Monthly Archives: July 2016

Multiple victims reported from active shooter in Austin, Texas: Police

LOS ANGELES: An active shooter in the Texas capital of Austin has left multiple victims, police said in a message on Twitter early on Sunday (Jul 30) as local media reported one person had been killed.

“Active shooter incident downtown, multiple victims. Stay away from downtown,” Austin police said in a message on Twitter. It was not immediately clear how many people were shot.

Police said via Twitter there were separate shootings “within the same area” and that “both scenes are secure at this time”.

A woman in her 30s was killed in the shooting, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported on its website, citing the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services agency.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.

Local television station KXAN, citing paramedics, reported that people with gunshot wounds were spread across the area.

The Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services agency confirmed in a message on Twitter that multiple people had been shot.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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First-ever refugee team ascends to Rio's Christ statue

RIO DE JANEIRO: Members of the first-ever Olympic refugee team visited Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ statue Saturday, with smiles as wide as their arms were outstretched, imitating the landmark’s open embrace as they posed for photos.

A mist of light clouds softened the afternoon light, giving the athletes who come from harrowing backgrounds a heavenly glimpse of one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with its golden sand beaches, blue ocean and lush green Atlantic rain forest below.

Standing at the base of the statue, Yusra Mardini, a swimmer who fled Syria’s war and trains in Germany, said that the entire refugee team was elated to be in Rio “because all of them have the same strong feeling about never giving up, and they did a lot to reach here.”

Rio’s Olympics that open this Friday and run through Aug. 21 are the first to include a team entirely of refugees, which includes ten athletes from four countries who will compete under the Olympic flag.

The team of six men and four women includes five athletes from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from Democratic Republic of Congo and one from Ethiopia.

They will compete in swimming, judo and athletics.

After posing for photos with tourists at the Christ the Redeemer statue, James Nyang Chiengjiek, a track and field athlete from South Sudan to compete in the 400 meter run, said since he arrived Friday he had been warmly welcomed everywhere in Rio.

“All the people are so happy. They are waiting for us in the airport, they are so happy to see us,” he said. “We have so many friends, it is good to interact with them.”

Another South Sudanese track athlete, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, who will compete in the 800 meter run, said the entire team was surprised to be taking part in the Games.

“In our lifetime we never thought that running could be something that can have a benefit,” she said. “But right now I am really interested, and have an interest in sport.”

(Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Mary Milliken)

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Tunisia premier faces no-confidence vote over new government

TUNIS: Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid faces a vote of no confidence in parliament on Saturday after resisting the president’s proposal to help form a new unity government to push through economic reforms.

Essid, a technocrat who came to office less than two years ago, has been under fire for slow progress on a financial reforms package to create growth and jobs, initiatives demanded by Tunisia’s multilateral lenders.

President Beji Caid Essebsi has called for a new unity government to overcome political divisions in the ruling coalition of four parties and respond more quickly to economic and security challenges.

Most lawmakers are expected to vote in favour of sacking Essid. Islamist party Ennahda, the largest party in parliament, and Essebsi’s secular Nidaa Tounes party, have said they will vote against the premier.

“I never opposed the president’s proposal,” Essid told lawmakers in parliament. “But it was put forward at a difficult time for the country and has caused the delay in several key projects and laws.”

Since its 2011 revolution to oust Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has emerged as a democracy praised as a model for the region. But militant attacks have tested the government and political infighting has slowed economic progress.

Essebsi has said the country needs a more dynamic government ready to take audacious decisions to bring about the liberalisation and cost-cutting required for an overhaul of the North African state’s economy.

Three Islamist militant attacks last year – including gun attacks on foreign visitors at a museum and a beach resort – have badly damaged the tourism industry, which makes up around 8 percent of the economy and is a major source of jobs.

(Reporting by Mohammed Argouby; writing by Patrick Markey; editing by Dale Hudson)

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England have potential to rule world – Hoggard

COVENTRY, England: England possess so much strength in depth that captain Alastair Cook’s side have the potential to dominate world cricket for years to come, according to former Ashes-winning fast bowler Matthew Hoggard.

Hoggard, England’s ninth-highest test wicket-taker with 248 victims in 67 matches, believes his country are already feared by the other elite sides after defeating Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka over the past three years.

Cook’s team are fourth in the test rankings behind top-rated Australia, India and Pakistan but the former Yorkshire seamer expects them to climb to the summit soon.

“England have flirted with periods of dominance before and have never quite achieved it,” Hoggard told Reuters in an interview while playing in this week’s Farmfoods British Par-3 Golf Championship at Nailcote Hall near Coventry.

“But at this moment in time they’ve got the right balance to be the best in the world for a number of years. We are feared … and with the group of players we’ve got there’s no reason why we can’t be the best.”

Hoggard said the back-up cricketers itching to get a chance in Cook’s side were as good as, if not better, than the players now in the team.

“The reason England are so strong is the competition for places,” he said. “There are loads of wicketkeepers in line to play and loads of middle-order batsmen.

“Sam Billings is getting lots of runs and look at Ben Duckett who scored 220 not out for the Lions in a 50-over game against Sri Lanka this week. He put on an unbeaten 367 for the second wicket with Daniel Bell-Drummond (171).

