San Francisco police chief quits amid racism row

San Francisco's Police Chief Greg Suhr has stepped down hours after a police officer shot and killed a young black woman driving a suspected stolen car.

The resignation was announced by Mayor Ed Lee, who had asked him to quit.

Mr Suhr and city police had in recent months come under fierce criticism over fatal police shootings of several black suspects.

Reports also recently emerged that a number of officers had exchanged racist text messages.

At a news conference on Thursday, Mayor Lee said he hoped the resignation would help "to heal the city".

The mayor, who until now had supported Mr Suhr, added: "The progress we have made has been meaningful but it hasn't been fast enough, not for me and not for Greg, and that's why I have asked Chief Suhr for his resignation."

He named Toney Chaplin as acting police chief.

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Earlier, protesters held a rally outside the city hall, demanding the sacking of Greg Suhr

The black woman, 27, was shot and killed earlier on Thursday in the city's Bayview area.

Police said one of their patrols approached her as she sat in a car that had been reported stolen.

The woman allegedly tried to drive off and then crashed into a nearby vehicle.

There was no immediate indication that she had a weapon or had tried to run down a police officer before the shooting, the city authorities said.


Analysis: BBC's David Willis in California

A 34-year veteran of the San Francisco PD, Greg Suhr was once a popular and professional policeman.

"Greg was always respectful, always a servant of the community," recalled London Breed, who first encountered Suhr when the latter was a young narcotics officer working the beat. Both men would go on to greater things: Suhr to police chief, Breed to president of the local Board of Supervisors.

But for Suhr there were missteps along the way - among them a demotion from deputy chief after a female friend told him she had been assaulted by her boyfriend and he failed to file a police report.

Reflecting on Suhr's resignation, London Breed said he hoped the city would now come together so that everyone would feel safe in their communities.

The job of reforming the police department now rests with Greg Suhr's former deputy Toney Chaplin - another insider, with 26 years of service under his belt.


In April, five people went on a hunger strike, demanding Mr Suhr be sacked. They ended their strike last week.

Mr Suhr, a veteran officer, was appointed city police chief in 2011.

There are more than 1,000 fatal shootings by police in the US each year, and those killed are disproportionately African-American.

Source: bbc.com

EgyptAir flight: Search intensifies for missing plane

A massive search is continuing for a second day for an EgyptAir plane that disappeared over the Mediterranean.

Greek, Egyptian, French and UK military units are taking part in the operation near Greece's Karpathos island.

Flight MS804 was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew when it vanished early on Thursday.

Greece said radar showed the Airbus A320 had made two sharp turns and dropped more than 25,000ft (7,620m) before plunging into the sea.

Egypt says the plane was more likely to have been brought down by a terrorist act than a technical fault.

Most of the people on board Flight MS804 were from Egypt and France. A Briton was also among the passengers.

So far, no wreckage or debris from the aircraft has been found.

Initial reports late on Thursday, based on Egyptian officials' comments that wreckage had been found, later proved unfounded.

Greece's lead air accident investigator Athanasios Binis said items including lifejackets found near Karpathos were not from the Airbus A320.

"An assessment of the finds showed that they do not belong to an aircraft," he said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered the country's civil aviation ministry, army-run search-and-rescue centre, navy and air force to take all necessary measures to locate the wreckage.

The French air accident investigation bureau has despatched three investigators, along with a technical adviser from Airbus, to join the Egyptian inquiry.

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In France, the focus is on whether a possible breach of security happened at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.

Security was already tight, and under review, after last November's attacks by jihadist militants in the French capital.

Since then, some airport staff have had security clearance revoked over fears of links to Islamic extremists.

Eric Moucay, a lawyer for some of those employees, told the BBC that there had been attempts by Islamists to recruit airport staff.

"That is clear. There are people who are being radicalised in some of the trade unions etc. The authorities have their work cut out with this problem," he said.

No response

Flight MS804 left Paris at 23:09 local time on Wednesday (21:09 GMT) and was scheduled to arrive in the Egyptian capital soon after 03:15 local time (01:15 GMT) on Thursday.

On the plane were 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel.

Greek aviation officials say air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot when he entered Greek airspace and everything appeared normal.

They tried to contact him again at 02:27 Cairo time, as the plane was set to enter Egyptian airspace, but "despite repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond". Two minutes later it vanished from radar.

Flight MS804's possibly final movements

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told reporters: "The picture we have at the moment on the accident as it emerges from the Greek air force operations centre is that the aircraft was approximately 10-15 miles inside the Egyptian FIR [flight information region] and at an altitude of 37,000 feet.

"It turned 90 degrees left and then a 360-degree turn toward the right, dropping from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and then it was lost at about 10,000 feet."

Egyptian Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said: "Let's not try to jump to the side that is trying to identify this as a technical failure - on the contrary.

"If you analyse the situation properly, the possibility of having a different action, or having a terror attack, is higher than the possibility of having a technical [fault]."

In October an Airbus A321 operated by Russia's Metrojet blew up over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, with the deaths of all 224 people on board. Sinai Province, a local affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist group, said it had smuggled a bomb on board.

French President Francois Hollande said: "We will draw conclusions when we have the truth about what happened.

"Whether it was an accident, or whether it was - and it's something that is on our minds - terrorism."

Flightradar24 listed details of the plane's journey on Wednesday which showed it had flown from Asmara, in Eritrea, to Cairo, then on to Tunis, in Tunisia, before heading, via Cairo, to Paris.

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras told the BBC that Airbus A320s were regularly used for short-haul budget flights and had "an amazing safety record".

In March, an EgyptAir plane was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus. The attacker later surrendered and all hostages were released.

Source: bbc.com

 

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen sworn in as first female president

Tsai Ing-wen has been sworn in as the new president of Taiwan, becoming its first female leader and calling for "positive dialogue" with Beijing.

Ms Tsai, seen as an unassuming but determined leader, led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide win in elections in January.

The DPP has traditionally leaned towards independence from China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province.

In the past, it has threatened to take the island by force if necessary.

It still has hundreds of missiles pointing towards the island.

Taiwan, the place to be a woman in politics

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's shy but steely leader

Cats, K-pop and trolls: Tsai's strange first week

China and economy among Tsai's challenges

What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?

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Chen Chien-jen was sworn in as vice-president, in front of a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China

Ms Tsai, 59, swore the presidential oath in front of the national flag, before being presented with the official seal.

She and outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou then came out to wave at the crowds watching on screens outside the presidential building.

In her inaugural speech, she said Taiwanese people had shown they were "committed to the defence of our freedom and democracy as a way of life".

The "stable and peaceful development of the cross-Strait relationship must be continuously promoted", she said, calling on both sides to "set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides".


Speech likely to irk China: Cindy Sui, BBC News, Taipei

What Ms Tsai said in her speech is unlikely to satisfy Beijing. It sees eventual unification with the island as non-negotiable.

With tensions rising in the South China Sea, Beijing is also keen for Taiwan to be its ally rather than be aligned with rival claimants to the disputed islets in the sea.

What may also irk China is her focus on Taiwan's democracy and freedom - saying it's every Taiwanese person's responsibility to safeguard this.

This is a clear message to Beijing that Taiwanese people cherish these characteristics of their society and their self-rule more than economic ties with China, even if the mainland is the island's biggest trade partner and export market.

Democracy and freedom to Beijing mean pro-independence, so China will likely continue to distrust Ms Tsai.

Ms Tsai's election win was only the second ever for the DPP - the Kuomintang (KMT) has been in power for most of the past 70 years.

But Mr Ma lost public support over his handling of the economy, the widening wealth gap, as well as what many say was too friendly an approach to Beijing.

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Ms Tsai and her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou then came out together to greet the public

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A military parade and a display of Taiwanese history are being held in the capital in celebration

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The event involves thousands of military personnel as well as schoolchildren and artistic performances

Source: bbc.com

 

Austria to vote in run-off between far-right and independent

The European Union could see its first far-right president if Norbert Hofer wins the second, run-off round of the Austrian election.

The Freedom Party candidate faces an independent, Alexander Van der Bellen, who has the backing of the Greens.

Mr Hofer topped the first vote but fell well short of an outright majority.

For the first time since World War Two, both the main centrist parties were knocked out in the first round, amid concerns over the migrant crisis.

Ninety-thousand people claimed asylum in Austria last year, equivalent to about 1% of the Austrian population, and the Freedom Party has run a campaign against immigration.

While the presidency is a largely ceremonial post, the president has powers to dismiss the government.


Europe will be watching: Bethany Bell, BBC News, Vienna

Austria is faced with a stark choice for its head of state: a Green Party professor, Alexander Van der Bellen, or Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party - a soft-spoken, charismatic gun enthusiast who won a decisive victory in the first round of voting in April.

For the first time since the Second World War, the traditional parties of the centre left and centre right were knocked out of the race.

Support for the Freedom Party has risen because of deep frustration with the established parties and, more recently, because of fears about the migrant crisis.

Rightwing parties are gaining strength in a number of EU countries. European leaders will be watching the result closely.

Read more from Bethany

Country profile


In the first round, Mr Hofer secured 35% of the votes, while Mr Van der Bellen, polled 21%.

At his final election rally on Friday in Vienna, Mr Hofer, 45, sought to hammer home his message that immigrants needed to integrate.

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Norbert Hofer mingled with supporters in Vienna on Friday

"Those people who respect and love Austria and have found a new home here are warmly welcome," he said to applause.

"But those, it has to be said, those who do not value our country, who fight for Islamic State, or who rape women, I say to these people: this is not your homeland. You cannot stay in Austria."

The presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, have both expressed concern that Mr Hofer could win.

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Alexander Van der Bellen held his last rally in Vienna

"I say to them very politely but firmly: we don't take orders from Brussels or Berlin," Mr Hofer said at the rally.

Mr Van der Bellen, 72, told his final rally in Vienna that it was likely to be a close race.

"I think it could be on a knife edge - fifty-fifty who will win, so this time, as with previous votes, but more than ever for this important election, every vote will count," he said.

At a news conference, he reflected: "As you know, I am 72 years old and I've experienced how Austria rose from the ruins of World War Two, caused by the madness of nationalism."

The two rivals had engaged in an angry TV debate earlier in the week, described as "political mud-wrestling" by commentators.

First round shock

Such was the political shock at the far right's first-round win that the Chancellor (prime minister), Werner Faymann, resigned after losing the support of his Social Democratic party colleagues.

The Social Democrats and the People's Party have governed Austria for decades, either alone or in coalition.

At the last general election in 2013, they together won just enough votes to govern in a "grand coalition".

Incumbent President Heinz Fischer, 77, could not run again after two terms in office.

Source: bbc.com

Afghan Taliban leader Mansour 'probably killed' in US air strike

Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour has probably been killed in a US air strike, US officials say.

He and another male combatant were targeted as they rode in a vehicle in a remote area of Pakistan close to the Afghan border, the officials said.

The Pentagon has confirmed it targeted Mansour in strikes but said they were still assessing the results.

Mansour assumed the leadership in July 2015, replacing Taliban founder and spiritual head Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The operation took place near the town of Ahmad Wal at around 15:00 (10:00 GMT) on Saturday and was authorised by President Barack Obama.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan were informed about the strike, said a US State Department spokesperson, without clarifying whether the notification was made in advance.

"We are still assessing the results of the strike and will provide more information as it becomes available," said Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.

An unnamed Taliban commander told the Reuters news agency: "We heard about these baseless reports but this not first time. Just wanted to share with you my own information that Mullah Mansour has not been killed."

False rumours have often surrounded Taliban leaders.

Omar died in 2013 but this was only confirmed by the Taliban two years later, while Mansour was reported to have been killed in a gun battle last year, something dismissed by the Afghan government.

Mansour's appointment as Taliban chief was disputed, with a rival group selecting their own leader.

The Pentagon's statement said Mansour was actively involved with planning attacks "presenting a threat to Afghan civilians and security forces, our personnel, and Coalition partners".

The Taliban have made gains since international troops withdrew from an active fighting role in 2014.

Nato forces are increasingly being deployed in battle zones to support Afghan forces fighting the Taliban.


Who is Mullah Mansour?

  • Long seen as acting head of the Taliban, and close to its founder Mullah Omar
  • Born in the 1960s, in Kandahar province, where he later served as shadow governor after the Taliban's fall
  • Was civil aviation minister during the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan
  • Had an active role in drug trafficking, according to the UN
  • Has clashed with Abdul Qayum Zakir, a senior military commander, amid a power struggle and differences over negotiations with the Afghan government
  • A man claiming to be Mansour met former Afghan President Hamid Karzai for peace talks in 2010 - but it later emerged he was an imposter

Profile: Mullah Akhtar Mansour

Source: bbc.com

Top US commander makes secret visit to northern Syria

The top US commander for the Middle East secretly visited Syria on Saturday, officials said.

General Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, spent about 11 hours in northern Syria.

He met US military advisers and the leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of Kurdish and Arab rebel forces.

The US wants local forces to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, which holds territory in the country.

Speaking after the visit, Gen Votel said training local forces to fight IS was the right approach.

"I left with increased confidence in their capabilities and our ability to support them. I think that model is working and working well," he said.

The SDF comprises about 25,000 Kurdish fighters and about 5,000 Arab fighters. The US is hoping to increase the number of Arabs in the force.

Syrian Arab trainees at an undisclosed training range in northern Syria on May 21, 2016

The US is training Syrian Arab fighters to take on IS

Arab commanders who spoke to journalists during the visit said their forces needed more help.

SDF Deputy Commander Qarhaman Hasan said he wanted armoured vehicles, machine guns, rocket launchers and mortars.

The SDF currently had to rely on smuggling to get weapons, he said.

"You can't run an army on smuggling," he added.

Tribal leaders also called on the US to do more, both militarily and with humanitarian aid.

The US has about 200 military advisers in Syria, where 270,000 people have died in five years of civil war.

