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Slain ISIS operative indoctrinated, recruited 5 Hyderabad men

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A key Islamic State (IS) planner from its External Operations division, known by his alias Abu Isa al Amriki, has been identified by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as one of the main handlers who indoctrinated and recruited five Hyderabad men who conspired to form an IS-inspired module.This is the first time the NIA has identified overseas handlers in its investigation establishing a link that the module in India was set up on the directives of IS based in Syria/Iraq.Amriki will be named in the charge sheet on the Hyderabad module to be filed this month, as one of the handlers from the IS directed to recruit from India, senior NIA officials told DNA. The NIA, in June, arrested five men – Ibrahim and Ilyas Yazdani, Habib Mohammad, Mohammad Irfan and Abdullah Bin Ahmad. They were carrying explosives and weapons for allegedly carrying out terror attacks in the name of IS.Amriki, believed to be an American citizen, was a Sudanese national and was also known as Abu Saad al Sudani. He was killed in an airstrike by US coalition forces on April 22 this year, along with his wife Umm Isa al Amriki, an Australian national. Pentagon has also confirmed Amriki’s role as a planner in the IS’ external operations division, headed by Abu Mohammad al-Adnani mastermind behind the deadly attacks in France, the US, Belgium and Turkey.”Forensic investigation on chat messages, emails, online communication and interrogation of the five suspects has revealed that they received instructions from IS operatives. Based on the IP addresses, the language in chat messages, conversations and accent, we have established that Amirki was one of the handlers. There is also a second handler based in Syria, who seems to be of Indian origin,” asenior NIA officer said.Amriki is booked as a conspirator in the New York New Year’s eve attack in 2015, wherein accused Emanuel L Lutchman, an American citizen from Rochester, New York, pleaded guilty of planning to carry out terrorist attack in the name of IS.The NIA officer said that the modus operandi followed by Amriki in recruiting Lutchman and the Hyderabad men online was strikingly similar. Amriki introduced himself as an IS member based in Syria and encouraged Ibrahim to travel to the Caliphate and join the IS.After the two failed attempts to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey, Ibrahim came into contact with a second handler – an Urdu speaking IS fighter, whose leads were given by Amriki – in November. The second handler convinced Ibrahim that there was no need to travel to Syria and he should stay in India and continue to do his work (jihad). This included recruiting more members, setting up a module, procuring explosives and carrying out terror attacks.The five suspects also issued a bayah (pledge of allegiance) in the name of IS leader Abu Bakar al Baghdadi, signed and sent through email to the second handler. NIA says he is still active online and he is operating and responding from IS-controlled areas, possibly Aleppo or Raqqa.

Murray to take aura of invincibility into new year | Reuters

By Martyn Herman
| LONDON

LONDON Forget the latest addition to Andy Murray’s creaking trophy cabinet, the $2.4 million cheque and the adulation of a nation, the most significant upshot of his ATP World Tour Finals victory over Novak Djokovic is the aura it brings.Murray, the new king of men’s tennis, will take that rare commodity which few achieve in sport into the new season in spades.It is an unquantifiable weapon and one that can sustain lengthy periods of dominance even when form is fickle.Scroll through the annals of sport and there are some striking examples.Steve Waugh’s Australian cricket team had it, winning 16 consecutive tests between 1999 and 2001, so too have various New Zealand rugby union sides. Spain’s national soccer team achieved an aura of invincibility between 2008 and 2012.Individually, Michael Schumacher had it while winning seven Formula One drivers titles, as did squash great Jahangir Khan who was unbeaten between 1981 and 1986. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt exudes it every time he steps on to his blocks.Murray knows only too well the debilitating effect it can have on opponents.He has played and suffered in an era graced by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic who, at various times over the past decade, have had rivals mentally beaten before a point was even played.

EPIC SEMI-FINAL
It looked that way on Sunday when Murray, exhausted after his epic semi-final victory over Milos Raonic when he saved a match point, walked on court to face Djokovic in a showdown for the end-of-year number one spot.Dressed in his now familiar military-grade kit and industrial-strength footwear, the granite-calved Murray looked like an indestructible machine while Djokovic, so often the Scot’s master during their career-long rivalry, appeared lightweight and unsure of himself.Murray duly won 6-3 6-4 and, despite a late Djokovic fightback, played like he knew the outcome was never in doubt.

“There was no serious chance for me to win today’s match.” Djokovic said. “From the very beginning we could see that. He was just a better player all in all.”Murray, 29, is undefeated since September, has won 24 matches in succession and his win-loss record since losing to Djokovic in the French Open final is 53-3.In the last week of the season he beat world number five Kei Nishikori, number four Stan Wawrinka and number three Milos Raonic before swatting aside second-ranked Djokovic with an ease bordering on contempt.And the iron-willed Murray is unlikely to relent.

The sweat had barely dried on Sunday and he was talking about his December training camp and January’s Australian Open where Murray will start as favourite to win a fourth grand slam.Former world number one John McEnroe, another player who at his peak in the 1980s had opponents cowed before battle, said Murray will be well aware that aura, so long in the making, can vanish quickly.”Murray is an amazing athlete. He’s going to try to take advantage of this time because it’s limited, we all know that,” the American told the BBC. Djokovic will need no reminding.”If you had told me six months ago that this would even be an issue, I would have said you’re crazy,” McEnroe said of Djokovic’s sudden vulnerability.”At some point you’re going to hit a wall of some kind, But when it comes, people are surprised, but it always happens.”You just don’t know how long it will last.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 19:34 IST

Australia cuts stay of 457 visa holders, Indians to be adversely affected

Melbourne: Australia has announced changes to the ‘457 visa’ programme for skilled foreign workers to limit their ability to look for another job after their official employment ends, a move that will adversely affect Indians working in the country.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Foreign workers on a 457 visa will only now be able to stay in Australia for 60 days after their employment ends instead of 90.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on Wednesday said, “From November 19, 2016 the period that a subclass 457 visa holder may remain in Australia after their employment ceases will be reduced from 90 days to 60 days.”

“The change is expected to assist in ensuring that the 457 programme met its intent of acting as a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, Australian workers apart from reducing the vulnerability of 457 visa holders, who were only permitted to work for an approved sponsor and were not eligible for unemployment benefits, from entering into informal employment arrangements.”

The minister said that the government was committed to ensuring that Australian workers have priority and to reducing the potential for temporary visa holders to be exploited.

“This change is about reducing competition from overseas workers for those Australians who are actively looking for work,” Dutton said.

“The Government values the contribution made by the many skilled persons who work in Australia on 457 visas, but where there is an Australian worker ready, willing and able to perform a role it is the government’s policy that they have priority,” he said.

He said the government’s approach compared with that of the former Labor government, which increased the time that 457 visa holders may remain in Australia when they cease employment from 28 days to 90 days in June 2013.

“The Subclass 457 programme was not effectively managed by Labor, as with so many other areas of government. Labor’s mismanagement saw the Subclass 457 programme grow from around 68,000 primary visa holders at the end of June 2010 to more than 110,000 when they were removed from office,” he said.

Upon coming to power, the Coalition undertook an independent review of the subclass 457 visa and has been implementing recommendations of that review since.

This change to 457 visa arrangements is part of the government’s ongoing commitment to ensure integrity in the programme.

The 457 visa is granted to foreign workers for four years and is designed to fill positions that are difficult to find Australians for, ABC Online said.

There are a range of different occupations on the list from different salary levels and different education backgrounds, including neurologists, midwives, cabinet makers and lift mechanics.

In the last financial year, the largest amount of visas were granted to cooks.

The largest number of workers come from India (26.8 percent), followed by employees from the UK (15 percent) and China (6.6 percent).

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 09:28 IST

Slumdog to Lion

It has been a long and bumpy ride for Dev Patel since the success of Danny Boyles’ Slumdog Millionaire, but he may have a winner on his hands with his new film, Lion.

Steamy wicket

Former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee faces his latest test – a cross-cultural romantic comedy that has come under scrutiny from Indian censors.

Mega preparations in India and across globe ahead of International Yoga Day

Preparations are on in full swing across the country and abroad to celebrate the International Day of Yoga tomorrow, as people were seen holding rehearsals on a large scale besides other cultural events.The main event will take place in Chandigarh where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate.The Common Yoga Protocol will begin at 7 am and last for 45 minutes.In the run up to the celebrations of International Day of Yoga, rehearsal of Yogasanas was held at Rajpath and other places in the national capital yesterday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Mumbai, people cutting across all age are getting ready to perform in their best vigor for the International yoga day.Various academic institutions, women?s groups, senior citizen enthusiasts clubs have been training their members with regular yogasana sessions every day.In Himachal Pradesh, the celebrations for second International Yoga Day have begun at various places with Yoga run and Yoga camps in schools.In capital Shimla, a preparatory Yoga camp was organised yesterday at Raj Bhawan under the guidance of Governor Acharya Devvrat.The Goa government has decided to appoint yoga trainers in primary and high schools. Addressing a press conference in Panaji yesterday, Chief Minister Lakshmi Kant Parsekar said, these yoga trainers will be appointed on contractual basis.He clarified that yoga classes will not be compulsory and facility will be provided as per school demand.Hundreds of thousands of Yoga lovers from Britain to Australia rolled out mats yesterday to practice complex Yoga postures.High Commission of India and the Indian government’s Tourist Office in London, in collaboration with 14 British Yoga institutions organised the day-long event at Potters Fields Park, near the iconic Tower Bridge.Over 10,000 people from all walks of life participated in various Yoga and meditation sessions.In the United States of America, Indian classical dances and demonstration of popular Yoga asanas on the lawns of magnificent US Congress are being practiced as part of week-long International Day of Yoga celebrations.In South Africa, thousands gathered at more than a dozen venues across the country. Yoga and meditation sessions were also organised across major Australian cities including Canberra and Melbourne with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailing Yoga as one of India’s gifts to the world.He commended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of supporting global peace and well-being.In a video message yesterday, Prime Minister Modi asserted that Yoga was much more than a physical exercise and it enables people to access a new dimension of the self.The first International Day of Yoga was celebrated last year. Yoga Day aims at raising awareness about the benefits of practicing Yoga.

Nico Rosberg cruises to victory in Azerbaijan | Reuters

BAKU Nico Rosberg won the first Formula One race held in Azerbaijan on Sunday to turn the championship tide and stretch his lead over Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton to 24 points.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished as runner-up, 16.6 seconds behind, with Force India’s Mexican Sergio Perez back on the podium for the second time this season after overtaking Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari on the last lap.

Rosberg started on pole position, led all the way and also set the fastest lap on his way to a fifth win in eight races this season. With 13 races remaining, he has 141 points and Hamilton 117.

While the German’s cruise in the late afternoon sunshine turned out to be something of a snooze for the global television audience, triple world champion Hamilton provided more entertainment.

The Briton, who had been chasing his third win in a row but finished fifth, sounded increasingly frustrated over the radio as he wrestled with his car’s settings without the team being able to help.

He fixed the problem but finished fifth in a race billed as the European Grand Prix.

“This is ridiculous guys, I don’t know. I’m looking at my dash every five seconds trying to find a switch in the wrong position,” Hamilton said over the team radio.

“I might not finish this race as I’m going to try and change everything,” he continued. “We don’t advise that Lewis,” came the reply from the pitwall, with teams now limited on what information they can give drivers during the race.

