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IBF confirms its heavyweight belt stripped from Fury

AP | Dec 10, 2015, 09.54 AM IST

SPRINGFIELD (New Jersey): The IBF has confirmed it stripped British boxer Tyson Fury of its world heavyweight belt because his next fight is not against its mandatory challenger.

The International Boxing Federation says in a statement on Wednesday that Fury was supposed to meet Vyacheslav Glazkov next, but couldn’t because Fury was contractually obligated to a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko.

The IBF says the contract it received didn’t have provision for a rematch, and if it had been aware of one, then it would have mandated a rematch only after a mandatory defence. If Klitschko and Fury had not agreed to that, then the IBF said it would not have sanctioned the title fight.

The IBF says Fury’s lawyers asked them to exercise discretion regarding the rules, but the IBF wasn’t willing to and vacated the title on Tuesday.

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Beijing lifts smog red alert

BEIJING: Beijing’s first ever red alert for smog expired Thursday, as blue skies and sunshine replaced the thick haze that covered the city for days.

The Chinese capital put its air pollution emergency plan into action earlier this week, pulling half of all private vehicles off the streets from Tuesday, ordering many factories to close and recommending that some schools allow students to remain home.

The measures were being lifted from midday Thursday, according to a social media post by Beijing’s environmental protection bureau.

The red alert, the highest tier of a four-colour warning system, came as heavy smog flooded the city for the second time in as many weeks.

The unprecedented move followed scathing public criticism aimed at the city’s weak response to last week’s thick haze, which saw pollution sky-rocket to levels not seen in years.

Counts of PM2.5 — harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs — reached well over 600 micrograms per cubic metre last week, according to the US embassy, which issues independent readings, and were regularly above 300 in recent days.

By lunchtime on Thursday they were down to 22 as moderate winds blew from the north, below even the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum exposure of 25.

In a note posted online, the city wrote that the emergency measures had “been effective in slowing down the process of smog accumulation”, and expressed its “heartfelt thanks” and “sincere tribute” for residents’ contributions to the effort.

The city will “fight well a hard battle to prevent and contain air pollution”, it said.

But the struggle is largely out of municipal officials’ hands since much of its air pollution comes from neighbouring areas, where pollution levels remained hazardous Thursday, particularly to the south in Hebei province.

The recurrent bad air has driven residents of the capital to hospitals in growing numbers, according to a report on Internet giant Tencent’s news portal.

During the last month’s periods of severe pollution, it said, trips to medical facilities using hailing app Didi Kuaidi — backed by Tencent — went from 3.4 percent of all journeys to 4.1 percent, an increase of more than a fifth.

The report also cited online retailer JD.com as saying pollution mask sales soared by as much as 400 percent in response to the bad air.

The miasma came as President Xi Jinping attended a critical meeting on climate change in Paris, a potentially embarrassing coincidence that underscored China’s struggle to control the pollution that contributes to both its chronic smog and global warming.

Most of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the burning of coal for electricity and heating, particularly when demand peaks in winter, which is also the key cause of smog.

Earlier this month, China’s meteorological bureau said it expected at least one and possibly two more bouts of heavy pollution in December, with the first expected as soon as Saturday.

It remains unclear how Beijing will respond to future airborne smog peaks, but other cities in the region followed its lead this week by issuing their own red alerts as pollution levels climbed even higher than those seen in the capital.

Let’s share this pain suffered by people of Chennai: Umesh Yadav

Vinita Chaturvedi

| TNN | Dec 10, 2015, 01.07 PM IST

He’s come home after a noteworthy spell in the recently concluded Test series against South Africa where India annihilated the Proteas and won the series 3-0. Nagpur-based bowler Umesh Yadav, whose lethal spell of fast bowling played a vital role along with R Ashwin’s magical spin tales, gets vocal on the aspects beyond the game.

Affected the entire team

Obviously thrilled with the way things turned out on the cricketing turf for Team India, Umesh’s voice turned emotional as he recounted, “The news of the Chennai floods deeply disturbed all of us. There were concerns about the family members of the players like R Ashwin who were facing the trauma head on. All of us kept asking him about people at home and their welfare. It was a great relief to know that they were alright. At the same time, we were also about the numerous people trapped in life-threatening floods but then, nobody can do anything in the face of nature’s fury; it is omnipotent.”

