‘Idolised’ football coach guilty of abuse

Bob HigginsImage copyright
Solent News & Photo Agency

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Bob Higgins had denied molesting 24 boys

A former youth football coach who held “supreme power” over the futures of budding players has been found guilty of indecently assaulting boys.

Bob Higgins sexually touched and groped 24 victims, most of them trainees at Southampton FC and Peterborough United, between 1971 and 1996.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard his status as a “God-like” figure enabled his decades-long campaign of abuse.

A jury found him guilty of 45 counts of indecent assault.

Higgins’ conviction will allow a Football Association (FA) review into child sex abuse allegations to conclude its investigations, a spokesman said.

The independent review, led by Clive Sheldon QC, would continue working to establish what the clubs and the FA knew about Higgins.

During Higgins’ trial, prosecutors told the court the defendant was “idolised” by trainees, who viewed him as a mentor and father figure.

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Media captionEx-footballer Dean Radford said trainees treated Bob Higgins like “god”

Victims said they were abused during post-exercise soapy massages, in Higgins’ car while he played love songs on the stereo and at his home where he cuddled with boys on his sofa

Adam Feest QC said Higgins had shown a “systematic and all-pervasive pattern of grooming behaviour” in gaining the trust of the boys and of their parents.

‘Keep quiet or risk losing everything’

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During his time as a coach, Bob Higgins worked with young footballers who would go on to become national heroes and household names.

But others were not so fortunate.

Some were haunted by their ordeals, and gave up on football entirely.

Such was Higgins hold over those he abused, many felt unable to say anything, even to close family members, for up to 30 years.

Read more: The ‘star-maker’ who abused young footballers

The allegations arose after the NSPCC set up a dedicated helpline for people who had encountered childhood abuse within football.

It was launched after a number of former footballers, including Billy Seymour, spoke on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme in November 2016.

Higgins faced trial last year, but a retrial was ordered after jurors failed to reach a verdict on all but one count of indecent assault.

Image caption

Victim Billy Seymour died in a car crash in January

Mr Seymour, a Southampton youth player who went on to play for Coventry City and Millwall, waived his right to anonymity to speak publicly.

He gave evidence at last year’s trial but was killed in a car crash in January before he could give evidence at the retrial.

‘Arrogance and lies’

Quiet sobbing from the packed public gallery became audible as guilty verdicts were returned on all six counts relating to Mr Seymour.

Higgins showed no emotion as the jury returned verdicts after more than 41 hours of deliberations.

In a joint statement issued through police, his victims said: “Higgins’s arrogance and lies have finally caught up with him.

“When Bob Higgins returned to court eight weeks ago, he gave a clear message to us all with his continued refusal to accept responsibility for what he did to us as children. However, that message made us all stronger and more determined.

“At last, after all these years, we can finally get a sense of closure and try to move on from this nightmare.”

‘It doesn’t disappear’

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PA

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Greg Llewellyn waived his right to anonymity following the end of the trial

At Higgins’ earlier trial, the single guilty count related to former Southampton junior player Greg Llewellyn.

He was abused in the defendant’s car around the time of his 14th birthday on their way to a training session.

He said he had an “overwhelming sense of anger” afterwards and had punched Higgins during the practice.

Now aged 50, he said the ordeal had “caused me many difficulties in relationships, marriage, none of those positive.”

“It doesn’t disappear because there are always circumstances or scenarios that remind you of what happened,” he said.

Although responsibility for the abuse lies with Higgins, Mr Llewellyn said Southampton FC could have done more to protect the young players.

He said the coach’s “total carte blanche control” allowed him to do things “that simply wouldn’t happen today”.

“I can’t hold the club responsible but you have to point the finger and there was some negligence there but there was only one perpetrator,” he said.

Det Ch Insp Dave Brown, of Hampshire Police, said Higgins’ victims suffered “horrendous experiences” at the hands of a “predatory paedophile”

“He thrived on controlling and manipulating his victims and knowing that he held the career prospects of many young men in his hands.” he said

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBob Higgins “did not speak a single word” during 15 hours of interviews, police said

Police believe there could be more victims, who Det Ch Insp Brown urged to come forward.

Higgins is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Southampton FC said it offered its “sympathy and support to any player who suffered any kind of abuse or harm while under our care”.

