Rowling based witch on woman she hated

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has returned to the world of her teenage wizard to explain the background of one of her most evil characters.

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She has written more than 5500 words for her Pottermore website going into the history of Azkaban prison and the story of Dolores Umbridge – a witch played in the films by Imelda Staunton.

Rowling explains that Umbridge, who tormented the teenage wizard as a teacher at Hogwarts, is based on a real person whom she “disliked intensely on sight”.

She said: “The woman in question returned my antipathy with interest. Why we took against each other so instantly, heartily and (on my side, at least) irrationally, I honestly cannot say.”

Rowling said Umbridge was “one of the characters for whom I feel the purest dislike”, adding: “Her desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”

She has previously used the website to update the Potter stories and offer fans a glimpse into the lives of her characters after the books ended.

In one, she wrote about a school reunion that saw a now 34-year-old Harry back at Hogwarts with “threads of silver” in his black hair and a mysterious cut over his cheekbone which signifies his membership of a top-secret group of wizards called the Aurors.

The author, who lives in Edinburgh, recently published her second crime thriller under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The real identity of Robert Galbraith was revealed last year and sent the first novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, to the top of the book charts.

She accepted a substantial donation to charity from the law firm which breached her confidentiality by revealing she was writing under a pseudonym.

Only a handful of trusted advisers, family and friends were initially aware of Galbraith’s true identity until the story made headlines worldwide.

Athletics Kenya under fire over doping

Kenya’s athletics bosses came in for fierce criticism on Saturday after it emerged Rita Jeptoo, currently the world’s leading female marathon runner, tested positive in an out-of-competition anti-doping test.

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Athletics Kenya vice president Jackson Tuwei has revealed to AFP that Jeptoo’s ‘A’ sample had contained traces of the blood-boosting drug EPO, the same blood-boosting drug used by Lance Armstrong to cheat his way to seven Tour de France wins.

Her “B” sample has yet to be tested.

The revelation has stunned Kenya, whose naturally gifted distance runners are a major source of national pride, but has also left Athletics Kenya bosses facing renewed allegations of having ignored a worsening problem.

“If Kenya wants to win back, or at least buffer the loss of trust that is inevitable as a result of the Jeptoo test, then it must immediately and without delay open the system up to independent international scrutiny,” wrote Ross Tucker, a prominent South African sports scientist.

“That means naming the coaches, agents and support systems of Jeptoo, and fully exposing this particular problem,” said Tucker, who runs the influential sportsscientists南宁桑拿会所, website.

Jeptoo, a three-times winner of the Boston marathon and a two-time champion in Chicago, is the biggest name in Kenyan athletics ever to have been tested positive.

World Marathon Majors (WMM) organisers have postponed the awarding of this year’s $500,000 prize to 33-year-old Jeptoo, pending the final result of the case.

Her last win, in Chicago in October, came weeks after the urine test was carried out — and secured her overall win of the WMM series, which includes marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo.

“The credibility of Kenya is at stake,” admitted Barnaba Korir, Athletics Kenya Nairobi branch chairman and Jeptoo’s former manager.

He said Athletics Kenya, and especially its veteran president Isaiah Kiplagat, “has not been able to handle the seriousness of the doping issue and have been taking it too lightly.”

“It was just a matter of time before a top athlete was found out and Jeptoo’s case has confirmed these fears.”

Kenyan anti-doping task force chairman Moni Wekesa continued to blame dishonest foreign agents and doctors for Jeptoo’s positive test.

“It did not come as a surprise at all. In our investigation we stated clearly that our athletes are managed by foreign agents. It is these agents who are giving the athletes these drugs,” he said.

Tucker, however, said blaming outsiders is an “utterly and totally useless” and “irrelevant as a defence against doping.”

“The reality is that it doesn’t matter how the problem arrived. It’s there now, and it’s your athletes who are using it,” he said.

Suspicious Blue Mtns blaze still a threat

Authorities fear an erratic bushfire that gutted a Blue Mountains home and damaged others could again threaten residential streets.

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Crews are working through the night to contain the blaze on Katoomba’s outskirts after it flared up and jumped containment lines on Saturday afternoon.

The fire is believed to have been deliberately lit, and was one of more than 70 fires that broke out in sweltering conditions across NSW.

Authorities initially believed two Katoomba houses were destroyed but later confirmed only one had been lost.

While the bushfire has been downgraded to a watch-and-act level, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says strong overnight winds could push the fire head towards streets in the town’s west.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t but given the forecast there is every potential it could,” he told reporters.

The fire has dropped over an escarpment and is being monitored by firefighters overnight. Mr Fitzsimmons said it was too dangerous to send crews down into the fireground.

One firefighter was taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation. A resident was also hospitalised with chest pains.

