‘Blast fishing’ thrives in Libya’s chaos

Residents of Tripoli’s seafront wake up most weekends to loud blasts: fishermen using dynamite to maximise their catch, regardless of the damage they are causing to marine life.

Dynamite fishing, or “blast fishing”, has flourished — with impunity — since Libya’s 2011 uprising that left the country awash with weapons and explosives.

The Mediterranean country has since descended into chaos and violence, with two rival administrations struggling to impose the law and a myriad of militias vying for control of its oil wealth.

As a result, protecting fish stock and the environment are not a priority for the authorities, experts and officials say.

Haytham Ali, a newly-married teacher, lives less than 50 metres (yards) from the beach in the capital’s residential suburb of Hay al-Andalous.

“My wife and I enjoy the peace and quiet of Friday mornings in our garden by the sea, but the explosions… as early as 7 am remind us of all that is wrong in this country,” he said.

Mariam, a 64-year-old widow, said the blasts frighten her grandchildren when they come to visit her home near the water.

“My whole house and my old windows shake with every blast… and I have to reassure my grandchildren that it’s only people fishing, not NATO bombs all over again,” she said, referring to the uprising that was backed by the Western alliance.

Dynamite fishing and the use of explosives without a permit are both officially against the law, but dynamite fishermen appear to be immune.

They even post anonymous videos online of sea water being propelled high into the sky and dozens of dazed or dead fish left behind on the surface.

“We hear (the blasts) but no one can do anything about it,” said Bannour Abu Kahal, head of the fisheries department in Garaboulli, east of Tripoli.

– Home-made explosives –

Some marine biologists, fishermen and fishmongers, and even religious leaders have tried to speak out against blast fishing but to no avail.

Using dynamite to catch fish “depletes the fish stock in the sea”, said Mokhtar, a fishmonger in central Tripoli, who declined to give his surname.

“This practice is not correct or healthy for the consumer” because it stuns the fish and shreds its skin, he said.

The explosives, known as “gelatine” in Libya, “kills the fish, the fish roe, larvae and sea plants”, said Fathi al-Zaytuni, a fishmonger who uses nets for his catch.

The explosive devices used in Libya are mostly home-made and have caused dozens of deaths and injuries, according to media reports.

Lana news agency reported in March that three men from the same family died in a blast in the eastern city of Sirte as they were preparing bombs for blast fishing.

– Religious edict –

Sheikh Sadek al-Ghariani, the country’s disputed top religious figure, has also waded into the controversy.

“If this type of fishing is banned by laws that regulate fishing, or if it is prejudicial to man and the environment, then it should not be practiced,” he said in a fatwa, religious edict, issued in 2013.

Abu Kahal, the fishing director in Garaboulli, urged “concerned authorities, especially the coastguard, to do their job and put an end to this kind of fishing”.

On a warm and humid August evening, retired fisherman Abdelrazag al-Bahri, 72, sat at Tripoli port counting the few fishing boats heading out to sea to catch sardines.

“There is still hope as long as some good fishermen respect the trade” and go out at night to haul a catch the traditional way with nets, he said.

He said traditional fishing in Libya had mostly been the work of Egyptians and Tunisians but they had fled the country, with few Libyans now willing to replace them.

White Sox pitching prospect Kopech slated for Tuesday…

Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech will make his big league debut Tuesday when the Chicago White Sox return home to face the Minnesota Twins, the team announced Sunday.

The arrival of Kopech, a hard-throwing 22-year-old, represents the latest step forward in the White Sox’s rebuilding effort. Chicago acquired the right-hander as part of a package of prospects in exchange for southpaw Chris Sale after the 2016 season.

Kopech has 170 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings this season for Triple-A Charlotte. He is 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts on the season, and he convinced the White Sox that he was ready for a promotion after posting a 59-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio during his past seven outings.

Chicago’s rotation now will feature a young core anchored by Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Kopech. James Shields serves as the veteran of the group, with Dylan Covey likely the odd man out now that Kopech is on the way.

Lopez said the White Sox are excited to welcome their new teammate.

“We’re going to have one of the best prospects in the game with us,” Lopez said through an interpreter after Sunday’s game, according to the team’s official website. “He’s one of the best and everybody thinks he’s supposed to be a superstar, and we’re all excited.”

The White Sox and Twins will play a makeup game Monday in Minneapolis before both clubs head to Chicago for meetings Tuesday and Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Former Kiwi Tony handed top NZ role

Playmaker Motu Tony has been unveiled as New Zealand Rugby League’s new high performance general manager.

