Italy’s Eni ‘serene’ over Nigeria kickbacks scandal

13 Apr

Italian giant Eni said Thursday it was “serene” in the face of allegations it had bribed Nigerian officials to seal an oil deal, insisting the company was squeaky clean.”The company is serene and has the utmost confidence in the management,” its chairm…


We must overcome bus attack, says Tuchel

13 Apr

Thomas Tuchel stressed Borussia Dortmund must try to overcome Tuesday’s bomb attack on the German team’s bus, but admitted it was still “incredibly difficult” to speak about the ordeal.”We must find a way of overcoming that. But we still don’t know how…

IOC maintains Lima for 2024 Games vote

13 Apr

The IOC said Thursday that it will go ahead with a September 13 vote to decide the 2024 Olympics host in Lima despite deadly floods and political troubles in the country.The International Olympic Committee had been seriously considering moving the vote…

Canadian ‘giant’ of HIV research drowns

13 Apr

Canadian scientist Mark Wainberg — described as a “giant” of HIV science and who had recently been working on finding a cure for the condition — has died at the age of 71, UNAIDS said on Thursday.The internationally renowned scientist, who was at the…

Knicks exercise Jackson extension

13 Apr

The New York Knicks have exercised their option to keep Phil Jackson as team president for the remaining two years of his contract, reports said Thursday.Jackson, 71, and the Knicks could both have gone their separate ways this summer under the teams o…

Klopp feared for Dortmund stars after bomb blast

13 Apr

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he feared for his former Borussia Dortmund players’ safety after the bomb attack on their team bus.Three explosions went off as the Dortmund team made their way to their Signal Iduna Park stadium for the Champions Le…

At least 97 migrants missing as boat sinks off Libya

13 Apr

At least 97 migrants were missing after their boat sank on Thursday off the Libyan coast, a navy spokesman said.Survivors said the missing include 15 women and five children, General Ayoub Qassem told AFP.He said the Libyan coastguard had rescued a fur…

Zambian opposition demands release of arrested leader

13 Apr

The Zambian opposition UPND party called Thursday for the immediate release of its leader Hakainde Hichilema, who is due to appear in court next week on treason charges.The treason charges relate to Hichilema’s convoy allegedly refusing to give way to …

Fifth person killed in Venezuela unrest: officials

13 Apr

A fifth person died Thursday after being shot during protests against the Venezuelan government, officials said.The 32-year-old man died from a gunshot wound suffered during clashes on Tuesday night in the northwestern town of Cabudare, a spokesman for…


Dortmund’s Bartra faces month out

13 Apr

Borussia Dortmund’s Spanish international defender Marc Bartra will be out for around four weeks after injuring his wrist in Tuesday’s bomb attack on the team’s bus, coach Thomas Tuchel said.”Marc would prefer to play again on Saturday, but he will nee…

Guardiola scared by Dortmund bomb attacks

13 Apr

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits he was shaken by the bomb attacks on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus this week.Three explosions went off as the Dortmund team made their way to their Signal Iduna Park stadium for the Champions League quarter-f…

Syria’s Assad says chemical attack ‘100% fabrication’

13 Apr

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has accused the West of fabricating a suspected chemical weapons attack that prompted an unprecedented US missile strike, in an exclusive interview with AFP in Damascus.The embattled leader, whose country has been rava…

Chain of events after suspected Syria chemical attack

13 Apr

A suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Syria’s Idlib province on April 4 killed dozens of people.Western powers blamed the incident on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and days later, the United States responded by firing cruise missile…

Fire at Senegal religious retreat kills 22

13 Apr

A fire tore through makeshift straw shelters at a Muslim religious retreat in Senegal, killing at least 22 people and triggering a stampede, firefighters and local media said Thursday.The blaze broke out on Wednesday afternoon as worshippers gathered n…

Trump says ‘things will work out fine’ with Russia

13 Apr

US President Donald Trump expressed confidence Thursday that US-Russian relations will “work out fine” after icy bilateral talks in Moscow, as he looked to China to “deal properly” with North Korea.

Trump faces crucial tests in the Middle East and the Korean peninsula, with tensions building on both fronts over a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria and a mounting challenge from North Korea’s Kim Jong-il.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Wednesday that relations between Washington and Moscow, a key ally of the Damascus regime, were at a “low point.”

“Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia,” Trump said in his tweet.

“At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!”

The Russians are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against US charges that his air force dropped a bomb loaded with the nerve agent sarin on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on April 4, killing 87 people, many of them children.

Russia on Wednesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding that the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation into the attack.

In an exclusive interview with AFP, Assad insisted his army had given up its chemical weapons and called reports of the attack “fabrication.”

