Sports world pays tribute to victims

People observe a minute of silence for the victims of an attack that left at least 84 people dead in Nice when a man drove a truck through a crowd, in Carhaix-Plouguer, western France, on Friday on the second day of the 25th edition of the Festival des Vieilles Charrues. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2016
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Sports world pays tribute to victims

PARIS: France Davis Cup captain Yannick Noah, riders at the Tour de France and golfers at the British Open led tributes Friday from the world of sport to the victims of the Nice terror attack.
The Tour’s 13th stage only went ahead amid heightened security after Thursday night’s truck attack on the French Riviera city which killed at least 84 people.
Organizers declared cycling’s blue riband event in mourning, with a minute’s silence held at the start of the time trial stage at Bourg-Saint-Andeol.
Another silent tribute will be held at the end of the day’s riding at La Caverne du Pont d’Arc in the Ardeche region.
“We want this day to be dignified in homage to the victims,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme.
Defending champion and race leader Chris Froome took to Twitter to express his sorrow.
“Thoughts are with those affected by the horrific terror attack in Nice,” the Briton wrote, alongside a picture of the French flag.
At Royal Troon, golfers wore black ribbons on their caps for the second round of the Open Championship.
The French flag flew at half mast over one of the stands around the 18th green at Troon on Scotland’s west coast.
France’s Clement Sordet, who lives in Nice, sported the message ‘Pray for Nice’.
“My thoughts are with the families and the victims. I woke up at 4am and tried to find out what had been going on, mainly on the radio,” Sordet said at the end of his round.
“The attack happened less than 500 meters from where I live. My girlfriend’s family come from there.”
A minute’s silence was also observed at Roscoff, on the Brittany coast on the first day of the Tour de France sailing regatta, which finishes on July 31 in the stricken Riviera resort of Nice.
The attack cast a pall over France’s quarter-final Davis Cup clash in the Czech Republic.
“We woke up in sadness. We are all affected so much,” France captain Noah, on the verge of tears, told journalists before the tie in the eastern Czech town of Trinec.
The French tennis great described the Bastille Day massacre as a heavy blow “for us, for our country, for all who are trying to give happiness.”
“Pray for Nice,” read a sign held by French fans, accompanied by a red heart.
The French team and officials stood together wearing black ribbons on their jackets.
They joined fans in singing the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, after a minute’s silence.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal paid tribute in a message in French.
“I’ve heard the news, and I am horrified by what’s happened in Nice. Support to the French people, to all the victims and their families” the 14-time major winner tweeted.
La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona expressed their sorrow.
European champions Real “deeply regret the attack in Nice and want to convey our solidarity with the victims, families and all the French people.”
Real star Gareth Bale, the Wales captain who led his country to the Euro 2016 semifinals, took to Twitter, posting: “This has to stop!!! My thoughts are with everyone in Nice #PrayForNice” alongside a heart in the French tricolor.
Barcelona also took to social media to relay their “shock and grief after the attack in Nice. All our love and affection to the families and friends of the victims.”


Migrant caravan blockade: US Army unfurls fencing along border with Mexico

Updated 21 min 32 sec ago
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Migrant caravan blockade: US Army unfurls fencing along border with Mexico

  • Some Laredo residents had voiced disquiet about the fencing and the presence of US troops
  • ‘It reminds me of Hitler and the concentration camps’

LAREDO, United State: They started work in the cool of the morning and moved quickly, uncoiling reel after reel of vicious-looking fencing and tying it with barbed wire to green poles hammered into the ground.
Over the course of three days, a gleaming, shoulders-high barrier of concertina-wire emerged like a silver snake along a lush riverbank, stretching as far as the eye could see.
This was the work of 100 or so American troops from the 19th Engineer Battalion, based in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Rather than finding themselves in a far-off warzone, the soldiers are in Laredo, a busy border town overlooking a stretch of the Rio Grande river in southwest Texas, carrying out controversial orders from President Donald Trump.
He has sent about 5,800 troops to the border to forestall the arrival of large groups of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico and toward the US, in a move critics decry as a costly political stunt to galvanize supporters ahead of midterm elections earlier this month.
Before the election Trump called the matter a “national emergency” and warned that so-called migrant caravans were an “invasion” with “some very bad thugs and gang members.”
So far at least, the most visible aspect of Trump’s deployment is the fence, a visible deterrent and physical obstacle to migrants, designed to corral would-be asylum seekers toward organized points of entry into the US.
Over the weekend, Lt. Alan Koepnick’s platoon could be seen stringing concertina wire, which is built to snag clothing, along one edge of a quiet riverside park near downtown Laredo.
As families walked dogs, grilled sausages and relaxed, the soldiers mounted the wire, occasionally ripping their camouflaged uniforms on its metal barbs.
Koepnick said some Laredo residents had voiced disquiet about the fencing and the presence of US troops.
“But there’s also been a lot of support, people coming in, vets shaking our hands, bringing us cakes, water, things like that,” Koepnick said.
About 100 yards (meters) behind him, a group of people on the Mexican side of the river could be seen standing on the bank.
“You’ll see people across the river cursing at us in Spanish, throwing bottles at us. But on this side it’s more positive,” Koepnick said.
He and his soldiers were unarmed, but a group of armed military police officers stood by to provide “force protection.”
Under US law, the military is not allowed to conduct domestic law enforcement in most cases, so soldiers here will not have any direct interactions with migrants.
Trump created a media whirlwind by sounding the alarm about the migrant caravans before the November 6 elections. He has mainly stopped raising it since, though last week he praised the military’s work.
“They built great fencing, they built a very powerful fence,” said Trump, who wants to build a hardened wall along the entire 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border.
Laura Pole, a British tourist visiting Laredo for the third time, was less enthusiastic.
“It reminds me of Hitler and the concentration camps,” she said, but added: “I really don’t know what’s the best thing to do.”
The border mission has put the supposedly non-political military in an uncomfortable spotlight.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has hit back at critics who say the Pentagon should not be doing Trump’s political bidding, saying “we don’t do stunts.”
He visited troops on the border last week and reiterated that their job in the short term was to assist under-resourced Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and put up physical obstacles.
But “longer term, it’s somewhat to be determined,” he said.
After some rank-and-file troops grumbled about the purpose of the mission to US media last week, they are now under strict instructions not to voice personal opinions to the press.
Several soldiers AFP spoke to said their time on the border provided valuable real-world training, albeit without the risks of combat.
“We have a very large group of brand-new soldiers and it’s really good for them,” Corporal Samuel Fletcher said, citing a chance for the green troops “to do real work and put their skills to use.”
In Laredo, large groups of migrants from the caravans in Mexico had not arrived.
Instead they were mainly headed to Tijuana, about 1,300 miles away in San Diego, where authorities say more than 3,000 have already arrived.
Still, a CBP agent, who was not authorized to give his name, said he was glad of the military assistance as each day, “hundreds” of migrants attempt to cross the approximately 30-mile stretch of border he patrols.
The military deployment is set to wrap up December 15 and it is not clear what will become of the wire fencing.
Already, the winds whistling down the Rio Grande valley are strewing trash, clothing and plastic bags along the jagged wire.
“Nobody seems to know when it’s coming down. It’s not really our decision,” said Koepnick.
“If we are told to take it down, we will take it down with a smile on our faces, like good soldiers.”