A statement said: “We have been working closely with the police, the FA and the Sheldon review for nearly three years to help to uncover the truth.

“While the offences cited are historic, the club is committed to constantly reviewing our current safeguarding provision to raise standards.”

His is the latest in a string of high-profile prosecutions of former football coaches.

The FA also said its review was also awaiting the outcome of further investigations into allegations of abuse by Barry Bennell.

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Trump administration announces $16 billion in aid to farmers impacted by trade war

The Trump administration unveiled a $16 billion aid package for farmers hurt by the ongoing trade war with China, the second such deal intended to help limit the losses from Chinese tariffs on American goods.

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The assistance is designed to offset the estimated impact to American farmers from Chinese tariffs on American goods levied in retaliation for tariffs against Chinese products.

Similar to the aid package announced last year, farmers can apply for direct payments for crops impacted by the tariffs and USDA will buy surplus products like milk and meat to distribute to food banks around the country. USDA says it will provide $14.5 billion in direct payments calculated based on the estimated impact to each country, as well as spend $1.4 billion to purchase goods and $100 million to develop other markets for U.S. goods.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the money will come from tariffs against Chinese goods that go into the Treasury and then back into programs to distribute the money to farmers.

“China is going to pay for these this 16 billion dollars through tariffs coming in a transfer coming in, and we are doing again through the (Civilian Conservation Corps) program which was authorized as we used last year,” Perdue said on Fox Business on Thursday morning. “But actually the tariff money that we are receiving the revenue we are receiving is what the president has intended to fund, the farmers who are being hurt by retaliatory tariffs.”

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But countries don’t directly pay tariffs, economists say it’s more complicated and that the additional cost is more likely to be paid by American companies or consumers.

The funds will ultimately come from the taxpayers because it is federal money that is being used for the bailouts, said Bill Reinsch, the Scholl Chair and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The reality becomes very very complicated, do the Chinese pay some of the tariff? Yes, probably in specific cases. Do they pay most of it? No, the consumer pays most of it ultimately,” Reinsch said.

Perdue said China is intentionally trying to hurt farmers more because they represent Trump’s political base, saying China thinks they would get a more favorable deal if Trump was out of office.

Reinsch said that’s normal in a trade war where each country wants to hurt the other politically as well as economically.

“Trump has a bigger problem than most because a lot of their suffering right now is directly and clearly related to his policies, so its kind of on him to deal with that,” he told ABC News.

Groups that represent farmers like the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers’ Union said that while they appreciate the assistance for farmers, it’s a short-term solution and they would rather have a long-term trade deal with China.

PHOTO: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue meets the press in Niigata, northwest of Tokyo, on May 11, 2019. Kyodo News via Getty Images

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue meets the press in Niigata, northwest of Tokyo, on May 11, 2019.

President Trump said on Monday he wanted an aid package that would help farmers do well and “make the same kind of money,” though USDA said the aid is intended more to help with additional costs such as storing excess product rather than make up for lost revenue.

“We will ensure our farmers get the relief they need and very, very quickly – good time to be a farmer, going to make sure of that,” Trump said. “Today I’m announcing I have directed secretary Perdue to provide $16 billion in assistance to farmers and ranchers.”

He added, “the $16 billion of funds will keep our farms thriving and make clear that no country has a veto on America’s economic and national security.”

Trump also brought up changes in regulations that he says will help farmers, including expanding ethanol use and rolling back the clean water rule known as the Waters of the United States, which he has frequently said put too much of a burden on farmers. He also touted renegotiated trade deals with Canada and Mexico he said would better benefit farmers.

This would be the second time the Trump administration has provided aid to mitigate the impact to farmers losing money because of the escalating trade war with China.

In 2018, the administration announced it would provide up to $12 billion in aid for farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs from China through direct payments and purchasing billions of dollars of goods.

Trump is scheduled to speak about the aid package at the White House on Thursday afternoon.

ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps and Sophie Turner contributed to this report.

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This is why self-driving cars suck at making unprotected left turns

Human drivers suck at left-hand turns, too.
Human drivers suck at left-hand turns, too.

Image: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Human or robot driver, left-hand turns in a car are tough. Unprotected turns? Even harder.

Cruise, the self-driving car company backed by General Motors, put out a video Thursday showing its self-driving electric Bolts making left turns all over San Francisco’s busy streets. The company says it makes 1,400 unprotected left turns every 24 hours.

