READ IN FULL: Parktown Boys’ High School releases statement following death of pupil at orientation camp

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Parktown Boys’ High School have released a statement outlining its version on the turn of events at a Grade 8 orientation camp where a 13-year-old pupil died.

Enoch Mpianzi’s body was found on Friday after he went missing during a water activity at the camp.

He was last seen on Wednesday when a makeshift raft he and other boys were on, overturned on the Crocodile River.

In a statement posted in the school’s Facebook Page, the school said the camp was aimed at introducing the new Parktonians to one another and creating an environment that focused on teamwork and achieving of common goals through various activities.

Here is the full, unedited statement:

The Parktown Boys’ High School Grade 8 Orientation Camp took place at Nyathi Bush and River Break in the North West Province. The Grade 8 group arrived at camp on Wednesday the 15th of January. The camp is aimed at introducing new Parktonians to each other and creating an environment which focuses on team work and the achieving of common goals through various activities offered at the camp.

The school’s Headboy, Deputy Headboy and SEC members along with 7 staff members were also present on the camp along with the Headmaster, Malcolm Williams and a Senior Child Development and Protection Consultant, Luke Lamprecht.

In the afternoon the boys were involved in a water activity that was supervised by trained camp facilitators. After the activity there was a hike and supper, followed by a sleep out in the veld.

ALSO READ | Parktown Boys’ High tragedy: Gauteng Education Department launches own investigation

Late on Thursday morning, it became apparent that a boy had gone missing from the camp. Internal emergency procedures were immediately instituted by camp management, staff and members of the community. The Headmaster contacted the father to alert him to staff concerns.

At 15h20 the Headmaster again contacted the father to confirm that all efforts to locate Enock had failed and shortly thereafter transport was arranged to take the family to the venue. Two trained counsellors from the school accompanied the family.

By this time the SAPS Emergency Services had already been called, including the Search and Rescue unit who at the point assumed control of the search.

On Thursday evening the decision was made to curtail all camp activities for the Friday and return the boys to school following breakfast and a briefing by the Headmaster and the Senior Child Development and Protection Consultant.

At 11h00 on Friday the school was informed of the tragic news that the body of Enock Mpianzi had been found by SAPS Search and Rescue personnel.

The Staff, Learners, SGB, and the Parktonian Alumni express their deepest sympathy to the Mpianzi family following this tragic loss. The school community remains in a state of shock and counselling support has been implemented.The Alumni of the school have committed to support the family where possible.

Further details will be communicated once more information becomes available.

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Nigerian Youths Should Choose Life, Not Death — Emmanuel Onwubiko

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Statistically, the global authority on health issues known as the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a highly frightening but realistic rate of suicides committed by members of the global humanity per annum. It says that close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds.

Suicide the World Health Organisation observed succinctly, is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan.

It reckons that effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. There are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.

Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally.

Suicide is a global phenomenon; in fact, 79% of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2016. Suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 18th leading cause of death in 2016, so says the global agency on health matters also known as World Health organization in its website just visited by this writer.

I must state that although the fact remains that suicide is a worldwide trend, but for us in Nigeria just like in other African nations, the death of someone is a huge loss not just to the immediate family but to the society and the nation at large. Given the African set up of the typical family tree, members of a given family belong to both the nuclear and the extended family units. So the matter of suicidal demise of any member brings about phenomenal amount of sorrows to a greater percentage of people in Nigeria.

However, due to a number of factors not unrelated with psychological, emotional, financial and sociological factors, a lot of young Nigerians have fallen into the traps of suicide in the last couple of years particularly in the last one year. Around June of last year, Samuel Elias, 25, a final year student of Department of Religion and Culture, University of Nigeria Nsukka allegedly committed suicide by drinking sniper.

The mother of the deceased, Mrs. Kate Elias a staff of the university, told the News agency of Nigeria that the unfortunate incident happened on Monday June 17, around 5.30pm in her house at Justina Eze Street Nsukka.

Elias said she came back from work on that fateful day and discovered that the mood of her first child was bad and he was staggering when he came to collect a bottle of coke from the fridge

“I followed him immediately to his room and started talking to him but he could not respond and when I looked closely, I discovered that his teeth had tightened up.

“As I looked around, I saw an empty sniper bottle; at this point I raised alarm and my other children rushed to the room and we tried to give him red oil but his tightened teeth did not allow the oil to enter his mouth,” she said.

According to her, he was rushed to the hospital, where he eventually died.

“We immediately rushed him to Faith Foundation Hospital, Nsukka and were later referred to Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, where he eventually died.

The mother of seven said her son could have died of depression, noting that he had been lamenting his inability to graduate from UNN because of his final year project, which he has been working on.

“I know two things he usually complained, his inability to graduate from UNN since 2016 because of the project that he has not finished as his classmates have all gone for their National Youth Service Corps.

“Also, how his father’s family in Ihechiowa in Arochukwu Local Government of Abia State abandoned us since their father died.

“Whenever he complained of these things, I usually advised him to trust God, who is capable of solving every problem.

“I do not know why he will go to this extent of committing suicide. I have seven children and he was my first child.

“It is still like a dream to me that my first son and first child has died,” she said in tears.

Reacting to this incident, Prof. Tagbo Ugwu, the Head of Department of Religion and Culture in UNN, said somebody called him and told him about the unfortunate incident.

“I received the news with shock and surprise.

“I will find out from his supervisor what is wrong from the project that has stopped him from graduating,” he said.

When contacted Mr Ebere Amaraizu, the Police Public Relations Office, in Enugu State, confirmed the incident and said police would investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

“The police is aware of Samuel Elias’ death. He was a final year student of the Department of Religion and Culture in UNN, who committed suicide on Monday by drinking sniper.

“Police will investigate circumstances surrounding the death,” he said.

It would be recalled that barely five weeks after Chukwuemeka Akachi, a 400-level student of Department of English and Literary Studies in UNN ended his own life after taking a bottle of sniper. In August of last year, from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), came the story that the school community was thrown into mourning mood following the death of a final year student, Opeyemi Dara. The deceased was said to be a student of Faculty of Arts, Department of English Language, who allegedly committed suicide after taking a suspected dose of lethal substance popularly known as “sniper”. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that she allegedly took her life following her poor academic performance, although the details of the incident were still sketchy.

The media stated that the authority of the institution confirmed that the deceased committed suicide following depression occasioned by poor academic records.

Dara’s academic records obtained by a journalist who worked on the story for one of the National dailies indicated that she had five outstanding courses and 12 Special Electives.

Also the Public Relations Officer of OAU, Mr Abiodun Olanrewaju confirmed the incident and promised that the institution would investigate and make its findings public. Olarewaju appealed to students not to contemplate committing suicide because of poor academic performance.

