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Blue Jackets Fire Coach Brad Larsen After 2 Seasons

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The Columbus Blue Jackets sacked coach Brad Larsen after two seasons without a playoff berth, which general manager Jarmo Kekalainen described as “absolutely a necessary change that we needed to make.”

Kekalainen needed to explain why he believed Larsen was unqualified to lead the squad from the bench. He notified Larsen and the players of his decision Saturday morning and refused to say when he made it.

“We need a change,” stated Kekalainen. “It became clear that we needed to make a change.”

The Blue Jackets finished bottom in the Eastern Conference and 31st overall in the NHL, finishing 31st out of 32 teams. While injuries throughout the season plagued them after starting with high expectations, they decided to part ways with Larsen, who was under contract through the next season.

Since Larsen took over for John Tortorella as a coach, Columbus has lost 102 of 164 games. Manny Legace, the goaltending coach, will also leave after five years on the job.

“Out of respect for the coaches who were let go today, I’m not going to dissect their strengths and weaknesses,” Kekalainen added. “But there were a lot of factors that led us to this conclusion, and it was necessary to make these moves.”

Larsen, 45, was a Blue Jackets assistant under Tortorella and predecessor Brad Richards for seven years before being promoted.

Larsen was chosen over more experienced coaches, such as Gerard Gallant and Rick Tocchet, by Blue Jackets President John Davidson and Kekalainen in 2021 because of his communication abilities and institutional knowledge of the organization. Larsen had earned the promotion, according to Kekalainen, and was “going to be a fresh, new voice.”

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Larsen stated at the time that patience would be required.

“I’m going to learn more now,” he remarked during his press conference. “I’m going to make mistakes — I promise you — but that’s part of the process.”

Without Larsen, the process in Columbus will continue. It might include Connor Bedard, the potential first-round pick regarded as the most skilled generational player since Connor McDavid entered the NHL in 2015. The Blue Jackets have the second-best chance of landing Bedard, with a 13.5% likelihood.

Winning the lottery might change the organization’s trajectory, which was founded in 2000 and has yet to go past the second round of the playoffs. Kekalainen said he would take time with the interview process and wait to see how the rest of the NHL landscape looked before appointing a coach.

He will probably wait until after the lottery is drawn on May 8 to make a hiring decision based on the outcome, even though it may alter immediate expectations.

“I don’t know if that would be the deciding factor,” Kekalainen said. “If a decision is not made by then, it will influence the type of team we have here next year.” All these factors are considered while determining who should be the next head coach.”

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SOURCE – (AP)

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Soccer Star Dani Alves Found Guilty Of Rape, Sentenced To Four And A Half Years In Prison

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Barcelona, Spain – Dani Alves, one of his generation’s most accomplished soccer players, was convicted of raping a woman in a Barcelona nightclub and sentenced to four years and six months in prison on Thursday.

The former Brazil and Barcelona right back was convicted in Spain under a new sexual liberty law that emphasizes the victim’s lack of agreement as the most important factor in assessing sex offences.

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Soccer Star Dani Alves was Guilty Of Rape, Sentenced To Four And A Half Years In Prison

A three-judge bench at the Barcelona Provincial Court convicted Alves, 40, of sexual assault for the event on December 31, 2022.

The court ordered Alves to pay the victim 150,000 euros ($162,000) in compensation and refrain from entering her home or workplace and communicating with her in any way for the next nine years.

“I still believe Mr. Alves is innocent,” Alves’ lawyer, Inés Guardiola, said. “I need to study the ruling, but I can tell you that of course we will appeal.”

Guardiola stated that Alves was “calm and collected” when he heard the verdict in court.

“We are satisfied,” David Sáenz, a member of the victim’s legal team, said, “because this verdict acknowledges what we have always known, that the victim told the truth and suffered.”

On Wednesday, Ester García, the victim’s lawyer, stated that she and her client would not be present for the verdict.

On the morning of December 31, 2022, the victim claimed Alves raped her at a Barcelona nightclub’s toilet. The court determined that the victim did not consent to sex and that, in addition to the defendant’s testimony, she was raped.

During his three-day trial last month, Alves denied raping the woman, telling the court, “I am not that kind of man.”

State prosecutors sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves, while his accuser’s lawyers sought twelve years. His defence requested for his acquittal or, if found guilty, a one-year term and 50,000 euros in compensation for the victim.

