Mexico will not pay for a border wall, Pena Nieto told Trump

Mexico will not pay for any border wall built by the United States, President Enrique Pena Nieto told visiting US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday.”At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexic…

Mexico will not pay for any border wall built by the United States, President Enrique Pena Nieto told visiting US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday.

"At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall," Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter after meeting with Trump, in reference to a wall on the countries' shared border that the real estate magnate has vowed to build if elected US president.

Trump had told reporters after the meeting that the issue of who would pay for a wall did not come up during the conversation, despite him saying persistently throughout his campaign that Mexico would bear the financial burden for the highly controversial project.

The provocative billionaire candidate made a surprise visit to Mexico in the heat of the presidential race, seeking to seize control of the narrative and portray himself as a capable statesman on the international stage.

US has right to build border wall, Trump tells Mexico

Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump on Wednesday stood alongside Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and reiterated his campaign declaration that the United States can and will erect a border wall to stem illegal immigration.

Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump on Wednesday stood alongside Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and reiterated his campaign declaration that the United States can and will erect a border wall to stem illegal immigration.

More Americans getting high: cannabis study

The number of adult cannabis users in the United States increased by ten million from 2002 to 2014, said a study Thursday that called for better education on the potential pitfalls.The increase coincided with a general rise in the potency of the popula…

The number of adult cannabis users in the United States increased by ten million from 2002 to 2014, said a study Thursday that called for better education on the potential pitfalls.

The increase coincided with a general rise in the potency of the popular recreational drug and a growing belief that it is not harmful, researchers wrote in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The findings, the US-based team wrote, "suggest a potential benefit of education and prevention messages" even as many US states are relaxing cannabis policies.

Based on a survey of over 500,000 US adults between 2002 and 2014, the study found that marijuana use rose from 10.4 percent of the population in 2002 to 13.3 percent in 2014 -- from 21.9 million to 31.9 million.

The number of daily or near-daily users was about 8.4 million in 2014, they estimated -- up from 3.9 million in 2002.

The proportion of people who said they feared great risk or harm from smoking dope once or twice a week, dropped from 50.4 percent to 33.3 percent over the same period.

The study did not find a rise in so-called marijuana use disorders such as abuse or dependence.

The study did not look at cannabis use among children or teenagers.

Critics of decriminalisation have argued it will cause more people to take up the drug, which is partly what prompted the study.

"These changes in the prevalence of cannabis use occurred during a period when many US states legalised cannabis for medicinal use, but before four states went on to legalise recreational cannabis use," addiction experts Michael Lynskey and Wayne Hall wrote in a comment also carried by the journal.

"It is probably too soon to draw conclusions about the effects of these legal changes on rates of cannabis use and cannabis-related harms, but it is likely that these policy changes will increase the prevalence and frequency of cannabis use," they said.

The trend is not a global one -- cannabis use in Britain has gone down in the last 10 years, according to Robin Murray of Kings College London, who also commented on the study.

IMF says it could lift Argentina censure in November

The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that it could remove its unprecedented 2013 censure of Argentina in November after the country improved its reporting of key economic statistics.The IMF Executive Board said that Buenos Aires had made “ext…

The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that it could remove its unprecedented 2013 censure of Argentina in November after the country improved its reporting of key economic statistics.

The IMF Executive Board said that Buenos Aires had made "extraordinary efforts and important progress" in improving the accuracy of growth and inflation data that they are required to supply the Fund as a member.

"Beyond the advances regarding the quality of the data, the Executive Board also commended the authorities' intention to strengthen the national statistics agency," they said in a statement.

The IMF formally censured Argentina on February 1, 2013 for failing to supply accurate economic data, the first time ever that the Fund had taken such an action against a member.

The move marked a low point in the long-strained relations between the Fund and the government of then-president Cristina Kirchner, whose data on growth and inflation were notoriously inaccurate, masking deep economic troubles.

Since Kirchner was replaced by President Mauricio Macri in December, the government has moved to rebuild relations with the Washington-based global crisis lender, and has begun reporting what are widely regarded as genuine data on inflation, unemployment, and growth.

The board said that with more evidence of how Argentina's new consumer price index performs, and a bit more strengthening of the statistical process, it would again review the issue in November.

"With continued progress and with a positive report to the Board by the managing director, the Executive Board would be in a position to lift the Declaration of Censure at that time," it said.

Copenhagen police hunt suspect who shot 2 officers, civilian in Freetown Christiania

Two police officers and at least one civilian have been injured by gunfire in the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Christiania in Copenhagen, according to Danish police who have completely cordoned off the area in the wake of th…

Preview Two police officers and at least one civilian have been injured by gunfire in the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Christiania in Copenhagen, according to Danish police who have completely cordoned off the area in the wake of the incident.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Ailing Konta hangs on for win despite collapse

Johanna Konta collapsed with apparent heat illness but shook off the scare to beat Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets Wednesday to reach the third round of the US Open.Britain’s Konta, serving to try to force a tiebreaker in the second set, began to brea…

Johanna Konta collapsed with apparent heat illness but shook off the scare to beat Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets Wednesday to reach the third round of the US Open.

Britain's Konta, serving to try to force a tiebreaker in the second set, began to breath heavily and slumped to her knees on the baseline.

She sat on the court with bags of ice on her body until medical personnel arrived and took her blood pressure before helping her back to her chair.

"I feel like my whole body is in shock," she told the doctor. "My heart rate went up. My vision became blurred."

When play resumed after a medical timeout, Konta surrendered her serve and the set. She then departed for a lengthy toilet break that included a long walk from court 13 to the nearest convenience.

She returned somewhat refreshed, promptly broke Pironkova and closed out a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 victory.

After some time sitting courtside Konta apologized to fans for not signing autographs and departed.

Pironkova, while crediting Konta with the better performance on the day, said she was frustrated by the lengthy comfort break, during which Konta had to be shepherded through the crowds away from the court.

"With that toilet break I think the match was stopped for just too long," she said. "It was an unfortunate time. I had my momentum going, I was getting back in the match.

"Probably that break somehow maybe stopped that momentum, but then again, I don't want to make excuses for myself."

Pironkova was also careful to say that Konta, the 13th seed who claimed her maiden WTA title in Stanford this year, acted within the rules.

"Today I'm not very happy about these rules, to be able to go and change your clothes after every set, it didn't work out good for me today. But these are the rules," she said.

When Konta collapsed, apparently suffering in the steamy 31-degree C heat, Pironkova felt only concern.

"When you see the player that you're playing against look like this, that she couldn't stand, it's scary," she said.

The Bulgarian was also glad she'd never experienced a similar collapse.

"Oh, thank god no," she said. "I haven't and I'm really grateful for that. It's probably horrible."

At the 2014 US Open, China's Peng Shuai was helped off the court in a wheelchair after collapsing twice in her semi-final against Caroline Wozniacki.

Harrison knocks fifth seed Raonic out of US Open

Fifth seed and Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic of Canada was knocked out of the US Open on Wednesday by American qualifier Ryan Harrison.The 120th-ranked Harrison won 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 7-5, 6-1 and goes on to face Marcos Baghdatis for a place in the las…

Fifth seed and Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic of Canada was knocked out of the US Open on Wednesday by American qualifier Ryan Harrison.

The 120th-ranked Harrison won 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 7-5, 6-1 and goes on to face Marcos Baghdatis for a place in the last 16.

"It was extremely physical out there but I was playing on adrenaline," said 24-year-old Harrison who was as high as 43 in the world in 2012.

"This is a big win for me. I have been playing well all summer."

Raonic, considered as a potential title dangerman in New York, hit 18 aces and 69 winners but committed 62 unforced errors.

Harrison has now reached the third round of a Slam for the first time after recording just a second win over a top 10 opponent in 27 meetings.

EU VP tells British to ‘get their act together’

Britain’s political leaders should “get their act together” and tell the EU what they want from their divorce, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said in an interview with AFP.Timmermans, the Dutch right-hand man to commission chief Je…

Britain's political leaders should "get their act together" and tell the EU what they want from their divorce, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said in an interview with AFP.

Timmermans, the Dutch right-hand man to commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, said Brexit was an "existential issue" for the rest of the European Union but the bloc had "enormous possibilities" to thrive.

"I follow closely what is happening in the UK and the political discussions in the UK, and perhaps they should first get their act together and tell us what they really want out of this," Timmermans said.

"It's not the 27 other member states who asked the United Kingdom to leave, on the contrary they pleaded with the UK to stay," he added in the interview to mark Thursday's publication in French of "Fraternite", a book on Europe.

"The onus is on the country that decides to leave to tell us how they want to leave and I think that's the starting point of the discussion," said Timmermans, who was a key figure in negotiations with Britain before the referendum.

- 'Existential issue' -

British Prime Minister Theresa May held a special Brexit "brainstorm" cabinet meeting on Tuesday amid reports on major divisions on how to proceed, while May has said she will not trigger the two-year divorce process until next year.

Meanwhile the other 27 EU leaders will meet in Slovakia on September 16 to map out a way forward.

But Timmermans said the EU should not necessarily take a tough stance on Britain, as some leaders have suggested.

"The United Kingdom is not going anywhere, it's going to be geographically where it is now, the Channel is not going to get any broader," said Timmermans, referring to the stretch of water between France and England.

"So in that sense the UK will remain a European country even if it's not a member of the European Union and that should be the basis, I believe, for the negotiations."

Timmermans however warns in his book of a possible failure of the European project.

"The argument that won the Brexit campaign is the one that said take back control... which is another way of saying we want to control our destinies again," he said in his interview.

"This is an existential issue for the whole of Europe not just for the UK because this sentiment is not limited to the United Kingdom."

- 'Enormous possibilities' -

He also criticised the "hyperbole" during the Brexit campaign -- now-foreign minister Boris Johnson compared the EU to Hitler -- and expressed concern about a rise in hate crime in Britain after the vote.

"It hurts me when people like me who defend Europe are accused of wanting to complete the project of Adolf Hitler," he said.

"I am sure Boris Johnson or Michael Gove or others didn't intend to create this dynamic in British society, but it was created during the campaign," he said.

Timmermans insisted though that there was cause for optimism in Europe.

"I still see enormous possibilities for Europe," he said, citing EU initiatives in the digital economy and energy single market.

