News & Current Affairs

June 8, 2008

Hillary Clinton bows out

WASHINGTON, June 7: The former American first lady Hillary Clinton on Saturday endorsed Senator Barack Obama and urged her supports to do all they can to help him move to the White House on Nov 4.

The endorsement, announced at a big rally in Washington, ends a 17-month contest between the two Democratic candidates that at times appeared to have clouded their party’s chances of winning the presidential election.

“The way to continue our fight now … is to take our energy, our passions, our strengths and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States,” she declared amid thunderous applause from a large crowd.

“Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.”

Joining her on stage were her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea, before she took their leave as she addressed the crowd.

Mrs Clinton, who would have been the first woman presidential candidate of a major US party had she won the primaries, said she would continue her struggle to further empower the women.

“I will continue to stand strong with you … the dreams we share are worth fighting for,” she said.

Senator Obama, who made history as the first Black candidate of a major party, did not attend the event and spent Saturday in his hometown of Chicago.

Since both wanted to make history, either as the first Black or the first woman president of the US, they continued their fight for more than 17 months and participated in 57 contests.

The National Public Radio, America’s most respected radio station, observed that their race “was as gruelling as it was groundbreaking.”

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Five European divers survive ‘dragon’ ordeal

LABUANBAJO (Indonesia), June 7: Five European divers battled a komodo ‘dragon’ during 36 hours stranded on an Indonesian island reserve for the deadly reptiles after getting caught in strong currents.

The divers — three Britons, a Frenchman and a Swede — endured two nights on the deserted eastern island which is infested with the huge monitor lizards before rangers found them around midday on Saturday, a French survivor said.

Laurent Pinel, 31, said the group had to fight off one ‘dragon’ with rocks and scavenged for shellfish as they waited to be rescued from the tiny island in the Komodo National Park, east of Bali.

The largest lizard in the world, komodos usually feast in packs and can easily devour prey as large as buffalos. One bite can be extremely dangerous due to the virulent bacteria in their saliva.

Rains bring more bad news for cyclone survivors

A severe shortage of housing has left hundreds of thousands of cyclone survivors in Myanmar exposed to heavy rains as the monsoon season begins, according to aid agencies.

The United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned on Saturday there was an “urgent need” for tarpaulins to provide the estimated 1.5 million homeless survivors with temporary shelter. Otherwise, they warned, the threats of hunger and disease could intensify.

“Exposure to the elements five weeks after a disaster of this magnitude has to be a major concern,” said John Sparrow, a spokesman for the IFRC. “People are in a weakened condition. They are sick; they are hungry. Without shelter, their whole situation is seriously exacerbated.”

The UN estimates a total of 2.4 million people were affected when Cyclone Nargis hit on May 2-3, and warns that more than 1 million of those still need help, mostly in the hard-to-reach Irrawaddy delta.

UN officials and aid groups have criticised the Myanmar regime for hindering access to the delta, saying it has prevented enough food, water and shelter from reaching desperate survivors.

The UN has said access could greatly improve if the country’s military junta would accept American offers of support which include the use of 22 military helicopters to ferry aid to remote locations.

The USS Essex group, which includes four ships, 5,000 US military personnel and the helicopters, abandoned plans on Thursday to deliver aid to the delta after repeated efforts to broker a compromise with the junta failed.

The US military, however, said it is keeping 22 helicopters on standby in case Myanmar’s ruling junta reversed its rejection of such help for cyclone victims, saying the aircraft could reach survivors within three days.

With only seven Myanmar government helicopters reportedly flying, relief supplies are mostly being transported along dirt roads and then by boat. International aid agencies say boats able to navigate the delta’s canals are scarce and efforts to import vehicles have been hampered by government red tape.

“Of the 1 million or 1.5 million people in need of relief support, we think that between 450,000 to 750,000 are in emergency need,” said Lt-Gen John Goodman, commander of Marine Forces Pacific and head of the US relief operation for Myanmar.

They could be reached “over the course of a three-day period” by American helicopters and landing craft, he said in telephone interview from a temporary US staging area at Utapao, Thailand.

US has become world’s biggest jailer: HRW

With an incarceration rate of 762 per 100,000 US residents, the United States has become the world’s largest jailer, according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In a report, the watchdog said: “New figures showing that US incarceration rates are climbing even higher, (and) with racial minorities greatly over-represented in prisons and jails, highlight the need to adopt alternative criminal justice policies.”

“Americans should ask why the US locks up so many more people than do Canada, Britain and other democracies,” said David Fathi, the director of the US programme at the HRW.

Data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a branch of the US Department of Justice, showed that as of June 30, 2007, approximately 2.3 million persons were incarcerated in US prisons and jails, an all-time high. This represented an incarceration rate of 762 per 100,000 residents, the highest in the world.

