West Virginia Sports

McNeil scores 16 points, No. 10 West Virginia beats K-State

By MATT THORNSBURY Associated Press
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Once recruited by Kansas State, Sean McNeil showcased why the Wildcats wanted him by coming up strong again for West Virginia.
McNeil scored 16 points and No. 10 West Virginia used two big runs in the second half to beat Kansas State 65-43 on Saturday.
“I think it was a tough shooting night for all of us all down the board,” McNeil said. “At halftime, we talked, made some adjustments and figured out who we were really going to be. We came out in the second half and kind of showed that.
“I think we picked our defensive intensity up and that kind of led to some easy buckets.”
McNeil is shooting 29 of 54 (54%) from the floor over his last five games, including 18 of 35 (51%) from 3-point range. McNeil has improved his scoring average from 5.5 last year to 11.7 this season.
“We tried recruiting him. But of course he chose closer to home,” Kansas State coach Bruce Webber said. “His improvement from last year to this year, but even during this year is astronomical. He’s got that pure jump shot.”
The Mountaineers (17-6, 10-4 Big 12) have won six of their last seven, including wins over No. 18 Texas Tech, No. 14 Texas and No. 17 Kansas.
Both teams started without their point guards. Kansas State freshman Nijel Pack, the team’s leading scorer, sat out with an eye infection, and the Wildcats were unable to make up for his floor presence.
“We don’t have ballhandlers and passers. I think he’s one of the leaders in the league in assist to turnovers ratio,” Webber said. “He’s one of the ones who can make big shots and he’s good at that.”
West Virginia’s Miles McBride was banged up in practice and missed the first eight minutes of Saturday’s game. He was held to five points.
With McBride limited and teammates Derek Culver and Jalen Bridges getting into early foul trouble, West Virginia was sluggish in the first half. Davion Bradford took advantage of Culver’s absence with seven first-half points and the Wildcats trailed 26-22 at halftime.
West Virginia scored the first seven points of the second half. Jordan McCabe, who started the game in place of leading scorer Miles McBride, then scored all seven of his points during a 17-0 run that gave the Mountaineers their largest lead, 59-34, with 5:14 remaining.
“I thought the second half we played pretty well. We were pretty efficient,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “The first half was a miserable half for both teams.”
In the teams’ last meeting Jan. 23, Kansas State committed 28 turnovers and lost 69-47 in Manhattan, Kansas. The Wildcats committed 18 turnovers on Saturday, leading to 23 points for West Virginia.
Culver added 11 points for West Virginia.
Bradford finished with 11 points, and Mike McGuirl had 10 for Kansas State (7-19, 3-14). The Wildcats were held to their second-lowest points total of the season.
Kansas State: The Wildcats saw a two-game winning streak snapped. They were coming off a 62-57 win Tuesday over No. 7 Oklahoma, but couldn’t pull off a second upset of a Top 25 team this season.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers got off to a good start as part of a four-game home blitz over eight days to finish the regular season.
“That’s huge, for us especially,” McNeil said. “Mostly every time we travel, we’ve got anywhere from a two- to three-hour flight. We love playing at home in front of these fans, so we can get some confidence going into the Big 12 tournament.”
One game after making just 58% of its free throws in a win over TCU, West Virginia went 15 of 17 (88%) against Kansas State.
Huggins earned his 898th career win, just behind North Carolina’s Roy Williams. Both could reach Bob Knight’s 902 victories this season.
West Virginia should take another step up after several teams ranked higher lost in the past week.
Kansas State: At Iowa State next Saturday.
West Virginia: Hosts No. 2 Baylor on Tuesday night.
More AP college basketball: and

