Alonso wary of United threat, Spurs ready to pounce

13 Apr

Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso has warned the leaders to beware of a Manchester United backlash, while Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham can provide a dramatic finale to the title race.With just seven games remaining, Chelsea are looking to land t…

Brazilian artist paints ‘biggest’ ever mural

13 Apr

Many painters struggle to get their work viewed but Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra won’t have a problem — his most recent work is billed as the biggest in the world.The prolific Kobra takes as his canvas the sides of the Cacau Show factory on o…

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Brazil gets anti-doping boost, Doha lab reinstated – WADA

13 Apr

The World Anti-Doping Agency has removed Brazil from its blacklist of non-compliant nations while ending its suspension of Doha’s testing laboratory, the agency said Thursday.A WADA statement said Brazil taken off the list of non-compliant nations afte…

Trump says N. Korea ‘will be taken care of’

13 Apr

US President Donald Trump vowed Thursday that the “problem” of North Korea “will be taken care of,” as speculation mounted that Pyongyang might be preparing another nuclear or missile test.”North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of,” …

Dendoncker denies United, violence mars Lyon-Besiktas

13 Apr

Leander Dendoncker struck late to snatch a 1-1 draw for Anderlecht against Manchester United in the first leg of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final, while crowd trouble overshadowed Lyon’s tie with Besiktas.Belgian international midfielder Dendonck…

Steelers owner Rooney dies aged 84

13 Apr

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who helped build the franchise into the most successful NFL team in history, died Thursday aged 84, the team announced.Rooney, who also served as former US ambassador to Ireland between 2009 and 2012, was widely cr…

US says chemical weapons attack in Syria was ‘war crime’

13 Apr

The Syrian government’s suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians last week amounts to a “war crime,” the US State Department said Thursday.It also ridiculed comments by President Bashar al-Assad in an interview with AFP to the effect that the all…

Violence, pitch invasion delays Lyon v Besiktas clash

13 Apr

Fans poured onto the pitch at the Europa League clash between Lyon and Besiktas on Thursday, delaying the start of a high-risk match already hit by violence in the run-up to kick-off.The 1905 GMT start of the quarter-final first leg was delayed by 45 m…

US could challenge for 2026 World Cup – Arena

13 Apr

United States coach Bruce Arena believes the American national team would be genuine challengers for the 2026 World Cup if the country makes a successful bid to host the tournament.The United States, Canada and Mexico on Monday announced a joint bid to…

Saturn moon has necessary conditions to harbor life: NASA

13 Apr

An ice-encrusted moon orbiting Saturn appears to have the conditions necessary for life, NASA announced Thursday, unveiling new findings made by its unmanned Cassini spacecraft.Cassini has detected hydrogen molecules in vapor plumes emanating from crac…

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Nowitzki confirms return for 20th season

13 Apr

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki on Thursday reiterated his desire to play a 20th year with the club next season, and believes he could even play past his 40th birthday.Nowitzki, who turns 39 in June, said last month he planned to honor the final tw…

Egypt says second church suicide bomber identified

13 Apr

Egypt’s interior ministry said Thursday it had identified the bomber who targeted a Palm Sunday service at a Coptic Christian church in the northern city of Tanta, killing 28 people.The previous day, the ministry had named the man it said was the bombe…

Forces deploy in Palestinian camp in Lebanon after clashes

13 Apr

A local security force deployed across southern Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp on Thursday, a commander said, ending a week of sporadic clashes with an extremist group.The fighting, which left nine dead and more than 50 wounded, had p…

Eight Leicester fans handed four-month jail terms

13 Apr

Eight Leicester City supporters were handed four-month suspended prison terms on Thursday after fighting and violence marred their team’s Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.Madrid prosecutors said that the cases had been quickly dealt with …

Tesla’s Musk announces plans for semi-truck launch

13 Apr

Tesla founder Elon Musk said Thursday the electric car startup is set to launch its first semi-truck in September, moving for the first time into that segment.Musk made the announcement in a tweet, offering few details about the plan, although he has s…

Mexico arrests suspected killer of US border guard

13 Apr

Mexican authorities arrested a man suspected of shooting dead a US border guard in 2010 and aim to extradite him to the United States, prosecutors said Thursday.Mexican marines detained the man on Wednesday near the border of the northern Mexican state…

