Monday, March 27, 2006

Melbourne bids farewell to Games

Prince Edward has formally closed the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, bringing to an end 11 days of competition involving 4,500 athletes.

Prime minister Tony Blair was also at the ceremony to witness Melbourne hand over the Commonwealth Games flag to 2010 host, New Delhi.

Performers at the colourful ceremony included Dame Edna Everage, Indian actress Aishwarya Rai and John Farnham.

A spectacular firework display provided a rousing finale.

Melbourne 2006 chairman Ron Walker said the 18th Commonwealth Games had been a success.

"We have all been united by the moment," Mr Walker said. "Melbourne - we did it!"

Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Mike Fennell said: "Now we set our sights on 2010 and Delhi.

"With the inspiration derived from these games and the standard of excellence that has been set, it will be a hard act to follow.

"But we have every confidence that the bar will again be raised in 2010."

He also announced that Indian shooter Samaresh Jung was the winner of the inaugural David Dixon Award.

Jung won five gold medals along with a silver and a bronze medal and set three new Games records.

The award, named after a former CGF honorary secretary, is given to the outstanding athlete at each Commonwealth Games.

Australian rock band Grinspoon got the closing ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground under way, followed by performances from other famous Australian musicians.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) flag was lowered and handed to Suresh Kalmadi, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 2010 Delhi Games.

Around 800 Indian performers marked the handover of the Games to Delhi with a Bollywood spectacular.

Former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar, who earlier this week called for cricket to be included as a Commonwealth Games sport, was also part of the celebrations.

The extravaganza included 1,000 Dame Edna lookalikes, who danced around the MCG stage.

Spaniard's bid for Reds unlikely

Spanish tycoon Juan Villalonga's interest in investing in Liverpool is unlikely to lead to him buying a stake in the Anfield club.

The former president of telecoms giant Telefonica has been linked with Liverpool after the club admitted they were searching for fresh investment.

Liverpool have been linked with a variety of potential suitors.

But BBC Sport understands that while Villalonga may be keen on Liverpool, a deal is not expected to materialise.

It is understood Liverpool are aware of his interest, but claims that he has held talks with chairman David Moores are wide of the mark.

Villalonga received a reported £14m pay-off when he left Telefonica last year, and Liverpool are a major source of interest in Spain, with Rafael Benitez as manager and internationals Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia and Fernando Morientes in their side.

Liverpool appointed financial advisors Hawkpoint in March 2004 to seek out potential investors, but the search has so far proved fruitless.

Local building magnate Steve Morgan failed in his bid to buy into the club, and Liverpool have also been linked with American billionaire Robert Kraft.

Chief executive Rick Parry held talks in the US with the Krafts, who own New England Patriots NFL team, but Liverpool insisted he was merely fulfilling a long-standing invitation.

But it is understood talks are still continuing with a number of parties as Liverpool attempt to fund a £170m ground move and provide cash for Benitez to strengthen his squad.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Landmark day on Gaza-Egypt border

Reuters news agency.
Among the first to cross was wheelchair-bound mother Naimeh Bayah, travelling from Jabaliya refugee camp to Egypt for surgery.
"I am so tired, but happy, because I made the crossing as a human being for the first time," she said.
"I had travelled before and I had to wait hours before getting in."
Limited hours
On Friday an official opening ceremony was attended by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and foreign officials.
Gaza has no sea port and Israel has not agreed to allow its international airport to re-open, so the Rafah border is Gaza's main gateway.
Israel closed the Rafah crossing on 7 September shortly after withdrawing from Gaza, citing concerns that it would be used to smuggle weapons and militants from Egypt.
The Israelis had opposed the reopening until US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice secured a deal during a visit to the region earlier this month.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/26 20:16:26 GMT© BBC MMV

Barghouti wins Fatah primary poll

Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti has emerged as one of the most popular candidates ahead of parliamentary elections in January.
Barghouti came top in a primary poll for the ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank district of Ramallah.
He is serving five life terms in an Israeli jail for the killing of four Israelis and a Greek monk.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said there was no chance of Barghouti getting an early release.
Barghouti, 46, won 34,000 out of 40,000 votes - affirming his status as one of Fatah's most popular politicians, say correspondents.
New guard
From his prison cell where he has been since his sentencing in 2004, Barghouti has continued to play an important role as a political figure.
Palestinian analysts say his victory is also a victory of the Fatah young guard, which has been pushing for a stronger say within the movement.
"The old guard has failed politically and administratively, and in running their organization in a democratic way," said Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri.
But Mr Shalom vowed Barghouti would not be released.
"Marwan Barghouti has blood on his hands," he said. "Marwan Barghouti will sit in jail until the end of his days."
About 463,000 people have registered to vote in the selection process - the first time Fatah candidates have been selected by ballot.
Fatah primaries were held in many of the West Bank's largest districts on Friday and more will follow, including in the Gaza Strip, in the coming days.
There are 463 candidates in the West Bank and 311 in Gaza vying for a place on the final list to be presented to the electorate on 25 January.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/26 23:07:13 GMT© BBC MMV

