No case for the defence as Liverpool’s struggles continue

This was the narrative that echoed around the Liverpool forums and message boards within seconds of the full-time whistle in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park as the Anfield club’s fans began to debate where it had all gone wrong.


For Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, a fourth loss in 10 league games this season, could be explained away as little more than a moment of defensive madness.

“We were punished for a mistake and that is what cost us the game,” he told BT Sport.

There are some supporters, however, who are beginning to point the finger at a manager feted for last season’s title charge but now firmly under the microscope.

While the more generous fans see Rodgers being hamstrung by an untimely injury to striker Daniel Sturridge, others point to a defence that still struggles with the basics and a host of new recruits that have failed to hit the ground running.

Following Suarez’s departure to Barcelona, Liverpool splashed out 130 million pounds ($207.94 million) on nine new signings, including Divock Origi who returned to Lille for a season on loan, to fill out a squad that looked thin in the previous campaign when Liverpool were runners-up.

None of the arrivals have been a resounding success, some have failed to shine at all while others have punctuated intermittent bright moments with game-changing errors and catastrophic blunders.

Liverpool’s defence remains a concern with two clean sheets in 15 games in all competitions this season.

Croatia’s Dejan Lovren and Spaniard Moreno, at a combined cost of 37 million pounds, were added to a backline that shipped 50 league goals last season.

Yet Moreno’s mistakes cost Liverpool in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City earlier this season and now at Newcastle, while Lovren was signed to provide leadership but has added as much uncertainty as steel to a backline that looks as uncomfortable defending set pieces and high balls as last year.


The pair are not the only new recruits to have struggled for form, with pundits frequently making comparisons with Tottenham Hotspur’s failure to spend wisely when Gareth Bale left for Real Madrid for a world record fee last year.

Five of Rodgers’ close-season signings are under 23 and some look ill equipped to make an instant impact in the Premier League, typified by Lazar Markovic who was signed for 20 million pounds from Benfica and has started two league games.

The most controversial addition to the squad is Italian Mario Balotelli, whose struggles in front of goal and perceived lethargy have been exaggerated by constant comparisons with the player he replaced.

Suarez’s industry was almost unparalleled, while Balotelli has a habit of floating ineffectively around the pitch, shrugging his shoulders when passes go astray and moving out of dangerous areas at inopportune moments.

Last season’s defensive fragility was overcome by releasing attacking players to go for the jugular.

With Sturridge expected to be on the sidelines for several more weeks with a calf injury, Liverpool look short of a plan B and are persisting with a tactical approach that seems impotent without its key protagonists.

“We’ve lost probably 80 percent of our goals out of the team with Luis going and Dan (Sturridge’s injury),” Rodgers told reporters on Saturday.

“We can’t keep going on about it but it is an item as to why we’re not getting so many goals. When you’re a team that can score goals, that gives the team confidence.”

With Liverpool visiting European champions Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday before facing Premier League leaders Chelsea next weekend, things could get even worse for Rodgers before they get any better.

(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ken Ferris)

Rosberg on pole for U.S. Grand Prix

Mercedes-powered Williams filled the second row with Finland’s Valtteri Bottas third fastest and Brazilian Felipe Massa fourth.


Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points with three races, and 100 points remaining. The Briton has won the last four grand prix and is chasing his 10th victory of the season.

If the pair finish one-two on Sunday, as looks more than likely, Mercedes will equal McLaren’s record of 10 in a season set with Alain Prost and the late Ayrton Senna.

The pole was the ninth of the season for Rosberg and 13th of his career.

“It worked out really well. Together with my engineers, I really arrived in qualifying with a car that I was really happy with,” said Rosberg.

“This morning, the conditions were quite different, a lot colder so the track was changing all the time. It wasn’t that easy to get everything right.

“First place today is awesome, but the race is what counts, so I need to fully focus on tomorrow and try and bring it home,” added the German

Hamilton, who had been quickest in all three practice sessions and the first phase of qualifying, had tyre and brake issues when it mattered most and expressed some concern for Sunday.

That race comes on the sixth anniversary of his 2008 world championship triumph in Brazil.

“The issue was just locking and if I can’t fix that brake then that will be a continuing issue throughout the race,” said Hamilton.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth for Red Bull while his team mate and 2013 winner Sebastian Vettel starts from the pitlane after exceeding his engine allocation for the season.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso qualified sixth.

There was also a ray of hope for beleaguered Sauber, who have yet to score a point this year, with Germany’s Adrian Sutil qualifying 10th.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin. Editing by Steve Keating.)

Drones spied flying above French nuclear sites

Drones have overflown five more nuclear plants in France, sources say, the latest in a mysterious string of such incidents across the country.


The drones flew over two power stations in the north, two in the centre and one in the east of the country on Friday.