On Europe's migration crisis, Timmermans cast doubt on Turkey's demands for visa-free travel by October in exchange for curbing the refugee flow to Greece under a deal with the EU.

"Turkey has to comply with the benchmarks and a deal is a deal. We've said if you comply with the benchmarks the commission will make a proposal to the parliament and the council. But we're not there yet," he said.

Justin Trudeau — Marvel’s latest superhero

He snowboards, he hikes, he surfs — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already a bit of an action hero. But now, Marvel has made him into a real superhero, in a comic book that hit newsstands Wednesday.Trudeau graces one of two covers of the la…

He snowboards, he hikes, he surfs -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already a bit of an action hero.

But now, Marvel has made him into a real superhero, in a comic book that hit newsstands Wednesday.

Trudeau graces one of two covers of the latest edition of "Civil War II: Choosing Sides" -- seated in the corner of a boxing ring, smiling, his elbows resting on the ropes, with the maple leaf symbol emblazoned on his tank top and wearing red boxing gloves.

The 44-year-old prime minister is surrounded by Canadian superheroes Puck, Sasquatch and Aurora -- members of the Alpha Flight squad -- as Iron Man looms in the background.

The main cover in circulation does not feature Trudeau.

The comic book also introduces a mysterious new character, Ulysses, who has the power to predict the future.

Trudeau is consulted in his Ottawa office by the members of Alpha Flight after a disagreement breaks out over how to leverage Ulysses's powers.

Captain Marvel wants to take measures to prevent crimes before they occur, while Tony Stark (Iron Man) views it as immoral to punish anyone for a crime they have not yet committed.

Trudeau takes a principled view, telling his comrades: "Above all else civil liberties must be protected.

"I think imprisoning people for crimes they may not even have thought of yet is wrong... I think this is a dangerous path you've embarked on."

Trudeau's father Pierre, who also served as Canada's prime minister, also appeared in a Marvel comic released in 1979.

Apple case highlights huge untaxed profits of corporate giants

The huge back-tax bill European authorities slapped on Apple has put a spotlight on $2.4 trillion in untaxed earnings parked offshore by US companies, a tempting target for governments seeking to strengthen their finances.While Washington lays claim to…

The huge back-tax bill European authorities slapped on Apple has put a spotlight on $2.4 trillion in untaxed earnings parked offshore by US companies, a tempting target for governments seeking to strengthen their finances.

While Washington lays claim to rights to tax the money, critics say it represents profits transferred out of other countries' jurisdictions by accounting tricks.

They say that the companies hold the money in no-tax or low-tax havens like Ireland to ensure it stays out of the reach of fiscal authorities.

But the companies, industrial and tech titans like Apple, Microsoft, General Electric and Pfizer, also say they are waiting for Washington to cut corporate tax rates to reasonable levels before they repatriate the funds.

On Tuesday the European Commission ruled that Ireland's deep tax breaks for Apple were not allowed under EU rules and told the company to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes.

The company said it would fight the bill, and the US Treasury accused EU authorities of breaking with international practice and assessing taxes retroactively.

But the Treasury also made clear that the Washington believes it has the right to tax the cash hoards that US companies hold offshore, and that the European Commission was overextending.

"It reflects an attempt to reach into the US tax base to tax income that ought to be taxed in the United States," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Wednesday.

- $2.42 trillion offshore -

US tax law allows companies to retain earnings offshore with taxes put off until the money is repatriated, and the sum out there has climbed quickly over the past decade.

According to a July report by Boston-based Audit Analytics, the top 1,000 US companies held $2.43 trillion in untaxed earnings offshore at the end of last year, double that of 2008 and up $130 billion since 2014.

The companies say they want to see a lower US tax rate before the bring it back; currently the top rate is 35 percent.

In 2004, Washington offered a tax holiday, cutting the rate on the repatriated funds to 5.25 percent, and attracted back some $300 billion.

The goal was for the money to be invested in job-creating activities. But later studies showed most of the repatriated profits went to shareholders and corporate executives.

"Unfortunately, there is no evidence that it increased US investment or jobs, and it cost taxpayers billions," assistant Treasury secretary Michael Mundaca wrote in 2011.

Now the companies say they are ready to pay taxes on the money in the United States, just not at the current rate the US government would assess.

"The US should reform its tax system," Jenifer McCloskey, director of government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council, a powerful tech industry lobby, told AFP.

"On paper that money is owed to the United States at a certain rate of taxation. We have been working for years now to try and find a way forward with tax reform that rationalizes our system."

But with the piles of profits mounting offshore, tax activists say the companies are simply holding out for another tax holiday, and that the rules on taxation need to be reformed.

"Apple has systematically organized its Irish affairs in a way designed solely for tax avoidance," said Matt Gardner of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

US regulators "should take a page from the European Commission?s book and crack down on rampant corporate tax avoidance."

Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center said the Europeans are acting because the erosion of the global taxation system by multinational company activities has essentially gone too far.

"Now the ground may be crumbling from under that system," he said after the Apple ruling.

"By forcing member countries to collect taxes from those US-based firms ... the EU is trying to break the cycle of tax competition that has largely benefited those US multinationals. In effect, it is creating a new minimum tax for multinationals."

Smiles better Ariya chasing Ko’s ranking top spot

A smiling Ariya Jutanugarn has set her sights on Lydia Ko’s world number one ranking as the in-form Thai star chases her sixth win of the season at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ontario starting on Thursday.Ariya, 20, snaffled her fifth title…

A smiling Ariya Jutanugarn has set her sights on Lydia Ko's world number one ranking as the in-form Thai star chases her sixth win of the season at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ontario starting on Thursday.

Ariya, 20, snaffled her fifth title of 2016 last weekend with victory in the Canadian Pacific Women's Open, cementing her place as world number two, just behind New Zealand prodigy Ko.

Ariya, whose superb season has included a maiden major victory at the Women's British Open as well as an agonizing near-miss at the ANA Inspiration, believes happiness on the course has been the secret of her success.

"Of course, I want to be number one, but on top of that obviously I really want to be happy on the course," Ariya told reporters on Wednesday.

"As long as I can have fun and enjoy when I play golf, that's enough for me.

"About being number one, I'm not really worried who I'm going to play, who I have to beat. The only thing, I want to be happy on the course.

"And if I can be that, I think the outcome is going to be great."

Ariya said learning to smile during each round -- before every shot and every putt -- has liberated her game.

"Last year I really strained when I played golf, when I grab my driver or grab my other club, I don't want to keep the golf ball anymore," she said.

"I started really scared last year. But this year to me, I am really happy to play golf right now and really enjoy it. That's the main reason (I'm successful) right now, because I really enjoy playing golf."

Ariya's formidable power off the tee means her driver has been an irregular weapon this season.

Last week at the Canadian Pacific, she did not use it at all, preferring instead to opt for a two-iron off the tee.

But with the course at Whistle Bear Golf Club playing longer, Ariya said she plans to use her driver again.

"Some courses I can't hit my driver. But this course, I feel like it's wide enough to hit (the) driver," she said.

Meanwhile, Ko, who has four wins this year as well as a silver medal at the Olympics in August, said she has been impressed by Ariya's rapid advance.

"She's got the confidence where she really believes that she can win at any event," Ko said.

"When you have that kind of confidence it's great because you're going out there not thinking about the fear, not thinking about what may have been. You're truly believing in yourself that you can (win) and you can commit to these shots," she added.

Macedonia’s twice delayed poll to be held in December

Political leaders of crisis-hit Macedonia agreed late on Wednesday to hold elections in December that have already been delayed twice following international pressure to ensure a free and fair vote. Both the ruling conservatives VMRO-DPMNE and the main…

Political leaders of crisis-hit Macedonia agreed late on Wednesday to hold elections in December that have already been delayed twice following international pressure to ensure a free and fair vote.

Both the ruling conservatives VMRO-DPMNE and the main opposition Social Democrats (SDSM), as well as two major ethnic Albanian parties, settled on December 11 legislative polls.

"We are happy to have set the conditions for a free and fair election," SDSM leader Zoran Zaev told reporters after the meeting.

The vote, supposed to end political turmoil in the Balkan country, was initially set for April and then June, but was delayed both times as the opposition claimed press freedom restrictions and outdated electoral rolls made fair polls impossible.

Former prime minister and VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski said Wednesday he was "satisfied" that SDSM could "not avoid the elections any more."

According to the agreement, signed by all four party leaders, parliament will convene on Friday to vote in a government tasked with organising the elections.

Macedonia has been in deep political crisis since February 2015, when Zaev began releasing tapes that appeared to reveal official and widespread wiretapping, top-level corruption and other crimes.

After street protests on both sides, the European Union stepped in to mediate a deal that included early elections. Polls were due in 2018.

Macedonia has been a candidate for EU membership since 2005 but has yet to open accession talks.

Tearful Schweinsteiger bows out in Germany’s win

Bastian Schweinsteiger let the tears flow on Wednesday as Germany’s captain made his final appearance for die Mannschaft in their 2-0 friendly win at home to Finland.Schalke’s Max Meyer and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil scored Germany’s second-half goals, but t…

Bastian Schweinsteiger let the tears flow on Wednesday as Germany's captain made his final appearance for die Mannschaft in their 2-0 friendly win at home to Finland.

Schalke's Max Meyer and Arsenal's Mesut Ozil scored Germany's second-half goals, but the night belonged to Schweinsteiger, who played the first 66 minutes in Moenchengladbach on his 121st -- and final -- international appearance.

Twelve years since his debut, the 32-year-old announced his retirement at the start of August, but head coach Joachim Loew gave the Manchester United midfielder the chance to skipper his country one last time.

Even before kick-off, with German FA (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel heaping praise on the departing captain during a pre-match presentation, Schweinsteiger struggled to hold back the tears.

He gave up, sobbing openly when the 30,121-strong crowd, which just over half-filled Borussia Park stadium, gave him a standing ovation.

"I didn't think that would happen," Schweinsteiger admitted, referring to his tears, when handed a microphone.

"Thank you for coming, it means a lot to me.

"It was a huge honour for me to play for Germany and I just want to say 'thank you' for everything."

