Daily Archives: April 15, 2015

Coming soon: Australia to Athens, non-stop

Coming soon: Australia to Athens, non-stop

Refuelling would only be carried out near the main airways and away from inhabited areas.

Being able to refuel planes mid air might might mean flights can forgo stop-overs and fly direct for longer hours.

Non-stop passenger flights from Australia to Greece and other European destinations could be introduced under European plans to refuel commercial planes mid-air.

Scientists and engineers are working on a system which will allow commercial jets to take on fuel without landing, significantly extending the time they can stay in the air.

The project, funded by the European Union, has already found that overall fuel consumption may be cut by up to a quarter by allowing planes to take off and land with a lighter load.

A collaborative team of scientists from nine institutions across Europe has designed a so-called Cruiser-Feeder concept that would allow planes to refuel in mid-air.

The system would involve a refuelling plane, carrying enough kerosene to top up up to five passenger planes, located at various points along flight routes.

As the passenger plane approaches, the refuelling jet would take off, fly beneath the plane before connecting specially-designed and made fuel tanks and pumps.

It would then off-load the required amount of kerosene before disconnecting and returning to the ground.

An alternative scenario would see the jet circling in the air until it is needed.

Refuelling would only be carried out near the main airways and away from inhabited areas.

The civil concept was developed as part of a wider project called Research for a Cruiser Enabled Air Transport Environment (Recreate).

It is a technique already used by the military, for example, to refuel state aircraft.

The researchers, led by the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) in Amsterdam and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), said kerosene reserves make up about a third of the weight on long-distance passenger flights at take-off.

Reducing them and refuelling mid-air could mean ‘huge savings’ and figures suggest fuel burn, and therefore the amount needed at take-off, could be reduced by up to 23 per cent for every 6,000 nautical miles flown by a plane carrying 250 passengers.

However, it is not known how much extra energy, fuel and carbon emissions will be released as a result of having more planes in the sky.

Nor is it clear how much the reduction in fuel burn and costs created by causing passenger planes to make fewer stops would offset those used by the individual, heavy refuelling jets.

source:Neos Kosmos

World Cup Draw: Australia vs Tajikistan, Kyrgystan and Bangladesh

socceroos hug

The Socceroos should progress easily through their group.

The draw for the road to Russia 2018 has been kind to the Australian national team.

Australia avoided a difficult group in its Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw on Tuesday but will face several long-haul trips to central Asia.

The Socceroos were drawn to face Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh in Group B in the ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Jordan looms as Australia’s toughest opponent.

The second round of the World Cup Asian qualifiers commence in just two months with the Socceroos to play the eight home-and-away round robin matches across June, September, October, November and then March 2016.

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou attended the draw in Kuala Lumpur and believes the players and staff will embrace the challenges in front of them.

“The draw is certainly an interesting one and throws up some games against unfamiliar countries but the first phase of qualifying is about us and making sure we maintain our high standards on and off the field,” Postecoglou said.

“Over the past 18 months we have taken great pride in being the best we can be on and off the field and we will face some logistical and footballing challenges but we’ll continue to work hard to make sure we are ready for whatever challenges we face.

“We now have to prepare for Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Tajikstan and Jordan and continue our journey.

“We have another eight international matches to continue to give the core of the squad more experience while offering some opportunities to younger players to ensure we build depth.”

The winner of each of the eight groups and the four best runners up will advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and will also book a spot at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

After its Asian Cup success, Australia was drawn from pot one along with the top eight ranked teams of the continent, ruling out matches against fellow Asian powerhouses Iran, Japan, South Korea,UAE, Uzbekistan, China and Iraq.

But it could have faced clashes against the likes of North Korea, Oman or Kuwait.