The penalty of four years and six months is close to the minimum punishment for a rape conviction under Spanish law, which ranged from four to twelve years at the time of the incident. That has recently been changed to six to twelve years. In its punishment, the court stated that it favoured Alves since he had “before the trial paid the court 150,000 euros to be given to the victim without any conditions attached.”

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Soccer Star Dani Alves was Guilty Of Rape, Sentenced To Four And A Half Years In Prison

Sáenz stated that his legal team disagreed with the application of the extenuating situation, claiming that the money did not compensate for the harm done to their client. During the trial, medical experts testified that she had experienced post-traumatic stress.

“Clearly (it does not compensate), but that is what the court decided,” Sáenz told the court. “We have to examine the sentence to see if its contents are adequate for his acts.”

The state prosecutor’s office said it will review the verdict and decide whether to appeal.

Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz expressed hope that the verdict “serves as an exemplary measure for all sexist behaviours that women suffer in all areas of our lives.”

The Alves case was the first high-profile sex crime after Spain revised its rules in 2022 to make consent key to defining a sex crime in response to a surge in protests following a gang rape case at the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.

The legislation, known as the “only yes means yes” law, defines permission as an unequivocal declaration of a person’s choice, emphasizing that silence or inactivity do not constitute consent. The statute, however, initially resulted in decreased terms for hundreds of sex offenders since it established lower minimum penalties, such as the one imposed on Alves, before being amended.

Irene Montero, the former equality minister who championed the “only yes means yes” statute, praised the decision.

“The sentence against Dani Alves plainly indicates that he committed sexual assault without the victim’s consent. It is the result of the feminist fight for sexual liberation and putting consent first,” she wrote on X, which was once Twitter.

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Soccer Star Dani Alves was Guilty Of Rape, Sentenced To Four And A Half Years In Prison

Guardiola’s defence during the trial was based on the film from nightclub security cameras, which she claimed showed the lady dancing “with sexualized movements” that “showed her interest” in Alves before the alleged attack.

García, the victim’s lawyer, stated at the end of the trial that the new statute rendered her client’s previous behaviour with Alves meaningless.

“I don’t care (how she was dancing); when she said ‘No’, she meant ‘No.’ “That is why the law was changed,” García explained. “The debate is no longer whether the victim put up resistance.”

Alves has been in jail since January 20, 2023. His bail requests were denied because the judge considered him a flight risk. Brazil does not extradite its citizens, who are condemned in other countries.

The woman told state authorities that she danced with Alves and willingly entered the nightclub bathroom, but when she wanted to leave, he refused to allow her. She claimed he slapped her, humiliated her, and forced her to engage in sexual encounters against her will.

A police officer who testified at the trial stated that the victim had to overcome her concern that “nobody would believe her” before formally accusing Alves. Another officer reported that the woman told him, “I don’t want money, I want justice.”

Alves changed his defence during the investigation while in detention, initially denying any sexual contact with her before confessing to consensual sexual intercourse. He claimed that not admitting to the encounter initially was an attempt to save his marriage.

During the trial, his defence concentrated on proving that Alves was drunk when he met the woman. However, the court did not consider this an extenuating circumstance in its ruling.

His conviction shatters Alves’ reputation as one of soccer’s greatest players.

Alves won titles with top clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain. He also helped Brazil win two Copa Americas and an Olympic gold medal at 38. He competed in his third World Cup, the only major trophy he has not won, in 2022. He played for Barcelona from 2008 until 2016, helping the club win three Champions and six Spanish titles, before briefly returning in 2022. He still has a home near the city.

He was detained while with the Mexican team Pumas. Pumas terminated his contract immediately.

Three days after his arrest, Alves was transported to the Brians 2 prison, located approximately 45 minutes northwest of Barcelona, for safety reasons. He has remained there ever since.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Popular Parent Blogger Ruby Franke Sentenced To Consecutive Prison Terms For 4 Counts Of Aggravated Child Abuse

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Ruby Franke, a mother and renowned web personality who pled guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse last year, was sentenced to four consecutive sentences of one to fifteen years in a Utah jail on Tuesday.

“My charges are just,” Franke stated during the sentencing. “They offer safety to my family, accountability to the public, and they did show mercy to me.”

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Popular Parent Blogger Ruby Franke Sentenced To Consecutive Prison Terms For 4 Counts Of Aggravated Child Abuse

Franke, 42, had documented the mistreatment of her children on her now-defunct YouTube channel “8 Passengers.” She was arrested in August when her 12-year-old son fled and urged a neighbour to contact police.

