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Spring Training Log 1

3/22/13, 5:54 PM
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  • The British man who killed four people during a London rampage had made three trips to Saudi Arabia: He taught English there twice on a work visa and returned on a visa usually granted to those going on a religious pilgrimage. More details about attacker Khalid Masood's travels, confirmed by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Britain, emerged Saturday amid a massive British police effort to discover how a homegrown ex-con with a violent streak became radicalized and why he launched a deadly attack Wednesday on Westminster Bridge. The embassy said he taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009, with legitimate work visas both times. He then returned to Saudi Arabia for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent and made on an 'Umra' visa, usually granted to those on a religious pilgrimage to the country's Islamic holy sites. The embassy said Saudi security services didn't track Masood and he didn't have a criminal record there. Before taking the name Masood, he was called Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes. Masood drove his rented SUV across London's crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, before being shot dead by police. In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling him a 'solider' who responded to its demands that followers attack countries in the coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. British officials said security at Parliament will be reviewed after new footage emerged that showed the large gates to the complex were left open after Masood rushed onto the grounds. There are concerns that accomplices could have followed him in and killed even more people. The footage from that day shows pedestrians walking by the open gates and even a courier entering Parliament grounds. Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair told the BBC that changes to the 'outer soft ring' of Parliament's security plan are likely in the aftermath of Masood's attack. The new footage follows earlier video that showed slight delays and confusion during the evacuation of Prime Minister Theresa May from Parliament as the attack unfolded. Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record in Britain dating to 1983. In 2000, he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking, according to a newspaper account. Masood's last conviction, in 2003, also involved a knife attack. One victim, Danny Smith, told The Sun newspaper that Masood had stabbed him in the face with a kitchen knife after an argument just three days after they met. Hundreds of British police have been working to determine his motives and are scouring Masood's communications systems, including his possible use of the encrypted WhatsApp device, to help determine if he had any accomplices. Still, police have released many of those they took in for questioning in the case. One 58-year-old man remains in custody for questioning after being arrested Thursday in the central English city of Birmingham, where Masood was living. Authorities haven't charged or identified him. A 32-year-old woman arrested in Manchester has been released on bail and faces further inquiries. Police said Saturday that a 27-year-old man arrested Thursday in Birmingham has been released. Eight others arrested in connection with the investigation had been set free earlier, including a 39-year-old woman who had initially been freed on bail but now faces no further police action, police said Saturday. Details about how Masood became radicalized aren't clear, although he may have become exposed to radical views while an inmate in Britain or while working in conservative Saudi Arabia. It's also not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam.
  • RADFORD, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina sheriff says a newborn and the baby's 2-year-old sister have been found stabbed to death.Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin tells WRAL (http://bit.ly/2n1S80h) the bodies of 4-day-old Genesis Freeman and 2-year-old Serenity Freeman were found Saturday in the woods near an intersection close to the city of Raeford.Before they were found, their 30-year-old father Tillman Freeman was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse and child endangerment. Authorities said the father refused to cooperate with the investigation into the children's whereabouts. TRENDING STORIES: Plane crashes near Cobb County home; 1 killed Company will pay you $10K a month to travel, stay in luxury homes Home Depot accused of unsafe practices; Criminal investigation launched They have not said who they think killed the children, who were reported missing following a domestic dispute. Freeman's wife was in a local hospital when the children disappeared.Details about the domestic dispute were not immediately released. It's not clear whether Freeman has an attorney.
  • Tens of thousands protested Saturday under sunny skies in London against plans for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. The Unite for Europe march, which saw many people carrying bright blue EU flags, came just days before Britain is expected to begin its formal separation from the other 27 nations in the EU. The crowds observed a minute of silence at Parliament Square as a tribute to the four victims killed and dozens wounded in an attack Wednesday on Parliament. Many bowed their heads as Big Ben chimed and placed flowers at Parliament's gate to honor the victims. Police did not provide a crowd estimate. Organizers said more than 25,000 people were present. There was also a smaller anti-Brexit protest march in Edinburgh, Scotland. Organizers considered delaying the long-planned march because of the attack — in part to avoid putting extra strain on British police — but decided to go ahead. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the crowd that 'democracy continues' despite the assault. 'We stand in defiance of that attack,' he said. Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday, setting the Brexit process in motion. Negotiations are expected to take at least two years. Britain voted in a June 23 referendum to leave the EU.
  • When the Monte Carlo casino closes its eight-table poker room in about a month as part of a $450 million overhaul, the Las Vegas Strip will be down nearly a quarter of the tables it had a decade ago. Casinos constantly adjust their floors to meet customer demand. And unlike the boom years when they competed for card fans after everyman Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker's main event in 2003, poker's appeal in Sin City has been weakening this decade. Some casinos have made their poker rooms smaller. Others have eliminated them entirely. 'Casinos added more tables in response to popularity, and once it became less popular, they took away the tables,' said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The peak of the poker room was 2007. In 2002, before fans of Texas Hold 'Em began to rush to the Strip, casinos had 144 tables and made $30 million from the game. Five years later, casinos had more than tripled their poker revenue to $97 million with 405 tables. Last year, the game netted them only $78 million after the number of tables decreased to 320. The situation is similar across the state. Casinos had 907 tables and made $168 million in 2007. Last year, they took in $118 million from 661 tables. Even the game's proponents understand poker has never been a big moneymaker for casinos. That's because instead of gambling against the stacked odds of the house as they do in blackjack or slots, players wager against one another and the casinos take a portion as a fee for hosting the games. Casinos were willing to do that to keep players in their establishments while the game's popularity soared. The boost was fueled by the rise of internet gambling and a watershed moment in 2003 when Moneymaker, as an amateur, won $2.5 million as people watched on TV. The landscape drastically changed in 2011, when the federal government cracked down on internet poker and blacked out major sites — a moment poker enthusiasts refer to as 'Black Friday.' MGM Resorts International, the owner of the Monte Carlo, attributes its decision to close the property's poker room to an overhaul that includes a full rebranding with the launch of a new luxury hotel named Park MGM and a version of the widely acclaimed NoMad Hotel. The company's nearby Aria and Bellagio properties have poker rooms. The Hard Rock Casino Hotel east of the Las Vegas Strip closed its poker room earlier this month. Other Vegas casinos that have shed their poker room since 2010 include Ellis Island, Palms and Tropicana. Property officials carefully choose games for their valued space and are always looking to maximize their revenue per square foot. Meanwhile, floors are generally smaller overall as casinos have morphed into full-service resorts with nightclubs, shopping areas, restaurants and other amenities. 'Gaming has become a smaller portion of the overall revenue mix and things like poker rooms are candidates for further evaluation as to whether they make sense or not at a casino property,' said Brian Gordon, a principal at the Las Vegas-based research firm Applied Analysis. Caesars Palace, owned by the company that owns the World Series of Poker, relocated and downsized its poker room by two-thirds in 2015. But the revenue it now generates is much higher per square foot, said Seth Palansky, the tournament's spokesman. 'We recognized the room was bigger than it needed to be,' Palansky said. 'You can make a lot more money per square foot with a nightclub-dayclub these days than you can with a poker table.' ___ Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO / More of her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/ReginaGarciaCano