care Professions Council have oversight of PAs instead of the GMC (pictured: BMA headquarters in London)

‘However, if anyone, physician associate or otherwise, intended to supply or did supply controlled drugs, knowing it would be illegal, that would be different.

‘In those circumstances, the Crown Prosecution Service may think it is in the public interest to prosecute.’ Calderdale and Huddersfield stressed that their PAs, who work in medicine, surgery and accident and emergency, ‘are instructed that they are not legally able to prescribe’.

West Yorkshire Police said it would work with trusts ‘to understand if criminal offences have been committed’, if made aware of any concerns, and added that all reports are ‘assessed according to threat, risk and harm’.

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International

$195million NBA megastar is humbled by the success of his father who has turned around the fortunes of a regional Australian basketball side

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NBA superstar Jayson Tatum has recently signed a massive $195million contract extension with the Boston Celtics but he remains humble, speaking glowingly about the success of his father in the Australian NBL.

Wollongong, a regional city with a population of about 300,000 people an hour south of Sydney, is a long way from the bright lights of the NBA.

It is where Justin Tatum calls home, creating his own basketball legacy in a region without the big paycheques of the NBA in a humble gym called the ‘Sandpit’ that usually only seats about 4000 loyal Illawarra Hawks fans.

While his son chases an NBA championship ring and rakes in eye-watering amounts of money, Justin started the year for a side struggling to make ends meet as an assistant coach.

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The Hawks were running stone, motherless last four months ago and their coach Jacob Jackomas was unceremoniously sacked.

Justin Tatum is a rookie coach in the Australian NBL while his son Jayson is an NBA superstar with the Boston Celtics

Justin Tatum is a rookie coach in the Australian NBL while his son Jayson is an NBA superstar with the Boston Celtics

Justin Tatum is a rookie coach in the Australian NBL while his son Jayson is an NBA superstar with the Boston Celtics

The father and son have always enjoyed a tight relationship, pictured when Jayson was drafted to the NBA in 2017

The father and son have always enjoyed a tight relationship, pictured when Jayson was drafted to the NBA in 2017

The father and son have always enjoyed a tight relationship, pictured when Jayson was drafted to the NBA in 2017

Since then Tatum has turned the ship around in a big way, taking the Hawks all the way to the NBL playoffs, fourth spot on the ladder, a real chance at a championship while being nominated for Coach of the Year honours.

Tatum, in his first professional head-coaching job, inherited a team that had won only two of its first nine games but finished the season in fourth place on the ladder.

The Hawks have posted a 12-7 record under Tatum and will face Tasmania JackJumpers in a fairytale finals clash on Wednesday.

While his hard work at the regional Australian club pales in comparison to what his son is achieving at Boston, Jayson was genuinely humbled when asked about his father’s season at Wollongong.

‘I got to talk to him right before the [NBA All-Star] game started, you know the time difference is a little crazy,’ Jayson said.

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‘He’s a finalist for Coach of the Year, started off as an assistant coach and you know, the head coach got let go halfway through the season.

‘They were in like the 10th or 11th seed and now he kind of turned it all around. They’re in the fourth seed going into the playoffs.

‘Extremely, obviously, happy for him. Happy for what he has been able to do over there and kind of turn that organisation around.’

Tatum was thrown in the deep end at the Illawarra Hawks when the head coach was sacked after a horror start to the season

Tatum was thrown in the deep end at the Illawarra Hawks when the head coach was sacked after a horror start to the season

Tatum was thrown in the deep end at the Illawarra Hawks when the head coach was sacked after a horror start to the season

Tatum has since steered the Hawks into the NBL finals, been nominated for Coach of the Year and has earned a three-year contact extension

Tatum has since steered the Hawks into the NBL finals, been nominated for Coach of the Year and has earned a three-year contact extension

Tatum has since steered the Hawks into the NBL finals, been nominated for Coach of the Year and has earned a three-year contact extension

And Jayson said his father had no intentions of returning home to the United States permanently anytime soon. 