International Headlines

As Somalia’s COVID-19 cases surge, a variant is suspected

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A resurgence of COVID-19 cases is hitting Somalia hard, straining one of the world’s most fragile health systems, while officials await test results to show whether a more infectious variant of the coronavirus is spreading.
In the lone COVID-19 isolation center in the capital, Mogadishu, 50 people have died in the past two and a half weeks, Martini hospital deputy director Sadaq Adan Hussein told The Associated Press during a visit. Sixty other patients admitted during the period have recovered.
“We believe this second wave is the new variant of the virus,” he said. “Earlier, when 100 suspected patients were brought to quarantine, not more than 30 of them would be positive, but now almost all of them are infected.”
Somalia’s virus infections have jumped from 4,784 to 6,549 this month alone, according to official data.
Test results for the presence of one of the new variants are expected next month, Sadaq said.
Somalia, like most African countries, has yet to see a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, though they also are expected to start arriving next month.
Among the famous Somalis who have died from COVID-19 in recent days include well-known singer Fatuma Ali Nakruma and popular Islamic scholar Sheikh Nur Barud Gurhan.
Sadaq said a large, unnamed Somali-owned company had lost a dozen people to COVID-19 in just the past few days.
“Now you see how widespread is becoming this new variant of the virus, and we were not prepared for it,” he said.
Misinformation on social media claiming a far higher number of deaths in Somalia “has caused some people to avoid the hospital, where they would get the necessary care, and instead they die in their houses,” Sadaq said.
He called the rumors politically motivated.
Somalia’s current crisis around a delayed national election has contributed to the spread of COVID-19 as “social distancing is ignored,” Sadaq added.
The government has banned public gatherings, citing the pandemic, but opposition presidential candidates and other critics of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed allege that the ban is instead meant to stifle their demonstrations calling on the president to step aside.
Another demonstration around the election delay was expected Friday in Mogadishu. The previous one last week was fired on by security forces.
Adding to anxiety, some health workers believe Somalia’s COVID-19 death toll is much higher than the official one of 218, saying it’s in part because many people believe they will receive better care in private hospitals.
“And yet many other people don’t even bother going to hospitals, and as a result either die or recover and nobody knows about them,” said Ahmed Farah Ali, a health worker at Sana hospital.
Somalia, like many countries across Africa, doesn’t have an official system for tracking mortality data, and even the number of graveyards in Mogadishu is unknown.
For months, many in Somalia took COVID-19 lightly as much of the world locked down. With the resurgence in cases, many Mogadishu residents are now wearing face masks and no longer shaking hands. Official telephone and radio messages about coronavirus prevention have returned.
Mosques, schools and markets are as active as before, however.
But there is a growing sense of loss.
At the Martini hospital’s isolation ward, a 15-year-old boy, Mahad Mohamed Ibrahim, was grieving his mother.
“The coronavirus has come into the city,” he said. “We need someone to stop it and give us medicine that would give us prevention. Now you see I am sad today as my mother died, and you will see many others whose parents will also die.”

