Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto told RT he’s “frustrated” with Western officials playing politics with Russia’s Sputnik V, world’s first registered Covid vaccine. He says they can’t bring themselves to admit publicly it’s “the best.”
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen, yet Russia’s Sputnik V is still awaiting the agency’s nod despite getting approval in over 70 countries worldwide. For Hungarians vaccinated with Sputnik V, that means they’re frozen out of the EU’s bloc-wide Digital Covid Certificate system, even though Hungary will start locally producing the vaccine next year.
“I am very frustrated about this,” Szijjarto told RT, describing how under EU regulations, either the EMA or national governments can approve vaccines, as Hungary’s government did with Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm shot. “We don’t understand why [this approval] is not respected by the other member states,” he added.
The EU’s cold shoulder for the Sputnik V shot is more a question of politics than efficacy, Szijjarto suggested.
“Whenever I talk to Western European colleagues...they always tell me that they know that Russian scientific performance can be spoken about only very highly,” he said. “I tell them ‘look, it works the best. Of course it works well.”
Privately they all say that… when it comes to publicly, they all say differently.
Phase 3 trial data showing the efficacy of Sputnik V has been published in the authoritative medical journal, The Lancet, while a comparative study based on data from Hungary and published this week found the Russian jab the most effective of five different vaccines in preventing Covid-related deaths. Sputnik V came in second behind the US-made Moderna shot in preventing infection in the first place. The study was based on data from 3.7 million people.
When it came to choosing his own vaccine, Szijjarto turned to the Russian-developed jab. “The reason for my vaccination with Sputnik is crystal clear,” he told RT. “When I was a kid, I was vaccinated by Soviet vaccines. Since I am still alive and doing well, I decided, why should I change?”
Szijjarto went on to talk more about the politicization of vaccination, and had some choice words for the European politicians and bureaucrats who “attacked” Hungary over its hardline immigration policies.
Tune in to RT on Sunday to see the full interview.
The Dutch government has apologized for a past law requiring that transgender people be sterilized to legally change their gender. The law existed until 2014, and similar laws are still on the books in some European countries.
“Nobody should have experienced what you went through. I am truly sorry that it happened,” Minister for Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven said in The Hague on Saturday. “Standards about what a body should look like do not belong in a law and a law should never force people to undergo an operation,” she added. “And today I make our deeply sincere apologies for this on behalf of the full Cabinet.”
Between 1985 and 2014, the Netherlands allowed citizens to legally change their gender, provided they undergo genital surgery and are left sterile afterwards. The law was scrapped under pressure from LGBT activists, including Human Rights Watch, which described it as “needlessly traumatizing.”
Now, a psychological evaluation is all that is required to legally change one’s gender in the Netherlands.
Some 420 people claim to have been victimized by the law, AP reported. They have been offered 5,000 euro ($5,650) in compensation, an amount that activists at Transgender Network Nederland argue is too low.
The European Court of Human rights banned such sterilization laws in 2017, by which time they still existed on the books in 22 of the 47 countries that were party to the European Convention.
The court’s ruling did not mandate that these states change their laws, but established a legal precedent for court cases on the matter at national level. At present, sterilization laws still exist in Czechia, Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, and nine other countries covered by the 2017 ruling.
Former UFC title challenger Diego Sanchez says that he still isn't convinced of the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines despite being seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia and several other symptoms of the virus.
Sanchez, who is 39, revealed on his social media last week that he had contracted the potentially-fatal virus but that he had sought relief from an antibody treatment which has shown to have some benefit against symptoms, though the consensus of the medical community says that vaccination is the most effective method of reducing the chance of developing aggressive complications.
"If you qualify for Regeneron antibodies they work it's only been six hours and I'm feeling better," he wrote on social media more than a week ago.
"Do not wait if you get the virus it only gets worse..."
If you qualify for regeneron antibodies they work it’s only been 6 hours and I’m feeling better! Thank you @luisbaboon for telling me about it ❤️ do not wait if you get the virus it only gets worse go to ounce you know jump on it ASAP #covidmedicne
I feel like a navy seal in sleep deprivation hell week! another sleepless night, my body is cleaning out all the poison🤢😮💨 the antibodies are working I’m told 3 days is all it takes for most people #regeneron#covidmedicine#healing
A further update posted by Sanchez appeared to suggest that he was on the mend: "I feel like a Navy SEAL in sleep deprivation hell week! Another sleepless night, my body is cleaning out all the poison.
"The antibodies are working. I'm told three days is all it takes for most people."
However, more recent updates posted to social media by the longtime UFC fighter who left the promotion last April showed that his condition had drastically worsened in recent days – and that he had been hospitalized after contracting Covid-related pneumonia as well as blood clots in both of his legs.
Sanchez also posted to Instagram an x-ray of his Covid-infected lungs, detailing that oxygen levels have dropped and admitted that he is facing some "trying times".
However, despite evidence showing that the various available vaccines can vastly reduce the risk of developing symptoms from the virus, Sanchez admitted when probed by a fan that he isn't quite on board with the jabs just yet.
I’m going thru it but I can’t say I’m sold on the vax at the current moment in time
"Big fan Diego," wrote a fan to the stricken MMA star. "Why didn't you get the vaccine, please use your platform to advise people how serious this is and to get the vaccine."
"I’m going thru it but I can’t say I’m sold on the vax at the current moment in time," replied Sanchez.
The veteran fighter, who was at one point the longest-tenured active fighter in the UFC after debuting on the very first season of 'The Ultimate Fighter', remains a free agent after his release from the promotion earlier this year.
Sanchez is part of the UFC Hall of Fame after being inducted for his epic 2009 fight against Clay Guida. He had been linked with a move to bare-knuckle boxing but it seems as though any foray into a new fighting arena will have to wait a while until he recovers from his serious illness.
At least two people were killed and some 16 injured in Niger, when a French military convoy was met by protesters after crossing from Burkina Faso, where the column had been blocked for a whole week.
The French military convoy, redeploying from Ivory Coast to Mali, ran into fresh protests on Saturday. Shortly after crossing into Niger from neighboring Burkina Faso, it got blocked by angry locals less than 30 km (19 miles) from the border.
Footage from the scene circulating online shows a crowd of protesters standing in the middle of a road, with multiple armored vehicles and logistics trucks seen in the background. Thick clouds of black smoke were seen rising from a burning barricade placed across the road.
Protesters expressed their anger with the French enduring military presence, shouting “Down with France!” French servicemen had to fire “warning shots” to fend off the protesters, French army spokesperson Colonel Pascal Ianni has said.
“Protesters tried to pillage and seize the trucks,” Ianni said. “There were warning shots by the Nigerian gendarmes and French soldiers.”
#Niger: C'est déplorable que les jeunes à #Téra soient chargés par des balles payées avec leurs impôts. A #Kaya, la répression n'a pas été au rendez-vous, pour frayer la route aux soldats #français. Pourquoi, à Tera c'est l'arrogance des armes qui veut tracer la voie ? Triste. pic.twitter.com/Wt5x7GPvYV
At least two people were killed and some 16 injured during the chaotic protest, local mayor Hamma Mamoudou, told Reuters. The casualties were “most likely” inflicted by gunshots, the official claimed.
The convoy received a cold welcome in Niger after spending a week blockaded by protesters in Burkina Faso. Last weekend, the column became trapped in the Burkinabe city of Kaya by hundreds of protesters, who were venting their anger over France’s military presence, as well as over its inability to stop militant attacks that have been plaguing the region.
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Tributes and condolences have poured in after Russian ice hockey youth international Valentin Rodionov died at the age of 16, almost one week after losing consciousness during a match in Moscow.
The news of Rodionov’s tragic passing was confirmed by his club Dynamo Moscow on Saturday.
“During the Moscow Open Championship match between Dynamo and CSKA on November 21, [Rodionov] returned to the bench after a change and lost consciousness,"a statement on the club's official website read.
27 ноября в реанимации скончался игрок МХК «Динамо» Валентин Родионов...
“He was promptly provided with first aid, after which Valentin was taken to the Morozov children's clinic [in Moscow] and urgently operated on.
"For six days, doctors fought for the life of the pupil of the Dynamo school. Today Valentine is gone...
"Dynamo Moscow expresses its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Valentin. This is a great tragedy for the entire Dynamo hockey family. We mourn together with you.”
Rodionov had reportedly collided with a protective board at the side of the ice before collapsing on the sidelines. It had been cautiously hoped that his condition was improving after his operation, until the sad news of his passing broke on Saturday.
The youngster was a rising prospect for Russian hockey who had represented his country at U-17 level as well as appearing for Dynamo in the Youth Hockey League (MXL).
Russian youth team head coach Igor Efimov said Rodionov had successfully passed a thorough medical examination with the Russian U-17 national team in late October.
“This is a terrible tragedy. Like everyone else, he passed [a medical examination]. He was an absolutely healthy, strong guy, cheerful, full of strength and energy,”said Efimov.
Rodionov played in five matches for the national youth team against Slovakia and the Czech Republic from October 30 to November 5.
“He was one of our key players at the training camp… he was a golden person and a very reliable hockey player. He was a member of our family, everyone’s upset, we will play and fight for Rodya,” added the coach.
Matches across all professional Russian hockey leagues on November 28 will begin with a minute of silence in Rodionov’s memory.
Black-clad ‘Antifa’ rioters in France attacked police officers with fists, projectiles and metal barriers, at a Paris protest they claimed was “against state violence and the extreme right.”
Wearing black and concealing their faces with masks and neckerchiefs, crowds of left-wing ‘Antifa’ protesters turned out in Paris, France, on Saturday, in what they said was a rally “against state violence and the extreme right.”
Clashes soon broke out between the demonstrators and the ranks of police officers there to maintain order. It is not clear which side instigated the violence, but video footage posted to Twitter by a police officer shows the left-wingers hurling projectiles at a group of retreating cops, before picking up metal crowd-control barriers to attack the officers with. The officer posting the video claimed that the “thugs in black” had struck first.
Another video shot by a self-described “independent journalist” showed a small group of officers being “taken to task” by the rioters, who tore down fencing and used it to assail the withdrawing policemen.
Footage from earlier in the afternoon shows rioters dismantling barricades and setting off flares, which apparently marked the point at which the demonstration turned violent. Police responded by firing tear gas into the crowd. It is unclear how many people, if any, were arrested.
Similar scenes played out in Marseille on Friday, where Antifa turned out to protest the arrival of Eric Zemmour, a right-wing commentator and likely presidential candidate. Zemmour has described Marseille as “a city submerged by immigration and partly Islamized.”
MARSEILLE - Plusieurs centaines de personnes manifestent actuellement contre la venue d’Éric Zemmour.
Fumigène, tirs de mortiers et banderoles renforcées.
Saturday’s protest played out against the backdrop of wider demonstrations against the government’s Covid-19 restrictions and the strict French health pass system – which will require all adults to have received vaccine booster doses by mid-January to enter bars and restaurants and to use public transportation. Face masks became mandatory on Friday for all indoor settings regardless of the wearer’s vaccination status, and are required even in outdoor Christmas markets.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a tightening of coronavirus restrictions after the Omicron variant of the virus was found in the UK. Testing and tracing will be strengthened, and indoor masking strongly advised.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Johnson announced that, based on what is known so far, the recently discovered new coronavirus strain appears to be more contagious than existing variants, and “can be spread between people who are double-vaccinated”.
As such, Johnson announced a raft of new “targeted and precautionary measures” to slow its spread in the UK and “buy time” for scientists to further research the variant.
On Friday, the UK banned incoming travel from South Africa and seven other neighbouring countries, and added four more nations to the banned list on Saturday. Johnson said that, while he would not stop anyone travelling, his government would now require anyone entering the UK from abroad to take a PCR test within a day of arrival and to self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
All contacts of someone who tests positive with a suspected case of the Omicron variant will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
Johnson suggested that masks would once again be required in shops and on public transport. The UK’s previous mask mandate was lifted back in July amid a summertime lull in Covid-19 cases, but, during Saturday’s briefing, the PM did not specify whether they would be mandatory this time around, or merely advised.
Describing the “temporary and precautionary” measures as “the responsible course of action”, Johnson said they would be re-evaluated in three weeks – immediately before the Christmas holidays.
Johnson announced the new measures within hours of the first two cases of the Omicron variant being discovered in the UK, with one case having been recorded in Essex and another in Nottingham. The first-ever cases of the strain were registered earlier this month in Botswana and identified in South Africa, and, from there, rapidly became dominant in southern Africa. Omicron has since spread to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It was given its name by the World Health Organization (WHO) at an emergency meeting on Friday.
The first four Botswanan patients presenting with the new variant were all fully vaccinated, and a number of scientific bodies have warned that the current crop of Covid-19 vaccines may be ineffective against it. The European Centre for Disease Control warned on Friday that Omicron was associated with “increased transmissibility, a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness and increased risk for reinfections”.
Johnson maintained that vaccines, particularly booster shots, provided “some degree” of protection against Omicron, and announced on Saturday that his government would step up its campaign to administer boosters “to as wide a group as possible” over the coming weeks. Around 16 million Britons have already received booster shots, yet more than 250,000 new cases of the virus have been recorded in the UK every week since the beginning of October. Deaths, however, remain significantly lower than at this point last year.
Russia’s Kamila Valieva cemented her status as the dominant force in women’s figure skating as she broke two more world records with a near-perfect performance on the way to victory at the Rostelecom Cup in Sochi.
Having already registered a world-record score for her short program on Friday, Valieva followed that with a tally of 185.29 points for her free skate on Saturday at the Iceberg Skating Palace – breaking her own previous record of 180.89 set in Canada earlier this season.
That put the 15-year-old on a total of 272.71, clinching first place and also surpassing her previous world-record mark of 265.08.
It was a clean sweep on the podium for Russia at the sixth and final ISU Grand Prix of this season’s series as former world champion and fan favorite Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, 24, finished second on an overall score of 229.23 points.
Countrywoman Maiia Khromykh, 15, recovered from a disappointing fifth-place finish in the short program to land 154.97 points for her free routine, which was enough to place her third overall on 219.69 points.
Kamila Valieva beats her own world record in the free skate and dominantly wins at the Rostelecom Cup!
All three Russian stars have secured spots at the ISU Grand Prix Finals in Osaka, Japan, which run from December 9 to 12. Five of the six Grand Prix slots will be filled by Russians, with Anna Shcherbakova and Alena Kostornaia having also qualified. Sakamoto Kaori of Japan will take the other place.
Coached by the revered Eteri Tutberidze, former world junior champion Valieva has made an impressive step up to the senior ranks, and her performances this season have marked her out as the strong favorite for the Grand Prix Finals title in Japan and the Olympic gold at the Winter Games in Beijing in February.
Skating to Maurice Ravel's 'Bolero', Valieva landed three quad jumps and a triple Axel in her performance on Saturday.
It was pointed out online that Valieva’s score in Sochi would have been enough to win the men’s event, where the title was claimed by Russian-Georgian skater Morisi Kvitelashvil with an overall score of 266.33.
“Count me among those who just stood to applaud Kamila Valieva. That was simply unbelievable, even with a minor, minor mistake. It’s her world, and everyone else can just marvel,” said journalist Philip Hersh.
Count me among those who just stood to applaud Kamila Valieva. That was simply unbelievable, even with a minor, minor mistake. It’s her world, and everyone else can just marvel. #RostelecomCup2021
In the latest episode of ‘The Politics of Survival,’ Tara Reade speaks to a woman who has worked within the US army and has an inside knowledge of horrendous sexual assault cases, which she aims to make public.
“Violations of federal law were occurring and I was always told to shut up,” Amy Braley-Franck, former Sexual Assault Program Manager in the US military told Reade in an interview released on Friday. Braley-Franck worked all over the US and Europe, as well as in South Africa, having been charged with taking care of the army response to sexual assault and harassment. She says what she saw was “just unfathomable.”
“The pervasiveness of sexual violence in the military is out of control and 80% of those who report being sexually assaulted or harassed suffer some kind of retaliatory reprisal,” Braley-Franck said. She cited some alarming statistics, saying that one in four females and one in five men in the military are going to be sexually assaulted. The situation is one where “the rates of suicide go through the roof in the US military,” she argued. In the same time frame as there were some 7,000 combat-related deaths, over 30,000 service members killed themselves, she said.
“I was literally watching victims languish, I was seeing commanders cover up sexual assaults, not report them to law enforcement and, every time I elevated my concerns, they began to retaliate against me,” the woman said.
Braley-Franck claims that at one point she herself became a victim in an act of abusive sexual contact, committed by her army boss. However, while she could have her civil rights protected, Braley-Franck argues that service members don’t have the option to speak out against what is going on in the military, as they face being court-martialed.
There was no justice for anybody.
Braley-Franck says she witnessed retaliatory behavior among military commanders first-hand, who she says choose to protect perpetrators, not the victims. To help the victims, she says she decided to become a whistleblower and founded a non-profit advocacy group, ‘Never alone.’
You can listen to the full interview in the podcast episode here:
Two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant have been detected in Bavaria, Germany. The UK and Italy are among other European nations that have also registered instances of the suspected Covid mutation.
Bavaria’s health ministry announced late on Saturday that the new strain had been detected in Germany. Two travelers who arrived at Munich airport on Wednesday tested positive for Omicron and are now self-isolating. The ministry did not specify the country from which their flight had originated.
Italy said on Saturday it had registered its first case of the new strain. Earlier, other European nations, including the Netherlands and the Czech Republic reported suspected cases of Omicron, but these have not been confirmed yet. The UK reported discovering two cases of the new strain, also on Saturday, with the health authorities saying they were linked to travel from South Africa.
The first-ever cases of the strain were registered earlier this month in Botswana, with the variant becoming dominant in southern Africa soon thereafter. The first case on European soil was detected in Belgium on Friday, when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the new strain, identified as B.1.1.529, Omicron.
While little is known about it thus far, experts worldwide have already raised the alarm over its multiple mutations and potential for infection. On Friday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control designated the strain as presenting a “high to very high” risk, adding that there was “considerable uncertainty related to the transmissibility, vaccine effectiveness, risk for reinfections and other properties of the Omicron variant.”
All 27 EU member states suspended air travel from seven southern African nations the same day. Similar moves have been taken by the UK, the US and other nations.
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Islam Makhachev says that there will be no doubt as to the legitimacy of his UFC title credentials after it was announced that he will take on surging 155lbs star Beneil Dariush in a top contender matchup in February.
Makhachev, the man anointed by Khabib Nurmagomedov as his successor in the UFC's lightweight fold, has now won nine straight fights in the shark-tank division - most recently almost tearing Dan Hooker's shoulder from its socket in a high profile showdown last month.
The win intensified calls for the Dagestan native to be fast-tracked into a world title bout but with the belt currently tied up by next month's showdown between champion Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier, Makhachev has been handed another test against another 155lbs fighter in the midst of a career best win streak, Beneil Dariush.
Reacting to the fight announcement, Makhachev tweeted that there will be "no doubts after this one" after the fight, which is scheduled to be a five-round main event on February 27 next.
It is easy to see why Makhachev is of this opinion. Dariush, winner of seven straight, is currently ranked third at 155lbs - one place higher than Makhachev - and has a recent list of victims which includes highly-regarded fighters like Tony Ferguson, Carlos Diego Ferreira, Drakkar Klose and Drew Dober.
The fight announcement will be a satisfying one for Makhachev, a fighter who came up through the same combat upbringing as the legendary, undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov.
He had been keenly pursuing the type of fight which would stand him out from the crowded list of contender in the UFC's lightweight division, having previously called for fights with the likes of Justin Gaethje and former champion Rafael Dos Anjos - the latter of whom recently called Makhachev out and alleged the the Russian fighter refused to become involved in a previous backstage altercation because there was too much security staff protecting him.
"How many champions have you fought?" Dos Anjos fired at his rival "How many main events? You only getting the hype because of your brother, Get my name out of your dirty mouth Khabib wanna be."
If as Dos Anjos says Makhachev does want to be like Khabib, one suspects that he might well get his chance to emulate his title reign - or at get a shot at the belt at the very least - with a win against the teak-tough Dariush in a few short months' time.
Erling Haaland has captured the imagination of fans across the globe for his goalscoring exploits - but apparently that doesn't extend to one Wolfsburg fan who responded to his trademark goal celebration by flipping the bird.
The Dortmund superstar, who is poised to be the subject of a bidding war from a host of Europe's top clubs this summer, made his return to action on Saturday after six weeks on the sidelines after overcoming a troublesome hip injury - and true to form, didn't take long to add his name to the scoresheet.
In fact, it took the 21-year-old predatory striker just seven minutes to find the back of the next, after which he took off towards the stands to celebrate his goal and pointed towards one Wolfsburg fan in particular.
