Monthly Archives: August 2016

Record Twenty20 run haul as West Indies beat India

NEW YORK: West Indies beat India by one run in a remarkable Twenty20 match featuring a record haul of 489 runs in Florida on Saturday.

In the first game featuring two full-strength international teams on American soil, West Indies amassed 245 for six with opener Evin Lewis smashing a century off 49 balls on his second T20 appearance.

Lewis belted nine sixes while fellow opener Johnson Charles chipped in with 79 off 33 deliveries at the Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill.

Lokesh Rahul then crashed 110 in 51 balls as India went close to reaching their target, sending the large pro-Indian crowd into a frenzy.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on strike for the final delivery bowled by Dwayne Bravo. He needed to score two runs to clinch victory but was caught by Marlon Samuels at third man.

The teams play a second Twenty20 at the same venue on Sunday.

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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Spain's acting PM warns forming new government still 'a wish'

MADRID: Spain’s acting prime minister warned on Saturday (Aug27) that forming a government remained a “wish”, in downbeat comments ahead of a crunch parliamentary vote over the country’s political deadlock.

Speaking to supporters of his conservative Popular Party (PP), Mariano Rajoy also warned that the country’s economic recovery could be jeopardised if Spain once again fails to form a government after two inconclusive elections.

Spain would be Europe’s laughing stock if voters had to go back to the polls for a third time, added Rajoy, whose PP has led the government since 2011.

“The formation of a government in Spain is today still more of a wish than a fact,” he told a party rally in the northwestern region of Galicia, a PP stronghold. “Things are going well (economically) but they can stop going well,” he said.

Spain suffered a painful economic slump when a housing bubble burst in 2008 but has bounced back to become of the eurozone’s most dynamic economies, growing for 12 straight quarters.

But the country is in political turmoil, without a fully-functioning government for eight months as squabbling political parties have been unable to reach any kind of pact following inconclusive elections in December, and again in June.

Rajoy’s pessimistic comments came ahead of a key first parliamentary confidence vote on Tuesday over his bid to win another term in power.

His PP party won the most number of seats in both elections but failed to gain a majority and has so far failed to secure support from other parties to form a minority or coalition government.

It has been in talks with its upstart centrist rival Ciudadanos which came fourth in the election with 32 seats but no final agreement has been struck.

Even if Ciudadanos agrees to support Rajoy’s PP in the confidence vote, the two political groups will still fall short of the needed majority of seats.

Rajoy therefore needs the support of the Socialists, his traditional rivals, or at the very least their abstention when he asks for a confidence vote in parliament. So far they have refused to help him.

The Socialists finished second in the last election with 85 seats, 52 less than the PP and its worst ever result.

“I think it would be hugely irresponsible if those who have 52 seats less than those who won the elections once again blocked the formation of a government in our country,” Rajoy said.

In the first confidence vote, Rajoy must win an absolute majority.

Failing that, he would face a second vote on Friday in which he would only need more votes in favour than against.

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Jutanugarn grabs lead, eyes fifth title of the year

REUTERS: Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn set her sights on a fifth victory this year as she moved to a three-stroke lead after the second round of the Canadian Women’s Open on Friday. Jutanugarn completed the final two holes of her delayed first round in the morning, where she finished at four-under-par, then fired a bogey-free eight-under-par 64 in the second round to move to 12-under and take command.

South Korea’s Chun In-Gee (67) and Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow (69) trail her at nine-under.

The second ranked player in the world, Jutanugarn won the Women’s British Open in her last event but withdrew from the third round at the Rio Olympics with a knee injury.

The knee didn’t appear to bother her on the way to a red-hot second round.

“So I know I hurt my knee, so that’s why I didn’t play very good on the third round (in the Olympics),” Jutanugarn told reporters.

“And after the draw I just felt OK. I just had to rest and take care of my knee. So after that I feel like just play golf, and it didn’t feel like anything changed.” World number one Lydia Ko, seeking her fourth Canadian Women’s Open, is four shots behind at eight-under-par after shooting a three-under 69 in the second round.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing gy Amlan Chakraborty)

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Doctor who praised Trump's health says he wrote note in a rush

WASHINGTON DC: Donald Trump’s personal doctor, who gave the Republican presidential candidate a glowing health report, told NBC News Friday that he penned that note in five minutes as Trump’s car waited.

“I try to get four or five lines down as fast as possible so that they would be happy,” physician Harold Bornstein of New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital said. “In the rush I think some of those words didn’t come out exactly the way they were meant.”