Source: bbc.com

MH17 crash: Victims' families sue Putin and Russia

Families of victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are suing Russia and its President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights.

The jet was shot down by a Russian-made missile over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 on board.

The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels were responsible but Russia accuses Ukrainian forces.

The families' claim is based on the violation of a passenger's right to life, News.com.au reported.

The claim is for 10 million Australian dollars ($7.2m; £4.9m) for each victim, and the lawsuit names both the Russian state and its president as respondents.

Jerry Skinner, a US-based aviation lawyer leading the case, told News.com.au it was difficult for the families to live with, knowing it was "a crime".

"The Russians don't have any facts for blaming Ukraine, We have facts, photographs, memorandums, tonnes of stuff."

Mr Skinner said they were waiting to hear from the ECHR whether the case had been accepted.

The Kremlin said it was unaware of the claim, the Interfax news agency reported, but a senator with Mr Putin's party is quoted in state media as saying it was "legally nonsensical and has no chance".

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There are 33 next-of-kin named in the application, the Sydney Morning Herald reported - eight from Australia, one from New Zealand with the rest from Malaysia.

Sydney-based law firm LHD Lawyers is filing the case on behalf of their families.

Flight MH17 crashed at the height of the conflict between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists.

A Dutch report last year concluded it was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile, but did not say who fired it.

Most of the victims were Dutch and a separate criminal investigation is still under way.

Source: bbc.com

 

EgyptAir: Images released of debris found in plane search

The Egyptian military has released images of items found during the search in the Mediterranean Sea for missing Egypt Air flight MS804.

They include life vests, parts of seats and objects clearly marked EgyptAir.

The Airbus A320 was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard when it vanished from radar early on Thursday.

Investigators have confirmed smoke was detected in various parts of the cabin three minutes before it disappeared, but say the cause is still not known.

Speaking on Saturday after meeting relatives of victims, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said "all theories are being examined and none is favoured".

Images posted on the Facebook page of the spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces showed life vests and other items with the EgyptAir logo.

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Investigators say nothing has yet been ruled out in the search for the cause of the crash

The search has also reportedly found body parts and luggage.

The main body of the plane and the two "black boxes" which show flight data and cockpit transmissions have not yet been located.

While no bodies have been recovered, memorials have been taking place for the victims.

A service was held in a Cairo church on Saturday for air hostess Yara Hani, who was aboard the doomed plane.

Smoke alarms

The Aviation Herald said that smoke detectors had gone off in the toilet and the aircraft's electronics before the signal was lost.

It said it had received flight data filed through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) from three independent channels.

It said the system showed that at 02:26 local time on Thursday (00:26 GMT) smoke was detected in the jet's toilet.

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A minute later - at 00:27 GMT - there was an avionics alert indicating smoke in the bay below the cockpit that contains aircraft electronics and computers.

The last ACARS message was at 00:29 GMT, the air industry website said, and the contact with the plane was lost four minutes later at 02:33 local time.

ACARS is used to routinely download flight data to the airline operating the aircraft.

Confirming the data, France's Bureau of Investigations and Analysis told AFP it was "far too soon to interpret and understand the cause of the accident as long as we have not found the wreckage or the flight data recorders".

Agency spokesman Sebastien Barthe told Associated Press the messages "generally mean the start of a fire" but added: "We are drawing no conclusions from this. Everything else is pure conjecture."

Philip Baum, the editor of Aviation Security International Magazine, told the BBC that technical failure could not be ruled out.

"There was smoke reported in the aircraft lavatory, then smoke in the avionics bay, and over a period of three minutes the aircraft's systems shut down, so you know, that's starting to indicate that it probably wasn't a hijack, it probably wasn't a struggle in the cockpit, it's more likely a fire on board."


Analysis: Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

This data could be the biggest clue yet as to what happened. It suggests there was a fire at the front of the aircraft, on the right-hand side.

The sequence begins with a warning of an overheating window in the cockpit. Smoke is then detected in the lavatory (we assume it's the one behind the cockpit) and in a bay right underneath the cockpit, which is full of electronic equipment.

Finally, another window becomes too hot, before all the systems begin collapsing. All of this takes place over a few minutes, then the aircraft drops off the radar.

Some pilots have suggested that the 90 degree left turn the plane then made is a known manoeuvre to get out of the way in an emergency, when an aircraft needs to drop height suddenly.

The 360 degree turn after that, they say, could be the crew managing a crisis.

So it seems that the aircraft caught fire and that the fire spread very quickly. But whether that fire was deliberate or mechanical, we still can't say.


Security consultant Sally Leivesley said the timing on the data suggested an "extremely rapidly developing flame front from a fire that has overwhelmed the avionics very, very quickly".

She cited the case of "underpants bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to set off an explosive device hidden in his underwear on a Detroit-bound flight in 2009.

Although the attempt failed, a fire from the device's chemicals still spread "right up the side of the plane".

Greece says radar shows the Airbus A320 making two sharp turns and dropping more than 25,000ft (7,620m) before plunging into the sea.

The search is now focused on finding the plane's flight recorders, in waters between 2,500 and 3,000 metres deep.

In October, an Airbus A321 operated by Russia's Metrojet blew up over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, with all 224 people on board killed.

Sinai Province, a local affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist group, said it had smuggled a bomb on board.

Source: bbc.com

 

Jose Mourinho: Manchester United to appoint former Chelsea boss

Manchester United are set to appoint Jose Mourinho as their new manager, BBC Sport understands.

It is believed a deal with the 53-year-old Portuguese was agreed in principle before United's FA Cup final win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

With United failing to qualify for the Champions League under Louis van Gaal, the Old Trafford hierarchy is thought to have decided a change is required.

Mourinho has been out of work since he was sacked by Chelsea in December.

The club plan to announce his arrival early next week after telling Van Gaal, 64, his reign has come to an end.

Van Gaal remains defiant

In the post-match news conference following United's FA Cup win, the Dutchman said: "I show you the cup and I don't discuss it [my future] with my friends of the media, who already sacked me for six months. Which manager can do what I have done?"

When pressed on whether he will be at Old Trafford as manager of United next season, he replied: "I hope to see you. I don't want to talk about about leaving this club."

The Dutchman still has one season remaining on his three-year deal, but despite spending £250m on new players, his tenure has disappointed many fans, the club finishing fourth and then fifth in the Premier League.

Mourinho remains silent

Van Gaal's grip on his job has seemed increasingly fragile this season, with Mourinho known to covet the task of masterminding a revival at United three years after legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down.

The Portuguese was at heavyweight boxer David Haye's win in London on Saturday evening but repeatedly declined to comment on whether he was about to succeed Van Gaal.

Mourinho is one of the game's most successful coaches, winning three league titles in his two spells at Stamford Bridge, as well as guiding Porto and Inter Milan to Champions League victories in 2004 and 2010 respectively.

He also led Real Madrid to the Spanish La Liga title in 2012, and his arrival will mean a mouthwatering resumption of his rivalry with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard will take over at United's arch-rivals Manchester City this summer.

Having sacked previous manager David Moyes just 10 months after he succeeded Ferguson, United's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward was desperate for Van Gaal to see out his contract.

Some senior figures at United were also known to have serious reservations about the prospect of the controversial Mourinho, with some preferring Ryan Giggs as an alternative.

The Welshman, who made a record 963 appearances for the club, took over as manager on an interim basis in April 2014 following the sacking of Moyes, and was understood to be keen on the job.

In February however, BBC Sport revealed that United had held talks with Mourinho's representatives, and they have now come to fruition.

Woodward - and United's American owners, the Glazer family - still hoped Van Gaal would lead the club to a top four finish, and up until last month Mourinho's advisers were concerned the club might remain loyal to the Dutch coach.

But fans were not convinced by Van Gaal's tactics. The club's 49 goals in the Premier League this season was United's lowest total since 1989-90, coincidentally a season that also ended with an FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace.

There were occasional high points, not least Van Gaal's theatrical dive in front of the dug-outs during the 3-2 win over Arsenal in February as he accused the Gunners of diving.

But since collecting only three points in six games at the end of 2015, Van Gaal has been under intense pressure.

He has accused the media and former players of "sacking him", and cited injuries as the reason why United have been unable to sustain a title challenge.

Nevertheless, Van Gaal's side still had Champions League qualification in their own hands 14 minutes from the end of their penultimate Premier League game at West Ham, only to concede two late goals, lose 3-2 and allow Manchester City to claim the fourth qualifying slot.

And, after members of the United hierarchy suggested in December that the season was 80% about the Premier League, it is the failure to qualify for the Champions League that has appeared to seal Van Gaal's fate.

Despite his track record, some will question United's decision to appoint Mourinho.

He was sacked by Chelsea in December just seven months after leading them to the Premier League title, with their season overshadowed by a spectacular slump in form and issues off the pitch that included a public fallout with club doctor Eva Carneiro.

Ultimately however, United appear to have decided it is a risk worth taking.

Mourinho has never hidden his admiration for United, and for Ferguson. Now it seems he will have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.

The appointment will mean some long overdue issues can be dealt with, not least whether the club's second longest-serving player Michael Carrick should be awarded a new contract.

It remains to be seen what Giggs will do.

Having served under Moyes and Van Gaal, the prospect of continuing his apprenticeship under a third United boss may not appeal.

It remains to be seen whether the club can find an alternative role for their most decorated player.

Giggs would not be short of offers if he decided to join the management ranks.

But many of the Welshman's former team-mates - most recently close friend Gary Neville at Valencia - have not found management easy.

Source: bbc.com

 

The Democrats' election nightmare

Some Democrats have a nightmare that takes them back to Florida 16 years ago, and the time of the 'hanging chads'.

It was the presidential election decided in that state by 537 votes after weeks of counting, amid arguments over the ragged fragments of ballots not punched free in the voting machines. Those pesky chads.

The villain of the nightmare is the old consumer and green crusader Ralph Nader.

He persisted in his third party campaign through to November, impervious to Democrat accusations of selfish egocentricity, and got nearly 100,000 votes in Florida.

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Election workers look over a ballot in Florida during the 2000 presidential election

With less than one per cent of votes for Nader, cast overwhelmingly by liberal-left voters, Al Gore would have won the state for the Democrats, and vote in the state-by-state electoral college.

President George W Bush would never have been.

The figure who hovers in this dream as a white-haired ghost is of course, Bernie Sanders.

Might he be the spoiler for Hillary Clinton which gives Donald Trump the White House?

'Defeat Trump by defeating Clinton'

The fear of senior Democrats is not that he makes a Nader-style independent run - it would make no sense at all - but simply that he poisons the well, and has the same effect in the end.

He's not giving up, although mathematically his chance of the nomination has gone.

He tells his huge rallies that the only way to defeat Trump is to defeat Clinton, and many of his followers believe him. I walked with a few hundred of them through San Diego.

'Feel the Bern'

They were a mixture of hardcore liberals, students, cragged hippies (wearing jeans that look as though they have seen service in '68), a man selling socialist pamphlets, and Aztec dancers who were asked to bless the march, which they did to a drumbeat that gave our microphone a few problems.

'Feel the Bern!' they cried.

It's a movement, without doubt. Fired by the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street campaign, and a belief that Hillary Clinton is the child of a rotten establishment, they sing the Sanders songs.

Hillary Clinton says race against Bernie Sanders is 'done'

US election: Sanders vows to fight on 'until the last vote is cast'

Bernie Sanders: 'We must defeat Donald Trump'

US election: What will Clinton v Trump look like?

They are happy because, exactly like the Trump army on the other side, they are an insurgency which has surprised everyone.

But it perplexes Democrats who know how tough it will be when the campaign against Trump is truly joined.

Vice-chair of the California Democrats Eric Bauman told me that on 95% of the important questions, Clinton and Sanders held views that were nearly indistinguishable.

So why fight so hard and in increasingly fractious language?

California Senator and party elder Diane Feinstein has warned that they "can't afford a disruptive convention like 1968" (when anti war protestors were tear gassed in the streets of Chicago).

She was speaking after a state convention in Nevada where there was chair throwing in the course of a row about delegate selection.

I spoke to Stephanie Miller, the liberal talk-show host and comedienne who broadcasts from her home in the Hollywood hills.

She said that Karl Rove, the master Republican strategist had not bothered to turn his attention to Sanders yet.

"Imagine what he would do to a 73-year-old socialist Jew from Vermont!" she tells me, in the midst of a passionate assault on Trump, whom she described as "a racist, bigot and misogynist" and someone who reminded her of Hitler.

'Fight goes on'

Yet Bernie soldiers on. He addresses vast rallies and he is tramping the valleys of California, scene of the last primary, in the hope of inflicting a final, embarrassing (though unlikely) defeat on Clinton, who's having to fight him with millions of dollars that she had hoped to keep for the campaign proper against Trump.

The nomination is all but locked up, but the internal party fight goes on.

Now, let's be clear that most of the Sanders voters in the primaries are bound to vote Democrat in November, whatever their feelings about candidate Clinton.

But how many won't?

And in supporting an increasingly sour Sanders attack on her, how far will they help to fuel the feelings of undecided voters who, for one reason or another stretching back 25 years, have never warmed to her?

'Honk for Bernie'

His persistence is doing her damage, and some of it will last.

Such concerns seem far away to his supporters on the streets of San Diego. They continue to ask drivers to 'Honk for Bernie.'

Some of them said cheerfully that they could never vote for her. They would stay away on 1 November.

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Donald Trump has already turned his attention to Hillary Clinton

And who knows, the polls may tighten as Republicans rally behind Trump, however reluctantly.

He's already beginning to tailor his message to try to pull in disaffected Democrats.

And if it works as it has done so far this year, some Sanders supporters will find themselves in November with walk-on parts in the Democrats' nightmare.

Source: bbc.com

 

French labour dispute: Nuclear power plant workers to join strike

Workers at French nuclear power stations are due to down tools on Thursday amid growing industrial action over controversial labour reforms.