Haaland back in the goals following his injury, 7 minutes after being subbed on.
The cold weather in Wolfsburg clearly necessitates the use of gloves but you wouldn't have to wrack your brains too much to figure out exactly what gesture was going on beneath them.
The three points consolidates Dortmund's position at the summit of the Bundesliga ahead of rivals Bayern Munich and will go some way to erasing the heartache of their exit from the Champions League this week - something you suspect may well not have happened had Haaland been fit and healthy these past few weeks.
The clip might be somewhat bittersweet for Dortmund fans, though, given the high likelihood that he leaves the club in the summer - but the question remains, will we be seeing this celebration in La Liga or the Premier League in a few months' time?
Kiev's forces are increasingly launching offensives in war-torn Donbass, attempting to use Western firepower to bring the two breakaway self-declared separatist republics to heel with military force, Moscow has blasted.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the situation in the east of the neighboring nation is a cause for concern.
“The hot heads in the Kiev regime, apparently with a feeling of complete impunity, are in favor of a military solution to this internal Ukrainian crisis,” she said, arguing that the conflict is being used to distract from the country’s domestic political crises.
“The situation in the conflict zone is escalating. More and more information is coming up about the use of weapons banned by the Minsk agreements, supplied to Ukraine by NATO nations.” She added that international observers dispatched on behalf of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe had noted an increase in offensive actions from Kiev’s forces in parts of the region.
Tensions in the east of Ukraine have spiked sharply in recent weeks, with the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, Kirill Budanov, revealing that the country had trialled and deployed US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Reacting to the news, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “in recent weeks, we have seen a stream of consciousness from the Ukrainian leadership – especially when it comes to the military – that is excessively inflamed and dangerous.”
Earlier this month, Russia’s ambassador to the US warned Washington that providing lethal arms to Ukraine could destroy any hopes for peace in the Donbass. In a statement, Anatoly Antonov said that “plans to supply weapons to the regime in Kiev will only worsen the situation in southeastern Ukraine. We believe that another opportunity to encourage Kiev to stop the war has been missed.”
Kiev’s forces have been fighting troops loyal to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics since the two regions declared their autonomy after the 2014 Maidan. Under President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian government has rejected Russian calls to negotiate directly with the separatists, accusing Moscow of being behind the civil conflict.
Afterwards, however, Klopp was questioned by an angry journalist about a different competition – the Africa Cup of Nations which will take place from January 9 to February 6 in Cameroon.
Crucially for Liverpool, the continental showpiece will mean they are set to be without stars Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, who will be called up for their respective countries.
That will deprive the Reds of crucial firepower during a crunch part of their Premier League campaign.
Klopp has bemoaned the upcoming absence of his African stars, and recently described the AFCON tournament as "little".
Klopp was confronted about those comments on Wednesday night by a journalist who claimed he had "insulted" Africans with the remarks.
"I think it's an insult to the players, an insult to the fans, an insult to the people on the continent and I think you owe the continent an apology," said the angry reporter.
In response, Klopp said he had simply meant the phrase "ironically".
"What I meant was, if you watch the whole press conference then you might have understood it the right way if you wanted to, because I said there are no international breaks until March now," the German fired back.
"I said 'oh there's a little tournament in January' and I didn't mean a little tournament, I was just saying it's still a tournament, it's ironic. It's still a tournament, a big one. We lose our best players to that tournament..."
Whether he likes it or not, Klopp and Liverpool will still have to contend with the loss of some key names come January as they battle on the Premier League front.
Instagram influencer Wanda Nara has shed light on her husband and PSG striker Mauro Icardi's alleged affair with an Argentine actress, which temporarily caused the married couple to separate.
The mother-of-five, who was previously wed to Icadri's former Sampdoria teammate Maxi Lopez, made an appearance on the Telefe channel in her homeland and spoke to famous compatriot journalist Susana Gimenez from the Shangri-La hotel in Paris.
The whole drama with Icardi that has filled news outlets for the past five weeks was sparked when Wanda took to Instagram and wrote: "Another family you ruined for a b*tch".
"The first thing that came to mind was anger and anger, so I put the story [up]," Wanda explained, on the program that was broadcast in Argentina on Wednesday evening.
"I called her and apologized for the story with that inelegant word," she added, as per the outburst aimed at the actress Eugenia 'La China' Suarez.
"We were in a field with the girls on horseback. A girl who organizes parties asked me for a photo. I knew there was some on Mauro's phone, and when I looked, I saw screenshots of a conversation with a very famous woman that everyone already knows," she revealed, of how she came to learn of Icardi's contact with the pin-up.
"I was not a friend of China Suarez's," Wanda clarified.
"I had a cordial relationship [with her] and from what I saw my anger perhaps had a macho look, [as] I blamed the woman. But later I saw that I had nothing [against] her," she admitted.
As per the content of the messages, Wanda explained that she never had an open relationship before and that even a "little message" with someone outside the marriage spells the divorce she originally sought.
Furthermore, she has insisted that she "would never be with a man for money".
"The messages said things that a woman with the values I have [would] never [have] written," she claimed.
"They said many things. I had already seen other things about Mauro and they told a supposed story in Ibiza, but nothing could be further from the truth.
"We had never had a problem of this kind with [another] woman. I can swear it on our five children. And when this happened I overheated, I put that message on Instagram, I took the first flight and went home to Italy," Wanda confessed.
"Mauro told me that he met China in Paris. He told me that nothing happened, but for me anything could have happened," Wanda said.
"I think he went and realized he was wrong. Anything could have happened, but it didn't."
Explaining that her husband is "sorry", he allegedly told her things that "she never would have found out" and later made an appearance on the show with Gimenez himself.
Wanda, who is Icardi's agent, confirmed reports that he had threatened to retire from football if they divorced.
"You have to see if he would have done it, these are things you say...," she added.
According to MARCA, this stance has not impressed his Ligue 1 employers, where he is now "highly unlikely to remain a PSG player for much longer".
The French government has unveiled a slate of Covid measures to combat a fifth wave of the virus, including requiring masks for indoor spaces and ordering all adults to get a booster shot for their health pass.
Health Minister Olivier Veran announced the moves on Thursday, outlining efforts to prevent a spike in hospitalizations and fatalities from the virus without plunging the nation back into a lockdown.
From Saturday, all adults in France will be eligible for a Covid booster shot, with it being required by January 15 to ensure their health pass remains valid. Over-65s have already been told to get their third Covid vaccine by December 15. As it stands, health passes are required across the country to access indoor venues, such as restaurants and bars.
Veran added that the government will no longer accept a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival as an alternative to the Covid pass. Instead, the negative Covid test will need to have been taken within 24 hours of entry.
From this week, masks will, once again, be mandatory in all indoor places and, for the festive season, at outdoor Christmas markets.
Despite the new measures, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer ruled out closing schools if they experience a Covid outbreak, stating that instead students would just be required to get tested.
France has seen Covid cases increase in recent weeks, with 32,591 new infections recorded on Wednesday. Despite 76.9% of France’s population being fully vaccinated against Covid, the country’s incidence rate has reached nearly 200 new infections per 100,000 persons.
The global supply chain is broken. Experts point out to a perfect storm of issues that have combined to break a system that used to run relatively smoothly.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted trade around the world, causing product shortages and pushing up prices. The ongoing disruptions are hitting global growth.
What are global supply chains?
Global supply chains are networks that span all continents and countries for the purpose of sourcing and supplying goods and services. It is the system of getting things from A to B and is the basis of the global economy. When the movement of goods stops, a global supply crisis starts.
How did the global supply crisis start?
The rapid spread of coronavirus in 2020, which prompted lockdowns and industry shutdowns around the world, led to lower consumer demand and reduced industrial activity.
As lockdowns were lifted and demand soared, manufacturers and distributors of goods got caught up in chaos as they couldn’t produce or supply as much as they did before the pandemic.
Why is there a shortage of everything?
The surging demand was met with limited supply of everything. Ports, warehouses, and trucking companies have been experiencing labor shortages. Lack of containers limited the amount of goods available for export, resulting in overloaded warehouses. Even when containers of goods arrived at the ports, there was a shortage of container chassis for truckers to haul loaded containers. Moreover, the ports that were full of loaded containers, did not have enough space to receive empty containers back. All of that was causing disruptions for arriving ships to unload.
What are the most affected sectors?
Supply chain bottlenecks have affected a variety of sectors, services, and goods. Those range from shortages of electronics and automobiles, where problems were exacerbated by the semiconductor chip shortage, to difficulties in the supplies of meat, medicines, and household products. Power shortages in the world’s manufacturing superpower, China, have added to the crisis.
Why are prices rising?
Shipping goods across the globe has become more expensive than ever as temporarily shuttered port terminals have been spawning backlogs at some of the world's largest ports. This, combined with goods shortages amid higher demand, has led to rising prices for all consumer goods.
When could the crisis end?
As economies get back on their feet, the supply chain crisis is still one of the biggest challenges governments face. The issue is now looming large ahead of Christmas, with this year’s holiday shopping season projected to be among the most expensive ever.
Global shipping operations won’t return to normal until the end of 2022, according to expert estimates. Economists say supply chain disruptions will continue well into 2023, despite global efforts to mitigate the issue.
As many as 13 children have suffered side effects from hormone therapy while receiving treatment for gender dysmorphia in Sweden, according to national broadcaster SVT.
In a report published on Wednesday, Swedish broadcaster SVT revealed that doctors at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm stopped new hormone treatments for children suffering from gender dysmorphia in May amid concerns of “potential side effects.”
The hospital noted in new guidelines that the treatments are controversial and that there is a lack of scientific support for it. Data concerning the extent of the side effects and the number of children impacted was not made public.
After an internal review by the hospital, SVT conducted its own investigation. They say that a total of 13 children have been in some way injured by the treatments they received at the hospital. One child, Leo, had started a treatment of hormone blockers at the age of just 11. Almost five years later, Leo has been diagnosed with osteoporosis and doctors have recorded changes within his vertebrae. His growth has also been severely stunted.
“Injuries that have been caused by treatment with us, we obviously have a responsibility for,” Svante Norgren, head of Astrid Lindgren's children's hospital at Karolinska University Hospital told the national broadcaster.
Other injuries incurred as a result of the treatment include suspected liver damage and a severe deterioration of mental wellness. One child was also diagnosed with reduced bone density after two years of receiving the hormone blockers.
The hospital said it was unaware that 13 children had been injured by their treatment. “We are two different units. The children's hospital handles the pediatric part - the investigation and psychiatric follow-up is on the KID team [Gender Identity Investigations of Children and Adolescents],” Norgren stated.
Western nations are refusing to take action against the Ukrainian computer boffins behind a string of cyber attacks, one of Moscow’s top diplomats has claimed, arguing that Washington is turning a blind eye towards the issue.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blasted the findings of a probe by the EU’s Europol and Eurojust agencies. The investigation, designed to catch and arrest online ransomware groups, revealed that there were no less than 2,000 victims spanning 71 countries from at least one operation by a cybercrime organization.
According to the official, companies in the US, UK, France, and other Western states were affected. The total damage incurred amassed a whopping $120 million, with the groups said to have been operating since at least 2019.
“But where are the statements by Western partners about ‘Ukrainian hackers’ and the attacks carried out by them?” Zakharova asked.
“Where are the threats of sanctions for Kiev’s ‘years-long failure to combat IT crimes allegedly carried out from the state’s territory with the connivance of national security services?’” she added, echoing Washington’s condemnation of purported Russian hacking.
Zakharova slammed the White House’s silence on the findings, given that the FBI was involved in the joint law enforcement missions, sarcastically proposing that “maybe American intelligence had no idea of the existence of non-Russian hackers?”
Earlier this month, the FBI placed a Russian man on its wanted list after he allegedly orchestrated ransomware attacks worth millions of dollars against numerous victims, as well as businesses and government entities.
The US Justice Department has also announced charges against a Ukrainian national for a string of cybercrimes. The man in question is accused of being behind the July hacking of American software company Kaseya.
Cybersecurity has been a key area of focus for American envoys since President Joe Biden took office. Representatives from Moscow and Washington are said to have held four rounds of discussions on the matter by July. Earlier this year, Biden asked his counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, to “take action” against cybercriminals based in Russian territory.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired the head of the country’s Federal Penitentiary Service after two scandal-filled months, with accusations of inmate torture and shocking leaked videos from CCTV cameras.
Alexander Kalashnikov was removed after two years in the position. Before 2019, Kalashnikov was a senior official in the Federal Security Service (FSB) and served as chief of the body’s directorate in Krasnoyarsk Region. Earlier this year, Kalashnikov was sanctioned by the EU, US, and Canada for his role in the imprisonment of opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
Kalashnikov’s firing comes after an eventful autumn for the prison service. In October, human rights group Gulagu.net leaked three sickening videos showing the torture of inmates at a prison in Saratov, a city around 800km southeast of Moscow. The footage showed inmates being sexually abused, including anal rape and forced penetration with objects.
Over a month later, 18 workers at the prison were fired, and the Investigative Committee opened multiple criminal cases in connection to the reports of physical and sexual abuse.
Speaking to RT in October, Gulagu.net founder Vladimir Osechkin revealed that many more videos would be released showing abuse in prisons throughout the country. A month later, Osechkin was added to the wanted list by Russian authorities over what he claims are politically motivated reasons. It is unknown why he has been deemed as wanted. He currently lives in Biarritz, France.
Following Kalashnikov’s firing, Osechkin wrote on Facebook that it was due to the group’s “independent investigation” and “painful work” exposing the “secret inhuman methods” of the authorities.
No official reason for Kalashnikov’s sacking has been given.
An Australian law student has been fined and sentenced to two years of correctional service after breaking into a Newcastle coal port and hitting the ‘stop’ button in the name of climate activism.
In a video posted to the Blockade Australia Facebook page last week, 23-year-old Kirsten Hoffman proudly told the camera that she had just disabled a machine at Newcastle’s coal port – the world’s largest – by hitting the stop button.
While Hoffman walks around with her Blockade Australia stickers, her mum, Jacinta is “locked on” to some equipment as part of their protest to stop the coal port’s operations and to save the world from the climate crisis.
“For now, I can kind of just sit tight and plan the next machine that I’m going to turn off,” she states, noting that there are security guards nearby.
The law student claimed that she’s “part of a team of Extinction Rebels camping and causing pacifist disruption for as long as it takes to reach zero carbon emissions.”
Hoffman goes on to liken her cause to that struggle of indigenous peoples. “I must acknowledge that we are on Worimi and Awabakal country today. The first nations, who had their land stolen and have been fighting in resistance ever since,” she states, adding that Aboriginal people have been engaging in pacifist disruption for years.
The determined law student was given a $1,200 fine and two-year community corrections order, according to the Mail.
Julian Assange and his fiancée Stella Moris have formally registered their intention to get married in maximum security Belmarsh prison, where the Wikileaks co-founder is being held.
“Today we notified our intention to marry. It will take at least 28 days for that to be cleared. We don't have a date planned yet because it will depend on the authorities. It could be as soon as before the New Year,” Moris told journalists on Wednesday after visiting Assange in the maximum security London prison.
She added that the bureaucratic procedure took place in a “legal room” of the prison and that it was nice to see Julian “in a different space” for the first time in the past 2.5 years.
“It was a happy moment that we could actually proceed, he was wearing a suit and a dark red tie, his hair was up in a bun,” Moris said.
The couple, who share two young sons, does not have a date for the wedding yet, but is looking forward to marrying after a few years of being engaged.
“We want to live our lives and do what is in our control,” explained Moris, adding that during the registration “It felt like we were treated as human beings for a change.”
Assange’s fiancée confessed that she is not giving up hope that, with a judgement on his extradition case due at any time, he could be free by Christmas and the wedding could take place outside the prison, where his mental and physical health are deteriorating.
The couple has previously accused Belmarsh authorities and UK government of “illegal interference” with their “basic right to marry,” prompting Moris, who is a lawyer, to initiate the legal action. On November 11 she announced that the permission had been finally granted.
The UK High Court is expected to rule on the appeal by the US against a lower court decision to deny Assange’s extradition to America on grounds of his poor mental health. The Wikileaks co-founder faces up to 175 years of imprisonment if extradited to the US, which accuses him of violating the Espionage Act over the release of thousands of classified documents on Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange supporters claim that he was doing exactly what the journalistic profession required him to do, and therefore his persecution represents a threat to journalism in a broad sense.
Underfire NFL superstar Aaron Rodgers attempted to show reporters that he doesn't have 'Covid toe' by whipping out his foot in front of them.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback was reported by the Wall Street Journal as having suffered a bizarre side effect from Covid after being diagnosed with the disease earlier in October.
According to the outlet, the 37-year-old, who courted controversy with his comments on a refusal to take the vaccine, is getting to grips with discoloration and lesions on his foot that have been giving him immense toe pain.
Furthermore, Rodgers made a reference to having 'Covid toe' on an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show where his remarks have previously landed him in hot water with "the woke mob" and seen him criticized by the White House for "misinformation".
Aaron Rodgers puts his foot on camera during a press conference to prove that he doesn’t have “COVID Toe” as the mainstream media was reporting pic.twitter.com/F8tHKvfXer
In a bid to shut down questioning media during a video press conference, however, Rodgers protested that he is merely dealing with a fractured digit and pulled his foot up to show a lack of bruising or scabs.
"I can't believe I have to again come on here and talk about my medical information. But yeah, I have a fractured toe," said the reigning NFL MVP.
"I've never heard of 'Covid toe' before. I have no lesions on my feet.
"That's just a classic case of disinformation. It's surprising coming from what used to be a reputable journalistic institution, but that's the world we live in these days," he added.
Poking fun at himself, Rodgers, who recently apologized for his "polarizing" opinion on the vaccine, changed his Twitter profile picture to one of him holding his foot up to the camera.
Despite his injury, Rodgers featured for the Packers in their 34-31 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
This was their second loss in three outings, after Rodgers was forced to miss a meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs that finished 13-7 to last season's Super Bowl finalists.
Now 8-3, the Pack still top the NFC North and face the 7-3 LA Rams at home in one of the best match-ups on Thanksgiving weekend.
Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur has said that Rodgers will be evaluated day-to-day as to whether he can be involved, with next week a bye before a showdown with bitter rivals the Chicago Bears.
When #Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was asked postgame about his “I still own you!” comments to the #Bears crowd, he said: “Sometimes you black out on the field... I looked up in the stands and all I saw was a woman giving me the double bird"
The Australian government introduced a highly debated piece of legislation on Thursday that would protect the right of people of faith to express their religious beliefs without being “cancelled or persecuted or vilified.”
The law, put forward by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a devout Christian, aims to protect Australians from existing anti-discrimination legislation when they are making “statements of belief.”
“Many people from various religious traditions are concerned about the lack of religious protection against the prevalence of ‘cancel culture’ in Australian life,” Morrison said, explaining the decision to move forward with the bill.
People should not be cancelled or persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s.
The legislation comes after several years of debate about the issue of religious discrimination and the expression of faith following the passage of same-sex marriage in the country in 2017.
LGBT+ rights groups have raised concerns about the amount of protection provided to religious groups in the bill, warning it could allow them to engage in derogatory or harmful behavior in the workplace, schools, or other institutions.
One area of concern raised by activists who oppose the legislation is that it would permit religious organizations to prioritize hiring people of faith. LGBT+ groups fear this could result in teachers being fired from Catholic schools in the country due to the institution’s “religious ethos.”
In an attempt to placate the critics, the Australian government was clear that the freedom granted by this legislation would not allow religious individuals to “threaten, intimidate, harass or vilify” others.
The bill is not guaranteed to pass the lower house when it faces a vote next week, as some lawmakers are threatening to oppose the legislation due to the unrelated matter of Covid-19 vaccine mandates, which they want Morrison to prohibit.
Slovakia has apologized for the forced sterilization of women under the communist regime and the following decade, condemning the practice which aimed to regulate the birth rate of the socially disadvantaged Roma peoples.
On Wednesday, the government adopted a resolution condemning the practice of forced sterilization and apologizing for the actions of previous administrations. “The government condemns sterilization as a means of regulating the birth rate of the socially disadvantaged, which took place mainly among Roma women,” the text of the resolution reads, according to Germany’s DW news.
The practice dates back to 1966 and continued after the collapse of the communist regime. The policy was part of a series of force measures taken against “citizens of Gypsy origin,” and aimed to “reduce the unhealthy population” by sterilizing women. The practice continued until 2004.
Official documents suggested the state intended to tackle health-related issues among the Roma community, however, modern research claims that sterilization often took place under pressure, with threats, and without a proper understanding of what the procedure meant.