This was Schweinsteiger's first match of the season, having been banished to United's reserves by new coach Jose Mourinho earlier this month, and the veteran looked rusty.

Loew fielded an experimental 3-1-3-3 formation, with Hoffenheim defender Niklas Suele making his debut, and Schweinsteiger was the sole starting survivor from the team which won the 2014 World Cup final.

The hosts had the better of the first-half chances.

Kevin Volland played the ball across the face of the Finnish goal on 24 minutes, but the chance went begging.

Three minutes later, Finland centre-back Paulus Arajuuri clattered his own post.

It remained goalless at the break, but there were worrying scenes for Arsenal fans when new-signing Shkodran Mustafi took a knock early in the second-half, but played on.

Germany took a deserved lead on 55 minutes.

Goetze put in a cross, Volland stepped over the rolling ball to allow 20-year-old Mayer, who captained Germany to silver at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, to slot his first senior goal on his second appearance for die Mannschaft.

The game was briefly halted with an hour gone when a fan, wearing a Germany shirt with 'Schweinsteiger' across the shoulders, ran onto the pitch, took a selfie with the World Cup winner and casually jogged off.

There was another standing ovation, but no tears this time, when Schweinsteiger came off for Julian Weigl on 66 minutes and embraced Loew on the sidelines.

He hugged each member of Germany's bench, including Manuel Neuer, who is tipped to replace him as captain with Loew set to announce his new skipper on Thursday.

Ozil came on and his shot spiralled in off the far post on 77 minutes as Germany warmed up for their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier away to Norway on Sunday.

World leaders ousted for legal reasons

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff became the latest political leader ousted for legal reasons after the Senate voted for her impeachment Wednesday.Rousseff joins a gallery of former leaders forced to stand down either through formal impeachment proceedings or fo…

Brazil's Dilma Rousseff became the latest political leader ousted for legal reasons after the Senate voted for her impeachment Wednesday.

Rousseff joins a gallery of former leaders forced to stand down either through formal impeachment proceedings or forced to resign under the threat of legal challenges after 61 of 81 senators voted to convict her of illegally manipulating the national budget.

Not all impeachment proceedings are successful: The best-known survivor is probably former US president Bill Clinton, who remained in office despite an attempt to remove him owing to a sex scandal in 1999.

- Impeached by parliament -

- VENEZUELA: Then-president Carlos Andres Perez, accused of embezzlement and illegal enrichment, was suspended in May 1993 and his dismissal was confirmed by the Congress on August 31, 1993.

President Nicolas Maduro is now battling a proposed referendum on holding a recall vote.

- ECUADOR: Abdala Bucaram, accused of siphoning off public funds, was dismissed on February 6, 1997 for "physical and mental incapacity", six months after his inauguration as president.

In April 2005, Lucio Gutierrez was accused of packing the supreme court with associates in the midst of a popular uprising and also dismissed from the presidency.

- PERU: Alberto Fujimori on November 21, 2000 resigned from the presidency by fax from Tokyo, claiming Japanese nationality through his parents.

Congress refused to accept the resignation and instead voted to sack Fujimori and ban him from public office for 10 years. Extradited, he was jailed for 25 years for having ordered massacres of civilians and for corruption.

- INDONESIA: Abdurrahman Wahid, accused of incompetence and corruption, was dismissed from the presidency on July 23, 2001.

- LITHUANIA: On April 6, 2004, president Rolandas Paksas was ousted by impeachment after being charged with granting Lithuanian citizenship to a Russian businessman in exchange for money. He was banned from standing for office in Lithuania, but was elected to the European Parliament in 2009.

- PARAGUAY: Fernando Lugo was forced from the presidency on June 22, 2012 for dereliction of duty following his handling of a land dispute that left 17 people dead.

- Forced to resign -

- BRAZIL: Fernando Collor de Mello, accused of corruption, resigned from the presidency on December 29, 1992 at the beginning of his impeachment hearing before the Senate.

- ISRAEL: Following a tax fraud and corruption scandal president Ezer Weizman resigned in July 2000, preferring to throw in the towel rather than face possible impeachment proceedings.

In June 2007 president Moshe Katsav resigned as part of a plea bargain in 2007 after being accused of rape and other sexual offences. In 2011 he was handed a seven-year prison term.

- GERMANY: Christian Wulff resigned from the federal presidency in February 2012 after being stripped of his immunity following an accusation of influence peddling. He was later cleared.

- GUATEMALA: Otto Perez, accused of being part of a ring of officials who took bribes to allow companies to import goods without paying import taxes, was stripped of his presidential immunity by parliament on September 1, 2015. Facing impeachment he stood down two days later.

- Procedures that failed -

Other heads of state have been subject to impeachment procedures which did not succeed.

They include Russia's Boris Yeltsin in 1999, Luis Gonzalez Macchi in Paraguay in 2003, Roh Moo-Hyun in South Korea in 2004 and Hery Rajaonarimampianina in Madagascar in 2015.

In the United States, president Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 to avoid almost certain impeachment over the Watergate scandal.

On two occasions the lower US House of Representatives launched impeachment proceedings against the president, the first against Andrew Johnson in 1868 and then against Clinton in 1999. Both were later cleared by the Senate.

Body parts and brains from gruesome Nazi experiments discovered

The horrors of the Holocaust are continuing to seep into the present. A Munich research institute has discovered jars containing body parts and the brains of human victims from gruesome experiments carried out at concentration camps. Read…

Preview The horrors of the Holocaust are continuing to seep into the present. A Munich research institute has discovered jars containing body parts and the brains of human victims from gruesome experiments carried out at concentration camps.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Latvian neo-Nazis demolish Soviet WWII monument to fallen sailors

Preview A neo-Nazi group, including former Latvian Nazi Waffen SS veterans, has demolished a monument to fallen Soviet troops in a Latvian town with the support of a nationalist party which forms part of the ruling coalition in Latvia’s parliament.
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Preview A neo-Nazi group, including former Latvian Nazi Waffen SS veterans, has demolished a monument to fallen Soviet troops in a Latvian town with the support of a nationalist party which forms part of the ruling coalition in Latvia’s parliament.
Read Full Article at RT.com

US court throws out $655.5 mn verdict against Palestinian Authority, PLO

A US federal appeals court on Wednesday threw out a $655.5 million verdict against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization for damages suffered by Americans killed and wounded in six attacks in Israel.The court in New York r…

A US federal appeals court on Wednesday threw out a $655.5 million verdict against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization for damages suffered by Americans killed and wounded in six attacks in Israel.

The court in New York ruled that the lower court which issued the February 2015 verdict did not have jurisdiction over the case.

Trump in Mexico: US has right to build border wall

Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump on Wednesday stood alongside Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and declared that the United States has the right to erect a border wall to stem illegal immigration.”We recognize and respect the right of e…

Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump on Wednesday stood alongside Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and declared that the United States has the right to erect a border wall to stem illegal immigration.

"We recognize and respect the right of either country to build a physical barrier or wall on any of its borders," Trump told reporters at the presidential residence after the two men held closed-door talks.

He said however they did not discuss who will pay for the wall, despite Trump persistently stating throughout his campaign that Mexico will foot the bill.

Trump was making a surprise visit to Mexico.

Anderson smiling after win over Pospisil

Amid myriad health troubles in 2016, Kevin Anderson found a new fan who was on hand to cheer the South African in a second-round victory at the US Open on Wednesday.”My doctor who did my dental surgery actually flew up to watch me play and gave me some…

Amid myriad health troubles in 2016, Kevin Anderson found a new fan who was on hand to cheer the South African in a second-round victory at the US Open on Wednesday.

"My doctor who did my dental surgery actually flew up to watch me play and gave me some support," said Anderson, who also had the vocal backing of his wife, his physio, his coach and a few friends from his days at the University of Illinois.

"I think he felt bad because he put me through the wringer."

Buoyed in part by a quarter-final run at Flushing Meadows last year -- beating Andy Murray on the way -- Anderson was ranked a career high 10 in the world rankings last October.

But knee, shoulder and an ankle injury that required surgery saw him sidelined for 10 weeks. He retired from two matches and withdrew from eight events, and when he has played it's sometimes been a struggle.

"Obviously some tough first rounds throughout the rest of the year," said Anderson, who fell in the first round at Wimbledon despite holding a two-set lead and a match point against Denis Istomin.

Having followed up a straight-sets first-round win over Yoshihito Nishioka with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Canadian Vasek Pospisil on Wednesday, Anderson said things were looking up.

"It definitely feels great to be out here able to compete at 100 percent with my body also feeling good and allowing me to do that," he said.

Venezuela government, opposition in volatile test of strength

Venezuela’s opposition and government head into a crucial test of strength Thursday with massive marches for and against a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro that have raised fears of a violent confrontation.Soldiers and police began taking …

Venezuela's opposition and government head into a crucial test of strength Thursday with massive marches for and against a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro that have raised fears of a violent confrontation.

Soldiers and police began taking up positions at strategic locations across the country Wednesday, ahead of what the opposition is billing as its biggest show of force yet -- dubbed "The Taking of Caracas" -- against the leftist government.

Opposition leaders are hoping to put hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to demand quick action on a recall vote that Maduro has vehemently resisted.

It comes amid an economic collapse that has led to widespread shortages of food and medicine, violent crime and outbreaks of looting in a once-rich OPEC mainstay.

"All of Venezuela is mobilizing for the right to vote" said Jesus Torrealba, the head of the main opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).

Calling Thursday's action "the most important political mobilization of our recent history," he said marchers would defy the government's "strategy of fear, blackmail and intimidation."

Going on the offensive, the "Chavistas" -- so named after Maduro's predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez -- staged a big rally Tuesday.

They held another on Wednesday, and have called on their supporters to "defend the revolution" with a massive turnout Thursday at what they call "The Taking of Venezuela."

"Don't provoke us because not only are we going to block up Caracas so that no one can enter, but we will also make sure that no one can leave," said former National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello, noting that private flights over Venezuela have been banned this week.

Maduro has accused the opposition of planning a "coup" and threatened to imprison opposition leaders if violence breaks out at Thursday's protests.

"Squeal, cry or scream, jail is where they'll go," he said.

Diego Montoya-Ocampo, an analyst with London-based IHS Markit Country Risk, said the stakes are high.