The CGT union said staff at 16 of France's 19 nuclear plants had voted for a one-day strike.

The government said on Wednesday it was dipping into strategic oil reserves as strikers blockaded refineries.

Unions want the government to reverse controversial labour reforms forced through parliament earlier this month.

France's state-run power company, Electricite de France, declined to comment on how Thursday's one-day strike at nuclear plants would affect supply.

Nuclear power provides about 75% of the country's electricity.

Strikes and blockades are already disrupting six of France's eight oil refineries.

Clashes broke out at one refinery on Tuesday when police broke up a blockade at Fos-sur-Mer in Marseille.

Workers at a large oil terminal in the port of Le Havre were due to go on strike on Thursday to block imports.

Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said 40% of petrol stations around Paris were struggling to get fuel.

Motorists have been panic buying to avoid shortages.

President Francois Hollande told ministers on Wednesday that "everything will be done to ensure the French people and the economy is supplied".

Analysts say France has nearly four months of fuel reserves.

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Police are trying to clear the blockades around oil refineries

Industrial action also spread to France's railways on Wednesday, with a strike by train drivers cutting some high-speed TGV services as well as regional and commuter trains. More transport disruption was expected on Thursday.

The CGT has also called for protest rallies in cities across France.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Paris says the escalating action is raising concerns for the Euro 2016 football championships due to begin in France in just over two weeks' time.

The government provoked union outrage when it resorted to a constitutional device to force its watered-down labour reforms through parliament without a vote.

The government says the reforms, which make it easier for companies to hire and fire staff, are needed to bring down unemployment.

French labour reform bill - main points

  • The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
  • Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
  • The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
  • Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated

Source: bbc.com

New York shooting: Gunfire at Irving Plaza leaves one person dead

One person has been killed and three others wounded in a shooting at a music venue in New York.

Police said the shooting happened at Irving Plaza, near Union Square, Manhattan, where hip-hop artist TI was due to perform on Wednesday evening.

No-one has been arrested and the motive for the shooting is unclear.

Witnesses reported panic inside the concert hall when the shots rang out. Police have sealed off the area around the venue.

The victims were three men, one of whom died, and a woman, the New York Times reported.

TI, whose real name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr, was not on stage at the time. His representatives have not yet commented on the incident.

Hip-hop artist T.I. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn borough of New York. 20 October 2015

Source: bbc.com

G7 Japan: World leaders visit Shinto religion's holiest shrine

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has taken world leaders to the Shinto religion's holiest site, as the Group of Seven (G7) summit begins in the country.

Mr Abe said the visit was so that they could "understand the spirituality of Japanese people".

The two-day G7 meeting in Ise-Shima brings together industrialised nations.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima - the site of the first atomic bomb - the first sitting US president to do so.

The visit to the shrine is controversial because critics say Mr Abe is catering to his conservative supporters who want to revive traditional values.

Ise shrine

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  • The shrine is 2,000 years old but in line with Shinto practice the buildings are taken down and reconstructed regularly.
  • Followers of Shintoism believe that everything - rocks, fire, trees, the sky - has its own spirit or god.
  • The sanctuary is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami who is prominent in Japanese creation myths.

Top of the agenda for the G7 nations - the US, Canada, Britain, Italy, Germany, France and Japan - will be concerns over the health of the global economy.

Europe's refugee crisis will also feature prominently at the meeting. European Council President Donald Tusk said on Thursday he would ask the G7's support for more global aid for refugees.

"If we (G7) do not take the lead in managing this crisis, nobody would," Mr Tusk said to reporters.

Terrorism, cyber security and maritime security are also on the agenda.

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School children welcomed the leaders to the Shinto shrine

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Mr Obama has previously said there would be no apology for the dropping of the world's first atomic bomb in Hiroshima

On Wednesday, Mr Obama and Mr Abe met for talks where the US president expressed regret over the arrest of a US military base worker in Okinawa in connection with the death of a local woman.

Mr Obama also mentioned his upcoming visit to Hiroshima, saying it would "honour all those who were lost in World War Two and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as well as highlight the extraordinary alliance that we have been able to forge over these many decades".

He has previously said he would not be apologising for the dropping of the bomb by the US.

Source: bbc.com

Islamic State: Iraqi army makes gains in Falluja offensive

Iraqi government forces have made gains in their offensive to drive Islamic State militants from Falluja - one the country's two major cities in IS hands.

The nearby town of Karma, the first line of IS defence, is now in the army's hands, a BBC correspondent says.

Large numbers of elite combat troops have also been deployed near Falluja, about 45km (28 miles) west of Baghdad.

But IS hit back north of Falluja, killing and injuring some Iraqi forces in a suicide car bomb attack.

A counter-attack south of the city was repelled with the help of helicopter gunships, the BBC's Jim Muir in Karma reports.

This comes just days after the IS commander in Falluja, Maher al-Bilawi, was killed along with dozens militants in US-led coalition air strikes, according to Washington.

How tough will it be to take Falluja?

Islamic State: The full story

Ghost town

Karma is now firmly under control of government forces, including rapid reaction troops and federal police, our correspondent says.

Iran-backed Shia militias, which also took part in the fighting, have left graffiti on the walls of buildings in the town, including one saying: "Thank you, Iran."

But Karma is now a ghost town, with not a single civilian to be seen and with rows of shops battered and burnt out and some bigger buildings badly damaged, our correspondent adds.

Large number of the elite Counter-Terrorism Force have been brought up in preparation for an assault on the city itself.

However, it is not clear when the attack will begin.

Falluja. Photo: August 2010

Falluja - key facts:

  • had population of more than 300,000 before it was seized by first al-Qaeda and then by IS in 2014
  • has always been a hotbed of Sunni defiance, becoming a symbol of resistance to US forces in violent battles in 2004
  • controls main highway from Baghdad to both Jordan and Syria
  • is known as the "city of mosques" - more than 200 mosques in city and surrounding area

Some 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the city and have been told via leaflet drops to avoid IS areas and put white sheets on their roofs, the US military says.

The UN says it has reports of people dying of starvation and being killed for refusing to fight for IS.

Falluja fell to IS in 2014, a key moment in its rise that saw it declare a caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The other major Iraqi city still controlled by IS is Mosul.

Map showing movement of Iraqi forces towards Falluja (24 May 2016)

Source: bbc.com

European migrant crisis: Weekly boat rescues reach 13,000

The rescue of more than 600 migrants off Libya on Saturday by a flotilla of EU ships took the weekly total to at least 13,000, Italian authorities say.

The rescues were the latest by a patrol of Italian, German and Irish ships operating in the Mediterranean.

Spring weather has led to a surge of people attempting the perilous crossing from Africa to Europe.

It is now the main migration route since an EU-Turkey deal curbed numbers sailing to Greece.

An Irish vessel saved 123 migrants from a people's smugglers' rubber dinghy on Saturday, the Irish military said, while the Italian coastguard said a German ship had carried out four rescue operations from similar unseaworthy vessels.

Meanwhile, about 4,000 migrants plucked from the sea earlier in the week arrived in Italy on Saturday. Many others are known to have drowned.

In one dramatic operation caught on camera by Italian rescuers on Wednesday, a migrant boat overturned after spotting a patrol boat. The Italian navy rescued 562 people, whil five died.

The same patrol boat rescued a further 108 migrants in another incident later that day.

On Tuesday, another 3,000 people were rescued from smugglers' boats.

Most migrants are fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

Under a European Union plan, tens of thousands of those rescued at sea were supposed to be relocated to other EU countries from Italy and Greece, where most land.

However anti-migrant sentiment in other countries have meant that few of have actually been transferred.


A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

Source: bbc.com

Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid in a dramatic penalty shootout in Milan

Real Madrid were crowned champions of Europe for the 11th time after beating Atletico Madrid in a dramatic penalty shootout in Milan.

Sergio Ramos' controversial finish put Zinedine Zidane's side ahead before Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty.

However, substitute Yannick Carrasco sent the Champions League final into extra-time with a close-range finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck the winning penalty after Juanfran had missed.

How the Champions League final was won: Relive the drama from the San Siro

How the penalty shootout unfolded

In the shootout, Lucas Vazquez, Marcelo and Gareth Bale scored for Real, with Griezmann, Gabi and Saul Niguez replying to make it 3-3.

After Ramos stepped up to make it 4-3, Juanfran hit the post, leaving Ronaldo with the chance to win the cup.

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Cristiano Ronaldo scores the winning penalty in the 2016 Champions League final

The competition's all-time leading scorer kept his composure to win it - his third individual Champions League triumph following on his from his successes with Manchester United in 2008 and Real in 2014.

Zidane's tactics deliver silverware

Zidane, a Champions League winner with Real as a player in 2002, replaced Rafael Benitez as manager at the Bernabeu in January, with Real still reeling from a bruising 4-0 hammering by Barcelona earlier in the season and facing the prospect of a second successive campaign without major silverware.

The 43-year-old finishes it as the seventh different manager to deliver a European Cup to Real.

As stylish as his side were going forward, they were just as impressive at the back as Atletico's attacking duo of Griezmann and Fernando Torres were starved of service before the interval.

Bale and Ronaldo repeatedly dropped back into midfield to help cut out the supply routes to Griezmann and Torres, while Karim Benzema also typified Real's work rate by doing his defensive duties.

Atletico were the better side after the break yet fortune was on Real's side as Pepe's rash challenge on Torres went unpunished and Stefan Savic stabbed another golden chance wide.

Bale shines ahead of Euro 2016

Bale was excellent as Real dominated the first half - powerful going forward and quick to help out at the back when required.

The Wales international was a danger at set pieces while he was heavily involved as his side took the lead.

Despite having an effort cleared off the line, Bale faded after the break and he spent most of extra-time limping around the pitch with cramp, unsurprising considering his work rate.

Yet he still put himself forward for the decisive shootout - and scored with a cool, low finish to help his team to a famous win.

What now for Simeone and Atletico?

Three weeks ago, Atletico were on course for a La Liga and Champions League double, yet Diego Simeone's side end the season without a trophy after the most heartbreaking of defeats.

Having finished three points behind champions Barcelona in Spain, they are left to reflect on what might have been despite an impressive second-half performance at the San Siro.

Griezmann became more dangerous but his missed penalty proved crucial, even though Carrasco later levelled after Juanfran's brilliant volleyed cross.

It is the third time Atletico have reached the final and failed to win yet the future remains bright, with Simeone likely to remain in charge next season despite earlier reported interest from Premier League clubs.

His task this summer will be keeping his assets, with Griezmann and midfielder Saul having been linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United respectively.

Clattenburg emerges with praise

England's Mark Clattenburg had his work cut out as he refereed a tempestuous derby, which saw eight bookings.

Real defender Pepe was at his theatrical best from the start as he tried to influence the Premier League official, who also had to calm down Simeone after Dani Carvajal's early foul on Griezmann.

Ramos put Real ahead from what looked like an offside position but Clattenburg's assistant kept his flag down.

However the 41-year-old from County Durham, who will be officiating at Euro 2016, was right to award the penalty which saw Griezmann hit the underside of the bar in the 47th minute.

The stats you need to know

  • Atletico have now contested more European Cup/Champions League finals without winning the trophy than any other club (three).
  • This was the eighth Champions League final to go to extra-time, and the seventh to go to a penalty shootout.
  • Zinedine Zidane is the second man (after Miguel Munoz) to win the European Cup/Champions League with Real Madrid as both a player and a manager.
  • Zidane is the first French manager to win the Champions League.
  • Sergio Ramos became the fifth player to score in two different Champions League finals, and the first defender to do so (also Raul, Samuel Eto'o, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo).
  • Indeed, Ramos joins Messi and Eto'o as one of three players to score in his first two Champions League finals.
  • Antoine Griezmann became the first player since Arjen Robben in 2012 to miss a penalty in the Champions League final (excluding shootouts).
  • Only Marcello Lippi (three) has lost more Champions League finals as a manager than Diego Simeone (two).

Source: bbc.com

 

 

Okinawa base imposes curfew on US troops after woman's death

The US military base on Japan's island of Okinawa has imposed a midnight curfew and a ban on alcohol after the arrest of an ex-Marine suspected of killing a Japanese woman.

There would be no "celebrations and parties while the Okinawan people are in mourning", the military said. The restrictions will run until 24 June.

Kenneth Shinzato, 32, was arrested on 19 May but has not yet been charged.

Many Okinawans resent the US base and the incident has reignited tension.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the woman's death with US President Barack Obama ahead of the recent G7 summit in Japan.

'Terrible act'

The Okinawa facility, home to some 30,000 US troops, has banned them from visiting clubs and bars and drinking alcohol off-base.

Festivals and concerts at the base have been postponed.

Kenneth Shinzato , 20 May

Kenneth Shinzato has not yet been charged

Marine Corps commander in Japan Lt Gen Lawrence Nicholson said at a news conference: "We should not be out shooting fireworks... If we really believe we are part of the Okinawan community, then we too must be in mourning. And we do."

He said: "There are no words in the English language that can adequately convey our level of shock, pain and grief at the loss of life of this innocent victim.

"My request to the Okinawa people is simple: please do not allow this terrible act of violence to drive a wedge between our two communities."

The ban also applies to military families and civilians employed by the military.

Kenneth Shinzato, a US military worker in Okinawa, was arrested on suspicion of dumping a woman's body.

The body of the 20-year-old woman, missing since April, was found at a location he gave.

Police say the man admitted abandoning the body. They also suspect he killed her but have not charged him with this yet.

A suspect can be held for 21 days before charges must be brought.

In 2013, US troops throughout Japan were placed under a night-time curfew after two US sailors pleaded guilty to the rape of a Japanese woman on Okinawa.

In 1995, the rape of a 12-year-old girl on Okinawa by US servicemen prompted mass protests.

The Okinawa base houses about half of all US troops in Japan. There are plans to relocate part of it - the Futenma air base - to a less-populated area of the island, but many Okinawans want the air base removed altogether.