International Headlines

Pandemic leaves many Romanian patients without critical care

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Andrei, a 32-year-old Romanian man who has been HIV positive since he was a baby, began missing his regular medical check-ups when the coronavirus pandemic hit a year ago.
“That was the first thing that led me to a general state of frustration and fear,” said Andrei. “After that, I got used to the idea of taking the antiretroviral treatment blindly without knowing if the parameters are OK or if the therapy works.”
A year ago this week, Romania reported its first case of COVID-19, prompting the country’s strapped medical system to turn its focus to treating COVID-19 patients. As a result, many patients with other conditions — including cancer — have either been denied critical care or have stopped going to their regular appointments, fearful of becoming infected.
“Many of my close associates lost their battle against their diseases due to the loss of access to treatment, hospitals and specialists,” Andrei, who didn’t want his full name used due to the stigma surrounding his condition, told The Associated Press.
Romania’s government is acknowledging the problem and has announced plans to reorganize the country’s hospitals so more non-COVID-19 patients can get access to health care.
The attempts to reform the health care system come as a third virus surge looms and as a vaccine rollout is proceeding slowly across the 27-member European Union, to which Romania belongs.
“Patients who didn’t have COVID-19 didn’t seek medical care because they were afraid of becoming infected,” Dr. Andreea Moldovan, a state secretary in the Health Ministry, told the AP.
Previously, she said, there was “a lot of pressure to have as many beds available for COVID-19 patients as possible.”
With a population of over 19 million, Romania has reported 792,000 COVID-19 infections and over 20,000 deaths.
Romania’s Health Ministry says its hospital reorganization scheme will aim to create separate red and green zones in hospitals so both non-COVID-19 patients and those infected with the disease can be segregated yet receive the medical care they require.
In an interview at Bucharest’s Colentina Hospital, interim hospital manager Victor Cauni said health care services in the long term must adapt to life with COVID-19 and not “discriminate” against other patients.
“Whether we like it or not, we have more patients with many other illnesses compared to COVID patients,” he said. “We need to open for them at least partially. We’re discriminating against patients with serious conditions.”
Highlighting the problem, Cauni noted that the hospital’s urological ward used to perform from 400 to 500 medical interventions a month, but has barely had 50 in the past year.
“For the last year, patients did not have access to this hospital, and they were supposed to be transferred to different hospitals — but not many managed to find the required solutions,” Cauni said.
“You cannot just function as a COVID-19 hospital,” he said. “We have many important wards here.”
The organizational changes in Romania’s hospitals come amid growing concerns about new virus variants, including the variant first found in the U.K., which scientists say is both more transmissible and more deadly.
Romania faces these challenges as the EU nation with the lowest health care spending relative to GDP — 5.2%, compared with almost 10% on average in the bloc.
Romania already has the highest rate of avoidable deaths of under-75s in the EU, according to EU statistics.
Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu expressed his concerns in a video address last week to hospital managers and public health officials, explaining the hospital reorganization effort.
“The pandemic has not wiped out all other chronic or acute health problems,” Voiculescu said. “We need to make sure that all other patients have access to the medical services they need.”
Andrei, who became infected with HIV as a baby while being treated in a hospital, says he considers himself “one of the lucky ones.”
He has managed to pay privately for a few medical analyses in the past year. But he worries about his longer-term prospects if he doesn’t return to the close monitoring of his illness.
“The situation is critical,” he said. “If I keep blindly taking my treatment without proper monthly visits and analyses to check if the treatment is working … there is only one outcome — the loss of life.”

International Headlines

Myanmar protesters injured as police escalate use of force

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar security forces cracked down on anti-coup protesters in the country’s second-largest city on Friday, injuring at least three people, two of whom were shot in the chest by rubber bullets and another who suffered a wound on his leg.
Protesters had gathered on a wide road outside a park in Mandalay in the early afternoon when security forces arrived and began firing what sounded like gunshots and using flash bang grenades to disperse the crowd.
Bullets, shell casings, and other projectiles were later found by local residents on one of the main streets and shown to journalists.
The victims were all taken to a private clinic for treatment. One of the men who was shot in the chest with a rubber bullet also had a white bandage wrapped around his head. The man with an injured leg was later photographed in a cast that stretched from his foot to his knee.
The confrontations underscore the rising tensions between a growing popular revolt and the generals who toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a Feb. 1 takeover that shocked the international community and reversed years of slow progress toward democracy.
Also Friday, a Japanese journalist covering a separate protest in Yangon, the country’s largest city, was detained by police and later released, according to Japan’s Kyodo news agency. Yuki Kitazumi could be seen in a video circulating among media as police seized him, with one of the officers briefly putting a truncheon around the journalist’s neck.
Earlier in the day, security forces in Yangon fired warning shots and beat truncheons against their shields while moving to disperse more than 1,000 anti-coup protesters.
The demonstrators had gathered in front of a popular shopping mall, holding placards and chanting slogans denouncing the Feb. 1 coup even as the security presence increased and a water-cannon truck was brought to the area.
When around 50 riot police moved against the protesters, warning shots could be heard, and at least one demonstrator was held by officers. Security forces chased the protesters off the main road and continued to pursue them in the nearby lanes, as some ducked into houses to hide.
On Thursday, supporters of Myanmar’s junta attacked people protesting the military government, using slingshots, iron rods and knives to injure several of them. Photos and videos posted on social media showed groups attacking people in downtown Yangon as police stood by without intervening.
The violence erupted as hundreds marched in support of the coup. They carried banners in English with the slogans “We Stand With Our Defence Services” and “We Stand With State Administration Council,” which is the official name of the junta.
Late Thursday, police turned out in force in Yangon’s Tarmwe neighborhood where they tried to clear the streets of residents protesting the military’s appointment of a new administrator for one ward. Several arrests were made as people scattered in front of riot police who used flash bang grenades to disperse the crowd.
No pro-military rally appeared to be scheduled for Friday.
Suu Kyi has not been seen since the coup. Around 50 of her supporters held a prayer Friday opposite her home in Yangon. The mansion is where she spent many years under house arrest during previous military governments, and the residence has long had iconic status among her supporters.
“Because of the situation, on this day of the full moon we are sending love to, and reciting Buddha’s teachings for Mother Suu, President U Win Myint and all those unlawfully detained,” said Hmuu Sitt yan Naing, who joined the prayer group.
It is believed Suu Kyi is currently being detained in the capital Naypyitaw. She is due to face a court on Monday on charges brought against her by the military junta. The charges are widely seen as politically motivated.

