Monthly Archives: September 2016

Pujara's Kanpur transformation augurs well for India

KANPUR, India: Of all the things that went right in the test series opener against New Zealand, Cheteshwar Pujara’s transformation from an obdurate accumulator of runs to a free-scoring batsman when needed must be the most pleasing for India captain Virat Kohli.

In a team teeming with flamboyant strokemakers, Pujara’s batting, built on a watertight defence and an unflappable temperament, is almost an anachronism.

India’s test number three feels he has no obligation to quench the boundary-thirst of the home fans, shuns the aerial route like a man inflicted with the fear of flying and believes defence is the best offence.

Rather unsurprisingly, the 29-year-old went unsold in the players’ auction for the Indian Premier League (IPL), and his strike rate, currently under 49 in tests, led to his exclusion from the third test against West Indies last month.

First in the domestic Duleep Trophy and now in the first test against New Zealand, Pujara’s batting has been something of a revelation.

“Obviously he’s someone who absorbs pressure really well,” Kohli said of Pujara whose scores of 62 and 78 came with 50-plus strike rates in both innings. “After a certain stage in the innings, there comes a time when the team needs a few runs.

“That’s where we felt he has enough ability to capitalise. It was just about conveying to him.”

Kohli confirmed the team management had a chat with Pujara to fine tune his game.

“We did not want him to go into a shell,” Kohli said. “We want Pujara to bat to his potential. Once he starts scoring runs along with the composure he already has, it becomes very difficult for the opposition to have control on the game.

“That’s all we wanted to convey to him.”

Batting at what is arguably the most important position in a test lineup, Pujara’s form will be key to India’s success in their bumper 13-test home season and Kohli was glad the right hander took the advice in right spirit.

“He’s someone who really understands what the team wants and has worked really hard on his game,” Kohli said.

“We as a team and I as the captain really appreciate that he’s worked hard and hasn’t told us that ‘this is my comfort zone, I’m not going to get out of it’.”

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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Man set to face charges in Washington state mall shootings

MOUNT VERNON, Wash.: A 20-year-old man is set to face charges in court on Monday that he killed five people in a department store at a Washington state mall during a shooting rampage last week.

Turkish-born Arcan Cetin, a legal, a permanent U.S. resident, will make his initial appearance in Skagit County District Court in Mount Vernon, Washington. He was arrested Saturday evening in Oak Harbor, about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Burlington, where the shooting occurred on Friday night.

Prosecutors could not be reached for comment ahead of the hearing on the charges Cetin faces.

Cetin was described at the time of his arrest as “zombie-like” and a motive for the shooting remains unclear. The FBI previously said it had no indication the attack was a “terrorism act,” but it could not rule out the possibility.

Police allege Cetin opened fire in the cosmetics section of a Macy’s department store at Cascade Mall, killing four women and a man.

Surveillance video showed the suspect entering the mall without a rifle, but he was later spotted on video in the store brandishing a weapon, police said. The rifle was recovered at the mall.

The attack followed a series of violent outbursts at shopping centres across the United States, including the stabbing of nine people at a Minnesota centre on Sept. 17.

(Reporting by Tom James; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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India beat New Zealand by 197 runs in Kanpur test

KANPUR, India: India beat New Zealand by 197 runs in the first test in Kanpur on Monday to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.

Resuming on 93 for four chasing a 434-run victory target, New Zealand were all out for 236 in the first hour after lunch as India won their 500th test match in style at Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium.

For the tourists, Luke Ronchi (80) and Mitchell Santner (71)struck half-centuries but it was nowhere near enough to pull off what would have been the highest successful chase in test cricket.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned 6-132 to go with the four wickets he had claimed in the first innings.

Kolkata hosts the second test from Friday.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Kanpur; editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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Germany to Britain: Live up to promise not to block EU reforms

BERLIN: German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said she does not expect Britain to block a Franco-German initiative to deepen military cooperation among the 27 remaining European Union members after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.

Berlin and Paris have proposed reviving EU common defence plans long blocked by Britain, partly to give the bloc a sense of purpose after Britons voted to quit the EU and also to counter the loss of the union’s biggest defence spender.

