Ronaldinho’s brother to be questioned in World Cup illegal ticket sales probe

Brazilian authorities are investigating whether members of the Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish football federations were involved in the illegal sale of World Cup tickets. Photo:

As France and Germany prepare to serve up the first dish of a mouth-watering World Cup quarter-final menu, a ticket tout inquiry continues on Thursday.

Brazil’s 2002 title winner Ronaldinho’s brother is one of those wanted for questioning.

Brazilian authorities are investigating whether members of the Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish football federations were involved in the illegal sale of World Cup tickets after police dismantled a scalping gang.

The brother and agent of Ronaldinho, Roberto de Assis Moreira, will be questioned in the case, though he is not under investigation, said Mr Marcos Kac, the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor.

The probe comes as the 2014 World Cup prepares to enter its gripping concluding stage, AFP reported.

Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium is the fitting backdrop for Friday’s meeting of the two European powerhouses, with France falling to Germany in the semi-finals at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

The victor will face either hosts Brazil, or one of the sensations of the tournament Colombia, who clash in Friday’s second quarter-final in Fortaleza.

The last eight drama continues on Saturday with Argentina facing Belgium and the Netherlands up against minnows Costa Rica.

Source: AFP

 

KL plans law to punish alms-givers and stop beggars

A beggar in Kuala Lumpur.
A beggar in Kuala Lumpur.

A Malaysian  minister  is proposing a roundabout way of imposing fines on people who donate money to beggars.

"We will not fine them (alms-givers) but when we come across those who give money on the street, we will issue them a receipt for RM150 (S$58) and take the money, which I will then give to properly deserving people," said Federal Territories minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor​.

He said by-laws and standard operating procedures to curb alms-givers and beggars in the city streets will be announced very soon, reported The Star.

Beggars, on the other hand, will be rounded up and jobs will be found for them, the minister said during a press conference to present official appointment letters to representatives on the Non-Islam House of Worship committee in Menara DBKL in Kuala Lumpur.

"We will talk to them (the beggars) and find out what caused them to live such a life in the first place and try to help them as much as we can," he said, adding that some were also part of syndicates.

He rubbished suggestions that the move was un-Islamic, claiming that even in Mecca and Medina, beggars were cleared off the streets.

"There are proper avenues to give alms such as religious organisations and such. Go to them and donate. They will distribute and do with it as they see fit and make sure it helps the truly needy," said Tengku Adnan.

Source: The Star

Germs galore on plane seat belts and security scan trays

An undercover team found germs on trays and seat belts on planes, as well as trays used at airport security scans.
An undercover team found germs on trays and seat belts on planes, as well as trays used at airport security scans.

This piece of news may just put you off your next flight. 

An undercover team from The Today Show went testing for germs in places like seat belts on planes and airport security scan trays on three cross-country flights in America. 

Germaphobes will be horrified to know that nine out of 13 samples taken came back teeming with harmful bacteria, some of them highly dangerous. 

One security scan tray had evidence of faecal matter that could make people sick. 

The trays used for holding personal belongings at security scans contained some nasty germs.

“We're talking about skin or soft-tissue infections, which can potentially lead to overwhelming infections in your bloodstream,” said Dr Robert Glatter, an emergency room doctor at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told The Today Show. 

Tray tables on planes did not fare any better either. 

Ms Hollis Gillespie, a travel expert who worked as a flight attendant for 23 years, said she is not surprised as she has seen people changing their baby’s diapers on the tray table.

But seat belts were worse - one test found bacteroides, which are bacteria that live in our gut and intestines. 

Armrests were clean but not the trays or the seat belts. 

"These are dangerous bacteria that cause serious infections," Dr Glatter said, adding that they can be transferred by skin contact.

On the positive side, the touch screens at airport self-service machines were germ free, despite the many fingers that tap it every day. Plane seat armrests were also germ-free. 

Ms Gillespie also has additional advice for those seeking to avoid germs:

  1. Do not walk around barefoot because of dirty carpets. 
  2. Check the seat-back pocket before reaching inside - some travellers put back used air-sickness bags.
  3. Scrub down everything around you with anti-bacterial wipes for a peace of mind. 

