Valverde secures overall victory in Basque Tour

Veteran Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde won the Tour of the Basque Country for the first time after coming in second in Saturday’s final sixth stage, a time trial in Eibar.The 36-year-old Movistar rider, who finished second behind Slovenia’s Primoz Ro…

Veteran Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde won the Tour of the Basque Country for the first time after coming in second in Saturday's final sixth stage, a time trial in Eibar.

The 36-year-old Movistar rider, who finished second behind Slovenia's Primoz Roglic on the day, adds the title to his victory in the Tour of Catalonia last month.

Alberto Contador was Valverde's main rival but the former Tour de France winner could not make up the time difference in the day's 27km time trial and finished second overall, 14 seconds adrift.

Roglic won the stage in 35mins 58sec, nine seconds ahead of Valverde, who had seized the overall leader's yellow jersey by winning the fifth stage on Friday.

One dead in raid on Syria ‘chemical attack’ town: monitor

One woman was killed in an air strike Saturday on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun, site of a suspected chemical weapons attack earlier this week, a monitor said.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was unclear if the strike on the rebel-hel…

One woman was killed in an air strike Saturday on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun, site of a suspected chemical weapons attack earlier this week, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was unclear if the strike on the rebel-held town in northwest Syria's Idlib province was carried out by Syrian planes or those of government ally Russia.

The death was the first in the town since a suspected chemical weapons attack on Tuesday that killed 87 civilians, including 31 children, and left hundreds suffering symptoms including convulsions, vomiting and foaming at the mouth.

Much of the international community pointed the finger at President Bashar al-Assad's government for the attack, though it denied any responsibility.

US President Donald Trump ordered the first direct US military action against Assad's government in response to the attack, launching missiles against an air base in central Syria.

Khan Sheikhun has been hit several times since the Tuesday attack, including in a strike in the hours afterwards on a hospital treating victims.

Idlib province is largely held by an alliance of rebels, including a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, and is regularly targeted in Syrian and Russian air strikes.

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State jihadist group has also carried out rare strikes in the province.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since its conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government demonstrations.

Protest mars rally for French far-right leader Le Pen in Corsica

Skirmishes broke out on Saturday ahead of a campaign rally by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, prompting the removal of more than a dozen protesters and the evacuation of the hall in Ajaccio, Corsica.

Skirmishes broke out on Saturday ahead of a campaign rally by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, prompting the removal of more than a dozen protesters and the evacuation of the hall in Ajaccio, Corsica.

Uzbekistan link to Stockholm ‘terror attack’

Swedish authorities said Saturday that a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan, who was known to the national intelligence agency, was the suspected driver of a truck that ploughed into a crowd in Stockholm on Friday, killing four people.The announcement bri…

Swedish authorities said Saturday that a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan, who was known to the national intelligence agency, was the suspected driver of a truck that ploughed into a crowd in Stockholm on Friday, killing four people.

The announcement brings to three the number of attacks in less than four months by an assailant believed to have links to the Central Asian country.

Here are some facts about Islamic militancy in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan:

- Fighting abroad -

Poverty, corruption, and the stifling political climate under Central Asia's authoritarian regimes have provide major spurs for young men to head off to fight.

The International Crisis Group estimated that between 2,000 and 4,000 militants from Central Asia may have signed up under the banner of IS.

Uzbekistan, which borders volatile Afghanistan, has never released an estimated number of its nationals suspected of having joined the ranks of jihadists groups abroad.

But the International Crisis Group has said that the largest single group of IS supporters among Central Asians were either Uzbek nationals or ethnic Uzbeks from neighbouring states.

Uzbekistan-born Abdulkadir Masharipov confessed to gunning down 39 people at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's Eve.

The suspected bomber in this week's Saint Petersburg metro bombing that killed 13, 22-year-old Akbarjon Djalilov, was believed to be a Russian citizen born to an Uzbek family in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan.

The motive for that attack remains unknown but Russian authorities have said they are looking into possible links with IS, though it has not claimed responsibility.

- Islamic Movement -

Central Asia has some long-established jihadist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which formally backed IS in 2015.

Set up in the late 1990s, the IMU is listed as a terrorist group by the United States. According to the United Nations, some of its leaders have held top positions in Al-Qaeda.

The group claimed its fighters were involved in a brazen attack on the international airport in Karachi, Pakistan, that killed 37 people in June 2014.

The IMU and one of its splinter groups were blamed for a series of bombings and other attacks that took place in the Uzbek capital Tashkent in 1999 and 2004.

But the group failed to carve out a base in ex-Soviet Central Asia and many of its members relocated to Afghanistan, where it reportedly suffered heavy losses due to US-led coalition air strikes.

- Clamping down -

Uzbekistan clamped down on militant Islam after the fall of the Soviet Union under the secular rule of its long-standing leader Islam Karimov who died in 2016.

Regional militaries, of which Uzbekistan's is the largest, are mostly ill-equipped to handle any potential spillover from Afghanistan where IS militants are also seeking to firm up their foothold amid a new outburst of violence.

Uzbekistan quit a Russia-led security organisation in 2012 and cancelled the lease of a US military base used in Afghanistan operations after Washington called for an independent investigation into a brutal crackdown on protesters in 2005.

Fresh protests against new Serb president

Thousands of Serbs rallied in Belgrade on Saturday for the sixth straight day to protest the election of premier Aleksandar Vucic as the country’s next president. The protestors, who gathered outside government offices, were mostly students but were a…

Thousands of Serbs rallied in Belgrade on Saturday for the sixth straight day to protest the election of premier Aleksandar Vucic as the country's next president.

The protestors, who gathered outside government offices, were mostly students but were also joined by labour union members and representatives from the police and the army.

Addressing the crowd, police union chief Veljko Mijailovic hailed the "major coalition of the army, police and the people," according to the Beta news agency. Another speaker called for new elections to be held.

Vucic won the presidential election in the first round on April 2 with a clear majority, garnering 55 percent of votes, and will take office as president in late May.

His main rival, ex-ombudsman Sasa Jankovic who came second in the vote with 16 percent, supported protests which began immediately after the election but urged participants to keep them non-violent.

On Saturday Jankovic said protestors were unhappy with the "injustice of the autocratic regime which threatens Serbia with dictatorship".

Saturday's protestors, estimated at over 10,000 by an AFP photographer, subsequently moved from outside the government offices to rally on the Serbia capital's major boulevards.

"There are lots of us!" and "Vucic the thief, you stole the elections!" they chanted.

"People are hungry while the those at the top are enjoying themselves," read one banner.

Vucic, who wants his country to join the European Union, said: "Everyone (has)the right to express their opinion. I don't have a problem with that. It's just important that everything happens absolutely democratically and calmly."

The protests have been organised since last Monday in Belgrade and several other Serbian cities.

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Key note by Sabbas Joseph who is recognized as a leading thinker in the field of unconventional media. He has been associated with some of the best events that India has witnessed in the past two decades.

Key note by Sabbas Joseph who is recognized as a leading thinker in the field of unconventional media. He has been associated with some of the best events that India has witnessed in the past two decades.

Tunisia sack Polish coach Kasperczak

Tunisia, aiming to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006, have sacked their coach Henryk Kasperczak, the country’s football federation announced on Saturday.The 70-year-old Pole, who guided Tunisia to the final of the 1996 Africa Cup of N…

Tunisia, aiming to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006, have sacked their coach Henryk Kasperczak, the country's football federation announced on Saturday.

The 70-year-old Pole, who guided Tunisia to the final of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, returned for a second spell in charge in 2015.

Tunisia were beaten quarter-finalists at the 2017 edition in Gabon, and friendly defeats since to Cameroon and Morocco spelt the end of the road for the well travelled manager.

"The decision was made yesterday (Friday)," federation spokesman Kais Reuez told AFP.

A successor will be named "by the end of the month," he added.

Tunisia face home and away 2018 World Cup qualifiers against the Democratic Republic of Congo in August-September.

Lee, Lin to battle in Malaysia Open finals

Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China, the two greatest badminton stars of this era, on Friday stormed into the finals of the Malaysia Open for an epic showdown.Lee, the world No. 1, inflicted a crushing 21-12, 21-9 de…

Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China, the two greatest badminton stars of this era, on Friday stormed into the finals of the Malaysia Open for an epic showdown.

Lee, the world No. 1, inflicted a crushing 21-12, 21-9 defeat on helpless Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki in 39 minutes of play in his drive to win the tournament for the 12th time.

Despite a bandaged left knee, the 34-year-old Lee deployed a combination of drop shots, killer smashes and accurate baseline hits to win the semi-finals game.

After making a phenomenal start this year by winning last month's All England Open, the ageing Lee on Monday said he still has plenty of firepower as he aims for the elusive World Championship title in August.

"Eleven years on, I'm back in the same stadium where I triumphed against Lin," he told the reporters.

"The whole world has been waiting for another match between us after the (Rio) Olympics. I will give it my best, especially playing here in my home ground."

The Malaysia Open began Tuesday in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak state on Borneo island.

Earlier, Lin, overcame stiff resistance from South Korea's Son Wan Ho to triumph 27-25, 19-21, 21-16 in 84 minutes.

As the crowd cheered the 33-year-old Olympic champion's magical court craft, Lin in return removed his t-shirt to reveal his muscular torso, delighting spectators.

"The crowd support has been so warm here," Lin, who will play Lee for the 36th time, told reporters.

"I am really happy to have a player like Lee to compete (against). I am sure we will both put on a good show."

Lin has a 24-11 head-to-head advantage over Lee, but the Malaysian triumphed in their last encounter at the Rio Olympics semifinals.

