a Russian vehicle in the Georgian village of Kvemo-Achebeti Russia’s retreat from Georgia is yet to happen despite mixed reports from Moscow that it is already underway and that peacekeeping forces are “ensuring safety” in the region.

Georgia says Russia has failed to honour its ceasefire agreement to withdraw from Georgian territory as soon as possible.

The conflict began 10 days ago when Georgian forces tried to recapture South Ossetia, which broke free from Tbilisi in a war during the 1990s. Russia launched an overwhelming counterattack to support the separatists.

The Russian attack – its biggest military deployment outside its borders since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union – included air strikes on economic targets deep inside Georgia, forcing the Georgian army into retreat.

A French-mediated ceasefire accord urged a speedy Russian withdrawal but Russian forces are obviously determined to withdraw on their own terms.

Overnight, ABC reporter Matt Brown was witness to the tense stand-off which is continuing in the town of Gori.

Russian troops still control the entrances to Gori and the centre of town.

They are still stationed at the Georgian military base they over-ran last week and they still control the main road between Gori and the capital Tblisi.

There are reports that Russia wants to cripple Georgia’s armed forces and destroy ammunition dumps and other military hardware.

Around five hours after the withdrawal was supposed to begin yesterday, a column of Russian armoured fighting vehicles drove east of Gori, smashed through a Georgian police checkpoint and headed for high ground above the road to the capital.

Georgian officials say Russia’s actions amount to a violation of last week’s peace accord.

But Russian military spokesman Lieutenant-General Nikolay Uvarov says the troops will pull back to South Ossetia after ensuring the areas they are occupying are secure.

“Unfortunately there are still some commando teams from Georgia that are walking around,” he said.

“Last day, there were several small skirmishes. Our troops were fired upon.

“It depends on looters, and so on, so it depends on the situation. But it will take days, certainly not weeks.”

Crushing response

Meanwhile, as his troops are meant to be pulling out of Georgian territory, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has used a visit near the conflict zone to continue the war of words.

While in Vladikavkaz in southern Russia to award medals to some of those involved in the conflict in south Ossetia, Mr Medvedev has been full of praise for his soldiers and condemnation for Georgia.

Mr Medvedev said his country would do its best to ensure that Georgia’s crime of killing of Russian soldiers and peacekeepers did not go unpunished.

Earlier in the day while meeting World War II veterans in the city of Kursk, Mr Medvedev warned that if anyone tried something similar again, Russia would respond with mighty force.

He says no one should doubt the resolve of the Russian Government.

“If anyone thinks that they can kill our citizens, our soldiers and officers who are peacekeepers and escape unpunished, we will never allow this,” he said.

“If anyone tries this again, we will come out with a crushing response.”

Source : abc.net.au

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Emma Snowsill wins Olympic triathlon Emma Snowsill ended Australia’s Olympic triathlon drought when she claimed gold with a dominant win in the women’s race in Beijing today.

The pint-sized Snowsill, who missed the Australian team for 2004, burned off fierce rival Vanessa Fernandes of Portugal in the final section to close in 1 hour 58 minutes 27 seconds, a lead of 1:06. Australia’s Emma Moffatt took bronze in 1:59:55.84.

Snowsill, 27, had such a commanding lead that she took time to celebrate with fans down the final straight, beaming and waving the Australian flag as she crossed the line.

“I didn’t feel awesome,” she confided. “It was extremely hard, it was hot. I think it was a great course for a triathlon. It was a really tough course.

“I feel very proud and honoured to be an Australian with a gold medal around my neck at the Olympic Games.

“I believe we came so close in Sydney and Athens that this makes up for those very close defeats.

“I don’t feel any regret about not going to Athens, you move on and you deal with it. But to come from a nation that’s so strong in terms of triathlon, it’s a fantastic feeling to finally bring home a gold medal.”

The triple world champion had broken away from a 19-strong lead group at the start of the run leg and was never challenged on the way to the finish.

Australia’s Erin Densham was 22nd.

The victory is redemption for the 1.61m ‘Snowy’ who was overlooked for Athens 2004 but has since collected Commonwealth gold and her second and third world titles with nine World Cup series wins along the way.

And the win ended Australia’s run of heartbreak since triathlon became an Olympic event at the Sydney Games.

In 2000 Australia’s Michellie Jones was the world number one and favourite to win gold, but finished in second place behind Swiss triathlete Brigitte McMahon.