Berlin stadium holds terror drill

By Ray Furlong BBC News, Berlin
German police have carried out a mock evacuation of the Olympic stadium in Berlin as part of preparations for the World Cup next year.
Around 1,000 fans were evacuated from a single block of the stadium - venue for six Cup matches including the final - in a bomb alert exercise.
Hertha Berlin football club fans volunteered to take part and the idea was to ensure maximum realism.
Families with children and people in wheelchairs took part.
Some people were also deliberately obstructive, refusing to follow police orders.
One fan even had a fake heart attack.
Thirty minutes
In one exercise, a special bridge was constructed to evacuate the fans over a tunnel and onto the pitch.
Police spokesman Ky Knoller said he was broadly satisfied, but that the police wanted to be quicker the next time they practise this next year.
He added that the police estimate for evacuating the whole stadium, which has a capacity of 75,000, is half an hour.
The German authorities are taking the possibility of an attack on next year's World Cup very seriously.
At some stadiums, they will even be deploying robots which can detect explosives, gases and chemicals.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/26 15:35:47 GMT© BBC MMV

Big freeze grips northern Europe

Sudden snowstorms have gripped northern Europe, causing several cold-related deaths and cutting power to tens of thousands of homes.
Rail and road networks ground to a halt with hundreds of commuters stranded in the Netherlands and people having to be rescued from vehicles in England.
Tourists in Paris could not visit the Eiffel Tower for four hours because of icy conditions on its metal walkways.
As much as 20cm (8in) of snow fell overnight in some countries.
The worst had reportedly passed by Saturday afternoon but warnings were issued for continuing ice and snow and slippery road conditions on Saturday night.
Paris deaths
Three homeless people in the French capital froze to death, one of them inside the car where he had been living.
According to French news agency AFP, a fourth man froze to death outside a church in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
Snow disruption was reported from the west of Germany to the south-west of England:
Power cuts left 250,000 people without power in Germany's most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia, while 19,000 households lost electricity in France's Vendee region
Flights in and out of airports in Paris, Brussels and the German city of Duesseldorf were all affected
The Netherlands recorded serious traffic jams, with hundreds of people sleeping in their cars after waiting up to 10 hours alongside motorways, while 1,000 motorists were stranded for hours in Cornwall, England
Spain closed several mountain passes and urged motorists to fit tyre chains in the north.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/26 22:32:52 GMT© BBC MMV

Four month detention for Glitter

Authorities in Vietnam have formally extended Gary Glitter's detention by four months, while claims that he had sex with under-age girls are examined.
Glitter - real name Paul Francis Gadd - is being held under suspicion of committing lewd acts with children.
The ex-singer has denied accusations of having sex with two under-age girls, one aged 12, say police in Vietnam.
The girls are said to have had sex with Glitter, 61, at his home in the resort of Vung Tau. He has not been charged.
Vietnamese police say they need longer to complete their investigations, although they say they have enough evidence to hold Glitter for another four months.
Under Vietnamese law, he can be held for up to 12 months before it is necessary to lay charges.
What newspapers reported is just hearsay but there has not been any medical certificates to prove there was child sex abuse Le Thanh Kinh
An investigation followed the former singer's arrest amid child sex allegations which his lawyer has called "hearsay".
The former glam rock star is being held at a prison outside the southern coastal resort of Vung Tau, where he is being detained with around 150 others people.
Glitter's lawyer, Le Thanh Kinh,says the former glam rock star maintains his innocence.
In questioning on Monday, the ex-singer denied having committed "lewd acts" with the girls.
The lawyer later said: "What newspapers reported is just hearsay but there has not been any medical certificates to prove there was child sex abuse and how it was conducted."
'Lewd acts'
If convicted, Glitter could be jailed for up to 12 years.
British consular officials have seen Glitter in the coastal town of Vung Tau, his home for the past six months.
The 1970s rocker was held on suspicion of "lewd acts" with children after an arrest warrant was issued last week.
He was stopped at Ho Chi Minh City airport on 19 November by an official who recognised him from media coverage.
There are conflicting reports as to whether the second girl had turned 18 - the legal age of consent in Vietnam.
Glitter was found guilty in the UK in 1999 of possessing child pornography and served two months in jail.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/25 08:56:10 GMT© BBC MMV