The emergency comes as the Blue Mountains community continues to recover from last year’s devastating bushfires.

More than 200 houses were destroyed when fire ripped through the towns of Winmalee and Springwood in October 2013.

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill, who checked himself out of hospital on Saturday to head to Katoomba, said his heart sank when he heard a house was gutted by fire.

“Fortunately the property loss we are talking about tonight is nowhere near what we experienced last year,” he told reporters.

“Nevertheless, when this community hears about bushfires affecting this city… their minds turn back to what occurred and there is an edge that springs into people’s step.”

About 100 people sought refuge at the Katoomba RSL at the height of the fire threat.

The RFS is treating the bushfire as suspicious, with no initial signs that lightning started the blaze.

The weather is expected to be more favourable for firefighters on Sunday, with Sydney region temperatures in the low 20s and winds between 15-25km/h.

Perez nets winner as Newcastle beat sluggish Liverpool

Perez, who replaced the injured Papiss Cisse at halftime, smashed home from close range at St James’ Park after defender Alberto Moreno failed to clear a loose ball in the box.

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Perez also scored the winner when Newcastle won 2-1 at Tottenham Hotspur last week and his goal on Saturday was the highlight of an otherwise low key game of few chances from either side that only came to life in the closing stages.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who has been vilified by their fans for the team’s faltering performances, told BT Sport he was surprised to see a friendly message written on a banner and recalled the words of the late Magpies manager Bobby Robson.

“This is Newcastle,” he said. “You have to know there are real highs, and as Bobby Robson said, the highs are massive here and the lows are equally as low.

“He needed a tin hat at times, I’ve needed a tin hat at times but when the good times come, this is as good a city to be in as any.”

It is certainly that at the moment for Pardew, whose side almost doubled their lead soon after scoring when Remy Cabella’s shot after a swift counter was saved by the outstretched leg of Simon Mignolet.

Although Liverpool had plenty of possession, they wasted most of it and Newcastle keeper Tim Krul was hardly troubled by an impotent Liverpool attack with just Mario Balotelli up front.

Balotelli almost missed the start of the second half after coming out late from the dressing room, and like most of his team mates, had an undistinguished game.

Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers, whose team were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Hull City last week and needed two late goals to see off Swansea City in the Capital One (League) Cup on Tuesday, looked glum afterwards.

He refused to talk about Balotelli, but said the result was disappointing because Liverpool controlled much of the game.

“We did not create much in the final third and got punished for a mistake that has ended up costing us the game.

“We did not create as much as we would have liked. We have collectively lost as a team, I am not just going to talk about Mario.”

Newcastle failed to win any of their first seven league matches, but this was their third on the trot, after victories over Leicester City and Tottenham, and followed their midweek 2-0 win at Manchester City in the League Cup.

Newcastle, who were in the bottom three two weeks ago, rose to ninth on 13 points.

Liverpool remained seventh, just one point ahead of the Magpies who have now taken 10 points from their last four league games.

(Editing by Toby Davis)

Double points not all bad, says Andretti

With an unprecedented 50 points available to the winner in Abu Dhabi on Nov.

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23, the title battle between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg looks set to go down to the wire with possibly a shock outcome.

It could be that 2008 champion Hamilton ends the season with 11 wins (currently nine) to Rosberg’s five (four at present) but still walks away without the second crown he covets.

Andretti, the 1978 champion with Lotus, shrugged at the possibility.

“(American fans) are probably the only ones that can understand that because of NASCAR,” the 74-year-old told Reuters at the U.S. Grand Prix, the 17th of the season’s 19 races.

“You talk about gimmicks and look at the way the NASCAR championship is going,” he smiled. “It’s almost ridiculous.”

NASCAR has changed its Chase format this year from 10 rounds to decide the title to a series of three-race groupings with four drivers eliminated from contention after each and the points reset.

The final four drivers will then fight it out for the title at Miami’s Homestead track on Nov. 16 with the highest finisher winning.

That has left six times winner Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr already out of the reckoning while Ryan Newman could become champion without winning a race.

THE CHAMPION

“It is what it is,” said Andretti. “With the double points in Abu Dhabi, you would hope that the champion is not the one that wins because of that. Because there will always be an asterisk (alongside his name).

“But then again, he’s still the champion. Anyway you look at it, somebody is going to be happy and somebody is not going to be happy.

“If I am second or third and I mathematically have a chance because of double points, I’m going to love it. If I’m leading going in, then I’m going to hate it.”

Hamilton leads Rosberg by just 17 points at present with mechanical failure a constant worry for the Mercedes pair who have both suffered blanks this year.

Andretti said that whatever the outcome, it had been a ‘fabulous’ championship.

“It’s going to be riveting because these two guys can fight it out in earnest, clearly and do whatever. Take each other out or whatever,” he laughed.

