China defends bloody crackdown of Tiananmen protests

China has defended a bloody crackdown on protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 30 years ago as the “correct policy”, in a rare acknowledgement of the heavily censored events.

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, speaking at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday, called the seven weeks of protests by students and workers demanding democratic changes and the eradication of corruption in 1989, political “turbulence”.

Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of the June 4th government crackdown when Chinese tanks moved into the area and soldiers opened fire killing demonstrators as well as onlookers in and around Tiananmen Square.

Rights groups and witnesses say hundreds or even thousands may have been killed, but the government has kept a lid on what really happened and the number of dead.

“Everybody is concerned about Tiananmen after 30 years,” Wei said on Sunday.

“Throughout the 30 years, China under the Communist Party has undergone many changes – do you think the government was wrong with the handling of June Fourth? There was a conclusion to that incident. The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence.”

He added that China’s development since 1989 showed that the government’s actions were justified.

The Tiananmen protests were “political turmoil that the central government needed to quell, which was the correct policy,” he said. “Due to this, China has enjoyed stability, and if you visit China you can understand that part of history.”

His comments echoed those of Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, who last week decried the use of the word “suppression” to describe the military’s response to the 1989 protests.

China at the time blamed the protests on counter-revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the party.

FILE PHOTO 5JUN89 - A Peking citizen stands passively in front of tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace in this June 5, 1989, file photo taken during the crushing of the Tiananmen Square uprising. The

Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of the June 4th government crackdown [Arthur Tsang/Reuters]

Sensitive and censored

The crackdown remains one of the most sensitive subjects in mainland China and any mention is strictly censored.

The event will not be officially commemorated by the ruling Communist Party or government.

Meanwhile, dozens of activists rallied in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington on Saturday to commemorate the 30th anniversary.

Holding aloft banners and battery-powered candles, about 50 activists including Chinese political dissidents spoke of their hopes for democracy after the failure of the 1989 student protests that ended when the military intervened.

“I feel that people around the world are getting more and more impatient with the communist regime. And I feel that people start to realize that they can no longer tolerate this regime,” Wei Jingsheng, chairman of the Oversea Chinese Democracy Coalition, told AFP news agency.

According to rights groups several activists have been arrested in the country ahead of the anniversary, including artists and a writer, while popular livestreaming sites are shutting down for “technical reasons”.

Twitter apologized on Saturday for suspending accounts critical of the Chinese government days before the anniversary after users complained.

The company said the suspensions were an inadvertent byproduct of company targeting suspected “platform manipulation” and were not connected to any action by the Chinese government.

“Some of these were involved in commentary about China. These accounts were not mass reported by the Chinese authorities – this was a routine action on our part,” the company said.

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French Open: Konta v Vekic – radio & text

Johanna Konta

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Summary

  1. Britain’s Johanna Konta leads 23rd seed Donna Vekic 6-2 in French Open fourth round
  2. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also in action later on Sunday
  3. Click the button at the top of page for commentary from the BBC 5 Live tennis team

Live Reporting

By Becky Grey

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    Konta* 6-2 1-2 Vekic

    I’m not sure Vekic has got a first serve in in this game. She still manages to hold to love, though.

  2. Post update

    Konta 6-2 1-1 Vekic*

    Vekic looks frustrated as another first serve goes into the net. She wins the point, but has another chat with her box about it.

  3. Post update

    Konta 6-2 1-1 Vekic*

    Konta grabs control back, though. The 28-year-old shows great composure to hold.

  4. Post update

    Konta* 6-2 0-1 Vekic

    Konta is caught out at the net, then double faults and Vekic takes control of the game.

    But the Croat hits the ball long on the next point. 30-30.

  5. Post update

    Jonathan Jurejko

    BBC Sport at Roland Garros

    Vekic continues to chunter at her box in an expressive manner.

    Konta, whose mantra under new coach Dimitri Zavialoff is having “autonomy” on court, has barely exchanged a glance with her team.

  6. Post update

    Konta* 6-2 0-1 Vekic

    Konta hits the ball wide on the next point and Vekic gets her second hold of the match.

    Donna Vekic

    Copyright: Getty Images

  7. Post update

    Konta 6-2 0-0 Vekic*

    Looks like Vekic isn’t letting this one go without a fight. To be expected.

    The 23rd seed goes 40-0 up, but Konta comes to the net and hits a forehand cross court to get her first point of the second set.

    Donna Vekic

    Copyright: Getty Images

  8. Post update

    Jonathan Jurejko

    BBC Sport at Roland Garros

    Serious clutch play from Jo Ko. Whopping winners and splendid serving sees off the danger.

    Not too many vocal Brits here – probably too hot for our pasty people (me included) – but those who are here certainly made their pleasure heard.

  9. Post update

    Konta 6-2 Vekic

    Donna Vekic’s first-serve percentage was only 37% in that first set. Johanna Konta’s was up at 77%.

    Konta also served three aces and hit 15 winners. Not bad…

  10. Post update

    Konta 6-2 Vekic

    Russell Fuller

    BBC tennis correspondent at Roland Garros

    It has been another exceptional good performance from Johanna Konta. She has just been too good for Vekic in the 38 minutes of this set.

