China says THAAD anti-missiles ‘severely undermine’ security as Seoul picks deployment site

Preview Beijing has once again voiced strong objections to the deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea, vowing to take te “necessary” steps to maintain a strategic power balance in the region.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Beijing has once again voiced strong objections to the deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea, vowing to take te “necessary” steps to maintain a strategic power balance in the region.
Read Full Article at RT.com

‘Elevated unrest’ at Katla volcano triggers aviation alert increase in Iceland

Preview Unusual seismic unrest around Eyjafjallajokull’s neighbor Katla has forced Iceland’s Met Office to raise the aviation alert level to yellow, while the country’s Civil Defence activated a contingency plan for a possible eruption of the long “overdue” volcano.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Unusual seismic unrest around Eyjafjallajokull’s neighbor Katla has forced Iceland’s Met Office to raise the aviation alert level to yellow, while the country’s Civil Defence activated a contingency plan for a possible eruption of the long “overdue” volcano.
Read Full Article at RT.com

US clings to 5-3 Ryder Cup lead after Europe fightback

Rory McIlroy took a bow before hostile fans after completing a European fightback Friday at the Ryder Cup, but the United States still led 5-3 thanks to a foursomes sweep.The Americans, losers of three in a row and eight of the past 10 meetings in the …

Rory McIlroy took a bow before hostile fans after completing a European fightback Friday at the Ryder Cup, but the United States still led 5-3 thanks to a foursomes sweep.

The Americans, losers of three in a row and eight of the past 10 meetings in the team golf rivalry, swept the opening session for the first time since 1975 for a 4-0 morning edge at Hazeltine.

But Europe answered by taking the afternoon four-ball matches 3-1 with McIlroy sinking a dramatic eagle putt to lift the world number three and Belgium's Thomas Pieters over US Open champion Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar 3 and 2.

After sealing the victory, McIlroy turned and made several bows to the crowd before pumping his fists and sharing a victory hug with Pieters, one of six Cup newcomers on Europe's squad.

"It's pretty hostile out there, I must say," McIlroy said. "You don't want to let that get to you but you want to let them know when you hole a putt how much it means to you."

Egypt militant group claims prosecutor bombing

An Egyptian militant group said on Friday that it tried to assassinate the deputy prosecutor general with a car bomb, a day after the blast in a Cairo suburb.Police had said the Thursday night bombing had occurred as the official’s convoy drove past th…

An Egyptian militant group said on Friday that it tried to assassinate the deputy prosecutor general with a car bomb, a day after the blast in a Cairo suburb.

Police had said the Thursday night bombing had occurred as the official's convoy drove past the rigged car wounded a passerby. The prosecutor, Zakareya Azmi, was unharmed.

The Hasm group, which has claimed attacks in Cairo in recent months, said it was was behind the bombing in a statement circulated on social media.

The recently emerged group published purported pictures of the moment the bomb exploded, and threatened further attacks against "the oppresive judiciary."

The group, about which little is known, had previously claimed responsibility for killing a policeman and for the attempted assassination of a pro-government Muslim cleric.

In 2015, a car bombing killed prosecutor general Hisham Barakat. No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.

Police later said they arrested the perpetrators of the attack, charging that they were members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Hundreds of soldiers and policemen have also died in jihadist attacks since the military overthrew Morsi in 2013 and unleashed a deadly crackdown on his supporters.

Kerry laments lack of Syria options in leaked audio

Secretary of State John Kerry is frustrated that his diplomatic efforts to end Syria’s civil war were not backed up by US military force, according to a recording leaked Friday.In the audio released by the New York Times, Kerry is heard lamenting to a …

Secretary of State John Kerry is frustrated that his diplomatic efforts to end Syria's civil war were not backed up by US military force, according to a recording leaked Friday.

In the audio released by the New York Times, Kerry is heard lamenting to a group of Syrian civilians last week in New York that his call for US action against Bashar al-Assad's government fell on deaf ears.

"I think you're looking at three people, four people in the administration who have all argued for use of force, and I lost the argument," he tells the group.

"I've argued for the use of force ... but things evolved into a different process."

State Department spokesman John Kirby did not deny that the recording -- made at a private meeting in a diplomatic mission on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly -- is authentic.

"While we will decline to comment on a private conversation, Secretary Kerry was grateful for the chance to meet with this group of Syrians, to hear their concerns first hand and to express our continued focus on ending this civil war," he said.

It has been widely reported that Kerry pushed President Barack Obama to take a more robust path in Syria, to give teeth to international efforts to force Assad aside and end a civil war now heading into its sixth year.

But Washington's top diplomat has been careful to present a united front with the White House in public, even as he attempts to work with Moscow to rein in Assad's forces and build space for a political dialogue.

In August 2013, after Assad had been accused of firing chemical weapons at civilians, Kerry gave a ferocious speech that was seen as prefiguring a retaliatory US military strike -- only for Obama to back down only hours later.

Kerry refers to the speech incident in Friday's leaked recording, but blames the US Congress for refusing to vote to authorize the US military to take action against Assad.

At last week's meeting, the Syrians -- sympathizers with the rebellion against Assad -- expressed frustration that US efforts in their country are focused on fighting the Islamic State group and not on Assad or his allies.

Instead, on September 9, Kerry agreed with Assad's ally Moscow that there should be a ceasefire between the regime and the US-backed rebels. The truce came into force on September 12 but fell apart after a week.

Russia and the United States are now blaming each other for the breakdown and Assad's Russian-backed forces have launched an assault on rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

"Look, I get it," Kerry tells the incredulous Syrians.

"A lot of us wish there was an enforcement mechanism right now. A lot of us have been fighting for one, but we don't have one right now and that's set," he warned.

"We're trying to pursue the diplomacy, and I understand it's frustrating. You have nobody more frustrated than we are."

EU-Russia ExoMars mission all set to enter planetary orbit in October – Roscosmos head

Preview A joint EU-Russia project designed to search for signs of past and present life on Mars is on the verge of beginning a new stage of its mission. It will entering Mars’ orbit to map the sources of methane on the red planet, the head of Russia’s space agency said.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview A joint EU-Russia project designed to search for signs of past and present life on Mars is on the verge of beginning a new stage of its mission. It will entering Mars’ orbit to map the sources of methane on the red planet, the head of Russia’s space agency said.
Read Full Article at RT.com

‘A whole litany of violations’ in Syria

Geneva-based journalist John Zarocostas tells FRANCE 24 that while a diplomatic solution for the crisis in Syria has not advanced, reports filed at the UN have unveiled massive atrocities in the war-torn country.

Geneva-based journalist John Zarocostas tells FRANCE 24 that while a diplomatic solution for the crisis in Syria has not advanced, reports filed at the UN have unveiled massive atrocities in the war-torn country.

Get a grip — Jones gets England into judo

Eddie Jones wants his England team to get a grip so he will bring in a group of judo experts to freshen up their tackling techniques ahead of the November Tests.The 56-year-old, who has guided England to a Six Nations Grand Slam and 3-0 series win over…

Eddie Jones wants his England team to get a grip so he will bring in a group of judo experts to freshen up their tackling techniques ahead of the November Tests.

The 56-year-old, who has guided England to a Six Nations Grand Slam and 3-0 series win over his native Australia in his short spell in charge, believes the ancient Japanese martial art can be a useful tool in rugby.

A visit to the British judo training base in Wolverhampton, central England, where he met former world champion Kate Howey, made a big impression on the Australian.

"We've got a couple of people coming from judo, coming down to the Brighton training camp," said Jones on Friday as he named his sqaud for November clashes against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia.

"One of the things that really came out of the Australia tour is that we need to work on our grappling area at the tackle. So we've got some judo coaches coming in."

‘Brangelina’ reach stop-gap deal over kids

Angelina Jolie has reached a temporary agreement with Brad Pitt giving her custody of their six children and granting him visiting rights, reports said on Friday. Several celebrity gossip outlets reported that the divorcing couple were persuaded to ag…

Angelina Jolie has reached a temporary agreement with Brad Pitt giving her custody of their six children and granting him visiting rights, reports said on Friday.

Several celebrity gossip outlets reported that the divorcing couple were persuaded to agree to the detente by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

Both will get one-on-one counseling while Pitt has to undergo drug and alcohol testing, TMZ said, despite already voluntarily submitting to a test which came back negative.

Jolie will have physical custody of the six children -- three of whom are adopted -- while Pitt gets a first visit under the supervision of a therapist who will decide how to proceed in the coming weeks.

"This is a completely voluntary agreement, and it is not an order or a mandate of any kind, nor is it any determination of custody," entertainment website People quoted an unnamed source as saying.

It said the plan was effective up until October 20 and that the children would remain with Jolie at a rented LA house.

Jolie, 41, filed for divorce on September 19 citing irreconcilable differences and seeking permanent custody of their children.

The A-listers -- given the celebrity monicker "Brangelina" -- wed in France in August two years ago, but had been a couple since 2004.

The FBI has said it is gathering information before deciding whether to launch a federal probe into an alleged incident on a plane carrying Pitt and his children back from vacation in France.

It has not offered any details of the allegations but several US media outlets reported that Pitt had been involved in an angry outburst with at least one of his children.

Multimedia celebrity news organization "Entertainment Tonight" said Thursday's team had brought in well-known crisis manager Judy Smith -- who was the inspiration for Kerry Washington's character on "Scandal."

Pitt, meanwhile, hired a New York-based strategic communications firm, along with Beverly Hills divorce attorney Lance Spiegel, whose past clients include Eva Longoria, ET reported.

