Xavi said it was “too early” for him to coach Barcelona as he confirmed on Thursday that he had received an offer from his former club but would remain at Qatari side Al-Sadd.
World Cup winner Xavi, 39, said Barcelona’s director of football Eric Abidal made him the offer, before settling on Quique Setien to replace Ernesto Valverde as coach.
“I received an offer from Barcelona in the presence of Eric Abidal… but I did not agree to this offer, especially as it is too early for me to coach Barcelona,” he said in a statement issued by Al-Sadd.
“But it will still be my dream to coach the team in the future.
“I love the new Barcelona coach, I love the way he works, and I expect him to succeed with the team.”
Valverde left Barcelona after his sacking on Monday, closing the page on a brutal few days.
Barcelona confirmed Setien’s appointment following a board meeting that lasted more than four hours on Monday.
His contract runs until 2022 although there is a break clause in 2021, to allow for change after the club’s presidential elections.
Valverde is the first coach to be sacked by Barca mid-season since Louis van Gaal in 2003.
Barcelona sit top of La Liga, albeit level on points with Real Madrid, and face Napoli next month in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Xavi came through the Barcelona academy before breaking the record for most appearances for the senior side, winning four Champions League trophies and eight La Liga titles.
He joined Al-Sadd as a player in 2015 before being appointed coach last July.
Members of the US Senate were sworn in on Thursday to serve as jurors at the historic impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, administered the oath to the senators who will decide whether the 45th president should be removed from office.
“Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws, so help you God,” Roberts said.
Senators in the chamber responded: “I do.” They then individually signed a book affirming their oath.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, then adjourned the proceedings and said the trial would resume at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Tuesday.
Earlier on Thursday, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who will serve as lead prosecutor for the trial, read out the two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanours.”
The Democratic-controlled House, in an overwhelmingly partisan vote, impeached Trump on December 18 for abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine and for obstruction of Congress.
Impeachment rules require a two-thirds Senate majority to convict and remove a president and Trump’s acquittal is widely expected in the Republican-dominated Senate.
Not all patients who fall into a coma return, and when they do it can mark a moment of joy for their loved ones — but their troubles are rarely over.
Often, brain damage leaves them paralysed or unable to communicate.
Belgian neurologist Steven Laureys has dedicated himself to the question of how to improve the lives of the formerly comatose, and of their families.
And on Thursday, his work was recognised with a million-euro ($1.1 million) grant from the King Baudouin Foundation, presented by the Belgian king’s sister, Princess Astrid.
The award will support the work of Laureys’ world-class Coma Science Group at the University Hospital of Liege, in the south of the country.
“Our ignorance about the brain is enormous,” Laureys told AFP at his clinic, lamenting that the patients that he sees have been “neglected” by medical science.
Laureys, who leads a team of 30 researchers, sees a “silent epidemic” of cases of patients who were revived from a coma but with their consciousness limited to varying degrees.
Around 150 cases a year are recorded in Belgium alone. Some leave intensive care able to open their eyes, but only move in reaction to outside stimuli.
In other, rarer, cases full consciousness returns but the patient’s body remains paralysed, limiting or preventing two-way communication with carers and loved ones.
The possibilities for treatment are limited, but the 51-year-old doctor says the royal grant will help his team study one promising route — the use of the drug apomorphine.
Already used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and in tackling some addictions, apomorphine could prove effective in the “gentle and gradual” treatment of brain damage.
“For patients with brain injuries, there’s no current treatment that has proven truly effective. If we find one, that will make a great difference to patients’ quality of life,” said researcher Leandro Sanz.
Laureys’ group tackles Belgium’s toughest cases, those where a head trauma, brain haemorrhage or cardiac arrest plunges a patient into a coma and causes serious brain damage.
One of their most celebrated cases was that of Belgian professional cyclist Stig Broeckx, who was involved in a catastrophic crash in May 2016 on the Tour of Belgium.
He suffered several brain injuries and spent six months in a coma. Today, he can ride a bike once more.
“He regained motor control and intellectual function, he’s a true athlete with great motivation,” said Laureys.
Thursday’s ceremony saw Laureys awarded the Generet Prize, a grant from the King Baudouin Foundation named after the former Belgian monarch that manages 44.8 million euros in donations.
The first edition of the prize in 2018 went to Professor Miikka Vikkula, a Finnish specialist in vascular medicine working in Belgium’s Catholic University of Louvain.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Friday he wants to avoid war after Tehran and Washington appeared on the brink of direct military confrontation in early January for the second time in less than a year.
