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Olympic chief warns over sex harassment

Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:00 Published in Sports

INCHEON — Asia's Olympics chief pleaded for good behaviour at the Asian Games Friday after an official was kicked out for sexual harassment and a footballer was accused of groping.
Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said the 13,000 athletes and officials at the two week Games had to act with "goodwill and (appropriate) behaviour."
The OCA on Wednesday expelled an Iranian team official for sexually harassing a female volunteer and issued strong warnings following an allegation against a Palestinian footballer.
The Asian body called on Iran to send home equipment manager Amereh Ahmad for verbally harassing the volunteer on Monday.
Police later said they are investigating a Palestinian footballer accused of groping a female worker in an athletes' village laundry on Tuesday.
The unnamed player has been banned from leaving the country. South Korean police said Friday they had finished their investigation and sent the case to prosecutors to decide if charges should be pressed.
In a third case related to the Asian Games, which start on Friday, an Indian gymnast and his coach were under investigation for allegedly harassing a female athlete at a training camp in New Delhi.                         

TAMPA — With voters souring on his statesmanship as never before, President Barack Obama has a sudden chance to use two sudden world crises to recast his final two years in office.
Obama is making a show of assuming command of the confrontation with the Islamic State group and the right against Ebola, both of which will shape final judgments of his White House years.
Both dramas highlight the vision Obama has set for his foreign policy — that the United States should lead global coalitions to tackle threats head on.
And with critics assailing his “collapsing” foreign policy, the widening showdown with the IS group has become an unexpected test for Obama’s military doctrine that the United States can crush terror groups without getting sucked into power-sapping land wars in the Middle East.
Waging war and battling pestilence was not where Obama expected to be in September 2014.
Weeks before congressional elections in which his Democrats face heavy losses — Obama had blocked time in his diary to pound out a message that the economic recovery, however uneven, is at risk from Republicans who scent a Senate takeover.
But once again, terror threats stalk the headlines amid fears the IS group will turn its Western-passport-holding jihadists on the US homeland.
One close Obama aide reflected on the changed environment this week, noting that a few months ago, many Americans had not even heard of the IS group.
And even a few weeks ago, no one in the White House expected Obama would have to give the kind of call-to-arms address he delivered on Sept. 10, heralding a new American adventure in the Middle East.
But the aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the truth that all White House teams learn — that the presidency always busts best-laid political plans.
Obama used a two-day trip to Georgia and Florida which wrapped up Wednesday to open a new dialog with an American public skeptical of new commitments overseas.
His message on both Ebola and the IS group was similar — that US leadership abroad can stop each crisis from becoming a problem at home.
“Our intelligence community ... has not yet detected specific plots from these terrorists against America,” Obama told US troops at US Central Command.
After meeting top medical authorities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Tuesday, Obama said “the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.”
The Ebola and IS challenges struck at a vulnerable time for Obama.
A New York Times poll Tuesday found his approval rating at 40 percent and his rating on foreign policy at just 34 percent. Only 41 percent of Americans had confidence on his leadership on combating terrorism — once a strong point.
This is also a delicate political moment, with mid-term polls looming on Nov. 4.
Democratic candidates already struggling to overcome their president’s plunging popularity hardly welcome the prospect of a new Middle East war or signs his war plan is not up to the task.
But could a strong showing by Obama revive confidence in his leadership — and edge his approval ratings up a notch to give some vulnerable candidates a bit of cover?
The senior official dismissed the idea that the president would leverage the international situation to his advantage before election day.
That may be a tactical decision as much as a statesmanlike one because in a rare show of unity Republican leaders in the House and the Senate are falling in behind Obama’s strategy on the IS group.
Politicizing the war could splinter that support.
The White House is also looking beyond the mid-terms, as unpleasant as they are likely to be.
The conflict with IS puts one of the fundamental principles of the Obama presidency on the line — that of limited but lethal war to smash terror groups.
A second senior US official said that the White House viewed the IS campaign very much as a counter-terrorism campaign — not as a full blown war, and made a direct distinction between Obama’s efforts, using air power and local partners and former president George W. Bush mass land invasion of Iraq.
The Ebola epidemic has been a slow-boiling crisis for Obama — but one which the White House says he has been preparing to confront for three months.
“Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace,” Obama said in Atlanta.

Rushed evacuations as Philippine volcano spews lava

Thursday, 18 September 2014 00:00 Published in Nation

Lava cascaded down the Philippines’ most active volcano on Wednesday as authorities rushed to evacuate thousands ahead of a possible deadly eruption.
Mostly women, children and the elderly carrying bags of clothes were hauled out of farming villages near Mayon volcano’s slopes on board army trucks and minibuses.
Soldiers went from house to house asking residents to evacuate, after authorities on Monday raised the third highest alert in a five-step scale, meaning a full-scale eruption is possible “within weeks.”
Before dawn Wednesday, Mayon’s crater glowed red as molten rocks flowed as far as halfway down its slopes.
The volcano’s world-renowned perfect cone appeared to have been deformed, swollen with lava that had risen from the Earth’s core.
At least 8,000 of the target 50,000 people had been moved to temporary shelters, with the operation expected to run for three days, regional civil defence director Bernardo Alejandro told AFP.
However he said the evacuation operation was sapping precious disaster-relief funds and manpower in Albay province, which is regularly battered by typhoons at this time of year.
“The province can sustain them (in evacuation centers) for not more than a month... we cannot exhaust all our disaster funds on Mayon,” Alejandro said.
The deadliest and most powerful of the roughly 20 typhoons that batter the Philippines every year happen towards the end of the year, bringing floods, landslides and storm surges to eastern provinces such as Albay that face the Pacific Ocean.
State volcanology agency director Renato Solidum said more magma was moving up the crater each day, although for the time being the alert level would remain at three. Level five means an eruption is occurring.
The 8,070-feet Mayon, located about 330 kilometers southwest of Manila, is a draw for local and foreign tourists but an enduring danger for anyone getting too close.
Four foreign tourists and their local tour guide were killed when Mayon last erupted, in May 2013.
In December 2006, 1,000 people died as a strong typhoon hit near Mayon, unleashing an avalanche of volcanic mud from an eruption four months earlier.
In 1814, more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa.         

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