  11. Game and first set Konta

    Konta 6-2 Vekic

    Well it didn’t come easy, but Konta eventually closes out the set with an ace.

    Halfway to her first French Open quarter-final.

    Johanna Konta

    Copyright: Getty Images

  12. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    A double fault gives Vekic her fourth break point of this game.

    Needless to say, Konta is struggling to close this one out. The Brit fist pumps as she hits a cross-court forehand to bring it back to deuce again.

    Vekic hits a ball wide and Konta is one point from winning the set.

  13. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    Konta is on the ropes, but ducks out of Vekic’s grasp again! Back to deuce.

  14. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    Konta saves the break with her second ace of the match. Vekic has won just one of six break points she’s had so far.

    Another fault gives the Croat another go, though.

    Johanna Konta

    Copyright: Getty

  15. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    But Konta wobbles again. After an almost perfect serve, she hits her next shot long. Another break point for Vekic.

  16. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    What a shot! A backhand down the line means Konta saves break point.

  17. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    Konta’s forehand swings too far left and lands out. Break point Vekic.

  18. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    Vekic hits the ball long twice and Konta gets back on level pegging. The British number one is two points from winning the first set.

  19. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    Vekic catches Konta off-guard and fires a forehand cross-court. 0-15.

    Vekic repeats the same shot and it’s 0-30.

    Is Konta second-guessing herself?

  20. Post update

    Konta* 5-2 Vekic

    Naomi Cavaday

    BBC Radio 5 live tennis commentator at Roland Garros

    Jo Konta looks great, a game away with 29 minutes on the clock. It has been pretty much perfect and it looks sustainable.

    Her form does not look like it is going anywhere, whereas previously this season her good moments have been flashes rather than a solid basis she could rely on.

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Cruise ship loses control and ploughs into Venice wharf

news image

Updated

June 02, 2019 21:14:33

Terrified onlookers were forced to flee when a cruise ship lost control while docking in Venice, smashing into a wharf and hitting a tourist boat.

Key points:

  • The MSC Opera was captured ploughing into the dockside at the San Basilio Cruise Terminal
  • Two people were injured in the accident, according to Italian media
  • The crash reportedly occurred after a cable used to link cruise ships to tug boats snapped

The collision happened about 8:30am (local time) on the Giudecca Canal, a major thoroughfare that leads to Saint Mark’s Square.

In vision posted to social media, the vessel — identified by Italian media as the MSC Opera — is seen ploughing into the dockside at the San Basilio Cruise Terminal before hitting a smaller tourist boat.

Bystanders are seen running from the scene as the ship’s horn blares behind them.

“Back, back, back, back,” terminal staff yelled, as those nearby were ushered away from the incoming cruise ship.

Pino Musolino, chairman of the Northern Adriatic Sea Port Authority, said four people suffered minor injuries in the crash.

The cruise ship’s owner, MSC Cruises, said the ship was about to dock at a passenger terminal in Venice when it had a mechanical problem.

Two towboats guiding the cruise ship into Venice tried to stop the massive cruise ship, but they were unable to prevent it from ramming into the river boat.

“The two towboats tried to stop the giant and then a tow cable broke, cut by the collision with the river boat,” Davide Calderan, president of a towboat association in Venice, told the Italian news agency ANSA.

Mr Calderan said the cruise ship’s engine was locked when the captain called for help.

Vigili del Fuoco, Italy’s rescue service, said the situation was under control and divers were on scene.

Cruise ships have earned the ire of Venetians in recent years, with hundreds of vessels sailing into the Venice lagoon during the six-month tourist season.

Last year the city hosted 594 cruise ships, and critics claim the currents created as the ships pass by are damaging the Renaissance buildings.

ABC/Wires

Topics:

disasters-and-accidents,

accidents,

maritime,

industry,

tourism,

italy

First posted

June 02, 2019 20:10:03

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‘The pain is just beginning’: After 38,000 layoffs, Wall Street wakes up to ‘peak car’

  • Global demand for cars will decline 3% in 2019, analysts predict.
  • There have been 38,000 job losses among automakers in the last six months.
  • One stark example: Commercial vehicle exports from the UK collapsed by 89% in April.
  • The decline of cars will hurt GDP growth. It has already wiped 0.2% off global GDP.
  • The world may have already passed “peak car.”

For the auto business, “The pain is just beginning,” according to Nomura analyst Masataka Kunugimoto and his team. “We now expect global auto demand to be down 3%,” year on year, in 2019, he told clients recently.

He is not alone. At bank after bank, analysts are coming round to the idea that the world may have passed “peak car,” and that in the future humans will need fewer personal vehicles.

Certainly, they are telling clients, diesel vehicles will collapse into a small niche as their polluting exhausts are regulated out of existence. Petrol/gasoline vehicles will be next, as governments in Europe and the United States set dates for manufacturers to switch their models to electric.

But that’s not all. As on-demand services like Uber and Lyft grow their customer bases, more people will decide they no longer need to own a car of their own. Why would you, when it’s cheaper to ride around in someone else’s?