“We sympathize with the parents and guardian of the deceased known as Dara.” We just want our students and young ones to know that depression is not a thing they should encourage, no matter the situation or circumstance they find themselves. “ Some people in the past have passed through the same situation and circumstances and came out clean. “Now, suicide can never be an option and people, especially the young ones who believe that taking their own lives is an act of gallantry should know that it is not. “We want to appeal to students, particularly OAU students to take things easy. Any child that fails; that is why the university says you can rerun a course, you can resit a course.

“People out there also face challenges and when you are in school, failure or repetition of a course or particular subject is also part of the challenges students must face. “The university will get to the root of the incident and get back to the public,” Olarewaju said. Just before this case, there was another story from Edo state.

That was precisely at the Faculty of Arts, University of Benin, UNIBEN, main campus came the heartbreaking story that a final-year student jumped from the second floor of one of the hostels and died.

The deceased male student, whose identity is still unknown as at press time, committed suicide after failing his examinations, which made him suffer depression for failure to graduate. The next case is that of a girl that reportedly took her life following a break up of a relationship and this also happened at the University of Benin like the aforementioned the deceased was a three hundred level student.

The corpse of Miss Christabell Omoremime Buoro, aged 21, a 300-level student of the department of Medical Laboratory Science, University of Benin (UNIBEN), was discovered in her hostel flat at Plot 4 Uwaifo lane, Newton street, Ekosodin area, behind the university fence, so reports the newspapers. Miss Christabell reportedly was discovered after she allegedly took some deadly substance to end her life. It was gathered that the undergraduate linked her suicide to her breakup with her boyfriend.

The media states that an empty sachet of Klin detergent was found in the spot where she took her life.

According to the source of the media information, “A small girl of that age will take her life all because of one boy. The policemen that came to evacuate the body were very angry after reading out loud the note she dropped.

“Thank God that she even dropped a note, if not the roommates would have been in hot soup, because investigation would have began from that point.”

As are with all cases of suicide, the police officers in this case situated at the Ugbowo police station have invited two person for questioning over the content of the letter.

It was rumoured that the deceased Christabel mixed the deadly insecticide, popularly called Sniper with Sprite drink, and reportedly left a suicide note where she stated that she was about taking her life because the guy she loved didn’t love her in return after her boyfriend broke up with her.

Sadly, the year 2020 has also seen another case of suicide by a youngster and in this developing story we were told that the girl stated that she was depressed and that she no longer find life attractive.

The Enugu State Police Command only at the weekend confirmed that a serving National Youth Service Corp member in Enugu State, Miss Bolufemi Princess Motunrayo, has committed suicide.

It was gathered that Miss Motunrayo, a Batch ‘C’ corps member serving in Girls Secondary School, Ibagwa-Aka, Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area of Enugu State took her life on Friday, January 10, 2020, when she allegedly drank a substance suspected to be sniper.

The Corp member hailed from Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State and a graduate of Banking and Finance from Prince Abubakar Audu University formally called Kogi State University was reported to have taken two bottles of snipers.

One of the media reporters who worked on this emerging story said it was learnt that she had before committing suicide dropped a short note that read, “I did this because I see nothing worth living for in this world”.

Confirming the alleged suicide is the State Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, who described the incident as unfortunate.

Amaraizu, a Superintendent of Police in a text message to the Punch newspaper correspondent said, “The incident has to do with the taking of sniper insecticide by one Bolufemi Moturayo Yetunde, a female corper from Kogi State but, doing her service with Girls High School, Ibeagwa-Aka, Igboeze South L.G.A on 10/1/2020.

“She was later rushed to the hospital where the doctor confirmed her dead,” he said.

In the version written by The Guardian, one of the friends of this absolutely beautiful graduate and a serving member of the National Youth Service scheme (NYSC) raised alarm that there is need for a thorough investigation of what triggered the ‘suicide’ because in the thinking of this person, the girl who killed herslf allegedly was having a swell time and was not known to have any case of depression or loneliness.

From all these and many other stories of suicide and suspected suicides especially the cases of suicide by Students, there is a glaring evidence of a lacuna fundamentally in the administration of these tertiary institutions. These cases of students killing themselves due to frustrations attendant with their inability to successfully graduate could be tackled if these schools can set up functional mechanisms for looking into all cases related to inability or otherwise of their students to graduate. There has to be a system in place to seamlessly monitor and ensure that the process of writing and supervision of projects of students are transparent and open to such an extent that no single person should become the last hope of any strident from graduation. The schools should have a reporting mechanisms whereby cases relating to inability to pass these projects and graduate are looked into by dedicated members of staff who should play the role of arbitrators for the students. The school system in Nigeria is too commercially oriented to an extent that Students are put under intense pressure to raise money from all means possible to bribe lecturers marking their papers to enable them graduate and most of these students who can’t raise money to pay their ways are left with no option than to be sexually abused by some professionally incompetent lecturers. The University and tertiary institutions must be made to put on a human and humane face even as there has to be a system in place to give access to students to step up and dialogue with dedicated teachers who would offer counselling and also hear cases related to frustrations witnessed at any stage of their educational journeys. The school must be prepared to vote cash to cater for this sort of important human relationship Counseling mechanisms to stave off the rising cases of suicide. The school must not be all about profitability.

The Nigerian police and other relevant law enforcement agencies like NAFDAC must monitor the activities of traders who deal in chemical and drugs related products such as snipers with a view to ascertaining identities of buyers and the use to which these products would be put into. There is also the need for state governments and the Federal government to embark on deliberate but massive public enlightenment programmes to warn youngsters to choose life over death and to resolutely beat back all suicidal tendencies through the cocktails of effective means of communication and getting counseling service from toll free lines that should be publicized for all Nigerians to be conversant with.

For instance, the European Council on Human Rights has successfully repealed the death penalty because of the overwhelming rating of Right to life in Europe. In Article 2 of the European wide laws on human rights, it is legally provided that: “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. This right is one of the most important of the Convention since without the right to life it is impossible to enjoy the other rights. No one shall be condemned to death penalty or executed. The abolition of death penalty is consecrated by Article 1 of Protocol No. 6.”

The Nigerian Constitution in Section 33(1) provides that “Everyone has a right to life. ”

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.

The post Nigerian Youths Should Choose Life, Not Death — Emmanuel Onwubiko appeared first on Information Nigeria.

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Breakout prospects for 2020 | MLB.com

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Every organization takes pride in its ability to identify and develop talent. We’re the same way at MLB Pipeline, especially when it comes to predicting future breakout prospects.

Looking at last year’s list of breakout candidates, we see many examples of players who realized their potential en route to becoming some of the sport’s premier prospects. White Sox outfielder Luis Robert shot up from No. 44 to No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list thanks to a 32-homer, 36-steal campaign across three levels, while Blue Jays right-hander Nate Pearson, another three-level climber in ‘19, ascended from No. 90 to No. 10.