For an autonomous car company it seems like this shouldn’t be hailed as such an achievement, but it is. Waymo, the Google self-driving car spinoff company, notoriously struggled in Phoenix to turn left during testing on public roads. Its Chrysler Pacifica minivans were just too timid to make it through the oncoming traffic. People have noted that the robo-taxis have improved in those situations.

In an emailed statement, Cruise president and CTO Kyle Vogt said, “In an unpredictable driving environment like SF, no two unprotected left-turns are alike. By safely executing 1,400 regularly, we generate enough data for our engineers to analyze and incorporate learnings into code they develop for other difficult maneuvers.” 

So while this is an important step for Cruise in its goal of launching a fleet of robo-taxis in San Francisco by the end of the year, it’s also a good reminder about the limits of autonomous vehicles.

Bob Leigh, senior market development director of autonomous systems at RTI, works with 40 different companies building autonomous vehicles of some sort: passenger vehicles, flying cars, hyperloops, and more. In a phone call Thursday he started off explaining that left-hand turns are just hard. Period.

Human drivers in the U.S. crash 10 times more making left-hand turns than right-hand turns. But the machines should be able to handle judging the risk, details, and surroundings required to successfully turn left. You can plug in a risk algorithm and have the car system scan for pedestrians,  the timing of oncoming traffic, and more. And yet, the machines still struggle with the maneuver. 

Ultimately it comes down to this: turning left on American roads is a very human, social move. It’s almost a negotiation, Leigh says. Drivers edge out into the lane, trying to assert themselves through. 

“A right-hand turn is a consistent maneuver,” Leigh explained. “A left-hand turn is a lot of variability.”

There’s pedestrians, oncoming traffic, and small gestures and nudges drivers make that are hard for a machine to emulate. It takes a lot of training, data, simulations, and iteration to teach an autonomous vehicle to balance a reckless, dangerous move barreling across oncoming traffic and staying timid and conservative and waiting for 10 minutes just to turn left. 

“That’s all communication,” Leigh said. And we know social interaction is not self-driving cars’ strongest suit – it’s a computer, after all. Cruise’s video shows it’s mastering what’s considered one of the hardest parts of autonomous driving in the U.S. “You can show a level of maturity,” Leigh said.

After all, we can’t all be like UPS, making only right-hand turns.

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Fire Is Motion Are So Much More Than A Band With ‘Too Many’ Guitarists

A man near the bar has shouted, “Let me buy you a drink!” at the band onstage. If you’ve been to shows at smaller venues, you’ve heard that rowdy but passionate tone before. The singer, 28-year-old bearded and ball-capped Adrian Amador, smiles and replies that he’s driving later, but maybe one of the other three guitarists in his band, Fire Is Motion, could indulge the offer.

Hours later, as Amador hauls an amp down the street after the show, a friend calls back to the moment and they share a laugh. Then the friend, who Amador will eventually offer a ride back to New Jersey in the band’s crowded van, illuminates something Amador hadn’t realized at the time: “That was a T-Pain reference.”

Fire Is Motion do not make music that would be mistaken for T-Pain‘s. That night, at a late-April gig at Elsewhere’s Zone One in Brooklyn, they played with four guitarists, but some nights they have five. The band’s Twitter bio reads simply “band with too many guitarists.” It’s a running joke Amador has immortalized online; one might even call it Fire Is Motion’s #brand. It’s also the only feasible method to adequately replicate live what their lean recorded catalog reveals: yearning, twinkly songs that fit snugly within contemporary emo revivalism. These are lush, densely atmospheric songs that chase the cosmos.

One of them just happens to feature Amador singing with Auto-Tune.

Amador conceived that song, “Day 2,” during a weeklong writing exercise in 2014. But while the sparse, percussion-less original version remains purposely blurry, like an old smudged Polaroid, the live “Day 2” is photoshopped to perfection. Fire Is Motion play the new version, complete with an added funky groove and those glitchy, glimmering vocals, at nearly every show. This makes sense, as it’s a banger. “Day 2” also has the distinction of being the exact point in their set when they begin upending expectations of what a five-guitar band might actually sound like.