Socceroos match schedule:
16 June 2015: Kyrgyzstan v Socceroos (away venue and time tbc)
3 September 2015: Socceroos v Bangladesh at nib Stadium, Perth
8 September 2015: Tajikstan v Socceroos (away venue and time tbc)
8 October 2015: Jordan v Socceroos (away venue and time tbc)
12 November 2015: Socceroos v Kyrgyzstan (home venue and time tbc)
17 November 2015: Bangladesh v Socceroos (away venue and time tbc)
24 March 2016: Socceroos v Tajikstan (home venue and time tbc)
29 March 2016: Socceroos v Jordan (home venue and time tbc)

Draw in full:

Group A: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor-Leste, Malaysia
Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh
Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong
Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam
Group E: Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia
Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan
Group G: Korea Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos
Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, DPR Korea, Yemen

Source: AAP

Greek islands struggle with migrant influx

migrants undocumented islands

Some 200 migrants make their way along a beach in Gavdos after the fishing boat they were sailing in managed to reach the Greek island’s shores.


Boarder patrols have intercepted 10,445 undocumented migrants between January 1 and March 31, up from around 3000 in the same period last year.

The islands of the eastern Aegean are struggling to cope with an influx of would-be immigrants from neighbouring Turkey, according to the Hellenic Coast Guard, whose latest figures show arrivals have tripled in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year.

Officers intercepted a total of 10,445 undocumented migrants between January 1 and March 31 compared to 2,863 in the same period in 2014, Kathimerini has learned.

On Thursday a coast guard patrol boat intercepted an inflatable rowboat carrying 38 migrants off the coast of Kos. Another 43 migrants were stopped in a boat off Rhodes on the same day. “The incidents are daily now,” a coast guard official said. The islands of the Dodecanese have a particular problem as they lack the adequate infrastructure to accommodate the migrants, he said.

Kos has received 518 migrants so far this year compared to 154 in the same period in 2014. Lesvos is also struggling, having received 5,123 immigrants so far this year, half of the total detained by the coast guard. An official on Lesvos said the island is an increasingly popular route for smugglers based in Izmir and Istanbul. According to the same official, migrants have told them that they heard “Greece has opened its borders.”

Authorities fear the influx, attributed to strife in Syria, will continue and believe total arrivals this year could reach 60,000 compared to 40,000 last year. Meanwhile an estimated 2.5 million refugees are in Turkey waiting to cross into Greece.

The government is working on a plan to deal with the increased influx, Kathimerini understands. It involves the use of tents and existing infrastructure, such as gymnasiums and local authority buildings but also army barracks, to temporarily accommodate the migrants until they are identified. Authorities are also considering chartering ferries to transfer migrants from the islands to cities. “We will exhaust all national means, and then we’ll turn to Europe,” Alternate Immigration Policy Minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou said. Greece is expected to request additional funding at an EU interior ministers’ summit due in June.

source:Neos Kosmos

Greece remains global shipping champion


The Greek shipping fleet is now worth more than US$100 billion, making it the most valuable in the world.

Greece continues to be the world leader in shipping despite the economic hardships faced by the country.

For the first time in history, the Greek shipping fleet is now worth more than US$100 billion, making it the most valuable in the world, while Greece also remains the world leader of shipping in terms of number of vessels in the water, with the latest figures showing the Mediterranean country controls just over 15 per cent of the global fleet.

Figures given to Neos Kosmos by the London-based online evaluation site VesselsValue.com show that Greek shipowners currently control just over 4,174 vessels, including 2,157 bulkers, 1,405 tankers, 398 container ships, 141 LPG tankers and 73 LNG tankers.

The total worth of the Greek fleet currently stands at a staggering US$105 billion, more than the combined value of the fleets of Germany, the United Kingdom and Norway.

Coming a distant second behind Greece is Japan, whose fleet is valued at $89.75 billion (up 0.7 per cent from last year). China comes in third with a value of $72.67 billion (down 2.6 per cent).

The combined value of the global fleet is estimated at $680.4 billion, up 3.2 per cent from last year.

In the last twelve months the Greek fleet has increased in size by 4.5 per cent to 342,832,296 deadweight tons, the industry’s standard measurement for how much ships carry.

It is a remarkable achievement considering the difficulties the global shipping industry is facing, including low freights, a stagnating sale and purchase market and bank lending restrictions.

However, while the size of the total fleet continues to rise, studies by the Athens-based Petrofin Research group show that the number of companies involved in Greek shipping has started to drop.

