Coach Flower urges perspective

Andy Flower

England coach Andy Flower insists his team "have a long way to go" despite becoming ICC World Twenty20 champions.

England beat Australia by seven wickets in Sunday’s final, but Flower is keen the significance of a first global one-day triumph be put in perspective.

"This is one form of the game. If we talk about the England team we talk about all three forms," he said.

"We have got huge scope for improvement in various areas. We will be working hard to get better and better."

England ended a 35-year history of failure in the limited overs international arena with a superb display of bowling, fielding – limiting the Australians to 146-6 – and fearless batting as a 111-run stand from Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen sent Flower’s men on their way to victory with three overs to spare.

A combination of daring selection choices – the likes of Michael Lumb, Michael Yardy and Kieswetter – a more aggressive defence, a clinical, adaptable attack who all chipped in with big wickets, and increased athleticism in the field all contributed to England’s six wins in the tournament in the Caribbean.

And while Flower is reluctant to predict more glory for England in 2011’s Cricket World Cup on the sub-continent, he also admits that the lessons learned in the West Indies will stand them in good stead in the 50-over game.

"This is only one tournament we have dominated," added Flower, who has led England an Ashes victory and a Test series draw in South Africa since formally taking over from Peter Moores in April in 2009.

"I think one of the greatest things we will get out of this is growth in our self-belief. The players should believe in themselves – because they have played some outstanding cricket."

Spinner Graeme Swann pinpointed Flower’s influence, Yardy’s selection and England’s strength in depth as key to their World Twenty20 success.

"We’ve simplified things," Swann told BBC Radio 5 live. "They’ve picked people who like hitting massive sixes and said go and hit massive sixes. We have the people with the skill to do it and they’ve been given the licence to do that.

"It’s important to have a couple of spinners in the middle of the innings. Michael Yardy has come in and been exceptional and he’s one of the main reasons why we have done so well.

"Jimmy Anderson is one of the best bowlers in the world, but he isn’t in the team. That speaks volumes for how well the team is playing and how good a squad that we have in that the four guys on the sidelines are all world-class."

Skipper Paul Collingwood does not want to return to the 50-over captaincy, meaning Andrew Strauss will lead England in the World Cup, which starts in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on 19 February 2011.

Flower believes the handover will be "seamless", while he also acknowledged the huge part Durham all-rounder Collingwood played in making England world champions.

"He has got a lot more confident about what he is doing," said Flower. "He feels more comfortable. He has led from the front – I don’t mean his batting but in his attitude.

"He has always been a bit of a driver of the environment, because he is a nuggety Englishman who will have a go at whatever is thrown at him."

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Thais ‘must step back from brink’

Chris Hogg and protest camp

Thailand must step back from the brink and begin talks to end clashes between protesters and troops, the UN says.

UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Bangkok was in danger of spiralling out of control, after five days of violence which has seen 37 people killed.

She spoke a day after protesters called for UN-backed talks to end the crisis – a move rejected by the government.

A protest leader and the government’s negotiator had a five-minute phone call earlier but could not agree a truce.

Ministers say the protesters must leave their makeshift camp in the centre of Bangkok before talks can commence.

They set a deadline of 1500 local time (0800 GMT) for protesters to leave – but few of the 5,000 protesters camped in the so-called red-zone heeded the ultimatum.

The protesters insist that government troops must lift their blockade of the red-shirt camp before any negotiations.

In a statement, Ms Pillay said: "I urge leaders to set aside pride and politics for the sake of the people of Thailand.

"To prevent further loss of life, I appeal to the protesters to step back from the brink, and the security forces to exercise maximum restraint in line with the instructions given by the government."

The demonstrators, who want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down, have been occupying large areas of the city since mid-March.

A protester throws wood on to a fire in Bangkok, 17/05

Sporadic outbreaks of unrest have accompanied their protest, including an attempted crackdown by security forces in April that left 25 people dead.

Violence again broke out last Thursday, and soldiers are now openly using live ammunition; sniper fire has been reported.

The authorities say they are targeting "terrorists" who have infiltrated the protesters’ ranks, but TV footage has shown unarmed protesters being shot in the streets.