In a statement, the government’s official for the Roma community, Andrea Buckova, condemned the historic human rights violation. “What the previous regime was capable of in relation to Roma women is inadmissible,” she stated, adding that “regulating the population of any minority or group is comparable to the methods of the Nazi regimes.”
Buckova noted that it was extremely concerning that these practices had continued until 2004, long after the fall of the communist regime.
Although the real number of victims is unknown, Buckova suggested that it was well into the thousands. In 1987 alone, some 1,823 were sterilized, the statement notes.
She said the government’s decision to apologize was the correct one and that the next step would be compensating those who fell victim to the practice.
The marginalized Roma community makes up 9% of Slovakia’s population, according to EU figures. Their exclusion from wider society was highlighted in September when Pope Francis visited the infamous Lunik IX slum in Kosice.
A worldwide shortage of nitrogen fertilizer used to boost crop yields may affect next year’s food prices.
Global prices of nitrogen fertilizer are at their highest levels in over a decade. The crop nutrient’s sales amounted to $53 billion last year. Prices are at least 80% higher so far this year, according to Argus Media.
Nitrogen-based fertilizers are obtained from natural gas, and higher costs for the fuel have caused producers to slash output, driving the nutrients’ prices upward.
Farmers use nitrogen to increase production of corn, canola, wheat and other crops, applying it before the planting season. But at current prices, farmers in North America have had to delay its purchase, which could result in rush-buying next spring and leave many without the commodity, according to Daren Coppock, US Agricultural Retailers Association CEO.
Coppock says the US has enough nitrogen supplies for application before winter, but notes that given the prices “there’s going to be a lot of people who wait and see.” And “if everybody’s scrambling in the spring to get enough, somebody’s corn isn't going to get covered,” the expert warns. This could then lead to higher meat and bread prices in 2022.
According to one of the major nitrogen fertilizer producers, US-based CF Industries, the strong global demand for the crop nutrient may last at least until 2023.
CF’s Norwegian counterpart Yara International also recently warned that rising fertilizer prices could push food costs up and even lead to famine in some parts of the globe.
Major fertilizer producers Russia, China, and Turkey said they would limit exports of crop nutrients to tackle domestic rises in food prices.
Food prices soared to a 10-year high last month, hitting their peak since July 2011 and extending the 30% increase recorded last year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report. The surge was led by increases in cereal crops like wheat and vegetable oils.
Western Europe’s reliance on Moscow for energy supplies is only going to increase after the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline comes online, Poland’s prime minister has claimed, warning the Kremlin could have sway over the EU.
Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday, Mateusz Morawiecki alleged that Moscow is putting pressure on both Warsaw and the bloc through the development of the underwater gas link.
“Part of the EU is already heavily dependent on Russian energy, and if the pipeline starts working, we can conclude that we will become even more reliant,” Prime Minister Morawiecki said, appearing alongside Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
Morawiecki also accused Moscow of using gas as a “political bargaining chip” to strengthen its hand in continental Europe, which has seen prices rise sharply in recent months amid a shortage of supplies.
Morawiecki has been a long-time opponent of Nord Stream 2, undertaken by Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom in partnership with German firms. In an interview with Polsat news on Monday, he blamed the project, as well as Russia, for the high rates of inflation hitting consumers across the EU.
The pipeline, which has now been completed, faced another setback earlier this week, when Washington announced new sanctions against entities that have worked on its construction. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said organizations would be hit with penalties under an act that is supposed to protect Europe’s “energy security.”
The Kremlin has since hit back at the embargoes, branding them as “illegal and wrong.” On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov blasted the new measures against a company with ties to Russia and two vessels belonging to the country. “The financial penalties on Nord Stream 2 are a continuation of this sanctions language that Washington stubbornly refuses to give up,” he bemoaned.
Once the pipeline is given the green light to launch operations by regulators in Berlin, Nord Stream 2 will send gas directly from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea without transiting through other countries. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that the venture not only ensures security of supplies, but will benefit consumers in the EU.
After being handed a Covid vaccination non-compliance letter, a firefighter at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) reportedly dropped his pants and wiped his buttocks with the document.
The notice was visibly stained with fecal matter as a result, according to media reports. The LAFD is currently investigating the alleged incident that took place on November 18, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. Commenting on the case to the LA Times, she also said the firefighter is currently on paid administrative leave and “will face the consequences of any inappropriate acts.”
The Stentorians of Los Angeles City, a group that represents African Americans in the LAFD, filed a statement to management in which the group slammed what it described as an “act of blatant disrespect and harassment,” enclosing a photo of what looks like a stained document. The Stentorians went on to demand “swift and immediate action” from the mayor and the LA Fire Commission “to deter any city employee from feeling entitled and not encouraged but empowered to behave in such an embarrassing and threatening manner.”
The president of the commission, Jimmie Woods Gray, told the LA Times on Wednesday that she was “beyond appalled at such an act by an LAFD firefighter,” adding that “strong corrective action” was needed.The Los Angeles mayor's office, in turn, expressed its hope that “fire department leadership will handle this matter definitively, and make it clear that these appalling actions will not deter enforcement of rules that we've put in place to save lives.”
All city employees in Los Angeles have been ordered to get vaccinated or provide proof of an exemption by December 18 under pain of being put on unpaid leave.
Russia’s police will launch an investigation into streaming service Netflix after complaints from a “family protection” activist that the American company is spreading propaganda of “non-traditional sexual relations” among minors.
According to Moscow daily Vedomosti, Olga Baranets wrote to the authorities complaining about a number of TV shows, including Elite, Young Royals, and Sex Education.
Olga Baranets is the leader of a group named the “Public Commission for Family Protection,” which proclaims to support “the rights of families and children.” According to the activist, Netflix has broken the law.
In 2013, Russia enacted what is known colloquially as the “gay propaganda law,” which implemented restrictions on the endorsement of “non-traditional sexual values among minors.” In Baranets’ opinion, some movies and TV shows on Netflix are in violation of these legal requirements. Following the complaint, Russia’s Interior Ministry will conduct an investigation. If found guilty, Netflix could face a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($13,400).
Earlier this month, a Moscow court fined Russian music channel ‘Muz TV’ under the same law after a series of incidents during a music awards ceremony. The show made headlines after showing pop stars Philipp Kirkorov and Dava in a white car surrounded by topless male models. The channel also broadcasted video of blogger Igor Sinyak wearing a dress and social media star Danya Milohin donning a half-tuxedo half-dress combo.
The exact reason for the fine was not announced by media watchdog Roskomnadzor.
The “gay propaganda” legislation has been criticized internationally, with detractors both at home and abroad calling it an attack on LGBT rights. Ruling party politicians have even questioned the law, with then-MP Oksana Pushkina saying last year that state policy “needs to be adjusted.”
RT Creative Lab has recreated the legend of the Russian avant-garde and modern photography Alexander Rodchenko in a deepfake video masterclass series dedicated to the centenary of Vkhutemas and on the eve of his130th birthday.
Rodchenko.LIVE is a series of deepfake videos in which the artist talks about the legacy of the visionary Russian art and design school Vkhutemas (the Higher Art and Technical Studios) – the Soviet counterpart of the German Bauhaus. Rodchenko taught construction and metalwork at Vkhutemas, pioneering design ideas in Russia.
Vkhutemas was established shortly after the Russian revolution in 1917, after which the monarchy was abolished. It was conceived as an institution that would prepare artists and craftsmen with the aim of fulfilling the state’s goals for efficiency and production. But its legacy was short-lived – in 1930 it was closed permanently and its professors purged.
Rodchenko.LIVE will consist of four videos, which will be released in 2021-2022. In the first episode, ‘Experiments for Future’, Rodchenko gives an introductory talk about his life and the creation of a new type of craftsman at Vkhutemas.
“Rodchenko.LIVE project is a meeting point of several types of art – AI technology, theatrical performance, design animation, cinematography, and musical design. In fact, we have got a kind of a digital educational one-man show. It seems to me that for the first time in history deepfake and machine learning technologies were successfully applied to create a full-fledged video series with lectures from a real historical person,” says Kirill Karnovich-Valua, creative director of RT Creative Lab.
The project was developed together with RT’s creative development department, director Alexander Scryabin and Phygitalism – company-developer of visual solutions based on artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality.
Rodchenko was recreated in the video using deepfake algorithms – a technology for synthesizing an image with artificial intelligence. The project is unique because only several historic photographs were used.
“Our task was to create several deepfake videos with Rodchenko with a total duration of about 40 minutes and with 4K resolution, having only a few photos fit for this purpose. In comparison, the Dalí Lives project used over 6,000 images, which were obtained from selected videos with Salvador Dali,” says Denis Leonov, project manager from Phygitalism.
The scripts for Rodchenko.LIVE are based on diaries, memoirs, personal letters, curriculum and art of the avant-garde artist. Some materials were donated to the project by Rodchenko’s grandson, Alexander Lavrentiev, a scholar and professor at the Stroganov Academy.
“De facto we didn’t have any archival film fragments or significant number of photo documents, we re-composed the image of the artist – as we imagined him after studying archives, memoirs, reading interviews with relatives and descendants,” says Alexander Skryabin, director of the Rodchenko.LIVE project.
“While casting actors for Rodchenko’s role, we aimed to not just find the most anatomically similar person (a basic requirement for deepfake), we were also looking for academic enunciation and certain plasticity which would complement the artist's representation and narration, and as a result would eliminate his artificiality in the frame. Original costume, shoes, and other accessories which were made based on historical photographs, as well as such small details (cap, pipe, cup holder) significantly complemented his image.”
The video series is part of a larger project called Vkhutemas.academy that aims to revive the legacy of the visionary art school using contemporary media formats. The website will be available in English soon.
RT Creative Lab is an Emmy-nominated digital in-house team within the RT international news network.
The show has its flaws, but it’s a breath of fresh air from Marvel, which has in recent years been more interested in preaching than entertaining.
Contains minor spoilers for the first two episodes of 'Hawkeye'
In the wake of Marvel’s miraculous run of movies which began with Iron Man in 2008 and culminated with Endgamein 2019, Disney’s money-making superhero division has been searching for a creative way forward with their storytelling in both film and television.
That search has usually resulted in pathetic woke pandering and virtue signaling on social issues, or mind-time-world bending extravagancies, or an unwieldy combination of both.
For example, Black Widow boasted a shamelessly shallow girl power, patriarchy-busting narrative and Falcon and the Winter Soldier pathetically pandered on racism, both with lackluster results.
WandaVision and Loki, on the other hand, toyed with audience’s minds as they bent time and storylines; thankfully they were at least interesting.
And finally, What if? and Eternalsboth went all-in on virtue signaling and off-world in terms of time bending, and ended up being excruciatingly laborious.
Now with the new six-episode mini-series Hawkeye – the first two episodes of which began streaming on Disney Plus on Wednesday with new episodes released every week for the next month – Marvel is trying a somewhat different approach.
After watching the first two episodes of Hawkeye, I can report that thus far, thankfully, wokeness has not overtly reared its ugly head and no gods or time-bending wizards have showed up to mess with reality either.
In fact, Hawkeye is the most-grounded, most ‘realistic’, and most authentic piece of storytelling in recent Marvel history, which isn’t a high bar to reach, but at least they reached it.
Hawkeye tells the story of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, the family man and badass superhero archer from The Avengers movies, and Kate Bishop, a Hawkeye wannabe who stumbles into trouble. They both end up working together after the costume of the vigilante Ronin turns up and falls into the wrong hands.
The series, or at least the first two episodes of the series, is far from perfect, but it’s unique and interesting because at its core, it’s really a droll comedy wrapped in the superhero cloak of an action-mystery.
Marvel has always had an undercurrent of comedy in their films, but that was always more a function of the impeccable comedic timing of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and the glorious obliviousness of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, than anything else.
Hawkeye, though, is legitimately and genuinely funny in the most subtle, self-aware, un-Marvel way.
For instance, the series opens with Clint/Hawkeye in New York City for the Christmas season. As a treat, one that he quickly regrets, Clint brings his kids to see the big Broadway musical hit Rogers – which is based on Captain America Steve Rogers and the Avenger’s defense of New York, of which Hawkeye was a vital part.
The scenes of the musical are hysterical, like something out of The Simpsons’(another Disney property) famous Planet of the Apes Musical starring Troy McClure, not just because they’re so dreadful, but also because they’re so horrifyingly believable.
This heinously egregious Captain America musical is a gloriously savage but subtle dig at the vapid and vacuous culture that made the insidious and insipid awfulness of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamiltona landmark achievement and rabid sensation.
Watching the theater muffin versions of the Avengers sing “Hulk…SMASH!” and “I could do this all day” literally made me laugh out loud, most especially because the corporate pimps at Disney are bound to produce either that exact same show or one frighteningly similar to it. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure the painful image of, say, U2, who once actually wrote the score for a disastrous Broadway superhero musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, teaming with establishment darling and abysmal, talentless shill Lin Manuel-Miranda to make some corporate-friendly musical like Rogers: The Musical.
Other scenes, like the one where Clint and Kate see people dressed as superheroes and Kate opines on the superhero Hawkeye’s failure to resonate with the broader culture being a function of branding issues and poor marketing, or when Hawkeye himself goes to a LARP (live action role play) event, are Marvel making fun of Marvel to the most Marvel-ous degree.
The main reason for Hawkeye’s success though is that its stars, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Hailee Stanfield as Kate Bishop, are terrific in their roles.
Renner’s gruff, dead-pan delivery is deliriously good, and the luminous Stanfield is absolutely masterful with her comedic timing as well, like when she says the name of the Track Suit Mafia is “a little too on the nose.”
In Hawkeye, Renner and Stanfield are like some bizarro-world, asexual, Marvel version of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn… if Grant and Hepburn had to fight and shoot arrows at bad guys.
To be sure, Hawkeye has flaws. For instance, it can be a little slow at times, and the few action sequences featured so far are not very noteworthy.
But with that said, I found myself pleased to see Marvel trying something new that didn’t involve overt woke preening and aggressive virtue signaling.
It would appear from the first two episodes that Marvel has given us a little early Christmas present this year, as the subtle, self-aware comedy on display in Hawkeye won’t work in too many other projects going forward for Marvel, but fortunately it does work well here.
We will see where the series goes from here, but thus far, I’m grateful that Hawkeye appears to be a little piece of harmless holiday fun. Let’s hope it stays that way.
The FBI has urged people to be careful during online holiday shopping, since they expect an increasing number of scams this year due to alleged merchandise shortages and the pandemic.
The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center has received over 17,000 complaints about undelivered goods during the holiday season in 2020, worth a total loss of $53 million. This year the number might be even higher, due to alleged scarcity of merchandise and the ongoing pandemic.
According to the Bureau, tactics to bait online shoppers include discounts that seem too good to be true, such as offering hard-to-find items and unrealistic discounts, as well as social media posts that look like they have been shared by someone you know. This can result in money losses, identity theft, and stolen financial information via phishing and web skimming attacks.
On Tuesday the FBI also warned the online shopping public about brand phishing emails that can lead to stolen user credentials, payment details, and other personal information. Of the brands that are used for these phishing emails, almost half appear like Microsoft (45%), followed by DHL (26%), Amazon (11%), BestBuy (4%), and Google (3%), according to a Check Point Software report about April, May and June 2021.
The total number of identity theft reports in 2020 was 1.4 million, twice as much than in 2019, according to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this year.
The FBI has encouraged constant vigilance and shared tips on how to protect yourself from online shopping scams. These tips include being cautious of sellers who accept only virtual currency, never using public Wi-Fi to buy things, and if a deal sounds too good to be true, chances are it is a scam.
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President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly poised to resume sending asylum seekers back to Mexico, complying with a federal court order to restore a key immigration policy of ex-President Donald Trump.
Expulsions under the “Remain in Mexico” program will resume as early as next week, media outlet Axios reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified government officials. Migrants will be forced to wait in Mexico while waiting months or years for immigration court hearings to determine whether they will be granted asylum in the US.
The move is contrary to a campaign promise by Biden, as “Remain in Mexico” was among the Trump-era border policies that the new administration has condemned as “cruel,” but a federal judge ruled in August that the government must reinstate the program. Trump implemented the policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), in 2019 to help reduce migrant flows.
Axios noted that Biden will tweak MPP by offering Covid-19 vaccinations to all adult migrants who are sent back to Mexico under the program. All affected asylum seekers will be offered the free jabs, but none will be required to take them, according to the report.
Even as the administration prepares to comply with the court order, it’s taking steps to again cancel MPP. US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last month issued a new memorandum scrapping the policy in hopes that unlike an earlier order, it will pass legal muster.
Despite the fact that the administration is apparently complying with the court order begrudgingly, activist groups have criticized Biden for failing to keep his pledge to treat migrants more humanely. “Trump 2.0 policies at the border are a recipe for continued cruelty, disorder and violations of refugee law,” Human Rights First senior director Eleanor Acer said in October. “The Biden administration must honor its promise to terminate this horrific program.”
US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last week accused Mayorkas of “slow-walking and refusing to comply” with the court order on MPP. Mayorkas replied that the administration is implementing the order “in good faith” and can’t reinstate the program without negotiating an agreement ensuring cooperation by Mexico’s government.
The twin threats of Covid-19 and inflation could put a downer on Thanksgiving this year, especially if Americans skip the turkey and follow the mainstream media’s advice by sending their guests into the garage for Covid tests.
Rampant inflation has made preparing a Thanksgiving feast historically expensive for many Americans this year. According to the American Farm Bureau, nearly every ingredient in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is more expensive this year, with a dinner for 10 costing 14% more than in 2020 – assuming shoppers can find a turkey amid supply chain disruptions.
The American media has advised the public to make the best of it. After a slew of headlines telling readers to check out vegan alternatives and to “be thankful” they don’t have to feed bigger families, cable news hosts have further dialed down expectations on the eve of the holiday.
“Perhaps forego the turkey,” NBC’s Vicky Nguyen suggested on Tuesday, adding that cash-strapped hosts could ask guests to chip in cash, or serve up an “Italian feast” instead. Nguyen then said that skipping the turkey could have the added advantage of driving guests away, which would cut down on the number of mouths to feed.
How to combat inflation during Thanksgiving. 1. Don't serve 🦃 May be u can do cheap pasta 2. Charge your guests 3. Lose friends & invite nobody next year pic.twitter.com/2dNmRQWdYA
“If you tell everyone you’re having Thanksgiving without turkey, some guests may drop off the list and that’s a way to cut costs too,” she quipped.
CBS guest Lisa Damour, a psychologist, suggested on Wednesday that those going ahead with a meal stop to ask guests for their vaccination papers or a negative Covid-19 test result – an idea that she said could be “kinda fun” thanks to the availability of rapid home testing.
“Say, ‘We’re going to start with hors d'oeuvres in the garage,’ you know, ‘We’ll have drinks, we’ll do our rapid tests, then come on in,’” she said. “You can make it playful, make it fun, and then be able to enjoy the holiday.”
CBS segment on #Thanksgiving suggests families have drinks and "hors d'oeuvres in the garage" while everyone takes a Covid rapid test and wait for the results before going inside: "You can make it playful, make it fun, and then be able to enjoy the holiday." pic.twitter.com/U6q0PLPC4E
Similar Covid-related advice has been served up by the mainstream media abroad, with 7News in Australia recently running a segment examining “whether you should spend time with” or “sit next to” unvaccinated loved ones at Christmas.
Back in the US, it’s not just the media tamping down expectations ahead of Thanksgiving. The St. Louis Federal Reserve caused an outrage last week when it suggested that Americans swap the turkey for a “soybean-based” Thanksgiving meal, noting that a “plant-based meal would be almost three times larger by weight than the poultry-based meal and may either keep you at the dinner table longer or provide you with more leftovers.”
“And for Christmas you can have earth worms and cockroaches,” conservative author and Senate candidate J.D. Vance wrote in response.
Pfizer has accused a departing employee of making off with a massive trove of confidential documents, including trade secrets related to its Covid-19 vaccine and other drugs, and then attempting an elaborate cover-up.
The Big Pharma firm launched a suit against the staffer, identified as Chun Xiao Li, earlier this week, alleging that she “uploaded over 12,000 files – including scores of confidential Pfizer documents – from her Pfizer-issued laptop to a personal Google Drive account” in late October, and then transferred those files to her own private device.
“Due to the sheer number of documents Ms. Li misappropriated, Pfizer has yet to understand the full scope of trade-secret and confidential information in her possession,” the company said, adding that while Li now possesses “thousands of documents potentially related to numerous Pfizer vaccines,” the lawsuit is focused on its Covid-19 immunization and monoclonal antibody therapies.
Given her role and responsibilities as Associate Director of Statistics, Ms. Li had access to highly confidential, proprietary, and trade-secret information related to numerous vaccines and medications, including the Covid-19 vaccine...
