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1. UK looks to ban Chinese nuclear firm from country’s energy projects – reports15:14[−]

The British government is probing ways to block China’s state-owned nuclear energy company from future power projects in the UK, according to media reports citing government sources.

The move could see China General Nuclear (CGN) kicked out of a French-Chinese consortium which is planning to build the £20 billion ($27.6 billion) Sizewell C nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast and another one in Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex.

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FILE PHOTO. © REUTERS / Suzanne Plunkett
London gives go-ahead for ?20bn nuclear plant to secure UK’s energy future, reopens talks with French electricity giant EDF

According to both Bloomberg and the Independent, unnamed sources have confirmed a recent report by the Financial Times that first brought to light the UK government’s stance on China’s participation in the projects.

There isn’t a chance in hell that CGN builds [Sizewell C],” a source cited by the Financial Times claimed, noting that “given the approach we’ve seen to Huawei, [UK authorities] aren’t going to be letting a Chinese company build a new nuclear power station.” The source also revealed that UK authorities were already in talks with the main developer of Sizewell C, the French state-backed company Électricité de France S.A. (EDF), regarding chances to find new partners for the project. CGN didn’t respond to requests for comment on the report, while EDF declined to give any.

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UK government begins purge of China’s Huawei from country’s 5G rollout

The UK and China have been cooperating on nuclear power projects since a deal reached by former Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015. CGN is an investor with a 33% share in the Hinkley Point C nuclear facility in Somerset, one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK, currently under construction.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian called China and the UK “important trade and investment partners” at a briefing on Monday, noting that as it is in everyone's interests to cooperate “in the spirit of mutual benefit” the UK should “provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies.

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British and China national flags © REUTERS/Andy Wong
China is right to expose Britain’s rank hypocrisy, London can’t adopt the moral high ground AND demand special trade deals

The British government has been increasingly critical of China’s policies of late, namely with regard to its stance on Hong Kong, the alleged mistreatment of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, and the handling of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan province. Boris Johnson’s administration recently blocked China’s Huawei Technologies from taking part in the set up of the UK's 5G wireless network, while Britain’s national security adviser ordered an investigation into the takeover of the UK’s major chip producer by the Chinese firm Nexperia NV.

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2. Sabre-rattling Russians: Sofia Pozdniakova clinches gold in all-Russian Tokyo Olympics fencing final against Sofya Velikaya15:09[−]

Double world and European champion Sofia Pozdniakova has won the all-Russian women's individual fencing final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, beating Sofya Velikaya 15-11 in the final in Tokyo.

The clash between the compatriots guaranteed the Russian team – competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) due to a doping-related ban – their second gold of the Games.

Pozdniakova, who is the daughter of Stanislav Pozdnyakov, a four-time Olympic fencing champion and the current head of the Russian Olympic team, saw off her more experienced opponent to add to the world and European doubles she claimed in both 2018 and 2019.

At 36, eight-time world champion Velikaya is 12 years Pozdniakova's senior. She won gold in the team event at the Rio Games in 2016, as well as two silver medals at two previous Olympic Games.

The Kazakh-born star announced her comeback in 2017 following maternity leave and was the flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.

More to follow

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Inna Deriglazova and Larisa Korobeynikova (inset) took Olympic silver and bronze © Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Epic win: Fencing star Korobeynikova beats two-time Euro queen for bronze at Tokyo Olympics as champ Deriglazova earns silver

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3. Al Jazeera says Tunisian police raided its office, expelled journalists & seized equipment amid ongoing political crisis15:06[−]

Al Jazeera said police broke into its office in Tunisia after President Kais Saied suspended parliament activities and sacked the country’s prime minister. Saied’s move was labeled a coup by opponents.

The Qatari state-funded channel said at least 20 armed plainclothes police officers entered its Tunis office on Monday and instructed all journalists to leave.

Al Jazeera quoted its Tunisian bureau as saying that police did not have a warrant, but claimed they were acting under orders from the country’s judiciary. The journalists had their phones and other equipment seized and were not allowed back into the building to get their personal belongings, the channel reported

“We did not receive any prior notice of the eviction of our office by the security forces,” Lotfi Hajji, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Tunisia, said.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the raid, calling on authorities to respect the freedom of the press.

The reported raid took place a day after President Saied froze parliament activities, stripped MPs of their immunity, and fired Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi. Saied argued the move was in line with the country's constitution and necessary in order to “save the state” amid a social upheaval.

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Supporters of Tunisia's President Kais Saied gather on the streets as they celebrate after he dismissed the government and froze parliament, in Tunis, Tunisia, July 25, 2021
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Opponents immediately accused the president of launching a coup. Rached Gannouchi, the speaker of Tunisia’s parliament, labeled Saied’s actions as unconstitutional and “illegal.”

Clashes were reported outside the parliament building on Monday. Al Jazeera said that the army was deployed to the government complex in Tunis.

Anti-government protests intensified this week in Tunisian cities as people rallied over the handling of Covid-19, economic hardships, and police violence.

Tunisia’s current political system was created several years after longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

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4. Ukrainian security council sanctions Russia’s richest woman & her online delivery empire Wildberries, barring it from country15:06[−]

Russia’s largest e-commerce and delivery giant has now been barred from operating in Ukraine, after officials said earlier this year that the firm could face restrictions over the sale of books featuring “anti-Ukrainian content.”

On Friday, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, signed an order introducing sanctions against Wildberries and its owner, Tatyana Bakalchuk. Under the provisions, the online retailer will see its assets blocked and be prevented from moving goods through Ukraine. It will also be prevented from accessing telecommunications services or selling technology and intellectual property rights. Bakalchuk will face personal restrictions on travel to the country.

In January, the head of licensing at Ukraine’s State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting said that Wildberries was likely to be included in upcoming versions of the country’s national sanctions list. According to Sergey Oleinik, the company “makes profits in Ukraine while paying taxes in the aggressor state,” meaning Russia. According to him, the service offers customers access to uncensored books that include supposedly anti-Ukrainian content. At the same time, Oleinik complained that low prices for literature were making competition hard for traditional sellers.

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RT composite
Missed delivery: Why does Amazon, the company that sells nearly everything, nearly everywhere, do next to no business in Russia?

Reacting to the news over the weekend, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mocked the new directive, saying that it applied a double standard to the Russian company that it was not applying to its competitors. “You can find T-shirts with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the uniform of the Russian Army in online stores,” she said. “I wonder when Amazon and [its CEO] Jeff Bezos will face the brunt of Ukrainian sanctions,” she asked, “or is it different?”

READ MORE: Russian e-commerce giant Wildberries launches sales in US

Ukraine already has a number of stringent rules banning the import of Russian-language content, such as films and TV shows. However, officials in Kiev deny that this constitutes censorship, arguing instead that it is necessary to protect the Ukrainian language and resist foreign propaganda. Almost all Ukrainians have a command of Russian, and it is a majority language in much of the east and south of the country.

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5. ‘Humans are gonna get fried’: Basketball robot TERRIFIES fans as it lands half-court shot in Olympics display (VIDEO)14:54[−]

A basketball-playing robot stole the show at half-time in the USA’s shock defeat to France at the Tokyo Olympics over the weekend, inspiring awe but also no shortage of terror on social media.

The robot was rolled out to show off its skills at the Saitama Super Arena, making a shot from the three-point line and then shifting back to half-court distance to sink a long-range effort.

According to reports, the humanoid baller was a CUE, a robot first created by Japanese giants Toyota in 2018.

One model of the robot set a Guinness world record in 2019 for the “most consecutive basketball free throws by a humanoid (assisted)” – making 2,020 shots in a row in a symbolic nod to the Tokyo Games.

The bot’s accuracy was just as unerring in Saitama on Sunday – sparking admiration on social media but also concerns over the speed at which robots could soon overtake their human masters.

The official Olympics website did little to quell the fears, describing the half-time guest as “terrifyingly life-like in height.”

Others, though, were far less impressed, noting the lengthy amount of time it took to prepare the humanoid for each shot.

When the reali-life action returned, the USA suffered a shock 83-76 defeat to France in their Group A clash, ending a 25-game unbeaten run for the Americans at the Olympics.

The official Olympics website used the defeat and the appearance of the bot to indulge in a bit of trolling at the Americans’ expense.

“After suffering a shock defeat, don't be surprised if Team USA are calling up Tokyo's basketball robot if they find themselves in need of points again,” read a cheeky remark.

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Kevin Durant watched on as the USA men's basketball team lost at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics © Brian Snyder / Reuters | ©  Kyle Terada / USA Today Network via Reuters
‘A hell of a win’: Massive Olympics shock as France hand USA first loss in 17 years, ending 25-match run of men’s basketball wins

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6. ‘I hope the non-vaxxers change their minds’: Club doctor urges football stars to take Covid jab, blames internet ‘lies & nonsense’14:49[−]

Footballers who do not take a Covid-19 vaccine must take on the "moral and economic responsibilities" of their decision, according to a top club doctor who claims players are "conditioned" by "untrue" information they see online.

Gianni Nanni, who is Serie A side Bologna's team doctor and a member of the FIGC medical commission, revealed that there are at least three players who do not want to take a vaccine among the Italian top-flight club's squad.

A recent outbreak at rivals Spezia, where 15 players became infected, has made the medic even more determined to persuade players to take treatment and ignore what he believes is a wealth of misinformation on the internet.

"The obligation to vaccinate against Covid?," he asked ANSA. "I would put it [in law] but I am not a jurist, [so] I don't know if it can be done.

"Those who do not get vaccinated, however, must take on the moral and economic responsibilities of a possible outbreak that it can cause.

"On average, in each team, there are two or three unvaccinated [members] in groups of about 55 people.

"Unfortunately, some fall into lies and nonsense on the internet. We are trying to convince everyone, explaining that it is a question [of personal] safety for oneself, for the team group and for their families."

Nanni explained that fans in Italy will be asked to prove that they have been fully vaccinated, have immunity or show proof of a negative test taken within the 48 hours before kick-off – measures which are increasingly familiar to supporters, including those who attended Euro 2020 matches in London.

"The first two methods are totally safe, while for the third I have some doubts," Nanni told Il Resto del Carlino.

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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium, November 15, 2020  © Reuters / USA TODAY / Mark J. Rebilas
NFL player Cole Beasley vows not to take Covid-19 jab or follow league’s draconian rules, even if he has to RETIRE

"What if someone was infected after having the swab and therefore in the 24 hours preceding the event? A stadium with total capacity but with only those recovered from the virus or vaccinated would be safer."

Regarding his plans for potential anti-vaxxers in his team, Nanni said: "The Spezia case has taught us that it takes very little to trigger an outbreak. We will try to explain to these people that the vaccine is not dangerous: I hope the non-vaxxers change their minds."

Echoing Nanni's comments, Spezia chief medical officer Vincenzo Salini put the debacle at his club down to two first-team players refusing to take the vaccine.

"We provided the first dose of the vaccine, but two players didn’t want to have it because they consider themselves anti-vaxxers and a small cluster of cases then developed," he explained to radio station Punto Nuovo radio.

"Fortunately, all the boys feel fine. All the clubs are working on administering the vaccinations."

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Rick Dennison has reportedly left the Minnesota Vikings © Dado Ruvic / Reuters | © Harrison Barden / USA Today Sports via Reuters
Hugely experienced NFL coach leaves job after refusing to take Covid-19 jab in football’s first non-vaccination departure – report

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7. Leading Russian Communist politician Grudinin barred from running in election after ex-wife reveals hidden foreign investments14:45[−]

Russia’s Central Electoral Commission has barred former Communist presidential candidate Pavel Grudinin from running in this fall’s parliamentary elections after his ex-wife blew the whistle on an undeclared investment in Belize.

Grudinin is the director of Lenin State Farm, a 2,000-hectare sprawl of land growing fruits and vegetables on the outskirts of Moscow. After working there for over a decade, he gained control of the enterprise in 1995, which helped him to become a millionaire. In 2018, he was selected by the Communist Party as its presidential candidate. This choice proved to be controversial within the Russian left, as many believed a bourgeois business-owner shouldn’t be the Communist candidate.

His candidacy was also marred by scandal following accusations that he had hidden foreign bank accounts and the revelation that he had a secret second family.

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Pavel Grudinin (L) and Vladimir Zhirinovsky (R) at Lenin State Farm © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
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Grudinin, despite representing a systemic party, is known for being a vocal Kremlin critic. In 2018, he polled as Russia’s second most trusted opposition politician, behind far-right Liberal Democratic Party veteran MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and ahead of the now-jailed figure Alexey Navalny. Since then, the scandals have caused his trust rating to plummet. Now, the controversial figure has been stopped from furthering his career in politics, having been banned from running in the 2021 Duma election after his ex-wife Irina Grudinina provided documents to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) showing that he owns undeclared shares in Bontro Ltd., a Belize-based company.

According to Russian electoral law, candidates must close foreign accounts before being nominated and must no longer keep money or valuables in foreign banks located outside the country.

Furthermore, on July 23, Grudinina wrote to CEC head Ella Pamfilova, asking her to stop her ex-husband from being elected as an MP, alleging that he wants to be a parliamentarian so he can get immunity from prosecution.

At a meeting of the CEC, Grudinin categorically denied having any accounts or assets abroad.

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FILE PHOTO Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev © Sputnik / Alexey Nikolskii
Russia may grant ex-presidents immunity from prosecution & ban ministers from holding foreign bank accounts

“Someone is deliberately trying to mislead the Prosecutor General’s Office and the CEC,” he said. “The Communist Party is an opposition party. It has scared someone, someone is afraid of the great effect of uniting the left forces.”

According to Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, the decision to bar Grudinin is “illegal, unlawful and abnormal.” This is not the first time the controversial figure has been stopped from entering parliament. In 2019, following the death of MP Zhores Alferov, Grudinin was selected to replace him in the Duma. However, the CEC refused to admit him, citing his foreign bank accounts.

The 2021 State Duma elections will be held in September and will see parties compete for the 450 seats in parliament. In the previous election, in 2016, the Communist Party came in second place behind United Russia, led by former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

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8. Indian rescue efforts impeded by worst monsoon rains in decades as west coast state death toll reaches 14914:20[−]

At least 149 people have died in just one state in India after monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides across the west coast. Relief efforts continue to be hampered by torrential rains.

In a tweet on Monday, the office of Maharashtra’s chief minister said that Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray was unable to visit flood-afflicted areas due to poor visibility, forcing his helicopter to turn around and return to Pune, the city from where he departed.

Despite the chief minister’s own struggle, he encouraged rescue workers to push on and ensure that they reach affected areas, notably Satara District, with the required aid.

“Rescue work should be carried out carefully, flood victims should be provided immediate food, clothing and medicine,” his office said in a tweet, adding that the waters are yet to subside in the area.

A government statement said that 149 people had died in the western state of Maharashtra due to landslides and other monsoon-linked incidents, including 37 deaths recorded on Sunday. It said that 64 were still missing.

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Rescue workers evacuate people from a flooded area to safer places after heavy rains in Kolhapur in the western state of Maharashtra, India, July 23, 2021. © REUTERS/Abhijeet Gurjar
Monsoon rains trigger floods and landslides in India leaving at least 67 dead

“We are trying hard to rescue people trapped under landslide debris in Raigad and Satara but the possibility of evacuating them alive is remote,” said a senior official with the state government, noting that some people had been trapped under the “mud” for three days. Both Raigad and Satara sit south of the country’s financial capital, Mumbai.

On Monday morning, news agency ANI reported that rescue operations at landslide-hit Taliye village in Maharashtra’s Raigad had been called off. All 31 missing would be declared dead.

Other west coast states, Goa and Karnataka, as well as Telangana in India’s center, have been hit by some of the heaviest monsoon rains experienced in years. Authorities are attempting to move 230,000 people to safer locations while undertaking painstaking rescue operations to recover people from landslides and floods.

Tens of people have died in Karnataka and Telangana due to flooding, although authorities have reported that the water levels of the Krishna and Godavari rivers are receding.

Hundreds of houses have been damaged in the popular seaside destination of Goa on India’s west coast. The state’s chief minister Pramod Sawant said it was experiencing the worst floods in nearly four decades.

On Sunday, nine tourists died in the Himalayas as a giant landslide crashed down the Sangla Valley. Authorities had already advised people against travel for tourism during the rainy season.

A horrifying video shows the sheer force of the rockfall, with one landing on a bridge, causing it to break in two.

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9. Football ace Ronaldinho admits ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is ‘in my heart’, brandishes huge bottle of wine on Italy jolly13:54[−]

Brazil and Barcelona legend Ronaldinho has brandished a huge bottle of wine while enjoying a holiday in Italy and has spoken of his relationship with the country's former prime minister and ex-AC Milan owner, Silvio Berlusconi.

The Ballon d'Or-winning football icon was bought by Berlusconi for the Rossoneri for around $23 million in 2008.

Driven out of Catalonia by then-newly appointed Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who was fearful of his party-loving influence on a young Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho's powers were already beginning to fade by the time he rocked up in the San Siro, although he still became a fan favorite there.

His place in club history is secure by helping them to their last Serie A title in 2011 before total dominance from Juventus only broken by cross-city rivals Inter this May crept in.

The 41-year-old, who had a 2020 to forget that was mostly spent in a Paraguayan prison thanks to a fake passport mix up, is enjoying a much better summer this time round.

Captured partying in Miami with Paul Pogba, he is now in Italy where he spent three memorable years, and was asked to comment on the takeover of Monza by Berlusconi ,which is now chaired by hometown hero Adriano Galliani.

Berlusconi bought the club in 2018 after selling AC Milan 18 months beforehand, and also installed his younger brother, Paolo, as president.

Winning promotion to Serie B after the 2019-2020 season, the club has never reached the top flight, although they made the playoffs last season.

When Ronaldinho was probed on a few pressing matters by Tuttomercatoweb, his history in Italy naturally arose.

"I’ve received a warm welcome and I am happy," he said of his experiences in country on the whole.

"I am still following Milan. They are doing well, they are a top club and I hope they will continue like this.

"I bring Berlusconi and Galliani in my heart. I am waiting for Monza in Serie A."

Additionally asked about the future of his former protege and the dire financial straits his first big European club after PSG find themselves in, Ronaldinho said that he hoped Barcelona solve their problems and that Messi "must remain because he is the history of Barça".

Ronaldinho later showed off a huge bottle of wine on Instagram and praised an "important opportunity" to promote a collaboration with Fabio Cardella, which he described as "so good".

Like Berlusconi, Cordella is also a businessman with his fingers in football. He was recently the sporting director of Budapest Honved FC.

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Man. City have reportedly been part of a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice © Toby Melville / Reuters | © Phil Noble / Reuters
‘You are bemoaning reality’: Man. City make case in UK court after UAE deals reportedly allow club to outspend rivals by $825MN

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10. French parliament approves bill forcing vaccination for medical workers & greater health pass use amid growing protests13:49[−]

The French parliament has approved a bill to further tighten requirements for mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and health passes in response to the Delta variant. The new constraints come amid mounting protests in France.

The new restrictions in Monday morning’s bill mean that French health workers will be obligated to receive the vaccine. The need for health passes will also be imposed across more areas of society, leaving fewer social activities and transport options available for those who are opposed to the jab.

Monday’s bill means that the health pass – a vaccine passport or a negative test – will be required in bars and restaurants, on long-distance train journeys, and on flights.

Prior to the measures approved on Monday, President Emmanuel Macron had already applied the health pass to museums, cinemas and swimming pools, following the spread of the Delta variant in early July.

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FILE PHOTO. French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France. © AFP / 
‘This is not freedom’: Macron denounces ‘irresponsibility and egoism’ of those who refuse Covid jab

The bill still needs final approval by France’s Constitutional Court – a body to whom many protesters are appealing for the protection of their ‘droits de l’homme’, or human rights.

On July 24, protests across France intensified in opposition to Macron’s health pass, which many claim is a coercive move to force people into taking the vaccine. There were 160,000 people protesting across the country on Saturday, chanting “liberty, liberty!”

Signs that read ‘Down with the dictatorship’, in reference to Macron’s measures, were also seen.

The demonstrations, which have been active since the start of July, are rapidly growing in strength, with the recent protests boasting some 50,000 more people than those held a week ago.

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File photo: Protest against 'health pass' announced by French President Emmanuel Macron, July 17, 2021.
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One of the major protests on Saturday, organized by French nationalist party Les Patriotes, took place at the Trocadero Square in Paris and appealed for more freedom and human rights.

Similar protests kicked off around Europe on Saturday, namely in Rome and Athens, where people opposed the vaccine.

According to the official data, 60% of adults in France are now fully vaccinated.

Since the start of the pandemic, France has recorded 111,806 Covid-19 deaths.

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11. China sees biggest Covid-19 surge in months, orders 2nd round of mass testing in Nanjing13:43[−]

A new wave of testing has been launched in the Covid-19 hotspot of Nanjing, China, as the country recorded its highest daily increase in infections in recent months.

China’s National Health Commission reported 76 new cases on Monday, including 40 that were locally transmitted. It was the highest daily increase since the end of January, according to Reuters.

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(FILE PHOTO) © REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
'Not a blame game': WHO urges collaboration after Beijing rejects proposed second probe into Covid-19 origins

Officials said that 39 of the locally transmitted cases were recorded in the eastern Jiangsu region, out of which 38 were in Nanjing, the provincial capital of 8.5 million, and one in Suqian. Dozens of cases were previously linked to Nanjing’s Lukou International Airport.

After the world’s first Covid-19 outbreak was recorded in China last year, the country largely managed to control the spread of the virus through mass testing, rigorous contact tracing and strict lockdowns.

Authorities have since been busy fighting small clusters of infections, like the one seen in the hotspot of Ruili, a border town close to Myanmar, that went into a lockdown this month.

To contain the outbreak in Nanjing, a second round of mass testing was launched on Sunday, Yang Dasuo, deputy director of the city’s health commission, said. Other measures have also been introduced, including mandatory temperature checks.

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12. ‘Money decides everything’: Russian swim star Efimova bemoans early start times at ‘dishonest’ Tokyo Olympics13:41[−]

Russian breaststroke queen Yulia Efimova has hit out at the early start times for the swimming finals at the Tokyo Olympics, also venting her frustrations about some of the restrictions athletes face in Japan.

Competing at what are likely to be her last Olympic Games, Efimova booked a spot in the 100m breaststroke final by finishing third in her semi-final on Monday.

Joining her will be countrywoman Evgeniya Chikunova, 16, who came home fourth in the same race.

Both will bid for a medal in Tuesday’s final, which gets underway at 11.17 am local time in Tokyo.

Efimova is into another Olympic final. © Rob Schumacher / USA TODAY Sports

The morning start is in keeping with all the showpiece swimming events in Japan, in a concession to US broadcasters which can show them at more auspicious night-time slots for their audiences Stateside.

Efimova, though, has bemoaned the start times as not being conducive to athletes recording their best times.

“It’s really tough. But the results say the same in all the distances [in the pool],” Efimova told the Russian media.

“All the more so when yesterday evening we finished late, and today we have to get up early in the morning.

“Usually all the training is in the morning, and before the Olympics you plan for that.

"All the same, in the morning results don’t go like they should. But everyone’s facing the same conditions.”

Broadcaster NBC shelled out a reported $7.75 billion back in 2014 for exclusive rights to show the sporting spectacular in the US until the 2032 Games, meaning TV bosses get a considerable say in how events are scheduled.

“Unfortunately, in our world, money is everything, and they don't pay attention to the interests of athletes,” added Efimova.

“We would have seen better results if the finals were held in the evening. World records would be broken. But this is also interesting [with morning finals], because the unpredictability increases.”

Officials at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) responded to the complaints by telling Russian media that it was “not the first time” they had heard grumbles, but said athletes had to respect the demand of broadcasters, and could also benefit as a result.

Six-time world champion Efimova, 29, is chasing a fourth Olympic medal after bagging bronze in the 200m breaststroke in London and two silver medals – in the 100m and 200m – in the pool in Rio in 2016.

However, the social media favorite suggested that the Covid-hit Games in Tokyo were far from the joyous Olympic spirit witnessed at previous editions of the event.