Lin is regarded as the greatest badminton player in history owing to his five World championships and two Olympic gold medals.

But the Chinese star has never been able to win in Malaysia.

Lin reached the final three times but was defeated by Lee in 2005 and 2006 and by Chen Long in 2015.

In 2006, Lin was one point away from the title as he led 20-13 in the deciding game, but Lee staged a phenomenal comeback to win 23-21 in Kuching.

Soviet cosmonaut, spacewalker Georgy Grechko dies aged 85

Preview A retired cosmonaut and twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Georgy Grechko, who made three journeys into space – one of which was a record – died in Moscow at the age of 85, his daughter confirmed to reporters.

Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview A retired cosmonaut and twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Georgy Grechko, who made three journeys into space – one of which was a record – died in Moscow at the age of 85, his daughter confirmed to reporters.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Clashes in Lebanon Palestinian camp kill two: medics

Palestinian factions battled an extremist group in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Saturday in a second day of clashes that have killed at least two people, medics said.The clashes erupted on Friday night as a security force of leading Palestinia…

Palestinian factions battled an extremist group in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Saturday in a second day of clashes that have killed at least two people, medics said.

The clashes erupted on Friday night as a security force of leading Palestinian factions in the Ain al-Hilweh camp deployed under a new security plan, a source in the Palestinian Fatah faction said.

"It came under fire from a neighbourhood under the influence of extremist Islamist groups, which oppose the security plan of the factions and their deployment," the source told AFP.

Palestinian factions in the camp accused a small militant group linked to an extremist Islamist of firing on the security force after demanding that the deployment not extend to its area of influence.

"The security force will be deployed throughout the camp to bring security to it, and there is no other solution," Lebanon's official National News Agency quoted a Fatah commander as saying.

Medical sources told AFP that the clashes killed two people and wounded 21, with at least one member of the security force among the dead.

An AFP correspondent on the outskirts of the camp said fighting was continuing on the narrow streets of its residential neighbourhoods, with the sound of machinegun fire and rocket-propelled grenades audible in much of the surrounding city of Sidon.

A resident of the camp's Tireh district, where heavy clashes were ongoing, said the fighting had set at least seven houses alight and trapped dozens of families.

The fighting prompted the Lebanese army to take security measures at the entrance of the camp, including shutting the highway next to it.

And Lebanon's health ministry announced it was evacuating patients from the Sidon governmental hospital adjacent to the camp and moving them to other facilities.

An AFP photographer saw members of the Lebanese Red Cross wheeling a baby in an incubator on a stretcher from the hospital into the back of an ambulance for transfer.

Ain al-Hilweh is home to multiple armed factions, and has been plagued by intermittent clashes between them as well as against smaller extremist groups.

In February, fighting erupted after Fatah pulled out of a joint security committee, prompting clashes that lasted days and killed one person.

By long-standing convention, Lebanon's army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, where security is managed by joint committees of Palestinian factions.

Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in Syria.

Uganda arrests academic who criticised president’s wife

A prominent academic has been arrested for criticising the wife of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on social media, police said Saturday.Stella Nyanzi criticised Janet Museveni, who is education minister, on Facebook after the government reneged on a…

A prominent academic has been arrested for criticising the wife of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on social media, police said Saturday.

Stella Nyanzi criticised Janet Museveni, who is education minister, on Facebook after the government reneged on a campaign pledge to supply free sanitary pads to schoolgirls struggling to afford hygiene products.

Police spokesman Emilian Kayima confirmed that Nyanzi was taken into custody Friday and would appear in court Monday in Kampala on charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication under a 2011 law governing computer misuse.

"She kept posting issues, fighting battles on social media which we think does not serve her interests or ours," Kayima said.

Last Monday, Janet Museveni said in a rare TV interview that she had "forgiven" Nyanzi, whose work specialises in the study of sexuality in Africa.

The academic, whose no-holds-barred work is seen as provocative in some circles of a largely conservative society, had accused the first lady of being "totally out of touch with the reality of the masses".

After Janet Museveni said the sanitary pads pledge would not be met on budgetary grounds, Nyanzi began a high profile fundraising campaign on the issue.

Social media critic Rosebell Kagumire said that, with Nyanzi's arrest, "I think the government are looking for ways to extend traditional methods of intimidation to online speech. They are trying to control a space they have no ability to control."

Maria Burnett, Senior Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch, criticised the arrest as an attack on free expression.

"The arrest and criminal charges brought against Dr. Nyanzi are yet another clear indicator that those who express critical views of the government can face its wrath," Burnett said.

"The manner of Nyanzi's arrest on Friday was more about intimidation than law enforcement," she added.

Iraqi Shiite cleric Sadr urges Assad to step down

Influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr on Saturday called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, also calling on Washington and Moscow to stop intervening in the conflict.The young Najaf-based Shiite cleric condemned the killing of 87 people,…

Influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr on Saturday called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, also calling on Washington and Moscow to stop intervening in the conflict.

The young Najaf-based Shiite cleric condemned the killing of 87 people, including 31 children, in a suspected chemical attack last week in a rebel-held Syrian town that has been widely blamed on Damascus.

"I would consider it fair for President Bashar al-Assad to resign and leave power, allowing the dear people of Syria to avoid the scourge of war and terrorist oppression," he said in a statement.

The United States fired a barrage of 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat airbase in Syria early on Friday to push Damascus, despite its denials of responsibility.

Sadr, who led a militia that fought the US occupation of Iraq, also condemned the American missile strike, urging all foreign parties involved in the Syria conflict to pull out.

"I call on all sides to withdraw their military assets from Syria so that the Syrian people take things into their own hands. They are the only ones with the right to decide their fate -- the alternative will turn Syria to rubble," he said.

Several Iraqi Shiite militias, some of them directly supported by Iran, are helping Assad's camp in the Syria conflict by sending fighting units across the border.

Sadr, however, is seen as a nationalist. His forces have focused on protecting the holy sites and his drive against corruption and nepotism has drawn support from beyond his traditional base.

The Iraqi government on Friday condemned the suspected chemical attack and said it supported any initiative aimed at punishing those responsible.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cancels Russia trip after US strikes on Syria

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Saturday he had cancelled a visit to Moscow on the heels of US-launched missle strikes on Syria and what he called “Russia’s continued defence of the Assad regime”.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Saturday he had cancelled a visit to Moscow on the heels of US-launched missle strikes on Syria and what he called “Russia’s continued defence of the Assad regime”.

Magnitude 5.0 earthquake hits Albania, no reports of injuries

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the town of Rreshen, 55 km North of the Albanian capital Tirana at a reported depth of 10km, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the town of Rreshen, 55 km North of the Albanian capital Tirana at a reported depth of 10km, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).
Read Full Article at RT.com

Experts should be sent to Syrian airbase attacked by US to carry out chemical probe – Russian MoD

Preview Washington has presented “no evidence whatsoever” yet that the Shayrat airfield in Syria’s Homs Province targeted by the US after an alleged chemical attack in Idlib had any such weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Washington has presented “no evidence whatsoever” yet that the Shayrat airfield in Syria’s Homs Province targeted by the US after an alleged chemical attack in Idlib had any such weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Read Full Article at RT.com

India woos Bangladesh with $500 mn defence loan, credit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday offered $4.5 billion in concessional loans to Bangladesh, underlining surging ties between the neighbours, but a contentious water-sharing deal remained elusive.Modi also announced $500 million for defenc…

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday offered $4.5 billion in concessional loans to Bangladesh, underlining surging ties between the neighbours, but a contentious water-sharing deal remained elusive.

Modi also announced $500 million for defence procurement after bilateral talks in New Delhi with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is on a four-day visit to the country. China has been the biggest source of defence purchases for Bangladesh for many years.

Wary of China's growing interest in India's backyard, Modi has been keen to play a greater leadership role in South Asia since coming to power in 2014.

In 2015, Modi signed a historic land border pact with Dhaka, removing a major irritant and infusing a new warmth between the two countries that share a 4,097 kilometre-long porous border.

"India has always stood for the prosperity of Bangladesh and its people. We are a long-standing and trusted development partner of Bangladesh," Modi said at a press briefing after the sides signed as many as 22 agreements in key sectors including civil nuclear energy.

"In this context I am happy to announce a new concessional line of credit of $4.5 billion for the implementation of projects in priority sectors for Bangladesh.

"This brings our resource allocation for Bangladesh to more than $8 billion over the past six years."

There was no breakthrough however in a long-standing dispute about the sharing of water from the Teesta river which flows through both nations although Modi vowed to find a solution to the issue seen as vital for Bangladesh farmers.

The deal was aborted at the very last minute during former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in 2011 and has been in the doldrums since.

Hasina, whose Awami League is historically seen as more sympathetic to India than the arch-rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party, said the two countries will jointly produce a documentary on the 1971 War of Liberation of Bangladesh, a move that is likely to irk Pakistan.

Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led Bangladesh to independence from Pakistan in 1971.

The government says that up to three million people died in the independence war, many killed by Bangladeshis who collaborated with Pakistani forces.

India's intervention on behalf of Bangladesh's independence fighters proved decisive in that conflict.

"We are committed to expand our relationship with India," said Hasina.

"The entire South Asia region will be a beneficiary of our friendly relations and cooperation."

Man of steel Pieters, Rahm ready for Masters showdown

Two newcomers with nerves of steel, Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Spain’s Jon Rahm, are both handily placed Saturday to create an upset as the Masters third round begins.Pieters, 25, ranked 35 in the world, is in a four-way share of the lead with Ricki…

Two newcomers with nerves of steel, Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Spain's Jon Rahm, are both handily placed Saturday to create an upset as the Masters third round begins.