Just look at how analysts are talking about cars these days:

  • The industry is right now staring down the barrel of what we think is going to be a significant downturn,” Bank of America’s John Murphy told a conference last week. The decline of sales in China “is a real surprise,” he added.
  • “We expect passenger vehicle sales in Europe (ex-Russia) to fall 4%” year-on-year, to 15.06 million units in 2019, Nomura’s Kunugimoto says. In the US, he believes sales will go down 3% to 16.8 million cars.
  • “In our view, the peak in auto sales is clear,” Bank of America’s Michelle Meyer and Anna Zhou told clients recently. “A core view of John Murphy, our auto equity analyst, is that the auto cycle has peaked. And he expects further slowdown,” with US sales slumping to 16.3 million — lower than Nomura’s estimate. “He sees new auto sales heading lower largely due to the ‘tsunami’ of used vehicles supply which depresses the prices of used vehicles (making them more attractive than new).”
  • Their colleague Ethan S. Harris agrees. “There is a negative narrative developing in the auto sector as inventories climb amid softening demand. Inventory for light trucks and SUVs has been climbing to uncomfortably high levels.”

The most dramatic example of just how vulnerable automakers are came from Britain last week. The country prides itself on being the Detroit of Europe. But The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) reported that total car production in the UK was down 45%, year on year, in April. Commercial vehicle exports collapsed a staggering 89%.

This is a long-term trend

While car production in the UK was hit by a quirk around the shifting date of Brexit, which caused manufacturers to retool their factories early, it’s not a blip. This chart of UK car sales shows that the decline is part of a longer trend that began in 2017.

SMMT

Total car ownership is in decline. Here are the numbers for new car registrations in the UK:

Pantheon Macroeconomics

The trend is reflected Europe-wide. This data shows car registrations in the eurozone, the 19 countries that use the euro as a currency:

Pantheon Macroeconomics

Europe (with its densely populated countries and public transport options) is one thing. The US (wide-open spaces, car culture, and lack of train service) is another. But even Americans began to tone down their car purchases, sometime in 2016, as this chart from Bank of America shows:

Bank of America

The decline of cars will hurt economic growth

The decline is having an effect on employment. Honda said it would close its factory in Swindon, England, resulting in the loss of 3,500 jobs. Automakers cut 38,000 jobs globally in the past six months, according to Bloomberg. Ford cut 7,000 workers, or 10% of its force.

That, in turn, is dampening global economic growth. Fitch ratings said 0.2% has already been shaved from global GDP because of car contraction. US President Donald Trump’s proposed tariff of 5% on goods imported from Mexico will make that worse — cars are the biggest trade good in the US-Mexico relationship, according to Bloomberg.

In the US, Bank of America published a note with the headline “shifting from second gear to reverse”:

“A weakening in the auto cycle will serve as a drag to the economy. There are a few channels by which the decline in autos will impact GDP. Autos influence GDP through consumer spending and production, with inventories serving as the residual between what is produced and sold. When sales weaken, it will lead to weaker consumer spending,” analysts Meyer and Zhou wrote. “Motor vehicle production is already on course to be a drag this year, slicing 0.14pp [percentage points] from 1Q GDP growth. We expect it to cut nearly 0.2pp to annual growth this year. Relative to last year, that is a reversal of 0.4pp.”

The decline won’t be total. Cars won’t go the way of the horse and cart. More likely the aftermath of “peak car” will look like the television business — a long, slow decline that takes years to play out.

“It doesn’t feel great but it is manageable,” Bank of America’s team wrote.

Moody’s is sounding the alarm on risky car loans

Carpocalypse now: Lyft’s founders are right — we’re in the endgame for cars

The failing automobile industry is pushing us toward a global recession

Cars are driving us toward recession

Apps like Uber and DriveNow may be hurting the demand for new cars, studies suggest

The UK car business has ‘exactly the same problems’ as the mortgage market 10 years ago, according to Morgan Stanley

British people have suddenly stopped buying cars

More:

Cars
recession watch

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World Cup: South Africa v Bangladesh – in-play clips, radio & text

Mushfiqur Rahim

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Summary

  1. South Africa win toss and bowl
  2. Injured Steyn still missing for SA
  3. Bangladesh opener Tamim passed fit
  4. Play starts at 10:30 BST, The Oval
  5. SA lost to England in opener
  6. Bangladesh’s first game in competition

Live Reporting

By Jack Skelton

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  • Send a text to 81111 (charged at your standard message rate)
  • Twitter: Use the hashtag #bbccricket
  • Facebook: BBC Sport
  1. Post update

  2. Get Involved

    #bbccricket, text 81111 (UK only), email tms@bbc.co.uk

    Cutting short your Sunday lie-in to follow this one? Get involved.

    All views, predictions and random musings welcome.

    Tweet us using #bbccricket, text us on 81111 or email tms@bbc.co.uk.

  3. Listen to ball-by-ball commentary on Test Match Special

  4. Full teams

    Hashim Amla is ruled out for South Africa with concussion after he was hit by Jofra Archer in the World Cup opener. David Miller comes in for him, while all-rounder Chris Morris replaces Dwaine Pretorius. Dale Steyn is still out with a shoulder injury.