“In the bowling department we missed Ben Stokes and James Anderson in the first-test defeat against Pakistan at Lord’s this month but look how well Chris Woakes is playing for the team at the moment,” said the 39-year-old Hoggard.

“There are a group of players behind the current crop who have got the shirts at the moment who could do at least as good a job and maybe an even better job. We’ve got so much strength in depth.”

Cook’s men rebounded in style from their 75-run defeat at Lord’s by handing Pakistan a 330-run drubbing in the second test of the four-match series in Manchester and Hoggard said the visitors would now be “licking their wounds”.

“Sport is funny,” said the Yorkshireman who featured in the England team that ended an 18-year wait to win the Ashes when they beat Australia in a memorable series in 2005.

“Look at Yasir Shah at Lord’s, he looked a world-beater, the best spinner in the world, Shane Warne-esque, and then he took one for 213 in the first innings at Old Trafford.

“That’s the great thing about sport, you never really know what’s going to happen next.

“They are two fantastic games coming up. Edgbaston is another wicket that will produce a result,” he said of the venue for the third test in Birmingham that starts on Wednesday.

“It might turn a little bit but whoever plays the best cricket for four to five days will come out victorious.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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New cyber attack hits Democrats, Clinton camp reports intrusion

WASHINGTON:¬†US Democrats said Friday (Jul 29) they had been targeted by yet another cyber attack, while Hillary Clinton’s campaign confirmed that an analytics program it used was breached in an earlier intrusion.

A hack on Democratic National Committee servers resulted in last week’s embarrassing leak of emails that revealed how party leaders sought to undermine Clinton’s Democratic White House rival Bernie Sanders.

Clinton’s campaign has blamed Russia for hacking the emails, which were made public by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The Kremlin has dismissed the allegations as absurd, but US President Barack Obama has refused to rule out the possibility that Russia is trying to sway the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

Clinton’s campaign said Friday the hack on the DNC had accessed an analytics data program that it used. The program was maintained by the DNC, it said.

“Our campaign computer system has been under review by outside cyber security experts,” campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement.

“To date, they have found no evidence that our internal systems have been compromised.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said Friday it was the target of a “cyber security incident”.

“The investigation is ongoing. Based on the information we have to date, we’ve been advised by investigators that this is similar to other recent incidents, including the DNC breach,” national press secretary Meredith Kelly said in a statement.

The DCCC was working to enhance its network security and “cooperating with the federal law enforcement with respect to their ongoing investigation,” she said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was working to determine the “accuracy, nature and scope” of reports of cyber intrusions “involving multiple political entities.”

“The cyber threat environment continues to evolve as cyber actors target all sectors and their data. The FBI takes seriously any allegations of intrusions, and we will continue to hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace,” the agency said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry raised the DNC hack with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Laos earlier this week.

“Secretary Kerry has noted that we’ve been concerned about Russia’s activity in this space for quite some time,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Friday.

“I suspect that won’t be the last time they have a conversation about this,” he added.

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Olympics: Rio mayor lashes out at organisers over snags

RIO DE JANEIRO: Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Eduardo Paes lashed out on Friday (Jul 29) at the city’s Olympics organising committee, accusing it of “serious problems” in managing the crisis-plagued athletes’ village.

In a rare show of disunity a week before the Games, Paes blamed the Rio2016 committee for a slew of problems at the village, which has been his public relations nightmare all week.

“The athletes’ village was ready. Then the organising committee took charge for three months, and there were extremely serious management problems. During those three months, people intruded into the apartments and a lot of things were stolen,” he said in an interview with newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.

“The doors were left half-open. The organising committee was careless, objectively speaking.”

He said his office was informed of the problems only on Thursday last week, despite a series of weekly meetings between his staff and the organising committee.

Paes’ week got off to a rough start on Sunday when the Olympic village opened to a boycott from Australia, which refused to move in because of exposed wiring, leaking pipes, blocked toilets, unlighted stairwells and other problems.

The mayor’s ensuing quip that he would have a kangaroo placed outside to make the Australians feel at home did not go down well, exploding into a controversy dubbed #kangaroogate on Twitter.

Paes and the Australian delegation chief, Kitty Chiller, buried the hatchet on Wednesday, when he apologised for the construction hiccups and presented her a symbolic key to the city.

She gave him a stuffed kangaroo in return. In similar tongue-in-cheek style, the Australians have also installed a kangaroo statue outside the village, alongside an ersatz emu.

But Paes was clearly still smarting from Sunday’s controversy. “It was an unacceptable mistake. Which is too bad, because that was the launch of the Olympics,” he said.

“It wasn’t a Brazilian in charge of the Olympic village. Only foreigners,” he added. “At least people can’t say the Brazilians are disorganised. The boss was (Argentine national) Mario Cilenti.”

Cilenti, a sporting event manager serving as executive director of the athletes’ village, has reportedly been sacked from the job, according to Brazilian media. Rio2016 has not confirmed the reports.

The organising committee did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Paes’s interview.