“Can I make suggestions and you say if it’s OK or not?,” replied Hamilton. “No, that’s not allowed. Let’s just get our heads down and focus on the job,” he was told.

The Mercedes team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told reporters afterwards that it was a question of engine modes.

“It was a problem they both had and Nico could fix it quicker than Lewis. The (radio) ban is there, so we all have to adapt,” he told Sky Sports.

Raikkonen, who had done as he was told and allowed Vettel to pass him, expressed similar exasperation over the radio to Ferrari.

The outbursts were highlights on a day with none of the mayhem predicted after a series of accidents in the GP2 support series, in F1 practice and qualifying.

Nobody crashed, the tight turns around the ancient city walls were safely negotiated by all and the 350km blast down the long main straight produced no drama.

“I think people lost a lot of money because they were betting on a safety car. I was expecting a couple too,” said Vettel.

Finland’s Valtteri Bottas finished sixth for Williams, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo seventh for Red Bull after starting on the front row.

Dutch team mate Max Verstappen was eighth, Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg secured a double points finish for Force India in ninth and Brazilian Felipe Massa was 10th for Williams.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna Evening Must Read: From shooting in Orlando gay nightclub to Saina Nehwal clinching Australian Open title

1. Live I Orlando shooting: At least 20 dead, 42 injured in Florida gay nightclubAt least 20 people were dead and 42 were inured after a gunfire erupted at a gay nightclub in Orlando early on Sunday, the police said. The reports also stated that suspected gunman is also dead and the injured have been rushed to the hospital. Read more here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Live – BJP National Executive meeting underway; PM Modi, top leaders presentAhead of the BJP’s national executive meeting here, a meeting of the party’s national office-bearers has begun on Sunday with party president Amit Shah chairing it. The national executive meet will set the agenda for the assembly elections in the state which are less than a year away. The two-day conclave will conclude tomorrow and will be followed by a rally to be addressed by Modi. Read more here.3. Missing report pages exonerate Saudi Arabia govt on 9/11: CIA chiefCIA chief John Brennan says that he believes the 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission report will prove that the Saudi Arabian government had no involvement in the 9/11 al Qaeda terror attacks. Read more here.4. US wants to damage Pakistan’s nuclear programme with help of India and Israel: Hafiz SaeedThe US has “moved ahead” of India in its enmity with Pakistan and wants to damage its nuclear programme, JuD chief Hafiz Saeed said. “America has moved ahead of India in its enmity with Pakistan. It carried out drone attack in Balochistan to kill Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour to test Pakistan whether it would give any reaction. Read more here.5. Saina Nehwal strengthens Rio claim; defeats Sun Yu to clinch second Australian Open titleIndian ace Saina Nehwal received a huge boost ahead of the Rio Olympics as she clinched her second Australian Open title after defeating China’s Sun Yu in a thrilling three-game final of the Super Series badminton tournament here today. Read more here.

Chhota Shakeel’s plot to kill arch rival Chhota Rajan foiled, 4 nabbed

Four persons have been arrested for allegedly hatching a plan to kill gangster Chhota Rajan, presently lodged in Tihar jail, at the behest of his arch rival and fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim’s confidant Chhota Shakeel.The four alleged contract killers, identified as Robinson, Junaid, Yunus and Manish, were arrested on June 3 following which they were sent to police remand and interrogated for five days. Later, they were produced in a court which sent them to judicial custody, a senior police official said today. He further said, a close aide of Shakeel had first contacted Junaid, who later roped in others into the plan.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They were promised Rs 10 lakh for the assignment. The plan was initially to kill Rajan while on transit to or from court before and after hearings, but that was later changed to attacking him during his hospital visits, the accused told police during interrogation. “Investigation of the matter is underway,” Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Arvind Deep said without divulging further details.Delhi Police’s Special Cell zeroed down on the four through telephone intercepts. The accused were in constant touch with Shakeel. Once identified, the four were picked up from their residences in Rohini in Outer Delhi, Seelampur in northeast Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida, the senior official said.Police also claimed have recovered a pistol and live cartridges from possession of one of the accused. The four accused are also lodged in Tihar jail, where Rajan is in a high-security ward, the official added. Rajan (55), who was on a run for around 27 years, was arrested from Bali in Indonesia, based on a tip-off from Australian Federal Police, and brought to India in November last year.

Chhota Shakeel’s plot to kill gangster Rajan foiled, four arrested

Four persons have been arrested for allegedly hatching a plan to kill gangster Chhota Rajan, presently lodged in Tihar jail, at the behest of his arch rival and fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim’s confidant Chhota Shakeel.The four alleged contract killers, identified as Robinson, Junaid, Yunus and Manish, were arrested on June 3 following which they were sent to police remand and interrogated for five days.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Later, they were produced in a court which sent them to judicial custody, a senior police official said today.
ALSO READ Chhota Shakeel’s message to Tihar prison warns Chhota Rajan ‘the end'”Investigation is underway,” Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Arvind Deep said.Delhi Police’s Special Cell zeroed down on the four through telephone intercepts. The accused were in constant touch with Shakeel, police claimed.
ALSO READ Two new cases against Chhota Rajan under stringent MCOCAOnce identified, the four were picked up from their residences in Rohini in Outer Delhi, Seelampur in northeast Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida, the official said.Police also claimed have recovered a pistol and live cartridges from possession of one of the accused.They had allegedly planned to eliminate Rajan while the don is taken to court for hearing.The four accused are also lodged in Tihar jail, where Rajan is in a high-security ward, the official added.Rajan (55), who was on a run for around 27 years, was arrested from Bali in Indonesia, based on a tip-off from Australian Federal Police, and brought to India in November last year.

Adani may withdraw from Australian coal mine project citing delays

Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprise Ltd may walk away from its proposal to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Australia, citing long delays caused by legal challenges to the project by groups concerned about the environment.

Gautam Adani, Chairman & Founder, Adani Group   Reuters

Gautam Adani, Chairman & Founder, Adani Group
Reuters

Adani is battling multiple legal challenges from green groups opposed to its $10-billion Carmichael mine, rail and port project.

The Australian on Saturday reported that the company’s founder and chairman, Gautam Adani had told the newspaper the company may abandon the project because of long delays due to legal challenges.

“You can’t continue just holding. I have been really disappointed that things have got too delayed,” Adani told The Australian.

Australia’s Queensland state government in April gave Adani permission to mine coal reserves estimated at 11 billion tonnes and to build roads, workshops, power lines and pipelines associated with the mine.

Environmentalists, however, are still fighting the approval on numerous fronts, including lobbying banks not to provide loans. They cite potential damage from port dredging, shipping and climate change stoked by coal from the mine.

Environmental groups in late April asked the Supreme Court of Queensland to review the state government’s environmental approval of the mine.

With coal prices stuck near nine-year lows and demand growth uncertain as governments have committed to curb carbon emissions, analysts have said lenders will be reluctant to back Adani’s mega coal project.

Adani, which aims to start building the Carmichael mine in 2017, expects to be able to go ahead eventually as most of the coal is slated to go to its own power stations in India.

Paes, Hingis complete full set of doubles titles with French win | Reuters

PARIS Doubles veterans Leander Paes and Martina Hingis completed a full set of grand slam doubles titles on Friday, adding the missing piece to their collections in an emotional mixed final at the French Open.

For Paes, who turns 43 in two weeks, the 4-6 6-4 10-8 (champions tiebreak) win over India’s Sania Mirza and Croat Ivan Dodig turned the clock full circle.

Paes captured the first of his 18 grand slam titles on Court Philippe Chatrier in 1999 when he teamed up with fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi to win the men’s doubles title.

Over the course of the next 17 years, Paes criss-crossed the world several times over as he won men’s doubles titles at all four majors and the mixed at the Australian and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon.

The missing link was at Roland Garros and on Friday, Paes finally made sure his doubles CV was complete.

Spurred on during the closing rallies on Friday by a shout of “come on, old man” from the stands, Paes made the telling intervention on the final point, stretching far to his right to scoop up a Dodig groundstroke with a volley that the Croat drove into the net.

“Today I complete the grand slam with Martina, a player who inspires me,” Paes said courtside after the pair added the Roland Garros crown to the Wimbledon and U.S. Open trophies they already hold.

Hingis began her march towards her own set of eight as far back as 1996 when, as a 15-year-old, she won Wimbledon with Czech Helena Sukova.

“I am glad you were able to complete the (career) grand slam, the one that was missing from your collection with me today,” she told the Indian.

(Reporting by John Stonestreet and Pritha Sarkar)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Attempt to tarnish country’s image: Govt slams Australian rights group’s findings on ‘slavery’ in India

Differing with an Australian rights group findings on slavery in India, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya today said the survey methodology of the NGO is “fallacious” and is an attempt to “tarnish” the country’s image.”We have strong disagreement with findings of Walk Free Foundation, which they have released with a catchy caption. At the outset, it is emphatically stated that we don’t have any instance of slavery in its conventional sense,” Dattatreya said in a statement.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In our view, the NGO has totally failed to develop correct understanding of the Indian society and has arrived at misleading findings. Methodology of the survey itself is fallacious and the so called findings are based on presumptions and surmises.”Last month, the 2016 Global Slavery Index released by the Walk Free Foundation said India has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of people globally trapped in modern slavery with 18.35 million victims of forced labour, ranging from prostitution and begging.Explaining further, Dattatreya said: “It is not slavery in the sense, it is understood by modern world. We deplore that an international NGO has attempted to tarnish the image of our country.”India has been taking pragmatic and expeditious steps against a number of social evils since independence. The conventional forms of caste bondage in India are essentially a social system, the Minister added.India has a proven track record in fighting against injustice, inequality, oppression and exploitation of any kind, he said.Forced marriages, caste discrimination, child labour, among others, are not slavery in conventional sense but unacceptable social practices of a modern society, Dattatreya said.”However, we are committed to eliminate all such social practices expeditiously. We have already taken a large number of determined steps in this direction,” the Ministry added.

Australia-India civil nuclear deal concluded, supply to start soon

New Delhi: Australia said on Wednesday, as it has concluded the nuclear agreement with India, the supply of uranium will begin in a short period of time.

Australian High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said that concluding contracts and supply can take some time but active engagement is underway on supplying uranium to India.

“I am hopeful that we will see contracts concluded and supply start in a relatively short span of time,” she said at a ICRIER seminar on trade liberalisation in New Delhi.

The Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement permits Australian companies to commence commercial uranium exports to India.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) with his PM Modi during the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi. File Photo. ReutersAustralia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) with his PM Modi during the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi. File Photo. Reuters

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) with his PM Modi during the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi. File Photo. Reuters

Australia has about 40 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually.

India and Australia began talks on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2012 after it lifted a long-standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India.

India, which has nuclear energy contributing just 3 per cent of its electricity generation, will be the first country to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

When asked Australia’s stand on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), she said that her government is “very very supportive” of India’s entry into NSG.

“We very much want to see India enter, engage and to make the contribution in the group,” she added.

India has been eyeing to get entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group

French Open organisers under fire as backlog grows | Reuters

PARIS Fans spent more time looking at the murky Parisian sky than watching tennis on Tuesday as French Open organisers were accused of “not caring about the players” after the event was disrupted by more rain following the previous day’s washout.

Czech seventh seed Thomas Berdych summed up everyone’s frustration on a day when nine hours of play was lost by tweeting: “Hey @AustralianOpen can you send us one roof here to Paris?! You have 3 down there.”

