Fight to save seabirds trapped in plastic

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Conservationists have mounted a rescue mission to save dozens of seabirds trapped in plastic and Sky News was given exclusive access to the operation.

The RSPB landed on Grassholm island, eight miles off the Pembrokeshire coast, to cut free young gannets from the fishing ropes and nets that adults use to build nests.

Video:A painful death on ‘plastic island’

Greg Morgan, warden for the RSPB reserve, said there is so much fishing gear floating in the water around the island that the birds mistake it for the seaweed that they should be using.

Image:Plastic twine is cut away from seabirds

He said: “We estimate there are 18 tonnes of plastic in the nests on the island.

“The chicks sit on the nest. As they turn, the plastic gets twisted around their leg and ensnares them.

“They should have flown away by now. Eventually the adults give up and they are left to starve.”

Image:Surveys show 80% of the nests on Grassholm island contain plastic

We saw birds with plastic twine twisted so tight around their legs that it had cut through to the bone.

Other birds were already dead, their feet tethered to the nest by rope.

:: Sky Ocean rescue: How to get involved

Video:Plastic voyage uncovers ocean plagued with pollution

Surveys show 80% of the nests on Grassholm contain plastic. Some of it is swept from as far as North America by the Gulf Stream.

The RSPB lands on the island every October, when most of the gannets have flown south for the winter, to save as many of the remaining birds as they can.

Over the 12 years that conservationists have been landing on the island, they’ve cut free 637 birds.

Video:Coca-Cola’s big rethink on plastics

“This is out of sight, out of mind,” said Mr Morgan.

“People have no idea that this (plastic) is coursing through our seas. We need to raise awareness”

Lisa Morgan, also an RSPB warden (and Greg’s wife), admitted that they are firefighting. There is too much plastic to remove – and even attempting a clear-up could put the whole colony at risk.

“Birds use the same nests every year,” she said.

Video:Sky News Special Report: Our Ocean

“If we were to take all of that away, remove all the nests, it would destroy the way the gannetry is built up over time. It’s just not an option.

“Gannets love this stuff. Once it is here it will be here for many years to come.”

Plastic fishing nets, ropes and pots are a growing problem. Worldwide 640,000 tonnes a year break free and drift through the oceans, harming wildlife.

Video:A look back at the Ocean Rescue conference

Sarah Parmor, a volunteer, said: “It makes you feel angry. If people could see (the plastic) here it would make them think about what they are doing in their own lives.

“When you have a bird in your arms with plastic around its neck or wings it makes it more real, the damage that plastic is doing to animals.”

:: To get involved in our Sky Ocean Rescue campaign, visit the website here.

John Kelly: Obama didn’t call when my son died

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White House chief of staff John Kelly has defended Donald Trump’s handling of families of US military heroes who died in action.

Mr Kelly has remained silent for years over the death of his own son Robert in Afghanistan in 2010 and revealed President Obama did not call him after the tragic news – but that was not a criticism.

Mr Kelly’s comments follow the row between Mr Trump and Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson who says she overheard the president tell the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson who was killed in Niger that but the cheque never arrived.

Brexit could allow us to stay – illegal migrants

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Brexit may mean instability for businesses and EU citizens living here but an unlikely group of people are eagerly awaiting Britain’s divorce from Europe.

It is estimated that more than a million migrants are living in the UK illegally, according to a former head of Home Office immigration enforcement.

But with an expected decline in workers from Europe, the illegal immigrants we spoke to are hoping it could provide an opportunity for some kind of amnesty.

Video:Illegal migrants want post-Brexit amnesty

Selvarasa Sabesan, 31, told me: “We believe that we can come up and get an offer from the Government because the European people will go out when Brexit happens so when they go out, the British Government will need people to do the low paid jobs so we believe that they will offer us some opportunity to become legal.”

We met Mr Selvarasa and his friend Balasingam Kumaresan, 33, who work illegally in a takeaway shop preparing food and doing odd jobs.

The owner of the shop risks heavy fines and even jail for giving work to illegal immigrants.

