Pentagon chief warns of Yemen ‘Hezbollah’

19 Apr

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis warned Wednesday of Iranian efforts to create a Yemeni militia “in the image” of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, after talks with officials in Saudi Arabia.The kingdom leads an Arab coalition which for two years has been fighting i…

Suspected meningitis epidemic kills 745 in Nigeria

19 Apr

A suspected meningitis epidemic in Nigeria has killed 745 people, a rise of over 250 in just over a week, the federal government said on Wednesday.Over 8,000 suspected cases of the disease have been reported across the country over the past five months…

Italy row over ‘fake news’ on cervical cancer vaccine

19 Apr

Italy’s health minister has taken the unusual step of criticising national broadcaster Rai’s coverage of a vaccine against a cancer-causing virus, sparking a row about media freedom and misinformation.The minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, accused the team b…

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Valverde extends Fleche Wallonne dominance

19 Apr

On-form Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde notched up a record fifth win in the Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday, with Ireland’s Dan Martin taking second at the summit finish on the Mur de Huy.The Movistar rider, who turns 37 next week, has made the Ardenn…

Lyon, Besiktas handed suspended European bans

19 Apr

Lyon and Besiktas were handed suspended European bans and fined 100,000 euros each on Wednesday after crowd violence scarred their Europa League quarter-final match in France, UEFA said.The French and Turkish teams were excluded from taking part in the…

The French, sex and politics: What’s the link?

19 Apr

Does the increasing popularity of two extremist presidential candidates in France — Marine Le Pen on the far right and Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the far left — say something about the sex lives of the French?

Lions captain Warburton eager to taste New Zealand blood

19 Apr

Sam Warburton has never savoured victory over New Zealand but says he is relishing scaling the “pinnacle of my career” when he captains the British and Irish Lions against the world champions.The Wales back-row was named skipper when Lions coach Warren…

Crop-killing armyworm caterpillar reaches Rwanda, Kenya

19 Apr

Rwanda’s government announced on Wednesday it had discovered fall armyworm on its crops, making it the third east African country afflicted by the plant-eating pest also recently spotted in Kenya.Uganda confirmed last month that fall armyworm had enter…

End of Euro era but business as usual for Lahm, Alonso

19 Apr

Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso insisted it’s business as usual despite the ex-Champions League winners making their final European appearances in the quarter-final defeat at Real Madrid.Lahm and Alonso both retire from all football at the…

Serena hints at pregnancy with ’20 weeks’ post

19 Apr

Tennis great Serena Williams hinted Wednesday that she’s expecting her first child, posting a photo of herself on Snapchat captioned “20 weeks”.The photo, captured by US media, shows Williams in a yellow swimsuit with what appears to be a baby bump.Wil…

At least 11 killed in Colombia floods: Red Cross

19 Apr

Flooding and mudslides in central Colombia have killed at least 11 people, the Red Cross said Wednesday, causing alarm in a country still recovering from recent mudslides that killed hundreds.At least 20 people are missing after torrential rains lashed…

Venezuelans mass for ‘mother of all protests’

19 Apr

Venezuelans took to the streets Wednesday for massive demonstrations for and against President Nicolas Maduro, whose push to tighten his grip on power has triggered deadly unrest that has escalated the country’s political and economic crisis.Thousands …

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Murray makes winning return to start clay campaign

19 Apr

Andy Murray returned from over a month out with an elbow injury to launch his clay-court season with a gruelling 7-5, 7-5 defeat of Gilles Muller at the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.The world number one and top seed waited until late in both sets t…

UK ex-finance minister Osborne quits parliament before election

19 Apr

Former British finance minister George Osborne, a key opponent of Brexit, said Wednesday he was quitting parliament but would “go on fighting” for Britain as editor of London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

“I am stepping down from the House of Commons — for now,” Osborne wrote in a letter to his constituents, leaving the door open for a potential comeback.

“I will go on fighting for that Britain I love from the editor’s chair of a great newspaper,” he said.

The 45-year-old was appointed as editor of the Evening Standard — Britain’s fourth-largest newspaper by circulation — in March.

A week earlier, he had already drawn criticism for disclosing that he would receive £650,000 ($835,000, 779,000 euros) a year working as an advisor to the US asset management fund BlackRock for four days a month.

Osborne, who has been representing Tatton in northwest England since 2001, served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under prime minister David Cameron between 2010 and 2016, dealing with the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

He left the government in July following the Brexit vote in a referendum in which he had campaigned hard for Britain to stay in the EU.

His resignation came as parliament prepared to debate and vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s call to hold a snap election on June 8.

May, who made the shock call on Tuesday, is seeking to make strong gains against the opposition before gruelling Brexit negotiations.

Europhiles see chance of revival in Brexit election

19 Apr

Voters could give europhile politicians a boost in Britain’s upcoming election but the effect will be limited and the prospect of a grand alliance to soften Brexit is improbable, analysts said.Defeated by last year’s referendum to quit the European Uni…

Who are Marine Le Pen’s voters in France?

19 Apr

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is a frontrunner with just days to go until France votes in the first round of its presidential election.On the campaign trail Le Pen has positioned herself as a protector of France who would pull the country out of the E…

China says tycoon Guo Wengui wanted by Interpol

19 Apr

China confirmed Wednesday that Interpol has issued a “red notice” for Guo Wengui, a real estate kingpin and outspoken critic of the ruling Communist Party.”What we understand is that Interpol has already issued a ‘red notice’ for criminal suspect Guo W…

Mourinho tells Martial to prove his worth

19 Apr

Jose Mourinho has laid down the law to Anthony Martial after leaving the Manchester United forward out of Sunday’s win over Chelsea.