International Headlines

2 US Navy warships in Mideast hit by coronavirus outbreaks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Two U.S. Navy warships operating in the Mideast have been struck by coronavirus outbreaks, authorities said Friday, with both returning to port in Bahrain.
A dozen troops aboard the USS San Diego, an amphibious transport dock, tested positive for COVID-19, said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea also has “confirmed several cases of COVID-19,” she said.
“All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the (ships) remains in a restricted COVID bubble,” Rebarich told The Associated Press. “The port visit and medical support have been coordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health.”
The San Diego sails with nearly 600 sailors and Marines aboard, while the Philippine Sea carries some 380 sailors.
The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Mideast. Its vessels often have tense encounters with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Gulf through which 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes.
The Navy’s largest outbreak so far in the pandemic was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which had to be sidelined in Guam for nearly two months last year. More than 1,000 sailors tested positive and one died. Eventually all of the 4,800 crew members were sent ashore in Guam for weeks of quarantine, in a systematic progression that kept enough sailors on the ship to keep it secure and running.
The failure of the ship’s leaders to properly handle the outbreak exploded into one of the biggest military leadership crises in recent years. The ship’s captain, who pleaded for faster action to protect his crew from the rapidly spreading virus, was fired and the one-star admiral on the ship had his promotion delayed.
Earlier this month, three sailors tested positive as the aircraft carrier was conducting operations in the Pacific. The sailors and those exposed to them were isolated, and the Navy said it is “following an aggressive mitigation strategy,” including masks, social distancing, and proper handwashing and hygiene measures.

International Headlines

IS bride loses bid to return to UK to fight for citizenship

LONDON (AP) — A woman who ran away from London as a teenager to join the Islamic State group lost her bid Friday to return to the U.K. to fight for the restoration of her citizenship, which was revoked on national security grounds.
Shamima Begum was one of three east London schoolgirls who traveled to Syria in 2015. She resurfaced at a refugee camp in Syria and told reporters she wanted to come home, but was denied the chance after former Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship.
Begum’s lawyers appealed,, saying her right to a fair hearing was harmed by the obstacles of pursuing her case from the camp. The U.K. Supreme Court disagreed, ruling Friday that the right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as public safety.
“The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed – or postponed – until Ms. Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised,” said Justice Robert Reed, the president of the Supreme Court. “That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.”
Javid argued that Begum was Bangladeshi by descent and could go there.
She challenged the decision, arguing she is not a citizen of another country and that Javid’s decision left her stateless.
The human rights group Liberty said the court’s ruling sets “an extremely dangerous precedent”.
“The right to a fair trial is not something democratic governments should take away on a whim, and nor is someone’s British citizenship,” said Rosie Brighouse, a lawyer with Liberty. “If a government is allowed to wield extreme powers like banishment without the basic safeguards of a fair tria,l it sets an extremely dangerous precedent.”