Image:The men are paid ‘pocket money’ – about £15 to £20 a day

Mr Balasingam said: “We get pocket money – sometimes £15 to £20 for a full day’s work – for one day.

“We get two meals a day given by the shop – chicken. But life very difficult.”

We gained a rare insight into the lives of illegal immigrants living in the shadows.

Fearful of being arrested and deported, they told us they want to become hard working members of society.

But they dare not risk interaction with their local community for fear of someone becoming suspicious and reporting them to the council or the police.

Image:The men live in a garage and do not mix with the local community for fear of being reported

We followed the men home from the takeaway at the end of their shift, and found they were living in a garage with a group of Tamils from Sri Lanka.

Most of the group sleeping rough here came on fake visas, saying they were fleeing persecution.

Some illegal immigrants are no doubt exploited as cheap labour, while others get work through pity.

Video:Big net migration fall since Brexit vote

In the EU referendum, immigration was one of the key issues, with some voters wanting open borders with Europe to stop.

But the irony is that these immigrants now think Brexit could benefit them.

We also met Ashanthan Thiyagarajah, who sleeps in a stock room at the back of a corner shop.

He, like many illegal immigrants, came on a student visa which has now expired.

He said: “Asians and other non European people will have the job opportunities because of the Brexit and it’s good that the referendum came.”

Bush speaks out against Trump ‘bigotry’

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Former president George W Bush has launched a thinly veiled but hard-hitting attack on Donald Trump’s administration.

Mr Bush said bigotry, white supremacy and falsehoods were coarsening the tone of the US and threatening its democracy.

In a speech in New York, Mr Bush said: “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”

Although he did not mention the president by name, Mr Bush was clearly criticising the current administration and its controversial policies.

Mr Bush said: “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

:: Trump offered grieving military father $25k

Video:Trump rejects ‘insensitive’ claim

He said argument “turns too easily into animosity,” and “disagreement escalates into dehumanisation”.

Republican Mr Bush has remained tight-lipped on his thoughts about Mr Trump since he won the White House last November, unlike his Democratic successor Barack Obama.

In his speech at the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty, Mr Bush, 71, went on: “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism and forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.

“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.”

Video:Iran ‘should have thanked Obama’ for the deal

Mr Bush said there was “fading confidence” in free markets and international trade and noted the “return of isolationist sentiments” in the country.

He said that while it was important not to ignore the concerns of people whose jobs may have been lost to global economic forces, “we cannot wish globalisation away”.

Mr Bush also stressed the importance of welcoming refugees and dissidents to US shores and called for the country to pass its civic ideals on to the next generation.

He added: “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

Mr Bush’s attack comes days after a speech by another major Republican national figure Senator John McCain who appeared to rebuke Mr Trump’s ideas and politics.

Mr McCain attacked what he described as “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems”.

New data reveals ‘social apartheid’ at Oxbridge

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Britain’s elite universities represent a “social apartheid” as new figures reveal a privileged background is “still the key” to earning a place at Oxford or Cambridge, a former Labour minister has claimed.

Data published by David Lammy MP shows successful entrants to the UK’s top two universities were dominated by students from the south of England, the top two social classes and of non-black ethnicity.

The ex-universities minister branded Oxbridge colleges “fiefdoms of entrenched privilege” and demanded greater action to increase diversity over the “shocking” figures.

The data, secured by Mr Lammy through Freedom of Information requests, reveals:

:: The University of Cambridge made more offers to applicants from four of the Home Counties (Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent and Oxfordshire) than the whole of the North of England between 2010 to 2015.

:: Both universities draw half their students from the South East and London, with around 11% from the Midlands and 15% from the North.

:: In each year between 2010 to 2015, 13 of the University of Oxford’s 38 colleges did not make a single offer to a black A Level applicant.

:: Less than 1% of Cambridge offers went to Pakistani applicants and 1% to black applicants between 2010 to 2015.

:: The proportion of offers that both universities made to applicants from the top two social classes rose from 79% in 2010, to 82% at Oxford and 81% at Cambridge in 2015.