Ahead of parliamentary elections on February 21 — predicted to be a challenge for Rouhani’s camp — and amid high tensions between Tehran and the West over Iran’s nuclear programme, the president said dialogue with the world was still “possible”.
“The government is working daily to prevent military confrontation or war,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.
The region seemed on the brink of new conflict earlier in January after the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad, prompting Iran to retaliate against US military targets in Iraq with a volley of missiles days later.
The strike caused significant material damage but no casualties, according to the US military.
Rouhani said the strike amounted to “compensation” for the death of Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s Middle East military strategy.
The tensions between the two enemies seemed to subside in the wake of the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger airliner hours after the retaliatory strikes, as Iran was on high alert for US reprisals.
The tragedy killed 176 people, mostly Iranians and Canadians.
Canada’s foreign minister on Thursday vowed to push Iran for answers about the tragedy.
“Families want answers, the international community wants answers, the world is waiting for answers and we will not rest until we get them,” Francois-Philippe Champagne said in London.
Ottawa said earlier that US President Donald Trump’s policies had contributed to the heightened tensions that led to the catastrophe.
In June 2019, Iran and the US had also appeared to be on the brink of direct military confrontation after Tehran shot down a US drone it said had violated its airspace.
Trump said he called off retaliatory strikes at the last minute.
The animosity between Washington and Tehran has increased since Trump withdrew the US from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed biting sanctions.
In Iran, the air disaster sparked outrage and anti-government demonstration took place every day from Saturday to Wednesday.
Concentrated in the capital, they appeared smaller than a wave of national protests in November. Prompted by a fuel price hike, those demonstrations were met with a crackdown that left at least 300 people dead, according to Amnesty International.
Rouhani implicitly acknowledged a crisis of confidence in authorities but looked to regain control on Wednesday, calling for “national unity”, better governance and more pluralism.
On Thursday, Rouhani also defended the policy of openness to the world that he has pursued since his first election in 2013, and which Iran’s ultra-conservatives criticise.
“Of course, it’s difficult,” he acknowledged, but he added, “the people elected us to lower tensions and animosity” between the Islamic republic and the world.
Rouhani said that with the nuclear deal “we have proven in practice that it is possible for us to interact with the world.”
Rouhani was speaking the day before supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is expected to lead the main weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran for the first time since 2012.
Khamenei, who maintains the West is not trustworthy, bans dialogue with Trump.
‘High school bully’
On Thursday, Rouhani said Iran’s “daily enrichment” of uranium was currently “higher” than before the conclusion of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Rouhani, who instigated the negotiations, made the comments while justifying his nuclear policy and Iran’s progressive disengagement from the accord. He also stated his willingness to continue dialogue on the agreement.
In response to the US withdrawal from the deal and sanctions, an increasingly frustrated Iran has hit back with a step-by-step suspension of its own commitments under the deal, which drastically limited its nuclear activities.
On Tuesday, Germany, the UK and France — the three European parties to the deal — announced they triggered a dispute mechanism in response to the latest step back from the deal by Tehran.
But Germany on Thursday confirmed a Washington Post report that the US had threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on imports of European cars if EU governments continued to back the nuclear deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the European parties of having “sold out” the deal to avoid trade reprisals from the US and said Trump was again behaving like a “high school bully”.
According to a European Union Statement, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met Zarif in New Delhi on Thursday and urged Iran to “preserve” the increasingly fragile nuclear deal.
Amid a solemn silence, articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were read aloud on the Senate floor on Thursday as the bitterly divided chamber began a historic trial of the US president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Senate Sergeant of Arms Michael Stenger opened just the third impeachment trial of a US president in history with a warning to the 100 senators.
“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,” Stenger said after the seven members of the House of Representatives who will serve as prosecutors gathered in the well of the Senate chamber.
“All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, President of the United States,” the sergeant at arms said.
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who will serve as lead prosecutor for the trial, then read out the two articles of impeachment passed by the House on December 18.
“I will now read the articles of impeachment,” Schiff said, “impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.”
US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is to be sworn in at 2:00 pm (1900 GMT) to preside over the trial.
Roberts, 64, who was appointed to the nation’s top court by president George W. Bush, will then deliver an oath to the 100 senators who will swear to administer “impartial justice.”