The inability to play under cover, with Roland Garros being the only one of the four grand slam venues that does not have a court with a retractable roof, certainly proved costly for Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep — fourth-round losers in the only two matches that were completed on day 10.

With the fixture list piling up, the women in top seed Serena Williams’ half of the draw would now need to play on four successive days to win the title if the final takes place on Saturday as scheduled — though more rain is forecast.

World number one Novak Djokovic and the men in his half of the draw, including Berdych, can also forget about enjoying the traditional rest days between each round as they would have to play on four of the next five days to contest Sunday’s final.

Radwanska, the world number two, and 2014 runner-up Halep –who both started their last-16 matches on Sunday — were forced to play in misty rain on Tuesday as organisers made a desperate attempt to clear the huge backlog.

“No one cares about the players in my opinion,” sixth seed Halep said after she was beaten 7-6(0) 6-3 by Australian Sam Stosur in a battle of former finalists.

“It was impossible to play. To play tennis matches during the rain is a bit too much. I was close to getting injured with my back… but no one cares.”

Radwanska had been leading Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 3-0 when rain halted play on Sunday.

When the match resumed more than 40 hours later, the Polish second seed suffered a monumental meltdown as she lost 10 successive games in a 2-6 6-3 6-3 defeat by an opponent ranked 100 places below her.

“I’m just so surprised and angry that we have to play in the rain. I mean, it’s not a $10,000 tournament. It’s a grand slam,” said Radwanska, the highest seed to exit the tournament.

“How can you allow players to play in the rain? I cannot play in that condition. They really don’t care what we think.”

BACK TO THE LOCKER ROOM

Ernests Gulbis and David Goffin did get on court for their fourth round showdown but took matters into their own hands by marching back into the locker room even before organisers had a chance to make a call.

It was a decision that Halep welcomed. “Good. Well done to them,” the Romanian said as she gave them a thumbs-up.

While matches at the three other majors — Wimbledon (grass), Australian and U.S. Opens (both hardcourts) — are halted at the first sight of any raindrops, the brittle claycourt surface at Roland Garros means competitors are often told to play on in drizzle.

Roger Federer did just that in the 2009 men’s final when he beat Robin Soderling to win his solitary French Open trophy.

Unsurprisingly, Pironkova did not think Tuesday’s conditions were unplayable, though she acknowledged they were far from ideal.

“Well, it’s happened before, of course. We have played in all sorts of conditions,” said the Bulgarian, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2010.

“Usually if the court is not fit for play, like if it’s slippery, they would cancel the match right away. But today the court was still hanging in, it was okay. We could have played, and so we did.”

Radwanska and Halep’s exit meant that at least five of the top eight women’s seeds failed to make their allotted quarter-final spots.

Only two of 10 scheduled matches were completed as the claycourt major suffered its sixth day of showers, with Djokovic — leading Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6 6-4 4-1 — one of 16 players still stranded in the fourth round.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by John Stonestreet)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Rain wipes out play at French Open; first washout since 2000 | Reuters

PARIS Persistent rain accompanied by a flood warning washed out an entire day’s play at the French Open on Monday for the first time since 2000, throwing an unwelcome spotlight on delayed plans to build a retractable roof over Centre Court.

The abandonment also created a scheduling headache for organisers, who called off play shortly before 2pm local time, pushing 10 fourth round singles matches, including those featuring world number ones Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, back to Tuesday.

While the three other grand slams — Wimbledon, U.S. and Australian Opens — all have at least one showcourt with a roof, Roland Garros fans will have to wait till 2020 or later before any covering appears.

French Open director Guy Forget said Monday’s non-event — coming on top of four rain-affected days earlier in the tournament — proved that installing a roof as soon as possible was essential.

Roland Garros’s redevelopment plans have been put on hold by environmental activists looking to protect nearby greenhouses.

“For those in our country who still have doubts and who ask themselves ‘do we absolutely need to modernise our stadium?’, look at the facts. Today offers proof that this is absolutely necessary,” Forget told reporters.

Monday’s flood warning from the French national weather was at orange — the second highest alert level — and covered parts of northern France including Paris and surrounding areas, and said heavy rains could continue until Tuesday afternoon.

Instead of staging just four quarter-finals on Tuesday, organisers — who told soggy and disappointed fans to apply for refunds from the tournament’s website — will have to clear the backlog of last-16 matches first.

Now only two men’s quarter-finals will take place on Tuesday, defending champion Stan Wawrinka’s showdown with Albert Ramos Vinolas and second seed Andy Murray’s highly-anticipated duel with French favourite Richard Gasquet.

The delays will also affect competitors as those hoping to win the title will have to play matches on successive days if the tournament is to finish on Sunday as scheduled.

More than 50 first-round matches were held over during the previous washout on May 30, 2000. That tournament finished on time.

Rain forced the postponement of the 2012 men’s final between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, which was held over two days and finished on the Monday.

PONCHOS AND UMBRELLAS

While a handful of sodden spectators sat hunched under umbrellas on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday watching a replay of Gasquet’s emotional win over Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori a day earlier, thousands of others took shelter by cramming into the corridors under the main showcourts.

Americans Dot Hillegass and daughter Kim McGeorge had tickets for Chatrier — on what was to have been a highlight of a six-day trip to Europe and their first experience of live professional tennis.

Told the washout was the tournament’s first since 2000, Kim McGeorge remained philosophical. “What are the odds on that? It was obviously not meant to be,” she said.

“It’s a disappointment. They need a retractable roof,” said her mother, unwittingly tapping into the day’s hot debate.

The miserable weather meant brisk trading for the shops and boutiques in the grounds.

And there were no prizes for guessing which products were flying off the shelves.

“Above all, it’s the umbrellas and ponchos that are doing well,” said Vincent Martinez, human resources coordinator for shops selling Roland Garros-branded merchandise.

“But people are going home earlier so in general we prefer sunny days.”

Souvenirs in hand, an estimated 25,000 ticket-holders started trudging out of the grounds at 1:48 pm — with their only memory being that they went to Roland Garros on the day rain washed out play for the first time in 16 years.

Shopping should be part of a special experience for tennis fans, Martinez said, adding: “Today was also unforgettable, though perhaps not in the best way.”

(Additional reporting by John Stonestreet and Julien Pretot; editing by John Stonestreet)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Hingis and Mirza lose chance to complete ‘Santina Slam’ | Reuters

PARIS Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza lost their cool as their hopes of holding all four grand slam titles were dashed following a 6-3 6-2 defeat by Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the third round of the French Open on Sunday.

The Indo-Swiss team dubbed “Santina” were hoping to win four majors in a row after following up last year’s Wimbledon and U.S. Open triumphs with victory in January’s Australian Open.

But the top seeds appeared all at sea on a gloomy day at Roland Garros and their bid to complete the ‘Santina Slam’ ended after the Czechs blasted a service return winner to break Hingis in the final game.

Hingis and Mirza were left fuming at the umpire after a call went against them as they trailed 4-1 in the second set. Mirza tossed the ball in anger but the duo failed to win the argument, or the match, leaving Krejcikova and Siniakova to celebrate a memorable victory.

It proved to be a bad day for the big names in doubles as Venus and Serena Williams, who were the last women’s team to hold all four majors in 2010, also perished in the third round, beaten 6-3 6-3 by the Dutch-Swedish pairing of Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Julien Pretot)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Hamilton ends long wait with Monaco win | Reuters

MONACO Lewis Hamilton celebrated his first win of the Formula One season at the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday after Mercedes told team mate Nico Rosberg to move aside and Red Bull wrecked Daniel Ricciardo’s chances.

While fortune finally favoured the triple world champion after a run of bad luck, championship leader Rosberg finished seventh — 93.2 seconds behind — and saw his lead cut to 24 points after six of 21 races.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was runner-up, a botched second pitstop destroying his chances after he started on pole position for the first time, with Mexican Sergio Perez third for Force India.

“I prayed for a day like this so I feel truly blessed,” said Hamilton, who had cut a disconsolate figure after a fuel pressure problem in qualifying left him third on the starting grid.

The win was the 44th of his career, matching the number on his car, and his first since Texas last October when he took his third championship.

He made the right call on the tyres, with a late change to slicks, and got more mileage out of the ultrasofts than expected. He also made his car as wide as possible with Ricciardo crawling all over the back of him.

Hamilton was congratulated by Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber as he stepped out of the car in the pit lane before the podium celebration.

His jubilation contrasted with Ricciardo’s sense of shock, the Australian feeling robbed of a likely victory by his own team whom he said had called him in for a pitstop and then did not have the tyres ready.

“Two weeks in a row I’ve been screwed,” said the driver, who had also led in Spain two weeks ago until a strategy error handed the advantage to 18-year-old Dutch team mate Max Verstappen, who became the sport’s youngest winner.

“It sucks. I was called into the box. They should have been ready.”

“Nothing you can say can make it any better,” Ricciardo had told the team over the radio after the chequered flag. “Just save it.”

Ricciardo had built up a tidy lead at the start before Mercedes told Rosberg, then in second place, to let Hamilton through on lap 16 because the German was suffering from high brake temperatures.

The race had started with seven laps behind the safety car in wet conditions, dried out and then ended with more rain threatening and cloudy skies.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished fourth, while Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen retired with his front wing wedged awkwardly under the car after clouting the barriers on the 12th of the 78 laps.

Raikkonen continued through the tunnel with sparks coming from his car before parking up at the exit.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was fifth, on the 50th anniversary of his team’s race debut in Monaco in 1966, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg snatching sixth from Rosberg at the very end.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was eighth for Toro Rosso, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button and Brazilian Felipe Massa in a Williams.

The safety car had barely come in, with Hamilton among those chafing at the amount of time it had been deployed, before Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer lost control and crashed at the first Sainte Devote corner.

That led to a Virtual Safety Car being declared, one of several uses during the afternoon.

Verstappen, who crashed in qualifying and had been due to start from the pit lane, made some impressive overtakes but his race came to an end just before the half distance when he hit the barriers on the approach to Casino Square.

Renault’s Kevin Magnussen smashed his car’s front wing off when he nosed into barriers and the two Saubers then drove into each other at Rascasse corner, triggering another virtual safety car deployment.

There was another deployment 10 laps from the end when what looked like a large tarpaulin, or plastic sheet, had to be retrieved from the track by a marshal.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Missing 58-year-old Indian mountaineer found dead on Mount Everest

A 58-year-old Indian mountaineer, who went missing on Mount Everest nearly a week ago, was found dead on Friday while attempts were being made to locate another Indian climber whose body was reportedly lying above 8,000 metres on the world’s highest mountain.According to Wangchu Sherpa, the managing director at Trekking Camp Nepal that managed the expedition, a team of six Sherpas retrieved the body of Paresh Chandra Nath above the camp IV. His body is being brought to the camp II, Sherpa said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, they could not move ahead from the higher camp to locate another missing climber Goutam Ghosh whose body was also reportedly lying above 8,000 metres on the high mountain.”High wind forced the rescuers to descend from the Camp IV after locating Paresh Nath’s body,” he said.Other climbers who made it to summit early this week are reported to have seen the body of Ghosh. Nath and Ghosh were near the summit of the 8,848-metre peak last Saturday when they lost contact with the rest of the four-member team, all of whom were Indians.Five people have died so far during this Himalayan climbing season, which saw about 400 mountaineers summit the world’s highest peak, officials have said.A Dutch and an Australian woman died of altitude sickness last Friday and Saturday respectively. A Nepali guide died on Thursday after he slipped and fell 2,000 metres. Another Indian climber had died a few days ago. More than three dozen other climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit in the past few days.Nearly 40 climbers including an Indian woman have developed frostbite during this Himalayan climbing season Last year, devastating earthquake caused the climbing season to be canceled and climbing attempts were largely abandoned in 2014 after an avalanche above the base camp killed 16 Sherpa guides.At least 19 climbers were killed in the avalanche triggered by the earthquake.

