Monthly Archives: February 2019

Thai club to appeal Bodin’s two-year ban

Granular, who had earlier suspended Bodin without pay until the end of the year, said the two-year ban was too harsh and they would seek to get it reduced to a year or even six months.

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“I understand that BAT would like to set a standard but a two-year ban is too severe,” Granular president Jane Piyatat was quoted as saying by The Nation newspaper on Monday.

“After the BWF announces its decision, we will file a petition. “

Jane, who was also banned from accompanying the team to domestic and international events for six months for Bodin’s indiscipline, said the player was depressed after the verdict and the club would send him abroad to train and keep fit during the suspension.

The BWF, which is expected to announce their verdict this week, has charged both players with inappropriate conduct, oral abuse and unsportsmanlike conduct. Bodin was also charged with physical abuse and conduct contrary to the integrity of the game.

The duo teamed up for Thailand at the London Olympics and were competing on opposite sides for the first time since their split and tensions blew up during the men’s doubles contest in Canada earlier this month.

Trouble broke out between the two Thais after Maneepong and his partner Nipitphon Puangpuapech bagged the first game. At the change of ends Maneepong hit Bodin with his racquet following a heated verbal exchange.

Bodin retaliated by chasing Maneepong to a neighbouring court, tackling him to the ground and punching him several times, for which he was disqualified.

Maneepong accepted the punishment from BAT but was disappointed that he would miss major events such as the World Championship in Guangzhou, the China Masters and the Japan Open, the report said.

“I think I will go back to my hometown in Phuket to recover from my injuries and regroup mentally,” Maneepong said.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Patrick Johnston)

Woods in charge after flirting with 59

Needing two more birdies for the magical number with five holes to play, Woods narrowly missed a nine-footer at the 15th and a six-footer at the 17th on the way to a nine-under-par 61 at Firestone Country Club.

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His sizzling score equalled the course record, which he had previously tied in the second round in 2000, and gave him a commanding seven-shot lead with a 13-under total of 127.

Woods, who has triumphed a record seven times in the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event at Firestone, is bidding to win his fifth title on the PGA Tour this year as he builds momentum for next week’s PGA Championship.

“I had a lot of control today from tee to green and obviously the way I putted,” the American world number one told reporters after totalling only 22 putts. “I felt I was in total control of my game.

“Obviously things like that don’t happen every day, and it’s fun when it all comes together and I was able to take advantage of it, especially on a golf course like this.”

Asked whether he was at all disappointed to fall short in his bid to fire a 59, Woods replied: “Absolutely not, nope. 61 is pretty good. I’m not bummed.

“Would it have been nice to shoot 59? Yeah, it would have been nice. I certainly had the opportunity. I just had (to get) two more (birdies) out of five holes. I had two good chances at 15 and 17 to do it.

“But the par putt at 18 was even bigger,” Woods said, referring to the 26-footer he sank from the back fringe to keep his card bogey-free, prompting him to raise his right arm skyward with a pointing finger in celebration.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley and Englishman Chris Wood carded matching 68s on the challenging South Course to end the day tied for second, with Swede Henrik Stenson (70) and American Bill Haas (68) a further stroke back at five under.

However, the tournament would now appear to be in Woods’ hands to win or lose as he heads into the weekend at one of his favourite venues with a seven-shot advantage.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)

Al-Qaeda accuses US of plotting overthrow Morsi

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri accused the US of “plotting” with Egypt’s military, secularists and Christians to overthrow Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, in an audio recording posted on militant Islamist forums.

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In his first public comment on the July 3 military coup, the Al-Qaeda boss, himself an Egyptian, said: “Crusaders and secularists and the Americanised army have converged … with Gulf money and American plotting to topple Mohamed Morsi’s government.”

In the 15-minute recording, Zawahiri also accused Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority of supporting the Islamist president’s ouster to attain “a Coptic state stripped from Egypt’s south.”

Zawahiri attacked Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate and former UN nuclear watchdog chief who was an opposition leader during Morsi’s single year in office.

ElBaradei is the “envoy of American providence,” Zawahiri said, labelling the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief as “the destroyer of Iraq.”

Zawahiri, who belonged to the militant Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, criticised Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement for going soft on applying strict Islamic law.

Morsi’s “Muslim Brotherhood government strove to please America and the secularists as much as it could, but they were not satisfied with it,” said Zawahiri, who is believed to be hiding somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

“They did not trust it (Morsi’s government) because they did not forget the Brotherhood’s slogan: ‘Jihad is our war, and death in the path of God is our highest aspiration’,” he said.

“The Brotherhood abandoned that slogan, substituting it with the slogan ‘Islam is the solution,’ but the Crusaders and secularists did not forget,” he said.

“What happened is the biggest proof of the failure of democratic means to achieve an Islamic government,” he said of the coup.

“I call for them to be united … to make Islamic law rule.”

Malaysia rejects Borneo ceasefire call

Malaysia’s prime minister has rejected a ceasefire call by the self-proclaimed Philippine sultan whose Islamic fighters launched a deadly incursion into Malaysia.

