No survivors after Air Algerie plane crash, France says

French President Francois Hollande has said no-one has survived the crash of an Air Algerie flight over Mali.

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There were 116 people on board, including 51 French nationals when it went down over northern Mali.

The airline said there were also 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals on board.

The French president also said the flight’s black box has been recovered by French military.

Earlier, France’s transport minister said it was extremely unlikely, and even “out of the question” that there were any survivors.

“Given the state of the plane (wreck), it is very unlikely, even out of the question, that there are any survivors,” Frederic Cuvillier said.

He’s also ruled out the possiblity the plane was shot down by rebels in Mali’s restive north.

“We have excluded from the start the possibility of a strike from the ground,” he said.

French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said weather was the most probable cause of the crash although authorities were not excluding other potential causes.

Flight AH5017, which took off from Ouagadougou bound for Algiers went missing early Thursday amid reports of heavy storms, company sources and officials said.

The wreckage of the plane was found in Mali near the Burkina Faso border.

Algerian radio quoted Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal as saying the plane dropped off the radar at Gao, 500km from the Algerian border.

Mali, Algeria, Niger and France co-ordinated their search efforts under the umbrella of the French-led military intervention in Mali, Operation Serval.

Waratahs to stay true to running game

Coach Michael Cheika insists the NSW Waratahs will not veer from running rugby, no matter what the conditions, in what promises to be a brutal Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies on Saturday.

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Barring bad weather, the Waratahs’ finals record crowd of 35,462 is almost certain to be eclipsed at Allianz Stadium, as 38,000 tickets had been sold by Thursday evening.

While some rain was forecast for Sydney on Saturday, Cheika stressed the Waratahs had focused on persevering with ball-in-hand style that had highlighted their seven-match winning streak.

“I think at this stage of the season, we’ll just have to go; we’ll just have to do it anyway,” Cheika said.

“I don’t imagine we’re going to start kicking now.

“We may have to maybe get a bit closer and shorten up our passes, but we can still play in the rain.”

Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher acknowledged the visitors would need tries rather than penalties to spring an upset.

“We’re not going out there to try and win 6-3 – it’s not going to happen,” Fisher said.

Cheika said NSW had a few new things they could try to stymie the Brumbies’ attempts to shut them down and slow their ball and he highlighted an area for improvement.

“The Brumbies are a a very good physical team and I think, when we played them in Sydney last time, we weren’t as physical as we needed to be in the contest part of the game,” Cheika said.

Cheika’s call for more physicality came as no surprise to Fisher.

“Every time I hear Michael Cheika talk, every halftime speech he’s talking about physicality,” Fisher said.

“That says to me physicality is going to be king.”

While winger Alofa Alofa is the only starter in the NSW team not to have played a Test, several Waratahs have never played a Super Rugby finals game.

“Finals footy I haven’t been part of yet. It’s a new challenge for as lot of us,” Waratahs flanker and captain Michael Hooper said.

Conversely, the Brumbies have plenty of knockout experience after reaching last year’s final and playing winner-takes-all matches over the past two weeks.

“We understand the feeling that you have in a game knowing that the season could potentially be gone at the the 80-minute mark,” Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said.

“It’s totally different to the regular-season games – you can’t compare it. It’s almost like playing two seasons.

“Obviously, the big advantage for the Waratahs is they’ve had a week off to refresh and, often at this time of year, that can be really important.”

He said the match would be won and lost through decision making under pressure.

“There’s going to be a lot of moments where you’re going to feel like the season is gone or is hanging in the balance and you’ve got to have a cool head in those situations,” Mowen said.

Barca need to play like they did in 2008, Iniesta says

The Catalan club are in the process of rebuilding after they failed to win major silverware last season for the first time in six years and coach Gerard Martino has been replaced by Luis Enrique.

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Players including Uruguay forward Luis Suarez and Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic have arrived to join the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar and Iniesta said the players were excited about the new season starting next month.

“We want to get back to doing things well and making the fans happy,” the Spain playmaker and club captain told a news conference.

“This year will be tough but we have the goal and the ambition to repeat (the successes of) the 2008-09 season,” he added.

“We are tackling this year just like that one, with a lot of excitement.”

Iniesta said there were “some similarities” with Barca’s situation now and in 2008 when Guardiola took over from Frank Rijkaard before going on to win 14 of the 19 competitions he contested during four seasons in charge, including two Champions League crowns and three La Liga titles.

“We are starting from scratch,” Iniesta said.

“There have been a lot of changes but the level of excitement and desire is extremely high.

“The goals are the same as every season: win titles and start off on a good note to help us tackle the whole year.”

Iniesta declined to offer a opinion on the ban Suarez earned for biting an opponent at the World Cup which will prevent him making his Barca debut until the end of October.