Bitcoin has a governance problem, no matter who created it | Reuters

LONDON As one would-be father of bitcoin falls by the wayside, squabbling among the web-based currency’s lead developers is exposing a fundamental flaw: it must evolve to meet growing demand, but may lack a governance structure to achieve this.

The latest bickering erupted after Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright promised to prove he was the mysterious creator of bitcoin – which allows users to move money across the world quickly and anonymously – but then said on Thursday he could not provide further evidence to back this up.

Wright stopped short of reneging on his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, assumed to be a pseudonym for the person or people who launched the digital cryptocurrency in 2009. However, he apologised for damaging the reputations of bitcoin experts who had believed him.

Many members of the bitcoin community reckon this is all a distraction and agree with Wright when he said that the identity of Nakamoto “doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter”.

“Satoshi’s biggest achievement was to create a system that doesn’t require his participation to run,” said Peter Todd, one of bitcoin’s core software developers. “That’s what makes all this stuff kind of funny. It’s like searching for the creator of a system that’s designed not to require a creator.”

While grey-suited central bankers print conventional currencies and commercial banks control transactions in them, no one person or entity is in charge of bitcoin. Instead it runs on a decentralised system of shared trust without any third-party verification of transactions – one reason why many people are attracted to it.

Critics, however, say it needs a “benevolent dictator” or at least some “adults” to manage the expansion that it needs to cope with the increasing number of transactions. Someone, or some group, must decide how to meet users’ requirements, they say.

Trades are handled by thousands of “mining” computers around the world which validate blocks of transactions by competing to solve mathematical puzzles every 10 minutes.

The first computer to solve the puzzle clears the transaction and is currently rewarded with 25 new bitcoins, now worth around $11,250.. This is how the computers’ owners cover their costs – largely power bills – and make a profit. The system also ensures there is no single point in the system that might fail.

CIVIL WAR

In practice, there do appear to be people who can make decisions, but it is also possible to be excluded from this magic circle.

One of the bitcoin experts who initially believed Wright’s claim is Gavin Andresen. Nakamoto handed control of bitcoin’s software to Andresen when he stepped aside in 2011, a transfer that kept the creator’s identity a mystery as it was conducted in cyberspace without human contact.

Andresen later shared that control with others. But when he stated publicly he believed Wright, sceptical developers responded by revoking his “commit access” to a shared repository of bitcoin rules.

Initially, these developers justified their move on security grounds, saying his computer must have been hacked – something Andresen denied. When Reuters asked Todd whether Andresen’s access would be reinstated, he responded: “Heck no”, saying a belief in Wright amounted to “inexcusable incompetence”.

Andresen admitted to bewilderment over whether he still believed Wright’s claims. “Ask me in six months; I don’t trust my own judgement right now after all the drama,” he said on Twitter.

The squabbling is not new. One of the lead developers, Mike Hearn, stood down from bitcoin in January because of a power struggle nicknamed the “bitcoin civil war”.

Hearn and Andresen had proposed increasing the size of the blocks in which transactions are processed but the other developers opposed this. In quitting, Hearn said that “what was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked systemically important institutions” had now become “a system completely controlled by just a handful of people”.

Many investors and start-up firms remain optimistic about bitcoin and are making money from it. But Emin Gun Sirer, a computer science professor at Cornell University, said the appearance of internal conflict was undermining it.

“For bitcoin to retain its value, it’s important to have hope that there’s good management in charge, that there are adults in charge,” Sirer said. “When we see opportunistic moves, that’s a problem.”

BENEVOLENT DICTATORS

But Sirer also said that any open-source project such as bitcoin, which runs using software that anyone can access, change, and distribute, faces the challenge of governance.

“Is it a pipe dream to expect to be able to build a currency system that is completely decentralized and free of any control whatsoever? The short answer to that is yes, but that’s not what anyone should have expected anyway,” he said.

Sirer added that he was concerned that his brightest young students at Cornell were being deterred from getting involved with bitcoin because of the in-fighting and the appearance that developers were unable to agree on change.

One other digital currency system which is attracting bright young minds is Ethereum, created in 2013 by Russian-Canadian Vitalik Buterin when he was just 19. It works with the “benevolent dictator model”, as Sirer calls it, with Buterin holding the decision-making power.

“Over the last couple of years it’s become apparent that having a static protocol is just not a viable approach,” Buterin told the Consensus bitcoin conference in New York earlier in the week. “Software has to evolve … and there has to be some mechanism for agreeing on how software is going to upgrade.”

Most, however, reckon that even if Nakamoto were to be found, the other developers – many of whom have written more code than he ever did in the seven years since bitcoin was launched – would not accept his having ultimate power.

“(Nakamoto) would be thanked for creating this amazing thing, but if there comes a time when there’s a technical debate over whether we should go one way or the other, his opinions would only be persuasive, not controlling,” said Jerry Brito, executive director of bitcoin advocacy group Coin Center.

(Additional reporting by Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; editing by David Stamp)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Australian says he created bitcoin, but some sceptical | Reuters

SYDNEY/LONDON Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as the creator of controversial digital currency bitcoin on Monday but experts were divided over whether he really was the elusive person who has gone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto until now.

Uncovering Nakamoto’s real identity would solve a riddle dating back to the publication of the open source software behind the cryptocurrency in 2008, before its launch a year later.

Bitcoin has since become the world’s most commonly used virtual currency, attracting the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

Worth a total of $7 billion at current levels, it fell more than 3 percent on Monday — a normal intraday move for the volatile currency — after the news, to below $440 from around $455, before recovering slightly.

Some online commentators suggested bitcoin’s creator could help resolve a bitter row among the currency’s software developers that threatens its future.

But Wright made no reference to the row in a BBC interview identifying himself as Nakamoto, and as the protocol bitcoin runs on is open-source and cannot be controlled by any one person, it is unclear whether he would be able to influence the way it develops.

“I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright, who is now living in London, told the BBC. “Some people will believe, Some people won’t, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care,” he said.

Many bitcoiners said Wright had not done enough to definitively prove that he was Nakamoto, who maintained his anonymity throughout his involvement with bitcoin, which he stepped away from in 2011.

But Gavin Andresen, who Nakamoto chose to succeed him, published a blog post in which he described meeting Wright last month and said he is “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Australian is Nakamoto.

Jon Matonis, a founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation now works as a bitcoin consultant, wrote a blog post on Monday which, like Andresen’s, supported Wright’s claims.

“According to me, the proof is conclusive and I have no doubt that Craig Steven Wright is the person behind the Bitcoin technology, Nakamoto consensus, and the Satoshi Nakamoto name,” Matonis wrote. He and Andresen also confirmed they had been responsible for their respective blog posts to Reuters directly.

LEGACY

Nakamoto’s biggest likely legacy lies well beyond his control. The blockchain technology that underpins the currency could transform the way banks settle transactions, the way that property rights and other vital data are recorded, and provide a way for central banks to issue their own digital currencies.

The BBC reported on Monday that Wright gave some technical proof demonstrating that he had access to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created by bitcoin’s creator.

Researchers believe Nakamoto may be holding up to one million of the more than 15 million bitcoins currently in circulation, which would make the creator worth around $440 million.

In a blog post also dated Monday, Wright posted an example of a signature used by Nakamoto and an explanation of how bitcoin transactions are verified and thanked all those who had supported the project from its inception.

“This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance have taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it,” he wrote.

However he did not state directly that he was Nakamoto. “Satoshi is dead,” he said. “But this is only the beginning.”

Bitcoin expert Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Coin Center, said a new message cryptographically signed using the private key associated with the so-called Genesis block, the first ever “mined” would have been more convincing.

The currency’s “miners” are incentivised to process transactions every 10 minutes by a possible reward of bitcoins (25 currently), which is how new bitcoins are created.

Wright also spoke with The Economist, but declined requests from the magazine to provide further proof that he was Nakamoto. His representatives told Reuters he would not be taking part in more media interviews for the time being. 

“Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” The Economist said. “Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin.”

Hopes that bitcoin would become broadly used helped buoy its price to more than $1,000 in December 2013, when its market capitalisation was $13 billion compared with today’s $7 billion.

Wright told The Economist he would exchange bitcoin he owns slowly to avoid pushing down its price.

HOME RAIDED

In December, police raided Wright’s Sydney home and office after Wired magazine named him as the probable creator of bitcoin and holder of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. At the time he made no comment.

The treatment of bitcoins for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset, rather than a currency, for capital gains tax purposes.

On Monday, the ATO said it had no comment while police were not immediately available for comment.

If Wright is Nakamoto he “is now the leader of a movement”, said Roberto Capodieci, a Singapore-based entrepreneur working on the blockchain, the technology underlying the currency.

That movement ranges from libertarian enthusiasts to central banks experimenting with digital currencies, all of which pay homage in some way to Nakamoto’s writings.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore, Matt Siegel in Sydney and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Nick Macfie, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Australian says he created bitcoin, but some skeptical | Reuters

SYDNEY/LONDON Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as the creator of controversial digital currency bitcoin on Monday but experts were divided over whether he really was the elusive person who has gone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto until now.

Uncovering Nakamoto’s real identity would solve a riddle dating back to the publication of the open source software behind the cryptocurrency in 2008, before its launch a year later.

Bitcoin has since become the world’s most commonly used virtual currency, attracting the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

Worth a total of $7 billion at current levels, it fell more than 3 percent on Monday — a normal intraday move for the volatile currency — after the news, to below $440 from around $455, before recovering slightly.

Some online commentators suggested bitcoin’s creator could help resolve a bitter row among the currency’s software developers that threatens its future.

But Wright made no reference to the row in a BBC interview identifying himself as Nakamoto, and as the protocol bitcoin runs on is open-source and cannot be controlled by any one person, it is unclear whether he would be able to influence the way it develops.

“I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright, who is now living in London, told the BBC. “Some people will believe, Some people won’t, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care,” he said.

Many bitcoiners said Wright had not done enough to definitively prove that he was Nakamoto, who maintained his anonymity throughout his involvement with bitcoin, which he stepped away from in 2011.

But Gavin Andresen, who Nakamoto chose to succeed him, published a blog post in which he described meeting Wright last month and said he is “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Australian is Nakamoto.

Jon Matonis, a founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation now works as a bitcoin consultant, wrote a blog post on Monday which, like Andresen’s, supported Wright’s claims.

“According to me, the proof is conclusive and I have no doubt that Craig Steven Wright is the person behind the Bitcoin technology, Nakamoto consensus, and the Satoshi Nakamoto name,” Matonis wrote. He and Andresen also confirmed they had been responsible for their respective blog posts to Reuters directly.

LEGACY

Nakamoto’s biggest likely legacy lies well beyond his control. The blockchain technology that underpins the currency could transform the way banks settle transactions, the way that property rights and other vital data are recorded, and provide a way for central banks to issue their own digital currencies.

The BBC reported on Monday that Wright gave some technical proof demonstrating that he had access to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created by bitcoin’s creator.