Bornstein did say he stands by the original bill of health he gave Trump, who at age 70 – 16 months older than Clinton – would be the oldest person to assume the presidency if elected.

“His health is excellent, especially his mental health,” the doctor said with a laugh. “He thinks he’s the best, which works out just fine.”

In the one-page statement, the doctor highlighted Trump’s 15-pound weight loss last year and lab results Bornstein called “astonishingly excellent.”

“If elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” Bornstein wrote in the original statement.

The doctor said Friday he does not always write medical notes with such enthusiasm: “I think I picked up his kind of language and then I just interpreted it to my own.”

The medical statuses of both Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton have gained increased attention recently, as the Trump campaign raises suspicions that Clinton is not physically or mentally fit enough to serve as president.

“#WheresHillary? Sleeping!!!!!” Trump tweeted recently.

On another occasion, the Republican candidate told voters in Iowa that Clinton was “not strong enough to be president.”

Team Clinton vehemently denies any health concerns, and released a letter from her doctor in July 2015 giving her an “excellent” bill of health.

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Nigerian traditional rulers want prisoners freed before Delta talks

ABUJA: Traditional leaders in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta have demanded that authorities release youths arrested by the army before they will mediate in talks with militants who have been blowing up pipelines, a government official said.

On Thursday, Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu met traditional leaders from the southern region where a wave of pipeline attacks has cut the country’s oil output by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.56 million bpd.

The government had asked the leaders to make contact with the militants, who are fractured in many small groups with no unified command or demands.

The rulers, or traditional kings, asked for the release of a group of school children arrested in May and other prisoners caught in a military sweep against militants in the swamplands, the official said.

They also want the government to appoint one team to engage with all militant groups, he said.

Kachikwu asked the leaders to contact the different militant groups. “So I do urge you all to continue to reach out to all the splinter groups,” he said, according to the officials.

“The government is worried that over US$ 40 billion invested in the area is yet to yield the desired result,” he said, referring to oil investments in the Niger Delta.

Militants say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to go to the impoverished region. Crude sales make up about 70 percent of national income and the vast majority of that oil comes from the swampland.

One group called Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed several major attacks, said in a statement attributed to them on Sunday they had agreed to a ceasefire to start a dialogue. Officials have refused to confirm this.

(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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Gerrard encourages 'stuck' young English players to switch to MLS

REUTERS: Major League Soccer would provide a good platform for young English players who have struggled to break into the first team, former England captain Steven Gerrard has said.

The 36-year-old joined the LA Galaxy last July after a 17-year career with Liverpool, and has been one of the big-name players to join the MLS in recent years along with the likes of Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Kaka.

The midfielder feels that the MLS would provide a good opportunity for young English talents to enhance their careers, which may otherwise stagnate in the highly competitive English top-flight.

“What I see in England is that players around the age of say 17 to 21 are basically stuck because of the standard of the Premier League,” he told British media.

“The level is so good and you have to move world-class players out of position to get your breakthrough. Players seem to drop down levels in England, some you never hear about and some bounce back.

This (the MLS) is a good environment and level for European kids to come and play regularly, test themselves, because it is a very fit level.”

(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakrabory)

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Exclusive – Chinese-Mexican man at centre of US$205 million seizure could be extradited to Mexico in days: lawyer

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A Chinese-Mexican businessman accused of drug trafficking could be handed over by U.S. authorities to Mexican authorities as early as next week as he has nearly exhausted his legal options, ending a years-long extradition battle, his lawyer told Reuters.

Zhenli Ye Gon’s July 2007 arrest in the United States and the seizure of US$ 205 million (156 million pounds) in cash at his Mexico City home several months earlier, played a role in high-profile money laundering investigations by U.S. authorities at the British banking giant HSBC and the Las Vegas Sands Corp. casino company.

U.S. prosecutors charged Ye Gon, the former owner of the now defunct Mexican pharmaceutical wholesaler Unimed Pharm Chem, with importing chemicals that cartels allegedly used to produce the illegal drug methamphetamine. Ye Gon’s attorney, Gregory Smith, says his client was a legitimate businessman.

The case collapsed in 2009 after key witnesses recanted or refused to testify, according to court records. Since then, Ye Gon has been imprisoned in a Virginia jail, held on the basis of an extradition request from Mexico, where he faces charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

Ye Gon’s attorney Gregory Smith, has fought extradition, arguing in court that Ye Gon would likely be tortured or killed if he returns to Mexico. Earlier this month, Ye Gon, 53, all but exhausted his legal options when a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia rejected a bid to have his extradition reconsidered.