Representatives for the couple as well as the Children and Family services department did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Credit US Ryder Cup revamp with rare session sweep

More careful planning and greater input from players might just have been the magic touch the United States needed to break Europe’s domination of the Ryder Cup.The Americans pulled off a rare 4-0 sweep over Europe in Friday morning alternate shot four…

More careful planning and greater input from players might just have been the magic touch the United States needed to break Europe's domination of the Ryder Cup.

The Americans pulled off a rare 4-0 sweep over Europe in Friday morning alternate shot foursomes matches to seize command of the 41st team golf matches at Hazeltine.

"The guys just played some incredible golf," Mickelson said. "There were some really spectacular shots hit this morning. It was fun to be a part of that."

It was only the ninth 4-0 session sweep in Ryder Cup history, with the whitewashing team becoming the eventual trophy taker each time.

Mickelson, a 46-year-old US left-hander on his record-tying 11th Ryder Cup team, and Rickie Fowler were both on the US Ryder Cup task force formed after a woeful 2014 flop at Gleneagles.

"Given the buildup over the last couple years, the criticism, the comments, what have you, the pressure was greater than I've ever felt," Mickelson said.

"I could have copped out and asked to sit. That would have been a weak move. I wanted to get out there. I enjoy that pressure."

So he and Fowler captured three of the last four holes for a 1-up victory over Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan. That completed the first US sweep of an opening session since 1975, when the team captain was Arnold Palmer, the iconic figure who died Sunday at 87.

"With everything going on, me not having a point and Phil being a big part of getting this task force and getting the players a lot more involved and getting everyone on the same page, to Arnie passing and him being a huge part of this week, this is big for us this morning," Fowler said.

A 12-member committee took a page from Europe's book and worked on small details with advice from players to produce an improved effort.

"The preparation -- we were all put in a position to prepare the same way we would have for a major championship," Mickelson said.

"The variables were removed, which allowed me to practice and prepare properly. Those little things allowed us to play some of our best golf."

Momentum built early as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed beat Olympic champion Justin Rose and British Open winner Henrik Stenson 3 and 2 in a matchup of unbeaten duos from 2014.

The American duo never trailed and neither did US Open champion Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar in beating Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters 5 and 4.

"We all kind of sensed, had a good feeling heading into today, that the morning was going to go well," Mickelson said. "We didn't know it would go that well, but we knew we were going to have a good morning."

- Confidence breeds momentum -

Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker beat Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer 4 and 2 by winning the final five holes.

"Once you see some red up there and see positives outside of your own group, there's a confidence that comes from that and confidence breeds momentum. That's just what we witnessed this morning," Zach Johnson said.

"We're not shocked by the morning outcome. However, if it didn't end up like that, trust would not have wavered. We would have gotten back out and fought."

And as Fowler noted, that's what Europe will do, the Cup far from decided simply because the USA managed its best start in 41 years.

"They are going to come back," Fowler said. "We're going to have to keep fighting."

Jones open to extending England deal

Eddie Jones said Friday he was prepared to consider staying on as England coach beyond the 2019 World Cup in Japan.The Australian signed a four-year deal when appointed as England’s first overseas boss in November following the then hosts’ first-round …

Eddie Jones said Friday he was prepared to consider staying on as England coach beyond the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The Australian signed a four-year deal when appointed as England's first overseas boss in November following the then hosts' first-round exit at last year's World Cup.

That tournament saw Jones guide Japan to a stunning win over South Africa, arguably the greatest upset in the history of international rugby union.

When he got the England job, Jones said that when his contract was up he would retire to Barbados to watch cricket.

But the 56-year-old indicated Friday he was prepared to put those plans on hold following a brilliant start to his reign as England coach.

England have won all nine Tests they've played under Jones, a sequence that includes a Six Nations Grand Slam and a 3-0 series win in Australia.

But Jones, always keen to learn from other sports, was taking nothing for granted as he cited the example of Jose Mourinho whose reign at Manchester United has endured a rocky start.

"In terms of what happens to me, it's not my decision. If we don't deliver, the only thing they'll be asking me is what time does your flight leave," Jones told reporters at Twickenham on Friday.

"If we do well then there will be a discussion and if we do well the discussion will take place after we do well.

"At this stage I have a plan in place which is to give everything I've got for England over the next four years."

- 'High stocks' -

Jones, Australia's coach when England beat them in the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney, added: "It's very flattering that people even talk about it, but these things run their natural course.

"Look at Jose Mourinho after three games. Everyone thought he was going to change Manchester United.

"Two games later they're saying he's made all these mistakes. That's the life we live and I understand that.

"When you win games your stocks are pretty high, but if we lose against South Africa (England's next opponents when they begin their end of year campaign at Twickenham on November 12) people will be saying 'why have we employed this Australian?' and there won't be any discussion about 2019."

With James Haskell sidelined by foot surgery and set to miss the visit of the Springboks as well as matches against Fiji, Argentina and Australia on successive weekends at Twickenham, Jones is set to have to field a new openside flanker.

The uncapped duo of Sam Jones (Wasps) and Mike Williams (Leicester) are vying for the role and Jones, in another sign of his openness to outside influences, has some special exercises planned for the duo and the rest of a 37-man training squad that will meet up in the south coast town of Brighton this weekend.

A visit to the British judo training base in Wolverhampton, central England, where he met former world champion Kate Howey, made a big impression on Jones.

"We've got a couple of people coming from judo, coming down to the Brighton camp," said Jones.

"One of the things that really came out of the Australia tour is that we need to work on our grappling area at the tackle.

"So we've got some judo coaches coming in."

‘US had never had ‘Plan A’ for Syria, West a root cause of crisis’ – Syrian UN envoy to RT

Preview Washington never had a so-called ‘Plan A’ to resolve the Syrian crisis, Syrian envoy to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari told RT, adding that the West is one of the root causes of the Syrian war.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Washington never had a so-called ‘Plan A’ to resolve the Syrian crisis, Syrian envoy to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari told RT, adding that the West is one of the root causes of the Syrian war.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Baffling and appalling: Jewish groups lash out at Philippine leader Duterte over Hitler remark

Comments made by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte comparing himself to Adolf Hitler have drawn widespread condemnation, with Jewish groups slamming the remarks as baffling and revolting. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Comments made by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte comparing himself to Adolf Hitler have drawn widespread condemnation, with Jewish groups slamming the remarks as baffling and revolting.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Lukaku, Benteke strike as Everton, Palace draw

Goals by Belgian international strikers Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke saw Everton and Crystal Palace draw 1-1 in their Premier League clash on Friday.Lukaku struck with his fifth of the season in the first-half before Benteke, who endured a disap…

Goals by Belgian international strikers Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke saw Everton and Crystal Palace draw 1-1 in their Premier League clash on Friday.

Lukaku struck with his fifth of the season in the first-half before Benteke, who endured a disappointing spell at Liverpool before moving to Palace in the summer, levelled with a superb header in the second-half.

The draw was enough for Everton to put an end to a two-match losing run in all competitions and lift them up to third whilst Palace -- who have not lost at Goodison since 2005 -- remain seventh after extending their unbeaten run to four games.

Everton made a bright start to the match forcing Palace to concede several corners in quick succession with Yannick Bolasie torturing his former team-mates with some deft footwork down the left flank.

However, it took till the 19th minute for the hosts to force a save from Palace keeper Steve Mandanda, Lukaku firing straight at him.

Lukaku, though, broke the deadlock in the 36th minute, curling a pearler of a free-kick over the Palace wall, leaving Mandanda rooted to the spot for his fifth of the season.

The free-kick had been awarded in controversial circumstances as there was a suspicion Everton defender Phil Jagielka handled the ball before Palace's veteran captain Damien Delaney raised his boot too high in the challenge.

Four minutes into the second-half Palace were level as Benteke produced a superb header, from Joel Ward's cross, to beat Maarten Stekelenburg for his third of the campaign.

Everton stormed back almost immediately and a wonderful piece of skill by Bolasie teed up Idrissa Gueye but he fluffed his lines as Martin Kelly blocked his goalbound shot.

The visitors thought they had taken the lead when Delaney, making his 600th league appearance, had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside although the scorer did not appear to be in an offside position.

A pulsating match then saw Gareth Barry's flicked header cleared off the line by Palace defender Jason Puncheon.

Palace came back at Everton and James Tomkins was presented with a great chance but his header was gathered by Stekelenburg.

Hurricane Matthew powers to Category 4 major storm: US

Hurricane Matthew rapidly gained power Friday, escalating to a powerful Category 4 storm as it moved over the open Caribbean south of Jamaica, US forecasters said.A hurricane watch was issued for Jamaica due to the approaching storm, and forecasters wa…

Hurricane Matthew rapidly gained power Friday, escalating to a powerful Category 4 storm as it moved over the open Caribbean south of Jamaica, US forecasters said.

A hurricane watch was issued for Jamaica due to the approaching storm, and forecasters warned of tropical storm conditions for Haiti and Cuba in the next two days.

Packing wind speeds of 140 miles (220 kilometers) per hour, the storm moved in a western direction about 465 miles southeast of Jamaica.

"Some additional strengthening is possible tonight," said the National Hurricane Center.

"Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through Sunday."

The hurricane watch issued for Jamaica indicates that hurricane conditions are possible in the next 48 hours.