“The [Olympic] village is like a village. It’s small, and we can’t do anything,” Efimova said of her time between races.

“The rooms are like in the rest of the Olympics. The only thing is that the sizes in Japan are smaller. There’s only one dining room.

"What annoys me the most is the gift shop that you can't go to. And if you come in, there’s already nothing left. I’d like to take home some souvenirs.

“I’m upset that it’s impossible to go anywhere, a lot of athletes are suspended from the competition. This is already a dishonest Olympics, when not everyone can compete.”

A view of the Olympic Village in Tokyo. © Rob Schumacher / USA TODAY Sports

Efimova’s third-placed semi-final finish means she won’t be among the favorites to reach the podium in Tokyo, with America’s Lilly King – a double gold medalist in Rio – and South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker both hotly fancied.

Efimova has some history with King, with the pair doing battle in Rio while trading barbs along the way.

Tatjana Schoenmaker edged out Lilly King in their semi-final. © USA Today Sports

“I’m a fan of Tanja Schoenmaker. If I don't win myself, then let Tanja win,” said Efimova of Tuesday’s final at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.

She added, however, that the field was very much open.

“In general, the ending will be unpredictable. Especially because the race is in the morning. Plus everything is always different at the Olympics.

"Anyone can win, from first to eighth place.”

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13. ‘I will not return’: Record-breaking gymnast makes emotional retirement after eighth Olympics appearance with Uzbekistan at 46yo13:40[−]

Legendary 46-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, who won gold with the former sports team of the Soviet Union in 1992 and has since represented Uzbekistan and Germany, has admitted to "tears" and "grief" after her final Games.

Gymnastics great Chusovitina first competed in gymnastics almost 40 years ago, becoming a key member of the Soviet team who dominated on the world stage and winning gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games with the Unified Team shortly after turning 17.

Born in the Uzbek city of Bukhara, she danced to 'The Phantom of the Opera' while representing the country of her birth between 1993 and 2005, then switched to Germany, where she had received financial and coaching support from members of the country's sporting and medical communities after being diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2002.

Uzbekistan released Chusovitina in 2003. Her astonishing haul of 32 major senior medals included silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and she only initially decided to retire and concentrate on coaching following a fifth-placed finish at her sixth Olympics, when she took part in the London edition in 2012.

She was the oldest gymnast ever to compete at the Games when she went to Rio as a 41-year-old in 2016, having switched back to Uzbekistan in 2013.

Chusovitina returned to the all-round discipline from the vault for the Tokyo Games, which she reached by securing one of the final qualification spots for her nation.

Addressing her "dear friends and my fans", Chusovitina admitted it was "very hard" to discuss her retirement, which she had expected to be "much easier".

"There were ups and downs," she acknowledged, as Ukrainian former Olympic parallel bars champion Oleg Verniaiev responded by affectionately calling the distinguished veteran "grandma".

"There were tears of joy and tears of grief but I don't regret it for a single minute. My sports life has been great – and, most importantly, I have you.

"Your love and support is the most invaluable wealth in my life. Thank you for everything."

Chusovitina has said that she has many ambitions she now wants to make time for after dedicating decades to her sport.

Two-time Olympian and three-time US National champion Johnny Weir told her: "Queen. Thanks a lot for the inspiration."

Jamaican gymnast Danusia Francis added no fewer than eight exclamation marks as she wrote: "An icon forever. What a career."

Russian former artistic world champion Daria Spiridonova lauded Chusovitina, and German gymnast Sarah Voss called her "a true inspiration and mentor".

Ukrainian ex-world champion Lilia Podkopayeva wrote: "You are an example and a guide for many generations. Thank you for the joy and inspiration that we felt looking at you."

"Our pride, our legend, our everything," added one adoring supporter. "Thank you for everything.

"Such people should be rewarded for their patriotism and love for their work and their country. I wish you happiness, health and all the best. We all cried with you."

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© Lukas Schulze / DPA / Global Look Press
42-year-old female artistic gymnast advances to vault final at world championships

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14. Knife-wielding assailant dies in custody days after being detained over attempted assassination of Mali’s leader13:34[−]

The individual accused of attempting to assassinate Mali’s president during a knife attack at a mosque in Bamako on Tuesday has died in custody after he was taken to hospital when “his state of health deteriorated.”

During prayers at a service marking the Eid al-Adha holiday in the Bamako Grand Mosque, an attacker attempted to stab Mali’s interim president, Colonel Assimi Goita, before being overpowered by security officers and thrown into a military truck. Goita, unharmed, was quickly surrounded by bodyguards and moved to safety, but another individual who was sitting behind him was injured. A statement released by Mali’s government said that the alleged aggressor had died after being moved to hospital when “his state of health deteriorated,” with an investigation into the cause of death being conducted.

As he was participating in prayers, the knife-wielding man approached the country’s leader and tried to stab him in the neck but, according to Mali’s prime minister, Choguel Maiga, Goita’s training as a special forces officer and “instinct helped prevent the aggressor from reaching his objective.”

While media reports had initially claimed that two individuals were involved in the attempted assassination, only one person was detained and security officers have not suggested that the other individual is being sought in connection with the attack.

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FILE PHOTO. Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of Malian military junta, attends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana. © Reuters / Francis Kokoroko
Armed man attempts to stab Mali’s interim president during prayers at Bamako mosque

Security services described the attack as “an isolated action,” seemingly dismissing potential links to the ongoing insurgency within the country and surrounding Sahel region that has been ongoing for a decade. Mali has been under the control of Colonel Goita since May 2021 after he seized power in a coup. The country’s government has been seeking to reestablish stability in the region, with the support of France.

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15. Bitcoin bulls back as world’s top crypto surges towards $40,00013:03[−]

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, jumped 15% on Monday to over $39,000, following two days of steady gains that may mean a turn towards a bullish crypto market.

The cryptocurrency pared some of the gains, trading at about $38,300 as of 9:00am GMT, after briefly topping $39,000 for the first time since mid-June. Bitcoin fell below $30,000 last week amid a global stock sell-off, raising concerns that the crypto could fall even further.

With the latest surge, more than $700 million of bitcoin short positions were liquidated on Monday, the most in at least the past three months, data from Bybt.com showed. Bitcoin futures also surged, with over 1,000 contracts traded within 10 minutes.

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FILE PHOTO: Representations of virtual currency bitcoin are seen through broken glass.
Bitcoin plunges below $30,000 amid broader cryptocurrency market sell-off

Bitcoin’s gains were followed by other cryptocurrencies, with the second-most valuable crypto ethereum up around 8% to above $2,300. The entire cryptocurrency market has added over $114 billion in value as of Sunday evening, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

Experts explain the bullishness with several factors, including recent uplifting comments from Twitter, Tesla, and Ark Invest CEOs at a bitcoin conference called ‘The B-Word’. Elon Musk said that Tesla may once again begin accepting bitcoin for its vehicle purchases, adding that both Tesla and space exploration company SpaceX own bitcoin, while he personally has bought bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin.

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FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin.
Russian central bank warns domestic stock exchanges against crypto-related funds

Also, Amazon Inc. has recently listed a job posting for a digital currency and blockchain expert, seen as a sign the e-commerce giant plans to work with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. An Amazon spokesperson said the company is “inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space,” and is “exploring what this could look like on Amazon,” as cited by Bloomberg.

The crypto market has recently been hit by concerns over the carbon footprint and energy consumption of bitcoin mining, a regulatory crackdown on the crypto in China, and criticism coming from European and US officials. Bitcoin is still around $27,000 off its mid-April high of nearly $65,000. However, some experts believe that the stresses bitcoin has been under are starting to wear off, indicating a return to the bullish crypto market.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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16. Second judoka quits Tokyo Olympics before facing Israeli opponent who Algerian refused to meet over Palestine conflict12:42[−]

Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdalrasool weighed in but did not appear for his clash with Tohar Butbal in the round of 32 at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, leaving the Israeli without an opponent again after Fethi Nourine was sent home.

Algerian Nourine drew praise and criticism after refusing to take on Butbal, explaining that "the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this" before being suspended by the International Judo Foundation (IJF).

The federation has not immediately declared why Abdalrasool did not participate, and the Guardian said that the governing body and Sudanese Olympic officials had not provided an immediate comment on the situation.

Abdalrasool, who has a 73kg world ranking of 469, would have been a sizeable underdog against seventh-ranked Butbul, who also saw Nourine quit a bout against him at the 2019 world championships.

Abdalrasool was due to meet Butbal as a result of Nourine's premature exit. "Sudanese athletes also won't face Israelis," speculated one sports writer.

Despite the nature of Abdalrasool's withdrawal being unclear, he was swiftly savaged by some on social media, with Nourine also copping fury.

"Fethi Nourine and Mohamed Abdalrasool should be banned for life in every Judo association," said one angry respondent. "Such blatant anti-semitism has no place in sports and should be severely punished."

Others described Abdalrasool as "another coward", with one writing: "I want to say that I can't believe they hate Israel so much that they're willing to ruin their entire career over competing fairly with an Israeli athlete, but anti-semitism is just like that, isn't it?"

In a statement, the IJF said it had taken its decision to punish Nourine because it would not tolerate "discrimination" and wanted to foster the "respect and friendship" at the heart of its moral code.

Nourine said he had been motivated by a desire not to "get his hands dirty", while his coach insisted the decision to pull out had been the right one.

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An Algerian who withdrew from the Olympics to avoid facing an Israeli could face punishment © Reuters | © Sergio Perez / Reuters
Algerian athlete who withdrew from Tokyo Olympics to avoid clash with Israeli faces action from judo bosses over ‘discrimination’

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17. Asian Covid-hotspot Indonesia to receive 45mn Covid vaccines in August, as government eases curbs despite warnings12:15[−]

Indonesia’s health minister has announced that the country will receive 45 million coronavirus vaccines in August just as Covid curbs have been relaxed, despite warnings that doing so will only worsen the country’s situation.

During a press conference on Monday, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the country’s health minister, said that 45 million coronavirus vaccines will arrive in Indonesia in August. The vaccines expected to arrive in the South East Asian country are Pfizer, Moderna, and Sinovac.

The announcement comes as Indonesia’s president somewhat eased coronavirus curbs on Sunday, although restrictions will be in place until August 2. Beauty salons, markets, and restaurants with outside areas will be allowed to reopen, whilst malls will operate at a significantly reduced capacity of 25%.

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Health workers removed the body of a Covid-19 victim who died while isolating at home in Bandung on July 18, 2021, as skyrocketing Covid-19 infections and deaths are overwhelming hospitals. © AFP / Timur Matahari
Indonesia extends Covid curbs after hitting record national daily deaths as infections spike

The World Health Organization (WHO) implored Indonesia to reconsider its plans to ease restrictions on Thursday. “Indonesia is currently facing a very high transmission level, and it is indicative of the utmost importance of implementing stringent public health and social measures, especially movement restrictions, throughout the country,” the organization noted.

The South East Asian country witnessed over 50,000 cases daily on several days in mid-July, with a record high number of 1,566 deaths recorded on Friday. Although cases have somewhat fallen, as 38,679 new infections were recorded on Sunday.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has vaccinated almost 7% of its 270 million-strong population.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Indonesia has recorded over 3.1 million coronavirus cases, and more than 83,000 lives have been lost.

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18. ‘Leaving it all out there’: Norway triathlete THROWS UP after winning gold in Tokyo before being placed in wheelchair12:03[−]

Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt vomited and had to be placed in a wheelchair after pushing himself to Olympic triathlon glory in stifling conditions in Tokyo, but afterwards claimed he'd been hoping for even hotter weather.

Blummenfelt powered away from his rivals with around 1km to go of Monday's race, holding them off to win by 11 seconds from Great Britain’s Alex Yee and with New Zealander Hayden Wilde coming home third.

Blummenfelt surged away late in the race to claim gold. © USA Today Sports

The race had started at 6.30 am local time in Japan, supposedly to avoid the stifling summer heat but with temperatures still pushing 29C (85F) and humidity levels of around 67%, albeit with a slight breeze.

The grueling conditions left the competitors sweat-soaked and drained, with Blummenfelt summing up the suffering with the excruciating look on his face as he kicked on to the finish line.

On crossing the line the Norwegian clutched at the finishing tape, collapsing onto the floor in a mixture of joy and sheer exhaustion.

Moving onto his hands and knees, the 27-year-old was seen vomiting before being helped to his feet by Kiwi bronze medalist Wilde and then placed into a wheelchair to be checked by medics.

Onlookers including British Olympic rowing legend Matthew Pinsent were impressed by the level of pain to which Blummenfelt was willing to push himself in pursuit of glory.

"Outstanding gold from Blummenfelt. Pushing till you vom is full on," wrote the four-time gold medalist.

Others said his efforts gave a new meaning to "leaving it all out there," while the finish area strewn with exhausted athletes was described as resembling a "battlefield."

The Norwegian team's choice of all-white attire for their athletes also drew attention as the sweat-drenched Blummenfelt raced through the streets with his underwear showing.

The Bergen-born star had recovered from his remarkable exertions in time for the medal ceremony, where he waved in joy at bagging Norway’s first medal of the 2020 Games.

Remarkably, Blummenfelt claimed that he had been hoping for even more challenging conditions in Tokyo, believing they would give him the edge over his rivals.

"Our team is world-leading for heat preparation so we were a bit disappointed it was not as warm as we were hoping for," he said.

Blummenfelt was all smiles as he posed with his gold medal. © USA Today Sports

"I'm from Bergen where for two thirds of the year it's windy, rainy and 10 degrees but that just shows the strength of the team around us in getting that preparation.”

Blummenfelt’s preparation had involved training in Yokohama in May, where he said he had perfected his race tactics of kicking on in the final kilometer – as he did to devastating effect on Monday.

"I've been thinking about this race for so many years,” said the Norwegian star, who completed the 1,500m swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run in a time of one hour, 45 minutes and four seconds.

"I was on holiday here many years ago and thought to myself 'OK, your goal is to win an Olympic gold medal here in 2020.'

"I knew I couldn't outkick them [my rivals] on the carpet [finishing straight], but I could use my engine and really bring it home.”

After tennis stars such as Russia’s Danill Medvedev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also noted the trying conditions in Tokyo, some have accused organizers of “lying” about how severe they would be.

“These are, literally, the finest athletes in the world. When they say it’s difficult, it’s difficult,” wrote Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel.

“So why did the Japanese claim otherwise? And why did the International Olympic Committee, in granting the bid without comment about the conditions to come, just let them say it?”

Wetzel pointed to claims from the organizers that this time of year in Tokyo “provides an ideal climate for athletes to perform their best.”

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Daniil Medvedev has endured the heat at the Tokyo Olympic Games © Mike Segar / Reuters | / Reuters | © Harrison Barden / USA Today Sports via Reuters
Russian star Daniil Medvedev blasts Olympics tennis tournament a ‘joke’ as players grapple with sweltering conditions in Japan

Monday’s triathlon race had begun in bizarre circumstances when a boat blocked the route for around half the competitors at the start line.

Dozens of athletes were left unable to enter the water when the starting gun went off, watching their rivals swim off into the distance before a restart was ordered.

Blummenfelt was one of those who had dived into the water, and claimed it had actually helped as he “got a little pre warm-up before the start."

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There were shambolic scenes at the start of the men's Olympic triathlon race in Tokyo. © Twitter
‘Bloody ridiculous’: Shambolic scenes as BOAT blocks start of men’s Olympic triathlon race in Tokyo (VIDEO)

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19. Beijing demands withdrawal of sanctions in meeting with US, blaming Washington for ‘stalemate’ and creating an ‘imaginary enemy’11:47[−]

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has demanded the US remove sanctions on officials, students, and communist party members, as Beijing accused Washington of creating an “imaginary enemy” out of China.

Speaking on Monday, during a high-level meeting between Beijing and Washington, Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said relations between the two countries were at a “standstill” and that “serious difficulties” remain, according to Chinese media.

“The United States wants to reignite the sense of national purpose by establishing China as an ‘imaginary enemy,’” Xie was also quoted as saying during a confrontational meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

According to a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website, Xie is said to have told his US counterpart that Washington is the “inventor of coercive diplomacy,” and described its own countermeasures “legitimate and reasonable.”

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(FILE PHOTO) © Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Beijing sanctions several Americans, including former US commerce secretary, in first use of new law against anti-China penalties

According to state media organization The Paper, the vice foreign minister also presented Sherman with several demands, as the two sides met in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin. Xie reportedly asked Sherman to remove sanctions levied by the US on Chinese officials and communist party members, as well as loosening visa restrictions on Chinese students.

Monday’s meeting comes amid the US’ number two diplomat’s Asia tour, featuring meetings with counterparts in Japan, South Korea, and Mongolia.

Last Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Sherman would occupy “a position of strength” in her meeting with Chinese officials. This was rebuffed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, who said Beijing would not let Washington take a “superior” position in the relationship.

The two superpowers have failed to bring relations back on track since the Biden administration took office, with ties souring since an initial high-level meeting in March in Anchorage, Alaska.

On Friday, China imposed sanctions on US individuals, including former US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in the first use of the country’s anti-foreign sanctions law passed in June.

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20. Russia inks deals worth over $3.5 BILLION during MAKS 2021 Air Show11:39[−]

Agreements worth around 265 billion rubles ($3.59 billion) were signed during Russia’s biennial MAKS 2021 international air show, which ended Sunday, exceeding the results of the previous MAKS 2019.

Major domestic aviation deals included the sale of Sukhoi Superjet 100 and IL-114-300 aircraft, as well as Mil helicopters. Other agreements included deliveries of unmanned aerial vehicles, engines, aviation electronics, radars, aircraft munitions, and armored and motor vehicles.

Russia’s state defense conglomerate, Rostec, announced agreements worth over $3 billion for the delivery of 161 aircraft, both military and civilian. State arms exporter Rosoboronexport alone signed 13 contracts totaling $1.2 billion during the event.

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Russian Air Force's Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) aerobatic team perform during an opening of the MAKS 2021 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia.
Russia’s Rostec inks over $3 billion in deals to supply 160+ aircraft at MAKS 2021 Air Show

MAKS has become Russia’s premier showcase of the latest developments in domestic aviation, both civilian and military. Nearly 500 products were presented to the public this year, including 50 newly developed aircraft models. Among the state-of-the-art developments unveiled at the show was Sukhoi’s new single-engine supersonic stealth fighter, Checkmate. Around 30,000 people came to see it live.

Russia also unveiled the new MC-21-310 medium-haul airliner, as well as a regional turboprop IL-114-300 and the Baikal light multipurpose aircraft. Russian Helicopters presented its upgraded Mi-171A3 choppers for operation on offshore oil platforms, new avionic equipment, and a new firefighting system. United Engine Corporation presented projects for shaft-turbine engines and a demo version of a new engine core.

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A Kamov Ka-52 Hokum-B helicopter stands at Kubinka air base before the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia
Russia eliminating US dollar transactions in its foreign military deals – state arms exporter

Foreign aircraft producers were also given the opportunity to exhibit their products, including some never before seen in Russia. Among those were the wide-body long-haul Airbus A350-1000, medium-haul Airbus A220-300 and the turboprop Pilatus PC-12NGX.

A US company took part in the show for the first time. Cirrus aircraft manufacturer presented two aircraft.

Overall, a total of 831 companies from 56 countries took part in the event, both online and offline, the organizers said.

“The 15th MAKS 2021 aerospace show has exceeded the results of 2019 in terms of the number of contracts signed and the scale of the business program,” they stated. Russia’s previous MAKS 2019 air show brought the country around 250 billion rubles.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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21. Afghanistan on course for highest number of civilian casualties ever, UN warns 1 month before US withdrawal deadline11:17[−]

The number of civilians killed or hurt in the war in Afghanistan has been sharply increasing since the Western coalition began pulling its soldiers out of the country, a UN report says.

A total of 1,659 civilians were killed and 3,254 injured in the first half of 2021, which is a 47% increase from the same period in 2020, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its mid-year report on Monday.

The actual numbers may be even higher, considering that the UNAMA only records casualties it is able to independently verify.

Out of those killed or maimed, 46% were women and children. The Taliban and other militants were responsible for 64% of civilian casualties, while 25% were attributed to pro-government forces and 11% to ‘crossfire’ between warring parties.

The UNAMA noted a particularly alarming trend – the civilian death toll has grown since May, when the US-led coalition forces began withdrawing. According to the report, 783 were killed and 1,609 injured in May and June, which was the highest number for those months since the UN mission began keeping records in 2009.

“Unprecedented numbers of Afghan civilians will perish and be maimed this year if the increasing violence is not stemmed,” Deborah Lyons, the UN secretary general’s envoy to Afghanistan, said.

US troops are set to leave Afghanistan by August 31, after two decades of occupation and amid growing fears that the Taliban, which has been gaining ground in recent years, will completely overrun the country.

Most US allies, including Germany and Italy, removed their last-remaining troops earlier this year, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in July that the majority of British soldiers have been withdrawn as well.

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General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, speaks during news conference, in Kabul, Afghanistan
US vows to continue airstrikes in Afghanistan, as general insists ‘Taliban victory is not inevitable’

On Saturday, the Afghan government imposed a nighttime curfew in 31 regions in an effort to counter the continuing Taliban offensives. General Kenneth McKenzie, who leads the US Central Command, said on Sunday that the US has ramped up airstrikes against the militants and the Pentagon will continue to support the Afghan government after the August 31 withdrawal date.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. The campaign ultimately failed to bring peace and stability to the country, and the war with the Taliban has dragged on for nearly two decades.

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22. Russia is finally embracing the electric vehicle boom10:40[−]

Late in the race, Russia has recently announced investments targeting electric vehicle (EV) growth in an attempt to catch up with the transition across the rest of Europe.

Russia is expected to start work on its EV infrastructure creation, starting in Moscow. The city plans to install 200 EV charging stations annually, until 600 are established by 2023, beginning in 2021.

The head of the city's transport department, Maxim Liksutov, stated "There are around 2,000 (electric) cars in Moscow now and their number increases every year by about 10-15%. Charging infrastructure has to appear for it to grow more."

Within the next decade, the city will also see its public transport shift to electric. Mosgortrans, the cities bus and tram network owner, intends to increase its electric bus fleet from 600 to 1000 by the end of the year, aiming for 2,000 electric buses to replace the existing petrol and diesel-fuelled fleet by 2024.

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Nissan Leaf electric car
Sales of electric cars growing in Russia but trend not exactly catching on

However, Russia is way behind the rest of Europe when it comes to EV, with just 11,000 electric cars registered across the country, compared to 1 million across the EU in 2019. But this figure is expected to increase in the coming years, with an anticipated 1,000 EV to be sold in Russia in 2021, expecting this figure to double annually in subsequent years.

This comes just weeks after reports that Russia has introduced a new state program, which will see an investment of $11 billion in the development of EV transport. This is around double the previously designated funding for the program.

Much of the funding for the program will come from the introduction of a tax on the sale of traditionally-fuelled cars as well as two new tariffs on the import of foreign electric vehicles.

Read more
Press service of The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation / Zetta
Mass production of first Russian electric car to start by end of year

Under the program, Russia expects to produce 3,000 in 2022, growing to produce 217,000 EV annually by 2030. At present Russia does not manufacture any electric cars, meaning there is significant potential to develop this part of the country’s strong automotive sector.

Russia’s automotive industry makes up a significant part of the country’s economy and employment, with over 600,000, or 1% of the workforce, employed in the sector. Russia continues to be the fifth-largest auto market in Europe with a production rate of 3.1 million vehicles each year. This puts it in a strong position to transition to EV manufacturing in the coming years.

Although late to the table, Russia could have a competitive edge on other European producers with cheaper EVs available for consumers. The anticipated Zero Emission Terra Transport Asset, or Zetta, is expected to cost just $6,100, making it cheaper than many alternatives and less than Germany’s EV subsidy scheme, theoretically giving consumers a free car.

Ruslan Edelgeriev, climate adviser to President Putin has stated, “Leading automakers, globally and in Russia, are announcing new electric vehicle lines. A lot of them plan to stop making internal combustion engine cars by 2030.” Further, “In the next 20-30 years everyone will transition to electric vehicles.”

