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Protesters decry South Carolina police shooting

With dozens of demonstrators in North Charleston protesting the fatal shooting there on Saturday of 50-year-old Walter Scott, which was captured on video by a witness, officials held a tense news conference expressing revulsion and appealing for calm.

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“I have been praying for peace, peace for the family and peace for this community,” North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers said.

At protest over shooting of #WalterScott, protesters’ signs declare: “Back Turned, Don’t Shoot.” pic.twitter苏州皮肤管理中心,/s0F4h9adPz

— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) April 8, 2015

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told reporters that police officer Michael Slager, 33, had been fired. Summey said the remainder of the police force in North Charleston will soon be equipped with body cameras.

Slager was charged on Tuesday with murder in the death of Scott, the latest among several police shootings of black men over the past year in cities including New York; Ferguson, Missouri; and Cleveland, Ohio. The incidents have stirred debate across the United States about police use of lethal force and race relations, also drawing President Barack Obama into the discussion.

Chief Driggers says his heart goes out to the family of #WalterScott. pic.twitter苏州皮肤管理中心,/A5fcVO0vyj

— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) April 8, 2015

Police said Saturday’s shooting occurred after Slager, who joined the department in 2009, stopped Scott for a broken brake light.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice are investigating Scott’s shooting. Civil rights leaders called for calm, and many people praised the courage of the witness who filmed the killing and gave the video to Scott’s family.

Protesters headed down the city hall stairs. #WalterScott 苏州皮肤管理中心,深圳上门按摩,/VpTdsxeqZf

— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) April 8, 2015

Holding signs that read “The whole world is watching” and “Back turned, don’t shoot,” protesters said Scott’s death should not be viewed as an isolated incident.

The shooting was the 11th involving a police officer in South Carolina this year and the second in North Charleston, said Thom Berry, spokesman for the state’s law enforcement division. No one was injured in the prior incident in the city in January, he said.

The memorial at the spot where #WalterScott was killed. pic.twitter苏州皮肤管理中心,/VONDs9FkXQ

— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) April 8, 2015

The video shows a brief scuffle between the pair before Scott begins to run away. Slager is then seen taking aim with a handgun before shooting eight times at Scott’s back. Scott then slumps facedown onto the grass.

According to a police report, Slager told other officers Scott had taken his stun gun from him.

At no point in the video, which does not show the initial contact between the men, does Scott appear to be armed.

Slager is seen placing the victim in handcuffs as he lies on the ground, and then the officer walks back to a spot near where he opened fire.

The video then shows him appearing to pick something up, return to Scott, and then drop it next to him on the ground.

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Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins and Doina Chiacu; Writing and editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Grant McCool.

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Blake targets double at Beijing World Championships

“I’m pretty confident with that (recovery) and how I’m training now, I really think I can get back there, so right now I’m not worried,” the 25-year-old Blake told Reuters in Kingston on Wednesday of his aspirations for the Aug.

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22-30 championships in China.

“Based on how my training is feeling right now, I would like to attempt the (100-200) double at the national trials,” he added of the June 25-28 national championships.

“I don’t know what the coach has in mind, but that’s what I feel and training is going really well and I just hope he gives me his blessing for that.”

The Jamaican, who is the joint second fastest man over 100m with 9.69, suffered the hamstring injury at the Glasgow Grand Prix last July and his manager Cubie Seegobin is impressed with the pace of his recovery.

“I’ve watched him train and I’ve seen the times and the progression and like I’ve said, we are ahead of ourselves,” Seegobin said.

“Maybe in May or June we’ll see something (on the track), but I think our long term look is maybe for Rio (2016 Olympics) and I would be pleasantly surprised about a lot of things before then.”

While also satisfied with Blake’s progress, coach Glen Mills, who also conditions six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, is not setting any timeline for his competitive return.

“We don’t have a planned time to say that he would start competing in the months’ time or two weeks’ time,” Mills said, while adding he is being monitored in two distinct phases of preparation.