While the majority of the red-shirts are conducting their protest peacefully, some have been building barricades of tyres and setting them alight. Witnesses say others are armed with guns.

Late on Monday, the two sides held what is believed to be their first direct talks since the latest unrest broke out.

The government’s chief negotiator Korbsak Sabhavasu said red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuwa had called him and asked for a ceasefire.

But Mr Korbsak told the Associated Press news agency that nothing had been agreed.

On Monday, protests spread outside the capital with a military bus torched in Chiang Mai and demonstrations in two other northern towns.

Many of the protesters are from poor rural areas in the north, where support is still strong for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 coup.

The protesters say the current government is illegitimate, having come to power in a parliamentary vote after a pro-Thaksin government was forced to step down in December 2008 by a Constitutional Court ruling that it had committed electoral fraud.

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US missionary convicted in Haiti

American missionary Laura Silsby

A US missionary has been convicted of trying to illegally take 33 children out of Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in January.

The judge sentenced Laura Silsby, 40, to the time she had already spent in jail on remand, and said she was free to leave the country.

Silsby, from Idaho, was caught with nine other Americans trying to take the children into the Dominican Republic.

The other missionaries were not charged and returned to the US.

They claimed they were trying to help destitute orphans.

But it emerged that the children were not orphans. Some of the parents said they had handed them over because they thought they would get better care in US hands.

The earthquake in Haiti on 12 January killed more than 220,000 people and left more than a million homeless.

‘Praising God’

All 10 of the Americans were initially detained by the Haitian authorities, but only Silsby was charged.

Prosecutors first accused her of abducting the children, but the charge was downgraded to one of "irregular travel" – a crime which covers people smuggling.

Prosecutor Jean-Serge Joseph said she had been sentenced to three months and eight days in jail – the exact time she had spent in custody waiting for her trial.

The Associated Press reported that Silsby returned briefly to her jail cell before heading to Port-au-Prince airport.

"I’m praising God," she told an AP reporter as she waited for her flight.

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Cool world response to Iran deal

Negotiators

There has been a cool international response to Iran’s announcement that it will send uranium abroad for enrichment after talks with Turkey and Brazil.

The UN and Russia said the move was encouraging, but the US expressed concern at Iran’s statement that it would continue to enrich uranium.

The US and the UK said work on a UN resolution imposing more sanctions on Tehran would continue.

The West suspects Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at making weapons.

Iran insists it is solely designed to meet its enemy needs.

Teheran hopes the new agreement – in which it would ship 1,200kg (2,645lb) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for higher-grade nuclear fuel for a research reactor – would avert new sanctions.

Progress made?

In a deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil, Iran said it was prepared to move uranium within a month of its approval by the so-called Vienna Group (US, Russia, France and the IAEA).

In return, Iran says it expects to receive 120kg of more highly enriched uranium (20%) – a purity well below that used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons – within a year.

The deal does not address the central nuclear issues dealt with by successive UN Security Council resolutions – Iran’s refusal to halt its enrichment programme.

The US reacted by saying it still had serious concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme, although it did not reject the agreement.

The US is in the final stages of negotiating a fourth sanctions package with other UN Security Council members.

It said the Iranian government "must demonstrate through deeds – and not simply words – its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions".

"While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions," said a White House statement.

Russia welcomed the deal, although President Dmitry Medvedev said further talks were needed on Iran’s nuclear programme.

‘Constructive’

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said there had been "some important progress" in talks at the Security Council on fresh sanctions against Tehran.

The UK, for its part, said work on a UN resolution would continue until Tehran showed its intentions were peaceful.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were at the talks in Tehran with Mr Ahmadinejad.

Crucially, Turkey and Brazil are both on the UN Security Council, and so have a vote on those sanctions.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who spent 18 hours hammering out the deal with his Brazilian and Iranian counterparts, said there was now no need for more sanctions against Iran.

"The swap deal shows that Tehran wants to open a constructive path… there is no more ground for new sanctions and pressures," he said.

Iran has been mounting a big diplomatic effort to prevent new UN sanctions; its foreign minister has visited all 15 members of the Security Council.