International Headlines

Boeing 777 makes emergency landing in Moscow: Reports

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian media reported that a Boeing 777 plane made an emergency landing in Moscow in the early hours of Friday after the pilot reported a problem with the engine.
The Interfax news agency cited an anonymous source saying that the pilot on the flight from Hong Kong to Madrid reported a failure of one of the left engine control channels and requested an emergency landing at the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport.
The plane landed safely and no one was injured, the report said.
Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department identified the plane as a B777-300ER operated by Russia’s state-funded Rossiya Airlines for cargo service. The department said there were no passengers aboard the plane.
Earlier this month, a Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines had to make an emergency landing in Denver after one of its engines blew apart, spewing large chunks of wreckage that landed in neighborhoods and sports fields.
The investigation is focusing on a fan blade that appeared to be weakened by wear and tear, a development reminiscent of a fatal failure on board another plane in 2018. The event caused authorities to ground Boeing 777 models that use that engine, the Pratt & Whitney 4000-112.
Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department said that, according to information provided by the airline, the plane that landed in Moscow on Friday was not equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines.

International Headlines

Volkswagen weathers pandemic with $10.7 billion profit

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen said Friday it made better than expected profit of 8.8 billion euros ($10.7 billion) after tax in 2020 despite the pandemic. The world’s No. 2 automaker said the rapid recovery of China, its largest single market, and resilient sales of luxury vehicles helped the bottom line.
The company gave an upbeat outlook for this year, saying it would carry momentum from the stronger second half of the year over into earnings going forward. It said it was striving for earnings in the top part of its forecast range of 5.0-6.5% returns on sales, and predicted sales revenue would be “significantly higher,” assuming successful containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The results underline the uneven impact of the pandemic. Manufacturing companies like Germany’s three big carmakers — Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler — have seen their sales and earnings hold up better than those for services, tourism and air travel companies.
The earnings figure was off 37% from 2019. Sales revenue was down 11.8% at 222.9 billion euros, but fell less than the 16.4% drop in unit sales to 9.2 million vehicles. That meant Volkswagen surrendered the title of biggest carmaker by volume that it had held since 2016 to Toyota, which sold 9.5 million vehicles.
Volkswagen common shares traded 1.2% higher after the earnings statement. More financial details are to be announced March 16 at the company’s annual news conference.
The Wolfsburg-based carmaker said that it had taken important strategic steps during the year to accelerate its push into software and digital technologies and services. It tripled its sales of electric vehicles to 422,000 ahead of stricter European Union limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The company’s brands include luxury carmakers Audi and Porsche, where profits per vehicle are higher than for more basic transportation.
The group’s profits were boosted by the Porsche Taycan, a high-performance four-door sedan that starts at $79,500 for the standard model in the U.S. Sales of that model reached 20,000. The Taycan is part of German carmakers’ efforts to compete with electric car pioneer Tesla, which has eaten into their sales of luxury cars.
“The financial results now available are far better than originally expected and show what our company is capable of achieving, especially in a crisis,” Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter said in a statement. “We intend to carry over the strong momentum from the significantly better second half into the current year, and the programs for reducing our fixed costs and in procurement will make us more robust in the long term.