"The opposition is playing for it all with everything it has," he told AFP. "It wants to show that it is a great majority in a country that wants change."

"The government is centered on a strategy of demoralize, demobilize and sow fear," he said.

- 'Recall hunger' -

At the heart of the battle is the timing of the referendum.

If a recall vote is held before January 10 and Maduro loses, new elections must be held. If he loses in a recall held after that date, then he would simply turn over power to his hand-picked vice president.

The opposition, which accuses the National Electoral Council of slow-rolling the process to benefit the "Chavistas," is demanding that the process be accelerated so a vote can be held this year.

The council insists it won't be swayed by protests and has warned that the process will be halted altogether if street protests turn violent.

To recall Maduro, the "yes" vote needs to exceed the 7.5 million votes with which he was elected in 2013.

According to polling firm Venebarometro, 64 percent of the electorate would vote against him.

"What is coming is change, because the people want to recall hunger, insecurity and the lack of medicine," said Torrealba, adding that opposition marchers would concentrate on three strategic avenues in eastern Caracas, an opposition stronghold.

Maduro, who blames the crisis on the collapse of oil prices and an "economic war" by business leaders, must contend with deep public discontent over shortages and an inflation rate projected to hit 720 percent this year.

Despite the angry public mood, the opposition has not organized mass rallies since 2014, when the government crushed weeks-long anti-government protests, a confrontation that left 43 dead and prominent opposition leaders in prison.

Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who distanced himself from the protests in 2014, told AFP that this time the opposition is banking on mass mobilizations and international pressure to get the government to accept the recall election.

- 'Imperialist plot' -

MUD delegates traveled to the United States to urge the United Nations and the Organization of American States to monitor Thursday's protests and condemn what they regard as an increase in the level of repression.

In the days ahead of the march, the authorities arrested two opposition leaders, and sent back to prison a former mayor, Daniel Ceballos, who had been under house arrest for the past year stemming from the 2014 protests.

"The government is doing all this out of fear," said Torrealba. Capriles urged people not be intimidated, and estimated that a million people would heed the call to march.

"We don't want war, we don't want violence, we want timetables for a recall," said Lilian Tintori, the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Maduro has lashed out at the protest as a plot by the "fascist right" that "comes directly from North American imperialism."

The socialist leader linked the protests he faces to the impeachment trial in Brazil of president Dilma Rousseff and the assassination of a deputy minister of Bolivia's president Evo Morales.

Meanwhile, former leaders Jose Luis Zapatero of Spain and Martin Torrijos of Panama arrived in Caracas this week, offering their good offices.

Zapatero and Torrijos were members of an international mediation team that tried and failed to arrange a dialogue between the government and the opposition.

Brazil’s Workers’ Party down, but not out, following Rousseff’s ouster

Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) is facing its worst-ever crisis in the wake of a long impeachment process that saw Dilma Rousseff removed from the presidential office on Thursday, but the party is unlikely to be going away anytime soon.

Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) is facing its worst-ever crisis in the wake of a long impeachment process that saw Dilma Rousseff removed from the presidential office on Thursday, but the party is unlikely to be going away anytime soon.

World Cup-leader Hosszu dominates in Berlin

Hungary’s ‘Iron Lady’ Katinka Hosszu earned four more victories on the World Cup circuit on Wednesday, to give her a total of seven wins over the two-day meet in Berlin.Having already won the 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley f…

Hungary's 'Iron Lady' Katinka Hosszu earned four more victories on the World Cup circuit on Wednesday, to give her a total of seven wins over the two-day meet in Berlin.

Having already won the 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley finals on Tuesday, the 27-year-old hammered out further short-course wins in the 400m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m and 400m individual medley.

Her points haul means she is the clear leader in the overall World Cup rankings after two of the nine legs on the circuit, with Moscow the next destination this weekend.

Having broken his own 100m IM short-course world record on Tuesday, Russia's Vladimir Morozov, the men's overall leader, won Wednesday's 50m freestyle final and finished third in the 100m breaststroke, won by South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh.

It was the South African's 50th World Cup victory since he joined the annual series in 2008.

Michel Temer sworn in as Brazil’s new president

Brazil’s Michel Temer was sworn in as the country’s new president on Wednesday after leftist Dilma Rousseff was removed in a Senate impeachment trial.Temer, 75, raised his hand and swore to uphold the constitution, drawing loud applause from his conser…

Brazil's Michel Temer was sworn in as the country's new president on Wednesday after leftist Dilma Rousseff was removed in a Senate impeachment trial.

Temer, 75, raised his hand and swore to uphold the constitution, drawing loud applause from his conservative supporters at the swearing-in ceremony in a packed Senate chamber.

NFL clears three over Al Jazeera ‘doping’ claims

Three National Football League players named in an Al Jazeera television investigation into performance enhancing drugs were cleared Wednesday after the league found “no credible evidence” of their involvement in doping. The NFL said in a statement i…

Three National Football League players named in an Al Jazeera television investigation into performance enhancing drugs were cleared Wednesday after the league found "no credible evidence" of their involvement in doping.

The NFL said in a statement it had closed the case against Pittsburgh's James Harrison and Green Bay duo Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers after an eight-month investigation.

"The NFL found no credible evidence that Pittsburgh's James Harrison and Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers were provided with or used substances prohibited under the NFL-NFLPA Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances following a comprehensive investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al Jazeera America," the league said.

All three players had been interviewed by investigators probing the allegations outlined in the report, the NFL said.

"The investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, electronic research, and laboratory analysis and review," the statement added.

Former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who was also named in the Al Jazeera report, had already been cleared of involvement in doping, claims he had vehemently dismissed as "garbage" all along.

The Al-Jazeera America report aired in December alleged human growth hormone had been mailed to Manning's household in 2011.

The claims were made by Charles Sly, a former pharmacist at the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis, where Manning starred for the NFL's Colts for 14 seasons. Sly later recanted his allegations.

Libya PM-designate visits battleground city

The head of Libya’s unity government on Wednesday visited the coastal city of Sirte where loyalist forces have trapped Islamic State group jihadists in their last holdout, officials said.Fayez al-Sarraj’s visit was his first to Sirte since loyalist for…

The head of Libya's unity government on Wednesday visited the coastal city of Sirte where loyalist forces have trapped Islamic State group jihadists in their last holdout, officials said.

Fayez al-Sarraj's visit was his first to Sirte since loyalist forces launched an offensive more than three months ago to drive the jihadists from what had been their main stronghold in North Africa.

The forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) said at the weekend that they were preparing to "liberate" the entire city after seizing several IS positions, including its headquarters.

Sarraj and some of his ministers toured former front lines as well as the Ouagadougou conference centre which IS had used as its base, the government said on its Facebook page.

Field commanders briefed him on the offensive and the progress they have achieved as well as the ongoing operations to rout the jihadists from their last holdout in district Number Three, it said.

The media centre of the campaign on Tuesday said pro-GNA forces were advancing inside the district "where the Daesh remnants are entrenched", using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Reda Issa, a spokesman for the loyalist forces, told AFP on Tuesday that "preparations to liberate the entire city" were underway.

"We expect the situation to be resolved in a very short time," he said.

Sarraj issued a similar statement in Sirte, saying "we will continue to chase, with the help of God, the Daesh remnants and strike them wherever they may be in our country".

IS overran the Mediterranean hometown of Libya's slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi in mid-2015, sparking fears the jihadists would use it as a springboard for attacks on Europe.

The Sunni extremists took advantage of the chaos in oil-rich Libya after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Kadhafi and seized Sirte in June 2015, hoisting their black flag above the city.

More than 400 loyalist fighters have been killed and nearly 2,500 wounded in the battle for Sirte since May, medical sources say.

Deschamps using Euro agony to inspire French

France coach Didier Deschamps is hoping to avoid a Euro 2016 hangover as his side prepare for their upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, starting with Thursday’s friendly against Italy in Bari.French dreams of a third European Championship titl…

France coach Didier Deschamps is hoping to avoid a Euro 2016 hangover as his side prepare for their upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, starting with Thursday's friendly against Italy in Bari.

French dreams of a third European Championship title crumbled following a 1-0 extra-time defeat to Portugal at the Stade de France in July, but Deschamps is determined to focus on the future.

Following the game against Italy, France will open World Cup qualifying with a September 6 tie away to Belarus in Group A -- which also includes the Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria and Luxembourg.

"The Euros are behind us. My wish is to make use of it, yes, but not for us to focus too much on it," said Deschamps, adding France would "have to fight" to earn their place at the tournament in Russia.

Thursday's game will be the first in charge for new Italy boss Giampiero Ventura, the successor to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, and Deschamps wants to inflict a first Azzurri defeat in the southern city of Bari.

"When we play neighbouring countries, such as Germany, Spain and England, there is this healthy rivalry. It will be a glamour game," said Deschamps, who has injected fresh blood into his squad.

Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris as well as defender Bacary Sagna miss out through injury while veteran left-back Patrice Evra was overlooked, with Deschamps presenting Layvin Kurzawa and Lucas Digne a chance to stake their claim.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane is poised to return and skipper the team, in the absence of Lloris, with the 23-year-old fully recovered from the thigh injury that ruled him out of the European Championship.

"Raphael is a player who I've counted on for several years," said Deschamps.

"He's been there practically since the start of the adventure and played at the 2014 World Cup. He had this injury, but my view of him hasn't changed. He's an important part of the team."

Kvitova seeking consistency in New York

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is getting a handle on New York City, now if she could just get to grips with her game.The Czech star, who has endured a litany of illnesses and injuries this season, admits she never knows what to expect when …

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is getting a handle on New York City, now if she could just get to grips with her game.

The Czech star, who has endured a litany of illnesses and injuries this season, admits she never knows what to expect when she steps on the court these days.

"Every match it's difficult and really tough to see what I'm going to be," said Kvitova, who is keeping expectations low at the US Open despite reaching the third round with two straight-sets victories.

"If I can make the second week, I would be very happy."

Kvitova is without a title since winning at New Haven in August of 2015, a victory that was followed by a quarter-final appearance in the US Open.

But since finishing last year at sixth in the world, she has fallen to 16th and suffered a second-round exit on her beloved grass at Wimbledon.