Pieters, 25, ranked 35 in the world, is in a four-way share of the lead with Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman of the United States and Spain's Sergio Garcia while Rahm, 22, is just three shots further back and ready to pounce after two rounds.

Outsider Pieters, who had never played Augusta National until this week, nevertheless says he knows exactly what to do on the final hole if he is in with a chance come Sunday.

"Oh, I've holed the winning putt about a million times," said the Belgian, who started playing the game at age five and grew up watching the Masters every year on TV in his native Belgium.

"Yeah, I've watched it my whole life, as do all those guys. We've all had that in practice, that winning putt. Hopefully one day."

Pieters, who won three European tour events and finished tied 30th in the British Open, hit a four-under-par 68 in the second round on Friday to jump to the top of the leaderboard on four-under 140 on a day when more experience campaigners suffered in the brutal winds that made every approach shot a gamble at Augusta National.

"Well, I've been hitting really good shots. Even the ones where I made double yesterday, I felt like I hit good shots," said the man who finished fourth at the Olympics last year.

Top players like Australia's Jason Day, who just made the cut, and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, on one over 145, were made to suffer in the blustery conditions in which Pieters said even poor scores were respectable.

- More birdies -

He said the par-five 15th hole, a potential birdie hole among the easiest on the course, was a case in point.

"Yesterday on 15, I hit six good shots and I made a six, and that hurts really bad," said Pieters, from Antwerp.

"But when you walk off and you tell yourself you hit six good shots, then what else can you do? That's just golf and that's Augusta, I guess."

The sun was shining Saturday from cloudlesss blue Georgia skies as the players prepared to tee-off for the third round and the forecast for the weekend is for calmer weather, a prospect that pleases Pieters.

"I feel like it's going to play a bit easier and make a bit more birdies," he said

Pieters or Rahm, the Spaniard who is rated as one of the most exciting new talents in golf, could become the first newcomers to Augusta to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. But that is nothing but a statistic to Pieters.

"It's just a stat," he said. "It's just like, you know, as the best rookie on the Ryder Cup team. You know we lost. So I don't really care about that stat."

Neither pressure nor the mystique of Augusta weighs on the Belgian and he won't be losing any sleep about being at the top of the leaderboard.

"In my mind, it's just golf," he said.

And suddenly, peaceful Stockholm plunges into horror

Dismembered bodies, blood stains, abandoned baby strollers in the street: Witnesses still in shock recounted Saturday how a barreling truck transformed a bustling Stockholm pedestrian street into a scene of horror.”I’ve seen dead people, and I’ve seen …

Dismembered bodies, blood stains, abandoned baby strollers in the street: Witnesses still in shock recounted Saturday how a barreling truck transformed a bustling Stockholm pedestrian street into a scene of horror.

"I've seen dead people, and I've seen accidents before, but this ..." Margareta Larsson, 67, is an experienced nurse but she has to pause, her voice cracking with emotion.

"I don't want to describe what I saw ... I mean, the body was so torn apart."

In what Swedish authorities have described as a "terror attack", a driver in a stolen truck tore more than 500 metres (550 yards) down the Drottninggatan pedestrian street on Friday afternoon, mowing down people before finally slamming into the facade of the Ahlens department store.

Four people were killed and 15 injured.

Police have arrested a suspect they believe to be the driver, identified only as a 39-year-old Uzbek man previously known to Swedish intelligence officials.

Larsson was heading towards the T-centralen central station with a friend when they saw the truck bolt through a crossing "at an immensely high speed."

"We immediately understood that there was something wrong because you don't drive like that in a crowded city on a Friday afternoon," she told AFP. "My friend grabbed me and said: 'This is a terror attack, it has come to us'."

"There were of course a lot of people ... A few screamed and were in anguish but there were also quite a few who were standing there, like us. We didn't scream, we didn't shout, we didn't run, because what we saw was so unbelievable. People were in shock," she said.

- 'Kill as many as possible' -

Rasmus Myrvalder, a 27-year-old in Stockholm to attend a concert, first thought the truck was having technical problems as it raced down the street -- before realising the scary truth.

"He kept switching into higher gear, he was zigzagging and mowing down all the people," he told Swedish public television SVT. "All he wanted was to kill as many as possible."

"I saw people without arms, without legs," he recalled, tears welling in his eyes.

Martin Svenningsen, a journalist who was riding a city bus arriving at the scene at the time of the attack, tried to administer first aid to a man lying on the ground.

His efforts were in vain.

"A security guard came up and said we had to leave, there could be other attacks," he told SVT. "I felt an enormous need to close this person's eyes, so I did that and then we tried to get out of there."

A doctor at Karolinska Hospital, Marie Smedberg, got off the metro and rushed to the scene after reading what was happening on her smartphone.

"You could see stuff still lying on the ground. There were also dead people, covered, lying on the ground. And blood every now and then. And strollers that were left on the street," she told AFP.

"And then there were a lot of people in all the stores and all the cafes along Drottninggatan who were told to stay inside. Shocked and crying people..."

Yet she saw a small glimmer of goodness on what was otherwise a very dark day: she was "very impressed" by the emergency crews' quick response.

"In 25 minutes, everything was cleared and everyone was taken care of."

Spain demands that ETA apologise and disband

Spain on Saturday demanded that Basque separatist group ETA apologise for decades of violence and then disband “definitively” after it provided France with a list of arms caches to finalise a promise to disarm.In a statement, Prime Minister Mariano Raj…

Spain on Saturday demanded that Basque separatist group ETA apologise for decades of violence and then disband "definitively" after it provided France with a list of arms caches to finalise a promise to disarm.

In a statement, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the arms cache move signalled the "definitive defeat" of ETA, blamed for 829 deaths dating back to 1968.

Describing the separatist organisation as "terrorists", Rajoy reiterated the group could expect no government favours as a result and "still less, impunity for their crimes".

"The only logical response to this situation is (for ETA) to announce its definitive dissolution, to apologise to its victims and to disappear rather than mount media operations to disguise its defeat," said a government statement.

Madrid added it would not make an "evaluation" of the weapons arsenal until French authorities have neutralised eight caches of weapons containing 120 firearms and three tonnes of explosives in the southwestern Pyrenees-Atlantiques department bordering Spain.

French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl earlier described the move to hand over remaining arms as a "major step".

In 2011, ETA announced that it had abandoned its armed campaign, but did not give up its weapons. It also continued to insist on amnesty talks for some 360 jailed group members, 75 of them in France.

Son double sets Tottenham on Chelsea’s tail

Son Heung-Min struck twice as Tottenham Hotspur maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea with a 4-0 victory against Watford at a sun-soaked White Hart Lane on Saturday.

With Antonio Conte’s side not due to face Bournemouth until later in the day, Spurs made the most of the chance to close the gap at the head of the table to four points with Dele Alli and Eric Dier also on target.

The chances of Tottenham overhauling Chelsea may be slim, but manager Mauricio Pochettino can be satisfied his side are not going to give up the chase.

After recovering from a goal down to win in the final two minutes of the mid-week trip to Swansea City, Spurs did everything that was asked of them against a poor Watford side with little still to play for this season.

All four goals were the result of outstanding finishes that demonstrated the confidence running through Pochettino’s side and in particular Son, who has now scored seven goals in five games.

Three first-half goals put Spurs in control and after Son added a fourth in the 54th minute, the Spurs manager brought on Harry Kane to ease the club’s leading scorer back into action.

Pochettino had sprung a surprise in the build-up to this game by revealing the striker would return to the squad after recovering from an ankle injury ahead of schedule.

The Argentine opted to leave Kane on the bench and hand Vincent Janssen the chance to lead the line.

Janssen has struggled to make his mark since arriving in a £17 million ($21 million, 19.9 million euros) move from AZ Alkmaar and it quickly became clear his luck was not about to change.

The Dutchman spurned three good first-half chances before Alli finally set Spurs on their way.

Janssen’s first opportunity came after just nine minutes when he turned Watford centre-back Craig Cathcart by the penalty spot and shot against the legs of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

If that was unfortunate, Janssen’s second miss was one he would want to forget, with the forward somehow diverting Kieran Trippier’s cross onto the bar from just two yards out.

– Hat-trick eludes Son –

Seconds later, Trippier’s right-wing cross eluded the sliding Janssen by a couple of feet.

Any concerns that Pochettino’s side might struggle to secure the win they needed disappeared in the 33rd minute when Alli capped a sweeping move with an outstanding finish.

The move began on Hugo Lloris’s goal-line, the Spurs goalkeeper remaining calm under pressure to play the ball out to Trippier.

The former Burnley right-back demonstrated similar composure in exchanging passes with Christian Eriksen before finding Mousa Dembele.

The Belgian surged forward and was thrown to the ground by Abdoulaye Doucoure as he moved the ball on to Alli.

Fortunately, referee Anthony Taylor played the advantage and the decision allowed Alli curl a stunning shot over Gomes and into the top-right corner from 25 yards.

The second goal came six minutes later when Dier latched onto a loose ball after Son’s shot had been blocked and powered a half-volley past Gomes from the edge of the area.

Son ensured Spurs reached half-time with the third fine goal of the half a minute before the interval.

A poor clearance by Craig Cathcart was picked up by Eriksen, who found Son, and the South Korea striker was allowed to advance before directing a low left-foot shot inside Gomes’s left-hand post.

Son added his second in the 54th minute when he met another Trippier cross at the far post and volleyed home.

The striker had only himself to blame for his failure to claim a hat-trick, placing a shot wide from Kane’s lay-off and later hitting the bar from Trippier’s cute pass.

Kane also struck the woodwork in stoppage time, his powerful free-kick clipping the bar.