Franke was initially charged with six counts but pled not guilty to two of them as part of a plea arrangement to testify against her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, who was also charged with aggravated child abuse but reached a plea agreement, according to prosecutors.

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Popular Parent Blogger Ruby Franke Sentenced To Consecutive Prison Terms For 4 Counts Of Aggravated Child Abuse

According to court filings, the abuse included:

  • Depriving Franke’s children of food and drink.
  • Kicking her son while wearing boots.
  • Denying him oxygen.

According to court documents, Franke informed her children that the penalties were necessary to teach them obedience and repentance. It was also alleged that she “intentionally or knowingly inflicted and allowed another adult to inflict serious physical injuries.”

“For the past four years, I’ve chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion,” Franke told CNN. “My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me.”

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Popular Parent Blogger Ruby Franke Sentenced To Consecutive Prison Terms For 4 Counts Of Aggravated Child Abuse

Hildebrandt was sentenced on Tuesday and received the same terms. The judge stated they each have 30 days to submit an appeal.

“One of the reasons I didn’t go to trial…” “I didn’t want them to emotionally relive the experience, which would have been harmful to them,” Hildebrandt told the court. “My hope and prayer is that they will heal and move forward to have beautiful lives.”

SOURCE – (CNN)

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2024 OSCARS: Everything You Need To Know About This Year’s Oscars

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NEW YORK — After a winter of award events, including the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Grammys, the granddaddy of them all, the Academy Awards, is just around the horizon. The 96th Academy Awards may be a coronation for “Oppenheimer,” which leads with 13 nominations, but other films, including “Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and “Poor Things,” are also in the running.

Here’s what you should know about this year’s show:

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When are the Oscars?

The Oscars will be on Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The event will begin at 7 p.m. EDT, one hour earlier than normal, and will be live on ABC. The pre-show will begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT. This is an early reminder to set your clocks – the first day of daylight saving time in the United States.

Are the Oscars livestreamed?
You can access the show on ABC.com and the ABC app with a cable subscription. You may also watch on Hulu Live, YouTube, AT&T, and FuboTV.

Who is hosting the Oscars?
Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the ceremony last year, will serve as emcee for the fourth time. That matches him with fellow four-timers Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Lemmon, leaving Kimmel trailing only Johnny Carson (five), Billy Crystal (nine), and Bob Hope (eleven) among Oscar hosts. “I always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times,” Kimmel told the audience.

What films are nominated for Best Picture at the 2024 Oscars?
The ten best-picture nominees are: “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” and “The Zone of Interest.”

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Who are the favourites?

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is the front-runner. Nolan, the best director favourite, is expected to win his first Oscar. The best actress category could be a close call between Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Emma Stone (“Poor Things”). If Gladstone wins, she will be the first Native American to win an Oscar. Best actor might also be a tight call between Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”) and Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”). They would be first-time winners. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Giamatti’s co-star, is the favourite to win Best supporting actress, while Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”) is predicted to win Best Supporting Actor. Ryan Gosling is his closest competitor for “Barbie.”

What’s with the ‘Barbie’ snubs?
While “Barbie,” 2023’s largest box-office blockbuster, received eight nominations, much of the conversation has focused on the film’s lack of nominations. Greta Gerwig was not nominated for directing, while Margot Robbie did not win best actress. Some have detected reflections of the misogyny spoofed in “Barbie,” while others have noted comedians’ traditionally poor reception at the Oscars. The nominations for “Barbie” include best-adapted screenplay (by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach), best supporting actress (America Ferrera), and two best song nominees: Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For” and Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt’s “I’m Just Ken.”

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Are there any changes to this year’s Oscars?

Though prior Oscars have been marred by slaps, envelope snafus, and debates about which prizes are presented live during the ceremony, this year’s show promises to remain relatively unchanged. All of the awards will be broadcast live. The academy is introducing a new award for best casting, but the trophy will be handed in at the 2026 Oscars.

What else is there to look for?
Composer John Williams has been nominated for his record 49th best-score Oscar for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and 54th overall. Godzilla is making his Oscar debut, with “Godzilla Minus One” nominated for outstanding visual effects. Two non-English language films are nominated for Best Picture for the first time: the German-language Auschwitz drama “The Zone of Interest” and the French courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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