Source: The Today Show

S'pore police bust soccer betting syndicate, arrest eight men

Eight men were arrested and computers, laptops, mobile phones, betting records and a total of $190,000 in cash were seized in islandwide operations on July 1 and July 2.

Police arrested eight men on Tuesday (July 1) and Wednesday for their suspected involvement in illegal soccer bookmaking and punting activities.

Computers, laptops, mobile phones, betting records and a total of $190,000 in cash were seized in islandwide operations. 

The operations covered Clementi West, Jelapang Road, Tampines, Bedok Central, Jalan Kembangan, Boon Tiong Road, Hougang, Upper Boon Keng Road and Jalan Chermat.

The suspects are believed to have received about $750,000 in bets over the past two weeks, the police said in a press release.

Investigations against the suspects are ongoing.

Those found guilty of being involved in bookmaking will be fined between $20,000 and $200,000 and jailed for up to five years.

Those found guilty of betting with a bookmaker will be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to six months.

Source: Singapore Police Force

Girl fakes kidnap to get parents to pay World Cup gambling debt

Xiao Cai, 21, sent text messages to her mother, purportedly​ from a kidnapper, demanding a ransom of 20,000 yuan​ for her safe release.

Unable to pay her gambling debt, an undergraduate tried to get her parents to fork out the cash by pretending to have been kidnapped.

The 21-year-old, known only as Xiao Cai, lost 1,000 yuan (S$200) betting on World Cup games online, reported ShanghaiDaily.com.

Her parents in Wuxi, China's Jiangsu province, had refused to give her the money to pay off her debt.

So when Xiao Cai travelled to Shanghai to visit a friend on June 20, she cooked up a plan to get the money.

Pay up, or else...

On June 22, she sent text messages to her mother, purportedly​ from a kidnapper, demanding a ransom of 20,000 yuan​ for her safe release.

Posing as the kidnapper, she also threatened to sell the girl (herself) to a bar owner and have her work as a prostitute if they did not pay up.

The couple tried in vain to contact Xiao Cai before approaching a friend to trace the phone number, reported online media publication China Topix.

The police said: "When the parents learnt that the mobile number was from Shanghai, they immediately left Wuxi and travelled to Shanghai fearing for the life of their daughter." 

Ask cops for help

There, the couple received another text message with instructions and the money drop location - the gate of Kunyang Road Primary School in Minhang District.

The parents went to the Bijiang Road Police Station for help and told them the last known location of their daughter - a friend's house at Jiangchuan Road.

Police visited the place and found Xiao Cai watching a World Cup match by herself, reported China Topix. 

She got off with a reprimand from the police for her behaviour.

Sources: China Topix, ShanghaiDaily.com

Teen, 15, sexually assaults 85-year-old woman in home break-in

A teenager and his accomplice crashed a stolen car after breaking into the house of an elderly couple and sexually assaulting an 85-year-old woman.
A teenager and his accomplice crashed a stolen car after breaking into the house of an elderly couple and sexually assaulting an 85-year-old woman.

A 15-year-old teenager and his accomplice sexually assaulted an 85-year-old woman during a home robbery in California on Tuesday, reported Mercury News. 

After taking several valuables, the intruders made off with the couple's Chevrolet Equinox SUV which they later crashed. 

"Two suspects entered their home armed with weapons," said San Jose police spokesman Albert Morales. 

"At some point, the 85-year-old female was sexually assaulted."

After 10 minutes of high-speed police chase, the driver lost control and crashed into a vacant home.

Woman hospitalised

The woman was taken to hospital for treatment but the husband was not injured, said Los Angeles Times. 

"It's an unfortunate set of circumstances," the spokesman added. "It's one of those cases you don't wish upon anybody."

Police declined to give additional details about the attack, said the Mercury News report. 

The teenage boy was pinned in the vehicle and later arrested.

Police are still searching for the accomplice, who drove the Chevrolet and ran off after the crash. 

Sources: Mercury News, Los Angeles Times

Stranger in queue pays for poor mum's diapers

Katie Kanefke has to scrimp and save to raise her four-month-old son. Every little bit counts.

Her husband, Jimmy, is the sole breadwinner and they live on a tight budget.

