‘Spidey’ punches officer in Times Square

A man dressed as Spider-Man has been charged with punching a police officer who told him to stop harassing tourists in Times Square.

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Junior Bishop, 25, of Brooklyn, was charged with assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and criminal mischief on Saturday.

The New York Police Department said the officer assaulted – one of about 50 patrolling the bustling tourist area – stepped in after Bishop demanded at least $US5 ($A5.40) from a woman he posed for a picture with, instead of the dollar tip she offered.

Police said a costumed Bishop “put out his hand and told the woman 5s, 10s or 20s only”. Police said the officer told him he could only accept tips – not require payment.

Bishop yelled and cursed at the officer, police said, and told him: “Mind your own (expletive) business.”

Police said the officer asked for identification and, when Bishop failed to produce any, moved to arrest him.

Bishop broke free and punched the officer in the face, police said, causing a cut and eye swelling.

The officer, whose name was not released, was treated and released at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

Other officers arrived and hauled Spider-Man away.

Bishop’s mother answered the phone at their Brooklyn home late on Saturday and said he was not home. She said she was not aware of his work in Times Square or his arrest.

The arrest of Spider-Man, as police referred to Bishop throughout a matter-of-fact news release, came weeks after the New York City Council said it was considering regulating costumed characters in Times Square.

It was the latest in a series of incidents involving men behind the masks.

In the last two years, a man dressed as Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster was charged with shoving a 2-year-old, a person attired in Super Mario’s overalls was accused of groping a woman and an Elmo figure pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after unleashing an anti-Semitic tirade.

Last month a different Spider-Man was convicted of harassment for a February 2013 episode in which he cursed and complained that a woman did not tip him after posing for a photograph with her children. Phillip Williams later punched the woman in the face and knocked her to the ground – out of self-defence, he said – after she hurled snow at him.

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South African Tim Clark wins Canadian Open

Clark has finished second 12 times on tour and had major elbow surgery in 2011, so he exuded a mixture of excitement and relief as he greeted his Canadian wife and two young children next to the 18th green at Royal Montreal.

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“Any national Open to me is special and it’s an honour for me to be the Open champion,” Clark told reporters after storming home in 30 strokes with five back-nine birdies, one-putting eight holes in a row on his way to a five-under-par 65.

He finished at 17-under 263, while Furyk shot a 69 for second place on 16-under.

Furyk has won 16 times on tour but is winless in his last seven attempts when leading (or co-leading) into the final round.

This was his sixth runner-up finish since his most recent tour victory nearly four years ago, and the latest near-miss clearly stung.

He had a 15-foot birdie chance at the last to force, at the very least, a playoff, but read too much break and missed on the high side. That took some pressure off Clark, whose long first putt had come up well short, and he pounced on the opportunity.

Earlier, Clark was four strokes behind after bogeying the first hole but the slow start perhaps eased some of the pressure.

“The front nine I was a little out of sorts but making the turn I was only three back,” he said. “At that point there’s nothing to lose and suddenly I got hot with the putter.

“To stand over that (winning) putt and feel confident was very nice.”

Clark notched four birdies in five holes from the 11th to take the sole lead with three holes to play, and preserved his advantage when he matched Furyk’s birdie at the par-three 17th.

Clark, 38, is the third South African to win the Canadian Open, and he earned $1.026 million as well as a spot in the PGA Championship in two weeks.

Meanwhile, the home drought will stretch on after Canadian Graham DeLaet finished seven shots behind in a tie for seventh.

Pat Fletcher was the most recent Canadian winner in 1954.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)

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Hepatitis E found in donor blood

One in almost 3,000 blood donors in England carry the hepatitis E virus (HEV) which can cause liver disease, says a new study, which has sparked a call for screening in Europe.

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Published on World Hepatitis Day, a study in The Lancet medical journal said a systematic analysis of donated blood showed that 79 out of 225,000 donations were infected with a version of the virus, genotype 3, most prevalent in developed countries.

Humans can contract it from infected pigs and contaminated blood or drinking water.

Transmission of the virus had occurred in 18 of 43 exposed blood recipients, the authors said.

One developed mild clinical hepatitis.

“HEV genotype 3 infections are widespread in the English population, including blood donors,” said principal investigator Richard Tedder from the Blood Borne Virus Unit at Public Health England.

“We estimate that between 80,000 and 100,000 human HEV infections are likely to have occurred in England during the year of our study.”

Similar prevalences had previously been reported in Sweden in Germany, suggesting the virus was widespread on the European continent, said the study.

Most people who contract the virus recover from symptoms including appetite loss and fever without treatment, but it can be dangerous for those with a suppressed immune systems. There is no cure.

The study authors said the overall risk was slight, and “there appears to be no pressing need at this time for blood donations to be screened.”

