Walker outduels Day on back nine to capture PGA title

Unheralded Jimmy Walker captured his first major title in wire-to-wire fashion, outdueling top-ranked defending champion Jason Day down the back nine Sunday at rain-soaked Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship.The 37-year-old American sank a tense thre…

Unheralded Jimmy Walker captured his first major title in wire-to-wire fashion, outdueling top-ranked defending champion Jason Day down the back nine Sunday at rain-soaked Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship.

The 37-year-old American sank a tense three-foot par putt on the final hole to defeat the Australian star by one stroke, finishing off a three-under par 67 final round to stand on 14-under par 266.

Walker won $1.8 million (1.6 million euros) and the Wanamaker Trophy.

Village security beefed up after Australia theft

Security at the Olympic village has been tightened following the theft of a computer and team shirts from the Australian delegation during a fire evacuation, team officials said Sunday.Australia chef de mission Kitty Chiller told reporters that a lapto…

Security at the Olympic village has been tightened following the theft of a computer and team shirts from the Australian delegation during a fire evacuation, team officials said Sunday.

Australia chef de mission Kitty Chiller told reporters that a laptop and team jerseys were stolen when the facility was evacuated for a small blaze on Friday.

"There was one laptop taken from one of our cycling officials on the fifth floor. Our IT equipment in our operational space had also been rifled through but nothing had been stolen," Chiller said.

Chiller said during the evacuation she had noticed three fire marshals apparently stealing the Australia team shirts.

"When I arrived, which was halfway through the evacuation, I saw three fire marshals - I don't know who they were - walking out with team shirts," she said.

"I thought maybe they have helped evacuate people and we've given them a shirt. It doesn't seem to be what happened.

"We don't know how many team shirts were taken and, yes, that's concerning."

After the fire, Chiller said Rio 2016 organizers had increased security throughout the Olympic village.

"There is a much greater security presence than there had been at the start when there were a lot of contractors and workers in the village, getting the building done in time," she said.

"Rio 2016 engaged a private security force and we now have private security and every building has (that) on either side of the doors. The security presence is there."

Rio's crime rate has been one of the biggest concerns heading into the Olympics. China revealed on Friday members of its Olympic delegation had already fallen victim to theft.

Chiller said the vast size of the Olympic Village, which houses thousands of athletes and support staff, "theft is going to be inevitable."

She rejected any suggestion Australia's delegation was being deliberately targeted, however.

"No-one would target the Australians. They wouldn't dare," she said.

Italy says 6,500 migrants rescued since Thursday

The Italian coastguard said the bodies of five migrants were recovered from the Mediterranean Sunday, while more than 6,500 people had been rescued off Libya since Thursday.In one operation by the Italian navy vessel Vega, “five migrants were picked up…

The Italian coastguard said the bodies of five migrants were recovered from the Mediterranean Sunday, while more than 6,500 people had been rescued off Libya since Thursday.

In one operation by the Italian navy vessel Vega, "five migrants were picked up out of the sea, three people were resuscitated and two were already dead," the coastguard said on its Twitter account.

The German aid group Jugend Rettet added that its ship Iuventa had taken part in the same operation to save 130 people packed onto a rubber dinghy that was taking on water, and had also recovered two bodies.

A fifth body was found aboard a fishing boat from which some 470 migrants were rescued by the Italian navy and the Malta-based aid group MOAS.

Sunday's rescue missions off the Libyan coast brought 1,100 migrants and refugees to safety overall, bringing the total to 6,530 since Thursday, said the Italian coastguard which coordinates the operations.

According to the latest figures from the UN's refugee agency earlier this week, more than 89,000 people, most from sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived in Italy by sea since the start of the year in search of a better life in Europe.

The tally is comparable to the total of 93,000 recorded for the January-July period last year.

More than 3,000 migrants have died trying to make the crossing, an increase of more than 50 percent compared to the same period in 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Taliban truck bomb strikes foreign guesthouse in Kabul

A powerful Taliban truck bomb struck a guesthouse popular with foreigners in Kabul early Monday, a security source and local media said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.”A truck packed with explosives struck the entrance of Northgate …

A powerful Taliban truck bomb struck a guesthouse popular with foreigners in Kabul early Monday, a security source and local media said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

"A truck packed with explosives struck the entrance of Northgate guesthouse," the source told AFP.

The guesthouse was not immediately reachable by telephone.

Northgate, close to the US-run Bagram air base north of Kabul, is a heavily guarded compound with blast walls and watchtowers.

The Taliban said the truck bomb at a guest house belonging to "American invaders" paved the way for their fighters to enter the facility with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.

The powerful explosion, which was preceded by a power outage, occurred around 1:30 am (2100 GMT) and was felt across the city.

The attack comes more than a week after 80 people were killed in twin bombings in the Afghan capital, the deadliest attack in the city in 15 years.

That assault was claimed by the Islamic State group, which is making gradual inroads into Afghanistan, challenging the Taliban on their own turf.

Djokovic beats Nishkori to claim Toronto title

World number one Novak Djokovic defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 Sunday to win the Toronto hardcourt tournament and claim his 66th career singles title.The Serb top seed collected his seventh trophy of the season as he duplicated his win over As…

World number one Novak Djokovic defeated Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 Sunday to win the Toronto hardcourt tournament and claim his 66th career singles title.

The Serb top seed collected his seventh trophy of the season as he duplicated his win over Asia's top player three months ago in the Miami final.

Djokovic improved to 10-2 in the series as he handed Nishikori a defeat in just 81 minutes.

Djokovic now leads the Masters 1000 winner list by two over Rafael Nadal (28).

"I had to realize my level," Djokovic said. "I was not feeling that comfortable at the start of the week.

"But I made progress and gained in confidence at the right time."

Nishikori was run down in the first hour of play before staking a brief claim on the contest.

The Japanese player recovered from a break down in the second set, leveling at 3-all and taking his first lead over Djokovic 4-3 in the next game.

But Djokovic re-established himself with a break for 6-5, taking victory a game later on his third match point with a service winner that flew off Nishikori's racket.

"It was a shame to lose the final but it was still a great week for me," Nishikori said. "I'm going to the Olympics next week and I hope to carry this momentum with me."

Djokovic credited his serve for seeing him through.

"I'm glad I had that weapon today. Kei is one of the best returners on the circuit and a very fast guy -- I had to serve well to win. "

Djokovic finished with 13 winners as he improved to 51-4 this season.

He now heads to the Rio Olympics to battle for gold: "It's gonna be a great honor and pleasure to be part of such a renowned and recognized sporting event. The Olympics are really special, I will give my best to fight for a medal."

Pope refuses to equate Islam with violence

Pope Francis refused to equate Islam with violence on Sunday, saying Catholics could be just as deadly and warning Europe was pushing its young to terrorism.”I don’t think it is right to equate Islam with violence,” he told journalists during his retur…

Pope Francis refused to equate Islam with violence on Sunday, saying Catholics could be just as deadly and warning Europe was pushing its young to terrorism.

"I don't think it is right to equate Islam with violence," he told journalists during his return from a trip to Poland.

Francis defended his decision not to name Islam when condemning the brutal jihadist murder of a Catholic priest in France in the latest of a string of recent attacks in Europe claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

"In almost every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. We have them too."

"If I have to talk about Islamic violence I have to talk about Christian violence. Every day in the newspapers I see violence in Italy, someone kills his girlfriend, another kills his mother in law, and these are baptised Catholics."

The pontiff was speaking after Muslims attended Catholic mass in churches around France on Sunday in solidarity and sorrow following the murder of the priest, whose throat was slit at the altar of his church.

In an echo of remarks made during his five-day trip to Poland for a Catholic youth festival, Francis said religion was not the driving force behind the violence.

"You can kill with the tongue as well as the knife," he said, in an apparent reference to a rise in populist parties fuelling racism and xenophobia.

He said Europe should look closer to home, saying "terrorism... grows where the God of money is put first" and "where there are no other options".

"How many of our European young have we left empty of ideals, with no work, so they turn to drugs, to alcohol, and sign up with fundamentalist groups?" he asked.

Five visitors killed at Bolivia’s top tourist draw

Five tourists from Belgium, Italy and Peru were killed in a car crash at Bolivia’s famous salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni, authorities said Sunday.”A tour company vehicle was in a crash and flipped over at the salt flat itself, and as a result, five peo…

Five tourists from Belgium, Italy and Peru were killed in a car crash at Bolivia's famous salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni, authorities said Sunday.

"A tour company vehicle was in a crash and flipped over at the salt flat itself, and as a result, five people were killed and another three injured," said Uyuni police chief Rodolfo Salazar.

Four of the deceased were women, he said, but no identities were immediately given.

The injured were taken to a hospital in Potosi, 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.

Early indications were the vehicle was speeding, Salazar said.

Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flats area, and Bolivia's top tourist attraction.

Congo opposition chief demands elections by end of 2016

Congo’s veteran opposition chief Etienne Tshisekedi on Sunday called for elections to be held this year and for President Joseph Kabila to step down as scheduled on December 20.

Congo’s veteran opposition chief Etienne Tshisekedi on Sunday called for elections to be held this year and for President Joseph Kabila to step down as scheduled on December 20.