It marked the latest incident in which the machines have flown over the country’s nuclear power plants – actions for which no-one has yet claimed responsibility and which authorities insist pose no danger.

On Friday a spokesman for security forces said that two plants were overflown during the night and the national energy company EDF said on Wednesday that it had identified seven drones flying over its plants this month and had filed a complaint with the police.

An inquiry has been launched to find who is piloting the remote-controlled machines.

The drone flights have sparked questions over the security of nuclear plants in France, which relies heavily on atomic energy for electricity.

It is against French law to fly within a five kilometre radius of a nuclear plant. Anyone breaking the law is liable to one year in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($A112,494).

Environmental lobby group Greenpeace, whose activists have in the past staged protests at nuclear plants in France, has denied any involvement in the mysterious drone activity.

France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, operates 58 reactors and has been a leading international cheerleader for atomic energy.

But in a deal with the Greens before the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections, President Francois Hollande’s Socialist party promised to cut reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 per cent to 50 per cent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025.

Larsson’s Falkenberg earn final day draw to stay up

The final round of Allsvenskan games was overshadowed by the death of former Sweden international and Elfsborg manager Klas Ingesson this week after a five-year battle with cancer.


Falkenberg coach Larsson had tears in his eyes during the minute’s silence to honour his national team mate, whose death has prompted an outpouring of grief in Sweden. Both men played key roles in the team that came third at the 1994 World Cup.

Falkenberg, with a tiny budget compared to the big Swedish clubs and favourites to go down since the start of the season, began the day fourth from bottom, two places above Mjallby.

They looked safe when Daniel Keat gave them the lead just past the half-hour mark but Joel Enarsson’s 68th-minute equaliser ensured a nervy but ultimately successful climax to the season for Falkenberg as they hung on for the draw.

Malmo FF, who face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, had already secured a second successive championship victory, romping to the title with three games left to play.

Finishing with 62 points from 30 games, Malmo will enter the qualifying stages of the Champions League again next season, with runners-up IFK Gothenburg (56) and third-placed AIK (52) entering the Europa League qualifying stages.

Elfsborg, shaken by Ingesson’s death, took to the pitch at already-relegated Brommapojkarna, who lost captain Pontus Segerstrom to a brain tumour two weeks earlier, wearing shirts with the ex-Sweden midfielder’s picture on them.

There were poignant tributes to both men before and during the game, which Elfsborg won 1-0 to finish fourth, level on points with AIK but with a worse goal difference.

Struggling Gefle IF won 2-1 against visiting Helsingborg to finish third from bottom, one point behind Falkenberg on 32.

They face a playoff with the third-placed team in the Superettan, the second tier which holds its final round of matches on Sunday, to see if they can stay up.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; editing by Ken Ferris)

Dortmund have too many construction sites in squad – Klopp

Dortmund’s fifth straight Bundesliga defeat has seen last season’s runners-up tumble to third from bottom in the table and their worst-ever start to a campaign is piling the pressure on Klopp who led them to league titles in 2011 and 2012.


Describing his team’s position as “just horrible”, he told reporters at the Allianz Arena: “We still have a lot of construction sites in our squad.

“One could see that today. It is not just through bad luck that we are languishing down there.

“We played our best first half in a long time. We have to start being rewarded for our effort. That is bothering us.”

Dortmund gave Bayern a run for their money in the opening period, pressing high and launching breaks in their trademark lightning-quick style including one which gave them the lead through Marco Reus.

They then lost captain Mats Hummels through injury at halftime, depriving them of some defensive consistency, while the visitors also failed to maintain the same level of pressure at the other end of the pitch.

Two mistakes by substitute defender Neven Subotic were enough to turn the game in Bayern’s favour in the second half as goals from Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben, with an 85th-minute penalty, secured a comeback win.

“Fact is we played very little football in the second half. We became too passive,” said Klopp whose team host Galatasaray in the Champions League next week after having won all three games so far to lead Group D.

“We should not change our play like we did in the second half.”

Dortmund have picked up just seven points from their first 10 league games.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Edited by Ian Chadband)

UN panel adopts landmark climate report after all-nighter

The United Nations’ expert panel on climate science says there’s “conclusive evidence” that humans are altering the Earth’s climate system.


A report, which combines the findings of three earlier reports, was adopted after all-night talks that went on until 5am on Saturday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The scientists and government representatives on the panel, who jointly approved the document line by line, then rested for a few hours before resuming the session in Copenhagen to finish the document.

The report is scheduled to be released to the public on Sunday.

Apart from discussing the human influence, the report is expected to describe how climate impacts, including melting Arctic sea ice and rising levels, are already happening and could become irreversible unless the world curbs its greenhouse gas emissions.

