What they’re saying about Raptors guard Fred VanVleet’s record-setting night

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet broke multiple records in scoring 54 points against the Orlando Magic to lead his team to 123-108 win.

VanVleet broke the franchise record for points in one game, previously held by DeMar DeRozan, who scored 52 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 1, 2018 in an overtime win.

VanVleet also broke the mark for most points scored in a single game by an undrafted player, surpassing Moses Malone (53).

On top of his 54 points, VanVleet had a career-high 11 threes (one short of the Raptors franchise record) while shooting an efficient 17-23 from the field. He also added three steals and three blocks to his record-setting performance.

The Rockford, Ill. product, whose motto is “bet on yourself,” became the first player in NBA history to score more than 50 points, while making more than 10 threes while shooting over 70 per cent from both the field and beyond the arc.

He joins DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Vince Carter as the only Raptors to score 50 points or more in a game.

Here’s how players from across the league and reporters reacted to VanVleet’s offensive eruption:

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Texas’ Abbott rips vetting of National Guard: ‘This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday said he finds it “offensive” that the FBI is vetting National Guard members, including those from his own state, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

“This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard,” Abbott, a Republican, wrote on Twitter. “No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard.”

The deadly riot at the Capitol earlier this month caused officials in the city to take drastic measures to ensure the inauguration is secure.


Approximately 25,000 National Guard troops have been sent to the capital — including about 1,000 from Texas.

“I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC,” Abbott wrote. “I’ll never do it again if they are disrespected like this.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference where he provided an update to Texas’ response to COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

U.S. defense officials said they were worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing the inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all National Guard troops coming to Washington D.C. for the event. 

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the AP that officials were conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches.


“We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy said. 

He and other leaders say they haven’t seen evidence of any threats and officials noted that the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues that they were aware of.

Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, in a statement on Monday, said that the Department of Defense has also not received any intelligence indicating a potential insider threat. 

Still, Miller added that the department is “leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital.”


“This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events. However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique,” he said. 

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and Lucas Manfredi and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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Wisconsin National Guard Depart for Washington Ahead of Inauguration

Around 500 members of the Wisconsin National Guard departed for Washington on January 16, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, officials said. Up to 25,000 National Guard members from several states were expected to be in the capital to support the security of the inauguration, military officials said. This footage was captured by the Wisconsin National Guard, and shows troops boarding airplanes. Credit: DVIDS via Storyful

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Steve Smith captaincy, cheating’ scuffing guard, Tim Paine sledging, future, reaction, Rishabh Pant

The drawn third Test against India showed us Tim Paine isn’t always as cool as we think he is, the tourists have more guts than we realised and Steve Smith can never captain Australia again.

The 31-year-old was shocked and distraught to be caught up in controversy when he was accused of scuffing up Rishabh Pant’s guard on day five at the SCG.

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The English came hard for Smith. Former fast bowler Darren Gough blasted it as “plain cheating”, 2005 Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan labelled it “very poor” and ex-player and coach David Lloyd wrote in a scathing column Smith must not have “two brain cells to rub together”.

The truth is it was a case of Smith being Smith. The eccentric batsman is forever in his own cricketing bubble and was simply shadow batting and marking centre — a quirky habit Paine assured us his teammate performs regularly in every game and Justin Langer said it couldn’t possibly have done any damage to the pitch.

But as questions are asked about how long 36-year-old Paine has left in the top job, especially after dropping three catches and sledging Ravichandran Ashwin, it’s become clear he can’t be replaced by Smith.

Rightly or wrongly, Smith will forever be tainted by his role in the 2018 ball tampering scandal, which saw him banned for a year and prevented from holding any leadership position in Australian cricket until 2020.

While many in the cricket world, including Australian Test players Trent Copeland and Mark Waugh, leapt to Smith’s defence after this latest furore, the overwhelming sentiment from cricket fans on social media was this: Why, after all Smith has been through, would he put himself in a position to be judged for something that, plainly speaking, was just weird?

He did nothing illegal but shadow batting as a left-hander when you don’t even have another innings to play, then scraping the crease line, left Smith open to criticism he could easily have avoided.

RELATED: Real reason ‘filthy’ Tim Paine blew a gasket

RELATED: Smith responds to ‘cheating’ accusations

The vitriol that came his way showed the scars of Sandpapergate run deep, and any tiny misstep such as this proves Smith can’t escape his past. He certainly won’t be able to if he captains again, because his every move will be scrutinised more than ever.

A repeat of the Sydney scandal — and howls of “the sandpaper villain is at it again!” — will always be just one quirky habit away.

There’s another reason Smith might be better-suited to role where his tactical nous in the field is sought out but it’s informal. When youngster Cameron Green was drafted into the ODI squad to make his international debut earlier this summer, the best since Bradman was asked if he’d had much to do with the all-rounder since he arrived in camp.

Smith said he’d barely spoken to the 21-year-old, because he was so focused on hitting balls in the nets and working on his batting.

As an uncapped player, you’d hope senior players would take the time to make you feel welcome and get to know you. It’s certainly something you’d expect from the captain.

