Malaysian Moto GP: Pedrosa grabs pole in thrilling qualifier

SEPANG: Dani Pedrosa snatched pole position in the dying seconds of a thrilling qualifying session for the Malaysian MotoGP on Saturday as world title hopeful Marc Marquez recovered from a crash to finish seventh.

Marquez looked on course to set the fastest pace of the weekend in a real fast lap when he fell off his Honda.

Pedrosa, the Spanish Honda rider, came out on top after a furious finale which saw five successive pole laps set in the last two minutes — leaving the top seven riders covered by less than half a second.

Pedrosa’s time of 1min 59.212sec was 17-thousandths quicker than Yamaha’s Johann Zarco, with Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati another seven-thousandths behind to complete the front row.

Pedrosa at the trackside later said he was happy with his machine, adding that starting in the front was important to get a podium finish.

“We hope Sunday’s race will be dry. We hope to focus on the race and hopefully we will do our best,” he said. “Starting from the front is very important.”

It is Pedrosa’s third pole position of the season and he is fifth in the championship standing. Pedrosa will aim for his second win of the season and first since Jerez in May.

“I made a couple of mistakes… but I am happy because it is my third pole of the season,” he said. But the Spaniard admitted that the sweltering heat would be the biggest challenge on Sunday. You will have to drink a lot. The sun is heating the helmet and the bike.”

Dovizioso’s hopes of stopping Marquez clinching a second straight world title were buoyed when the Honda rider, who crashed at the end of one flying lap, finished outside the top six.

Dovizioso, riding a Ducati, said he was glad to start the race from the front ahead of Marquez who sits in the third row. “I set a fast lap and it seems the bike is competitive in both wet and dry track,” he said.

Dovizioso later told reporters that while he will be happy to win the second position in the world championship, he was determined to snatch the world title crown.

“We are here to win the championship. We are focussed to get the 25 points tomorrow. But we know it will be difficult,” he said.

The Italian declined to reveal his strategy for the race, saying he didn’t know in advance as weather conditions in Sepang was unpredictable.

“But we are happy to race. The bike has allowed me to push it. I am riding in a good way. We are ready to fight,” he said.

Last year, Dovizioso won the race at Sepang on a wet track.

Meanwhile, Zarco of France on a Yamaha said he used medium tyres during the qualifying to record a strong lap time. “I am ready to fight (for a podium finish). I am quite positive. I feel good,” he said.

It will be a big task for Marquez to overtake from the 3rd back row for a podium finish.

If Marquez comes first or second, regardless of the result that Dovizioso achieves in Malaysia, he will win his fourth Moto GP title.

Spain’s Marquez leads Dovizioso by 33 points going into the year’s penultimate race, meaning he will be crowned world champion if he finishes first or second on Sunday.

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‘Welcome back Sri Lanka’

KARACHI: Sri Lanka are here!

Some believed World XI’s visit to Pakistan completed the return of international cricket to the country, but Sri Lanka’s visit to a place where their bus was attacked in 2009, after nearly eight years, is what completes the full circle of events.

Gaddafi Stadium must have witnessed a lot of historic matches, but Sri Lanka’s participation in the third and final T20I against Pakistan should be considered a moment of greatest historic proportions.

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It will be like welcoming the sons who went to a war, fought it bravely, and are coming back to ascertain that cricket is bigger than terrorism.

‘Thank you for coming’

Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim took to Twitter on Saturday to thanks Sri Lanka for coming to Lahore to play the final T20I.

“Thank you Sri Lanka for coming to Pakistan,” he wrote. “Can’t wait to play in front of our own crowd.”

Meanwhile, all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez urged the Pakistani fans to fill the Gaddafi Stadium and give a warm welcome to the Sri Lankans.

“Super excited and ready for Pakistan versus Sri Lanka T20 match in Lahore on Sunday,” wrote Hafeez. “Come in large numbers to celebrate a big step towards revival of cricket in Pakistan. May Almighty Allah bless us all with success. Pakistan Zindabad.”