She battled to a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, then pulled out of the WTA event in Cincinnati with a right leg injury.

She reached the semi-finals in New Haven last week despite battling a cold that she said she first picked up in Brazil.

Kvitova, the 14th seed, next faces Ukrainian Elina Svitolina -- who ended Serena Williams' bid for singles gold in Rio.

The Czech said she wished she had a better idea of what she might produce against the 22nd seed.

"I'm the kind of person who is always stressing about how I'm going to play," she said. "Every time you step back on the court something can happen. Especially to me."

Amid the uncertainties surrounding her play, however, Kvitova is managing to enjoy the hectic pace of New York.

This year she's opting not to travel from Manhattan to Flushing Meadows on non-match days, putting in a little fitness training and shopping instead.

"That's my new tradition," she said. "Some coffees, some shopping. That's really time I'm enjoying. I'm starting to love New York."

Stefanidi third as Bradshaw wins Zurich pole vault

Briton Holly Bradshaw on Thursday won the women’s pole vault at the Zurich Diamond League, held a day ahead of the main meet in the Swiss city’s central train station.As commuters hurried home on a balmy evening, Bradshaw, who up until last year compet…

Briton Holly Bradshaw on Thursday won the women's pole vault at the Zurich Diamond League, held a day ahead of the main meet in the Swiss city's central train station.

As commuters hurried home on a balmy evening, Bradshaw, who up until last year competed under her maiden name of Bleasdale, won after clearing 4.76 metres after the top three all failed to clear 4.81m.

American Sandi Morris, the silver medallist at the Rio Games, was second, while Greece's Olympic and European champion Katerina Stefanidi had to be content with third on countback.

The main programme of track and field events will be held on Thursday at the Letzigrund Stadium, far from the bizarre setting of the main hall of Zurich station, where the runway was raised to the landing mat, lined on one side by a temporary scaffolded seating area with standing room on the other side and at the far end of the mat.

Turkish interior minister resigns in surprise move

Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala, a loyalist of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Wednesday resigned in a surprise move, the prime minister announced.After a hastily-convened meeting with Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Ala had stepped…

Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala, a loyalist of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Wednesday resigned in a surprise move, the prime minister announced.

After a hastily-convened meeting with Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Ala had stepped down and would be replaced by Suleyman Soylu, the current labour and social security minister.

There was no official explanation for why Ala had quit and Turkish media said it was unexpected.

Yildirim thanked Ala "for his services."

The ministerial change follows a failed July 15 coup, which was blamed on supporters of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, an arch enemy of Erdogan.

The abortive putsch raised questions about intelligence failings which government officials have acknowledged.

Ala had served as interior minister for nearly three years. He also previously acted as undersecretary to Erdogan, when the president was prime minister.

Ala leaves the post as the insurgency between Turkish security forces and militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rages following the collapse of a two-year truce last summer.

Venezuela freezes Brazil ties after Rousseff removal

Venezuela announced Wednesday it was withdrawing its ambassador from Brazil and freezing ties with its neighbor in response to the removal from office of president Dilma Rousseff.The foreign ministry condemned Rousseff’s being stripped of office after …

Venezuela announced Wednesday it was withdrawing its ambassador from Brazil and freezing ties with its neighbor in response to the removal from office of president Dilma Rousseff.

The foreign ministry condemned Rousseff's being stripped of office after an impeachment trial in the Brazilian Senate as a "parliamentary coup d'etat."

Venezuela "has decided to definitively withdraw its ambassador in the Federal Republic of Brazil, and to freeze political and diplomatic relations with the government that emerged from this parliamentary coup," it said in a statement.

Placido Domingo opens Dubai Opera

Spanish tenor Placido Domingo performed Wednesday at the opening of Dubai Opera, a venue the emirate hopes will boost cultural life in the Gulf business hub, organisers said.The 2,000-seat opera house was packed for the opening after tickets sold out m…

Spanish tenor Placido Domingo performed Wednesday at the opening of Dubai Opera, a venue the emirate hopes will boost cultural life in the Gulf business hub, organisers said.

The 2,000-seat opera house was packed for the opening after tickets sold out months in advance, leaving many scrambling to buy them on the black market in the days preceding the event.

Domingo launched into the event with a series of performances including Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" and the Broadway musical "West Side Story".

The venue will also host local shows, with popular Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi performing there in October.

During rehearsals, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum visited the site where he greeted the Spanish tenor, according to a video posted on the Dubai government's Twitter account.

"Cultural development was always present among our development plans and vision for the future... We have provided the infrastructure to support it," he said in remarks published on his website.

Organisers have said that an official opening gala will be held later when work on the venue is completed.

On Tuesday, the Dubai Opera management organised a media tour as workers struggled to prepare the theatre for Domingo's performance.

The opera sits at the foot of Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, which was built by the same developer, Emaar Properties.

In a nod to Dubai's long history as a port city, the opera house is shaped like a dhow, a traditional wooden boat used for centuries in Gulf waters.

But the ultra-modern venue can transform into three modes, operating as a theatre, concert hall and a flat-floored hall suitable for banquets and weddings.

In the space of decades, Dubai has transformed itself into a centre for trade, travel and tourism.

Spending trillions of dollars earned from oil exports, it put itself on the map with luxury resorts, glitzy skyscrapers and artificial islands shaped as palm trees and a world map.

But its cultural scene remained low profile in the business-oriented emirate.

Jasper Hope, chief executive of Dubai Opera, said the opening represents "the start of a new journey for arts and culture in Dubai".

Opera remains very much a cultural import for Gulf Arabs -- the only other opera house in the region is in the Omani capital Muscat.

But Dubai's population is predominantly foreign, including a sizable Western community.

Anti-doping agencies ask for whistleblower protection

A group of national anti-doping agencies including those from the United States, Britain, France and Japan have called for greater protection of whistleblowers.The group of 17 national anti-doping agencies known as NADO have also proposed a series of r…

A group of national anti-doping agencies including those from the United States, Britain, France and Japan have called for greater protection of whistleblowers.

The group of 17 national anti-doping agencies known as NADO have also proposed a series of reforms aimed at improving independence and transparency in the fight against drug cheats.

During a two-day summit in Copenhagen, the NADO representatives discussed how to strengthen the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in order to counter "the inappropriate involvement of sport leaders in critical anti-doping decisions and activities", the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

They also discussed "ensuring a level playing field in countries with failing anti-doping structures, and long overdue reforms to ensure the current and future protection and support of whistleblowers ?- including that of Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov".

Yuliya Stepnaova, a Russian 800-metre runner, and her husband Vitaly helped lift the lid on Russia's alleged state-sponsored doping programme, but they have been living in hiding in the United States since the scandal broke last year.

Their evidence led to Russian athletes being banned from competition with only US-based long jumper Darya Klishina being allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics earlier this month.

The country's entire squad has also been banned from the Paralympics due to start next week.

"We recognize we are at a crossroads in the fight for clean sport," said the NADO leaders in a joint statement.

"With the best interests of clean athletes at heart, we have come together to discuss reforms that we believe will better protect them, restore confidence in the global anti-doping effort that has been deeply damaged, and ensure that the disturbing events of recent years are not repeated."

Amongst the proposals, NADO calls for "improved monitoring systems for (the) World Anti-Doping Agency Code", amendments to the code to "clarify and broaden the range of violations" as well as "independence in governance and operational decisions and activities".

NADO said that the anti-doping system should be independent not only of sport organisations but even of WADA.

That would mean WADA president Craig Reedie being unable to maintain both his role and a position as a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

NADO wants to prevent anyone from "simultaneously" holding positions of power in an anti-doping agency as well as an international federation or major sports event organisation.

Finally, NADO called for "meaningful recognition and compensation for their courageous contributions" for the Stepanovs and other whistleblowers in the future.

Ancient Egyptians used metal in wooden ships

A piece of wood recovered at a dig near the Great Pyramid of Giza shows for the first time that ancient Egyptians used metal in their boats, archaeologists said Wednesday.Circular and U-shaped metal hooks were found in one of the components of a boat, …

A piece of wood recovered at a dig near the Great Pyramid of Giza shows for the first time that ancient Egyptians used metal in their boats, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Circular and U-shaped metal hooks were found in one of the components of a boat, discovered the same year as Khufu's "solar boat", buried near the Great Pyramid.

Solar boats, buried in pits next to royal burial chambers, may have been used for a pharaoh?s funeral procession, while others were intended for travels in the afterworld.

The piece of wood measures eight metres (25 foot) in length, 40 centimetres (almost 16 inches) wide and four centimetres in thickness.

From the boats found across Egypt, "we have not found the use of metals in their frames like in this boat", Mohamed Mostafa Abdel-Megeed, an antiquities ministry official and expert in boat-making in ancient Egypt, told AFP on the sidelines of a Cairo press conference.

The U-shaped hooks were used "to place the paddles to prevent friction of wood against wood", said Sakuji Yoshimura, an Egyptologist from Japan.

The Great Pyramid -- also known as the Pyramid of Cheops -- is the largest of the three Giza pyramids. It houses the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu who ruled more than 4,500 years ago.

Lieberman vows to recover Israeli bodies from Gaza

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday he was determined to recover the bodies of two soldiers killed in Gaza but insisted he was not keen to negotiate with Hamas.Oron Shaul, a soldier in the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip, was believed …

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday he was determined to recover the bodies of two soldiers killed in Gaza but insisted he was not keen to negotiate with Hamas.

Oron Shaul, a soldier in the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip, was believed by the Israeli army to have been killed along with Hadar Goldin, and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is thought to hold their bodies.

Channel 10 television on Monday quoted him as saying, in two private conversations, that the return of the soldiers' remains was improbable and that he does not want to negotiate with Hamas.

The report triggered an uproar with Goldin's twin brother, Tzour, telling military radio that Lieberman was ignoring "his responsibilities and the army's code of ethics".

Goldin's family later issued a statement denouncing "the abandonment of soldiers on the battlefield by the minister of the defence".

But the ultra-nationalist Lieberman dismissed the accusations against him on Wednesday.

"It is our responsibility to return the prisoners and the remains of soldiers despite difficulties," he said in remarks carried by Israeli media.