With the start of the 2020 season around the corner, MLB Pipeline once again is picking one breakout candidate from each organization. And while some of the names on this year’s list might be more recognizable than others, they all have the potential to jump on the scene during the upcoming season and establish themselves as can’t-miss prospects.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (No. 6) — The Mets’ second-round pick from the 2018 Draft pitched better than his numbers suggest he did at Class A Columbia, and he made six impressive starts for Class A Advanced Dunedin after joining the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman Trade Deadline deal to finish his first full season with a 126/24 K/BB and .238 BAA in 106 2/3 innings. The 19-year-old righty is a high-ceiling pitching prospect, armed with a plus fastball-curveball combo, an advanced changeup and a mature overall feel for his craft that could help him move quickly through the Minors.

Orioles: DL Hall, LHP (No. 3, MLB No. 60) — Baltimore’s 2017 first-rounder boasts some of the best pure stuff in the Minors among left-handed pitching prospects, with a plus fastball-breaking ball pairing and a promising changeup. Hall’s overall control, however, leaves much to be desired after the 21-year-old southpaw issued 6.0 BB/9 over 80 2/3 innings last season at Class A Advanced Frederick. The good news is that Hall has never had any issues missing bats (11.1 K/9 across his first 185 1/3 pro frames) and continues to be tough to barrel (.201 BAA), so it’s easy to envision him taking a step forward in 2020 with improved strike-throwing ability.

Rays: Shane Baz, RHP (No. 7, MLB No. 94) — Acquired from the Pirates as the PTBNL in the lopsided Chris Archer deal, Baz spent all of 2019 at Class A Bowling Green in the Midwest League, pitching to a 2.99 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 37 walks in 81 1/3 innings (17 starts). He was especially good down the stretch, too, posting a 2.22 ERA over his final six regular-season starts for the Hot Rods before turning in an eye-opening performance in the Arizona Fall League. With a fastball that can touch triple digits, a devastating slider and a raw but promising changeup, the 20-year-old right-hander could develop into a front-of-the-rotation force if he can improve his control and command.

Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 7) — A $10,000 steal from the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez skipped a level last season and led the short-season New York-Penn League in batting (.359) in his U.S. debut. The best center-field defender and one of the fastest runners in Boston’s system, he’ll make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.

Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (No. 5) — Schmidt had Tommy John surgery as a South Carolina junior a month before New York made him a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft. Though he has been brought back slowly, taking that summer off and totaling 114 innings in 2018-19, he already has reached Double-A and shows the makings of four plus pitches.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: Aaron Bracho, 2B (No. 13) — Bracho’s advanced bat earned him a $1.5 million bonus out of Venezuela in 2017, but he didn’t make his pro debut until last season because he fractured his right arm in May 2018. A switch-hitter who possesses deceptive power and precocious command of the strike zone, he hit .296/.416/.593 in the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer.

Royals: Kyle Isbel, OF (No. 8) — The Royals were excited after Isbel’s exceptional pro debut after they took him in the third round of the 2018 Draft, but his 2019 season was interrupted by injuries and he played in just 59 games. He made up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League and should use his impressive .315/.429/.438 (leading the league in OBP) showing to catapult him to the upper levels of the system

Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 12) — The Tigers knew that Meadows — Rays outfielder Austin Meadows’ younger brother — would need time to develop when they selected the athletic prep outfielder in the second round of the 2017 Draft, and his .221/.296/.312 showing over 126 games at Class A West Michigan in his first full season only confirmed that assessment. However, the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder’s five-tool profile offers reason to be optimistic about his future, as all the raw qualities are in place for the 20-year-old to develop into an impact player.

Twins: Wander Javier, SS (No. 7) — While it’s true the Twins didn’t protect Javier on their 40-man roster this offseason, that was a relatively low-risk move given the shortstop hasn’t played above A ball. A torn labrum cost him the 2018 season and he struggled once he got to full-season ball for the first time in late May of 2019 (.177/.278/.323). But he still has tremendous tools, the ones the Twins saw when they gave him $4 million to sign in July 2015.

White Sox: Matthew Thompson, RHP (No. 13) — Before Chicago selected Thompson 45th overall last June, it had spent just two picks that early on high school pitchers in the previous 17 Drafts (Gio Gonzalez in 2004, Spencer Adams in 2013). Though he was inconsistent as a senior last spring, the White Sox love his athleticism and quick arm, which could result in a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball once he’s fully developed.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

A’s: Marcus Smith, OF (No. 30) — The Kansas City high schooler was a bit of a surprise third-round pick, one who wasn’t on our Draft Top 200 list in 2019, but he sure made the A’s look smart during his relatively brief pro debut in the Arizona League (.361/.466/.443 in 29 games). That advanced approach should serve him well and let him use his 70-grade speed to his advantage in his first full season of pro ball.

Angels: Jeremiah Jackson, SS/2B (No. 4) — He’s yet to reach full-season ball, but he set the stage for the jump by leading the Pioneer League in home runs and RBIs in 2019. He’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts (33 percent rate), but he’ll also only be 20 for all of 2020, so there’s time for him to refine his approach and become a truly impactful middle infielder.

Astros: Jeremy Pena, SS/2B (No. 8) — The son of offensive-minded second baseman Geronimo Pena, Jeremy was one of the best defensive shortstops available in the college class of 2018, when Houston popped him in the third round out of Maine. His glove was as good as advertised in his first full pro season, when he exceeded expectations by batting .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals between two Class A levels.

Mariners: George Kirby, RHP (No. 6) — Kirby made a name for himself as a control artist at Elon University and parlayed that into being a first-round pick last June. He showed just how good that command was by not walking a single batter in 23 innings during his pro debut. Seen as a safe pick who could ride his pitchability quickly up a ladder, his first full season could show that he’s more than that, with the potential to join others from his class on our Top 100 in 2020.

Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP (No. 4) — One of the most polished high school pitchers in the 2018 Draft, Winn went 15th overall but struggled more than expected while being kept on a tight leash in his first full pro season in 2019. But he finished the year with a 2.81 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings over his final 12 starts, showing signs of a quality four-pitch mix once he dials in his command.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Bryce Ball, 1B — Ball spent two years in junior college before transferring to Dallas Baptist for his junior year. The Braves nabbed him in the 24th round of last June’s Draft after he hit .325/.443/.614 with 18 homers and then he hit 17 more combined in the Appalachian and South Atlantic Leagues during his pro debut. He might have the most power in the system and has already shown the ability to get to it.

Marlins: Braxton Garrett, LHP (No. 7) — The seventh overall pick in 2016, the Alabama high school product required Tommy John surgery after just four pro starts, costing him all of 2018. Garrett looked like his old self last season, pairing a low-90s fastball with a plus curveball in high Class A, and could move quickly in 2020 as he puts elbow reconstruction further behind him.

Mets: Francisco Alvarez, C (No. 5) — Alvarez’s $2.7 million bonus in July 2018 was one of the top totals handed out during the 2018-19 international period, and it wasn’t long thereafter that he began to receive rave reviews from those inside the organization. The Mets challenged Alvarez last summer in his pro debut, assigning him straight to the Rookie Gulf Coast League before a quick promotion to the Appalachian League, and the then-17-year-old backstop responded by slashing .312/.407/.510 with seven homers in 42 games between the two stops. The Venezuela native is already perhaps the best pure hitter in New York’s system, with defensive chops behind the plate that could make him an impactful two-way catcher.

Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP (No. 3) Taken with the No. 17 overall pick in last year’s Draft, Rutledge, a 6-foot-8 right-hander, has some of the best pure stuff among college pitchers from his class with an explosive mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider that front his four-pitch mix. Harnessing his stuff to throw more strikes and developing a better changeup will be developmental keys for the 20-year-old in his first full season, though he’s exactly the type of power pitcher the Nats have successfully developed in the past.

Phillies: Francisco Morales, RHP (No. 6) — One of the top pitchers in the 2016-17 international signing class, Morales has tremendous raw stuff. In many ways, it played well during his full-season debut in 2019, as he struck out just over 12 batters per nine innings and held hitters to a .226 batting average. He needs to refine his command to reach his very lofty ceiling, but here’s betting he takes a big step forward in 2020.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Tristen Lutz, OF (No. 2) — Tabbed as the Brewers’ top breakout candidate a year ago, Lutz advanced to Class A Advanced Carolina in 2019 and produced a nearly identical line (.754 OPS, 13 HR, 137/46 K/BB) compared to his first full season (.742 OPS, 13 HR, 139/46 K/BB). The elevated strikeout rates fuel questions about the 21-year-old’s hit tool, but there’s a lot to like in his blend of right-handed power potential and patience at the plate. Lutz has the makings of becoming an everyday corner outfielder if it all clicks for him, and a strong showing at Double-A in 2020 would mark a significant turning point in his development.

Cardinals: Ivan Herrera, C (No. 6) — Signed out of Panama for $200,000 in July 2016, Herrera was pushed up to full-season ball at age 18 in 2019 and responded to the challenge by slashing .284/.374/.405 with nine home runs in 87 games across two levels, including Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Herrera continued to impress on both sides of the ball after the season as one of the Arizona Fall League’s youngest players and will enter 2020 with a big up arrow next to his name.

Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (No. 3) — Though scouts considered Davis one of the better prep athletes in the 2018 Draft, a hamstring injury slowed him as a senior and helped Chicago grab him in the second round. More advanced than expected, he batted .305/.381/.525 and flashed 30-30 upside in low Class A last season — albeit while limited to 50 games by multiple finger injuries.

Pirates: Jared Oliva, OF (No. 11) — A seventh-round pick out of Arizona in 2017, Oliva has had a solid, if unspectacular, first two full seasons of pro ball with a career .274/.348/.403 line, to go along with an impressive 84 steals. He opened a lot of eyes by leading the AFL with 11 steals (in 12 attempts) and hitting .312/.413/.473, setting the stage for a big 2020.

Reds: Tyler Stephenson, C (No. 7) — The 2015 first-round pick got hit by the injury bug quite a bit during the first stages of his career, but he’s going to look back at 2019 as the year it all started to click. After a solid regular season in Double-A, the backstop had a very strong AFL campaign (.347/.372/.410 in 49 at-bats) to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. A big follow-up campaign should vault him onto the top catching prospects list and have him ready for Cincinnati.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Kristian Robinson, OF (No. 2, MLB No. 71) — Signed out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in July 2017, Robinson offered a glimpse of his potential in 2019 as he slashed .282/.386/.514 with 14 homers and 17 steals while ascending from Class A Short-Season Hillsboro to Class A Kane County in his age-18 season. The 6-foot-3 outfielder’s massive right-handed power highlights an all-around exceptional set of tools, and, overall, it gives him one of the higher ceilings in the Minors among teenage prospects.

Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (No. 11) — MLB Pipeline’s top-rated international amateur in the 2018 class, Cartaya signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela. Often compared to Salvador Perez, he has the tools to make a difference offensively and defensively and hit .281/.343/.432 between two Rookie-ball stops in his 2019 pro debut.

Giants: Alexander Canario, OF (No. 7) — Signed for $60,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Canario possesses the quickest bat in San Francisco’s system and batted .318/.377/.623 with 16 homers in 59 games between the Rookie and short-season levels last year. He fits the right-field profile well and could have even more value if he’s able to stick in center.

Padres: Reggie Lawson, RHP (No. 21) — The Padres’ second-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Lawson spent much of the ’19 season on the injured list with a balky right elbow, but he returned late in the season to make six starts for Double-A Amarillo, then dominated while making three impressive outings in the Arizona Fall League (0.82 ERA, 14 K, 11 IP), where he operated with a mid-90s fastball, a sharp, 12-to-6 curveball and a promising changeup. With his blend of size and stuff, Lawson could break out in earnest with a healthy 2020 campaign.

Rockies: Helcris Olivarez, LHP (No. 25) — Olivarez made his United States debut in 2019 and missed a lot of bats in the Pioneer League (11.76 K/9 in 46 2/3 IP), largely with a very lively fastball. He’ll need to improve his command (4.63 BB/9) and tighten up his secondary stuff, but the ingredients are all there for him to take a big step forward, perhaps with a move to full-season ball.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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Teenager Set His Girlfriend Ablaze Over Infidelity; Says He Prefers Death To Imprisonment

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Victor Orji, 18, who allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Mariam Alabi, 24, opened up to Simon Utebor about what transpired and how he landed in police custody.

Victor Orji
Eighteen year old internet fraudster, Victor Orji

Read his full interview below:

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Victor Orji, I am 18 years old. I was born on July 9, 2001. I am from Benue State. My mother is from Enugu State while my father is from Benue State Olatagba Abadi Local Government. I attended Al-Barka Primary School and I moved to Oduduwa Junior High School and I moved down to Gbagada Senior Grammar School, Lagos. I completed my secondary education in 2016.

2. The lady you set ablaze, who is now deceased, was said to be your girlfriend, when did you start dating?

We had been dating since February 28, 2019. I met her through a friend.

3. What was she doing when both of you met and became friends?

She was a sex worker. I was aware of that. Initially, our intention was not to date each other. I only wanted to have sex with her and pay her off.

4. How did you get yourself into this situation?

It started on a Monday. I gave her some money to make her hair. She went to Badagry for the hairdo because I did not have enough on me. On a normal day, if she wanted to make her hair, she used to go to Lagos Island to get it done. She left around 7:15am and returned around 8:30pm.

I tried to find out why she came back at that time. I told her the following day (Tuesday) to take her bag and leave. She immediately took her bag and she left. She came back on Wednesday with a female friend. I wasn’t at home at that time. When I got back and saw her and her friend, Olamide, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to cause a scene while her friend was there. So, we settled our quarrel.

On Thursday, she said she wanted to see her sister who had just delivered a baby at Sango Ota in Ogun State. She also said she would use the opportunity to see her family. So, she left. But I wasn’t convinced she was going to see her family. So I called her mum and asked if she knew where her daughter was and her mother said no. But I told her what her daughter told me.