Pfizer also alleges that Li worked with up to five unidentified co-conspirators, and even went as far as to provide a “decoy laptop” to mislead the company’s security team, leaving them to believe it was the device used to exfiltrate the files. However, Pfizer said “forensic analyses” confirmed it was not the same laptop, and that Li – or one of her accomplices – “likely remains in possession of the actual computer that contains those 12,000 files.”
After discovering the document heist, the company said it conducted a review of Li’s emails, file access and web activity on her company-issued laptop, finding that she had been in discussions with a rival pharma firm, Xencor, about a job opportunity. Earlier this month, as Pfizer continued its probe, Li informed superiors that she would be leaving the company, but did not disclose any reason for doing so, including any job offer at Xencor – despite the fact she had already been hired there, and was set to begin work on November 29.
Given that Li is still thought to possess a large trove of the company’s trade secrets, Pfizer argued that it would be “unjust to permit Ms. Li and anybody with whom she may be working in concert to trade on Pfizer’s successes and experience, whether at Xencor or elsewhere, by leveraging the numerous confidential Pfizer documents she took without permission and refuses to return,” and is therefore seeking a restraining order to bar her from using the material for “her own purposes.”
Despite those allegations, Li has insisted that she’s provided all information requested by Pfizer and cooperated with its investigation, according to the court filing, which also noted that Li has declined further meetings with the company due to unspecified “health issues.”
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US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) is calling for teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, fresh from his acquittal on homicide charges, to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for “protecting” his community from rioters.
Greene introduced a bill that calls for awarding the prestigious medal to Rittenhouse because he “protected the community of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a Black Lives Matter riot on August 25, 2020.” The legislation comes after at least two other Republicans in Congress – Representatives Matt Gaetz (Florida) and Madison Cawthorn (North Carolina) – made internship offers to Rittenhouse.
The Congressional Gold Medal marks the highest honor that Congress can award. Recent recipients have included police officers who defended the US Capitol during the January 6 riot and American troops who were killed by a terrorist bombing during the Pentagon’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.
Rittenhouse, 18, was found not guilty last week of homicide and related charges in connection with shootings that left two rioters dead and one injured. The Kenosha County Circuit Court jury apparently believed the teen’s claims that he acted in self-defense as he was being attacked by men who tried to take his rifle, including one who pointed a pistol at his head.
Greene’s bill is only the latest salvo in the political battle over a case that President Joe Biden and other Democrats held up as an example of white supremacy – even though Rittenhouse and all three of the men he shot were white – and vigilantism. Biden reacted to last Friday’s verdict by saying he was “angry and concerned,” and Vice President Kamala Harris said the jury’s decision showed that “there’s still a lot more work to do” in making the US criminal justice system more “equitable.”
Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, met with Rittenhouse at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Tuesday. Trump, who does not rule out running for president again in 2024, called Rittenhouse “a nice young man” and said prosecutors never should have put him through a trial, given that the teen “would have been dead” if he didn’t shoot the attackers.
An American university professor whose research on pedophilia kicked off a firestorm of controversy, including threats of violence and charges that the academic defended child abuse, is set to resign their position at the school.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, Virginia’s Old Dominion University said that sociology professor Allyn Walker would step down when their contract expires next May, and that they would remain on leave until that time. The professor, who identifies as transgender, also defended their research in the joint missive, insisting it had been misconstrued by the public.
“My scholarship aims to prevent child sexual abuse,” Walker said, claiming that their work was “mischaracterized by some in the media and online, partly on the basis of my trans identity.”
As a result, multiple threats were made against me and the campus community generally.
Walker kicked off a major public scandal earlier this year after publishing a book entitled ‘A Long, Dark Shadow.’ Parts of the work attempted to distinguish predators and child sex offenders from so-called “minor-attracted persons” (or MAPs) who do not act on (what Walker posits are) inborn sexual tendencies.
However, in addition to that controversial premise, the book also argued for the need to ‘destigmatize’ MAPs, and discussed their “pursuit for dignity” – a line that appears in the work’s subtitle – creating a massive backlash, including accusations that Walker had defended pedophilia.
The professor was placed on leave earlier this month amid the outrage, with the university stating that “the controversy over Dr. Walker's research has disrupted the campus and community environment and is interfering with the institution’s mission of teaching and learning.”
Though Walker has found a veritable army of detractors online, some fellow academics have come to their defense, with more than 70 researchers and professors signing a joint letter in support of their work. The cosigners argued that understanding complex issues like sexual abuse “requires [the] dissemination of research findings even when they contradict popular assumptions,” and even echoed Walker’s claim that “Not everyone who is attracted to children abuses children.”
A petition to reinstate the professor was also launched online earlier this month, garnering just shy of 2,500 signatures so far.
I stand with 70+ researchers and clinicans who support #AllynWalker and their stigma-free approach to the prevention of child sexual abuse. Who do you stand with? https://t.co/9ST4b8Mb1d
Scores of activist groups and civil society orgs have called on the World Trade Organization to halt an upcoming meeting, insisting the body stop enforcing intellectual property laws that fuel “vaccine apartheid” around the globe.
A coalition of more than 130 groups calling itself the ‘Our World is Not for Sale Network’ penned a letter to the international trade bloc on Wednesday, saying a WTO ministerial conference set for next week should not go ahead until the organization approves a waiver on IP rights known as the TRIPS agreement.
“The institution whose rules enforce vaccine apartheid is, unbelievably, attempting to have a meeting under conditions of vaccine apartheid, without having first resolved that apartheid by agreeing to the TRIPS waiver,” the letter said.
To proceed under these circumstances will further erode the WTO’s legitimacy, and undermine the credibility of the new Director-General, at a time when the Organization’s credibility is already at an all time low.
The group also claimed that a formal ministerial meeting is not required to greenlight the waiver, and that the decision could be made unilaterally by the WTO General Council in Geneva.
Due to ongoing pandemic restrictions around the world, some member states will be unable to send representatives to the meeting. While the WTO “claims to be a consensus based organization,” going ahead with the event without all members present would ensure that decisions made there “will lack any pretense of legitimacy,” the letter added.
The WTO itself initially took the IP waiver proposal under consideration last year, an idea first floated by India and South Africa. No international pause on Covid-related pharmaceutical patents has been implemented since, however, despite some rhetorical support from the US government.
Big Pharma firms, meanwhile, have come out in opposition to the concept. In May, a federation representing the industry’s largest companies – among them Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Eli Lilly, La Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Merck – criticized the waiver plan as the “wrong answer” soon after US President Joe Biden endorsed it. Some European nations have also rejected the proposal, saying it would undermine years of costly research and development.
The latest addition for the International Space Station (ISS), a Russian-made docking module Prichal, has been successfully launched into space. Once docked, it will be able to accommodate up to five other modules or spacecraft.
A Progress M-UM cargo spacecraft, carrying the Prichal module, was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan on Wednesday. The spacecraft has been successfully injected into low Earth orbit and is currently heading towards the ISS.
The new docking module is scheduled to get attached to the ISS on Friday. While the ship carrying the Prichal is heading to the station, its crew is preparing to receive the new module.
Another Progress vessel that is currently docked to the station is scheduled to decouple from the ISS on Thursday, taking away a temporary passive docking implement currently attached to the Russian Nauka module.
The temporary docking implement will be replaced with Prichal, which is basically a large sphere with six docking ports. Once put in its place, Prichal will be able to accommodate up to five other modules and spacecraft at the same time.
The new module comes as a replacement to the deprecated Russian-made Pirs docking module, which served as the main gateway to the ISS since 2001. The old module was undocked from the station back in July ahead of the long-awaited arrival of Nauka – a lab, workshop, and habitation module.
Pirs was deorbited shortly afterwards, disintegrating in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Southern Pacific, becoming the first permanent module of the ISS to get decommissioned.
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Libya’s election commission has disqualified 25 of the 98 candidates running for president, including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the leader whose 2011 overthrow plunged the North African country into a decade-long civil war.
Gaddafi had announced his candidacy on November 14 and looked like one of the front-runners in the contest, scheduled for December 24. On Wednesday, however, the election commission ruled him ineligible. It is a preliminary decision and can be appealed in court.
A military prosecutor in Tripoli had urged the commission to disqualify Gaddafi on grounds of his 2015 conviction in absentia for war crimes related to the 2011 insurrection that overthrew his father. Muammar Gaddafi had ruled Libya for over 40 years before he was ousted and killed by NATO-backed rebels.
Saif al-Islam was the chosen candidate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya, a group of his father’s loyalists formally established in 2016. He also has a pending arrest warrant on behalf of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Gaddafi reacted to the decision by pointing out that General Khalifa Haftar has two criminal convictions – a 1987 court-martial over his surrender to Chad, and a 1993 civilian conviction for plotting to overthrow the government – yet he has not been disqualified from running.
Haftar, who commands the armed forces of the Tobruk-based government that controls eastern Libya, was also accused by critics of holding a US citizenship and therefore ineligible. Meanwhile, the interim prime minister of the Tripoli-based national unity government, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, had promised not to run for president prior to taking on the role, and has refused to resign three months before the election, as required by the controversial election rules.
The UN Security Council on Wednesday issued a statement stressing the importance of the election for the peace and reconciliation in Libya and urged all parties to respect the rights of their political opponents “before, during and after” the vote.
The Geneva-based UN special envoy for Libya, Slovak diplomat Ján Kubiš, abruptly resigned on Tuesday for reasons not yet revealed, but will remain in the post until Secretary-General António Guterres appoints a replacement.
One worker is dead and three more have been hospitalized after a carbon dioxide leak at the Ascó nuclear power plant in Catalonia, Spain. Local authorities suspect an overcharge in the plant’s fire protection system.
Seven firefighter units and four medical emergency vehicles were deployed to Ascó on Wednesday evening at around 7 pm local time. Emergency crews secured the facility and evacuated the casualties.
The fire-fighting system at the plant “suffered a CO2 leak that has affected four people,” Catalan authorities said.
One of the workers affected has died, while the remaining three are currently in a hospital in nearby Móra d'Ebre.
There was no radiation release from the incident, according to both the plant and the local authorities. The Ascó plant had been investigated for a radiation leak at the Unit 1 reactor in November 2007, resulting in the firing of its director.
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A potentially “precancerous” lesion was found and removed during a recent medical procedure on US President Joe Biden, the White House physician said, though noted the growth was “benign” and requires no further treatment.
The president’s physician Kevin O’Connor revealed results from a test performed on the mass on Wednesday night, saying it was identified as a “tubular adenoma,” which he described as a “benign, slow-growing, but thought to be potentially precancerous lesion.” While he noted that “no further action is required at this time,” the doctor added that “routine” examinations should continue as a precaution.
When Biden went in for his examination earlier this month, presidential authorities were briefly transferred to Vice President Kamala Harris while the commander in chief was under anesthesia, making her the US’ first female head of state for a little over one hour.
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Part of the entertainment for the event included Chimaev posing alongside a pair of ring girl beauties – one of whom, Denisa Gudelj, posted the image on her Instagram account.
Taking to Twitter to issue a cryptic message of his own on Wednesday, a winking and hooded Chimaev was seen inside the cage flanked by models at the event in Gothenburg, adding the caption “no ring girls” followed by three laughing emojis.
Laughing emojis were also placed over the ring girls in the image.
There was no further comment, but thoughts from some fans immediately strayed to the remarks earlier this year by Dagestani former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Discussing the role of ring girls in the context of his own MMA Eagle FC promotion, devout Muslim Khabib said that they were essentially “unnecessary”.
That prompted a backlash from a number of UFC Octagon girls such as Brittney Palmer as well as mockery from long-time Khabib foe Conor McGregor.
Khabib, however, later said that he was unconcerned.
“I know, all the time, I say a lot of strange things too, but I don't care. This is my opinion: I'm born with this, I grew up with this and I have [delivered in] straight [style] my opinion,” said the undefeated Russian star.
“Sometimes, when I say something, people don't agree with this but I don't care because I know I am right in my mind.
“This is my promotion and I make decisions,”Khabib added. “I'm going to do whatever I want, not [UFC boss Dana White] or other people.
“Dana can do whatever he wants. Sometimes he does things that I don't understand, too, but I never judge him – this is his decision because his name is Dana White, my name is Khabib. If I have an opinion, I just say it.”
That moved the 10-0 Chimaev up to 10th in the welterweight rankings, with calls for him to face a significant step up in competition in his next bout as the Sweden-based sensation plots a potential title shot.
The Russian State Duma has published a draft motion condemning Washington for allegedly discriminating against its citizens living in the US, calling on officials to respect their rights and put an end to hostile relations.
The text, published by the Russian parliament on Tuesday, condemns the “harsh and unprecedented pressure” exerted by American authorities that reportedly forced an influential group of Russian civil society organizations in the US to suspend its work last week.
“The State Duma demands an immediate end to the harassment of representatives of the Russian community in the United States of America and respect for their rights,” the statement reads.
The proposed document also claims that at least 300 Russians living in the US have been subject to persecution by American intelligence services. According to lawmakers, alleged “searches, interrogations, seizures of personal belongings and pressure as part of an investigation into a suspicion that has nothing to do with reality… grossly violate the rights of Russian compatriots to maintain contact with their historic homeland.”
Russian citizens in America are forced to abandon the preservation of their mother tongue and culture, as well as the right to their identity, which contradicts the US’ basic rule of law, its authors claim.
Upon passage, the document will be sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin and top government officials, as well the US Congress. The development comes as the Kremlin’s relations with the White House hit a new low point.
The country’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday that American nuclear-capable bombers have ramped up their presence on Russia’s borders in comparison to this time last year, flying dozens of missions nearby. According to Shoigu, the minimum distance American strategic bombers got from Moscow’s frontier was 20 kilometers, testing their ability to unleash atomic weapons.
Anti-Russian sentiment abroad has become a key focus for politicians in Moscow in recent years. Earlier this month, State Duma Deputy Boris Chernyshov said that the government must take measures to preserve Russia’s culture abroad, and proposed putting purported Russophobes on blacklists and slapping them with economic sanctions.
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The boss of US banking group JPMorgan Chase has said he regrets his comments about Beijing after he joked that his corporation would last longer than China’s Communist Party.
“I regret and should not have made that comment. I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company,” JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said in a statement issued by the bank on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the bank said Dimon acknowledged that he should “never speak lightly or disrespectfully about another country or its leadership.” “During the discussion, Jamie made clear China and its people are very smart and very thoughtful,” the spokesperson added.
The apology followed remarks made by Dimon while speaking at a Boston College series of CEO interviews on Tuesday. The banking boss told his audience: “I made a joke the other day that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year – so is JPMorgan. I’d make a bet that we last longer.”
“I can’t say that in China. They are probably listening anyway,” he added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday questioned whether Dimon’s remarks constituted news. “Isn't Bloomberg a serious media outlet? Why the publicity stunt with some grandstanding remarks?” spokesman Zhao Lijian said, responding to a Bloomberg reporter.
Chinese state media boss Hu Xijin hit back, saying he’d bet the Chinese Communist Party would last longer than the US as a whole.
Last week, Dimon was given a special dispensation by the Hong Kong government to briefly visit the Chinese financial hub without a lengthy quarantine period.
An Oklahoma state senator has introduced legislation that would force the state to compensate defendants accused of murder but later found not guilty due to justifiable homicide, and named it ‘Kyle's law’ after Kyle Rittenhouse.
Introduced on Tuesday by State Senator Nathan Dahm, a Republican who is running for the US Senate, ‘Kyle’s Law’ would force Oklahoma to cover the legal fees and damages incurred by anyone accused of murder but found to have been acting in self-defense, if the defendant could prove they were the victim of “malicious prosecution.”
“With the Kyle Rittenhouse trial we’ve seen the impact prosecutors can have on our rights being attacked & possibly taken away for political reasons,” Dahm tweeted, adding that his new legislation would also make prosecutors “personally liable” for pursuing such cases.
With the Kyle #Rittenhouse trial we’ve seen the impact prosecutors can have on our rights being attacked & possibly taken away for political reasons. So today I filed a new bill called #KylesLaw that would make prosecutors personally liable for malicious prosecution. pic.twitter.com/zoBv4m6Gk6
Last week, a Wisconsin jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of first-degree homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment, charges stemming from his shooting dead of two men and wounding of another during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last August. All three shootings were captured on video, and this footage combined with witness testimony convinced the jury that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.
The template for ‘Kyle’s Law’ was drawn up by Andrew Branca, an attorney specializing in the law of self-defense, in the wake of Rittenhouse’s acquittal. Branca’s proposed law would be groundbreaking in that it would compel prosecutors to personally compensate defendants and their families for mental and emotional distress and reputational damage suffered during a case.
At present, no state has such a law on its books, while only one – Washington – allows the victims of such prosecutions to claim compensation from the state.
“Only by holding the state generally and the prosecutor personally both responsible for such cases of unjust persecution of self-defense cases can we keep these victims of violent attack from also becoming victims of an assaultive justice system,” Branca wrote.
While Dahm is currently attempting to convince more Oklahoma lawmakers to co-author his bill, it likely stands a better chance of becoming law there than elsewhere. Oklahoma has a Republican governor, is considered a gun-friendly state, and the GOP controls both houses of its state legislature by wide margins.
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A diplomatic row has broken out between Norway and World Cup hosts Qatar after two journalists were arrested in the Middle Eastern country.
NRK sports reporter Halvor Ekeland and NRK cameraman Lokman Ghorbani were apprehended on Sunday while preparing to head to Doha Airport.
Just hours earlier, they had completed a live piece for the Sportsrevyen show back home.
Reporting on the conditions for migrant workers constructing stadiums for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, Ekeland spoke of "stark contrasts", and how some laborers were "doing awfully".
“The encounters we had with workers, those who did not wish to speak with journalists on camera. When I asked them for an interview, you see the fear in their eyes,” he answered, when asked what had shocked him the most during his time in Qatar from November 14.
Norwegian journalists Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani were arrested in #Qatar, after reporting on preparations for the 2022 World Cup last Sunday, but they have now finally been released - and are already heading back to #Norway. #Qatar2022pic.twitter.com/ip0qxWRf15
A spokesperson for the Qatari government said that the men were taken into custody in the early hours of November 22 "for trespassing on private property and filming without a permit".
"The authorities arrested the crew in their hotel after responding to a complaint made by the owner of the private property on which the crew had illegally accessed.
"The crew were released without charge early on 23 November after completing the necessary legal procedures. The Norwegian embassy and NRK executives were updated on the situation as it progressed," it finished.
Recalling how they were arrested at their accommodation and taken to a nearby police station, Ekeland said that he and his colleague were questioned but "first and foremost" happy "to be back in Europe" when landing in Oslo.
#Norwegian Broadcasting (#NRK) journalists Ekeland and Ghorbani are finally in #Norway.They were arrested on a business trip in the World Cup host country #Qatar.
“We’re fine.These have been tiring days.The situation was uncertain,but it is very good to be home in Norway now,” pic.twitter.com/G66rqZfyJt
Former Met Police officers Jamie Lewis and Deniz Jaffer have been sacked from the force after taking "shameful" photos of two murdered sisters at a crime scene and sharing them via WhatsApp alongside offensive remarks.
A policing tribunal formally dismissed the duo after they both pleaded guilty to criminal charges of misconduct in public office earlier in November. The two officers had been sent to protect the crime scene where the bodies of 46-year-old Bibaa Henry and her sister, 27-year-old Nicole Smallman, were discovered in a London park in June 2020 after the women were brutally stabbed.
The two men breached the police cordon to take “inappropriate” and “unauthorised” images of the sisters, according to their earlier court hearing, with Jaffer taking four photographs and Lewis two. They later shared the images via WhatsApp, alongside the offensive remark “dead birds,” the tribunal was told.
Lewis will now be immediately removed from the Met Police, while Jaffer had already resigned over the incident. The Met said on Wednesday that Jaffer “would have been dismissed had he still been a serving officer”.
Neither attended the tribunal nor disputed the evidence. They had both been suspended from duty since June 2020, having served in the Met Police’s North East command unit.
Following the tribunal, the Met Police’s assistant commissioner, Helen Ball, expressed sincere regret for the “hurtful, disrespectful and criminal way” the two then-officers behaved, calling their actions “shameful.”
Lewis and Jaffer are set to be sentenced for the criminal charges of misconduct in public office at London’s Old Bailey court on December 6.
The two sisters, Henry and Smallman, were killed in a vicious attack on June 7, 2020, when 19-year-old Danyal Hussein repeatedly stabbed them while they were celebrating Henry’s birthday in a park. During the trial, the court heard that Hussein, who has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years, killed the women as part of what he believed was a “sacrifice” to a demon in return for “wealth and power.”
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Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine has proven to be highly effective and safe in the age group from 12 to 17 during clinical trials, one of its leading developers has told RT.