Son Heung-Min struck twice as Tottenham Hotspur maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea with a 4-0 victory against Watford at a sun-soaked White Hart Lane on Saturday.

With Antonio Conte's side not due to face Bournemouth until later in the day, Spurs made the most of the chance to close the gap at the head of the table to four points with Dele Alli and Eric Dier also on target.

The chances of Tottenham overhauling Chelsea may be slim, but manager Mauricio Pochettino can be satisfied his side are not going to give up the chase.

After recovering from a goal down to win in the final two minutes of the mid-week trip to Swansea City, Spurs did everything that was asked of them against a poor Watford side with little still to play for this season.

All four goals were the result of outstanding finishes that demonstrated the confidence running through Pochettino's side and in particular Son, who has now scored seven goals in five games.

Three first-half goals put Spurs in control and after Son added a fourth in the 54th minute, the Spurs manager brought on Harry Kane to ease the club's leading scorer back into action.

Pochettino had sprung a surprise in the build-up to this game by revealing the striker would return to the squad after recovering from an ankle injury ahead of schedule.

The Argentine opted to leave Kane on the bench and hand Vincent Janssen the chance to lead the line.

Janssen has struggled to make his mark since arriving in a £17 million ($21 million, 19.9 million euros) move from AZ Alkmaar and it quickly became clear his luck was not about to change.

The Dutchman spurned three good first-half chances before Alli finally set Spurs on their way.

Janssen's first opportunity came after just nine minutes when he turned Watford centre-back Craig Cathcart by the penalty spot and shot against the legs of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

If that was unfortunate, Janssen's second miss was one he would want to forget, with the forward somehow diverting Kieran Trippier's cross onto the bar from just two yards out.

- Hat-trick eludes Son -

Seconds later, Trippier's right-wing cross eluded the sliding Janssen by a couple of feet.

Any concerns that Pochettino's side might struggle to secure the win they needed disappeared in the 33rd minute when Alli capped a sweeping move with an outstanding finish.

The move began on Hugo Lloris's goal-line, the Spurs goalkeeper remaining calm under pressure to play the ball out to Trippier.

The former Burnley right-back demonstrated similar composure in exchanging passes with Christian Eriksen before finding Mousa Dembele.

The Belgian surged forward and was thrown to the ground by Abdoulaye Doucoure as he moved the ball on to Alli.

Fortunately, referee Anthony Taylor played the advantage and the decision allowed Alli curl a stunning shot over Gomes and into the top-right corner from 25 yards.

The second goal came six minutes later when Dier latched onto a loose ball after Son's shot had been blocked and powered a half-volley past Gomes from the edge of the area.

Son ensured Spurs reached half-time with the third fine goal of the half a minute before the interval.

A poor clearance by Craig Cathcart was picked up by Eriksen, who found Son, and the South Korea striker was allowed to advance before directing a low left-foot shot inside Gomes's left-hand post.

Son added his second in the 54th minute when he met another Trippier cross at the far post and volleyed home.

The striker had only himself to blame for his failure to claim a hat-trick, placing a shot wide from Kane's lay-off and later hitting the bar from Trippier's cute pass.

Kane also struck the woodwork in stoppage time, his powerful free-kick clipping the bar.

Ukrainian nationalists disrupt public Russian language test in Kiev

Dozens of radical Ukrainian nationalists blocked the entrance to the building of the Russian cultural institution Rossotrudnichestvo in the Kiev, where a public Russian-language dictation was supposed to take place. Read Full Article at R…

Preview Dozens of radical Ukrainian nationalists blocked the entrance to the building of the Russian cultural institution Rossotrudnichestvo in the Kiev, where a public Russian-language dictation was supposed to take place.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Gay couple in Indonesia faces up to 100 cane strokes for having sex

Two men in the conservative Indonesian province of Aceh face up to 100 strokes with a rattan cane each after vigilant neighbors filmed them and reported them to a Sharia court for having gay sex. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview Two men in the conservative Indonesian province of Aceh face up to 100 strokes with a rattan cane each after vigilant neighbors filmed them and reported them to a Sharia court for having gay sex.
Read Full Article at RT.com

British FM Johnson cancels Moscow visit over ‘developments in Syria’

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has cancelled a scheduled visit to Moscow next week, his office announced Saturday, saying “developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally”.”My priority is now to continue contact with the US an…

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has cancelled a scheduled visit to Moscow next week, his office announced Saturday, saying "developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally".

"My priority is now to continue contact with the US and others in the run up to the G7 meeting on 10-11 April," said Johnson, who was due to travel to Moscow on Monday.

"We deplore Russia?s continued defence of the Assad regime even after the chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians," added Johnson.

He then called on Russia to do "everything possible to bring about a political settlement in Syria and work with the rest of the international community to ensure that the shocking events of the last week are never repeated".

"I discussed these plans in detail with Secretary Tillerson," Johnson said, adding that the US foreign minister would still visit Moscow as planned following the G7 meeting to "deliver that clear and co-ordinated message to the Russians."

Johnson expressed his support to the United States on Friday after it fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat airfield near Homs in central Syria.

The move was in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun earlier in the week which killed at least 86 people according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Russia, one of the main backers of the Assad regime alongside Iran, condemned the US strike, denouncing a "flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression".

Strike kills 15 near Syria’s IS-held Raqa: monitor

At least 15 civilians, including four children, were killed in a suspected US-led coalition airstrike on Saturday near the Islamic State group’s Syrian bastion Raqa, a monitor said.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 17 people were in…

At least 15 civilians, including four children, were killed in a suspected US-led coalition airstrike on Saturday near the Islamic State group's Syrian bastion Raqa, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 17 people were injured in the strike on Heneyda, and that the death toll could rise further because several of the wounded were in serious conditions.

The Britain-based group said the strike was suspected to have been carried out by the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.

Heneyda is around 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of the city of Raqa, the target of a major operation led by a Kurdish-Arab alliance of fighters and backed by the US-led coalition.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have for months been advancing towards the city in the north of the country, hoping to encircle it before launching a final assault.

Its forces last month seized the Tabqa military airport from IS, and have entered the complex of the key Tabqa dam, after being airlifted behind jihadist lines by US forces.

They continue to battle for the town of Tabqa, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Raqa, with clashes ongoing on Saturday, the Observatory said.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.

Civil Air Patrol Cadet Captain Joseph Waldron Appointed To U.S. Military Academy

399th Composite Squadron member and Danbury resident Joseph Waldron appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. By Major Peter Milano, Civil Air Patrol, 399th Composite Squadron, Public Affairs.

399th Composite Squadron member and Danbury resident Joseph Waldron appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. By Major Peter Milano, Civil Air Patrol, 399th Composite Squadron, Public Affairs.

Thirty years on, a child survivor’s tale of Guatemala massacre

When Oscar Ramirez was just three years old, his piercing green eyes helped save him from death.A soldier who was in the military unit that wiped out his family and slaughtered his entire Guatemalan village spared the child and raised him as his own.Wh…

When Oscar Ramirez was just three years old, his piercing green eyes helped save him from death.

A soldier who was in the military unit that wiped out his family and slaughtered his entire Guatemalan village spared the child and raised him as his own.

When Oscar learned the truth about his past, in 2011, he was already more than 30 years old.

Now, a documentary executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and opening in the United States next week, tells his story more than three decades after the massacre.

"This is the most fascinating story I ever heard," director Ryan Suffern, a 39-year-old American who worked for two-and-a-half years on "Finding Oscar," a poignant account of a search for truth and redemption in a country once torn apart by civil war.

"Imagine," he told AFP, "if you had a phone call one day and you learn the whole life as you knew it is essentially a lie. That's Oscar's reality. Oscar has dealt with that in a remarkable way."

"Here's a decades-long pursuit of justice that's embodied in trying to find this little boy."

Oscar survived the murders in December 1982 of his mother, his five sisters, two brothers and 200 other inhabitants of Dos Erres, a hamlet in the Guatemalan jungle.

The movie interviews various subjects who for decades investigated what happened during two unspeakable days, when it seemed an entire town in northern Guatemala had been wiped from the map, including a prosecutor who tracked Oscar down and revealed to him the story of his past.

Oscar's family were among the more than 200,000 people dead or "disappeared" in Guatemala's brutal civil conflict that simmered on from 1960 to 1996.

- A living link -

The massacre in Dos Erres was carried out at the hands of the "Kaibiles," a special army unit trained by the US military to combat communism -- part of a scorched earth campaign waged by then-president Efrain Rios Montt to wipe out a perceived threat from rebel guerrillas.

The release of the film produced by Spielberg and Frank Marshall, comes just days after the decision of a judge in Guatemala to order a special trial for genocide against Rios Montt, 90, a former general, for his role in the massacre at the center of this film.

Rios Montt in 2013 was sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide, but Guatemala's highest court overturned the ruling because of a "procedural error."

A UN-sponsored Truth Commission documented 669 massacres during the civil war in Guatemala, the overwhelming majority at the hands of the state during the dictatorship of Rios Montt or his successor, Oscar Mejia Victores, who governed from 1983 to 1986.

Only a handful of "Kaibiles" have been convicted in connection to the massacre, but each received a sentence of more than 6,000 years in prison.

Three others accused in the slaughter are jailed in the US for immigration violations. Several others are believed to reside in the United States.

- Years of searching -

The narrative of exactly what happened in Oscar's village of Dos Erres was painstakingly pieced together over time through testimonies from relatives, survivors, forensic experts, a courageous prosecutor, Sara Romero, and even some ex-Kaibiles who received immunity in exchange for their testimony.