Researchers believe Nakamoto may be holding up to one million of the more than 15 million bitcoins currently in circulation, which would make the creator worth around $440 million.

In a blog post also dated Monday, Wright posted an example of a signature used by Nakamoto and an explanation of how bitcoin transactions are verified and thanked all those who had supported the project from its inception.

“This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance have taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it,” he wrote.

However he did not state directly that he was Nakamoto. “Satoshi is dead,” he said. “But this is only the beginning.”

Bitcoin expert Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Coin Center, said a new message cryptographically signed using the private key associated with the so-called Genesis block, the first ever “mined” would have been more convincing.

The currency’s “miners” are incentivized to process transactions every 10 minutes by a possible reward of bitcoins (25 currently), which is how new bitcoins are created.

Wright also spoke with The Economist, but declined requests from the magazine to provide further proof that he was Nakamoto. His representatives told Reuters he would not be taking part in more media interviews for the time being. 

“Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” The Economist said. “Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin.”

Hopes that bitcoin would become broadly used helped buoy its price to more than $1,000 in December 2013, when its market capitalization was $13 billion compared with today’s $7 billion.

Wright told The Economist he would exchange bitcoin he owns slowly to avoid pushing down its price.

HOME RAIDED

In December, police raided Wright’s Sydney home and office after Wired magazine named him as the probable creator of bitcoin and holder of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. At the time he made no comment.

The treatment of bitcoins for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset, rather than a currency, for capital gains tax purposes.

On Monday, the ATO said it had no comment while police were not immediately available for comment.

If Wright is Nakamoto he “is now the leader of a movement”, said Roberto Capodieci, a Singapore-based entrepreneur working on the blockchain, the technology underlying the currency.

That movement ranges from libertarian enthusiasts to central banks experimenting with digital currencies, all of which pay homage in some way to Nakamoto’s writings.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore, Matt Siegel in Sydney and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Nick Macfie, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Govt says will amicably try to get back Kohinoor, cites Nehru reference to justify action

The government clarified on the Kohinoor issue saying it will make all efforts to bring back the valued diamond it had said in the Supreme Court was “neither stolen nor forcibly” taken by British rulers but given to it by erstwhile rulers of Punjab. In a statement, the government claimed it has not yet conveyed its views to the court “contrary to what is being misrepresented” in the media.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an official press release from the Minister of Culture, the govt said:The Government of India wishes to put on record that certain news items appearing in the press regarding the Kohinoor Diamond are not based on facts. The Government of India further reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner. The factual position is that the matter is sub judice at present. A PIL has been filed in the Honourable Supreme Court that is yet to be admitted.
ALSO READ #dnaEdit: The Kohinoor was not all the British took from IndiaThe Solicitor General of India was asked to seek the views of the Government of India, which have not yet been conveyed. The Solicitor General of India informed the Honourable Court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by the ASI. Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the Government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented. The Court granted six weeks’ time on the prayer of the Solicitor General to take instructions for making his submission in the matter.The status report on which the preliminary submission was made by the Solicitor General have references to the stand taken by Governments earlier that the Kohinoor was a gift and cannot be categorized as an object stolen. The material further has references to the views of India’s 1st Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru dating back to 1956. Pandit Nehru went on record saying that there is no ground to claim this art treasure back. He also added that efforts to get the Kohinoor back would lead to difficulties.
ALSO READ Will make all efforts to bring Kohinoor back: Govt makes a U-turnPandit Nehru also said, “To exploit our good relations with some country to obtain free gifts from it of valuable articles does not seem to be desirable. On the other hand, it does seem to be desirable that foreign museums should have Indian objects of art.”It may be added that ever since he has taken over as PM, Shri Narendra Modi’s efforts led to three significant pieces of India’s history coming back home. In October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned a 10th century Indian statue of Goddess Durga that was stolen in 1990 and found in 2012 at a museum in Germany. In April 2015, then Canadian PM Stephen Harper returned a sculpture known as the ‘Parrot Lady’, which dates back to almost 900 years. Then Australian PM Tony Abbott, on his India visit in 2014 had returned antique statues of Hindu deities that were in Australian art galleries. None of these gestures affected India’s relations with either Canada, Germany or Australia. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as the Chief Minister got back the ashes of Shyamji Krishna Varma almost 70 years after his death.Thus, with regard to the Kohinoor Diamond too, Government of India remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history.

Govt makes a U-turn on Kohinoor, says will make all efforts to bring back the diamond

New Delhi: Government on Tuesday night made a U-turn on the Kohinoor issue saying it will make all efforts to bring back the valued diamond it had said in the Supreme Court was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken” by British rulers but given to it by erstwhile rulers of Punjab.

In a statement, the government claimed it has not yet conveyed its views to the court “contrary to what is being misrepresented” in the media.

The government statement came a day after the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court, “Kohinoor cannot be said to have been forcibly taken or stolen as it was given by the successors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to East India Company in 1849 as compensation for helping them in the Sikh wars.”

The court was hearing a PIL which sought government action for the return of over USD 200 million Kohinoor diamond from the UK.

Kohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty imagesKohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty images

Kohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty images

Wishing to put on record that the news items on the issue “are not based on facts”, the official release said the government reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner.

The release said the factual position is that the matter is sub-judice at present and the PIL is yet to be admitted.

“The Solicitor General of India was asked to seek the views of the government of India, which have not yet been conveyed. The Solicitor General of India informed the honourable court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by the ASI.

“Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented,” it said.

The release also noted that the court granted six weeks time on the prayer of the Solicitor General to take instructions for making his submission in the matter.

“… With regard to the Kohinoor Diamond too, government of India remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history,” it added.

“The status report on which the preliminary submission was made by the Solicitor General have references to the stand taken by Governments earlier that the Kohinoor was a gift and cannot be categorised as an object stolen.

“The material further has references to the views of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dating back to 1956. Pandit Nehru went on record saying that there is no ground to claim this art treasure back. He also added that efforts to get the Kohinoor back would lead to difficulties,” the release said.

According to the release, Nehru also said, “To exploit our good relations with some country to obtain free gifts from it of valuable articles does not seem to be desirable. On the other hand, it does seem to be desirable that foreign museums should have Indian objects of art.”

Ever since Narendra Modi has taken over as Prime Minister, it said his efforts led to three significant pieces of India’s history coming back home which did not affect the relations with the respective countries.

“In October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned a 10th century Indian statue of Goddess Durga that was stolen in 1990 and found in 2012 at a museum in Germany.

“In April 2015, then Canadian PM Stephen Harper returned a sculpture known as the ‘Parrot Lady’, which dates back to almost 900 years.

“Then Australian PM Tony Abbott, on his India visit in 2014 had returned antique statues of Hindu deities that were in Australian art galleries.

“None of these gestures affected India’s relations with either Canada, Germany or Australia. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as the Chief Minister got back the ashes of Shyamji Krishna Varma almost 70 years after his death,” the release said.

Will make all efforts to bring Kohinoor back: Govt makes a U-turn

Government on Tuesday night made a U-turn on the Kohinoor issue saying it will make all efforts to bring back the valued diamond it had said in the Supreme Court was “neither stolen nor forcibly” taken by British rulers but given to it by erstwhile rulers of Punjab.In a statement, the government claimed it has not yet conveyed its views to the court “contrary to what is being misrepresented” in the media. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government statement came a day after the SolicitorGeneral told the Supreme Court, “Kohinoor cannot be said to have been forcibly taken or stolen as it was given by the successors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to East India Company in 1849 as compensation for helping them in the Sikh wars.” The court was hearing a PIL which sought government action for the return of over $200 million Kohinoor diamond from the UK.Wishing to put on record that the news items on the issue “are not based on facts”, the official release said the government reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner.The release said the factual position is that the matter is sub-judice at present and the PIL is yet to be admitted.”The Solicitor General of India was asked to seek the views of the government of India, which have not yet been conveyed. The Solicitor General of India informed the honourable court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by the ASI.”Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented,” it said.The release also noted that the court granted six weeks time on the prayer of the Solicitor General to take instructions for making his submission in the matter.”… With regard to the Kohinoor Diamond too, government of India remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history,” it added.”The status report on which the preliminary submission was made by the Solicitor General have references to the stand taken by Governments earlier that the Kohinoor was a gift and cannot be categorised as an object stolen.”The material further has references to the views of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dating back to 1956. Pandit Nehru went on record saying that there is no ground to claim this art treasure back. He also added that efforts to get the Kohinoor back would lead to difficulties,” the release said.According to the release, Nehru also said, “To exploit our good relations with some country to obtain free gifts from it of valuable articles does not seem to be desirable. On the other hand, it does seem to be desirable that foreign museums should have Indian objects of art.”Ever since Narendra Modi has taken over as Prime Minister, it said his efforts led to three significant pieces of India’s history coming back home which did not affect the relations with the respective countries.”In October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned a 10th century Indian statue of Goddess Durga that was stolen in 1990 and found in 2012 at a museum in Germany.”In April 2015, then Canadian PM Stephen Harper returned a sculpture known as the ‘Parrot Lady’, which dates back to almost 900 years.”Then Australian PM Tony Abbott, on his India visit in 2014 had returned antique statues of Hindu deities that were in Australian art galleries.”None of these gestures affected India’s relations with either Canada, Germany or Australia. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as the Chief Minister got back the ashes of Shyamji Krishna Varma almost 70 years after his death,” the release said.

Dominant Rosberg extends win streak in China | Reuters

SHANGHAI Nico Rosberg claimed a dominant win in an action-packed Formula One Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his championship lead over Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, who battled up toseventh with some feisty driving after starting last.

Rosberg crossed the line a mammoth 37.7 seconds ahead of German compatriot Sebastian Vettel, who recovered after colliding with his Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner, to claim his third win from three races this season.

The German now leads Hamilton by 36 points in the standings and is firmly in control of the championship with 18 rounds of a record 21-race season remaining.

He certainly has history on his side with the winner of the first three races of the season having gone on to win the title each time.

“Well, it’s too early to make any summaries,” Rosberg told reporters.

“It’s three races now and they’ve gone really well for me but it’s the longest season in F1 history with 21 races.

“Of course I’m happy with the way it’s gone and I’m feeling good and the car’s there but I don’t want to say more than that.”

Sunday’s win was the 17th of Rosberg’s career and extended his streak of race victories to six, dating back to last November’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Only three other drivers have ever put together a run of six or more wins in a row. Vettel managed nine with Red Bull in 2013 and Michael Schumacher seven with Ferrari in 2004. The other was Italian Alberto Ascari in the 1950s.

ANGRY VETTEL

Daniil Kvyat finished third to score Red Bull their first podium finish since September’s Singapore Grand Prix but the Russian had to defend himself after the race when an angry Vettel blamed him for the collision between the Ferraris.

Hamilton, who had started from dead last after failing to set a time in Saturday’s qualifying session due to an engine problem, finished seventh, running into further trouble at the start when he lost his front wing in a first-corner collision.

The Briton used some good-old fashioned racing nous to work his way up to third at one stage. But his challenge faded later in the race as he attempted to battle through with a damaged car that he likened to a “four-poster bed”.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth. The Australian rocketed off the line from second on the grid and shot past Rosberg into an early lead.

But an early puncture and subsequent safety car cost him any chance of a podium place.

“As soon as I got on the straight, basically I could feel the car start to wobble and then I looked in the mirror and the tyre went,” Ricciardo said.