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told The Times newspaper this month that London would resist any attempts to duplicate infrastructure that already existed in NATO.

However, von der Leyen told Reuters in an interview that she expected Britain to “make good its promise that it will not hinder important European Union reforms.”

She said she had called Fallon before the initiative was unveiled to tell him that it was not directed against Britain.

“I told him the initiative is designed for a strong Europe, and that this Europe also wants to have good relations with Britain in the future, especially in the area of defence.”

Von der Leyen and the other EU defence ministers will discuss the proposals in Bratislava on Monday evening and Tuesday.

She said all members were welcome to participate in the initiative, but it was not mandatory.

The proposals include a joint and permanent EU headquarters for civilian and military missions, possibly in Brussels, which London says will drain away finite resources when NATO already has its military command centre, also in Belgium.

Negotiations on Britain leaving the EU could last up to two years once London triggers divorce proceedings, which British officials have suggested could happen early next year.

GOAL IS NOT EUROPEAN ARMY

Most EU members, including Britain, France and Germany, are also NATO allies. But Europe wants to be able to act independently of the United States in its neighbourhood.

Von der Leyen was upbeat about the initiative’s chances, noting that some of her EU counterparts and even some government leaders had already expressed interest.

“There is definitely a chance that we can finally take a step forward that is long overdue,” the minister said. “After Brexit, the EU must show that it is capable of acting and that the bloc offers specific advantages.”

A majority of people in the EU wanted quicker and more aggressive action on external security issues, von der Leyen said, citing the EU’s response to the Ebola epidemic and the need to address problems prompting Africans to flee their homes.

She insisted the goal of the initiative was not to found a European army, but to tackle projects already covered under the EU treaty but never fully realised.

Von der Leyen rejected the idea that Germany would take over the military leadership of the EU, saying: “The idea is to become stronger and more efficient by working together. None of us can solve the big crises on our own,” she said.

She said deeper EU defence ties could start early next year if EU leaders agreed to move forward at their meeting in December.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Writing by Andrea Shalal, Editing by Adrian Croft)

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Goeido makes history with unbeaten record in tournament win

REUTERS: Goeido became the first “kadoban” ozeki in sumo history to win an Emperor’s Cup with an unblemished record after he registered his 15th victory by defeating fellow ozeki Kotoshogiku at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Goeido, who had already secured his first title on Saturday, came into the tournament under pressure as his kadoban status meant he needed at least eight wins to avoid demotion from his ozeki rank at the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Tokyo.

Rather than a drop to sekiwake, the Sakaigawa stable wrestler can now look forward to a bid for promotion to yokozuna (grand champion) at the year’s last meet in Kyushu in November.

“To be perfectly honest, I haven’t given it much thought,” said Goeido, who became the first wrestler since Musashimaru in 1994 to claim a maiden title with a 15-0 mark.

“But I’ll keep working hard towards the next tournament. Winning the title is finally starting to sink in. I’m absolutely thrilled. I took it one day at a time, just focussing on the bout that day.

“The thought of a title started crossing my mind from the 10th day. It was an experience I never went through before.”

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Fresh strikes pound Aleppo ahead of UN Syria talks

ALEPPO: Syrian and Russian warplanes pounded rebel-held east Aleppo on Sunday (Sep 25) ahead of a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the worst surge in violence to hit the devastated city in years.

Overnight, residents and a monitor reported heavy air raids on the besieged east of the city, which Syria’s army has pledged to retake.

The UN Security Council is due to meet later Sunday in an emergency session to discuss the escalating violence, which UN chief Ban Ki-moon described as “chilling”.

Washington and its European allies meanwhile said the burden was on regime ally Moscow to save a truce that fell apart in the past week.

At least 101 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syrian and Russian bombardment of eastern Aleppo since the army announced an operation to take it Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The monitor said at least 17 children were among those killed in the assault, which has included missile strikes, barrel bomb attacks and artillery fire.


Overnight, residents and a monitor reported heavy air raids on the besieged east of the city, which Syria’s army has pledged to retake. (AFP/Thomas SAINT-CRICQ)

On Saturday night, residents said cluster bombs rained down on eastern parts of the city, where an estimated 250,000 people are living under a government siege.