The phase one and two clinical trials enabled a safe dosage of the formula to be determined for teens, which is 1/5 of the adult dose, Denis Logunov, the deputy head of the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute which developed the Sputnik V, explained, in a segment broadcast on Wednesday.
“The kids tolerate it not just well, but very well,” according to Logunov. The vaccine has shown a higher immune response in children than in adults, as well as an almost complete lack of any side effects.
“This means that we’ll be able to protect all those who want to [get it], in the 12 to 17 age group,” from Covid-19, the researcher said. The coronavirus poses the most danger for the elderly, but severe cases are also possible among children, he noted.
Logunov also spoke about Russia’s immunization strategy, which is now focused on the third dose of the vaccine. This approach was chosen based on local and international experience indicating that booster shots effectively restore immunity, which reduces over time after the first two shots.
He also said that Sputnik V is effective against the new strains of the virus, and currently does not require an update. However, the Gamaleya Institute constantly monitors the various strains in order to make swift changes to its vaccine platform if necessary.
So far, around 37% of the Russian population has been double-vaccinated against the coronavirus. Those numbers could be boosted by the introduction of a nasal vaccine, which is also being developed by the Gamaleya Institute.
Logunov said he is optimistic about the prospects for the nasal formula, saying it could become available as soon as next year – and due to its non-invasive nature, the clinical trials should take less time, and could be completed in the first three to five months of 2022.
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New data released by the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that three in 10 people in England are failing to self-isolate if they develop Covid-like symptoms amid a drop in compliance with coronavirus guidance.
The survey, conducted last month, found that 29% of respondents who’d had Covid symptoms failed to follow the rules requiring them to stay at home after they’d fallen ill. Similarly, a quarter of people violated self-isolation rules between falling ill and receiving their final test result.
Those numbers mark a stark contrast to earlier this year, when the ONS recorded that around nine in 10 people throughout England were abiding by the government’s health requirements. The latest figures show record low compliance with Covid regulations in England, suggesting an increasingly lax attitude toward the pandemic across the nation.
Under current official guidance, people in England are told to self-isolate if they have Covid or Covid-like symptoms until they have received test results confirming whether or not they have contracted the virus. However, self-isolation is only legally required if an individual has tested positive, and failing to do so at that stage could result in a fine of up to £10,000 ($13,336).
The latest ONS data backs a similar study last week that showed people in the UK are taking a more relaxed attitude to Covid safety measures. According to that study, around a third of people aged under 30 have stopped wearing masks, despite guidance asking people to do so in public places.
While England lifted its national Covid restrictions back in July, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales still require masks to be worn on public transport and in indoor venues.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief has warned vaccinated people to remain cautious when it comes to catching Covid-19 and not fall into a “false sense of security.”
“In many countries and communities, we are concerned about the false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic and that people who are vaccinated do not need to take any other precautions,” the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Wednesday at a press conference on the Covid-19 crisis in Europe.
Tedros warned that “no country or region is out of the woods” and underlined the importance of making sure that the “right measures are in place to avert the worst consequences of any future waves.” He also called for proper sharing of the “fruits of science.”
On Tuesday, the WHO starkly predicted that more than 2 million people might die of Covid-19 in Europe over the coming winter and that most of the countries could see their health systems overwhelmed by the surge.
In light of coronavirus numbers spiraling across the region, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) made the decision to change its previous stance on booster vaccines, now recommending them for all adults.
Austria has already entered a new national 10-day lockdown while other countries, including Germany, are mulling new restrictive measures and even mandatory vaccination. This week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel advisories telling Americans to avoid travel to Germany and Denmark due to the high-risk Covid situation.
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Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein denied having suicidal thoughts before apparently hanging himself, though prison staff had observed signs of worrying behavior, according to newly released prison documents.
Epstein, who committed suicide by hanging in prison two years ago, denied being suicidal. The recent documents from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), obtained by The New York Times and CNN, construct a detailed timeline of the lead up to Epstein’s death. Risk factors for suicide ‘specific to sex offenders’ as well more general risk factors were likely present, documents show.
Epstein was described by a facilities assistant as “distraught, sad, and a little confused” when he arrived at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in July 2019. He was seen as “dazed and withdrawn,” despite claiming he felt fine and denying suicidal thoughts in a routine intake screening.
On July 8, he was put on psychological observation – not as restrictive as suicide watch – due to certain risk factors. A psychologist then assessed he should remain under observation “out of an abundance of caution” but the observation ended the next day for unclear reasons. Two weeks later, following another risk assessment, he was placed on suicide watch for one day, before being put back on psychological observation.
Epstein was also experiencing trouble sleeping and finding it challenging to adjust to the changes in his environment. He was also concerned for his safety and complained about noise in the facilities, reports say. He described himself on two occasions as a “coward” who can't handle pain. The day before his death, new details of alleged abuse emerged and he was likely realizing he faced spending his life in prison, which were likely contributing factors to his suicide, documents say.
BOP staff also made repetitive procedural errors prior to Epstein’s death, with regards to provisions and receipt of basic services. On several occasions it was unclear if Epstein had been given dinner, took a shower or had recreation time. Logbooks also showed a surprising lack of detail about some basic facts. For instance, the day before his death he told prison staff he was calling his mother, who has been dead since 2004. Someone filling out a form had also listed him as a “black male” with “No Sexual Offense Convictions.”
The newly released documents come six days before the start of Epstein-associate Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial over criminal sex trafficking charges. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all charges against her.
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Stars aged under 18 appearing at the Beijing Winter Olympics will not be required to follow stringent quarantine rules if they are unvaccinated, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has confirmed.
It was announced at the end of September that unvaccinated athletes would be allowed into China for the Games but would have to undergo a strict 21-day quarantine on arrival.
However, that will not apply to stars under the age of 18, ROC boss Stanislav Pozdnyakov announced on Wednesday.
“Speaking about the vaccination of underage athletes, we’ve received confirmation after our consultations with the IOC [the International Olympic Committee] and the [Local] Organizing Committee that in our case they would not be a part of the category of athletes subjected to the 21-day quarantine,” Pozdnyakov said.
“Provisionally there will be around seven athletes under 18 on our roster – three in figure skating competitions and four in freestyle [skiing] competitions.”
Russian figure skating stars such as 17-year-old duo Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova are vying for a spot on the Russian team, as is 15-year-old Kamlia Valieva.
Separately, it was reported on Wednesday that Russia has registered its first Covid vaccine specially designed for youngsters aged between 12 and 17.
‘Sputnik M’ – as the vaccine is known – could be rolled out from the end of December.
In other comments on the upcoming Beijing Winter Games – which run from February 4 to 20 next year – Russian Olympic chief Pozdnyakov said he would not welcome the diplomatic boycott which US President Joe Biden has said he is considering.
At least two civilians were killed and several soldiers wounded in an alleged Israeli air raid in central Syria, according to the country’s state media, which noted Syrian air defenses were activated to repel the attack.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air attack with bursts of missiles from the direction north-east of Beirut, targeting some points in the central region,” a military official told the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) early on Wednesday morning, adding that another two civilians were “seriously injured” alongside the two killed.
Six soldiers were also wounded in the strikes, which came around 1:30am local time and also inflicted “some material losses,” the officer went on, though did not elaborate.
Unconfirmed footage circulating online purported to show one of the munitions in mid-air over Homs, however no Syrian interceptors were seen in the brief clip.
Though the Israeli military rarely confirms such operations, Damascus has repeatedly accused Tel Aviv of carrying out periodic strikes on Syrian territory throughout its decade-long war with rebel jihadist groups, with another air raid near the country’s capital reported as recently as last week. However, Israeli officials have acknowledged some of the missions, with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once claiming Israel had launched “hundreds” of strikes on Syria in recent years in order to deter Iranian troops and militia groups stationed there.
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Australia’s defense chief has been awarded tens of thousands of dollars in damages after claiming that a six-word Twitter post caused him deep “hurt and distress,” with a judge ruling that the tweet was defamatory.
An Australian court agreed to award $25,000 (AU$35,000) to Defense Minister Peter Dutton on Wednesday over the brief Twitter post, far below the maximum limit allowed under the law, as the judge determined the official had been libeled, but not in a way that impacted his day-to-day life.
Though the tweet in question “was no doubt a serious defamation,” Dutton “did not claim to have suffered more serious consequences by reason of the publication of the tweet or even that his hurt and distress had continued to the date of trial,” Judge Richard White said in his ruling.
Originally posted in February by immigration activist Shane Bazzi and later shown to Dutton by one of his staffers, the since-deleted tweet denounced the minister as a “rape apologist.” The activist shared a 2019 article in which Dutton was quoted as saying that some refugees claiming to be rape victims were merely “trying it on,” suggesting they were lying in order to obtain asylum in Australia.
While Dutton noted that he was familiar with the “rough-and-tumble of politics,” he said the tweet in question left him so “deeply offended” that a lawsuit was in order.
Bazzi, for his part, reacted to the ruling with disappointment in another tweet on Wednesday afternoon – this one a bit longer than six words.
“We are very disappointed with the outcome. We will be taking time to consider our options. Thank you for all of your support and solidarity,” the activist wrote, adding “I ask that you could please respect my privacy at this time.”
We are very disappointed with the outcome. We will be taking time to consider our options. Thank you for all of your support and solidarity. I ask that you could please respect my privacy at this time.
The heads of some of Russia’s largest Covid-19 hospitals have invited politicians and public figures, who are among the leading voices for vaccine skepticism, to take a tour through ICUs and mortuaries to see the virus’ effects.
On Wednesday, chief physicians from more than a dozen specialized facilities in various Russian cities – including Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sochi – issued an “open letter” to a dozen high profile dissenters. They include the leader of Russia’s largest opposition party, veteran Communist Gennady Zyuganov, and the chairman of Fair Russia, Sergey Mironov, another key member of parliament.
The politicians, along with other famous faces from the world of television and the arts, have been singled out due to their criticism of the government’s vaccination campaign. The doctors want them to visit their facilities to see life within the ‘red zones’, where seriously ill patients are being treated during the pandemic.
“We are aware of your position on the vaccination of Russian citizens against Covid-19,” the doctors, including Denis Protsenko, the chief physician at Moscow’s main infections hospital, Kommunarka, wrote.
The doctors promised to find time in their busy schedules to “give you all a tour around the ‘Red Zones’, Intensive Care Units (ICU) and morbid anatomy departments of our hospitals.”
“You might change your position after that and fewer people will die,” they said, adding that the people they invited have vast audiences.
Pyotr Tolstoy, the deputy chairman of the State Duma – the Lower House of the Russian parliament – and an influential member of the pro-Vladimir Putin United Russia party, also made the list.
“Forced vaccination” is unacceptable, Zyuganov told Russia 24 TV on Tuesday, adding that it’s a personal choice. He also criticized the idea that employers can pressure staff into vaccination. The Communist leader additionally slammed the use of QR codes – Russia’s electronic health passes required for accessing public venues such as restaurants, bars, theaters, and even shopping centers, in some regions.
Last week, Mironov denounced some of the restrictions imposed by the authorities as “ill-considered and illegal,” adding that some local officials are preoccupied with “devising various ways to restrict the rights of those unvaccinated.” He also called for a “reboot” of the vaccination awareness campaign, blasting the current one as a failure.
Tolstoy expressed similar ideas in mid-October, saying that “people do not trust vaccination,” and that the government lost its own vaccination awareness campaign.
Russia has been hit by a fourth wave of Covid-19, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives a day for more than a month, immediate official tallies have declared. Roughly 58 million people out of the country’s population of 146 million have been fully vaccinated, according to government statistics – just under 40% of the population.
This is well below the European average, and comes despite the fact that Russia has developed its own world-class vaccine, Sputnik V.
Some parts of Russia have introduced stringent measures to encourage vaccination. Saint Petersburg has imposed mandatory jabs for pensioners and the Siberian region of Khanty-Mansi has brought in self-isolation for all unvaxxed locals in some towns.
Only those vaccinated or who have recently recovered from Covid-19 can receive a QR code in Russia.
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The British government failed to tip British Airways about the ongoing Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, leading to one of its planes falling into a trap. The Foreign Office has been deceiving the public about it for three decades.
A call made at night by the British ambassador to Kuwait, in which he informed London about the August 1990 attack by Saddam Hussein’s troops, was confirmed on Tuesday by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Previously, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) insisted that the envoy, Sir Michael Weston, and the government were unaware of the invasion on the night it happened.
British Airways flight 149 was scheduled to go from London to Kuala Lumpur, with a stop in Kuwait’s Madras International Airport. Less than an hour after landing there, the airport was closed, and the crew and over 300 passengers were captured by Iraqi troops. Many of them were held hostage for up to five months, some facing mistreatment and abuse by their captors.
On the night of the invasion, the British ambassador made a phone call to report that Iraqi troops had crossed the Kuwaiti border. The information was relayed to various branches of the government, but not to the airline, which had no reason to believe that landing in Kuwait could be dangerous. The plane touched down more than an hour after the ambassador delivered his report.
Documents pertaining to the call were released on Tuesday by the National Archives as part of the British policy of publishing older government documents. While they confirm the effort by the government to suppress the call’s existence, they shed no light on a theory that the flight was involved in a British intelligence operation.
BA flight 149 took off from Heathrow two hours late. Some members of the crew said they saw a group of around 10 people escorted by someone in a military uniform onto the plane. There has long been speculation that the plane carried British military spotters to Kuwait in expectation of the invasion.
In a written statement to Parliament, Secretary Truss reiterated that the delayed take-off was due to technical problems, and pointed out that the documents released were consistent with assurances made to Parliament in 2007, that “the Government at the time did not attempt in any way to exploit the flight by any means whatever.”
The failure to inform British Airways was due to the lack of information about the scale of the Iraqi invasion, and the lack of a formal mechanism for sharing the information, an oversight that has since been fixed, Truss said. She called the government’s obfuscation about the ambassador’s call until now “unacceptable,” and apologised to the lawmaker for it. “I express my deepest sympathy to those who were detained and mistreated,” she wrote.
She also said the sole responsibility for the hostage crisis remains with Saddam Hussein’s government, seemingly indicating that the newly released documents are not an admission of liability for the purpose of potential lawsuits.
Washington, London, and Canberra have signed an agreement on the sharing of sensitive, classified submarine data as part of the AUKUS pact to arm Australia with nuclear-powered subs, reached by the sides in September.
The newly-signed deal will allow the US and the UK to share nuclear propulsion information with Australia “which they cannot with any other country,” Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton announced on Monday.
This exchange will help determine the “optimal pathway” for Canberra to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact, he said. Australia is currently in an 18-month period to examine the requirements for the delivery of the state-of-the-art hardware.
The deal will also allow Australian servicemen to receive training from their American and British counterparts on properly building and operating nuclear-powered submarines.
“This agreement will assist Australia to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to create a world-class regulatory and safety regime required for the safe operation of naval nuclear propulsion,” Dutton said.
The Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement now has to be reviewed by a committee in the Australian Parliament.
The AUKUS pact, aimed at arming the Royal Australian Navy with nuclear-powered, yet conventionally armed, submarines, was unexpectedly announced by the leaders of the US, UK, and Australia on September 15.
As a result, Australia unilaterally canceled its $90 billion diesel-electric submarine contract with France, which in turn said it was stabbed in the back, and which recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. Both ambassadors have since returned to their embassies.
China was also angered by the AUKUS deal, saying Australia’s deal to receive nuclear-powered submarines will undermine security in the Indo-Pacific region.
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A jury has said that organizers of the violent 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia are liable for around $25 million in compensation to the victims.
They said that 12 defendants, including prominent neo-Nazi and white nationalist figures Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler and Christopher Cantwell, are each liable for $500,000 to nine plaintiffs who suffered physical or emotional injuries during the infamous ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.
Five groups – Identity Evropa, the League of the South, the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Worker Party, and Vanguard America – were each found liable for $1 million in damages.
James Alex Fields, who rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 35 people, was found liable for $12 million in damages. Fields was sentenced to life in prison in 2019.
Roberta Kaplan and Karen Dunn, attorneys for the plaintiffs, said: “Today’s verdict sends a loud and clear message that facts matter, the law matters, and that the laws of this this country will not tolerate the use of violence to deprive racial and religious minorities of the basic right we all share to live as free and equal citizens.”
The defendants argued that they could not foresee Fields’ violent actions.
During the two-day August 2017 rally, white nationalists protested the planned removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and marched in a torchlight procession, chanting “Jews will not replace us,” among other slogans.
Former US President Donald Trump was heavily criticized at the time for saying that there were “very fine people on both sides.”
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A SpaceX rocket was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, carrying a NASA-designed probe designed to strike a moonlet to test if such a method of planetary defense against asteroids can be effective.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) vehicle was mounted on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets and launched starting at 22:20 Pacific time on Tuesday (01:20 Eastern on Wednesday).
This is NASA’s first ‘planetary defense’ mission in the $330 million program, and the first time SpaceX launched a spacecraft to another celestial body. Elon Musk’s company won the $69 million launch contract in 2019.
“This is just the coolest mission. Thank you all for enabling SpaceX to be a part of a really important planetary defense mission,” Julianna Scheiman, the company’s director of civil satellite missions, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We’re smashing into an asteroid,” said Omar Baez from NASA’s Launch Services Program. “I can’t believe we’re doing that.”
The asteroid itself is called Dimorphos, and orbits a larger asteroid known as 65803 Didymos. About 10 months from now, DART is supposed to strike the smaller space rock at a speed of approximately 6.6 kilometers per second, changing the speed of the moonlet by a fraction of a percent – enough to be observed and measured from Earth.
The impact will also be documented by a smaller satellite, developed by the Italian space agency and launched from DART prior to the kinetic strike.
NASA hopes to learn if this method can be used to ‘deflect’ an asteroid of this size from a trajectory that might cause it to strike Earth.
Dimorphos itself is “not a threat” to our planet, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate – but a rock of that size might be at some point in the future. While no known asteroid in this category is on a collision course with Earth in the next 100 years, NASA estimates that 60% of such space rocks remain undiscovered as of October 2021.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has threatened to give the US investment banking giant JPMorgan Chase a bad review on the Yelp platform unless the bank withdraws its $162 million lawsuit against him.
“If JPM doesn’t withdraw their lawsuit, I will give them a one-star review on Yelp,” Musk said in response to requests for comment from The Wall Street Journal. He added: “This is my final warning!”
The lawsuit centers on a dispute over how JPMorgan re-priced its Tesla warrants as a result of Musk’s notorious 2018 tweet that he was considering taking the carmaker private.
In the complaint, which was filed by the bank in a Manhattan federal court on November 15, JPMorgan accused Tesla of ‘flagrantly’ breaching a contract the two corporate giants agreed to in 2014.
“We have provided Tesla multiple opportunities to fulfill its contractual obligations, so it is unfortunate that they have forced this issue into litigation,” the bank said in the complaint.
JPMorgan Chase worked on Tesla’s IPO in 2010 as well as several deals in the years that followed, but according to the WSJ, the institution was usually ranked behind rivals like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
The newspaper said that in the past decade, JPMorgan has made about $15 million for advising Tesla and working with the electric carmaker on deals. Goldman Sachs made about $90 million in the same period.
According to the journal’s sources, JPMorgan’s consumer bank was once hesitant to back Tesla because it questioned the long-term viability of electric car batteries. But later, the bank executives sought to make a deal with Musk in which Chase Bank would become the primary lender to Tesla buyers at dealerships. Public records collected by the WSJ show that JPMorgan hasn’t done any work with Tesla since 2016.
A number of the world’s largest oil consuming countries have announced the release of strategic oil reserves in a joint effort with Washington to curb rising gasoline prices.
“We will sell part of our reserves and take other measures to stabilize oil prices,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Wednesday. He did not specify the volume of reserves that will be released. However, according to media reports, the government may sell around 4.2 million barrels. The official stressed that the decision to sell oil reserves “was made in accordance with a similar decision by the US authorities, with which Japan is cooperating to stabilize the global oil market.”
The United States on Tuesday announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserves. The White House stressed that the step is coordinated with a number of other states, including Japan, the UK, India, China, South Korea.
India was among the first to announce the release right after Washington late Tuesday, vowing to put 5 million barrels of oil on the market. According to Bloomberg, India’s strategic oil reserves amount to 39 million barrels.
South Korea has also decided to tap oil reserves, Yonhap reported, citing a joint statement from the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, the volume of the release and its timing are said to be determined after further consultations with Washington.
The UK will release 1.5 million barrels from its strategic reserves, the Ministry of Business, Energy and Industry told RIA Novosti.
“We are joining other countries led by the US, in allowing companies in the UK to voluntarily release some of their oil reserves,” the ministry said.
