Tennis star Baltacha pulls out of Commonwealth Games

By Alix Ramsay and Martin Hannan
SCOTTISH medal hopeful Elena Baltacha pulled out of the Commonwealth Games last night over fears about her health should she make the trip to Delhi.

• Hygiene concerns push tennis star out Picture: Getty

The tennis player made her position known to disappointed Scots officials as the vanguard of her team mates flew out of Glasgow after their departure was delayed by unhygienic conditions in the Athletes' Village.

Just days before she was due to join them in New Delhi, Baltacha revealed she has a chronic liver condition which affects her immune system and said she is concerned about the possible effects of poor hygiene and mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever.

Baltacha, ranked in 50th position in the women's professional game and seen as a genuine medal contender for Scotland, said: "It was such a difficult decision because I was so looking forward to Delhi, I was so excited about it.

"If I didn't have a liver condition (primary sclerosing cholangitis), of course I'd go. But the problem is that with my liver condition I am much more susceptible to picking things up, and that's why it's more of a risk for me.

"It was really difficult because I am very passionate about representing my country, but at the same time, I have got to consider my health."

Jon Doig, Team Scotland Chef de Mission, said: "Bally has been a huge supporter of Commonwealth Games

ever since her medal-winning experience in the inaugural Commonwealth Youth Games in Edinburgh. She committed to representing Scotland in Delhi from the outset and I know she is absolutely gutted about having to make this decision.

"Whilst we are obviously disappointed that Elena has decided to withdraw from the Games, we fully respect her decision."

The first group from Team Scotland, including 280 athletes and staff, plus equipment, left Glasgow Airport for Delhi yesterday after receiving assurances that problems were resolved. Concerns had been raised early this week that facilities were not ready and a party of 41 athletes and staff delayed their departure on Tuesday after complaints about conditions.

Yesterday, weightlifters, shooters, archers and lawn bowlers left Scotland with good luck messages from well-wishers.

Weightlifter Peter Kirkbride, 22, from Kilmarnock, said concerns about preparations in Delhi did not faze him, and added: "I've done a lot of training. I just want to get out there and compete in the Commonwealth Games."

Edinburgh-born shooter Caroline Brownlie, 32, said: "The guys out there have checked things out and if they say it's fine to go, then I'm happy.

We can't be too critical, because it's (the 2014 Games) coming to us next." Meanwhile, in Delhi yesterday, ambassadors and diplomats from 55 Commonwealth countries were given a tour of the main venues and athletes' village to check on progress, while the city's officials have asked the Indian army to build a temporary bridge to replace the footbridge between the main stadium and athletes village that collapsed on Tuesday. The army bridge should be finished within five days.

As fears over conditions receded, concerns about security deepened. Australian fans were warned by their government not to wear the green and gold or fly their flag at the Games for fear of attracting terrorists.

As the first Australian athletes headed for India, the Federal Government issued an explicit travel warning stating there was a "high risk" of a terrorist attack, including potential seizure of hostages.


Scots scale down traditional Fish Friday

By Emma Cowing
IT HAS been a custom in homes, schools and workplaces across Scotland for centuries, and a regular end of the week treat served with chips and peas. But now it seems the traditional Fish Friday is in decline.

• Only 6 per cent of Scots regularly eat fish on a Friday, although it is still a busy day for fishmongers Photograph: Robert Perry

A survey has found only 6 per cent of Scots regularly eat fish on Fridays, despite 85 per cent being aware of the tradition. Across the UK, just 13 per cent eat fish at the end of the week, although six out of ten people say they are conscious they should feed their families more fish because of its health benefits.

Reasons for the decline in fish on Fridays include a rise in eating out at the weekends, as well the increasing availability of a range of tasty alternatives.

The survey, conducted by fish processor John West, also suggested some Scots have abandoned fish on a Friday for less healthy foods, with 13 per cent saying they opted for a fast-food takeaway. Around 12 per cent of Scots said they did not regularly eat fish at home because it was too expensive.

The survey, among more than 1,100 people across the UK, also uncovered some bizarre reasons for not eating fish. It estimates that around 2.4 million people in the UK say they don't eat fish because they don't like the bones, while a further 2.4 million don't eat it because they don't like the eyes. Around 1.8 million are also worried about not cooking it properly, while 400,000 won't touch fish because they or their children have seen the animated film Finding Nemo about a clown fish trying to return to his home.

TV chef James Martin said Britain's health was suffering as a result. "The UK Food Standards Agency suggests we should all be eating two fish meals a week for our health," he said. "But with the decline of the Friday fish supper, and fears about how to cook fish correctly, many of us are failing to meet this target," he said.