“All night long they were dropping cluster bombs. I couldn’t sleep until four in the morning,” said 62-year-old Ahmed Hajar, who was out looking for bread in Al-Kalasseh neighbourhood.

“Today the streets of my neighbourhood are full of unexploded cluster bombs. One person was killed when he disturbed one and it exploded,” he added.

“It tore him apart… it was an awful scene.”

‘WE’RE CIVILIANS HERE’

In the nearby neighbourhood of Bab al-Nayrab, 30-year-old Imad Habush was baking bread in a small wood-burning oven outside his house.

“None of the bakeries are open anymore because of the bombing and the shortages of fuel and flour, so people have started making their own bread,” he said.

“I don’t know why the regime is bombing us in this barbaric way. We’re civilians here, we’re not carrying weapons, and we’re besieged, we have no way to escape.”


A Syrian boy awaits treatment at a make-shift hospital following air strikes on rebel-held eastern areas of Aleppo on September 24, 2016. (AFP/Karam Al-Masri)

Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by war and roughly divided since mid-2012 between government control in the west and rebel control in the east.

The eastern portion of the city has been under near-continuous siege since mid-July, prompting food and fuel shortages.

A truce deal hammered out by Russia and the United States this month was meant to see aid trucked into the east of the city.

But the ceasefire fell apart before any assistance was brought in, and the army and its Russian ally have since pounded the eastern neighbourhoods with a force that residents say is virtually unprecedented.

More than 300,000 people have been killed and over half the country displaced since the war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Successive attempts to reach a political solution have failed, and the latest bid by Moscow and Washington has virtually collapsed, despite ongoing talks to save it.


Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by war and roughly divided since mid-2012 between government control in the west and rebel control in the east. (AFP/Karam Al-Masri)

‘CHILLING ESCALATION’

Ban said Saturday he was “appalled by the chilling military escalation” in Aleppo, and Britain, France and the United States requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

The meeting is scheduled for 1500 GMT, but it was unclear what results it could produce, with Moscow and Washington trading accusations over who is to blame for the ceasefire’s failure.

The United States and its European allies said Saturday it was up to Moscow to save the truce.

“The burden is on Russia to prove it is willing and able to take extraordinary steps to salvage diplomatic efforts,” read a joint statement from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the United States and European Union.

“Patience with Russia’s continued inability or unwillingness to adhere to its commitments is not unlimited,” the statement added.

But Russia has blamed Washington for the ceasefire’s failure, saying it did not uphold its commitment to ensure moderate rebels distanced themselves from jihadist groups like former Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

Syria’s foreign minister meanwhile said Saturday that his government was confident of “victory” with support from “true friends” including Russia, Iran, and Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

“Our belief in victory is even greater now that the Syrian Arab army is making great strides in its war against terrorism,” he told the UN General Assembly.

But on the ground, the army was pushed back from the strategic Handarat camp north of Aleppo city that they captured on Saturday, the Observatory said.

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New York Times endorses Clinton for president

WASHINGTON: The New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Saturday (Sep 24), saying her intelligence, record of public service and other strengths qualify her for the White House.

In an editorial, the influential Times as expected threw its weight behind Clinton and dismissed Donald Trump as “the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.”

But Americans should not vote for the Democrat Clinton simply because the alternative is Trump, the paper argued. Trump “discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway,” it said.

Rather, the Times said, the best case for voting for Clinton is to consider the challenges the United States face at home and abroad and what it called Clinton’s capacity to rise to them.

The editorial was published two days before a critical moment in the campaign: the first TV debate pitting Clinton against Trump.

The Times said it also wanted to persuade people reluctant of voting for her – Republicans who cannot stomach a Democrat, or voters who don’t want another Clinton in power or a candidate they do not see as representing change.

Today’s world is fraught with war, terrorism, “bigoted, tribalist movements” and the pressures of globalisation, among other problems, the Times argued.

And at home, middle class Americans are furious with government leaders they accuse of doing nothing to help them address the toll of recession, war, competition from abroad and technological change.

