Missing three-year-old found dead on Spain train tracks

Rick Parfitt (left) and Francis Rossi of the British rock group Status Quo performing on the Pyramid Stage on the third day of the annual Glastonbury festival. — AFP Photo Viet Nam News LONDON — Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt was the ultimate rocker who lived the dream, the band’s manager said Sunday after he died aged 68 following a severe infection. "We all thought that Rick was invincible," said Simon Porter, given his numerous recoveries from heart attacks and health scares. Parfitt was taken into hospital in southern Spain on Thursday due to complications with a pre-existing shoulder injury. He died on Saturday. In nearly five decades in the business, marked by hard rock, hard drugs, hard drinking and an unwavering style, Status Quo were synonymous with rock and roll. Queen guitarist Brian May said Parfitt had "joyfully rocked our world", and Live Aid co-organiser Midge Ure said he was a "lovely man". The Who and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi sent their condolences. Def Leppard said they "grew up on Status Quo" and had great respect for the band’s legacy. Parfitt had been forced to withdraw from his band’s recent tour after he collapsed and briefly "died". He had survived multiple heart attacks. Porter said he had dinner with Parfitt in Malaga earlier this week, adding he was in "good spirits". "Rick had come to terms that he would be unable to tour with Quo again, but he continued to be very much part of the Quo machine…... [read more]

Swansea City produced a remarkable performance on their Europa League debut to thump Valencia 3-0 in Spain on Thursday, while Tottenham Hotspur also got their campaign off to a winning start. Swansea's Group A trip to the Mestalla was, on paper, the standout of all those played in the Europa League on Thursday, but few could have imagined it would be so one-sided. A Swansea side coached by former Real Madrid and Barcelona star Michael Laudrup and featuring six Spaniards, including captain Angel Rangel, punished opponents who played 80 minutes with 10 men to run out thoroughly deserving winners. Valencia were already wobbling before French centre-back Adil Rami was sent off with 10 minutes on the clock for hauling back Wilfried Bony as the Ivorian striker headed towards goal. Soon after, the lively Bony converted a Michu cutback to give Swansea the lead, and Valencia, who have lost their last three matches in La Liga, never looked like recovering. A section of the Valencia support staged a walkout in protest at their teams' recent form at the start of the second half, before Spanish duo Alejandro Pozuelo and Michu combined for the latter to double Swansea's lead after 58 minutes. When Jonathan De Guzman beat Vicente Guaita with a stunning free-kick five minutes later, the home supporters could only applaud, and Swansea might even have won by a greater margin. It was a stunning victory for a club that lost 8-0 to Monaco in their last European tie in the…... [read more]

Striker Mario Balotelli has been ruled out of Italy's Confederations Cup semi-final against Spain with a thigh injury, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced on Sunday. The 22-year-old AC Milan striker, who has two goals to his name at the tournament of continental champions in Brazil, had been expected to lead Italy's attack against Spain in Fortaleza on Thursday. "The examinations carried out this afternoon (Sunday) in Fortaleza on Mario Balotelli showed a grade-one tear in the quadriceps muscle of the left leg," the FIGC said in a statement. "The player will not be available for the semi-final against Spain on Thursday, June 27 and in the coming days his condition will be evaluated for the match on the 30th (either the final or third-place play-off)." Earlier, the FIGC had confirmed right-back Ignazio Abate's withdrawal from the tournament due to a dislocated shoulder and said midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was due to undergo tests on a head injury. Abate hurt his shoulder during Italy's 4-2 loss to Brazil on Saturday and team doctor Enrico Castellacci said he would return to Italy immediately "given the impossibility of him continuing in the competition". Castellacci said that an initial brain scan on Montolivo had revealed nothing, after the Milan midfielder was also forced off during the Brazil game. "The boy is doing better and his condition will also be medically evaluated," Castellacci said. Manager Cesare Prandelli said he hoped to have Andrea Pirlo fit for the semi-final after the Juventus midfielder sat out the…... [read more]