The court ruled that it could not interfere with the decision of the U.S. State Department, which decided last year that Ye Gon should be handed over to Mexico.

John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, declined to comment on the case, but said that before deciding to extradite someone, the U.S. government must be satisfied an individual would not be tortured and would receive a fair trial.

In a last ditch effort, Smith said in an interview he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency stay of the extradition next week. But unless the Supreme Court immediately intervenes, U.S. authorities could put Ye Gon on a plane to Mexico, Smith said.

A Justice Department spokesman said that if there is no further court mandated delay, the United States can move forward with the extradition. Ye Gon is a Chinese national born in Shanghai with Mexican citizenship.

Mexico’s foreign ministry declined to comment.

‘LOSING SLEEP’

Smith has argued that media accounts of Ye Gon cooperating with U.S. authorities, which his previous attorneys have denied, as well as his claims that the US$ 205 million found in his house belonged to Mexican politicians, will make him a target of violence in Mexico.

In court papers, Smith also cites two co-defendants of Ye Gon’s who have both said in sworn statements that they were tortured in Mexican custody.

“There is a very serious risk he will be tortured or killed in prison to the point where I’m losing sleep over it,” Smith said in an interview.

Ye Gon, in jail in Virginia, could not be reached for comment.

Court documents said that in 2004 his company, Unimed Pharm Chem, had become the third largest importer in Mexico of pseudoephedrine. The chemical is commonly used as a nasal decongestant and can be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

The March 2007 raid of Ye Gon’s mansion led to a money laundering investigation of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. where Ye Gon was a high-stakes baccarat player, according to court papers. The Sands admitted it should have recognised Ye Gon’s suspicious transactions. The casino company paid US$ 47 million to the government as part of a 2013 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ye Gon’s accounts at HSBC were the subject of a broader U.S. federal money laundering investigation of the bank, according to court papers. In 2012 HSBC agreed to a US$ 1.9 billion settlement with U.S. authorities after admitting that its poor controls had allowed drug cartels to launder at least US$ 881 million.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York and Joel Schectman in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Frances Kerry)

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Lacazette, Fekir return as France ring changes after Euro 2016

PARIS: France coach Didier Deschamps has named his first squad since reaching the European Championship final with left back Patrice Evra among several high-profile omissions.

Olympique Lyonnais duo Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir have been recalled to the 23-man squad for a friendly against Italy in Bari on Sept. 1 and a World Cup qualifier against Belarus in Borisov five days later.

Lille full back Sebastien Corchia could make his international debut alongside uncapped duo Djibril Sidibe and Alphonse Areola. Layvin Kurzawa and fit-again Raphael Varane were also included.

Seven members of the Euro 2016 squad were left out.

Captain Hugo Lloris and Kingsley Coman are injured while Bacary Sagna and Christophe Jallet also have fitness concerns.

Evra, Eliaquim Mangala and Morgan Schneiderlin were dropped and there was no return for striker Karim Benzema.

“I need to start thinking about the World Cup in two years’ time,” said Deschamps on Thursday, when asked about Evra’s omission. “I need to give playing time to younger players who can improve.”

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could play his first international since becoming the world’s most expensive player after leaving Juventus to return to Old Trafford for 89 million pounds (US$ 117.3 million).

“Knowing him, it won’t affect him, quite the opposite,” Deschamps said.

France squad: Alphonse Areola (Paris St Germain), Benoit Costil (Stade Rennais), Steve Mandanda (Crystal Palace), Sebastien Corchia (Lille), Lucas Digne (Barcelona), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Layvin Kurzawa (Paris St Germain), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Djibril Sidibe (AS Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Dimitri Payet (West Ham United), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United), Nabil Fekir (Olympique Lyonnais), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alexandre Lacazette (Olympique Lyonnais), Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

(Reporting by Ed Dove, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Norway's women join the draft

OSLO, Norway: They sweat together, they sleep together: in the name of gender equality, Norway has introduced compulsory military service for women, even bunking them in mixed dorms with their brothers-in-arms.

The military’s gender balance is not entirely equal yet, but almost a third of the Norwegian army conscripts born in 1997 were women this summer.

At the Setermoen army base just above the Arctic Circle, new recruits in an armoured battalion are learning to handle assault rifles for use on combat missions. Here and there, long ponytails stick out behind the recruits’ caps.