Crisis-hit Socialists prepare for leadership showdown

Spain’s crisis-hit Socialists geared up for a key meeting on Saturday that could help end the country’s prolonged political deadlock and decide the fate of embattled party leader Pedro Sanchez.The roughly 300 members of the party’s federal committee –…

Spain's crisis-hit Socialists geared up for a key meeting on Saturday that could help end the country's prolonged political deadlock and decide the fate of embattled party leader Pedro Sanchez.

The roughly 300 members of the party's federal committee -- its de-facto parliament -- have been summoned to the Socialist headquarters in Madrid for a showdown between allies of Sanchez and opponents who want him out.

The outcome could see the party lift its veto on a new government led by acting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a move that would be key in unblocking Spain's nine-month political paralysis.

Since December 2015, the country has been without a fully-functioning executive as rivals fail to agree on a government following two elections in which none of the main parties won an absolute majority.

Even Rajoy, whose Popular Party won both elections though without enough seats to rule alone, was forced into negotiating a minority government which was voted down in parliament earlier this month.

"Tomorrow's federal committee meeting faces a decisive debate," Sanchez told reporters Friday evening, his face sombre as he made his first public appearance since senior party members tried to oust him on Wednesday.

The Socialist Party (PSOE) has for months been wracked by internal dissent, with Sanchez's opponents unhappy with his leadership during Spain's protracted political stalemate and with the grouping's dismal results at both general elections and weekend regional polls.

Internal tensions boiled over into open warfare after 17 members of the party's 35-strong executive quit together on Wednesday in a bid to force Sanchez out.

- Hints at resignation -

His detractors want the PSOE to use the 85 parliamentary seats it won in June polls to help unblock the national deadlock and allow a rightwing government led by Rajoy through by abstaining in a vote of confidence, rather than voting against as it did earlier this month.

The PSOE's place is "in the opposition," said Socialist lawmaker Eduardo Madina who opposes Sanchez.

But Sanchez is resolutely against letting Rajoy rule for another term, pointing to repeated corruption scandals hitting the PP and inequalities sparked by years of crisis-triggered austerity.

"Spain doesn't deserve another four years of Mariano Rajoy at the head of the Spanish government -- four more years with a prime minister who has systematically lied to Spanish society," he said Friday.

This fundamental divergence in views is what will be at stake in Saturday's meeting.

Sanchez hinted he would step down if a majority of those at the federal committee came out against his vision of what direction the party should take -- in other words if they favoured abstaining.

"Obviously I could not put into practice a decision that I don't agree with," he said.

If his critics get their way and he quits, an interim leadership will be appointed which would likely direct the Socialists to abstain if Rajoy decided to go for another vote of confidence, thus unblocking the situation and avoiding a third round of elections.

If Sanchez wins, though, he will press ahead with his plans to appeal directly to grassroots members by calling primary elections on October 23 to elect a new leadership, and the future would be a lot more uncertain.

Spain's parliament has until October 31 to produce a government or new elections will be called in December -- the third in a year.

Texans confirm Watt out for season

Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien confirmed Friday that injured defensive star J.J. Watt would miss the rest of the season after undergoing back surgery.Watt underwent surgery on Thursday after consulting a specialist, having been placed on injure…

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien confirmed Friday that injured defensive star J.J. Watt would miss the rest of the season after undergoing back surgery.

Watt underwent surgery on Thursday after consulting a specialist, having been placed on injured reserve a day earlier.

The 27-year-old has injured the same disc which was operated on in July and forced him to miss the preseason.

O'Brien said Friday he had not seen Watt since his surgery.

"I haven't seen him, I'm sure he's doing well," O'Brien told reporters, confirming the player would miss the rest of the season.

In a heartfelt social media post on Wednesday, Watt vowed he was determined to return.

"Everybody deals with adversity in their lives, many much worse than what I'm going through," he said.

"I look forward to the fight back to the top and to the next time that I can step back on that field with my brothers to play the game that I love before the best fans in the world and I promise to continue to do everything in my power to make you proud."

The Texans have agreed a deal with defensive end Antonio Smith as cover for Watt, who made only eight tackles and 1.5 sacks in three games this season.

Israeli stabbed, Palestinian attacker killed: police

A member of the Israeli security forces was stabbed and seriously injured Friday in the West Bank town of Qalandia, a police spokeswoman said, adding that the Palestinian attacker was then gunned down.The 28-year-old attacker, a Jerusalem native, appro…

A member of the Israeli security forces was stabbed and seriously injured Friday in the West Bank town of Qalandia, a police spokeswoman said, adding that the Palestinian attacker was then gunned down.

The 28-year-old attacker, a Jerusalem native, approached an Israeli checkpoint and stabbed a member of the security forces, who was rushed to hospital. Fellow security forces members then shot the Palestinian dead, police said.

Willett heckled during opening round of Ryder Cup

Reigning Masters champion Danny Willett teed off at the Ryder Cup Friday to a stream of catcalls from hecklers upset over his brother’s insults to American golf fans.There was a chorus of boos from US fans when he was introduced on the first tee. Other…

Reigning Masters champion Danny Willett teed off at the Ryder Cup Friday to a stream of catcalls from hecklers upset over his brother's insults to American golf fans.

There was a chorus of boos from US fans when he was introduced on the first tee. Others yelled "mash potatoes" and "buy you a hotdog" followed by chants of his brother Peter's name.

Englishman Willett did his best to tune out the background noise as he played a four-ball match with Team Europe partner Martin Kaymer against the US duo of Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka.

Despite the jeers and boos coming from the jammed grandstand, Willett calmly stepped up to the opening tee box and blasted his first drive down the middle of the fairway.

He then silenced the crowd around the green when he drained a 30-foot putt on his first hole for an opening birdie.

The controversy began when Pete Willett called US golf fans "fat, stupid, greedy, classless bastards" and a "baying mob of imbeciles" in an article on a European golf website.

The 28-year-old Danny Willett apologized for his brother's rant after learning about it on Wednesday.

Willett's wife, Nicole, followed her husband around the course Friday from inside the ropes and didn't like some of what she was hearing.

She declined to speak about the matter, saying "I am rather upset".

Not all US supporters were out to jeer Willett on Friday. A group of fans wearing hockey jerseys and Viking horns made a point of telling the grandstand hecklers to keep quiet and on the third tee another American spectator yelled "We love you Danny."

Willett is making his Ryder Cup debut after capturing his first major crown at the Masters, aided by a back-nine collapse from leader Jordan Spieth.

Willett, who also won at Dubai in February, was the first European in 17 years to win at Augusta National.

Pacifist Noah skips military dinner

French star Joakim Noah opted to skip a New York Knicks training camp dinner held with US Army cadets at the West Point military academy, saying it clashed with his pacifist beliefs, reports said Friday. Noah, who joined the Knicks this summer, said he…

French star Joakim Noah opted to skip a New York Knicks training camp dinner held with US Army cadets at the West Point military academy, saying it clashed with his pacifist beliefs, reports said Friday.

Noah, who joined the Knicks this summer, said he felt uncomfortable about attending the dinner held on Thursday at West Point where the NBA team is holding its pre-season training camp.

The 31-year-old star, who has both US and French citizenship, also did not attend a speech given by a retired Army Colonel, the New York Daily News said.

"It's hard for me a little bit. I have a lot of respect for the kids who are out here fighting. But it's hard for me to understand why we have to go to war, why kids have to kill kids around the world," Noah told the paper.

"So I have mixed feelings about being here. I'm very proud of this country. I love America but I just don't understand kids killing kids around the world."

Noah stressed he was not making an anti-military statement.

"I'm not anti-troops. It's just not comfortable for me to see kids going to war and coming back having seen what they?ve seen and done what they?ve done. It's sad for me. They're just sent out for things that are - I don?t really want to get into it, to be honest with you. It?s just hard for me."

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said Noah had been granted permission to miss the dinner.

"That's his right. He wants to be a part of the team group and do everything the team is doing. He just didn't feel comfortable," Hornacek said.

"We're not going to pressure him into doing that."

Noah, the son of French tennis great Yannick, said he was similarly unenthused by demonstrations of nationalistic pride in sport.

"I'm not a very patriotic person, to be honest," Noah said.

"I don't understand the whole flags, supporting flags. I'm more into supporting people."

US: Talks with Russia on Syria ‘on life support’

Two days after threatening to suspend talks with Russia on the crisis in Syria, the United States confirmed Friday that negotiations continue but insisted they are “on life support.”US Secretary of State John Kerry called Russia’s Foreign Minister Serg…

Two days after threatening to suspend talks with Russia on the crisis in Syria, the United States confirmed Friday that negotiations continue but insisted they are "on life support."

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the third day in a row, but received no sign that Moscow is ready to halt the Syrian regime's assault on Aleppo.

On Thursday, amid much criticism at home and abroad that the threat to break off US-Russian bilateral talks on Syria was hollow, Kerry insisted that he was "on the verge" of ending them.

And that's where matters remained 24 hours later, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, while introducing a new metaphor to describe how close the rival capitals are to a rupture.

"This is on life support, but it has not flatlined yet," he told reporters when asked why Kerry believes it is worthwhile to keep the diplomatic channel open while Russian jets pound Aleppo.

"It's egregious, it's horrific, it's in clear violation of international standards or norms, humanitarian norms and international law," Toner said.

And he agreed that "at a certain point" Washington would have to look again "to see if it becomes futile to continue to believe in a diplomatic process."

"That said, I just can't definitively say we're there at that point yet. We're very close but we're not there yet."

Earlier, Lavrov had hit out in an interview with the BBC, suggesting Washington may be trying to protect jihadist rebels from assault in order to later use them against Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Toner dismissed this charge out of hand. "It left me shaking my head, he said. "It's absurd."

