Adam Scott in hunt for Player of Year

Adam Scott admits the $A12.

南宁桑拿

3 million on offer for winning the Tour Championship title and FedEx Cup this week would be sensational, but he puts the US PGA Tour’s Player of the Year award on a higher pedestal.

While the $US10 million ($A10.6 million) prize for the winner of the season-long points race on the US tour – the FedEx Cup – is enormous by anyone’s standards, the reality is money isn’t a problematic issue in Scott’s world.

The Australian world No.2 is driven by beating the best and striving to be the best and so he’s excited about the possibility of being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year by his peers should he triumph this week at East Lake Golf Club.

Scott would then have his major win at the Masters, plus two wins in the US tour’s playoffs series at the Barclays and the Tour Championship on his resume, plus the FedEx Cup title, providing a legitimate argument for beating world No.1 Tiger Woods for the award he has won 10 times.

Woods has won five times in 2013, including two World Golf Championships events, but hasn’t won a major, which usually weighted much heavier by the golfing fraternity.

World No.3 Phil Mickelson could also enter the discussion with a victory given he won the Phoenix Open and then claimed the British Open in stunning fashion in July.

“It’s been a great year for sure, but I think this week counts so much for me and how the year will be remembered by myself and others,” Scott said.

“There’s so much to play for. Two trophies here this week and also potentially throwing my name in a Player of the Year debate, which I think is quite a prestigious honour amongst the company that I play golf against.

“I really need to win to even throw my name in the hat there – then it could be possible.”

Scott wouldn’t go as far as saying he felt he’d deserve the honour if he won but, when asked if he’d give his vote to Mickelson should the left-hander win this week, he admitted he would lean that way.

“It would be hard not to give him (Phil) the vote, as then he has three wins with a major and Tiger has five wins and Phil has the FedEx Cup,” he said.

“I think it’s a pretty strong case to say Phil. But if you feel like five wins is more impressive, you can put Tiger.

“I think you’ve got a strong case to argue for both so that’s why it could go any way.”

Woods has always acknowledged the weight of majors and reiterated the prestige associated with winning the Player of the Year title.

“Absolutely, it does (carry huge importance).

The Player of the Year Award is something we hold dearly because it’s the respect of our peers,” Woods said.

“It’s voted on by our peers. Having a year where they think that you were deserving of the player of the year, it’s pretty special.”

The 14-time major winner also admitted the result this week could certainly influence proceedings.

“I think this tournament has a lot of value to it,” he said.

“It’s up for grabs.

“There are guys who have won a couple times but they’ve had major championships in there. I’ve won five times.

“I’ve had my years (winning it) over the course of my career, and hopefully this will be another one.”

Protesters and police clash in Greece

Clashes have erupted between protesters and police across Greece, local media reports, as thousands demonstrated against fascism after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi.

南宁桑拿

Police fired tear gas at groups of protesters in Athens, the northern city of Thessaloniki and in the western city of Patras, where the city centre remained sealed off.

The nationwide unrest was sparked by the death of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing hip hop singer, who was stabbed to death early on Wednesday morning outside a cafe in Keratsini, western Athens.

Some 5000 demonstrators took to the streets of Keratsini in protest, according to a police source.

Police officers there fired volleys of tear gas at a group of protesters who pelted them with wooden sticks and stones, the state-run Athens News Agency said.

Police also used tear gas in Thessaloniki, where some 6000 people marched against fascism, after some protesters shattered shop windows.

In Patras, around 1000 protesters threw rocks and molotov cocktails at police forces, who responded with tear gas. A retired police officer was injured in the scuffles, according to a police source.

A 45-year-old alleged member of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi group was arrested at the scene of Wednesday’s murder. Police say the suspect has confessed to stabbing Fyssas, who wrote music under the nickname Kilah P.

The suspect’s wife was later also arrested for giving false evidence to police during the investigation.

Golden Dawn has denied any connection to the murder, which came a few days after a group of Communists were beaten by suspected neo-Nazis.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou blamed the killing on Golden Dawn, condemning the group’s “raw violence” and calling on other parties to “raise a barrier to the vicious circle of tension and violence”.

Earlier on Wednesday, some 20,000 people marched in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities in a separate protest against a government overhaul of the public sector.

LinkedIn launches PRISM legal action

LinkedIn has become the latest technology firm to launch legal action to try to expose how widely the US government is spying on its users.

南宁桑拿

The business-orientated social network has joined Yahoo, Facebook, Google and Microsoft by filing a motion to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking permission to reveal how many data requests it has received from the National Security Agency (NSA).

Tech firms are not allowed to say exactly how many user data requests they’ve received from the NSA under the now-infamous PRISM program, exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and now LinkedIn have all expressed frustration in not being able to reveal the extent to which they’ve been forced to hand over users’ data and communications, citing the mistrust it breeds with customers.