    South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wkt), Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir.

    Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wkt), Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehedi Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Mustafizur Rahman.

    Umpires: Joel Wilson, Paul Reiffel.

    TV umpire: Kumar Dharmasena; match referee: David Boon.

  5. ‘We have to play hard’

    Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza: “We are very much confident. We have to play well and play hard.”

  6. ‘You have to remain calm’

    South Africa captain Faf du Plessis: “We’re playing an extra seamer today for extra pace so as normal it’s about making the most of the first 15 overs and causing Bangladesh some problems.

    “We’ve got to learn from the previous game. We did well to restrict England to just over 300 and we were only one partnership away from really troubling England.

    “You have to remind yourself to stay calm. Obviously you want to win your first game but it’s a long tournament and we’ve got to remind ourselves that we played the favourites.”

  7. BreakingSouth Africa win the toss and bowl

    Faf du Plessis wants to attack Bangladesh early on with his pace bowlers.

  8. Post update

    Captains Faf du Plessis and Mashrafe Mortaza are out in the middle.

    Here comes the coin toss…

  9. What happened yesterday?

    Afghanistan looked like they would get skittled for not much over 100 after falling for 77-5 against Australia before some late-order hitting took them to 207 all out.

    The Aussies made fairly easy work of the reply, winning by seven wickets as Aaron Finch hit 66 and David Warner struck an unbeaten 89.

    And yes Warner and Steve Smith were booed.

    Video content

    Video caption: ‘Worst possible start for Afghanistan’ – Starc bowls Shahzad

    Video content

    Video caption: Najibullah Zadran hits a big six for Afghanistan

    Video content

    Video caption: David Warner hits a boundary to bring up his half-century

    Video content

    Video caption: Glenn Maxwell hits a boundary to help Australia win their first match of the World Cup
  10. What happened yesterday?

    New Zealand absolutely thrashed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets to get their World Cup campaign up and running.

    Sri Lanka were bundled out for 136, with pace bowlers Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson taking three wickets each.

    Black Caps openers Colin Munro and Martin Guptill then chased down the target in just 16.1 overs. Ouch.

    Video content

    Video caption: Matt Henry picks up two wickets in two balls for New Zealand

    Video content

    Video caption: Sri Lanka’s batting collapses as they lose five wickets for just 14 runs

    Video content

    Video caption: Martin Guptill brings up his half-century with a maximum

    Video content

    Video caption: Martin Guptill smashes a six out of the ground
  11. Welcome

    Morning. Welcome to live coverage of South Africa against Bangladesh at The Oval.

    The Proteas were beaten by England in the World Cup opener on Wednesday.

    Bangladesh get their campaign under way today.

    Toss and team news to follow.

  12. Post update

    104 runs, seven wickets, 10 wickets, seven wickets.

    We’ve not exactly had a close game yet in this World Cup. England’s opening win over South Africa being the best so far.

    Will South Africa and Bangladesh serve up a nail-biter today?

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Chinese defence minister defends bloody crackdown on 1989 Tiananmen protesters

news image

Updated

June 02, 2019 17:47:18

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe says the state’s bloody crackdown on protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 30 years ago was the “correct policy” decision, citing the country’s “stability” since then.

Key points:

  • June 4 marks 30 years since Beijing set soldiers on pro-democracy protesters
  • Defence Minister Wei Fenghe made the rare comments at an Asian defence dialogue
  • He added that attempts to disrupt unification with Taiwan would be fought with force

Mr Wei made the comments at Singapore’s Shangri La Dialogue — an annual Asian security defence summit — after a belligerent speech about Chinese sovereignty and international security.

He called the protests political “turbulence”.

It is rare for Chinese government officials to acknowledge the events of June 4, 1989: official censors wipe references to the massacre routinely.

“Everybody is concerned about Tiananmen after 30 years,” the general said.

“Throughout the 30 years, China under the Communist Party has undergone many changes — do you think the government was wrong with the handling of June Fourth?

“There was a conclusion to that incident. The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence.”

He added that China’s development since 1989 showed that the government’s actions were justified.

The Tiananmen protests were “political turmoil that the central government needed to quell, which was the correct policy,” he said.

“Due to this, China has enjoyed stability, and if you visit China you can understand that part of history.”

Tuesday will be the 30th anniversary of the protests, where Chinese troops opened fire to end the student-led unrest, which Beijing said resulted in 241 deaths.

Dan Wang, a prominent Tiananmen student leader who spent much of the 1990s in jail for his activism, told the ABC that he thought the Red Cross Society figures of more than 2,000 dead and 10,000 injured were more accurate.

Mr Wei’s comments echoed those of Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian, who last week attacked the use of the word “suppression” to describe the military’s response to the 1989 protests.

China at the time blamed the protests on counter-revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the party.

The event will not be officially commemorated by the ruling Communist Party or government, which has to manage a number of sensitive political anniversaries.

Beijing to ‘fight to the end’ for Taiwanese reunification

Prior to his Tiananmen remarks, Mr Wei made a speech where he noted that China would be willing to fight any party that sought to interfere in its “reunification” with Taiwan.