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo threw further doubt over his future in Spain on Thursday by suggesting he has not penned a new deal. MADRID - Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo threw further doubt over his future in Spain on Thursday by suggesting he has not penned a new deal. "All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false," Ronaldo tweeted, without elaborating. The Portuguese's current deal is due to expire in 2015. Ronaldo has been linked with a move to big-spending French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco. Even former club Manchester United have been mentioned as potential buyers, four years after he left Old Trafford. Two weeks ago, Real president Florentino Perez denied reports that Ronaldo had rejected a new contract. "This information is misguided," Perez told Spanish media. "I am not going to enter into more details but I will only say that Cristiano's renewal is not deadlocked, this doesn't correspond to the reality as we stand today." Source AFP... [read more]

Dogs, cats, parrots and farm animals gathered at the Vatican and churches across Spain on Thursday to be blessed on the feast day of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals. Donkeys, pigs, cows and chickens bayed and clucked in St. Peter's Square, as Cardinal Angelo Comastri, general vicar for the Vatican, gave his yearly blessing to all God's creatures. "We've always had dogs, it's time to get them baptised!" said a cheerful Federica Veneto. Bemused looking sheep were kept away from overly enthusiastic dogs as dozens of horses with their manes braided pranced up the via della Conciliazione -- the main street leading to the Vatican -- ridden by police officers or leading colourful horse-drawn carriages. A group of Italian vets stood by offering free check-ups for doted-upon pets. In Madrid, animal lovers lined up outside the main entrance to the Church of San Anton with their pets on leashes or wrapped in blankets in their arms as they waited for a priest to sprinkle the animals with holy water. Many dressed their dogs in their finest for the occasion, decking them in coats to guard against the cold or tying bows in their fur. Jose Martinez, 74, dressed his blonde cocker spaniel Poki in a scarf in the yellow and red colours of the Spanish flag and a grey sweater. "We brought him here to be blessed to see if he becomes less naughty," he said, standing in the queue while his pet barked at other dogs waiting…... [read more]

French leader Francois Hollande flies to Spain on Thursday, brandishing his support for the crisis-torn nation as it seeks a saviour from potentially crippling market interest rates. The French president makes his maiden official visit to Madrid as the European Central Bank scrambles to work out a mechanism for buying some eurozone governments' bonds so as to curb those borrowing costs. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been a leading proponent for a resumed bond-buying programme, widely expected to be decided at a September 6 meeting of the ECB. But the ECB has made clear that Spain would have to apply formally for help from the eurozone's bailout funds, submitting to their strict conditions, before it will act on the market. Until those conditions are revealed, the Spanish premier, who has already agreed on a eurozone rescue loan of up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) for the nation's banks, won't even hint at appealing for broader assistance. Asked if Spain was already hammering out such a deal, Rajoy told a news conference on Tuesday: "There is no negotiation because Spain has made no request. Nothing is being negotiated, there is nothing." Spain's situation is urgent, however, as it faces more than 30 billion euros in short- and long-term debt repayments in October; a crunch that, some analysts say, could force the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy to seek aid. In Paris, a French diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of Hollande's one-day visit, which is to include a working lunch…... [read more]

The eurozone started tackling Thursday conditions for financial aid to Spain's banks, while arguing over a revision sought by Greece's new government of its bailout. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi (L) speaks with Spanish Finance Minister Luis De Guindos before an Eurozone Coucil at the Kirchberg conference centre in Luxembourg. The eurozone started tackling conditions on Thursday for financial aid to Spain's banks, while arguing over a revision sought by Greece's new government of its bailout. Photo: AFP Eurozone finance ministers opened talks in Luxembourg, with International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde also attending as the world awaits solutions to the two-year debt crisis. Spanish Finance Minister Luis De Guindos said his country would officially request aid for its stricken banks "in the coming days." "It's a mere formality," De Guindos said on arrival for the meeting. "Today we are here to explain the situation with the Spanish banking sector." Audits released by the the Bank of Spain showed that lenders there could need up to 62 billion euros (US$78 billion), with the tests delivering a bottom-of-the-range figure of 16 billion euros. Two weeks ago, the eurozone had said it would be willing to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros. In the meantime, and with an eye particularly on Spain and Italy, a financial sector source told AFP on Thursday that the European Central Bank is set to loosen the criteria on collateral required from commercial banks in exchange for central bank funds. The decision is expected…... [read more]