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He continued in his second tweet: “Heartiest welcome to Sri Lanka to Pakistan, lovely people and friends forever. Pakistan is ready to host you all with hospitality, as always.”

Earlier, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed hoped Sri Lanka will receive the same warmth from the people as the World XI team.

“Good that we’ve won the series now, but we are looking forward to the game in Lahore,” he said. “Hopefully the ground is full and the people support Sri Lanka as well.”

Not disappointed with team: SL coach

Sri Lanka head coach Nic Pothas believes his team did relatively well against Pakistan in the first two T20I matches of the three-match series and he feels proud of the players.

When asked to comment on the seventh successive defeat — five ODIs and two T20Is — he said: “I wouldn’t say it is seven defeats. I would say five defeats and two good games. In the five ODIs, we didn’t compete. When I look at that, I’m most proud to see the way Pakistan celebrated after winning against that bunch of guys; it makes me very proud. I don’t see it is as seven, it is definitely five and two split.”

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He added that he was disappointed the players couldn’t capitalise on the Test series victory.

“Yeah, you can say this is the best match we have played,” he said. “It is funny because we arrived here and played two good Test matches. I’m very happy with those but probably we let ourselves down in the five ODIs. Then this game was super and a bitter pill to swallow.”


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13 of a family die in Muzaffargarh after drinking toxic beverage

Thirteen members of a family died in the Alipur area of Muzaffargarh, Punjab after drinking a contaminated beverage.

The incident occurred in Daulatpur village on Friday night, Express News reported.

The residents of the area rushed the family to the hospital where 11 of them died on the same day and two more on Saturday.

Fatal iftari: Three sisters die after consuming toxic edibles in Sialkot

Doctors said some members of the family were still being treated though they were out of danger now.


In June this year, three sisters died in Sialkot after consuming toxic ‘chaat’ and ‘samosas’ for Iftari.

The incident took place in Boorho Mahalla of the city’s Neka Pura neighbourhood.


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Actress Annabella Sciorra accuses Weinstein of rape

WASHINGTON: Actress Annabella Sciorra has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape, detailing to The New Yorker magazine her harrowing encounter with the now-disgraced movie mogul.

She joins dozens of women who have already leveled allegations of sexual abuse against the 65-year-old Weinstein.

Sciorra who received an Emmy nomination for her role in the acclaimed television series “The Sopranos” — said in the early 1990s Weinstein forced his way into her apartment and violently raped her.

She said that before the alleged attack Weinstein came in “like he owned the place, and started unbuttoning his shirt.”

“It was very clear where he thought this was going to go.”

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She urged Weinstein to leave but “he shoved me onto the bed, and he got on top of me,” Sciorra said.

Despite her resistance Weinstein forced sexual intercourse with her and “attempted to perform oral sex on me,” she told the magazine.

“I struggled, but I had very little strength left in me.”

“I was so ashamed,” Sciorra, now 57, said, adding that she fell into deep depression and stopped working for several years.

She kept the graphic story under wraps for fear of professional backlash. Though she did eventually begin acting again Weinstein continued to harass her for years, Sciorra said.

The actress is now one of more than 50 women to accuse Weinstein of sexual abuse and harassment — a group that includes stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Mira Sorvino.

Weinstein affair puts spotlight on non-disclosure agreements

Actress Daryl Hannah — who appeared in “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” which Weinstein produced — also said the powerful Hollywood executive aggressively pursued her but she managed to dodge his advances.

Hannah alleged Weinstein at one point “burst in like a raging bull” to her hotel room — where she was with a male makeup artist — and later asked to touch her breasts.

She said when she refused, “I experienced instant repercussions” in the film industry.

“I called all the powers that be and told them what had happened,” Hannah said. “It didn’t matter.”

“We are not believed. We are more than not believed — we are berated and criticized and blamed.”

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Hannah said among those she told were Oscar-winning Quentin Tarantino — who worked closely with Weinstein for decades, including on the “Kill Bill” films — and who has since admitted knowing for decades about Weinstein’s behavior and expressed regret for not speaking out.