Her mum, unsure of what to say, gave flimsy excuses to cover up for her. I knew her mum always asked me to forgive her. I felt it was becoming the usual situation.

So, on Friday (of the same week), she returned in the night but before then, in the morning, I had called her. I had already blocked her number. I called to ask when she would return home but her phone was switched off. After calling her for about three hours without success, I blocked her line.

Then suddenly, she started calling me, but it indicated a private number. After calling several times, I picked up. She said, “Victor, I am at home now.”

At home, she said everything was fine. I told her her mother had said she did not know where she was. She responded by asking if her mother would know everywhere she went. Then I got angry again and told her to pack her bag and leave. She called someone; I suspected that the person said he was not around so there was no way she could go there that night. So, she begged me to forgive her and I left her alone but I was sure she called someone because I saw the name (Kunle).

I asked who Kunle was and she said it was one doctor that used to give her medicine. After her explanation, I forgave her and allowed her to stay but she slept in the sitting room and I slept in the bedroom. In the morning, I checked her phone after trying different passwords. I saw the number she called. I checked Snapchat and saw videos of her. She was in a hotel taking hard drugs and having fun. So I took the phone to the sitting room to confront her. I slapped her across the face and she woke up. She already knew what she did. She ran to the kitchen and locked the kitchen door.

I asked her why she closed the door and if I didn’t look like someone that could scold her. She didn’t respond. Then I went to the backyard and tried to come in through the door leading out. When I got in, she pointed a knife at me. I ran to the bedroom to pick up a mop. When she saw me with it, she threw the knife away and ran to the backyard where I kept my generator. There was a keg of petrol there; she brought out the petrol.

5. Are you saying she was the one who brought out the petrol?

Yes. She was saying, “Victor, if you want to kill me, kill me”. I was able to overpower her. I put the keg of petrol down and went inside to get a lighter. I snapped the lighter.

6. Are you denying that you doused her with petrol?

It not like I doused her with the fuel. She was with the fuel but in the process of trying to take the keg of petrol from her, the fire started. I was the one that picked up the lighter and used it.

7. Were you not aware of the implication of such an action?

When I was in school I read a lot about fire, gas and lot of that, I was not thinking properly at that moment.

I wasn’t even angry or happy. I don’t know what really happened.

8. Did you actually weigh the consequences of your action?

I wasn’t thinking. When she was on fire, I ran outside to pick up a fire extinguisher but I didn’t know it was beside me because I wasn’t thinking. I even opted for water but I once heard that water would worsen something like.

I ran to the bedroom to get a duvet which I used to cover her immediately to put out the fire. It wasn’t even up to a minute, let me just say it all happened in about 59 seconds because everything happened really fast.

9. What did you do after that?

I called her mother and told her I had burnt her daughter and she hung up. I was confused and began to shout for help. Instead, people tied me up.

10. Now that the law has caught up with you, how prepared are you to face the consequences?

I won’t lie, I am not prepared. If I had taken a second to think about it, I would not be in this mess. I am still young; I have dreams and goals to accomplish in my life.

Within the little time we spent together, I understood her. She did things that she was not proud of and I was the only one that understood that. She said she had a five-year-old child and had to go through a lot of things. She had to leave her father’s house and that led her into prostitution. She said some friends introduced her to prostitution. She also told me she was going to stop and that she needed someone to take care of her, so I promised to take care of her.

11. How old was she?

She told me she was going to be 24 years old on December 28, 2019.

12. That means she was about six years older than you?

When I was in school, I never had a girlfriend. And when I was looking for a girlfriend, I met her and felt she was more experienced in life and would be able to guide me. Also, I felt that because of the things she had gone through, she wouldn’t behave like other girls out there. I felt I wouldn’t have to worry that she was going to cheat on me, especially since she also had a child.

13. What were you doing for a living?

I was into Internet fraud. I had been doing since 2016.

14. How much did you make from fraud?

What I used to get was not so much. At times, I got $1,500, at times $1,000. I’m really good at saving. I don’t like going out. I might just stay at home for like three months and save.

15. How were you operating your ‘Yahoo’ business?

I always used Instagram. I would go to some pages and follow people. Once they accepted, I would send them a message. From there, relationship would develop. If I realised that the person was interested, other things would follow. I could make demands, etc. You can’t get anything from some people.

16. The law has already caught up with you. What do you have to say about this incident?

There’s always consequence for every action. This is the consequence of my own action.

17. Are you prepared to face the consequences?

I’m scared but I know that between going to jail and facing death, I prefer death.

18. You mean you prefer death to serving jail term?

Yes; I prefer death. I cannot go to jail for two months. If I go to jail, my life will be messed up.

19. So you prefer to be killed for killing your girlfriend?

Yes, because that’s what everybody is saying now. They are saying something like “I’m not supposed to be human – that I must be an animal to have killed someone”. I didn’t even do intentionally. But it has happened.

The post Teenager Set His Girlfriend Ablaze Over Infidelity; Says He Prefers Death To Imprisonment appeared first on Information Nigeria.

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CY Driver Pottsgrove death: Obituary, cause of death – what happened?

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CY Driver Pottsgrove death: Obituary, cause of death – what happened?

CY Driver Pottsgrove death: Obituary, cause of death – Beloved Long jumper Cy Driver, 14 year old Pottsgrove High School freshman has passed away.

Please say a prayer for Cy’s grieving family during this tough time as you read the tributes below:

You never know what someone else is going through internally. Love hard. Rip Cy Driver you will never be forgotten.

I have no words.. yet I have so much to say.
Cy Driver, I will miss you. I will miss my front door opening at any given moment. I will miss our talks about up coming competitions, and asking you if your grades were good, or how you were doing in school with making friends.

Being the new kid isn’t always easy. But you made it easy. I will miss you missing the bus and me running your butt to school. I will miss seeing you out at the basketball net.

I will miss my kitchen chair always missing from the table because you needed it to play Madden. But most of all, I will miss you being a best friend to my boy!
May you Rest In Peace Sweet Boy!

To Elba, I will always and forever be here for you. I can’t fathom your pain but we are going to get through this together.. ❤️🙏🏼✝️

CY Driver Pottsgrove death:

If any of my family or friends. You need to talk to someone. Holla at your boy cuz I’m here. Love you Cy driver you will not be forgotten. I had envisioned a real bright future for you. Love you always great nephew. Love Uncle d. Prayers for your mother and father and the entire family. One Love 100% rest in peace.

The Hershey Blaze TC is sad to share the news of the loss of one of our up and coming superstars. Long jumper Cy Driver was a 14 year old high school freshman. Please keep Cy’s family in your prayers during this tough time. Rest well dear friend.

The Hershey Blaze TC is sad to share the news of the loss of one of our up and coming superstars. Long jumper Cy Driver was a 14 year old high school freshman. Please keep Cy’s family in your prayers during this tough time. Rest well dear friend. pic.twitter.com/3mIEzH0cQb

— Hershey Blaze TC (@HersheyBlazeTC) December 3, 2019


May his soul rest in perfect peace.