Image:Cambridge made more offers to applicants from four of the Home Counties than the whole of the North

Tottenham MP Mr Lammy said: “Overall, the picture painted by this data is of two institutions that overwhelmingly draw their students from a privileged minority in the South of England.”

The former barrister is calling for Oxbridge to end their collegiate admissions system for a centralised process to address shortcomings.

He also wants foundation years for those from under-represented sections of society; for the universities to directly contact talented students from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds to encourage them to apply; and to copy the US Ivy League’s system of giving weight to an applicant’s social class and local authority.

Mr Lammy said: “An Oxbridge degree is still the golden ticket in our society and a gateway to the top jobs so the Government has a responsibility to hold Oxbridge to account.”

He claimed it was “not good enough” for the universities to blame the school system.

Image:Labour’s David Lammy called on the Government to hold Oxbridge to account

In response, the University of Cambridge pointed to its highest ever level of undergraduate acceptances for black and minority ethnic background students (21.8%) in 2016.

The university’s 2017 figures also show the highest proportion of state-educated students in 35 years.

A spokesperson said: “We aim to widen participation further whilst maintaining high academic standards.

“Our admissions decisions are based on academic considerations alone. We are committed to admitting the best students who will thrive on our courses.

“The greatest barrier to participation at selective universities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds is low attainment at school.

“We assess the achievements of these students in their full context to ensure that students with great academic potential are identified.”

The University of Oxford said students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds made up 15.9% of its 2016 undergraduate intake, double the figure in 2010.

A spokesperson said solving the problem would be “a long journey that requires huge, joined-up effort across society – including from leading universities like Oxford – to address serious inequalities”.

Smartphone ‘loyalty penalty’ of over £1 a day

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Mobile phone firms are denying they hide charges of more than £1 per day for handsets after fixed-term contracts expire.

Citizens Advice has accused three major players of failing to reduce bills to reflect that a phone has been paid for – demanding providers make their billing more transparent.

It alleged people with Vodafone were paying up to £38 monthly for top-end smartphones because they remained on the same tariff after the conclusion of a fixed-term contract – usually two years.

The charity said EE and Three were still charging up to £34 for handsets.

Citizens Advice concluded customers were being penalised for loyalty and demanded the industry regulator, Ofcom, step in unless operators raised their game.

Image:Vodafone says it offers customers a range of options ‘wherever possible’

Its research found the over 65s were most likely to be caught out by the billing issue, with 23% of such customers on a handset-inclusive deal remaining on it for more than 12 months past the end of the fixed contract.

Customers have a choice of remaining with the same operator on the same contract, taking out a new deal or switching to another provider at the end of their fixed-term.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “It is clearly unfair that some phone providers are charging loyal customers for handsets that they have already paid for.

“Phone providers must now make sure that any customers staying in a contract past the end of a fixed deal have their monthly bill reduced to reflect the cost of the handset.

“Providers could make it much easier for consumers to compare prices by separating out the cost of handsets from the cost of services like data and minutes for all contracts, that way it would be much clearer what they’re paying for.”

Image:Minister for Digital Matt Hancock wants customers to be notified when they have paid off their phone

The Government responded to the report by supporting the charity’s recommendations while mobile operators insisted nothing was being hidden.

EE said: “Separating phone and tariff doesn’t always represent the best deal for consumers.

“It can sometimes result in them paying more, and EE customers have the flexibility to choose the tariff and upfront phone cost that’s right for them.

“We send our customers regular updates about their options before and after they reach the end of their contract, and the vast majority of our customers upgrade to a new phone or move to a SIM-only plan near the end of their

Three said the terms of its contracts were always clear and customers were urged to get in touch if they wanted to change their plan at the end of the fixed term.

A Vodafone UK spokeswoman said: “Wherever possible, we contact customers nearing the end of their contract to offer them a range of options.”

#ExposeYourPig: French women name harassers online

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French women have been shaming sexual predators online, replacing the #MeToo campaign with the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc – or “expose your pig”.

Twitter users have been sharing their stories of sexual harassment following the initiative launched by a French journalist in New York.