He did reiterate however that he was opposed to striking deals with Hamas, like the 2011 agreement which led to the release of soldier Gilad Shalit.

The soldier had been captured by Hamas in 2006 and released in 2011 in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

"I was against the Shalit deal and I think I was right, seeing the number of prisoners who have carried out terrorist attacks after being set free," said Lieberman.

"But we have to recover the remains of our soldiers," he added.

Paris attacker Abdeslam refuses questioning again

The sole surviving member of the jihadist team that attacked Paris in November 2015 has again refused to be questioned by an anti-terror judge, a source close to the case said Wednesday.Salah Abdeslam, 26, refused questioning a second time on July 7 wh…

The sole surviving member of the jihadist team that attacked Paris in November 2015 has again refused to be questioned by an anti-terror judge, a source close to the case said Wednesday.

Salah Abdeslam, 26, refused questioning a second time on July 7 when his lawyer Frank Berton sought unsuccessfully to get authorities to halt his client's round-the-clock surveillance in jail, the source told AFP.

Berton declined to comment when contacted by AFP on Wednesday.

Abdeslam refused to answer questions in his first interview with a French anti-terror judge on May 20.

After four months on the run, Abdeslam was arrested on March 18 in Molenbeek, a Brussels neighbourhood notorious for being a hotbed of Islamic extremism where he grew up.

He was transferred to France to face terror charges on April 27.

Investigators have yet to pin down Abdeslam's exact role in the November 13, 2015, attacks on Paris bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium in which 130 people were killed.

After dropping off three suicide bombers at the Stade de France stadium just outside Paris, Abdeslam abandoned his car in the Montmartre neighbourhood then headed for the rundown southern suburb of Chatillon.

An unexploded suicide belt contaminated with Abdeslam's DNA was found in the area 10 days after the attacks.

The jihadist is thought to have left for Brussels at dawn on November 14 by car with two Belgian accomplices who managed to get through several checkpoints along the way.

Prosecutors believe Abdeslam was in charge of logistics for the Paris attacks, which were planned in Brussels.

Temer: Brazilian political kingmaker turned king

Michel Temer used to be known in Brazil as a behind-the-scenes operator. That was before he triggered a bid to topple his boss, Dilma Rousseff, and took her job as president.After months of playing his cards close to his chest, Rousseff’s vice-presiden…

Michel Temer used to be known in Brazil as a behind-the-scenes operator. That was before he triggered a bid to topple his boss, Dilma Rousseff, and took her job as president.

After months of playing his cards close to his chest, Rousseff's vice-president took over as acting head of state in May ahead of the impeachment trial which finally saw her removed from office on Wednesday.

After 13 years of leftist government, Rousseff's 75-year-old running mate-turned-nemesis has already started to push through market-friendly policies during his three months as acting president.

He is due to hold office until the current mandate expires in 2018, with the task of getting the ailing South American giant's economy out of recession.

But with popularity ratings as dismal as Rousseff's and many of his allies implicated in corruption, Temer faces a tough task restoring stability in Brazil.

- Out of the shadows -

Temer had long been a backroom wheeler-dealer.

The son of Lebanese immigrants was perhaps best known to voters for being married to a 33-year-old former beauty queen, Marcela Tedeschi.

But as Brazil's economic boom turned to spectacular bust and a corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras tainted nearly the entire political class, Temer slowly emerged from the shadows to seize the starring role.

Rousseff and her running mate always made an awkward couple. As head of the PMDB, a center-right party, Temer represented the biggest force in the former leftist guerrilla's shaky coalition.

For years, the PMDB played the role of kingmaker, content with pulling the strings and keeping the keys to the government pork barrel.

Temer was cautious, gradually making his disapproval of Rousseff known as the momentum built in favor of impeaching her for allegedly breaking state accounting laws.

In October, he published a document called "A bridge to the future" in which he criticized "excesses" in government policies. And in December, he complained of being treated as "a decorative vice president."

But while lower-level PMDB supporters liked to refer to him as "President Temer," he insisted he had no such ambitions, except perhaps for the next scheduled elections in 2018.

In March he finally broke cover, calling on the PMDB to abandon the government and go into opposition.

The suspended Rousseff branded him a traitor and conspirator in the impeachment process. She said it has turned the commonly accepted practice of papering over shortfalls in the government's accounts into an excuse for a "coup."

- Poet and ladies' man -

Temer has served three times as speaker of the lower house of Congress and has been president of the PMDB for 15 years.

Before he became president, his private life was considered more colorful than his political reputation.

Tedeschi is his third wife. He has five children born across four decades.

In addition to a work on constitutional law, he has authored a book of poetry.

Temer does not apologize for his dour manner. He told Piaui magazine in 2010 that joking is not his thing.

"I don't know how to do this," he said. "If I tried, it would be a disaster."

That persona may account for his low popularity. In one recent poll it was 14 percent, not much higher than Rousseff's.

Political analysts say Temer's most immediate threat comes from the Petrobras scandal, in which a host of powerful PMDB colleagues are implicated.

He himself is not under investigation, but key witnesses have accused him of participating in schemes to bilk the company of billions of dollars.

Temer has also been found guilty of campaign finance irregularities.

A report this month in Veja magazine said Temer asked for millions of dollars in political donations from construction tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht, who has been jailed in the Petrobras scandal.

Three dead, Italy migrant rescues hit 12,500 in four days

Three corpses were recovered as some 1,800 migrants were rescued off Libya on Wednesday, taking the total number of people saved since Sunday to nearly 12,500, Italy’s coastguard said.The three dead bodies were recovered from a stricken rubber dinghy b…

Three corpses were recovered as some 1,800 migrants were rescued off Libya on Wednesday, taking the total number of people saved since Sunday to nearly 12,500, Italy's coastguard said.

The three dead bodies were recovered from a stricken rubber dinghy by Malta-based NGO MOAS, whose boat the Phoenix rescued a total of 410 people during the day.

Italian navy and coastguard boats were also in action along with a merchant tugboat that happened to be in the area.

Despite the surge in numbers this week, migrant arrivals in Italy are running slightly below last year's levels.

According to Interior Ministry figures, a total of 112,097 people had landed at Italian ports by Wednesday morning, compared with 116,149 for the same period in 2015.

Thousands more will be registered in the coming days, putting more pressure on Italy's already rammed reception centres.

Among those arriving on Wednesday was a three-month-old Nigerian baby girl who was born in Libya and baptised Noa Mary on an Italian navy boat on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Alberto Maffeis, who acted as the little girl's godfather on board the Virginio Fasan frigate, told RaiNews her mother had asked the onboard chaplain to carry out the ceremony.

"It was like becoming a father again, I had a lump in my throat," he said.

Flavio di Giacomo, the Italy spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said that despite this week's high numbers, the profile of departures from Libya remained similar to last year with regular spikes in numbers attributable to favourable weather conditions.

"What is astonishing is that there have been so few casualties thanks to the expertise of the rescuers," he said.

Di Giacomo said the new arrivals were manageable. "There is not a a critical situation on the Italian side, the system of reception and identification is working smoothly."

Italy is however having to house ever greater numbers of would-be refugees as its neighbours to the north move to tighten their borders and make it harder for migrants to travel to their preferred destinations in northern Europe.

According to the Interior Ministry, Italy now has 148,000 asylum seekers in reception centres, compared with 103,000 in 2015 and 66,000 in 2014.

The Greek coastguard said Wednesday it rescued roughly 30 migrants on a stricken vessel as they attempted to reach Italy.

What next for post-impeachment Brazil?

Senators have fired Dilma Rousseff as president of Brazil in an acrimonious impeachment trial.Here are five ways the drama affects key players and ordinary people in Latin America’s biggest country:- What’s Dilma’s future? -Murky. At her trial, Dilma c…

Senators have fired Dilma Rousseff as president of Brazil in an acrimonious impeachment trial.

Here are five ways the drama affects key players and ordinary people in Latin America's biggest country:

- What's Dilma's future? -

Murky.

At her trial, Dilma called impeachment "a political death sentence."

But despite impeaching her, the senate did not ban her from holding public office as expected, raising the possibility of her returning to the fray in some form.

For now, however, she must leave the Alvorada presidential palace in Brasilia. The date of her departure is not clear.

Sources close to her said ahead of Wednesday's vote that she was expected to go and relax in the southern city of Porto Alegre, where her daughter and grandchildren live.

- Who's her successor? -

Michel Temer, 75.

He was elected Rousseff's vice-president but critics complain he was not voted head of state.

He faces low approval ratings, corruption scandals and legitimacy concerns. But analysts say investors like his pro-market reform plans.

Suspects in the corruption scandal over oil firm Petrobras have alleged Temer was involved. He has also been convicted of campaign finance violations.

- Political shift? -

To the right.

As interim president since May, Temer, of the center-right PMDB party, has already launched conservative reforms.

After taking over pending the trial of the leftist Rousseff, he scrapped certain ministries and formed a cabinet entirely of white men.

He has launched plans to cap public spending, notably on pensions. He says he will not hesitate to raise taxes if required.

- And for the left? -

A step back.

Temer's arrival ends 13 years of Workers' Party (PT) rule under Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Now the party passes into opposition. Lula wants to run for president again at the next election in 2018.

He could trip up before then: he is being investigated for alleged corruption and obstruction of justice linked to Petrobras.

- How's the patient? -

In rough shape.

Brazil is in its worst recession in decades: a 3.8 percent contraction in 2015 and a further 3.3 percent forecast this year. Some 11 million are unemployed.

The PT was credited with lifting millions out of poverty but many are fed up with it. Protests have broken out this year for and against the party.

"I am afraid of what will happen to us poorer people, to our labor rights and benefits," said PT supporter Luiz Saraiva, 43, at a protest in Brasilia.

Italy and Germany signal tougher EU stance on migrants

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed Wednesday to step up efforts to send migrants with no right to asylum in Europe back to their homelands.”All of us in Europe must work for the repatriation of those who do n…

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed Wednesday to step up efforts to send migrants with no right to asylum in Europe back to their homelands.

"All of us in Europe must work for the repatriation of those who do not have rights (to stay)," Renzi said after a meeting with Merkel in the home of the Ferrari sports car empire. "It is unthinkable that we can accommodate everyone."