After years of searching, in 2011 the prosecutor Romero finally tracked down Oscar, who was living as an undocumented immigrant in the Boston suburbs, and revealed his story to him.

The young man travelled to Guatemala the following year and met his biological father, a peasant who survived because he was away from the village at the time of the massacre.

Oscar has since legalized his status, obtaining a US refugee visa and rebuilding his life.

"Oscar is now living his version of an American immigrant dream, with his wife Nidia and his four children," Suffern said.

Following its American debut, "Finding Oscar" will be seen in Guatemala later this year, according to Suffern.

"It's so important to be able to publicly show this film in Guatemala," the director said calling it an "acknowledgement" that massacres took place.

Hate to peace, a victim of Basque armed group remembers

Inaki Garcia Arrizabalaga was 19 when a breakaway commando of the Basque separatist group ETA murdered his father, plunging him into a “spiral of hate” before he changed his outlook and started working for peace in his homeland.

More than 36 years later, ETA says it has finally laid down its arms, but for the business professor at Deusto University in the Basque Country, the highly-mediatised event is but an “anecdote.”

For him, the truly key event was on October 20, 2011, when the armed group that killed 829 people in its four-decade campaign for Basque independence declared a ceasefire.

“It was inevitable that they were going to hand over weapons,” he said this week ahead of Saturday’s official disarmament ceremony in Bayonne in the French Basque Country.

Sitting in his office in Spain’s northern Basque seaside city of San Sebastian, the 55-year-old calmly remembered the day his father was found shot dead, his covered corpse propped up and chained against a tree.

“On October 23, 1980, I was a student at this university, I was in class and at 8.30 in the morning my older sister came to get me, and said ‘come home, dad didn’t show up at work’,” he said.

“All of us siblings went home, we started asking around in hospitals to see if there had been an accident, and no.”

Then came a call that a body had been found on a hill in the city.

They all went and discovered it was their father’s, a director at telecoms firm Telefonica whom he later found out had been targeted by the Autonomous Anticapitalist Commandos, an anarchist breakaway of ETA, in retaliation for phone taps being used against militants.

– ‘So much pain’ –

Ensued four, difficult years during which he plunged into what he calls a “spiral of hate,” before being sent to London to study by his mother.

Away from the strife, he was able to think more clearly and came back a changed man, he said, realising the killers had not only murdered his father, but were ruining his life as well.

Later, he started working for peace and conciliation and has never stopped, giving talks about his experience in schools — among other initiatives.

In October 2011 when ETA declared a ceasefire, Garcia Arrizabalaga was giving a presentation at a conference.

“In the Q&A session, a woman from the audience spoke — she knew my experience and personal story — and said ‘Inaki, I want you to know and everyone to know that ETA has just announced a permanent ceasefire’,” he said.

“Everyone stood up and started to applaud”.

“My first thought was for the people who weren’t with us anymore — my father, all the victims I knew… so much pain, how much suffering could have been avoided,” he said.

With peace having returned and as he looks to the future, one of Garcia Arrizabalaga’s chief concerns is that the youth of today are already forgetting what happened such a short time ago.

“If we act as if nothing happened, if we don’t learn a lesson out of all of this, we run the risk that it will happen again,” he warned.

Inaki Garcia Arrizabalaga was 19 when a breakaway commando of the Basque separatist group ETA murdered his father, plunging him into a "spiral of hate" before he changed his outlook and started working for peace in his homeland.

More than 36 years later, ETA says it has finally laid down its arms, but for the business professor at Deusto University in the Basque Country, the highly-mediatised event is but an "anecdote."

For him, the truly key event was on October 20, 2011, when the armed group that killed 829 people in its four-decade campaign for Basque independence declared a ceasefire.

"It was inevitable that they were going to hand over weapons," he said this week ahead of Saturday's official disarmament ceremony in Bayonne in the French Basque Country.

Sitting in his office in Spain's northern Basque seaside city of San Sebastian, the 55-year-old calmly remembered the day his father was found shot dead, his covered corpse propped up and chained against a tree.

"On October 23, 1980, I was a student at this university, I was in class and at 8.30 in the morning my older sister came to get me, and said 'come home, dad didn't show up at work'," he said.

"All of us siblings went home, we started asking around in hospitals to see if there had been an accident, and no."

Then came a call that a body had been found on a hill in the city.

They all went and discovered it was their father's, a director at telecoms firm Telefonica whom he later found out had been targeted by the Autonomous Anticapitalist Commandos, an anarchist breakaway of ETA, in retaliation for phone taps being used against militants.

- 'So much pain' -

Ensued four, difficult years during which he plunged into what he calls a "spiral of hate," before being sent to London to study by his mother.

Away from the strife, he was able to think more clearly and came back a changed man, he said, realising the killers had not only murdered his father, but were ruining his life as well.

Later, he started working for peace and conciliation and has never stopped, giving talks about his experience in schools -- among other initiatives.

In October 2011 when ETA declared a ceasefire, Garcia Arrizabalaga was giving a presentation at a conference.

"In the Q&A session, a woman from the audience spoke -- she knew my experience and personal story -- and said 'Inaki, I want you to know and everyone to know that ETA has just announced a permanent ceasefire'," he said.

"Everyone stood up and started to applaud".

"My first thought was for the people who weren't with us anymore -- my father, all the victims I knew... so much pain, how much suffering could have been avoided," he said.

With peace having returned and as he looks to the future, one of Garcia Arrizabalaga's chief concerns is that the youth of today are already forgetting what happened such a short time ago.

"If we act as if nothing happened, if we don't learn a lesson out of all of this, we run the risk that it will happen again," he warned.

Defending champions Fiji eye path to Hong Kong Sevens final

Fiji were Saturday eyeing a path to the Hong Kong Sevens final after the defending champions avoided a crunch quarterfinal against South Africa by scraping past arch rivals New Zealand in dramatic style. The Pacific islanders took advantage of a six-ma…

Fiji were Saturday eyeing a path to the Hong Kong Sevens final after the defending champions avoided a crunch quarterfinal against South Africa by scraping past arch rivals New Zealand in dramatic style.

The Pacific islanders took advantage of a six-man All Blacks team -- after Iopu Iopu-Aso was penalised for a high tackle -- to score and held on for a 17-14 victory after a New Zealand try at the death was disallowed for a forward final pass.

The All Blacks, whose winger Joe Ravouvou was again in irresistible form to touch down after a 50 metre sprint up the field, now face South Africa while Fiji were rewarded for topping their group with a game against Canada.

New Zealand and Fiji have dominated the Hong Kong Sevens in recent years with the teams winning the past six tournaments between them and their group stage clash had the air of a knockout match.

But New Zealand coach Scott Waldrom said his team must tighten up or face the exit.

"We can't afford to get down to six men especially in what's really a final level game -- you need to keep all seven on the field," he said.

"They scored when we were down and we probably gifted them early by kicking the ball straight to them from that kick off."

- 'Great game of footy' -

Fiji coach Gareth Baber, returning to Hong Kong after coaching the home team last year, said: "We managed to keep our cool and composure, work hard and snatch it right when it could have been taken away from us."

Fiji had earlier salvaged a 17-17 draw with Wales with a last minute try, leaving Wales coach Gareth Williams saying it was a game his team "should have won".

South Africa cruised to the top of their group with victories over Kenya and Canada Saturday but coach Neil Powell said the Blitzboks faced a challenge against the All Blacks on Sunday and needed to sharpen up their defence.

"It's never easy against New Zealand and they're also improving over the last few tournaments -- I think they had a slow start to this series but every time they come back they get better."

Australia edged their old enemy England 12-10 in a thrilling end-to-end encounter, with England wing Tom Bowen and Australia back Henry Hutchison both going over twice, but the Aussies gained the decisive points with a conversion.

England scored their first try, a chip and charge almost the length of the field, while down to six men after captain Tom Mitchell was in the sin bin for a high tackle but stout Australian defence in the second half saw them hold on for the victory.

The clash was not crucial with both heavyweights Australia and England fancied to brush aside Sunday quarterfinal opponents Argentina and the USA respectively but the historic rivalry between the teams added an undeniable edge to the match.

"You always want to beat the Poms, don't you?" gloated Australia coach Andy Friend.

"I thought it was a great game of footy I really did, really competitive, both teams wanted it, you could see that."

Earthquake jolts Philippine mall as terrified shoppers run for their lives (DRAMATIC VIDEO)

Screams can be heard in a video verified by RT showing terrified shoppers evacuating the SM City Mall in Batangas following an earthquake in the Philippines. The distressing incident took place close to the epicenter of the magnitude 5.9 …

Preview Screams can be heard in a video verified by RT showing terrified shoppers evacuating the SM City Mall in Batangas following an earthquake in the Philippines. The distressing incident took place close to the epicenter of the magnitude 5.9 quake.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Dalai Lama accuses China of fooling its people

The Dalai Lama on Saturday accused China of spreading false information about his trip to a monastery near India’s border that drew protests from Beijing which claims the Himalayan area as its territory.”People have the wrong information,” the 81-year-…

The Dalai Lama on Saturday accused China of spreading false information about his trip to a monastery near India's border that drew protests from Beijing which claims the Himalayan area as its territory.

"People have the wrong information," the 81-year-old monk told reporters in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang where he took shelter on his flight from Tibet decades ago.

"I wish one Chinese official would accompany me while I'm visiting here, what I'm doing, what I'm saying. They should know the reality."

Beijing this week lodged an official protest with the Indian ambassador, accusing New Delhi of arranging a platform for the Dalai Lama to "hold anti-China and separatist activities".

After addressing devotees at the monastery, considered one of the holiest sites in Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama fired back at Beijing, accusing the country's communist officials of misleading its people over the nature of his visit.