Private companies are also buying into the EV craze as Russian engineering firm L-Charge has announced that it will be providing on-demand mobile charging for electric cars via an app, allowing EV owners to request a charge across Moscow. If successful, the company plans to expand to Paris, Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, and London. This could be the first of many private initiatives if Russia is successful in its EV manufacturing and uptake plans.

While Russia hasn’t been known for its innovation in EV, significant investment, the willingness to make the shift, and the country’s automotive manufacturing know-how and low costs could give it a competitive advantage as it catches up with the rest of Europe.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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23. ‘Bloody ridiculous’: Shambolic scenes as BOAT blocks start of men’s Olympic triathlon race in Tokyo (VIDEO)09:54[−]

The men's Olympic triathlon event in Tokyo was mired in chaos as a boat blocked the path of around half the field at the start of the race, with some onlookers branding the scenes 'dangerous'.

As the 56 competitors lined up to begin the race, around half of them found their path still blocked by a vessel which was adjacent to the start platform.

A host of athletes dived into the water to launch their bid for Olympic glory after the starting signal sounded – while their rivals remained stranded.

The boat, which was carrying a camera, soon veered out of the way but it was already too late as the race had to be restarted.

The chaos continued though as many of the men who had taken to the water did not hear the horn calling them back to the start, meaning a flotilla of boats and jet skis was deployed to head them off and turn them back.

The scenes caused widespread bemusement online, but some claimed they had endangered the athletes.

The race did eventually get going again and was won by Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt, ahead of Great Britain's Alex Yee and Hayden Wilde of New Zealand.

"I saw the boat on the left side and found it quite strange that the starting bell came," gold medalist Blummenfelt said afterwards.

"I felt that the boat was still in front of the left side of the pontoon, so when I jumped in, I thought that this would most likely be pulled back and go for another start.

"I just tried not to go too slow but keep a little bit left and look at it in a positive way that I actually got a little pre warm-up before the start."

In hot and humid conditions in Tokyo, Blummenfelt came home in a time of one hour, 45 minutes and four seconds, falling to the floor after crossing the finish line and then being taken to see the medics.

He is the first Norwegian to win a medal at the Tokyo Games.

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24. Teenage kicks: 13-year-old Japanese sensation Momiji Nishiya wins first-ever women’s Olympic skateboard gold08:40[−]

Japanese star Momiji Nishiya made history by scooping the first-ever women’s skateboard gold medal at the Olympic Games as the 13-year took the title in Tokyo ahead of teenage rival Rayssa Leal of Brazil.

Nishiya triumphed in the women’s street contest to defy her tender years, finishing ahead of fellow 13-year-old Leal and with Japan’s Funa Nakayama – a relative veteran at age 16 – completing what organizers believe is the most youthful-looking podium ever at the Olympics.

Nishiya’s glory makes her Japan's youngest-ever Olympic medalist and comes one day after male Japanese star Yuto Horigome claimed the men’s street title.

Osaka native Nishiya ended with 15.26 points on Monday, edging out Leal and Nakayama, who finished with 14.64 and 14.49 points respectively.

In coming home second, Brazil's Leal also became her nation's youngest-ever medalist at the Games.

Social media was in thrall to the talented teenage trio as they pulled off an incredible array of tricks at Ariake Urban Sports Park.

Leal, Nishiya and Nakayama completed a youthful podium in Tokyo. © Reuters

Skateboarding will now continue in its maiden appearance at the Olympics with the men’s and women’s park contests.

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25. Tunisian president OUSTS government, warns opponents that ‘army will respond with bullets’ if they try to unleash street violence06:38[−]

Tunisia’s president dismissed the government and froze parliament amid unrest over the “dysfunctional” political system and crumbling healthcare. His opponents decried the move as a “coup” and called for street protests.

Following an emergency meeting at his palace on Sunday night, President Kais Saied announced his decision to sack Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspend the parliament. In a televised address, he promised to consolidate power and “save” the country with the help of a new prime minister.

We have taken these decisions... until social peace returns to Tunisia and until we save the state.

Hundreds of people who had rallied against the government earlier in the day celebrated the drastic move in the streets, cheering, honking, and singing, as military vehicles surrounded the parliament building and state TV.

The parliament speaker and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired ‘moderate’ Islamist Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi, defied the order but was blocked from entering the parliament.

Ghannouchi denounced Saied’s move as “a coup against the revolution and constitution,” and called for street protests in a video message to supporters.

We consider the institutions still standing, and the supporters of the Ennahda and the Tunisian people will defend the revolution.

Saied, however, warned his political opponents against unleashing street violence, saying that the military won’t hesitate to use guns to quell unrest if it turns deadly.

I warn any who think of resorting to weapons... and whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets.

Under the constitution, the president is only directly responsible for military affairs and foreign relations, but last week, he put the army in charge of the Covid-19 pandemic response – after PM Mechichi sacked the health minister, blaming him for the collapse of the healthcare system.

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The Tunisian Air Force team seen during the reception ceremony Tunis Carthage International Airport. © Jdidi Wassim/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Tunisian army to take control of Covid crisis as country grapples with healthcare system failures

Praised as the cradle of the Arab Spring, Tunisia adopted a new constitution in 2014, but still has no constitutional court to settle disputes, and consistently fails to form a stable government. President Saied and the parliament were both elected by popular vote in 2019, while Mechichi took office last year. Ghannouchi’s Ennahda, which was banned before the 2011 uprising, has since become the dominant force in parliament, locked in constant political rivalry with the president and prime minister.

Angered by the “dysfunctional” political system and collapsing economy, thousands of protesters, not openly backed by any of the major political forces, once again rallied in the capital, Tunis and other cities on Sunday.

Clashes erupted amid the protests when people tried to storm the Ennahda party offices, forcing police to deploy tear gas. The violence was apparently the last straw for Saied, prompting him to take drastic measures.

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26. Syrian air defense units intercept Israeli missiles near Damascus, thwarting THIRD raid in a week – Russian Defense Ministry03:56[−]

The Syrian military intercepted two missiles fired by Israeli fighter jets at the Damascus suburb of Set Zaynab over the weekend, thwarting the third airstrike in just a week, using Russian-made air defense systems.

The airstrike was conducted from outside Syrian airspace at around 5:40am Sunday morning, when two Israeli F-16 jets fired two guided missiles targeting unspecified facilities in the town of Set (Sayyidah) Zaynab 10km south of Damascus.

Syrian air defense units equipped with Russian-made Buk-M2E systems successfully intercepted both of them, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, Rear Admiral Vadim Kulit, said in a daily briefing.

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File photo: A Russian-made 'Buk' anti-aircraft system launches a missile during maneuvers in Venezuela, April 15, 2015.
Russian-made air defense systems shot down ALL Israeli missiles targeting Syria’s Homs – military

On Wednesday night, two Israeli F-16 jets fired four guided missiles from Lebanese airspace at Syria’s Homs province. All of them were shot down, also using Russian-made Buk-M2Es.

On Monday night, four Israeli jets penetrated Syrian airspace through the area of At-Tanf on the Jordanian border, controlled by the US military, and fired eight missiles into Aleppo province. Seven of them were reportedly shot down by Buk-M2 and Pantsir-S systems, but the remaining one struck a scientific research facility in the town of Safira.

While Israeli officials rarely acknowledge the raids, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warplanes have routinely rained down missiles on Syrian territory in recent years under the pretext of self-defense against the ‘Iranian threat’.

Damascus has protested the repeated attacks as blatant acts of aggression, while Russia, Turkey, and Iran recently jointly condemned the Israeli raids as violations of sovereignty and international humanitarian laws.

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An Israeli F-16 fighter jet is seen after landing at Ovda airbase, some 40 km (25 miles) north of Eilat, during the Blue Flag drill November 25, 2013. © REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Russia, Iran, and Turkey blast Israel for violating international law with Syria airstrikes

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27. Mask flip-flop? CDC ‘actively’ considering face cover advisory for vaccinated Americans, according to Fauci02:12[−]

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has revealed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could soon reconsider its guidelines, recommending vaccinated Americans mask up again.

Top health officials have reportedly been having preliminary talks about revising mask recommendations for vaccinated Americans due to a rise in cases and concerns over the more infectious Delta variant of Covid-19. According to current guidance, those vaccinated against the virus do not need to wear masks in most public spaces.

The revision of the mask guidance is indeed “under active consideration,” Fauci confirmed to CNN on Sunday. The infectious disease expert did not give a timeframe for when the federal guidance could change, but he praised those state officials who had already rushed ahead to reinstate local mask mandates in response to rising coronavirus cases.

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FILE PHOTO: A sign designating seating for vaccinated fans is seen at Oracle Park, San Francisco, California, May 21, 2021.
No need to worry about a federal vaccine mandate, Fauci says, as local entities will likely do the job of forcing Covid-19 jabs

“If you look at what’s going on locally in the trenches, in places like L.A. County,” Fauci said, “the local officials have the discretion, and the CDC agrees with that ability and discretion capability to say, you know, you’re in a situation where we’re having a lot of dynamics of infection, so even if you are vaccinated, you should wear a mask.”

Fauci and other White House officials have used the uptick in cases to continue pushing unvaccinated Americans to get inoculated. Recent polling, however, has indicated that those who have refused to be vaccinated thus far have little to no interest in changing their minds.

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College student Landrianna Carruth is shown receiving a Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee.
Hesitancy battle lost? Vast majority of unvaccinated Americans say they WON’T be getting Covid-19 jabs, poll shows

“This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,” Fauci said regarding the rise in cases around the country, adding that the US is currently moving “in the wrong direction.”

Fauci has been portrayed as a hero of the pandemic by Democrat politicians and mainstream media outlets, despite flip-flopping on mask-wearing guidelines, vaccination targets and other recommendations. His suggestion that vaccinated Americans should mask up again sparked a new round of criticism from conservatives.

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28. ‘More freedom’ for the vaccinated? Merkel aide warns of restrictions for unvaxxed Germans if Covid-19 cases continue to rise01:42[−]

Unvaccinated Germans could be barred from entering restaurants and cinemas if Germany is hit with a new Covid-19 wave, a top aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said, adding that those vaccinated will “definitely have more freedom.”

Germany might be in for yet another wave of Covid-19 cases, Helge Braun, Merkel’s chief of staff, told Bild on Sunday. “The number of new infections is increasing even faster than in the previous waves. That worries me very much,” Braun, who is also a doctor, warned.

The official said Germany could reach 100,000 daily infections in just nine weeks, and this would likely prompt the government to take drastic measures.

“If we have a high rate of infection despite our testing procedures then the unvaccinated will have to reduce their contacts,” Braun said. This would mean that unvaccinated people would not be allowed to go to restaurants, cinemas, or stadiums, even if they were tested, simply because “the risk to everyone else is too high.”

Those who have been vaccinated will definitely have more freedom than those who have not been vaccinated.

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In a vaccination tent at the open-air festival 'Kulturinsel W?hrm?hle', Lucy (L) from the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) puts a plaster on Lukas (R) after a Corona vaccination with the vaccine from Biontech. © Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images
‘Every vaccination counts’: Merkel urges Germans to get inoculated amid ‘worrying’ coronavirus rise

The head of the chancellery also warned that a fourth Covid-19 wave would put tremendous pressure on the economy, with sick leaves potentially reaching historic highs, since many unvaccinated people would have to be quarantined anyway if they come into contact with an infected person.

Braun also said vaccination is the best remedy against a potential fourth wave. He encouraged municipalities to offer people easier ways to be vaccinated, and urged employers to promote vaccination for their own sake.

“Vaccination protects me [to] 90% from a serious corona disease,” Braun said, adding that anyone who receives the shot and does not fall ill when the disease strikes “would be urgently needed at their workplace.”

Merkel’s chief of staff also blamed pretty much all seasonal epidemics on those unwilling to be vaccinated. Germany does not have high infection rates from vaccinated people, even if some laboratory tests detect the virus in their bodies, he said. High infection rates are a result of “serious infections in the unvaccinated population if the vaccination rate is not high enough,” he added.

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Over 3,800 Germans got sick with Covid-19 following full vaccination, hundreds were hospitalized – health watchdog

When asked whether slapping a certain part of the population with targeted restrictions is legally permissible, Braun said that the state “has a duty to protect the health of its citizens.” He also claimed that Germany might avoid another total lockdown if the vaccination rate is high enough.

Some politicians, however, believe that Berlin would overstep its boundaries if it introduces such restrictions.

The deputy head of the Free Democratic Party, Wolfgang Kubicki, blasted the proposed measures as de facto “introduction of compulsory vaccination through the back door.”

Such a categorization of fundamental rights into a first and second class is clearly unconstitutional.

Merkel earlier limited herself to saying that “the more who are vaccinated, the freer we will be again.” She did not mention any of the measures proposed by Braun.

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Pediatrician Anila Sternberg vaccinates a woman with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine in her practice, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Bonn, Germany, May 21, 2021. © REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler
Germany will not make Covid jabs mandatory, Merkel confirms, with voluntary vaccination held up as way forward

Armin Laschet, Merkel’s potential successor and her party’s candidate for chancellor in the September general election, also distanced himself from what he called compulsory vaccination, and attempts to “indirectly put pressure on people to get vaccinated.”

In a free country, there are civil liberties not only for certain groups.

Just over 49% of Germans were fully vaccinated as of July 23, according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s government agency responsible for disease control and prevention. More than 60% of Germans have received at least one vaccine dose. However, German media reports that vaccination rates have been gradually declining.

If Germany does introduce restrictions for unvaccinated people, it would not be the first European country to do so. In neighboring France, President Emmanuel Macron’s government has already introduced ‘health passes’, which are required for people to enter certain public venues. People who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months or have a recent negative PCR test can also receive the passes.

The measure, which was introduced along with a vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, has sparked massive public uproar and prompted tens of thousands of people to take to the streets for two weekends in a row to voice their discontent.

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29. US vows to continue airstrikes in Afghanistan, as general insists ‘Taliban victory is not inevitable’01:12[−]

The head of the US Central Command has promised that despite the withdrawal, the US military will continue supporting the Afghan government with airstrikes against the advancing Taliban militants, at least “in the coming weeks.”

“The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign. They are wrong,” General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command, told reporters in Kabul over the weekend.

Since the US began its withdrawal in May, the advance by the Taliban has intensified, with militants now claiming to have gained control of more than 80% of Afghanistan. In response, the US military has supported the government’s efforts against the Taliban through air strikes.

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FILE PHOTO: A US soldier from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment walks with the unit's Afghan interpreter before a mission near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan, December 11, 2014. © Reuters / Lucas Jackson
The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan is simply America’s chickens coming home to roost

“The United States has increased air strikes in support of Afghan forces over the last several days, and we are prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” the general said.

US President Joe Biden has said a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years could be done by the end of August. He had originally set a goal of leaving by September 11, symbolically marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks which were used as a pretext to invade the country.

McKenzie would not say whether air raids would continue once US forces have left the region, but admitted that Afghanistan will be facing a “stern test” in the coming weeks.

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FILE PHOTO. Afghan Taliban fighters. © Getty Images / NurPhoto
Russia defends ongoing talks with Taliban, saying banned militant group is key part of plan to bring peace to war-torn Afghanistan

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30. Split the difference: Russian champion boxer Svetlana Soluyanova edged out by US star Virginia Fuchs in Tokyo Olympics scrap00:40[−]

Blonde bombshell Svetlana Soluyanova, who made little secret of her taste for making music during quarantine and qualification for the Games, was edged out by high-profile American Virginia Fuchs in Tokyo.

European flyweight champion in 2018, Soluyanova faced Fuchs, a former USA Boxing Nationals champion who took bronze at the World Championships in 2018, in the round of 32.

Fuchs had battled OCD to travel to the spectacle, and she won on three of the five cards, with the other two giving Dimitrovgrad-born Soluyanova a one-point victory.

Fuchs was warned for pushing her 5ft 9in opponent in the secound round, and Soluyanova repeatedly hit the canvas in the third round.

Speaking ahead of her bow at the tournament, Fuchs described her attendance at the strictly limited opening ceremony as an "amazing experience".

"Fight time now," she added. "My Olympic debut Sunday... against Russia. My cannons are loaded."

The 33-year-old Fuchs faces Stoyka Krasteva next, a Bulgarian who earned a split decision win of her own by edging past Thi Tam Nguyen.

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Instagram / Svetlana Solyunova
Meet Svetlana Soluyanova - The singing Russian champion boxer battling boredom in quarantine with music (VIDEO)

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31. Wannabe Mayweather: Boxing star Haney blasted for throwing money in air while claiming it ‘took him 2 hours’ to count cash (VIDEO)00:06[−]

American boxing braggart Devin Haney has been blasted for a "bad look" during a pandemic after tastelessly portraying himself throwing money into the air, boasting and lying on a couch as the notes fall on top of him.

In a cash-crazed scene reminiscent of boxing great Floyd Mayweather's tendency to picture himself surrounded by money, WBC lightweight champion Haney, who once caused controversy by claiming he would "never lose to a white boy in my life", started the clip with his shirt off inside a house.

The film then cut to stylized, glossy shots of 22-year-old Haney showing off various possessions including a luxury car and watch, trainers and what appeared to be a gun before cutting back to him falling backwards onto a couch strewn with the falling money.

The self-obsessive sequence was set to the rap song 'Having our Way' by Juicy MF Juice, Migos and Drake, which includes lyrics about being an "assassin" and "snipin' the b*tch", makes references to "lil n****s maggots" and boasts about how the protagonist "piped the b*tch up for some action".

Haney's apparent attempt to emulate the peculiarly charmless persona of one of the best boxers of all time received as predominantly poor a reception as it routinely has done under Mayweather's watch.

"This shit is just tired as f*ck now," blasted well-followed boxing writer Michael Woods. "OK, so he doesn’t get it’s a bad look as a global pandemic plays out.

"But come on, [Haney], you beat a way-past-prime [Yuriorkis] Gamboa and [Jorge] Linares. At least Floyd started the [wrestler known for his money obsession] Ted Dibiase stuff at 40-0."

Linares was 35 and had lost two of his previous five fights when Haney beat the Venezuelan in his most recent fight, in May, and Gamboa was 38 and coming off a defeat when Haney defeated him in November.

All five of the senior regional and international titles Haney has won have been vacant, and 'The Dream' has scored one knockout victory in eight fights since November 2017.

Haney's 26-fight unbeaten record, though, is impressive – and his posturing divided fans.

"They want to be Money May without being Pretty Boy Floyd," observed one, while another suggested: "The boy wants to be Floyd so bad. It's pretty sad, actually."

A critic responded: "The whole money thing has played out – we’ve seen it. No-one cares for it anymore, it’s the reason everyone’s switched to the UFC. People just want to see the best fighting the best."

Another asked: "This whole super rich theme is so played out. Can't anybody be themselves anymore?"

Apologists for Haney pointed out that his Instagram post may have been aimed at and viewed more favorably by his own generation. "Oh pipe down, clown," fired back one. "Let the young man enjoy himself."

"It’s not for you or me – I'm 46," added another. "He's trying to appeal to his age and demographic, just like Floyd did and most older guys, including his promoter, didn’t understand at the time."

A viewer in agreement nodded to the colossal count of almost 62,000 likes the clip amassed during a day. "Just look at all the young people who are liking the post," they said. "Do you think he is doing that for older people's approval?"

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'I'll never lose to a white boy': Boxer Devin Haney brags that Vasyl Lomachenko's RACE means he will never beat champ (VIDEO)

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32. London hit with FLASH FLOODS as torrential rain turns roads into rivers in UK capital (VIDEOS)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Londoners have seen streets flooded by torrential streams and a tube station being submerged under water as a heatwave in the UK capital was replaced by heavy rains. Some people even had to abandon cars stranded in flooded roads.

Earlier this week, the British capital saw some of the hottest days of the year as the temperatures rose over 30 degrees Celsius. Now, the heat seems to be the least of the Londoners’ problems as some parts of the city were submerged in water and resembled the alarming images from the massive flooding which hit Germany and Belgium earlier this month.

Photos and videos posted to social media on Sunday showed cars ploughing through flooded streets while some roads looked more like turbulent rivers. Some car owners had to abandon their vehicles that were caught in the streams and almost fully submerged.

Others were stuck in their cars and emergency services used boats to rescue them as happened to one unfortunate motorist, who got stranded under a bridge in Worcester Park, Sutton.

Some witnesses reported seeing improvised “geysers” as the storm water systems apparently got overwhelmed with the torrential floods.

Clapham and Camberwell, as well as Kingston in southwest London, were among the areas hit by the floods. The UK capital’s eastern parts, including Leyton and Walthamstow, were also affected. The London Fire Brigade said they had received over 300 flooding-related calls.

Eight London tube stations were closed because of the foul weather, including Covent Garden, Edgware Road’s Circle line station and Pudding Mill Lane.

A shocking video posted on Twitter shows the Pudding Mill station of the Docklands Light Railway in Stratford coming fully under water.

In Hackney a burst manhole sent sewage flooding out onto the streets.

Another video showed a person rowing a kayak through flooded gardens.

Some Londoners shared their accounts of what they described as the worst flooding they have seen in the UK capital.

Amber warnings for thunderstorms were issued by the Met Office. Meteorologists said that heavy rains and thunderstorms would continue in the UK’s southeast, adding that the amber warning would stay in place until at least Sunday evening.

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Shanghai evacuates HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, cancels flights & suspends train services as Typhoon In-Fa hits China’s coast (VIDEO)

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33. Arizona Republican who voted with Dems on elections bill BOOED off stage at rally ahead of Trump speech (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

At a conservative Turning Point Action rally in Phoenix, Arizona, state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita was loudly booed off stage ahead of Donald Trump’s speech and clashed with the press.

The Saturday event, dubbed ‘Rally to Protect Our Elections’, included speeches from candidates running for various positions, such as state senate seats or secretary of state, a position Ugenti-Rita is currently vying for.

The state senator was booed before she even began her speech. After several false starts, Ugenti-Rita gave up and said, “I’m running to be your next secretary of state. I’m going to win the primary,” before she exited the stage.

Ugenti-Rita has been a target of Republicans recently, mainly thanks to her shooting down an elections bill from fellow state Senator Kelly Townsend. She joined Democrats in voting against the bill.

Ugenti-Rita’s frosty reception at the TPUSA event was not the end of her controversy. She has since been accused by conservative outlet the Gateway Pundit of having one of their reporters kicked out of the event and later arrested.

According to the Pundit’s report, their journalist, Jordan Conradson, confronted the state senator after her disastrous speech and asked her if her vote against Townsend’s election integrity bill was why she was booed. She would only say it was because the bill was “bad,” and when continuing to be questioned, event staff removed Conradson from the event for “harassing” the lawmaker.

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‘Settle down, son’: Tucker Carlson confronted by critic while with family, dubbed ‘worst human being known to mankind’

At the alleged request of Townsend herself, the reporter returned to the event, but was detained by police and could be facing a $900 fine over the incident.

Townsend has accused Ugenti-Rita of getting the reporter arrested because she was asked a question that “angered” her, but Ugenti-Rita gave a different version of events.

“A so-called reporter was removed by police & event security from an event yesterday after repeatedly harassing me. Then @AZKellyT encouraged him to break the law by committing trespassing by re-entering the building to continue to harass me,” she wrote of the incident.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, the lawmaker also defended herself from conservatives accusing her of not fighting for “election integrity.”

Trump also took the stage in Arizona on Saturday and continued pushing his belief that the 2020 presidential election outcome was the result of fraud, something there has been no official proof of.

“There is no way they win elections without cheating,” he said of the Democrats.

Trump was a supporter of Townsend’s bill and called out Republican state Sen. Paul Boyer by name in an email blast to supporters. He did not, however, name Ugenti-Rita in the statement despite her same vote.

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34. ‘They are ours’: Russian women’s team celebrate silver as South Korea extend archery reign with dominant Tokyo Olympics victoryВс, 25 июл[−]

South Korea swept to a ninth straight gold in the women's archery at the Olympic Games – but there was plenty to be proud of for their Russian opponents in the final, who secured silver after three superb performances.