It follows the #MeToo campaign, which saw thousands of people recount experiences of being verbally abused, molested, groped or raped.

The latest hashtag however, takes the movement a step further with victims naming their alleged attackers.

One woman spoke about an encounter with a photographer.

She wrote: “A photographer told me ‘we could do the photos, or we could just have sex’.”

:: Alyssa Milano’s #MeToo tweet gets thousands of replies

Image:Women have been speaking out following allegations aimed at Harvey Weinstein

Another woman wrote: “One bouncer rescued me from a guy in a nightclub, only to then say he deserved a kiss for his trouble.”

Marlène Schiappa, France’s minister of gender equality, hailed the campaign.

“Twitter cannot replace legal action but it is a first step for many women,” she said.

“Anything that allows women to talk is a good method.

“I understand that being behind a screen can make it easier to put extremely difficult issues into words.”

The outpouring of people talking about their experiences with sexual harassment comes after Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of harassing or assaulting more than 40 women.

He has “unequivocally denied” the claims against him and has not been charged with any offence.

:: BFI withdraws Harvey Weinstein’s fellowship

Video:Special report: Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace

Ms Schiappa announced plans for a new law against sexual harassment and violence that would fine men for behaviour such as wolf-whistling.

“There are 220,000 incidents of sexual assault and 84,000 of rape per year (in France),” the politician said. “Those numbers have got to come down.”

Prominent feminist and entrepreneur Marie Beauchesne spoke out about harassment in the French capital.

She said: “I’ve lived in Paris for five years and already been physically assaulted twice, and I’ve lost count of the number of insults and marriage proposals.”

Image:Actress Catherine Deneuve branded the campaign ‘disgusting’.

But some have slammed the movement, saying it focuses on revenge and shaming rather than the legislative process.

French actress Catherine Deneuve told magazine Valeurs Actuelles she thought the campaign was “disgusting”.

She added: “Does it contribute anything? Will it solve the problem?”

Yankees 6, Astros 4 | Series tied, 2-2: Yankees Feast on the Astros’ Bullpen in a Comeback Victory

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Lifeless, listless and about to be facing an elimination game, the Yankees discovered a path back into the American League Championship Series. It came by opening the gate to the Houston Astros’ bullpen.

After being held to one hit for the first six innings — and a bloop single at that — the Yankees tore through the Astros’ wobbly bullpen and rallied for a 6-4 victory that got the new Yankee Stadium rocking like the old one and evened the series at two games apiece.

If the Yankees headed home Tuesday night carrying a satchel of momentum, the shaken Astros at least had the comfort of knowing that Dallas Keuchel — who has shut out the Yankees in 13 playoff innings — will be on the mound against Masahiro Tanaka in Game 5 on Wednesday.

“The series wasn’t over after two games,” Astros Manager A. J. Hinch said after his team lost its second game in a row. “It’s certainly not over after four.”

As has so often been the case for the Yankees this season — and postseason — Aaron Judge was at the center of things. His home run to lead off the seventh launched the Yankees comeback and chased Lance McCullers Jr, who had been sublime in his longest outing in four months. Then in the eighth, Judge’s double off the left-field wall tied the score.

That hit, like Gary Sanchez’s two-run double that would put the Yankees ahead — Sanchez’s first hit of the series —came off Astros closer Ken Giles, one of four relievers the Astros used to try to hang on to what had been a four-run lead with nine outs left.

“The Yankee gods are watching us,” Todd Frazier said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

After closing the gap to 4-2 in the seventh, the Yankees needed every bit of munificence in the eighth when the pinch-hitter Chase Headley followed Frazier’s leadoff single with a line drive into the left-center gap off Joe Musgrove. Headley hit first base awkwardly and, instead of advancing for a comfortable double, he stumbled and fell halfway between the bases.

“I was going from extremely excited to extremely panicked in a matter of seconds,” Headley said.

As shortstop Carlos Correa gathered the throw from left fielder Marwin Gonzalez, he turned and fired to first baseman Yulieski Gurriel after hearing his teammates yell, “One, one, one!” It was a lifeline Headley was hoping for. He scrambled toward second, and his headfirst slide just beat Gurriel’s throw to second baseman Jose Altuve.