The scientists and government representatives on the panel, who jointly approved the document line by line, then rested for a few hours before resuming the session in Copenhagen to finish the document.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says scientists are now 95 per cent certain that the buildup of such gases from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation is the main cause of warming seen since the middle of the 20th century.

IPCC vice chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele wrote on Twitter that the report was adopted on Saturday afternoon following round-the-clock talks.

Saturday, 7h in Copenhagen. Normal people wake up. I will sleep an hour, after another #IPCC all-nighter chairing a meeting. #climate

— JPascal van Ypersele (@JPvanYpersele) November 1, 2014

The UN Environment Program said the report “offers conclusive scientific evidence that human activities continue to cause unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate”.

In an interview with The Associated Press, UNEP head Achim Steiner said the world has the technology and capacity to act, and needs to do so urgently.

The cost of achieving emissions cuts increases exponentially with each year “because you will have to make far more drastic changes in our economy”, Steiner said.

While the IPCC tries to avoid explicitly telling governments what they should do, the report will present scenarios showing that warming can be kept in check if the world shifts its energy system toward renewable sources like wind and solar power and implements technologies to capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Djokovic stays on course to retain Paris title

Earlier, seventh-seeded Canadian Raonic qualified for his second Masters Series final by downing Czech Tomas Berdych 6-3 3-6 7-5.


“I haven’t dropped a set and I feel confident about my game,” Djokovic told reporters.

The Serb, who is on a 26-match winning streak indoors, was never threatened by Nishikori who beat him at the U.S. Open but lacked energy after battling for almost three hours late on Friday to dispose of David Ferrer in three sets.

Victory for Djokovic also meant he extended his lead over Roger Federer in the battle for the year-end number one spot.

He raced into a 4-1 lead and never looked back, effortlessly sending his opponent to every corner of the court.

Following an early exchange of breaks, Djokovic stole Nishikori’s serve again in the sixth game of the second set and it proved enough. “It was obvious that Kei — because of fatigue maybe finishing late last night or a little injury — he didn’t serve as well as he can,” said the holder.

The big-serving Raonic, runner-up at the Montreal Masters last year, followed up his quarter-final defeat of second seed Federer by beating Berdych, the 2005 Paris champion.

After firing down 21 aces against the Swiss, the Canadian had to wait until the fifth game to serve his first on Saturday but by that time he had already broken Berdych for a 3-1 lead.

Although the fifth seed read his serve pretty well, Raonic bagged the opening set when his opponent’s sliced backhand sailed long.

Berdych broke in the second game of the second set as Raonic netted a backhand.

The third set was a much more balanced affair until the Canadian sealed the win as Berdych netted a backhand before smashing his racket on the ground in frustration having made four consecutive unforced errors, including two straight double faults.

“I just totally messed it up with the last game,” said Berdych. “It was definitely the worst game I played in this tournament this year.”

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Why some people survive Ebola explained by mice study


Extended coverage: Ebola crisis

Scientists wearing anti-pathogen “spacesuits” and working in a government biocontainment laboratory have shown that genetically diverse strains of mice can accurately model the devastating health effects of the Ebola virus, according to new research.


In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers argued that collaboratively-bred lab mice can now replace monkeys as Ebola research animals — a development that could save scientists money and help avoid potential ethical dilemmas in future research.

Traditionally, scientists have used macaques, guinea pigs and Syrian hamsters to study the virus, but not lab mice.

The reason for this, according to senior author Michael Katze, a microbiology professor at the University of Washington, is that while Ebola will kill conventional lab mice, it will not provoke the same symptoms seen in humans.

“It killed mice, but it didn’t produce hemorrhagic fever symptoms,” Katze said. “When you’re testing drugs and vaccines, it’s important that you stop the symptoms that appear in humans. That’s why the nonhuman primate model has been the gold standard. But using nonhuman primates is really financially and ethically difficult.”

Study co-author Angela Rasmussen, a microbiology researcher at the University of Washington, said that inbreeding of lab mice was the root of the problem.

“Most of the conventional laboratory strains … only have about 10 percent the overall genetic diversity in mice,” Rasmussen said.

As Katze and his colleagues suspected, the mice exhibited a variety of symptoms that mimicked those in humans: Some mice developed severe hemorrhagic fever and organ damage, while others were completely resistant.

For their research, the study authors used Collaborative Cross project mice, mice that are bred by an international group of researchers. Collaborative mice cover 90 percent of the diversity of the species.

“They’re really more comparable to genetically diverse populations such as humans, but they’re reproducible,” Rasmussen said. “We know exactly how one mouse is different to another.”

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., infected the diverse mice with a special mouse-adapted strain of Ebola.

As Katze and his colleagues suspected, the mice exhibited a variety of symptoms that mimicked those in humans: Some mice developed severe hemorrhagic fever and organ damage, while others were completely resistant.