Halep eases past error-prone Keys to Montreal tennis title

Simona Halep beat a mistake-prone Madison Keys 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 on Sunday to win the WTA Montreal hardcourt tournament and claim her 14th career singles crown.World number five Halep, of Romania, has now won 23 or her last 26 matches, a stretch that has …

Simona Halep beat a mistake-prone Madison Keys 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 on Sunday to win the WTA Montreal hardcourt tournament and claim her 14th career singles crown.

World number five Halep, of Romania, has now won 23 or her last 26 matches, a stretch that has included lifting three titles in Madrid, Bucharest and now Montreal.

Halep had some unfinished business to take care of at this tournament after reaching the final for the second straight year. Halep was unable to close the deal last year when she became ill in the third set, handing the title to unseeded Belinda Bencic.

Sunday's win wasn't pretty as she hit just four winners against American Keys who was playing in her first career hardcourt tournament final.

It was a match Keys would no doubt like to quickly forget as she finished with 45 unforced errors and had her serve broken five times, including four times in the opening set.

Her best previous hardcourt performance was a semi-final run at the 2015 Australian Open. She also reached the semis at Sydney in 2014 and Osaka in 2013.

Halep is the first player to reach back-to-back finals in the event since Jennifer Capriati did it in 2001 and 2002.

Halep won a sloppy first set in 43 minutes despite hitting just one winner.

The Romanian took the set on the second of five potential set points in the tiebreaker when Keys hit a backhand wide.

She then claimed the title on another Keys error as the American blasted a forehand into the net on championship point.

Ariya credits past lessons after Open victory

Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn credited the lessons learned from her experiences over the past year as a key factor in helping her to Sunday’s historic title at the Women’s British Open.Ariya became the first player from Thailand – male or female – to win…

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn credited the lessons learned from her experiences over the past year as a key factor in helping her to Sunday's historic title at the Women's British Open.

Ariya became the first player from Thailand - male or female - to win a major title after finishing three strokes clear of South Korea's Lee Mirim and American Mo Martin at Woburn.

But there were plenty of bumps along the way for the 20-year-old, who in her rookie 2015 season on the LPGA Tour missed ten successive cuts after suffering a shoulder injury.

This year, she led the first major - the ANA Inspiration - by two shots with three holes to play, but ended up fourth.

But overcoming adversity helped her win Sunday's Open title and become the first golfer from her country to win a major.

The turnaround for the powerful youngster came when she won three tournaments in a row on the LPGA Tour in May.

"The low points taught me to be patient," she said after her closing 72 for a three-shot victory on 16 under par. "I knew when I missed all the cuts that I was only 19 and I had plenty of time."

The shoulder injury came about when she was larking about with her older sister, Moriya, with a water bottle. Moriya also made the cut, but finished 16 shots behind Ariya and in a tie for 43rd at Woburn.

"Today I was very nervous, especially after the double-bogey at the 13th," said Ariya, who had led by two after 54 holes and by six with 12 to play.

"But the mistake made me mad and that helped. My caddie also talked to me and told me to slow down."

She is now looking forward to celebrating back home. "I hope Moriya and I will both inspire other Thai girls to play golf," she added.

Slain soldier’s dad calls Trump a ‘black soul’ unfit to lead

The father of a slain Muslim American soldier assailed Donald Trump as a “black soul” Sunday in an impassioned exchange with the Republican presidential candidate over the qualities required in a US leader.Khizr Khan electrified the Democratic conventi…

The father of a slain Muslim American soldier assailed Donald Trump as a "black soul" Sunday in an impassioned exchange with the Republican presidential candidate over the qualities required in a US leader.

Khizr Khan electrified the Democratic convention last week with a tribute to his fallen son that ended with a steely rebuke that Trump had "sacrificed nothing" for his country.

Trump defended himself in an interview with ABC's "This Week," insisting he had made "a lot of sacrifices" while suggesting that Khan's wife, who stood silent on the convention stage as her husband spoke, had not been allowed to talk.

But Khan shot back in interviews on US television news shows, while his wife Ghazala explained in a Washington Post op-ed that she had been too grief-stricken to speak.

"Without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain," she wrote. "Whoever saw me felt me in their heart."

Her son, US Army captain Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004 in a roadside explosion at the gates of a military compound.

Khan, speaking on CNN, accused Trump of lacking the moral compass and empathy needed to be the country's leader.

"He is a black soul. And this is totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country," Khan said.

Trump has courted controversy and sparked outrage during his drive for the US presidency with disparaging remarks against immigrants, Muslims and women.

His call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States has drawn criticism even from leaders of his own party.

But despite his high negatives he has attracted a fervent following among working class white males, and he stands near even with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the polls.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Clinton took aim at Trump's positive view of Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused him of "absolute allegiance" to Moscow's foreign policy objectives.

Trump responded defiantly, saying in the ABC interview that he had "no relationship" with Putin, but that "if our country got along with Russia, that would be a great thing."

The jousting on policy was overshadowed, however, by the emotional back and forth between Trump and Khan.

"I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot," Trump said.

Trump questioned whether Clinton had been behind Khan's address, which the naturalized Pakistani immigrant said he wrote with his wife Ghazala.

"Who wrote that? Did Hillary's script writers write it?" Trump said in the interview.

"If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say," Trump said, adding: "Maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say."

- 'A dark heart' -

Khan said he had invited his wife to speak, but she declined, knowing that she'd become too emotional.

He said that running for president does not entitle Trump "to disrespect" the relatives of soldiers killed in combat.

"Shame on him! Shame on his family!" he told ABC News. "He is not worthy of our comments. He has no decency. He is void of decency, he has a dark heart."

In a statement late on Saturday, Trump praised Captain Khan as "a hero to our country," adding, "we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe."

But Trump took issue with Khan's convention night speech, including his claim that the billionaire candidate had never read the US constitution.

"While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr Khan, who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the constitution" and "say many other inaccurate things," Trump said.

Clinton criticized Trump's treatment of Khan's during a campaign stop at a church in Cleveland, Ohio.

"Mr. Khan paid the ultimate sacrifice in his family, didn't he?" she told the African American congregation. "And what has he heard from Donald Trump? Nothing but insults, degrading comments about Muslims, a total misunderstanding of what made our country great -- religious freedom, religious liberty.

"It's enshrined in our constitution, as Mr. Khan knows, because he's actually read it.

Jihadists launch offensive to ease Aleppo siege

Jihadist forces allied to rebels attacked regime forces south and southwest of Aleppo Sunday in a bid to ease the siege of Syria’s second city, rebels and a monitor said.Since July 17, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have surrounded rebel-held distr…

Jihadist forces allied to rebels attacked regime forces south and southwest of Aleppo Sunday in a bid to ease the siege of Syria's second city, rebels and a monitor said.

Since July 17, President Bashar al-Assad's forces have surrounded rebel-held districts of Aleppo city, one of the main front lines in the conflict ravaging the country since 2011.

Loyalists forces cut the Castello Road, the main supply line into rebel-held neighbourhoods in the north of the city.

Now insurgents have attacked from the south, a region divided between loyalists backed by Iranian fighters and Hezbollah on the one hand, and Syrian and foreign jihadists allied with rebel groups on the other.

On Sunday, Islamist groups such as the influential Ahrar al-Sham and jihadists including from the former Al-Nusra Front -- rebranded Jabhat Fateh al-Sham after breaking from Al-Qaeda -- said they had begun a battle to try to reopen a new supply route.

Fateh al-Sham launched two car bomb attacks against regime positions in suburban Rashidin in southwestern Aleppo and fighting also raged in the early evening, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said.

Other attacks focused on southern parts of the city towards the regime-controlled suburb of Ramussa, the Britain-based monitor reported.

"It will be a long and difficult battle," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

"The army is supported by a large number of Iranians and fighters from Hezbollah, not to mention the Russian planes," he said.

Forces from Lebanon's Shiite group have been fighting alongside Assad's men in Syria for years, and Russia at the end of September last year began a campaign of air strikes in support of loyalist fighters.

In Aleppo city itself, regime forces bombarded rebel-held districts Sunday despite the announcement by Damascus and Moscow of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians and rebels ready to surrender to leave.

On Saturday, government media reported that dozens of civilians and rebels had left besieged eastern Aleppo through humanitarian corridors, but residents there and rebels dismissed the claims as "lies".

Elsewhere, at least nine civilians were killed Sunday in an air strike that hit a makeshift hospital at Jassem in the southern province of Daraa.

The International Rescue Committee, which supported the facility, called on the UN Security Council "to act in defence of the most basic principles of the UN".

"The bombing of hospitals is never justified. All those involved must be held to account," said IRC chief David Miliband in a statement.

Brazilians protest in Rio as city prepares for Olympics

Protesters turned out Sunday for lightly attended demonstrations in Rio against embattled President Dilma Rousseff five days before the start of the 2016 Olympic Games.About 4,000 protesters gathered on the beach at Copacabana in a festive atmosphere w…

Protesters turned out Sunday for lightly attended demonstrations in Rio against embattled President Dilma Rousseff five days before the start of the 2016 Olympic Games.

About 4,000 protesters gathered on the beach at Copacabana in a festive atmosphere with sound trucks blasting out a mix of samba and the national anthem.

Marchers carried an enormous banner that read "Dilma out and prison for Lula," a reference to former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was charged Friday with obstruction of justice in an ongoing corruption probe.

"We want our country back and for these people to go," said Vilma Moniz Portella, a lawyer carrying a small inflatable doll of the judge leading the probe into bribes and kickbacks at state oil giant Petrobras.

The scandal has shaken Brazil's political and business establishment, casting a shadow over the August 5-21 Olympic Games, the first ever held in a South American country.