International Headlines

Berlin man convicted over threat to blow up British hospital

BERLIN (AP) — A 33-year-old Italian man was convicted Friday of attempted extortion for threatening to blow up a British National Health Service hospital unless he was paid off with 10 million pounds ($13.2 million) in crypto currency.
Defendant Emil A., a resident of Berlin whose last name wasn’t given in line with German privacy laws, was sentenced to three years in prison.
Though he never made good on the threat against an unspecified hospital, it came during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic as the British health care system was struggling. British authorities stressed how seriously it was taken at the time.
Nigel Leary, deputy director of Britain’s National Crime Agency’s cyber crime unit, said that because of the difficulty of evacuating patients in intensive care, “a mere phone call” threatening to plant an explosive in a hospital could have resulted in loss of life at the time.
The court found that the defendant sent an email in April 2020 from his home to the NHS, threatening the attack on a hospital unless he received the funds in his Bitcoin account.
The NHS did not respond, and the suspect proceeded to send another 17 threatening emails until his arrest in June, according to prosecutors.
The suspect, who had studied computer science, had used an email address under the pseudonym “Combat 18,” which is a known neo-Nazi organization.
British National Crime Agency officials said the suspect had used “Combat 18” merely as a front for the extortion to add “gravitas” to the threats, but did not in fact have any ideological link to the far right.
They said he had no known links to the U.K. or its hospitals.
While the threats began by targeting the public health service, NCA officials said that later on the suspect expanded his threats to include a Black Lives Matter protest and a U.K. lawmaker as potential targets.
Investigators were able to track the suspect through his electronic trail despite his attempts to conceal it, said court spokeswoman Lisa Jani. He was arrested in a raid overnight June 15 by police SWAT teams and federal agents.
During the course of their probe, investigators determined that A. had produced no bomb and had no specific target, Jani said.
He can appeal Friday’s ruling.
A. was already previously convicted of a similar threat against a Dutch company in 2013 and sentenced to 10 months probation.

International Headlines

Rwandan court rules it can try ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — The terrorism trial of the man who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” can be held in Rwanda, a judge there ruled Friday, rejecting Paul Rusesabagina’s argument that a court there cannot try him because he is no longer a citizen.
Rusesabagina’s lawyer, Gatera Gashabana, said his client will appeal the decision about jurisdiction and present further arguments. “We cannot go ahead with the hearing of the case without having our objection heard,” he said.
Rusesabagina has argued he is a Belgian citizen who was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda, a country he left in 1996. The judge, however, said the court does not find it relevant to talk about how he was detained.
Rusesabagina disappeared during a visit to Dubai in August and appeared days later in Rwanda in handcuffs, accused of supporting the armed wing of his opposition political platform, which has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks.
He faces nine charges including the formation of an irregular armed group; membership in a terrorist group; financing terrorism; and murder, abduction and armed robbery as an act of terrorism. If convicted, he could face more than 20 years in prison.
His family says Rusesabagina, praised for saving ethnic Tutsis during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, has no chance at a fair trial because of his outspoken criticism of longtime Rwandan President Paul Kagame and human rights abuses. They fear he might die from poor health behind bars.
Rusesabagina is credited with saving more than 1,000 people by sheltering them at the hotel he managed during the genocide in which more than 800,000 Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed. Rwanda’s government has long asserted that Rusesabagina’s role in the genocide was exaggerated.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday said it has engaged with Rwanda’s government at the “highest levels” about the case of Rusesabagina, a U.S. permanent resident.
The court on Friday found that both Rwanda and Belgium have the jurisdiction to try him, but “there is no justification for his trial to be moved from Rwanda to Belgium as he requested.”
The prosecution has argued that Rusesabagina is Rwandan by origin and that local laws allow the prosecution of non-nationals who commit crimes on Rwandan soil.
The court gave his lawyer until Wednesday, when court resumes, to submit any new objections. The court will rule on them next Friday.
The court also heard that some of Rusesabagina’s co-accused were brought from neighboring Congo to Rwanda without an extradition process.
Kagame in an interview with CNN that aired this month asserted that Rusesabagina is a citizen who had done something terribly wrong. The president added it was important that he and his co-accused receive a fair trial.