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    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Reuters - "Lightning" Bolt strikes again in Beijing

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    "Lightning" Bolt strikes again in Beijing

    Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008 5:46PM UTC

    By Andrew Cawthorne

    BEIJING (Reuters) - Jamaica's Usain "Lightning" Bolt roared to gold in the 200 meters on Wednesday to become the first man since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win an Olympic sprint double.

    Bolt, whose father says owes his speed and power to the island's local yam vegetable, charged to a world record time of 19.30 seconds, falling to the floor in joy at the end.

    "I'm Number One," he mouthed at TV cameras, beating his chest and blowing kisses at the 91,000 crowd in the Bird's Nest.

    Bolt had won the 100m at the showcase Olympic stadium in swashbuckling style at the weekend, also setting a world record.

    This time, he again joked on his way to the block, firing an imaginary arrow in the air, but looked deadly serious as he opened up a big gap and steamed through the finishing line to beat Michael Johnson's 1996 record by two hundredths of a second.

    "I knew the track was a fast track but I didn't think this was possible. I'm shocked," Bolt said afterwards.

    Johnson dubbed Bolt "Superman 2" during commentary for the BBC. "I looked at his start and just went, 'Wow'. Guys that tall should not be able to start like that," he said.

    Competitors were awe-struck. "It's a brutal ass-whipping we took," said Kim Collins, of St Kitts and Nevis, who was seventh.

    Nine men have now won the double sprint in Olympic history.

    Bolt, who turns 22 on Thursday, has established himself as the joint hero of the Games along with American swimmer Michael Phelps who took an unprecedented eight golds.

    Just as Phelps's exploits in the Water Cube, passing Mark Spitz's 1972 Munich record, have thrilled Americans, so Bolt has swelled national pride across his Caribbean homeland.

    The lanky runner started sprinting only when a school cricket coach noticed his speed as a fast bowler.

    Right after Bolt's triumph, Melaine Walker added to Jamaica's joy by taking gold in the women's 400 meters hurdles.

    While her team mate Bolt and America's Phelps have given the standout individual performances so far in the August 8-24 Games, it is team China whose overall record has dazzled the world.

    CHINESE GOLD RUSH

    The hosts, who came second to the United States in Athens 2004, have 45 gold medals, a seemingly unassailable lead that marks their emergence as an Olympics superpower.

    That will delight the Communist government, for whom the $43 billion Games are a symbol of China's new global standing.

    Local windsurfer Yin Jian pumped and glided her way to a first sailing gold for China. Then Wu Jingyu won gold in women's taekwondo on another successful day for the hosts.

    The United States lie second with a less-than-expected 26 golds, while next Olympics hosts Britain are a surprising third with 16 golds, their best showing in a century.

    Global conflict zones like Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories struggled to send athletes to China, and some competitors had to prepare in appalling circumstances.

    Swimmers have used under-size public pools, while runners have had to dodge bullets.

    Against all odds, though, Rohullah Nikpai won the first Olympic medal in Afghanistan's history -- a taekwondo bronze.

    "I'm very happy," said Nikpai, who fell to his knees, hugged coaches and wept after beating world champion Juan Antonio Ramos.

    Many Afghans were unaware of Nikpai's win because power is intermittent and few households have cable television.

    The International Olympic Committee is delighted at unprecedented global interest in the Games.

    It said online broadcasts and enormous viewership within China, the world's most populous country, had made the Beijing Olympics the most watched in history.

    A record 1.2 billion people are thought to have seen the opening ceremony and 40 million people in the United States alone saw Phelps win his eighth gold medal, an 18-year high for the NBC network's Saturday evening viewing.

    Trying to attract a younger audience, the Olympic movement is embracing the Internet and also allowing new telegenic sports.

    In the first Olympic 10 km open water swim, Russia's Larisa Ilchenko won by less than two seconds from Britain's Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten, sprinting past the pair in the last 100 meters of the jostling, rough-and-tumble contest.

    South Africa amputee Natalie du Toit won admiration for her pluck in swimming the 10 km but there was no medal for the 24-year-old, who lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001. She finished 16th, around a minute behind Ilchenko.

    As well as the water race, TV-friendly BMX biking got its first start, bringing some counter culture attitude to the Games.