But Smith was too ensconced in his batting bubble to be distracted.

That’s fine — Smith is going to make a lot of Aussie cricket fans very happy if he sticks to his demanding training regimen and scores truckloads of runs for the next five years.

He should feel empowered to take whatever steps are necessary to maintain his status as the best batsman in the world — but if he lacks the people skills to befriend newcomers, he can’t be captain at the same time.

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US Capitol under siege: National Guard called in as Trump supporters storm Washington – latest news

US Capitol under siege: National Guard called in as Trump supporters storm Washington – latest news

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Coronavirus | Be on guard even after vaccination, PM Modi urges people

Preparations are in the last stages for the vaccination programme, says Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that preparations were in the last stages for the vaccination programme against COVID-19.

Speaking after laying the foundation stone of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rajkot through videoconferencing, he said that people would get the vaccine manufactured in India and urged people not to let their guard down and strictly abide by coronavirus preventive norms even after vaccination.

“Earlier, I said, ‘Dawai nahi toh dheelai nahi’. Now, I am saying ‘Dawai bhi aur kadaai (caution) bhi’. Our mantra for the year 2021 is ‘Dawai bhi aur kadaai bhi’ ”.

Stating that India was getting ready to run the world’s largest vaccination programme, the Prime Minister noted that India had turned into the nerve-centre of global health.

‘Watch out for rumours’

He cautioned people against rumours about the COVID-19 vaccination.

“Different people for their personal gains or due to irresponsible behaviour spread various rumours. Maybe rumours will be spread when vaccination begins, some have already begun,” he said.

“I appeal to the people of the country that fight against COVID-19 is the one against an unknown enemy. Be careful about such rumours and as responsible citizens refrain from forwarding messages on social media without checking.”

Speaking about medical education in the country, Mr. Modi said that his government was working on mission mode to improve this in India. In the last six years, work on 10 new AIIMS began and some of them are operational. “Twenty super speciality hospitals are also being built in the country,” he said.

Ayushman Bharat scheme

He added that under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, about 7,000 Jan Aushadhi Centres had provided medicines at low cost to about 3.5 lakh poor patients.

“If 2020 was the year of health challenges, 2021 is going to become the year of health solutions. The world will move towards health solutions with better awareness,” Mr. Modi stressed adding that as the diseases were becoming globalised, it was time for a coordinated global response for global health solutions.

“India has done this as a global player. India proved its mettle by adapting, evolving and expanding as per demand. India moved with the world and did value addition in the collective efforts. India is emerging as the nerve centre of global health, in 2021 we need to further strengthen this role of India,” he added.

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Duck Hunters Rescued by Coast Guard Off Jersey Shore

New video shows the Coast Guard rescue of two duck hunters who became marooned on December 15 after leaving their boat to hunt on an island on the New Jersey coastline. The rescue took place in Brigantine, New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon, and was carried out by a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew. According to the Coast Guard, the pair of hunters had brought their boat to shore but were “unable to recover” it when they returned. Shallow waters made a maritime rescue impossible, the Coast Guard said. Rescuers found the two hunters had “only one bottle of water, no food and cell phones with little charge” before airlifting them to safety. Credit: US Coast Guard via Storyful

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Dante Exum firms as Cleveland Cavaliers back-up point guard

“I love to be on the floor whenever I get to play. We had a different line-up on the court and we were doing some different things.”

The 25-year-old has returned to Cleveland in top condition and his performance on Tuesday has coach JB Bickerstaff preparing to use Exum as the team’s back-up point guard.

“I would say yes, up to this point, I think he’s earned that for sure,” Bickerstaff said on Tuesday.

Exum wants to do all he can to help the Cavaliers rise up the standings, so far they are 2-0 in their pre-season games.

“Last season was that I was traded, I was coming into what you would call a bit of a mess – so it was important to have a good off-season and come into training camp strong and have an impact,” Exum said.

“That’s the main thing I want to do. If I have an impact every night then I’m doing my job.”

Bickerstaff said Exum gave the side added speed and versatility but they need to lower their turnover count.

“We talked about him being a two-way player. We talked about him putting pressure on the rim. I think we saw that tonight,” Bickerstaff said.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dante Exum Credit:AP

“Defensively being active, getting deflections, being versatile on that end, able to guard multiple positions. But for us, offensively, he brings pace to the game. Dante is really fast. With his size, he’s long and able to finish in traffic. He brings us a versatility that allows us to do other things with our guards.”

Green showed further proof he could play meaningful minutes for the Dallas Mavericks this season with the Sydney-raised guard scoring 10 points in 18 minutes in his club’s 109-95 win over the highly-rated Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee.

Green’s defensive skills stood out before the draft but his shooting touch has proven to be better than expected as he knocked two of his four attempts from outside.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praised Green for his preparedness for the NBA despite having only completed one season of college.

“He doesn’t say nothing, he just plays hard,” Carlisle said.

“He’s got a great background of fundamentals, he’s had terrific coaching and he understands the reads of the game beyond his years.