Of hope and prayers

Umesh says that he’s really happy to see the way people of Chennai have rallied around and are supporting one another. “Just like nature doesn’t discriminate when it decides to vent its fury, the people of Chennai have proved that if we are united, we can stay strong against anything and anyone. The floods have claimed lives and gutted the property of many but when there are so many people caring for you and supporting you, the pain definitely lessens. All of us stand with Chennai and its people and want to help them in our own ways. I really hope and pray that the city recovers from this trauma soon. What happened there could happen to any of us, anywhere in the world. Let’s share this pain suffered by Chennai and give solace to those who have endured so much,” he added.

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Pak 26/11 case: Witness turns hostile, claims Kasab is alive

LAHORE: Prosecution in Mumbai attack case faced embarrassment when a key witness turned hostile and said that Ajmal Kasab, the lone gunman caught alive after the assault and later hanged, was alive.

“Mudassir Lakhvi, the headmaster of a primary school in Faridkot, where Ajmal Kasab studied for three years told the court that he taught Kasab and he is alive,” a court official told PTI today.

The hearing of the case was held by the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad judge at Adiala Jail Rawalpindi yesterday, the same day when Pakistan assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial during a meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz.

“The headmaster caused a lot of embarrassment for the prosecution team by claiming that Ajmal Kasab is alive. He was supposed to present the record of the period during which Ajmal Kasab studied in the school and other relevant record but talked otherwise. The prosecution also failed to properly examine him,” the official said.

The official said the headmaster belongs to the native town of accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and there is a possibility that he testified under his (Lakhvi’s) pressure.

In May 2014, the headmaster told the court that Kasab was still alive.

The prosecution moved an application to examine him again on the ground that the witness turned ‘hostile’. He was summoned yesterday but he stuck to his last statement.

The headmaster made no reference to Kasab (hanged in India) and did not mention if he (Kasab) was the same person who studied in the school in Faridkot.

The witness earlier had also claimed that Kasab could be produced in court if needed.

The next hearing in the case would be held on December 16.

India blames Pakistan-based militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba for orchestrating the attack that killed 166 people.

Initially, Pakistani authorities had denied Indian claims of Kasab being a Pakistani national but had later confirmed that the only surviving attacker belonged to Pakistan.

Kasab was hanged in November 2012 in a Pune jail.

The trial against LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum has been underway since 2009 for their alleged role in the Mumbai attacks.

Lakhvi secured bail in December 2014 and was subsequently released from the Adiala Jail on this April after the Lahore High Court set aside the government’s order to detain him under a public security act.

He is currently out on bail and living at an undisclosed location.

Saina and Srikanth start on a losing note

Suhas Nayse

| TNN | Dec 10, 2015, 12.00 PM IST

DUBAI: The BWF Super Series Finals got off to a disappointing start for the Indians as both Saina Nehwal and K Srikanth flattered to deceive in their respective opening league matches at the Hamdan Sports Complex here on Wednesday. The vociferous ‘Saina Squad’ failed to lift the off-colour Indian against an in-form Nozomi Okuhara who capitalised on Saina’s sluggish movement to register a crushing 21-14, 21-6 victory. The World No. 2 had never lost to Okuhara in their four previous meetings but on Wednesday , the Indian proved no match for the Japanese.

It was obvious that Saina has yet to recover fully from the foot injury she suffered in last month’s China Open. There were occasions in the match where she just could not reach the shuttle. “I am playing a match in the tournament after three weeks. I am short of match practice. I am not pushing myself too much because of injury. I began well but she probably got the idea that I am not stretching fully and managed to get lot of points on the drops.Competition is pretty tough here and there is no easy match in this tournament,” Saina told TOI.

A jaded looking Srikanth, meanwhile, appeared to have felt the effects of his fifth successive tournament abroad as he failed to maintain his winning streak against Kento Momota going down 13-21, 13-21. “I played the final in Indonesia just a couple of days back. Recovery period was too short for me to play here. I was playing the waiting game by involving him more in rallies. His cross court smashes proved very effective today,” said Srikanth.

Gopichand was not disappointed with the 22-year-old’s show. “Frankly speaking, I am not expecting big results from him. He has been playing and travelling for the last one month or so. He did a great job by reaching the final last week. I am happy that he has started winning again after some poor results.”

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Donald Trump's knack for controversy drowning out his rivals

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire: Billionaire Donald Trump is drowning out his rivals in an echo chamber of insults and charged pronouncements that have taken over the presidential campaign. Frustrated Republican candidates trekking across key states are struggling to be heard.

All the while, some Republican officials worry the intense Trump focus is letting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton escape serious scrutiny as she works to strengthen her case to general election voters in the 2016 contest.

“He’s playing you like a fine Stradivarius violin,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told reporters who mobbed him after a campaign stop in New Hampshire this week — to get his reaction to Trump’s remarks. “This is what he does. He’s an expert at this. He’s phenomenal at garnering attention.”