"The 1.3-4 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality.... They only have one-sided information and wrong information is morally wrong, they're fooling their own people."

The Indian government has insisted the trip is purely religious and pointed out that the Dalai Lama has been to Tawang before, accusing China of creating an "artificial controversy".

But some analysts say New Delhi has adopted a firmer approach to China since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in 2014 and invited the head of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile to attend his swearing-in ceremony.

"The Dalai Lama has always been welcome to travel wherever he wants in India. But this government has been a bit firmer on issues of sovereignty," said Jayadeva Ranade, head of the Delhi-based Centre for China Analysis and Strategy.

Huge crowds, at least 20,000 by some estimates, turned out to hear the monk's nearly three-hour religious discourse.

- Reincarnation concerns -

New Delhi is currently pushing to expand its infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh, building new roads and conducting a feasibility study for a railway.

India and China fought a border war in 1962 over the region, which has a large ethnic Tibetan population.

En route to Arunachal, the Dalai Lama was reunited with the Indian border guard who escorted him into the country after he fled his native Tibet following a failed uprising nearly 60 years ago.

Speaking to reporters a few days later, the Dalai Lama said the meeting had been "very emotional", bringing back memories of his dramatic flight across the Himalayas disguised as a soldier.

Ranade said the visit to Tawang -- birthplace of an earlier incarnation of the Dalai Lama -- had also raised Chinese concerns over the ageing monk's succession.

The Dalai Lama has stated that his reincarnation may be found outside Chinese Tibet, and Arunachal, with its rich Tibetan culture, is an obvious contender.

Under Tibetan Buddhist tradition, senior monks identify a young boy who shows signs he is a reincarnation of a late leader.

But China's officially atheist Communist rulers maintain that they have the sole authority to decide reincarnation.

"The Chinese reaction has been very elevated, they've been using tough language," Ranade told AFP. "This indicates Chinese anxiety about the reincarnation."

Bogdanovich: my promise to finish Orson’s last movie

It was to be the great director Orson Welles’s big comeback, marking his triumphant return to the United States after a quarter century in the wilderness in Europe.

But “The Other Side of the Wind,” a satire on the death of Hollywood’s golden age and the legendary filmmaker’s final movie, remains unfinished after decades of financial problems and legal battles.

Internet streaming service Netflix announced in March it would fund the completion and restoration of the movie — enabling its star Peter Bogdanovich to fulfill a promise he made to Welles before his death in 1985, he revealed on Friday.

“Somewhere in the period 1974 or 1973, Orson and I were having lunch and he turned to me and said, ‘If anything ever happens to me I want you to promise me you’ll finish the picture,'” Bogdanovich, 77, told a Q&A in Hollywood as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

“I said ‘Oh Orson, don’t say that’ and he said, ‘I know, nothing’s going to happen to me but, if it does, I want you to promise me the finished picture. I said, ‘Of course I will.'”

Shot by Welles between 1970 and 1976 from a screenplay he co-wrote with his lover Oja Kodar, “The Other Side of the Wind” stars the actress alongside Bogdanovich, John Huston and Dennis Hopper.

Veteran producer Frank Marshall, who was Steven Spielberg’s right-hand man on many of his biggest movies, worked on the original production and he and Bogdanovich have been at the forefront of efforts to complete it since Welles died of a heart attack.

– Setbacks –

He will lead the project for Netflix in consultation with Bogdanovich, who has numerous acting credits but is best known as the director of drama “The Last Picture Show” and screwball comedy “What’s Up, Doc?” in the early 1970s and “Mask” in 1985.

Welles was acclaimed for numerous movies which have since become classics, including “Citizen Kane” and “Touch of Evil,” but he never made a movie that turned a profit in his lifetime and is sometimes referred to as “The Glorious Failure.”

His art often mirrored his life, and his final film accordingly tells of the last days of a legendary director named Jake Hannaford (Huston) as he struggles to forge his last great comeback as a major filmmaker.

Initially funded by Welles, “The Other Side of the Wind” was filmed over six years around Los Angeles and in Arizona, Connecticut, England, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium.

Principal photography began in 1970 but was delayed for two years when the US government decided that Welles’s European organization was a holding company rather a production company and handed him a huge tax bill.

Production was further set back by an investor fleeing after allegedly embezzling a large part of the budget, as well as the collapse of promised investment and squabbles with Iranian backers.

The final scene was committed to celluloid in January 1976 but by then the money had run out, leaving Welles to spend the years up to his death editing in his spare time.

– Funny –

Decades-long legal battles have ensued between Welles’s daughter and his lover — and even the government of Iran — over the ownership of the film, with the negative locked in a vault in Paris.

Bogdanovich first announced in 2004 that he planned to restore the film and, three years later, said all the parties with competing claims over the movie had come to an agreement, with a theatrical release planned for late 2008.

Further wrangles stalled production, however, and the movie has been on hold ever since.

But Bogdanovich said the original negative and other footage had arrived in Los Angeles in March, officially resuming the post-production process.

“Ever since he died I’ve been trying to finish this picture… and now Netflix are doing it and we’re going to begin cutting at the end of this month,” he told the festival panel in Hollywood.

Ten hours of raw footage exist, but Welles never recorded the opening narration and one of the locations where a car crash has yet to be filmed no longer exists. Neither is there any kind of musical score.

But Bogdanovich is confident the final movie will be worth the wait.

“Huston is brilliant in it. I’ve seen a lot of his stuff, he’s just brilliant. It’s an amazing cast actually. Huston was funny because if an actor forgets a line, he usually says, ‘I’m sorry, what’s the line?’ or ‘line please!'” the filmmaker said.

“Not John. If he didn’t know the line he would say something, nothing to do with what the scene was about, but he’d say something and exit, leaving me on camera going ‘What?’ Orson always thought that was very funny.”

It was to be the great director Orson Welles's big comeback, marking his triumphant return to the United States after a quarter century in the wilderness in Europe.

But "The Other Side of the Wind," a satire on the death of Hollywood's golden age and the legendary filmmaker's final movie, remains unfinished after decades of financial problems and legal battles.

Internet streaming service Netflix announced in March it would fund the completion and restoration of the movie -- enabling its star Peter Bogdanovich to fulfill a promise he made to Welles before his death in 1985, he revealed on Friday.

"Somewhere in the period 1974 or 1973, Orson and I were having lunch and he turned to me and said, 'If anything ever happens to me I want you to promise me you'll finish the picture,'" Bogdanovich, 77, told a Q&A in Hollywood as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

"I said 'Oh Orson, don't say that' and he said, 'I know, nothing's going to happen to me but, if it does, I want you to promise me the finished picture. I said, 'Of course I will.'"

Shot by Welles between 1970 and 1976 from a screenplay he co-wrote with his lover Oja Kodar, "The Other Side of the Wind" stars the actress alongside Bogdanovich, John Huston and Dennis Hopper.

Veteran producer Frank Marshall, who was Steven Spielberg's right-hand man on many of his biggest movies, worked on the original production and he and Bogdanovich have been at the forefront of efforts to complete it since Welles died of a heart attack.

- Setbacks -

He will lead the project for Netflix in consultation with Bogdanovich, who has numerous acting credits but is best known as the director of drama "The Last Picture Show" and screwball comedy "What's Up, Doc?" in the early 1970s and "Mask" in 1985.

Welles was acclaimed for numerous movies which have since become classics, including "Citizen Kane" and "Touch of Evil," but he never made a movie that turned a profit in his lifetime and is sometimes referred to as "The Glorious Failure."

His art often mirrored his life, and his final film accordingly tells of the last days of a legendary director named Jake Hannaford (Huston) as he struggles to forge his last great comeback as a major filmmaker.

Initially funded by Welles, "The Other Side of the Wind" was filmed over six years around Los Angeles and in Arizona, Connecticut, England, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium.

Principal photography began in 1970 but was delayed for two years when the US government decided that Welles's European organization was a holding company rather a production company and handed him a huge tax bill.

Production was further set back by an investor fleeing after allegedly embezzling a large part of the budget, as well as the collapse of promised investment and squabbles with Iranian backers.

The final scene was committed to celluloid in January 1976 but by then the money had run out, leaving Welles to spend the years up to his death editing in his spare time.

- Funny -

Decades-long legal battles have ensued between Welles's daughter and his lover -- and even the government of Iran -- over the ownership of the film, with the negative locked in a vault in Paris.

Bogdanovich first announced in 2004 that he planned to restore the film and, three years later, said all the parties with competing claims over the movie had come to an agreement, with a theatrical release planned for late 2008.

Further wrangles stalled production, however, and the movie has been on hold ever since.

But Bogdanovich said the original negative and other footage had arrived in Los Angeles in March, officially resuming the post-production process.

"Ever since he died I've been trying to finish this picture... and now Netflix are doing it and we're going to begin cutting at the end of this month," he told the festival panel in Hollywood.

Ten hours of raw footage exist, but Welles never recorded the opening narration and one of the locations where a car crash has yet to be filmed no longer exists. Neither is there any kind of musical score.

But Bogdanovich is confident the final movie will be worth the wait.

"Huston is brilliant in it. I've seen a lot of his stuff, he's just brilliant. It's an amazing cast actually. Huston was funny because if an actor forgets a line, he usually says, 'I'm sorry, what's the line?' or 'line please!'" the filmmaker said.

"Not John. If he didn't know the line he would say something, nothing to do with what the scene was about, but he'd say something and exit, leaving me on camera going 'What?' Orson always thought that was very funny."