IAAF ‘disappointed’ by Russian doping efforts

13 Apr

Athletics world governing body the IAAF is “disappointed” with the efforts being made to improve anti-doping practices in Russian sport, president Sebastian Coe said on Thursday.Russia was banned from international athletics in November 2015 after evid…

Corruption claims flood Brazilian TV

13 Apr

Brazilians are glued to a mesmerizing, disturbing new version of reality TV: back-to-back broadcasts of jailed executives accusing President Michel Temer and almost every other big politician of corruption.Move over torrid telenovelas and BBB, as Big B…

Pope Francis celebrates Benedict’s 90th

13 Apr

His 90th birthday may not be for a few days yet, but former pope Benedict XVI got an early present on Thursday: a visit from his Argentine successor, Pope Francis.The two men met at Benedict’s home in the grounds of the Vatican so Francis could be the …

Man dragged off United flight plans to sue: lawyers

13 Apr

The man dragged off a United Airlines flight, sparking an international uproar, suffered a broken nose and concussion, his lawyer said Thursday, adding that he is planning to sue.David Dao was released from the hospital overnight and was at a “secure l…

US drops ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ in Afghanistan

13 Apr

The US military on Thursday dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in combat, targeting an Islamic State complex in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said.The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb hit a “tunnel complex” in Achin district in Nang…

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Canada unveils legislation to legalize cannabis

13 Apr

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government unveiled legislation Thursday to fully legalize marijuana, making Canada only the second country to do so, after Uruguay.While medical marijuana use has been regulated in this country since 2001, cannabis rema…

Poland hails ‘historic’ NATO battalion launch

13 Apr

Poland’s president on Thursday hailed the launch of a US-led NATO multinational battalion in an area of his country bordering Russia’s heavily militarised Kaliningrad exclave as an “historic moment”. The battalion is one of four NATO is deploying for t…

US banks report solid earnings, still hopeful on Trump agenda

13 Apr

Strong trading results, rather than lending, was the driving force behind solid earnings reported by large US banks Thursday, as executives expressed measured optimism about the prospects for President Donald Trump’s pro-growth agenda.

JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported big jumps in first-quarter net income compared with the same period of last year, while Wells Fargo continued to feel the effects of a fake accounts scandal and reported flat profits, missing analyst estimates.

But in a sign of sluggishness at all three banks, loan growth was weak, especially in some key areas such as corporate loans, which can serve as a proxy on broader economic activity.

“The economy is still what the economy was, it’s a slow-growth economy” Citigroup chief financial officer John Gerspach said on a conference call with reporters. “It’s not a robust economy yet.”

But he added, “I do believe that there is optimism that it will continue to grow and get better.”

Gerspach said Trump’s election and the expectations of tax cuts and other growth measures had boosted optimism for stronger growth, but “we haven’t seen concrete changes yet in policies.”

Shares of Citigroup dipped 0.1 percent to $58.47 in midday trading, while JPMorgan lost 0.3 percent to $85.12, and Wells Fargo tumbled 2.4 percent to $51.87.

Banking shares had rallied strongly on Trump’s election amid expectation of he would ease of regulations and promote other growth measures that would help their business.

But the sector has cooled considerably on Wall Street as Trump’s policies have yet to materialize. The S&P 500 financials index is down 0.3 percent so far in 2017.

JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon described US consumers and businesses as “healthy overall,” but said growth could accelerate sharply if overly-constraining regulations were eased.

Dimon declined to estimate the chances Trump will be able to enact such changes.

“I don’t want to put odds on it, but I think you have a lot of people working on it to get it done,” he told reporters on a conference call.

– Fewer energy defaults –

JPMorgan said results were boosted by big jumps in trading of bonds and other financial products, as well as the benefit of higher interest rates. Net income rose 16.8 percent to $6.5 billion.

Citigroup also highlighted strong trading results, especially in interest rate-related products. Net income rose 16.8 percent to $4.1 billion.

Both banks also benefited from lower reserves compared with the January-March period last year, when they set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to protect against the possibility of energy defaults due to the oil industry slump.