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Magistrate warned for ‘scum’ jibe

Austin Malloy

A magistrate who described two boys as "absolute scum" for vandalising Blackburn Cathedral has been warned he could face disciplinary action.

Austin Malloy has been removed from his post as chairman of the bench while he is investigated by the Judicial Office of Communications (JCO).

He criticised the two 16-year-olds at the town’s youth court after they caused £3,000 worth of damage.

The JCO said what happened was currently being investigated.

The court was told that the teenagers, who cannot be named because of their ages, wrote sexual and racist graffiti on prayer books and bent an ancient St John the Baptist cross after being invited to have a look around the cathedral.

‘Mindless act’

On sentencing them during Thursday’s hearing, he said: "This court is disgusted by the mindless destruction you have caused. Normal people would consider you absolute scum."

Both boys were fined and given supervision orders.

Mr Malloy said the other magistrates agreed with his comments, but the clerk in the court stood up and said she objected to his description of them.

The part-time magistrate, who has been on the bench for the past 18 years, said: "I have no regrets whatsoever, I made an appropriate statement about what they had done.

"It was an unprovoked, terrible mindless act."

He has received countless messages of support after discovering he had to stand down as chairman of the bench while an investigation is carried out.

He said that no date for his return as chairman of the bench has been set.

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Osborne to spell out planned cuts

George Osborne outside the door of 11 Downing Street

Chancellor George Osborne has accused the previous government of being "totally irresponsible" as an audit of the nation’s finances gets under way.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Osborne said officials were finding all sorts of "skeletons in various cupboards" left by Labour.

It comes as the Treasury is set to re-examine all spending decisions approved by Whitehall this year.

Meanwhile, Mr Osborne is launching the new Office of Budget Responsibility.

This new watchdog will begin its own financial review and will produce its own independent forecasts for economic growth.

Mr Osborne is expected to use this detail, instead of Treasury predictions, for next month’s emergency budget.

He told the newspaper: "We are finding all sorts of skeletons in various cupboards and all sorts of decisions taken at the last minute.

"By the end, the previous government was totally irresponsible and has left this country with absolutely terrible public finance," he said.

Before becoming coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats had argued that spending cuts should be delayed until next year.

However the coalition deal meant they signed up to the immediate budget reduction plan.

Later this week, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary of the Treasury, David Laws, will meet cabinet colleagues to agree where £6bn of cuts this year will fall.

On Sunday, David Cameron told the BBC One’s Andrew Marr show that an audit of the government’s books had already found some "crazy" spending decisions.

As an example, the prime minister highlighted bonuses for 75% of senior civil servants.

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Cameron offers ‘respect’ agenda

David Cameron at the GE aircraft maintenance base

Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a "respect" agenda for relations between the Welsh assembly and the UK parliament.

The Tory leader, speaking at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Monday, said he would be willing to come before the assembly once a year to answer questions.

He said in return, assembly government ministers should be willing to appear before Westminster select committees.

Mr Cameron’s visit to Wales follows a similar one to Scotland.

He had promised to visit Wales within days when he spoke to Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones last Wednesday.

The prime minister confirmed his commitment to devolution and his enthusiasm to work productively with the assembly, which is governed by a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru.

As in Scotland, Mr Cameron called for an "agenda of respect" – this time between Westminster and the Welsh assembly.

He described the United Kingdom as a family, adding that while families sometimes fell out when money was tight, it was his intention to keep the UK firmly together.

He met the first minister and deputy first minister, and held talks with the Welsh Conservative and Welsh Liberal Democrat leaders.

Mr Cameron has offered the assembly government the chance to delay cuts planned for this financial year until next year.

He said this was part of the relationship of respect between the two administrations but added that in the end, every part of the UK had to play its part in making cuts.

He earlier went to the GE aircraft maintenance plant at Nantgarw near Cardiff where he also outlined his commitment to devolution.

"I think devolution can work, we’ve got to make it work, and it’s up to, I think, the Westminster parliament and the Welsh assembly to work out how to work together better," he told workers.

‘Work better’

"I think we need a relationship based on respect and something of a fresh start, where we say right, let’s put the past aside.

