Youngest Briton to scale Everest killed

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Rob Gauntlett, the youngest Briton to summit Mt. Everest, died in a climbing accident along with another mountaineer in the French Alps, the British Foreign Office confirmed Sunday. Both were 21.
France's highest peak, Mont Blanc, in the French Alps' Chamonix valley.

France's highest peak, Mont Blanc, in the French Alps' Chamonix valley.

The bodies of Gauntlett and James Atkinson were found Saturday in the Mont Blanc area. Weather conditions were reported to have been clear and cold in Chamonix at the time.

Gauntlett scaled Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak, in 2006 just days after his 19th birthday, along with 19-year-old James Hooper, his Web site says. He shattered the previous British record set by Bear Grylls at the age of 23.

Last month, National Geographic Adventure magazine declared Gauntlett and Hooper "adventurers of the year" for their 26,000-mile journey from one of Earth's magnetic poles to the other using only skis, sleds, sails and bicycles.

Hooper, who was on the trip where Gauntlett was killed, described the adventurer as "practically a brother to me," Britain's Press Association reported.

"He really pushed himself as hard as he could," he said. "It was only because he was such a motivated and driven person that the accident happened, but those were the qualities that made him so incredible."

Hooper did not say how the accident occurred.

Gauntlett cycled Britain from south to north at the age of 15 and decided soon after with Hooper to scale Everest, his Web site says.

He had made regular climbing trips to Scotland and the Alps to prepare for his 2006 Everest expedition.

But it was Hooper and Gauntlett's 396-day pole-to-pole odyssey in 2008 that National Geographic Adventure magazine called "the most madcap adventure we saw all year."

Gauntlett said on his Web site that completing the journey was his proudest moment.

"We had spent 3 months on a 60-foot yacht sailing across the world's most brutal ocean. A year before I had done virtually no proper sailing, so to be thrown in at the very deep end was a little scary at times," he admitted.

The timing of the completion of the trip was a lucky coincidence, he wrote.

"The cunning truth is that my 21st birthday was the day after our arrival so I could celebrate in normal conditions after the two previous years were spent in a tent," he wrote.

The two youths were fresh out of prep school -- the equivalent of high school -- and had no special training for their epic trek.

It included an 11,000-mile bicycle ride from New York to the southern tip of South America, sandwiched between a ski-and-dogsled and sea journey in the Arctic and a second sea voyage in the Antarctic.

Gauntlett was nearly killed on that trip when he crashed through Arctic ice in search of a lost glove. Hooper pulled him out of the freezing water, unconscious.

He was medevacked to a hospital in Greenland, where, Hooper recalled for National Geographic, he broached the idea of aborting the trip.

Report: U.S. rejected Israeli plea to attack Iran

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush rejected several Israeli requests last year for weapons and permission for a potential airstrike inside Iran, the author of an investigative report told CNN.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists Iran's nuclear program is only intended for peaceful purposes.

Israel approached the White House in early 2008 with three requests for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex, said New York Times reporter David Sanger. His article appears in the newspaper on Sunday.

According to Sanger, Israel wanted specialized bunker-busting bombs, equipment to help refuel planes making flights into Iran and permission to fly over Iraq to reach the major nuclear complex at Natanz, the site of Iran's only known uranium enrichment plant.

The White House "deflected" the first two requests and denied the last, Sanger said.

"They feared that if it appeared that the United States had helped Israel strike Iran, using Iraqi airspace, that the result in Iraq could be the expulsion of the American troops (from Iraq)," he said. Video Watch reporter discuss why Israel sought U.S. assistance »

Bush, instead, persuaded Israeli officials to not proceed with the attack by sharing with them some details of covert U.S. operations aimed at sabotaging Iran's nuclear ambitions, Sanger said.

The ongoing operations are designed to undermine Iran's ability to produce weapons-grade fuel and designs it needs to produce a workable nuclear weapon, the newspaper said.

Fergie: Actions speak louder than words

Sir Alex Ferguson decided not to give full vent to his anger at Rafael Benitez's amazing personal attack.

For now, the Manchester United boss is happy to let his team do the talking. Should results go the Red Devils' way following their clinical 3-0 destruction of Chelsea at Old Trafford yesterday, they will be top of the Premier League on Saturday night.

It is a position they might not relinquish either on the evidence of the past 48 hours, as Benitez starts to find out how hot it can get battling for a title.

"There was a lot of venom in what he has said," reflected Ferguson.

"I don't understand where it has come from.

"He is obviously disturbed about something. When he reflects on it he must realise what a ridiculous thing he is saying.

"But all I want to do is focus on my own team. If we can do that we have a big chance."

Benitez might wish he had kept his mouth shut after watching United destroy Chelsea.

Once Nemanja Vidic had put the hosts in front just before the break, there was only going to be one outcome, with Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov adding second-half efforts.