Mourinho has advised Martial to follow the example of United team-mate Marcus Rashford, who battled back from a run of inconsistent performances to score a crucial goal in last weekend’s 2-0 victory against the Premier League leaders.

The United manager, preparing for the second leg of the Europa League tie with Anderlecht, also admits he is uncertain what role Wayne Rooney will play as he struggles to overcome injuries.

But the status of Martial is of particular interest, as United must pay his former club Monaco a further £8.5 million ($10.8 million, 10 million euros) the next time the France international scores a goal for United.

Martial, 21, cost United £35 million in 2015, with the fee to rise to a potential £56 million based on incentive clauses.

The latest kicks in when he scores his 25th goal for the club, a mark of which he is currently one short.

But, despite flashes of brilliance, Martial has yet to hit consistent form and Mourinho is clearly losing patience, leaving him out of his squad altogether on Sunday.

“I know we are together for almost 10 months now. The same way I know the players much better now and the players should know me also much better now,” Mourinho told reporters on Wednesday.

“That’s why Marcus Rashford, even without being since September with a goal in the Premier League, even without that, he was always a player that I trust, always a player that I play, always a player that I support.

“Because he was always coming in my direction, in the direction I want from a player, what I want as a Manchester United player.

“He’s about that. It’s about getting to know each other better and better and better and going in the direction of things we like.

“Do I think Anthony is a player with great potential? Yes I think. Do I think he can play successfully for me? Yes I think. But he needs to give me things that I like very much.”

– ‘Difficult to recover’ –

Rooney, 31, was also absent from the Chelsea game, with an ankle injury that adds to a list of problems that has featured knee and muscular woes and illness since he became United’s record goalscorer in mid-January.

England striker Rooney has played just 131 minutes of league football since then and has not been involved in the Europa League since December, casting doubt on whether he will play for the club again.

“He is working now and he is improving and, if in this training session the answer is positive, I will select him to be on the bench tomorrow (Thursday),” Mourinho said.

“With his experience and know-how of this knock-out phase, he is a player who can be useful.

“If we need a goal, he can help us. If we need to keep a result, have possession, keep the ball, he can help us too.

“So hopefully his answer in the training session is positive.

“He had not big problems during the season, but a few small problems and sometimes when you get into a certain age ? I am not saying he is old, we have older players, there are many older players in great condition ? but when you get to a certain age, it is a little bit more difficult to recover. I think it is just that.

“We lost players in the January market, we didn’t bring in anyone, we lost players in international week, so we need everyone that can and Wayne can. Hopefully he is there.”

Migrant rescuers, island mayor win UNESCO peace prize

19 Apr

UNESCO awarded its prestigious peace prize on Wednesday to migrant rescue association SOS Mediterranee and the mayor of Lampedusa, the tiny Italian island on the frontline of the refugee crisis. The Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize goes to the Europe…

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Returning Sharapova shrugs off criticism

19 Apr

Maria Sharapova has brushed off criticism from her rivals as she prepares to make her return next week in Stuttgart following her 15-month doping ban.”That is the least of my concerns,” the 30-year-old Russian told Thursday’s edition of Stern magazine….

Iran Guards member begins work as Iraq ambassador

19 Apr

In a sign of the growing regional influence of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a close advisor to its foreign operations commander began his new role as ambassador to Iraq on Wednesday, state media reported.General Iraj Masjedi was formally the senior adv…

US Pentagon chief meets Saudi king with Iran in focus

19 Apr

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis met Saudi King Salman on Wednesday, beginning a series of talks to reinvigorate the Riyadh-Washington alliance in the face of common adversary Iran.The retired four-star Marine general, accompanied by a US delegation, wa…

South Africa court drops case against penguin thieves

19 Apr

A court in South Africa Wednesday dropped the case against two students who freed a penguin from a marine park and released it into the sea as protest against animal captivity.Adrian Donian, 22, and Emile du Plessis, 24, were arrested in September 2016…

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Five Russian athletes voluntarily admit doping

19 Apr

Five Russian athletes have voluntary admitted doping code violations, the country’s track and field athletics federation (RusAF) said Wednesday.A statement on the federation’s website named the athletes as hammer thrower Anna Bulgakova, 400m runner Ant…

How an ‘Islamic’ bar became a French election scandal

19 Apr

Amar Salhi is still amazed at how his scruffy bar north of Paris sparked an election scandal after it featured on national television in December during a report about Islam and women.In footage shot with hidden cameras and broadcast during prime-time …

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Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez commits suicide in prison

19 Apr

Former American football star Aaron Hernandez was found dead on Wednesday after committing suicide in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for murder, prison officials said.Hernandez was discovered hanging in his cell by corrections officers i…

Italy urges Turkey to release jailed reporter

19 Apr

Italy on Wednesday called on Turkey to release a journalist arrested this month near the Syrian border while he was researching refugees.Gabriele Del Grande, 34, was clapped in cuffs by Turkish police on April 9 during interviews with people who had fl…

Wales’s Warburton to captain Lions in New Zealand

19 Apr

Sam Warburton will captain the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand, tour manager John Spencer said on Wednesday, as the squad was announced.The 28-year-old Wales back-row, who skippered the combined side on their victorious 2013 tour of Australia, b…