In contrast, the UK’s incarceration rate is 152 per 100,000 residents; the rate in Canada is 108; and in France it is 91.

The HRW urged officials in the United States to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offences and to adopt community-based sanctions and other alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders.

The new statistics also showed big racial disparities, with black males incarcerated at a per capita rate six times that of white males. Nearly 11 per cent of all black men aged 30 to 34 were behind bars as of June 30, 2007.

In May this year the HRW released its report — “Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the US” — in which it documented racial disparities in US drug law enforcement, with black men 11.8 times more likely than white men to enter prison on drug charges, even though the rates for use of illegal drugs in the two groups were similar.

Although whites, being more numerous, constitute the large majority of drug users, blacks constitute 54 per cent of all persons entering state prisons with new drug offence convictions.

June 7, 2008

Beckham urges Ronaldo to stay put

Former Manchester United star David Beckham has urged Cristiano Ronaldo not to follow in his footsteps by leaving Old Trafford to sign for Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants are tracking the 23-year-old, despite being warned off by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Beckham, who joined Real in 2003, said: “I believe he’s at the right club now, a club he should stay at.

“He’s only been there a few years. He’s got a lot of people around him there who will protect him.”

Beckham added: “As much as Real are a great team and one of the biggest clubs in the world, he’s only just starting at United.”

Ronaldo, who scored 42 goals as his side won the Champions League and the Premier League last season, says he will clarify his future in the next few days.

Ferguson is sure the Portuguese winger will stay, saying: “I’m confident about that. I’m very confident.

“It’s a game Real play all the time, In the past they’ve done it with Beckham, they’ve done it with Ronaldo, they’ve done it with my fitness coach last summer when they took him away from us, so we’re used to it.

“It’s a compliment to the standard of players we have, and we always seem to produce, but I am more than confident Cristiano will be with us next year.”

“The Glazer family will not be messed about in this situation.

“We want Cristiano to stay for a long, long time. He is on a fantastic contract and quite rightly so – he’s the best player in the world.”

Ronaldo ‘will not discuss future’

Cristiano Ronaldo will not talk about his club future while Portugal are involved in Euro 2008, according to his national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The 23-year-old Manchester United star is a summer target for Real Madrid.

But, ahead of Portugal’s opening Euro 2008 match against Turkey on Saturday, Scolari warned the media not to keep quizzing Ronaldo about a possible move.

Scolari said: “To any question put to Cristiano he will answer: ‘I only talk about Portugal at the Euro’.”

Real have been tracking Ronaldo despite being warned off by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Portuguese forward has reportedly said he would like to play for the Spanish side but Scolari says he is completely focused on playing for his country.

“If I had any doubt I wouldn’t have summoned him and wouldn’t have made him one of the captains,” Scolari said.

“I trust Ronaldo as an athlete and as a person. What he is going through now is normal.

“Ronaldo is the best player in the world right now, I hope he plays for us the same way he has been playing for Manchester United.”

Scolari is also adamant he will not discuss his own future while Portugal are still in the tournament.

The Brazilian, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and was a runner-up with Portugal at Euro 2004, was courted by England before the 2006 World Cup.

He has been linked with the vacant position at Chelsea but said: “I’m here as coach of Portugal until the end of the Euro and only respond for the national team.

“I’m not going to say whether I’m going to go this way or the other, whether I’ll be renewing (my contract with Portugal) or leaving.

“There was talk before Euro 2004 and I ended up renewing, there was more talk before the World Cup in 2006 and I renewed.”

Torres desperate for Spain glory

Spain striker Fernando Torres has said he is desperate for Euro 2008 glory to help ease the pain of Liverpool’s Champions League heartache last season.

The Reds crashed out at the semi-final stage with a 4-3 aggregate loss to Chelsea, taking the shine off a season that saw him grab 33 goals.

“The semi-finals of the Champions League have left a bad taste in the mouth,” said the 24-year-old frontman.

“Now Euro 2008 is the last opportunity to finish with a title of this nature.”

Spain are seen as perennial under-achievers in major competitions, often failing to live up to high expectations despite a wealth of talent.

However, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Ramos and Xavi in support, Torres says confidence is high ahead of Spain’s Group D opener against Russia on 10 June.

“I have a lot of confidence following this season, and with a lot of desire to be able to finish the season with a title,” he said.

“With Liverpool, we were close to winning the Champions League and you could taste what it could be like to win such an important title. “It was not to be though and to win a title will be what I have always dreamed of – a great season and a great end.”

Ronaldo ‘wants to play at Madrid’

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United has taken a new twist after the winger was reported as saying he would like to play for Real Madrid.