Although finance and opportunities continue to be available to the large shipping companies, resulting in them investing heavily in modern eco vessels, the going is much tougher for smaller Greek owners, who have been struggling against poor shipping markets and the scarcity of finance and capital.

Fleet age also continues to decline as Greek shipowners invest in newer ships, with the average age of a Greek vessel now at 13.26 years, down from 14.05 in 2013 and 14.7 in 2012.

The Greeks, it should be noted, are renowned for taking great care of their vessels, giving them the ability to get greater usage and extend their time at sea while also ensuring a higher sell-on price when they decide to trade them.

According to the statistics the bulker fleet of vessels over 20,000-dwt has gained 59 ships in the last twelve months, its average age is down to 9.2 years, its tonnage up 6.4m dwt and it has lost six companies.

The tanker fleet of units over 20,000 dwt shows an increase of 5.85m dwt but there are nine fewer vessels. The number of companies remains the same but the age profile has gone up for the second year in a row.

The container fleet of units over 20,000 dwt is 2.24 years younger at 9.86 years old, has gained 1.48m dwt and is one of the very few sectors to show an increase in the companies that run them, up three.

Regarding LPGs over 20,000-dwt, the number remains the same as a year ago and their age is up slightly. LNGs are only over 20,000-dwt, and 18 vessels were added in 2014 to make 50 overall, and their age is down to 3.5 years from 4.25, making them the youngest sector of the fleet.

The figures show John Angelicoussis to be the leading Greek shipowner in the world.

Angelicoussis’ companies include Anangel, Maran Tankers and Maran Gas, and comprise just over 110 vessels in the water with a total value of $3.8 billion.

Angelicoussis, who is from Chios and is now based between Athens and London, also has a further $3.85 billion worth of newbuilds on order at various shipyards in Asia.

George Economou, CEO of Cardiff Marine and Dryships groups, is ranked second among the Greek owners. His fleet comprises of 109 vessels with an estimated value of $3.7 billion along with a further $1 billion of new vessels on order.

Coming in third is George Prokopiou, the boss of Dynacom and Dynagas. According to VesselsValue.com, the companies share just over 65 vessels valued at almost $3.5 billion. They also have seven new vessels on order, estimated to be worth just over $600,000.

source: Neos Kosmos


Αποχωρεί από τον πάγκο της Ντόρτμουντ ο Κλοπ

Αποχωρεί από τον πάγκο της Ντόρτμουντ ο Κλοπ

Ο Γιούργκεν Κλοπ θ’ αποχωρήσει το καλοκαίρι από την τεχνική ηγεσία της Ντόρτμουντ. Ο 47χρονος Γερμανός τεχνικός είχε αναλάβει την τεχνική ηγεσία των «κιτρίνων» το 2008 και από τότε την οδήγησε στην κατάκτηση δύο τίτλων στην μπουντεσλίγκα (2011 και 2012), ενός κυπέλλου και στον τελικό του τσάμπιονς λιγκ το 2013, όπου ηττήθηκε από την Μπάγερν Μονάχου.

Ο Κλοπ, μετά από επτά σεζόν στον πάγκο της Μπορούσια, θεωρεί πως έκλεισε αυτός ο κύκλος και το καλοκαίρι θα αποχωρήσει από τη Βεστφαλία με προορισμό ομάδα του εξωτερικού, όπως αποκαλύπτει σήμερα η εφημερίδα «Βild».

Σύμφωνα με το σχετικό ρεπορτάζ ο επιτυχημένος τεχνικός, ο οποίος έχει συμβόλαιο έως το καλοκαίρι του 2018, έχει ήδη ενημερώσει τη διοίκηση του συλλόγου ώστε ν’ αναζητήσει τον αντικαταστάτη του.

Η διοίκηση του συλλόγου έχει ανακοινώσει συνέντευξη Τύπου για το μεσημέρι της Τετάρτης, όπου αναμένεται ν’ ανακοινώσει, και επίσημα, την αποχώρηση του Κλοπ.