Basque leader Otegi sees hope for independence as ETA disarms

A veteran leader of the pro-independence movement in the Basque Country who was once part of the armed separatist group ETA, Arnaldo Otegi cuts a controversial figure.For some in Spain, his involvement with a group that killed 829 people in its four-de…

A veteran leader of the pro-independence movement in the Basque Country who was once part of the armed separatist group ETA, Arnaldo Otegi cuts a controversial figure.

For some in Spain, his involvement with a group that killed 829 people in its four-decade campaign for independence is unforgivable.

Others, though, give him credit for helping to move ETA away from violence.

In 2011, the group announced a "definitive" ceasefire and in its latest step says it will completely disarm. On Saturday, ETA handed French authorities a list of caches that it had said would hold all its remaining weapons.

In an interview this week in Spain's Basque seaside city of San Sebastian, Otegi -- released from jail last year after serving time for trying to resurrect the outlawed separatist party Batasuna -- welcomed the disarmament move.

The 58-year-old also insists that independence for his Basque homeland remains very much on the cards... via peaceful means this time.

- Disarming in restive Europe -

Qualifying ETA's disarmament as a "historic event," Otegi argued that the fact that an armed group was laying down its weapons at a time when Europe was wracked by jihadist attacks was significant.

Madrid has so far given short shrift to an event that could help bring the curtain down on a painful part of Spain's recent history.

The government has dismissed the disarmament as a unilateral affair and bluntly warned that the group -- which it denounces as a terror organisation -- can expect nothing in return.

Otegi would not be drawn into whether he thought ETA may or may not disband after laying down its weapons.

"I think ETA will have to start a debate among its militants about its future," he said.

But his eyes -- like those of many Basques -- are turned to the future and how to mend divisions after years of killings and fear.

And on that subject, he is optimistic.

"We didn't have the problem that Ireland had for example, with the existence of two communities, this never existed," he said.

"Here people who had totally different points of views lived in the same building," he said, referring to people who were ETA sympathisers and those who were victims of the group, bumping into each other in the stairwell or at the baker's.

For that reason, he believes it may be easier for the Basque Country to heal.

- Personal healing -

There are several initiatives at work in the region to try to turn the page on years of violence, one of which is staging meetings between ETA victims and former members of the separatist group.

Otegi himself is of the latter, having once served prison for a kidnapping, and then turned to ETA's political wing Batasuna, which was subsequently banned.

In 2006, he was one of the main architects of peace negotiations between ETA and the Spanish government, which broke down.

Since 2013, he has headed up Sortu, a party that campaigns for independence.

He said he had met with three former victims over the past few months -- an experience he encouraged.

"It's powerful, it's a really difficult experience on a human level but also very constructive," he said.

- Independence -

Still, Basque nationalists have not given up on independence.

Otegi believes his region -- or "country" as he calls it -- will go the same way as Catalonia in the northeast, which is ruled by a pro-independence coalition that plans to stage a referendum in September, with or without Madrid's consent.

"There will be a debate here on sovereignty," he said.

"I think that we Basques are walking towards the construction of a European state."

Alonso ‘like an animal’ in Shanghai

Former world champion Fernando Alonso credited divine intervention after driving “like an animal” in Saturday’s qualifying in China amid rumours of a possible switch to Mercedes.The Spaniard’s beleaguered McLaren has been beset by reliability issues bu…

Former world champion Fernando Alonso credited divine intervention after driving "like an animal" in Saturday's qualifying in China amid rumours of a possible switch to Mercedes.

The Spaniard's beleaguered McLaren has been beset by reliability issues but he squeezed the most out of it with a 13th-place finish in qualifying at the Shanghai circuit.

"I'm driving like an animal!" he growled over the radio to his team early in the qualifying session.

Just 17th in practice earlier in the day, Alonso declared his qualifying performance as "one of the best laps I've done in my life".

The two-time Formula One king added: "This morning we tried a few new pieces and everything worked as expected, but we were 17th and 19th with all the power available, and we faced qualifying thinking of fighting Sauber for the final places.

"In the end, 13th is the divine present."

Alonso, world champion with Renault in 2005 and 2006, has expressed frustration with not having a car that is up to challenging the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.

He famously yelled "GP2 engine!" down the team radio in disgust at the car's Honda power unit in Japan last year, threatening to cause friction between McLaren and their suppliers Honda.

The pairing had hoped to bring back a glory period when they reunited in 2015 after they won eight world championships together between the late eighties and early nineties.

Instead, Honda has been unable to deliver an engine capable of competing at the front of the grid.

Lewis Hamilton secured pole position in Saturday's qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix as Mercedes look to avenge a surprise defeat by Ferrari in the season opener in Melbourne two weeks ago.

One of the fastest drivers in F1, Alonso's contract with McLaren expires at the end of the season and he is very much in the shop window this year.

"We really pushed the maximum," he said after narrowly missing out on the top-10 qualifying shootout in China.

"I did the lap flat-out in some corners, not caring too much about the risks over the limit. Now we need to capitalise on this position and hopefully bring some points."

Alonso recently declined to rule out a switch to Mercedes, who saw Nico Rosberg sensationally walk away from the sport after winning the world championship for the German carmaker last year.

Joining Mercedes would mean an intriguing reunion with Hamilton, the British triple world champion with whom Alonso had a stormy relationship when they were McLaren team-mates in 2007.

Lauda loses bet against his own Mercedes team

Mercedes chairman Nikki Lauda bet against his team grabbing the pole position on Saturday for the Chinese Grand Prix, but it was a 10-euro wager he was happy to lose.Speaking to reporters, team boss Toto Wolff pulled out a 10-euro note that he won from…

Mercedes chairman Nikki Lauda bet against his team grabbing the pole position on Saturday for the Chinese Grand Prix, but it was a 10-euro wager he was happy to lose.

Speaking to reporters, team boss Toto Wolff pulled out a 10-euro note that he won from the Austrian racing legend Lauda -- now a Mercedes part-owner and non-executive chairman -- after their star driver Lewis Hamilton seized the pole in Shanghai.

"I think he was happy about losing the bet. But generally Nikki Lauda is not happy about losing money overall," Wolff said, prompting laughs.

"I think he thought, either I win money or I am happy about being on pole. So it was a win-win situation for him."

"I said 'give me the 10 Euros. I will spend it all tonight.'"

Mercedes, the defending constructors' champions, hope on Sunday to avenge the surprise defeat handed to Hamilton by Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in the Formula One season opener in Melbourne.

Lauda earlier told Sky Sports that he bet on Vettel for the pole because "he really looked quick in the car, everything was right."

"But Lewis, thank God, pulled out one of his special laps," he was quoted saying.

Wolff said the Formula One season was shaping up as a "close fight between Ferrari and Mercedes in the front, and there seems to be quite a gap behind."

"Definitely they've (Ferrari) done an extraordinary job and need to be taken very seriously."

Hamilton, the British triple world champion, pipped his German rival Vettel by two-tenths of a second in Shanghai qualifying, with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen filling row two for Sunday's race.

Suspected US-led coalition air strike kills at least 10 civilians west of Raqqa – reports

At least 10 civilians have been killed in a Syrian village near the city of Raqqa, in an alleged air strike by the US-led coalition, Syrian media report. Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview At least 10 civilians have been killed in a Syrian village near the city of Raqqa, in an alleged air strike by the US-led coalition, Syrian media report.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Stockholm truck attack suspect confirmed 39yo Uzbek national – police

Preview The arrested suspect in the Stockholm truck attack comes from Uzbekistan and is 39 years old, investigators said at a press conference. He was described as “a marginal character,” previously named in “security information” but not under any recent investigation.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview The arrested suspect in the Stockholm truck attack comes from Uzbekistan and is 39 years old, investigators said at a press conference. He was described as “a marginal character,” previously named in “security information” but not under any recent investigation.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Terrorist group ETA disarms after 40yr fight for independent state that killed 850+

ETA, a violent separatist group, has handed over eight weapons caches to French authorities, marking their official disarmament after four decades of armed struggle for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France…

Preview ETA, a violent separatist group, has handed over eight weapons caches to French authorities, marking their official disarmament after four decades of armed struggle for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Fresh Gaza protests after Palestinian pay cut

Fresh protests against civil service pay cuts broke out in Gaza on Saturday, AFP reporters said, amid pressure on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to act.The decision this week by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to impose pay cuts on its ci…

Fresh protests against civil service pay cuts broke out in Gaza on Saturday, AFP reporters said, amid pressure on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to act.

The decision this week by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to impose pay cuts on its civil servants in the Gaza Strip has sparked anger among the employees, with protests throughout the week.

Tens of thousands took to a square in central Gaza City Saturday in the largest protest since the 30-percent cut was announced, with demonstrators calling on PA leader Abbas to sack his government.

A handful of protesters announced they would begin a hunger strike, a spokesman told AFP.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, has been at loggerheads with Abbas's Fatah party since the former seized the Strip in a near civil war in 2007.

Fatah runs the West Bank, the other part of the Palestinian territories separated from Gaza by Israeli territory.

After Hamas seized power, around 70,000 PA employees in Gaza they lost their posts but they were kept on its payroll nevertheless.

Hamas set up its own parallel administration with 50,000 staff, whose salaries the PA refuses to pay.

Earlier this week the Fatah-run PA announced the pay cuts, saying they were necessary because its budget has been hit by falling foreign aid.

In 2014 Fatah and Hamas agreed to form a unity government that was meant to resolve their dispute but it has remained stillborn, with no real control in either territory.

Local elections due to take place have also been suspended in the Gaza Strip after infighting between Fatah and Hamas, though they are expected to take place next month in the West Bank.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza for a decade, severely damaging the enclave's economy.