Source: bbc.com

At least 6 dead, 2 missing after floods in Texas, Kansas

HOUSTON –  Authorities in central Texas found two more bodies along flooded streams Sunday, bringing the death toll from flooding the state to six.

It's unclear whether a body found in Travis County near Austin is one of the two people still missing in Texas. An 11-year-old boy is still missing in central Kansas, too.

The latest flooding victim identified by authorities was a woman who died when the car she was riding in was swept from the street by the flooded Cypress Creek about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Kendall County sheriff's Cpl. Reid Daly said.

The car, with three occupants, was in Comfort, about 45 miles north of San Antonio. The driver made it to shore, and a female passenger was rescued from a tree. But Daly said 23-year-old Florida Molima was missing until her body was found around 11 a.m. Sunday about 8 miles downstream. She becomes the sixth flood-related death in Texas this Memorial Day weekend.

In Bandera, about 45 miles northwest of San Antonio, an estimated 10 inches of rain overnight led to the rescues of nine people. The rain caused widespread damage, including the collapse of the roof of the Bandera Bulletin, the weekly newspaper, KSAT-TV in San Antonio reported. Photos from the area showed campers and trailers stacked against each other, but no injuries were reported.

Torrential rains caused heavy flash flooding in some parts of the U.S. over the last few days, and led to numerous evacuations in southeast Texas, including two prisons. But the threat of severe weather has lessened over the long Memorial Day holiday for many places, though Tropical Depression Bonnie continued to bring rain and wind to North and South Carolina.

Near Austin, a crew aboard a county STAR Flight helicopter found a body Sunday on the north end of a retention pond near the Circuit of the Americas auto racing track, which is close to where two people were reported to have been washed away by a flash flood early Friday, Travis County sheriff's spokesman Lisa Block said. The body still must be recovered and no identification has been made.

To the southeast along the rain-swollen Brazos River near Houston, prison officials evacuated about 2,600 inmates from two prisons to other state prisons because of expected flooding, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said. Inmates in a low-level security camp at a third prison in the area are being moved to the main prison building, Clark said.

All three prisons are in coastal Brazoria County, where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

"TDCJ officials continue to monitor the situation and are working with our state partners as the river level rises," Clark said, noting that additional food and water has been delivered to prisons that are getting the displaced inmates and sandbags have been filled and delivered to the prisons whereflooding is anticipated.

Another prison that's about 70 miles northwest of Houston saw a brawl between inmates and correctional officers on Saturday that began when flooding caused a power outage. Clark estimated as many as 50 inmates in the 1,300-inmate prison were involved.

The rising water in several Houston-area rivers and creeks prompted Harris County officials on Saturday to ask about 750 families in the Northwood Pines subdivision to voluntarily evacuate their homes and apartments. Officials also warned residents living near the west fork of the San Jacinto River, north of Houston, that rising waters were likely to flood homes, even those that are elevated, Sanchez said.

"The skies are clear and things look good. But we want to make sure people understand that we are not out of the woods yet. We have to keep an eye on water that's coming through our bayou system," said Francisco Sanchez, a spokesman for the Office of Emergency Management in Harris County.

In Kansas, the search for the missing 11-year-old resumed Sunday and expanded beyond the swollen creek he fell into Friday night, according to Wichita Fire Department battalion chief Scott Brown. "We are more in body-recovery mode than rescue," Brown said Saturday night.

Four people died from flooding in rural Washington County, Texas, located between Austin and Houston, where more than 16.5 inches of rain fell in some places Thursday and Friday. The bodies of two missing motorists were found Saturday in separate parts of the county, according to Judge John Brieden.

Tropical Depression Bonnie reached the South Carolina coast early Sunday, bringing heavy rain and rough tides to an area packed with tourists for the Memorial Day weekend. Forecasters say up to 8 inches of rain have fallen in parts of southern South Carolina. About 3 inches of rain fell in Charleston in 24 hours and more is expected, according to the National Weather Service.

Source: foxnews.com

Donald Trump: Illegals treated better than US veterans

Illegal immigrants in the US often get better care than the nation's military veterans, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said.

"We're not going to allow that to happen any longer," he told a bikers' rally in Washington DC.

Mr Trump did not provide any evidence for his assertion.

Last year, the billionaire sparked anger by attacking the military record of Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war.

Mr Trump said Sen McCain was only considered a hero because he was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

He then added: "I like people who weren't captured."

Since then Mr Trump, who never served in the military, has tried to repair the damage by frequently honouring veterans at his rallies and holding fundraising events for them.

His latest comments came at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally on Sunday, which was dedicated to remembering POWs and those missing in action.

Despite previous criticism, many in the crowd cheered Mr Trump.

"What I like about Trump is that he is one of us. He's not a politician," 52-year-old Louis Naymik was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Trump - who has made controversial comments on a number of issues - was speaking ahead of the 7 June California primary.

He is running unopposed in California after his Republican rivals pulled out and he reached the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. It has yet to be formalised.

The Associated Press says Congress and many states have written an assortment of laws and policies designed to restrict government services to people in the country illegally.

Source: bbc.com

Olympiakos footballer Alan Pulido kidnapped in Mexico

Mexican footballer Alan Pulido has been kidnapped in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, officials say.

The 25-year-old striker was reportedly kidnapped on Sunday near his home in Ciudad Victoria after leaving a party.

He plays for the Greek team Olympiakos and has made several appearances for Mexico's national team.

Mexico has the one of the world's highest kidnapping rates, with government figures saying some 1,000 people are taken every year.

Others argue that the true figure could be almost 10 times as high.

Criss-crossed by drug smugglers

Local media reports said Pulido had been leaving a party with his girlfriend late on Saturday night when their car was surrounded by several trucks.

Map of Tamaulipas

Six masked men reportedly took the striker away "by force" while his girlfriend was left unharmed in the car park where the incident took place.

Tamaulipas is one of Mexico's most violent states, and Mexico recently deployed more security forces to tackle cartels operating in the area.

Dozens of people have been killed in recent weeks in the border state, which is criss-crossed by drug-smuggling routes to the United States.

Pulido joined Olympiakos last July and finished the season with six goals in 15 games.

Source: bbc.com

German row over right-winger's 'racist' Boateng remark

The German right-wing Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party has come under fire over comments by one of its leaders about footballer Jerome Boateng that are widely regarded as racist.

AfD deputy chief Alexander Gauland told a newspaper that Germans would not like to have Boateng, whose father is Ghanaian, as a neighbour.

Boateng, 27, is a defender for German champions Bayern Munich and the national team.

The remark drew immediate condemnation.

Mr Gauland later denied it reflected his own views.

The leader of the AfD, Frauke Petry, apologised for the "impression that has arisen".

The comment was carried by the Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Under the headline "Gauland insults Boateng", the article quotes the politician as saying: "People find him good as a footballer, but they don't want to have Boateng as a neighbour."

Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff said people who made such comments "are simply discrediting themselves".

Justice Minister Heiko Maas called them "unacceptable and shabby".

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the comment showed "that Gauland is not just against foreigners but against the good things about Germany".

'Super footballer'

Mr Gauland said that he had "never insulted Mr Boateng", whom he did not know. He added that he had only "described some people's attitudes'' in a background conversation with the journalists.

AfD leader Frauke Petry told the Bild newspaper that her deputy could not remember making the comment, saying: "Independently of that. I apologise to Mr Boateng for the impression that has arisen."

She later tweeted: "Jerome Boateng is a super footballer who is rightly a member of the German national team. I'm looking forward to the European Championship."

The AfD was started three years ago with a Eurosceptic message and has attracted many voters who are angered by an influx of migrants and by Chancellor Angela Merkel's pro-refugee approach.

Source: bbc.com

Hissene Habre: Chad's ex-ruler convicted of crimes against humanity

Chad's ex-ruler Hissene Habre has been convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison at a landmark trial in Senegal.

The judge convicted him of rape, sexual slavery and ordering killings during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

Victims and families of those killed cheered and embraced each other in the courtroom after the verdict was given.

It was the first time an African Union-backed court had tried a former ruler for human rights abuses.

Habre, who received strong backing from the US while in power, has been given 15 days to appeal.

Survivors from the Habre era welcomed the verdict.

"This is a historic day for Chad and for Africa. It is the first time that an African head of state has been found guilty in another African country," Yamasoum Konar, a representative of one of the victims' groups, told the BBC.

"This will be a lesson to other dictators in Africa," he added.

After he was sentenced, Habre remained defiant, raising his arms and shouting to his supporters as he was led from the courtroom.

"Down with France-Afrique!" he shouted, using a term which is critical of France's influence in its former colonies.

Throughout the nine-month trial, he refused to recognise the court's legitimacy, frequently disrupting proceedings.

The ex-president denied accusations that he ordered the killing of 40,000 people during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

His critics dubbed him "Africa's Pinochet" because of the atrocities committed during his rule.

Survivors had recounted gruesome details of the torture carried out by Habre's feared secret police.

One of the most notorious detention centres in the capital N'Djamena was a converted swimming pool.


Analysis: Abdourahmane Dia, BBC Afrique, Dakar

The verdict will be seen as a major step forward by those who are campaigning for African leaders to be tried on the continent for war crimes.

They have been pushing for a permanent African court of justice to be set up, believing war crimes suspects should be prosecuted on the continent rather than at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

But some people were critical of the AU-backed court, set up specifically to try him. They argued that it was under Western influence as it had been partly funded by the European Union and US.

However, survivors of Habre's atrocities did not seem to care who funded the court. They were just relieved that justice had been done, 25 years after his rule ended.


His critics dubbed him "Africa's Pinochet" because of the atrocities committed during his rule.

Survivors had recounted gruesome details of the torture carried out by Habre's feared secret police.

One of the most notorious detention centres in N'Djamena was a converted swimming pool.

Witnesses said victims endured electric shocks, near-asphyxia, cigarette burns and having gas squirted into their eyes.

Pencil sketch of a man being tortured with a rope around his head

Victims drew sketches of torture techniques for the case

Some were subjected to "supplice des baguettes" (torture by sticks), when the victim's head is put between sticks joined by rope which is then twisted.

Gberdao Gustave Kam, president of the special court, said Habre had also committed three acts of rape.

Habre was arrested in Senegal, where he was exiled, in 2013.

Many of his victims campaigned for him to be tried following his overthrow in 1990.

"Today will be carved into justice as the day that a band of unrelenting survivors brought their dictator to justice," said Reed Brody from Human Rights Watch, who has worked on the case for 17 years and was in court for the judgement.

In 2005, a court in Belgium issued a warrant for his arrest, claiming universal jurisdiction but, after Senegal referred the issue to the African Union, the AU asked Senegal to try Mr Habre "on behalf of Africa".

In 2013, a court in Chad sentenced him to death in absentia for crimes against humanity.

Who is Hissene Habre?

• Born in 1942 to ethnic Toubou herders in northern Chad

• Given scholarship to study political science in France

• First came to the world's attention in 1974 when his rebels captured three European hostages to ransom for money and arms

• Seized power in 1982 allegedly with the help of the CIA

• Ousted by current President Idriss Deby in 1990

• Accused of systematically persecuting groups he distrusted

Source: bbc.com

Iraq troops in 'final assault' on Islamic State in Falluja

The Iraqi army is facing fierce resistance and counter-attacks as it attempts to storm Falluja, a bastion of so-called Islamic State (IS).

The army's dawn offensive came a week after it began efforts to retake the city, just 30 miles (50km) west of Baghdad and held by IS since 2014.

An estimated 50,000 civilians are trapped inside, with only a few hundred families escaping so far.

Meanwhile IS militants launched a wave of bombings in and around Baghdad.

The attacks in the Iraqi capital killed at least 21 people.

The commander of the army operation in Falluja, Lt Gen Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, said: "The counter-terrorism troops along with other armed forces and Anbar [province] police have started pushing into the city. Violent clashes took place on the outskirts."

The Iraqi air force and international coalition jets carried out strikes in support of ground troops.

IS is thought to have about 1,200 fighters, the majority from the city itself.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says government forces have taken over two townships on the southern fringes of Falluja, but on other fronts they are some way from the edge of the city itself.

The impression is that the army is trying to close a ring of steel around the city, he says.

Militia leaders taking part have said there is likely to be a pause before the assault on the city centre begins so, to allow more civilians to escape.

There is alarm over conditions faced by civilians, with reports of people starving to death and of being killed for refusing to fight for IS.

The Iraqi military has urged those remaining to either leave the city or stay indoors, though IS is preventing civilians from fleeing.

Falluja fell to IS in January 2014, a key moment in the jihadist group's rise that saw it declare a caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Along with Mosul, it is one of two major cities held by IS in Iraq.

Map showing movement of Iraqi forces towards Falluja (24 May 2016)

Meanwhile three districts of Baghdad have been targeted in attacks.

  • In the worst incident, a car bomb detonated at an army checkpoint in the mainly Shia area of Shaab, killing at least 11 people
  • Another suicide attacker, on a motorbike, targeted Sadr City, a Shia area of Baghdad, killing three people
  • A suicide bomber struck a market in Tarmiya, a town 50km (30 miles) north of Baghdad, killing at least seven

All three bombings have been claimed by IS in an online statement.

IS frequently targets Shia Muslims, whom the extremist Sunni militant group regards as apostates.

The attacks may also be an attempt to deflect attention from the operation in Falluja.

Falluja. Photo: August 2010

Falluja - key facts:

  • had population of more than 300,000 before it was seized by first al-Qaeda and then by IS in 2014
  • has always been a hotbed of Sunni defiance, becoming a symbol of resistance to US forces in violent battles in 2004
  • controls main highway from Baghdad to both Jordan and Syria
  • is known as the "city of mosques" - more than 200 mosques in city and surrounding area

Source: bbc.com

Tearful end to 11-year US church protest

Parishioners in Massachusetts have admitted defeat in their efforts to keep their church open, bringing to a tearful end their 11-year protest.