Σύμφωνα με την «Bild» ο πιθανότερος διάδοχος στην τεχνική ηγεσία φέρεται να είναι ο Τόμας Τούσελ, 41 χρόνων, ο οποίος είχε κάνει πολύ καλή δουλειά στον πάγκο της Μάιντς.


Δώδεκα εκατομμύρια παιδιά στη Μέση Ανατολή δεν πηγαίνουν σχολείο

Δώδεκα εκατομμύρια παιδιά στη Μέση Ανατολή δεν πηγαίνουν σχολείο

Χιλιάδες παιδιά έχουν αναγκαστεί να εγκαταλείψουν το σχολείο εξαιτίας των συρράξεων στη Συρία και το Ιράκ


Χιλιάδες παιδιά έχουν αναγκαστεί να εγκαταλείψουν το σχολείο εξαιτίας των συρράξεων στη Συρία και το Ιράκ

Περισσότερα από 12 εκατομμύρια παιδιά στη Μέση Ανατολή δεν πηγαίνουν στο σχολείο, δηλώνει η Unicef σημειώνοντας ότι στον αριθμό αυτόν δεν περιλαμβάνονται τα παιδιά που έχουν αναγκασθεί να εγκαταλείψουν το σχολείο εξαιτίας των συρράξεων στη Συρία και το Ιράκ.

Εάν συνυπολογισθούν τα παιδιά εμπόλεμων χωρών ή περιοχών, ο αριθμός φθάνει στα 15 εκατομμύρια, σύμφωνα με έκθεση της UNICEF που δόθηκε την Τετάρτη στη δημοσιότητα στη Βηρυτό.

Στην έκθεση, η οποία συντάχθηκε από κοινού από τη UNICEF και την UNESCO, εκφράζεται ικανοποίηση για τους «σημαντικούς πόρους και το πολιτικό κεφάλαιο» που έχουν αφιερωθεί στην εκπαίδευση στη Μέση Ανατολή κατά τη διάρκεια της τελευταίας δεκαετίας και σημειώνεται ότι ο αριθμός των παιδιών που δεν είχε πρόσβαση στην πρωτοβάθμια εκπαίδευση έχει μειωθεί, σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις κατά το ήμισυ.

«Ωστόσο, κατά τα τελευταία χρόνια δεν έχει καταγραφεί καμία πρόοδος» επισημαίνεται στην έκθεση.

Ο αριθμός των 12,3 εκατομμυρίων παιδιών που δεν πηγαίνουν στο σχολείο περιλαμβάνει 4,3 εκατομμύρια της πρωτοβάθμιας, 2,9 εκατομμύρια της δευτεροβάθμιας και 5,1 της προσχολικής εκπαίδευσης και αντιστοιχεί στο 15% των παιδιών στη Μέση Ανατολή.

Η έρευνα πραγματοποιήθηκε σε εννέα χώρες της Μέσης Ανατολής και ο κύριος λόγος στέρησης της εκπαίδευσης στα παιδιά είναι η φτώχεια. Σε πολλές περιπτώσεις οι οικογένειες δεν είναι σε θέση να πληρώσουν το αντίτιμο των σχολικών βιβλίων και της στολής, ενώ σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις οι οικογένειες αποφασίζουν να στείλουν τα παιδιά τους να εργαστούν.


Ερντογάν: «Μπαινάκης-βγαινάκης» ό,τι πει η Ευρωβουλή για το Αρμενικό

Ερντογάν: «Μπαινάκης-βγαινάκης» ό,τι πει η Ευρωβουλή για το Αρμενικό

Η Άγκυρα θα αγνοήσει όποιο ψήφισμα υιοθετήσει η Ευρωβουλή για τη Γενοκτονία των Αρμενίων


Δεν κρύβει ο Ρετζέπ Ταγίπ Ερντογάν την ενόχληση της Άγκυρας για τις δηλώσεις που έρχονται από την Ευρώπη εν όψει της 100ης επετείου της Γενοκτονίας των Αρμενίων: Μετά τα περί «παραληρήματος» του Πάπα, ο τούρκος πρόεδρος είπε ότι σχετικό ψήφισμα που πρόκειται να υιοθετήσει η Ευρωβουλή «θα μπει από το ένα αυτί και θα βγει από το άλλο».