The researchers said that they were also able to identify genes that may influence virus susceptibility.

“The model described in this paper can be implemented promptly to identify genetic markers, conduct meticulous pathogenesis studies, and evaluate therapeutic strategies that have broad-spectrum antiviral activity against all Zaire Ebola viruses, including the virus responsible for the current West Africa outbreak,” the authors concluded.

©2014 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Mourinho in spiky mood despite Chelsea victory

A spectacular opening goal by midfielder Oscar and a second-half penalty from winger Eden Hazard took Chelsea four points clear at the top of the Premier League but Mourinho was less than satisfied.


The Portuguese bemoaned his team’s display, complained about a lack of noise from the home fans and even criticised the man responsible for switching the floodlights on.

“My team didn’t play well enough, or as well as I was expecting,” Mourinho told reporters at Stamford Bridge. “We had periods of good football but not consistently.

“I’m happy with the points, which I felt we deserved, but it’s another thing to deserve it and play very well — which we didn’t.

“We had a good period that ended with the first goal and then a period which started with their goal and finished, not with our second goal, but with (QPR keeper Robert) Green making two or three saves which kept them in the game.

“It was 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, we were playing against a very well organised defensive team. It was fantastic work by (manager) Harry (Redknapp) to organise them defensively and they gave us a difficult match but with our quality I would expect us to be stronger.”

With the clocks having gone back last Sunday, the floodlights were needed midway through the first half but Mourinho was unhappy they did not come on earlier.


“I think the man responsible for the lights was in the same mood as the crowd because everybody was sleeping,” he said.

“He took 20 minutes to understand that it was dark but I took 30 minutes to understand that the stadium was not empty.

“When we scored was when I realised ‘woah, the stadium is full. Good’,” added Mourinho.

Brazilian Oscar certainly lit up the occasion when he cut in from the right and curled the ball with the outside of his right boot into the opposite corner of the net past Green’s despairing dive.

“Oscar was our best player,” said Mourinho. “When the team recovered the ball he was always sharp and fast — I think he was fantastic.

“He played last Sunday, on Tuesday and today. Some other guys didn’t play in midweek so I would have expected them to be fresher and sharper than him.

“He’s playing very well… he’s giving balance to the team with lots of creativity and the goal is only possible in a very talented boy.”

Spain striker Diego Costa was back up front for Chelsea after being sidelined by a hamstring injury but he failed to find the net and was taken off in the second half.

“He didn’t have a very good performance… like the team,” Mourinho said.

“A muscular injury is not just your body, it’s also your brain. After that you are afraid of a reaction and it slows you a little bit. Normally the next match for him will be better.”

(Editing by Toby Davis)

Australia urged by Cambodian opposition to reconsider refugee deal

A senior member of Cambodia’s National Assembly has called on Australia to reconsider a planned refugee transfer deal with his country, pointing to fears of “negative impacts” including threats to Cambodians’ health.


Kem Sokha, Cambodia’s first vice president of the National Assembly, made the plea in a letter to the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Alison Burrows, after he held talks with groups opposed to the transfer that was officially agreed to in September.

Mr Sokha said the meetings had included “Buddhist monks, students, intellects and Khmer people” who had staged protests in Phnom Penh against the transfer of refugees from Nauru Island.

He said concerns were raised of “possible negative impacts which would possibly be caused by economic, social situations”.

International organisations, such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had also expressed “deep apprehension” over the agreement.

Mr Sokha said he understood “their concerns are well-founded ” and called on Australia to “reconsider the transfer of refugees from Nauru to the Kingdom of Cambodia”.

Under the agreement up to 1000 refugees could be transferred with Australia providing Cambodia with $A40 million in aid over four years, in addition to the $A79 million allocated for the 2014-15 financial year.

Mr Sokha, in a telephone interview, told AAP Cambodians feared the refugees from the Australian refugee holding centres may also carry viruses.

He said some Cambodians even raised fears the Ebola virus, ravaging Western African states of Serra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, could be introduced into the country.

“Australia is a big country, it’s not like Cambodia. And (Australia) has many things to support all the refugees,” Mr Sokha said.

“But I wonder why the Australian government cannot support the refugees in their country?”

He called for amendments to the agreement to ensure monitoring of the refugees’ health, including quarantine, as well as fears the refugees may enjoy some degree of legal immunity.

But Khmer Institute for Democracy director, Sorya Sim, said Cambodia had an obligation to take in refugees if there was no violation of human rights.

“Whether Cambodia accepts it or not it’s a moral obligation … now the country can cope with it, that should be fine,” Mr. Sim said.

“Through the (Indochina) war and after the war Cambodian people are lucky to be received by many generous countries,” he told AAP.