Beijing has consistently claimed sovereignty over the island, which considers it a rogue breakaway territory.

Taiwan has historically resisted attempts from the mainland to impose its rule and it still officially refers to itself as the Republic of China, though it has a dwindling list of states that recognise its independence.

In recent years, China has made businesses, including Qantas, list Taiwan as part of Chinese territory.

Until 1971, Taiwan officially represented China at the United Nations until a resolution transferred recognition to the mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC).

In recent years, Beijing has been incensed by US President Donald Trump’s administration to increase support for self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, including US Navy sending warships through the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from mainland China.

“No attempts to split China will succeed. Any interference in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure [sic],” Mr Wei said.

“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs … The US is indivisible, and so is China. China must be, and will be, reunified.”

He added that China would not “attack unless we are attacked”, who noted a hot military conflict’s grave consequences for global security.

US to no longer ‘tiptoe’ around China

On Saturday, acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the Shangri-La meeting that Washington would no longer “tiptoe” around Chinese behaviour in Asia.

China-US ties have become increasingly strained due to a bitter trade war, US support for Taiwan and China’s muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where American forces also conduct freedom-of-navigation patrols.

Last month, Taiwan’s national security chief David Lee met White House national security adviser John Bolton, marking the first meeting in more than four decades between senior US and Taiwanese security officials.

Taiwan is gearing up for presidential elections in January, and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly accused Beijing of seeking to undermine Taiwan’s democracy and has vowed to defend the island and its freedoms.

ABC/Reuters

Topics:

unrest-conflict-and-war,

world-politics,

defence-forces,

states-and-territories,

territorial-disputes,

human,

history,

china,

taiwan

First posted

June 02, 2019 17:45:52

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Israel attacks Syrian targets near occupied Golan Heights

Israel has acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes in Syria on Iranian targets and Tehran's allies [File: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters]
Israel has acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes in Syria on Iranian targets and Tehran’s allies [File: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters]

Israel attacked Syrian military positions in the country’s south early on Sunday, killing three soldiers and wounding seven others, Syria’s state-run media reported.

The Israeli military confirmed the attack in a series of tweets saying it was in response to two rockets fired from Syria at Mount Hermon late on Saturday. One of the rockets landed in Israel, no damage or injuries were reported. 

State news agency SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying the Israeli attacks struck military positions in the southern region of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. They also caused material damage, it said.

The Israeli military said the targets included two artillery batteries, several observation and intelligence posts and an SA2 air defence unit.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition’s war monitor, said Israeli warplanes struck positions and an arms depot of Iranian troops and Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese armed and political group that, along with Iran, supports Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes in Syria on Iranian targets and Tehran’s allies.

Last week, Israeli aircraft hit a Syrian military post after the army said an anti-aircraft missile was fired at one of its fighter jets. Syrian media said a soldier was killed in that attack.

Israel says it is determined to prevent its arch foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where Tehran backs President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s eight-year war which has killed more than 370,000 people.

This second exchange between Syria and Israel in a week comes amid heightened tensions over Iran, after US President Donald Trump last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. 

In recent weeks the US and some of its Gulf allies have accused Iran of aggression including attacks on four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. 

Tehran has strongly denied involvement in the incidents. 

SOURCE:
News agencies

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Champions League 2018-19: The greatest tournament ever?

Liverpool won the Champions League – although the final was one of the most disappointing games in the knockout stages

Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid to bring to an end a sensational Champions League season.

With dramatic comebacks, an all-English final, a wonderful Ajax team and some unlikely heroes, it is a season which will live long in the memory.

BBC Sport looks at some of the season’s highlights, including some brilliant pictures from earlier rounds.

So many comebacks

Marcus Rashford beat Gianluigi Buffon – who has never won the Champions League – from the spot for the first of three famous English comebacks

There had been so many great comebacks in the previous couple of Champions League seasons that it would be easy to become numb to the very concept.

But this season’s knockout games raised the bar, with Ajax, Manchester United and Juventus improbably turning around first-leg deficits, and then Liverpool and Spurs famously fighting back to reach the final.

First of all in the last 16, Ajax overturned a 2-1 first-leg defeat at home to champions Real Madrid to win 4-1 at the Bernabeu and 5-3 on aggregate.

It was a result that sent shockwaves through Europe, ending Real’s 1,011-day reign as European champions and costing Santiago Solari his job.

The following day, Manchester United caused another shock. They lost 2-0 to Paris St-Germain in the first leg at Old Trafford and looked destined for a European exit.

At that stage, statisticians Gracenote calculated United had a 5% chance of progressing – which was better than Ajax’s 4% a day earlier.

They led 2-1 going into injury-time but were still heading out until a conversional handball decision – awarded in injury-time after a pitchside video review by the referee – gave Marcus Rashford the chance to score from the spot.

The next week it was the turn of Juventus to pull off an unlikely result, after they lost 2-0 to Atletico Madrid – who host this year’s final – in their first leg in Spain.

Further progress in the competition looked a long shot in the return tie against Diego Simeone’s legendary defence, but Cristiano Ronaldo did what he does best, scoring a hat-trick that included an 86th-minute penalty, to knock Atleti out.