LinkedIn is estimated to have about three million monthly users in Australia.

Announcing its legal action, LinkedIn general counsel Erika Rottenberg said the company wants to be open about data requests.

“Despite our best efforts, we are still prohibited from sharing information about national security-related requests in a way that’s meaningful to our members and community,” she said in a blog post.

“So we’re left with no choice but to file legal challenges to the US government’s position.”

LinkedIn did reveal how many non national security-related data requests it has received from governments, mostly relating to criminal cases.

It received just one request about one account from Australian government agents in the first six months of 2013 – which it refused.

Globally, LinkedIn received 83 requests for data relating to 97 accounts – 47 per cent of which were granted.

The vast majority of the requests were made by the US.

Tit for tat as Messi matches Ronaldo’s treble

Messi’s haul in the Group H win at the Nou Camp, which made him the first man to score three times in four different Champions League games, came a day after Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo netted a treble of his own against Galatasaray.

南宁桑拿

What counts is not whether Messi did it better, which is a matter of opinion, but rather that the game of one-upmanship between the best players at Spain’s two biggest clubs shows no sign of coming to an end.

Both have been smashing records with breathtaking speed and are closing in on more.

Messi, 26, took his overall goals tally in Europe’s elite club competition to 62 and is now only nine short of Raul’s all-time scoring record of 71

Ronaldo, 28, is hard on his heels with 54.

“The coaches who have come to this room have always talked about how surprising he is,” Barca coach Gerardo Martino said of compatriot Messi at the Nou Camp press conference.

“I am yet another.”

The World Player of the Year took a while to get going against the Dutch champions on Wednesday before curling a stunning free kick into the net off the post in the 22nd minute.

In the second half, the maestro found his music and played it to perfection.

Sergio Busquets surged through the midfield 10 minutes after the break before sending Messi into space on the right, the Argentine darting past his marker and clipping the ball into the net.

Perhaps the most characteristic of his three goals was the last, in the 75th minute.

Starting from the right and moving left across the edge of the area, he waited for a path to clear through the tangle of Ajax legs before picking his spot in the bottom righthand corner.

“I’m happy to be able to help him,” Barca’s new Brazilian signing Neymar told reporters.

“He is a genius, the best in the world.”

Another hat-trick for Messi. Another record. Another Barcelona victory.

(Editing by Iain Rogers and Nick Mulvenney)

Starbucks says guns not welcome

Starbucks says guns are no longer welcome in its cafes, though it is stopping short of an outright ban on firearms.

南宁桑拿

The fine line that the retailer is walking to address the concerns of both gun rights and gun control advocates reflects how heated the issue has become, particularly in light of recent mass shootings.

Most states allow people to openly carry licensed guns in some way and many companies do not have policies banning firearms in their stores.

But Starbucks has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its liberal-leaning corporate image. In turn, gun rights advocates have been galvanised by the company’s decision to defer to local laws.

In an interview, CEO Howard Schultz said the decision to ask customers to stop bringing guns into stores came as a result of the growing frequency of “Starbucks Appreciation Days” in recent months, in which gun rights advocates turn up at Starbucks cafes with firearms.

Schultz said the events mischaracterised the company’s stance on the issue and the demonstrations “have made our customers uncomfortable”.

Schultz hopes people will honour the request not to bring in guns but says the company will nevertheless serve those who do.

“We will not ask you to leave,” he said.

The Seattle-based company plans to buy ad space in major national newspapers to run an open letter from Schultz explaining the decision.

The letter points to recent activities by both gun rights and gun control advocates at its stores, saying that it has been “thrust unwillingly” into the middle of the national debate over firearms.

As for the “Starbucks Appreciation Days” being staged by gun rights advocates, it stresses: “To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores.”

Protesters and police clash in Greece

Clashes have erupted between protesters and police across Greece, local media reports, as thousands demonstrated against fascism after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi.

南宁桑拿

Police fired tear gas at groups of protesters in Athens, the northern city of Thessaloniki and in the western city of Patras, where the city centre remained sealed off.

The nationwide unrest was sparked by the death of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing hip hop singer, who was stabbed to death early on Wednesday morning outside a cafe in Keratsini, western Athens.

Some 5000 demonstrators took to the streets of Keratsini in protest, according to a police source.

Police officers there fired volleys of tear gas at a group of protesters who pelted them with wooden sticks and stones, the state-run Athens News Agency said.

Police also used tear gas in Thessaloniki, where some 6000 people marched against fascism, after some protesters shattered shop windows.

In Patras, around 1000 protesters threw rocks and molotov cocktails at police forces, who responded with tear gas. A retired police officer was injured in the scuffles, according to a police source.

A 45-year-old alleged member of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi group was arrested at the scene of Wednesday’s murder. Police say the suspect has confessed to stabbing Fyssas, who wrote music under the nickname Kilah P.