Over the years many schools and offices have also abandoned the traditional option of fish in the canteen on a Friday, once a mainstay. According to Edinburgh City Council, the majority of its schools no longer serve fish on Fridays, although a few still offer it on Thursdays instead.

Edinburgh City Council's headquarters still serves the traditional fish on a Friday, and some Scottish corporate caterers still put fish on their office menus, although not necessarily on a Friday.

The notion of eating fish on a Friday originated from the early church tradition of refraining from eating meat at the end of the week, especially during Lent.

It became so popular that it was maintained by post-Reformation traditions across Britain, and became a useful mainstay during the lean times of the 20th century including the Great Depression and the Second World War, as fish was often cheaper
and more readily available than meat.

It also contributed to the great British tradition of the fish supper, with many Scots patronising fish and chip shops on a Friday night. However, the survey also found that despite the decline of Fish Friday, 76 per cent of Scots do eat fish once or twice a week. Retailers insist that Friday is still the most popular day for those buying fish.

A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "Friday is our biggest day for fish, with over 20 per cent of our weekly sales taking place on that day."

Waitrose fish buyer Jeremy Langley said: "Our two strongest days for fish sales are always Friday and Saturday, which would suggest that to a certain extent people are still buying fish for a Friday, or perhaps the weekend. However, fish sales are extremely strong consistently throughout the week, which suggests that perhaps the move away from Fish Friday is down to fish becoming a more everyday meal.

"Strong sales of fish may also be partially down to consumers becoming increasingly concerned with healthy eating."

Some chefs also believe the decline of Fish Friday is due to the food being more available throughout the week.

Roy Brett, chef and proprietor at Edinburgh fish restaurant Ondine, said: "You can get fresh fish almost daily now, I think that's the big difference.

"The old tradition goes back to a time when you were dependent on when the fish man came round and then you'd have to choose the fish on the day that the van arrived. Nowadays supermarkets and fish merchants get you fish virtually every day of the week."

A spokesman for John West said: "Studies show that people who eat fish regularly are less likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. Fish is a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals."


MQM prepares legal action against UK media campaign

LONDON: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has angrily rubbished reports that its assassinated Convenor Dr Imran Farooq was planning to leave the party to join the new party of former President Musharraf — All Pakistan Muslim League (APML).
After newspapers claimed that the rows within the MQM may have led to the assassination of Dr Imran Farooq or Dr Imran Farooq may have been about to endorse or join new party set up by Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf, a senior leader of the MQM said that the party was preparing legal action media houses on the grounds of “libel and defamation”.
The London-based senior leader said the party was already in talks with its legal team over the damaging speculation while there is a live police investigation into the killing of Dr Imran Farooq.
“There is a limit to what can be tolerated. There should be a clear difference between the objective reporting and the reports based on hearsay and propaganda. We have taken advice from our legal experts over such innuendo which is skewed at damaging the party and its ideology,” said the source.
The source said that Dr Imran Farooq was a committed party stalwart and reports that he was about to leave the party were part of the smear campaign, launched in the wake of his killing in London.
Pervez Musharraf has expressed his sorrows at the killing of Dr Imran Farooq, 50, in a brutal knife attack outside his Edgware home on the evening of 16th September, but he has remained silent over how closely he knew the murdered leader and whether there is any truth to the rumours that Dr Imran was planning to lend support to Musharraf’s upcoming political party.
But a key Musharraf aide also maintained yesterday that no one in the Musharraf’s camp was aware that Imran Farooq had any plan to catapult himself on stage with Musharraf on the 1st October when the exiled leader will announce the launch of his party.
The party clearly has a fear that “dark forces” are active to take advantage from the situation created after the killing of Dr Imran Farooq.
The murder investigation, being led by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism branch because of the political dimension to the killing, has so far failed to make any breakthrough and that’s the reason the Scotland Yard issued an appeal to catch the killers of Dr Imran Farooq through his widow Shumaila Imran last Thursday. A security official, however, confirm to The News that the police is keeping an open mind about the possible motives behind the killing of Dr Imran Farooq and was making progress in piecing together the evidence it has gathered.
The senior MQM leader, who spoke to The News on Monday, said the MQM’s enemies had come into action. He said the British media was being fed lies and propaganda from the traditional anti-MQM elements which has nothing to do with the reality and the media was taking it for facts, unfortunately.
“The way things are being turned against MQM have hallmarks of conspiracy all over it. Those running this campaign want to defame and malign MQM as they are scared of the rising popularity of the party all over Pakistan,” said the leader vowing that every move will be resisted and anyone found making baseless allegations against the party will be taken to the courts.
Since the death of Dr Imran, the MQM leadership has appealed to the British government to step up the security of its founder and leader Altaf Hussain. The senior MQM leader confirmed that it was talking to the British government about the security of Altaf Hussain and had conveyed its concerns to the authorities.
He told The News the worry of the party — that there is a bigger and more sinister plot against the party and its top leader — got currency after the idea of the “change of the leadership” was floated in some media circles, notably in a recent confrontational BBC interview with Muhammad Anwar, one of nearly three dozens MQM Rabita Committee members.
Anwar told the programme that a lot of things the British media said were a propaganda spread out by the Pakistani establishment. “The British media and NGOs are overwhelmed by the propaganda spread always by the Pakistani establishment. We don’t believe what the Pakistani establishment says. We are clean.”The party leader, who spoke to The News, said such lines of questioning smacked of a “plot” against the party and its mission to help create a liberal and progressive Pakistan.