Not that the England striker was entirely happy following a controversial decision to rule out a Cristiano Ronaldo header just before Vidic struck, the officials deciding Rooney had not taken his audacious corner correctly before Ryan Giggs crossed.

"The linesman got it wrong," argued Rooney.

"I didn't see a problem with it, it is something we practise in training."

Ferguson was equally non-plussed, although Vidic's goal ensure there were no complaints from United at the break.

Rooney admitted he just took a swing and hoped as he could not see the ball when it flicked off Berbatov's head in the build-up to United's second.

It merely confirmed Ferguson's team were operating at a different level to their visitors.

United now prepare to entertain in-form Wigan on Wednesday, with Rooney claiming it might have been a pivotal weekend.

"After watching Liverpool draw on Saturday, we got exactly the result we needed," he said.

"If we do our jobs right and win our two games we could be top of the league on Saturday.

"It is down to us now because it is something we want. We want to look at that table on Saturday and be top."

James: Strangest transfer window ever

Portsmouth's England goalkeeper David James has admitted he has never known a stranger January transfer window.

Pompey's Lassana Diarra agreed a switch to Real Madrid before the window opened and Jermain Defoe sealed a return to Tottenham earlier this week.

Speculation has suggested a number of other players could be set to leave Fratton Park and James concedes he has been puzzled by the rumours.

"This is the strangest transfer window I have ever experienced. It's the first time I've been at a club where the rumours are all about who is going rather than who is coming in," James wrote in his column for The Observer.

"Even at West Ham when we were bottom of the table over the Christmas period, I don't remember much gossip about anyone leaving the club.

"It is pretty surreal for Portsmouth too. In recent times we've gone from relegation dodgers to FA Cup winners playing in Europe - that's the kind of ambitious club most people want to join, not leave.

"But anyone reading the headlines would be led into thinking otherwise. In fact, probably the only symmetry between this year's transfer window and last are the names Harry Redknapp and Jermain Defoe."

James hopes Tony Adams is able to strengthen his squad before the end of the month as Portsmouth look to bounce back from a poor run of results.

He explained: "At the moment we're not being linked with players coming in, which is a worry.

"Couple that with a string of disappointing performances and Tony Adams faces a difficult task to steady the ship.

"In order to keep the confidence of the dressing room and the fans, he's got to talk about the kind of players he wants to bring in. But that is a risky strategy - for one thing it can inflate the prices if agents know you have money to spend."

James added: "Portsmouth's next two games will be crucial, defending our FA Cup against Bristol City, and then facing Jermain and Tottenham next weekend in the league.

"We will be hoping to regain our form on the pitch, but it is also clear that in times such as these the tactics used off the field will be as important as the ones used on it."

Man United 3-0 Chelsea

Jose Mourinho did not do Chelsea much good as Man United turned the heat up under Luiz Felipe Scolari with a thumping win.

Chelsea suffered their worst Old Trafford defeat in 15 years as United eased to a thoroughly-deserved success after Nemanja Vidic had broken the deadlock in first-half stoppage time.

Wayne Rooney added another just after the hour mark before Dimitar Berbatov completed victory for Sir Alex Ferguson's men near the end.

With Mourinho looking down from the stands in judgement on his old club, this would have been the perfect time for Scolari to start proving his doubters wrong.

The decision not to start with Nicolas Anelka, especially with Rio Ferdinand's back injury ruling him out, seemed strange.

But to start with Chelsea seemed more incisive in midfield, even if their hosts had more possession.

Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack both had chances and a more natural offensive player than Ashley Cole would surely have profited from Deco's inspired pass instead of allowing it to bounce through to Edwin van der Sar.

In return a viciously curling Giggs free-kick caused Petr Cech a problem, more so than Berbatov's scuffed shot after being invited to shoot by Rooney.

But, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ballack also having penalty claims turned down, a hotly-contested scrap was still waiting for its switch to be triggered as it entered the last couple of first-half minutes.

Ronaldo might have flicked it but he mis-hit a shot that bounced into Rooney. Then Darren Fletcher had a penalty appeal turned down when his effort struck John Terry on the arm.

Instead, United got the corner which will still be debated years from now.

Rooney seemed to know exactly what he was doing when he rolled the ball into, then out of the quadrant. Giggs ambled over, crossed and Ronaldo - expected to be crowned FIFA world player of the year in Zurich on Monday - powered home a near-post header.

Referee Howard Webb and his linesman said no. United reacted with fury at the perceived injustice of it all, surrounding the linesman who had made the decision. Chelsea were merely bemused.

Amazingly, Chelsea were still trying to take it in as Giggs swung over the re-take. This time Berbatov got there first, flicking the ball on towards the far post where Vidic arrived to power home.