But then came the semis, and two nights of football that will live with many fans forever.

Liverpool were given a 4% chance of going through after losing 3-0 at the Nou Camp.

But Divock Origi (more on him later) and Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice each to send the Reds through on another famous Anfield night.

That was, remarkably, not even the most dramatic English comeback of the week.

Only 24 hours later, Tottenham did in 35 minutes what Liverpool had 90 to do, as Lucas Moura scored a second-half hat-trick, including a 96th-minute winner, in Amsterdam to knock out Ajax on away goals.

In fact, half of the 14 knockout ties this season have been won by a team given less than a one in three chance of progress after the first leg by Gracenote.

Ajax capture Europe’s hearts, Spurs come back from the brink again and again

Although their run ended in heartbreaking style at the semi-final stage, Ajax were arguably the team of the tournament.

The Dutch side reached the last four for the first time since 1997 with a squad mostly full of extraordinary young talents, alongside Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind, relatively unheralded recruits from the Premier League who cost a combined £24m.

After ending Real’s European reign in the last 16, they did the same to Ronaldo’s run of Champions League success when they knocked out his Juventus team in the quarter-finals.

Even more remarkable was the fact they had to come through three rounds of qualifiers to even make the group stages, with a Champions League campaign that ran from July 2018 to May 2019.

The sad thing for Ajax fans – and football romantics – is that this team will not get another crack at the Champions League next season.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong has agreed to join Barcelona for £65m, with 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt and Morocco winger Hakim Ziyech among the others expected to go.

Spurs’ run to the final is one that not too many people expected. The club have only won one trophy this millennium – the 2008 League Cup – and have not signed a player since January 2018.

They were on the verge of elimination five times this season, but somehow kept progressing.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side were 12 minutes away from going out in the fourth group game, until Harry Kane’s late double against PSV kept them in the race.

Then they were 10 minutes away from elimination in the next game until Christian Eriksen’s late winner against Inter Milan.

They left it even later in the final group game, with Lucas Moura’s 85th-minute equaliser against Barcelona taking them into the last 16.

And yet it was the knockout stages that took them even closer to the brink. An injury-time Raheem Sterling goal for Manchester City appeared to knock them out in the quarter-finals, before a video assistant referee review ruled that Sergio Aguero was offside and the goal was ruled out, with Spurs going through on away goals.

And they experienced even more drama in their semi-final as Moura saw them past Ajax.

Impressively, they managed both those victories without star striker Kane.

The Champions League’s unlikely heroes

Admittedly, the two Champions League top scorers are global icons Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski. But some of the real legends of this season’s competition have caught everyone by surprise.

Show us a person who thought in advance that Tadic, Moura or Origi would be among the most influential players in the tournament and we will show you a liar.

Dusan Tadic helped Ajax to the Dutch domestic double and scored 38 goals in all competitions

Tadic joined Ajax last June from Southampton for £10m, a big fee by Dutch football standards but peanuts for Europe’s elite.

The Serbia forward, now 30, was a good player in his four seasons for the Saints, but no more than that, managing 24 goals in 162 games. He had passed that goalscoring figure for Ajax by February.

Tadic, who scored seven goals in 2017-18 for Southampton, scored nine in the Champions League alone for Ajax, including three in the qualifying rounds. Some of his displays, most notably at the Bernabeu, were breathtaking.

He is the Champions League’s joint third top scorer this season – with six goals as well as four assists.

One goal and two assists came in a genuinely remarkable performance in the 4-1 demolition of Real Madrid. It was a display that earned him a rare 10/10 rating from French newspaper L’Equipe.

Even more unlikely was the importance of Liverpool’s Origi. The Reds were happy to sell or loan the Belgium striker last summer but he ended up staying at Anfield.

Origi had only managed 492 minutes all season for Liverpool – although that included two dramatic Premier League winning goals against Everton and Newcastle – before their Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona.

With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino out, Jurgen Klopp was short of choices in the forward line so started Origi, who had never previously scored a goal in the Champions League.

But the wildcard netted twice in the 4-0 second-leg win, including the winner from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quick corner.

He even came on in Saturday’s final to score the goal to clinch Liverpool’s sixth European Cup. Three shots, three goals reads his Champions League record this season.

Divock Origi has scored three Champions League goals in his career – all in Liverpool’s final two games

Tottenham have not signed a player since 31 January 2018. But their most recent signing has proved to be an excellent one, Moura joining from perennial Champions League failures Paris St-Germain.

In and out of the Spurs team last season and for portions of this campaign, Moura answered the call when Spurs needed someone to fill the centre-forward role left vacant by the injured Kane.

The Brazil forward, whose late goal against Barcelona in the group stages took them into the last 16, produced an even more remarkable intervention with that hat-trick against Ajax.

He was unfortunate to be left out of the final line-up following Kane’s return – although he did come on and have a scoring chance in Madrid.

Another unheralded player to shine in this season’s Champions League was Porto’s 28-year-old Mali striker Moussa Marega.

He had never scored a European goal in his career before netting in six consecutive Champions League games this season.