“It gives me a bigger recruitment pool to choose from,” the battalion’s chief, Lieutenant Colonel Pal Berglund, says of the new gender equal draft.

“I’m still looking for the same competence I always have. And for me it’s obvious that this competence is also present within a large part of the female population of Norway.”

Norwegian women have been able to volunteer for military service for almost 40 years now, helping to gradually feminise the armed forces. The military welcomed its first female helicopter pilot, female jet fighter pilot and female submarine commander already in the early 1990s.

UNISEX DORMS

But in 2013, at a time when the prime minister was none other than current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, a virtually unanimous parliament passed a law applying military conscription to both sexes.

The Scandinavian country — where four of the last five defence ministers have been women — has thus become the first North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and European country to draft both men and women, joining a tiny group of countries around the world, including Israel.

“In operations, it’s an advantage having females. They have access to parts of the population that men don’t have, for instance for intelligence gathering,” says Berglund.


Female army recruits in training at military base in Setermoen, Norway. (Photo: AFP)

The army needs less than 10,000 new recruits each year, far fewer than the 60,000 who are liable to be called up. That means that only the most motivated will actually be asked to serve, in a country where military service is often seen as a personal accomplishment highly valued on the job market.

“It enables you to cut the umbilical cord. It’s good that girls and boys get the same opportunities,” says new conscript Marianne Westum.

“I’m aiming to become much more independent, to learn to work as a team member, to make friends from other walks of life. Basically to become more grown-up.”

The 18-year-old shares living quarters with another woman and four men. Camouflage gear and a military-issued flask are neatly organised in a metal cupboard, only a bra and handbag indicating the presence of a woman.

Is it not tempting fate to throw young men and women together in unisex bunks?

“We see that exposure to each other increases tolerance, acceptance and understanding toward each other,” insists Nina Hellum, a researcher at the Norwegian Research Defence Establishment.

‘DE-GENDERISATION’

“You don’t want to have sex and fraternise with anyone in your room for example or in your small unit because that makes it quite awkward.”

A 2014 study showed that unisex dormitories helped combat sexual harassment thanks to a phenomenom of “de-genderisation”. Sharing living quarters makes both the men and women pay more attention to their behaviour, and thus they’re able to develop a camaraderie, an almost sibling-like relationship, the study’s authors claimed.

“In the beginning we were a little shy. We didn’t really know how to behave around the girls. But once the initial awkwardness had passed, we relaxed and the girls were soon just like us,” says a young male recruit, Kasper Sjavag.

Being mixed together with the guys “means that when it comes to performance, I really push my limits and can get used to working harder to keep up,” says Kasper’s female roommate, Gine Grimsbu.

“From a social aspect, the guys treat us well and they’re respectful. There are a few who aren’t used to being with girls but I think it’ll be fine.”

A recent survey conducted by the Norwegian army showed that an overwhelming majority of female soldiers are in favour of unisex dorms. But 18 percent still said they had been subjected to inappropriate comments or behaviour.

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Cycling – Belgium's Meersman wins stage five of Tour of Spain

MADRID: Belgium’s Gianni Meersman won the fifth stage of the Tour of Spain on Wednesday, a 171.3 kilometre-ride from Viveiro and Lugo, with Colombian Darwin Atapuma retaining the leader’s red jersey.

Australian Simon Clarke and Philippe Gilbert of Belgium attacked with 2km remaining but were caught in the final stretch.

Etixx-Quick Step team rider Meersman held off the challenge of Italy’s Fabio Felline and Kevin Reza of France, who came in third, in a sprint finish.

“To be honest I was extremely happy at the first victory. It gave me a lot of confidence,” Meersman, who also won stage two of the race, told Spanish television.

“Everything was good today. I saw the sign of 200m and I had to start. Nobody passed me so I’m very happy.”

A crash split the pack in the closing stages and ended the race of Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk who sustained a suspected broken collarbone.

Race leader Atapuma lost more than a minute in the finale but organisers applied the three-kilometre rule, meaning the BMC rider could stay in red.

“I’m happy to continue to be leader,” Atapuma said. “I had to wait to find out if I would wear red tomorrow. It’s a fantastic feeling.

“I just hope that those that fell are ok.”

Thursday’s stage six is a 163.2km ride from Monforte de Lemos to Luintra. The race finishes on Sept. 11 in Madrid.

(Reporting by Adriana Garcia, editing by Ed Osmond)

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