Marchers said the turnout was smaller in Rio than at past protests calling for Rousseff's impeachment that have attracted hundreds of thousands of people.

Rousseff's impeachment trial for alleged violations of budgeting rules is set to begin August 29. A two-thirds vote by the Senate would remove her from office.

Suspended from office May 12, she was replaced on an interim basis by Vice President Michel Temer. If Rousseff is ousted, he would finish out her mandate, which runs until the end of 2018.

In Brasilia, about 3,000 protesters dressed in the green and yellow colors of the Brazilian flag took part in a demonstration against Rousseff outside the Congress, according to police estimates.

Similar anti-Rousseff protests were called in other cities, including Sao Paulo, Recife, Salvador and Belo Horizonte.

Rousseff's supporters, meanwhile, were expecting thousands of protesters to turn out for demonstrations against Temer in several cities.

‘Waiting until October’: Turkey issues ultimatum to EU over visa-free travel

Preview Turkey will not fulfill its part of the refugee deal with the EU if the bloc does not lift its visa requirements for Turkish citizens by October, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told a German daily.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Turkey will not fulfill its part of the refugee deal with the EU if the bloc does not lift its visa requirements for Turkish citizens by October, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told a German daily.
Read Full Article at RT.com

NASA to land on asteroid that could have once seeded life, but may now destroy Earth

NASA is about to launch a $1 billion 7-year mission to probe asteroid Benny, which may carry the building blocks of organic life, but also has a chance of hitting Earth late in the next century. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview NASA is about to launch a $1 billion 7-year mission to probe asteroid Benny, which may carry the building blocks of organic life, but also has a chance of hitting Earth late in the next century.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Vettel vows Ferrari Formula One will return stronger

Sebastian Vettel tried to reassure Ferrari?s fans and his team after another disappointing race on Sunday when he finished fifth ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in his home German Grand Prix.The four-time world champion, who argued with Ferrari pit-w…

Sebastian Vettel tried to reassure Ferrari?s fans and his team after another disappointing race on Sunday when he finished fifth ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in his home German Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion, who argued with Ferrari pit-wall engineers and disobeyed an instruction to pit, said he is convinced that the Italian team knows what to do to mount a recovery.

Their poor result on Sunday enabled Red Bull, for whom Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen finished second and third, to overhaul them and take second place in the constructors? championship.

Vettel said it is ?quite normal? to talk a lot during races, after he had replied telling the team: ?Negative. I will stay out.?

He said: ?It was a long discussion for many, many laps. We decided to stay out and it is my fault.

?I gave away the opportunity and I need to see if I can do better.

"We are not where we want to be and clearly there are a lot of things we need to do better. I'm trying to do what I can.

"The race pace was not bad, but not good enough. We struggled a bit with the balance and I was sliding about a bit too much."

Vettel is without a podium finish in four races and trails championship leader Lewis Hamilton by 97 points with nine races remaining after the annual European summer holiday break.

"The last couple of races have been tough for us, but very, very useful, as we understood a lot about our car and we know what to focus on," he added.

?It wasn't entirely clear after the first couple of races, but it became more and more evident. Obviously, it's a harsh way to find out, not being as competitive as we want to, but I think we know what to do.

?It's not easy to change overnight, but there is a plan and the second half should be stronger in that regard."

Rahul hundred helps India take control

Lokesh Rahul completed a patient hundred as India closed in on the West Indies’ first innings total of 196, by reaching 185 for one at lunch on the second day of the second Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica on Sunday.Making the most of his recall to the t…

Lokesh Rahul completed a patient hundred as India closed in on the West Indies' first innings total of 196, by reaching 185 for one at lunch on the second day of the second Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica on Sunday.

Making the most of his recall to the team due to a thumb injury sustained by Murali Vijay ahead of the match, Raul reached his third Test century with a six over long-on, but was generally watchful throughout the morning in getting to 107 in partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara (37 not out).

Trailing in the four-match series following an innings defeat in the first Test in Antigua a week earlier, the West Indies were far more disciplined with the ball over the first two hours of play than on the first evening.

Only 59 runs were added from the overnight position, extending the second-wicket partnership between Rahul and Pujara to 98, but none off the bowlers were able to make the much-needed breakthrough.

Of further concern to the home side would have been the sight of debutant fast-medium bowler Miguel Cummins leaving the field in some physical discomfort just before the interval.

He beat the bat on more than one occasion during his spell and would have been expected to shoulder a lot of the bowling heading into the afternoon session, especially with the West Indies continuing to use their premier strike bowler, Shannon Gabriel, sparingly due to his very recent history of debilitating injuries.

Rahul's celebratory six off part-time off-spinner Roston Chase was a rare moment of all-out aggression by the Indian second-wicket pair as they exercised admirable discipline in seeking to ensure that the advantage achieved on the first day of the match was consolidated at the start of day two.

In just his sixth Test match, Rahul's innings has already occupied over four-and-a-half hours during which he has faced 199 deliveries, stroking 12 fours to accompany the big hit that took him past the cherished landmark.

At the other end, Pujara was even more watchful, adding only 19 runs to his overnight score without ever looking in any real difficulty on a pitch that still offered its challenges to the batsmen.

Cummins was able to extract awkward bounce to him on one occasion but in his trademark phlegmatic manner he continued watchfully through the period of play.

New Russia appeals as IOC rejects blame for doping crisis

Yulia Efimova on Sunday became the third Russian swimmer to challenge her Rio Olympics ban as the International Olympic Committee rejected blame for the Russia doping crisis.Efimova, who won a 200m breaststroke bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics,…

Yulia Efimova on Sunday became the third Russian swimmer to challenge her Rio Olympics ban as the International Olympic Committee rejected blame for the Russia doping crisis.

Efimova, who won a 200m breaststroke bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, follows Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev in taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

International swimming federation (FINA) general secretary Cornel Marcelescu confirmed Efimova's appeal to AFP.

The cases of Morozov and Lobintsev, also medal winners in London and the Beijing Games in 2008, were to be heard by CAS on Sunday, according to sporting sources.

The three are among seven Russian swimmers banned from Rio by FINA after the IOC ordered sporting federations to exclude any Russian competitors implicated in an investigation into Russia's doping scandals by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

McLaren's report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said there was a state-organised doping scheme in Russia, with the secret service helping the sports ministry to manipulate samples at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and other major events in Russia.

At least 117 of the 387 sportsmen and women that Russia had wanted to send to Rio have been excluded. In parallel there have been recriminations over who is to blame for the shadow cast over the Rio Games.

IOC president Thomas Bach rejected suggestions at a press conference that the chaos represented a "huge failure" for the IOC.

"No. And this is for very obvious reasons," he replied.

"The IOC is not responsible for the timing of the McLaren report.

"The IOC is not responsible for the fact that different information which was offered to WADA already a couple of years ago was not followed up."

- Games 'a la Brazil' -

Russian anti-doping agency whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov says he first began passing information to WADA in 2010. Doping in Russian athletics was exposed in a German television documentary in 2014.

WADA has said it did not have the power to act on the information and insisted that its priority was to protect Stepanov and his wife Yulia Stepanova, who are now living in hiding in the United States.

Adding to his thinly veiled attack on WADA, Bach said the IOC was not responsible for the accreditation or supervision of anti-doping laboratories in Russia.

"So therefore the IOC cannot be made responsible neither for the timing nor for the reasons of these incidents we have to face now and which we are addressing and have to address just a couple of days before the Olympic Games," Bach said.

Three IOC executive members have been named to make a final decision on which Russian athletes will compete in Rio once the individual federations have made their lists.

The panel is made up of Ugur Erdener, president of World Archery and head of the IOC medical and scientific commission, Claudia Bockel of the IOC athletes commission, and Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch.

The IOC said the Russian team will be finalised before Friday's opening ceremony at the Rio Olympic stadium.

The Rio Games has also faced criticism over the state of the athletes' village and the readiness of some venues. But Bach insisted that the organisation is "coming together."

"There will be, as always be some last-minute challenges," said Bach.

But he added that the Brazilian authorities had acted quickly in recent months and "we are more confident than ever that we will have a great Olympic Games a la Brazil."

The Games, with an estimated 10,500 athletes, start Friday and finish August 21.

Ariya lands historic British Open title

Ariya Jutanugarn made history on Sunday when she became the first Thai golfer – man or woman – to win a major title with a final round 72 and a 16 under par 272 total at the Women’s British Open. Two ahead at the start of the final round, Ariya’s lead …

Ariya Jutanugarn made history on Sunday when she became the first Thai golfer - man or woman - to win a major title with a final round 72 and a 16 under par 272 total at the Women's British Open.

Two ahead at the start of the final round, Ariya's lead was six shots by the time she birdied the the long second and short sixth and she looked to be striding confidently to victory.

But she had to survive a great second half challenge from playing partner Lee Mirim before securing an emotional three-stroke victory.

The South Korean birdied three holes in a row from the tenth, and when Ariya had two nervy chips and double-bogeyed the 13th the advantage was down to one.

But the 20-year-old, who won three tournaments in a row on the LPGA Tour in May, showed her champion's class, rolling in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th and then a solid par at the last earned the $450,000 (403,000 euros) first prize.

Lee three-putted the 18th for a bogey and a 73 left her having to share second place with 2014 champion, Mo Martin. The American had a closing 70.