“With the safety car, that put us even further back so that was like a double whammy which felt like getting punched in the stomach by a heavyweight.”

Raikkonen, who came off worse in the first-corner collision with Vettel, was sixth ahead of Felipe Massa of Williams.

Max Verstappen was eighth ahead of Toro Rosso team mate Carlos Sainz while Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10 for Williams.

The early safety car led to a chopping and changing of the order with some drivers choosing to pit even as others stayed out. That put a mix of tyre strategies into play, producing a close battle for position behind the leader with plenty of exciting racing through the field.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Haryana: Australian NRI, Delhi girl among women allegedly raped at Murthal

An Australian NRI and a girl from Delhi were among those allegedly raped during the Jat quota stir in Haryana’s Murthal in February.Earlier, media reports had said that at least 10 women were allegedly raped during the week-long Jat agitation, where 30 people were killed and large-scale violence and destruction of public and private properties took place. According to a report in a leading daily, after three women stated that they were raped during the Jat stir, Haryana Police have added gang-rape charges to the FIR in the case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report said that two women sent anonymous letters detailing the rapes, while the lawyer who is assisting the Punjab and Haryana High Court as amicus curiae in the case, has said that he has an audio recording of the third girl from East Delhi.One letter, sent by an Australian NRI, has been circulating on social media. The other, received by the Faridabad police, is from a girl living in a hostel who was allegedly raped while crossing NH-1, the daily reported.
ALSO READ Murthal gangrapes: Eyewitness comes forward; special police team starts probeDays after allegations of rape and molestation during the Jat quota agitation surfaced, a woman had come forward and registered a case of gangrape against seven persons, including her brother-in-law, in connection with the incident.Last month, a report sent by the Haryana government to the Union Home Ministry had rejected the allegation of sexual assaults on women near a ‘dhaba’ in Murthal, but said some women were “harassed”.
ALSO READ No gangrape in Murthal, Haryana government tells CenterThe next court hearing is scheduled on May 4.

Mine lease sparks Australia reef fears

Indian mining giant Adani is a step closer to building one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Australia, but still faces legal challenges from environmental and Indigenous groups.

Formula One’s Hamilton beats Rosberg to Bahrain pole position | Reuters

MANAMA Triple Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton smashed the Bahrain circuit lap record on Saturday to take pole position ahead of Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg for Sunday’s grand prix.

The Briton’s best lap of one minute 29.493 seconds was the fastest ever at the Sakhir track.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen qualified third and fourth for the second race of the season.

The much-criticised new qualifying format was again in the spotlight, still underwhelming if marginally more exciting than the disappointing debut at the Australian season-opener two weeks earlier.

Hamilton is chasing his third successive Bahrain Grand Prix victory on Sunday while Rosberg, the winner in Melbourne, is seeking a fifth win in a row after ending last season with three straight victories.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Holi is a chance to deepen appreciation of Hindu customs: Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull

Melbourne: Greeting people on Holi, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday said the festival was an opportunity for all Australians to deepen their appreciation of Hindu customs.

Malcolm Turnbull. Reuters

Malcolm Turnbull. Reuters

“Celebrating the arrival of spring after winter darkness, the ancient festival of Holi brings with it a promise of the triumph of good over evil, of renewal and rebirth,” Turnbull said in his message on Holi.

Describing Holi as a “carnival of colour”, the Australian Prime Minister said in Australia where the autumn air is cooling and the leaves are starting to turn, the symbolism of the changing seasons still imbues the experience of the lively festival.

“As communities across our country gather in celebration, this is an opportunity for all Australians to deepen their appreciation of Hindu customs,” the Prime Minister said.

“The freedom to express ourselves and to embrace diversity is what makes Australia one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world,” he said.

Turnbull said Australia is like a “rich tapestry” and every one of the community groups and cultural traditions, woven into that, “is an indelible part of who we are.”

He extended his best wishes to those celebrating Holi.

Another Australian politician who extended his warm wishes to the Indian community celebrating the festival was New South Wales premier Mike Baird.

“I would like to extend my warmest wishes to everyone celebrating Holi. It is a festival that brings us together in a spirit of fun and friendship, encouraging understanding of each other’s backgrounds in our multicultural society,” Baird said in a statement.

“This annual Hindu festival is widely celebrated across India and Nepal and is now recognised and celebrated right across New South Wales,” he said.

Baird said the local Indian and Nepalese communities were to be commended for sharing their cultures and traditions with the wider community.

PTI

From Kanyakumari to Kashmir: Australian marathoner running for girls’ education reaches Phagwara

A 54-year-old Australian ultra- marathon runner who is undertaking a Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir run to raise funds for the education of Indian girls and strengthening ties between the two countries, reached Phagwara on Sunday.Phagwara administration accorded a warm welcome to Patrick Farmer as he arrived at his latest stop on his 4,600-km ‘Spirit of India Run-2016’ run. The run, Farmer said, is aimed at promoting ties between India and Australia and encouraging tourism and people-to- people contact. He also aims to create awareness about India as a “must experience” destination for travellers from Australia.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Farmer said he is also raising funds for the cause of the education of the girlchild with this run, which began in Kanyakumari on January 26 — celebrated as Republic Day in India and Australia Day in his country — and will end in Srinagar on March 30.

Vijay Mallya’s date with Indian investigators clashes with F1 opener | Reuters

LONDON Drinks tycoon and motor racing boss Vijay Mallya faces a sensitive diary clash this week as the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix coincides with an appointment to appear before Indian investigators.

Mallya, under pressure from banks to repay $1.4 billion owed by his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines, left India for Britain on March 2. His departure sparked outrage in parliament, after creditors had asked courts to ensure he stayed in the country.

A senior official from the Enforcement Directorate, said last week that Mallya had been summoned for questioning this Friday as part of an investigation related to one of the bank loans.

Friday is also the first official practice day before Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix. Mallya, who co-owns Britain-based team Force India and regularly attends races, did not respond to a request for comment on whether he plans to go.

If he does, without first making a pit stop back home, it is likely to trigger further uproar in India. Mallya, who sports a goatee, an ear stud and a ponytail, is one of the country’s most flamboyant entrepreneurs and a fixture in the society pages.

The self-styled “King of Good Times” and chairman of the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India has denied fleeing the country, saying on Twitter he was the victim of a media witch hunt. He said in his posts that he would comply with domestic laws.

A spokesman for Force India told Reuters last week that he did not know about Mallya’s plans. In February, the team’s chief operating officer, Otmar Szafnauer, said he expected Mallya to attend more than half of this year’s 21 races.

Force India cars were reported to be coming and going last week at Mallya’s 11.5 million pound ($16.5 million) mansion in the village of Tewin, just north of London. The run-up to a season-opener is a hectic time for teams, as cars must be readied for air freight.

Mallya bought the sprawling Hertfordshire estate last year from Anthony Hamilton, father of triple Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton. The house boasts two swimming pools, multiple cars and at least 20 windows, all of which had their curtains drawn tight when a Reuters reporter visited on Friday.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu and Alan Baldwin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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Tennis star Sharapova faces suspension after failing drug test | Reuters

LOS ANGELES Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, the highest-paid woman in sports, said on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open due to a substance she has been taking for 10 years for health issues.

The 28-year-old Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion, will be provisionally suspended starting March 12, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said.

She is the seventh athlete in a month to test positive for meldonium, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium, and was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency as of January 1.

“I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down and I let the sport down,” said Sharapova, a teenage tennis prodigy who became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion. “I take full responsibility for it.”

“I know that with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game,” former world No.1 Sharapova told a news conference in a downtown Los Angeles hotel.

Hours after the announcement, one of her biggest sponsors, Nike, said it had suspended its relationship with her while the investigation continues, cable news channel CNBC reported.

Officials at Nike, the world’s largest sportswear maker, were not immediately available for comment.

“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” CNBC quoted a Nike statement as saying.

The ITF’s anti-doping program calls for a four-year suspension for a positive test, but that ban can be reduced in various circumstances, such as for first-time offences or if the player shows no significant fault or negligence. If a player bears no fault or negligence, there is no suspension.

According to Forbes, she earned $29.5 million in 2015, mostly from endorsements.

Sharapova said her family doctor had been giving her mildronate, which is also called meldonium, for 10 years after she frequently became sick, had irregular EKG results, a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.

“It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA’s banned list and I had been legally taking the medicine. But on January the first, the rules have changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, declined to comment until ITF issues a final decision.

Meldonium is used to treat chest pain and heart attacks among other conditions, but some researchers have linked it to increased athletic performance and endurance. It is listed by WADA among its prohibited metabolic modulators, along with insulin, and some researchers say it can also help recovery.

It is not approved in the United States but is available in Russia, Latvia and other countries in that region. Over the past month, Russian cyclist Eduard Vorganov, Russian figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova and Ethiopia-born athletes Endeshaw Negesse and Abeba Aregawi and Ukraine biathletes Olga Abramova and Artem Tyshchenko have all tested positive for meldonium.

Sharapova is the most prominent tennis player to test positive for a banned substance in recent years.

Croatia’s Marin Cilic was banned for nine months in 2013 after testing positive for a prohibited stimulant, though the suspension was cut to four months on appeal.

Former No. 1 Swiss player Martina Hingis retired after receiving a two-year suspension for a positive cocaine test in 2007, though she denied taking the drug.

Last year, the sport banned U.S. player Wayne Odesnik for 15 years after his second doping violation, testing positive for steroids and other banned substances.

Sharapova is the biggest name in sport to test positive since New York Yankees baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez was banned for a year in 2013 after using performance-enhancing drugs and American cyclist Lance Armstrong was banned for life from racing in 2012 after a U.S. Anti-Doping investigation.

Sharapova, one of the most popular figures in global sports, has long been a favourite with her sponsors. Cosmetics maker Avon Products Inc (AVP.N) declined to comment on its endorsements.

Steve Simon, CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, said in a statement he was saddened to hear the news.

“Maria (Sharapova) is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity,” he said. “Nevertheless, as Maria acknowledged, it is every player’s responsibility to know what they put in their body and to know if it is permissible. The WTA will support the decisions reached through this process.”

The news came a day after Sharapova’s management team said she was going to make a “major announcement,” which had many speculating that she was going to announce her retirement from professional tennis.

Sharapova, who has struggled with a series of injuries in recent years, has not competed since she lost to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January.

Renowned for her never-say-die approach, a gritty baseline game and high-decibel shrieking, Sharapova at 17 became the first Russian woman to win Wimbledon when she beat Serena Williams 6-1 6-4 in the 2004 final.

That victory also made her the third-youngest Wimbledon champion, behind only Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis, and the fourth-youngest grand slam winner in the open era after Hingis, Monica Seles and Tracy Austin.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Ax and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker/Peter Rutherford)

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dna Morning Must Reads: From JNU celebrating Kanhaiya’s bail to death of New Zealand legend Martin Crowe

1. JNU celebrates Kanhaiya’s bail, as ex ABVP students raise slogans of azadiThe moment the news of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar getting interim bail made its way from the Delhi high court to Parliament Street, the small but determined group of protesters erupted in sheer, triumphant joy. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. New Zealand legend Martin Crowe loses battle with cancer at the age of 53Former New Zealand cricket captain Martin Crowe has died of lymphoma aged 53, his family confirmed the news on Thursday. Read more here3. Pakistan needs to change its attitude on many issues, especially terrorism: Foreign Secretary S JaishankarIndia on Wednesday made it clear that removal of hurdles on various issues is necessary for normalising relations with Pakistan. Read more here4. Australian transport chief says debris find consistent with MH370 modellingAustralia’s transportation chief said on Thursday the location of debris found on a beach in the southeast African nation of Mozambique was consistent with drift modelling related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Read more here5. Why is Kapil Sharma happy that ‘Comedy Nights With Kapil’ shutdown?Kapil Sharma finally gives a response to all the backlash against him from the rival channel and the show’s actors. Read more here

Huge quake strikes off Indonesia but tsunami warnings cancelled | Reuters

JAKARTA A massive quake struck on Wednesday off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a region devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami, but initial fears of another region-wide disaster faded as tsunami warnings were cancelled.