The European Central Bank, meeting in Spain on Thursday, held interest rates at historic lows but insisted it was up to governments to find ways of boosting growth without busting fiscal rules. The central bank governors of the 17 eurozone member states, convening in Barcelona's giant conference centre under tight security, voted to keep borrowing costs at 1.0 per cent for the sixth month in a row. Following a raft of recent policy steps to prop up the euro and keep the single currency area's debt-wracked economy up and running, ECB chief Mario Draghi refused to give any indication when the bank might take further anti-crisis measures. Instead, Draghi said the onus was firmly on governments to find ways of boosting growth without easing up on crucial efforts to get their finances in order. Economic growth and fiscal consolidation are not contradictory and governments can still rein in their public deficits without undercutting growth, he argued. "There is absolutely no contradiction between a growth compact and a fiscal compact," Draghi told a news conference. "We have to put growth back at the centre of the agenda," he said. A growing number of eurozone countries are beginning to baulk at the belt-tightening measures prescribed by governments in a bid to rein in deficits as part of a recently agreed EU "fiscal compact." There have been massive protests in Greece, just bailed out again, and in embattled Italy and Spain against such austerity drives. An 8,000-strong security force was deployed in Barcelona…... [read more]

An eruption by Iceland's most active volcano was set to keep the island's main airport shut on Monday, while other European nations watched for any impact on their air routes from a towering plume of smoke and ash. Experts said they saw little chance of a repeat of last year's six-day closure of airspace, which also hit trans-Atlantic flights, when another Icelandic volcano erupted, although airlines have been warned the new ash cloud will drift. So far Iceland, particularly the towns and villages to the south and east of the Grimsvotn volcano, have suffered most. Day turned into night when a thick cloud of ash descended on the area, smothering cars and buildings. The cloud had also begun to drift over the capital Reykjavik by late Sunday evening and the civil aviation authority said the prospects for re-opening the main international airport on Monday were not good. Europe's air traffic control organisation warned on its website that ash could spread southwards. "Ash cloud is expected to reach North Scotland on Tuesday 24th May. If volcanic emissions continue with same intensity, cloud might reach west French airspace and north Spain on Thursday 26th May," it said in a traffic bulletin. Iceland's meteorological office said the plume from Grimsvotn, which last exploded in 2004, had fallen to 10 to 15 km in height from a peak of 25 km (16 miles). But the eruption was much stronger than the one at a volcano further south last year which closed European airspace and…... [read more]

Eurozone leaders are expected to agree on greater economic policy coordination Friday as they try to tame a deep-seated debt crisis made worse by markets sceptical that they can stop the rot. The leaders meet here against a troubled background -- a Libyan crisis destabilising financial markets worldwide makes agreeing policy even more difficult while weaker eurozone states wobble as investors bet against them. The 17 heads of state or government of the eurozone nations, plus the head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet, meet at 1600 GMT to adopt a 'Pact for the Euro' designed to improve the bloc's competitiveness. The document, seen by AFP, sets out four areas for closer cooperation -- fostering competitiveness, fostering employment, ensuring the sustainability of public finances and reinforcing financial stability. While specific measures will be the preserve of individual member states -- so as not to offend smaller countries jealous of their independence -- they are all supposed to work towards these same goals. The objective is "to achieve a new quality of economic policy coordination in the euro area, improve competitiveness, thereby leading to a higher degree of convergence," the document states. By mutual cross-checking, member states are to ensure that all stick to the agreed course, with tough regular annual summits to review progress. The logic is that if eurozone states have the same goals and obey the same rules, then the huge debt burdens and public deficits straining public finances and threatening the euro, will ultimately be brought…... [read more]

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