"This is really important for me and for golf in Thailand," said Ariya, whose next stop is the Olympic Games in Rio.

"The putt at the 17th was a huge relief. I had missed a few and I just wanted to make myself happy by holing it."

Ariya was showered with water and champagne from her friends when she holed the final putt and the first hug was from her Mum, Narumon.

What did she say to her daughter? "I don't know. She just cried," said the new champion.

Lee, who started the championship with a course record 62 and led at halfway, put up a brave fight, the three birdies and then a miraculous par from tree at the 16th making for a dramatic finale.

Martin, one of the shortest hitters in the field, also piled on the pressure, and it was a great effort by the player who couldn't defend the title at Turnberry last year due to injury.

"It was a tough year, but I've worked hard and this is the reward," said the player who won at Royal Birkdale two years ago.

But it was Jutanugarn who had most to celebrate. One of the most powerful players on Tour - she didn't use her driver during the championship - she has the ability to become a dominant figure in the women's game.

She first played in a LPGA event in her homeland as an 11-year-old - nine years later and she is now a household name and the country's first major champion.

World No.1 Lydia Ko shot a final day 74 and the New Zealander, holder of two of the five majors, finished with a rather disappointing one under par total.

Ireland's 21-year-old Leona Maguire shot a final round 75 for four under par and won the Smyth Salver for the top amateur.

Happy Hamilton revels in German success

Lewis Hamilton admitted he was surprised at his own good fortune on Sunday after winning the German Grand Prix to take a clear championship lead into Formula One?s annual European summer holidays.”I hope everyone has an amazing holiday ? I?m going to h…

Lewis Hamilton admitted he was surprised at his own good fortune on Sunday after winning the German Grand Prix to take a clear championship lead into Formula One?s annual European summer holidays.

"I hope everyone has an amazing holiday ? I?m going to have one!" he said, shortly after posting an image on his Instagram page showing him sharing a surfboard with one of his dogs on an idyllic sea.

"I?ll be on a beach, in the sunshine with a pina colada," he laughed. "And I will be smiling."

Twenty-four hours after casting a sullen figure during his media duties after missing out on pole position to his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, the champion sulk had become pure joy.

Told by a reporter that he now led Rosberg by 19 points, he responded with unbridled pleasure. "I had not realised that," he said. "That?s awesome."

He went on to explain that his emotional reactions were about his own performances and not, as some observers had said, about him being a sore loser.

"It?s really good, isn?t it?" he told Sky Sports TV. "It?s really nice. I was 43 points behind ? and what a day!

"It?s been a great race for me and I didn?t expect to be so strong on this track here like that."

Hamilton praised his team and thanked them for preparing his car and improving his starts. "I want to thank all of them," he said. "I?m so happy."

He added that in his 23 years as a racing driver he had learned what he needed to do for success ? which explained why he was so joyful.

"You kick yourself when things go wrong," he said. "And today I looked after my tyres, made no mistakes, I had no ?offs? or anything like that."

- Contrasting moods -

Just a day earlier, he was explaining why he seemed so miserable as reporters asked him if he was hurt by losing pole to Rosberg.

"No, it doesn?t hurt," he said. "For me, it?s like when you write a bad story -- you get hacked off by it. Or if you make a mistake.

"I?m not down. I?m just not happy with my own performance. I felt I was quickest and I had the speed and I brought it to qualifying, but I didn?t deliver it. I have to handle that."

Hamilton said he had been kicking himself about his qualifying failure and felt he had let down himself and his team.

But, he added, he did not over-dwell on the past, but instead looked forward determined to do better.

"I have a lot of guys back at the factory, and also my main guys here, my mechanics, who work to build my car, who were hoping to get pole.

"I've got my engineers who work until 1 or 2 am every night. It?s a lot of weight when you don't deliver the way they have delivered. That?s where I am in my head."

He said he had not felt threatened at all during Sunday?s race and had deliberately managed his lead at around six seconds in the closing stages.

"I was taking it easy," he laughed. "I turned the engine down when I could from the start and only put it up in the final stint.

"I figured that six is enough. I had that so I could keep them at bay."

Having won six of the past seven races, Hamilton leads Rosberg by 19 points with a four-week break before the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28.

"It is more than I expected so I?ll definitely take that," he added.

Armenia police station siege gunmen surrender, 20 arrested

A group of anti-government gunmen who have been holed up in an Armenian police station for two weeks surrendered Sunday, security services said, ending a tense stand-off that left two police officers dead and saw several people taken hostage.”The secur…

A group of anti-government gunmen who have been holed up in an Armenian police station for two weeks surrendered Sunday, security services said, ending a tense stand-off that left two police officers dead and saw several people taken hostage.

"The security forces' anti-terrorist operation has ended and led to the members of the armed group laying down their weapons and surrendering to the authorities," the national security services said in a statement. "Twenty terrorists were arrested."

Munich mourns victims of shopping mall shooting

The city of Munich on Sunday paid tribute to nine victims of a shooting rampage, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck attending the memorials that called on people to resist slipping into fear and hatred.Christians, Jews and…

The city of Munich on Sunday paid tribute to nine victims of a shooting rampage, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck attending the memorials that called on people to resist slipping into fear and hatred.

Christians, Jews and Muslims came together at the city's Gothic landmark church Frauenkirche for a non-denominational service, at which Cardinal Reinhard Marx said mistrust and fear must not have the last word.

Dhari Hajer, who chairs the city's Muslim council, also warned Germany against falling into a "vicious cycle of hatred and violence" as the country seeks to come to terms with a series of assaults over the past two weeks.

The gun rampage at a Munich shopping mall on July 22 by 18-year-old David Ali Sonboly came four days after a 17-year-old Afghan refugee seriously wounded five with an axe attack.

Two days later, Germany was hit by a machete assault that left one dead and a suicide bomb attack that wounded a dozen people.

Addressing the Bavarian parliament in the second of the day's memorial events, Gauck said attackers and terrorists "will not force us to hate as they hate."

"They will not hold us captive through constant fear. We will remain what we are, a humane community that shows solidarity," he said.

At the same time, Gauck said the attacks also called for society to reflect on what drove the perpetrators to the violence.

Noting that the assaults were often planned ahead in time, he said "society must not allow these young people to be left alone nor to tolerate their marginalisation."

Investigators have said that Sonboly was a depressed teen who was obsessed with mass killings and had long struggled with his mental health.

He also appeared to have been a victim of bullying by other pupils at his school, and had filed a complaint against three of his tormentors in 2012.

In an interview with Bild am Sonntag, the teenager's father Masoud Sonboly blamed himself for not noticing how his son had shut himself off and sought refuge in violent computer games.

At the same time, he also called into question the teacher's and classmates' actions.

Sonboly said he had spoken to the teacher about the bullies who targeted his son, but said no action was taken.

"Our lives in Munich have been destroyed," he said, adding that "we get death threats, my wife has been crying over the past week."

Formula One’s Verstappen says he swerved to avoid Rosberg crash

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen claimed he would have crashed into Nico Rosberg if he had not driven off the track to avoid him on his way to finishing third in Sunday’s German Grand Prix.The 18-year-old Red Bull driver, who claimed his fourth podium fin…

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen claimed he would have crashed into Nico Rosberg if he had not driven off the track to avoid him on his way to finishing third in Sunday's German Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old Red Bull driver, who claimed his fourth podium finish in eight races since promotion from the Toro Rosso team, came home behind his team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

Rosberg finished fourth after being given a five-second penalty for forcing Verstappen off the track when he passed him at the hairpin.

His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton won the race to open up a 19-point lead ahead of Rosberg, who said he was using 'full lock' of his steering when he passed Verstappen, in the title race.

"Can you explain to them that I was full lock on the steering wheel and I couldn't steer more," said Rosberg, on Mercedes team radio, after he was informed of the penalty.

He also blamed Verstappen for moving under braking.

But the Dutchman hit back and said: "I think he was quite far back so he braked really late and, at one point, I thought he was going to run into me.

"So I opened up and he didn't turn in and I had to go straight and I had to go off track otherwise we would have crashed ? Lewis knows," he added, referring to a similar incident involving Rosberg with Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix.

"It happened and he got a five-second penalty. So I was trying to stay within five seconds to get him back at the pit-stop."

His Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo marked his 100th Grand Prix by finishing ahead of Verstappen because he had the best of their alternative strategies for tyres, as they out-raced Ferrari to move ahead of the Italian team in the constructors' championship.

"I definitely think I took one for the team today," said Verstappen, who allowed Ricciardo to pass him during the race.

"But that's alright?. I think Daniel and I have a good relationship so we can do that. The most important thing was for us to be in front of Ferrari.

"That definitely worked today and we were even challenging Mercedes. We kept Nico (Rosberg) behind us on fair pace so that was good."

IOC boss denies Russian influence in doping decision

Olympics boss Thomas Bach rejected claims he was personally influenced by Russia on Sunday after strong criticism over the decision to let Russian athletes compete at the Rio Games.Bach said he had no contact with the Moscow government after this month…

Olympics boss Thomas Bach rejected claims he was personally influenced by Russia on Sunday after strong criticism over the decision to let Russian athletes compete at the Rio Games.

Bach said he had no contact with the Moscow government after this month's publication of an explosive report which revealed a wide-ranging, state-sponsored doping regime.

The McLaren report prompted calls for the IOC to ban Russia from Rio, but the Olympic body instead opted to leave it up to individual sports to allow or bar Russian athletes.