An San, Jang Min-hee and Kang Chae-young extended South Korea's remarkable streak of finishing first in each edition of the event since its introduction in Seoul in 1988, winning 6-0 following a 5-1 victory over Belarus in the semi-finals and a whitewash of Italy in the final eight.

The result ensures that South Korea are tied for the longest gold medal streak in all sports at the Games, equaling the US in the 4x100m medley relay in swimming and Kenya in the men's 3000m steeplechase.

Svetlana Gomboeva, the Russian star who unwittingly earned headlines after collapsing in the intense heat earlier in the games, was part of the trio under the ROC banner to have reached the final with an impressive run.

"I love you," she told her thousands of followers on social media, accompanying her celebration with a photo of the three medals received by the team. "They are ours."

Gomboeva and her team-mates beat Ukraine 6-2, Team USA 6-0 and Germany 5-1 en route to the final.

"Here they are, earned through hard work," said Elena Osipova, sharing a snap of the medals.

"Thanks to my family, coaches, friends and people who supported us and cheered us."

Germany beat Belarus to win bronze.

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Svetlana Gomboeva suffered in the heat at the Tokyo Olympics © Jack Gruber / USA Today Network via Reuters | © Instagram / gomboeva_svetlana
‘My head hurts badly’: Ailing Russian archer speaks after passing out in fierce Olympic sun as coach blames heatstroke on humidity

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35. ‘We are deeply saddened’: Tributes pour in after motorbike sensation Hugo Millan, 14, dies following horror crash during raceВс, 25 июл[−]

Spanish rider Hugo Millan, a hugely promising rider who had earned several impressive finishes, has died at the age of 14 following a crash during a race, with six-time MotoGP champ Marc Marquez among those paying tribute to him.

Hugely popular Millan was hit by another rider as he raced at the MotorLand Aragon Circuit in his homeland, having started in second place.

Organizers said the youngster had been run over after he was grounded in the middle of the track during the second lap of the European Talent Cup race.

Despite several riders managing to avoid Millan as he tried to recover and move out of the way, he is said to have been hit straight on by rival Oleg Pawlec.

Millan reportedly stayed motionless on the ground initially. Pawelec is said to have escaped serious injury and left the track on his own.

Doctors attended to Millan before he was taken to the track's hospital and later transported to a separate hospital by helicopter.

"Millan was involved in a multi-rider incident at Turn 5, with the session immediately red flagged," said FIM CEV Repsol, offering their "deepest condolences."

"The Medical Intervention Vehicles arrived at the site immediately and the rider was attended to on track before being transferred to the Medical Centre at the Circuit.

"Despite the best efforts of the circuit medical staff, the Medical Centre has announced that Millan has sadly succumbed to his injuries.

"Millan was enjoying his most successful season so far in the FIM CEV Repsol, claiming several podiums to demonstrate his consistency as he competed at the front of the class."

Marquez wrote: “RIP, Hugo Millan. My most sincere condolences to his family, friends and team.”

Millan had spoken of his excitement ahead of the race and told his thousands of social media followers after his previous outing: "Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn, but surrender – never.

"Time to work even harder. The goal is near. Thank you all for your love and support.

"I will continue fighting for my goal and learning each race. For the next one, more and better."

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Chris Eubank Sr (right) is mourning the death of Sebastian Eubank © Action Images / Lee Smith via Reuters | © Action Images / Andrew Couldridge via Reuters
‘Devastated’: Boxing legend Eubank mourns death of ‘deep thinker’ son, 30, who ‘drowned on Dubai beach’ month after becoming a dad

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36. Epic win: Fencing star Korobeynikova beats two-time Euro queen for bronze at Tokyo Olympics as champ Deriglazova earns silverВс, 25 июл[−]

Larisa Korobeynikova beat 2018 World Champion Alice Volpi in a thrilling Tokyo Olympics fencing bronze medal blockbuster, while defending champion Inna Deriglazova narrowly lost in a tight final against American Lee Kiefer.

On the verge of ending her strong campaign without a podium finish, 34-year-old Korobeynikova won the final two points to secure a dramatic 15-14 victory.

Volpi – the individual world champion in 2018, a year after winning gold as part of a team – started strongly, only for spirited Korobeynikova to hit back and build a lead.

The Italian showed her class to level proceedings, narrowly missing out in a test of nerves between the two experienced stars.

© Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Korobeynikova had produced a commendable comeback in her defeat to Kiefer in the semifinals, losing 15-6 after being 8-1 down at one stage.

That result looked all the more respectable after Kiefer became the first American to win Olympic fencing gold, beating fencing great Deriglazova in the final.

Despite Kiefer opening up a small lead on several occasions, determined Deriglazova kept in touch, bringing the score to 13-13 before her rival won two decisive points.

Korobeynikova and Deriglazova previously took silver in the women's team foil event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, while Deriglazova is a six-time world and four-time European champion.

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Tatiana Minina won silver at the Olympic Games © Murad Sezer / Reuters | © James Lang / USA Today Sports via Reuters
More medals for Russians: Top taekwondo talents Tatiana Minina and Mikhail Artamonov earn silver and bronze at Tokyo Olympics 2020

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37. ‘Settle down, son’: Tucker Carlson confronted by critic while with family, dubbed ‘worst human being known to mankind’Вс, 25 июл[−]

Fox News host Tucker Carlson was confronted by a furious critic while shopping with his family and told, “you are the worst human being known to mankind.”

A man named Dan Bailey found himself trending on social media over the weekend thanks to a video taken by a friend of a confrontation with Carlson at a fly-fishing store in Montana.

In the footage, Bailey told Carlson, “you are the worst human being known to mankind” and continued to harass him while the Fox News host said he was with his family.

“I don’t care that your daughter’s here,” Bailey said.

Once Carlson noticed the camera, he laughed and told Bailey to “settle down, son.”

Though the confrontation appears relatively short, Bailey celebrated confronting Carlson when he posted the video to Instagram.

“It’s not everyday you get to tell someone they are the worst person in the world and really mean it!” he wrote. “What an asshole! This man has killed more people with vaccine misinformation, he has supported extreme racism, he is a fascist and does more to rip this country apart than anyone that calls themselves an American.”

Carlson is Fox News’ most popular host and a frequent critic of liberals, particularly regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests. Carlson has even claimed recently that efforts to silence him reach all the way to the federal government. The conservative pundit claimed the National Security Agency (NSA) was monitoring his communications to take him off the air. The agency denied this, though a report this week claimed Carlson’s name was “unmasked” in third party communications being monitored.

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‘Unacceptable’: Fox News blasts NSA after report reveals they ‘unmasked’ host Tucker Carlson in communications

The recent incident between Carlson and Bailey occurred at Montana’s Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Company, which was quick to release a statement saying the similarity in name between the accoster and the company is only a coincidence.

“This person has no affiliation with our business, other than he shares the same name as our founder, who passed away in 1982,” they said. “To be clear, we treat every customer equally and respectfully. Our staff was professional and cordial to Mr. Carlson, as we are with all of our customers.”

Bailey’s actions were still spread far and wide and celebrated by Carlson critics on social media.

“Yes!!!” comedian Margaret Cho excitedly commented on the Instagram post.

“I'm just wondering how I can go about buying a beer for this fellow Dan Bailey,” writer Charlotte Clymer tweeted.

Conservatives were predictably more defensive of Carlson, with filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza even suggesting Bailey should be arrested for his actions.

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38. More medals for Russians: Top taekwondo talents Tatiana Minina and Mikhail Artamonov earn silver and bronze at Tokyo Olympics 2020Вс, 25 июл[−]

A day after Mikhail Artamonov claimed bronze in the men’s 58kg category on Saturday, Tatiana Minina has taken silver in the women’s 57kg competion to cap a strong weekend for Russian taekwondo athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

A bantamweight silver medalist at the World Championships in 2017, Minina added the third of her European Championships gold medals in Sofia earlier this year, and has continued her formidable run by only missing out to American Anastasija Zolotic in Japan.

Minina beat Iranian refugee Kimia Alizade to set up the meeting with Olympics debutant Zolotic, succumbing 25-17 in the final.

"You fall asleep late, get up early and sleep during the day," the CSKA Moscow athlete told her thousands of followers on Instagram last week, addressing the potential issue of jetlag after arriving in Ishikawa.

"But I have already gradually acclimatized. We sleep, eat, exercise and enjoy the views here."

Taiwan's Lo Chia-Ling and Turkey's Hatice Kubra Ilgun took bronze, which Artamonov, who is part of the same club, also earned on Saturday.

The result sealed another memorable moment in the career of the man who turned 24 on Tuesday.

Artamonov's haul of eight major senior honors includes two gold medals at 2018, winning the Rome Grand Prix and the European Championships in Kazan.

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Daria Bilodid has realized a dream at the Tokyo Olympics © Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters | © Instagram / dariabilodid7
‘I had one dream’: Starlet Daria Bilodid issues emotional reaction after winning Ukraine’s first ever women’s Olympic judo medal

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39. 10 killed, 44 injured as bus swerves off highway and crashes in Croatia (PHOTOS)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Ten people have lost their lives and at least 44, including children, have been injured, after a bus traveling from Germany swerved off the highway in Croatia after the driver apparently briefly fell asleep.

The incident took place early on Sunday morning. The bus was traveling along a highway linking the Croatian capital of Zagreb to the Serbian border when it suddenly swerved off the road and overturned. Photos published on social media show the bus lying on its side on a roadside.

Police said the bus had Kosovo license plates and was traveling a regular route from Frankfurt, Germany, to Kosovo’s capital of Pristina, south of Serbia.

The accident was reportedly caused by one driver briefly falling asleep and losing control over the vehicle. He survived the crash and was arrested. A local police chief, Franjo Galic, called the crash “one of the worst accidents I have ever seen.” At least 10 people, including the other driver, died in the crash.

According to the officials, 67 people were on the bus, including two drivers. They were mostly Kosovan workers and their family members returning home from Germany for the summer holidays, some media reports suggested.

The incident also left 44 people, including at least one child, injured. Eight people were in a serious condition, according to Josip Samardzic, the head of a hospital in a nearby town of Slavonski Brod. The identities and ages of the people that were killed and injured in the crash have not yet been made public.

Croatian authorities expressed their condolences to the relatives of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured. Kosovo sent its interior minister to Croatia over the incident.

Traffic on the highway was halted for hours until the bus was removed. The road where the crash happened is usually very busy in summer since it is a popular route used by tourists and foreign workers returning from Western Europe to the Balkan countries.

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40. IDF soldier SUES Ben & Jerry’s for pulling his ‘preferred’ ice cream from occupied Palestinian territoryВс, 25 июл[−]

An Israel Defense Forces soldier is attempting to sue Ben & Jerry’s for withdrawing its ice cream from sale in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory, arguing that he’s been deprived from his “preferred” dessert.

The complaint was filed by the 20-year-old soldier’s mother, Adv. Orly Ben Ami, on his behalf, and it claims the man will be unfairly denied the ice cream while on military patrol in the occupied territories, Ynetnews reported.

“The Ben & Jerry’s brand ice cream is his preferred one,” read the complaint, which claimed his “military service requires him to have long and frequent drives in the territories, and often time he purchased ice cream in different businesses.”

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Now, as a result of Ben & Jerry’s recent decision to discontinue sales in the occupied territory and its “judgemental position” on the conflict, the ice-cream fan complained he is “unable to enjoy” the ice cream “like everyone” else. It also paints him as a human rights abuser, the complaint says.

The soldier’s ice cream related woes were quickly mocked on social media, with Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Abraham Gutman joking that the “privileged” soldier’s “right to eat Chunky Monkey while occupying” has been “infringed upon.”

Others compared the news to a recent Onion satire article about a similar, but fictional, Israeli soldier who laments the withdrawal of sales by reminiscing about how he used to stop “by the Ben & Jerry’s store to grab a serving of Phish Food or Cherry Garcia before bursting into a Palestinian family’s home in the middle of the night.”

After Ben & Jerry’s announced last Monday that it would stop selling ice cream in the occupied territory – though not the rest of Israel – Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned the decision would have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise” and announced that Israel would “act aggressively” toward boycotts. He even said the company’s decision showed it had rebranded as “antisemitic ice cream.”

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also called on Israelis to not buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in protest.

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41. ‘So unfair, so ridiculous’: Former US president Trump lashes out over transgender athletes in warning over women’s rights (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Donald Trump has taken aim at transgender athletes being allowed to compete in women's sports, NBA icon LeBron James, the USA Women's football team, Major League Baseball and Joe Biden as part of a long rant at a rally in Arizona.

Appearing in front of a backdrop that proclaimed him as 'President Donald Trump', the former head of state told a Republican rally in Phoenix that they would "make America great again" and said that part of his mission was to restore "honest, free and fair" elections, as well as "election integrity".

Trump criticized his Democrat successor, Joe Biden, over the country's borders, the growing introduction of "critical race theory" and free speech being "crushed" before he abruptly turned to "men being allowed to compete in women's sports".

"How do you like that?" asked the ranting 75-year-old as boos rang out. "Think of that. How fair is it?"

He then appeared to reference Laurel Hubbard, the transitioned athlete who has been allowed to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"Did you see the weightlifter?" asked Trump. "I hate to tell you this, women, but he's shattered your longstanding record."

It is unclear exactly which record Trump could have meant. "This guy gets up, 'boom, boom'," he added, having apparently watched the action intently.

"Like a nine-year record, sonny – a nine-year record. Boom. Did he do it with one hand? It's so unfair, so ridiculous. I'll be honest, though, look – we all like to win.

"If I was a coach, I wouldn't be talking to too many women as we know women. I'd be getting some of these people... they're women."

Trump trailed off to leave an air of mystery over what exactly he had meant to say, then turned his attention to an NBA legend and social justice warrior.

"Somebody said that if LeBron James ever decided to get the operation, how would he be?" he asked, appearing to imagine the Los Angeles Lakers talisman transitioning gender before telling female sports that they could "have him".

"How would he be on the court? And by the way, LeBron James – you can have him. Did you see the basketball ratings, which were terrible? They went up after his team was defeated.

"People want to see athletes, they want to see competition. But the last thing they want to see is men competing in women's sports. Very soon, you're not going to have women competing anymore. I hate to say it.

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"You're going to have a coach have a full team, and that team is going to win the national championship so easily, you're not going to have women competing.

"They're taking away your rights. That's really a women's rights movement. You can't let that happen. And now they just allowed it to happen in the Olympics. The Olympics has gone bad, too."

Trump appeared to link that point to issues of hacking, "rockets being fired" and the US being "laughed at all over the world", which he insisted had never happened under his leadership.

"The radical left is determined to ruin everything in America," he said, setting himself up in somewhat incoherent style to take umbrage with Team USA's surprise defeat in the women's football at the Olympics.

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"That's what they're doing. Woke politics takes the life and joy out of everything. Wokeism makes you lose, ruins your mind and ruins you as a person.

"You become warped, you become demented. The US women's soccer team is a very good example of what's going on.

"Earlier this week, they unexpectedly lost to Sweden three-to-nothing – and Americans were happy about it."

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Trump has clashed with the women's team's captain, Megan Rapinoe, several times, although he swiftly moved on to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the high-profile decision to move the All-Star game away from Georgia over changes to voting rules.

"Now the left is in the process of destroying our national pastime, baseball," claimed Trump.

"First, we saw the embarrassing spectacle of the Commissioner of baseball bowing to the radical left on voter fraud. You saw what they did: you saw they moved the All-Star game.

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"Now one of the most beloved and storied franchises in baseball – all of baseball, I watched it as a kid at Yankee Stadium – the Cleveland Indians will be changing name [because of concerns over racism] that was filled with history and memories.

"The new name will be the Cleveland Guardians, which is terrible. The Cleveland Indians... you know, if I was an Indian, I'd sue. What could be better [than the name Indians], especially if you have a good team?

"It's one of the greatest names, one of the most incredible logos. People loved it. They are going absolutely crazy over the name change in Ohio.

"What's that about? The insanity of the left knows no bounds, and both Indians and baseball fans should be greatly insulted. They want to take away our history, our heritage, our culture and everything that holds us together."

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42. ‘A hell of a win’: Massive Olympics shock as France hand USA first loss in 17 years, ending 25-match run of men’s basketball winsВс, 25 июл[−]

Team USA and its underperforming stars were widely ridiculed online following their latest failure. After losing exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, they have now been defeated by France in their opening Tokyo 2020 match.

An 83-76 defeat to the French in their maiden Group A outing was a seismic setback, representing the first time that the Americans have been defeated in the tournament since 2004.

The star of the show was undoubtedly Boston Celtics shooting guard Evan Fournier, while reigning defensive player of the year in the NBA Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum and Frank Ntilikina all put in impressive shifts.

As the dust settled on what was only the losers' sixth loss overall at the Olympics – where they have failed to win gold on just three occasions since their national sport was introduced in 1936 – Fournier had some scathing parting words for Gregg Popovich's men.

"They are better individually but they can be beaten as a team," he said.

That seemed to be the general consensus across ticked-off Americans on social media.

"USA’s men’s basketball just lost in the Olympics for the first time since 2004 and, honestly, they were beaten by a better team," claimed one critic.

"The days of just showing up and running pickup and having the other team ask for pictures after getting waxed by 40 is over."

"I already know these comments are about to be filled with 'what the f*ck do you, mean better team?'

"France today was a team of individuals while the USA are currently a bunch of individuals who make up a team."

Another offered: "Idea: If Team USA doesn’t win gold… none of the players should be let back in the country."

Individual stars were also called out, with the Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant, as usual, bearing the brunt of the abuse.

After watching Durant manage a measly 10 points and more fouls than field-goals, one fan demanded: "Please don't ever call Kevin Durant the best player in the world ever again."

His perceived turncoat nature among some fans was also mocked, with one writing: "Breaking: Kevin Durant demands trade to France."

The USA have won 23 of the 30 Olympic gold medals in male and female basketball, but the warning signs were perhaps signaled when they only finished seventh at the men's Basketball World Cup in 2017.

"They had a good run but we just stuck with our game plan," said Fournier of France's surprise win.

"Second, you have to be honest and look at their roster: they have guys who are pretty tired from playing in the NBA Finals.

"We know they aren’t at full strength yet, but it was a good win regardless for us. It’s a hell of a win, and our country is going to be extremely proud."

Team USA must now beat Iran and the Czech Republic next week to avoid further misery and advance to the medal round.

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43. Pelosi insists January 6 committee about ‘patriotism, not partisanship,’ as GOP senator says it's ‘political advantage’ for DemsВс, 25 июл[−]

Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) has set off critics by claiming a House select committee probing January 6 is a political stunt to benefit Democrats – but Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit back, insisting it’s all about patriotism.

“What does it say about your party that an investigation into a violent insurrection would reflect poorly upon it?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Toomey during a Sunday interview.

The House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot has quickly become a contentious issue for Republicans and Democrats, with Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy even recently vowing to boycott the committee after two of his picks were denied by Pelosi.

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“I would favor a truly bipartisan commission,” Toomey said in defense of his party, noting the numerous investigations into January 6 that are already underway.

The motivation to investigate the riot that day, however, is not what is driving these investigations, according to Toomey.

“I think we should be candid about the fact that it is politically to the advantage of Democrats to keep this issue at the forefront,” the senator said.

The Pennsylvania Republican later added that it’s “very clear” Democrats “have an incentive to drive a political message” through a “partisan commission.” Such investigations, he said, are to keep the focus away from the current policies of President Joe Biden.

“Which is more relevant in 2022?” he rhetorically asked.

Toomey’s attack on Democrats over their focus on the Capitol riot got him trending shortly after his interview, with liberals quick to defend their party and turn the blame on Republicans who have been reluctant to fully support efforts to ‘investigate’ January 6. Many also celebrated the fact that Toomey will soon be retiring from the political world and leaving his seat open, quite possibly to a Democrat.

Over 500 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol riot and the FBI expects to identify hundreds more for prosecution. While Republicans have been eager to move on, there is no sign that will be happening, as even FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted last month, “This is far from over.”

On Sunday, Pelosi defended the select committee and claimed it would be bipartisan, despite friction with Republicans, and claimed the investigation would find “the truth” about the riot.

“Maybe the Republicans can't handle the truth, but we have a responsibility to seek it to find it and in a way that maintains the confidence of the American people,” she told ABC.

“It’s all about patriotism,” she added, “not partisanship.”

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44. ‘I can’t stop laughing’: Kanye West mocked for attending game with tights on head in US stadium ‘where rapper is living’ (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Rapper and celebrity oddball Kanye West has been ridiculed for an apparent bizarre appearance and disguise at an Atlanta United football game, where he was rumored to have been kicked out of his seat by security after kick-off.

News of the supposed cameo first started to circulate after reporter Charles Bethea, who is based in Atlanta, tweeted a photo with a caption which claimed the multi-platinum selling artist had been asked to move.

"My buddy just kicked Kanye and crew out of his seats at the Atlanta United game," the post read.

"Kanye was nonplussed."

In the photo, a figure who appears to be Kanye dons a red jacket with nylon tights on his head, making it difficult to fully identify him.

There are other indicators that he did indeed attend the match against Columbus Crew, which resulted in a 1-0 defeat for the hosts.

West debuted his new album, 'Donda', at a sold-out special event at the ground – the Mercedes Benz Stadium – and donned the exact same outfit before 42,000 punters, with the capacity reduced from 75,000 for performances.

Some reports have suggested that West has been living at the venue while completing the record.

He also uploaded footage from the terraces to his 6.2 million followers on Instagram, although theoretically the clip could have been posted by anyone with access to his account.

Shot with a camera phone doing a 360 in the stands, the video shows a Hispanic group of Atlanta fans leading a chant in Spanish with the aid of heavy drums.

Not long after, he also published another clip asking a matchgoer what they thought of his new album, which is still yet to be released.

"OK, guys, at least we have an acknowledgment from Ye [West] that Donda existed," quipped one fan, while others have ridiculed West for his matchday cameo and attire.

"Oh for f*ck's sake," said one on Twitter, while another claimed to have been "so confused" by the alleged incident when sharing a selfie from the stadium.

"90 degree day... wasn't he awfully hot in that outfit?," it was asked.

"Or does he have that madness that prevents one's body and brain from regarding the weather?"

"My god, he is an odd person," an observer remarked.

"So it was Kanye who jinxed us," concluded a United fan, appearing to have got to the bottom of their loss on the pitch.

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45. UK Labour Party losing 250 members a day since Keir Starmer became leader – mediaВс, 25 июл[−]

The UK Labour Party has lost 120,000 members – or a rate of 250 members per day – since Keir Starmer was elected leader last year, sending the party into a financial crisis, according to a new report.

The Labour Party now has just 430,000 members – a huge drop from the 550,000 who were in the party under former leader Jeremy Corbyn – after numbers started to drop when Starmer was elected leader in April 2020, the Times has learned.

According to the article, Labour has lost up to £500,000 per month from the exodus.

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Because of the drop in members, as well as other costs such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the millions of pounds that Labour has spent in legal costs during its campaign against anti-Semitism, Labour Party General Secretary David Evans reportedly announced to party staffers this week that there was only one month’s worth of employee pay left in Labour’s reserves and that jobs would have to be cut.

It is estimated that the amount left in Labour’s reserves is just £1.5 million, leaving the party desperate for donors.

Despite Labour’s loss of members and its subsequent financial crisis, the Times noted that the party has been “attracting wealthy backers” under Starmer, including Sir Trevor Chinn, the president of the Movement for Reform Judaism and a financial supporter of the Labour Friends of Israel.

Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party has been defined by its more centrist turn following the socialist leadership of Corbyn and an attempt to crackdown on perceived cases of anti-Semitism in the party.

In October 2020 – just months after he stood down as leader of the party following its 2019 election defeat – Corbyn was suspended from Labour. Though Corbyn was reinstated to the party the following month after protests by members, left-wing politicians, and former US presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein, Starmer did not return the Labour whip to him.

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46. Shanghai evacuates HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, cancels flights & suspends train services as Typhoon In-Fa hits China’s coast (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from the coastal areas of the Chinese city of Shanghai as Typhoon In-Fa hits the coast to its south. All flights to the city and high-speed train services have been suspended.