A short-lived truce brokered by Moscow and Washington earlier this month fell apart as both sides blamed each other for its failure.

Moscow has since been accused of indiscriminately bombing rebel-held eastern Aleppo in support of an assault by Syrian government troops aiming capture all of the country's second city.

Comic writer confirms Wonder Woman is ‘queer’

The writer of the Wonder Woman comic series has confirmed the superhero is bisexual, putting an end to a long held debate on whether she’d had relationships with other women.Speculation has been rife for many years over the sexuality of the Amazonian p…

The writer of the Wonder Woman comic series has confirmed the superhero is bisexual, putting an end to a long held debate on whether she'd had relationships with other women.

Speculation has been rife for many years over the sexuality of the Amazonian princess, who hails from the island Themyscira, which is populated solely by female warriors.

Although she becomes romantically involved with a man who washes up on the island, storylines over the years have implied, if not explicitly stated, that she has also been in love with women.

Greg Rucka, who returned to DC Comics this year to craft the "Rebirth" series commemorating Wonder Woman's 75th year in print, told the Comicosity news website Wonder Woman was "queer."

The word -- which has several definitions -- was defined by the interviewer as "involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender."

"When you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is 'how can they not all be in same sex relationships?' right? It makes no logical sense otherwise," said Rucka, who worked on the character throughout the 2000s.

"You're supposed to be able... to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women. But an Amazon doesn't look at another Amazon and say, 'You're gay.' They don't. The concept doesn't exist."

The announcement was mostly welcomed as good news on social media, although not all fans were happy.

"I just found out some people are actually upset Wonder Woman is queer. As if -- what -- you're paranoid Wonder Woman might not date you?" tweeted Mike Drucker, a television comedy writer.

There were no clues to Wonder Woman's bisexuality when Warner Bros screened the first trailer for the upcoming standalone "Wonder Woman" at San Diego Comic-Con in July.

The Amazonian heroine, played by Gal Gadot, is seen leaning over soldier Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) after he has washed up on her island.

"You're a man?" she asks him, and he replies: "Yeah, do I not look like one?"

"Wonder Woman" is scheduled to hit theaters on June 2, 2017, focusing on a character who was introduced earlier this year in the widely-panned "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."

Celebrities bet on UFC investment

UFC, the US-based mixed martial arts juggernaut, said Friday that more than 20 top celebrities from the worlds of sports and entertainment have piled in as investors.Among the league’s new investors are tennis star sisters Serena and Venus Williams, as…

UFC, the US-based mixed martial arts juggernaut, said Friday that more than 20 top celebrities from the worlds of sports and entertainment have piled in as investors.

Among the league's new investors are tennis star sisters Serena and Venus Williams, as well as Maria Sharapova; actors Sylvester Stallone and Ben Affleck, and Canadian singer Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye, UFC said in a statement.

Money reportedly has been pouring in for the fast-growing UFC, whose bloody cage-fights were once equated with cockfights.

UFC produces more than 40 live events a year that are broadcast in over 156 countries and territories.

Contacted by AFP, Ultimate Fighting Championship declined to give details about the amount of each new investment or the size of the share holding.

The batch of investments came less than three months after UFC was bought by a group led by US talent agency William Morris Endeavor-International Marketing Group.

UFC did not disclose the price, but US media said it was $4 billion.

Involved in the WME-IMG acquisition in July were Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), MSD Partners and MSD Capital. The latter two are investment vehicles for entrepreneur Michael Dell.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, WME-IMG remains the majority stakeholder in the organization.

WME-IMG bought the organization from brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, who had bought it for $2 million in 2001.

UFC does not publish its financial details, but Lorenzo Fertitta said last year that it had $600 million in revenues in 2015.

UFC fighters battle in an Octagon, an eight-sided 750-square-foot (70-square-meter) cage.

The fighters, gloved and barefoot, are allowed to combine techniques from different forms of martial arts, but rules try to limit serious injury.

After years of being banned, mixed martial arts fights are allowed in the state of New York. The UFC's first match in Madison Square Garden in New York City is set for November 12.

Chiuri raises banner of feminism in first Dior show

She is the first woman ever to lead the legendary French fashion house of Dior. And Maria Grazia Chiuri did not take her rendezvous with history lightly.In her first show for the label, she went into battle in Paris on Friday under the banner: “We shou…

She is the first woman ever to lead the legendary French fashion house of Dior.

And Maria Grazia Chiuri did not take her rendezvous with history lightly.

In her first show for the label, she went into battle in Paris on Friday under the banner: "We should all be feminists."

In the high point so far of Paris fashion week, the Italian designer -- who wore a Superman necklace for the occasion -- dressed her female models as if preparing mediaeval knights for a joust with destiny.

A short-haired waif in a white fencing suit, a "beating heart" sown on her chest, led out the procession of bare black and white pieces that looked like armoured underwear.

The line of biker jackets and leather breastplates ended in a plain white T-shirt declaring, "We should all be feminists."

Another would later carry the slogan, "Dior(e)volution" -- hinting that the "safe pair of hands" who took over the leaderless label in the summer would also be flexing her muscles.

It was the first of many surprises from a designer who at Valentino developed a line in romantically austere mediaeval-inspired dresses, somewhere between "Game of Thrones" and Italian Renaissance portraits.

As her debut show went on, the looks became more elaborate, with Chiuri layering on embroidered tarot, star sign and protective talismans onto transparent lingerie dresses.

- 'Sexual beings' -

"We teach girls they cannot be sexual beings like boys can," a voice intoned critically over the music as a model in black underwear with another red heart on her breast swept by, a silver embroidered sword running the length of her see-through skirt.

Another particularly romantic tulle dress had two golden hands reaching up to hold up the wearer's heart.

With the cheers of a standing ovation still ringing in her ears, Chiuri, 52, said the show was a cry for equality.

"I am introducing a completely different point of view because I am a woman," she told AFP.

"I have a son and a daughter. I want that they have the same opportunities in life... A lot of people believe that speaking about equality is not essential (anymore). But we have to speak about it because at the moment I am not sure everybody believes in it.

"Sometimes women use more the heart and not the head. They need to balance them."

Chiuri also defended bring back simple T-shirts, and "J'adore Dior" slogans on straps and belts in a collection that in other ways was almost haute couture in its sumptuous detailing.

- 'Sex in the City' -

"If you think about Dior you also think about Sarah Jessica Parker and 'Sex and the City' and the T-shirt 'J'adore Dior'," she said. "I am sure [the brand's founder Christian] Dior did not do that.

"Why should we lose that part of our heritage and only speak about Mr Dior? My reference is not only Mr Dior because he worked in the house for only 10 years."

She then namechecked John Galliano -- who led the label for 12 years -- and who was dramatically sacked from Dior in 2011 after an anti-Semitic tirade, calling him "a huge reference".

With the singer Rihanna, actress Natalie Portman and Marion Cotillard and former French first lady Carla Bruno in the front row, Chiuri said that "Dior believed fashion was both evolution and revolution. I started this story and I hope in the future I can tell more of it."

She has also prominently reintroduced the label's golden bee motif.

Having secured far more control over the brand than her predecessor Raf Simons, Chiuri laughed off the idea that she was now queen bee.

"The bee motif comes from Mr Dior. It is the Napoleon bee, but at the same time it comes from (ancient) Rome," which also happens to be Chiuri's home town.

Pakistan urges UN chief to act to defuse Kashmir tensions

Pakistan urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday to personally intervene to help defuse rising tensions with India over disputed Kashmir.”This is a dangerous moment for the region,” Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told AFP after meeting wi…

Pakistan urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday to personally intervene to help defuse rising tensions with India over disputed Kashmir.

"This is a dangerous moment for the region," Pakistan's Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told AFP after meeting with Ban at UN headquarters in New York.

"The time has come for bold intervention by him if we are to avoid a crisis, because we can see a crisis building up."

Tensions between the two arch rivals have been boiling since the Indian government accused Pakistan-based militants of launching an assault on an army base in Kashmir earlier this month that killed 18 soldiers.

Lodhi accused India of creating "conditions that pose a threat to regional and international peace and security."

The United Nations has urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint after New Delhi carried out a series of strikes inside Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to specify what action Ban might take, but he said that the UN chief "would welcome all proposals" or initiatives aimed at de-escalation.

Ban is following the situation "with great concern," said Dujarric, citing the escalating rhetoric between the two countries and the increased tensions along the line of control separating Kashmir between Pakistani- and Indian-controlled areas.

A UN military observer mission (UNMOGIP) is looking into reports of ceasefire violations along the line of control and will report to Ban, he added.

"UNMOGIP has not directly observed any firing across the line of control related to the latest incident," he added.

- As dangerous as it gets -

The Pakistani ambassador said she had suggested to Ban that plans for a visit to India and Pakistan expected in November could be brought forward to avert a crisis.

Lodhi also met this week with the current Security Council president, New Zealand Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, to ask that the top UN body keep a close eye on developments.

"This is a crisis between two nuclear neighbors. This is as dangerous as it gets," said Lodhi.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain seven decades ago, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India has accused Pakistan of harboring militants and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj used her address at the General Assembly earlier this week to call on countries to isolate Pakistan over its alleged ties to terror groups.

Lodhi however dismissed those calls, saying it was "delusional" to think that Pakistan as a "strategic country" can be isolated.

