Cubs win World Series for first time since 1908

By Larry Fine | CLEVELAND

CLEVELAND The Chicago Cubs shed themselves of the "Curse of the Billy Goat" and ended a 108-year wait for a World Series title by beating the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday in a thrilling Game Seven classic.

By beating the host Indians 8-7 in 10 innings, Chicago's beloved Cubbies set off a wild celebration in the streets of the Windy City after over a century of pent up frustration for fans since their last Major League Baseball championship in 1908.

Cubs players held their own euphoric party at Progressive Field cheered on by a boisterous contingent of their fans after earlier squandering a 6-3 lead with four outs left in the game only to bounce back for the precious victory.

"This is one of the best games anybody will ever see," said Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who fielded Michael Martinez's grounder and fired it to first for the final out. "This trumps everything. I'm out here crying. I can't really put into words what this means."

Leftfielder Ben Zobrist, who put the Cubs ahead in the 10th with an RBI double and who batted .357 in the series with two doubles and a triple, was named the most valuable player of the World Series.

The win in the early hours of Thursday morning capped a Chicago comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven, a feat last achieved by the Kansas City Royals in 1985.

It was the third World Series crown for the Cubs, while the disconsolate Indians replaced them as the team with the longest current World Series title drought, 68 years and counting.

"I don't know but it happened," said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. "Chicago, it happened. We did it, we’re world champions."

WAKE-UP CALL

The Cubs, whose quiet bats woke up in Tuesday's 9-3 Game Six win, picked up where they left off with three home runs in front of an audience surprisingly crowded with their raucous blue-clad fans who paid handsomely to buy tickets on the resale market.

With chants of "Let's Go Cubbies" ringing through Progressive Field, Chicago charged to a 5-1 lead and carried a 6-3 advantage into the eighth when Cubs manager Joe Maddon summoned closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs and a man on.

But the Cuban fireballer, who pitched 2-2/3 innings on Sunday and another inning and a third on Tuesday, gave up a run-scoring double to Brandon Guyer and a two-run homer to Rajai Davis that tied the game and ignited an explosion of cheers from the Cleveland faithful.

Rain began falling in the ninth and play was halted before the start of the 10th to cover the field before extra innings resumed 17 minutes later.

With Bryan Shaw on the mound and two on base with one out, Zobrist reached out and slapped a shot past diving third baseman Jose Ramirez to snap the tie and Miguel Montero singled home another run to make it 8-6.

Carl Edwards started the 10th for Chicago but the irrepressible Indians staged another rally, drawing within one run on an RBI-single from Davis.

In came lefthander Mike Montgomery, who induced Martinez to ground out and launch the celebration with thousands of Cubs supporters staying on to sing the "Go Cubs Go" team song after the four hour 28 minute battle.

The downcast Indians could only watch from the dugout steps.

"That was an incredible game, I mean, to be a part of it," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "It's going to hurt. It hurts because we care, but they need to walk with their head held high because they left nothing on the field."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Exclusive: Global tobacco treaty leaders propose ejecting delegates with ties to industry

By Duff Wilson and Aditya Kalra | NEW YORK/NEW DELHI

NEW YORK/NEW DELHI The World Health Organization is about to get tough with the global tobacco industry.

Delegates at a conference next week on controlling tobacco with ties to the business could be refused credentials and ejected, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.

The proposal, if adopted by the full Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) at the conference in India, could affect delegates sent by countries like China and Vietnam, where governments own cigarette companies or promote tobacco growing and have in the past sent representatives linked to the industry.

Any such members of the 180 delegations at the Nov. 7-12 conference near New Delhi "would be requested to leave the premises", according to the Oct. 17 "note verbale", an official diplomatic communication, from the WHO FCTC secretariat on behalf of the treaty's leadership group to its parties.

At the last WHO FCTC conference, in Moscow in 2014, China's 18-person delegation had four members from the "State Tobacco Monopoly Administration".

At the 2012 conference, in Seoul, two of eight Vietnamese delegates were from the "Vietnam Tobacco Association".

When asked about the letter, a Vietnamese government official who declined to be identified told Reuters there would be no industry representatives in their delegation.

China's Ministry of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The proposed restriction highlights a growing battle between the industry and backers of the treaty, which went into effect in 2005 to guide national laws and policies in an effort to curb tobacco use, which kills an estimated 6 million people a year worldwide.

The global tobacco industry is estimated to be worth nearly $800 billion this year.

The International Tobacco Growers Association, a nonprofit group partly funded by big international cigarette companies, said the proposal was "beyond the wildest imagination".

António Abrunhosa, chief executive of the group and a Portuguese tobacco grower, said in an email to Reuters that such a step was "unthinkable for a United Nations agency".

John Stewart, deputy campaigns director at Corporate Accountability International, a Boston-based advocacy group that has supported tobacco-control efforts, praised the proposed restrictions.

"The tobacco industry has really forced parties and the secretariat into a corner," he said in an interview.

"This is a bold good-government action to ensure that the treaty space, the place where public health policies will save millions of lives, is free of tobacco industry intimidation."