On Sunday, she placed four diaper packs in her shopping cart, thinking she would get a discounted price. She didn't.

The Walmart cashier in South Dakota declined to match a competitor's lower price on the item, so Ms Kanefke decided to buy only one pack.

This would have ended as a sad tale for the young mother if not for a startling act of kindness.

Ms Carol Flynn, 73, who had been waiting in line to pay for her items, forked out US$120 (S$150) to pay for the diapers.

The kind deed was secretly filmed by another shopper Jason Yoshino, who put it up on his Facebook page that very night. 

The video has since gone viral, garnering 29,000 likes and 7,400 shares.

On the touching act, Mail Online reported Ms Kanefke as saying: "I couldn't believe it. I was shocked. I kept saying thank you and God bless you."

"'Then I walked out in the parking lot and started crying," she said.

Ms Flynn, however, didn't think too much of her pay-it-forward action.

Argus Leader reported Ms Flynn as saying: "I just think we should do things like that. That's kind of my thinking."

She told ABC News: "Diapers are for babies and babies are on my heart. We’re always concerned about mums and healthy babies."

 Mr Yoshino said on his Facebook status when posting the video:  "My wife and I were speechless at this warm hearted and kind act of generosity. There are some amazing people in this world. What a way to end such a beautiful day to witness such an amazing act of kindness." 

Watch the video here.

Sources: ABC News, Argus Leader, Mail Online

Obama calls Howard and Dempsey to congratulate US team

 US President Barack Obama (centre) calls a foul on the Belgians as he takes a seat for a few minutes to watch during a staff viewing party of the World Cup soccer match between the US and Belgium on July 1, 2014.
US President Barack Obama (centre) calls a foul on the Belgians as he takes a seat for a few minutes to watch during a staff viewing party of the World Cup soccer match between the US and Belgium on July 1, 2014.
 US President Barack Obama reacts as he watches the World Cup soccer match between the US and Belgium during a staff viewing party on July 1, 2014.
US President Barack Obama reacts as he watches the World Cup soccer match between the US and Belgium during a staff viewing party on July 1, 2014.

The US national football team's Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey got a call from none other than the US President, congratulating them on their World Cup performance

“Man, I just wanted to call and say you guys did us proud!” President Barack Obama says in the call which was posted on the White House YouTube channel.

“You guys did great….you guys captured the hearts and imaginations of the whole country.”

Millions of Americans have tuned into this World Cup, with the USA-Portugal group match drawing 18.22 million viewers on ESPN, according to the New York Post.

Team USA were beaten 2-1 in extra-time by Belgium in the round of 16, despite the valiant efforts of US captain Howard and striker Dempsey.

Howard was deemed the new Captain America after his World Cup record of 16 saves​ in that match, with fans hailing his incredible performance, with visuals like this:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also called Howard "to thank him for defending the United States of America at the World Cup."

Twitter said US-Belgium ranked as the fourth-most tweeted World Cup match, with 9.1 million tweets.

Source: Whitehouse YouTube, Twitter, New York Post

How cool is this bird? It serves at Wimbledon

Rufus the Hawk.
Rufus the Hawk.

Rufus the Hawk reports for duty weighing one pound, six ounces.

An ounce or two more, and he’s too sedentary. Any lighter, and he ceases being the non-lethal deterrent Wimbledon contracts him to be and roams farther afield for mouse, snake or hare.

But if Rufus arrives at his optimum weight, he need only soar over Center Court a few times to earn his hand-fed reward of raw chicken bits. The mere sight of his 40-inch wingspan is enough to shoo away the pigeons that might otherwise land on the court during a critical point, deposit droppings in the Royal Box or roost in the eaves to feast on grass-seed all winter, as if the sod were a buffet table.

A 6-year-old Harris Hawk with prodigious self-esteem, Rufus is just one of several hundred actors in the meticulously choreographed dance that unfolds between dawn and 10:30 a.m. daily throughout the Wimbledon fortnight.

 

 


Photos: Stella Artois UK/YouTube

Other "actors" in Wimbledon perfection

From strawberry-hullers to bomb-sniffing English Springer Spaniels, every man and beast has a task before the All England Club’s wrought-iron gates open to the tennis-mad public. And every task – whether mowing, measuring, marking, pruning, watering, soaring, sniffing, sweeping, scrubbing or polishing – has its appointed time for completion.