"This is a prime minister who within his first week has come here to Wales because I want to keep the United Kingdom together, I want a new start in the relationship, with the Welsh Assembly Government – let’s do that and let’s make the United Kingdom work better, and let’s make devolution work better."

First Minister Carwyn Jones has said he wants the assembly government to have a "constructive relationship" with the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat UK government.

As soon as the coalition government was formed at Westminster, Mr Jones said his main aim was that "the priorities of the people of Wales come first".

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said following Monday’s meeting: "The first minister and deputy first minister had a constructive first meeting with the prime minister.

‘Businesslike manner’

"A range of issues were raised, including possible flexibility around budget cuts for this year and the UK government’s plans to reduce the number of MPs and the consequential impact on the number of assembly members.

"The meeting also discussed the need to keep options open on the date of the referendum on further law making powers.

"The Welsh Assembly Government will now consider how best to take these forward in a constructive and businesslike manner."

Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh secretary in the UK government who accompanied Mr Cameron on his visit, has said the economy and a referendum on more legislative powers for Wales were her first priorities in the role.

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Fifa probes Triesman bribe claim

Lord Triesman, Fifa president Sepp Blatter, former England captain David Beckham

World governing body Fifa is to probe ex-Football Association chairman Lord Triesman’s "bribery" comments over the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup.

Triesman was caught up in a tabloid sting suggesting Spain could drop its bid if rival bidder Russia helped bribe referees at this summer’s World Cup.

Fifa has also written to the FA asking for a report on the Triesman case.

The FA is keen to draw a line under the saga and has already apologised to the Spanish and Russian associations.

However, a Fifa statement read: "Fifa can confirm that secretary general Jerome Valcke has requested its Ethics Committee to examine the alleged statements made by Lord Triesman in relation to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

"In addition, Fifa has sent a letter to the Football Association asking the FA to provide a report on this matter, including Lord Triesman’s position.

"Fifa will not make any further comment on this matter until it has been dealt with by the Fifa Ethics Committee."

Triesman was secretly recorded allegedly divulging sensitive information to a former aide, including a claim that Spain and Russia, rival bidders for the 2018 World Cup, were conspiring to bribe referees at next month’s finals in South Africa as part of efforts to win the right to host the tournament.

The former Labour peer, who also resigned from his post as chairman of England’s 2018 World Cup team, accused the Mail on Sunday newspaper of engaging in "entrapment" tactics in order to cause him personal embarrassment.

"In that conversation I commentated on speculation circulating about conspiracies around the world," said Triesman.

"Those comments were never intended to be taken seriously as indeed is the case with many private conversations."

Before Triesman’s unwanted spell in the headlines, England’s 2018 World Cup candidacy was generally viewed as having a good chance of success.

Former FA Executive Director David Davies

But the bid team now faces an uphill task to persuade Fifa’s executive to award England the event for the first time since 1966.

The revelations came only two days after the FA delegation submitted its 1,752-page bid book to Fifa.

A European bid is tipped to get the 2018 tournament with England up against Russia and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands.

The other bidders, although they are mainly focused on the 2022 tournament, are Australia, the United States, Japan, Qatar and South Korea.

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Rugby player jailed for internet scam

Gareth Raynor

A Great Britain rugby league player who admitted being behind a fake ink cartridge and computer game scam has been jailed for 15 months.

Former Hull FC player Gareth Raynor, 32, pleaded guilty last month to 14 counts of fraud and counterfeiting.

Hull Crown Court heard Raynor ran a web company called Genuine-Ink and sold low quality ink on Ebay passing it off as high-quality named brands.

Investigations by trading standards officers uncovered the £36,000 scam.

The court was previously told Raynor, who signed for Crusaders in Wrexham in January, imported and reconditioned second-hand ink cartridges from China and re-packaged them to look like genuine brands such as Epson, Canon and Hewlett Packard.

Nintendo DS and Gameboy cartridges were also imported and sold on the same false basis via the auction website.

Trading standards officers with East Riding of Yorkshire Council raided his home in Brough in August 2008 and he was later charged.

He was jailed for nine months for the counterfeiting offences and a further six months as a result of breaching a previous suspended sentence relating to a racially aggravated common assault.

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