The toppled Hollywood tycoon was sacked as co-chairman of The Weinstein Company and also resigned from its board.

The twice-married father of five has so far denied forcing himself on his accusers. He is being investigated by detectives in Los Angeles, New York and London.

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Sunny Leone may perform on dance number in ‘Dabangg 3’

Bollywood star Sunny Leone is likely to be seen in a special dance number in Arbaaz Khan’s Dabanng 3’.

Happy with the bond he shares with Sunny, Arbaaz, who’s starring with her in the film Tera Intezar’, says he could possibly cast her in ‘Dabangg 3’.

“Why not? The film is being scripted, and will go on floors by mid-2018,” he said, according to Deccan Chronicle.

Sunny Leone to launch her own fitness show

So, will she be the new Munni? “Yes,” he says, adding “Maybe something better and different. We’ve had Munni and Fevicol, and we can do a good number in ‘Dabangg 3’.”

Sunny, a former porn star, is one of India’s most searched celebrities online. She has often been accused in India of promoting obscenity and eroding cultural values.

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Nawaz fears coming back after seeing how Sharjeel was treated: Aitzaz

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and Senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan said on Saturday that former PM Nawaz Sharif was not returning to Pakistan because he feared that he would be treated the same way former Sindh minister Sharjeel Memon was.

“Everything in Pakistan seems to be going in the opposite direction,” he told reporters in Islamabad, Express News reported.

Ahsan said it was ridiculous to see that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called on Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif instead of it being the other way around.

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Speaking on Sharif’s return to the country, the PPP leader said people were talking about the PML-N chief striking a pact similar to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). “But who will Nawaz strike such a deal with?” he asked.

“Only [PM] Shahid Khaqan Abbasi can do that. Otherwise, nobody can help Nawaz now.”

Ahsan said corruption cases in Punjab and Sindh were major challenges for the newly appointed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman.

“Despite being indicted, Sharif is roaming freely but Sharjeel Memon, who is yet to be indicted, is behind bars,” he added.





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Sara Mansoor secures coveted ITF certification

KARACHI: Sara Mansoor wants more women to follow her lead after she became the first Pakistani women’s tennis player to get the International Tennis Federation (ITF) level II coaching certification.

Mansoor, ranked the top women’s tennis player in the country, captained the Pakistan women’s team at the Asian Indoor Games in Ashgabat and has also been a regular in the Fed Cup team.

After her latest experience, the 29-year-old feels it’s about time the women’s game levels up.

“It is huge for me to get this certification,” Mansoor told The Express tribune. “It required a lot of work and was not easy because it was 12 days of rigorous tests. I had to go to Iran for it and then our level III coaches in Pakistan also took my exams. I had to work really hard. There were so many things we were not even aware of in terms of tennis, the technicalities and the strategies.”

Mansoor believes the course will not only help her coaching but also improve her game.

“With this course I can improve as a player too,” she said. “I’m still watching videos for techniques. We are generally not trained to win matches, but with this course I feel I’ve gained valuable knowledge,” said Mansoor.

Mansoor is of the opinion that coaching is belittled in Pakistan and wants more female players to try their hand at tennis coaching.

“Coaching is generally considered an easy thing, like you are just telling the players how to tackle the ball but it’s about building a player, about developing new talent,” she said. “We need growth in this field too. I know that women can benefit with more female coaches and I feel this is just a beginning.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tennis Federation President Salim Saifullah Khan has congratulated Mansoor, saying: “I am delighted that Sara Mansoor has secured this coveted ITF certification. As the first Level 2 female coach in Pakistan, she has not only made history, the achievement will also provide an incentive to other women in the country to pursue what has now become a career of choice internationally.”

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At least 31 dead in Nepal bus accident

NEPAL: At least 31 people, including 11 children, died when an overcrowded bus swerved off the road and plunged into a river in central Nepal on Saturday, police said.

The bus skidded off the road in Dhading district, approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu, early morning and plunged into the Trishuli River.