A month ago, Vidic scored United's injury-time winner against Sunderland before getting sent off in the FIFA Club World Cup final win in Japan that might yet rule him out of the Champions League clashes with Mourinho's Inter Milan.

This was something different and prompted Scolari into a half-time reshuffle, with Anelka replacing Deco.

The move worked to the extent that Chelsea were able to enjoy more sustained spells with the ball.

However, the double negative for the visitors was that their finishing was poor and their need to attack played to United's strengths.

Nevertheless, Chelsea's goal should not have been under threat once Patrice Evra exchanged passes with Ronaldo but then skimmed Berbatov's head with the left-wing cross.

Cole seemed to be in control of the situation but Rooney had other ideas as he pushed his leg between the England full-back's and got enough power into a shot to divert it past a startled Cech.

And when Ronaldo picked out Berbatov with a low free-kick four minutes from time that gave the Bulgarian an easy finish, Scolari could probably feel Mourinho's eyes burning into him from above.

But this is a different team to the one Mourinho crafted. Some of the names may be the same but their power has waned.

Once the most feared Premier League striker, Didier Drogba hit one shot so wide he conceded a throw-in, another skidded off the side of his foot and missed the target by 20 yards.

None of this will worry United, of course. They are now a single point adrift of the Londoners with two matches in hand. And if they win the first of them, against Wigan on Wednesday, they will only trail Liverpool by two.

Given those statistics, it is maybe little wonder Rafael Benitez went for Ferguson's jugular earlier in the week. It might be the best chance he gets.


Man Utd Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Evans, Evra (O'Shea 66),Ronaldo, Fletcher, Giggs (Carrick 79), Park, Berbatov, Rooney.

Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Anderson, Scholes, Welbeck, Tevez.

Booked: Ronaldo, Rooney, Park.

Goals: Vidic 45, Rooney 63, Berbatov 87.

Chelsea Cech, Bosingwa (Belletti 64), Carvalho, Terry,Ashley Cole, Mikel, Joe Cole (Di Santo 85), Lampard, Ballack,Deco (Anelka 46), Drogba.

Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Kalou.

Booked: Lampard, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, Belletti.

Att: 75,455

Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

Iran test fires missiles in riposte to U.S., Israel

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran has test fired nine missiles in response to what it says are threats from Israel and the United States, according to state-run Iranian media and a U.S. military source.
The new version of the Shahab-3 missile is capable of reaching its main regional enemy Israel, Iran says.

The new version of the Shahab-3 missile is capable of reaching its main regional enemy Israel, Iran says.

The Islamic Republic News Agency and Press TV reported that the naval forces of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Wednesday test-fired a Shahab-3 missile during war games in the Persian Gulf.

The exercise comes a month after Israel conducted a military drill in the eastern Mediterranean involving dozens of warplanes, and the latest Iranian activities prompted concern from Israel and condemnation from the United States.

Iran occasionally tests missiles, but this firing comes amid international tensions over its nuclear aspirations.

"The war game was aimed at improving the combat readiness of Iran's armed forces. The 2,000-kilometers-range Shahab-3 missiles were tested to demonstrate Iran's capability in hitting its enemies accurately at the early stages of their probable attacks against the Islamic Republic.

Terry stays as club captain

John TerryNew Chelsea manager Luiz

New Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has confirmed that John Terry will remain as the London club's captain.

Terry has been the Blues' permanent captain for the past four years after being given the armband when Jose Mourinho took charge.

During his time as skipper, Terry has led Chelsea to two Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League final and successes in both the FA Cup and Carling Cup.

Scolari will retain the centre-half as his skipper for next season, with Terry's England team-mate Frank Lampard as his understudy.

"I like him as a captain," said Scolari of Terry live on Sky Sports News. "I like him as a player and as a leader.

"Yesterday, he came to my room and he said I'm the captain John Terry and I said I know you and we spoke!

"The captain is John Terry and the second captain is Lampard, but we want more captains on the pitch."

Regarding potential arrivals at Stamford Bridge before the close of the transfer window, Scolari is keen to assess the players currently at his disposal.

He added: "I don't know now how many changes I need because I need to train and I need to know the players because when you are on the outside, you have one idea, but when you are inside this group, you need to know the group, you need to know the characteristics and quality.

"After this, it's possible to say how many changes I want or we need, or we do not need."

Iranian shelling reported in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iranian artillery shells rained down on villages in northern Iraq Wednesday where Kurdish rebels were thought to be operating.

A security official with Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government in Sulaimaniya confirmed the information.

The early-morning shelling hit border villages in Qandil mountains area in Sulaimaniya province and there were no reports of casualties.

Authorities say the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan is based in the region.

Reid to be new Thai coach

Peter Reid to tie up deal with Thais.Former Sunderland and Leeds United manager Peter Reid will be unveiled as the new coach of Thailand at the end of July.

The Bangkok Post reported on Tuesday that Reid and ex-Canada coach Holger Osieck were the front-runners to replace Chanvit Phalajivin, who resigned last month after failing to lead Thailand to the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.

But after Osieck, who led Urawa Reds to victory in the Asian Champions League last season, decided against returning to Asia, Football Association of Thailand president Worawi Makudi announced the coup late on Tuesday.

"I had a chance to consult Sir David Richards, the chairman of the FA Premier League, on our search for a new national coach during my overseas trip. He recommended Reid as a suitable choice, given his vast experience," Worawi is quoted in The Nation.

"Then, I held talks with Reid about the possibility we could work together. He didn't take much time to consider our offer because of his affection for our country."

Reid, who led Sunderland to promotion twice during a seven-year spell, has not held a manager's position since leaving Coventry in January 2005.

Worawi revealed 52-year-old Reid would be officially unveiled at the end of July and would sign a four-year deal.

Reid will be tasked with preparing Thailand, who are currently ranked 111th by FIFA, for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and will be assisted by a local Thai management team.

Benitez sorry to see Crouch go

Peter Crouch is moving to Pompey.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez says he wanted to keep Peter Crouch as the striker moves closer to a move to Portsmouth.

Crouch has completed a medical at Fratton Park and the finer points of his £11million move back to the south coast are almost complete with Pompey likely to formally confirm the move on Thursday.

But Benitez has pre-emptied Crouch's final departure from Merseyside by saying: "He is a good professional and a nice person, and we would have wanted him to stay. We offered him a new contract."

He added: "But sometimes you have to understand the player. He wanted to play a lot more, and with Fernando Torres now first choice, that was always going to be difficult.

"I can understand Peter's situation. But he did very well for this club and we always supported him when people doubted the decision to bring him to Anfield."

Benitez made it clear that he will now try to sign a replacement striker, and refused to rule out a possible move for Spanish star David Villa.

He said: "We have Torres, Andriy Voronin, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard, who can play as a second striker.

"But we will try to bring in another option. Villa is a player we know all about and he is on our list. But maybe it will be difficult."

Benitez now hopes to complete the drawn-out saga of Gareth Barry's move from Aston Villa, which the club still hope to have sealed by the weekend.

Whether that will be in time for Liverpool's first pre-season friendly at Tranmere on Saturday is debatable. But Benitez would wish to have the midfielder on board for the training camp in Switzerland which starts on Sunday and includes three matches before a return to the UK ahead of the trip to play Rangers in Glasgow on July 26.

Riise: I made the right move

Riise: I made the right moveJohn Arne Riise is convinced he made the right decision to leave Liverpool and join the Giallorossi.

Following seven predominantly fruitful seasons with the Reds, the Norwegian, who has 71 caps, left Merseyside to embark on a new challenge in the Eternal City with Roma last month.

However, it was widely regarded that Riise’s Liverpool career was starting to grow stale after indifferent displays, in particular his own-goal gaffe against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals which ultimately cost his side a place in the final.

"Roma are the right choice," Riise told La Roma.

"I need a new adventure, a new challenge on a professional level and a lifestyle change."

"I have been well received, just like in a real family. (Coach Luciano) Spalletti is a man who loves his job, asks for 100 per cent from his players, and he knows how to obtain this."

Riise also told Roma fans what they can expect from him on the field next season.

"I'm someone who likes to run a great deal, make tackles and work for the team," he concluded.

By Mohd Sham (

Robinho ready to buy out contract?

Robinho: Ready to buy out?Robinho is ready to break away from his contract under the Webster ruling and leave his club with a token US$16 million sum.

Despite being tied to the club for another two years, the Brazilian starlet, who moved to Real from Santos in 2005, is said to be unhappy and disillusioned ever since the Los Merengues viewed him as a pawn in a player-plus-clash deal for Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo.

With Chelsea and new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari now looking to snag him to London, Robinho might take advantage of the Webster ruling and break away from Real’s books.

His apparent decision stems from Article 17 of FIFA's transfer regulations, which stipulates that any player who signs a deal when aged below 28 is able to unilaterally break that contract after just three years.

Spanish paper Marca believe that Robinho’s potential buying out decision could leave Real with a paltry US$16 million compensation, a stark reality to the estimated US$80 million Robinho is priced at by Real.

His choice to buy out his contract would follow in the footsteps of FC Porto midfielder Paulo Assunção, who decided to break his contract with the Portuguese Champions and he is now on the verge of completing a move to Atletico Madrid.

By Mohd Sham (

YouTube ordered to reveal its viewers

NEW YORK (AP) -- Dismissing privacy concerns, a federal judge overseeing a $1 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit against YouTube has ordered the popular online video-sharing service to disclose who watches which video clips and when.
A judge ordered YouTube to produce data on which of its videos get viewed most often and by whom.

A judge ordered YouTube to produce data on which of its videos get viewed most often and by whom.

U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton authorized full access to the YouTube logs after Viacom Inc. and other copyright holders argued that they needed the data to show whether their copyright-protected videos are more heavily watched than amateur clips.

The data would not be publicly released but disclosed only to the plaintiffs, and it would include less specific identifiers than a user's real name or e-mail address.

Lawyers for Google Inc., which owns YouTube, said producing 12 terabytes of data -- equivalent to the text of roughly 12 million books -- would be expensive, time-consuming and a threat to users' privacy.

The database includes information on when each video gets played, which can be used to determine how often a clip is viewed. Attached to each entry is each viewer's unique login ID and the Internet Protocol, or IP, address for that viewer's computer.

Stanton ruled this week that the plaintiffs had a legitimate need for the information and that the privacy concerns are speculative.

Stanton rejected a request from the plaintiffs for Google to disclose the source code -- the technical secret sauce -- powering its market-leading search engine, saying there's no evidence Google manipulated its search algorithms to treat copyright-infringing videos differently.

Chelsea step up for Eto'o

Florent Malouda could move to Barca.Chelsea are ready to dispense with Florent Malouda and US$44 million in order to land Barcelona's Samuel Eto’o.

The Cameroonian front man who boasts the best minutes: goal ratio of all La Liga front men last season, has been deemed to be surplus to requirements at the Nou Camp and is seeking a move elsewhere.

Despite being available for a move, it was reported that the deadly striker’s wage demands were putting off interest from clubs but according to The Sun, West London outfit Chelsea are now ready to reignite their interest in Eto’o.

The paper claims that Chelsea are aiming to draft in a replacement for the departing Didier Drogba and are ready to use out-of-favour winger Florent Malouda as a sweetener along with a staggering US$44 million to prise the Barca striker.

Barcelona’s technical secretary Txiki Begiristain is said to be an admirer of Malouda but the possible move of Russian Andrei Arshavin to the Nou Camp could disrupt Malouda’s arrival.

By Mohd Sham (

Galliani won't break bank for Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho could join Milan on loan.AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani insists the Rossoneri will not pay over the odds for Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho.

After a disappointing and injury-hit season, Ronaldinho has been told by Barca that he is not part of their plans as they make wholesale changes after two trophy-less campaigns.

There has been no shortage of interest for the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and, while Galliani claims that Milan are leading the pack, he insists a deal for the Brazilian will only be completed if the price is right.

"It seems to me that Ronaldinho has placed Milan at the top of his desires, even if Chelsea has a lot of appeal," he said.

"We have to see how much the final cost will be, the transfer and then his signing-on fee. But I don't promise anything to the fans.

"In any case in attack we already have (Marco) Borriello, (Filippo) Inzaghi, Kaka, (Alexandre) Pato and not only those, so if we can get someone else then good, if not we'll stay how we are. We're already competitive.

"I'm not happy not making big signings, I'm a fan too, but a big transfer will only be done if there's the right conditions.

"Players who cost, between wages and other things, 20 million euros (US$31 million) a year, aren't compatible with Italian clubs' bank balances."

Galliani's comments come a day after Manchester City's executive chairman Garry Cook claimed the Premier League club had a "50-50" chance of signing Ronaldinho.

Galliani has also poured cold water on the idea that former Milan star Andriy Shevchenko would be leaving Chelsea for a return to the San Siro.

"If Sheva comes to Italy, he comes to us," he continued. "He was one of our targets but we have been told that he is not for sale."

The club's supporters have been angered by Milan's lack of movement in the transfer market, especially after what they perceive to be a poor season for the Serie A giants.

The Rossoneri finished fifth last campaign, missing out on a Champions League place, and the fans have laid the blame for their miserable year squarely at the door of club owner Silvio Berlusconi.

An online petition has been set up demanding that the Italy prime minister sells up and has over 1,700 signatories but Galliani has slammed the fans' actions.

"Everyone thinks a lot about the fans and not at the problems which club owners have with the Italian tax authorities," he added.

"I find this protest by the Milan fans a bit bizarre, Berlusconi is the one who has won the most in Italy and in Europe.

"And even this year he will make a huge sacrifice because Milan have kept onto all of their stars even though we are in the UEFA Cup.

Report: Portuguese police close McCann case

LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- Portuguese police are dropping their investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann due to a lack of evidence, media reported Tuesday.
A faded photograph of Madeleine McCann on a church notice board near where she disappeared.

A faded photograph of Madeleine McCann on a church notice board near where she disappeared.Two Portuguese newspapers said the Public Prosecutor's office intended to call off their search for the British girl before July 14, when the customary official secrecy period covering the investigation ends.Police could reopen the case if new evidence emerged, the papers said.

The papers -- Correio da Manha and Jornal de Noticias -- cited unidentified police sources.

Officials could not immediately be reached for comment before office hours Tuesday.

Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal's southern Algarve region during a family vacation in May last year, a few days before her fourth birthday. Detectives named her parents, Kate and Gerry, and local man Robert Murat as formal suspects in the case. All denied involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

The McCanns, who launched an international campaign to find their daughter, returned home to central England with Madeleine's younger twin sister and brother last September, a few days after they were named as suspects.

Clarence Mitchell, the parents' spokesman, told Sky News they were trying to confirm the reports but said he expected the search for Madeleine to continue.

"The police, if they are to shelve this without any charges, ... then we would hope, surely it's only common sense, they would continue to search for a missing child," he said.

He said private investigators for the McCanns were continuing to sift material and wanted access to the police files, and lawyers would discuss that possibility with Portuguese authorities.

He added: "Kate and Gerry will never give up the search for their daughter."

The case has drawn global interest. A few weeks after Madeleine vanished Pope Benedict XVI blessed the McCanns and a photo of their daughter during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Almeria move for Solari

Esteban Solari

Almeria have completed the signing of Esteban Solari from Mexican side Pumas, the Primera Liga club have announced.

The 28-year-old forward, who has previously played in Europe with Italian side Chioggia and Belgians Lierse, will join the Spaniards on a four-year contract.

A statement on the club website,, read: "UD Almeria has completed the deal to acquire the services of Argentinian forward Esteban Andres Solari for the next four seasons.

"Solari is a tall forward - he is 6ft 3in - with experience, pace and who opens up spaces perfectly in the opposition area.

"Last season he was the top scorer in the Mexican league with 25 goals for Pumas."

Upon completing the deal, Solari told the Almeria website that is was a dream come true for him to play in the Spanish top flight.

He said: "For me it is a big challenge to play in such a major competition as the Spanish league, but I face that challenge with responsibility.

"It's a dream to come to Span and I hope to live up to the confidence the club has shown in me."

Esteban is the younger brother of Internazionale player Santiago Solari, who played in Spain with both Atletico and Real Madrid.

Recreating the sound of Aztec 'Whistles of Death'

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- Scientists were fascinated by the ghostly find: a human skeleton buried in an Aztec temple with a clay, skull-shaped whistle in each bony hand.
Roberto Velazquez has devoted his career to recreating the forgotten sounds of his distant ancestors.

Roberto Velazquez has devoted his career to recreating the forgotten sounds of his distant ancestors.

But no one blew into the noisemakers for nearly 15 years. When someone finally did, the shrill, windy screech made the spine tingle.

If death had a sound, this was it.

Roberto Velazquez believes the Aztecs played this mournful wail from the so-called Whistles of Death before they were sacrificed to the gods.

The 66-year-old mechanical engineer has devoted his career to recreating the sounds of his pre-Columbian ancestors, producing hundreds of replicas of whistles, flutes and wind instruments unearthed in Mexico's ruins.

For years, many archaeologists who uncovered ancient noisemakers dismissed them as toys. Museums relegated them to warehouses. But while most studies and exhibits of ancient cultures focus on how they looked, Velazquez said the noisemakers provide a rare glimpse into how they sounded.

Chelsea confirm Deco deal

Deco heads to Stamford Bridge.English side Chelsea have confirmed they have signed Portugal midfielder Deco from Spanish giants Barcelona.

The talented playmaker had recently been told by the Catalan club he did not feature in their future plans and had been linked with a move to the Blues regularly in recent years.

And Chelsea tonight confirmed the 30-year-old has agreed the move to Stamford Bridge, becoming the club's first signing since Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was appointed manager.

The west Londoners announced the news this evening and are expected to confirm they have paid US$15.8million (£8million) to sign the two-time Champions League winner on a two-year deal.

The Brazil-born player's exit from the Nou Camp proved to be protracted due to the Catalans' valuation of around £11million for the player despite his age.

That price seemed to have deterred Inter Milan - who were also apparently interested - but Chelsea have managed to negotiate the price down.

Jose Mourinho, who coached him during their time at Porto, was linked with the diminutive schemer on numerous occasions during his Stamford Bridge tenure and was reportedly interested in signing him after taking over at Inter recently.

Deco's arrival is Chelsea's second signing of the summer after international team-mate Jose Bosingwa.

Comment: Ronaldo out, who comes in?

Who will be the new No.7 to rule the Theatre of Dreams when CR7 decides to finally make his 'dream' move to Real Madrid?

Assuming the charming and charismatic Portuguese flyer finally shuttles off to the Bernabau. Who will Sir Alex Ferguson bring in to replace the boy who he groomed into a superstar?'s Kelvin Leong gives his two cents worth advice to one of the greatest managers in the modern game. So listen up Fergie!

Lionel Messi - Barcelona & Argentina

Age: 21-years-old

With the whole mess over at Nou Camp with Pep Guardiola taking over the reigns from Frank Rijkaard and the constant bickering between board members, I reckon most players are unsettled and nervy over at the Catalan club.

A whole list of big names like Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Deco are all either on their way out or have left already. One name never brought up is that of Lionel Messi.

Blessed with lightning quick speed and a low center of gravity, Messi's style of play is similar to Ronaldo and he too likes to switch from left to right and drift just behind the chief striker.

One has to wonder if Messi is irritated by the negative vibes going around the place and he did fire a warning shot last week when he said he wanted Ronaldinho to stay.

If Ronaldinho does finally make that protracted move to AC Milan, the coffers at Old Trafford should swiftly test the waters by stating their interest in Messi to the media and see how he reacts. If he wants a move, I don't think there is a bigger and better club to fit his style than the Red Devils.

Diego Capel - Sevilla & Spain U21

Age: 20-years-old

Breaking into the first team after the unfortunate death of his teammate Antonio Puerta at Sevilla gave Diego Capel added pressure to deliver. 38 appearances and a three goal return in his first season isn't a bad achievement is it?

Mind you, he was thrown into the first team without warning.

Sevilla's former coach, Juande Ramos, had to throw Capel into the deep end of the water to replace the deceased Puerta but now we all know why Ramos was so calm and collected about not going out to purchase a more experienced replacement.

He knew he had a gem in the wings waiting to be unleashed like a hungry beast searching for food. Looking a little plump and heavy akin to another former United favourite, Andrei Kanchelskies, his main strength is the ability to have the ball glued to his feet. Never one to go for the normal pass, Capel just loves taking on a string of defenders and leaving them to rot as he glides past them like a hot knife through butter.

The beast has been much talked about as the season progressed and it will not be long before he makes himself a legend somewhere.

Will he be United's next legend in the making?

Lucho Gonzalez - FC Porto & Argentina

Age: 27-years-old

One thing Lucho has over my other nominees is experience. At 27 years of age, he has played at the highest level on a club and international level.

Not the fastest of dribblers, his languid style of dictating play from midfield will mean Ferguson can switch all four midfielders around without compromising quality of play. Interchanging positions is one of the biggest assets of the United formation and Lucho will fit in immediately.

Packing a thunderous shot on the run and an excellent free-kick taker, he will be another option in the all-encompassing attacking armoury in Fergie's red brigade.

With fellow compatriot Carlos ‘The Apache' Tevez already enjoying cult status down at Old Trafford, he'll not be too worried about settling in with the gang and getting into the groove. Just don't hang around Anderson and Nani who seem to have majors problems keeping their hands off the many women hovering around them.

David Silva - Valencia & Spain

Age: 22-years-old

Xavi might have won Player of the Tournament at Euro 2008 but for me, the one player who stood out amongst the magnificent Spanish side was the smallest player on the team. David Silva.

When Silva first broke onto the Valencia first team, everyone compared him to Mestella's prodigal son, Pablo Aimar. Both players have a knack of weaving through traffic with the ball stuck to their small feet and at the end of the run, deliver that killer cross or needle-eyed pass for their forwards to finish the job. Silva even had the guts to take over Aimar's classic No.21 jersey when the Argentina was booted out of the club. Shows you what the boy is made of.

A lot of talk on the backpages of the papers in the past month were about Chelsea wanting to add the diminutive winger to their ranks to provide that much needed creative spark. The Glazers will need to move in fast before he ends up with one of their much hated arch rivals. Maybe even down the road at Thaksin's tom yum City!

A different style to Ronaldo's wizadry but will prove to be just as exciting for fans and elusive for markers. Sounds like batman!

So yes, I reckon any one of these four footballing wizards will lessen the pain and anguish felt by United fans when their superstar decides to seek a divorce from the club that gave him everything he has today.

Pakistani soldiers uncover Taliban 'kidnap jail'

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani paramilitary troops have destroyed several Taliban outposts and uncovered a jail where they kept kidnap victims, the interior ministry says.
Pakistani soldiers on patrol in the Kyber tribal district, where the government has launched an offensive.

Pakistani soldiers on patrol in the Kyber tribal district, where the government has launched an offensive.

The offensive against Taliban in Pakistan's tribal region entered its third day Monday and was almost complete, the ministry said.

Acting Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the Taliban kept kidnap victims in the "jail" while waiting for ransom payments.

The operation, launched Saturday, is the biggest push against extremists in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region since the country's civilian government took power in March.

It is taking place in the Khyber section of the tribal region -- located west of Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). And it comes as the new administration announced it would get tough with radicals in the region.
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On Monday, a blast in the Khyber section destroyed a militant compound and killed several people. Malik said it was not a result of the security operation.

The blast may have been accidental or set off by militants as they fled the area, he said. It occurred at a weapons depot belonging to local militant leader Mullah Namdar, who is suspected of carrying out cross-border attacks inside Afghanistan.

Once the operation ends in the Khyber section, the government will target another area, Malik said. He did not disclose its location.

Schweinsteiger wants BPL move

Bayern Munich and German Euro 2008 star Bastian Schweinsteiger says he is drawn to the prospect of English football.

By Nick Horsburgh

Speaking before Germany's 1-0 loss to Spain in the Euro 2008 final, the 23-year-old winger admitted that it has been a personal dream to play in England.

"England does have a good appeal," said Schweinsteiger.

"It is now one of the world's best leagues and I heard all about it from Michael, Jens Lehmann and Thomas Hitzlsperger who have all played there.

"I have always wanted to play in England so we will see if it happens this year."

Bayern have already slapped an imposing 32 million U.S. dollar price to buy-out the player from his contract with the club, a matter which could discourage some teams from making a move.

However, Bayern are known for spotting chances to make a good profit and if a club approaches the German champions with a large enough deal, Schweinsteiger could see his English dreams realised.

Torres: Football was the winner

Fernando Torres was in dreamland after a stunning final performance by the Liverpool striker saw Spain claim the European Championships crown.

The 24-year-old tormented Germany and scored the only goal in Spain's 1-0 triumph in the Ernst-Happel Stadium in Vienna.

Torres, voted man of the match by UEFA, said: "This is good not just for Spain but for football, because the best team won and that is not always the case."

He added: "It has been a fantastic season for me - it was fantastic with Liverpool and now a fantastic end of the season for the national team.

"This is the first big trophy for me and I hope not the last.

"We are privileged to be in the national team and we have had a chance to live through a beautiful tournament.

"We are proud to see so many people enjoying it, and now we have the peace of mind that we have achieved what we set out to do."

Spain have often been viewed in the past as having suffered from divisions within the team, and Torres paid tribute to the togetherness of this squad who won the country's first major tournament since 1964.

Torres added: "I am happy because my job is to score goals and I have done my job tonight but this was a victory for the unity of the group - it doesn't often happen that a group gets along so well."

Xavi top Euro 2008 star

Spain midfielder Xavi has been named the best player at Euro 2008.He was voted the Castrol player of the tournament.

The 28-year-old Barcelona player was the heartbeat of Spain's midfield during the tournament.

There was no place for Cristiano Ronaldo in the 23-man squad of the tournament however.

The squad did include Manchester United's keeper Edwin van der Sar, Michael Ballack and Jose Bosingwa from Chelsea, Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, and Tottenham-bound midfielder Luka Modric.

UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh explained Ronaldo's absence was due to the fact Portugal did not progress further in the tournament.

Roxburgh said: This is entirely about the tournament and not about reputations or how well you started.

"Of course he was mentioned - and if Portugal had gone further, there's no argument he has been in this group because he's a fantastic player.

"He was in our Champions League all-star squad for the season, and the beginning of the tournament he threatened he was going to be in this one.

"But then it came abruptly to an end. When it comes to a squad of the tournament, those that go to semis and final dominate things like this."

UEFA's squad of the tournament: Goalkeepers: Buffon (Italy), Casillas (Spain), Van der Sar (Holland).

Defenders: Bosingwa (Portugal), Lahm (Germany), Marchena (Spain), Pepe (Portugal), Puyol (Spain), Zhirkov (Russia).

Midfielders: Hamit Altintop (Turkey), Modric (Croatia), Senna (Spain), Xavi (Spain), Zyryanov (Russia), Ballack (Germany), Fabregas (Spain), Iniesta (Spain), Podolski (Germany), Sneijder (Holland).

Striker: Arshavin (Russia), Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Torres (Spain), Villa (Spain).

Bill Clinton to meet with Obama, campaign official says

(CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton are expected to meet in the next few days, according to the chairman of Sen. Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful presidential bid.
Bill and Hillary Clinton greet supporters in New York on June 3, the day of the final primaries.

Bill and Hillary Clinton greet supporters in New York on June 3, the day of the final primaries.Terry McAuliffe said the former president was angered by media reports suggesting he bore a grudge against Obama after the sometimes bruising primary campaign and did not plan to actively support Obama in the general election.

"He was angry that these ridiculous stories were out here, and these supposed close friends of the president -- none of the close friends ever got called," McAuliffe said, referring to anonymous sources quoted in some stories. "What happens, a lot of time, is people like to pretend they're close so they can tell the reporters that they're close, but, you know, they're just talking."

McAuliffe said he spoke to Bill Clinton on Sunday morning. The former president recently returned from a trip to Europe.

Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared together Friday in Unity, New Hampshire, where the former first lady said of her ex-rival, "we may have started on different paths ... [but] today our hearts are set on the same destination for America ... to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States."