IS offshoot in Egypt claims beheading of Croatian hostage

The authenticity of the picture could not independently verified, which carried a caption that said: "killing of the Croatian hostage, due to his country's participation in the war against Islamic State, after the deadline expired."Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said authorities were examining the image. "It is my duty to break the silence and tell the Croatian public that we cannot confirm with 100 percent certainty that it is true what we see, and which is horrifying," he told a news conference. "I don't know if we will be able to do it in the coming days, but what we see does not look good ... I'm afraid that for the first time, what has happened to the citizens of other countries has happened to a Croatian citizen." The photograph,…
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USOC hopeful LA will bid for 2024 Olympics

If the United States is going to bid for the 2024 Olympics, that bid will come from Los Angeles.After a hastily called board meeting on Wednesday, US Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said he was optimistic the USOC could work out a plan to make Los Angeles the bidder. He said he hoped the decision would be official by the end of the month.The news came two weeks after the USOC dropped a Boston bid that was short on support.Los Angeles isn't showing any of those problems. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he'd have no problem signing the host city contract.In a statement on Wednesday, Garcetti said the city has had "very positive discussions" with the USOC over the past week."The LA Olympics would inspire the world and are right…
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Battle of the Blicavs’ siblings in Melb

Parents don't like to pick favourites, but Sara Blicavs' will have to on Saturday.The Australian basketballer is playing in the first of the Opals' two Rio Olympic qualifying games against New Zealand at a packed Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.Five hundred metres down the road, her brother Mark will be battling Hawthorn in Geelong's AFL crunch clash at the MCG."My parents have committed to me - although mum said straight after the game she's going to go and watch Mark play," the effervescent Blicavs told AAP."But that's all I've got because the rest of my family and friends are playing that night, whether it's basketball or football, so I've just got the two supporters with me."Mum and dad, Andris and Karen, were star basketballers themselves and both represented Australia.Andris played…
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WAGs argument is codswallop: Rod Marsh

Rod Marsh, a man of old-school cricket values, says it's "codswallop" to attribute an Ashes loss to the presence of wives and girlfriends.Captain Michael Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann have both slammed Ian Healy's suggestion that WAGs were a distraction during the side's failed campaign to retain the turn.Fathers Mitchell Johnson and David Warner have also questioned the logic and why nobody queried the issue after the second Test at Lord's.Marsh, who played 96 Tests for Australia and recently returned to touring life as chairman of selectors, was even more forthright."It's codswallop. Individuals can do what they want to do and (coach) Darren (Lehmann) endorses that," Marsh said."What do you want? Do you want divorces? Do you want players unhappy?"You're going to be less happy as a person and they…
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Retiring Corletto soaks up final World Cup

Whenever Julie Corletto feels overwhelmed on the netball court she recalls a piece of simple yet invaluable advice Liz Ellis gave her during her Diamonds debut.The tireless 28-year-old defender admits she was completely freaked out when she played her first game for Australia against Jamaica at the raw age of 20."I remember being quite scared and quite nervous," said Corletto, who played that game in her preferred position of goal defence.Alongside her in goal keeper was the experienced Ellis, who was nearing retirement and already had more than 100 Test caps already under her belt."I remember Liz Ellis said to me `Just take a deep breath and smile. You've done all the preparation, just enjoy it'," Corletto recalled."And I still remember that moment till today."Sometimes if I'm getting nervous I'll…
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Vito given chance to push for New Zealand World Cup place

He joins captain Richie McCaw, who will make a world record 142nd test appearance at Eden Park, and Kieran Read in the loose forwards as the world champions look to bounce back from a surprising 27-19 defeat by the Wallabies in Sydney last week.Vito was also a late call-up for the 2011 World Cup squad, ending Liam Messam's hopes after the Chiefs player appeared to be the favourite to earn a place at the tournament that the All Blacks went on to win on home soil.The Wellington Hurricanes forward's extra pace and ability to go wider than Messam or first-choice Jerome Kaino could prove effective against the Wallabies, whose tactic of selecting Michael Hooper and David Pocock last week negated the All Blacks' bid to generate quick second-phase ball.Australia's victory…
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Auckland house prices dip but sales jump

New Zealand house sales stepped up to an unseasonally high volume in July, although there was a pause in the rocketing upward trend for Auckland prices.Auckland's median house price fell by 2.6 per cent to $NZ735,000 ($A659,607), compared to June, according to the latest figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.The number of houses sold in July rose 38 per cent to 8,121 from the same month a year earlier, the highest number for July in 10 years, and driven by a 41 per cent gain in Auckland, with 3,160 sales, according to the REINZ.While the median Auckland house price was lower than the previous month it was still about 20 per cent higher than a year earlier.The national median average rose 3.3 per cent in July to…
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Villegas looks for Whistling Straits inspiration

Five years ago, the Colombian tied for eighth when the PGA Championship was last held on the spectacular links-style layout at Whistling Straits and is well aware of the pitfalls that lurk on the bunker riddled, Pete Dye-designed course."It's a golf course where you've got to be patient," Villegas, 33, told Reuters while working on his short game on the practice putting green close to the imposing stone clubhouse, modelled on an Irish farmhouse."You know you're going to get a bad break here and there ... with so many bunkers around, you're going to get a bad lie here and there."But it's a very pretty place and I like it, I like it. You've got to think your way around. I played good here five years ago, had a really…
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Tense Voges out to extend Test career

Adam Voges admits to underperforming in the Ashes, but the veteran is upbeat he still has a future in the Test side.Voges could hardly have had a better preparation for the showpiece five-Test series.The 35-year-old boasts extensive county experience, was coming off a record-breaking Sheffield Shield season and scored a century on Test debut against the West Indies.Yet it failed to click in England, where he had a couple of starts but was unable to go on with it during any of the four Tests."My performances haven't been great for this series," Voges said."Our middle-order batting has been our real weakness. I was picked to do a job there and I haven't done it anywhere near as well as I would've liked to."I've been a little bit tense ... I…
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Thompson wants Hird to stay coach in AFL

Mark Thompson fears for James Hird's future as Essendon coach, saying there is a media groundswell for the AFL club to sack him.Essendon's season is in freefall and a review of the Bombers' football department is underway.Thompson was interim coach last year as Hird served his 12-month AFL suspension.Once Hird returned, Thompson left the club after not reaching agreement with the Bombers on what his new role should be.Thompson said the club should not be swayed by outside influences when deciding on Hird's future."I don't want them to be (Hird's days to be numbered), but I think ultimately you (media) will get your mark," he told Fox Footy's AFL 360."There's a groundswell, isn't there, that happens."If Essendon were doing their job properly, they would say 'you know what, we choose…
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