Shanghai issued the second-highest-level typhoon warning as In-Fa is expected to hit the city’s southern Pudong district in another landfall later on Sunday. One video posted to social media shows the sky over the city darkened by black storm clouds brooding over Shanghai’s skyscrapers.

Around 330,000 people were evacuated from the city’s coastal areas, including the Fengxian District. Over 100,000 civil servants and workers were deployed to the city’s streets as part of the massive flood prevention measures initiated by the authorities.

All passenger flights to and from Shanghai’s two airports were canceled on Sunday. The city’s ports – some of the world’s busiest shipping hubs – evacuated thousands of vessels. The international airport of Hangzhou – a city southwest of Shanghai – canceled all flights as well.

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Several bus lines in Shanghai were also suspended to prevent busses from crossing bridges over some rivers. All high-speed trains bound for Shanghai were suspended starting Sunday evening.

The typhoon already hit the city of Zhanshan in the Zhejiang province south of Shanghai earlier on Sunday, with winds reaching speeds of more than 136kph, according to Chinese media. Another video posted online shows winds ripping through a street at incredible speed.

The typhoon is expected to swirl through Hangzhou Bay and make another landfall later on Sunday, potentially affecting the Zhejiang province and Shanghai. Footage shows people in the city already seeking shelter from the heavy rain and strong wind.

The typhoon comes as China reels from the devastating floods that hit the central Henan province, claiming the lives of dozens of people and prompting the authorities to evacuate hundreds of thousands.

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47. ‘I had one dream’: Starlet Daria Bilodid issues emotional reaction after winning Ukraine’s first ever women’s Olympic judo medalВс, 25 июл[−]

20-year-old judo sensation Daria Bilodid burst into tears in her national colors after scooping bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, admitting that she had been "depressed, broken and not in the mood" before remembering her mom's words.

The youngest ever world judo champion, despondent Bilodid admitted she had lacked initial motivation to go for bronze after being ruled out of contention for the finals at the showpiece.

Bilodid recovered to beat Israeli Shira Rishony and earn the first ever women’s Olympic judo medal for Ukraine, continuing a formidable year in which she had already taken bronze at the Judo World Masters and silver in her event at the Judo Grand Slam Tel Aviv.

"When I was six years old, I had one dream, which all these years was in my head and helped me to cope with difficulties," said the passionate supporter of Ukraine at Euro 2020.

"I dreamed of an Olympic gold medal. I trained a lot, starved, endured when it was very painful and denied myself.

"I never told anyone about this – only the closest people who saw how difficult my path were, know this. All for the sake of one Olympic gold.

"After losing [out on] reaching the finals, I was depressed, broken and not at all in the mood to fight for bronze, I wanted to give up all this, since my main dream had not come true. The mood was at zero.

"The only thing that motivated me was my mother's last words before entering the tatami: 'Win this medal for my sake.'

"And I did it for her and my dad. They deserve this medal and I dedicate it to them. Thank you, dear ones.

"You were always there, supported me when I wanted to give up and found the right words to keep me going."

Kosovo's Distria Krasniqi took gold, consigning Funa Tonaki, the Japanese competitor who beat Bilodid to the final two, to silver.

"Now I realize the value of this medal," said Bilodid, who went on to express her gratitude to a lengthy list of members of her judo team, friends and family.

"For me, it is reflected in gold, because we have gone through so many difficulties and obstacles and still reached the finish line – albeit not as we would like, but with a medal and history for life. I still have a dream and I will not let anyone take it away from me."

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48. Russian Su-57 fighter jet FREEZES mid-flight during incredible MAKS 2021 Air Show stunt (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

A Russian Su-57 supersonic stealth fighter jet has performed a mind-blowing stunt by climbing high in the air and remaining nearly motionless for several seconds.

Pilot Sergey Bogdan showed off his incredible flight skills during the MAKS 2021 Air Show in Zhukovsky, near Moscow. He performed the ‘Bell’ stunt, one of the most spectacular and dangerous aerobatic maneuvers.

The jet began by doing a 90-degree vertical climb, then used its thrust vectoring technology to stay in one place as long as it could.

The stunt ended with the aircraft dropping its nose down and imitating the movement of the tongue of a bell.

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The Su-57 is a fifth-generation multirole fighter that can destroy aerial, naval and ground targets, and can be fitted with a hypersonic Kinzhal missile. The plane’s mass production began in 2019.

Russia unveiled its newest jet fighter at MAKS, dubbed ‘Checkmate’, which was described as a smaller and lighter version of the Su-57.

At this year's MAKS, Russia unveiled its newest lightweight stealth fighter, dubbed ‘Checkmate’. Described as the Su-57’s “younger brother,” the single-engine jet is intended to be capable of short takeoff and is fitted with modular weapon bays that can be equipped with the full array of current anti-aircraft missiles, gun pods, bombs and guided missiles. A drone version is also currently under development.

Checkmate is supposed to be a more affordable alternative to the US’ F-35, Saab’s Gripen and France’s Dassault Rafale.

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49. Global central banks to boost share of Chinese yuan while reducing US dollar holdings – surveyВс, 25 июл[−]

One third of central banks worldwide will add the yuan to their reserve assets in the nearest future, prompting the rise of the Chinese currency, a global survey shows.

According to the Global Public Investor survey, published by the London-based Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), 30% of central banks plan to increase their yuan holdings over the next 12-24 months, up from only a 10% increase last year.

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OMFIF claims the yuan's rise is likely to be a global trend, but may be especially strong in Africa, where nearly half of central banks are set on boosting their yuan reserves.

The findings also showed that 20% of the world’s central banks want to reduce their US dollar holdings in the coming months, while 18% plan to cut their euro reserves and 14% their holdings of euro-zone sovereign debt.

In one such move, Russia has fully eliminated the US dollar from its National Wealth Fund, reducing its share from 35% to zero. Meanwhile, the country raised the amount of Chinese yuan in the fund to 30.4%, which put it in second place after the euro with 39.7%.

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According to OMFIF data, central banks, sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds currently control a total of $42.7 trillion in assets. Central bank reserves globally jumped some $1.3 trillion in 2020 to a new peak of $15.3 trillion. The majority of global central banks insist that financial markets depend on their monetary policies. However, only 40% believe these policies need to be actively updated.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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50. ‘You are bemoaning reality’: Man. City make case in UK court after UAE deals reportedly allow club to outspend rivals by $825MNВс, 25 июл[−]

A news report from the UK has revealed some of the details of the hearing as Manchester City appealed against the public release of a judge's findings in the investigation over the club's alleged Financial Fair Play breaches.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Sportingintel's Nick Harris explained how it had become common knowledge to the press earlier in 2021 that the English champions and the Premier League were still embroiled in a now two-year legal battle.

A series of gagging orders had prevented news of this being published, but the Mail on Sunday was recently able to obtain a ruling for one of its reporters to attend a court hearing related to the matter on June 30.

On Tuesday, three of Britain's most senior judges ruled that the Blues' secret legal battle can be made public, which has led to subsequent reports from other outlets.

The case includes an email written for a member of staff in City's 'partnerships' department. While both of the individuals have since moved on from their posts, it allegedly reads: "Dear [XXX] … there seems to be some confusion about an outstanding balance of the sponsorship fee for the 2010/11 season.

"As you are aware. Etihad's commitment is for £4 million [$5.5 million] and the remaining balance (£8 million) [$11 million] is handled separately by the [UAE] Executive Affairs Authority [EEA].

"Please can you clarify this to your accounts department and pick it up direct with the EAA in due course? Kind regards."

The Mail claim to have had access to paperwork that shows City invoiced Etihad Airways for a sum of £12 million ($16.5 million) in their 2010/11 sponsorship deal.

However, the document is alleged to include a hand-written note explaining how the airline was only due to shell out three times less than that total amount.

The EAA, who are reported to have covered the difference between the two amounts, "provide strategic policy" for His Highness Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is Abu Dhabi's crown prince.

The report has suggested that City inflated their income to get around FFP rules.

Specifically, the Mail said that City earned £1.7 billion ($2.3 billion) in commercial income in the 2010s.

Across the same period, other Big Six rivals such as Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal achieved an average of around £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) each, meaning the English top flight champions appeared to earn £600 million ($824 million) more from their commercial deals than those outfits of similar dimensions.

One marked difference is that City are hugely reliant on sponsors from just one country – the UAE.

In the 2012-13 Premier League season, City's commercial revenues jumped by 33 per cent to £143 million ($196 million), and UAE-based companies accounted for around 83 per cent of this total, with £67.5 million ($93 million) from Etihad, £15 million ($20.6 million) from investment company Aabar, £16.5 million ($22.7 million) from telecoms firm Etisalat and £19.75 million ($27.1 million) from Abu Dhabi's Tourism authority.

By 2015-2016, six separate entities from the UAE put up £122 million ($168 million) in sponsorship for City, which represented 68 per cent of a total £179 million ($246 million), and in 2019-20, these figures were slightly less at 56 per cent or £140 million ($192.5 million) of a total £250 million ($343 million).

While there would be no problem with this usually, City will encounter heavy penalties and potential suspensions if it can be proven that these sums come from parties that are ultimately funded by City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, and not those claimed on officials documents.

Elsewhere, the Portuguese whistleblower who set the ball rolling in 2018 with his Football Leaks expose has offered to help in further investigations.

Rui Pinto, who submitted his hacker findings to German newspaper Der Spiegel, had his lawyers tell the Mail he "remains committed to collaborate with national and international authorities in order to help uncover wrongdoing in football and contribute to football’s transparency".

At the hearing over the publication at London's Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Pannick QC, speaking as one of City's representatives, is said to have been told by Sir Geoffrey Vos: "You are bemoaning reality. This is a matter of the greatest public interest."

Pannick reportedly said of City's challenges to the Premier League's attempt to secure documents and information: "What the court is saying is that the price [of bringing the challenges] might be publication."

His remarks were reportedly made as part of a purported argument by City that keeping the details under wraps will make it easier to reach a resolution, avoid further arbitration and avoid disputes with other clubs.

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'Disgraceful decision': Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp SLAM decision to accept Manchester City's appeal against two-year UEFA ban

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51. ‘This is not freedom’: Macron denounces ‘irresponsibility and egoism’ of those who refuse Covid jabВс, 25 июл[−]

French President Emmanuel Macron argued on Sunday that refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 is not “freedom” because anti-vaxxers infect and kill others through their “irresponsibility” and “egoism.”

Macron said during a visit to French Polynesia that though “everyone is free to express themselves,” there is “no such thing as freedom where I owe nothing to anyone.”

What is your freedom worth if you say to me ‘I don’t want to be vaccinated,’ but tomorrow you infect your father, your mother or myself?

The French president argued that freedom “rests on a sense of reciprocal duty,” not selfishness. Macron also floated the possibility of a patient in hospital getting less medical attention as a result of medical professionals helping another person who refused the vaccine.

“This is not freedom, it is called irresponsibility, egoism,” Macron declared, issuing a “very strong message” for “everyone to get vaccinated.”

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FIERCE CLASHES between protesters & police in Paris as tens of thousands rally against Covid certs, vax mandates in France (VIDEO)

Tens of thousands of people in France protested the government’s decision to introduce a vaccine passport and mandatory vaccination for certain professions this weekend. France’s vaccine passport will prohibit people from entering restaurants, bars, museums, and more if they cannot provide evidence of vaccination or a recent negative test.

Similar massive protests against vaccine passports and lockdown restrictions have also been held in the UK, Italy, and Australia.

London protesters held signs that read “No to forced testing” and “No to forced vaccination” during a “Freedom Rally” of thousands on Saturday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Monday that proof of vaccination would soon be required to enter nightclubs and other establishments.

Following the news that Italy planned to introduce a similar vaccine passport system, thousands of Italian protesters marched across the country, including Rome and Turin, with some comparing Prime Minister Mario Draghi to Adolf Hitler.

Though a vaccine passport system has not yet been introduced in Australia, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Sydney on Saturday to campaign against the city's strict lockdown restrictions.

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File photo: Protest against 'health pass' announced by French President Emmanuel Macron, July 17, 2021.
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52. Champions League winner mocked for spurning certain goal with incredible miss – as boss claims he was not ‘serious’ enough (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Champions League winner Joshua Zirkzee has been widely mocked for missing an absolute sitter for Bayern Munich, failing to score in a pre-season friendly against Ajax at the weekend that could determine his future.

The 20-year-old Dutchman joined the Bavarians' youth setup from Feyenoord in 2017.

Despite progressing to the seniors two years later and being part of the squad to have won the Champions League in 2020, he has only made 12 appearances for Bayern and was loaned out to Parma in the last transfer window.

In this preseason, then, Zirkzee is singing for his supper – not only to stay on at the Allianz Stadium, but also, perhaps, to attract a potential buyer that won't be a massive step down in his career.

On Saturday, against visitors from his homeland, he did little to entice current or future employers with a horror miss.

Approaching half-time, with Bayern level at 1-1 against Ajax, Zirkzee produced some good work to force an error from Jurrien Timber after a bad backpass.

With one touch, he left goalkeeper Remko Pasveer in his wake as he approached an open net.

But instead of chasing after the loose ball to smash it home, Zirkzee jogged at a snail's pace and seemed happy to watch it roll in.

Perr Schurrs wasn't ready to give up, however, and beat Zirkzee to the ball to stop a potential goal and clear to safety.

As footage of the incident went viral, fans the world over waded in on the Netherlands youth international.

"Do not fall asleep in front of the goal," he was advised, alongside a facepalm emoji.

"Sunday League. I mean come on, man," remarked another.

"Same energy" one viewer quipped, accompanied by a meme of football badboy Mario Balotelli in his heyday.

The Euro 2012 finalist with Italy was rightly hooked by then-coach and countryman Roberto Mancini at Manchester City after attempting a ridiculous flick when he was through on goal that went horribly wide during a pre-season match.

"Hopefully he'll be a little more serious in a Bundesliga game," Zikzee's manager Julian Nagelsmann told Abendzeitung after the match. "But I don't have to talk to him – he'll know that himself.

"We were a bit too deep in the first half, weren’t really so forceful in the first line of attack. Still, we had the chance to take the lead just before half-time," the new Bayern shot-caller also added after the 2-2 draw.

"We had to score that. We then changed things a bit during the break and were really good in the first quarter of an hour after half-time. We applied a lot of pressure and had some good spells of possession. Then we substituted ten players.

"The boys also did very well. They were brave and played well with the ball. Given the squad available to us, it was absolutely fine on the whole.

"We’re very pleased there were spectators today and they supported us. That was a nice experience."

Next up for the Bundesliga kings are meetings with Monchengladbach on Wednesday and Napoli next Saturday.

With Bayern's season starting on August 6 in the DFB-Pokal, Zirkzee's auditions are running out.

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Erling Haaland gave a fan an autograph on the pitch © Twitter / ESPNFC
Chelsea target Erling Haaland makes young fan’s dream come true by signing autograph on pitch during match (VIDEO)

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53. VC firms are pouring billions of dollars into green techВс, 25 июл[−]

Green technology is quickly emerging as the hottest investment sector for venture capitalists, with private firms completing $7.7 billion in deals this year.

ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing: it's in every media outlet and on every bank's business plan. A rush to what many call alignment of values with investment goals has led to a flourishing new industry with funds popping up like mushrooms after the rain. Green-tech startups are the new dotcoms, it seems, and the danger of a bubble seems distant—for now.

Interestingly enough, things were very different just a few years ago, as the Wall Street Journal's Scott Patterson noted in a recent article. The past decade, he wrote, saw a pullout of investors from the green energy technology field after a couple of notable demises—one of solar company Solyndra back in 2011 and one of battery maker A123 Systems a year later.

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This photograph taken on February 3, 2021 shows workers assembling solar panels on the shore of Tengeh reservoir as part of efforts to construct a floating solar power farm in Singapore. © Roslan RAHMAN / AFP
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From today's standpoint, this is ancient history. Now, hardly a week goes by without a breakthrough of some sort in batteries, solar power tech, or, say, hydrogen. Most of these breakthroughs have to do with cost and efficiency, which are the two things that can guarantee a product a long life. Yet, most of these breakthroughs never make it to the consumer. They never make the leap across the so-called valley of death between the lab and the market. Especially if funding is scarce and hard to come by.

Venture capital funds are changing this, the WSJ's Patterson writes, citing data from PitchBook, a private capital market research provider. According to PitchBook, venture capital funds are seen completing $7.7 billion worth of green tech deals this year, which would be up from $1 billion ten years ago.

It's not just venture capitalists, either. JP Morgan earlier this month launched not one but three new sustainability investment funds. This was only the latest move in a rush to set up clean energy investment funds to take advantage of growing investor appetite for environmental, social, and governance, commonly known as ESG, investing.

Read more
Police officers float on a boat on the river Ahr as damaged houses reflect onto the water and wyneyards are seen on the hills in the background, in Mayschoss, Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany, on July 21, 2021, after devastating floods hit the region. © CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP
The floods in Germany show how fear-mongering about climate change is preventing us from combating actual disasters

Demand for new investment opportunities by a new generation of investors is one driver of this trend. Another, more important driver is government support for low-carbon technology. The European Union has tied its post-pandemic recovery funding program to commitments by national governments to invest a solid portion of the funds in low-carbon energy. This is effectively an open invitation to anyone doing anything in green tech. The Biden administration has also opened up the US federal purse for green tech startups.

Now, the EU and the US are discussing something they are calling a green technology alliance. In a joint statement, the two said, "We intend to lead by example through becoming net-zero greenhouse gases (GHG) economies no later than 2050 and implementing our respective enhanced 2030 targets."

With such solid support, investment in green tech has become a lot less risky for investors... except in the part where a technology simply has no chances of survival as happens to an awful lot of breakthroughs that sound so groundbreaking in the lab but never cross the valley of death. However, this is a risk inherent in any startup investment.

We've seen some instances of this risk materializing in the EV space recently. First, EV and hydrogen vehicle startup Nikola suffered a major share price drop when a report from a short-seller revealed that the company's CEO had overstated the company's progress on its flagship model. The revelation cost Nikola a huge deal with GM, too. Another EV maker, Lordstown, recently teetered on the brink of collapse as the company ran out of money before it started commercial production of its Endurance truck.

Many more startups, not just in the EV space but also in other green tech fields, will go under if their products don't live up to the hype. But at least now they have access to abundant funding, unlike a few years ago. Then, it was a buyers' market. Now, it's a sellers' market, and buyers are lining up, eager to take part in the energy transition. How long before the situation escalates into a bubble? That would depend on how many more Solyndras and A123 Systems there are out there.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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54. Bloodied Russian MMA star Lobov set to retire after brutal bare-knuckle loss to Ukrainian in scrap surrounded by sandbags (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Conor McGregor training partner and ex-UFC star Artem Lobov admitted that he does not have "fire in the heart" after losing his latest bare-knuckle bout, falling to Denys Berinchyk in a scrap caged by sandbags on a card in Kiev.

Notoriously durable Lobov survived two standing counts in the Mahatch FC brawl, when he bravely took on unbeaten professional boxer, 2012 Olympic Games light-heavyweight silver medalist and former World University Boxing Championships king Berinchyk, ending with his face covered in blood.

Following a third successive defeat of his two-and-a-half year UFC spell in 2018, Lobov had earned wins over Paulie Malignaggi and Jason Knight in a bare-knuckle career that was as entertaining as his 30-fight MMA campaign.

The 34-year-old yet again showed his willingness to take on the toughest of opponents in Berinchyk, and had been backed by McGregor ahead of the showdown.

"I knew that Denys is a high-class fighter," 'The Russian Hammer' acknowledged after the scrap was called off between the fourth and fifth rounds.

"So I wanted to fight him. Why go out [against who] knows who? If I go out, then I try against the strongest and aim for the stars. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be close to the moon.

"Congratulations, Denys – it was a great honor for me to perform here. Most likely, I will [retire]. There is no fire in the heart that there used to be.

"I just went out here to see how and what [I was capable of]. Thanks to everyone – and, especially, to my team. "

WBO International lightweight title holder Berinchyk praised Lobov and said his first fight in the discipline had been positive. "Thank you for agreeing to fight an undefeated boxer," he said.

"Respect to my opponent. My debut was a success. I liked to fight with [bare] fists. I think this is not the end, but only the beginning."

Berinchyk was not Lobov's only admirer in what may have been his final fight. "Artem, you made a lot of fans proud as always," said one supporter on social media.

"Even in times of a loss, Artem never disappoints the fans. There's not one boring Artem Lobov fight – they don't exist.

"You made your fans proud last night and you're never afraid of a good fight, no matter the opponent."

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UFC star Conor McGregor (left) and pop singer Justin Bieber © Jonathan Bachman / Reuters  | © Instagram / thenotoriousmma
UFC’s McGregor sups whiskey with pop star Bieber in the sun as he backs Russian training partner Artem Lobov in bare-knuckle bout

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55. ‘I sincerely apologise’: UK health secretary deletes tweet telling Brits not to ‘cower’ from Covid-19 after sparking uproarВс, 25 июл[−]

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has apologised for writing a controversial tweet in which he boasted about fully recovering from Covid-19 and advised Brits not to “cower” from the virus.

Javid – who tested positive for Covid-19 one week ago on July 17 – took to social media on Saturday to announce his “full recovery” and promote vaccination.

“Symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines. Please – if you haven’t yet – get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus,” he declared, angering many who considered his advice to lack empathy.

On Sunday, however, Javid apologised for the now-deleted tweet, saying “it was a poor choice of words” and claiming he was just trying to express “gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society.”

“I sincerely apologise,” he wrote, adding, “Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact.”

Javid’s initial tweet sparked uproar among Brits on social media, who accused him of insulting people who had lost loved ones to the virus.

Actress Lorelei King posted a photo of her husband’s grave, noting that he “‘cowered’ from nothing in life,” but Covid-19 still “killed him.”

Another woman shared a photo of her mother, who she said had “paid the ultimate price” after being infected with the virus.

“Turns out she was just not as strong as big bad Sajid!” she wrote, while a disabled man tweeted, “Due to the gov’s appalling handling of covid, 60% of the UK’s Covid deaths are disabled people like me. We’ve been fighting for our lives, ‘not cowering’.”

Angela Rayner, the Labour Party's deputy leader – and many others – had called on Javid to apologise on Saturday, arguing that “Many lost their lives because the government failed to keep them safe.”

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Javid – a former home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer who was made health secretary by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June following the resignation of Matt Hancock – is no stranger to controversy and his positive Covid-19 test last week led to Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak becoming engulfed in their own scandal after the two revealed they would not self-isolate despite their contact with the infectious Javid.

Johnson and Sunak soon backtracked following heavy public backlash and accusations of hypocrisy and ultimately decided to self-isolate like other Brits who have had recent contact with a Covid-19 positive person.

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56. WATCH: Russian warships & nuclear submarines on show in St. Petersburg parade as Putin hails country as world-leading naval powerВс, 25 июл[−]

The newest additions to Russia’s naval forces have been showcased during the annual Navy Day parade in Saint Petersburg.

President Vladimir Putin kicked off the event on Sunday by praising the fleet’s long history and hailing Russia as “one the world’s leading naval powers.”

“Today, Russia’s naval fleet has everything it needs for the guaranteed defense of the country, of our national interests,” Putin said.

We can detect any [type of] enemy and, if necessary, carry out an unavoidable strike.

More than 50 warships, ranging from large attack vessels to smaller patrol boats, sailed down the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland as naval aircraft buzzed in the air.

Commissioned just last year, the multi-purpose ‘Admiral Kasatonov’ frigate was among the vessels featured. The ship is designed to operate in the high seas and is armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, torpedoes and anti-aircraft weaponry.

Russian frigate Admiral Kasatonov in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 25, 2021. © Alexei Danichev/Sputnik

The parade’s largest surface vessel, the cruiser ‘Marshal Ustinov’, is equipped with Vulkan anti-ship missiles that can destroy targets from up to 550km (342 miles) away.