A group of about 100 worshippers at St Frances X Cabrini Church in Scituate have kept an around-the-clock vigil.

This month, the US Supreme Court refused to hear their final appeal against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston's decision to close it.

But on Sunday the protest came to an end at an emotional final service.

It was described as a "celebration of faith and transition" and many of the parishioners shared an embrace and cried.

As the service came to an end, quilts depicting each year of the vigil were taken from the walls of the church and carried down the aisles and out of the church door.

The archdiocese decided to close St Frances X Cabrini and more than 75 other parishes due to dwindling attendances, a shortage of clergy and buildings in decline.

Churchgoers hug outside church

Worshippers fought a decade-long fight to prevent the church closing

Nancy Shilts hugs another parishioner before the final service

Nancy Shilts hugs another parishioner before the final service

Several of the churches earmarked for closure held vigils in protest but St Frances X Cabrini was the last church to keep up its occupation.

In parallel with the sit-in was a legal challenge that went through civil courts and even reached the Vatican, but all in vain.

A judge at the state's Superior Court ruled that the archdiocese was legally able to evict the protesters, as the legal owner of the property.

That ruling was upheld by the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

An archdiocese spokesman said he hoped the protesters would be able to attend another church within the district.

Source: bbc.com

Alan Pulido: Freed Mexico footballer is 'safe and sound'

International football player Alan Pulido is "safe and sound" after police rescued him from kidnappers who seized him in north-eastern Mexico.

Pulido, 25, was abducted at gunpoint on Saturday night in his home town of Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas state.

The striker, who plays for Greek team Olympiakos, phoned police while his captors were distracted, officials say.

A 38-year-old man has been arrested. Officials say he confessed to belonging to a local criminal gang.

Police are searching for another three men believed to have been involved in the kidnapping.

Pulido's car was surrounded by several vehicles as he was leaving a party with his girlfriend on Saturday night.

Map of Tamaulipas

Masked men took him away, leaving his girlfriend unharmed in the car park where the incident took place.

Pulido's family received a phone call on Sunday demanding a ransom payment, state prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla told journalists.

It is not clear whether the family were planning to meet the kidnappers' demands or how big the ransom demand was.

Mr Quintanilla said that the security forces were able to locate Pulido thanks to the phone call he managed to make to police.

He said no shots had been fired and Pulido only sustained a minor injury.

One of his hands bandaged, Pulido told reporters early hours on Monday: "[I am] very well, thank God.'

Tamaulipas is one of Mexico's most violent states, and Mexico recently deployed more security forces to tackle cartels operating in the area.

The country has one of the world's highest kidnapping rates, with government figures saying some 1,000 people are abducted every year.

Others argue that the true figure could be almost 10 times as high.

Pulido joined Olympiakos last July and finished the season with six goals in 15 games.

He was part of Mexico's squad at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but was not called up for the upcoming Copa America tournament.

Source: bbc.com

The prisoner 'trapped' 10 years into a 10-month jail sentence

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has ordered a review of the position of thousands of prisoners serving a sentence known as an IPP or Imprisonment for Public Protection.

Many are considered to be languishing inside because they are several years over the minimum sentence they were given.

James Ward was given a 10-month IPP for arson in 2006. Now nearly 10 years on, he is still inside and has no release date.

He regularly self-harms, sets light to his cell, barricades himself in and has staged dirty protests. With a low IQ, and mental health problems, he cannot cope with prison life.

His sister, April, fears what he might do next.

"I do believe that one day we'll get the phone call that Jimmy has taken his own life, definitely."

'Trapped in a box'

Now 31, James has been writing to Radio 4's Today programme to explain what life is like for him inside.

"I find prison hard to cope with, being trapped in a box," he writes. "Prison is not fit to accommodate people like me with mental health problems. It's made me worse. How can I change in a place like this? I wake up every morning scared of what the day may hold."

James' teenage years were troubled. He was in and out of trouble with the police and his parents could not cope with his behaviour.

He got into a scuffle with his father, Bill, over the family dog and lashed out resulting in a year in prison for actual bodily harm. But Bill says James regrets what he did.

"He's told me it was the worst mistake he's ever made... he was young, he is a nice lad, everybody likes James," Bill says.

Close to the end of his year-long sentence, but unable to cope with prison life, James set fire to the mattress in his cell. Because of this, a judge gave him an IPP for arson and told him he would have to serve a minimum of 10 months. That was 10 years ago.

Since then, James has set light to his cell several times. His solicitor, Pippa Carruthers, says it is linked to his mental health.

"He becomes overwhelmed," she says. "He loses sight of what he needs to do to prove to a parole board that he is no longer a risk and he acts destructively."

'Kafkaesque'

IPPs were introduced by Labour in 2003. The then-government estimated the sentence would apply to 900 serious violent and sexual offenders but was actually applied far more widely and at its peak 6,000 people were serving the sentence - some for relatively minor offences such as stealing a mobile phone.

The sentence was abolished by Conservative Justice Secretary Ken Clarke in 2012 who called them a "stain" on the criminal justice system.

But 4,000 people remain in prison and nearly 400 have served more than five times the minimum term they were given.

The sentence has been called Kafkaesque as prisoners remain trapped inside because they cannot prove to a parole board that they are no longer a threat to the public.

They may have to wait years to get a parole review, or are unable to get on courses to deal with their behaviour.

Mr Clarke told Radio 4's Today programme: "It is quite absurd that there are people who might be there for the rest of their lives, in theory, who are serving a sentence which Parliament agreed to get rid of because it hadn't worked as anybody intended.

"The trouble is this ridiculous burden on the Parole Board of saying they can only release people if it's proved to them that they're not really a danger to the public.

"No prisoner can prove that - you never know when people are going to lose their control, what's going to happen to them when they're released."

He added that the key thing was to protect the public by making sure fewer criminals go on to reoffend, through helping them find work and accommodation upon release from jail.

Michael Gove has now asked chairman of the parole board Nick Hardwick to review how IPP prisoners are treated.

While the justice secretary has said that dangerous offenders must be kept inside, he says he wants the majority of IPP prisoners to be "given hope and a reason to engage in rehabilitative activity". He wants to see the prison population reduced.

'Lost and confused'

James' mother, father and sister visited him recently in prison. They said they were worried by his appearance describing him as "lost and confused".

The Parole Board has not reviewed James' case for two years and because the system has failed to carry out a required psychological and psychiatric assessment of him, it could be another year before he gets a parole board hearing.

He could be in prison for several more years.

In his last letter to the Today programme, James said he felt like he was "rotting" in the prison system.

Source: bbc.com

Migrant boat rescue: Two Britons charged over Channel incident

Two British men have appeared in court charged with immigration offences after a boat carrying 20 people was rescued off the Kent coast on Sunday.

Robert Stilwell, 33, from Dartford, and Mark Stribling, 35, from Farningham, appeared at Medway Magistrates Court accused of people smuggling.

Those rescued included 18 Albanian migrants, two of them children.

An ex-chief immigration inspector said earlier people would die unless more were done to stop crossing attempts.

Mr Stilwell and Mr Stribling were charged with conspiring to facilitate the entry of non-EU nationals, and remanded in custody to appear before Maidstone Crown Court on 27 June.

The UK coastguard said it was called just before midnight on Saturday to an incident off the coastal village of Dymchurch.

Residents: 'It's a bit of a worry'

How is the UK-France border policed?

Those on board the boat reportedly alerted their families in Calais after their inflatable boat started taking in water.

Rescuers said a helicopter from nearby Lydd and two lifeboats from Dungeness and Folkestone were sent to the incident off Dymchurch.

At about 02:00 BST on Sunday, a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, known as a "rhib", with 20 people on board was found.

Trevor Bunney, who was part of the RNLI lifeboat rescue team, said the people they rescued were "a bit dishevelled, [had] obviously been at sea a long time and not in the best of conditions".

"One lady had the first signs of hypothermia," he said.

After being rescued, the group were handed over to the UK Border Force and taken to Dover.

A second vessel - which officials say could be linked to the incident - was discovered on the beach at Dymchurch.

'Not doing enough'

Since the rescue on Sunday, concerns have been raised that sea tragedies, similar to those seen on the voyage to Turkey, Greece or Italy, could occur in the English Channel.

There is an "equal chance" of migrants drowning in the Channel as in the Mediterranean, former chief inspector of borders and immigration John Vine said.

Mr Vine, who was chief inspector until 2014, said: "We have seen the tragedies that have occurred in the Mediterranean.

He added that the hazards of Channel sea traffic, weather and sea conditions "are going to mean there is an equal chance of people losing their lives unless this is stopped."

"Clearly if this is now the start of something new, then really that needs to be reassessed and resources need to be put in," he added.

Analysis

By Simon Jones, BBC correspondent

Many people living along the Kent coast are shocked, but not surprised at what's happened.

The Channel is a huge stretch of water to patrol - and the authorities are often relying on tip-offs to try to catch those responsible.

Some residents are asking how many migrants are managing to get through without being detected.

The fear is that with the recent security clampdown at the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel, more and more migrants will attempt to cross the Channel on small boats, putting their lives at risk.

At the Port of Dover, the boat from which the migrants were rescued has been painstakingly examined.

It would have been a tight fit to get 20 people on board, crammed into the small craft in the busiest shipping lane in the world.


Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, however, said it was "too early to say whether this is a new trend".

He told BBC Radio 5 live it was wrong to say the UK's coastline was "undefended", saying the Channel was "probably the most monitored stretch of water in the world".

'Biggest onslaught'

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage said it was "essential that a clear message is sent that no migrant arriving on our shores by boat is allowed leave to remain".

"We have all seen the horrors of the Mediterranean, with thousands crossing and hundreds dying, we cannot allow that to happen off the shores of Kent and Sussex."

Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the Immigration Services Union, which represents border agency and immigration staff, said large stretches of Britain's coastline were being left unpoliced, and officials simply did not know how many migrants have entered the country undetected.

Her "gut feeling" and anecdotal evidence suggested Britain's coasts are facing the biggest ever onslaught of people smugglers, she said.

Map of the English Channel

Sunday's incident comes after 17 men, thought to be Albanian migrants, were detained when a catamaran arrived at Chichester Marina in West Sussex on Tuesday, along with a 55-year-old British man wanted on suspicion of murder in Spain.

The Briton, who was the subject of a European Arrest Warrant, was detained on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration and the 17 men were held on suspicion of entering the UK illegally.

Also last month, two Iranian men were found floating in a dinghy in the Channel.

Meanwhile, Greek coastguards rescued 29 migrants adrift off the island of Lefkada, in the Ionian Sea, as they attempted to reach Italy 150 miles (241km) away.

They are the first migrants known to have attempted the sea crossing from Greece to Italy since the northern land route via Macedonia was closed in March.

Source: bbc.com

Australia to sell £8m of seized bitcoins

A collection of bitcoins worth about £8m, which had been confiscated by police in Australia, will be auctioned off in June.

The 24,518 bitcoins will be sold mostly in blocks of 2,000 - each with a market value of about £680,000.

Ernst & Young, the firm organising the auction, said the bitcoins had been "confiscated as proceeds of crime" but did not elaborate on the case.

One expert said the authorities had chosen a "safe" time to sell.

Australian newspapers have previously reported that 24,500 bitcoins were seized by police in the state of Victoria in 2013, after a man was arrested for dealing illegal drugs online.

In 2015, Victoria's Asset Confiscation Operations department "confirmed it had recently taken possession of 24,500 coins and would try to make the most of it", according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

'Significant amount'

"This is a significant amount of Bitcoin," Dr Garrick Hileman, economic historian at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, told the BBC. "It's about a week's worth of new Bitcoin that comes onto the market through mining."

Currently about 4,000 new bitcoins are generated a day, as a reward for "miners" who offer their computer power to process Bitcoin transactions.

The seized coins are auctioned in blocks because quickly selling a large number of coins for cash at a Bitcoin exchange could negatively affect the market.

"Generally the view is that any time 10,000 bitcoins sell, the market price can be moved significantly," said Dr Hileman.

The price of Bitcoin rose to $530 (£362) on Friday, its highest level since August 2014.

Dr Hileman said the Australian authorities had chosen a "safe" time to sell because there is some uncertainty about what will happen to the value of Bitcoin in July.

"The Bitcoin protocol is designed to reduce the number of new bitcoins miners are given as a reward for processing transactions every four years.

"The reward will be halved on 14 July, so prices could go up due to the reduced supply of new bitcoins.

"But there is a question about whether security could decline, if rewards for miners are reduced significantly. So it's a safe time to sell, as there is no guarantee about what might happen in July."

'Set a precedent'

The Australian Bitcoin auction, which will be open to bidders worldwide, is the first such sale outside of the US.

In 2014, the US Marshals Service began auctioning a collection of about 175,000 bitcoins that had been confiscated from the founder of internet marketplace Silk Road.

The final auction of those bitcoins attracted 11 bidders, possibly due to the high cost of each block on sale.

Dr Hileman said the sale of Bitcoin by the Australian authorities was an acknowledgement that the cryptocurrency was not illegal.

"Any time a government sells Bitcoin, it is acknowledging that this is a different asset to drugs, for example, that would not be sold in an auction," he told the BBC.

"That was one of the big takeaways from the US Marshal Service auction - they set a precedent that Bitcoin was not illegal.

"Australia has been going through its own regulatory process - and this makes a standing that Bitcoin is legal to use in Australia."

Source: bbc.com

World's longest and deepest rail tunnel to open in Switzerland

The world's longest and deepest rail tunnel is to be officially opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work.

The 57km (35-mile) twin-bore Gotthard tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.

Switzerland says it will revolutionise European freight transport.

Goods currently carried on the route by a million lorries a year will go by train instead.

Switzerland's engineering triumph

The tunnel will overtake Japan's 53.9 km Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and push the 50.5 km Channel Tunnel linking the UK and France into third place.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are due to attend the grand opening.