But in a comment carried by The Lancet, Jean-Michel Pawlotsky from the Henri Mondor hospital in Paris, said this conclusion was “surprising”.

On his own reading of the results, “systematic screening of blood components for markers of hepatitis E infection should be implemented in areas where HEV is endemic” – including the European Union.

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Turkey PM’s ‘hat-trick’ in pre-poll match

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has scored an improbable three goals in just 15 minutes during a soccer friendly to mark the opening of a new stadium in Istanbul.

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Erdogan is standing in presidential elections on August 10 and made sure no one forgot his candidacy during the game by wearing the shirt number 12 – if elected he would be the 12th president of modern Turkey.

The 60-year-old prime minister, an avid football fan who played as an amateur in his youth, took part in a match to mark the opening of the new stadium of the Istanbul Basaksehir team.

Clad in a bright orange strip, Erdogan saw his team fall behind 0-3 in the opening minutes of the game late on Saturday.

But then with almost his first touch of the ball, he smashed a shot past the goalkeeper and into the net with an impressive right foot strike.

Then even better was to come, when he sent a deft left-footed chip flying over the goalkeeper’s head.

Some 15 minutes after the first goal, Erdogan completed his hat-trick with a somewhat easier shot after being given almost all the time in the world by the opposing team’s defenders.

His night’s work done, Erdogan was substituted and eventually watched his team turn out as easy winners. Just hours earlier, he had given a campaign speech in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in Turkey’s southeast.

The game was given live coverage on Turkish state television with the commentator yelling with excitement as Erdogan scored his goals.

“Our prime minister scored one classy goal after another. It was a unique experience to have the chance to play with our prime minister,” said the goalkeeper on Erdogan’s side, Ufuk Ceylan, who will play for Basaksehir this season.

Erdogan was given a rousing reception on the pitch where supporters held up adulatory placards like “As long as you live, Turkey will remain the champion”.

Turkish social media users on Sunday argued vociferously over the merits of Erdogan’s performance, with supporters swooning over his prowess but critics slamming the game as a crude pre-election stunt.

“A president who sweats, runs and scores goals. Just as he has been throughout his political life,” tweeted Yusuf Yerkel (@YusufYerkel), an adviser to Erdogan who was notoriously photographed kicking a protester after the deadly Soma mining disaster in May.

But Twitter user Serdar Akinan sighed: “Wish he (Erdogan) played just football…” Another, Mustafa Bozkurt, said “Turkish politics in a nutshell: offside goals, rivals unable to defend themselves, immodesty…”

Istanbul Basaksehir, formerly known as Istanbul BB, will play in Turkey’s top-flight Super Lig in the coming season after winning promotion last year.

Erdogan declared that the new stadium would be named after Turkey’s national football coach Fatih Terim.

His side in the match included Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas, basketball star Hidayet Turkoglu and Erdogan’s son Bilal, who was implicated in corruption allegations against the premier’s inner circle last year.

Erdogan’s football cameo recalls the appearances of Russian President Vladimir Putin in his favourite sport ice hockey, in which he also frequently scores.

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Simmons misses Boomers 12-man squad

Highly-rated Australian prospect Ben Simmons is a shock omission from the 12-man Boomers squad set to compete at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

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The final 12 has a distinct NBA flavour, with San Antonio Spurs NBA champion Aron Baynes joined by Utah Jazz rookie Dante Exum, along with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova and Chicago Bulls forward Cameron Bairstow.

However Australia’s two biggest NBA stars – Spurs point guard Patty Mills and Golden State Warriors centre Andrew Bogut – will both miss the tournament due to injury.

While six Australian rookies were named in the squad, Simmons was one of five wider squad players who didn’t make the cut for the August-September tournament.

The 18-year-old is tipped for a big future after committing to Louisiana State University – the college that produced Shaquille O’Neal – and there are high hopes for him in the 2016 NBA draft.

“Really disappointed didn’t make the Worlds Team. Good luck to all the guys who did #grindtime,” Simmons posted on Twitter.

Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis said Simmons’ exclusion from the 12-man squad highlighted the depth of talent in the side.

“There’s no doubt he’s going to be a great basketball player,” Lemanis said.

“We just felt he wasn’t ready yet. Playing against men, we just felt it’s not his time this year.

“But he’ll be there in the future. He just needs to get older.”

One young gun who did make the cut is 19-year-old top five NBA draft pick Exum, who said he and Dellavedova would have to step up in Mills’ absence.

“Any opportunity you get on the court is an opportunity to show what you’ve got,” Exum said.

“We’re definitely going to miss Patty. But hopefully I can step into his shoes and perform.”

Dellavedova, who will be teammates with superstar LeBron James when the NBA season next rolls around again, said he was looking forward to the extra responsibility in offence.

“Leadership-wise as well. I’ve really embraced that so far in camp,” he said.

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