Basque separatist group ETA – key dates in history

The following are dates in the history of the Basque separatist group ETA, which said it would hand over all its remaining weapons on Saturday.The group has been blamed for the death of 829 people in a campaign of violence that totalled 43 years.1959: …

The following are dates in the history of the Basque separatist group ETA, which said it would hand over all its remaining weapons on Saturday.

The group has been blamed for the death of 829 people in a campaign of violence that totalled 43 years.

1959: Creation of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), meaning Basque Homeland and Liberty, by Basque nationalist students inspired by revolutionary movements in the Third World.

1960s: Initially an organisation promoting culture and identity in the Basque country straddling the French-Spanish border, ETA mutates into a paramilitary group.

1968: Policeman is shot dead in the Spanish Basque town of San Sebastian, becoming the first killing to be officially attributed to ETA.

1973: ETA car bomb kills Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco, a key figure in the Franco military dictatorship.

1977: Spain's first democratic government after Franco's death declares amnesty for political prisoners, including detained ETA members.

1979: Spain gives autonomy to Spanish Basque country.

1980: Bloodiest year in ETA's campaign, with 92 dead.

1983: Emergency of shadowy death squads called GAL (Antiterrorist Liberation Groups), later linked to the Spanish interior ministry, which begin campaign of assassination of ETA figures. Twenty-eight are killed over the next four years.

1987: Twenty-one people are killed in a car bomb in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, in ETA's bloodiest single attack.

1997: Miguel Angel Blanco, a young local politician for the conservative People's Party, is kidnapped by ETA and subsequently murdered. His killing sparks mass protests against ETA.

1998: ETA declares unilateral and unlimited truce, which it calls off in late 1999 after breakdown of talks with the government.

2003: ETA's political wing, Batasuna, is banned.

2006: ETA announces a "permanent ceasefire" which ends within months with a bomb attack at Madrid airport in which two people are killed.

2008: Major blow to ETA with arrests of senior members, including military chief Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, nicknamed "Txeroki".

2009: ETA carries out its last attacks on Spanish soil. In March 2010 a French policeman in the Paris area is killed in a car chase.

2011: On October 20 2011, ETA announces the "definitive halt to (its) armed activity" and proposes disarmament in exchange for an amnesty for ETA prisoners. The Spanish government rejects the proposal.

2017: ETA announces it will hand over all its remaining weapons on Saturday April 8, describing itself as a "disarmed organisation."

US Labor Department accuses Google of ‘systemic’ pay discrimination against women

Preview The US Department of Labor (DoL) has accused Internet search giant Google of discrimination, saying it had evidence of “systemic compensation disparities against women.” Google says the allegations are evidence-free.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview The US Department of Labor (DoL) has accused Internet search giant Google of discrimination, saying it had evidence of “systemic compensation disparities against women.” Google says the allegations are evidence-free.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Panic, damage as three strong quakes hit Philippines

A trio of strong earthquakes damaged buildings and caused panicked tourists to flee a popular dive resort near the Philippine capital on Saturday, officials and eyewitnesses said.There were no immediate reports of casualties from the quakes, the strong…

A trio of strong earthquakes damaged buildings and caused panicked tourists to flee a popular dive resort near the Philippine capital on Saturday, officials and eyewitnesses said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the quakes, the strongest of which hit the coast close to Mabini, a resort town south of Manila famous for its marine life and coral reefs.

The first 5.5-magnitude temblor struck inland at 3:08 pm (0708 GMT) followed by a 5.9 quake just a minute later, according to a revised report by the US Geological Service. The first quake was earlier reported as 5.7 magnitude.

A 5.0 quake hit in the same region after another 20 minutes, according to US geologists.

"I was in the pool taking diving lessons when the ground shook.... We all climbed out and ran. Concrete slabs were falling," Filipino tourist Arnel Casanova, 47, told AFP by telephone from a Mabini dive resort.

"When I went back to my room the ceiling had collapsed and the glass windows were broken, but so far everybody is safe," said Casanova, who was at the resort with his 20-year-old son.

He said resort guests remained outside the damaged buildings more than an hour later as the area was hit with aftershocks.

The quakes caused landslides which blocked two roads and damaged an old church, a hospital and several houses in the area, local officials told ABS-CBN television.

"We are evacuating some people who live on the coast. We want them to stay in a safe area tonight," Mabini Mayor Noel Luistro told the station.

He said he expected at least 3,000 residents to move inland in case of further aftershocks, although the state seismology office said there was no threat of tsunamis.

"The town is full of tourists, both local and foreign this weekend," he added.

The network also broadcast live footage of frightened commuters fleeing the passenger terminal at the port of Batangas, near the epicentres.

The quakes caused power outages across the region but caused no casualties, Romina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told AFP.

In Manila, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) away, AFP reporters saw people running out of office buildings in the financial district.

The Philippines lies on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many of the world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

Saturday's quakes were caused by the movement of a local fault, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology chief Renato Solidum said on ABS-CBN television.

A 6.5-magnitude quake killed eight people and left more than 250 injured outside the southern city of Surigao in February, and another 5.9-magnitude tremor killed one person there last month.

Before the Surigao quakes, the last lethal earthquake to hit the country was a 7.1-magnitude tremor that left more than 220 people dead and destroyed historic churches when it struck the central islands in October 2013.

Red all the rage on Grand National day

On the 30th anniversary of Red Rum’s historic third Grand National victory two horses with red in their name battled to be favourite for the world’s greatest steeplechase on Saturday.Definitly Red and Vieux Lion Rouge were neck and neck in the early mo…

On the 30th anniversary of Red Rum's historic third Grand National victory two horses with red in their name battled to be favourite for the world's greatest steeplechase on Saturday.

Definitly Red and Vieux Lion Rouge were neck and neck in the early morning betting ahead of the 38 other runners in the world's most famous steeplechase.

The four and a quarter mile marathon is due off at 1615 GMT at Aintree racecourse near Liverpool, a city where for at least half of it red is the only colour.

While the jockeys and their mounts face a formidable challenge over the National's famed fences the tens of thousands of people hoping to attend faced a challenge of their own with the local rail service going ahead with their strike action.

Definitly Red's jockey Danny Cook has been ordered by the horse's trainer Brian Ellison "to keep calm".

That is advice the 24-year-old will do well to heed as he faces a life-changing moment should he win -- a far more positive one than when he tested positive for cocaine in 2015.

Cook -- who became entranced by the sport when he came to the 1999 National won by Bobbyjo -- admits he fell in with the wrong crowd when he was young and concedes he was a "toerag".

Having chosen becoming a jockey to serving in the Army -- "Getting shot at didn't appeal to me" he told The Times on Saturday -- he sat out six months after failing the dope test which he admits was a "massive error of judgement".

If he wins on Saturday he says he will find it impossible to suppress his emotions.

"I'm going to take my goggles off and throw them into the crowd because it's the only thing I've ever wanted to do," the English jockey told The Times.

Should Vieux Lion Rouge prevail it would see jockey Tom Scudamore emulate his grandfather Michael who won on Oxo in 1959 and achieve something his father, multi-times champion jockey Peter, failed to do.

Scudamore senior though could upset his 34-year-old son's dreams as his companion, trainer Lucinda Russell, has a live contender in One For Arthur.

Success for Russell's runner would give Scotland only their second win in the race after Rubstic's victory in 1979.

Katie Walsh meanwhile is hoping to become the first woman to ride the winner after being passed fit by the doctor to ride Wonderful Charm after injuring her arm in a fall at Aintree on Thursday.

While Russell and Walsh are seeking to sample their first success in the great race those who have already done so are hungry for more.

Irish billionaire JP McManus -- who provided riding legend AP McCoy his one and only success in 2010 with Don't Push It -- has several live chances including Regal Encore ridden by Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Robbie Power, victorious 10 years ago on Silver Birch.

The Thompson family -- who famously bought 1992 winner Party Politics on the eve of the race -- have invested heavily.

They have purchased Le Mercurey and Highland Lodge, who would give jockey Henry Brooke a fairytale win after a crashing fall saw him placed in an induced coma earlier this year, while their son Richard has bought Just A Par.

"There is a bit of family competition," the Thompson's racing manager Chris Richardson told The Times.

"The success of the Grand National is something people dream about."

England rugby great Brian Moore suffers heart attack

England rugby great Brian Moore was recovering in intensive care on Saturday after suffering a heart attack.The 55-year-old former hooker — capped 64 times and who also played five Tests for the British and Irish Lions — thanked the emergency service…

England rugby great Brian Moore was recovering in intensive care on Saturday after suffering a heart attack.

The 55-year-old former hooker -- capped 64 times and who also played five Tests for the British and Irish Lions -- thanked the emergency services staff for saving his life.

"As this is starting to get out -- I'm in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of St George's (hospital in London) having suffered heart attack. Thanks to the professionals who saved my life," tweeted Moore, whose nom de guerre on the pitch was "Pitbull".

English rugby's governing body the The Rugby Football Union (RFU) tweeted its support.

"Wishing a speedy recovery. Get well soon Brian."

Former England prop Alex Corbisiero chimed in: "Hope you're ok mate. Wishing you the best."

Moore, a trained solicitor, was part of a highly effective if not crowd-pleasing England side that won the then Five Nations Grand Slam on three occasions and reached the 1991 World Cup final, losing 12-6 to Australia at Twickenham.

Moore, whose combative style on the pitch transformed seamlessly into a highly successful punditry career when he hung up his boots, was also part of the Lions team that beat the Wallabies 2-1 in a Test series in 1989.

Moore's sardonic humour came through in a later tweet on Saturday.

"I'm trying to work out whether nearly 5K (thousand) of likes over the news I've had a heart attack is sympathy or schadenfreude."