The NewsFuror

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Brazil set to host 2014 World Cup

Brazil are set to be unveiled as the 2014 World Cup hosts on Tuesday.

The South American country is the only nation bidding to host the tournament which is due to be staged on the continent under Fifa's rotation system.

The other South American nations agreed to back Brazil, who have won the World Cup a record five times, as their only candidate in 2003.

Two-time winner and former Brazil coach Mario Zagallo said: "I've no doubt the 2014 World Cup will be in Brazil."

And Zagallo, who won the World Cup as a player in 1958 and 1962, as a coach in 1970 and as an assistant coach in 1994, believes the country has enough time to get ready.

"In seven years Brazil will have new stadiums and we will fix those that need to be fixed," he added.

"Fifa has been here and have seen it is possible to be done."

Brazil have hosted the World Cup once before, in 1950.

They reached the final but were beaten 2-1 by South American rivals Uruguay in front of an official record crowd of 173,830 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, although the actual attendance was estimated to be over 200,000.

Asian drug warlord dies in Burma

One of Asia's most notorious warlords, Khun Sa, has died in the Burmese city of Rangoon.

He had reportedly been suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

After decades of guerrilla warfare against the Burmese government, largely funded by his drugs empire, Khun Sa signed a peace deal in 1996.

He then retired to Rangoon, where he lived under the protection of the military rulers, despite the US offering $2m (£1m) for his capture.

He was once one of the world's most wanted men, with a vast drug-trafficking operation in the so-called Golden Triangle region, spanning the border of Thailand, Laos and Burma.

'Lofty ideals'

With a private army numbering in the hundreds, Khun Sa claimed to be fighting for independence for the Shan people - an ethnic minority group based mainly in Burma.

But he fell out with other Shan leaders in the mid-1990s and surrendered to the Burmese military government.

After his death, a former colleague said few in the Shan separatist movement would be mourning.

"He was a man with lofty ideals. He thought of becoming the liberator of Shan State," former guerrilla Khuensai Jaiyen told Reuters.

"But when the people he was supposed to be leading or liberating didn't accept his leadership, he turned his back on them."

'Prince of death'

Many have said his claims to be a freedom fighter were a ruse designed to give legitimacy to his drugs empire.

Washington reportedly branded him the "prince of death" and placed him on a par with the most notorious mafia dons.

As well as offering a huge reward, the US had requested his extradition to face drug-trafficking charges in a US court.

But it is believed he negotiated a deal with Burma's ruling generals to live out his life in relative luxury in Rangoon.

Family members and former colleagues of Khun Sa, who was in his mid-seventies, said he died within the past week. The cause of death is still unknown.

Gaza electricity cuts suspended

Israel's attorney general has intervened to suspend plans to restrict electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Israel has already begun reducing petrol and diesel supplies - it says the action is in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

The government's senior legal adviser, said on Monday that ways of limiting the humanitarian effects of reducing the electricity supply had to be found.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called the plans punitive and unacceptable.

Attorney General Menachem Mazouz's decision came after a number of human rights groups criticised the proposed cutbacks as collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Mr Mazouz did approve other restrictions, including on the supply of fuel to Gaza.

A range of such economic and political sanctions continue to cause daily hardship for Palestinians, our Jerusalem correspondent Mike Sergeant says.

'Humanitarian obligations'

A statement from Mr Mazouz read: "Security chiefs must carry out supplementary examinations to take account of the humanitarian obligations before ordering electricity cuts."

The Israeli Supreme Courts has given the government until Friday to justify the economic sanctions it is seeking to impose on the Palestinian territory.

Gaza relies on Israel for almost all its fuel and more than half of its electricity
Cuts of up to 15% in petrol and 10% in diesel
Targeted electricity outages of at least 15 minutes in response to each new rocket attack
Supplies of crude diesel to Gaza's power plant not due to be affected
Source: Israeli officials

Gaza relies on Israel for almost all its fuel and petrol, and more than half of its electricity.

Israel says fuel cuts of up to 15% are a non-violent way of increasing pressure on Hamas. Israel started implementing the cuts on Sunday.

It insists there will be enough power for hospitals and that supplies will continue to Gaza's sole power station.


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the action on Monday.

In a statement read out by a spokesperson, Mr Ban urged Palestinian militants to end indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, which he condemned.

But he also stated his belief that the "punitive measures taken by Israel... harm the well-being of the entire population of the Gaza Strip".

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations, said on a visit to Jerusalem she was "very concerned" about the Israeli move though she understood Israel's "distress" over rocket attacks.

"I think collective punishment is never a solution," she said.

As part of its sanctions, Israel had was envisaging shutting down one of its power lines to Gaza for 15 minutes after a rocket attack, with the cut-off period gradually increasing to a two-hour limit if barrages continue.

The cuts have also been condemned by Hamas, which governs the territory, as a crime against Gaza's population.

Rockets are fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza into Israel on an almost daily basis. Israel withdrew all its settlements from Gaza in 2005. Palestinian militants say they are responding to continued Israeli aggression in Gaza and the West Bank.

Fatal blast near Musharraf's HQ

A suicide bomb attack has killed at least seven people and injured 11 near Pakistan's army headquarters, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Officials said the blast occurred some 2km (1.24 miles) away from a secure compound containing the army HQ and President Pervez Musharraf's office.

General Musharraf was in his office at the time of the attack, but was unhurt.

The attack follows a number of recent bombings in Pakistan, which have been blamed on Islamic militants.

The location of the explosion was a police checkpoint.

A man had approached the checkpoint on foot and detonated his explosives, a government spokesman said.

Two policemen and two paramilitary soldiers were among those killed by the explosion, along with the suspected bomber, according to the AFP news agency.

President Musharraf was safe inside his headquarters in Army House discussing the security situation with senior officials when the bomb went off, according to presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi.

Heightened tensions

This is the third bombing in Rawalpindi in the past two months.

On 4 September, two suicide bombers killed 25 people in the city, in an attack on a bus carrying intelligence officials to work.

The following month, 139 people were killed when bombers in Karachi attacked the motorcade of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as she returned to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile.

These earlier bombings are thought to have been the work of Islamic militants, who are angry with both the Musharraf government and Ms Bhutto, whom they believe to be too closely allied to the US.

Tensions in the country were heightened in July when Gen Musharraf ordered troops to storm the Red Mosque in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, killing hundreds.

The mosque had been occupied by Islamic militants, who were using it as a base from which to organise opposition to the government and enforce strict Sharia law in Islamabad.