The suspect’s wife was later also arrested for giving false evidence to police during the investigation.

Golden Dawn has denied any connection to the murder, which came a few days after a group of Communists were beaten by suspected neo-Nazis.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou blamed the killing on Golden Dawn, condemning the group’s “raw violence” and calling on other parties to “raise a barrier to the vicious circle of tension and violence”.

Earlier on Wednesday, some 20,000 people marched in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities in a separate protest against a government overhaul of the public sector.

Mexico toll rises to 80 as storms continue

The death toll from landslides and floods battering Mexico rose to 80 Wednesday as the country braced for new storms and desperate tourists sought airlifts out of an inundated Acapulco.

南宁桑拿

The fatalities spread across 12 of the country’s 32 states after a pair of tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, lashed large swaths of the country this week, said national civil protection director Ricardo de la Cruz told a news conference.

The toll could rise after the mayor of a mountain municipality in the southwestern state of Guerrero said at least 18 bodies were pulled from a landslip that hit more than 20 homes housing 70 people.

Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, said the situation was “very critical” in the remote village of Pintada after nonstop rain caused part of a hill to slip.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said authorities have been unable to confirm the fatalities so far but that pictures from the area were “not encouraging.”

Forecasters, meanwhile, warned that a new cyclone may form on the east coast, while Tropical Storm Manuel regenerated south of Baja California and threatened to become a hurricane, three days after slamming the Pacific coast.

The new threat comes after Ingrid, which hit the northeast on Monday, and Manuel became the first tropical storms to make landfall almost simultaneously in half a century.

The storms have affected some 220,000 people across the country, damaging scores of bridges and homes, and left Acapulco isolated after its two highways and airport were hit by landslides and floods.

Authorities said they hoped to open part of the road linking the Pacific resort to Mexico City by Friday.

The rising waters marooned tens of thousands of tourists in Acapulco, a former favourite haunt of Hollywood stars that has now been plagued by gang violence.

The disaster sparked panic buying at supermarkets while thousands of residents looted flooded stores, wading through water with televisions, food and even fridges.

“Unfortunately, there is desperation, but more army and navy troops have arrived,” Mayor Luis Walton told MVS radio. “We ask people to remain calm.”

The skies finally cleared in Acapulco after almost one week of nonstop rain, but the heat brought misery to thousands of holidaymakers standing in massive lines to board military aircraft.

People shouted and shoved each other as some cut the line at an air force base while soldiers handed out water to parched tourists.

Their anger rose as a separate, shorter and quicker line formed for wealthier visitors who booked flights on private jets.

I’ll do what I can for Holden: Macfarlane

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says the federal government will do all it can to support car manufacturer Holden, but has added he doesn’t have a “pocket full of money”.

南宁桑拿

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott pleading for him to commit to a $275 million co-investment package for the car maker.

If Holden doesn’t have an answer by Christmas, it will cease manufacturing cars in Australia, he has warned.

The $275 million package was negotiated with the former Gillard government to ensure Holden continues local manufacturing until 2022.

But with the coalition pledging to cut $500 million annually from car industry funding to 2015, the car maker is concerned about the future of federal subsidies.

Mr Macfarlane says “we’re going to do all we can” for Holden and plans to visit its plant in Adelaide at the beginning of October.

But when asked about the coalition’s policy of removing $500 million in car industry funding, he said there were “massive more issues than the $500 million”.

“I know money is important but … we’ve put a lot of money into that industry,” he told ABC Radio.

“If everyone wants to be flexible, I’ll be flexible (but) I haven’t got a pocket full of money.

“I’m not able to say what will happen until I actually get down there and have a look.”

Mr Weatherill said Holden needed a commitment “as soon as possible”.

Under the $275 million funding package, Canberra will contribute $215 million, South Australia $50 million and Victoria $10 million.

“They’re (Holden) making decisions about a billion dollars worth of investment in two new models which will secure the future of the plant for another ten years,” Mr Weatherill told ABC Radio.

“They need to know that they have a commonwealth partner and a indeed a state partner.”

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said Holden had not raised the possibility of ceasing manufacturing in Australia by Christmas with his government.

“Holden have had no discussions with us,” he told reporters.

“Our discussions with Holden in more recent times have been positive, productive and involving partnerships for growth and development of jobs.

“We’ll be working with the car industry as we have in the two-and-a-half years we’ve been in office.

“We’ll continue to work with the federal government of the day to make sure that we have an ongoing manufacturing industry and the car industry and the car component industry is important to Victoria.”

Dr Napthine says the government has ongoing commitments with a number of car manufacturers and the government is working with car and components manufacturers to get value for money for taxpayers to secure the future of the industry.