Four years later Australia’s Loretta Harrop was the favourite in Athens, but tired in the final stretch to lose the gold medal to Australian-born Austrian Kate Allen by seven seconds.

How it happened

Sarah Haskins hit the front early in the Ming Tomb Reservoir swim but the athletes were tightly bunched at the first change with American team-mate Laura Bennett narrowly landing first in 19:49.

Bennett maintained her lead through the transition onto the bikes with Japan’s Juri Ide and Snowsill in close contention along with Moffatt and Fernandes.

An eight-bike pile-up at the end of lap five dashed the hopes of Canada’s Laura Groves and Russian Irina Abysova as riders careered over the barrier and into each other at the hairpin stadium turn.

Moffatt led the standings after the bike race at 1:24:38.76 but Snowsill was off like a shot as she opened up a 15-second lead on Fernandes by the end of the first 2.5km lap and doubled her advantage by the halfway stage.

Snowsill took a wrong turn going into the stadium at the end of lap three but could afford to make mistakes with her lead already stretched to nearly a minute.

The gruelling ‘splash/mash/dash’ – 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run – was held at the scenic Ming Tomb Reservoir near Beijing in sunny conditions with temperatures at about 25 C (77 F).

Source-ABC/AFP

World Tamil Confederation 26th & 27th July, 2003 - Pondicherry, India [I Year Anniversary]Madurai, Ulaga Tamilar Peramaipuu – World Tamil Confederation, a proxy LTTE organization in Tamil Nadu headed by P. Nedumaran, unanimously resolved in the presence of two TNA Parliamentarians, that Katchativu which was ceded by the Government of India to Sri Lanka Government in 1974, has to be retrieved back immediately and brought under the Tamil Nadu state government’s administration. It has been pointed out that Katchativu has to be retrieved back to stop the miseries and hardships the Tamil Nadu fishermen are presently undergoing.

To commemorate the sixth year completion of the Ulaga Tamilar Peramaipuu – World Tamil Confederation, it held the World Tamil Writers Conference last Saturday at Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. P. Nedumaran, President of the Ulaga Tamilar Peramaipuu presided.

Sri Lankan parliamentarians from the Tamil National Alliance Mavai Senathirajah , and Sivajilingham participated in the conference as guest speakers on behalf of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

At the conclusion of the conference, it was unanimously resolved in the presence if those two Sri Lankan Parliamentarians, that Indian Government must retrieve Katchativu from Sri Lanka immediately.

Furthermore, the conference unanimously resolved that in the last 25 years, Sinhalese Navy has shot and killed more than 400 Tamil Nadu fishermen within India’s territorial waters. Also many hundred crores rupees worth of fishing vessels, gears and nets belonged to Tamil Nadu fishermen were destroyed by the Sinhalese Government’s Navy. The conference urged that Indian Government must come forward to obtain from the Sinhalese Government adequate compensations for those killed as well as to the vessels and nets that has been destroyed.

The other resolution dealt with the granting of Indian citizenship to the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees languishing in Tamil Nadu for the last 25 years.

Also Ulaga Tamilar Peramaipuu pointed out that Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in the Tamil Nadu are a group of discarded people and therefore they have to be entrusted with the UNHCR to look after their welfare in the future.

Source – Asian Tribune –

Alexander Kozulin (file photo)

Alexander Kozulin, Belarus’ highest profile political prisoner has left jail , his daughter said, as an unconfirmed news agency report said he had been given a presidential pardon.

“We don’t know what has happened and under what conditions he has been released, but he is definitely coming home and I hope he is coming home for a long time,” Ms Kozulina said.

Mr Kozulin would on Monday attend the funeral of his father-in-law, after which he would give a press conference, his press service said.

Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying Kozulin, a former presidential candidate, had been pardoned by President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday.

The president’s office declined to comment, as did the prison where Kozulin was being held.

Mr Kozulin was jailed in 2006 after leading a protest against the heavily criticised election victory of Mr Lukashenko, dubbed by Washington “Europe’s last dictator.”

His release has been a key demand by Western powers, including the United States, which has imposed economic sanctions against Mr Lukashenko’s leadership.

Belarus is preparing for a parliamentary election on September 28 and diplomats say Mr Lukashenko is seeking a mould-breaking positive appraisal from Western election observers.

Mr Lukashenko is accused by critics of suppressing opposition democracy campaigners and illegally changing the constitution to prolong his 14-year rule.

The US has welcomed the release.

“The United States welcomes the release today of Belarus political opposition figure Alexander Kozulin,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.