Real have been tracking Ronaldo, 23, despite being warned off by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I’d like to play for Real Madrid but only if it’s true they are ready to pay what Manchester United ask of them,” he told respected Brazilian website Terra.

“However, it does not depend on me,” said the Portuguese midfielder.

“I’ll only talk about this again after the European Championship,” added Ronaldo. “Don’t ask me any questions because I won’t answer.”

“The Spanish club would have to come up with the fee that United ask for Ronaldo, if the Premier League side decide to sell him.

“So if Ronaldo doesn’t play for Real next season then it might be deemed as Real’s fault for not matching the asking price.

“He’s not saying he won’t play for United, he’s saying that he wants to play for Real but these conditions have to be fulfilled and the outcome doesn’t depend on him.”

Earlier this week Madrid president Ramon Calderon told Spanish newspaper Marca that the signing of Ronaldo “seems impossible” but, following Ronaldo’s comments to Terra on Thursday, he has spoken again on the matter.

“For Madrid it is an honour to know that a player like him thinks that playing at Real would be good,” he told Spanish newspaper AS.

“We are proud to know that he would like to be with us.”

Further complicating the situation, Ronaldo’s mother Dolores Aveiro was quoted on Friday saying her son would be staying with Manchester United.

“He is fine where he is,” she told Portuguese television station TV1.

“The future only God knows, but what is sure is that he is going to continue in England.”

Last season Ronaldo scored 42 goals as United won the Champions League and the Premier League.

“I’m sure when he was young his dream was to play for Real Madrid at one stage in his career,” said Ginola.

“It would be no surprise to me if he went, but if it was me I would wait another two or three years because playing in the best league in world, playing probably for best club in world, there’s nothing better than that.

“He still has a few things to achieve in this country and I’m sure he can win more trophies. He is so loved in England that people would be disappointed to see a player like that leave.”

Previously, Ferguson has maintained the Portuguese winger would not move, saying: “I’m confident about that. I’m very confident.

“It’s a game Real play all the time, In the past they’ve done it with [David] Beckham, they’ve done it with Ronaldo, they’ve done it with my fitness coach last summer when they took him away from us, so we’re used to it.

“It’s a compliment to the standard of players we have, and we always seem to produce, but I am more than confident Cristiano will be with us next year.”

“The Glazer family will not be messed about in this situation.

“We want Cristiano to stay for a long, long time. He is on a fantastic contract and quite rightly so – he’s the best player in the world.”

Netherlands v Italy

Filed under: Latest — Tags: , — expressyoureself @ 6:18 am

Holland coach Marco van Basten has ruled Arsenal’s Robin van Persie out of their Euro 2008 opener against Italy in Berne on Monday.

The Arsenal striker’s fitness is improving after a thigh injury, but van Basten will not risk him.

Van Basten said: “His condition is improving from day to day, but it is logical that there is still some improvement to come.

“He has a lot of catching up to do and the Italy match will be too early.”

Van Persie, however, has not given up hope, saying: “I understand that I lack match practice but I still hope I can start against Italy.”

Van Basten said: “Physically he is okay now, but he needs to be back to his old self as soon as possible.

“He can do this quickly because he wasn’t out for a very long time.”

Wesley Sneijder is expected to recover from a minor knock that forced him to train alone during Thursday’s session in Lausanne.

Tottenham agree Dos Santos deal

Tottenham will sign forward Giovani dos Santos from Barcelona, subject to a medical and agreeing personal terms.

The Mexico international will sign a five-year deal in a move which will cost an initial £4.7m and could rise to £8.6m depending on appearances.

Barcelona have retained the right to 20% of any fee should the 19-year-old move on from Spurs in the first two years of his spell with the club.

And they will get 10% of any fee if he is sold later in his contract.

Dos Santos first joined Barcelona in 2002 and came through the youth ranks at the Nou Camp.

He broke into the first-team under former boss Frank Rijkaard last season and made 16 starts in all competitions and came on as a substitute 22 times in the campaign.

Dos Santos also scored a hat-trick in the final league game of the season as Barca beat Murcia 5-3.

The winger, who can also play up front or behind a main striker, helped Mexico to win the World under-17 championship in Peru in 2005.

He is regarded as a promising talent but appears to have been allowed to leave by the Nou Camp oufit as they also have youngsters Lionel Messi and Bojan Krkic in their ranks.

South American football reporter Tim Vickery told BBC Sport: “He is the son of Brazil international Zizinho, but he plays for Mexico – and masterminded the 3-0 win over Brazil in the final of the 2005 World Under-17 Cup.

“He is a slight figure with a terrific burst of acceleration and he has a superb left foot.”

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