On North Korea, with Pyongyang reportedly poised to conduct a nuclear test, Trump said he had “great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea.”

He however added: “If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.”

A US monitoring group said North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site is “primed and ready” to conduct its sixth nuclear test, possibly to coincide with celebrations Saturday marking the birthdate of regime founder Kim Il-Sung.

The Voice of America, quoting US government and other sources, said North Korea “has apparently placed a nuclear device in a tunnel and it could be detonated Saturday AM Korea time.”

Trump has asked his advisers to give him all options for dealing with the nuclear-armed North, and a US carrier strike group has been ordered to the region as a precaution.

India’s party mecca Goa bans late night raves in crackdown

13 Apr

India’s tourist mecca Goa is pulling the plug on its legendary all-night dance parties as the local government tries to clean up its image as a drug and rave hotspot.Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar said the government would start enforcing a long-i…


Nigeria seizes $43 million cash stash in Lagos house

13 Apr

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency seized over $43 million in cash during a raid on a Lagos apartment in what it hailed as a victory for President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption following a string of setbacks.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in a statement issued late Wednesday it discovered the “humongous” amount of money in an apartment in Ikoyi, an upscale district of Lagos.

EFCC operatives found $43.4 million along with £27,800 ($34,807) and 23.2 million naira ($73,301) in the seventh floor apartment after a tip-off from a person who noticed “suspicious movement of bags in and out of a particular apartment in the building.”

“She comes looking haggard, with dirty clothes, but her skin didn’t quite match her appearance, perhaps a disguise,” said the anonymous source quoted in the EFCC statement.

The money, kept immaculate in sealed plastic wrappers, was hidden in filing cabinets and behind hidden panels in a wardrobe.

No arrests have been made over the haul, EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told AFP.

“It is a major seizure,” Uwujaren said. “For us it shows that the policy of government and whistleblowing is commendable.”

The EFCC has been on the backfoot after facing resistance from the country’s Senate and losing some key court battles.

Last week, a Lagos court lifted an EFCC order freezing some $5 million in a bank account operated by Nigeria’s former first lady Patience Jonathan.

An Abuja court also dismissed a corruption case against Justice Adeniyi Ademola and his wife on technical grounds.

Earlier in March, Nigeria’s Senate had rejected the appointment of Buhari’s nominee to head the EFCC.

On Tuesday, the beleaguered government was forced to issue a statement insisting that its war on corruption is on track.

“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to sustaining the anti-corruption fight, ensure that the system is cleaned up and government business is done the right way,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said in the statement.

Buhari rode to power in 2015 vowing to stop the plunder of state funds by corrupt politicians and public officials.

The main opposition party, however, has accused him of conducting a political witch-hunt because many of those arrested and charged in the war on corruption are opposition party members or served in the previous administration.


Alonso switch signals new open F1 era under American owners

13 Apr

Fernando Alonso’s decision to race at the Indianapolis 500 instead of the Monaco Grand Prix signals Formula One is going back to the future as it redefines its brand and appeal under new American owners.This much became clear on Thursday when two-time …

Syria’s Assad, hated by the West but defended by Russia

13 Apr

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has denied ordering last week’s suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town, believes his victory is inevitable in the six-year-old war ravaging his country.Bolstered by the steady support of Russia and Iran, As…

France, Japan aim to land probe on Mars moon

13 Apr

France and Japan want to recover pieces of a Martian Moon and bring them back to Earth, the head of France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) said Thursday.The Martian Moons Exploration project would launch a probe in 2024 destined for Phobos, …

Lewis Hamilton backs Button return at Monaco

13 Apr

Lewis Hamilton has backed Jenson Button to replace Fernando Alonso at the Monaco Grand Prix and said he would like to take part in a MotoGP race in the future.Speaking ahead of this weekend?s Bahrain Grand Prix, where the Mercedes driver expects a very…

Middlesex oppose new English Twenty20 event

13 Apr

Middlesex have become the first English county to voice their outright opposition to existing plans for a new domestic Twenty20 tournament.

The eight-team event, which the England and Wales Cricket Board plan to launch in 2020 — not a marketing trick but rather the year after their existing broadcast deals expire — has already proved highly controversial.

That’s because, if it becomes a reality, it will mean that for the first time there is a major domestic cricket tournament in England that does not feature all 18 first-clas counties.

For critics, that’s the thin end of a wedge that leads to the destruction of the nationwide county system that has underpinned English cricket for more than a century.

But supporters of the new event, having seen the success of the Indian Premier League and especially Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 tournaments, believe the English game needs something similar if it is to recapture a ‘lost’ generation of younger fans.