    To the sound of thumping music, bikers race down a three-storey start ramp, fly over rolling dirt bumps in helmets and protective padding, and crash their tiny bikes recklessly in action-packed races that last less than 40 seconds.

    "Being a fast, intense spectator sport, it suits young people's expectations," said France's Anne-Caroline Chausson, who crashed but made it into the semi-finals.

    (Reporting by Beijing Olympics bureau, editing by Ralph Gowling)

    CNN - Reports: Madrid plane crash kills dozens

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    Reports: Madrid plane crash kills dozens


    A Spanish plane with more than 170 people on board went off the runway Wednesday at Madrid's Barajas Airport, killing at least 90 people, officials said.

    The crash during take off reportedly followed an explosion on board the budget airline jet, sending up a plume of smoke visible from several kilometers away.

    The official death toll is 90, according to Interior Ministry officials. But local officials are telling CNN's Spanish sister station CNN+ that 26 people taken to hospital are the only survivors.

    Some of those survivors have serious injuries and others non-life threatening injuries, Spanish Red Cross spokeswoman Olivia Acosa told CNN. Many of the injured were treated for burns, she said.

    The incident happened as Spanair Flight 5022 was taking off from the main runway, the official said. It was headed to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, a more than two-hour flight.

    The Red Cross said it has set up a field hospital at the airport to treat the injured and is offering psychological counseling to the victims' families.

    Clouds of gray and black smoke billowed from the site, and even local media cameras could not get a close view of the accident scene. A helicopter passed overhead, dumping what appeared to be water on reported grassfires sparked by the blaze.

    Ambulances were seen speeding in and out of the airport and dozens of emergency vehicles gathered at one entrance point.

    Spanish journalist Carlota Fomina told CNN said she had spoken to one of the passengers who had been on board the plane at the time of the crash who described an explosion and fire at the back of the plane.

    She said the plane appeared to make a relatively controlled landing.

    CNN sister station CNN+ is reporting that the plane may have veered off the runway after experiencing engine problems. Spanish media reported at least 11 fire engines were dispatched to control the blaze.

    The accident happened as Spanair Flight 5022 -- also carrying passengers from Lufthansa Flight 2554 -- was taking off at about 2:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. ET), an airport official said.

    Spanair, owned by Scandinavian airline SAS, is one of Spain's three major private carriers.

    An SAS official said there were 166 passengers plus six crew on the plane, which was a code-share flight with Lufthansa Airline, indicating the jet may have been carrying German vacationers.

    Barajas Airport closed after the crash but reopened more than two hours later, allowing a limited number of take-offs and landings, the airport official said. iReport: Send us your pictures, video, information.

    It was the first fatal accident at the airport since December 1983, when 93 people were killed as two Spanish airliners collided while taxiing for takeoff.

    The airport, eight miles (13 km) northeast of central Madrid, is Spain's busiest, handling more than 40 million passengers a year.

    The United States' National Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigation team to Madrid to aid in the crash investigation because the aircraft is an American-made McDonnell Douglas MD-82, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

    He said the group will depart "as soon as we can gather the team together."

    Spanair has set up a local emergency number for family members, +34 800-400-200.

    Reuters - Motorola unveils low-end phones for music and Web

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    Motorola unveils low-end phones for music and Web

    Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008 9:47AM UTC

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Motorola Inc, the world's third-largest handset maker, unveiled two new low-end phones on Wednesday that allow users to listen to songs and surf the Web.

    Motorola, which has failed to come up with a strong follow-up to its once-lauded Razr phone, has lost out to market leader Nokia and other rivals since early last year.

    The firm, which faces stiff competition from handsets such as Apple Inc's popular touch-screen iPhone, has said it would launch 50 new devices this year, including advanced phones.

    One new handset is a music-enabled camera phone -- the W388 -- that sells for under $100.

    The second device is a low-end third-generation (3G) mobile phone -- the VE538 -- which goes for less than $250 and offers one-click mobile social networking, photo uploading and blogging at various websites.

    The two new products will be shipped to Asia-Pacific markets first -- before being rolled out globally -- by September.