The death toll rose to 31 late afternoon after more bodies were recovered from the river, Police Inspector Barun Bahadur Singh, who is at the scene of the accident, confirmed.

Local TV footage showed rescue workers pulling the dead and injured from the water, while soldiers in boats scoured the river for the missing.

Transgender couple finds acceptance in rural Nepal

At least 16 injured passengers were taken to local hospitals, police said.

“The number of missing is still unknown as the bus had no record of the total number of passengers,” district police chief Dhruba Raj Raut told AFP.

Authorities are yet to confirm the cause of the crash, but local media quoted passengers saying that the driver may have been drunk.

Police Inspector Singh said that the driver was injured in the accident and is thought to have fled after freeing himself from the wreckage of the bus.

“The driver of the bus is suspected of running away right after the incident and we have expedited the search operation in the nearby areas,” he said.

Deadly crashes are relatively common in the impoverished Himalayan nation because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

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JI Peshawar president Sabir Awan steps down over NA-4 defeat

PESHAWAR: In the wake of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) defeat in the NA-4 by-election, the party’s Peshawar president, Sabir Hussain Awan, stepped down from his post on Saturday over “moral grounds”.

Awan told The Express Tribune that as his party was defeated in the by-election, it was his moral obligation to resign from the position.

“I am probably not the right person for the post and hopefully somebody better will come forward to head the party in Peshawar,” he added.

Awan has sent his resignation to the party’s provincial council.

He refuted rumours that he was forced to resign. “It was my own decision,” he maintained.

PTI seeks JI’s support to replace NA opposition leader

On Thursday, the PTI succeeded in retaining the National Assembly seat. Its candidate Arbab Amir Ayub bagged 45,734 votes, followed by ANP’s Khusdil Khan with 24,874 votes and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Nasir Khan Musazai with 24,790 votes.

Asad Gulzar Khan of the Pakistan Peoples Party secured 13,200 votes while Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s Allama Dr Mohammad Shafique Ameeni bagged 9,935 and JI’s Wasil Farooq Jan 7,668. In the general elections 2013, Jan had secured the third position.

Awan said his party had run an effective election campaign but it was all a game of money and government resources.

“We don’t bag votes using illegal means like bribing voters,” he added. “Hopefully, our party will be more prepared for the next general elections.”

Coming in sixth in the NA-4 by-poll, the JI performed even worse than the newly formed religio-political party, the Tehreek-Labbaik Pakistan.

The party’s share of votes dropped from 11.9% in the 2013 general elections to only 5.7% in the recent by-poll.

Sources within the JI say that some members are unhappy with the party’s decision to remain a partner in the coalition government in the province.

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US soldier killed in Afghan helicopter crash

KABUL: A US soldier died after the helicopter they were in crashed in Afghanistan, foreign forces said Saturday, denying Taliban claims that it had shot down the aircraft.

Six other US crew members were injured in the accident late Friday in Logar province, south of Kabul, NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

The death brought the number of US soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan – where they are supposed to be in a non-combat role – so far this year to 11, two above the tally for the whole of 2016.

“A US service member has died as a result of injuries sustained during a helicopter crash,” Resolute Support said.

US battlefield deaths have been relatively rare since the transfer of primary responsibility to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.

The Taliban, which has waged a 16-year insurgency against foreign forces and their Afghan counterparts, said on Twitter that its militants brought down the aircraft.

But provincial governor spokesman Salim Saleh said the helicopter hit a tree after a “successful” operation to support ground troops in Kharwar district.

“When the foreign forces were leaving the area, their helicopter hit a tree and crashed. The forces cordoned the area for hours to take their wounded soldiers out of the area,” he said.

The last US soldier to be killed in action died in August during an operation targeting Islamic State group insurgents in restive eastern Afghanistan.

US forces continue to provide air support for Afghanistan’s fledgling security forces, who are struggling to beat back the Taliban and IS militants.

As part of a new strategy outlined by US President Donald Trump in August, America is sending more than 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, on top of the 11,000 already deployed there, to help Afghan forces.

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