Από το πρωί, στον τουρκικό Τύπο αναφέρεται πως το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο θα καλέσει την Τουρκία να αναγνωρίσει τα εγκλήματα σε βάρος των Αρμενίων.

Μιλώντας την Τετάρτη κατά την αναχώρησή του για το Καζακστάν, ο Ρ.Τ.Ερντογάν ανέφερε ότι η Άγκυρα πρόκειται να αγνοήσει πλήρως το όποιο ψήφισμα για τη γενοκτονία των Αρμενίων κυρωθεί την ίδια ημέρα από την Ολομέλεια της Ευρωβουλής.

«Όποια απόφαση κι αν πάρουν, θα μπει από το ένα αυτί και θα βγει από το άλλο» είπε ο τούρκος πρόεδρος, όπως μεταδίδει το Reuters.

Μία ημέρα νωρίτερα, ο Ερντογάν είχε καταδικάσει τις δηλώσεις που έκανε ο Πάπας Φραγκίσκος, ο οποίος αναφερόμενος στη σφαγή των Αρμενίων που διέπραξε το 1915 η Οθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, είχε χρησιμοποιήσει τον όρο «γενοκτονία».

Μετά την επίσημη αντίδραση της τουρκικής κυβέρνησης για «μεροληπτικές» και «ανάρμοστες» αναφορές του Πάπα, ο τούρκος πρόεδρος είχε καλέσει τον Ποντίφικα «να μην κάνει ξανά το ίδιο λάθος».

Η Ευρωβουλή είχε αναγνωρίσει από το 1987 την Γενοκτονία των Αρμενίων. Η 24η Απριλίου, επέτειος της συγκέντρωσης των ισχυρότερων προσωπικοτήτων της αρμενικής κοινότητας στην Κωνσταντινούπολη κατά τη λεγόμενη «Ματωμένη Κυριακή» το 1915, τιμάται ως ημέρα μνήμης της Γενοκτονίας.

Πηγή: in.gr

Eλλάδα: Εντός ημερών οι υπογραφές για τον νέο αγωγό

Λαφαζάνης: Εντός ημερών οι υπογραφές για τον νέο αγωγό

Ο Παναγιώτης Λαφαζάνης


Σε ορίζοντα λίγων ημερών αναμένει ο υπουργός Παραγωγικής Ανασυγκρότησης Παναγιώτης Λαφαζάνης να υπογραφεί η κατ’ αρχήν συμφωνία για την κατασκευή του νέου αγωγού φυσικού αερίου από τα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα μέσω Ελλάδας προς την Κεντρική Ευρώπη, έργο το οποίο αναμένεται να αποφέρει πολλαπλά οφέλη για την ελληνική οικονομία.

Όπως ανέφερε ο κ. Λαφαζάνης, ο οποίος σήμερα, Τετάρτη, και αύριο, Πέμπτη, θα βρίσκεται στη Ρίγα της Λετονίας, προκειμένου να συμμετάσχει στο άτυπο Συμβούλιο Υπουργών Ενέργειας της ΕΕ, όπου θα συζητηθεί μεταξύ άλλων η περιφερειακή συνεργασία στον τομέα της ενέργειας, η συμφωνία ενδέχεται να υπογραφεί ακόμη και την επόμενη εβδομάδα.

Η κατασκευή του ελληνικού τμήματος αγωγού από τα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα έως τα σύνορα με τη FYROM συνεπάγεται μια επένδυση ύψους 2 δισ. ευρώ που θα δημιουργήσει 2.000 νέες θέσεις εργασίας.