Issues for debate at the conference include alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, e-cigarette regulation and trade and investment issues.

The secretariat earlier wrote to the treaty's party nations asking them to exclude people with tobacco interests from their delegations.

In the latest note, the secretariat said it then turned to a FCTC leadership group for guidance after receiving a number of nominations from countries that ignored the suggestion.

(Additional reporting by Sue-Lin Wong in Beijing; Editing by Tom Lasseter, Robert Birsel)

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With Iraqi troops at Mosul's gate, Baghdadi promises victory

By Maher Chmaytelli and Dominic Evans | BAGHDAD

BAGHDAD With Iraqi troops battling inside Islamic State's Iraqi bastion of Mosul, the militants' leader told his followers to fight to the death in what he said was a war against Shi'ite Islam, Western "crusaders" and the Sunni "apostate" countries Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Expressing confidence in victory, despite the broad alliance of Iraqi and international forces arrayed against a few thousand Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on the jihadists to "wreak havoc".

He also urged them to target Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Sunni Muslim regional powers he said had entered the war against Islamic State.

"This raging battle and total war, and the great jihad that the state of Islam is fighting today only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory," Baghdadi said in an audio recording released online by supporters on Thursday.

Iraqi regular troops and special forces, Shi'ite militias, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and other groups backed by U.S.-led air strikes launched a campaign two weeks ago to recapture Mosul.

Winning back the country's second biggest city would mark the defeat of the Iraq wing of a crossborder caliphate which Baghdadi declared from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque two years ago. Islamic State also holds large parts of neighboring Syria.

In his first audio message released in nearly a year, Baghdadi called on the population of Mosul's Nineveh province "not to weaken in the jihad" against the "enemies of God".

He also called on the group's suicide fighters to "turn the nights of the unbelievers into days, to wreak havoc in their land and make their blood flow as rivers".

Addressing those who might consider fleeing, he said: "Know that the value of staying on your land with honor is a thousand times better than the price of retreating with shame."

The exact location of Baghdadi, an Iraqi whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai, is not clear. Reports have said he may be in Mosul itself, or in Islamic State-held land to the west of the city, close to the border with Syria.

The authenticity of the 31-minute-long recording could not be immediately verified, but the voice and style closely resembled those of previous speeches Baghdadi has delivered.

The recording appeared to be recent as it focused on the Mosul offensive, although Baghdadi did not mention the city by name.

Mosul still has a population of 1.5 million people, much more than any of the other cities captured by Islamic State two years ago in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

TARGETING TURKEY AND SAUDI

In a sectarian speech, Baghdadi called for attacks on both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, saying the Sunni countries had both sided with the enemy in a war he said was targeting Sunni Islam.

Islamic State fighters should "unleash the fire of their anger" on Turkish troops fighting them in Syria, and take the battle into Turkey.

"Turkey entered the zone of your operations, so attack it, destroy its security, and sow horror within it. Put it on your list of battlefields. Turkey entered the war with the Islamic State with cover and protection from Crusader jets," he said referring to the U.S.-led air coalition.

Baghdadi also told his followers to launch "attack after attack" in Saudi Arabia, targeting security forces, government officials, members of the ruling Al Saud family and media outlets, for "siding with the infidel nations in the war on Islam and the Sunna (Sunni Muslims) in Iraq and Syria".

Islamic State has been on the retreat since last year in both Iraq and Syria, in the face of a myriad of different forces seeking to crush the ultra-hardline group.

In addition to the forces marching on Mosul, it faces a broad range of foes in neighboring Syria. There it is fighting Turkish-backed Syrian rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad and U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, as well as Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian army units loyal to Assad and foreign Shi'ite militias.

Despite setbacks in recent months, Baghdadi said "the caliphate was not affected" by the death of some of its senior commanders, mentioning Abu Muhammad al-Adnani and Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, both killed earlier this year in U.S. air strikes.

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Mostafa Hashem in Cairo; editing by David Stamp)

Read more

Exclusive: Global tobacco treaty leaders propose ejecting delegates with ties to industry

By Duff Wilson and Aditya Kalra | NEW YORK/NEW DELHI

NEW YORK/NEW DELHI The World Health Organization is about to get tough with the global tobacco industry.

Delegates at a conference next week on controlling tobacco with ties to the business could be refused credentials and ejected, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.

The proposal, if adopted by the full Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) at the conference in India, could affect delegates sent by countries like China and Vietnam, where governments own cigarette companies or promote tobacco growing and have in the past sent representatives linked to the industry.

Any such members of the 180 delegations at the Nov. 7-12 conference near New Delhi "would be requested to leave the premises", according to the Oct. 17 "note verbale", an official diplomatic communication, from the WHO FCTC secretariat on behalf of the treaty's leadership group to its parties.

At the last WHO FCTC conference, in Moscow in 2014, China's 18-person delegation had four members from the "State Tobacco Monopoly Administration".

At the 2012 conference, in Seoul, two of eight Vietnamese delegates were from the "Vietnam Tobacco Association".