The coordinated effort to release strategic oil reserves has been pitched as a crucial measure to lower gasoline prices, which have been on the rise amid the global recovery from the pandemic and the ensuing rise in demand for fuel. Higher fuel prices pose a variety of difficulties, from affecting consumers at the pump, resulting in less travel and spending, to causing spikes in shipping costs, which leads to increased prices for food and consumer goods.
Protesters have taken to the streets of Turkey’s capital, Ankara, as well as the country’s largest city, Istanbul, demanding the resignation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government over skyrocketing inflation.
On Tuesday evening, protesters marched down the streets of Ankara’s Çankaya neighborhood, where most Turkish government buildings and government institutions are located.
Erdogan has defended his government’s monetary policy, saying he will not engage in “the game played by those over the currency, interest and price hikes,” but will proceed with his own economic plan instead.
“We will emerge victorious from this war of economic independence with the help of Allah and our people,” the Turkish president added.
Mass protests hit Istanbul as Turkish lira plunges
One of the videos shared on social media showed riot police clashing with the protesters in the Kurtuluş neighborhood of Istanbul.
The people who took to the streets in Istanbul Kurtuluş are marching with the slogans of the Government Resign, Erdoğan resignation. Taksim Square was closed with police barriers. 1 dollar= 13.00 Turkish liras 1 Euro= 14.36 Turkish liras #Hükümetİstifa pic.twitter.com/Af2olxBJYV
Three major pharmacy chains are being charged for their alleged role in Ohio’s opioid crisis, a federal jury has declared, setting the stage for further verdicts as more states seek to prosecute drugmakers and distributors.
CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens have been found guilty of “recklessly” distributing massive amounts of pain pills across a pair of Ohio counties, a federal jury declared on Tuesday in a first-of-its-kind verdict. The ruling represents the first time pharmacy companies had been held legally responsible for the crisis that has wreaked havoc across the US over the last two decades, killing over half a million Americans.
The verdict opens the door to further such charges as states and municipalities elsewhere in the US seek to hold someone – drugmakers, sellers, distributors – responsible for the massive suffering the opioid epidemic has inflicted on their populations. Some 80 million prescription painkillers were doled out between 2012 and 2016 in Trumbull County alone, the equivalent of 400 pills for every resident; Lake County experienced a similar influx, with 61 million pills flowing into the small community.
Lake and Trumbull counties blamed the three pharmacy mega-chains for failing to halt the flow of pills into the hands of addicts and dealers, leading to hundreds of overdose deaths and costing the two counties some $1 billion, according to the counties’ attorney. The amount of damages to be paid will be decided by a federal judge in the spring.
Previous legal efforts have focused on the manufacturers and distributors, but the lawyer in the Ohio suit was able to convince the jury that the pharmacies played an “outsize role” in creating a public hazard in the manner in which they dispensed the pills. Attorney Mark Lanier pointed out that “the law requires pharmacies to be diligent in dealing drugs,” arguing the case should “be a wake-up call that failure will not be accepted.”
CVS and Walgreens have announced that they will appeal the verdicts, and lawyers for all three chains claimed they had policies in place to halt the influx of pills whenever their pharmacists were “concerned” about “suspicious” orders from doctors, though they ultimately argued it was up to doctors to decide how many pills could legitimately be prescribed for one condition or another. Two other pharmaceutical chains, Rite Aid and Giant Eagle, already settled with the counties.
While a Walgreens lawyer insisted at the start of the trial that pharmaceutical manufacturers had “tricked” doctors into “writing way to many pills,” he claimed the trend toward writing prescriptions for what used to be end-of-life drugs like opioid painkillers had come up organically due to the recognition of medical groups that “patients have the right to be treated for pain.”
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A doorbell camera filmed Darrell Brooks shortly before he was arrested as the chief suspect in the killing of multiple people at a parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The homeowner unwittingly offered help, thinking Brooks homeless.
In the video, captured on November 21 and obtained by NBC, Brooks can be seen on a porch in a t-shirt, shivering. He tells the owner of the home he is waiting for an Uber.
“Can you call it for me please? I’m homeless,” Brooks tells the resident, Daniel Rider, who told NBC he offered Brooks a jacket and food and let him use his phone. Rider says he was unaware of the incident at the parade, which had occurred less than a mile away.
Rider asked Brooks to leave when he noticed police cars in the neighborhood, but the man arrived at his door again, asking for his ID, which he had presumably left inside.
Police eventually arrived and placed 39-year-old Brooks under arrest, which can be seen in the video. The footage was recorded roughly 20 minutes after an SUV allegedly driven by Brooks plowed into the parade, killing five and injuring dozens.
Numerous conservative activists have highlighted left-leaning political content on Brooks’ social media posts, but police have said the crime had no such motivation and Brooks was fleeing the scene of a domestic disturbance.
He was released from custody earlier this month after being charged in a separate domestic disturbance incident and posting a $1,000 cash bail. The Milwaukee County district attorney has since referred to the bail set for Brooks as “inappropriately low.”
US citizens are wealthier 20 months after the Covid-19 pandemic than they were before, President Joe Biden has insisted, as many in the country check their pockets and find them still empty.
The president praised his economic leadership during a press conference on Tuesday, declaring the US was the only country whose residents could count themselves richer than they had been before the pandemic. However, while the Federal Reserve may have printed up a (digital) storm of new money to keep the economy afloat, ordinary Americans haven’t seen much of it.
Biden says people have more money than before the pandemic "even after accounting for inflation," and attributes it to vaccines. pic.twitter.com/6nx5afGERW
“America’s the only major economy, the only one in the world, where the economy is bigger today, and families have more money in their pockets today, than before the pandemic hit,” Biden boasted during a Monday press conference, adding that his calculations already took inflation into account.
Not only could “none of our competitors internationally […] say that,” the president continued, but it was a “testament to the effectiveness of the vaccines and our vaccination effort,” as well as “a testament to the economic policies we’ve fought so hard to pass.”
While government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have indeed sent some people’s wealth soaring skyward, much of that growth - a whopping $2.1 trillion - has gone to the billionaires. Tesla tycoon and world’s richest man Elon Musk alone made $209 billion as of October. However, some 89 million ordinary Americans have lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, income inequality continues to swell to preposterous levels - anything but closing the massive gap that already yawned between rich and poor in 2019. Data shows the poor have stayed poor, and the middle-class are rapidly joining them at the bottom of the income ladder.
While Biden might have tried to appear sanguine regarding inflation, that monetary force continues to send the price of consumer goods skyward, and most of the federal unemployment benefits that kept out-of-work Americans comfortable during the first year of the pandemic have evaporated, meaning Americans now need to find a job and pay their rent or find themselves out in the cold.
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The death toll in the Waukesha, Wisconsin Christmas parade massacre has risen to six, after one of the injured children passed away. Prosecutors revealed the death in a court hearing to charge the suspect with intentional murder.
Darrell Brooks, 39, was charged with killing six and injuring 62 people during the parade on Sunday. At Tuesday’s arraignment hearing, prosecutors said he “appeared to rapidly accelerate” and “took an abrupt left turn into the crowd of parade participants,” even after a police officer pounded on the door of his SUV and yelled at him to stop.
The SUV “appeared to be intentionally moving side to side, striking multiple people, and bodies and objects were flying,” the complaint added.
Brooks was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. His bail was set at $5 million.
Five adults who were killed on Sunday have since been identified as Tamara Durand, 52; James Coolidge, 52; Wilhelm Hospel, 82; Leanna Owens, 71; and Virginia Sorenson, 79.
The sixth victim was identified on Tuesday by his family as Jackson Sparks, 8. His brother Tucker, 12, was also injured in the massacre but is currently recovering at Children’s Wisconsin.
Jessalyn Torres, 11, who suffered a broken skull and pelvis and lost a kidney in the attack, woke up briefly on Tuesday and asked the doctors to “just glue me back together,” her family said on their GoFundMe page.
Brooks’s bail was set so high by the court commissioner after the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office previously released him on a $1,000 bond on November 11, even though he was wanted on half a dozen charges, including attempting to drive over a woman and bail jumping.
Another bit of his criminal history surfaced at Tuesday’s hearing, when the authorities revealed he was a registered sex offender in Nevada, convicted in 2006 of impregnating a 15-year-old. He skipped bail in 2016, after he was arrested for failing to obey sex offender laws.
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White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether President Joe Biden would offer an apology after labeling Kyle Rittenhouse a “white supremacist,” instead demurring to a more general condemnation of “hatred.”
Asked whether the president would apologize for allegedly defaming the 18-year-old in a campaign video issued last year, Psaki danced around the issue – briefly changing the subject to ex-President Donald Trump – but ultimately hinted that no apology would be forthcoming.
“Well let’s be clear what we’re talking about here: This is about a campaign video released last year that used President Trump’s own words during a debate as he refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups,” Psaki said, going on to denounce Trump for allegedly encouraging “militia groups” during his term in office.
White House press sec. Psaki asked if Pres. Biden would apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse for previous comments, campaign video after acquittal: “The president believes in condemning hatred, division and violence. That’s exactly what was done in that video.” https://t.co/pdWeDfZjgDpic.twitter.com/nuxC6yEwj8
Eventually, Psaki circled back to Rittenhouse, simply reiterating that Biden had “spoke to” the teen’s acquittal this week on murder charges filed after he shot two people dead and injured another during protests and rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.
“[Biden] has obviously condemned the hatred and division and violence we’ve seen around the country by groups like the Proud Boys, and groups that [Rittenhouse] has posed in photos with,” she continued.
In his first interview since his trial concluded earlier this week, Rittenhouse told Fox’s Tucker Carlson that Biden defamed his character with the campaign video, saying the then-presidential candidate should have learned the facts of the case before weighing in with inflammatory rhetoric.
Prosecutors in Rittenhouse’s case alleged that he showed up to the protest in Kenosha to “provoke” violence, while his defense insisted he used his weapon to protect his own life, observing that Rittenhouse was fleeing attackers when he fired his AR-15. After several days of deliberations and fears of civil unrest in the event of an acquittal, jurors ultimately decided Rittenhouse was not guilty of all charges filed, prompting a series of protests around the US.
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Top White House Covid adviser Anthony Fauci insisted his long career as a federal bureaucrat is far from over, saying retirement is simply out of the question as he looks to wrap up “unfinished business” in the world of medicine.
Asked whether he is thinking of leaving his long-held leadership post at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the 80-year-old health official said he’s “not even remotely contemplating that right now.”
“There's a lot of unfinished business right now, so I'm not even thinking about walking away,” Fauci told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday, adding that he would like to see the end of the coronavirus pandemic, and even further progress on eradicating HIV and AIDS, before he steps away from his work.
The White House adviser also reiterated calls for the “overwhelming majority” of fully-vaccinated American adults to receive booster shots, noting that the additional dose could eventually become standard in defining what it means to be ‘fully’ immunized.
“Right now, officially, fully vaccinated equals two shots of the mRNA and one shot of the J&J, but without a doubt that could change. That's on the table for discussion,” he said, referring to Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines which use messenger-RNA, and Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose formulation.
While an FDA advisory panel initially voted overwhelmingly against booster doses for all healthy Americans – instead greenlighting additional shots only for the elderly and certain at-risk groups – the FDA itself decided to cut the panel out of the process entirely and authorized boosters on its own last week. A similar panel with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, did give its blessing, with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky quickly signing off on the decision.
With universal boosters effectively authorized, all adults who received their initial two-dose round of the Pfizer or Moderna immunizations are now encouraged to take another dose within six months of their last shot. So far, an estimated 33 million Americans have received a booster.
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Automakers Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have agreed with the United Auto Workers union to require masking in the workplace and encourage vaccination and boosters against Covid-19, but will not mandate the jabs yet.
Detroit’s big three – with Chrysler represented by the parent company Stellantis – and the union announced their consensus on Tuesday afternoon, following a meeting the evening before to discuss the current state of vaccine and mask guidelines from the Biden administration.
The task force has “aligned on a policy of voluntary and confidential disclosure of vaccination status for UAW members,” their statement said, with each company giving their employees detailed information about where and when to report their status.
While urging everyone to get the vaccines and booster shots, the task force noted “there are personal reasons that may prevent some members from being vaccinated, such as health issues or religious beliefs.”
Masks will remain mandatory on all worksites “at this time,” though they can be uncomfortable, because the spread of the coronavirus remains “a serious health threat,” the union and the corporations said.
The Biden administration paused its push to mandate vaccinations for all companies with 100 or more workers last week, after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked its enforcement, calling it “staggeringly overbroad” and “fatally flawed.” The mandate took the form of an emergency rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It is currently headed to the Sixth Circuit for a consolidated challenge, from which it is likely to be appealed to the US Supreme Court.
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Barcelona and Brazil legend Ronaldinho could be arrested again after reports from his homeland claimed he has until December 1 to straighten out alimony payments to his ex-fiancee.
The 2002 World Cup winner was given the warning earlier this month after dozen of fruitless attempts by bailiffs in Rio de Janeiro to find him, according to a report.
If Ronaldinho does not pay former partner Priscilla Coelho, who he was reported as living with in 2018 alongside another lover, Beatriz Sousa, he may have his assets frozen and be arrested, Globo has said.
Coelho's lawyer, Bruno Medrado, is quoted as saying that the 41-year-old ex-striker has no right to appeal because the provisional alimony payments of 100,000 Brazilian reais ($17,700) per month were already agreed, with Ronaldinho beginning to pay them.
That is said to have come after what was considered a common-law marriage between the pair, who purportedly lived together following their break-up in 2019 after a six-year relationship.
"If he wants to reverse this decision, he has to go through the main proceedings, which are what granted this provisional alimony. Now it's either pay or pay," Medrado added.
Ronaldinho's whereabouts are said to have been unknown until employees at the apartment building where he lives, in Rio's upscale Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood, told bailiffs.
"La noticia es viral en las redes sociales,el ex-Crack del Futbol Ronaldinho, contrae nupcias con sus dos novias..Priscila Coelho y Beatriz Sousa las afortunadas, prometieron portarse bien y buscar la estabilidad y armonia del matrimonio" pic.twitter.com/sTvMTNiZ4n
He is believed to be in Qatar on business, with the developments potentially marking a fresh set of legal issues for the 2005 Ballon d'Or recipient.
In March 2020, shortly before the start of the pandemic, Ronaldinho was accused of using a fake passport to enter Paraguay from Brazil with his brother and agent Roberto de Assis, and faced five years behind bars in total.
Reportedly competing in a futsal tournament where the victor won a suckling pig, Ronaldinho turned 40 in Paraguayan detention but was released on August 25 after a judge agreed to a $90,000 plea deal from the Brazilian.
Ronaldinho had reportedly been set to take a behind the scenes role at Barca before his imprisonment.
Although that prospect has not been discussed under the reign of new club president Joan Laporta, Ronaldinho was reported by El Pais as having earned more than five million reais (almost $900,000) since leaving prison.
Amid trips to Europe including a visit to former teammate Lionel Messi in Paris in October, he appears to have fallen behind on his financial commitments to Coelho.
A film with Ronaldinho as its focus is set to be released this year. "A difficult stage is coming to an end, thank God," he wrote when its trailer was released.
"I have no words to thank you for all the care and support that I have received in recent months."
Russia are one of 12 teams in the World Cup play-off draw on Friday. Here's how they could reach the finals in Qatar in 2022.
After missing out on automatic qualification in agonizing fashion earlier this month, Russia are two matches away from a place at the showpiece next winter via the play-offs.
Securing a place at a third successive World Cup could require an encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes or the relatively straightforward prospect of two home wins against sides ranked below Russia.
How did Russia get here?
You could argue that Russia were very unlucky not to have qualified outright for the 2022 World Cup, having been nine minutes of normal time away from doing so courtesy of the 0-0 draw they were on course for in Croatia in their final qualification match.
As it was, ill-fated veteran defender Fyodor Kudryashov, who appeared to be carrying an injury, was unable to shift his feet quickly enough to prevent himself from inadvertently diverting a desperate-looking late Croatia cross into his own net.
That came at the end of a gutsy performance by Russia in the backyard of the 2018 World Cup finalists on a near-waterlogged pitch, although critics would contest that Valeri Karpin’s side deserved defeat after spending the entire game defending.
Karpin himself suggested that Russia showed a lack of courage and ambition to keep the ball and attack, but even that was perhaps forgivable considering how much was at stake, the quality of the opposition and the dreadful conditions.
In any case, a place in the play-offs was a consolatory reward for a spirited effort and a result that was tough to take.
Who are the teams in the draw?
There are 12 teams in the draw, made up of Russia and nine other nations who also finished as runners-up in their groups. Two more, Austria and the Czech Republic, are in because of their overall UEFA Nations League rankings for 2020/21.
Two huge heavyweights are involved: EURO 2020 winners Italy should have qualified comfortably but contrived to finish two points behind Switzerland via two draws with the group winners and a goalless stalemate at minnows Northern Ireland.
World Cup play-offs ✅
𝗦𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗲𝗱 🇵🇹 Portugal 🏴 Scotland 🇮🇹 Italy 🇷🇺 Russia 🇸🇪 Sweden 🏴 Wales
The team Italy succeeded as EURO winners, Portugal, missed out in even more dramatic circumstances, suffering an unlikely defeat at home to Serbia in a winner-takes-all group-stage finale that left Cristiano Ronaldo in tears after his side spurned an early lead and lost to a 90th-minute winner in Lisbon earlier this month.
Scotland, Sweden, Wales, North Macedonia, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine are also in the hat.
How does the draw work?
There are three paths: A, B and C. Each path comprises two semi-finals that will be drawn, with the winners in each path playing a final against the other winning team allocated to that path.
All of the ties are one-legged, with the teams from Pot 1 playing at home in the semi-finals. The Pot 1 teams are Russia, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Sweden and Wales. The Pot 2 teams are Austria, Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine.
At the same time as the draw for the paths and semifinals is made, a draw will decide which of the semifinal tie winners will play at home in the final of their path. Certain teams cannot be drawn against each other, including Russia and Ukraine.
What are Russia’s chances?
Playing at home in the semfinal against a team from Pot 2 should give Russia a considerable advantage. They cannot face Italy, Portugal or the other two teams from the contenders ranked inside the top 20, Sweden and Wales, at that stage.
Poland are the highest-ranked team they could host, sitting seven places above Russia in 27th, but Paulo Sousa’s side tanked at EURO 2020 and hardly dazzled in qualifying despite having Champions League-winning goal machine Robert Lewandowski within their ranks, losing their final fixture at home to Hungary as they finished six points behind winners England.
Russia are unbeaten in eight games as hosts and have scored nine times without reply in four home games since Karpin took over after their underwhelming EURO campaign.
That record is heavily embellished, though, by wins against the whipping boys of their qualifying group: 6-0 over Cyprus and 2-0 over Malta.
While the figures look promising, Russia could realistically be described as on-par and unproven under Karpin so far. Their real test is likely to come in a potential final.
What’s the best-case draw for Russia?
There can be no denying that North Macedonia are by far the weakest team on paper in the draw.
Their 67th-placed ranking means they are a chasmic 30 spots below next-nearest play-off hopefuls Turkey, making their win over Iceland in their final game to reach this stage all the more impressive. They have not scored a goal on the way to losing all four of their matches against Russia in their history.
There would probably be equal confidence on both sides were Russia to be drawn against any of their other possible opponents in Pot 2, in which case you would expect being at home to make them favorites.
Russia must also hope they are drawn at home for their potential final and that it is against a weaker side: either a Pot 2 contender causing an upset or Scotland from Pot 1, although a final against Sweden or Wales could also inspire belief.
And the worst-case draw?
Underdog motivation aside, no Russia fan will want to see Italy or Portugal on their path to the promised land.
Quite apart from the abundant quality within their ranks, the two giants of European football are likely to have fire in their bellies after the ignominy of missing out on automatic qualification and be intent on earning what they will see as their rightful place at the top table.
Russia would face a test of a far stiffer nature than they did in Croatia were they to draw either of those teams, and there would be scant cause for optimism given the thrashings they endured against comparable countries Belgium and Denmark this summer.
As for prospective semifinal rivals, Turkey look resurgent under new boss Stefan Kuntz, Czech Republic reached the EURO quarterfinals and Poland bolster Ballon d’Or contender Lewandowski with a variety of players from top-flight clubs across Europe.
What will happen if Russia reach the World Cup?
The move to replace Stanislav Cherchesov, who led Russia to the quarterfinals of the 2018 finals, with Karpin in July will seem vindicated if Russia can come through a tough qualification challenge.
They might not have been expected to shine at EURO 2020, but going out with a whimper to the Danes and finishing with a goal difference of minus five suggested a side in decline, and prising Karpin away from Rostov quickly led to a purported clean sweep.