“When you’re in that position, you’ve got to make a decision one way or another,” Headley said. “Fortunately it worked out.”

There was no underselling the importance of the play in either clubhouse. Instead of one out and a runner at third, the Yankees had none out, the tying run at second and the top of the order up.

“Biggest play of the game, bar none,” Frazier said. “That changes the whole game if he’s out.”

Said Correa: “That’s when I thought the inning was going a little their way.”

Giles, who had closed out the Astros’ 2-1 victory in the series opener, was summoned. Brett Gardner greeted Giles, the most reliable member of the Astros’ bullpen, with a groundout to second that scored Frazier and advanced Headley to third. Jacoby Ellsbury then entered as a pinch-runner for Headley.

That brought up Judge, who had grounded out against Giles in the opener. This time, Judge hit a 2-2 slider on the outside corner — a pitch that has befuddled him during his strikeout-filled playoff run — on a line to left. It carried over the head of Gonzalez and off the wall for a standup double.

“He’s a good hitter for a reason, and he did exactly what he’s wanted to do — put it up in the air and found the wall,” Giles said. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Didi Gregorius, who had tripled and scored on a fly ball by Sanchez in the seventh inning, followed by hitting a weak grounder into a hole in the shift for a single that advanced Judge to third.

That brought up Sanchez, who was hitless in his last 18 at-bats and was in the lineup as the designated hitter so that Austin Romine could catch starter Sonny Gray.

After taking two sliders for balls, Sanchez lined a fastball over the plate into right-center field for a double that scored Judge and Gregorius. Just like that, the Yankees led by 6-4 — and the crowd erupted like it did the last time the Yankees had rallied from a four-run deficit in a playoff game: Game 7 of the 2003 A.L.C.S., which Aaron Boone would win with a home run.

“When I got to second base, my emotions were going through the roof,” the normally taciturn Sanchez said through an interpreter.

The Astros said they were undone less by the crowd than by the hardened at-bats the Yankees put together: single, single, run-scoring groundout, double, infield single, double.

“It may look like it’s unraveling real quick,” Giles said. “But in my eyes it’s just slowly putting us to the ground.”

If Tuesday’s loss proves to be the Astros’ undoing in this series, it will be another Game 4 eighth-inning boogeyman they must confront. With a chance to close out a division series two years ago at home against the Kansas City Royals, the Astros unraveled, blowing a four-run lead in the eighth inning before eventually losing, 9-6. The Royals won Game 5 two days later and went on to win the World Series.

The similarities on Tuesday were hard to miss. Just like in 2015, the Astros rode a command performance from McCullers into the seventh inning. Gurriel had provided the breakthrough hit — a bases-loaded double in the sixth off reliever David Robertson that gave the Astros a 3-0 lead. The lead grew to 4-0 in the seventh when Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro stumbled and fell while fielding a grounder – his second error of the night – allowing Gonzalez to score from second base.

As it turned out, though, the Yankees had plenty left.

“Sometimes I feel like we like playing with our backs against the wall,” said Judge, alluding to the wild-card win over Minnesota and the comeback from a 2-0 deficit to beat Cleveland in the division series. “It’s kind of crazy, but like I said before: We’re a team that goes out there and fights and keeps fighting until it’s the last out.”

The Yankees, who have already won four elimination games, were not quite ready to play another.

Cavaliers 102, Celtics 99: Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Fractures Ankle in Season Opener

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CLEVELAND — Less than six minutes into his first game as a member of the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, Gordon Hayward badly fractured his left ankle on a failed alley-oop attempt.

The injury, which happened during the N.B.A.’s season opener, was a crushing blow to the Celtics in their quest for Eastern Conference superiority. Hayward, a forward who signed a four-year, $128 million contract with the Celtics in July, had been slotted into a roster with Al Horford and Kyrie Irving in a new Big Three for a team that has been on the rise for the last several seasons.

“It’s a tough, tough deal,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said. “But I guess that’s part of it — the risk of injury. We feel for him.”