Tunnel map

The project, which cost more than $12bn to build, was endorsed by Swiss voters in a referendum in 1992. Voters then backed a proposal from environmental groups to move all freight travelling through Switzerland from road to rail two years later.

The completed tunnel travels up to 2.3 km below the surface of the mountains above and through rock that reaches temperatures of 46C.

Engineers had to dig and blast through 73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite and others as soft as sugar. More than 28m tonnes of rock was excavated. Nine workers died during the work.

Now the completed tunnel - delivered on time and within budget - will create a mainline rail connection between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Genoa in Italy.

Its trajectory will be flat and straight instead of winding up through the mountains like the old rail tunnel and a road tunnel opened in 1980.

About 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will traverse it in as little as 17 minutes every day once testing ends later this year.

The tunnel is being financed by value-added and fuel taxes, road charges on heavy vehicles and state loans that are due to be repaid within a decade.

Swiss bank Credit Suisse has said is economic benefits will include the easier movement of goods and increased tourism.

the northern gates of the Gotthard Base Tunnel near Erstfeld

The Gotthard tunnel runs 2.3 km under the mountain at its deepest point

Source:bbc.com

Euro 2016: Marcus Rashford in England squad - Townsend and Drinkwater miss out

Manchester United's teenage striker Marcus Rashford has been named in Roy Hodgson's 23-man England squad for the 2016 European Championship in France.

Rashford, 18, scored on his international debut in the 2-1 friendly victory over Australia on Friday.

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is also included, but Newcastle United's Andros Townsend and Leicester City's Danny Drinkwater both miss out.

England face Portugal in their last Euro 2016 warm-up match on Thursday.

Hodgson's side begin their campaign in France by playing Russia on 11 June, before meeting Wales on 16 June and Slovakia on 20 June.

Rashford, who signed a new four-year contract with Manchester United on Monday, only made his first-team debut on 25 February, but scored eight goals in 18 club games to earn an international call-up.

Sturridge, 26, missed England's last two friendly matches but did take part in a training session on Monday.

He also trained at Watford's training ground on Tuesday, along with Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, with all three considered fully fit.

Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand, 26, is carrying an unspecified injury but even if he does not play against Portugal at Wembley, he is not regarded as a fitness concern for the tournament.

Drinkwater helped Leicester claim a shock Premier League title, while Townsend - included in the preliminary squad predominantly as cover - was a member of the Newcastle team relegated from the top flight.

The pair were told of their omissions by Hodgson on an individual basis in the manager's hotel room following training.

BBC Sport understands both took the news in a respectful, professional way and wished Hodgson and the team well.

The rest of the squad were informed of Hodgson's selections at a team meeting shortly afterwards.

Drinkwater and Townsend said goodbye to everyone involved before leaving the England camp and will not be on standby for the tournament.

Drinkwater said later he was "disappointed" not to make the final 23 but described the season as a "huge positive".

Former England winger Trevor Sinclair told BBC Radio 5 live: "For me Drinkwater has had such a good season and played such a pivotal part in Leicester's success, he deserves to be in the squad.

"I think he's had an absolutely outstanding season. He's shown what he can do at international level. What he does on the pitch a lot of the time goes unnoticed. He works so unselfishly for the team, I think he may be a big miss for the England squad.

"Townsend will feel unlucky because he's had a great finish to the season, despite Newcastle getting relegated.

"What I will say is, at least he's getting looked at. While he was at Tottenham he wasn't even getting the opportunity because he wasn't playing."

Hodgson initially named a 26-man squad after the final round of Premier League games, having intended to reveal his final selection on 12 May until injury concerns prompted a delay.

That was cut to 25 when Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph was moved to the standby list after picking up an injury.

Hodgson's squad is the youngest to represent England at a European Championship, with an average age of 25.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

Source: bbc.com

Chinese stowaway found in hold of Emirates flight to Dubai

A Chinese teenager has been found hiding in the cargo hold of an Emirates passenger jet that had flown from Shanghai to Dubai.

Emirates said on Tuesday the stowaway had been found on Flight EK303 from Shanghai last Friday and had been handed over to Dubai police.

The airline did not name the stowaway but China's official Xinhua news agency said he was a 16-year-old boy named Xu.

The boy is reported to have said he was "very comfortable" in the hold.

However, he said he had eaten nothing during the nearly nine-hour flight. Gulf News said the cargo hold was pressurised.

He said he had heard that even beggars in Dubai could make a lot of money, Xinhua reported.

"We are co-operating fully with authorities in Dubai and as this is a police matter we are unable to comment further at this time," Emirates said in an emailed statement.

Xinhua said that consulate staff had been sent to the airport to learn more about the situation.

According to a translator appointed by prosecutors, the boy said he had jumped over a fence at Shanghai airport and climbed into the cargo hold while a security guard looked away, Xinhua added.

Source: bbc.com

Kenya announces Dadaab refugee camp will close by November

he world's largest refugee camp will close in November, Kenya's Interior Minister Joseph Nkaisserry has announced.

The Dadaab camp in Kenya is home to more than 300,000 Somalis.

Mr Nkaisserry said Kenya would work closely with the UN and the Somali government to repatriate the refugees.

Dadaab was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in Somalia, and some people have been living there for more than 20 years.

Kenya says it wants to close the camp over security concerns, saying attacks on its soil have been planned there.

Mr Nkaisserry said the decision was final.

Kenya did not follow through on a previous threat to close down the camp, made last April following the deadly attack by Somali militant group al-Shabab on a university 100km (62 miles) away.

The al-Qaeda linked group has staged several attacks on Kenya in recent years.

Kenya has set aside $10m (£6.8m) for repatriation, which Mr Nkaisserry insisted would carried out in a humane manner.

Source: bbc.com

 

Danny Drinkwater: Alan Shearer says Roy Hodgson wrong to drop England midfielder

England manager Roy Hodgson opted for "reputation rather than form" by dropping Danny Drinkwater from his Euro 2016 squad, says former striker Alan Shearer.

Leicester midfielder Drinkwater was left out of the final 23-man squad.

Shearer said that by selecting Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson, Hodgson was taking a "gamble" on their fitness.

"Drinkwater should have been in. He's been one of the standout players this season," Shearer told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He'll be very disappointed, and rightly so because he's been absolutely magnificent."

Drinkwater, who has won three caps, was voted man of the match on his debut in the 2-1 defeat by the Netherlands in March.

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere played only 141 minutes in the Premier League this season following a broken leg, while Liverpool Jordan Henderson missed the final six weeks of the campaign with a knee injury.

Match of the Day pundit Shearer, who scored 30 goals in 63 games for England between 1992 and 2000, said: "Once again England have gone for reputation rather than form.

"I hope the manager doesn't regret it."

BBC Sport team selector users agree with Shearer

The verdict of BBC Sport's England Euro 2016 team selector - after it passed 1m users - matches Shearer's.

Although BBC Sport users are asked to pick an England XI, rather than a 23-man squad, one third of people (358,000) chose Drinkwater.

In the total selections for midfield options, Drinkwater came fifth behind Spurs' duo Dele Alli (900,000) and Eric Dier (673,000), Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney (580,000) and Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling (378,000).

A Premier League champion with Leicester City this season, Drinkwater was a more popular midfield choice than Everton's Ross Barkley (322,000), Liverpool trio James Milner (286,000), Adam Lallana (282,000) and Jordan Henderson (230,000), and Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (253,000).

On Hodgson's other two omissions, BBC Sport users largely agree, with City's Fabian Delph (34,000) and Newcastle winger Andros Townsend (175,000) the bottom two midfield picks.

But few users chose teenage striker Marcus Rashford (116,000) to start for England in France, despite scoring on his international debut against Australia on Friday - perhaps seeing the Manchester United striker as an option from the bench.

On Rashford, Shearer said the 18-year-old was "ready" after an "incredible rise" this season and that he "deserves to go because of his performances in the last three months".

"I'd be very surprised if he started," added Shearer. "If needs be he can come and make an impact if England are chasing the game. Once he gets on, he may force the manager's hand."

According to data from the 1m uses so far, a BBC Sport team selector XI for England's first game against Russia in Marseille on 11 June, would be:

BBC Sport users' England XI at Euro 2016BBC Sport users' England XI at Euro 2016http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/624/cpsprodpb/184B1/production/_89850599_englandstartingxi.jpg

Source: bbc.com

Thailand Tiger Temple: Forty dead cubs found in freezer

Forty dead tiger cubs have been found in a freezer at a Thai Buddhist temple accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.

Police and wildlife officials started an operation on Monday to remove all the living tigers at the Tiger Temple.

Pictures from journalists at the scene posted to social media showed the 40 cubs lined up on the floor.

The site in Kanchanaburi is a popular tourist attraction but has been closed to the public since the raid.

Temple's long history of controversy

Police colonel Bandith Meungsukhum told AFP news agency that wildlife officials would file new criminal charges after the discovery, and added that the cubs were just one or two days old when they died.

He said it was not yet clear how long they had been dead for.

The dead cubs "must be of some value for the temple", Adisorn Nuchdamrong, from Thailand's Department of National Parks, told Reuters news agency. "But for what is beyond me."

Tiger bones and body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Monks at the temple were not available for comment but have previously denied trafficking allegations.

A dead tiger cub is held up by a Thai official after authorities found 40 tiger cub carcasses during a raid on the controversial Tiger Temple,

The temple has long been accused of mistreatment, though the monks deny the allegations

In a statement on its Facebook page, the temple said the mortality rate for tiger cubs at the temple was "comparatively low" and that it used to cremate dead cubs but the policy changed in 2010.

The statement did not say why the temple started freezing cubs' remains, and also denied selling cubs.

Body parts from other animals were also found in a freezer, Tom Taylor, from Wildlife Friends Foundation, told the BBC.

A reporter from the Khaosod news website said he had seen animal intestines in containers, a dead boar and other animal parts.

Thai DNP officers collect samples for DNA testing from the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs found undeclared at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple on June 1, 2016 in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand.

The cubs were found during a week-long raid of the temple to remove all living tigers

Dozens of living tigers have already been removed, out of 137 at the temple. The 1,000-strong police operation is due to continue all week.

Some workers and volunteers at the temple spoke out against the operation.

On Facebook, Canadian Gary Agnew, who has worked at the temple for more than a decade, said "the fatality rate could be catastrophic" as tigers were being transported in the heat of day before being fully sedated.

He said the cats were not being moved to spacious surroundings and would be auctioned off for "the highest price". He said hearing the tigers would be moved was "news worse than [staff and volunteers] could have ever dreamed".

But the World Wildlife Fund welcomed the news and called on the Thai government to prohibit the temple from keeping tigers in future.

Since 2001, authorities have been locked in a battle with the monks at the temple to confiscate the tigers after allegations of wildlife trafficking and abuse surfaced.

The monks deny any wrongdoing.

The temple, officially known as Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, has been a stop on many tourists' itineraries for decades. Visitors could pose for photographs with the tigers or help with their exercise routine.

But animal rights campaigners have long campaigned to close it down. Peta said animals there are "imprisoned and denied everything that is important to them".

Source: bbc.com

Olympic professional boxing vote is criticised by Carl Frampton

Former world champion Carl Frampton and a number of other high-profile fighters have hit out at the decision to allow professionals to box at the Olympics.

International boxing federations voted in the rule change just weeks before the Rio Games start on 5 August.

Northern Irishman Frampton says amateur and pro boxing are "two different sports", claiming: "It's like a badminton player playing tennis."

Ricky Hatton and Stephen Smith have also criticised the move.

"Goodbye amateur boxing now as far as I'm concerned," tweeted former welterweight and light-welterweight world champion Hatton. "Can't say I'm a fan of this."

Former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Smith, who has had 28 fights as a pro, said he was "gutted" to learn the news.

"Absolutely ruins amateur boxing that in my opinion," he tweeted. "Wrong."

However, Olympic medallist Michael Conlan say he is happy to fight against professionals as he seeks to add gold to the bronze he won in London.

"It wouldn't bother me, I'll beat all of them," said the Northern Ireland bantamweight.

The vote to allow pro boxers to fight at the Olympics took place at a meeting of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) in Switzerland.

The decision means any professional can enter a qualifying event in Venezuela next month in an attempt to win selection, with 26 entry places up for grabs.

AIBA president CK Wu said it was "difficult to anticipate" how many pros would attempt to qualify for Rio.

Former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has indicated he would like to box at the Olympics.

But the 40-year-old Ukrainian, who won super-heavyweight gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996, is unlikely to take part in qualifying.

He takes on Britain's Tyson Fury in a title rematch in Manchester on 9 July.

Source: bbc.com

Quata drops “U Too Bad” on his birthday eve

When it comes to tongue twisting in Ghana, one name that comes to mind is Quata Budukusu. Jacob Kwame Etroo musically known as Quata Budukusu, a.k.a. Qtee, was born on June 4. In celebration of his birthday, Quata has released a song titled “U Too Bad” produced by one of the vibrant sound engineers in Ghana, Danny Beatz, for his numerous fans all over the world as his birthday gift to them. “U Too Bad” has the instrumentation of Kwaito (South African dance music) with some dancehall vibes. “U Too bad” was officially released on radio by Sammy flex on Pluzz FM and it is currently receiving massive airplay on Bakus Radio in USA. Enjoy the tune from Quata Budukusu. Sit back and enjoy. Dance to the beat!

 

Quata drops “U Too Bad” on the eve of his birthday for his fans

Jacob Kwame Etroo musically known as Quata Budukusu, a.k.a. Qtee, was born on June 4. In celebration of his birthday, Quata has released a song titled “U Too Bad” produced by one of the vibrant sound engineers in Ghana, Danny Beatz, for his numerous fans all over the world as his birthday gift to them. “U Too Bad” has the instrumentation of Kwaito (South African dance music) with some dancehall vibes. “U Too bad” was officially released on radio by Sammy flex on Pluzz FM and it is currently receiving massive airplay on Bakus Radio in USA. Enjoy the tune from Quata Budukusu. Sit back and enjoy. Dance to the beat!