Karpin will be expected to oversee a better show than Russia put on in the summer, and will undoubtedly be buoyed by winning the play-offs and entering his first tournament as an international manager, having played at the 1994 and 2002 editions of the World Cup.
Russia have not reached the knockout stage of the tournament in four attempts away from home soil, stretching back to 1986 and featuring just three wins along the way..
What’s the situation if Russia don’t make it?
That would probably depend on the manner of their exit from the play-offs, as a narrow exit to the big two would probably be perceived very differently to, say, a limp defeat to a Pot 2 team.
Karpin’s approach so far has been viewed as pragmatic – ousting former captain Artem Dzyuba while still turning to players widely thought to be past their best, ceding 74 percent of possession to Slovakia while winning 1-0 at home – but that could be regarded as conservative rigidity without results to show for it.
Karpin has a contract until the end of the World Cup campaign, which suggests he will need to guide Russia to tangible progress at the finals in order to be sure of keeping his job.
Beyond those immediate concerns, Russia would have something to look forward to in the form of the draw for EURO 2024 qualifying, which will take place in October 2022 to decide which countries will face each other on the road to the finals in Germany.
When are the play-offs and when is the 2022 World Cup?
The draw will be held at 5pm CET on Friday 26 November.
Russia will be at home in the semifinals on 24 March 2022. Should they win, they will be in a final five days later, on 29 March.
The finals in Qatar are expected to take place from 21 November until 18 December 200, with the finals draw held the previous April.
A proposal to ban all private cryptocurrencies has been added to the agenda of India’s parliament, just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi argued things like bitcoin could end up in the “wrong hands” and “spoil our youth.”
The bill would create a framework for an official digital currency and “prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India,” according to Tuesday’s announcement by the Lok Sabha, India’s house of representatives. It will be on the legislature’s agenda when it convenes for the winter session on November 29.
Whoa. Just as we spoke on it on Twitter spaces, Crypto currencies gets a solid whack by the new bill announced: pic.twitter.com/eGamwWVnpp
India’s previous ban on cryptocurrency was overturned in April 2020, leading to a booming cryptocurrency market. While no official data is available, industry estimates cited by Reuters have put the number of crypto investors in India between 15 and 20 million people, with holdings worth up to 400 billion rupees ($5.4 billion).
The government in New Delhi has been less enthusiastic, however. Last week, PM Modi said it was “important that all democratic nations work together” on cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and “ensure it does not end up in wrong hands, which can spoil our youth.”
India’s central bank has expressed “serious concerns” about private cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ethereum, and said in June it was working on its own digital currency, to be introduced by the end of the year.
China effectively banned bitcoin in September, outlawing all crypto-related trading activities at home and banning foreign exchanges from doing business with the mainland investors.
Meanwhile, the Central American nation of El Salvador has declared bitcoin legal tender alongside the US dollar, and set up crypto mining facilities powered by geothermal energy from volcanoes.
A fragment from a SpaceX rocket stuck in orbit around the Earth is set to pass close by the International Space Station, Russian mission controllers have announced, confirming that they are monitoring the course of the debris.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Moscow’s Roscosmos space agency said that a fragment of the Falcon 9 rocket, launched by Elon Musk’s California-based company in 2019, will come into close proximity with the orbital base within the next two days.
“On November 25 at 07:18 Moscow time, a fragment of an American launch vehicle is expected to approach the International Space Station,” the officials said. “According to Russian experts, the minimum distance between the station and this object will be around 5.5 kilometers.” However, in spite of this, “the crew is working as normal,” they said.
Earlier this month, the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the space station – including four Americans, two Russians and one German – were ordered to take cover in their capsules amid fears of collisions with debris, after Moscow tested an anti-satellite missile on an old Soviet probe. Washington called the decision “irresponsible.”
“The test has so far generated over fifteen hundred pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations,” US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said. “In addition, this test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities.”
However, Roscosmos subsequently announced that the fragments were not a risk to those onboard, insisting they were distributed well away from the station. Moscow has previously warned that space is increasingly becoming a theater of conflict, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov having said that “the plans of the US, as well as those of France and NATO as a whole, to place weapons in outer space are taking shape.”
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have been launched 131 times, with 129 reportedly successful missions. They are propelled by first-stage boosters that are designed to be reusable, landing back on launch pads or ships out at sea.
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Santa Cruz, California has enacted a mask mandate that controversially even requires face coverings in private homes, regardless of vaccination status.
The order, which went into effect this week, comes in response to rising Covid-19 cases in the city. The indoor masking requirement covers not only public spaces and businesses, but also private homes. Residents are required to mask up, regardless of vaccination status, if anyone is in the home who does not regularly live there – something that is highly common during the holiday season.
If one is around people from other households, it is recommended they only remove their mask when eating or drinking.
The strict health guidelines have sparked outrage among some, with critics describing the mandates for private homes as government overreach and an attempt to make people “as miserable as possible” at Thanksgiving.
Stop it. An indoor mask mandate is now in effect in Santa Cruz County and it covers private settings like a home.
According to the order, being in violation of the new health guidelines could be “punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”
A previous indoor mask mandate in Santa Cruz was lifted in September. Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci said in his announcement that the quick reversal indicates that the “science is evolving,” but not that the county “can’t make up our minds.”
Having an “endless mask mandate,” the doctor argued, “may actually undermine credibility” more than the county going back and forth on mask enforcement.
Health officials said coronavirus cases in the county have surged by 29% in the last two weeks and they are predicting further rises from a potential “winter surge.”
Elite wrestling championship WWE is planning to prosecute a wild fan who attacked star Seth Rollins during the latest edition of its Raw program in New York on Monday evening.
In the midst of a live broadcast from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a suspect named as 24-year-old Elisah Spencer can be seen charging at Rollins – real name Colby Lopez – and tackling him to the ground as the wrestler walked back toward the entrance following a segment with fellow hulk Finn Balor.
TV cameras panned away from the action which took place at the top of the ramp, but video footage that has emerged on Twitter shows the pair tussling on the arena floor before security and officials, including WWE referees, got between them and split up the fracas.
Fans in the arena, which regularly holds boxing and UFC shows, were heard chanting: “F**k him up.”
Reacting in a statement afterward, the WWE said it “takes the safety of its performers very seriously”.
“The individual who attacked Seth Rollins has been turned over to the NYPD [New York Police Department] and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” it vowed.
The NYPD confirmed To ESPN that Brooklynite Spencer had been arrested. His charges – for leaving his seat, jumping the metal barricade and attacking Rollins to the extent he suffered a swollen lip – include attempted assault and attempted violation of arts and cultural affairs.
Police say that Rollins, a former champion who is among the WWE's biggest draws, refused medical attention after walking off on his own terms once the attacker had been contained.
Statement from WWE on wrestler Seth Rollins being attacked by a fan during Raw tonight:
“WWE takes the safety of its performers very seriously. The individual who attacked Seth Rollins has been turned over to the NYPD and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
A growing number of Western governments are urging any of their citizens currently in Ethiopia to leave the war-torn country as soon as possible, as the UN confirmed it will relocate the families of international staff.
Amid fears of a rebel advance on the Ethiopian capital, Germany’s foreign ministry and the French embassy in Addis Ababa issued separate statements on Tuesday advising any of its nationals in the country to leave without delay. The UK and US recently issued similar recommendations to their respective citizens.
Also on Tuesday, a UN spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that the organization was working to “temporarily relocate” the family members of its international staff from Ethiopia due to the deteriorating security situation on the ground.
Earlier this month, 22 Ethiopian staff members were arrested and detained by government forces during raids in Addis Ababa targeting ethnic Tigrayans, the UN said. Some were later released.
The current conflict erupted in Northern Ethiopia a year ago, when the federal government launched a military operation against the rebel separatist group, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).
The group, which had ruled the country for years before being ousted in 2018, has in recent months managed to regain control of most of the northern Tigray region, including its capital Mekele. On Tuesday, the TPLF said it had taken control of Shewa Robit and was pushing on towards Addis Ababa, some 220 km (136 miles) away.
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Former US President Donald Trump is reportedly putting out feelers to determine how likely he is to win an electoral rematch against President Joe Biden, should the two have another go at it in 2024.
Trump's team is focusing on the five states he lost to Biden in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to polls conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and obtained by Politico on Tuesday. Winning these states would easily hand him the electoral college victory that eluded him in 2020.
A recent survey conducted by Fabrizio Lee on Sunday showed Trump leading in all five swing states, with particularly strong margins in Michigan and Wisconsin. Aside from Georgia, his lead persisted even outside the margin of error, and his numbers have climbed significantly over past weeks as voters appear to have lost what enthusiasm they may once have had for President Biden.
Trump leads Biden in Michigan by 12 points and Wisconsin by 10, while he would be eight points ahead in Arizona, six ahead in Pennsylvania, and leading by three in Georgia, according to the numbers, which the pollster’s head, Republican Tony Fabrizio, confirmed to Politico.
“This new data clearly shows that today the voters in these five key states would be happy to return Trump to the White House and send Biden packing,” Fabrizio gloated. He did not provide the poll data to the outlet, however.
The polls also found that Trump had a “significantly stronger job approval rating” than Biden and suggested he was “better able to handle a host of key issues tested” - issues that included securing control of the US’ southern border, controlling federal spending and taxes, and several others. The ex-president was reliably higher-ranked in all states but Georgia, where his performance varied.
However, even Georgia voters were split over their regard for Biden’s Build Back Better initiative, which the other battleground states opposed by a healthy measure, and the state’s regard for the president’s infrastructure package was a near-deadlock, with Georgia approving it by one percentage point.
The polling hasn’t been Trump’s sole preparation effort to recapture the hearts and minds of those five states, either. Trump has held four rallies and endorsed dozens of candidates, making it clear to his supporters on the ground that his hat remains in the ring even as his face has largely vanished from national politics.
Biden announced earlier this week that he too planned to run again, a campaign which would make him by far the oldest president in US history. Such an effort would likely exacerbate some of the negative responses he is already receiving from the electorate, many of whom are concerned about his mental fitness for office.
Belgrade seeks to find "understanding" in Moscow during an upcoming meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday, adding that the talks will involve discussion of a vital new gas deal.
Serbia expects to increase its energy consumption to support its rapid economic growth, Vucic told journalist Vladimir Soloviev ahead of his upcoming visit to Moscow. The Balkan nation has already more than doubled its consumption, he added.
Vucic said “that natural gas is the biggest issue for us in Serbia,” and steady and friendly relations with Russia, as well as Belgrade’s participation in the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project, are important to his government.
“Without Russia, there’d be no pipeline. There’d be no gas,” the Serbian president stated, adding that his nation would have to pay “€800-900 for gas today.”
“Economically, Serbia can’t handle it,” he said, adding that he hopes to negotiate another gas deal during his Moscow visit.
The president expressed hope that the sides will find “the best solution” regarding the price and volume of the gas, as well as price ‘flexibility’, which would help Serbia import “more gas without having to pay a much higher price” in the winter.
“President Putin has always shown understanding, even under more difficult circumstances. I hope this time he shows understanding again,” the Serbian leader said, noting that “peace and stability” are just as important for Belgrade as having a good gas supply deal.
Vucic also expressed concern about the recent tensions in relations with Kosovo, with the latest escalation seen just this September. “I will fight for peace practically at any cost,” Vucic insisted, adding that his nation will do its best to avoid conflict. Nevertheless, the situation in the region is “not easy,” he said.
“This is another reason why this meeting with Putin is so important,” he stressed, adding that it is crucial for Belgrade to have “this stabilizing relationship with the Russian Federation” since Moscow has always supported peace in the Balkans and repeatedly called for international norms to be observed.
The two leaders are expected to hold talks on November 25.
Laws requiring campaign groups and media outlets seeking to influence public opinion in Russia to disclose they are 'foreign agents' if they take cash from overseas could be made even stricter, a top Moscow lawmaker has said.
Speaking at a Rossiya Segodnya news agency briefing on Monday, Andrey Klimov, the chairman of the Federation Council Commission for the Protection of State Sovereignty, said that “we have proposals for both tightening these norms and expanding their usage, as well as expanding the application of their usage.”
He added that the council is looking at suggestions on any amendments from both supporters and opponents of the legislation. Klimov also said lawmakers intend to revisit specific issues after discussions with experts, and “if necessary, this can take the form of bills.”
The foreign agent status was introduced in 2012 following amendments to the law on non-profit organizations. Media outlets began to appear on the register in 2017, with individuals later joining the ranks at the end of last year.
In an interview with Info24, former chairman of the Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said that, rather than tightening the legislation, it should be completely rewritten:
“When the law was transferred into the media, the crookedness there increased significantly. And what is written today on the law in the media…is just legal abracadabra.”
Members of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and the Russian Union of Journalists submitted amendments to the law to the State Duma on November 16. The revisions included “a right to make a mistake.”
A number of outlets have been fined for failing to mention that an organization was a foreign agent during the course of their reporting.
Russia’s Human Rights Council also proposed not requiring individuals dubbed as “foreign agents” to disclose their title when sharing personal information online, such as photos, posts and comments concerning their private lives.
A petition calling for the revocation of the foreign agent law addressed to the State Duma, the Federation Council, and the Commissioner for Human Rights has so far garnered more than 250,000 signatures. The authors of the appeal called the legislation discriminatory and questioned its legality in line with Russia’s constitution and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova defended the foreign agent label earlier this year, remarking that the listing of some foreign-funded outlets was necessary as a response to actions taken by the US and for defending the country’s journalists.
President Vladimir Putin has defended the measures, insisting that while “some may be reluctant to say: yes, I am involved in domestic political activity and I am doing that using money I get from a foreign source… it’s better to report this and to go ahead with this activity. So, the question is different.” According to him, the measure “exists simply to protect Russia from external meddling in its politics.”
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Apple is suing the NSO Group over its Pegasus spyware that specifically targeted iPhones, and seeking to permanently block the Israeli-based company from using any Apple device, software or service.
“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said on Tuesday, announcing the lawsuit.
The complaint was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California and provides “new information” on how NSO infected thousands of iPhones with its Pegasus spyware, using an exploit called FORCEDENTRY that has since been patched.
In addition to the court-imposed ban on accessing Apple products and services, the company seeks “redress for NSO Group’s flagrant violations of US federal and state law, arising out of its efforts to target and attack Apple and its users.”
CitizenLab, a digital rights outfit at the University of Toronto in Canada revealed in September that NSO had exploited a vulnerability in Apple’s iOS operating system to install Pegasus on thousands of iPhones around the world – targeting dissidents, human rights activists, journalists and politicians, among others.
Software giants who have seen the commercial malware targeting their users should look at this as a template for imposing consequences on this predatory industry.
The existence of Pegasus was revealed earlier this year. In addition to Israel, governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been accused of its use.
Due to the revelations, NSO was added to the US government blacklist in October, cutting off its access to American investors. It is currently facing a $500 million default after its credit rating was downgraded on Monday.
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Chelsea have responded after a photo agency issued an apology for a mistake that caused goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to claim black people in England and France "have neither names nor distinct faces".
AFP wrote a letter directly to the Champions League winner explaining how he was mixed up with rape suspect Benjamin Mendy.
Penned by its Global News Director Philip Chetwynd, the document was shared by the west London club on its social media channels.
"AFP would like to sincerely apologise for the mistake involving two photographs of you taken by our photographer during Chelesea's Premier League match against Manchester City on September 25," it began.
Chelsea Football Club welcomes the apology from @AFP for the misuse of a picture of Edouard Mendy in recent news stories entirely unrelated to our player. pic.twitter.com/GliJWdExEe
"The photographs were wrongly captioned by a photo editor working under pressure for real time deadlines. It was an honest case of human error by an editor working at speed.
"As soon as we realised the mistake, we corrected the caption on the two photographs and the correction was very clearly flagged to our clients. Unfortunately some of our clients used the incorrectly captioned pictures before they were corrected.
"The error is all the more unfortunate because we take enormous care in our photo production.
"In fact, we have taken hundreds of photographs of you that are correctly captioned, including some during the same match against City.
"The two were, regrettably, the exception. We would like to once again apologize for the mistake."
The US Justice Department (DOJ) has agreed a settlement that will see the government pay a reported $127.5 million to victims and survivors of the Parkland school shooting, over its failure to investigate tips about the attacker.
In a joint court filing on Monday, lawyers representing families of those killed and injured during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 confirmed that a financial settlement had been reached with the US government. Although they did not specify the figures involved, according to the Associated Press, the DOJ has agreed to pay out some $127.5 million.
The settlement centers around the FBI’s failure to properly investigate two tips about the gunman, which the victims’ families claim could have prevented the tragedy.
“Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice,” Kristina Infante, lead attorney for the families of the victims, said in a statement after the deal was reached.
One of the warnings provided to the FBI came about a month before the shooting, when a woman contacted the agency’s tip line saying she feared that a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Nikolas Cruz, had armed himself and intended to “slip into a school and start shooting the place up.”
Another tip-off cited a YouTube comment from a user under the name of ‘nikolas cruz’ who claimed they were going to become “a professional school shooter.”
The FBI previously accepted that it received the two tips but failed to act on them.
Seventeen people were killed and a further 17 wounded in the school shooting on February 14, 2018. Cruz, who had been expelled from the school before the incident, pleaded guilty last month to multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against Cruz, although his legal team is hoping he will be able to avoid that fate when the penalty phase of the trial begins next year.
Washington has announced plans to release crude reserves from the nation’s stockpile as part of what it calls a global effort by energy-consuming nations to calm the rapid rise in fuel prices.
The release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was coordinated with major Asian energy consumers, including China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the UK, according to the White House.
Lowering gasoline prices is a critical part of reviving a global economy devastated by lockdown measures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Higher fuel prices not only affect consumers at the pump by making them cut down on travel and spending, but also cause food and consumer goods prices to rise as the cost to deliver such products by land increases.
The US administration has been saying for months that it was looking at ways to deal with the energy crisis as domestic West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures soared to a seven-year high above $85 per barrel in October.
The White House said in a statement that the move “reflects the President’s commitment to do everything in his power to bring down costs for the American people and continue our strong economic recovery.”
Meanwhile, ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee John Barrasso said on Tuesday that Biden's own policies were to blame for needing to tap into the SPR.
“We are experiencing higher prices because the administration and Democrats in Congress are waging a war on American energy,” Barrasso said in a statement, arguing that Biden’s announcement would not fix the problem.
“Begging OPEC and Russia to increase production and now using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are desperate attempts to address a Biden-caused disaster,” he added. “They’re not substitutes for American energy production.”
As of November 19, the US reserves held 604.5 million barrels at four sites. After the presidential announcement, it will take 13 days for the oil to get to market, according to the Department of Energy. In total, the United States will release 50 million barrels from the SPR. Of the total, 32 million barrels will be an exchange over the next several months, while 18 million barrels will be an acceleration of a previously authorized sale.
However, it remains unclear whether the move is enough to help the world’s biggest oil consumer. In 2020, the United States consumed nearly 18.2 million barrels of petroleum per day. At that pace, the announced release of reserves would not even cover three days.
A Russian pensioner suffering from cancer performed an operation on herself because she was unable to get “timely” professional medical help, with doctors too busy dealing with Covid-19 patients, a paramedic revealed on Tuesday.
Writing on social media site VK, Victoria Shutova explained that the elderly woman in Vyborg, near St. Petersburg, was a survivor of the Second World War and had survived the Siege of Leningrad. The pensioner was found alongside a suicide note, written just in case the operation went wrong and there were doubts about who was responsible for her death.
She did, however, survive the medical intervention.
According to Shutova, the woman was unable to get medical help due to the current situation with the coronavirus, and had to perform the operation herself. She suffers from ascites, a condition in which fluid builds up in the abdomen, making any movement difficult, and attempted her own paracentesis.
“That is, making incisions with a thin knife along the anterior abdominal wall in order to drain fluid,” Shutova explained.
“She wasn’t sure about the operation. She’s not a doctor, so she wrote a suicide note so no one would think it wasn’t her,” the paramedic said. “Old people are the litmus test of society. If they operate on themselves in peacetime, it is a disaster.”
Shutova revealed that the woman has now been accepted into a hospital and is in need of palliative care to alleviate her suffering.
“Thanks to granny, we live in a world without fascism,” Shutova wrote. “Now, the main thing is not to become fascists yourselves.”
After the paramedic’s post received media attention, it also caught the eye of the local authorities, who have decided to do something about it. According to Irina Safonkina, a spokeswoman for the Leningrad regional government on social issues, the elderly veteran is receiving “all the necessary assistance.”
“The relatives have applied for help to the oncology centre in Pesochny,” Safonkina said.