    "People don't buy products any more, they buy what those products can create for them -- solutions, dreams, whatever they are looking for in life," said Ian Chapman-Banks, the General Manager for Motorola's Mobile Devices business in Asia. In July, Motorola posted a small quarterly profit after more than a year of disappointing results, as it sold more mobile phones than expected, thanks to strength in North America.

    The firm, which narrowly kept its No. 3 ranking in the global phone market ahead of South Korea's LG Electronics Inc, also forecast a full-year profit that beat Wall Street estimates as it plans new products and further cost cutting.

    It plans to separate its mobile phone unit from the rest of the company in the third quarter of 2009.

    (Reporting by Jennifer Tan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

    Reuters - McCain takes lead over Obama: poll

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    McCain takes lead over Obama: poll

    Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008 3:16PM UTC

    By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

    McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama's solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll.

    The reversal follows a month of attacks by McCain, who has questioned Obama's experience, criticized his opposition to most new offshore oil drilling and mocked his overseas trip.

    The poll was taken Thursday through Saturday as Obama wrapped up a weeklong vacation in Hawaii that ceded the political spotlight to McCain, who seized on Russia's invasion of Georgia to emphasize his foreign policy views.

    "There is no doubt the campaign to discredit Obama is paying off for McCain right now," pollster John Zogby said. "This is a significant ebb for Obama."

    McCain now has a 9-point edge, 49 percent to 40 percent, over Obama on the critical question of who would be the best manager of the economy -- an issue nearly half of voters said was their top concern in the November 4 presidential election.

    That margin reversed Obama's 4-point edge last month on the economy over McCain, an Arizona senator and former Vietnam prisoner of war who has admitted a lack of economic expertise and shows far greater interest in foreign and military policy.

    McCain has been on the offensive against Obama during the last month over energy concerns, with polls showing strong majorities supporting his call for an expansion of offshore oil drilling as gasoline prices hover near $4 a gallon.

    Obama had opposed new offshore drilling, but said recently he would support a limited expansion as part of a comprehensive energy program.

    That was one of several recent policy shifts for Obama, as he positions himself for the general election battle. But Zogby said the changes could be taking a toll on Obama's support, particularly among Democrats and self-described liberals.

    "That hairline difference between nuance and what appears to be flip-flopping is hurting him with liberal voters," Zogby said.

    Obama's support among Democrats fell 9 percentage points this month to 74 percent, while McCain has the backing of 81 percent of Republicans. Support for Obama, an Illinois senator, fell 12 percentage points among liberals, with 10 percent of liberals still undecided compared to 9 percent of conservatives.

    OBAMA NEEDS TO WORK ON BASE

    "Conservatives were supposed to be the bigger problem for McCain," Zogby said. "Obama still has work to do on his base. At this point McCain seems to be doing a better job with his."

    The dip in support for Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, cut across demographic and ideological lines. He slipped among Catholics, born-again Christians, women, independents and younger voters. He retained the support of more than 90 percent of black voters.

    "There were no wild swings, there isn't one group that is radically different than last month or even two months ago. It was just a steady decline for Obama across the board," Zogby said.

    Obama's support among voters between the ages of 18 and 29, which had been one of his strengths, slipped 12 percentage points to 52 percent. McCain, who will turn 72 next week, was winning 40 percent of younger voters.

    "Those are not the numbers Obama needs to win," Zogby said about Americans under 30. The 47-year-old is counting on a strong turnout among young voters, a key bloc of support during his primary battle with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

    It made little difference when independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr, who are both trying to add their names to state ballots.

    McCain still held a 5-point edge over Obama, 44 percent to 39 percent, when all four names were included. Barr earned 3 percent and Nader 2 percent.

    Most national polls have given Obama a narrow lead over McCain throughout the summer. In the Reuters/Zogby poll, Obama had a 5-point lead in June, shortly after he clinched the Democratic nomination, and an 8-point lead on McCain in May.

    The telephone poll of 1,089 likely voters had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

    The poll was taken as both candidates head into their nominating conventions and the announcements of their choices of vice presidential picks. The Democratic convention begins on Monday in Denver, with the Republican convention opening the next Monday, September 1, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    (Editing by Patricia Wilson and Patricia Zengerle)

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