The proceedings will then adjourn and the trial will get underway “in earnest” on Tuesday, according to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
Impeachment rules require a two-thirds Senate majority to convict and remove a president and Trump’s acquittal is widely expected in the Republican-dominated Senate.
‘The Senate’s time is at hand’
Trump is accused of abuse of power for withholding military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting for the country’s president in exchange for an investigation into his potential presidential election rival Democrat Joe Biden.
The Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released Thursday that the White House violated federal law by putting a hold on the congressionally-approved funds for Ukraine.
“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” according to the GAO, a congressional watchdog.
The second article of impeachment — for obstruction of Congress — relates to Trump’s refusal to provide witnesses and documents to House impeachment investigators in defiance of congressional subpoenas.
McConnell has been extremely critical of Trump’s impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House and pledged on Thursday that things would be different in the Senate.
“It was a transparently partisan performance from beginning to end,” McConnell said. “But it’s not what this process will be going forward.
“This chamber exists precisely so that we can look past the daily drama,” the Republican senator from Kentucky said. “The House’s hour is over. The Senate’s time is at hand.”
The two articles of impeachment were delivered to the Senate on Wednesday in a solemn procession by the seven House Democrats who will prosecute the case against the 45th US president.
“So sad, so tragic for our country, that the actions taken by the president to undermine our national security, to violate his oath of office and to jeopardize the security of our elections, has taken us to this place,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as she signed the articles.
“This president will be held accountable,” she said. “No one is above the law.”
Pelosi held back on delivering the articles to the Senate as she pressured McConnell to agree to subpoena the witnesses and documents that the White House blocked from the House probe.
McConnell has refused to commit, saying the issue will only be decided after the trial’s opening arguments and questioning.
A Trump administration official told reporters they expect the trial to last no longer than two weeks, suggesting McConnell could use his 53-47 Republican majority to stifle calls for witnesses and quickly take the charges to a vote.
Trump ridiculed the investigation and trial on Wednesday, as he has for months.
“Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats,” he wrote on Twitter.
Democrats released documents this week that showed Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani worked with Ukrainian-born American Lev Parnas to pressure Kiev to investigate Biden.
They also showed the two, working with Ukrainian officials, trying to force out the US ambassador to the country, Marie Yovanovitch, eventually removed by Trump.
In a televised interview Wednesday, Parnas told MSNBC that “President Trump knew exactly what was going on.”
“He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president,” Parnas said.
Aside from Schiff the prosecution team will include Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler; House Democratic Caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries; Zoe Lofgren, a veteran of two previous impeachment investigations; and three others.
The Federal Government has said there are plans to ban foreign vessels from operating on Nigerian waters in the nearest future.
Speaking through the Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside during an interview on Channels Television’s Business Morning, the Nigerian government said the agency is working towards a time when foreign-owned vessels will not be allowed to trade on Nigerian waters.
“We have rolled out a five-year cabotage waiver cessation plan. That means that in the next five years, there are a number of waivers we would no longer grant,” he said on Thursday.
The NIMASA boss said there is an urgent need to train Nigerians on how to properly utilize the opportunities in the maritime sector.
According to him, vessels operating in trading activities should be owned by the citizens rather than foreigners.
“We expect that most vessels that would be trading within our waters will be built in Nigeria, we already have shipbuilding yards. Most vessels will be flagged Nigeria and most vessels must be owned by Nigerians, we are not going to allow foreign-owned vessels at some point,” he stated.
On the need to have a national fleet that would be private sector-driven, Peterside explained that President Muhammadu Buhari administration is working to ensure that this is achieved soon.
He noted that once private individuals and corporate bodies operate the nation’s fleet, there will be employment opportunities that will boost economic activities.
He added, “The direction of the world is that the private sector people are in a better position to run businesses. As a country, as a reason for national pride, creating employment, reasons for security consideration and other economic reasons, we pushed for the creation of a national fleet.
“The honourable minister’s dream, which has the president’s endorsement, is that let it be private-sector driven, the country might just have minimal equity in the national fleet. We have that plan and we have set up a team led by the executive secretary of the Shippers Council. We believe that when it comes to fruition, we will have a shipping line that will fly the national flag.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new prime minister promised “real changes” on Thursday as he was approved by lawmakers after the Kremlin announced sweeping reform plans.
Putin tapped Mikhail Mishustin for the role as part of a series of bombshell announcements on Wednesday, which sparked speculation that Russia’s longtime leader could be preparing his own political future.