The 37-year-old recently stepped down as an NZRL board director to free himself up for a more playing-related role.

His appointment continues a rapid rise for the one-time back since his retirement from playing six years ago.

After ending nine seasons in the English Super League, Tony’s first senior management post came nearly straight away at Hull FC in 2012.

NZRL Chief executive Greg Peters says the 13-Test Kiwi is a key appointment as they try to build following a damning review into the national team’s failed 2017 World Cup campaign.

A utility back and sometimes-hooker, Tony also previously played three NRL seasons with the Warriors followed by one for Brisbane in 2004.

Rosario paces Mets past Phillies, 8-2

Amed Rosario had three RBIs Sunday night, including a two-run single that capped a four-run second inning and catapulted the New York Mets to an 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Little League Classic at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa.

Winning the annual game at the site of the Little League World Series gave the Mets a series win in an unusual five-game set between the teams, which played the first four games at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. New York set a flurry of franchise records in winning the first game of a doubleheader, 24-4, on Thursday before ace Jacob deGrom threw the team’s first complete game of the season in a 3-1 victory Saturday.

The Mets have won eight of 12. The Phillies, who have lost six of 10, missed a chance to move ahead of the Atlanta Braves into first place in the National League East.

The Mets opened the second inning with four consecutive singles against Nick Pivetta (7-10). Todd Frazier, who won the Little League World Series as a member of the Toms River, N.J., team 20 years ago, led off with a hit, went to third on Austin Jackson’s single and scored on Jose Bautista’s single. Jackson raced home on Kevin Plawecki’s hit.

After pitcher Jason Vargas bunted, Rosario laced his two-run single.

Jeff McNeil hit a two-run single in the fourth before Rosario added another RBI single in the sixth. Dominic Smith, serving as the Mets’ 26th man, had New York’s lone extra-base hit, a pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth.

Rosario finished with three hits.

Vargas (3-8) allowed two runs on six hits and no walks. He struck out three over 5 1/3 innings. It was the first win since May 30 for Vargas, who blanked the Phillies until Carlos Santana’s two-run homer in the sixth.

Pivetta gave up six runs on eight hits and one walk. He fanned five over 3 2/3 innings.

–Field Level Media

Ronaldo’s dramatic debut ends with goalkeeper in hospital

MILAN – Cristiano Ronaldo’s Serie A debut was marked not by a goal but by accidentally putting the opposing team’s goalkeeper in hospital.

With the score locked at 2-2 late on in Juventus’ match at Chievo Verona, Ronaldo collided with Stefano Sorrentino in a chaotic penalty area.

Sorrentino was knocked out cold briefly and there were an anxious few minutes as he received immediate treatment before being substituted.

The 39-year-old goalkeeper was immediately taken to the hospital and released on Sunday morning with a fractured nose, bruising to his left shoulder and whiplash.

Sorrentino was able to joke about the incident, posting a photo on Twitter with the caption: “Thanks for your messages of support, affection and esteem. We are a fantastic group and yesterday we almost achieved the feat: while CR7 got me in full!”

He also later revealed on the social media site that Ronaldo had been in touch: “I received a message of support and wishing me a speedy recovery from Cristiano Ronaldo. Thanks legend!”

Sorrentino pulled off several fine saves to deny Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates – although Chievo went on to lose the match 3-2 following Federico Bernardeschi’s stoppage-time winner.

“Before coming onto the pitch I told myself I would have to try to stop him in every way possible,” Sorrentino said on Italian television. “I did that in the real sense of the word.”

During the commotion Juventus was awarded a goal using goal-line technology, then it was disallowed a few minutes later on video review.

Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini celebrated when the goal was given, causing widespread outrage as Sorrentino was still receiving urgent treatment.

“Paulo wrote to me, apologizing because he hadn’t realized the seriousness of the situation and he was celebrating for a goal that I didn’t even know I had conceded,” Sorrentino said.

BOATENG’S BACK

Having launched his rap career with the release of his first single “King,” Kevin-Prince Boateng is beginning to prove he can once again become Serie A royalty.

Boateng returned to Italian football in July, signing for Sassuolo in one of the surprise moves of the offseason.

He had previously played for AC Milan in 2010-13, and for six months at the beginning of 2016 after having his contract terminated by German club Schalke.

Playing in a more forward role, the 31-year-old Boateng inspired Sassuolo to a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan on Sunday – the upset of the opening weekend.

He imposed himself physically up front and created space for the wingers. Boateng, who has already scored for Sassuolo in the Italian Cup, also hit the post with a swivelling volley.