“We look forward to other positive steps from the Belarusian authorities that could open the possibility of a significant improvement in relations between the United States and Belarus,” Mr McCormack said.

On a visit to Latvia in May 2005, US President George W Bush described Belarus as “the last remaining dictatorship in Europe.”

source : abc.net.au

Usain Bolt ... nuggets and rest key to 100m gold The world’s fastest man has revealed his secrets after breaking the world record in the Olympic 100 metres final in Beijing last night.

Twenty-one-year-old Jamaican Usain Bolt produced a stunning performance to win the blue riband event in a new world record time of 9.69 seconds, beating his own mark by 0.03 of a second.

Bolt says he made no special preparations for the Olympic final.

“Sat around, watched some TV, then I had lunch, some nuggets,” he said.

“Then I went back to my room, slept again for three more hours. Then I went back, got some more nuggets, then I came to the track.”

Source : abc.net.au

Phil McElhinney.

The Jamaican Usain Bolt set a new world record in the final of the 100m sprint, which is often considered a very important event in the Olympic games, with his time of 9.69 seconds.

BBC Sport reported that Bolt set the new world record even though “he didn’t even try all of the way.”

Bolt passed through the semi-final with a time of 9.85, only 0.13 seconds behind his own world record time of 9.72. this is despite the fact that, according to the BBC, Bolt jogged the last twenty metres.

The American Tyson Gay failed to qualify for the 100 metre final. “I don’t have any excuses. I’m pretty upset,” said Gay after realizing he had failed to finish in the top three of the semi-finals, which took place approximately two hours before the final.

The World record for the 100 metres has dropped significantly since the record of 10.6 seconds was set by Donald Lippincott on July 6, 1912.

The ten second barrier was first crossed by Jim Hines of the United

Source : wikinews

Highlights

Men’s 200-meter individual medley

Michael Phelps won his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics with a world-record time of 1:54.23 in the final of the men’s 200m individual medley. The gold puts him one gold medal away from Mark Spitz‘s individual record of seven gold medals at a single Olympiad, set at the Munich Olympics in 1972. It was also his sixth world record, also one short of a single-Olympiad record set by Spitz as well.

Hungarian László Cseh won the silver medal with a time of 1:56.52, an European record. Cseh out-touched American Ryan Lochte, the bronze medal winner, by 0.01 seconds (1:56.53).

The previous world record time was 1:54.80, set by Phelps at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebrasha.

Men’s 50m freestyle

In the first semifinal of the men’s 50m freestyle, Cesar Cielo Filho set a new Olympic record with a time of 21.34 seconds, 0.12 seconds ahead of the previous Olympic record and 0.06 seconds behind the current world record.

“It was a great race. The 50m is so fast and it was my best-ever race,” said Filho after the race. ‘I’m in lane four [in the final]. I’ll just do my best and focus on my own race and will touch the wall with my best performance.”

Women’s 200m breaststroke

American Rebecca Soni net a new world record and won the gold medal in the final of the women’s 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:20.22.

Leisel Jones, who was representing Australia, took the silver medal, while Sara Nordenstam finished in third place with a time of 2:23.02, less than one second behind Jones’ time of 2:22.05.

Women’s 75kg weightlifting

The Chinese Cao Lei set a new world record and won the gold medal women’s 75kg weightlifting. Her score of 282 beat the competitor who took the silver medal by sixteen points.

“I was excited and overjoyed because I won the seventh gold medal for Chinese weightlifting,” she said, after the event.

Men’s individual pursuit

British Bradley Wiggins set a new Olympic record in qualifying round of the men’s individual pursuit with a time of 4:15.031 and an average speed of 56.463 km/h.

Hayden Roulston, who was representing New Zealand, finished in second place, while Alexei Markov finished in third place with a time of 4:21.498.

Women’s artistic gymnastics individual all-around

American Nastia Liukin won the gold medal in the women’s individual all-around in artistic gymnastics. She is the daughter of former Soviet Union gymnast Valeri Liukin, who won a gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Her total score was 63.325: 15.025 in vault, 16.650 in uneven bars, 16.125 in balance beam and 15.525 in floor exercise. Her scores at balance beam and floor exercise were the top scores for the individual all-around competition.

Her American teammate, Shawn Johnson, won the silver medal with a total score of 62.725. Johnson had the top score in the vault, with a score of 15.875. Chinese gymnast Yang Yilin won the bronze medal with a total score of 61.925. Yang had the top score in the uneven bars, with a score of 16.725.

Medal Table