In comments pointing to a hardening of attitudes about how to resolve the migrant crisis reshaping politics across Europe, Merkel added: "Not everyone can stay, and Italy has the same problem, so we have a common agenda.

"Those who do not have the right to stay have to be repatriated," she said.

The German leader was speaking a year to the day after she after she won praise and criticism in equal measure for signalling an open door policy on refugees by declaring "we can do this" in relation to people fleeing the conflict in Syria.

She said Wednesday that she stood by the expression.

"I'm convinced it was the right phrase," she said, striking a less contrite tone than she had adopted in an interview with German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that was published on Wednesday.

"There are political issues that one can see coming but don't really register with people at that certain moment," Merkel was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"And in Germany, we ignored both the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution."

Pena Nieto stirs storm in Mexico with Trump invite

Criticism rained down on President Enrique Pena Nieto Wednesday as indignant Mexicans asked why he invited Donald Trump, of all people, to visit.The Republican presidential candidate, who forged his campaign with insults against Mexican immigrants, sur…

Criticism rained down on President Enrique Pena Nieto Wednesday as indignant Mexicans asked why he invited Donald Trump, of all people, to visit.

The Republican presidential candidate, who forged his campaign with insults against Mexican immigrants, surprised everyone Tuesday by taking up Pena Nieto's invitation.

He was expected Wednesday in Mexico City where a storm of protests was already underway.

"There is no explanation for a private meeting between the president and a candidate who has consistently offended Mexico and above all its people," said Jesus Zambrano, the president of the lower house of the Mexican Congress.

He said it was a "dubious way" of defending Mexico's interests.

The meeting was expected to begin at around 2:00 pm (1900 GMT) at Los Pinos, the presidential residence.

"I believe in dialogue to promote the interests of Mexico in the world and mainly to protect Mexicans wherever they are," Pena Nieto said on Twitter late Tuesday, explaining why he invited both Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to meet with him.

Former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda said, however, "without a public apology by Trump for the things he has said, he should not be welcomed in Mexico nor at Los Pinos, especially since he's not a head of state."

Margarita Zavala, the wife of former president Felipe Calderon and a possible presidential candidate for the conservative National Action Party, wrote an open letter to Trump.

"Although you have been invited, know that you are not welcome. The Mexican people have dignity and we reject your hate speech," she wrote.

Trump launched his presidential campaign with attacks on immigrants from Mexico as drug traffickers and "rapists."

His vow to build a great wall on the southern US border and make Mexico pay for it is the signature pledge of his campaign.

After meeting with Pena Nieto, Trump plans to make a major speech in Arizona, a US border state, on illegal immigration later Wednesday.

What the Mexican president gains from meeting Trump, whom he once compared to Hitler and Mussolini, is a puzzle to many here.

Five years into a six-year term, Pena Nieto is already deeply unpopular, with his approval ratings down to 23 percent.

"I think that President Pena Nieto is taking an enormous political risk by hosting Trump," said former president Vicente Fox on CNN.

"If he's gone soft on Trump, it will hurt him greatly. He will even be considered like a traitor because we don't accept to be offended."

The leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) said the meeting "only favors the political aspirations of this demagogue."

Castaneda said it would only make sense if Trump apologized and announced in Arizona that he would no longer insist on building a border wall.

Selena Gomez cuts short tour to treat lupus effects

Teen television star turned singer Selena Gomez has cut short a world tour as she handles the after-effects of lupus.The 24-year-old revealed a year ago that she had secretly undergone chemotherapy to treat lupus, a chronic disease in which the body’s …

Teen television star turned singer Selena Gomez has cut short a world tour as she handles the after-effects of lupus.

The 24-year-old revealed a year ago that she had secretly undergone chemotherapy to treat lupus, a chronic disease in which the body's immune system fights healthy tissue.

"I've discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges," she said in a statement posted Wednesday on sites of concert venues where she had been due to perform.

"I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off," she said.

She told fans that she needed to "face this head on to ensure I am doing everything possible to be my best."

"I know I am not alone by sharing this, I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues," she said.

People magazine, which first reported her statement, quoted an unnamed source saying Gomez "hadn't felt like herself" in the past couple of months and decided to "clear her calendar for the year."

Gomez last performed August 13 in Auckland, New Zealand at the end of an Asian tour leg and has since gone quiet on social media.

She had been due to resume her "Revival" tour next week in North America, ending on December 18 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Gomez, who rose to fame starring in the Disney series "Wizards of Waverly Place," also cut short a tour in late 2013.

Tabloids at the time speculated that she was heartbroken over her breakup with fellow young star Justin Bieber.

She revealed only two years later that she was being treated for lupus and criticized the media frenzy around her.

Lupus is estimated to strike some five million people around the world, disproportionately women of childbearing age, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

US names powerful board to shepherd Puerto Rico economy

US President Barack Obama named a powerful new oversight board for Puerto Rico Wednesday charged with helping restore the finances of the debt-mired Caribbean island. The White House said the seven members of the Financial Oversight and Management Boar…

US President Barack Obama named a powerful new oversight board for Puerto Rico Wednesday charged with helping restore the finances of the debt-mired Caribbean island.

The White House said the seven members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board would be charged with helping the government of the US territory restructure its $70 billion in debts and restore economic growth after a decade of recession.

The seven include a mix of figures from the banking industry, government and legal sector, four of them selected by Republicans in Congress who had fought giving Puerto Rico the right to declare bankruptcy, and three from the Democrats.

Having already defaulted on more than $2 billion in debt payments, Puerto Rico is blocked by US law from seeking protection in bankruptcy courts the way US cities like Detroit have done.

Instead, the FOMB will fill that role in a way, overseeing the Puerto Rican government's reforms and fiscal discipline as it reschedules its debt -- including possible write-downs -- with creditors.

One of the FOMB appointees, Arthur Gonzalez, was formerly chief judge of the US Bankruptcy Court in New York City and oversaw some of the largest and most complex corporate bankruptcies, including those of Enron, WorldCom, and Chrysler.

Amid fears the FOMB would be insensitive to the social needs of Puerto Rico, where the collapsing economy has increased poverty and sent hundreds of thousands of natives to the US mainland for jobs, four of the White House appointees have Puerto Rican roots.

"With a broad range of skills and experiences, these officials have the breadth and depth of knowledge that is needed to tackle this complex challenge and put the future of the Puerto Rican people first," Obama said in a statement.

Under the Promesa reorganization plan established by Congress in June, the Puerto Rican government must come up with and implement a credible multi-year plan for righting its finances and restoring growth.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew called Wednesday for the island to move quickly.

"Time is of the essence. The Puerto Rico government should bring together all of its resources to develop and submit a plan to the Oversight Board as soon as possible."

Braz to rain on Lavillenie’s parade – again

Brazilian upstart Thiago Braz Da Silva has already rained on Renaud Lavillenie’s parade once this season, stealing the Frenchman’s thunder to take a shock gold at his home Olympics in Rio.While Lavillenie already has a record seventh consecutive Diamon…

Brazilian upstart Thiago Braz Da Silva has already rained on Renaud Lavillenie's parade once this season, stealing the Frenchman's thunder to take a shock gold at his home Olympics in Rio.

While Lavillenie already has a record seventh consecutive Diamond Race title in the bag, Braz is ready to push for a symbolic season-ending pole vault victory over France's 2012 Olympic champion at Thursday's Diamond League meet.

Lavillenie was reduced to tears at Rio's Olympic Stadium as the raucous, partisan crowd got behind local hero Braz and jeered the Frenchman both during competition and when he collected his silver medal on the podium.

He was later consoled, among others, by IOC president Thomas Bach and IAAF chief Sebastian Coe.

"He remains an opponent," Braz said of Lavillenie Wednesday, with the two vaulters enjoying somewhat frosty relations.

"Whether he wins or not, that doesn't change anything for me. I have to do my job. Now I wish we have good relations.

"I tried to calm down the public when the jeering started, but they carried on," Braz said of the hostility shown Lavillenie, adding: "As a professional athlete, Renaud should have prepared for everything. Personally I couldn't change anything."

Braz, whose winning 6.03-metre vault in Rio was his personal best, added: "I don't go out wanting to beat Renaud or the French vaulters, but simply to go as high as possible."

In potential bad news for Lavillenie and his French cohorts, however, Braz signalled his intention to up his level of competition next season, when the world athletics championships will be held in London in August.

"In 2017, I want to vault more often after a season focused on the Olympics," said the Brazilian, who has had just eight competitions this year.

"Next year I'll be more present in European meets, a dozen or so of them to give a continuity to my results."

Braz said he had been slightly overwhelmed by the reactions in Brazil to his gold medal-winning performance.

"In Brazil, there's no real culture of athletics, of pole vaulting. But kids have come up to me in the street to ask me how to do pole vault," he said. "It's odd to have this sudden celebrity. I saw famous sportspeople on the television before and now it's me.

"These (Olympic) moments were incredible, even if I'd lost. I didn't know how to react, I had to remind myself that I could do a lap of honour!

"They didn't really think I could medal even if I was one of the four or five pole vaulters who possibly could. Now they discovered another story. They believe too much in me and I have to keep my feet on the ground and work even harder."

Lavillenie admitted that competition was increasing year-in, year-out.

"It gets harder and harder to win the Diamond League, but I hope to win it next year too," said the Frenchman.

"Year after year, it's getting more difficult, the guys are getting stronger. I just have to push myself harder."

Spanish parliament rejects acting PM’s bid to form govt

Spanish MPs rejected Wednesday acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s bid for a second term, deepening the country’s political crisis and triggering a countdown to a third election in a year.Rajoy, the leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), lost…

Spanish MPs rejected Wednesday acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's bid for a second term, deepening the country's political crisis and triggering a countdown to a third election in a year.

Rajoy, the leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), lost the vote of confidence with 180 votes against and 170 in favour following an often acrimonious debate in parliament.

Jones wants England to tame Springbok bullies

England coach Eddie Jones has told his stars to take the fight to South Africa’s bullies when they clash at Twickenham.The Springboks are renowned for their physical brand of rugby and have overpowered England during a 12-match unbeaten run stretching …

England coach Eddie Jones has told his stars to take the fight to South Africa's bullies when they clash at Twickenham.