“(Boateng is) very important in the locker room,” Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi said. “If they (players) need help communicating in English, German, French or Spanish, he’s always on hand to make them feel more comfortable.”

ZAJC ATTACK

One of the potential stars of this season emerged on Sunday as Miha Zajc had a stellar performance in Empoli’s 2-0 win over Cagliari.

Zajc was at the heart of every Empoli move and set up both goals for Rade Krunic and Ciccio Caputo.

The 24-year-old Zajc has already played in Serie A as he was signed from Olimpija Ljubljana in January 2017, in Empoli’s last season in the top flight.

Zajc made only five Serie A appearances but was instrumental in last season’s promotion campaign which ended with Empoli going up as champion.

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More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

Canberra issues ‘never distract’ NSW govt

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has distanced herself from the internal rumblings of the Turnbull government, saying they aren’t her issues to resolve.

Ms Berejiklian last week privately told MPs the Liberal brand was being damaged by the federal government chaos and the NSW government needed to forge a separate identity, according to The Australian.

While she would not confirm the reports on Monday, the NSW Liberal leader said she always told her colleagues they needed to focus on their own jobs.

“As the leader of the state government, I focus my energy on things I need to get right and I’m really pleased with the progress we’re making,” she told reporters.

Asked about federal Liberal MPs’ concerns about energy prices versus their own power, the premier said they were “issues for them to resolve”.

“But as far as NSW is concerned, we’re the most resilient state, we have the strongest economy and we make sure we are sharing that with our citizens,” she said.

“We never get distracted. We’re focused on our job – delivering strong government to the people of NSW.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday said cabinet colleague Peter Dutton has given him his “absolute support” amid reports of a possible leadership challenge.

Weinstein accuser Asia Argento paid teen who made sex…

Italian actress Asia Argento, who became a leading figure in the #MeToo movement after accusing powerhouse producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, paid hush money to a man who claimed she sexually assaulted him when he was 17, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The $380,000 payment was made to Jimmy Bennett, an actor and rock musician, who claimed Argento assaulted him in a California hotel room in 2013, according to the Times, which cited documents sent to the paper by an unidentified party.

Bennett was two months past his 17th birthday at the time of the alleged encounter, while Argento was 37. The legal age of consent in California is 18. The pair are now 22 and 42 respectively.

The newspaper said it had tried repeatedly without success to get a comment on the matter from Argento and her representatives.

The terms of the deal including a payment schedule were finalized in April this year, according to the documents seen by the Times.

Among the documents it received was a selfie of the pair lying in bed dated May 9, 2013, that Bennett was supposed to hand over to Argento along with its copyright under the agreement.

The Times cited three people familiar with the case as saying the documents were authentic.

The pair acted together in the 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, in which Argento plays Bennett’s troubled mother.

– Victim or predator? –

Argento’s lawyer Carrie Goldberg described the money as “helping Mr Bennett,” lamenting that the actress had to deal with people “who preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”

Bennett’s lawyers had characterized the hotel encounter as a “sexual battery” that traumatized the former child actor, threatening his mental health and income.

His notice of intent to sue sought $3.5 million in damages for “intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery,” the paper said.

Argento became a powerful voice for the #MeToo movement after accusing Weinstein of raping her when she was 21 in his hotel room in 1997 during the Cannes film festival.

Bennett’s legal action was launched a month after Argento’s accusations against Weinstein were made public, the Times said, adding that his lawyer claimed his client recalled the hotel encounter after seeing Argento present herself as a victim of sexual assault.

Argento made an emotional speech at this year’s Cannes festival, telling the audience: “Things have changed. We are not going to allow you to get away with it.”

Her late boyfriend, celebrated television food critic Anthony Bourdain, was also an outspoken voice in the movement decrying sexual misconduct by power players in the entertainment industry and beyond.

Cairo looks to curb street sheep slaughter for Eid holiday

Faced with scenes of blood flowing in rubbish-strewn roads and of streets littered with animal entrails, authorities in the Egyptian capital say they aim to crack down on the outdoor slaughter that marks one of Islam’s main holidays.

Eid al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, is marked by Muslims sacrificing animals according to religious traditions at the end of the hajj annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

Ahead of the holiday, which this year starts on Tuesday, temporary sheep markets have sprung up amid the exhaust fumes and garbage heaps of the sprawling metropolis.

But the governor’s office in Cairo insists it is on a “cleanliness” drive to stop the widespread slaughter of animals in the distinctly unhygienic surroundings of the city’s streets.