In addition, the region’s Health Committee has revealed it is now carrying out an investigation into the situation. According to the government body, the planned operation did not take place because the elderly woman was diagnosed with the coronavirus, so the surgery had to be postponed.
The Oscar-winning director told Afshin Rattansi how he was baffled by President Joe Biden’s decision to once again postpone the release of classified files on the assassination of the 35th president, John F. Kennedy, in 1963.
A White House memo written last month alleged that, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Archives and other agencies needed “additional time” to prepare the Kennedy files for publication. The release of the documents was delayed until December 15, 2022.
“That was the official reason. I don’t know how that applies because I don’t know why you can’t read or think while you have Covid,” Stone told the host of RT’s ‘Going Underground’.
Former President Donald Trump released around 19,000 declassified documents, many of them with redactions, from the JFK case in 2018. However, others were withheld on the grounds of national security.
'I don't know how that applies because I don't know why you can't read or think while you have COVID...it makes me cry'@TheOliverStone on Biden blocking the release of classified JFK papers, citing COVID-19 as the reason
“Not only he backed down at the last second and refused to release roughly 20,000 documents that we’re interested in,” Stone said of Trump. “He illegally added a step: he said that the next time the National Archive had to be also consulted. It was originally a decision made by Congress that the president was the last one to say anything to stop [the publication].”
Stone’s new documentary, ‘JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass,’ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last summer. Stone told Rattansi in July that Kennedy may have been killed in “a very organized black op” for his anti-colonial policies and desire to end the Cold War.
Watch the full interview on RT.com on Wednesday.
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Police reportedly want to question two-time Champions League winner Eric Abidal about the iron bar attack on Kheira Hamraoui – the PSG player he allegedly had an affair with that has led to his wife demanding a divorce.
Hamroaui was attacked on November 4, with the teammate who drove the vehicle she was dragged out of by masked men, Aminata Diallo, arrested a week later as confirmed by their club.
A possible positional rivalry was being explored by police, but Diallo was later released without charges after being questioned for 36 hours, with no link found to the attack that saw Hamraoui's legs targeted.
According to reports from Le Monde, however, Diallo mentioned the name of Abidal's wife, Hayet, who then became a person of interest in the case alongside the ex-Barcelona sporting director.
🚨⚽️ | NEW: Eric Abidal set to be questioned by French police in relation to attack on PSG women’s star Kheira Hamraoui - Abidal was found to be having an affair with her - his wife has now filed for a divorce: pic.twitter.com/LnuFQYJuKx
It is also alleged that the masked criminals made a remark to Hamroaui about her liking to "sleep with married men".
Abidal and Hamraoui's paths crossed at Camp Nou before his firing in 2020 and her return to Paris this summer following an impressive treble win with the Blaugrana Femini.
Amid rumors of an affair between the pair as a SIM card registered in Abidal's name was allegedly found in Hamraoui's phone, mother-of-five Hayet confirmed in a statement to the AFP that she is seeking a divorce from her husband of 18 years.
She claimed that Abidal admitted “to an adulterous relationship with Ms Hamraoui”, as relayed by RMC Sport, and will file for an official separation requested by her lawyer, Nicolas Cellupica, in Barcelona.
Hayet has claimed she “has nothing to do with the events”, and wants to be interviewed “as quickly as possible by investigators or the prosecutor in charge of the case”.
Additional reports have claimed that Abidal will be questioned by police, and the World Cup 2006 finalist has issued a groveling post on Instagram begging for forgiveness.
"Hayet Abidal, forgive me," the caption alongside a photo of Abidal looking sad and serious. "Whatever your decision, you will continue to be the woman of my life in my eyes, and especially the mother of our wonderful children,"
"I deserve this humiliation even if it kills me alive. Someday you will forgive me."
Offering his support, Abidal's former Bleus teammate Patrice Evra replied: "You always win in difficult times. I love you, mon frere [my brother]."
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has admitted he does not know whether Roman Abramovich will watch his side during the owner's rare trip to the UK – but he has revealed how he feels about the Russian billionaire.
Abramovich will not be in attendance when Chelsea host Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the Champions League – a competition the Blues won against domestic rivals Manchester City in May.
The owner was in attendance in Porto, reportedly visiting Tuchel on the morning of the final and being pictured in a congratulatory chat with him on the pitch afterwards.
After visa trouble in 2018, the businessman and Israeli citizen's trips to the UK have been scarce.
"First and most important is he is a football fan, a huge football fan" 🙌
Tuchel could not confirm Abramovich's movements ahead of his side attempting to avoid defeat against Juve – a result that ensure Chelsea qualify for the knockout stages, eliminate Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg and avenge the Premier League leaders' 1-0 in Italy.
"I have to say I do not know if he is in London at the moment," Tuchel said in response to a question about whether he had met Abramovich in recent days.
"Is he a special owner? First and most important, he is a huge football fan. He is in love with the game, with the details.
"He wants to know everything about what’s going on here [at training base] Cobham and we keep him informed and keep him posted because he has a genuine interest and love for the game.
"This is the most important and makes things very special. I have a feeling it’s about this.
"He wants for this, to be entertained, to be competitive and he wants to have the right attitude on the pitch.
Roman Abramovich is not attending Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Juventus tomorrow night. “Mr Abramovich will not be attending the match as he has a previous commitment elsewhere to a charity which he supports” - Spokesperson for the Chelsea owner #cfc
"This is what he created here, it’s amazing. We are blessed to enjoy our time here in this club and to keep on progressing."
Abramovich has been in the UK to host a small event at the Bridge, where he received Israel's president Isaac Herzog to look at a Holocaust exhibition including a commission he funded as part of Chelsea's 'say no to anti-semitism' campaign.
A spokesperson for the 55-year-old said that his busy schedule will prevent him from watching the Juve match in person.
“He has a previous commitment elsewhere to a charity which he supports,” they reportedly said.
There could still be time for Abramovich to take in a game: Chelsea are at home to Manchester United on Sunday and visit London side Watford three days later.
American nuclear-capable bombers have flown dozens of sorties across Eastern Europe in the past few weeks as part of drills designed to probe Russia's defenses in case of an atomic war, Russia's defense minister has claimed.
Speaking alongside his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday, Sergey Shoigu said that there has been “a significant intensification of activity from US strategic bomber aviation near the borders of Russia.”
According to him, “over the past month, around 30 missions have been flown near the borders of the Russian federation, around two and a half times more than in the same time period last year.”
Shoigu added that recent American exercises, codenamed Global Thunder, saw “ten strategic bombers practicing their ability to use nuclear weapons against Russia at almost the same time from the west and the east. The minimum distance from our border was 20km.”
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso has granted pardons to several categories of inmates in an attempt to restore security and to fight overcrowding in prisons shaken by recent bloody riots.
A statement issued by the General Secretary of Communication of the Presidency on Tuesday said the move was taken “in line with the commitment to protect the rights of inmates, to undertake effective measures for the recovery of peace and security in the prison system, and to alleviate prison overcrowding.”
The statement said the presidential pardons were granted to inmates “under certain conditions.”
Several categories of prisoners will have the right to a pardon, including those seriously or terminally ill and those involved in traffic violations that did not cause injury or death. The statement did not say how many people would be released in total.
The decision was made as part of the government’s plan to tackle drug trafficking-related gang violence in prisons.
The latest riot took place in mid-November and resulted in the death of 68 people at the Litoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil’s suburbs. A riot in September, which was called one of the worst in Latin American history, left 115 prisoners dead.
Ecuador’s 65 prisons house around 39,000 inmates, with a capacity for only 30,000. Almost 300 inmates have died in Ecuador's prisons so far this year.
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High rates of inflation hitting consumers’ pockets across the EU can actually be blamed on Russia, Poland’s prime minister claims, pointing the finger at the country’s state-backed gas exports and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Speaking to Polsat News on Monday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, “today, we are faced with a situation where in the majority of European countries, inflation is historically high in comparison with the last 20-30 years.”
Morawiecki went on to name who he feels are the culprits: “Gazprom, Russia, and Nord Stream 2, as well as members of the European People’s Party are responsible.” According to him, the members of the largest faction in the EU Parliament did not act to “block the construction of the gas pipeline, but were in favor of it.”
The prime minister also called the underwater link a tool for blackmail at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s disposal.
According to indicators from Eurostat released in mid-November, annual inflation in the Euro area was 4.1% in October, in comparison to -0.3% in the previous year. Meanwhile, the rate for the European Union was 4.4%, up from 0.3%, with all member states seeing price hikes.
Moscow, however, is currently fighting its own battle against soaring prices. Last week, the head of the country’s Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, announced that the rate of food inflation had reached double figures, which would likely see ordinary Russians struggling to buy essentials. On Thursday, local media warned that festive favorites like red caviar could be off limits to many families later this year because of unprecedented price hikes.
Europe has been gripped with rocketing fuel costs and gas shortages for months. In mid-November, the price of natural gas in Europe surpassed $1,000 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first time since the end of last month. In early October, it climbed to a record high of almost $2,000 per 1,000 cubic meters.
Putin has dismissed claims that Russia is “weaponizing” energy supplies as “complete nonsense,” saying that falling electricity output from wind farms was the reason for the price hike, and that “proper analysis of the situation is often replaced by empty political slogans.” Moscow insists that Nord Stream 2 will help cut costs for gas on the continent once it is given the go-ahead by German regulators.
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Six indigenous Greenlanders have demanded compensation from the Danish government over a failed social experiment in the 1950s which saw them separated from their families and educated in Europe.
Speaking on Monday, Mads Pramming, a lawyer for the Inuits, said he would file a lawsuit against the Danish government for their colonial-era experiment unless he heard back from Copenhagen in the next two weeks.
He told Politiken daily that his clients “lost their family life, their language, their culture and their sense of belonging,” adding that this was “a violation of their right to private and family life, in accordance with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
The six survivors each want €33,600 ($37,800), their lawyer says.
In 1951, 22 Inuit children were separated from their homeland and taken to Denmark, enticed with the promise of a good education worthy of Greenland’s future elite. Copenhagen intended for the children to return home as role models for Greenland. Only six are still alive today, all are in their 70s.
When they returned to Greenland, the children were placed in an orphanage despite not being orphans. Many of them never saw their families again.
Denmark issued a formal apology for the experiment in December last year. “We cannot change what happened. But we can take responsibility and apologize to those we should have cared for but failed to do,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
Helene Thiesen, now in her 70s, only discovered why she had been taken away in 1996. Thiesen told the BBC she never rebuilt her relationship with her mother.
Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953, from which point it gradually became an autonomous territory.
The White House is allegedly considering the option of sending military advisers and weaponry to Kiev amidst reports of a build-up of Russian troops and hardware near the Ukrainian border, CNN claimed on Tuesday.
Citing its customary unnamed sources, the TV network relayed that US President Joe Biden’s administration was considering dispatching unused Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters for use by Ukrainian forces. The planes were initially bought by Washington to be transferred to the Afghan Army.
According to CNN, Washington may also send more Javelin anti-tank missile systems, as well as mortars and Stinger air defense missiles.
However, the network’s unnamed sources also allegedly noted concerns that the shipment of advanced missile systems and helicopters would be seen in Moscow as a significant escalation.
In recent weeks, American officials have expressed concern that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, despite Moscow’s insistence that its troop movements are simply internal maneuvers. Ukraine originally denied the claims and accused US media of spreading propaganda.
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington did not understand Moscow’s “intentions,” but observed that the White House had prior experience dealing with Russia and Ukraine.
“Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014 when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming falsely that it was provoked,” Blinken said.
November has also seen multiple sources in the Biden administration brief American media, such as Bloomberg and Forbes, over a possible “Russian invasion.”
However, in a statement issued on Monday, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) insisted that all rumors of an invasion are an invention of the US State Department.
“According to data we have received, the US State Department is using diplomatic channels to share with its allies and partners absolutely false information about the concentration of forces on our territory in advance of a military invasion of Ukraine,” the SVR’s communique said, accusing Washington of “actively intimidating” the world.
UK Minister of State for the Cabinet Office and chief Brexit negotiator David Frost has said that the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions has made Britain “the freest” nation in the world.
“Unavoidably, we’ve had a lot of state direction and control during the pandemic,” Lord Frost said at an event in London on Monday. “That cannot and must not last forever. And I’m glad that it is not.”
I am very happy that free Britain, or at least merry England, is probably now the freest country in the world as regards Covid restrictions… No mask rules, no vaccine passports. Long may it remain so.
The UK has had three national lockdowns since the beginning of the pandemic last year, and a multi-tier system of regional restrictions. England lifted most restrictions on daily life in July, even as the daily infection rate was on the rise.
Some health experts and the opposition have argued that certain restrictive measures should have been retained or should be re-imposed, as the daily caseload remains high. At the same time, around 88% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and over 80% has received two doses.
Nearly 45,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported across the UK on Monday. Despite the high daily caseload, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that the government sees “nothing in the data” at the moment to re-impose restrictive measures.
“The best single thing you can all do is get your booster,” Johnson said.
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A family-based restaurant chain in Canada has more than quadrupled its gains by investing all profits in bitcoin, which helped keep the firm afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic and allowed it to expand.
Quick-service restaurant chain Tahini’s, based in London, Ontario, which serves Middle Eastern cuisine, made its first investment in bitcoin in August 2020 when it cost around $12,000 per token. Despite recent drops, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization traded at over $56,390 early Tuesday morning, nearly five times higher than last year’s figures. The owners of Tahini’s say the decision to invest all profits in the crypto token “has worked like a charm.”
“We’re up, to date, 460% on our initial investment and we didn’t stop there. We will continue sweeping excess profit into bitcoins,” the chain’s chief marketing officer and one of the founders, Ali Hamam, told Business Insider.
Tahini’s is possibly the world’s first restaurant chain to invest all of their money reserves in cryptocurrency. The owners say the investment helped their business expand during the pandemic, when many similar businesses were forced to shut down. It also helped them through the ensuing inflation, which resulted in higher prices for the ingredients of some of their main dishes.
“The main problem that we have right now is that dollars are devaluating. Central banks will say inflation is only 5%. But that really depends on what you want to buy. Poultry is up 45%, beef is up 25%, imported goods and spices are up 65%, oils are up 110%. So it made sense to put our money into [bitcoin] and that will outstrip any inflation rates we see for the coming decade,” Hamam said.
The firm works according to a “bitcoin-standard strategy,” operating in fiat currency and then investing all profit into bitcoin. It doesn’t accept bitcoin for restaurant orders, as it is easier to do accounting and tax reporting in fiat money. The chain does not disclose how much bitcoin it currently holds. However, it did reveal that sales at its eight restaurants over the past year exceeded $8 million.
The firm is set to add nine more locations in 2021, eventually planning to expand to 29 restaurants. Tahini’s also has bitcoin ATMs in every restaurant to encourage both customers and employees to invest in crypto.
Large-scale global supply chain issues during the Covid pandemic have been weighing on individual companies, becoming a major reason for their declining profit margins and rising prices for consumer goods.
According to grill maker Traeger, the company saw an 11.7% year-over-year increase in sales in its third quarter, as it recorded $162 million in revenues. However, its gross profit margin of 33.5% represented a steep decline from 45.3% in Q3 2020.
“Bringing a 40-foot container from Asia to the US 12 months ago was about $1,500. Today, you’re spending upwards of $30,000 and we’re certainly averaging close to $10,000,” Traeger CEO Jeremy Andrus told CNBC on Monday.
“Our inventory is big and heavy. It takes up a lot of container space, and so we are particularly sensitive to transportation costs,” he added.
The chief executive also said he believes the elevated transportation costs will eventually ease, providing a boost for Traeger down the road as it competes in a grilling category that has expanded during the pandemic.
“We’re sensitive to a near-term shift. The world will right-size itself, in terms of these costs, and we will see some significant flow through to the bottom line,” Andrus said, adding: “But right now, we are driving the brand. We are thinking about the engine, the brand health. That’s what lasts long term.”
The lockdown measures intended to stop the spread of coronavirus have led to a surge in demand for goods, inflating the cost of containers. This has resulted in rising prices for all types of consumer goods. Experts say shipping costs will continue rising and the market will not start to settle until the middle of 2022.
The Iranian foreign ministry has doubled down on its criticism of the UK for designating Hamas a terrorist organization, claiming the British move is just a tool to criminalize support for the Palestinian cause.
According to Iranian media, an Instagram post shared on Saturday by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has been removed by the social media giant. Amir-Abdollahian had hit out at the British government’s decision to label Hamas as a terror organization and reiterated his support for Palestinians.
“The rights of the Palestinian people cannot be violated by distorting realities,” the now-deleted post read, according to local media.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh reiterated Tehran’s position in a tweet on Monday. “Terrorist designations by Western countries have become a tool to criminalise grassroots support for the Palestinian cause,” the spokesman wrote, adding, “These #phony_designations don’t just target groups that resist Israeli Apartheid, they primary target these countries’ civil societies.”
"Terrorist designations" by Western countries have become a tool to criminalise grassroots support for the Palestinian cause. These #phony_designations don't just target groups that resist Israeli Apartheid, they primary target these countries' civil societies. pic.twitter.com/ppSwSdEnxW
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended Americans not go to Germany and Denmark due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in both countries.
The CDC added Germany and Denmark to the list of countries with a ‘very high’ risk of contracting Covid-19. The travel advisory for both nations was elevated to Level 4, the highest threat level in the CDC’s four-tier assessment system.
The agency advises Americans to ‘avoid travel’ to Level 4 countries, or be fully vaccinated if they still decide to take the trip.
The State Department made the same recommendation, warning that “because of the current situation in Germany, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants.”
Germany has seen a rise in cases during the fourth wave of the pandemic, prompting some officials to recommend mandatory vaccination for the general public.
Denmark has suffered from an upswing in cases as well. This month, the country introduced a digital ‘corona pass’ for people aged 15 and older.
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The presence of the USS Milius in the Taiwan Strait was creating security risks and undermining regional stability, the Chinese military said following the passage of the US missile destroyer through the contested waterway.
The US Navy warship sailed through the 125km-wide strait on Tuesday in what the American military described as a “routine” mission to demonstrate their nation’s “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” The Pentagon sends warships to pass between Taiwan and mainland China roughly once a month and regularly deploys warplanes to patrol the area.
Beijing considers such operations provocative and detrimental to peace in the region. Responding to the latest of its kind, Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command (ETC), said the passage of the American asset was monitored by the Chinese military. He added that its forces would take every necessary step to counter all threats and defend the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
Taiwan was the last place of refuge for retreating nationalist forces in China’s civil war of the 1940s. Both Beijing and Taipei claim sovereignty over the entire territory of China.
Like many other nations, the US, which supports Taiwan’s self-proclaimed autonomy, maintains a stance of diplomatic ambiguity, recognizing that Beijing has a claim of sovereignty over the island and refraining from formally treating its ally as an independent nation.
Both Washington and Beijing have been increasing their military presence around Taiwan in recent years as the great power competition between the two nations became increasingly tense.
The Democrat-led House committee investigating the events of January 6 in Washington, DC has issued five new subpoenas. Among the people the lawmakers want to question is Trump adviser Roger Stone and radio host Alex Jones.
The committee wants to know “who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds” related to pro-Trump protests that escalated into a riot on Capitol Hill, “as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said in a statement.
We believe the witnesses we subpoenaed today have relevant information and we expect them to cooperate fully with our effort to get answers for the American people about the violence of January 6th.
Stone, a Trump confidant, reportedly spoke at rallies on January 5 and was slated to speak the next day at the Ellipse protest that preceded the march on the Capitol, the committee said. He also solicited support for the rallies and allegedly used members of the Oath Keepers group as bodyguards, including one person who has since been indicted.
Jones, a popular conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist, reportedly helped organize the Ellipse rally and claimed he provided “eighty percent” of its funding, according to the statement. He implied he was in communication with the Trump White House about the planned protests on January 6. The committee is also interested in his promotion of the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
Three other individuals who the committee believes can share details of how the protests in Washington were organized and funded are Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, a couple who played key parts in the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement, and Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesperson. Stockton is of particular interest to the investigators due to his reported efforts to warn the White House about the “possible danger” that marching from the Ellipse to the Capitol could pose, the statement said.
Stone responded to Monday’s news by reiterating that he “had no advance knowledge of the events that took place at the Capitol on that day,” and calling any claims to the contrary “categorically false.”
The Capitol Hill riot happened on the day US lawmakers were set to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, to whom Trump has never conceded. Pro-Trump protesters broke into the Capitol Building, where one of them was shot and killed by a police officer, and later engaged in violent street clashes with security forces, during which four more deaths among protesters and police occurred.
The disturbance has been treated by Trump critics as one of the greatest threats the nation has ever faced. Many of his supporters believe the violence may have been facilitated or even instigated by opponents of the former president in the FBI to justify the subsequent crackdown.