On the play that led to the injury, Hayward was leaping toward the basket to receive a pass from Irving when he became entangled with LeBron James and Jae Crowder of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hayward landed on his left foot, which twisted in gruesome fashion under him as he collapsed to the floor.

The reaction to the injury was immediate, with Tristan Thompson of the Cavaliers covering his face and turning away. Players from both teams were visibly shaken as medical personnel rushed to tend to Hayward, 27, whose left leg was eventually placed in a protective brace. Several players, including James, approached Hayward to wish him well as he was placed on a stretcher and wheeled off the floor. The crowd at Quicken Loans Arena, which had been silent following the play, gave him an ovation.

“It was hard to see,” Horford said, adding: “We need to regroup.”

Shortly after Hayward was taken off the court, the Celtics announced that he had received a diagnosis of a fractured ankle. After the game, Stevens, who also coached Hayward in college at Butler, clarified that the injury was a dislocated ankle and a fractured tibia, and that Hayward was being transported to Boston for more treatment.

The Celtics, minus their new star, went on to lose to the Cavaliers, 102-99.

Boston drastically revamped its roster in the off-season despite having been the top seed in the Eastern Conference in last season’s playoffs. Hayward was brought in as a free agent after seven years with the Utah Jazz, and Irving was added in a trade with the Cavaliers. The Celtics jettisoned franchise mainstays like Isaiah Thomas, Crowder and Avery Bradley.

Thomas, who had helped recruit Hayward to Boston before he was sent to Cleveland in the trade for Irving, was reported to have visited Hayward in Cleveland’s locker room while he was being evaluated by members of the medical staff from both teams. James was also reported to have visited Hayward.

Without Hayward, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 18 points, but they rallied and took a lead with less than two minutes left in the game. Down the stretch, Boston could not keep up and the Cavaliers closed the game on a 7-1 run to secure the 3-point victory. James finished the game with 29 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists while Irving, his former teammate, had 22 points and 10 assists but missed a last-second 3-pointer that would have tied the game.

Hayward’s injury, which was reminiscent of a compound fracture that Paul George of Oklahoma City sustained during an Olympic exhibition three years ago, rendered the result of a much-anticipated game almost meaningless. The Celtics did not provide an immediate timetable for Hayward’s rehabilitation, but it figures to be a lengthy process.

Athletes and coaches from across the N.B.A. and other sports leagues reacted with horror and sympathy immediately after the injury was broadcast on television.

Asked about it before his team’s opening-night matchup against the Houston Rockets, Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors said, “It was terrifying. The whole coaches’ office was just devastated watching it. It just shows the fragile nature of what we do.”

The outpouring of well wishes on Twitter was also swift.

On Pro Basketball: A Season of Cleveland Anxiety, Brought to You by LeBron James

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On Pro Basketball

FAIRLAWN, Ohio — Frank Miller III, an owner of a small apparel company based in Akron, predicts that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win the N.B.A. championship this season.

“Run with that,” he said. “You heard it here first.”

Miller assessed Kyrie Irving’s summer trade request as a “blessing in disguise” because the Cavaliers became a deeper team once they dealt him to the Boston Celtics, getting several players in return. And then Dwyane Wade signed as a free agent, joining a Cleveland backcourt that had already been bolstered by the arrival of Derrick Rose.

All of which means LeBron James will not need to shoulder such a heavy load this season, or at least that is what Miller keeps telling himself.

“And after the Cavs win the championship, they’re going to give him everything he wants,” Miller said, “and it’s going to be an offer he can’t refuse.”

Miller is an optimist. There are many other fans of the Cavaliers, including Miller’s business partner, Preston Clark, who are more guarded when it comes to forecasting James’s future.

“If he leaves, it’s because he’s got a house out in Hollywood and he’s preparing for life after basketball: acting or something,” Clark said. “He’s got to do what’s best for him.”

Here in northeast Ohio, some things never change. The Browns are bad. Arctic winds will soon blow in from the banks of Lake Erie. And LeBron James might leave.