When asked about the letter, a Vietnamese government official who declined to be identified told Reuters there would be no industry representatives in their delegation.

China's Ministry of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The proposed restriction highlights a growing battle between the industry and backers of the treaty, which went into effect in 2005 to guide national laws and policies in an effort to curb tobacco use, which kills an estimated 6 million people a year worldwide.

The global tobacco industry is estimated to be worth nearly $800 billion this year.

The International Tobacco Growers Association, a nonprofit group partly funded by big international cigarette companies, said the proposal was "beyond the wildest imagination".

António Abrunhosa, chief executive of the group and a Portuguese tobacco grower, said in an email to Reuters that such a step was "unthinkable for a United Nations agency".

John Stewart, deputy campaigns director at Corporate Accountability International, a Boston-based advocacy group that has supported tobacco-control efforts, praised the proposed restrictions.

"The tobacco industry has really forced parties and the secretariat into a corner," he said in an interview.

"This is a bold good-government action to ensure that the treaty space, the place where public health policies will save millions of lives, is free of tobacco industry intimidation."

Issues for debate at the conference include alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, e-cigarette regulation and trade and investment issues.

The secretariat earlier wrote to the treaty's party nations asking them to exclude people with tobacco interests from their delegations.

In the latest note, the secretariat said it then turned to a FCTC leadership group for guidance after receiving a number of nominations from countries that ignored the suggestion.

(Additional reporting by Sue-Lin Wong in Beijing; Editing by Tom Lasseter, Robert Birsel)

Read more

With Iraqi troops at Mosul's gate, Baghdadi promises victory

By Maher Chmaytelli and Dominic Evans | BAGHDAD

BAGHDAD With Iraqi troops battling inside Islamic State's Iraqi bastion of Mosul, the militants' leader told his followers to fight to the death in what he said was a war against Shi'ite Islam, Western "crusaders" and the Sunni "apostate" countries Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Expressing confidence in victory, despite the broad alliance of Iraqi and international forces arrayed against a few thousand Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on the jihadists to "wreak havoc".

He also urged them to target Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Sunni Muslim regional powers he said had entered the war against Islamic State.

"This raging battle and total war, and the great jihad that the state of Islam is fighting today only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory," Baghdadi said in an audio recording released online by supporters on Thursday.

Iraqi regular troops and special forces, Shi'ite militias, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and other groups backed by U.S.-led air strikes launched a campaign two weeks ago to recapture Mosul.

Winning back the country's second biggest city would mark the defeat of the Iraq wing of a crossborder caliphate which Baghdadi declared from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque two years ago. Islamic State also holds large parts of neighboring Syria.

In his first audio message released in nearly a year, Baghdadi called on the population of Mosul's Nineveh province "not to weaken in the jihad" against the "enemies of God".

He also called on the group's suicide fighters to "turn the nights of the unbelievers into days, to wreak havoc in their land and make their blood flow as rivers".

Addressing those who might consider fleeing, he said: "Know that the value of staying on your land with honor is a thousand times better than the price of retreating with shame."

The exact location of Baghdadi, an Iraqi whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai, is not clear. Reports have said he may be in Mosul itself, or in Islamic State-held land to the west of the city, close to the border with Syria.

The authenticity of the 31-minute-long recording could not be immediately verified, but the voice and style closely resembled those of previous speeches Baghdadi has delivered.

The recording appeared to be recent as it focused on the Mosul offensive, although Baghdadi did not mention the city by name.

Mosul still has a population of 1.5 million people, much more than any of the other cities captured by Islamic State two years ago in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

TARGETING TURKEY AND SAUDI

In a sectarian speech, Baghdadi called for attacks on both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, saying the Sunni countries had both sided with the enemy in a war he said was targeting Sunni Islam.

Islamic State fighters should "unleash the fire of their anger" on Turkish troops fighting them in Syria, and take the battle into Turkey.

"Turkey entered the zone of your operations, so attack it, destroy its security, and sow horror within it. Put it on your list of battlefields. Turkey entered the war with the Islamic State with cover and protection from Crusader jets," he said referring to the U.S.-led air coalition.

Baghdadi also told his followers to launch "attack after attack" in Saudi Arabia, targeting security forces, government officials, members of the ruling Al Saud family and media outlets, for "siding with the infidel nations in the war on Islam and the Sunna (Sunni Muslims) in Iraq and Syria".

Islamic State has been on the retreat since last year in both Iraq and Syria, in the face of a myriad of different forces seeking to crush the ultra-hardline group.

In addition to the forces marching on Mosul, it faces a broad range of foes in neighboring Syria. There it is fighting Turkish-backed Syrian rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad and U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, as well as Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian army units loyal to Assad and foreign Shi'ite militias.

Despite setbacks in recent months, Baghdadi said "the caliphate was not affected" by the death of some of its senior commanders, mentioning Abu Muhammad al-Adnani and Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, both killed earlier this year in U.S. air strikes.

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Mostafa Hashem in Cairo; editing by David Stamp)

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