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Facing ‘certain death’, boy in US with vaping injury gets double lung transplant, United States News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

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NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – A 17-year-old boy whose lungs were irreversibly damaged by vaping received a double-lung transplant at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a life-saving measure taken when a patient’s own lungs are diseased or damaged beyond repair and there is no other hope of survival, doctors said on Tuesday (Nov 12).

Without the transplant, performed last month, the patient “would have faced certain death”, Dr Hassan Nemeh, who led the surgical team, said during a news conference at the hospital.

The patient’s lungs were scarred, stiffened, pocked with dead spots and extremely inflamed, he said.

On a CT scan before the surgery, the patient’s chest appeared almost empty, as if the lungs had vanished. Normal lungs look dark on imaging because they are full of air; the patient’s were not visible because they were not working. There was no air.

“What I saw in his lungs is like nothing I’ve seen before, and I’ve been doing lung transplants for 20 years,” Dr Nemeh said. He added, “This is an evil I haven’t faced before.”

The patient is recovering well and is up and about now, but still in the hospital. His name is being withheld to protect his privacy, but he and his family wanted to release information about his case in the hope that it might persuade other people to quit vaping or never start, hospital officials said.

A doctor at the briefing read a statement from the family, which said, in part: “We asked Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real! Our family could never have imagined being at the centre of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades.

“Within a very short period of time, our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year-old athlete – attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games – to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted.”

The doctors declined to say what products the patient had been vaping, how long he had been doing it or how often.

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About 86 per cent of the patients with lung injuries in this outbreak had vaped THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes people high.

The case is the first transplant reported in the nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries, and it highlights the severity of an illness that, as of Nov 5, had sickened 2,051 people and killed 40.

Researchers have described the lung damage from vaping as chemical burns, similar to the injuries in people who have inhaled toxic fumes in industrial accidents, or in soldiers attacked with mustard gas in World War I.

The patient was first admitted to a different hospital on Sept 6 with what was thought to be pneumonia. His condition worsened and he was placed on a ventilator on Sept 12. He continued to deteriorate.

On Sept 17, he was transferred to a second hospital, where he was connected to a machine that delivers oxygen directly to the bloodstream.

His health continued to decline, and in early October, he was transferred to Henry Ford Hospital, where he was put on the waiting list for a lung transplant. A national organisation sets the criteria for eligibility, not individual hospitals. Several factors quickly pushed him to the to top of the list, Dr Nemeh said: He was a child, the lung damage was irreversible and he would die without the transplant.

The surgery was performed on Oct 15. The doctors said they could not reveal any information about the source except to say that the donor had been healthy.

Health officials investigating the outbreak described a major advance last week: Researchers found a “very strong culprit”, a form of vitamin E, in the lungs of patients who had the vaping illness. The substance, vitamin E acetate, is sometimes used by illicit sellers to “cut” or dilute THC and increase profits.

Finding the chemical in the lungs meshed with earlier investigations that had already found it in vaping products.

The vitamin compound is thick and sticky. Precisely how it might damage the lungs is not yet known, and health authorities say it is still possible that other chemicals added to vaping fluids may also contribute to lung disease.

The doctors in Detroit did not say whether vitamin E acetate had been found in the patient’s lungs.

“We’re going to see more of this,” said Dr Mangala Narasimhan, a lung specialist at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre and Northwell Health’s regional director of critical care, who has treated several severe cases of the illness.

“We definitely see some patients who have such severe lung damage, we are thinking that some of it might not be completely reversible.”

None of her patients have needed transplants. In general, lungs for transplantation are difficult to obtain, she said.

“A huge number of patients die waiting.”

About 2,500 lung transplants were performed in the US in 2018, compared with more than 21,000 kidney transplants.

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Profiles: 4 Twitter executives that visited Nigeria with CEO, Jack Dorsey

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On Thursday, 7th of November 2019, co-founder and CEO of social media service, Twitter, and mobile payments company, Square, Jack Dorsey, came to Lagos, Nigeria on the first leg of an African tour that will span Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

The next day in Lagos, Jack met with entrepreneurs at the the Bosun Tijan-led Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) and afterwards headed to the University of Lagos (Unilag).

He also visited Andela and ended the day with a well-attended town hall meeting at the Techpoint Africa headquarters in Lagos.

The 14-man Twitter entourage included four executive members asides Jack Dorsey.

Kayvon Beykpour

Kayvon Beykpour is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter’s video streaming application, Periscope.

Beykpour started Periscope with Joe Bernstein in early 2014. Less than a year later, in January 2015, and before it publicly launched, the app was acquired by Twitter.

In 2017, Beykpour started overseeing all the video initiatives at Twitter as a product lead.

During the town hall meeting, Techpoint invited a Nigerian engineer, Dara Oladosu, to present the solution to Jack Dorsey. Oladosu had built a Twitter bot, called Quoted Replies, that allows users see quoted replies on their tweets.

Suggested Read: Quoted Replies: The viral Twitter bot built by a Nigerian

After the presentation, Beykpour called Oladosu back and offered him a job on the spot.

“I would love for you to maybe consider come joining the company [Twitter],” Beykpour said.

“Things went way better than I expected”. @dara_tobi, creator of @QuotedReplies, reacts to getting a job offer from Twitter. He also discusses the fate of his viral Twitter bot in this interview https://t.co/ZVQKwH6mc3 pic.twitter.com/1wgYOxjHv5

— Techpoint Africa (@Techpointdotng) November 9, 2019

Parag Agrawal

Parag Agrawal is the chief technical officer (CTO) at Twitter.

As an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, as well as having a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University, Parag was chosen in 2018 to lead the technology team of the micro-blogging site after working for Twitter as a distinguished software engineer for over six years.

According to Parag’s LinkedIn profile, he assumed the CTO position in October 2017, after six years of being in his previous role.

Before that, he focused on research in Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AT&T labs up until October 2011 when he joined Twitter.

According to Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), Parag’s contributions included “leading efforts to increase the relevance of tweets on Twitter users’ timelines using artificial intelligence.”

Parag is one of the people responsible for Twitter’s foray into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) space, and may have played a major part in utilising the technology to automate campaigns on the platform. Something that Jack Dorsey has cited as perhaps the single biggest improvement around elections since he became CEO of the company he co-founded.

During their visit to Techpoint Africa’s HQ, Parag made it clear that Twitter is looking outside the Bay Area for engineering talent.

“We’re looking to have half of our engineers out of San Francisco,” said the CTO.

TJ Adeshola

TJ Adeshola is the head of US Sports Partnerships at Twitter. He assumed the role after three years as the head of Sports League Partnerships.

In 2012, Adeshola left sports channel ESPN to join Twitter as a senior account officer. Before his current role, Adeshola managed Twitter’s partnerships with major US sports leagues, including the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB).