The lower house State Duma voted overwhelmingly to approve Mishustin as premier, less than 24 hours after Russia’s political order was shaken by Putin’s announcement of constitutional reforms and the resignation of the government.
No MPs voted against his candidacy, although Communist lawmakers abstained.
Speaking before his approval, Mishustin called on parliament to work with him to urgently enact Putin’s programme.
“People should already now be feeling real changes for the better,” Mishustin said.
Longtime prime minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned along with the cabinet following the constitutional reform announcement.
Putin’s current term as president ends in 2024 and observers say the 67-year-old could be laying the groundwork to assume a new position or remain in a powerful behind-the-scenes role.
Mishustin said his priority would be to “increase citizens’ real incomes” but also said the government must “restore trust” with the business community and drive innovation, echoing the state-of-the-nation speech when Putin announced the reforms.
He assured lawmakers that Russia can afford salary hikes and social payouts announced by Putin, estimating they will cost about four trillion rubles ($65 billion) over the next four years.
His appointment was finalised with a Putin decree. A second decree appointed Medvedev as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council — an advisory body — a post that was created for him.
‘Stay number one’
In his state of the nation speech, Putin said he wanted more authority transferred to parliament from the president.
He also called for the power of the State Council to be expanded and enshrined in the constitution — adding to conjecture that Putin could take it over after 2024 to preserve power.
Outlining the proposals, which would be the first significant changes to the country’s constitution since it was adopted in 1993, Putin said there was a “demand for change” among Russians.
While his nominee Mishustin was speaking in parliament, Putin met his newly formed working group for amending the constitution.
Putin said the amendments “would have no effect on the foundations of the constitution” but would make authorities “more effective” and ensure Russia’s development.
He said Russia would remain a presidential republic following the reforms, but it would be the parliament, not the president who would be picking the government.
Independent political analyst Maria Lipman said the announcements indicated that Putin wanted to “stay on as number one in the country, without any competitors”.
She said he could be deliberately weakening the presidency before relinquishing the role.
Russia’s opposition also said the proposals indicate Putin’s desire to stay in power.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on Twitter that Putin’s only goal was to “remain the sole leader for life”.
Medvedev, prime minister since 2012, posted a parting message on his VK social networking page on Thursday, saying Putin’s plans “demand a new approach” and thanking cabinet ministers for their work.
Hockey and pop music
Mishustin will have a week to propose a new government and ministers.
The former head of an investment group who trained as an engineer, Mishustin has a PhD in economics and has led Russia’s Federal Tax Service since 2010.
He shares Putin’s love for hockey and has played in matches with security services officials. Passionate about the digital economy, he has also composed music for pop songs, newspaper Vedomosti reported.
Navalny, who has alleged wide-scale corruption among Russia’s top politicians, on Thursday said Mishustin possesses a fortune inconsistent with his public service career and called on insiders to share information about his secrets.
Pop icon Whitney Houston and rapper The Notorious B.I.G. are among this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the institution announced Wednesday.
The late legends are joined by the synth-pop act Depeche Mode and the industrial experimental group Nine Inch Nails, along with the 1970s rockers The Doobie Brothers and English glam rock band T-Rex.
The 2020 class is marked by legendary artists who died young.
The Notorious B.I.G. — a pride of New York, widely considered one of the greatest rappers of all time — was inducted in his first year of eligibility, which comes 25 years after the release of an act’s first commercial recording.
The artist born Christopher Wallace and colloquially known as Biggie was murdered in 1997 in Los Angeles at age 24, in a still-murky shooting that some speculated was part of a feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers.
Houston, the most awarded female artist of all time, died at 48 years old in 2012 after a public struggle with drugs, following a decade that saw her go from America’s sweetheart to tabloid drama queen.
The induction of Houston and Biggie mark a continuation of the institution’s broadening acceptance of genres into its ranks. Recent classes have included the rapper Tupac Shakur, Radiohead and Janet Jackson.
The organization founded in the early 1980s has faced criticism over the years, however, for its lack of diversity and limited recognition of women.
During last year’s gala, Jackson brought up the issue in her acceptance speech, saying “2020 — please induct more women.”
But just three women were among the short-list of potentials this year: Houston, who made the cut, along with Pat Benatar and Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan.
The new class of inductees will be celebrated with the annual star-powered ceremony set for May 2 in the Hall of Fame’s home city of Cleveland, Ohio.
Inductees are chosen following a survey of more than 1,000 musicians, historians and industry members, who consider an act’s career work, innovation, skill and influence in voting in new members.