“We were starting to play some shows, but our sets were always pretty short at the time, probably like 15 minutes. At band practice one day I was kind of just like, it would be cool if we played one of these songs that’s just totally different,” Amador explained before the show. “Our friend was filling in at a couple shows, playing drums, and he had a pedal that kind of did the Auto-Tune thing. We were just like, oh, that’s really funny. Ever since then, we were just like, we’re always going to do this now.”

The band’s origin story hews a lot closer to the svelte “Day 2” demo than its dynamic stage version. In 2011, angling to get a song on a music blog, Amador took an acoustic guitar and a MacBook up to the attic of his parents’ house and recorded the first-ever Fire Is Motion song, “Smile, It Makes This Easier.” It was also the first song Amador, then in his early 20s, ever wrote by himself. “The goal was for me first to just write and record a song where I sang on it, and then the other goal was to just send it to them and see what would happen,” he said.

It worked. He chose a lyric from a Cap’n Jazz song and created Fire Is Motion’s Bandcamp page. He even got fan mail asking about his recording set-up, which made him laugh. “He’s like, ‘It sounds like you’re playing guitar in a room.’ I was like, I literally played guitar in a room, so this is perfect.” And then? “I just stopped doing anything with it until like 2013.”

But Amador kept playing, mostly in local bands in Union and nearby Elizabeth, including with his longtime friend Avery Salermo. She’d been writing music since age 13 as an outlet for her turbulent upbringing, something she calls “a rough situation.” “[Family members] were just very much trying to influence me to be like this one thing or whatever, and I’m just like, I don’t really want to be a church-going, feminine person. This is annoying. I hate this,” she said. Instead, she channeled her discontent into the spunky indie rock of her band Strawberry Jam, which Amador heard about through a friend.

“I checked it out. I was just like, ‘Who is this person?’ It was so awesome,” he said. Salermo, who perhaps hadn’t ever heard him lay it out like this before, smiled. “Oh, that’s sick,” she said.

Emily Dubin

Though they’ve known each other for a decade, Salermo, 26, didn’t officially join Fire Is Motion until 2015. It takes a few tries to lock in the exact year; Amador likens his explanation of the band’s history to a Quentin Tarantino narrative — nonlinear and sprawling. At certain points, he pauses to recall which iteration of the band he’s referring to (their Facebook page lists 12 additional members who’ve contributed through the years, as well as “you”).

When Amador finally revisited Fire Is Motion and sought to expand it, he needed a second creative brain. He found it in Salermo. The two became Fire Is Motion’s twin pillars, with Adamo as the central creative force and Salermo as his essential editor. Both sing and play guitar. Salermo occasionally takes lead vocals both by design (“Maybe I can be courageously afraid,” she offers solo on set opener “Yesterday’s Coffee“), and out of necessity, like when Amador suffered an unexpected acid reflux flare-up before a show. “Working together for as long as we have, I have no shame just being extremely straightforward with him,” she said. “I really just don’t sugar-coat it.”

You can hear it on Fire Is Motion’s excellent but too brief 2017 EP, Still, I Try, the culmination of years of hard work. Translating that live, though, requires some tact. This is where the many guitarists come in. “As I started finishing or trying to finish the songs, I kind of little by little assembled more people,” Amador explained. “I played a show by myself and I was like, ‘This sucks. I wish Avery was in the band.’ And then I played a show where I was the only guitarist, which is weird, and then one bass player and a drummer. I was like, ‘This is still not as cool.’”

Eventually he found another guitar player, then another — and the cycle continued despite logistical hiccups. Amador recalled a sound engineer at a small New York venue recoiling at their stage setup: “He’s just like, ‘I don’t even have enough mics to do that!’” Despite what the mere sight of 24 strings may evoke, Fire Is Motion venture far from Shred City, U.S.A. acts like Diarrhea Planet, aiming for the grandeur of Amador’s heroes in Broken Social Scene. (“He has to say it at least twice in every interview,” Salermo quipped.) Amador obsesses over textures and moods, and he feels best about songs that work both acoustically (like the band’s recent NPR Tiny Desk Contest submission) and bombastically (the same song cranked to 11).

It’s been 18 months since Still, I Try‘s release; considering the years it took to distill its five songs into their finished forms, new Fire Is Motion material may still be quite a while away. But in the meantime, they keep gigging, sharing the stage with bigger bands like Wild Pink and Ratboys, and learning what they can.