Cavendish wins Tour of Britain stage four

Britain’s Mark Cavendish won the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain on Wednesday as compatriot Bradley Wiggins remained top of the general classification.

南宁桑拿

Sprint specialist Cavendish emerged at the front of a bunch finish at the end of the stage that started in Stoke in the English Potteries before ending in Llanberis in northwest Wales.

Isle of Man racer Cavendish emerged at the front of proceedings after the peloton hauled in an a 11-strong breakaway group with just a kilometre left in the Snowdonia National Park.

Cavendish, who rides for the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team, then saw off the challenge of opening stage winner Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Steele von Hoff (Garmin Sharp).

Afterwards, Cavendish praised team-mates Iljo Keisse and Alessandro Petacchi, a former rival, for laying the foundations of his stage success.

“I am really, really happy about my victory and the super job of the guys,” Cavendish said. “Fortunately we had the entire day with Iljo in the break, so we didn’t have to ride behind.

“The guys stayed with me the entire day. On the last climb…I have to say I was at the limit – but the guys stayed with me and brought me back.

“They showed a big commitment. That is why I did my best in the sprint. Even Petacchi, who was still suffering from the crash of a couple days ago, wanted to be there. He really led me out in the final. He put me in the best position for the sprint.

“We have been rivals for a lot of my career but he’s a really good guy. Obviously the Tour of Britain is my home race but he is a big factor in me coming here because I wanted to ride with him.”

Omega Pharma-Quickstep sports director Brian Holm added: “Iljo did a great job for us today (Wednesday), we really didn’t have to work because he was in the breakaway.

“We just followed and won the sprint with the British champion. We knew Cav had a fair chance for the sprint. Petacchi just delivered him perfectly.

“Cav was 10th in the TT (time trial) yesterday (Tuesday) so we knew he was in pretty good shape and riding well.”

Olympic champion Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner, who went to the head of the standings with a dominant display in the stage three time trial, finished in the peloton to remain in front with four stages left.

Time, money needed to destroy arms: Assad

Defiant strongman Bashar al-Assad has promised to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons but warns it will take at least a year to do so and cost one billion US dollars ($A1.

南宁桑拿

06bn).

The Syrian leader’s latest appearance came as UN envoys debated a draft resolution that would enshrine a joint US-Russian plan to secure and neutralise his banned weapons in international law.

In a confident interview with US network Fox News, Assad insisted that Syria was not gripped by civil war but was the victim of infiltration by foreign-backed al-Qaeda fighters.

He also insisted his forces had not been behind an August 21 gas attack on the Damascus suburbs that left hundreds of civilians dead, but vowed nevertheless to hand over his deadly arsenal.

It was Assad’s second interview this month with US television, and one of a series of meetings with Western journalists to counter mounting political pressure from Western capitals.

After last month’s barrage of sarin-loaded rockets, which Western capitals say was clearly launched by the regime, US President Barack Obama called for US-led punitive military strikes.

But – with US politicians and the Western public not sold on the virtues of another Middle East military adventure – Assad’s ally Russia seized the opportunity to propose a diplomatic solution.

Pushed by President Vladimir Putin, the White House agreed to hold fire while Russia and the international community – with Assad’s agreement – draws up a disarmament plan.

Assad reiterated his pledge to cooperate, but insisted he had not been forced to do so by US threats of US action.

“I think it’s a very complicated operation, technically. And it needs a lot of money, about a billion,” he told Fox.

“So it depends, you have to ask the experts what they mean by quickly. It has a certain schedule. It needs a year, or maybe a little bit more.”

Asked why he had used force to repress a popular uprising and triggered a two-and-a-half year war that has claimed 110,000 lives, Assad insisted Syria was a victim of terrorism.

“What we have is not civil war. What we have is war. It’s a new kind of war,” he said, alleging that Islamist guerillas from more than 80 countries had joined the fight.

“We know that we have tens of thousands of jihadists… we are on the ground, we live in this country,” he said, disputing an expert report that suggested 30,000 out of around 100,000 rebels were hardliners.

“What I can tell you is that … 80 to 90 per cent of the underground terrorists are al-Qaeda and their offshoots.”

Assad admitted that at the start of the uprising there were non-jihadist rebels, but alleged that since the end of 2012, Islamic extremists had become a majority.

He added that “tens of thousands of Syrians” and 15,000 government troops had been killed “mainly because of the terrorist attacks, assassinations and suicide bombers.”

While Assad pursued his media counterattack, the five UN Security Council powers held new talks on a resolution backing the Russia-US plan to destroy the chemical weapons.

Western nations, who said they are not looking for an immediate threat of force against Assad, could seek a Security Council vote this weekend if Russia agrees.

UN envoys from the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China held two hours of talks at the US mission.

Britain, France and the United States have prepared a draft resolution that would invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter but would not explicitly threaten force or sanctions.