Wells Fargo also benefited from improvements in the energy sector, which permitted it to release $200 million in reserves.

However, Wells Fargo’s expenses for salaries and other non-interest costs rose by nearly four times that amount due to higher legal costs and greater spending on compliance programs. Earnings were $5.5 billion, the same as the year-ago level.

Wells Fargo’s results came three days after the bank released a report on the factors that led to scandal over the opening of about two million deposit and credit card accounts without the customers’ approval or knowledge. The report pointed blame especially at former chief executive John Stumpf and former community banking chief Carrie Tolstedt, who have been forced to pay back a total of $136 million in compensation due to the debacle.

Wells Fargo chief executive Tim Sloan said the bank has “continued to make meaningful progress” in rebuilding trust with customers and other important stakeholders,” according to a press release.

“We have taken significant actions throughout the company to date and we are committed to building a better bank as we move Wells Fargo forward.”

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Toddlers playing with touchscreens sleep less: study

13 Apr

The more toddlers play with touchscreen devices the less they sleep, according to a study released Thursday that suggests the findings could be cause for concern.For every additional hour using a touchscreen phone or tablet during the day, children age…

Williams, O’Connor face new wait in cocaine probe

13 Apr

Former All Black Ali Williams and Australian star James O’Connor, who were both arrested in a cocaine bust in the centre of Paris, will discover their French league disciplinary fate on April 19, officials said Thursday.The French national league (LNR)…

UK chief calls for more money in fight against doping

13 Apr

The head of United Kingdom Anti-Doping has called on sports to increase their financial contribution to the global fight to rid their events of drugs cheats.

UKAD receive some £5 million ($6.2 million, 5.9 million euros) annually from the British government and raise a further £2-3 million themselves, in part through sports paying for additional testing.

But UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said she would like her organisation’s budget to double on an annual basis and believes sports bodies, particularly those enriched by lucrative broadcast deals, could do more to finance anti-doping.

?WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) come under fire but they are doing their very best,” Sapstead told Thursday’s London Evening Standard.

“Look at their budget (£24m a year) and that?s pretty woeful, too. Look at the anti-doping organisations whether national or WADA trying to do something quite sizeable. You have to wonder what happens when someone says ?Let?s take this seriously?.”

She added: ?Sports need to start paying, whether it?s education or whether it?s a contribution towards their testing programme.

“I do not think it?s acceptable when sports are bringing in money from ticket sales, TV rights and sponsors and are not contributing to the greater insurance and integrity of their sport.”

According to the Standard, UKAD have spent over 1,000 man hours in an investigation into the contents of a ‘jiffy bag’ sent to Dr Richard Freeman at the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine race in France amid suggestions it could have contained a banned substance given to British cycling great Bradley Wiggins.

Wiggins and Team Sky, for whom the Londoner was riding at the time, both deny any wrongdoing, saying the package contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil.

Sapstead was not prepared to put a price on the ongoing investigation and said questions of cost would have no bearing on how UKAD went about its work.

“I’ll never cut a corner based on the fact it’s taking up time and resources,” she told the Standard. “I want to be able to say we’ve left no stone unturned.

“If it takes another three months, it takes another three months.”

French candidates divided on future of 35-hour work week

13 Apr

France’s famed 35-hour work week has been subject to intense debate as French candidates spar on the issues. Some argue that firms need more labour flexibility while others want to extend the work week or eliminate the 35-hour cap entirely.

Russian TV drops Eurovision over Ukraine singer ban

13 Apr

Russia’s main state television channel said Thursday it was dropping the Eurovision Song Contest from its schedules after Ukraine banned its performer from entering the country to take part. “Channel One considers the refusal by Ukraine absolutely grou…

Pakistani mob beats liberal student to death: police

13 Apr

Hundreds of Pakistani students beat to death a classmate known for his liberal views on a university campus in the country’s conservative northwest Thursday, police and witnesses said.Mashal Khan, a journalism student, was stripped, beaten, shot, and t…

Afghanistan star Shahzad fails drugs test

13 Apr

Afghanistan’s big-hitting batsman Mohammad Shahzad has tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol and will be suspended, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said Thursday.The 29-year-old wicket-keeper, a key player in the team’s charge to…