Maple Leafs, Browns, Cubs, Canucks On List Of Sport’s Longest Active Title Droughts 

PHOTO: The Sharks and Bulldogs celebrate during their preliminary final victories. (AAP/Getty)

By Jon Healy

September 26, 2016

This year’s AFL and NRL grand finals could play host to two drought-breaking victories.

The Western Bulldogs and Cronulla Sharkswill contest the last match of the year in their respective codes on the weekend with the chance to end decades of heartache for their fans.

The Bulldogs, or Footscray Football Club, have not only gone decades without winning a flag, but have only reached one other season decider since taking out the title in 1954.

In that 1961 fixture, Footscray jumped out to an early lead, but kicked just 2.4 (16) in the second half while Hawthorn booted 67 points to hammer them by 43.

They had one shot, one opportunity, one moment, to seize everything they ever wanted … and they let it slip.

Cronulla, meanwhile, has been in the top flight rugby league competition since 1967 and never won it all, missing out in the 1973, 1978 (via a replay) and 1997 (Super League) grand finals.

So, can one or both of these teams shake the monkey off their backs and get off this list of some of sport’s most title-hungry teams?

Chicago Cubs — No World Series win since 1908

Cubs fans look on during the 2008 MLB playoffs

Long-suffering fans … The Cubs faithful look on during another loss during the 2008 playoffs.(Getty Images: Jamie Squire)

Baseball might do superstition better than any other sport, and the Curse of the Billy Goat is one of its best.

The last time the Cubs reached the World Series, in 1945, Billy Sianis tried to get into game four to watch his team go around against Detroit at Wrigley Field.

Unfortunately, Sianis had with him a goat — he was the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern — and security refused to let the animal in because you cannot bring random animals to sporting events, especially those that have a reputation for eating everything in sight.

The story goes, Sianis appealed Cubs owner PK Wrigley, who also denied the goat entry, prompting Sianis to exclaim: “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more.” And win they have not.

But, with the Cubs currently boasting the most wins in the MLB, and the Sharks and Bulldogs heading to deciders, 2016 could be the year for a hard rain to fall on some sporting droughts.

Toronto Maple Leafs — No Stanley Cup win since 1967

Toronto Maple Leafs dejected against Buffalo

PHOTO: Toronto has not returned to the finals since its last title. (Getty Images: Bruce Bennett)

Think about Toronto as the NHL’s South Sydney Rabbitohs.

This hockey-mad city saw its Maple Leafs lift the Stanley Cup 13 times, but not once since 1967.

Once again, they have not even stumbled into the finals once in the interim.

Although, maybe that is for the best considering when the Vancouver Canucks, who have never won the title, lost their third finals in 2011 the city was almost burned to the ground.

Cleveland Browns — No title since 1964

Robert Griffin III's injury troubles sum up the luck of the Browns in the NFL

PHOTO: Robert Griffin III’s injury troubles sum up the luck of the Browns in the NFL (Getty Images: Jason Miller)

Mercifully, LeBron James and the Cavaliers quenched the city of Cleveland’s thirst for a trophy by winning the 2016 NBA title, but football (and any other sporting) success still alludes ‘The Land’.

The Browns won an NFL title in 1964 but have not won or even reached the last game of the season in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

With a miserable name like the Browns, voted by fans as an homage to former heavyweight boxing champion and Cleveland native Joe ‘The Brown Bomber’ Louis, making fun of this sorry lot is almost too easy.

Unfortunately, while some other teams on this list seem to have some upside and hope in the not too distant future, the Browns appear destined to be terrible for a while yet, having recently signed injury-prone quarter-back Robert Griffin III, who instantly got injured.

Liverpool — No League title since 1990

Gerrard skulks off after woeful Liverpool farewell

PHOTO: The Reds have won other trophies in the interim, but are still looking for another Premier League title.(Getty Images: Dave Thompson)

Some context is required to justify Liverpool’s spot on this list.

The streak is nowhere near as long as the others, but the Premier League is so top heavy that there really is no excuse for one of England’s most storied clubs to miss out for as long as the Reds have.