Στα οφέλη για τη χώρα -όπως επισημαίνει το υπουργείο- περιλαμβάνονται ακόμη μειώσεις στην τιμή του φυσικού αερίου για την ελληνική αγορά, ανάδειξη της Ελλάδας σε κόμβο φυσικού αερίου με αποτέλεσμα την ανάπτυξη ανταγωνισμού, περιορισμός ή εξάλειψη της οφειλής που προκύπτει από τη ρήτρα ‘take or pay’ που προβλέπει την πληρωμή του αντιτίμου για συγκεκριμένες ποσότητες αερίου, ακόμη και αν αυτές δεν καταναλώθηκαν (όπως συνέβη στη χώρα μας όπου οι καταναλώσεις μειώθηκαν λόγω κρίσης), δυνατότητα άμεσης οικονομικής συνδρομής από τη Ρωσία έναντι των εσόδων που θα έχει το Δημόσιο μετά το 2019, οπότε προγραμματίζεται η λειτουργία του αγωγού και ακόμη συμμετοχή ρωσικών εταιριών στους διαγωνισμούς για έρευνες υδρογονανθράκων στο Ιόνιο και το νότιο Κρητικό πέλαγος.


First Anzac troops fly into Iraq


A team of 60 Australian and New Zealand soldiers have become the first of their taskforce to join the fight against ISIL, after jetting off from Brisbane Airport today to start their training mission.

The advance group will clear up any necessary diplomatic paperwork in Iraq to pave the way for the remaining deployment of 340 troop set to arrive at a later date.

For the past few weeks, the Anzacs have been training south of Brisbane, in preparation for the mission.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reassured Australians the troops being sent to Iraq will not be at risk of attack and will only engage in training Iraqi security forces.

Australia had previously deployed a number of fighter jets to aid the US-led international bombing mission targeting ISIL strongholds in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House today and hailed the US-backed Iraqi forces’ progress against the Islamic State group.

Obama said the allies were “making serious progress” in pushing back the jihadists, taking back a quarter of the territory lost last year.

The first group of 60 soldiers will be followed by 340 more. (9NEWS)

The first group of 60 soldiers will be followed by 340 more. (9NEWS)

“Success won’t occur overnight” Obama said, “but what is clear is that we will be successful.”

Critics say Obama’s drawdown of US troops in Iraq was a strategic blunder that allowed the Islamic State to flourish and drive Iraq’s US-trained army out of northern cities.

Embarking on his inaugural prime ministerial trip to Washington, Abadi had said his top priority would be to secure a “marked increase” in the US-led air campaign and in the “delivery of arms.”

Obama did not give that commitment in public, but said the meeting had dealt extensively with coordinating the next steps and possible US help.

The troops will help train the Iraqi security forces. (9NEWS)

The troops will help train the Iraqi security forces. (9NEWS)

Obama said the United States wants to make sure Iraq and the coalition “is in a position to succeed in our common mission.”

The US president also announced an additional $200 million in humanitarian aid for the civilians displaced or harmed by the Islamic State’s brutal rebel army.

Swathes of Iraq, including the second city Mosul and the vast western province of Anbar, are still occupied by militants bent on establishing an Islamic caliphate.

Abadi renewed a pledged to “liberate” those areas.

There were emotional scenes during the airport farewell. (9NEWS)

There were emotional scenes during the airport farewell. (9NEWS)

But his armed forces, ravaged by years of war, desertion and underfunding, have struggled to get on the front foot.

A recent Iraqi effort to wrest control of Tikrit stalled until the US military pounded IS positions with air strikes.

Tikrit had initially been seen as a dress rehearsal for Abadi’s much-touted “Spring offensive” to dislodge insurgent fighters from the vital oil hub of Mosul.

To defend Baghdad and other key positions Abadi’s government has leaned heavily on US-led airstrikes and Shiite militia, which Washington says are controlled by Iran.

Obama called for those fighters to fall under government control, urging all actors to “respect Iraq’s sovereignty.”

“We expect Iran to have an important relationship with Iraq as a close neighbor,” he said, adding: “It is important for all unified forces to be under control.”

Abadi said he welcomed help in fighting the Islamic State, but would “reject any transgression of Iraqi sovereignty.”

The presence of Shiite militia in Sunni-dominated towns and villages has also raised the specter of more of the sectarian violence that has long plagued Iraq.