‘He loves it, he loves it over there, he loves being in Australia,’ he said.

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‘He says the games are extremely competitive, the atmosphere is crazy, so hopefully they can continue and go all the way.

‘It’s been great to see him turn that thing around and have a lot of success over there.’

In a boost for the Hawks, Justin Tatum has signed a three-year extension to remain as head coach.

‘I am grateful to the team, my assistant coaches and the management team at the Illawarra Hawks who have trusted in me since I took over in November,’ he said.

Tatum will continue weaponising Illawarra’s underdog status to inspire his players on their finals tilt.

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‘People just don’t give us the respect that we worked for – I’m not going to say (the respect) we deserve, we worked for this,’ he told AAP.

‘We were at the bottom and we figured out a way for the guys who were all on different pages, to find a way to fix it and be one of the top four teams.

‘We still feel slighted. But at the end of the day we’re OK with that because we have our self-respect.’

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Mason Greenwood ‘has a clear conscience and is crazy about staying ANOTHER YEAR’ at Getafe, claims their club president – after Sir Jim Ratcliffe opened the door over loanee’s return to Man United at the end of the season

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  • Mason Greenwood was arrested on suspicion of attempted rape in 2022 
  • Charges were dropped last year, but he left Man United on loan in September 
  • While Pep Guardiola is at Manchester City, it’s going to be difficult for anybody to knock them off their perch – Listen to the It’s All Kicking Off podcast 

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Getafe president Angel Torres has insisted that Mason Greenwood would favour staying at the LaLiga outfit beyond the end of his season-long loan from Manchester United. 

The England striker was suspended in January 2022 after he was arrested on suspicion of raping and assaulting a woman.

Greenwood was subsequently charged with a number of offences which were then dropped – and he was sent to Getafe on loan until the end of the season in September following a United probe into his behaviour. He has always denied any wrongdoing. 

It had been understood that academy product Greenwood would not play for United again. However, upon completing his £1.3billion minority investment in the Manchester club, Sir Jim Ratciffe appeared to open the door to a return, saying that a ‘fresh decision’ will need to be made. 

Torres, though, has remained optimistic of keeping hold of the 22-year-old beyond this term and even claimed the Greenwood would prefer to stay at the club. 

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Getafe president Angel Torres believes that Mason Greenwood is keen to stay at the club

Getafe president Angel Torres believes that Mason Greenwood is keen to stay at the club

Getafe president Angel Torres believes that Mason Greenwood is keen to stay at the club 

The 22-year-old has scored five goals and registered five assists in 21 league games this term

The 22-year-old has scored five goals and registered five assists in 21 league games this term

The 22-year-old has scored five goals and registered five assists in 21 league games this term

He has a clear conscience,’ Torres told Spanish radio station Cope. ‘He is very comfortable and crazy about staying another year.

‘It’s a matter that they [United] have to decide. There is new ownership. They have to decide. In Spain, he has a market but they [Barcelona] have money. Barca’s way of playing would suit him well but it depends on Manchester United. If it’s true, he’ll tell me.’

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Greenwood has been impressive in spurts for Jose Bordalas’ side, who sit 10th in LaLiga. He has five goals and five assists from 21 league outings this term. 

Sir Jim Ratcliffe appeared to open the door to Greenwood's return to the club in his comments this week

Sir Jim Ratcliffe appeared to open the door to Greenwood's return to the club in his comments this week

Sir Jim Ratcliffe appeared to open the door to Greenwood’s return to the club in his comments this week

Ratcliffe’s comments earlier this week came as some surprise, though the INEOS chief stressed that he would not specifically talk about the attacker’s case, rather he highlighted the importance of coming to a decision that honoured the ‘values of the club’.

‘We need to look at facts, judge fairly and take into consideration what the values of the club are.’ Ratcliffe told the BBC. ‘Then we come out of that with a decision. It is not appropriate for me to comment on Mason Greenwood.’

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