Indonesian and Australian authorities called off their tsunami alerts within two hours of the 7.8 magnitude tremor, though it was still unclear if the quake had destroyed any buildings or killed people in Sumatra.

A National Search and Rescue Agency official gave an initial report of some deaths, but later withdrew those comments.

“Up until now, there is no information about deaths,” said Heronimus Guru, the agency’s deputy head of operations.

Any rescue operation will be hampered by the dark, which falls early in the tropical archipelago.

There were no immediate reports of damage, but the shallower a quake, the more dangerous it is. The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the magnitude at 8.2, revising it down to 7.8.

The epicentre was 808 km (502 miles) southwest of the coastal city of Padang. It was 24 km (15 miles) deep, it said, after first putting its depth at 10 km.

“So far there have been no reports (of damage),” Andi Eka Sakya, head of the National Meteorological Agency, told TVOne. “In Bengkulu (in southwest Sumatra) they didn’t feel it at all.”

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said a tsunami was unlikely.

“Local governments of the city of Padang and some other areas in west Sumatra have said there was no tsunami and the warning can now be revoked,” spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

President Joko Widodo was staying overnight at a hotel in Medan in North Sumatra and was safe, palace officials said. A Medan resident said he did not feel the quake.

Erwin, a resident of Mentawai, a chain of islands off Sumatra, told Metro TV: “I am at the beach currently looking to see any tsunami sign with my flashlight. There’s nothing. A few minutes have passed but nothing, but many people have already evacuated to higher places.”

On Pagai, an island off the west coast of Sumatra, resident Jois Zaluchu told Reuters by phone that there were no reports of damage or casualties there.

But Kompas TV said patients at hospitals in Padang were being evacuated. A TVOne reporter said Padang residents were panicking and there were heavy traffic jams.

Indonesia, especially Aceh, was badly hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

A 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) that crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries to wipe some communities off the map in seconds.

The disaster killed 126,741 people in Aceh alone.

Indonesia straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

(Additional reporting by Randy Fabi, Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Gayatri Suroyo, Cindy Silviana and Heru Aspirhanto; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Mark Bendeich)

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Suspicious bets mostly around tennis in 2015, report says | Reuters

LONDON Tennis accounted for nearly three quarters of all the suspicious betting alerts issued last year, the European Sport Security Association (ESSA) said in a report published on Thursday.

The organisation, established by regulated bookmakers to monitor suspicious betting patterns and guard against match fixing in sport, said 73 of the 100 events that raised concern involved tennis.

“The start of 2016 has seen a worldwide focus on alleged match-fixing in tennis,” wrote chairman Mike O’Kane in an introduction.

“The data in our Q4 integrity report reflects previous quarters and, whilst tennis constituted the largest proportion of suspicious betting alerts identified by ESSA members, it should be noted that the vast majority of tennis events are fair,” he added.

Tennis governing bodies set up an independent review panel last month following media reports criticising the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) for not adequately investigating some 16 players repeatedly flagged over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade.

The review will take at least a year to investigate allegations of corruption in tennis and the effectiveness of existing procedures.

Match-fixing allegations by the BBC and online BuzzFeed News broke before last month’s Australian Open.

The allegations were further fuelled by former Australian professional Nick Lindahl pleading guilty in January to match-fixing in a minor tournament in 2013.

A top global bookmaker also suspended betting on a suspicious match at the Australian Open.

The ESSA report said that in the final quarter of 2015, there were 35 sporting events deemed to be suspicious with tennis accounting for 24 of them and soccer eight.

For the whole year, soccer triggered 19 alerts while table tennis, ice hockey, snooker and greyhound racing each featured twice.

Geographically, 38 of the alerts originated in Europe, 24 in Asia, 16 in North America and 11 in South America. Africa accounted for nine.

Most of the cases of suspicious betting in soccer occurred in European matches, which featured in 68 percent of cases in that sport.

Tennis was more evenly spread globally, led by Asia (19 cases), Europe (18) and North America (14).

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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IPL auction: Watson pips Yuvi as the most expensive among marquee players

Bengaluru: As the marquee players for 9th edition of the Indian Premier League went under the hammer on Saturday, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson became the first million-dollar buy.

The burly Australian was snapped up by Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers Bangalore for a whopping Rs 9.5 crore ($1.39 million) in the auction after an intense bidding war.

Yuvraj Singh had quite a climbdown from being last year’s most expensive buy but Sunrisers Hyderabad entered late into the fray to still shell out Rs 7 crore (1.03 million) for the Indian allrounder.

Sunrisers Hyderabad also bought veteran pacer Ashish Nehra for Rs 5.50 crore ($810,000) pipping Kings XI Punjab and Gujarat Lions.

How the hammer fell for the marquee playersHow the hammer fell for the marquee players

How the hammer fell for the marquee players

Debutants Pune Supergiants got Kevin Pietersen for Rs 3.5 crore ($515,000), the first player to go under the hammer, even though Gujarat Lions also bid intensely for the dashing England batsman. Pune also got Ishant Sharma Rs 3.8 crore ($559,000).

Gujarat Lions got South African Dale Steyn and West Indian Dwayne Smith for Rs 2.3 crore ($338,000) each.

However, the player to hit the pay dirt was definitely Watson, who recently hit a smashing century in the third T20 International against India recently.

Also, he has been an ever-present player for the now banned Rajasthan Royals being the ‘Player of the Tournament’ in the league’s first season.

Watson has retired from the longer format but his 130-135 kmph seam-up stuff has also turned out to be handy on Indian pitches.

Australian T20 captain Aaron Finch and New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill were the players who went unsold in the first session. PTI

Tanzanian woman assault: 5 times Indians cried racism

1. Devyani Khobragade rowDevyani Khobragade, 39, who was India’s deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested in December 2013 on charges of visa fraud and lying to US authorities about what she paid her housekeeper. Khobragade’s arrest and strip-search provoked protests in India and dealt a serious blow to US efforts to strengthen ties with India. After Kobragade was released on a bond, her father accused US authorities of racist behaviour and said the incident smacked of “racial bias” and sought an apology from law enforcing agencies. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In New Delhi, India reacted sharply to the arrest and strip search of Khobragade and initiated several steps to downgrade privileges enjoyed by American diplomats and their families, including withdrawing airport passes and stopping import clearances for the US Embassy, according to reports.2. Shah Rukh Khan name rowBollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan has also had his share of racist experiences. He was detained once in August 2009 at the Newark Airport in New Jersey for almost two hours by immigrant officials because of his last name.He was also detained again at a New York airport in April 2012 for over two hours by immigration officials after arriving from India in a private plane with Nita Ambani, to address students at Yale University. While Nita Ambani, and the rest of their group were cleared immediately, Khan was stopped and was given immigration clearance only after about two hours.While addressing the students at the University, the star had also made a sarcastic remark saying, “Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom.”3. Shilpa Shetty- Big Brother rowBollywood actress Shilpa Shetty also complained of racism when she was participating in the reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother. Along with Shilpa, thousands of viewers also complained about the racist behaviour of her fellow housemates. Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communication industries, had said that it received around 3,500 complaints from viewers and organisations about the treatment meted out to the Bollywood actress.Her tormentors in the show, Danielle Lloyd, a former beauty queen, and Jo O’Meara, member of defunct girl band S Club, Jade Goody, a celebrity known for being crass and her boyfriend Jack Tweedy had mocked her Indian accent, quarrelled with her and called her names behind her back. Shilpa later received immense support from the viewers and went on to become the winner of the show. 4. Attack on Indian grandfatherAn American police officer was accused of violently assaulting an unarmed 58-year-old Indian grandfather Sureshbhai Patel and leaving him partially paralysed. The officer went on trial on charges of using excessive force.The incident occurred on the morning of February 6, 2015, when while walking down the sidewalk, Patel “was violently assaulted by a police official without provocation, and left partially paralysed,” the 11-page lawsuit said. A day before, Patel had arrived in the US to assist his son and daughter-in-law in caring for their 17-month-old child who suffered developmental delay after a premature birth.5. Attack on Indian students in AustraliaOver 100 incidents of attacks on Indians, particularly students, were reported in 2009 and 2010. The Australian government had given a dossier on these incidents to India which revealed that nearly half of the attackers had been juveniles. Shaken by a wave of racial assaults, thousands of Indian students went on peace rallies chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and demanding justice for victims of attacks. With agency inputs.

First U.S. Zika virus transmission reported, attributed to sex | Reuters

AUSTIN, Texas The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite, a day after the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency.

The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. Zika had been thought to be spread by the bite of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, so sexual contact as a mode of transmission would be a potentially alarming development.

Dallas County Health and Human Services said it received confirmation of the case in Dallas from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The county department said on Twitter that the person was infected through sexual contact with someone who had traveled to Venezuela. The person infected did not travel to the South American country, county health officials said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services was slightly more cautious in its assessment, saying in a statement, “Case details are being evaluated, but the possibility of sexual transmission from an infected person to a non-infected person is likely in this case.”

County authorities said there were no reports of the virus being locally transmitted by mosquitoes in the Texas county.

A CDC spokesman confirmed the results of a test for Zika infection but said local officials investigated the mode of transmission.

Previously, international health officials had noted one case of possible person-to-person sexual transmission. But the Pan American Health Organization said more evidence was needed to confirm sexual contact as a means of Zika transmission. The medical literature also has one case in which the virus was detected in semen.

The virus has been reported in more than 30 countries and linked to microcephaly, in which babies have abnormally small heads and improperly developed brains.

The Dow Jones transportation average ended 2.9 percent lower following news of the first U.S. transmission of the Zika virus.

MONITORING NEEDED

The WHO has said the virus could infect 4 million people in the Americas. It said on Tuesday it launched a global response unit to fight the mosquito-borne virus.

“Most important, we need to set up surveillance sites in low- and middle-income countries so that we can detect any change in the reporting patterns of microcephaly at an early stage,” Dr. Anthony Costello said in Geneva. Costello is WHO’s director for maternal, child and adolescent health.

Twenty to 30 sites could be established worldwide, mainly in poor countries without robust healthcare systems.

Brazil is the country hardest hit by Zika. In an address to a joint session of Brazil’s Congress, President Dilma Rousseff said her government will spare no resources in mobilizing to combat the mosquito that transmits the virus. With no vaccine or treatment for Zika, efforts to curb its spread have focused on eradicating mosquito breeding sites.

Brazil, which has 3,700 suspected cases of microcephaly that may be linked to Zika, is scheduled to host the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Rousseff also said Brazil and the United States will enter a partnership to develop a Zika vaccine as soon as possible to stem the spread of the virus.