Trump has astounded the political world with his rise and staying power at the top of most Republican polls. The long, state-by-state primary contest to choose each party’s nominee begins in less than two months.

Perhaps no one is more frustrated than Bush, the son and brother of former presidents once thought the likely nominee.

Bush, a former Florida governor, spoke at length during his campaign stops about his strategy to stop the Islamic State, which he said President Barack Obama and Clinton, as secretary of state, had foolishly dismissed.

Yet the first question he faced from voters at a Tuesday night stop in New Hampshire had nothing to do with his policies. “I’m going to say two words, probably the last two words you want to hear right now,” said Tim Chrysostom, one of 125 in attendance. “Donald Trump.”

“What about him?” Bush replied curtly.

READ ALSO:
Zuckerberg speaks out in support of Muslims

With Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, just the latest example of his provocative statements, the real estate mogul has found a way to dominate the conversation even when he’s not in the room.

On Wednesday, Bush touted a plan to return more power to states. Ohio Gov. John Kasich addressed national security in New York. And retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson outlined his plan to reshape the US health care system.

Each made hardly a ripple in the race.

Trump’s newest comments on Muslims, however, got attention.

“I’m doing good for the Muslims,” he declared in an interview to be aired Wednesday night on CNN. “Many Muslim friends of mine are in agreement with me.”

Tens of millions of dollars in campaign spending aren’t helping Trump’s adversaries break through.

Trump spent $ 5.6 million through the end of September. The rest of the Republican field spent more than $ 76 million over the same period.

Bush and his supporters alone have invested some $ 32 million in television and radio commercials. Trump? About $ 300,000.

Even Trump’s critics, like New Hampshire Republican national committeeman Steve Duprey, admires the real estate mogul’s ability to dominate the conversation with such a modest investment of time and money.

“No one can deny he’s running a brilliant campaign,” Duprey said.

Trump has all but abandoned traditional retail campaigning in which candidates court smaller groups of voters in key states. Instead he’s focusing on massive rallies and most often on national media interviews — frequently conducted on the phone from Manhattan’s Trump Tower.

Extraordinary statements have become ordinary for Trump. At the same South Carolina rally where he read his no-Muslims statement aloud, he also suggested “closing that Internet up in some way,” saying it had become a breeding ground for radicalization.

Some rivals have tried to emulate Trump’s fiery rhetoric.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz explained his preferred approach to the Islamic State militants by promising to rain violence on their strongholds. “We will carpet bomb them into oblivion,” he said at a rally in Iowa on Sunday. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”

At a rally Tuesday night in Atlanta, Carson suggested that US citizens should train for terrorist attacks much as schoolchildren once conducted air-raid drills during the Cold War. “We need to start teaching people what to do once again in those situations,” he said.

Such tactics concern some Republican donors and operatives.

“You’re not going to get earned media unless you’re outrageous, but it is foolish to try to out-Trump Trump,” said John Jordan, a California donor backing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

At the same time, Republicans are missing a key opportunity to weaken vulnerable Democrats, Republican operatives say.

The Trump call to block Muslims from the US abutted — and then overtook — criticism that an address Obama gave from the White House about fighting the Islamic State was weak. Questions about Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state have faded.

“Donald Trump is a massive walking, talking in-kind donation to former Secretary Rodham Clinton,” said Liz Mair, a Republican strategist who is trying to raise money to curb a Trump rise. “Media focus on him, and the type of focus more specifically blocks other candidates who could better compete against her from getting any attention whatsoever.”

Boxer Muhammad Ali appears to take jab at Trump over Muslim comments

WASHINGTON: Former boxing champion Muhammad Ali, one of the best-known U.S. Muslims, appeared on Wednesday to join the chorus condemning the proposal by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to temporarily stop Muslims from entering the country.

“We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” Ali, 72, said in a statement that appeared in a report by NBC News headlined: “Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States,” but did not actually name Trump.

The Louisville, Kentucky-born Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion who joined the Nation of Islam in 1964 and later converted to Sunni Islam, also took aim at Islamist extremists.

“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” Ali said in the statement. “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”

“I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,” he said.

Robert Gunnell, a spokesman for Ali, said later the statement “was not a direct response to Donald Trump. This statement was Muhammad Ali’s belief that Muslims must reject Jihadist extremist views.”

Asked by Reuters why the headline on the statement was later changed to “Statement from Muhammad Ali Calling on all Muslims to Stand Up Against Jihadist Radical Agenda,” Gunnell said in an email it was “not meant toward Trump so we edited the headline.”

Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election, has been harshly criticized by world leaders and fellow Republicans for saying on Monday that Muslims, including would-be immigrants, students and tourists, should be blocked from entering the country.

His proposal followed last week’s deadly shootings in San Bernardino, California, last week by a married couple inspired by Islamic State militants.

North Korean leader hints at hydrogen bomb capability

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has hinted that his nuclear-armed state has developed a hydrogen bomb, a move that would signal a major step forward in its nuclear weapons capabilities.

During a recent inspection tour of a historical military site, Kim mentioned that North Korea was already a “powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty”, the North’s official KCNA news agency said on Thursday.

North Korea has already tested three atom bombs, which rely on nuclear fission.

A hydrogen, or thermonuclear device, uses fusion in a chain reaction that results in a far more powerful explosion.

North Korea has hinted before at the possession of “stronger, more powerful” weapons, but Kim’s remarks were believed to be the first direct reference to an H-bomb.

The North has made many unverifiable claims about its nuclear weapons strength, including the ability to strike the US mainland which most experts dismiss — at least for now.

In September, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) had raised a red flag over what appeared to be a new “hot cell” facility under construction at the North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Analysts at the think-tank said satellite images suggested it could be an isotope separation facility, capable of producing tritium.

Tritium is a key component in the design of more thermonuclear weapons with far greater yields than those made only of plutonium and uranium.

The North’s first two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 were of plutonium devices, while the third was believed — though not confirmed — to have used uranium as its fissile material.

“Whether North Korea can make nuclear weapons using tritium is unknown although we believe that it remains a technical problem North Korea still needs to solve,” ISIS said at the time.

“Solving this problem would likely require more underground nuclear tests,” it added.

Believe in Jesus, Fury says as gay comment row grows

LONDON: New world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury turned to divine inspiration on Wednesday to answer his growing number of critics after days of courting controversy over his comments about women and homosexuality.

The 27-year-old Briton, who produced one of sport’s biggest shocks last month when he beat long-standing world champion Wladimir Klitschko, has been causing even more upsets out of the ring since then with his pronouncements on homosexuality, women, and fellow athletes.

The furore was triggered by a newspaper interview, in which he said three things needed to happen “before the devil comes home” – the legalisation of homosexuality, abortion and paedophilia.

Subsequent interviews, in which he attempted to clarify his comments, have attracted further criticism, and despite denying he hated gays “or anybody”, the rumpus created by his remarks has led to demands that he be removed from the shortlist for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award, a prestigious annual honour bestowed on one of Britain’s top sporting figures.

An online petition calling for his removal has attracted more than 125,000 signatures.

Even within his sport, he cannot escape controversy: he has already lost one of the three world titles he won because he agreed to a rematch against Klitschko, to which he was contractually bound, rather than fighting the International Boxing Federation’s mandatory challenger.

When asked on Wednesday about the controversy over his comments, the born-again Christian responded to every question with a religious phrase.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved,” he repeatedly told a BBC reporter.

“Jesus loves me and he loves you too … and he loves everybody in the world,” he added, smiling, as he leant out of the window of a van. “All you’ve got to do is repent of your sins and you’ll be forgiven.”

Asked if he thought he could win the SPOTY award, his answer was: “John 3:16, for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son. Whoever believes in him shall have eternal life and shall not perish. The only way is through Jesus into heaven, that’s all I can say.”

Another nominee for the SPOTY award, Greg Rutherford, said on Wednesday he had spoken to the BBC about sharing a stage with someone whose views were “so strongly against my own” but rejected reports that he was pulling out of the ceremony on December 20.

“I have been in discussions with the BBC regarding my involvement with SPOTY after hearing what I believe to be very outdated and derogatory comments from a fellow SPOTY nominee,” he said in a statement to the BBC.

Mom helps identify 3rd Paris attacker

AP | Dec 10, 2015, 04.49 AM IST

PARIS: The third gunman who opened fire at Paris’ Bataclan concert hall before being killed last month in the attack was identified on Wednesday as a Frenchman who left for Syria in 2013. The development came after his mother received a message announcing his death and gave a DNA sample to police.

The information further confirmed that the Paris attacks were carried out largely, if not entirely, by Europeans trained by IS. All the November 13 attackers identified so far have been from France or Belgium.

Foued Mohamed-Aggad left Strasbourg for Syria in late 2013, a French judicial official said, at a time when about a dozen young men from the eastern French city headed to the war zone.

Cotta said Aggad had told his family months ago that he was going to be a suicide bomber in Iraq and had no intention of returning to France.

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