The Indian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

Premier League corruption claims a lie, says agent

One of the agents caught on film making sensational revelations of corruption against eight current and former English Premier League managers admitted to the BBC on Friday that he had lied.Italian agent Giuseppe Pagliara, who claimed he opened Swiss b…

One of the agents caught on film making sensational revelations of corruption against eight current and former English Premier League managers admitted to the BBC on Friday that he had lied.

Italian agent Giuseppe Pagliara, who claimed he opened Swiss bank accounts for managers and worked through intermediaries to cover the illegal payments, said he had hoped to pick up business in a series of meetings with the representatives of a fake Far East company, who were in fact undercover reporters.

"I allowed them to believe the managers would not drop the money on the floor if I gave it to them," he told the BBC.

Pagliara, who still insisted nevertheless there was corruption in the English game, added his life had been ruined by what he termed the "disgraceful sting".

The Daily Telegraph, whose investigation claimed the scalp of England manager Sam Allardyce on Tuesday over his remarks on third-party ownership, stood by their investigation.

"Our investigations team had numerous meetings and telephone conversations with Mr Pagliara over many months," read the newspaper's statement.

"The transcripts of our investigation, which are currently being prepared for the police and the FA (Football Association), make it very clear what he said about a series of Premier League managers."

The other two agents who were also fooled into believing they were talking to potential clients have not added anything since their initial reactions to the allegations.

Scott McGarvey denied any wrongdoing while Dax Price said he would not respond to the investigation without further detail.

Allardyce was also filmed negotiating lucrative speaking engagements in Asia and making damaging remarks about the FA and his predecessor Roy Hodgson.

The 61-year-old was axed just 67 days into the job as England manager, after he and the FA agreed his position had become untenable.

Chinese yuan set to join IMF’s elite currency basket

China’s yuan is poised to enter the International Monetary Fund’s elite SDR basket of currencies, elevating Beijing’s banknotes into a family long exclusive to global reserve assets.A symbolic coup for policymakers in Beijing, the move represents a mil…

China's yuan is poised to enter the International Monetary Fund's elite SDR basket of currencies, elevating Beijing's banknotes into a family long exclusive to global reserve assets.

A symbolic coup for policymakers in Beijing, the move represents a milestone in raising the economic profile and prestige of China, the world's second-largest economy, and the success of a long-running effort by the People's Bank of China.

The move will formally occur Saturday, with the yuan's induction following a decision first announced in November last year, when the IMF found that China's currency met the standard of being "freely usable." The yuan now joins a club also comprising the US dollar, pound, yen and euro.

In an announcing the change, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday that the inclusion of the yuan, also known as the renminbi or "people's currency," showed China's improved stewardship of its economy.

"The renminbi's inclusion reflects the progress made in reforming China's monetary, foreign exchange and financial systems and acknowledges the advances made in liberalizing and improving the infrastructure of its financial markets," she said.

- Halting liberalization -

Beijing has moved haltingly in recent years to expand use of the yuan, which has doubled its share of global currency trading to an average daily turnover of $202 billion since 2013.

The yuan has moved into the top 10 but still trails the other major currencies, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

Created in the 1960s, the "Special Drawing Right" is a unit of account used by the International Monetary Fund as a foreign exchange reserve asset and is not a freely traded currency. To help manage financial crises, the Fund issues loans to member countries denominated in SDRs.

Some analysts were not ready to describe the yuan as a reserve currency simply because of its entry into the SDR basket.

"It's not that significant in terms of actual initial impact, it's more symbolic. Obviously for China," said Mitul Kotech of Barclays, calling it "a step towards the currency becoming eventually a major reserve.?

Chinese authorities have progressively allowed the yuan to trade directly against other major currencies, adding the pound and euro in 2014. That year, Beijing asked for the yuan to be included the SDR basket.

In August of last year, China suddenly devalued the yuan, causing investors to dump the currency in volumes not seen since 1994 and sparking an outflow of capital from China. The yuan has fallen 8 percent against the US dollar over the last two years.

- Yuan demand could rise -

The SDR inclusion could push central banks and sovereign funds to diversify further by increasing their yuan holdings, according to Dariusz Kowalczyk of Credit Agricole.

"This is because there is a strong correlation between a currency's weight in the basket and its share in global FX reserve allocation, and because of the attractiveness of China government bonds," he said.

The yuan enters the SDR basket with a weight of 10.92 percent, versus 41.73 percent for the dollar and 8.33 percent for the yen.

However Julian Evans-Pritchard, a China specialist at Capital Economics, said the yuan's inclusion was not likely to drive foreign demand for it.

"Contrary to what many seem to believe, this does not require that IMF members shift out of euro, yen and sterling assets into renminbi assets. Instead, it simply means that the renminbi exchange rate will begin to influence the value of SDRs," he said.

"In practice, what determines whether central banks consider a currency a reserve asset is their confidence that they can sell that asset whenever needed into deep and liquid markets. Central banks are likely to come to their own judgement," he added.

3 Japanese governors don ‘pregnancy’ vests urging men to help at home (VIDEO)

Preview In a bid to learn about the “hardships” of being a woman, three Japanese governors put on special “pregnancy” vests and shot a video of themselves taking up daily activities. The move is part of a campaign which urges men to take up more chores at home.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview In a bid to learn about the “hardships” of being a woman, three Japanese governors put on special “pregnancy” vests and shot a video of themselves taking up daily activities. The move is part of a campaign which urges men to take up more chores at home.
Read Full Article at RT.com

UN opens probe into Syria aid convoy attack

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday announced he is setting up a board of inquiry to investigate the bombing of an aid convoy in Syria last week that killed 18 people.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday announced he is setting up a board of inquiry to investigate the bombing of an aid convoy in Syria last week that killed 18 people.

EU ‘cautiously optimistic’ on global pact to curb aviation emissions

Negotiations for a freeze, or even a reduction, in greenhouse gas emissions from civil aviation are making progress, Europe’s transport commissioner said Friday, adding she is feeling “cautiously optimistic.” The International Civil Aviation Organizati…

Negotiations for a freeze, or even a reduction, in greenhouse gas emissions from civil aviation are making progress, Europe's transport commissioner said Friday, adding she is feeling "cautiously optimistic."

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN agency, opened its triennial assembly in Montreal on Tuesday and is meeting there until October 7, with a climate-centered agenda.

"After four days of discussions," said EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc.

"I am pleased with the positive momentum emerging from ICAO's Assembly, and cautiously optimistic that there will be a positive outcome," the Slovenian EU commissioner said.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation sector are not part of the Paris accord (COP21) aimed at limiting the global temperature rise to +2 degrees Celsius -- or if possible +1.5 degrees -- by 2050 compared to the pre-industrial era.

The 191 member states are seeking agreement on a proposed global mechanism of compensation for international aviation emissions. It goes by the name of CORSIA, or the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.

The objective is to ensure that the volume of aviation emissions in 2035 is no higher, and hopefully lower, than the 2019 and 2020 levels.

To date, 63 nations representing 84 percent of aviation traffic -- including the biggest polluters such as the European Union, the United States and China -- have agreed to take part in this system starting in 2021, according to the ICAO.

"There are still some open issues that need to be solved for all states to be onboard," Bulc said. She said the 28-member EU would "continue to defend the current text, in order to prevent further weakening" of the proposed measure.

A source close to the discussions told AFP that informal talks were under way to address the final differences, stressing that Latin American and African countries were expressing "considerable" support for the proposal.

"Without an effective market-based measure to reduce aviation emissions, it will be impossible to keep temperatures within 1.5 degrees as we all agreed to do in Paris," said Mike Halferty, transport minister of the Marshall Islands, whose Pacific Ocean territory is threatened by rising sea levels.

"This is why I have personally made the long journey here to help fight for this measure."

He added: "We simply cannot afford to wait another three years for the aviation sector to take action."

Disgruntled customer runs amok at Apple store in France

French prosecutors said Friday they would seek a fast-track trial against a young man — apparently an unsatisfied customer — who ran amok in an Apple store, smashing phones and tablets with a metal ball.The scene, captured on camera and posted on the…

French prosecutors said Friday they would seek a fast-track trial against a young man -- apparently an unsatisfied customer -- who ran amok in an Apple store, smashing phones and tablets with a metal ball.

The scene, captured on camera and posted on the Internet, has gone viral in France.

In it, the man walks into the store in a shopping mall in Dijon, central-eastern France, and pounds the screens of Apple products with a heavy fist-sized metal ball used in petanque, a French bowling game.

"I warned them, I told them, 'reimburse me,' and they refused," he told other shoppers. As he walked out of the store, a security guard intervened.

Prosecutor Marie-Christine Tarrare said he caused 55,000 euros ($56,000) in damages.

The store and Apple's French subsidiary did not reply to requests for information about the incident, which occurred on Thursday.

Sony closes on Michael Jackson’s stake in music publisher

Sony said Friday that it had closed its $750 million purchase of Michael Jackson’s stake in a music venture behind a vast trove of hit songs.The Japanese company announced in March that it was buying the Jackson estate’s 50 percent stake in Sony ATV Mu…

Sony said Friday that it had closed its $750 million purchase of Michael Jackson's stake in a music venture behind a vast trove of hit songs.

The Japanese company announced in March that it was buying the Jackson estate's 50 percent stake in Sony ATV Music Publishing, which owns the rights to several million titles.

Sony in a statement said it closed on the purchase after meeting conditions including regulatory approval.

The European Commission announced on August 2 that it was approving the deal, seeing no threat to competition in the music market.

Jackson became active in music publishing as he rose to superstardom in the 1980s after a chat with Paul McCartney who explained the significance of such companies, which collect and distribute royalties to songwriters.