Abadi promised his government would have “zero tolerance” of rights abuses, and anyone involved in atrocities against civilians would be brought to book.

Obama has made degrading and destroying the Islamic State a priority, fearing the organization’s foothold in Iraq and Syria provides a base for terror operations, while destabilizing those countries and the region.

The United States is leading an international coalition, which according to the White House has hit over 5,780 Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.

That includes 75 tanks and 285 Humvees, 1,166 fighting positions, and 151 oil infrastructure-related targets, the White House said.
source: 9news.com.au

Champion’s League:Paris St Germain v Barcelona preview


Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona) Goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen of FC Barcelona attends a press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain

• Laurent Blanc says September’s 3-2 win against Barcelona is the benchmark for Paris
• Luis Enrique acknowledges Barcelona have had “many difficulties against Paris recently”
• Including the final fixture of last season, Paris are unbeaten in 24 home matches
• Zlatan Ibrahimović among three suspended for Paris, who also have injuries
• Barcelona are in the quarter-finals for a record eighth successive season

Possible lineups
Paris: Sirigu; Van der Wiel, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Maxwell; Rabiot, Cabaye, Matuidi; Lavezzi, Cavani, Pastore.
Out: Ibrahimović (suspended), Verratti (suspended), Aurier (suspended), Thiago Motta (thigh)
Doubtful: Luiz (thigh)

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Adriano/Bartra, Piqué, Mathieu/Busquets, Alba; Rakitić, Mascherano, Iniesta; Suárez, Messi, Neymar.
Out: Alves (suspended), Vermaelen (hamstring)

Laurent Blanc, Paris coach
Our first match of the season against Barcelona [on matchday two] is a reference point for us. We’re one of few teams to have scored three goals against them. We had a great game – both teams did. We’ll need to replicate that feat because we’re facing one of the best teams in Europe. We need to avoid conceding; we know the importance of away goals.

Of course that’s easier said than done – most of Barça’s opponents start out with the aim of not conceding … and they always do! During our previous encounter we scored a fantastic goal; then they scored a PlayStation goal.

Thiago Motta has resumed running drills but he will need a miracle to feature in what will be a very demanding match. The same goes for Lucas [groin], who should take part at some point: despite our absentees and injured players, we can’t afford to take chances. We have some important fixtures coming up, not only in the Champions League.

I don’t think Barça’s philosophy has evolved much: they are still as strong, with a game based on possession and making the opposition defend deep. Although we like to have the ball, we’ll probably have to play deeper than usual, stay tight and restrict them. When we regain possession we’ll need Edinson [Cavani] and [Ezequiel] Lavezzi to be fast on the break.

What do I think about Messi? The same as almost any football lover. He has been one of the best players on the planet for some time. He can score 50 or 60 goals a season … when he scores 40, they say he’s out of form! He is one of the best players ever. How do we stop him? Our answer needs to be a collective one. We’ll have to play very well and keep it very tight. Then we’ll have to be fast and make the most of dead-ball situations.

Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach
Paris have several major absentees, let’s face it. But let’s not forget they won against us when Zlatan [Ibrahimović] was out, and we won when we met and he played! So you never know how important the absentees will turn out to be.

We’re both basically the same teams we were at the start of the season, we’re only a bit older … We had a good game in September, although we lost – we had lots of chances. But we’ll definitely need to improve defensively.

We’ve grown accustomed to coming here. We’ve had the chance to come to Paris several times in recent years. They have a very good squad, and showed yet again their qualities by beating Chelsea.

This tie will be open, because our teams are actually quite similar. Paris can build from the back, play on the counter – there are many facets to this team, many threats. This should be an entertaining match. I think we’ll see a lot of goals, but of course I hope we score more than Paris. This won’t be easy of course; we’ve had many difficulties against them recently.

Weekend results
SC Bastia 0-4 Paris (Ibrahimović 21pen 41, Cavani 80 90+2)
Sevilla FC 2-2 Barcelona (Banega 38, Gameiro 84; Messi 14, Neymar 31)