The decision was widely criticised with speed skating great Claudia Pechstein accusing Bach, a fellow German, of being "bought politically."

British former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies also said the IOC chief was too "buddy buddy" with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Bach firmly said "No" when asked by AFP whether he had any contact with Russian officials between the McLaren report's publication and the IOC's decision nearly a week later.

"I haven't been talking to any Russian government official since the publication of the McLaren report and not even in the time, the days or weeks, preceding," Bach told journalists at Rio's Olympic Park.

The IOC decision has left Russian athletes and their competitors in flux, with the final composition of the Russian team still unknown five days before the Games open on Friday.

But Bach said he didn't think that the incident would turn out to be damaging for the Rio Games.

"I don't think that this event will be damaging because people will realise that we have to take this decision," he said.

"Imagine the situation if we would not have taken a decision, what then the limbo would be. And imagine the situation if we would have taken another decision, what ridicule and legal limbo this would be.

"I trust the people, that they realise the difficulties we are in. They realise that it was not an easy decision to take and they realise that we did our best to address this situation in a way which allows to protect all clean athletes all over the world."

Pope plays matchmaker at youth jamboree

Prayer was not the only thing on the minds of hundreds of thousands of young Catholics at the World Youth Day extravaganza in Poland this week: some were also looking for love. Headlining the event in a village near Krakow, Pope Francis, 79, was an ent…

Prayer was not the only thing on the minds of hundreds of thousands of young Catholics at the World Youth Day extravaganza in Poland this week: some were also looking for love.

Headlining the event in a village near Krakow, Pope Francis, 79, was an enthusiastic matchmaker, offering his top tips for happy relationships.

"World Youth Day (WYD) can be a bit of a marriage agency," Sophie Jubin, a 20-year-old Swiss, told AFP as she spent a hot summer night under the stars.

Some 400,000 young Catholics travelled from 187 countries around the world for the event and at least a million more people, many of them Poles, attended a lively papal mass on Sunday.

"You want to find someone with the same values as you," said Jubin, lamenting that "in our group ? it's funny ? there are 250 girls and 50 boys, so lots of girls are disappointed!"

"Finding love isn't the main topic of World Youth Day, it's just a little extra, but I'm very happy Aleksandra is here," Ignacio, a smiling 18-year-old Spaniard, told AFP of his new Polish friend, a 22-year-old student.

"We're nearly a couple!" he chuckled as Aleksandra chimed in, saying it was "easier to meet someone at World Youth Day because the atmosphere makes you more open."

"We don't notice other people's faults as much because we're focused on the positive. And we open up to other cultures too!"

They plan to see each other again, this time in Madrid.

- 'Please, sorry, thank you' -

The heart of the medieval centre of Krakow was overrun all week by flag-waving groups from China to Samoa and Mexico -- among them, smiling pilgrims strolling hand in hand.

Pope Francis cracked jokes and offered advice for a happy love life earlier in the week to youngsters gathered nightly beneath his window, cranking up the party spirit at an event dubbed "the Catholic Woodstock".

"Young people often ask me how to create a happy family ? I propose three words. They are: please, sorry and thank you," the folksy Argentine pontiff said to rapturous applause from a window at the Archbishop's palace in the old town centre.

"It's normal for a husband and wife to fight, sometime plates fly... don't be afraid of these situations," warned the head of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

"But never to sleep without making peace, because a 'cold war' the next day is very dangerous," he said.

"You always have to ask your wife or husband their opinion, and never to impose yours."

Russia marks Navy Day with nationwide military shows & parades (VIDEO,PHOTOS)

Preview Grand parades, demonstrations and simulated maritime operations have taken place at Russia’s major naval bases to mark the Navy Day, marking more than 300 years of defending the country’s interests at home and overseas.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Grand parades, demonstrations and simulated maritime operations have taken place at Russia’s major naval bases to mark the Navy Day, marking more than 300 years of defending the country’s interests at home and overseas.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Memorial interfaith Mass urges French to ‘oppose violence with love’

Muslims attended Catholic Mass in cities and towns across France on Monday in a show of solidarity following the grisly murder of an 86-year-old priest at a Normandy church earlier this week claimed by the Islamic State group.

Muslims attended Catholic Mass in cities and towns across France on Monday in a show of solidarity following the grisly murder of an 86-year-old priest at a Normandy church earlier this week claimed by the Islamic State group.

Over 10,000 rally to back Erdogan in Cologne, Germany amid counter-protests (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Thousands of people have gathered in the German city of Cologne to hold a demonstration in support of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following a failed coup attempt. However, they were met by several counter-rallies also being…

Preview Thousands of people have gathered in the German city of Cologne to hold a demonstration in support of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following a failed coup attempt. However, they were met by several counter-rallies also being held.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Day, Stenson in hunt but Walker clings to wet PGA lead

Top-ranked defending champion Jason Day and British Open winner Henrik Stenson were chasing unheralded US leader Jimmy Walker after Sunday’s third round of the PGA Championship at rain-soaked Baltusrol.Walker, seeking a wire-to-wire victory and his fir…

Top-ranked defending champion Jason Day and British Open winner Henrik Stenson were chasing unheralded US leader Jimmy Walker after Sunday's third round of the PGA Championship at rain-soaked Baltusrol.

Walker, seeking a wire-to-wire victory and his first major title, fired a two-under par 68 thanks to four birdies on the back nine, the last a tap-in at the par-5 18th, to finish 54 holes at 11-under par 199 to pull one stroke ahead of Day.

"Just started feeling more comfortable with the golf swing," Walker said after two bogeys in the first five holes. "Just said 'Trust it,' on the swing and kept the pedal going. I feel good."

Day sank a stunning 74-foot birdie at the par-4 sixth, added a five-footer at the par-3 ninth and a tap-in birdie at 18 for a bogey-free 67.

"I played pretty good, gave myself some opportunities to shoot a low one but didn't really take them," Day said.

The fourth round had already started with the first groups only four holes behind the final third-round groups as the PGA of America kept the same pairings for the final round and played "lift, clean and place" rules near greens for the first time in tournament history in a bid to finish the year's last major on Sunday.

"It's exciting to be in this position," Day said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of going out there and trying to win my second major.

"It would be nice to go back to back but I'm really trying to just put one foot in front of the other."

Day began the week fighting fatigue and illness, having never played Baltusrol's 7,428-yard layout until a practice round on the eve of the event.

"I played some really good golf," Day said. "To be honest I have no idea (how). It wasn't the greatest preparation, but once again the expectations came down and that kind of freed me up."

- Stenson battling -

Stenson, who won his first major title two weeks ago at Royal Troon, fired his third consecutive 67 to share third on 201 with American Brooks Koepka.

"I was struggling with my long game today. It was a bit of a struggle for me to gather my rhythm. I just hope I can pick up some timing in my long game. I'll just keep the putting going and see where it takes us."

Koepka fired a bogey-free 66 to charge into the title chase.

"I played pretty well," Koepka said. "I drove the ball in the fairway. That's key. Every time I was in the rough I had a good lie. Those are the kind of breaks you need."

Koepka missed the British Open with a torn right ankle ligament that he rehabilitated until last week and wondered as late as Tuesday if he would play at Baltusrol.

"I've got it taped up. It feels pretty good right now," Koepka said. "The real test will be walking 36."

Sharing fifth on 203 were Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and Americans William McGirt and Robert Streb, who on Friday matched the record low major round with a 63.

Streb, who missed the cut at the year's first three majors, has not managed a top-10 finish in a US PGA event since his share of 10th at last year's PGA Championship -- 27 events of mounting frustration that could end with him hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy and taking a winner's prize of $1.8 million (1.6 million euros).

Tinkoff boss attacks UCI over Russian bans

Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov, the boss of cycling team Tinkoff, lashed out at the UCI on Sunday for what he felt was discrimination against Russian riders.Ilnur Zakarin, Olga Zabelinskaya and Sergey Shilov were barred from the Rio Games because of p…

Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov, the boss of cycling team Tinkoff, lashed out at the UCI on Sunday for what he felt was discrimination against Russian riders.

Ilnur Zakarin, Olga Zabelinskaya and Sergey Shilov were barred from the Rio Games because of previous doping sanctions, which meant they failed to meet strict eligibility criteria imposed on Russian athletes by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Three others, whose identities were not disclosed, could be also banned soon as they were mentioned in the report on state-run doping in Russia that was published by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

Tinkov, 48, was furious with the decision to ban the trio and allow other riders who have served doping bans in the past to compete.

"Zakarin can't go to Rio but (Alejandro) Valverde and others who been caught on doping can?" he exclaimed on social media.

"If this is not political revenge on Russia, what is it? It show again how stupid and impotent that fucking UCI (are). Just bunch of bureaucratic idiots."

Zakarin rides for Russian team Katusha and won a stage on this month's Tour de France.

Twin PKK attacks kill 4 Turkish soldiers: report

Militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) killed four Turkish soldiers Sunday in two separate attacks, local media reported.Three soldiers were killed during a military operation in Ordu, located on the Black Sea coast in northeastern …

Militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) killed four Turkish soldiers Sunday in two separate attacks, local media reported.

Three soldiers were killed during a military operation in Ordu, located on the Black Sea coast in northeastern Turkey, the province's governor said in comments carried by private Dogan news agency.

Irfan Balkanlioglu said the soldiers were shot by PKK militants and two others were injured, Dogan, said. The operation, in Mesudiye district, was continuing.