Barca lured the 27-year-old, who was banned twice previously for biting, from English Premier League club Liverpool this month for a reported fee of around 80 million euros (63 million pounds).

“He is one of the best forwards in the world,” Iniesta said.

“For the players who make passes having a player with those characteristics is fundamental. He is a great signing for now and for the future.”

Barca begin their La Liga campaign at home to Elche on the weekend of Aug. 23-24.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ed Osmond)

Jadeja fined over Anderson altercation

The clash, which occurred as the players left the field at lunch on the second day, saw Jadeja charged with a level two misconduct charge for allegedly approaching Anderson in a threatening manner.

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Anderson was charged with a level three offences for having “abused and pushed” his opponent.

Match referee David Boon found left-arm spinner Jadeja, who was batting at the time, not guilty of the offence for which he had been charged but felt his conduct was contrary to the spirit of the game.

“While I was in no doubt that confrontation did occur, and that such conduct was not in the spirit of the game and should not have taken place, I was not comfortably satisfied that this was a level 2 offence,” Boon, the former Australia batsman, said in a statement on Friday.

“Therefore, in exercising my discretion under Article 7.6.5 of the Code and having heard all the evidence, I was comfortably satisfied that Mr Jadeja had committed a level 1 offence under Article 2.1.8 of the Code.”

Sanjay Patel, honorary secretary of The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said in a statement that the governing body was not satisfied with the verdict and reserved the right to appeal.

“The BCCI believes that Mr. Ravindra Jadeja was not at fault and supports him fully.”

Anderson’s hearing will be held on Aug. 1, the day after the third test at Southampton is scheduled to finish, where he faces a possible four-test ban if he found guilty.

India lead the five-match series 1-0.

(Reporting by Josh Reich; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty/John O’Brien)

FIFA committed to 2018 World Cup in Russia

The ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine government came to a head last week with the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane, leading to the deaths of 298 people.

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Moscow denies supporting the separatists, but following the disaster senior German lawmakers raised the possibility of stripping Russia of the hosting rights to the World Cup.

The Dutch football association said it wanted to postpone discussion over participation in the next World Cup until after a national day of mourning to remember the victims, two-thirds of whom were from the Netherlands.

“As a world governing body of football FIFA takes its responsibility in governing football seriously and we support any peaceful and democratic debate,” the Zurich-based organisation said in a statement.

“FIFA deplores any form of violence and will continue to use its tournaments to promote dialogue, understanding and peace among peoples.

“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems.”

FIFA said the World Cup could be a “powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments”, uniting teams and nations.

“FIFA is convinced that, through football, particularly the FIFA World Cup and its international spotlight, we can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics,” the ruling body added.

“We have seen that the FIFA World Cup can be a force for good and FIFA believes this will be the case for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.”

The European Union has threatened to impose harsher economic sanctions on Russia after the crash near Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels.

(Reporting by Josh Reich, Editing by Ed Osmond)

Indifference hinders AIDS effort: Geldof

Activist Sir Bob Geldof has used poetry and profanity in a call to arms, urging AIDS workers to overcome indifference and secure the funds needed to continue the fight.

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He told the delegates in a closing address to the AIDS 2014 conference the remaining “choke points” in the fight against HIV/AIDS were funding and distribution of medicine.

The big challenge they faced would be convincing the world to fund a cure, he said.

“Sometimes I have to use inflammatory language,” Geldof told the audience.

“F*** them.”

“There’s nothing more profane than this disease which this conference is trying to deal with.”

Recalling two hours of global news footage from Friday morning, he said nowhere was the AIDS conference mentioned – not even on news from Melbourne, which hosted the event.

This, he said, was despite the AIDS community’s progress being one of “the great human stories of our time”.

“Only 30 years since I sat terrified with a dying friend in New York, you’ve nearly nailed it,” Geldof said, lamenting the fact the effort still “begs for cash”.

“On this last mile, on this final hurdle, we cannot allow indifference, incapable governance to stop the final victory which is coming,” Geldof said.

He criticised several nations for not giving more to the Global Fund established to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In 2013, Russia made a contribution of $US100 million from a GDP of $US2 trillion and South Africa – which the International AIDS Society says is the world’s worst AIDS-affected nation – gave $US1.5 million from its budget of $US376 billion, Geldof said.

“Yet throughout eastern Europe, with its brutish nonsense, the figures escalate,” he said.

“Africa of course, unmentioned, but that is where the vast bulk of the victims of AIDS, TB and malaria reside.”

He said indifference to AIDS was driven by assumptions the disease was a problem for Africa or the homosexual community.

“We must, must call out that prejudice,” he said.

“The beast is riding high,” Geldof said, quoting John Keats.

“Underlying all of this there is a terrible darkness and you represent the light,” he told the delegates.

And he closed with a quote from Lord Alfred Tennyson.

“Come friends, it’s not too late to make the world anew.”