He is also the executive sponsor of Blackbirds, Twitter’s business resource group that celebrates and encourages diverse perspectives.

Adeshola is Nigerian by origin, but he is not the only Nigerian working at Twitter.

Michael Montano studied electrical engineering at The University of Toronto, graduating in 2008.

After his first startup, IPartee, which he co-founded with a roommate back in high school, Mike went on to participate in the 2008 Y Combinator (YC) summer programme to start BackType, a service that lets people find, follow, and share comments from across the web.

At YC, Mike learned how important it is to build something that people want and that building something that’s useful right away is a huge advantage.

He joined Twitter in 2011 as an engineer, and after a major reorganisation by Jack on June 28, 2018, Mike was tasked with leading the company’s engineering team.

Even as Twitter’s lead engineer, Mike admits to working from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He claims he is more productive on those days and able to spend more time on deeper, more strategic work. Tweeting under the hashtag #WhyIWorkFromHome last month, Mike explained that his journey into remote work was initially restricted to afternoons before he made it an all-day affair.

Before IPartee, Mike started a design and development company called, UrbanTwelve, but he doesn’t consider that to be a startup.

New Report: Nigerian startups raised a combined $38.01m in Q3 2019, just 7% higher than Q3 2018. Download the report.

Attend Techpoint Startup School, a 5-day intensive training for budding African tech founders and CEOs. Classes start 2nd of December. Enrol now.

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Mom of Aztec High shooting victim petitions for possible lawsuit

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Mother of Aztec High shooting victim petitions to possibly pursue wrongful death lawsuit


Joshua Kellogg


Farmington Daily Times
Published 6:49 PM EDT Oct 30, 2019
This is Casey Marquez, one of two students shot to death by William Atchison, 21, at Aztec High School, Thursday, December 7, 2017. Atchinson then turned a Glock 9mm on himself.
Tom Tingle/The Republic

FARMINGTON — A petition has been filed in district court by the mother of a teenage girl killed in the Aztec High School shooting to possibly pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

Casey Marquez’s mother, Jamie Lattin, filed on Oct. 22 a petition for expedited appointment as her daughter’s personal representative under the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act in Eleventh Judicial District Court.

The petition states Lattin seeks appointment as personal representative to investigate and possibly pursue a lawsuit under state law, according to the petition.

Lattin declined to comment on the petition.

Francisco “Paco” Fernandez and Marquez, both 17, were killed during the Dec. 7, 2017, shooting at Aztec High.

Pending lawsuit

The mother filed a separate lawsuit against Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter and the Aztec Municipal School District Board of Education on Sept. 23.

The Sept. 23 complaint alleges the defendants were negligent in the sexual abuse and harassment of her daughter by a former Aztec High School teacher, according to The Daily Times archives.

Former ethics and math teacher James Coulter is accused of two felony counts of criminal sexual contact with another 17-year-old Aztec high student in 2017. He was the assistant athletics coach for the AHS girls cheerleading team.

MORE: Case dismissed against Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter

The lawsuit claims Coulter admitted to two incidents of sexual contact with Marquez and that he kissed her and hugged her, which caused much stress and anxiety for the girl. There is no jury trial scheduled for Coulter.

The defendants have not filed a response to the complaint.

New court documents

The Oct. 22 petition details how a personal representative is appointed by a district court for the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit, according to the petition.

It details the information on the daughter, including city of residence, who she resided with, her parents and who had legal custody of Marquez.

Lattin requests expedited processing of the petition as the statute of limitations for filing any state tort claims for wrongful death in this case will expire on Dec. 7.

The girl’s biological father, Frederick Russell Marquez, on Oct. 26 filed additional court documents in support of Lattin’s petition.

The filing by Frederick states he does not oppose the mother’s appointment as the personal representative and gives his consent for Lattin’s appointment to investigate and pursue a possible claim for the wrongful death of Casey.

District Judge Curtis Gurley is assigned to the case and had not ruled on the petition as of the morning of Oct. 30.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e

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Pastor Left In The Pool Of His Blood, Church Members Brutally Beaten By Hindu Extremists, Recovering In ICU, Need Prayers

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Imagine this. You are a tender five years old, and out of the blue, your daddy disappears. You don’t know why or how, but suddenly he’s gone and all you now know and experience is your terrified mom.

She tries to explain to you he has been killed. You’re not too sure what that means, but from the way she’s acting, it must be horrible.

A day or so later, your mom grabs you and flees the only home you’ve known. Sometimes she carries you, sometimes you have to run alongside her, but all you know is something really scary is happening and you better keep running.

She seems to hear ‘bad guys’ behind you somewhere … she looks like it at least … and just tries to run faster. She makes more turns and twists along the way, and your little legs are about ready to give out.

Finally, you get to the river—you’ve glimpsed it a few times before—and she stops by a house somebody is building there. It’s only partly ‘there’, and nobody is around, so she takes you inside.

Then she leaves. You watch her from an opening in the wall … probably where they will put glass for a window someday … and see her jump from the high bank into the river! Why didn’t she tell you she was going for a swim?

And that’s the last time you see her.

Such was how life began for young Kumar of northern India. He remembers little about life with his parents, except that they did often visit a Hindu temple and worship the many idols there.

The small boy wasn’t alone in the unfinished building long. A well-off fellow—perhaps the man having the place built—found him sobbing there shortly after his mother vanished, and took the youngster home with him.

Unfortunately, the rich man’s motives were hardly compassionate. He set his ‘new acquisition’ to work almost immediately, treating him as a household slave.

After several years of unimaginable hardship, little Kumar, now 8, fled the second home he’d ever known, again in fear.

Not too long afterwards (we’re not sure exactly how long) kindly Pastor Mohan of Bibles for Mideast found the youngster begging for food in the streets. He approached the dishevelled child and gently inquired about his past. The more he discovered, the more his heart went out to the unfortunate boy. He invited Kumar home with him, and since the little fellow seemed to understand this man was safe and good, he went along.

Soon, he became an integral part of the family; a young brother to Pastor Mohan’s other children. He went to school, studied well, and grew to have a strong faith in Jesus.

On graduating high school, he went off to Bible College and at 25, was ordained a pastor of the ALG (Assembly of Loving God, umbrella for Bibles for Mideast churches). He married a few years later.

Now with three young children of his own, Kumar’s main ministry has been among Hindus in northern India. Due to the increasing, and increasingly violent persecution of Christians by Hindu nationalists in India, his young church must of course meet secretly.

He had been warned many times to stop his work but continued tirelessly and with even increasing success. His church had grown to 40 faithful believers when last Sunday, just as their worship service drew to a close, angry militants stormed the believer’s home they met in.

They pummelled Pastor Kumar with iron pipes until he lay bloodied and unconscious. They set on other church members as well, seriously injuring several.

Pastor Kumar and three other church members were finally was taken to hospital, all in critical condition. For 48 hours, the pastor remained in acute care and doctors had scant hope for his survival.