In another attack, one soldier was killed and six were wounded in clashes with PKK militants in the southeastern province of Hakkari, the army said in a statement.

One soldier was seriously wounded, the army added. The state-run Anadolu news agency reported the clashes occurred in Altinsu district.

The fatalities occurred two days after eight soldiers were killed in fighting with Kurdish militants, the deadliest attack on the military since the failed July 15 coup.

The attempted power grab saw a rogue group within the armed forces try to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has retaliated with a massive purge of the military.

More than 600 Turkish security force members have been killed by the PKK in attacks since the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in July last year, according to a toll given by Anadolu.

The government has responded with military operations against the guerrilla group, killing more than 7,000 militants in Turkey and northern Iraq, the agency said. Activists claim civilians have also been killed in the offensives.

Over 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK -- proscribed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union (EU) and the United States -- first took up arms in 1984.

Initially it sought independence for Turkey's Kurdish minority -- making up around 20 percent of the population -- although over the years the emphasis switched to greater rights and self-rule.

Tokyo elects first female governor as it prepares for 2020 Olympics

Voters in the Japanese capital elected their first woman governor on Sunday, after two predecessors stepped down over scandals that clouded the city’s preparations to host the 2020 summer Olympic Games.

Voters in the Japanese capital elected their first woman governor on Sunday, after two predecessors stepped down over scandals that clouded the city’s preparations to host the 2020 summer Olympic Games.

Ankara mayor to US: deliver Gulen

The United States must extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen to Turkey to remove any suspicion that Washington was involved in the failed July 15 coup, the mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek said.Gokcek, mayor for over 22 years and one of the most senio…

The United States must extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen to Turkey to remove any suspicion that Washington was involved in the failed July 15 coup, the mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek said.

Gokcek, mayor for over 22 years and one of the most senior figures in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also told AFP in an interview he feared Turkey was entering a period where top officials could be at risk of assassination.

Turkey has squarely blamed Gulen for masterminding the rebellion, saying he assiduously built up a "parallel state" with followers in all institutions. From his secluded compound in Pennsylvania, the preacher has denied the charges.

Turkish authorities have launched a sweeping nationwide purge of suspected Gulen supporters since the coup, dismissing more than 50,000 people from their jobs and detaining more than 18,000.

With some officials now even alleging that Washington could have had a hand in the putsch, Ankara wants the United States to send back Gulen to face trial in the country he left in 1999.

"For America to prove it is not behind the coup, there is only one thing to do, deliver (him) to Turkey," Gokcek told AFP in the capital.

He claimed that the US had already given "signals" it was involved in the coup after a top American general expressed concern that many of Washington's former Turkish military interlocutors were now in jail.

"How will it be known whether America is or is not involved in this business? If they deliver (Gulen) there is no problem. But if they don't the United States will not escape from the dock."

Gokcek, who had previously suggested Gulen was hypnotising people, expressed bewilderment that Washington had tolerated the cleric's presence and allowed his foundations to open up schools in the US.

"For America to tolerate this, it seems there are connections to FETO," he said, referring to what Turkey calls the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO).

The US State Department has rejected suggestions it had any hand in the coup as "ludicrous".

- 'Risk of assassinations' -

Gokcek said Gulen's role in Turkey went back to the premierships of Bulent Ecevit in the 1970s and admitted the AKP had mistakenly formed an alliance with his similarly Islamic-leaning supporters when it first came to power in 2002.

"But their biggest aim was to use us and to get their own people inside the army," he said.

Gokcek, one of the most outspoken senior figures in the AKP who regularly updates 3.4 million followers on Twitter with his views, said there would no longer be a risk of coups in Turkey but rather of assassinations.

"Politicians will be at risk of assassinations... of course I have increased my security," he said.

- 'Don't care about EU' -

The mayor was quick to take to Twitter on the night of the turbulence, describing it as a Gulen-backed coup minutes after the first reports emerged and then calling all supporters out into the streets.

He claims to have been number six on a hit list -- topped by Erdogan -- to be killed by Gulen followers after the power grab.

Gokcek said he was "absolutely in favour" of the death penalty for the coup plotters and brushed off warnings from the European Union that reinstating capital punishment could end Turkey's decades-long bid to join the bloc.

If Turkey is told it can't enter the EU, "well I swear to God, we don't care. Let us not enter," said Gokcek, adding that he had been a champion of EU integration in the past.

"When we were close, you were far away. Europe is not the only place in the world... We will find others."

He said if parliament passed a law reversing the 2004 death penalty abolition, it should then be put to a referendum.

"The world can then see if the people want it or not."

Kuwait’s Zain telecom Q2 profits rise 14%

Kuwaiti telecom giant Zain’s net profits in the second quarter rose 14 percent despite currency losses and its operations in conflict zones, the company said Sunday.Zain said it posted a net profit of 45 million dinars ($149.5 million) in the three mon…

Kuwaiti telecom giant Zain's net profits in the second quarter rose 14 percent despite currency losses and its operations in conflict zones, the company said Sunday.

Zain said it posted a net profit of 45 million dinars ($149.5 million) in the three months to June compared with the same period in 2015.

The net profit of Kuwait's largest mobile operator in the first six months also rose by 2.0 percent to 82 million dinars ($272 million), compared to a year earlier, Zain said in a statement.

"It is pleasing to report growth... given that Zain group is exposed to conflict zones and currency fluctuations," chairman Asaad al-Banwan said.

Besides Kuwait, Zain has operations in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. It also manages a unit in Morocco.

Zain businesses are most impacted by conflict in Iraq and currency losses in Sudan.

Consolidated revenues in the first half dropped slightly to $1.83 billion from $1.86 billion in the same period of 2015.

Over the past 12 months, the company's total subscribers dropped by 1.1 million to 45.2 million.

Zain, in which the government holds a stake of almost 25 percent, is one of three mobile operators in the emirate, alongside National Telecommunications Co (Wataniya) and Kuwait Telecommunications Co (VIVA).

Clinton says Trump’s praise of Russia raises ‘national security issues’

Hillary Clinton on Sunday sharply criticized Donald Trump over his “absolute allegiance” to Russian policy aims, saying it raised both “national security issues” and new doubts about his temperament.Trump, her Republican rival in the race for the White…

Hillary Clinton on Sunday sharply criticized Donald Trump over his "absolute allegiance" to Russian policy aims, saying it raised both "national security issues" and new doubts about his temperament.

Trump, her Republican rival in the race for the White House, responded defiantly, saying that he had "no relationship" with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and had never met nor spoken to him by phone, but that "if our country got along with Russia, that would be a great thing."

He said in an ABC interview that he was not about to disavow it if Putin praised him as a "genius" (some Russian speakers say "colorful" was a better translation of the word).

But perhaps further fanning controversy, Trump added that as president he would at least consider acknowledging Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia annexed in 2014 in the face of international condemnation.

Clinton was responding on "Fox News Sunday" to allegations of Russian involvement in leaks of Democratic Party e-mails that embarrassed her on the eve of the just-ended Democratic national convention.

As that convention was underway, Trump urged Russia to find and release several thousand emails that disappeared from Clinton's private server while she was secretary of state, a call that drew a sharp backlash from Democrats and some Republicans.

Democrats and US cybersecurity experts said it appeared Russia had attempted to influence the American campaign in Trump's favor. The leaked emails published by WikiLeaks revealed the distrust of some key Democratic leaders of Bernie Sanders, Clinton's former rival for the Democratic nod.

As that convention was underway, Trump urged Russia to find and release several thousand emails that disappeared from Clinton's private server while she was secretary of state, a call that drew a sharp backlash from Democrats and some Republicans.

Trump's seeming encouragement of Russian hacking, Clinton told Fox, "raises issues about Russian influence in our election."

"And for Trump to both encourage that and to praise Putin despite what appears to be a deliberate effort to try to affect the election, I think, raises national security issues."

When an interviewer noted that Trump had claimed "he was being sarcastic," Clinton replied: "If you take the encouragement that Russians hack into email accounts, if you take his quite excessive praise for Putin, his absolute allegiance to a lot of Russian wish-list foreign policy issues," it suggests that "he is not temperamentally fit to be president and commander-in-chief."

Vote ANC, urges S.Africa’s Zuma ahead of poll

South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday urged supporters to vote for the ruling African National Congress ahead of fiercely competitive municipal polls that could see the party lose control of several major cities.Zuma’s ANC, which now controls th…

South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday urged supporters to vote for the ruling African National Congress ahead of fiercely competitive municipal polls that could see the party lose control of several major cities.

Zuma's ANC, which now controls the majority of the country's 278 municipalities, has been weakened by graft scandals and growing public discontent since it led the fight against white-minority rule.

At a massive final rally, the party made a last push for votes, stressing its anti-apartheid history and past accomplishments.

"Millions of our people must vote ANC and enable their movement to continue improving the lives of our people," Zuma told a packed Ellis Park Stadium in the Johannesburg city centre.

"Every vote counts."

An estimated 55,000 supporters decked in the ANC's green, yellow and black filled the stands for the extravagant rally in a campaign the party said had cost it R1 billion ($72 million).

"We have walked the streets of this country, we have visited every town, every city. We have been to thousands of homes," said Zuma.

The latest Ipsos opinion polls suggest that the ANC, which has ruled since the end of apartheid in 1994, could be under threat in three major cities -- Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth -- in Wednesday's election.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which rules in Cape Town, is hoping for a breakthrough result, citing the country's poor economic performance and a series of corruption scandals plaguing Zuma.