VACCINE EFFORTS

French drugmaker Sanofi SA on Tuesday announced that it has launched a project to develop a vaccine against the virus, the most decisive commitment yet by a major vaccine maker. The company said its Sanofi Pasteur vaccines division would use its expertise in developing vaccines for similar viruses such as yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and dengue.

Other companies also joined the race on Tuesday to develop a vaccine. The University of South Australia said it was working on a Zika vaccine with Australian biotech Sementis Ltd.

U.S. drug developer NewLink Genetics Corp said it has started a project to develop Zika treatment options.

Experts have said a Zika vaccine for widespread use is months if not years away.

Costello said the Aedes mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus “are present … through Africa, parts of southern Europe and many parts of Asia, particularly South Asia.” Africa and Asia have the world’s highest birth rates.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said on Monday it was “strongly suspected but not yet scientifically proven” that Zika causes microcephaly.

The first Irish cases of Zika virus have been detected in two people with a history of traveling to a country affected by the mosquito-borne infection, the Health Service Executive of Ireland said.

Chilean health officials said they have confirmed three cases in Chile of people infected with the Zika virus, all of whom were infected while traveling elsewhere in Latin America.

An Australian state health service said two Australians were diagnosed with the virus after returning from the Caribbean, confirming the first cases of the virus in the country this year.

(Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon in Paris, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Shadia Nasralla in Vienna, Ben Hirschler in London, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, Jane Wardell in Sydney, Amy Sawitta Lefevre in Bangkok, Pedro Fonseca in Rio, Rosalba O’Brien in Santiago, Padraic Halpin in Dublin, Ankur Banerjee and Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

French Open stands in Djokovic’s path to greatness | Reuters

LONDON He is the tennis version of the Terminator and he’ll definitely be back at the French Open in May, but for Novak Djokovic his exploits at the claycourt major could decide his place in the pantheon of greats.

For the second time in his career, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open champion Djokovic will arrive at Roland Garros needing seven victories to become the first man in almost 50 years to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time.

It is a feat that is so difficult that it has not been achieved by a man since Australian Rod Laver won the second of his calendar Grand Slams in 1969.

Djokovic’s effort to join an exclusive club which boasts only two male members — Don Budge and Laver — was thwarted in 2012 by Rafa Nadal in the Paris final.

With nine-times French Open champion Nadal no longer the force he was, Djokovic will arrive in Paris as the overwhelming favourite to lift to the Musketeers’ Cup for the first time at his 12th attempt.

Djokovic, beaten in three Paris finals over the last four years, may never get such a golden opportunity to complete a feat that was tantalisingly just out of reach for tennis greats such as Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Nadal.

The biggest obstacle standing in his way may be his own mental belief.

Djokovic may have contested five consecutive grand slam finals, he may have won a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title and he may be ranked number one in the world — but for all his confidence, he knows that he has had 11 failed attempts to win the ultimate prize in claycourt tennis.

Despite becoming only the second man to beat Nadal at Roland Garros, Djokovic still walked away without the trophy last year as his win over the Spaniard was achieved in the quarter-finals.

By the time he got to the final, he had run out of ideas and was powerless to stop Stan Wawrinka from running away with the spoils.

“(I’m) very hungry (for Paris),” Djokovic said after beating Andy Murray in the Melbourne Park final on Sunday to win his 11th grand slam title.

“Even though I won last four out of five grand slams, I don’t take anything for granted.

“I want to improve as everybody else. I’m not here because I played the same tennis I played last year. I feel like I’m playing better.”

UNDER SPELL

Murray, Federer and Nadal will certainly agree with that assessment as they all fell under his spell in the opening month of the 2016 season.

After humiliating Federer in the opening two sets of his 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3 semi-final victory in Melbourne, Djokovic said it was “probably the best two sets I’ve played against Roger over my career”. That’s saying something for a decade-long rivalry that spans 45 matches.

Djokovic now has a better head-to-head against all three of his “Big Four” rivals. He leads Federer 23-22, Nadal 24-23 and Murray 22-9.

While Federer (17 majors), Nadal (14), Sampras (14) and Australian Roy Emerson (12) still top Djokovic in the list of all-time grand slam title holders, it is not inconceivable that within a few years, the Serb will have left everyone in his wake.

But at the French Open, Djokovic will have to deal with the pressure of completing his collection of grand slam titles.

Should he match Laver’s feat of winning four slams in a row, the 28-year-old will have to find some new superlatives to describe his form.

“No doubt that I’m playing the best tennis of my life in the last 15 months. It’s phenomenal,” said Djokovic.

“I always strive to improve not just the game or technically, tactically, but also mentally. I don’t want to think how far my boundaries are.”

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar Editing by Alison Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Djokovic domination total as he wins sixth Melbourne title | Reuters

MELBOURNE Novak Djokovic vanquished Andy Murray for the fourth time in an Australian Open final on Sunday to win a record-equalling sixth title and serve notice to his rivals that he could surpass even his stellar 2015 this year. The Serbian’s fifth crown in six years on his favourite court not only allowed him to match Roy Emerson’s record Australian Open tally but also brought him level with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg on 11 grand slam titles. He has won four of the last five slams, 38 of his last 39 matches, and at this rate Roger Federer’s record 17 is within range of the 28-year-old.

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Indian-origin Fijian Islamic State recruiter killed in Syria: Reports

Melbourne: An Indian-origin Fijian who is Australia’s most wanted Islamic State terror recruiter has reportedly been killed in Syria, according to media reports today.

The report of Neil Prakash’s death, a Melbourne-born radical, was posted on secure communications app Telegram, quoting an IS member.

The IS claim Prakash, also known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, has been “shahada” – the terror group’s description when a fighter is killed. No details have yet emerged of how or where he reportedly died, Herald Sun reported.

Islamic State. ReutersIslamic State. Reuters

Islamic State. Reuters

The terrorist, who allegedly had contact with some of those accused of plotting an Anzac Day terror attack in Victoria, flew to Syria in 2013, the report said. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates those who served and died in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

Until recently Prakash had used social media to groom potential terror recruits, but was forced to change his communication methods because of concerns he would be tracked by countries fighting IS. Federal Government and police sources were last night unable to confirm Prakash’s death, which would hurt the terror group’s international ­recruitment efforts, the report said.

However, one Government source has admitted that ­Prakash had “gone quiet” ­recently on his usual communication platforms. Reports of Prakash’s death have been communicated within IS groups. If Prakash’s death is eventually confirmed by anti-terror agencies, it would be likely to lead to an increase in security measures, with the Australian believed to have local supporters and sympathisers, the report said. Australian police last year issued a warrant for his arrest.

PTI

Top 5 stories for the evening: From Padma Awards to Mahatma’s statue defaced in Rajasthan

1.Padma awards 2016 declared: Anupam Kher, Rajinikanth, Vinod Rai, Sania Mirza honoured among others:The winners of the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awards for the year 2016 have been announced by the government on Monday. The awards are conferred in three categories – Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Actor Anupam Kher, Singer Udit Narayan, sculptor Ram Sutar, Former CAG Vinod Rai and theatre personality Heisnam Kanhailal have also been selected for the Padma Bhushan. Read More 2. PM Modi and Hollande speak at interim Secretariat of International Solar AllianceIndia signed an inter-governmental agreement on Monday to buy 36 French-built Rafale fighter planes, but the leaders of both countries said there was still work to do to finalise financial terms after monthsof talks.But Hollande and Narendra Modi, both said further talks were needed to finalise terms of the government-to-government deal, which the Indian prime minister had announced when he visited France last spring. Read More3. Bomb threat to Kathmandu-bound Jet Airways flight; plane awaits security clearanceA bomb threat call on Monday forced Jet Airways to ground its Kathmandu-bound flight carrying 104 passengers just before it was to take off from the IGI Airport here.Officials said the plane has been taken to the isolation bay at the IGIA and all passengers de-boarded for a through anti-sabotage check. Read More 4. Australian Open: Milos Raonic stuns former champion Stan WawrinkaMilos Raonic fended off a spirited comeback from fourth seed Stan Wawrinka to send the 2014 champion tumbling out of the fourth round of the Australian Open 6-4 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-3 on Monday.The 25-year-old Canadian, who had never beaten the French Open champion in four previous meetings, fired 24 aces and hit 82 winners in the three hour, 44 minute contest to reach the quarter-finals for the second year in a row. Read More5. Mahatma Gandhi’s statue defaced in Rajasthan, ‘ISIS zindabad’ scribbled on itA statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Dudu area of Jaipur in Rajasthan was on Monday found defaced by some unknown miscreants, with a warning of possible ISIS attacks on the Republic Day. Read More

Nishikori hammers Tsonga to ease into last eight | Reuters

MELBOURNE Japan’s Kei Nishikori reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the third time when he eased past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-2 6-4 on Sunday.

The seventh seed hit 31 winners and sealed his place in the last eight when Tsonga, seeded ninth, made his 36th unforced error by slashing a forehand wide to end the 122-minute contest on Rod Laver Arena.

Nishikori, who was beaten on both his previous visits to the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park, will next face reigning champion Novak Djokovic or Gilles Simon.

The former U.S. Open finalist’s victory avenged his defeat to Tsonga, runner up at Melbourne Park in 2008, in a five-set thriller at the French Open last year.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna must reads: From BSF shooting infiltrators in Pathankot to Raghuram Rajan allaying fears amid the stock market plunge

1. BSF shoots suspect crossing Indo-Pak border near PathankotA suspected intruder shot dead by BSF along the Indo-Pak border in Pathankot last night. Three infiltrators had attempted to cross the Indian border in Sehjra bulge area from Pakistan. The BSF shot down one, while two fled the scene. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. US offers Turkey technology to block Islamic State at Syria borderThe United States is accelerating efforts to help Turkey clamp down on its border with Syria, senior US officials said, and for the first time will offer technologies to Ankara to help it secure the frontier. Read more here3. Tennis: Andre Agassi says he never experienced match fixing during playing daysThe eight-time Grand Slam title winner, who retired from the sport in 2006, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that he never had any brush with the sort of corruption that was alleged in recent media reports and has been the main topic of conversation at the Australian Open. Read more here4.Here are top deals on Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm in pre-Republic Day salesWith Republic Day on the horizon, ecommerce giants Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Paytm have launched their sales from Wednesday. These deals include huge discounts on electronics, smart-phones, appliances, fashion and household products. Read more here5. Danseuse and Padma Bhushan awardee Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away at the age of 97Legendary artiste and Padma Bhushan awardee Mrinalini Sarabhai passed away on Thursday at the age of 97. Read more here6. Markets will settle down, investors will look at India: Raghuram RajanReserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan on Wednesday sought to allay fears amid the stock market plunge and the rupee nearing its lowest-ever level, saying things will stabilise and people will look at stable emerging markets, including India. Read more here

TDP, BJP begin seat-sharing talks for Hyderabad civic elections

Senior BJP leaders including Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Radha Mohan Singh, Hansraj Ahir and Bandaru Dattatreya have campaigned in the last few days.

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Will act fast on any report of suspected terrorists: Punjab DIG

As security officials were busy in conducting their search operations, another witness identified as Lovepreet Singh claimed that two suspects in army fatigues had inquired about Tibri cantonment area. However, security forces had to call off their extensive search operation yesterday after they found no suspected terrorist.

PTI
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UP: 12 pilgrims killed as jeep rams into bus carrying foreigners in Balrampur

Efforts were on to identify the pilgrims killed in the accident, Srivastava added.

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