No detail is overlooked. Everything must be just so at the most esteemed of the four Grand Slams. A ticket to Wimbledon, after all, constitutes an invitation to a private club that opens to royals and commoners alike for two weeks each year to watch the world’s best players in the most pristine setting in sports.

“It’s all about the details,” says Lucy Tomlinson, 21, a member of Wimbledon’s daytime housekeeping staff, which from 7:30 a.m. onward restocks the loos with soap and hand towels, polishes the banisters, scrubs scuff marks from the entryways and wipes away beads of water left by the power-washing of ticket-holders’ seats.

“We make sure everything is absolute perfection!”

Neil Stubley, the head groundsman, starts his day with a 5:30 a.m. check of the forecast. Based on that, he directs his staff when to deflate the translucent covers on the 41 grass courts so they can be rolled up and stowed and the sod watered if the daily measurements of its hardness indicate there’s a need.

All of Wimbledon’s courts are oriented in a north-south direction. A specific groundskeeper is assigned to each court for the tournament’s duration. And each mows the rye grass to precisely 8 millimeters each morning, in exactly the same pattern of alternating stripes.

Every cutting is captured by the mower; even a stray snippet of grass could cause a player to slip.


Photos: Wimbledon/YouTube

“If Roger or Andy or Rafa goes out onto any of the practice courts in the morning and then comes out to any of the match courts, they should play exactly the same because we have controlled the moisture, the grass species and the cutting,” explains Stubley, who supervises a staff of 32 groundskeepers and gardeners.

Rufus doesn't like dogs

A mix of spaniels and retrievers, they scamper up and down the walkways, peer under benches and poke into trash bins positively quivering with excitement over the prospect of finding something that warrants a prize. At Wimbledon, naturally, that prize is a fuzzy yellow tennis ball.

Dogs, however, are one of the few sights that unsettle Rufus. So handler Imogen Davis, whose parents and five siblings breed and train raptors for a living, does her best to steer the hawk clear of Wimbledon’s canines. It’s not always easy, given that Rufus’s vision is 10 times better than her own.

“If Rufus was at one end of a football pitch, and a newspaper was at the other end, Rufus could read the headline!” Davis says by way of illustration. “If he could read.”

Apart from the sight of dogs, nothing rattles Rufus. Not the sound of Wimbledon’s lawn mowers. Not the sound of leaf blowers. Not even the fire alarm that gets a full-song test each morning at 9:35.

It’s followed at 9:45 a.m. by a call over the public-address system for all staff and contractors to remove all vehicles and carts from the grounds in preparation for the opening of the gates, 45 minutes away.

And the pace of activity picks up.

- Washington Post 

Sources: YouTube, Wimbledon, Stella Artois

 

Plain-living hermit found dead was millionaire

The 79-year-old recluse found dead last week had US$3 million (S$3.74 million) in the bank but lived without running water.
The 79-year-old recluse found dead last week had US$3 million (S$3.74 million) in the bank but lived without running water.

The 79-year-old man lived alone in a rundown shack in rural New York without running water or heat.

Mr George Konnight, who was found dead last Friday, had never been to the dentist nor did he have a telephone at home. 

But it turns out that the modest hermit was a millionaire, with US$3 million (S$3.74 million) in the bank from a sale of family land last November, reported The Journal News.

Mr Konnight had lived alone since both his sisters died in the last two years.

A distant cousin, Ms Beverly Moore, 75, said: "They didn't have many friends or even a telephone."

"I used to get calls asking about them. I told the caller they had to mail them a letter."

The coroner's office will determine the cause of Mr Konnight's death, but the death is not considered suspicious. 

Lived like recluses

A neighbour said that the two lived like recluses and never had real jobs, reported Daily Mail.

They had no expenses other than taxes, and would sell land passed down in the family to pay them. 

Mr Konnight's lawyer Thomas O'Connell had known his client for about 15 years ago and said he had been making strides in living a normal life after the death of his "domineering" sister last year. 

His money will be donated to charity.

Sources: The Journal News, Daily Mail

Pages