The nuclear-powered submarine ‘Knyaz Vladimir’, which officially joined the fleet in 2020, took part in the parade for the first time. Named after a 10th-century Russian prince, the vessel is fitted with stealth technology and carries 16 Bulava ballistic missiles. In March, it completed an expedition into the Arctic.

© Aleksey Nikolskyi/Sputnik

Other submarines featured in the parade included the Krasnodar, which carried out cruise missile strikes against militants during Russia’s campaign in Syria.

The Russian ships were joined by the Indian frigate INS Tabar, which was built by a Russian shipyard and is equipped with Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

They were followed by the Iranian frigate Sahand and support ship Makran, the largest vessel in the country’s navy, as well as the Pakistani frigate Zulfiquar.

Iranian frigate Sahand in Kronstadt, Russia, July 25, 2021. © Alexander Galperin/Sputnik

A Ka-52K attack helicopter, the Alligator, flew over St. Petersburg along with a pair of Ka-29TB choppers. Other aircraft included Tu-142 reconnaissance and anti-submarine planes and Su-30SM jet fighters.

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57. Chelsea target Erling Haaland makes young fan’s dream come true by signing autograph on pitch during match (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

A youngster achieved a dream many football fans would love to achieve during an audacious pre-season friendly coup, reaching the pitch without interference and acquiring the signature of Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Erling Haaland.

The incident took place at the Bundesliga giants' Signal Iduna Park on Saturday, where the locals were hosting Spanish side Athletic Bilbao.

During the first half, the young enthusiast couldn't contain his excitement any longer and went for broke.

Spotting his opportunity as Haaland lingered in the penalty area in the hope of latching on to an incoming corner, the youngster made for the six-yard box, where the Leeds-born prodigy was happy to indulge him.

Signing the chest of the young boy's shirt, Haaland then kindly escorted him off the field out of harm's way, before the striker was hooked at half time in the eventual 2-0 defeat.

Walking sheepishly behind the goal, the youngster appeared to expect the worst as a serious-looking member of security personnel headed towards him.

But in keeping with the harmonious tone of the afternoon, the boy merely received a warm hand over the shoulder and was taken on his merry way.

The incident carried shades of the starstruck linesman who drew ire from the social media masses by asking for Haaland's autograph during a Champions League match last season.

It was later revealed that the official was raising money for an autism charity.

Following the friendly, the generational talent, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Wednesday, took to social media to mark his return to action.

"Great to be back out on the pitch again," he captioned a photo for his millions of followers.

Elsewhere, he added: "It’s good to be back and to play my first game of pre-season. The result obviously wasn’t good, but that’s not what it’s about.

"It goes without saying that we want to win, but getting to run and play with the team and work on certain situations is good. The season starts in two weeks and we’re going to be well prepared for it."

With Jadon Sancho having left for Manchester United in a $100 million transfer, reports are now spreading that Haaland will stay put in the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

Dortmund are keen not to lose two young stars in the same window as they bid to wrest the German top flight title from Bayern Munich's grasp.

Meanwhile, UK outlets such as the Evening Standard have claimed that Chelsea are readying a $178 million raid to test Dortmund's resolve.

Whether it's supporters or top clubs vying for his attention, Haaland's hallmark clearly remains one of the game's most sought-after signatures.

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Haaland is a target for Abramovich and Chelsea. © AFP / Reuters
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58. Football manager and ex-England midfielder Joey Barton charged with assault by beating over attack that left wife with head injuryВс, 25 июл[−]

Ex-Man City and Newcastle star Joey Barton will appear in court over an alleged assault that left his wife with a head injury days before their wedding anniversary, with police confirming an incident at a London house last month.

The 38-year-old, who also played for Burnley and Queens Park Rangers during his 269 Premier League appearances, was arrested over the alleged offense at a home in Kew, south-west London on June 2.

Metropolitan Police confirmed the charges in a statement, adding that Barton, of Cheshire in the north-west of the UK, will appear at a magistrates' court on Monday after being charged with assault by beating.

"The charge relates to an incident which took place at a residential property... in which a woman received a head injury," the statement added. "London Ambulance Service did not attend.

"A 38-year-old man was arrested on June 2, bailed pending further enquiries, and subsequently charged," it finished.

The couple have been together for more than a decade and have two children, Cassius and Pieta.

They were due to celebrate their second wedding anniversary days before Barton's alleged attack.

Georgia took to Instagram in the weeks that followed to post a commemorative message in her husband's honor.

"Happy Father’s Day –the kids absolutely adore you," she wrote alongside a black-and-white photo of the one-cap England international with his offspring. "Thank you for everything you do to them."

UK outlet The Sun has said that the country's League Managers’ Association refused to comment on the development.

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59. ‘I hadn’t fired’: Freak judging howler almost lost Russian shooting star crucial points on her way to nation’s 1st Olympics goldВс, 25 июл[−]

Vitalina Batsarashkina, the air pistol hotshot who is the first Russian to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics, has revealed that a bungle by bosses almost cost her – and her mom has revealed how she has been a hunter from childhood.

Omsk-born Batsarashkina set an Olympic record as she stormed to the first gold medal for her country at the Games, scoring 240.3 points to beat Bulgarian rival Antoaneta Kostadinova by 0.7 points, having been 0.9 behind ahead of the final session.

Batsarashkina's family have revealed that they feared the star would lose the shooting nerve that has been nurtured in her since she was a child, although the 24-year-old was more worried about an electronics error that failed to register one of her shots.

“The judges didn’t notice that I hadn’t fired a shot when I still had time for it – I could continue to shoot for 27 seconds," Batsarashkina explained to Tass of the incredible oversight.

"And they gave me 50 seconds again to shoot. I think it gave me time to breathe. That does not happen very often – once in two, three or five finals, an electronics failure may occur."

Judges would not have given Batsarashkina a point had the mishap not been pointed out to them.

“We called each other in the morning and she complained a little that the shooting did not work out at the beginning," said one of Batsarashkina's coaches, Natalya Kudrinabut.

"But the middle was good. There was a delay in shooting, she had enough self-control and she set an Olympic record."

Batsarashkina's mother, Irina, revealed that both of the heroine's grandfathers had inspired her from a young age.

"We have two grandfathers — my father and my husband’s father — who are both avid hunters,” she said.

“Vitalina went hunting from the age of six. She was introduced to this life, her grandfathers gave her pneumatics early. She was a kid – there were never any dolls, she was nimble and active.

“I knew that she was capable of this as it was not her first time in international competitions. But we were afraid that she might lose her nerve. I hoped there would be a medal but, honestly, I didn’t think it would be gold."

That gold capped a fine opening to the Games for Russia – under the ROC banner – that has included silver for Anastasia Galashina in the 10m air rifle shooting and bronze for Mikhail Artamonov in taekwondo.

“I didn’t set myself the task of winning and getting into the top three or even the final, but simply shooting as best I can and showing what I can," said Batsarashkina, whose next ambitions including the 25m shooting competition that begins on Thursday and, outside of the sport, marrying her partner.

"The main thing is that you have completed the task. I hope [to have a wedding] this year, because we have been planning it for a long time."

Another of Batsarashkina's ecstatic coaches, Valentin Kudrin, spoke about the tense build-up to her victory.

"We were in a very positive mood," he claimed to Tass. "We always hope for the best – we were afraid and very worried. To be honest, the result is unexpected.

"Vitalina is one of the elite of the world's shooters, but everyone there is very strong. When [it happened], I felt an explosion of joy and I was on the ceiling. The neighbors probably thought that someone had gone crazy.

"Her grandfather was a hunter, he brought her to us. She shot everything from slingshot to pneumatics. Thank god, there was then a sponsor who gave her a pistol. It was a former shooter. She was presented with a pistol with a huge handle, and everything went from there.

"I then persuaded my wife, who was already the coach of the youth team, to take Vitalina to the training camp."

Asked whether Batsarashkina would now be one of the most popular figures in her home city, Kudrin replied: "Yes. After all, she has an Olympic medal."

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60. US shale sees light at the end of the tunnelВс, 25 июл[−]

The US oil and gas sector was torn apart during last year’s COVID-19 fueled market mayhem, but it appears that America’s shale patch is back on track, looking as healthy as ever.

The US oil and gas sector is recovering from last year’s market slump. But unlike the previous boom-and-bust cycles, the industry has held off on boosting production and has focused on strengthening balance sheets, repaying loans, and rewarding shareholders. As a result of the rallying commodity prices this year, and most of all, the discipline in capital spending, the US shale patch is now financially stronger. Bankruptcies have been fewer and far apart in recent months, and the energy loan default rate has dropped to the lowest level since the oil market crashed in March and April last year.

In addition, low interest rates have prompted many US oil and gas firms to raise new debt, most of which goes to repaying existing liabilities, not to drilling more wells.

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US Energy Defaults Drop Significantly

One indicator shows that the credit quality of the loans and bonds in the US oil and gas sector has significantly improved in recent months.

The energy sector’s trailing twelve-month (TTM) default rate stood at 9.1% in July, Fitch Ratings said in a report on Wednesday. The energy default rate has fallen below the double-digit percentage for the first time since April 2020. The default rate is also considerably down from the 20.3-percent peak in March, Fitch Ratings noted.

Smaller defaults and higher oil prices are set to further push the energy default rate down to 5% by the end of this year, the rating agency says. This year will see smaller defaults compared with as many as four defaults of $1.5 billion-plus size issuers in 2020, according to Fitch Ratings.

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Wastewater problem could cap US shale growth

To compare, at this time last year, Fitch Ratings was estimating the energy default rate to finish the year 2020 at 18%. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, energy generated $5 billion of defaults.

This year, Fitch Ratings does not expect “many bankruptcies coming in the next few months. Only 2% of our Top Market Concern Loans relates to energy,” Eric Rosenthal, Senior Director of Leveraged Finance at Fitch Ratings, told Forbes’ Senior Contributor Mayra Rodriguez Valladares.

Defaults on bonds have also significantly dropped this year, according to Fitch Ratings.

“Energy makes up only 10% of our Top Market Concern Bonds list, down from 57% as of one year ago. There has been only $3.2 billion of YTD high yield energy defaults compared with $14.4 billion for the same period in 2020,” Rosenthal told Rodriguez Valladares.

Energy Bankruptcies Slow Down

This year, the default rate is considerably down, as companies with unsustainable liabilities have already filed for bankruptcy over the past year, while the others are using record cash flows to pay down debts.

The number of North American producers that filed for bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of 2021 reached the highest number for a first-quarter since 2016, yet the wave of bankruptcies has significantly slowed since the peaks in the second and third quarter of 2020, law firm Haynes and Boone said in its latest tally to March 31. Even though the number of first-quarter 2021 bankruptcies was the highest for a Q1 since 2016, it showed the trend of slowing filings after 18 oil and gas producers filed in the second quarter of 2020 and another 17 in the third quarter, the two quarters in which the oil price crash and the crisis were most severely felt by indebted producers.

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The US Shale Patch Is Borrowing Again

US oil and gas firms are taking advantage of the high oil prices and historically low-interest rates to seek financing.

Higher oil prices and low-interest rates have prompted listed independent US oil producers to raise in March the most financing via debt and equity issues since August last year, the EIA said in April.

This time around, the borrowed money is being used for repayment of previously drawn credit facilities or bonds, not for relentless drilling of new wells and chasing record production growth.

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“Since crude oil prices began increasing, US crude oil producers have been raising debt and equity to refinance debts, resume drilling activities, or purchase acreage,” the EIA said.

Low corporate bond yields have also contributed to lower interest rates on new bonds and reduce the cost of issuing debt, the EIA noted.

Historically low interest rates give additional incentives to US shale drillers to raise new debt and refinance existing liabilities. Currently, it’s as cheap for the US energy sector to raise new debt as it was seven years ago, when oil was $100 per barrel, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

How Long Will Discipline Hold?

So far this year, US oil and gas firms have been sticking with promises of capital discipline and prefer to show investors the money to drilling themselves “into oblivion,” as Harold Hamm warned back in 2017.

Higher oil prices and expected record cash flows could heal the balance sheets of many shale producers this year.

Even if US shale wanted to significantly raise production in response to $70 oil, it would take at least nine months to see a meaningful jump in output, Rystad Energy said in an analysis earlier this month.

One executive at an E&P firm may have summed up this year’s motto of the US shale patch in the following comment in the Dallas Fed Energy Survey Q2 published at the end of June:

“Don’t take the bait, drillers: Stay capital disciplined and enjoy the higher prices for your product.”

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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61. Move over, Eton! Russia’s exclusive schools are taking on the world’s most elite institutions… if you can afford their price tagsВс, 25 июл[−]

While schools around the world have struggled with how to give their kids a good education despite the disruption of the pandemic, one state-of-the-art private institution on the outskirts of Moscow had a bumper year for grades.

Letovo is no ordinary school. It is one of the very few in Russia that offers both a national diploma as well as a certificate from the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB DP), opening doors to its students for overseas work and study. Elite schools such as this began to spring up following the 2013 –2015 Ukraine and Syria crises, which alienated Moscow from its former partners in the West. With a collapse in oil prices compounded by sanctions, the ruble crashed. In response, Russia’s wealthiest began to search for homegrown alternatives to the likes of Eton and Harrow, which had educated many of a generation of rich Russian children.

This year, Letovo’s graduates finished with one of the highest mean IB DP scores in the world. Their final-year students scored an average of 43 points, which is a head above the global standard of 33 points. Following these outstanding results, every single graduating student was admitted into their university of choice – including some of the West’s most prestigious higher-education institutions, such as Brown, Cornell, Duke, Chicago, Yale and Berkeley, Oxford, and Cambridge.

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The academy sees itself as a kind of ‘start-up’ educational project. It was founded by the Russian billionaire, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Vadim Moshkovich, who made his fortune in agriculture. In an interview in 2018, the farming mogul stated, “I’m not building a school for children of officials or sanctioned businessmen or oligarchs from Rublyovka,” referring to Moscow’s most coveted and elite district. “Education is the key driver in the modern world and I want Russia to be competitive. This is for soul and country.”

Such a premium education comes at a premium price, however. Letovo’s base tuition fees are about $20,000 a year. While this is still around only half of what the top British public schools charge, such expenses are far above what the average Russian family can afford. Prospective students undergo a name-blinded exam and are means-tested, meaning that those who can’t afford the fees have a shot at receiving grants and scholarships to supplement the costs.

Within a broader analysis of Russia’s education system, this attempt to improve the education of the wealthy few who would otherwise have been sent abroad, or the worthy few who happen to be extremely intelligent, seems rather shallow.

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For decades, some of Russia’s ultra-wealthy have been sending their kids to the US and UK for their education – Moshkovich’s own two eldest children were sent to Stanford. And even if admission hinges upon a blindly graded entrance exam, it doesn’t stop the rich from private-tutoring their way into Letovo. Although it’s classified as a not-for-profit project, the school remains, in essence, an elite attempt to emulate top foreign institutions. It aims to become a feeder into the best of the West, and still, ultimately, sends Russian children abroad to complete their further education.

The problem with ‘normal’ education in general today is often pinned to overworked, under-motivated teachers and chronic underfunding. In Russia, even the best teachers are underpaid compared to what those of similar educational attainment could earn in the private sector, and in many ‘free’ schools, teaching is more a matter of crowd control rather than effective learning. Critics such as Moshkovich have complained that “state primary and secondary schools still rely too much on memorization and standardized testing, and don’t do enough to encourage critical and creative thinking.” Given that Russia spends only about 3.7% of its GDP on education, it’s not surprising that state schools struggle to find the time and space to focus on creativity and critical thinking.

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In an interview with Russian business daily RBC, Moshkovich claims, “Our goal is to provide a world-class education to any child in Russia, regardless of place of residence and material status. The current education system in most Russian schools is still focused primarily on knowledge, rather than skills and competencies. We want to unite all these areas to harmonize learning.” This is all well and good for those who can make it into his ‘superschool,’ but what about the ‘normal’ students in normal schools all around the country? Don’t they also deserve the chance at receiving a “world-class” education?

As Letovo shows, money really does make all the difference. The 36 graduates from this year’s class will go on to the world’s top universities with full support from Letovo’s educational fund, provided they return home on graduation and work in Russia for at least three years afterwards. The kind of opportunities that open up for young people when funds aren’t an issue are immense, and when they’re surrounded by a positive attitude towards learning and by decently paid, enthusiastic teachers, the sky's the limit. It’s just a shame that not every child will get that chance.

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62. ‘I was wrong’: Dutch cyclist van Vleuten thinks she’s won Olympic gold… only to discover Austrian rival has ALREADY crossed lineВс, 25 июл[−]

Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten thought she had scooped her country’s first gold medal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics only to be told that Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer had already crossed the line more than one minute earlier.

In a stunning upset, the 30-year-old Kiesenhofer became the first person to win an Olympic road race medal from her homeland.

The Austrian – who is unsigned by a professional cycling team – was part of an early breakaway group in Tokyo before hitting the front on her own with around 40km to go.

Kiesenhofer never looked back, blitzing the field to finish the 137km course in a time of 3 hours, 52 minutes and 45 seconds.

Trailing her by 75 seconds was van Vleuten, who in confusing scenes was unaware that her rival had broken away to open up a major gap.

Instead, the Dutchwoman thought she had stolen a march on Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini to clinch gold, with van Vleuten stretching out her arms in celebration on crossing the finish line at the Fuji International Speedway.

However, after embracing her team with joy the 2019 world champion then appeared confused after being told of the result.

“I didn’t know. I was wrong. I didn’t know,” said the 38-year-old veteran, who had dusted herself off from a crash earlier during the race.

The confusion was put down to the fact that riders in the Olympic road race cannot contact their teams via radios, meaning van Vleuten and her fellow Dutch riders – who were among the strong favorites for the title – were unaware that Kiesenhofer had surged ahead.

Summing up the chaos, Team GB rider Lizzie Deignan, who finished 11th, also thought van Vleuten had won.

“The best person won the bike race here today. Annemiek was clearly the strongest so, you know, shout out to her,” she told the BBC.

The reality was more disappointment for van Vleuten, who was leading five years ago at the Rio Games before a horror crash left her with a concussion and three fractured bones in her lower back.

Meanwhile the shock triumph for Kiesenhofer, who is a mathematician and a graduate of Vienna and Cambridge universities, brought the first medal for Austria at this year's Tokyo Games.

Van Vleuten (L) appeared to have recovered from the disappointment by the time the medals were handed out. © Reuters

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63. Do sanctions really work? Russia has faced restrictions for years, but all they've done is push Moscow further away from the WestВс, 25 июл[−]

Sanctions are the US’ weapon of choice in less than clear-cut international conflicts. Put in place on the pretext of protecting international peace and national interests, history shows their effect is more usually the opposite.

Worse still, it’s the American people themselves who often become the unwilling and inadvertent targets of excessive economic restrictions.

The failure of American sanctions

Whether sanctions work – or not – is no great secret. Time and time again, the US has clung to sanctions as its de facto power of tough diplomacy. Yet Washington is failing to recognize the obvious reality: they simply do not work, other than perhaps as a tool to bully or with which to play to the crowds.

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In fact, tough-sounding economic policies have been shown to almost never have the desired effect against America’s adversaries. Instead, all too often, sanctions bolster those in power, who use the threat of Washington’s overreaching in their domestic affairs as a way to influence national opinion and shore up their support.

The US’s effort to throttle the economy of any country or government that stands against Congress’ vision for how the world should work has brought it into conflict with a number of nations. This has been seen in Iran, where the sanctions put in place after the 1979 revolution fueled the Shia-majority country’s aggressive policies in the Middle East. Likewise, in Cuba, where sanctions have existed for over 60 years, and yet the nation is still dominated by an authoritarian regime.

While such extremes have not been the result in Russia, anti-American sentiment has sharply risen due to Washington’s economic crusade against Moscow, its companies, and officials, since the 2014 reabsorption of Crimea. But the campaign against Russia did not start with the post-Kiev Maidan period. There still exist several sets of restrictions against the country and its companies that date back decades to the Yeltsin era.

Sanctions over Crimea are not only a continuation of the United States’ proven-to-fail way of dealing with complex international events, especially against Russia, but are a tool of destruction against the most innocent parties involved: citizens of these two nations.

The impact on Russians is easy to see. The resulting collapse of the ruble in 2014 made headlines around the world, and many industries had to quickly change and develop domestically in order to support Russians without European or American assistance. However, many Americans fail to realize the extent to which sanctions hurt their own country or to acknowledge who is often most at risk from US sanctions: Americans themselves.

Hitting hard back home

Sanctions are a double-edged sword. Not only do they hurt the economy of the sanctioned, but they also hurt the markets of the sanctioner. In 2015, for example, trade with Russia was $23 billion – a drop of $11 million from a year prior. Additionally, the glut of sanctions against not just Russia but multiple other countries may create unintended consequences and hurt American economic interests – without even succeeding in changing the target’s behavior.

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As the United States further strengthens its reliance on sanctions and aims to tighten its economic hold on its targets, other countries – both sanctioned and unsanctioned – will have to adapt their own policies to protect themselves and their people. For example, it would not be all too surprising if countries and firms created business structures and contingencies so as to prevent or minimize risk when involved with American businesses.

Visa and Mastercard have already fallen victim to such problems, having had to back out of transactions with sanctioned banks and re-route transactions through an entirely different system, only to be challenged by a Russian credit card competitor.

In the end, however, it is the common man who loses – and who loses big.

The cost for Americans

Businesspeople will point to the fact that the effects of sanctions can go beyond the targeted sector and the individual, hurting Americans well outside the original sanctioned sphere. While the United States may have aimed to restrict business and trade with a particular company or individual, all too often the effects of the sanction seep into other facets of the economy and diplomacy as the targeted country modifies its policies and approaches so as to keep itself afloat.

For Americans, this means reduced revenues for US companies and those who work for them, as well as forfeited opportunities that statistics alone cannot measure. It also puts unnecessary pressure on Americans living abroad, as well as tourists and exchange students, who then have to jump through hoops to complete even the most basic tasks related to banking, finance, and visas.

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And for Americans hoping to follow the American dream, starting or expanding businesses, or working abroad, sanctions become a barrier to that dream. The moment a business account has a connection to Russia or another sanctioned country, banks stop wanting to have anything to do with it. When this pinnacle of American entrepreneurism is put under strain due to policies proven to be ineffective at best, there is a glaring problem.

The history of failure, coupled with the factual and potential harm of sanctions to American citizens makes one thing clear: it is disingenuous to say that sanctions are done in the best interest of US national security and the international community. In truth, all they do is set up further barriers to democracy and economic prosperity. Even for Americans.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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64. Staying putt: More Covid despair for Rahm as positive tests rule world number 1 & contender DeChambeau out of Tokyo Olympics golfВс, 25 июл[−]

Top golf stars Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau will not play at the Tokyo Olympics after both tested positive for Covid-19, ruling the world number one out again after he caught the virus for the second time in two months.

Heavy hitter DeChambeau, who had been due to represent the USA, voiced his frustration after becoming the latest athlete to see their ambitions of taking part in the showpiece curtailed by Covid, while Rahm has endured a repeat of the test result that meant he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial in June.

The Spanish sensation was well on the way to winning that tournament when cameras captured him being told on the course that he would not be able to continue his campaign because he had contracted the coronavirus.

"I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA," said 2020 PGA Championship and US Open champion DeChambeau, the world number six.

"Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team. I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo.

"I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so."

Rahm tied for third at The Open in the UK last week, where DeChambeau also played.

The 26-year-old was fully vaccinated and was the bookmakers' favorite ahead of the start of play at Tokyo's Kasumigaseki Country Club on Thursday.

Open champion Collin Morikawa and former world number one Rory McIlroy are set to take part in the tournament, with Patrick Reed replacing DeChambeau in what will be his second Olympics appearance.

"I wish Bryson nothing but the best," said Reed, the current world number 13.

"I know how disappointed he is to not be able to compete, and I will do my best to play my best and represent our country."

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65. Russian fleet & aircraft showcase country's military might with annual Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Russia is holding its annual Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg on Sunday, The event involves dozens of warships and aircraft.

A total of 54 vessels of different types and more than 4,000 servicemen are slated to participate in the main event. For the first time, the parade in St. Petersburg will features three nuclear-powered submarines.