“They both deserve to be champions. And this is the thing to remember. Nobody needs to put their head down, they both did a fabulous job.

“It (double points) is a gimmick but it’s equal for everyone to deal with. Everyone knows it’s there.”

Andretti, who won his title with six wins in a championship tinged with tragedy after the death of his Swedish team mate Ronnie Peterson at Monza, said ultimately the novelty was probably worth trying out.

“Does it serve the series? It probably does. Look at the dialogue that it’s creating. It cannot all be bad.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ian Chadband)

Moore, Na share the lead at US PGA event

American Ryan Moore inched a step closer to his title defence at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia by turning in a five-under-par 67 to share the lead with compatriot Kevin Na on Saturday.

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Na, who is looking for his second career victory on the PGA Tour, was one of three players in the field to record a bogey-free third round.

Sergio Garcia and Billy Hurley, who led on Friday, trail a shot behind going into Sunday’s final round.

Cameron Smith was the best of the Australians tied for ninth at eight-under par with John Senden a stroke back.

Defending champion Moore, known for his unorthodox swing, surged top of the leaderboard courtesy of seven birdies, including the tricky 11th and 12th hole — the highlight of the 32-year-old’s play.

“I birdied 11 and 12, two of the toughest holes on the course back-to-back. I just hit a great shot into 11 with a hybrid to maybe 20 feet or so, and followed up into 12 from maybe 25, 28 feet,” said Moore.

“That was the highlight for me and gives me that extra confidence going into Sunday. I know what it’s like to win out here and I’m going to try and make it happen again.”

Moore, who defeated Gary Woodland on the first playoff hole to win the CIMB Classic in 2013, is looking to become the first in the tournament’s history to defend his title.

Garcia — who stayed in contention for a second title after his Qatar Masters victory in January this year — was a consistent performer, with five birdies to card a 68.

The Spaniard blemished his scorecard with a bogey on the 11th after a two-hour delay due to rain showers at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, but remains confident going into the final round.

“I obviously have to play a little better than I did today, but I’m in contention to win another title, so I’ll go out there and give it my best shot and try to be aggressive and positive,” he said.

“If I can manage that, I should have a chance of winning.”

Lee Westwood, who shot a hole-in-one to card a low 65 on Friday, fell off the pace with five bogeys to reach a two-over 74.

‘Exceptional’ Sanchez carrying Arsenal hopes

Sanchez, who has scored 10 goals in 16 games in all competitions since arriving from Barcelona in the close season, netted twice as the hosts beat bottom side Burnley to climb into the top four.

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As his fellow forwards suffer from injuries or patchy form, the electric and diminutive 25-year-old is almost single-handedly shouldering Arsenal’s attacking burden.

In the build up to the game, Wenger described him as a street fighter and that was epitomised in his first goal.

Despite his stature, Sanchez rose highest to crash in a brave header against two imposing defenders and his second in stoppage time capped a near flawless display.

“It was a top performance from Alexis Sanchez,” Wenger told the BBC.

“His quality is exceptional, he takes responsibility and goes at people. He fights, he can score, that is what you want from great players.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche singled out the in-form Chilean as a player his goal-shy forwards should learn from.

“He’s fantastic. I was saying to Danny Ings afterwards that part of his development is looking at that and understanding it,” Dyche told Sky Sports.

“That’s a player who’s effervescent, he’s non-stop, he has quality and he’s brave. His header is brave.

“We talk to our strikers all the time about being on the move and arriving in the box and that’s a great advert for what it is.”

Until Sanchez’s first goal in the 70th minute, Arsenal had struggled to break down the visitors’ stubborn rearguard but Wenger said it was imperative his side, who have now won successive league games for the first time this season, remained calm.

“It was a question of patience and quality and I think we did all of that,” he added.

“It was important not to concede a goal and in the end it was a comfortable win but everyone works hard in the Premier League.”

Wenger was able to welcome back Theo Walcott for the first time in 11 months following a serious knee injury and the Frenchman is confident the pacy England forward will be back to his dangerous best.

“That appearance from Theo Walcott gives him the confidence to play again. I think he will soon be back to his best level.”

(Reporting by Tom Hayward, editing by Mark Meadows)

Chelsea can win Premier-Champions League double – Courtois

Courtois was the bedrock of the unfancied Spanish side who defied the odds to beat giants Barcelona and Real Madrid to the La Liga title before coming within seconds of winning the Champions League against Real — conceding a stoppage time Sergio Ramos equaliser before losing 4-1 after extra time.

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Since returning to Stamford Bridge at the end of his three-year loan spell in Spain, the 22-year-old Courtois has helped the club make a blistering start to the campaign.

The Blues top the Premier League, unbeaten in nine games and four points ahead of second-placed Southampton, and lead their Champions League group with seven points from a possible nine.