Airspace violation: Pakistan warns Nato

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Friday said that Nato has violated Pakistan's sovereignty and we would respond to it if Isaf followed the course, Geo News reported Friday.

He said that the government was working to eliminate terrorism and has asked Senator Kerry and US admin to share credible intelligence.

PM Gilani said the government believes in meaningful consultation and also desires passage of Accountability Bill with consensus.

"There is slight difference between accountability and victimization. We do not want to victimize anyone and the accountability bill shall be unanimous," he told National Assembly in response to a point of order by MNA Sardar Mahtab Abbasi.

"This is the first ever government where there is no political prisoner and I assure you, there will be no victimization or vendetta," he added.

Abbasi had objected the promulgation of the ordinance designating the powers of Chairman NAB to Law Ministry and had raised serious concerns on it pointing out it was not fair to promulgate ordinance in such a manner after the 18th Amendment.

The prime minister said, "it is extremely important. When we came to power, NAB was working under the Chief Executive and Farooq H Naek was the Law Minister and my cases were being heard by the courts."

"As I did not want an impression of influencing NAB on my part, I better decided had to give NAB under the Law Ministry for the sake of justice," he stated.

He said no ordinance is promulgated without the permission of the prime minister and if any wrong is smelled out of promulgation of this recent ordinance, I shall rectify it.

Gilani said, the government does not want to bulldoze the legislation process that is why the accountability bill is still pending.

"We want it as a unanimous bill," he said and elaborated that Chairman NAB shall also be appointed after consensus between the government and the opposition. "We sent two names to Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, who did not agree with it and I sought more time from the Apex Court to reach a consensus."


Power tariff raised by 2pc

ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) increased power tariff by two per cent for eight distribution companies and Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) with effect from Friday.

The Nepra reviewed the tariff for the fourth quarter of 2009-10 in exercise of powers conferred by Sub-section-4 of Section-31 of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act 1997, said a notification issued here.

Nepra's quarterly determination for fourth quarter 2009 - 2010 is on higher side when compared with government levied tariff for all sets of consumers.

In order to reduce the gap between Nepra's determined tariff and consumer's-end tariff, the government has decided to maintain a balance in public interest and to pass on only 2 per cent revision in power tariff.

The government therefore notified 2 per cent upward revision in power tariff across the board for all categories of consumers in Pepco's eight Distribution Companies and KESC, it further said.

It may be noted that in order to make power sector solvent, financially viable and able to serve the public, the government has notified the said tariff increase to be made from October 1.

It is informed that these increases usually are determined after power generation companies file a request for revision in the tariff position which are normally heard and disposed off (by Nepra) through public hearings.


Musharraf seeks apology for mistakes in power

LONDON: Former president Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf Friday admitted that political mistakes were committed in the twilight years of his regime and sought apology from Pakistani nation for the same.

“These mistakes caused damage to the nation,” he said while addressing a program held here to formally announce launching of his party – All Pakistan Muslim League (APML).

“All Pakistan Muslim League to wage jihad against poverty and illiteracy,” Pervez Musharraf vowed, adding the time for talks is over and now it is time to act.

He invited all Pakistanis to come forward and join hands with APML and strengthen it.

He said his party manifesto will be governed by three documents – the Holy Qura’an, Quaid’s 11 August 1947 Constituent Assembly address and 12 April 1949 Objective Resolution by Liaquat Ali Khan.

He described nepotism and corruption as the biggest curse for any society and vowed to rid the country of the same.

“Internal and external threats will be dealt with strongly and the fight against terrorism will continue till the elimination of this scourge,” the APML Chief pledged.

He said GDP growth will be raised to over 6 percent, referring to 8 percent growth achieved during his government.

“I believe in freedom of media and will support it thoroughly…only those are afraid of media who have got dirty laundry to hide,” he said.

Today I announce starting my political career and joining the All Pakistan Muslim League, he said.

“I want to begin my political career with clean slate.”


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