Sony ATV Music Publishing, set up in 1995 as a joint venture between Jackson and Sony, owns rights not just to the late King of Pop's hits, but songs by other music legends including The Beatles, Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan.

It also features songs by younger stars such as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Lady Gaga.

Sony said that closing the deal would not affect the company's full-year earnings.

De Kock stars as South Africa beat Australia by six wickets

Quinton de Kock smashed 178 as South Africa beat Australia by six wickets in the first one-day international at SuperSport Park on Friday.Australia made 294-9 in their 50 overs before South Africa reached their target after 36.2 overs.Remaining matches…

Quinton de Kock smashed 178 as South Africa beat Australia by six wickets in the first one-day international at SuperSport Park on Friday.

Australia made 294-9 in their 50 overs before South Africa reached their target after 36.2 overs.

Remaining matches:

Oct 2, Johannesburg

Oct 5, Durban

Oct 9, Port Elizabeth

Oct 12, Cape Town

Wiggins launches fresh defence of drugs record

Bradley Wiggins made a fresh defence of his medical record on Friday amid a growing row over the British cycling great’s history of therapeutic use exemptions.Wiggins has been in the spotlight since leaked medical data showed the five-time Olympic cham…

Bradley Wiggins made a fresh defence of his medical record on Friday amid a growing row over the British cycling great's history of therapeutic use exemptions.

Wiggins has been in the spotlight since leaked medical data showed the five-time Olympic champion had been granted a TUE by cycling authorities for the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone, which he was permitted to take just days before the 2012 Tour de France, which he won, as well as the 2011 Tour and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

Wiggins said he needed the drug to help control his asthma.

But Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin told Netherlands newspaper De Limburger it was "strange" Wiggins had received the injections immediately before three Grand Tours.

Triamcinolone has also been used as a doping agent by riders, including notorious drugs cheat Lance Armstrong, and is believed to help athletes lose weight, combat fatigue and aid recovery.

Wiggins, 36, said Friday he understood why, on the basis of the leaked data, concerns had been raised regarding his medical history.

"Without all the context of someone's history then I could see that on paper maybe, especially the way some of it has been reported," he told the Guardian, having previously given an interview to BBC television.

"It was for a very specific thing ... to treat something that was historically a problem for me and could be quite a serious problem for me."

A cyber-espionage group called "Fancy Bears", which is believed to be Russian, has been leaking medical data about famous athletes after targeting records held by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Wiggins's TUEs were approved by the UCI, cycling's world governing body, and there is no suggestion either he or Team Sky, for whom he was riding at the time, have contravened anti-doping rules.

However, both Sky and Wiggins have come under scrutiny given the British team's much-trumpeted "zero tolerance" policy towards doping and the rider's criticisms of drug cheats in his autobiographies.

Wiggins's former Sky team-mate Chris Froome, a three-time Tour de France winner who finished runner-up to his fellow British rider in the 2012 edition, came under fire after it was revealed he received a TUE for a steroid to treat a chest infection prior to winning the 2014 Tour de Romandie.

"I saw the hysteria that caused and I understand in the post-Armstrong (era)," Wiggins said.

"But what I don't understand is that you've automatically just assumed that this was a performance enhancer."

Wiggins, who in 2012 became the first man to win the Tour and Olympic gold in the same year, said he had not previously made his TUE record public because he did not want to be seen to be making excuses.

He added that inconsistencies in dates on his medical forms were due to clerical errors.

Fury fights for future after cocaine test claim

Tyson Fury was fighting for his boxing future on Friday after media reports said he had tested positive for cocaine and faced being stripped of his heavyweight title belts.The 28-year-old Briton had been due to defend the WBA and WBO world titles again…

Tyson Fury was fighting for his boxing future on Friday after media reports said he had tested positive for cocaine and faced being stripped of his heavyweight title belts.

The 28-year-old Briton had been due to defend the WBA and WBO world titles against Wladimir Klitschko in Manchester on October 29, but the bout was called off last week for a second time for unspecified medical reasons.

A spokesman for Hennessy Sports declined to discuss the cocaine claims, which were made by US-based broadcaster ESPN, which said that Fury tested positive after giving a urine sample on September 22.

Contacted by Press Association Sport, the spokesman said the beleaguered Fury camp would not be making a statement.

ESPN reported Fury was tested by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), which is based in Las Vegas, as part of the routine agreed by both fighters before the fight.

One attempt at a rematch with the Ukrainian Klitschko had already been abandoned because of an ankle injury sustained by the British fighter.

Gunmen steal ambulance with suspected criminal inside from army convoy in Mexico

Gunmen have ambushed an army convoy in Culiacan, north-west Mexico, killing five soldiers and making off with an ambulance which was transporting an alleged organized crime figure. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Gunmen have ambushed an army convoy in Culiacan, north-west Mexico, killing five soldiers and making off with an ambulance which was transporting an alleged organized crime figure.
Read Full Article at RT.com

US ‘spare Nusra for plan B’ to change regime in Syria – Lavrov

Preview The US is keeping jihadist group al-Nusra for a “Plan B”, potentially to overthrow Syrian President Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the BBC.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview The US is keeping jihadist group al-Nusra for a “Plan B”, potentially to overthrow Syrian President Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the BBC.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Handshakes, Hebrew and humour as Peres laid to rest

The gathering of world leaders for Friday’s funeral of Israel’s ex-president Shimon Peres featured a rare show of Israel-Palestinian detente, US President Barack Obama’s attempt at Hebrew and just a touch of humour.- Handshake – On arrival at Jerusalem…

The gathering of world leaders for Friday's funeral of Israel's ex-president Shimon Peres featured a rare show of Israel-Palestinian detente, US President Barack Obama's attempt at Hebrew and just a touch of humour.

- Handshake -

On arrival at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl national cemetery, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who knew Peres well and had negotiated with him, shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu before exchanging pleasantries with him and his wife, Sara.

The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu was in 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.

The rare gesture sparked debate among Palestinians.

- Pre-ceremony -

Under heavy security, with roads closed and thousands of officers deployed, dozens of world leaders descended on Mount Herzl accompanied by a small army of officials, aides and bodyguards.

Before proceedings began, the master of ceremonies felt compelled to remind the distinguished gathering as they greeted each other that they were at a funeral.

Britain's Prince Charles was present, though not in an official capacity, and no Arab leader save from Abbas attended.

- Bibi grieves -

Netanyahu acknowledged that he and his "political adversary" Peres had not always seen eye to eye but the prime minister was soon overcome with emotion.

His brother Yoni was killed 40 years ago during an operation to free Israeli hostages in Uganda. Yoni was buried at Mount Herzl by then defence minister, Shimon Peres.

- Bill Clinton too -

The former US president, a black kippa cap atop his white hair, welled up as he fondly remembered Israel's elder statesman.

"He started off life as Israel's brightest student, became its best teacher, and ended up its biggest dreamer," he said.

Two decades ago, Clinton's memorable eulogy at the funeral of assassinated Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin -- who along with Peres won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the Oslo Accords -- ended with the words "Shalom Haver" ("Goodbye, my friend").

- Moving tribute -

Peres's favourite prayer, "Avinu Malkeinu", was performed by Israeli artist David d'Or.

Chemi, one of Peres's two sons, broke down within the first few bars, hiding tears with hands pressed to his face.

- A touch of laughter -

His other son, Yoni, used his comments to poke gentle fun at his father's advanced age, saying the 93-year-old former president was "too young to die".

Peres's daughter Tsvia recalled her father's favourite dish, a tomato and cucumber salad prepared by his wife Sonia, who died in 2011.

- Obama tries his Hebrew -

"Toda Raba Haver Yakar," US President Barack Obama said during his turn at the lecturn -- "Thank you, my dear friend."

Also wearing the traditional Jewish kippa, Obama invoked a parallel between his path and that of Peres, who was born in a tiny Jewish "shtetl" in rural Poland.

"I think our friendship was rooted in the fact that I could somehow see myself in his story, and maybe he could see himself in mine," Obama said.

- Peace for 'all people' -

The traditional Jewish funeral prayer, the Kaddish, was recited by Peres's three children by his grave.

It was the voice of Tsvia that rose above the others. At the final blessing, which calls for peace "for the people of Israel", she added her own universal prayer: "And for all people."

Moments later, the coffin was lowered into the ground and slowly disappeared beneath piles of earth.

No need for a clipboard: Babes still an item at Paris Motor Show

A sultry blonde in a black mini-dress with a plunging neckline smiles through scarlet lipstick as she leans fetchingly against a bright red Kia Rio at the Paris Motor Show.Despite ardent denials, and to the dismay of feminists, many image-makers in the…

A sultry blonde in a black mini-dress with a plunging neckline smiles through scarlet lipstick as she leans fetchingly against a bright red Kia Rio at the Paris Motor Show.

Despite ardent denials, and to the dismay of feminists, many image-makers in the auto industry still prefer leggy lasses to peddle their cars at the industry's shows.

"This sexualisation of the car, associated with male power, is intolerable," said Florence Montreynaud of the feminist group Les Chiennes de Garde, which means female watchdogs.

"You have the impression that for the same price, you get the girl with the car!" Montreynaud told AFP.

"When car makers try to make us believe that this is essential for doing business, it's a joke."

Carole Francois, a client relations official for Penelope, an agency that recruited around 300 hostesses for the Paris show, insisted the time-worn auto-show tradition of girl-as-eye-candy "no longer exists".