That tally left him as the joint third top scorer, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero and Tadic.

More late goals than ever before

If it feels as if there have been more late Champions League goals than usual this season, that is because there have been.

Some 70 goals – including Origi’s in the final – have been scored in the final 10 minutes of games, more than any other season since the current format of the Champions League was brought in for 2003-04.

That is 11 more than last season’s tournament.

This season ranks joint second for last-gasp goals, with 27 scored in the 90th minute or injury time, excluding extra time. The record is the 29 scored in 2011-12.

With 366 goals, this has been the fourth top-scoring Champions League season since 2003-04. The highest scoring two seasons have been the past two – 401 in 2017-18 and 380 the previous season.

Iconic images

There have been so many memorable moments – and pictures – to emerge from this season’s Champions League. Here are a selection of them…

Several Ajax players simultaneously collapsed with heartbreak after Spurs’ late winner
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner – while Barcelona’s defence were slowly organising themselves – found an unmarked Divock Origi to score Liverpool’s winner
PSG winger Angel di Maria pretended to drink a beer thrown at him on a frosty return to Old Trafford
The injured Neymar called Manchester United’s VAR-awarded penalty winner “a disgrace” in a social media rant after the game. He was banned for three matches as a result
Mauricio Pochettino went through a range of emotions after Spurs’ win over Ajax, slumping on the pitch in tears at one point. Here’s one of him looking more ecstatic
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s staff celebrated what they thought was Raheem Sterling’s last-gasp winner against Tottenham…
… but glee turned to woe when it was ruled out by VAR
No need for VAR here as Thomas Muller was shown a straight red for this foul on Nicolas Tagliafico in the group stages

And because this is a Champions League piece, it would not feel right to leave without photos of these two…

Lionel Messi scored a brilliant free-kick against Liverpool, one of his 12 Champions League goals in 10 games
Cristiano Ronaldo is not a European champion for the first time since 2015 – but he did still score a hat-trick to knock out Atletico Madrid

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Did ‘silencer’ make a difference in Virginia Beach carnage?

The shooter who killed 12 people in a government office building in Virginia Beach used a firearm equipped with a ‘silencer’ that muffles the sound of gunfire.

It’s the nightmare scenario that gun-control advocates have warned about amid efforts in recent years to ease restrictions on the devices, which they say can help shooters escape detection and inflict more carnage.

But gun-rights advocates and most law enforcement experts say DeWayne Craddock’s use of a suppressor likely had no bearing on his ability to kill so many people in so little time Friday.

Virginia is among 42 states that allow residents to purchase and possess suppressors, though some cities and towns – including Virginia Beach – prohibit them.

Known colloquially as a silencer, a suppressor was attached to the .45-caliber handgun that police say the shooter used to kill a dozen people on three floors of the building where he worked before police closed in and, after a protracted gunbattle, fatally shot him.

‘Sounded like a nail gun’

That could at least partially explain why survivors of the attack said they were caught off guard and initially puzzled by what was happening. One described hearing something that sounded like a nail gun.

“This is the concern we were talking about when Republicans were trying to deregulate silencers as ‘ear protection,’” said David Chipman, a retired agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and now the senior policy adviser with Giffords, a gun-control lobbying group.

“Especially on a handgun, a suppressor will distort the sound in such a way that it would not immediately be recognisable as gunfire to people who sort of know what that sound is.”

Others say the shooter’s use of a silencer was less of a factor in enabling him to carry out the rampage than was his familiarity with the building and even possibly his military background, both of which may have given him a tactical advantage.

“A suppressor does not alter the lethality of the weapon at all. All it does is just limit the noise it makes,” said Gregory Shaffer, a retired FBI agent who was a member of the bureau’s elite Hostage Response Team.

“It doesn’t increase the rate of fire. It doesn’t do anything other than make it more comfortable to shoot because it’s not so loud.”

It’s not immediately clear how long Friday’s attack lasted, or how much time passed before the first police officers arrived. The police department is in the same complex as the building where the shooting took place.

It also wasn’t yet known how Craddock got the suppressor he used on his handgun, though authorities have said he legally purchased multiple firearms recently.

Gaining in popularity

Authorities have three days to conduct a background check when someone is buying a firearm. But suppressors are regulated by the National Firearms Act, which also governs the sale of machine guns, and the extensive background check can take upward of eight months or more before the sale can go through.

Despite the barriers, suppressors have gained in popularity. In 2008, when West Valley City, Utah-based SilencerCo was formed, about 18,000 of the devices were being sold each year.

Silencers are on display at the Sig Sauer booth

Silencers on display at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas in 2016 [File: John Locher/AP]

The company, which controls an estimated 70 percent of the market, sells roughly that many each month.

Nicknamed “cans,” the devices were invented in the early 1900s by MIT-educated Hiram Percy Maxim, who also invented a muffler for gasoline engines. They were brought under NFA regulations after Depression-era game wardens expressed concern that hunters would use them to poach.

A suppressor does not eliminate the sound a gun makes but generally diminishes it by 20 to 35 decibels, leaving most guns still louder than your average ambulance siren.