“One is the rehabilitation and developmental stage and the other is the competitive training that he has to undergo to be able to compete and that is a different level of intensity.

“When we reach that (level) it’ll give us a better indication of what is happening.”

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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Effort question hurt the Suns the most

Of all the criticism that was thrown Gold Coast’s way following their round one AFL loss to Melbourne there was one which stung the most with defender Rory Thompson.

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When people started suggesting the Suns had lacked effort against the Demons in the 26-point loss it stuck in the craw.

“That’s the most damning word you can hear in football, if someone questions your effort,” Thompson said.

“You might question your kicking or your skill or your talent, but when it’s your effort, it’s not what you want to hear.”

Some felt the Suns had turned up against the Demons expecting to win, with coach Rodney Eade suggesting his players “though it was just going to happen”.

The Demons out-tackled the Suns 66-53 in the match and also won the contested possessions 150-136, a clear indicator of a greater desire between the two teams.

The Suns face a similarly underrated opponent on Saturday at home in St Kilda, the favourite to pick up the wooden spoon.

But Thompson says anyone who thinks the Suns will assume they’ve already got the win in their pocket is kidding themselves.

The key defender says everyone at the club is desperate to atone for the Demons loss against the Saints.

“Rocket (Eade), the other coaches, the fans, expect a better performance than what we delivered on the weekend and hopefully this weekend we can go out there and deliver on that,” he said.

“It’s just basically implementing all the things we practised over the pre-season just a lot better. A lot of things we practised the majority of the pre-season we sort of went away from and that’s what opened us up.

“If we can get back to getting our team defence really strong, that’ll go a long way to helping us.”

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Year to forget for Titans

If a year is along time in footy, the past 12 months seem more like an eternity for the Gold Coast Titans.

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The Titans ended round six last year sitting on top of the NRL ladder with five wins and one loss an optimism was running high.

As the club prepares for Saturday’s round six fixture against Parramatta the story could hardly be more different.

On the field the Titans have won just five of their last 23 fixtures since reaching the league’s summit in 2014, including just one solitary victory at home.

Off it, the club has sacked foundation coach John Cartwright, become mired in player behaviour issues, undergone a rushed takeover by the NRL and been forced to stand down four players for a month after they were issued with drug charges and faced a Queensland court.

Heading into this week’s away clash with the Eels, the Titans have just one win from five starts in 2015 and that was a victory pinched in the dying seconds against Cronulla with an intercept try.

NSW and Australia representative Greg Bird, one of the four Titans players facing cocaine supply charges, admits the downturn on-field has been stark but he insists if can be reversed.

“We’re not doing a lot different,” Bird told AAP.

“We’re finding ourselves in these gritty games. We’re probably not playing as consistent over the 80 minutes as we were last year.

“There’s a fine line between winning by two and losing by two and unfortunately we’ve been on the wrong side of it this year.”

Last year’s strong start was built on the back of winning tight contests.

Four of the five wins were by six points or less, while this year the Titans have lost twice at home in the dying seconds to Wests Tigers and Newcastle, results which Bird knows could easily have gone his team’s way.

“There’s no reason why we can’t turn that around and get a bit of confidence and learn how to win again,” he said.

“Get that feeling and when the game comes down the crunch, make sure we’re putting ourselves in the right positions with the ball and then without the ball.

“Against the Knights, we should have won that game. We’d ground out that game right to the end and fell asleep in the last couple of minutes and Jeremy Smith dives over to score a try and that’s another loss for us.

“We just need to be a lot more consistent and I’m sure the results will start turning in our favour.”

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

Record after round 6 2014 – Won 5, lost 1, position 1st

Record after round 5 2015 – won 1, lost 4, position 15th

* Titans have won five matches since rd 6 last year

* Only one win at home in that time (Rd 26, 2014 – bt Canterbury 19-18)

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Yemen’s Houthis battle in central Aden as first medical aid arrives

Residents saw a dozen bodies strewn on the streets and said several buildings were burnt or demolished by rocket fire.