As much joy as James has supplied the formerly championship-starved residents of this region, he has developed a semiregular pattern of keeping them in suspense: Will he stay or will he go? With his contract (again) set to expire at the end of the season, his plans are (again) uncertain. Fans hope for the best but brace for the worst.

“It’s like you have a shiny new toy, and you feel guilty for playing with it because you think someone’s going to take it away again,” said Jason Herron, a 44-year-old season-ticket holder.

Herron, the general manager of a car dealership, is a fan of some repute. In 2010, when James announced that he would sign with the Miami Heat after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Cavaliers, Herron was filmed by a local television news crew igniting a bonfire outside a bar. He used a James jersey as kindling.

James, of course, returned to Cleveland in 2014 and delivered a championship in 2016. If he were to leave again, Herron said, there would be no hard feelings. James, who grew up in nearby Akron, came home to win a title, and he made good on that pledge. But people are still anxious. The LeBron agita is real. It is persistent. It is not going anywhere anytime soon.

On Sunday night, Herron attended an event for season-ticket holders at Playhouse Square, a performing arts center in Cleveland. James was joined on stage by his teammates.

“LeBron was talking about how loaded the team is and how excited he is, and someone yelled from the back: ‘Please don’t leave us!’” Herron said. “Yeah, he heard it. He kind of smirked.”

Fans here are susceptible to a range of emotions that James is uniquely capable of stirring, all at the once: pride and pleasure, pain and panic. Last month, he seemed to offer some assurance about his future when he reiterated to reporters that he intended to close out his career in Cleveland. But then he left the door ajar.

“Any time I’m able to be a free agent or my contract is ending, I’ll approach that when the summer comes,” he said. “I don’t ever cheat my teammates or cheat the fans or talk about free agency all year long, because I’m not going to give energy to something I can handle in the summertime.”

Until then, the LeBron loyalists will wait and watch, although a few are already trying to influence his next decision — with T-shirts.

Consider Miller, 35, and Clark, 38, childhood friends from Akron who opened their apparel company, 7th Floor Clothing, during the Cavaliers’ championship run in 2016. Miller, who works as a tax professional, had been making T-shirts on the side for years. He was mulling the idea of turning the hobby into a business. Clark, who has a background in graphic design, was all for it.

Before Game 7 of the finals, they saw an opportunity. With the Cavaliers’ series against the Golden State Warriors still to be decided, Miller and Clark pre-emptively printed 100 T-shirts that read “2016 World Champs” across the front, aiming to charge $20 apiece for them. It was a bold move. They put two of them on and loaded the rest into a pair of duffel bags, then headed to a watch party at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, James’s alma mater. The Cavaliers won, and business boomed.

“We sold out,” Miller said.

Their latest line of merchandise, called “Stay Home 23,” captures the LeBron-fueled angst that is slightly clouding the start of the season, and all the pleading that goes along with it. James wears No. 23. The slogan is not nuanced. Nuance is not the point.

“It’s really just for fans to have something that sends a message to him: We want you to stay,” Clark said.

They have been selling “Stay Home 23” T-shirts and baseball caps online and at All Star Sports Gifts, a shop here at Summit Mall in Fairlawn, about 30 miles south of Cleveland, where oversize posters of Miller and Clark wearing “Stay Home 23” gear hang in the windows. They collaborated on the campaign with Tom Brode, 40, the owner of the store and a longtime season-ticket holder.

“One day he calls Preston, and he’s like, ‘I got an idea,’” Miller said. “He tells us what he was thinking, and I was like: ‘Oh, wow. That’s golden. That’s golden.’”

Chris Brode, 22, who manages his father’s store, noted how James’s impact extended beyond basketball. He has committed millions to education. Many suspect that his mere presence has helped boost the economy. And there is basketball, too: The Cavaliers were a hazmat spill when he was in Miami.

“Everything’s just better when he’s here,” Brode said.

On Tuesday night, ahead of the Cavaliers’ season opener against the Celtics, Miller and Clark were planning to load up their duffel bags once more and set up shop across the street from Quicken Loans Arena. They had T-shirts to sell and a message to spread.

They just needed one particular person inside the building to listen.