On hearing of the attack, Pastor Paul and Pastor Peter Haneef, along with several other Bibles for Mideast leaders, left immediately for the long train trip to northern India and held three days of prayer and fasting in the home of a church member. By the second day, Pastor Kumar opened his eyes and by the third, he could speak again. Doctors were able to pronounce him out of serious danger by then.

Pastor Paul made it back to his home by late this past Thursday, but Pastor Haneef will stay longer with the young church. Pastor Kumar and the three who were most severely injured with him remain in hospital.

Please pray for their complete healing, as well as for the pastor’s wife, children and other church members. Most live in grass-thatched huts with barely enough to survive, never mind having to face almost daily persecution.

India is ranked 10th on persecution watchdog, Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

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The post Pastor Left In The Pool Of His Blood, Church Members Brutally Beaten By Hindu Extremists, Recovering In ICU, Need Prayers appeared first on Believers Portal.

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How NFL players spent early-season byes – Wedding planning, hockey and more

Through six weeks of the season, eight teams have already had a bye week. How do players spend the off week that early in the season?

Our NFL Nation reporters asked around locker rooms, gathering downtime activities from Weeks 4-6, including wedding planning, deep-sea fishing and NHL games.

Planning a wedding during a grueling NFL season can be tough, but a Week 5 bye week can certainly help. Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow thought his off weekend would be filled with visiting various wedding venues after proposing to his fiancée, Lucy Rogers, earlier this year. But when the couple returned to their native Minnesota, they only visited one on Friday — a vineyard and apple orchard in Waconia, Minnesota, about 30 minutes from where they grew up.

“I told Lucy right away that you can pick everything. It’s your day,” Ragnow said. “I really, I will marry you wherever you want to get married. But I just want to pick the food. The only thing I really care about is the food so far, that’s about it.”

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But because the Waconia venue requires use of its own caterer, Ragnow would be taken out of the food game if they choose it. So he has already started giving her a hard time about the vineyard, though mostly joking.

After the shortened wedding planning, Ragnow went to Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Chaska, Minnesota, where his mom, Marty, works. Marty recently met a student, Evan Connolly, wearing head-to-toe Lions gear and, after starting a conversation, learned he recently lost his father.

“My mom knew I was coming home for bye week and found out it was his birthday on Friday,” Ragnow said. “So she set it up, and I came by the school and surprised him, wished him a happy birthday, got to know him, signed a few things for him and talked for a little while. Met his mom, gave her a big hug and talked to her. Really, my mom set everything up, she’s an angel. It was pretty cool being able to see a big smile on his face.”

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Ragnow can relate. His father, Jon, died in 2016 when Ragnow was in school at Arkansas. Connecting with children who have lost parents at a young age has been a large part of the foundation he’s still working to set up.

Otherwise, it was a low-key weekend for Ragnow and Rogers. They went to a Chanhassen High School football game Friday night and celebrated Rogers’ grandmother’s birthday on Sunday before heading back to Detroit on Sunday night to pick up their dog, Bear, who spent his bye weekend at Camp Bow Wow in Ann Arbor. — Michael Rothstein

New York Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon, voted a team captain in large part because of his indefatigable work ethic, devoted his Week 4 bye to … well, working. He returned home to Atlanta and spent the time at his training facility — Team MVP (McLendon Vision Performance) — which is set to open after the season. McLendon owns the facility, which includes a field house and indoor track, and has four employees. McLendon used his days off to get the weight room up and running. He describes himself as a hands-on owner.

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The show will stream live at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday during the 2019 season and will be available on demand each week until late Wednesday night. Watch on ESPN+

When he wasn’t working at his facility, McLendon simulated a typical NFL week, making sure he did his daily workouts in the weight room. That included a game-day workout, which he did on Saturday because of family obligations on Sunday. His credo is, “The gym is always open.” Asked why he didn’t escape to a tropical beach on the bye week, McLendon said, “My beach is in front of that iron. That’s my beach. I’m built different.”

But Jets safety Jamal Adams? He used the off week to escape to Turks and Caicos. He didn’t watch football and tried not to think about football. He totally unplugged, although he admitted he kept his phone with him on the beach. “Had a glass of wine and relaxed,” he said. “That’s all I did.” — Rich Cimini

Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer spent his Week 6 bye at his Florida home with his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Aliyah. An avid angler, Poyer made sure to take advantage of Florida’s ample coastline and fishing opportunities. It’s something he did while growing up in Oregon, but his passion for it really took off once he moved to the Sunshine State.

“I do [a lot of fishing], especially since I moved to Florida,” Poyer said. “It’s kind of something that everybody does down there. The first time I went out deep-sea fishing was one of the first weekends I was in Florida, and I fell in love with it.” — Marcel Louis-Jacques

After the team’s London game, Oakland Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs was in Las Vegas on Saturday for the Week 6 bye to coordinate a charity event and meet with Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak when the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights heard he was in town and reached out. Jacobs had already played in a charity softball game this summer with Knights players, so he was familiar with the NHL team to a degree.

“They hit me up and was like, ‘We heard you was in town, we want you to come to the game,'” Jacobs said Monday. “I was like, ‘Sure, I ain’t never been to a major hockey game.’ And they were like, ‘When you get here, we’ve got some stuff for you.’ I’m like, all right, they’re just going to sit me somewhere, let me meet the players again. But they were like, ‘You’re going to start the game off with the siren.'”

Indeed, Jacobs was the celebrity guest to sound the pre-puck-drop, old-school-sounding siren to rally fans before the Knights’ showdown with the Calgary Flames.

🚨 @iAM_JoshJacobs IS IN THE BUILDING!!!! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/HywLn6ehZX

— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights)

“Then they gave me my own jersey and everything,” Jacobs said. “It was dope. And the atmosphere was crazy. Production? Crazy. They had a whole five-minute video before they played. I was like, this is lit. I didn’t think it was going to be fun, honestly. It’s hockey. But this is lit. I will definitely go to another game. Definitely.” — Paul Gutierrez

Three former Ohio State Buckeyes turned Miami Dolphins — linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker and offensive tackle Isaiah Prince — spent their Week 5 bye back on their old stomping grounds in Columbus, attending Ohio State’s 34-10 win over Michigan State.

Fields leads Ohio State to win with 3 TDs

Justin Fields throws two touchdown passes and runs for another to propel No. 4 Ohio State to a 34-10 win over Michigan State.

“Them boys are looking good,” McMillan said. “We got a chance to make some noise this year.”

He played for the Buckeyes from 2014-16 before being drafted in second round by the Dolphins in 2017 and said he goes back once a year, usually during the bye. Baker and McMillan both have much of their immediate family living in Ohio, so they split bye-week time between hanging on their old campus and seeing friends and family.

“It’s always a great vibe. Got a great chance to catch up with coaches and just be fans,” said Baker, who played at OSU from 2015-17 before becoming a Dolphins third-round pick in 2018. “This team got something real good brewing. It didn’t even seem like [Michigan State] had a chance.” — Cameron Wolfe

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