To prevent the “barbaric and unacceptable” spectacle, officials in each neighbourhood have been ordered to “strictly” enforce laws prohibiting the practice, city spokesman Khaled Mostafa told AFP.

Offenders risk a fine of at least 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($280, 250 euros), a hefty sum that exceeds the average monthly wage in the country.

– ‘Dirty and dangerous’ –

In the crowded Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood near central Cairo, local merchants keep the sheep up for sale for the feast down muddy alleyways.

Traders like Hussein Abul al-Aziz say they welcome the push to eliminate the killings in the streets and claim they don’t engage in the practice.

“It is unacceptable to slaughter in the street, it must be done in an abattoir with a veterinarian who examines the animal and under the supervision of the health ministry,” Aziz said, standing among his well-fed beasts.

But it clear that the message from the authorities has not reached most people.

Local resident Ahmed Ragab shops around for a sheep for Eid al-Adha.

The father in his fifties confides that he has not heard of the official sanitation drive and was planning to slaughter his animal in the street outside his house.

“But it is true that it’s dirty and dangerous,” he concedes.

– Religious edict –

It is not just Cairo officials who are seeking to dissuade people from street sacrifices.

Egypt’s state-sponsored Islamic religious authorities, which rule on sharia law, have also come out against the practice.

The Dar al-Ifta institution published a speech this month condemning street sacrifices as a “great sin and serious crime”.

A potential cause of diseases and epidemics, leaving behind the remains of the animal is also considered “impure” by the Koran holy book, the government body said on its website.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recommends strict guidelines for the slaughter of animals.

It says abattoirs should be “situated away from residential areas” and calls for “a well-planned, well-executed and controlled cleaning and sanitation programme”.

However, the aspirations of the authorities and advice of experts seem at odds with the reality in the marketplace.

On the outskirts of Cairo, makeshift pens hold sheep close to an open sewerage drain.

Local butchers complain of financial woes they face as the cost of living soars in Egypt.

Most did not want to answer questions but it was clear they would meet customers’ demands — including butchering animals in the streets — to make ends meet.

“We’ll do anything,” one told AFP.

A family affair: Silva service resumes at Man City

David Silva took to the field with his baby boy, Mateo, and cradled him in his arms as the Manchester City team lined up before kickoff.

It was a touching scene – and a rare one before a Premier League game – involving a father and son who, in their own very different ways, have written their own chapters in City’s recent history.

The dad, a creative Spanish playmaker who is arguably the greatest player in City’s 138-year history, has been a popular member of the squad since his arrival from Valencia in 2010 but his bond with the club has grown even stronger because of the premature birth of Mateo in December.

City granted Silva compassionate leave for various spells during the second half of last season so he could return to Spain to be with his partner and Mateo in hospital.

Silva missed key games in what proved to be a record-breaking season for City but coach Pep Guardiola repeatedly expressed the “family comes first” mantra. In a recently released behind-the-scenes documentary of City’s season, when a TV crew was given virtually unlimited access to the City squad, Guardiola said to his players before one game: “You have to win for David Silva and his girlfriend … If you go out there and we suffer, then suffer for him. Is that clear?”

Silva used Twitter to publicly thank City for its support in what he described as “the hardest months of my life,” so the sight of Mateo on the Etihad Stadium field before Sunday’s game against Huddersfield was heartwarming.

His father proceeded to put on a show for Mateo, tormenting Huddersfield’s defense and capping a brilliant performance in a 6-1 win with a curling free kick into the top corner. Looked after by his mother in a VIP box during the game, the 9-month-old Mateo was in the locker-room afterward, surrounded by City’s jubilant players for photos that were quickly posted on social media.

“His son will never forget,” Guardiola said, “that the first time he saw his father play football, he scored that outstanding goal.”

“El Mago” (the Magician), as Silva is known, is 32 now but continues to be a key member of City’s team. His importance has soared in recent days because of an injury to fellow playmaker Kevin De Bruyne that could rule him out for around two months.

The creative burden will fall heavily on Silva over the coming weeks. But, with Mateo seemingly healthy and Silva having made the decision to retire from international duty with Spain, there could be a new lease of life inside the player City’s fans have taken to their hearts more than ever.

CONCERNS AT UNITED

An injury to Alexis Sanchez. A sloppy display by Paul Pogba. Defensive fragility. And, of course, a first loss of the season.

These are suddenly worrying times for Manchester United and its manager Jose Mourinho, who was downbeat and grumpy for much of the offseason and whose mood won’t have improved after a 3-2 loss to Brighton.