Courtois, who has established himself as Chelsea’s first-choice keeper by displacing Petr Cech, believes the double is achievable for Jose Mourinho’s expensively-assembled squad.

“We have the quality to reach the Champions League and to win it but there’s other strong teams – Bayern (Munich), Barcelona, Madrid – so you need a little bit of luck not to play against them before the final,” Courtois told the BBC.

“We have the team to win the Champions League. So hopefully we could win both. Obviously, we have a very strong team to do it, not only 11 players but a very strong bench and even players who fell out of the team sometimes.

“The Premier League would be really nice to win. I played the (Champions League) final last year so I want revenge for that (defeat) and win the Champions League.

“To be (Premier League) champions you are the best team from 20 teams all season. If you play against (Manchester) City, (Manchester) United, Liverpool, Arsenal — if you are champions of the Premier League it is a really nice trophy.

“I’d rather have both, but if I had to choose, maybe the Premier League now and another year the Champions League.”

Chelsea host struggling London rivals Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

(Reporting by Tom Hayward; editing by Ken Ferris)

Moore, Na lead by one at CIMB Classic in Malaysia

Moore, who won the title last year after a Monday playoff against Gary Woodland, mixed seven birdies with two bogies, for a total of 12-under 204 in the $7 million tournament, co-sanctioned by the PGA and Asian Tour.

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Korean-born Na, a former Asian Tour Rookie of the Year, joined him at the top of the leaderboard with five birdies.

World number four Sergio Garcia, the highest-ranked player in the field, fired a 68 to share third spot with overnight leader Billy Hurley III (71), a stroke behind the leaders.

With three more Americans, including Woodland, and South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon, a three-time Asian Tour winner and double PGA Tour champion, lying fifth at nine-under 207, Moore knows he faces another close finish on Sunday.

“I’ve just been able to play good, solid, consistent golf so far, just putting it on the fairway, giving myself chances and I’ve been fortunate enough to make some putts,” the 31-year-old Moore said. “So in the end that’s why I’m here.

“You know, I’ve been here, I’ve done it on this course, and so that should just give me that little extra going into tomorrow.

“I know what it’s like to win out here and I’m going to try and make that happen again.”

Na, 31, won his maiden professional title with the Asian Tour in Malaysia in 2002 and with Saturday’s only bogey-free card in the field he has a chance to win his second PGA title.

“It’s always nice to play bogey free, and I thought if I shot 67, somewhere around in there, I’d be very close to the lead,” Na said, recalling his last Malaysia win as a teenager.

“I remember my dad was caddying… I was just a kid, made the turn and looked at the leaderboard and I was like, man, I looked at my dad and I was like, I’ve got a chance to win this tournament, and birdied 10, 11, 12 and 13 and had a two-shot lead.

“It wasn’t the easiest last two holes coming in but I hung in there. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

Former world number one Lee Westwood started brightly with three birdies from his first five holes but five bogeys saw him sign for a 74 to stand tied 18th, seven shots off the lead.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Koeman hails his Saints and Wanyama goal as ‘incredible’

The Saints’ Dutch manager was left purring in satisfaction after Saturday’s 1-0 win ensured that the Premier League’s surprise packets would finish the weekend in second place in the table.

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Yet as the travelling fans from England’s south coast ended the game chanting about a title challenge, Koeman, asked if he could deliver such a dream, had to offer a touch of realism.

“That’s always positive but that’s not what will happen,” he said. “But to continue winning and being up in the table, why not?

“If you win games, you will have good possibilities. Maybe to play in Europe, you never know. If we keep like this, it can be a fantastic season.”

Even though he felt that Southampton’s 10th win in their last 11 games was “not our best game”, Koeman was thrilled with the quality of his side as they capitalised on Victor Wanyama’s brilliant third minute strike which his manager hailed as “an incredible goal”.

“The second half was perfection in how you have to control a game. The team performance was incredible, another clean sheet that brings the points,” said Koeman, whose side have stopped the opposition scoring in six of their 10 League matches so far.

Koeman admitted that even he was a little surprised at Southampton’s remarkable start to a campaign in which they had been tipped by many to struggle after the sale of key players in the close season.

The Saints’ manager once buried a thunderous strike from a free kick for Barcelona against Sampdoria to win the 1992 European Cup at Wembley but even this occasional scorer of grand goals reckoned he had seen nothing like Wanyama’s 40-metre winner.

“I don’t score ones like this,” smiled Koeman, who watched in awe as his Kenyan midfielder capitalised on a poor clearance from Hull keeper Eldin Jakupovic to send his chip sailing back over him and into the net.

“It was an incredible one,” said Koeman. “Maybe it was the fault of the goalkeeper but shooting from that distance and with that precision, it was incredible.”

(Writing by Ian Chadband; Editing by Toby Davis)