While she acknowledged that some of her clients wanted hostesses with "impossible" measurements, she said "you don't see as much flesh" as before.

A 21-year-old hostess who gave only her first name, Mathilde, is working on her second Paris show, this time at the Volkswagen stand.

"We are equal to the salesmen," she said, "not decoration for the radiator".

Wearing heavy makeup but dressed modestly in a light blue shirt with dark blue jeans and white sneakers, the student recalls her first experience with a different carmaker.

She says she learned how to take salacious remarks from "the older customers" in her stride.

"One of them asked me, 'are you as hot as the motor?'" she recalled. "Another time it was 'can you climb on to any chassis?'"

These days, hostesses receive between one and three days of training aimed at helping them to tackle such advances.

And several constructors have opted this year to have their hostesses wear longer dresses, or trousers with flat shoes.

"But it's still macho," said another recruiter. "The Italians are the worst."

At the stand of South Korean carmaker SsangYong, two hostesses in body-hugging minidresses teeter on stilettos as they pose for a selfie with three Asian visitors.

Unlike their male counterparts, they aren't touting tablet computers to deal with inquiries -- and no car is in the background for the picture.

That is all right with Irina, who says her job is to "introduce" the new Liv2 model and "be a showcase to attract clientele".

- '1950s mentality' -

"These practices typically both hyper-sexualise women's bodies and exploit them commercially," said Raphaelle Remy-Leleu of the group Osez le Feminisme (Dare to Be Feminist).

A French Senate panel on women's rights issued a report to coincide with the Paris show calling for an end to the woman-and-car cliche.

It called for an end to "sexist messages" in automobile advertising and spoke out against scanty clothing which "reduced the status of the woman to car-enhancer."

It also said the car show, which opens to the public on Saturday, should have as many male hosts as hostesses.

Citroen, the only French carmaker that is headed by a woman, Linda Jackson of Britain, observes gender parity at its stand.

"It's only fair," said Riwan, a 19-year-old Citroen host wearing red trousers and a beige jacket.

Montreynaud of Les Chiennes de Garde praised Citroen for the "egalitarian" move.

But, she said, the industry remains in the grip of a paradox: "An egalitarian mentality coexists with the archaic mentality of the 1950s, with the provocative dress."

Colombia police arrest 238 suspected drug dealers

A nationwide police raid nabbed 238 suspected narcotics dealers and hitmen, dismantling 15 criminal gangs suspected of enlisting minors and homeless people to sell illegal drugs, authorities in Colombia said Friday.Those captured “are not only linked t…

A nationwide police raid nabbed 238 suspected narcotics dealers and hitmen, dismantling 15 criminal gangs suspected of enlisting minors and homeless people to sell illegal drugs, authorities in Colombia said Friday.

Those captured "are not only linked to drug trafficking, but also to killing of 63 people," Police Chief General Jorge Hernando Nieto told reporters.

During the counter-narcotics operation, authorities also allegedly found the suspects committing other crimes including murders, extortion, robbery, illegal possession of firearms and using children to commit crimes.

According to authorities, who infiltrated the gangs as part of Colombia's "Operation Temis II," the suspects used children, homeless people, cab drivers and street vendors to sell drugs.

"Some of the dismantled organizations were formed by family clans who have devoted themselves to this illicit activity for generations," a statement read.

The world's largest grower of coca, the plant from which cocaine is made, Colombia is also the largest producer of the drug, with an estimated 646 tonnes last year alone, according to the United Nations.

Trump, Clinton feud by tweet-storm over beauty queen

In an extraordinary clash that took an already bitter presidential contest down into the gutter, Donald Trump on Friday urged voters to check out an alleged “sex tape” of a former Miss Universe who backs Hillary Clinton, provoking the Democrat to fire …

In an extraordinary clash that took an already bitter presidential contest down into the gutter, Donald Trump on Friday urged voters to check out an alleged "sex tape" of a former Miss Universe who backs Hillary Clinton, provoking the Democrat to fire back that he is "unhinged."

In a pre-dawn tweet-storm of a sort guaranteed to grab attention, the Republican accused Clinton of helping Alicia Machado get US citizenship in order to exploit her during their presidential debate this week.

The Venezuela-born Machado, who claims the billionaire bullied her mercilessly after she won the Trump-owned beauty pageant in 1996, has since shot to public attention.

"Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?" Trump tweeted.

Clinton lashed out on the debate stage at Trump's history of abusive remarks about women, and assailed her rival for publicly humiliating Machado after she gained weight following her beauty pageant win.

Machado accuses Trump of verbally abusing her, calling her "Miss Piggy" over her weight and "Miss Housekeeping," apparently because she is Latina.

"Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con," Trump tweeted Friday.

The Democrat lost little time in responding, tweeting that Trump's virulent stream of attacks bolstered her argument that he lacks the steadiness or temperament to be president.

"This is ... unhinged, even for Trump," Clinton said in her own series of pointed tweets in response to his sex tape allegation.

"What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?" she said.

"When something gets under Donald's thin skin, he lashes out and can't let go," Clinton went on. "This is dangerous for a president."

A spokeswoman said Clinton would have more to say on the subject later in the day.

With just five weeks left in a close and increasingly vitriolic race, the issue might help Clinton among both women and Hispanic voters, who could make the difference in a vital battleground state like Florida, where the Democrat was campaigning Friday.

- Unable to resist -

Trump has at time seemed to issue his strongest provocations as a way to deflect media attention -- in this case from the widespread sense that he fared poorly in Monday's debate. He has also hinted at plans to attack Clinton over her husband Bill's past infidelity.

But he has also seemed unable, at times, to let any criticism go unanswered. Indeed, observers saw Clinton's mention of Machado as a plain attempt to bait Trump -- and one he was unable to resist.

"It is not apparent to us why he simply can't stop attacking her," a Clinton spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, told reporters Friday in Florida.

She said the Democratic candidate would "stand up and defend" Machado against his "very demeaning" remarks, adding that Trump needed to "stop attacking her and apologize."

Palmieri also said that neither her boss nor anyone in the campaign had helped Machado get citizenship.

According to the fact-checking website Snopes, Trump's sex tape allegation appears to refer to Machado's appearance on a reality TV show in which she is shown in bed with another participant, under the covers.

Machado was also pictured in Playboy magazine. But a pornographic video circulated in recent years purporting to star the former Miss Universe was debunked as a fake.

Trump, addressing his nearly 12 million Twitter followers, charged that Machado had "duped" the Clinton campaign.

"Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an "angel" without checking her past, which is terrible!" he wrote.

The former beauty queen has seen her profile raised considerably by the controversy.

Trump's brutal criticism of Machado's weight included TV images repeatedly re-broadcast this week showing her being put through the paces of a weight-loss exercise regimen in front of television cameras.

During a news conference call this week, speaking in a mix of Spanish and English, Machado heaped contempt on Trump for his past mistreatment.

"He doesn't remember me, he doesn't remember many things that he did to me, or that he told me," Machado told reporters.

"It was evident that maybe he doesn't remember an 18-year-old girl, whom he insulted and offended and mistreated a thousand times. But I'll always remember," she said.

Brexit leads Santander to lower profitability target

Spanish banking giant Santander on Friday lowered its profitability target for 2018, saying its growth expectations had worsened in its main market Britain following the country’s decision to leave the EU.In a presentation to investors, Santander said …

Spanish banking giant Santander on Friday lowered its profitability target for 2018, saying its growth expectations had worsened in its main market Britain following the country's decision to leave the EU.

In a presentation to investors, Santander said it was aiming for a return on tangible equity ratio (ROTE) of over 11 percent in 2018, down from the previous target of 13 percent stated last year.

"While the environment in some of our markets has deteriorated, our strategy and business model continues to deliver for our customers and shareholders," Santander chief executive officer Jose Antonio Alvarez said in a separate statement.

Santander, one of Europe's largest banks, said economic expectations have deteriorated in some of the markets where it operates, especially Britain which accounts for around 20 percent of its net profit.

"This has led to a depreciation of many currencies against the euro and an expectation that interest rates will remain at record low levels for longer than expected," the bank said in a statement.

Santander is neck and neck with France's BNP Paribas for the position as the eurozone's biggest bank by capitalisation.

Santander posted a second-quarter net profit of 1.28 billion euros ($1.44 billion), a 50 percent drop from the same year-ago period as adverse exchange rates hit its bottom line.

Pro-US crowd drowns out Euros as Ryder Cup starts

A heavyweight foursome kicked things off in an amphitheatre-type setting on the opening tee as the 41st Ryder Cup between the USA and Europe started Friday.Thousands of fans jammed the grandstand or stood 25 deep outside the gallery ropes at the openin…

A heavyweight foursome kicked things off in an amphitheatre-type setting on the opening tee as the 41st Ryder Cup between the USA and Europe started Friday.

Thousands of fans jammed the grandstand or stood 25 deep outside the gallery ropes at the opening hole as the players smiled and waved to the crowd before hitting their first shots on a cool, foggy morning at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

The festive atmosphere for the first foursome, featuring Europeans Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed of the host USA, was punctuated by plenty of catcalls and loud chants from fans on both sides.

There were colourful costumes, bright flags draped over iron railings in the mostly red, white and blue coloured gallery as Rose smacked the first ball down the middle of the fairway to get things started.

Rose is ranked 11th in the world the other three in the group are all in the top ten.

Reed, wearing a short sleeved red polo shirt, then stepped up and braved the slight breeze and cool temperatures as he hammered his first shot onto the fairway signalling that another Ryder Cup battle was officially underway.