Sanchez missed the match with an unspecified injury and Mourinho wasn’t sure how long he’d be out. Pogba, whose relationship with Mourinho is under scrutiny, lost the ball 27 times against Brighton and acknowledged his “attitude was right.”

Then there was the uncertainty at the back, notably with central defenders Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof. Mourinho wanted a new center back this offseason but the board turned down his request and told him to work with what he had.

With defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic out injured, United’s defense looks exposed. Tottenham, and its prolific Harry Kane, should fancy their chances heading to Old Trafford in the next round of games.

NEW-LOOK ARSENAL

With two straight losses, Arsenal has endured a difficult start to the season under new manager Unai Emery. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

Emery has introduced a new approach that sees Arsenal playing the ball out from the back more. Goalkeeper Petr Cech has looked uncomfortable at times with the ball at his feet, as have some of the defenders, but the philosophy is here to stay and it’s already produced a marvelous team goal.

Arsenal’s second goal in the 3-2 loss at Chelsea on Saturday began with a series of passes in and around the team’s own area. It ended with the ball being spread to the right wing where Henrikh Mkhitaryan crossed for Alex Iwobi to sweep in a finish.

Arsenal’s players outplayed Chelsea in spells at Stamford Bridge and arguably deserved something from the game. They have also played Manchester City – losing 2-0 – but the schedule eases for the next seven games. Only after then should Emery truly be judged.

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More AP Premier League coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/PremierLeague

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares inch up with yuan, wary on…

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY, Aug 20 – Asian share markets crept cautiously higher on Monday as investors awaited developments on proposed Sino-U.S. trade talks and the Chinese yuan rallied away from dangerous lows.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.4 percent, while Shanghai blue chips firmed 0.2 percent.

Moves were modest with Japan’s Nikkei off 0.3 percent in thin trade, while EMini futures for the S&P 500 edged up 0.05 percent.

The yuan reached its highest in a week at 6.8512 per dollar as Beijing acted to prevent a test of the psychologically important 7.0000 level.

Investors were also encouraged by news China and the United States will hold lower-level trade talks this month, offering hope that they might resolve an escalating tariff war.

Reports suggested the talks in Washington would take place on Aug. 21 and 22, just before U.S. tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese goods take effect.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Friday it doubled the length of tariff hearings on the next $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to six days from the previously planned three due to overwhelming demand from companies to testify.

The hearings will be held Aug. 20-24 and on Aug. 27.

Dealers cited speculation the talks could set the stage for a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November.

“Although such a timeline for agreement is totally unrealistic given how far apart the two sides are, the positive headlines should help sentiment to improve and a positioning unwind of USD is possible,” said analysts at JPMorgan.

“This would set EM Asia equities up for a short term squeeze, with HK/China yuan sensitives likely leading the way higher.”

STEADY FOR NOW

Helping the general mood was a steadying in the Turkish lira, which was holding around 6.0000 per dollar on Monday.

Qatar and Turkey’s central banks have signed a currency swap to provide liquidity and support for financial stability, Qatar’s central bank said on Sunday.

“Sentiment toward Turkey has stabilised, but medium-term vulnerabilities remain substantial and markets continue to penalise currencies with weak fundamentals,” cautioned Barclays economist Michael Gapen.

“But we see contagion risk from Turkey as a relatively low-risk outcome. History indicates emerging market volatility is unlikely to knock the U.S. economy, or the Fed, off course.”

Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s August policy meeting are due on Wednesday and should show policy makers upbeat on the economy and committed to further gradual rate hikes.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and other central bankers meet at Jackson Hole from Friday to discuss the root causes of stubbornly low inflation, slow wage growth and tepid productivity gains.

The prospect of yet higher U.S. rates had been underpinning the dollar, though the currency took a knock on Friday as risk appetite improved just a little.

The dollar index was steady at 96.167 on Monday, having fallen almost 0.6 percent at the end of last week.

The euro held at $1.1431 after bouncing from a 13-month trough at $1.1297 last week, while the dollar was idling at 110.47 yen and just above recent lows at 110.11/31.

In commodity markets, gold was flat at $1,184.48 an ounce having suffered its largest weekly loss since May 2017. It hit a 19-month low at $1,159.96 last week.

The upward trend in the U.S. dollar has also pressured oil, with U.S. crude down for a seventh consecutive week and global benchmark Brent off for a third week.

Early Monday, Brent was 20 cents lower at $71.63 a barrel , while U.S. crude eased 11 cents to $65.80.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)