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Malaysian forces are currently hunting for the Islamic militants in a remote region of Borneo island where they landed last month to assert a long-dormant territorial claim in what has become Malaysia’s worst security crisis in years.

Their Manila-based leader called for ceasefire at midday but Prime Minister Najib Razak, who flew to the region Thursday to inspect security operations, said he told Philippine leader Benigno Aquino by phone the offer was rejected.

“I told President Aquino they must lay down their arms immediately,” Najib told reporters in a village near the area where up to 300 militants were being searched for.

“They have to surrender their arms and they have to do it as soon as possible.”

The “sultan”, Jamalul Kiram III, declared a unilateral ceasefire for 12:30 pm (0430 GMT) and urged Malaysia to reciprocate.

But Najib said Malaysian forces would continue to press the offensive, adding that still more soldiers would be sent in to the hilly region of vast oil palm estates and pockets of jungle.

Anger has mounted in Malaysia over the incursion, which began February 12 when fighters arrived from the southern Philippines to press Kiram’s claim to the area.

Kiram says he is heir to the Sultanate of Sulu, which once ruled islands that are now part of the southern Philippines, as well as Sabah.

An estimated 100-300 militants were holed up in the sleepy farming village of Tanduo for three weeks until a pair of deadly shootouts with security forces at the weekend triggered a military assault with jet fighters and ground forces Tuesday.

However, the attack appears to have merely scattered the fighters, and security forces were combing through huge palm groves for them. Sporadic exchanges of fire have been reported since the assault.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged a peaceful resolution of the bizarre incursion, which has led to at least 28 reported deaths — 20 militants and eight police officers.

“(Ban) urges an end to the violence and encourages dialogue among all the parties for a peaceful resolution of the situation,” said a statement released by his office late Wednesday.

Kiram declared the “unilateral ceasefire… in order to reciprocate the call of the UN to preserve lives”, said his spokesman.

Malaysia’s military assault appears to have failed, with authorities confirming just one kill so far.

They have not explained how the militants — said to be alive and well and in contact with their Manila comrades — were able to escape a tight security cordon built up over three weeks.

Tension is running high in eastern Sabah due to the incursion, and residents of some towns have fled after police said gunmen were spotted in other areas down the coast, raising fears of a wider guerrilla infiltration.

Late Wednesday, police said the bodies of six police officers killed in a weekend ambush in the coastal town of Semporna were mutilated.

“The bodies of dead police personnel were found to have been brutally mutilated by the armed intruders,” a statement said, giving no further details.

Police have said six militants responsible for the Semporna ambush were later killed by reinforcements.

The incursion has proven a delicate situation for the two neighbours, with Manila earlier calling for Malaysian restraint just before Tuesday’s military assault was launched.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said late Wednesday that his government might seek Kiram’s extradition if Manila failed to take action, but the Philippine government said that was unlikely, citing the lack of an extradition treaty.

Saudi Arabia appoints new crown prince

Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a half-brother to the king, has been appointed heir to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, a statement from the royal court says.

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King Abdullah’s appointment of Salman, 76, as crown prince follows the death of the previous heir apparent – Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, another half-brother – on Saturday in Geneva, where he had been undergoing medical treatment.

Saudi Arabia buried the 79-year old Nayef during a sombre ceremony in Islam’s holiest city A medical source said Nayef died of “cardiac problems” at his brother’s residence in Geneva.

The ceremony was held late Sunday afternoon at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, in western Saudi Arabia, and attended by a grieving King Abdullah, members of the royal family and a number of heads of state from Islamic countries.

Tributes for Nayef, Saudi’s long-serving interior minister, poured in from around the world.

“Crown Prince Nayef devoted his life to promoting the security of Saudi Arabia,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while US President Barack Obama praised his co-operation in the fight against terror that “saved countless American and Saudi lives”.

Salman, who retains his position as minister for defence, is one of the so-called Sudairy Seven brothers, a group of powerful princes that included both Naif and previous monarch Fahd bin Abdul Aziz.

Locals see Salman as a supporter of gradual reform in the conservative kingdom. The influential pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, in which Salman officially has a 10-per-cent stake, is thought to reflect his views.

According to a 2007 Wikileaks cable, Salman said the pace and extent of reforms depend on social and cultural factors, and that “changes have to be introduced in a sensitive and timely manner.”.

“He said that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is composed of tribes and regions and if democracy were imposed, each tribe and region would have its political party,” said the cable.

He served as the governor of the Saudi capital Riyadh from 1954 until he was named minister of defence since November 2011.

Nayef’s son, Muhammad bin Naif, is expected to be promoted in turn to deputy minister for interior. Currently assistant minister for the interior with responsibility for security, he has played akey role in Saudi Arabia’s fight against al-Qaeda and is seen as one of the members of the next generation of Saudi princes most likely to hold high positions in the future.

Nayef is the second crown prince to die in less than a year. His predecessor, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, died in October.

(DPA/ AAP)

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