 

Fifa: Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke & Markus Kattner 'awarded themselves £55m'

Former high-ranking Fifa officials Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke and Markus Kattner awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses worth $80m (£55m) over five years, say Fifa lawyers.

Football's governing body revealed the contracts of ex-president Blatter, fired ex-secretary general Valcke and sacked former finance director Kattner one day after a Swiss police raid.

Fifa's lawyers said there was evidence that the trio made "a coordinated effort" to "enrich themselves" between 2011 and 2015.

Documents and electronic data were seized from Kattner's old office during Thursday's operation, which relates to investigations into Blatter and Valcke, according to sources close to Fifa's internal investigation.

Suspected of criminal mismanagement of Fifa money, Blatter and Valcke were banned for six and 12 years respectively by the governing body's ethics committee in February. Both deny wrongdoing.

A statement for the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), which carried out the investigations, read: "Documents and electronic data were seized and will now be examined to determine their relevance to the ongoing proceedings."

Fifa said the evidence uncovered by its own internal investigation would be shared with the Swiss Attorney General's office and the US Department of Justice.

Richard Cullen, Blatter's lawyer, said: "We look forward to showing Fifa that Mr Blatter's compensation payments were proper, fair and in line with the heads of major professional sports leagues around the world."

Meanwhile, Blatter's long-time public relations advisor Klaus Stoehlker told BBC Sport he would be ending their professional relationship, adding: "The Fifa volcano is exploding now."

Fifa has been in turmoil since May 2015, when a US investigation exposed widespread corruption at the top of the organisation.

Analysis

Richard Conway, BBC sports news correspondent

"Fifa has "victim status" right now from the US Department of Justice and the Swiss authorities. It acknowledges that the institution itself is not at fault for the corrupt acts of its senior members in recent times.

"But that could easily change and it's why Fifa's own legal team have been digging through millions of documents to uncover any previously unknown historic wrongdoing.

"Over the past few days they say they uncovered information which revealed the secret deals that allowed Blatter, Valcke and Kattner to gorge on huge multi-million dollar bonuses.

"Some of the provisions in the contracts could breach Swiss law.

"Now they've gone public with the information in an attempt to demonstrate to the legal authorities and fans they are serious about long term reform and regaining trust."

Source: bbc.com

Paris floods: Seine at 30-year high as galleries close

The River Seine in Paris is at its highest level for more than 30 years, with floods forcing closed parts of the metro systems and major landmarks.

The Louvre and Orsay museums were shut while staff moved artworks to safety as flood levels climbed above 6m (18ft).

The Seine is set to reach as high as 6.5m and unlikely to recede over the weekend, with more downpours forecast.

At least 15 people have died across central Europe as heavy rainfall caused flooding from France to Ukraine.

While two people died in France, 10 were killed in southern Germany as several towns were devastated.

Two more fatalities were reported in Romania and one in Belgium. Austria, the Netherlands and Poland have also been affected.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes.

The flooding could cost French insurance companies more than 600 million euros (£470m), according to the industry association AFA.

In Paris, the Cluny - La Sorbonne and St Michel metro stations were closed as a precaution while the river spilled onto the city's streets.

Bridges were closed and non-emergency boats were banned from the Seine as its swelling forced the closure of museums, parks and cemeteries.

At the Louvre, curators scrambled to move 250,000 artworks to higher ground from basement storage areas at risk of inundation from what President Francoise Hollande called "exceptional flooding".

graphic showing historic water levels against statue of Zouave

Authorities have even taken initial steps to transfer the presidency and key ministries to secure areas, AP news agency reported.

An apparent equipment fault led to the river's depth being wrongly measured for several hours on Friday.

Many locals have preferred to benchmark the rise against the statue of a soldier - known as the Zouave - standing below the Alma bridge: His frame is currently submerged up to the waist.

While France's rainfall levels in May were the highest since 1873, the current crisis is eclipsed by the 1910 floods that saw Paris submerged for two months, when the Zouave was up to his neck in the Seine.

The river level peaked at 8.62m that year, and has since reached 7.1m in 1955 and 6.18m in 1982.

Source: bbc.com

 

MH17 crash: Prosecutors increase pressure on Russia

Prosecutors have sought to put pressure on Russia to provide information about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

They said they wanted information about the Buk missile that shot down the airliner, killing 298 people on board.

The criminal inquiry was at "a very advanced stage", they said, and results would be presented after the summer.

The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels were responsible but Russia accuses Ukrainian forces.

In a statement, the Dutch-led prosecutors said they had made "several requests" for assistance - but were still waiting for information from Moscow.

They said a few issues, including forensic tests, were taking more time than expected.

However, the first conclusions regarding the type of the weapon used and the exact launch site are expected to be published in autumn.

Ongoing cases

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed at the height of the conflict between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists.

Last year, a Dutch report concluded it was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile, but did not say who fired it.

Some families of the victims are suing Russia and its President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights.

MH17 route

Their claim is based on the violation of a passenger's right to life, News.com.au reported earlier this month.

They are seeking A$10 million Australian dollars ($7.2m; £4.9m) for each victim, and the lawsuit names both the Russian state and its president as respondents.

A senator with Mr Putin's party was quoted in state media as saying the claim was "legally nonsensical and has no chance".

Separately, families of six Malaysia Airlines crew members who were killed filed a lawsuit on Thursday blaming the carrier for the tragedy.

They accuse the company of negligence and breach of contract.

Source: bbc.com

Muhammad Ali: Boxing legend remains in hospital with respiratory issue

Muhammad Ali is still in hospital two days after being admitted with a respiratory issue.

There has been no official update on Ali's condition and concern has grown throughout Friday.

An enormous number of goodwill messages for the 74-year-old, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1984, have been posted on social media.

The former heavyweight world champion was admitted to hospital in December 2014 with a urinary tract infection.

Great Britain's newest world champion Tony Bellew has been among those expressing hope for his recovery.

One of the most high-profile global sporting stars, Ali's name transcends sport like few others.

He became the first three-time world heavyweight champion in 1978, having first won the title in 1964 and again in 1974.

Source: bbc.com

Rio 2016: Olympic Games refugees team unveiled

The International Olympic Committee has unveiled its first team of refugees to compete at Rio 2016 under the Olympic banner.

The Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes has 10 members - five from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from DR Congo and one from Ethiopia.

The six men and four women will compete in swimming, judo and athletics.

"These refugee athletes have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem," said IOC president Thomas Bach.

"The invention of this refugee team is to give them a home in the Olympic village together with all the athletes around the world."

The team includes swimmer Yusra Mardini from Syria, who trains in Germany, South Sudanese middle-distance runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen, who is living in a refugee camp in Kenya, and DR Congo judoka Yolande Bukasa Mabika, who trains in Brazil.

They will enter the opening ceremony as the penultimate team, before hosts Brazil.

Bach added: "It can send a symbol of hope for all refugees in the world and can send a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society."

The Olympics run from 5-21 August.

Source: bbc.com

Jamie Vardy: Arsenal bid for Leicester City striker meets release clause

Arsenal are in talks with Leicester City in an attempt to try to sign striker Jamie Vardy.

The Gunners' bid for the 29-year-old England international is reported to be in the region of £20m and has triggered the release clause in his contract.

Vardy scored 24 goals in the Premier League for Leicester as the Foxes won the 2015-16 title.

The forward, who is currently preparing for Euro 2016, joined City for £1m from Fleetwood in 2012.

Vardy rose through non-league football after being released by Sheffield Wednesday at 16 for being too small, and was named the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year for 2015-16.

Since making his England debut in 2015, he has scored three times in eight internationals.

Arsenal, who finished second in the league, 10 points behind Leicester, have already signed Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Vardy to Arsenal: The case for and against

Former QPR winger Trevor Sinclair on BBC Radio 5 live: "I am a big believer in karma. He has won the Premier League, he is happy and has a great group of brothers around him. He is settled, so why move?

"When you are a striker you can be in top form but then go to a club, not hit the ground running and then it can gobble you up. I would stay where he is."

Ex-Everton winger Kevin Kilbane on BBC Radio 5 live: "When the big clubs come calling, they might not come again. I think you go.

"You want to test yourself against the best and with better players. Technically, Arsenal are a better side than Leicester."

Source: bbc.com

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies aged 74

Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74, a family spokesman has said.

The former world heavyweight boxing champion, one of the world's best-known sportsmen, died at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, after being admitted on Thursday.

He was suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson's disease.

The funeral will take place in Ali's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, his family said in a statement.

Ali dies: Live reaction

Obituary: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali in his own words

Latest tributes

Nick Bryant: How Ali changed his sport and country

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Ali shot to fame by winning light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Nicknamed "The Greatest", the American beat Sonny Liston in 1964 to win his first world title and became the first boxer to capture a world heavyweight title on three separate occasions.

He eventually retired in 1981, having won 56 of his 61 fights.

Crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC, Ali was noted for his pre- and post-fight talk and bold fight predictions just as much as his boxing skills inside the ring.

But he was also a civil rights campaigner and poet who transcended the bounds of sport, race and nationality.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, he once said: "As a man who never sold out his people. But if that's too much, then just a good boxer. I won't even mind if you don't mention how pretty I was."

Ali turned professional immediately after the Rome Olympics and rose through the heavyweight ranks, delighting crowds with his showboating, shuffling feet and lightning reflexes.

British champion Henry Cooper came close to stopping Clay, as he was still known, when they met in a non-title bout in London in 1963.

Cooper floored the American with a left hook, but Clay picked himself up off the canvas and won the fight in the next round when a severe cut around Cooper's left eye forced the Englishman to retire.

Ali's boxing career

  • Won Olympic light-heavyweight gold in 1960
  • Turned professional that year and was world heavyweight champion from 1964 to 1967, 1974 to 1978 and 1978 to 1979
  • Had 61 professional bouts, winning 56 (37 knockouts, 19 decisions), and losing five (4 decisions, 1 retirement)

In February the following year, Clay stunned the boxing world by winning his first world heavyweight title at the age of 22.

He predicted he would beat Liston, who had never lost, but few believed he could do it.

Yet, after six stunning rounds, Liston quit on his stool, unable to cope with his brash, young opponent.

At the time of his first fight with Liston, Clay was already involved with the Nation of Islam, a religious movement whose stated goals were to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans in the United States.

But in contrast to the inclusive approach favoured by civil rights leaders like Dr Martin Luther King, the Nation of Islam called for separate black development and was treated by suspicion by the American public.

Ali eventually converted to Islam, ditching what he perceived was his "slave name" and becoming Cassius X and then Muhammad Ali.

How world remembers Ali

In 1967, Ali took the momentous decision of opposing the US war in Vietnam, a move that was widely criticised by his fellow Americans.

He refused to be drafted into the US military and was subsequently stripped of his world title and boxing licence. He would not fight again for nearly four years.

After his conviction for refusing the draft was overturned in 1971, Ali returned to the ring and fought in three of the most iconic contests in boxing history, helping restore his reputation with the public.

He was handed his first professional defeat by Joe Frazier in the "Fight of the Century" in New York on 8 March 1971, only to regain his title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30 October 1974.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali blows a kiss after receiving Sports Illustrateds 20th Century Sportsman of the Century Award in 1999

Muhammad Ali was crowned Sportsman of the Century in 1999

Ali fought Frazier for a third and final time in the Philippines on 1 October 1975, coming out on top in the "Thrilla in Manila" when Frazier failed to emerge for the 15th and final round.

Six defences of his title followed before Ali lost on points to Leon Spinks in February 1978, although he regained the world title by the end of the year, avenging his defeat at the hands of the 1976 Olympic light-heavyweight champion.

Ali's career ended with one-sided defeats by Larry Holmes in 1980 and Trevor Berbick in 1981, many thinking he should have retired long before.

He fought a total of 61 times as a professional, losing five times and winning 37 bouts by knockout.

Soon after retiring, rumours began to circulate about the state of Ali's health. His speech had become slurred, he shuffled and he was often drowsy.

Parkinson's Syndrome was eventually diagnosed but Ali continued to make public appearances, receiving warm welcomes wherever he travelled.

He lit the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Games in London.


How Ali wanted people to remember him

"I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him...who stood up for his beliefs...who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.

"And if all that's too much, then I guess I'd settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn't even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was."

Source: bbc.com

Fort Hood: Bodies of soldiers missing in Texas floods found

The bodies of four missing US soldiers have been recovered after their vehicle overturned while crossing a flooded riverbank at Fort Hood, Texas.

The discovery brings the death toll from the accident to nine.

Three soldiers were found dead shortly after the incident and two more bodies were recovered late on Thursday night.

Foot Hood officials said the 2.5-ton vehicle was conducting a routine exercise when it was swept away by the current amid heavy flooding.

Three of the occupants survived and were discharged from Fort Hood's hospital on Friday.

The four bodies were found downstream from the Owl Creek Tactical Crossing where the vehicle was swept away, said Maj Gen John Uberti, deputy commander at Fort Hood.

The army has not identified any of the victims while it notifies relatives.

"This tragedy extends well beyond Fort Hood and the outpouring of support from the country is sincerely appreciated," said Gen Uberti.

The Light Medium Tactical Vehicle was at a low-water crossing point when it was swept away, said Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug.

The vehicle was in the "proper place for what they were training", Mr Haug said, adding: "It's just an unfortunate accident that occurred quickly."

Aircraft, canine search teams and swift-water rescue watercraft were deployed to sweep the 20-mile (32km) Owl Creek for the missing soldiers.

News of the deaths comes as torrential rains and flooding continue to grip large swathes of Texas. May saw record-breaking downpours. At least six people have died as a result.

Gov Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in 31 counties across Texas. Severe storms were expected to hit the state Friday and Saturday, intensifying floods caused by swelling waterways and rivers.