A naval parade was held earlier in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, while similar events are planned in Sevastopol, Crimea, and Baltiysk, a city in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, between Poland and Lithuania.

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66. ‘Draghi Like Hitler’: Protesters slam Italian PM for introducing Covid health pass, call it discriminatory (VIDEO)Вс, 25 июл[−]

Protests against the Italian government’s plan to introduce health passes were held in more than 80 locations on Saturday, where people denounced the measure as discriminatory.

Around 3,000 rallied in Rome and 5,000 in Turin, the capital of the northwestern Piedmont region, while smaller protests were held elsewhere across the country, Italian media said. Overall, demonstrations were reported in more than 80 cities and towns.

People took to the streets to denounce the plan of the government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi to introduce a health pass, known as the ‘Green Pass’. The document serves as proof that a person has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, has tested negative for Covid-19 in the last 48 hours, or has recovered from the virus.

Starting from August 6, only Green Pass holders will be allowed into cafes, restaurants, gyms, and open-air shows.

Protesters view the measure as discriminatory. Some marched with signs that read, ‘Draghi Like Hitler’ and ‘Freedom, No More Dictatorship’, while others carried Italian flags and lit flares.

“We say no to the Green Pass because it creates A-class and B-class citizens – those who have rights and those who have no rights,” a protester in Rome told RT's Ruptly video agency. “This is against Italy's constitution.”

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La Stampa newspaper reported that some business owners took part in the protest, fearing that the introduction of the pass will lead to a drop in clientele and endanger their livelihood.

Draghi said the Green Pass is necessary to stop the spread of the disease and restart the economy. Some politicians criticized Saturday’s protests.

“Hearing words like ‘slavery’ and ‘Covid scam’ makes me shudder. According to these irresponsible [people], 130,000 deaths were perhaps only imaginary,” Senator Licia Ronzulli from the center-right Forza Italia party said, as quoted by La Stampa.

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67. India in talks with Russia over investments in Russian oil and gas assets – sourcesВс, 25 июл[−]

India is negotiating investments of between two and three billion dollars in Russian oil and gas exploration and production projects with the Russian government, the Business Standard newspaper reports, citing unnamed officials.

According to the paper, the Russian government has offered several oil and gas fields to India’s natural resources exploration firm ONGC Videsh and to any potential consortium it may form for the project.

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This will be for exploring and producing oil and gas in Russia. While the project and scope have not been finalized, talks have begun,” one of the sources told the newspaper.

Sources say the countries are also in talks over India's investment in oil and gas exploration projects in the Arctic, namely in the development of the Vostok Oil project. The project’s annual crude production could be up to 100 million tons, according to preliminary estimates.

The cited sources stated that three Russian Far Eastern regions, namely Yakutia, Sakhalin Oblast and Amur Oblast, have so far shown interest in investment by India in their oil and gas sectors.

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© Reuters
India wants more trade with Russia going beyond traditional sectors

India sees oil and gas-related interaction with Russia as a "flagship sector of commercial cooperation between the two nations,” India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said earlier. The country has also been looking at extending economic ties with Russia in areas such as coking coal, timber and liquefied natural gas (LNG), as it sees great potential there.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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68. ‘Filthy, disgusting & selfish’: Australian leaders blast anti-lockdown protesters, unleash ‘strike force’ to track them downВс, 25 июл[−]

Australian police have already issued hundreds of fines in the wake of mass anti-lockdown rallies, and are looking for more info about the violators, as state leaders condemn protesters for endangering other people’s lives.

In just 24 hours after Saturday’s mass protest, police in New South Wales issued 510 penalty infringement notices, Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. He vowed that the authorities will continue to investigate the acts of “violent, filthy, risky” behavior.

A strike force is set up right at this moment that continues to ask for people to bring forward any video files or telephone footage that they have of that sort of behaviour.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott earlier announced that at least 22 veteran detectives will be working as part of a special unit to identify and track down people who attended the rallies.

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State Premier Gladys Berejiklian echoed these sentiments, saying she was “absolutely disgusted” by the mass gatherings, and urging anyone who recognized any of the activists to contact police immediately.

I’m just so utterly disgusted, disappointed and heartbroken that people don’t consider the safety and wellbeing of their fellow citizens.

NSW reported two deaths and 141 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, which is slightly lower than the day before. Authorities, however, have hinted that as the protest risks turning into a superspreader event, the month-long lockdown in Sydney might be extended even further.

“We don’t want a setback, and yesterday could have been a setback – time will tell,” Berejiklian said. The state’s current lockdown rules bar residents from leaving home except to obtain food and other “essential” goods and services, for medical care, including vaccinations, and for outdoor exercise and “essential” work.

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The state of Victoria in the meantime recorded only 11 new cases, but Premier Daniel Andrews blasted the protesters for putting “many other people in real danger,” and said that he could not rule out that the state’s own lockdown will also be extended.

We can’t vaccinate against selfishness, and these people should be ashamed, absolutely ashamed, it’s just wrong.

Since the pandemic began, Australia has repeatedly staved off the spread of Covid-19 with some of the world’s most draconian lockdown measures, in pursuit of driving new cases down to zero even at the expense of civil liberties. Over the course of the pandemic, the country recorded just over 32,700 cases and 916 total deaths.

On Saturday, thousands of people sickened by perpetual restrictions and confinement marched through major Australian cities, chanting “Freedom!” and clashing with police who were deployed to disperse these “illegal gatherings.”

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69. Vitalina Batsarashkina wins 1st gold for Russia, setting Olympic RECORD in women's 10m pistol event in TokyoВс, 25 июл[−]

Russian shooter Vitalina Batsarashkina has won the women's 10-meter air pistol event, setting a new Olympic record in Tokyo. Bulgaria’s Antoaneta Kostadinova won the silver, and China’s Jiang Ranxin took bronze.

Batsarashkina set a record of 240.3 points, with a 0.9 lead over Kostadinova, winning her first Olympic gold in Tokyo – five years after taking silver at the Rio Games.

While China's Jiang was the best in the qualifying rounds (with an Olympic record of her own of 587 points), she ended up having to settle for bronze.

On Saturday, another Russian shooter, Anastasiia Galashina, claimed silver in a tense women’s 10-meter air rifle event.

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The Tokyo Olympics entered its second day on Sunday, with multiple medal events in archery, cycling, diving, fencing, judo, skateboarding, weightlifting, and swimming.

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70. Freedom Rally: Thousands protest Covid passports in London… as anti-vax speaker threatens doctors with ‘Nuremberg trials’Вс, 25 июл[−]

Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination activists rallied in multiple British cities against the vaccine passport initiative. In London, one of the speakers triggered a major controversy by likening NHS staff to Nazi doctors.

Thousands of people gathered at Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday for the ‘Freedom Rally’, to protest the restrictive measures introduced amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Demonstrators flooded almost the entire square, holding placards and banners reading: “No to forced testing” and “No to forced vaccination.”

Many activists went as far as accusing the government of “crimes against humanity,” while banners seen in the crowd ranged from 5G conspiracy theories to flags reading “Trump for 2024.”

Though minor scuffles erupted on the sidelines of the event, resulting in several arrests, the rally was otherwise peaceful. The gathering was attended by controversial media personality Katie Hopkins, who just returned from Australia after her visa was canceled over a quarantine breach. Former TV presenter turned-conspiracy theorist David Icke was also present, as well as Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

One of the speakers, Kate Shemirani, a former nurse turned-anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist, triggered a major controversy, calling the vaccines “Satanic” and describing them as part of a larger surveillance scheme – while urging people to send her the names of doctors and nurses involved in the vaccination campaign.

At the Nuremberg trial the doctors and nurses stood trial, and they hung.

“If you are a doctor or a nurse, now is the time to get off that bus... and stand with us, the people,” she said, claiming that a group of lawyers is helping her collect the information.

The video of her fierce speech quickly spread on social media, prompting an angry response from London Mayor Sadiq Khan. “I have raised it directly with the Met Police,” he said, while praising the healthcare specialists as “heroes of this pandemic.”

“This is what NHS staff woke up to this morning. A rally talking about hanging doctors and nurses,” the NHS Million campaign said on Twitter, while calling on police to respond to the “hatred and violence towards our hard working NHS staff.”

Elsewhere in the UK, protesters went beyond chanting provocative slogans. In Manchester, a group of anti-vaccination activists sought to storm a local Covid-19 testing center, forcing police to deploy additional guards to the facility.

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In Leeds, protesters blocked traffic as they swarmed the streets. The disruption resulted in several local bus companies halting services on some lines.

The protests come in response to government plans to introduce vaccination passports. On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that proof of vaccination will soon be required to enter nightclubs and other venues, which have just reopened this week. The announcement was met with widespread resentment and even angered some MPs, who vowed to vote against the measures.

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71. Gay rights activist Tatchell leads ‘Reclaim Pride’ march in London to protest ‘too corporate’ Pride eventsВс, 25 июл[−]

A ‘Reclaim Pride march – led by British politician and LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell – took place in London on Saturday to support gay rights in Africa and protest larger Pride events, which he says are more “corporate.”

The march went from Parliament Square to Downing Street and to the Uganda High Commission, where the participants protested against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for not enacting enough pro-LGBT policies, and the Ugandan government – which has been criticized by Amnesty International for persecuting LGBT people through anti-homosexuality laws.

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(L) Demonstrators protest against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the latest anti-LGBTQ law in Budapest, Hungary, June 14, 2021. © REUTERS/Marton Monus; (R) Counter protesters march as Polish nationalists gather in Gdansk, Poland. © Agencja Gazeta/Bartosz Banka via REUTERS
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Reclaim Pride’s “liberation demands” for the event included calls for a UK ban on gay conversion therapy, the development of a “safe haven” for LGBT refugees, the decriminalisation of LGBT people across the entire world, and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In an interview with GB News on Saturday, Tatchell said that he and many other LGBT activists “were not happy with the way in which Pride in London is run” and that Pride London is “too corporate, too commercial, and it isn’t profiling LGBT+ human rights.”

“So, this is very much reclaiming Pride for the community,” he explained, adding that there are “no corporate sponsors” involved with the “grassroots” event.

Though Tatchell received praise from some Brits in the LGBT community who also consider Pride events to have become too commercial, not everyone on social media was enthusiastic about the event.

“What rights do LGBT+ people not have in this country?” questioned one person. “What do the L’s and the G’s have in common with the T’s? What rights do bisexuals think they are missing?”

Another user declared, “As a gay man I have never taken part in pride… I have never been able to understand how men minceing around in hot pants will give me anymore equal rights [than] what I already have.”

Tatchell – who unsuccessfully ran for MP as both a Labour and a Green Party candidate over the past few decades – has repeatedly made headlines for his loud LGBT activism over the years, which include trying to perform a citizen’s arrest on former Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe during that leader’s visits to London in both 1999 and 2001.

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72. Bilingual orders & no more gas: Police slapped with new RESTRICTIONS after George Floyd protest settlement in North CarolinaВс, 25 июл[−]

Civil rights groups are celebrating a settlement with the city of Charlotte, North Carolina imposing new bans on police dispersing protests, stemming from a 2020 George Floyd demonstration where CS tear gas was used.

The lawsuit brought forth by the groups alleged that police orchestrated an attack on hundreds of protesters who gathered on June 2, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd the previous month in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Footage from the protest appeared to show protesters being surrounded and chemical weapons being deployed by police, a tactic activists were quick to denounce and claim it was excessive force.

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Part of the settlement reached with the city includes new restrictions on how police in the city can handle dispersing protesting crowds. The use of CS tear gas, for instance, will be prohibited. Other revisions to police directives include allotted time being given for protesters to disperse after an order is given, and for that order to be given in both English and Spanish. At least two exits for protesters to disperse also need to be clearly communicated. Other measures include prohibiting pepper balls being aimed at the heads and necks of protesters.

The revisions will be in place for four years and include “a mechanism to enforce violations,” according to a press release announcing the settlement.

Groups behind the lawsuit include the ACLU of North Carolina, the Charlotte Chapter of the NAACP, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“This agreement is a step in the right direction, but it’s insufficient to reckon with the violence and trauma protesters endured at the hands of police across the state last year,” Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide manager of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina’s Campaign for Smart Justice, said.

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings responded to the settlement by saying some policies had already been changed in light of the controversial protest response and he was open to the new changes.

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“We are a learning agency and always looking for ways to improve as we owe that to the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and all of those we serve because it is the right thing to do,” he said.

Jennings has been promoting police reform in his position. He even recently announced what has been described as a ‘customer training’ program for police officers, helping to repair the relationship between police and the public. The program, announced last month, is using a consultant who previously worked for companies such as Chick Fil-A and Starbucks.

“That encounter, although it’s a negative incident, does not have to be a negative encounter with that officer,” Jennings said. “When we can leave a positive impression with that interaction … [we] don’t let that person to go away feeling CMPD officers are bad people or are jerks or whatever name you want to come up with.”

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73. As thousands of inmates sent home over pandemic could be told to return to prison, activists urge Biden to #KeepThemHomeСб, 24 июл[−]

Activists are urging Congress and President Joe Biden to act before low-level criminals, sent to serve their sentences under house arrest at the height of Covid-19 pandemic, are forced to return to prison to finish their time.

A report this week from The New York Times about prisoners potentially being taken back into custody has had criminal justice reform activists up in arms, including groups such as the NAACP and ACLU.

On Saturday, activists vented their frustrations on social media, led by figures such as lawyer Emily Galvin-Almanza, using the hashtag #KeepThemHome to urge action from the administration.

The controversy over these prisoners’ future stems from a memo issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which stated that inmates whose sentences extend beyond the “pandemic emergency period” would need to return to jail to complete their terms. According to the Times report, Biden officials have agreed with the legal opinion, meaning thousands of inmates who were released at the height of the pandemic to help slow the spread of the virus could be on their way back.

Critics have argued, however, that those who have remained in compliance while being monitored at home deserve to be allowed to continue to serve their sentences at home.

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With the official state of emergency likely continuing through the end of the year, activists have argued that either Congress could step in and expand federal authority to keep inmates at home beyond the pandemic, or Biden himself could use his clemency powers to commute sentences.

“Imagine being sent home from prison.....doing the hard work of re-integrating and finding work and support ONLY TO BE SENT BACK TO PRISON 16 MONTHS LATER FOR NO GOOD REASON,” podcaster and consultant Joshua B. Hoe tweeted on Saturday.

“Biden-Harris ran on criminal justice reform. Granting clemency to these inmates would be just that,” reporter Victoria Brownworth added.

The White House has not officially indicated what it will do about the inmates in question, with an official statement provided to the Times only generically doubling down on Biden’s past promises to lower incarceration levels and focus on criminal justice reform.

Rescinding the Trump-era legal opinion has mainly been urged by Democrat lawmakers, but some Republicans have joined the call too, including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who argued in April that very few inmates in home confinement have broken the guidelines for their limited release or gotten into further legal trouble.

“It’s like waiting to be sentenced all over again,” Wendy Hechtman, who was serving a 15 year sentence for conspiracy to distribute a form of fentanyl, told the Times.

Others had been sentenced for similar crimes, as numerous reports and calls to action have highlighted. Kendrick Fulton, 47, for instance, was serving a 17 year sentence for selling crack cocaine when he was let out of prison 11 years earlier than he was supposed to. He has already served 17 years and is working in Round Rock, Texas.

“I served over 17 years already. What more do you want? I should go back for another 11 years to literally just do nothing?” he told Reuters in April, about the potential of being rounded up by the FBI and taken back to prison.

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74. ‘This is the roughest I’ve felt’: Controversial UK mouthpiece Piers Morgan reveals he caught Covid during Wembley Euro 2020 chaosСб, 24 июл[−]

UK presenter Piers Morgan, who is one of the more vocal critics of prime minister Boris Johnson's Covid-19 measures, says he caught the virus during the chaos at Wembley during the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England.

Morgan, who says he has received two jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine, attended this month's European Championships showpiece game in London at which hundreds of supporters, later described by a figure inside The FA as "drunken yobs", stormed the stadium in violation of Covid-19 protocols – with Morgan suspecting he caught the virus while surrounded by fellow supporters.

In a column to be released this weekend, Morgan has written that the diagnosis of Covid-19 brought with it a series of symptoms including a high fever, chills and severe fits of coughing which left him pondering the "killer virus inside me".

He added that his symptoms also included "strange aches" and "alarming" pains in his chest.

"My confidence that the event would be 'covid safe' had disintegrated," wrote Morgan of his thoughts when he observed the rowdy fans gaining entry to the stadium.

It had previously been announced that only supporters who had received full vaccinations or provided negative PCR tests would be admitted entry to the ground, but Morgan maintains the situation descended into a "an unregulated free-for-all."

"As I'm sure everyone who gets it feels, it's a strange, disquieting moment to know I have this killer virus inside me," he added.

"And my voice now sounds like Barry White, though I couldn't feel less like a Walrus of Love.

"This is definitely the roughest I've felt from any illness in my adult life as I slowly come out the other side, coughing and spluttering.

"I'm still here – unlike so many millions around the world who've lost their lives to Covid in this pandemic.

"For that, I owe a heartfelt debt of thanks to the brilliant scientists up in Oxford who created the AstraZeneca vaccine with such astonishing speed."

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England manager Southgate was criticized by TV host Morgan. © Reuters
'He didn't tell any of us': Piers Morgan attacks England boss Southgate for not revealing positive Covid test after pair met

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75. FIERCE CLASHES between protesters & police in Paris as tens of thousands rally against Covid certs, vax mandates in France (VIDEO)Сб, 24 июл[−]

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of French cities for the second weekend in a row to protest against health passes and mandatory vaccination for medics. In Paris, rallies ended up in scuffles with police.

Law enforcement officers in the French capital used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds as the situation on the streets spiraled out of control during the massive demonstrations provoked by the government’s plans to extend health passes for public places and enforce mandatory vaccination for certain jobs, including health workers.

Videos published on social media showed a crowd of angry young people forcing police officers to retreat from the Champs-Elysees by blocking the road, pelting officers with various objects and even attacking police vans. Law enforcement responded by deploying water cannon to disperse the crowd.

Elsewhere in Paris, a tense standoff between officers in riot gear and demonstrators ended up in a brief but fierce scuffle that prompted the police to use tear gas. In another incident, a crowd attacked a police motorbike by pelting it with bottles, forcing law enforcement officers to intervene.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the French capital to join at least three major rallies. One of them, attended by people wearing yellow vests – a sign of another major anti-government movement – was organized near the Place de la Bastille.

Another one – organized by the Eurosceptic ‘Patriots’ party – was organized at Trocadero, just across the river from the Eiffel Tower. Another group of protesters planned their march through central Paris.

At least nine people were detained in Paris following the clashes, according to the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

Massive rallies were also held in other French cities such as Marseille. In the city of Lille, 2,000 protesters took to the streets while demonstrations in Strasbourg were joined by 4,000 people. Most of the rallies were peaceful but Paris was not the only city to see some violent actions.

In the western city of Poitiers, a group of protesters stormed a local town hall. A video published on social media showed some of them allegedly throwing a portrait of President Emmanuel Macron as well as some documents out of the town-hall window as crowds cheer.

A total of 161,000 people took part in 168 protest actions across France, Le Parisien reported, citing the interior ministry’s data. Some 11,000 demonstrated in Paris alone.

The protests that gripped the French capital and other cities throughout the country for the second weekend in a row were sparked by the government’s decision to extend a special certificate requirement for people visiting various public areas as well as to prolong a compulsory vaccination mandate for certain jobs, including medics.

Earlier this week, the authorities announced that a special certificate, proving that a person is either vaccinated or has recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months or has a recent negative Covid-19 test, would be required to enter museums, cinemas or swimming pools.

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A man shows a health pass to a security agent in front of the Louvre museum entrance amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Paris, France, July 21, 2021. © REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier
Entry denied: France’s Covid-19 vaccine passport now required for museums, cinemas or swimming pools

The ‘pass sanitaire,’ which is being introduced gradually, will also be required from the start of August to enter restaurants and bars and for long-distance train and plane journeys. Previously, the pass had only been required for people attending large-scale festivals or clubbing.

Over the weekend French lawmakers are expected to vote on the extension. On Saturday, the issue was debated in the state Senate.

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76. Tyson Fury takes shot at Lewis Hamilton for ‘not paying taxes in the UK’ as boxing champ moans about lack of award recognitionСб, 24 июл[−]

Tyson Fury has lobbed a few verbal jabs towards Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton by accusing the Mercedes driver of 'not paying taxes' – and the champ has bemoaned his lack of honors in his homeland for his boxing exploits.

Fury, the undefeated WBC heavyweight champion of the world, has won every major title available to a fighter in the sport's most high-profile weight class, but says that he is yet to receive the type of recognition he feels his efforts in the ring have deserved in the UK.

The Briton has yet to feature on the Queen's end of year honors list, despite arch-rival Anthony Joshua having been awarded an OBE by Buckingham Palace in the past.

However, Fury's run through boxing's heaviest weight class has received far more fanfare in the US. His win earlier this year against Deontay Wilder was enough for him to be awarded his second 'Fighter of the Year' award from The Ring Magazine, and he was recently named 'Boxer of the Year' at ABC's ESPY awards.

Seeing his peers earn plaudits from the press seems to have rubbed Fury the wrong way, after he told the Daily Mail that "unlike Lewis Hamilton, I live and pay taxes [in the UK] which went up to £9 million [$12.4 million] last year."

Hamilton, meanwhile, has addressed tax-related rumors in the past by saying that he does pay tax in the UK – as well as the various other countries in which he races.

Fury has been hailed in some section of the media for championing mental health awareness after admitting in recent years that he struggled with depression, and has been informed by charities that his work to raise awareness for the issue has likely saved lives.

Fury has said that he believes fellow Brit boxer Amir Khan has also not received the recognition he deserves, despite crediting him with "reviving British boxing and doing fantastic charity work in both Britain and Pakistan."

But does this bother him? "No," he said. "Just disappointed. The way you are when someone close to you lets you down."

This isn't to say that Fury has been entirely ignored by the UK's awards establishment. 'The Gypsy King' asked to be removed from the nominations list last year for the BBC 'Sports Personality of the Year' award after his nomination for the same prize in 2015 led to accusations of homophobia and sexism owing to some of his past comments.

The winner in 2020 in Fury's stead? Lewis Hamilton.

Fury had been expected to rematch Deontary Wilder for a second time in Las Vegas on Saturday night before the fight was postponed until October 9 following an outbreak of Covid-19 in Fury's camp – and he refused to apportion any blame for the cancelation.

"I'm the last person to blame," said Fury of the outbreak. "I don't have a large entourage, unlike most world champions with all their ass-licking hangers on. Since coming back into full time camp, I hadn't been anywhere other than my new house here and the Top Rank gym. Nor had my team.

"The only people whose movements I couldn't completely control were my sparring partners, who change. They came in and out of the bubble and everyone knows this town is full of Covid. I suspect we caught it from one of them."

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Tyson Fury is repeatedly out of his fight with Deontay Wilder after contracting Covid-19 © Steve Marcus / Reuters
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77. Non-binary women’s footballer who is first openly trans athlete at Olympic Games says they feel ‘proud’ but ‘aware of realities’Сб, 24 июл[−]

A non-binary footballer who uses them and they pronouns has spoken of their feelings after helping Canada to a strong position in their group at the Tokyo Olympics, warning that the "fight" for trans rights "isn't close to over".

Hugely experienced international Quinn came out as transgender in a move they described as "hard and kind of bullsh*t" last September, going on to become the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Games as Canada drew 1-1 with hosts Japan and beat Chile 2-1.

The 25-year-old, who is said to have been born Rebecca but is now known simply as Quinn, said they were "optimistic" for change and wanted change in legislature, "rules, structures and mindsets".

“I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ on the lineup and on my accreditation," said the versatile star for National Women's Soccer League OL Reign in the US.

"I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world.

"Mostly, I feel aware of the realities. Trans girls being banned from sports. Trans women facing discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over… and I’ll celebrate when we’re all here.”