Of the 26 titles available since Liverpool’s last league win, which was its 11th in 18 seasons, 21 have gone to the other members of the ‘Big Four’ – Manchester United (13), Chelsea (4) and Arsenal (4).

Sure, Liverpool has been usurped by Manchester City in the awesome foursome but that only happened relatively recently and as the drought extends it is becoming increasingly difficult for Reds fans to keep saying their team is a major player in the league.

Source: Cronulla, Western Bulldogs looking to get off list of sport’s longest active title droughts – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Thousands Protest EU Transatlantic Trade Deals in Brussels

Thousands of protesters rallied on Tuesday against the European Union’s free Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade pact with the United States and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada in the Belgian capital ahead of the upcoming talks.   Sept 20, 2016

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Organizers estimate that between 10,000 and 15,000 demonstrators gathered in Brussels’ European Quarter that is home to the European parliament, Commission and EU Council.

Local trade unions, environmental groups and Canadian farmers demanded that Europe halt talks with Canada on the CETA deal that seeks to liberalize trade. They argue that it will water down food, environment and job protections.

An EU-Canada Summit, scheduled for October 27-28, is expected to see the controversial Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement signed.

It will still need to be ratified by some 40 national and regional EU parliaments.

EU leaders have been pushing for a trade deal with Canada as prospects for a similar agreement with the United States began to fade.

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in August that the US-EU TTIP pact had collapsed.

A new round of talks on it is planned for October 3.

Source: Thousands Protest EU Transatlantic Trade Deals in Brussels

White House – not in Saudi interest to destabilise global economy over 9/11 bill 

on April 19, 2016, 6:59 am

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House expressed confidence on Monday that Saudi Arabia would not follow through on a reported threat to sell U.S. assets if Congress passed a bill that could hold the kingdom responsible for any role in al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told U.S. lawmakers that the country would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other U.S. assets in response to the bill if it passed.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama did not support the legislation and would not sign it. The bill would allow the Saudi government to be sued in a U.S. court for any role in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I’m confident that the Saudis recognise, just as much as we do, our shared interest in preserving the stability of the global financial system,” Earnest told reporters.

Obama is travelling to Saudi Arabia later this week.

Most of the 19 attackers on Sept. 11, 2001 were Saudi nationals who hijacked four planes and flew them into New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon near Washington and into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers revolted. The attack was mounted by the al Qaeda militant group.

The debate over the congressional legislation has gained traction on the U.S. presidential campaign trail. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has broken with the Democratic administration and said she supported the bill.

Her rival, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said he shared the Obama administration’s concern that the legislation could open up the United States to liability from other countries but said it was important to look into any potential Saudi role in the attacks.

“I think it’s important to have a full investigation and an understanding of the role, the possible role, of the Saudi government in 9/11,” he said on NBC’s “Today” programme.

The bill, which has 22 co-sponsors, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, but it has not come up for a vote in the Republican-dominated Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office said on Monday that no vote has been scheduled.

Family members of victims who were killed in the September 2001 attacks urged Obama to support the legislation and to bring up the issue on his trip.

“It is not acceptable … to succumb to the demands of a foreign government that we abandon principles of American justice while we pursue our diplomatic goals,” they wrote in a letter to Obama that was released to the media.

In September, a U.S. judge dismissed claims against Saudi Arabia by families of victims of the attacks, saying the kingdom had sovereign immunity from damage claims.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Timothy Gardner, Patricia Zengerle, Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, and Idrees Ali; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: White House – not in Saudi interest to destabilise global economy over 9/11 bill – The West Australian

Buyers Have Upper Hand In Liquefied Natural Gas Market

(MENAFN – Gulf Times) Next year, on a remote island off Australia’s western coast, the world’s most expensive liquefied natural gas export terminal will start shipping cargoes into a market that has changed vastly since 2009, when the project was approved.

Chevron’s 54bn Gorgon LNG facility, initially budgeted at 31bn, was supposed to have begun operations in 2014. Labour disputes have delayed it, and lower LNG prices have potentially reduced its profitability. LNG producers no longer have the bargaining power they once did.

Weakening demand in Asia combined with an increase in LNG supply is giving the world’s biggest buyers not only cheaper gas but also more say on how contracts are designed.