Last week, South Africa's highest court ruled that the president pay back $500,000 of public funds spent upgrading his private Nkandla residence with facilities including a chicken coop and a swimming pool.

"A lot of money was wasted there that should have been spent on the people," Frieda Motlatla, 24, told AFP at Sunday's rally.

But with her hair wrapped in an ANC turban, she said Zuma's troubles would not affect her support: "I don't vote for a person, I for a party."

"Nkandla is not our business," agreed Simon Machaka, 42. "Some people will always be dissatisfied. They don't focus on the good things."

The radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party is also seeking to make a major impact in its first municipal elections.

All three main parties held their final rallies this weekend.

Zuma, 74, will have completed two terms in office in 2019 and is not eligible to run for president again, but the ANC could replace him ahead of the next general election if the party scores poorly in the local polls.

UN formally invites Syria government to new peace talks

UN deputy Syria envoy Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy on Sunday invited Damascus to new peace talks with the opposition at the end of August, drawing a positive response from the government.On Tuesday, the world body’s special envoy Staffan de Mistura told report…

UN deputy Syria envoy Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy on Sunday invited Damascus to new peace talks with the opposition at the end of August, drawing a positive response from the government.

On Tuesday, the world body's special envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva he wanted "to proceed with a third round of intra-Syrian talks towards the end of August" after two previous rounds of talks this year ended in failure.

De Mistura has struggled to keep the peace process alive amid a surge in fighting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebel groups.

"I informed the minister and his deputy of the intention of the special envoy De Mistura to reconvene the inter-Syrian talks towards the end of August," Ramzy said after meeting Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and his deputy Faisal Muqdad.

"I explained to the minister how we intend to proceed, and we discussed how to render this process of political transition which has already been endorsed by the Security Council to be a credible one, and we exchanged views on that," Ramzy said.

He said Muallem "confirmed the intention of the Syrian government to participate in these talks once they are held".

Muqdad said Syria's government was "ready to resume the talks with no preconditions in an inter-Syrian context with no foreign interference", the official SANA news agency reported him as saying.

De Mistura's announcement comes with the armed opposition facing difficulties, especially in the northern city of Aleppo where government forces are besieging rebel-held districts.

A peace roadmap, endorsed in December by the UN, called for the creation of a transitional body, which should have occurred on August 1, a new constitution and elections by mid-2017.

The UN-brokered talks have so far been deadlocked over Assad's fate.

The government has ruled out negotiations on his possible departure, while the main opposition High Negotiations Committee has said it will not agree to any deal that leaves Assad in power.

Since Syria was plunged into chaos in 2011, more than 280,000 people have been killed and upwards of half the population has been displaced.

Cannabis chef takes fine dining to new high

Christopher Sayegh holds up two syringes filled with cannabis compound, primed to pump tiny amounts into a pomegranate sorbet, or a juicy cut of Wagyu Japanese beef as part of a bold new sensory experiment.As more US states move to legalize the use of …

Christopher Sayegh holds up two syringes filled with cannabis compound, primed to pump tiny amounts into a pomegranate sorbet, or a juicy cut of Wagyu Japanese beef as part of a bold new sensory experiment.

As more US states move to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, the California chef is aiming to elevate haute cuisine to a new level.

Armed with cooking skills acquired while working at Michelin-star restaurants in New York and California, Sayegh says his mission is to redefine haute cuisine with cannabis-infused meals that are becoming increasingly popular as the stigma surrounding marijuana gradually evaporates.

"I am trying to give people a cerebral experience," Sayegh, 24, told AFP during a recent interview at The Herbal Chef, his Los Angeles-based company.

"But I'm also really careful in how I take them along on this journey."

Sayegh's foray into edible cannabis comes as more and more entrepreneurs look to capitalize on a new gold rush in California which is set to vote in November on legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over.

Five other states, including Alaska, Colorado and Washington, have already adopted similar legislation and more are expected to follow suit as cannabis moves out of the shadows and becomes more mainstream.

Medical cannabis use is allowed so far in 23 states -- including California -- and that number is expected to grow, despite the fact that at the federal level the product remains illegal.

According to the Arcview Group, a cannabis investment and research firm based in California, legal sales of marijuana in the United States reached $1.2 billion in 2015, a 232 percent increase over the previous year.

By 2020, sales are expected to surpass $22 billion, the group said in a recent report, with California making up $6.4 billion of that market.

- 'Like a symphony' -

Such projections are enough to make entrepreneurs like Sayegh salivate and quickly move to stake out their place in the burgeoning market of cannabis-laced cuisine.

The young chef, who was studying molecular biology at university before dropping out to pursue his culinary project, said he has seen a huge uptick since starting his business about two years ago.

His services, for now, are exclusively private affairs for people with medical marijuana cards, but he expects that hurdle to come down following the November vote on recreational marijuana.

His meals, at $300 to $500 a head, are aimed at taking diners on a unique "immersive" journey and not just getting stoned, Sayegh says.

"I am literally changing people's brain chemistry as the dishes go on," he says enthusiastically, as his displays the tiny syringes he uses to spice up his cooking.

"By the third course you feel it a little, by the fourth a bit more and by the fifth course, you're starting to hit your groove.

"So it's like a symphony," he adds. "I have to make sure that as the come-up is happening, the dishes correspond with that and as it's coming down, the same happens."

- 'Taking people on a trip' -

Sayegh, who is of Jordanian descent, is even experimenting with cannabis-laced stuffed grape leaves, falafel, chickpea beignets and other Middle Eastern dishes.

His cannabis-infused dishes even include "medicated" oysters.

He says his family was appalled when he entered into his new venture, but they have since come around, even sampling, and enjoying, his creations.

Sayegh and others, however, warn that as the appeal of cannabis-laced food continues to increase and Americans grow comfortable with the concept, consumers need to be made aware that getting high on a cannabis meal is not to be taken lightly.

"This is an inexact science in so many ways because so many factors come into play when you cook with cannabis," said Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author of "The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook."

"It's not like ordering a Jack Daniels and coke.

"There is a whole discovery going on right now as this is kind of reaching out from the Wild Wild West."

Sayegh said he realizes that his meals can pack a wallop and treads carefully when he gets behind the stove to concoct his recipes.

"Cannabis is not like any other ingredient," he said. "You have to be extremely careful because not only does heat play a very important role when cooking with cannabis, but you're also taking people on a trip, literally, and you have a responsibility to make sure it's done right.

"This is not about throwing butter in a pan to get everyone super high."

Air France strike, in fifth day, has affected 150,000

Thousands of people faced flight cancellations in France on Sunday, the fifth day of a strike by Air France flight crew at the height of the holiday travel period, the airline said.So far the strike has affected around 150,000 people, the airline said….

Thousands of people faced flight cancellations in France on Sunday, the fifth day of a strike by Air France flight crew at the height of the holiday travel period, the airline said.

So far the strike has affected around 150,000 people, the airline said.

Some 900 flights, or about one in five, have been cancelled since the action began on Wednesday, the airline said, estimating the cost to the company at "tens of millions of euros".

Some flights have gone ahead but with a reduced passenger load for security reasons as there were not enough flight attendants.

Millions of people are returning home from their July holidays this weekend as millions more set off for an August break, causing long tailbacks on the roads and frenetic scenes at rail stations and airports.

Unions representing around half of the Air France strikers called the stoppage after marathon talks failed to reach a breakthrough on renewing a collective labour accord on rules, pay and promotions that expires in October.

Management wants to limit the extension of the agreement to 17 months, while unions are asking for between three and five years.

Talks are at an impasse, union leader Christelle Auster said Sunday, threatening a new strike following the current action, which ends Tuesday.

Air France has also grappled with pilot strikes. The last one took place June 11-14, right at the start of Euro 2016 football championships. The airline estimated that stoppage cost it some 40 million euros ($45 million).

Black book for enemies, drinking issues & ‘kissing’ Farage – Juncker’s eccentric interview

Preview It appears that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is not someone to cross as he admitted he has a black book with a list of his enemies. He also told Belgium’s Le Soir that he is not an alcoholic and never kissed former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview It appears that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is not someone to cross as he admitted he has a black book with a list of his enemies. He also told Belgium’s Le Soir that he is not an alcoholic and never kissed former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Hamilton wins to pull clear in title race

Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship to 19 points after winning the German Grand Prix with ease on Sunday, with Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg only fourth.Rosberg surrendered his lead from pole to t…

Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the Formula One drivers' championship to 19 points after winning the German Grand Prix with ease on Sunday, with Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg only fourth.

Rosberg surrendered his lead from pole to the Briton, who stormed away to claim his sixth win in seven races and strengthen his grip in the title chase.

Second was Daniel Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen, his Red Bull team-mate, third.

Reigning world champion Hamilton took full advantage of a poor start by Rosberg, who also received a five second pit-stop penalty for an over-aggressive passing move, to deliver a flawless drive.

?Get in there, Lewis,? said his team engineer over the radio. ?Great work, mate, a beautiful start and fantastically managed.?

The Briton responded: ?As always, thanks to you all, brilliant pit stops and now have a well-deserved summer break.?

For Rosberg, who was seeking to repeat his 2014 triumph, it ended up as a day of disappointment on home soil.

The home fans at Hockenheim had another German to cheer as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel finished fifth ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and compatriot Nico Hulkenberg, who was seventh on home turf for Force India.