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Mosques broadcast appeals for jihad against the Houthis, Iran-allied fighters who have taken over large areas of Yemen.

The Houthi attack in the central Crater neighborhood, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, was at least partially repelled, residents said, and Houthi gunmen had also been driven from some northern neighborhoods.

Iran, which denies arming the Houthis, has condemned the Saudi-led offensive. Tehran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, saying they would protect Iranian shipping.

Aden has been the target of a three-week-old assault by the Shi’ite Muslim fighters, who control the capital Sanaa. Their campaign prompted Tehran’s rival Saudi Arabia and its allies to launch air strikes against the Houthis.

Saudi Arabia’s leading role against the Houthis has turned Yemen into the latest theater of a regional proxy conflict between the Gulf’s leading Sunni Muslim and Shi’ite Muslim powers – a struggle also playing out in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

The fighting has had a devastating impact on parts of Aden. Scores of people have been killed, water and electricity have been cut off in central neighborhoods, and hospitals have struggled to cope with the casualties.

“It’s nearly catastrophic,” said the International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman in Yemen, Marie Claire Feghali.

“Shops are closed, so people cannot get food, they cannot get water. There are still dead bodies in the street. Hospitals are extremely exhausted.”

A boat carrying 2.5 tonnes of medicine docked in Aden on Wednesday, the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said. MSF said it was the first shipment it had delivered to the city since the fighting escalated.

The ICRC said a surgical team also arrived by boat in Aden, which has a population of one million.

The World Health Organization says at least 643 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 2,200 wounded. Tens of thousands of families have been displaced.

Regional struggle

Iran has called for an immediate halt to the air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition which includes four other Gulf Arab states, and appealed for dialogue.

Its deputy foreign minister said Yemeni factions should form a national unity government. “We in the Islamic Republic of Iran are undertaking all good initiatives and efforts that help in reaching this political solution,” Morteza Sarmadi said.

Iran’s Alborz destroyer and Bushehr support vessel would patrol the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea to protect Iranian shipping from piracy, navy chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said.

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said Iran was meddling in the conflict and elsewhere in the region. “There is systematic action that has been going for years in the idea of exporting the (Iranian) revolution,” he said in Abu Dhabi after talks with Yemen’s foreign minister.

A military spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said Iran had the right to send ships to international waters as long as they had no aggressive intent.

But he repeated accusations that Iranians in Yemen had supported, trained and equipped the Houthi fighters, adding that any of them who remained “are now in the same trench as the Houthi militias, and will face the same fate”.

The United States, a major Saudi ally, said on Tuesday it was speeding up arms supplies for the offensive, and had increased intelligence sharing and planning coordination.

State media in the United Arab Emirates says Saudi Arabia has deployed 100 jets in its air campaign, alongside 30 from the UAE, 15 each from Kuwait and Bahrain, and 10 from Qatar. Sudan, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco have also supported the campaign.

Pakistan’s parliament is debating a Saudi request for it to join the military operation. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised to defend Saudi Arabia’s “territorial integrity”, but has not said what, if any, commitments he has made.

The foreign minister of Oman, the only member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) not participating in the bombing campaign, called for a short humanitarian truce after meeting his Iranian counterpart in Muscat on Wednesday.

Yusuf bin Alawi previously said Oman was ready to help mediate between the two sides but he did not believe the combatants were ready to come to the table.

Overnight, warplanes struck al-Anad airbase, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Aden, local officials said.

The base, which once housed U.S. military personnel involved in Washington’s covert drone war against al Qaeda fighters in eastern Yemen, has been taken over by soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who are allied to the Houthis.

There were also air strikes against Houthi positions in the town of Dhalea, further north from al-Anad.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Cairo, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Sam Wilkin in Dubai, Fatma Al Arimi in Muscat and Sami Aboudi in Abu Dhabi; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Crispian Balmer)