“He gets things the first time. He’s been terrific, he’s not going to put up gaudy stats but he’s going to do the basics extremely well and he will be a guy who fights people defensively.”

Rio Olympian Ryan Broekhoff is looking for a new NBA team after being waived by the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

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UK, EU Ramp Up Talks on Post-Brexit Deal as Britain Reportedly Readying Armed Ships to Guard Waters


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Post-Brexit conditions in terms of fishing, trade, and governance have dominated media headlines for the past few days, yet it is highly probable that Sunday’s final discussions in the run-up to Christmas and the end of the post-exit transition period will yield no results, Brussels and London said in unison.

As both sides on Friday agreed that the talks would probably result in no definitive accord, UK Prime Minister Johnson met with Michael Gove, the minister in charge of global Brexit planning issues, in order to “take stock” of would-be arrangements should a no-deal exit happen.

The UK is also readying Royal Navy patrol ships to help protect its fishing waters, a report by The Guardian has it citing insiders in the negotiations. They specified that the 80-metre-long armed vessels would be fully capable of not only inspecting, but halting and impounding all EU fishing boats operating within the UK’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which can extend 200 miles from the coastline.

Photo : LPhot Joe Cater/ROYAL NAVY

HMS Mersey. Handout released by the Royal Navy on March 26, 2020.

The news immediately drew staunch criticism and praise alike. On Saturday, Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative chair of the Commons Defence Committee, called the idea to use armed vessels to guard Britain’s waters irresponsible citing a slew of more burning issues to deal with:

“We’re facing the undignified prospect right now of our overstretched Royal Navy squaring up to a close NATO ally over fishing vessel rights when we are witnessing an increasing presence of Russian drone activity and subsurface activity – our adversaries must really be enjoying this blue on blue”, the former defence minister recounted on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He went on to fume that the UK in this day and age is “no Elizabethan any more”, but “global Britain” that has to push the “bar much higher than this”.

Ellwood went still further warning against a no-deal outcome, which Boris Johnson said was “very likely”, arguing that it would be damaging to Britain – “a retrograde step, a failure of statecraft”.
Ex-admiral Sir Alan West, on the contrary, said the navy is obliged to protect UK waters from foreign fishing vessels if asked to weigh in.

“It is absolutely appropriate that the Royal Navy should protect our waters if the position is that we are a sovereign state and our government has said we don’t want other nations there”, the peer told Today.

Separately, Pierre Karleskind, the chairman of the European parliament’s committee on fisheries, believes there is nothing wrong in the deployment of ships, yet he likewise rushed to warn about the implications of a no-deal outcome. “I really think a no-deal would be a lose-lose deal. Lose for you, lose for us. I’m pretty sure of that”.

He suggested the said move to get armed vessels engaged is not solely about fishing:

“You’re saying it’s about fish but let’s think just a few seconds. Do you really think it’s only about fish that navy ships are used and will be used? I don’t think so. I think there are other interests like the control of the border, especially the question of migrants”.

Post-Brexit Trade and Governance Stalemate

The tortuous talks, which were at some point completely stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic, are largely hampered by three sticking points on the Brexit agenda that the sides have so far failed to reach a common ground on.
One of these is fisheries: while the UK deems it necessary to sit down at the negotiating table annually to determine individually applied quotas, the EU has been pushing for a wider and more universal in terms of time access to the British fishing waters that Downing Street has repeatedly referred to as sovereign.


EU chief Brexit negotiator Barnier arrives for talks in London

Another divisive issue is the so-called level playing field, which is an umbrella term for all market conditions that will apply for European businesses in the UK and for British enterprises in EU member states and that are hoped to guarantee fair market play. If the latter stumbling clock is not decided before the end of the transition period, slated to end on 31 December, the UK and the EU will trade on general WTO rules, which basically involve duties and tariffs, as well as border controls.

The earlier deadline for talks to arrive at a clear-cut economic and governance deal, with enough time earmarked for its ratification in European and British parliaments, is Sunday.

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Navy ships to guard UK fishing waters if there’s a no-deal Brexit – POLITICO

Royal Navy vessels armed with machine guns could be deployed to guard Britain’s fishing waters if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Four 80-meter-long patrol ships will be available from January 1 to patrol the English Channel and Irish Sea to stop illegal fishing, according to local media.

The U.K. government is preparing legislation to extend the powers of Britain’s naval police so they can board foreign vessels and arrest EU fishermen if they enter U.K. waters after a no-deal Brexit. They’d also be able to impound EU fishing vessels.

Although patrol vessels carry machine guns, they would not be expected to use weapons against EU boats. “Nobody is going to be firing warning shots against French fishermen; firearms are only used when there is danger to life,” a navy official told the Guardian.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Thursday that there is a “strong possibility” of no Brexit trade deal.

As part of contingency measures released on Thursday, the EU wants to continue allowing EU and U.K. vessels to fish in each other’s waters after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31, “to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries” and because of “the importance of fisheries for the economic livelihood of many communities.”

Some 42 percent of all fish caught by EU fishing crews are plucked out of British waters. That figure is even higher for fishermen from nearby coastal countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands.

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