Brazilian media reports have blamed disgruntled workers for the problems at the village, allegedly the result of sabotage aimed at exacting revenge for salary delays.

Fifteen of the 31 buildings had plumbing problems, ranging from leaks to toilets clogged by cement blocks. More than 600 plumbers were dispatched to make emergency repairs.

Stoking further controversy, the Brazilian labour ministry said the emergency hires did not have proper working conditions and contracts.

Rio2016 said all problems with the village were fixed by Thursday evening.

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Turkish army better able to fight Islamic State after purges – foreign minister

ANKARA: Turkey’s foreign minister described as “unfortunate” on Friday comments by the head of U.S. national intelligence suggesting that purges in the Turkish military after a failed coup were harming cooperation in the fight against Islamic State.

“If they (the Americans) ask whether the fight against Daesh (Islamic State) has been weakened due to the army purge, we say that, on the contrary, when the army has been cleansed…it becomes more trustworthy, clean and effective in the fight,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

Turkey has launched a major overhaul of its military following the July 15-16 coup aimed at rooting out supporters of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom Ankara regards as the mastermind of the attempted putsch.

Cavusoglu also tried to play down Western concerns about a tentative rapprochement between Turkey and Russia following a period of strain, saying relations with Moscow were not an alternative to NATO and the European Union. Turkey is a NATO ally and a candidate for EU membership.

(Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Daren Butler)

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Korean Lee on top after sizzling 62 at Women's British Open

WOBURN, England: South Korean Lee Mi-rim has developed a penchant for low scoring and she continued the trend with a sizzling 10-under-par 62 in the opening round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Thursday.

The 25-year-old came charging out of the blocks in the fourth and penultimate women’s major of the season, birdying three of the first four holes.

Lee then produced a spectacular sequence of five straight birdies from the seventh before putting the seal on a dynamic display by picking up further strokes at the 14th and 17th.

Asked if it was the finest round of her career, she told reporters: “I would say it’s one of the best.

“All the holes I played really well… on the fairway, on the green, similar distance of putts, it was all-round good,” added Lee after tying the Women’s British Open record 62 carded by Finn Minea Blomqvist at Sunningdale in 2004.

The twice LPGA Tour winner also fired a 62 at an event in Taiwan two years ago and broke the tournament record with an 11-under 61 at Qualifying School in 2013.

Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn was in second place on Thursday after collecting seven birdies in a 65, one ahead of Shanshan Feng of China.

World number one Lydia Ko, bidding to land her third major victory after winning the ANA Inspiration in California in March and last year’s Evian Championship in France, struggled to a 74.

HAPPY HULL

“My short game wasn’t that great to cover up for the missed shots and when I did hit it close the putts didn’t go in,” said the 19-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander.

“When that’s the case you’re not going to shoot a low score. Hopefully I’ll have a low one tomorrow and get back into it.”

British number one Charley Hull, playing on her home course at Woburn, featured in the same three-ball as Ko and a birdie-birdie finish helped her fire a 69.

“The first tee shot was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been on a golf course and I never usually get nervous so that was quite weird,” said Hull. “I felt like I had big expectations from people.

“It’s a pretty easy opening shot and I didn’t want to screw up because I’d look silly … but after I made a birdie I was pretty happy, a bit more comfortable.”

Brooke Henderson, the world number two who triumphed at the PGA Championship in June, returned a 71 but felt she could have done a lot better.

“I left some shots out there,” said the 18-year-old Canadian. “I gave myself tons of opportunities, I’m pretty sure I hit 17 greens in regulation.

“It would have been nice to capitalise more. I have a lot of work to do the next three days but it’s really exciting that I’ve done it before and I have a chance to do it again.”

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Spain's Rajoy accepts mandate from King to form government

MADRID: Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday said he had accepted a mandate from the King to form a government although he did not yet have enough backing to seek the confidence of the parliament.

Rajoy left the date open for such a parliamentary vote to happen and said he would open a round of talks with other parties to try and convince them to vote for his conservative People’s Party.

Most parties said this week said they would not vote in favour of the PP, which has 137 seats in the parliament when 176 are needed to reach a majority.

“We need to form a solid and stable government as soon as possible,” Rajoy told a news conference after meeting with King Felipe.

“Spain needs a government now, this government should be headed by the PP and there is no alternative to this,” he also said.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Sonya Dowsett)

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Guatemalan judge charges former president in bribery case

GUATEMALA CITY: A Guatemalan judge on Wednesday charged former President Otto Perez with money laundering and bribery in a massive corruption case in which 52 others were also accused, including former ministers, business people and lawyers.

Perez and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti are accused of receiving hundreds of bribes for public contracts during their administration.

Perez and Baldetti denied the charges, and the rest of the accused also said they were innocent.

The judge based his decision on evidence presented by the state prosecutor’s office and the U.N.- and U.S.-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which included witness statements, electronic communications, accounting records and other documentation.

Perez and Baldetti resigned and were arrested last year over accusations that they were part of a customs racket, which they also denied.

They are currently in pre-trial detention.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Enrique Andres Pretel and Leslie Adler)

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