“The buyers have the upper hand,” says Neil Beveridge, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein.

LNG suppliers have historically been able to lock customers into 20-year contracts, with clauses that restrict the resale of gas. In Japan, the world’s largest LNG market, two of the country’s largest utilities have teamed up to gain leverage and demand more flexibility. Jera, a joint venture of Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, says it will no longer sign contracts that give producers control over the destination of the product.

If buyers succeed in negotiating better terms, the LNG market could become more like the one for crude oil, where producers, suppliers, and traders all compete for profits through constant buying and selling. That would require a fully functioning spot market, where supplies are traded for immediate delivery, a development that’s still a decade away, Beveridge says.

By then, Australia could be the world’s top LNG exporter. For the first time in eight years, exports from Qatar shrank in 2014. Qatar still provides about a third of the world’s LNG, but customers are also lining up for new supplies from Australia and the US.

Gorgon will join three other LNG megaprojects that have been completed recently along Australia’s east coast and will tap the country’s vast gas deposits.

In the US five LNG projects under construction will export cheap natural gas unlocked by the shale boom. The first will begin exports in 2016. Over the next decade the US is likely to become a net exporter of natural gas and compete with Australia to be the world’s leading LNG supplier.After these projects come online, it may be a while before any others are built.

“LNG is the last of those sectors where we’re seeing a wave of new projects hit the market,” says Daniel Hynes, a commodity strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group.

“It’s coming at a time when demand is weakening across the board. It’s clearly a tough market.”

Source: It’s a buyer’s market as new supplies flow from US, Australia | MENAFN.COM

United States and China In Conflict Over U.S. Not Recognizing China’s Claims To Islands Air Space

The U.S. Navy sent a warship within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea.

October 27, 2015    by Ryan Biek

A U.S. warship defied Chinese territorial claims Tuesday and sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island in the South China Sea.

The Chinese island has been called an unsinkable aircraft carrier by some military analysts. The manmade land holds an airstrip, barracks and other military equipment. (Video via U.S. Navy)

Maritime law extends a country’s ownership 12 nautical miles beyond its land. By sending guided missile destroyer USS Lassen through that zone, the U.S. has essentially said it doesn’t recognize China’s claims.

“It follows on a step the U.S. took in May this year when it flew a U.S. surveillance plane, and we were on board, directly over these islands to say that the U.S. does not recognize Chinese airspace …,” a security correspondent told CNN.

As Fox News notes, China says almost all of the South China Sea is theirs. Meanwhile, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have declared parts, or all, of the sea as their own.

The U.S. claims neutrality on territorial disputes and says it’s only exercising its freedom of navigation. The U.S. Navy frequently patrols the South China Sea, often with Chinese ships close behind, as you can see in this video. (Video via U.S. Navy)

An article published in The Wall Street Journal notes the South China Sea is home to half of the world’s shipborne trade. The author also argues historical inaccuracies plague China’s so-called “historic rights” to the sea. (Video via Fox News)

Still, it’s a little unclear what the U.S.’s endgame is. It’s unlikely that China will break up its artificial islands anytime soon.

But as a naval expert told CNN, China’s strategy in the South China Sea has been “one of ambiguity.” The U.S.’s recent move could force China to clarify its ownership claims, which can then be refuted or defended. (Video via U.S. Navy)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

China summons US ambassador to protest ship near reef – Yahoo News

BEIJING (AP) — China summoned the American ambassador to protest the U.S. Navy’s sailing of a warship close to one of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea, in an act that challenged Chinese sovereignty claims.

Source: China summons US ambassador to protest ship near reef – Yahoo News

Actinobacteria, Other Microorganisms Thrive on International Space Station | Biology |

    A team of scientists from the United States and Sweden used molecular analysis to explore the microbial environment on the International Space Station.

Source: Actinobacteria, Other Microorganisms Thrive on International Space Station | Biology |

The Cuban Assassination That Could Kill Obama’s Detente Deal – The Daily Beast

Could the murder of an anti-Castro dissident—and billions of dollars in damages from that and related cases—threaten Obama’s peace plan with Havana?

Source: The Cuban Assassination That Could Kill Obama’s Detente Deal – The Daily Beast