The ECB needs 31 of its 41 constituent members, including the 18 first-class counties, to support a rule change that will allow it to proceed with an eight team, city-based, event.

Several clubs have already given their approval, with the ECB promising counties will receive £1.3 million ($1.6 million, 1.5 million euros) annually for five years if the tournament comes into being.

– ‘Unique position’ –

But if the new tournament gets the go-ahead, Middlesex could miss out on additional revenue as they do not own their Lord’s home ground in north London but are tenants instead of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

A statement on Middlesex’s website confirmed the reigning first-class county champions’ opposition to the proposed ECB rule change, with the vote on whether to alter the existing regulations now in progress.

“While Middlesex is fully supportive of the creation of a new T20 tournament to drive the future of the game, we are unable to support this proposal at the current time,” said club chairman Mike O’Farrell.

“Middlesex has a unique position in playing at a ground that is likely to be a host venue at the tournament, yet not benefiting from the revenues associated with that status,” he added.

“Therefore, the financial impact on Middlesex is still very uncertain and contains great risks to our current revenue streams.

“Additionally, the current governance of the ECB means that this article change creates a significant risk that counties that are not host venues for the new tournament may, in the future, be downgraded both in status and in revenue terms.”

Meanwhile Derbyshire gave their backing to the ECB’s plans, with the Midlands county’s chairman, Ian Morgan, saying Thursday: “The majority of people who watch cricket today are of the older generation and we must get a younger audience through our doors.

“As we’ve seen with the Big Bash League in Australia and the Indian Premier League, a tournament of that nature can attract more families with young children to watch and go on to play cricket.”

Australia storm to world cycling team pursuit gold

13 Apr

Australia fell short of a new world record but took gold with ease as they smashed New Zealand to claim their second straight team pursuit title at the Track Cycling World Championships on Thursday.The defending champions and Olympic silver-medallists …

Grenoble suspend rugby trio accused of gang rape

13 Apr

Grenoble have suspended three players — Ireland’s Denis Coulson, Rory Grice of New Zealand and France’s Loick Jammes — accused of gang rape, the French Top 14 side announced on Thursday.Coulson, 22, Grice, 27, and Jammes, 22, were on Wednesday charge…

Italy rice producers in Asia competition row

13 Apr

Italy’s rice producers sounded the alarm Thursday over competition from Asia, saying the national industry was in crisis and consumers were unwittingly buying pesticide-contaminated grains harvested by exploited children.Italian farmers’ association Co…

Cannes: Films in the running in 2017

13 Apr

From the tale of a mysterious giant beast to a family drama set against the European migrant crisis, here are the movies appearing in the main competition at next month’s Cannes film festival:- ‘The Beguiled’ -Among the titles causing the most buzz at …

Assad says army ‘gave up’ all chemical weapons

13 Apr

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his government handed over all its chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013 and could not have been behind last week’s suspected sarin attack.”There was no order to make any attack? We gave up our arsenal a few years ag…


Filipino expats in Gulf look to hardman Duterte

13 Apr

With more than a million Filipino workers spread across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, it is small wonder that President Rodrigo Duterte has undertaken a week-long tour of the Gulf.The migrants have been drawn to the region by a combination of factor…

Syria’s Assad says chemical attack ‘100 percent fabrication’

13 Apr

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town was a “fabrication” to justify a US military strike, in an exclusive AFP interview.”Definitely, 100 percent for us, it’s fabrication… Our impression is th…


Murdered French priest Hamel on path to sainthood

13 Apr

The French Catholic priest who was murdered by two teenage jihadists in his Normandy church last year could soon be beatified, a first step toward being declared a saint, church officials said Thursday.Father Jacques Hamel, 85, was killed at the altar …

Leicester probe Madrid crowd trouble

13 Apr

Leicester are working with UEFA and local authorities in Spain to discover why their fans were involved in crowd trouble before the Champions League quarter-final at Atletico Madrid.There were clashes between Leicester supporters and police on Tuesday …

Dybala extends Juventus deal to 2022

13 Apr

Argentina forward Paulo Dybala on Thursday extended his contract with Juventus by two years, keeping him at the club until 2022, the Serie A champions announced.

Dybala, who struck twice in the 3-0 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Barcelona on Tuesday, signed a five-year deal with Juventus when he joined the Turin giants from Palermo in June 2015 for 32.5 million euros ($34.6m, £27.6m).

“La Joya (The Jewel) has signed a new deal that will see him remain for another five seasons at the club and expire in June 2022,” said a brief statement by Juventus.

Dybala has scored a total of 39 goals for Juve, who are bidding for a record sixth consecutive scudetto, a third consecutive league and Cup double and an unprecedented treble.

With the Italian club he has won one league title, one Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup.