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).