“We just don’t stop getting excited about stuff, whether it’s a small thing or a big thing. The friends that we made along the way — it’s kind of just always how the band functions. We’re going to be friends with whoever, really,” he said. Not missing a chance to bring back the bit, he continued: “If you want to play guitar in our band, we’re down.”

Salermo offered a quick clarification: “They’re welcome to audition.”

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Nancy Pelosi: Impeachment of Donald Trump Is ‘Very Divisive’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said during a press conference Thursday that impeaching President Donald Trump is “very divisive” and that it “cannot be denied” that he obstructed justice.

President Trump ended a meeting early with House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Wednesday after Trump made it clear that he will negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure deal while Democrats continue to investigate him and his administration.

After the meeting, the House leader said that Trump showed a “lack of confidence” to match the “greatness” of the challenge to pass an infrastructure deal. Senate Minority Leader Schumer said what happened in the White House meeting with Trump “would make your jaw drop.”

 One reporter asked Pelosi why she was not ready to move forward on impeaching Donald Trump despite many rank-and-file Democrats’ intense fervor for doing so. The California Democrat insisted Trump obstructed justice; however, she said that they were not ready to impeach the president yet.

“The president’s behavior in terms of obstruction of justice, the things that he is doing, it’s very clear. It’s in plain sight. It cannot be denied. Ignoring subpoenas, obstruction of justice, yes, these can be impeachable offenses,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said Democrat must focus on three things regarding impeachment:

  1. Follow the facts, and deliver the truth to the American people.
  2. Recognize that no one is above the law.
  3. The president allegedly is engaged in a cover-up.

“Whatever we do, we need to be ready when we do it. And I do think that impeachment is a very divisive place to go in our country,” Pelosi said.

Speaker Pelosi also said House Democrats’ investigations might take them to a path that is “unavoidable” in “terms of impeachment.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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Netball World Cup 2019: ‘I can’t quit now, I want another gold’ – Jade Clarke

Jade Clarke playing for England in the January Quad Series, against her Wasps team-mate Bongi Msomi of South Africa
2019 Netball World Cup
Dates: 12-21 July Venue: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
Coverage: Every match from 15 July onwards will be broadcast by the BBC

Commonwealth champion Jade Clarke says she always planned to quit if she ever won a gold medal – but instead has just been selected for her fifth World Cup.

England’s record appearance holder with 161 caps, Clarke, 35, played in the final as England beat Australia to claim Commonwealth gold in April 2018.

Her decision to play on has led to her inclusion in Tracey Neville’s 12-player squad for the World Cup in July.

“Now I have one gold, I’m like, ‘Can we do the double?’” Clarke told BBC Sport.

“I said before the Commonwealths I’d quit if I won gold, but I’m still here, showing my age.

“You’re always going for gold and we may not have always had that belief, but now we’ve broken the glass ceiling and we can do it again.”

The Wasps centre-courter, who played in the team that lost to Manchester Thunder in the Superleague Grand Final, admits this could “possibly” be her last World Cup.

“I’m not ready to make that decision to retire yet and I think it will be in about a year’s time – you have to be certain,” she said.

“I am looking forward to not worrying about winning and losing, though. It’s hard to deal with that pressure for so long.”

The Manchester-born player says it is “complete madness” to receive a call-up for her fifth World Cup, after making her senior debut for England in 2002.

And even after being mainstay in Roses squads for major tournaments during that time, Clarke felt she had to perform in the domestic season to keep her place.

“I’m like a kid again, and it feels just like it did when I first started,” Clarke said. “Even after being in the squad for so long, I wasn’t complacent.

“I had to believe I was good enough and I couldn’t control anything else. If I’d missed out 10 years ago I would have been so down, I wouldn’t have been able to even watch the World Cup.”

Can England’s Jade & Nat handle our netball quiz?

England head into the tournament on the back of another victory over world number ones Australia in January, in a Quad Series that also saw fifth-ranked South Africa draw with New Zealand, the world’s second-ranked side, and beat the Roses.

And Clarke says those results leave the World Cup “wide open” compared to previous tournaments, which have all been won by Australia or New Zealand, with both countries contesting all but one final in its 56-year history.

England’s first game of the World Cup is against Uganda on the opening day – Friday, 12 July at 19:00 BST.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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