Source: bbc.com

US journalist and translator killed in Afghan ambush

A veteran US photojournalist and a translator have been killed in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

David Gilkey of National Public Radio (NPR) and Zabihullah Tamanna were travelling with the Afghan army when they came under fire and their vehicle was hit by a shell, NPR said.

The attack also killed the driver of the vehicle, an Afghan soldier.

Two other NPR employees travelling with the pair were unharmed, the US public radio network said in a statement.

The vehicle Mr Gilkey, 50, and Mr Tamanna, 38, were travelling in was struck by shellfire near the town of Marjah, NPR said.

Mr Tamanna was a photographer and journalist in Afghanistan, as well as a translator.

This undated photo provided by NPR shows Zabihullah Tamanna, left, and David Gilkey

Zabihullah Tamanna (left), pictured with David Gilkey, also worked as a photographer

Michael Oreskes, senior vice president at NPR, paid tribute to the photographer.

He said: "David has been covering war and conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. He was devoted to helping the public see these wars and the people caught up in them. He died pursuing that commitment.

"As a man and as a photojournalist, David brought out the humanity of all those around him. He let us see the world and each other through his eyes."

Mr Gilkey is the first US journalist outside the military to be killed in the conflict in Afghanistan.

He received a series of awards during his career, including a 2007 national Emmy for a video series about US Marines from Michigan serving in in Iraq.

In 2011, he was named still photographer of the year by the White House Photographers' Association, one of nine first-place awards he received from the body.

His work on an investigation into veteran medical care and his coverage of the Ebola crisis helped secure awards for NPR.

Last year, he received the Edward R Murrow Award for his coverage of international breaking news, military conflicts and natural disasters.

Source: bbc.com

 

Australia storm leaves three dead and homes in danger

Three people are confirmed dead after massive storms flooded rivers, uprooted trees and tore into beaches along Australia's east coast.

Rain and wind continue to batter southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Erosion at Sydney's Collaroy Beach has forced the evacuation of multi-million dollar homes, which are now in danger of collapsing.

The storms cut power to 86,000 homes in New South Wales at the weekend.

On Monday morning, a man's body was found in the Cotter River near Canberra. Police said the 37-year-old was caught in floodwaters at a river crossing.

Police divers have also retrieved the bodies of two men whose cars were washed off roads in separate incidents.

A 65-year-old man was caught inside his vehicle at Bowral, while another man was killed after his utility vehicle was washed off the road on Sydney's south-west fringe.

Flood warnings have been issued across several states, with northern Tasmania facing its worst flooding in decades on Monday.

Drone shot shows beach at Collaroy

A swimming pool attached to a mansion at Collaroy has collapsed on the beach and residents have been evacuated from waterside mansions

Picture taken from a drone shows a long shot of Collaroy beach

Collaroy, located in Sydney's north, is considered a prestigious suburb, but the beach is considered an erosion hotspot

Damage to the beach at Collaroy, NSW

Another king tide is expected to hit Collaroy Beach on Monday and residents have been evacuated

Source: bbc.com

Scientists grow human organs for transplant inside pigs

Scientists in the United States are trying to grow human organs inside pigs.

They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.

The embryos are part of research aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of transplant organs.

The team from University of California, Davis says they should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

The human-pig chimeric embryos are being allowed to develop in the sows for 28 days before the pregnancies are terminated and the tissue removed for analysis.

The BBC's Panorama was given exclusive access to the research for Medicine's Big Breakthrough: Editing Your Genes.

Creating a chimera

Creating the chimeric embryos takes two stages. First, a technique known as CRISPR gene editing is used to remove DNA from a newly fertilised pig embryo that would enable the resulting foetus to grow a pancreas.

This creates a genetic "niche" or void. Then, human induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells are injected into the embryo. The iPS cells were derived from adult cells and "dialled back" to become stem cells capable of developing into any tissue in the body.

The team at UC Davis hopes the human stem cells will take advantage of the genetic niche in the pig embryo and the resulting foetus will grow a human pancreas.

chimera embryo

Human stem cells being injected into a pig embryo - the cells can be seen travelling down the tube on the right of screen

Pablo Ross, a reproductive biologist who is leading the research told me: "Our hope is that this pig embryo will develop normally but the pancreas will be made almost exclusively out of human cells and could be compatible with a patient for transplantation."

But the work is controversial. Last year, the main US medical research agency, the National Institutes of Health, imposed a moratorium on funding such experiments.

The main concern is that the human cells might migrate to the developing pig's brain and make it, in some way, more human.

Pablo Ross says this is unlikely but is a key reason why the research is proceeding with such caution: "We think there is very low potential for a human brain to grow, but this is something we will be investigating."

Biological incubator

His team has previously injected human stem cells into pig embryos but without first creating the genetic niche. Prof Ross said although they later found human cells in several parts of the developing foetus, they "struggled to compete" with the pig cells. By deleting a key gene involved in the creation of the pig pancreas, they hope the human cells will have more success creating a human-like pancreas.

Other teams in the United States have created human-pig chimeric embryos but none has allowed the foetuses to be born.

Walter Low, professor in the department of neurosurgery, University of Minnesota, said pigs were an ideal "biological incubator" for growing human organs, and could potentially be used to create not just a pancreas but hearts, livers, kidneys, lungs and corneas.

He said if the iPS cells were taken from a patient needing a transplant then these could be injected in a pig embryo which had the key genes deleted for creating the required organ, such as the liver: "The organ would be an exact genetic copy of your liver but a much younger and healthier version and you would not need to take immunosuppressive drugs which carry side-effects."

But Prof Low stressed that the research, using another form of gene editing called TALENs, was still at the preliminary stages, trying to identify the target genes which must be removed in order to prevent the pig from developing a particular organ.

His team is also trying to create dopamine-producing human neurons from chimeric embryos to treat patients with Parkinson's disease.

These embryos have been allowed to develop for up to 62 days - the normal gestation period is around 114 days.

Like the team in California, Prof Low said they were monitoring the effects on the pig brain: "With every organ we will look at what's happening in the brain and if we find that it's too human like, then we won't let those foetuses be born".

Animal viruses

Gene editing has revitalised research into xenotransplantation, and the concept of using animal organs for humans.

In the mid-90s there were hopes that genetically modified pigs might provide an endless supply of organs for patients, and that cross-species transplants were not far off.

But clinical trials stalled because of fears that humans might be infected with animal viruses.

Last year, a team at Harvard Medical School used CRISPR gene editing to remove more than 60 copies of a pig retrovirus.

Prof George Church, who led the research, told me: "It opens up the possibility of not just transplantation from pigs to humans but the whole idea that a pig organ is perfectible.

"Gene editing could ensure the organs are very clean, available on demand and healthy, so they could be superior to human donor organs."

Animal suffering

But organisations campaigning for an end to factory farming are dismayed at the thought of organ farms.

Peter Stevenson, from Compassion in World Farming, told me: "I'm nervous about opening up a new source of animal suffering. Let's first get many more people to donate organs. If there is still a shortage after that, we can consider using pigs, but on the basis that we eat less meat so that there is no overall increase in the number of pigs being used for human purposes."

In Greek mythology, chimeras were fire-breathing monsters composed of several animals - part lion, goat and snake. The scientific teams believe human-pig chimeras should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

Scott Fahrenkrug, whose Minnesota-based company Recombinetics is teaming up on the chimera research with Prof Low, told me: "Perhaps the term chimera is going to take on a new meaning and it will be one that's much more affectionate: chimeras will be seen to be what they are which is a saviour, given that they will provide, life-saving, sustaining organs for our patients."

Seven thousand people in the UK are on the transplant waiting list and hundreds die each year before a donor can be found.

Source: bbc.com

Novak Djokovic beats Andy Murray to win first French Open title

World number one Novak Djokovic beat Britain's Andy Murray to win his first French Open title and complete the career Grand Slam.

The Serb, 29, won 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 to win his 12th major title and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slams at once.

Murray had hoped to secure the third leg of his own career Slam, having already won Wimbledon and the US Open.

The Scot, 29, was Britain's first male finalist in Paris since 1937.

Second seed Murray played superbly to win the first set but could not convert a break point early in the second, and Djokovic took control to win in three hours.

He becomes only the eighth man in history to have won all four of the sport's major singles prizes - and could yet match Laver's achievement of winning all four in a calendar year.

Listen to BBC Radio 5 live's commentary on the moment Djokovic won the title

'Biggest moment of my career' - Djokovic

Djokovic fell back on the clay in delight and relief after requiring two breaks of serve and four match points in a desperately tense end to the final.

With three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten watching from the stands, Djokovic then emulated the Brazilian by drawing a heart in the clay with his racquet.

"It's a very special moment, the biggest of my career," said Djokovic. "I felt today something that I never felt before at Roland Garros, I felt the love of the crowd.

"I drew the heart on the court, like Guga, which he gave me permission to do. My heart will always be with you on this court."

Murray, who has now lost five Grand Slam finals to Djokovic, had looked capable of causing an upset with an aggressive display in the opening set.

However, Djokovic turned the match around early in the second set and Murray, who had played five hours' more tennis in reaching the final, could not keep pace.

"To Novak, this is his day," said Murray. "What he's achieved the last 12 months is phenomenal; winning all the Grand Slams in one year is an amazing achievement.

"It's so rare in tennis, and for me personally, it sucks to lose the match, but I'm proud to have been part of today."

Murray cannot capitalise on early lead

Djokovic looked determined to make up for losing in three previous Paris finals when he broke the Murray serve to love with a brilliant opening game, but the nerves were soon apparent.

A beautiful lob saw Murray hit straight back in game two and, playing aggressively at every opportunity, he powered into a 4-1 lead as Djokovic misfired with his forehand.

Murray clinched the set at the third opportunity - after a generous overrule that drew boos from a crowd seemingly backing Djokovic - and some stunning defence earned the Scot a break point at the start of the second set.

Djokovic needed to turn the tide and he did so with a smash, before grabbing the lead when Murray double-faulted at break point down.

The Serb then began to dictate with his backhand, firing a winner down the line for a decisive second break as Murray's first-serve percentage slipped below the 50% mark.

Djokovic continued to press, setting up break points at 1-1 in the third set with a forehand winner and watching as Murray dropped a volley into the net with the court gaping.

The crowd chanted "Nole! Nole!" as the world number one finally regained the lead he had surrendered after the opening game of the match, and he broke again with a terrific sliding winner on his way to a two-sets-to-one lead.

With a 5-2 lead in the fourth set, and his friends and supporters preparing to celebrate in the stands, Djokovic suffered a tortuous few minutes as Murray refused to give up.

The Briton got one of the breaks back and saved two match points, before finally netting a backhand as Djokovic clinched a historic win.

Analysis

Novak DjokovicNovak Djokovichttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/624/cpsprodpb/111C8/production/_89888007_033303506-1.jpg

Djokovic follows Rod Laver and Don Budge as holder of all four Slams at once

Pat Cash, former Wimbledon champion: "This has been the tricky one for Djokovic but he's come out and played some great tennis. He's rock solid, he knows his game so well and he's mentally focused. From where he started off in this match to where he finished, what a contrast, and it just goes to show how great a champion he is."

Source: bbc.com

 

French Open 2016: Garbine Muguruza upsets Serena Williams to win title

Spain's Garbine Muguruza beat world number one Serena Williams in straight sets to win her first Grand Slam title at the French Open.

Fourth seed Muguruza won 7-5 6-4 to make amends for losing last year's Wimbledon final against Williams.

The 22-year-old is Spain's first female champion at Roland Garros since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1998.

Williams, 34, had hoped to win a 22nd Grand Slam singles title and tie Steffi Graf's Open-era record.

"I'm so, so excited - to play in a Grand Slam against one of the best players, it's the perfect final," Muguruza said.

"I'm so happy. I had to be very ready and concentrated on all the points and just to fight as much as I can.

"All the matches I've played against her helped me. It's our favourite tournament in Spain and I want to thank all my Spanish supporters."

Muguruza wins power game

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Williams had reached the final despite reportedly struggling with a thigh problem, but the defending champion began in terrific form, moving freely as she made the early running.

It was all Muguruza could do to hang on, a forehand and an ace seeing off early break points, and it was Williams who faltered first by dropping serve with a double fault at 2-2.

With both players hitting huge groundstrokes and vying for control of the rallies, Williams looked to have gained the upper hand with three games in a row taking her 5-4 in front.

However, Muguruza played a nerveless service game to stay in the set and then clinched it with some wonderful hitting down both tram lines.

The second set began with three breaks of serve but it was still Muguruza who was dictating, another stunning forehand into the corner moving her into a 3-1 lead.

Muguruza was prepared to concede double-faults - her tally ending up at nine - to keep Williams at bay on her second serve and it proved a successful tactic.

Williams could not fashion a break point in the latter stages of the second set and did well to fend off four match points on her own serve in game nine.

Muguruza remained rock solid, however, finally converting on her own serve with a lob that caught both players by surprise, before the Spaniard fell to the clay in celebration.

No excuses from Williams

Williams suffered only her sixth defeat in 27 Grand Slam finals stretching back to 1999, but did not blame her injury issues.

Williams was trying to win her fourth French Open title - the first came back in 2002.

"It was OK," she said. "I'm not one to ever make excuses and say, like, 'Oh, my adductor was hurting,' or whatever.

"At the end of the day I didn't play the game I needed to play to win and she did. Adductor or not, she played to win.

"She won the first set by one point. I mean, that just goes to show you that you really have to play the big points well, and she played the big points really well.''

The American has now missed out in three consecutive Grand Slams, and will head to Wimbledon later this month looking to defend her title and finally land a 22nd major.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

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"Grand Slam singles champions born in the 1990s are no longer unique. Muguruza emulated Petra Kvitova's achievement by winning here at the age of 22, which is very young by modern standards.

"She has the big serve, lethal power from the baseline, and showed a cool head and a strong heart to close out the match after Williams had saved those four championship points. Players are developing the belief to beat the world number one, but a semi-final and two finals from the last three Grand Slams show Williams is far from done yet."

Source: bbc.com