Briton Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, finished eighth ahead of Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India.

"What a race," Hamilton, who started second on the grid, told the crowd from the podium.

"Big thank you to the team, who did an amazing job.

"I didn't make any mistakes. Yesterday was not perfect, but you learn from those things."

China’s Fosun eyes 30% stake in Portuguese bank BCP

The Chinese conglomerate Fosun has made an offer for a 16.7-percent stake in BCP, Portugal’s biggest private bank, which it may increase to 30 percent, BCP said.BCP — Banco Comercial Portugues — said in a statement late Saturday the offer was of “pot…

The Chinese conglomerate Fosun has made an offer for a 16.7-percent stake in BCP, Portugal's biggest private bank, which it may increase to 30 percent, BCP said.

BCP -- Banco Comercial Portugues -- said in a statement late Saturday the offer was of "potential strategic interest."

Its executive committee will study it swiftly before deciding whether to open formal talks with Fosun, the statement said.

Fosun, China's largest privately-owned conglomerate, is already present in Portugal with stakes in the insurer Fidelidade and medical services group Luz Saude.

BCP's current biggest shareholder is the Angolan state oil company Sonangol, which has a 17.84 percent.

The bank's share price has been under pressure since early June amid investor concern about capital weakness.

BCP announced second-quarter losses of 243.9 million euros ($272.55 million) on Friday, due to an increase in provisions for bad debts.

Greek islands overflowing with migrants amid EU fears Turkey will abandon refugee deal

Greek authorities on several islands in the Aegean Sea are raising the alarm over an increasing influx of refugees from Turkey, which has soared since the failed coup, while the EU fears Turkey will not keep to its promises regarding the …

Preview Greek authorities on several islands in the Aegean Sea are raising the alarm over an increasing influx of refugees from Turkey, which has soared since the failed coup, while the EU fears Turkey will not keep to its promises regarding the refugee deal.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Palestinian tries to stab Israeli soldiers, shot dead: army

A Palestinian armed with a knife charged at Israeli soldiers on the outskirts of the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Sunday and was shot dead, the Israeli army said.”An assailant armed with a knife exited his vehicle and charged (at) soldie…

A Palestinian armed with a knife charged at Israeli soldiers on the outskirts of the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Sunday and was shot dead, the Israeli army said.

"An assailant armed with a knife exited his vehicle and charged (at) soldiers at the entrance to Nablus," a statement said.

"Forces thwarted the attempted stabbing attack and shot the assailant, resulting in his death."

An army spokeswoman specified that the assailant was a Palestinian. No injuries among the soldiers were reported.

The Palestinian health ministry identified the person killed as Rami Awartani, 31.

A wave of such incidents began in October, part of violence since that time that has killed at least 219 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.

Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.

Others were shot dead during protests and clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has faced accusations of excessive force in some cases, allegations it denies.

Ditch your gadgets & go outside, Pope Francis tells youth

Stop being coach potatoes; throw away your gadgets, which make you drowsy and dull and go out to explore the world, Pope Francis told crowds of young people in Krakow. The pontiff certainly knows about living an active life as pictures on…

Preview Stop being coach potatoes; throw away your gadgets, which make you drowsy and dull and go out to explore the world, Pope Francis told crowds of young people in Krakow. The pontiff certainly knows about living an active life as pictures on social media show.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Recent terrorist attacks ‘new’ to elite German forces despite years of training – commander

Preview Terror attacks across Europe have made years of training undertaken by Germany’s elite Special Forces outdated because their skills in dealing with hostage situations and organized crime are largely ineffective given the new challenges faced.

Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Terror attacks across Europe have made years of training undertaken by Germany’s elite Special Forces outdated because their skills in dealing with hostage situations and organized crime are largely ineffective given the new challenges faced.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Where have all the donkeys gone? Burkina Faso’s export dilemma

In the small Burkina Faso village of Balole, where farmers struggle to grow tomatoes, cabbages and aubergines, angry youngsters armed with batons and machetes are barring entry to the slaughterhouse.A sickening stench from dozens of rotting donkey carc…

In the small Burkina Faso village of Balole, where farmers struggle to grow tomatoes, cabbages and aubergines, angry youngsters armed with batons and machetes are barring entry to the slaughterhouse.

A sickening stench from dozens of rotting donkey carcasses hangs in the air.

This is the flipside of Burkina's booming trade with Asia in donkey meat and donkey hides.

Fed up with the foul smell and pollution blamed on the slaughter, dozens of villagers earlier this month ransacked the abattoir and have blocked its entrance ever since.

Eating donkey meat is nothing new in parts of the west African country, where some believe the flesh has medicinal virtues and can even cure measles.

But the export of donkey meat and hides, notably to China and Vietnam, has flourished beyond measure in recent years, triggering some controversy.

"More than 45,000 donkeys have been slaughtered in less than six months" out of an estimated total of 1.5 million, says government spokesman Remi Fulgance Dandjinou.

"The subject has come up twice in cabinet meetings and the ministry of animal resources has been told to find ways of regulating the slaughter."

Burkina's customs service, quoted by the Sidwaya daily paper, said 19 tonnes of donkey hides had been flown to Hong Kong alone between October 2015 and January 2016.

Rising demand for hides has driven prices up drastically, from a mere 2,000 CFA francs (three euros) apiece to between 30,000 and 50,000 CFA francs (40 to 76 euros).

"A donkey that cost 50,000 CFA francs a couple of years ago now sells for between 70,000 and 90,000," says Issouf Kombassere, a donkey butcher in Saaba, a rural area in the centre of the country.

Some fear the roaring trade could see donkeys disappear altogether in Burkina Faso, one of the world's poorest nations where the beasts are used for transport.

Females take a year to bear their young and need two years between each birth.

- 'No fresh water left' -

In Balole, which is around 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of the capital Ouagadougou, villagers took matters into their own hands when their vegetables wilted in the soil due to toxic runoff from the plant.

As part of their protests, they let hundreds of animals loose.

"More than 400 now are in the bush. Some that were sick or very hungry are dying and infecting the village even more," said Karim Simpore, the villager who says he led the July 11 raid.

The abattoir, built in 2011, was rented out to a French businessman and his Chinese partners by the local owner. The managers of the slaughterhouse declined to comment on developments.

Their company, Best Trade Center, exported exclusively to Asia, with hides mainly for China and meat going to Vietnam, the authorities and several witnesses told AFP.

"Four trucks full of donkeys would arrive every day, from Burkina, Mali and even Mauritania," Simpore said. "They'd slaughter 150 to 200 donkeys a day."

During an inspection more than 85 donkey corpses were found on the premises "decomposing with worms coming out," water and forestry official Christophe Bazie told AFP.

He said the firm was fined one million CFA francs (15,000 euros) for abandoning harmful waste, but that fines could be 10 times higher or even be jail terms.

Local farmer Simpore said that when the business began, there seemed to be no problems.

"But once the first rains fell, water washed the blood and the offal from the abattoir to the wells and streams, so there was no fresh water left to drink."

"Now the vegetable patches are polluted... tomato plants, cabbages, aubergines... they're all dying," said Simpore, surrounded by the group of baton-wielding youngsters.

"There'll never be a single donkey slaughtered here ever again," said one of the protesters, Ali Ouedraogo.

New Zealand thrash Zimbabwe to win first Test

New Zealand wrapped up an innings victory against Zimbabwe in the first Test in Bulawayo on Sunday despite a maiden Test century from Sean Williams finally giving the hosts something to smile about.New Zealand bowled Zimbabwe out for 295 to win the gam…

New Zealand wrapped up an innings victory against Zimbabwe in the first Test in Bulawayo on Sunday despite a maiden Test century from Sean Williams finally giving the hosts something to smile about.

New Zealand bowled Zimbabwe out for 295 to win the game by an innings and 117 runs, with left-arm seamer Neil Wagner finishing with eight wickets in the match at Queens Sports Club.

The second and final Test gets under way at the same venue on Saturday.

Dubai’s Emaar Properties posts 8% rise in Q2 profits

Dubai developer Emaar Properties said Sunday its profits in the second quarter of 2016 grew by eight percent to $346 million as sales increased.Revenues of the group, which built the world’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa, also rose by seven percent to 3.7…

Dubai developer Emaar Properties said Sunday its profits in the second quarter of 2016 grew by eight percent to $346 million as sales increased.

Revenues of the group, which built the world's tallest tower Burj Khalifa, also rose by seven percent to 3.728 billion dirhams ($1.015 billion), compared to the same period last year, it said in a statement.

In the first half of the year, profit was 12 percent up to 2.475 billion dirhams, with revenues also increasing 11 percent to 2.475 billion dirhams.

Emaar's property sales in Dubai in the first six months surged 45 percent to $2.411 billion, "highlighting strong investor demand for Emaar?s iconic developments," the group said.

Dubai's real estate sector has slowed down with residential prices dropping around 12 percent last year as demand from overseas has fallen.

Emaar's recurring revenues from retail and hospitality amounted to 40 percent of total revenues in the first half of the year.

"We are... strengthening our hospitality portfolio with 35 new hotels and serviced residences in the UAE and international markets," said Emaar Properties Chairman Mohamed Alabbar.

Emaar said in March it will build a viewing tower that will be "a notch" taller than Burj Khalifa and cost around $1 billion.

Burj Khalifa, which opened in January 2010, is 828 metres (2,700 feet) high and cost $1.5 billion to build.