The Springboks are renowned for their physical brand of rugby and have overpowered England during a 12-match unbeaten run stretching back a decade.

Jones believes it's vital for England not to be intimidated when they launch the first of four internationals at Twickenham on November 12.

"We'll certainly pick our strongest team to play South Africa and will then take it from there," Jones told BT Sport's Rugby Tonight.

"We haven't beaten South Africa since 2006. You know what they are like - they are just bullies, so there's a big task for the first 23."

It has been two years since the last meeting and this time the Springboks will be facing the Grand Slam champions and 3-0 conquers of Australia.

Jones' England have amassed a flawless nine consecutive victories in a stunning maiden season at the helm for the veteran Australian coach, who transformed the team from World Cup flops to a genuine force in the global game in eight months.

"I thought we'd win the Six Nations and without being arrogant, I think England should always win the Six Nations or be in contention to win it because you might have some bad luck along the way that stops you winning it," Jones said.

"Given the players and the resources we have, we should always be in a position to win it.

"I thought we could beat Australia 2-1, but I have to admit I was surprised how well we played in the third Test because we were tired and they had everything to play for.

"It was a real credit to our players, how they picked themselves up and got through that game and that's a great sign."

Jones believes that a factor in England's success has been the growing professionalism of the Premiership clubs.

"Having been in South Africa for a couple of weeks and seen how the Super Rugby sides operate there and having coached in Australia, you can see the clubs here are so professionally set up," he said.

"The quality and quantity of the coaching staff and facilities is outstanding and I believe that is starting to be replicated in the standard of play."

Chelsea agree terms to re-sign Luiz

Chelsea have agreed terms to re-sign Brazil defender David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain, the two clubs announced on Wednesday.

Luiz was sold by Premier League Chelsea to French side PSG for a world record fee for a defender when he joined the French club for £50 million ($65 million, 58 million euros) in 2014.

But the 29-year-old was in danger of losing his place to compatriot Marquinhos this season and, with new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte desperate for defensive reinforcements, the Blues have agreed to bring him back to Stamford Bridge for a reported £32 million.

“Chelsea Football Club and Paris Saint-Germain have agreed terms for the transfer of David Luiz back to London,” a statement on Chelsea’s website read, similar to PSG’s own statement.

“The move is now subject to him agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.”

Chelsea have agreed terms to re-sign Brazil defender David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain, the two clubs announced on Wednesday.

Luiz was sold by Premier League Chelsea to French side PSG for a world record fee for a defender when he joined the French club for £50 million ($65 million, 58 million euros) in 2014.

But the 29-year-old was in danger of losing his place to compatriot Marquinhos this season and, with new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte desperate for defensive reinforcements, the Blues have agreed to bring him back to Stamford Bridge for a reported £32 million.

"Chelsea Football Club and Paris Saint-Germain have agreed terms for the transfer of David Luiz back to London," a statement on Chelsea's website read, similar to PSG's own statement.

"The move is now subject to him agreeing personal terms and passing a medical."

Kurdish activists call Turkey hunger strike over jailed leader’s fate

Kurdish campaigners in Turkey announced a hunger strike Wednesday to protest the lack of updates about the welfare of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan who has been denied visitors since summer 2015.Around 50 politicians and activists, including MP…

Kurdish campaigners in Turkey announced a hunger strike Wednesday to protest the lack of updates about the welfare of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan who has been denied visitors since summer 2015.

Around 50 politicians and activists, including MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), told journalists in Diyarbakir, south east Turkey, that they would stop eating from September 5.

Ocalan is one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which resumed a three-decade-long insurgency against the Turkish state last year, following the collapse of a two-year truce.

He is serving a life sentence for treason in an island prison near Istanbul.

Since the collapse of the ceasefire, he has not been permitted visits from lawyers or supporters.

Some people shouted pro-PKK slogans during the gathering in Diyarbakir -- a majority Kurdish city among the areas targeted in a military offensive last winter aimed at trying to flush the rebels out of Turkey's southeast.

A poster of Ocalan hung over a building in the city but was later removed on the orders of the police.

Last week, 11 police officers were killed and dozens wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck near a police building in the flashpoint town of Cizre, about 260 kilometres (160 miles) east of Diyarbakir.

The PKK said it carried out the attack in retaliation for Ocalan's "continued isolation" and lack of information about his welfare.

The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Tebow tryout draws mixed reviews

Tim Tebow’s stab at switching from the football gridiron to big league baseball drew mixed reviews of both his mastery and motivation.A former Heisman Trophy winner as the top collegiate player who briefly sparked “Tebow-mania” during his playing days …

Tim Tebow's stab at switching from the football gridiron to big league baseball drew mixed reviews of both his mastery and motivation.

A former Heisman Trophy winner as the top collegiate player who briefly sparked "Tebow-mania" during his playing days with the NFL's Denver Broncos, Tebow is attempting a sports comeback at the age of 29.

He last played baseball in high school, but attracted 46 scouts from 28 major league teams to a workout on Tuesday at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Tebow showed power at the plate batting against two former major league pitchers. One American League scout told USA Today the exercise was a "complete waste of time" although a National League scout told the newspaper Tebow was "better than I expected".

Critics called the entire exercise a publicity stunt by a player who found limited success in the NFL, becoming a celebrity in part for his evangelical views and a widely imitated kneeling move that became known as "Tebowing."

Tebow, who has been working lately as a television commentator, insisted otherwise.

"The goal would be to have a career in the big leagues," he said. "I mean that's the goal, right?"

Vinci, Kvitova move on at US Open

Roberta Vinci, the 2015 runner-up, and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova booked US Open third round spots Wednesday as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal prepared for the latest tests of their battle-scarred seasons.Seventh seeded Italian Vinci, d…

Roberta Vinci, the 2015 runner-up, and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova booked US Open third round spots Wednesday as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal prepared for the latest tests of their battle-scarred seasons.

Seventh seeded Italian Vinci, defeated by compatriot Flavia Pennetta in last year's final, eased past Christina McHale of the United States 6-1, 6-3.

The 33-year-old, playing at Flushing Meadows for the 14th time, goes on to face either Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan or Germany's Carina Witthoeft.

Kvitova, the 14th seeded Czech who recorded her best performance in New York 12 months ago when she made the last-eight, beat Turkey's Cagla Buyukakcay 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

Kvitova was in her trademark all-or-nothing mood, mixing up 31 winners with 30 unforced errors against her 26-year-old opponent who was the first Turkish woman to play in the main draw at the tournament.

Up next for Kvitova is Ukrainian 22nd seed Elina Svitolina who put out Lauren Davis of the United States 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Later Wednesday, defending champion and world number one Djokovic, who needed treatment on a right upper arm injury during his laboured four-set win over Poland's Jerzy Janowicz on Monday, faces Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Vesely inflicted a rare defeat on the Serb when he triumphed on clay at Monte Carlo in April.

"Different surface, different circumstances, best-of-five. But still, Vesely deserves respect," said Djokovic, the 2011 and 2015 champion in New York and looking for a third major of the year.

"He has a big game, big serve, big forehand, and moves well for his size. So let's see. Conditions are quite suitable to my style of the game. Hopefully I'll be able to slow his serve down a little bit and then take it from there."

- Nadal in action -

Spanish fourth seed Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion, takes a 7-1 career record over Italy's Andreas Seppi into their night time clash.

Seppi, ranked at 87, has never got beyond the third round in New York but he is a former top 20 player who knocked Roger Federer out of the Australian Open two years ago.

Like Djokovic, Nadal is suffering the after-effects of injury after a serious problem with his left wrist sidelined him from midway through the French Open until the Rio Olympics.

Reigning Roland Garros champion and third seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain tackles Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova.

Muguruza needed three sets to see off Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens in a first round tie which also saw her need a medical timeout after suffering heat exhaustion.

Angelique Kerber, the second seeded Australian Open champion who could depose Serena Williams as world number one, faces 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

The veteran Croatian made the last 16 in 2014 having played her first US Open back in 1997.

Two highly-fancied potential title winners are also in second round action.

Canadian fifth seed Milos Raonic, the Wimbledon runner-up, plays Ryan Harrison of the US.

In the women's draw, American eighth seed Madison Keys meets 16-year-old compatriot Kayla Day.

‘Ring of fire’ eclipse for African stargazers

Stargazers in south and central Africa will be treated to a spectacular solar eclipse Thursday when the Moon wanders into view to make the Sun appear as a “ring of fire”, astronomers say.The phenomenon, known as an annular solar eclipse, happens when t…

Stargazers in south and central Africa will be treated to a spectacular solar eclipse Thursday when the Moon wanders into view to make the Sun appear as a "ring of fire", astronomers say.

The phenomenon, known as an annular solar eclipse, happens when there is a near-perfect alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun.

But unlike a total eclipse, when the Sun is blacked out, sometimes the Moon is too far from Earth, and its apparent diameter too small, for complete coverage.

"At the eclipse's peak, all that will be visible is a ring of light encircling the black disk that is the Moon," said astronomer Pascal Descamps of the Paris Observatory, in the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion to witness the event.

"That will be the magic moment," he told AFP.

Daylight should be slightly dimmed, as on a very cloudy day.

Only people along a very narrow, 100-kilometre (62-mile) band stretching across central Africa, Madagascar and Reunion will see the full effect of the ring, or annulus.

Anyone north, south, east or west of the band will see only a partial eclipse, or none at all.

The display will start at 0613 GMT in the south Atlantic, passing over Gabon, the two Congos, Tanzania and the northern tip of Mozambique and Madagascar.

Reunion island will get a good view before the eclipse ends around 1200 GMT over the Indian Ocean, said the Paris Observatory.

At the eclipse's peak, between 1008 and 1011 GMT, the Moon will cover about 94 percent of the Sun.

- Protect your eyes -

The experts warn that sunglasses offer insufficient protection for looking at the Sun, even when it is partly masked.

"Looking at the Sun without special protection, even for a few seconds, can cause irreversible damage to the retina", even blindness, said Descamps.

Special eclipse glasses can filter out the Sun's harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays.

One could also use a pinhole camera, which can be easily built at home -- basically a box with a hole on one side for light to pass through and project an inverted image on the opposite side.