It is a Ryder Cup tradition for fans to wear costumes and opening day at Hazeltine was no different. A fan in a boxer Rocky costume was front and centre in the grandstand and another dressed as Elvis with a sign "Win it for Arnie" had a prime standing position on the ropes along the first fairway.

John Hames, of Eagan, Minnesota, said the Americans will draw extra inspiration this year from the memory of golfing legend Arnold Palmer who passed away on Sunday.

"I am hoping the spirit of Arnold will push us forward," said the 34-year-old chief financial officer. "The guys are going to channel that, especially Phil Mickelson."

US fan Jeff Winter, of Aspen, Colorado, said the Americans will benefit from playing in front of adoring crowds.

"The US has the home course advantage," said Winter, who works in transportation planning. "They haven't won for awhile so there is a lot of motivation."

- Prize winners -

Brothers Ben and Dominic Lee travelled all the way from Newcastle to see their European heroes perform.

"It will be close but Europe will win. Our rookies have got nothing to lose so there is no pressure on them," said Ben, who works as a postman.

The brothers won an all expense paid trip to Minnesota for the Ryder Cup by finishing first in a local golf tournament.

Ben said it is a challenge to get themselves heard amongst the sea of red, white and blue fans.

"The Europeans could all have megaphones and they still wouldn't make a noise," Ben said.

American fan Jonathan Coleman, 27, said the Ryder Cup brings out the patriot in him.

"I was born and raised in this country," said Coleman, who works as a caddie at a golf course in Cincinnati, Ohio.

"The US will win because they have a lot of good players who are playing really well right now."

New ‘heavy’ rocket & $5mn launch price tag: Russia’s S7 plans for Sea Launch revealed

Russian space producer RSC Energia announced it will create a state of the art rocket for the Sea Launch program taken over by the Russian S7-group, with a launch price tag of $5mn. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Russian space producer RSC Energia announced it will create a state of the art rocket for the Sea Launch program taken over by the Russian S7-group, with a launch price tag of $5mn.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Massive ‘coronal hole’ on the sun blasts Earth with solar storms (PHOTOS)

A massive coronal hole on the sun is currently facing Earth, directing a solar storm at our planet which can potentially wreak havoc on communication and electrical systems. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview A massive coronal hole on the sun is currently facing Earth, directing a solar storm at our planet which can potentially wreak havoc on communication and electrical systems.
Read Full Article at RT.com

South Africa’s Jacques Du Plessis signs new French deal

South African forward Jacques Du Plessis penned a new deal with Montpellier on Friday which will keep him at the French club until 2019, a rare highlight in a season which has seen him sidelined through injury.The 23-year-old, who arrived in France fro…

South African forward Jacques Du Plessis penned a new deal with Montpellier on Friday which will keep him at the French club until 2019, a rare highlight in a season which has seen him sidelined through injury.

The 23-year-old, who arrived in France from the Bulls last season, hasn't played since injuring his knee in a pre-season friendly against Connacht on August 11.

But he could return on Sunday when Montpellier take on triple European champions Toulon in Marseille in the Top 14.

"Montpellier is a very good club and I think this is a chance for me to develop here. It was an easy decision to make," said Du Plessis.

US sweeps Europe to seize command of Ryder Cup

The United States swept Europe 4-0 in Friday’s opening Ryder Cup alternate shot foursomes matches, only the third time the US squad has whitewashed their European rivals in the first session.Phil Micklelson and Rickie Fowler won three of the last four …

The United States swept Europe 4-0 in Friday's opening Ryder Cup alternate shot foursomes matches, only the third time the US squad has whitewashed their European rivals in the first session.

Phil Micklelson and Rickie Fowler won three of the last four holes to claim a 1-up victory over world number three Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and England's Andy Sullivan in the biggest late switch of the morning.

PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and two-time major champion Zach Johnson were trailing for 10 holes in a row but captured the final five in a 4-and-2 comeback triumph over Spain's Sergio Garcia and Germany's Martin Kaymer.

In an emotional first match between duos that had gone unbeaten at Gleneagles two years ago, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed ripped Olympic champion Justin Rose of England and British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden 3 and 2.

US Open winner Dustin Johnson and Olympic bronze medalist Matt Kuchar won five of the first eight holes and closed out England's Lee Westwood and Belgium's Thomas Pieters 5 and 4.

UN sets up inquiry of Syria aid convoy bombing

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday announced he is setting up a board of inquiry to investigate the bombing of an aid convoy in Syria last week that killed 18 people.The internal UN panel “will ascertain the facts of the incident” on September …

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday announced he is setting up a board of inquiry to investigate the bombing of an aid convoy in Syria last week that killed 18 people.

The internal UN panel "will ascertain the facts of the incident" on September 19 and report to Ban, who will "decide what further steps to take," said a UN statement.

Moscow accuses US of sparing Syria jihadist group

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday accused the United States of protecting a jihadist group in Syria in its effort to overthrow the beleaguered regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview aired Friday on BBC World News, Lavrov sa…

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday accused the United States of protecting a jihadist group in Syria in its effort to overthrow the beleaguered regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

In an interview aired Friday on BBC World News, Lavrov said Washington had vowed to "take as a priority an obligation to separate the opposition" from the former Al-Qaeda affiliate once known as Al-Nusra Front, but that it had not done so.

"We have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the plan was to spare Nusra and to keep it just in case for Plan B or stage two when it would be time to change the regime," Lavrov said.

Moscow has repeatedly accused the US of failing on its commitment to persuade rebel forces to separate themselves from jihadist groups such as Al-Nusra, which changed its name to Fateh al-Sham Front in July after renouncing its ties to Al-Qaeda.

A short-lived truce brokered by Moscow and Washington earlier this month could have led the two countries to coordinate strikes against jihadists, but the deal fell apart as both sides blamed each other for its failure.

Moscow has been accused of indiscriminately bombing Aleppo's opposition-controlled east as it helps an assault currently being conducted by Syrian government troops to capture all of the country's second city.

The United Nations has warned that a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Aleppo unlike any witnessed so far in Syria's brutal five-year war, which has claimed more than 300,000 lives.

Russia has said that it would continue its Syrian bombing campaign in spite of US warnings that Washington would suspend talks unless Moscow stopped its assault on Aleppo.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that more than 9,300 people -- including some 3,800 civilians -- had been killed in the year of Russian air strikes in Syria in support of Assad.

Moscow quickly dismissed the claim, insisting its bombing campaign had prevented jihadists from taking over in the war-torn country.

Clinton seeks to cement lead in pivotal Florida

Hillary Clinton embarked on a two-stop Florida swing Friday, looking to strengthen a fresh lead in the pivotal swing state and capitalize on a spasm of setbacks for her presidential opponent Donald Trump.The Democratic candidate was to barnstorm throug…

Hillary Clinton embarked on a two-stop Florida swing Friday, looking to strengthen a fresh lead in the pivotal swing state and capitalize on a spasm of setbacks for her presidential opponent Donald Trump.

The Democratic candidate was to barnstorm through populous southeast Florida, visiting Fort Pierce and Coral Springs to talk about national service, rally activists and boost her campaign war chest.

Florida, with its massive number of electoral votes, has recently swung back toward Clinton, offering her a tantalizing opening to reach the White House.

A victory in Florida and Pennsylvania would leave Trump, the Republican, with a Herculean task to get to the required majority of 270 electoral college votes on November 8.

He would have to win a slew of states including Iowa and New Hampshire, where a WBUR poll Friday put Clinton ahead by seven points among likely voters.

Sensing opportunity, Democrats are mustering their forces on the Sunshine State.

President Barack Obama, who remains one of the post popular democrats in the country, will visit Miami on Wednesday to campaign for Clinton.

"Obama will lay out the high stakes of November's election for Florida families and highlight Clinton's vision for an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," Clinton's campaign said.

Obama won the state in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

A Mason-Dixon poll has put Clinton ahead in Florida by four points, but throughout this polarizing campaign the state has swung back and forth from Republican to Democrat.

- Culturally diverse -

In sign of the opposition Clinton faces, a vociferous and angry band of Trump supporters braved the hot sun to picket her event in Fort Pierce with chants of "lock her up" and "Hillary for prison."

The state is culturally and politically diverse with evangelical churches dotted between golf courses and gay nightclubs.

In Florida, it is said, the further north from liberal Miami you go the closer to America's deep south you get.

Clinton's visit to the state comes hours after Trump embarked on a bizarre pre-dawn tweet-storm calling a former Miss Universe "disgusting" for gaining weight.

Tweeting just after 5:00 am, Trump urged the public to check out an alleged "sex tape" of the young woman who claims the billionaire bullied her and become a vocal Clinton supporter.

The Manhattan mogul accused his rival of helping Alicia Machado get US citizenship so she could "use her" in this week's presidential debate.

It was Clinton's campaign who brought Machado into the political sphere, the latest example of Team Hillary baiting what they see as an impulsive and ill-disciplined opponent.

"I think it is distasteful to voters and backfires on him," said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.

"Where is he now? Is he awake?" Palmieri needled, "5:30 am it stopped. I don't understand."

Clinton alluded to the issue during her own remarks, but perhaps less overtly.

"Thirty-nine days left, this is the choice, do we lift each other up or do we tear each other down? Do we listen and respect each other, or do we scapegoat, point fingers and insult each other?," she said raising her hands in the air.

After a difficult few weeks that saw Clinton felled by pneumonia and losing ground in the polls, her campaign has tried to use a solid first presidential debate performance to right the course.