“Over 40 years in public life, Hillary Clinton has studied these forces and weighed responses to these problems,” the editorial said.

The Times acknowledged Clinton had weaknesses, including policy flip-flops that could make her look opportunistic.

And of the controversy surrounding Clinton’s use of a private email server while working as secretary of state, the paper said this reflected “a lamentable penchant for secrecy.”

But that “poor decision” has been duly scrutinised and Americans should move on, and given the challenges they face and Clinton’s record, “the country should put her to work.”

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Barca cruise past Sporting Gijon without Messi

BARCELONA, Spain: Luis Suarez and Rafinha scored in the first half before three late goals in seven minutes including two from Neymar gave Barcelona a 5-0 win at 10-man Sporting Gijon on Saturday, their first game this season without Lionel Messi.

​ After a slow and dull start by Barca, Arda Turan set up Suarez and the Uruguayan rounded Sporting goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar to tap in the opener in the 29th minute.

Rafinha then headed in Sergi Roberto’s cross at the near post for the second three minutes later.

Sporting lost captain Alberto Lora to a second yellow card for a late challenge on Roberto in the 74th minute.

With nine minutes remaining, substitute Paco Alcacer hit the crossbar but Neymar pounced on the rebound and tapped in.

Sergi Roberto came up with his second assist of the game when his cross found Turan’s header for Barca’s fourth in the 85th minute and Neymar got his second two minutes from time with a close-range strike past Cuellar.

Barcelona, held to a 1-1 home draw by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday when Messi sustained a groin injury that ruled him out of action for three weeks, have 13 points from their first six La Liga games.

They are level at the top of the table with Real Madrid, who can go clear again when they play at Las Palmas later on Saturday.

(Reporting by Adriana Garcia; Editing by Rex Gowar)

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At least 4 dead in shooting at Washington state mall: Police

LOS ANGELES: At least four people were killed and an unknown number wounded late Friday during a shooting at a mall in the US state of Washington, and police were searching for a gunman.

Police spokesman Sergeant Mark Francis said there was at least one suspect in the shooting at Cascade Mall in Burlington, describing him as a “Hispanic male wearing gray”.

The suspect was last seen walking toward the Interstate 5 highway from the mall before police arrived, Francis said, adding: “We’re actively searching for suspect, tracking leads, etc.”

The mall was evacuated and medics rushed to the scene to help the wounded.

“EMS starting to enter to attend to injured inside Mall w/ police escort and after initial clearance,” Francis said on Twitter shortly before 8.30pm (11.30am Singapore time), referring to emergency medical services.

“Once EMS gets in, holding out hope that the number confirmed goes down.”

Francis said survivors would be transported by bus to a nearby church in Burlington, which is located about 110km north of Seattle in the US Pacific Northwest state.

Witnesses told KOMO News that a shooter walked into Macy’s and opened fire. Nearby businesses were evacuated, the television station added.

The shooting comes less than a week after a man stabbed nine people at a mall in central Minnesota before being shot dead. The FBI is investigating that attack as a potential act of terrorism.

NBC News reported that Washington State Patrol have said that there is no indication of terrorism in the shooting in Burlington. 

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Injured world number one Day pulls out of Tour Championship

REUTERS: An on-going back injury prompted world number one Jason Day to pull out of the Tour Championship during the second round in Atlanta on Friday.

Day withdrew while playing the eighth hole at East Lake.

The Australian picked up his ball in the rough, shook hands with fellow competitor Kim Si-woo and walked back to the clubhouse.

Day, 28, also withdrew during the final round of his previous tournament, the BMW Championship two weeks ago.

Before the start of the Tour Championship, Day said his back was an on-going problem due to a bulging disc that caused occasional flare-ups.

He also said after Thursday’s opening round that he had felt pain on a few shots, but not constantly.

“There was a couple of drives out there where … felt a bit of a sharp pain in my back,” he said after the round.

Day’s withdrawal eliminates him from contention to claim the US$ 10 million bonus awarded this week to the winner of the PGA Tour’s season-long FedExCup points race.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine)

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