“Clearly this was an individual who did understand and have experience with firearms and had given potentially some forethought into the advantage that using a suppressor would offer him, particularly the suppressor coupled with the caliber of weapon he was using,” said Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association and a retired law enforcement officer with the Colorado Springs Police Department, where he oversaw a SWAT division.

Some have questioned how secure the building was where police say the shooter and all but one of his victims worked.

A government facility, the building is open to the public, but security passes are required to enter inner offices, conference rooms and other work areas, officials said.

As a current employee, the shooter would have had such a pass and would have known the floor plan, areas that were “easy to control,” where the best places to hide were and how to move quickly from one area to another, Eells said.

While responding police might have had some familiarity with the building, it’s very possible the shooter knew it a lot better after working there for years.

His protracted gunfight with law enforcement officers would indicate that he “was in a place that was difficult for officers to access or engage,” Eells said.

“Whether that was happenstance or intentional, it’s too early to tell.”

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Andy Ruiz knocks out Anthony Joshua to shake up heavyweight division

news image

Updated

June 02, 2019 16:12:02

Andy Ruiz Jr — who took on a heavyweight title fight with just five weeks’ notice — sensationally stopped British champion Anthony Joshua in the seventh round in New York on Saturday to record one of boxing’s biggest ever shocks.

Key points:

  • Anthony Joshua was defeated for the first time in 23 professional fights
  • Andy Ruiz Jr has claimed Joshua’s WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF belts
  • Ruiz improves his record to 33 wins, 1 defeat, recording his 22nd knock out

Heading into the fight a 30-1 underdog with some bookmakers, Ruiz, 29, becomes the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title.

Not since Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson in 1990 to claim the undisputed heavyweight title in Tokyo has a result shocked the boxing world so seismically — and few predicted that Ruiz would do the same here against undefeated champion Joshua.

Joshua had started brightly, knocking down the portly figure of Ruiz — who weighed in 9kg heavier than Joshua at 121kg — in the third round.

However, the challenger responded with two knockdowns of his own later in the same round to stun the capacity crowd of 20,201 at Madison Square Garden.

Joshua — boasting a significant height and reach advantage — got back on top in the fifth, but Ruiz regrouped and began to work the champions’ body again in the sixth, sapping Joshua’s energy before landing his decisive blow in the seventh.

Joshua was knocked down a further two times in the seventh round — the second after a flurry of punches — before the referee waved the fight off to hand Ruiz a win by technical knockout.

“This is what I have been dreaming about and I cannot believe I made my dreams come true,” Ruiz said after the fight.

“[The third round knockdown] was my first time getting dropped on the floor but it made me want it even more and I just thank God.

“I have got that Mexican blood in me and that just proved it.”

“I could sense Joshua was hurt but I didn’t want to throw everything at it, I just wanted to work the body and stick to the game plan. Right now, I just want to celebrate and I made history for Mexico. It means everything.”

Joshua, previously undefeated in 22 professional fights, was defending his IBF, WBA and WBO titles, but had been criticised for not chasing a fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder or lineal world champion Tyson Fury.

‘This is the risk we take’

The former champion was magnanimous in defeat.

“Boxing is a tough sport, but I train hard and I got beaten by a good fighter,” Joshua told Sky Sports.

“It will be interesting to see how far he goes, but this is all part of the journey.

“I’m a fighter by heart, boxer by trade, it has got people talking and there’s more life in the heavyweight division. When your legs are all over the gaff, you are trying to stabilise.

“Congratulations to the first Mexican heavyweight champion.

“This is the risk we take, every fighter deserves respect so congratulations to him. I respect every fighter, this is all part of the legacy, it’s how strong I came back.

“He’s a champion for now, I shall return.”

Promotor Eddie Hearn told the BBC that Joshua “got sloppy” and that the result was one of heavyweight boxing’s great shocks.

“I didn’t think it could happen but Anthony Joshua got sloppy. I thought Andy Ruiz Jr was done after he went down in the third but AJ got caught.

“I thought he would recover but tonight belongs to Andy Ruiz and it goes down as one of those big upsets in heavyweight history. I know how much it will hurt AJ and it will devastate him but Andy Ruiz Jr is a lovely guy and he is the heavyweight champion of the world.

“AJ must win that rematch in the UK because there is nothing after that.”

Hearn said that he would be pushing for a rematch in London at the end of the year.

British heavyweight rival Fury tweeted his support for Joshua, saying he hoped the British champion recovered well, despite their public spats in the past.

Wilder — who successfully defended his WBC title with a devastating first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale earlier this month — appeared to take much joy in his rival’s misery.

Ruiz was called in as an opponent for Joshua’s Madison Square Garden debut at late notice after scheduled opponent Jarrell Miller returned an “adverse finding” in a pre-fight drug test.

The defeat seriously damages Joshua’s credentials and offers a huge boost to rivals Wilder and Fury who earlier this week confirmed that they would undertake a rematch after their dramatic draw last December.

Joshua, meanwhile, will be forced to attempt to rescue his career against Ruiz instead.

Topics:

boxing,

sport,

united-states

First posted

June 02, 2019 14:40:33

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