Issues around transgender participants in sport have been a feature of the build-up to the Games, with persistent debate and attempts to pass laws in the US about the rights of trans athletes to take part in female sports.

Transitioned weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who is expected to compete at super-heavyweight in the Games, has been the most high-profile athlete to earn headlines, with some believing that the New Zealander should not be allowed to take part and others celebrating her inclusion.

"I know, for me, it’s something I’ll be doing over again for the rest of my life," Quinn said when they made their initial announcement.

"I want to be visible to queer folks who don’t see people like them... I know it saved my life years ago.

"I want to challenge cis[gender] folks to be better allies. It’s a process and I know it won’t be perfect, but if I can encourage you to start then it’s something."

Among Quinn's suggestions for her audience, the former Paris and Washington Spirit player voiced their desire to see people add their pronouns to their social media profile, vote and "practice using gender neutral pronouns with friends or in a mirror."

They also urged people to "start to catch yourself making assumptions about people in public, bathrooms or any space."

Canada are three points and two goals better off than third-placed Japan ahead of their match against Team GB on Tuesday, when victory would guarantee finishing top of Group A.

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78. Barbed welcome: As migrant crossings surge, Estonia to gift Lithuania 100km of sharp RAZOR WIRE for border fencesСб, 24 июл[−]

Tallinn says it will help Vilnius build military-grade obstacles on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border by sending drones and razor wire to its neighbor. It comes amid a surge of Middle Eastern migrants trying to cross into the EU.

Some hundred kilometers (60 miles) of concertina wire will immediately be sent to Lithuania for free, Estonia’s defense ministry announced on Saturday. It has also promised drones for better border surveillance. The move comes as Vilnius is desperate to lock its borders to illegal migrants from the Middle East and Central Asia attempting to cross through Belarus.

Lithuania has previously said it’s facing a full-blown crisis as the number of illegal migrants has multiplied by 30 compared to last year, with almost 2,500 people detained. Having declared a state of emergency earlier this month, it started building a fence, but soon ran out of the military-grade wire.

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Having blamed Minsk for the migrant crisis, the Baltic country appealed to its western neighbours for help. Poland has responded by sending tents and heating facilities. The EU said it won’t be helping with the border wall, but promised to help deal with the influx of migrants financially.

“The European Commission does not fund fences. Our funding is aimed at inclusive solutions to control borders which guarantee that illegal crossings will not remain unnoticed,” its spokesperson has told RIA Novosti news agency. The money should also be used to help shelter migrants, the EU official added.

According to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, his country has been a “barrier” for illegal migration and drugs trafficking from the east. However, after Minsk’s relations with the West deteriorated dramatically and Lukashenko’s government came under a barrage of sanctions, he said Belarus would no longer stem the migrant tides, as it had “neither money nor strength” due to the sanction-inflicted losses. Vilnius has, meanwhile, accused Minsk of using migration flows as a “political tool” and called on the EU to impose even more sanctions on its neighbor.

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(L) Lithuanian army soldiers install razor wire on border with Belarus in Druskininkai, Lithuania. © REUTERS/Janis Laizans; (R) Employees work to build a second barrier for keeping out migrants between Hungarian-Serbian border in Hungary. © Hungarian Prime Ministry Press Office/Getty Images
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79. ‘Unacceptable’: Fox News blasts NSA after report reveals they ‘unmasked’ host Tucker Carlson in communicationsСб, 24 июл[−]

After the National Security Agency (NSA) denied targeting journalist Tucker Carlson, a new report has revealed the agency “unmasked” the Fox News host’s name while monitoring third-party communications.

Numerous lawmakers have called for an official investigation into Carlson’s recent claims that the NSA has been spying on his communications with the intention of taking him off the air. The agency pushed back against the claim last month, though critics noted the statement released about the accusations wasn’t exactly a clear ‘denial.’

According to a report from The Record, citing multiple people familiar with the situation, the NSA has completed a review of Carlson’s allegations and found that his name was “unmasked” in third-party communications being monitored. “Unmasking” is a process through which officials can request a redacted name of a US citizen in a final intelligence report being revealed to better understand the messages being looked at.

There is no further information about the specific communications, but Carlson had mentioned, before making his NSA accusations, that he was attempting to get an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The report claims that though Carlson’s name was revealed, his own communications were never gathered through “incidental collection,” which allows officials to obtain data from a citizen that is in contact with a foreign person already being monitored.

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Fox News has defended their popular-but-controversial host and said it is “entirely unacceptable” for the NSA to “unmask” Carlson’s name while he is attempting to do his job.

“For the NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson or any journalist attempting to secure a newsworthy interview is entirely unacceptable and raises serious questions about their activities as well as their original denial, which was wildly misleading,” the network said in a statement read off on Friday by ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ guest host Mark Steyn.

Neither the NSA nor Carlson have directly commented on the latest development, though Carlson has stuck by his claims. The Fox News host did become a hot topic of conversation on social media over the weekend, though not due to his spying accusations or the “unmasking” revelation about the NSA, but rather from a tiff with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) that ended with the Democrat lawmaker stating, “I’m just not that into you.”

Swalwell posted alleged screenshots of a conversation between him and Carlson where the Fox News host told the lawmaker to call him, and Swalwell refused, citing Carlson’s criticism of his wife earlier in the week – according to the segment, Carlson claimed Swalwell’s campaign had spent $20,000 at a hotel where his wife used to work.

Swalwell refused to talk to Carlson – for which the host branded him a “coward” – and instead launched the #TuckerTantrum hashtag, which became popular among Democrats. Swalwell has not commented on the report about the NSA “unmasking” a reporter’s name.

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80. Algerian athlete who withdrew from Tokyo Olympics to avoid clash with Israeli faces action from judo bosses over ‘discrimination’Сб, 24 июл[−]

An Algerian judoka who withdrew from the Olympics because his political support for Palestine meant he did not want the prospect of facing an Israeli has been suspended, with judo chiefs citing discrimination and "principles".

Judo star Fethi Nourine pulled out of the men's 73kg event to dodge a potential meeting with Tohar Butbul, of Israel, in the round of 32, calling the draw a "shock" and "thunder".

The Tokyo hopeful claimed he did not want to "get his hands dirty", while his coach, Amar Ben Yaklif, described a possible match-up with Butbul as "unlucky".

International Judo Federation (IJF) bosses have now temporarily suspended Nourine and Ben Yaklif, explaining in a statement that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

The federation's Disciplinary Commission and the National Olympic Committee of Algeria could now impose further sanctions on the pair, according to reports.

"Judo sport is based on a strong moral code including respect and friendship, to foster solidarity," continued the statement.

"We will not tolerate any discrimination, as it goes against the core values and principles of our sport."

Nourine had been due to take on Sudan's Mohamed Abdalrasool in the first round on Monday, when a victory would have earned him an encounter with Butbul courtesy of a first-round bye for the Israeli.

Ben Yaklif insisted that he had "made the right decision" with his athlete, but the Algerian Olympic Committee now intends to send Nourine home.

Politically-motivated conflicts involving Israeli athletes are not entirely uncommon at the Olympics. Egypt's Islam El Shehaby quit the sport at the 2016 edition in Rio after shunning the opportunity to shake hands with his victorious Israeli rival.

The IJF handed Iran a four-year suspension earlier this year after ex-world champion Saeid Mollaei claimed he was ordered to lose a semi-final match at the 2019 World Championships in order to ensure he did not face an Israeli in the final.

Nourine chose to withdraw from the same tournament rather than meet Butbul.

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FILE PHOTO: Israeli judoku Tohar Butbul spars with Greece's Georgios Azoidis at 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. © REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko; (inset) Algerian judoku Fethi Nourine © REUTERS
Algerian judo athlete withdraws from Olympics to avoid possible match with Israeli, says he won’t ‘get his hands dirty’

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81. US govt fights to keep alleged spy’s job details secret after she was charged with killing British teenager Harry Dunn and fled UKСб, 24 июл[−]

The United States is fighting to keep the job details of government employee Anne Sacoolas under wraps. She was charged with killing a British teen while stationed in the UK and cited diplomatic immunity to avoid facing charges.

Sacoolas was accused of killing 19-year-old Harry Dunn in a car accident near the Royal Air Force Croughton airbase in Northamptonshire in August 2019 and was subsequently charged with causing death by reckless driving. The 43-year-old woman who, along with her husband was working for the US government at the time, went on to cite diplomatic immunity, however, and returned to the US. Details of her work are now being protected by the US government.

According to reports, US government lawyers have proposed a protective order in response to Dunn’s parents filing a damages claim against Sacoolas, and are attempting to hide the details of her work for “national security” reasons.

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Floral tributes lay on the roadside near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire at the spot where British motorcyclist Harry Dunn was killed. © AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
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“Although the defendants were employees of the United States Government at the time,” the lawyers declared, “information concerning the United States Government has little to no relevance to an adjudication of any remaining issues in this case.”

They added that the “United States seeks protection” due to “the impact the disclosure of information regarding the Government in this litigation could reasonably be expected to have on national security.”

Radd Seiger, a spokesman for the Dunn family, said the proposed protective order would be “resisted strenuously,” and accused Sacoolas and her husband of bringing in the US government to “help them minimize what happened to Harry on the night he died in an attempt to prevent both the family and public at large from knowing the full truth.”

In December 2019, Sacoolas’ lawyer, Amy Jeffress, said her client would “not return voluntarily to the United Kingdom to face a potential jail sentence for what was a terrible but unintentional accident.”

Despite claiming Sacoolas was “devastated by this tragic accident” and that she sends her “deepest condolences to the family,” Jeffress argued that, since Dunn’s death was the result of “an accident,” a “criminal prosecution with a potential penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment is simply not a proportionate response.”

In February, following the news that Sacoolas and her husband may have been working as spies at the time of the car accident, Seiger called on UK Secretary of State Dominic Raab to “come forward and explain what he knew about Mrs. Sacoolas’ employment status and when he found out about it.”

The US – both under former president Donald Trump and President Joe Biden – has repeatedly refused to extradite Sacoolas to the UK to face charges.

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82. Worth the wait: After 5 years of anticipation, meet the Russia women’s water polo sensations who stormed to epic win against ChinaСб, 24 июл[−]

Two goals from water polo superstar Ekaterina Prokofyeva have given Russia a nerve-shredding 18-17 win over China at the Tokyo Olympics. After a five-year wait, can they go better than their bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games?

One of the first matches of the Olympics looks destined to be remembered as a classic, with an end-to-end thriller in Tatsumi standing at 6-5 to China in the second corner after China keeper Lin Peng saved an Elvina Karimova penalty.

Russia keeper Evgeniia Golovina was unable to prevent Guannan Niu from swiftly scoring twice, only for Veronika Vakhitova and Anna Timofeeva to keep their side level in an unpredictable, all-action clash.

2018 Best Female Player of the Year Ekaterina Prokoyeva had a significant part to play at both ends. First, the Russia captain scored an own-goal when a shot hit a post and ended up in the net off the back of her head.

After China went two goals ahead in the third quarter, Russia made it 11-11 and went ahead for the first time through Evgeniya Ivanova's effort before Prokofyeva scored from long range.

VAR was involved as China brought it back to 14-14, then Prokofyeva netted with two excellent attempts to ensure that the final strike was only a consolation.

Two-time European champion Prokoyeva shared her joy and the plaudits afterwards. "We have been waiting for five years," she had said beforehand, having been one of several players to have featured in 2016.

Long-serving Timofeeva won her first medal with Russia when she took bronze at the World Championships in 2009.

"Five years have passed since the last Olympic Games," she reflected. "Five years have passed since the head coach of the national team asked me, 'will you survive another Olympic cycle?"

"And I answered: 'What are you [saying]? Of course not.' Five years have flown by like one day.

"Now we again represent our camp at the games that every athlete dreams of.
Life is an unpredictable thing."

Appearing at all five Olympics women's water polo tournaments, Russia have gone the longest without winning the title and have the most bronze medals, earning the first of their two third-placed finishes in 2000.

The USA have dominated, winning the two most recent titles as part of a haul comprising two gold medals, two silver and one bronze.

Italy, Austria and the Netherlands also won the title before the Americans' current period of dominance, with Greece and Spain each finishing as runners-up once.

Russia began their 2020 campaign with a training camp in Long Beach, California.

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Daniil Medvedev has endured the heat at the Tokyo Olympic Games © Mike Segar / Reuters | / Reuters | © Harrison Barden / USA Today Sports via Reuters
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83. WATCH Russia’s Swifts aerobatic team amaze the crowds with a dazzling display in NINE MIGS at MAKS-2021Сб, 24 июл[−]

The Swifts (Strizhi) – the iconic Russian aerobatic team flying MiG aircraft – took to the skies of Moscow on Saturday at the MAKS-2021 air show to perform amazing aerial stunts, with nine fighter jets flying in tight formation.

The nine MiG-29UB fighters of the Swifts team performed stunts while locked in a “diamond formation” above the Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow, where the air show is being held until July 25.

The aircraft, an upgraded version of the legendary Soviet workhorse, with blue swifts depicted on their underside, flew just meters away from each other while performing aerobatic maneuvers, including a complete loop and an aileron roll. The fighter jets were so close, they seemed to be glued together, and their ace pilots held the formation flawlessly.

Just like their fellow aerobatic team, the Russian Knights, which performed at MAKS-2021 on Saturday, the Swifts were flying regular war machines that haven’t undergone any specific modifications for aerobatics. They use a training version of the time-tested Soviet and Russian MiG-29 fighters.

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And the team is about to get a long-awaited upgrade. On Friday, the group’s commander, Colonel Sergey Osyaikin confirmed it would receive its first multipurpose MiG-35 fighter jet later this year, and it’s expected that it’ll take delivery of nine new jets in total. The state-of-the-art fighter, which boasts vastly improved avionics in comparison to the original MiG-29, was showcased at MAKS-2021 in a solo flight.

The Swifts are world renowned and frequently perform at air shows and army expos in Russia as well as at various events abroad, including in France, Sweden, Germany, and the US. They marked their 30th anniversary earlier this year.

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84. German cops identify over 1,600 suspects in sting op on online chat groups where child porn & zoophilia materials were distributedСб, 24 июл[−]

Police in Germany have identified more than 1,600 potential child sex-abuse suspects who participated in online chat groups on which child pornography and zoophilia material was shared. Many of the suspects are reportedly minors.

While most of the suspects came from across the country, digital forensic experts had picked out people from the US, Austria, Switzerland and France on suspicion of possessing or sharing images of child sex abuse in the chat groups.

According to a press statement from Bavarian police, the suspects were being evaluated as part of “two large-scale trials” being prepared by police and prosecutors. If convicted, all suspects, including the minors, would be looking at a prison term of "not less than a year.”

Police officers in the Bavarian town of Amberg had been on to the online chats after coming across an advertisement earlier in March. The chats contained graphic videos and images of sex acts with children, adolescents and animals.

Hinting at the scale of the five-month investigation, Amberg police said that they had "several hundred thousand" pages of information on the suspects – enough to fit in “21 large moving boxes.”

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“The distribution of child and adolescent pornography has increased markedly in recent years and is an area of focus for us in many investigations,” Peter Krämer, deputy head of criminal police investigations in Amberg, said.

“As well as people with pedophile tendencies, it is often children and adolescents who share material like this in group chats without thinking, and who therefore regularly open themselves up to criminal prosecution," he added.

The investigators also warned that even membership in such group chats would be enough grounds for prosecution in Germany – since it pointed to the possibility of an individual either having access to, or possessing copies of, the photos and videos on their devices.

"That is why our appeal is particularly aimed at parents to sensitize their children to this issue," Krämer said.

The statement noted that the early use of smartphones by young children had opened up the possibility of them being exposed to such illegal content.

Earlier in the year, German authorities arrested four people after a raid on a dark-web club that had some 400,000 users.

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85. Russia sends food & masks to Cuba amid shortages that sparked mass protestsСб, 24 июл[−]

Russia’s Defense Ministry has sent two planes loaded with aid to its long-time partner Cuba, which has been reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with food and medicine shortages.

Two Cuba-bound An-124 large cargo planes carrying food, protective gear, and more than a million masks have taken off from Chkalovsky Air Base, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Diaz-Canel, several times by phone in recent months. The leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation against Covid-19.

Cuba, a nation of 11.3 million that is living under US economic sanctions, has the highest Covid-19 infection rate per capita in Latin America, according to Reuters. The country’s Health Ministry registered 7,784 new cases on Friday, raising the total to 316,383.

Overall, 2,203 people have died from the virus in Cuba since the start of the pandemic.

This month, food and medicine shortages sparked the biggest protests Cuba has seen in decades, with attendees denouncing the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and the current political system. There have been pro-government rallies as well.

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86. Meet Su-57’s younger brother: RT takes closer look at Checkmate, Russia's fifth-gen fighter jet (VIDEO)Сб, 24 июл[−]

Russia's fifth-generation single-engine supersonic stealth fighter, dubbed Checkmate, is a smaller and lighter version of the Su-57 that can be customized to the needs of different overseas buyers.

The new aircraft has become the star attraction at Moscow's MAKS 2021 Air Show. Set for mass production in 2026, the multirole fighter can strike aerial, naval and ground targets, and has excellent maneuverability.

"The Checkmate is the younger brother of the Sukhoi Su-57. But it is smaller, lighter and cheaper, in terms of production and maintenance," RT's Yulia Shapovalova reported. She noted that the plane is poised to earn a top spot in Russia's array of arms exports.

Designers described it as a plane with open architecture that allows clients to order versions in accordance with their needs.

"All this is much more fitted for the customer, who often does not need the functionality that the unique Su-57 has," Yuri Slusar, the head of the majority state-owned United Aircraft Corporation told RT.

READ MORE: Hundreds queue to catch a glimpse of Russia’s brand new ‘Checkmate’ fifth-gen stealth fighter at MAKS 2021 Air Show (VIDEO)

"Many air forces of countries – especially small countries – have a rather limited range of tasks and a limited budget," Slusar said, adding that foreign buyers can choose a version of the jet tailored for their specific needs.

The Sukhoi Su-57 is a fifth-generation multirole fighter capable of destroying all types of targets. The jet is equipped with stealth technology, can develop supersonic cruising speed and has advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful computer, a radar system spread across its frame, and an armament placed within the fuselage.

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87. ‘Take a bow, son!’: Irish player scores dramatic 60-yard WONDERGOAL to level scores with the last kick of the game (VIDEO)Сб, 24 июл[−]

We've all seen our fair share of late drama on the football pitch but this might be the best yet: Irish player Glen McAuley scores from inside his own half to tie a game at 4-4 with the last kick of the game after extra time.

McAuley, formerly on the books of Liverpool, had already written his name onto the scoresheet twice as his club, Athlone Town, chased a late equalizer in an FAI Cup game against rivals Waterford FC – and with the clock ticking towards four minutes of injury time at the end of extra time in the trilling cup encounter, the 21-year-old decided to go to throw caution to the wind.

Moments after kick-off following a late Waterford goal, McAuley and Athlone were in last-chance saloon as the club's nine other outfield players surged forward in expectation of a floated long ball being delivered by McAuley.

Instead, though, he took everyone on the pitch by surprise by driving a thunderous shot from inside his own half towards the Waterford goal – and it lofted over the backtracking goalkeeper into the net to complete McAuley's hat-trick and send players, coaches and fans alike into raptures.

The script wasn't quite the Hollywood affair it might have promised, as McAuley and Athlone Town lost the ensuing penalty shootout and were eliminated from the cup competition.

Still, McAuley will surely never score a better goal in his career – and as they say in Ireland, he won't have to pay for a pint in Athlone for as long as he lives.

Despite Town's cup journey ending on Friday night, something tells us that McAuley's mood will be lifted by the Puskas Award nomination which is surely heading his way later this year.

"Now that's drama," one fan wrote of the goal on Twitter. "Concede to go 4-3 down with seconds to go, #holdmybeer."

"That's one for the ages. Great stuff, Glen," agreed another, while a third said that the strike was even more impressive than similar goals scored by some of football's biggest names.

"Rooney, Beckham sit down," they wrote.

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88. UK government plans to launch surveillance of Brits’ shopping & exercise habits through app in fight against obesity – mediaСб, 24 июл[−]

A pilot scheme that will track people’s routines, such as shopping and running errands, might soon be rolled out in the UK, to award those who make healthier choices, according to reports in the British press.

The government-backed programme, which will be incentivising those who opt for a less fattening diet and walk more is set to be launched in the next six months, The Telegraph reports. A special app is in the works and companies are being signed up to participate, suggesting it might be introduced nationwide in time for the new-year new resolutions boom.

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Those who choose fruit and vegetables in the supermarket will reportedly be given “free treats,” as will those who increase their daily exercise by walking and running or taking part in special activities. The points received through the tracking app will then be able to be exchanged for event tickets, discounts, and other bonuses.

The pilot project will reportedly cost the government £6 million ($8.25 million). Business entrepreneur Sir Keith Mills — the man behind the widely used Air Miles and Nectar customer loyalty programmes, is said to have been involved in its rollout.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is believed to have greenlighted the “radical” new scheme because he is desperate to manage obesity levels in Britain, which has one of the worst records in this regard in Western Europe. The majority of UK’s adult population is overweight, and more than a million people were hospitalised last year due to obesity-related illnesses.

There is a whole team in Downing Street working on this, and the prime minister thinks that we simply cannot go on as before and that we must now tackle it head-on,” The Telegraph quoted an unnamed Whitehall source as having said. According to the official, Johnson takes the matter rather personally and is currently on a “very rigorous diet” himself.

Johnson, who suffered a severe case of Covid last year, reportedly believes the obesity issue is especially troubling amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Overweight people are considered to be more seriously affected by the virus, with a recent controversial report by the World Obesity Federation suggesting there was a correlation between being overweight and a high risk of dying from Covid that was second only to the risk posed by old age.

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In an effort to slim down the nation, a number of plans have already been put forward this year. A tax on sugar and salt was suggested in a recent expert report, which recommended a tax per kilo on those products when sold wholesale, but Johnson has reportedly said he wasn’t “attracted” to the proposal.

Another plan, aimed mainly at tackling the childhood-obesity issue and junk-food consumption, has been announced by the UK government, however. TV adverts for foods high in fat, salt or sugar will be banned before 9pm, with the measure due to come into force at the end of 2022.

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89. UK police ABANDONED investigations into over 1,000 crimes daily in 2020 with one in seven probes dumped within 24 hours - reportsСб, 24 июл[−]

Police forces across the UK reportedly wrote off over 1,000 crimes a day last year. Investigations into serious crimes like threats to murder, rapes, assaults and arson were apparently closed within 24 hours during the pandemic.

Despite lower crime levels in the country during the Covid lockdowns, some forces doubled the number of crime investigations they "screened out". One in seven crimes reported last year were allegedly abandoned within a day of police opening investigations into them.

The shocking figures, revealed in freedom of information requests by the Daily Mail, showed that police probes into some 432,634 crimes were ditched within a day – or about 1,185 crimes per day last year. The paper noted that the true figure was likely at least twice that amount since less than half of the UK's police forces shared their data.

According to information provided by 17 police forces across the country, 15% of cases were closed on average without an officer meeting the victim. The worst offenders were the Police Service of Northern Ireland which screened out 38% of cases while the UK's largest force, Scotland Yard, dumped 31% of new cases inside a day.

Although crimes judged as 'lower harm' or with poor evidence are typically more likely to be dropped, the reported figures show that during the pandemic there was a spike in the numbers of serious offences going uninvestigated.

About 42,073 reported violent incidents were ditched last year – a 6% jump from 2019 and there was a 4% rise in arson cases being abandoned, with the police shelving 6,753 reports in 2020 compared to 6,483 the year before.

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Meanwhile, in a revelation that is expected to add to public outcry over police handling of women's safety, forces reported that 71 rapes and OVER 420 other sexual offences were screened out within a day last year even though there was a 7% overall drop in sex offences in England and Wales.

In its 'End-to-End Rape Review' report last month, the UK government had ordered the police to reverse the downward trend in the volume of rape cases being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) since 2016.

Among other recommendations, it called for the police to "ensure decision-making is based on evidence, rather than subjective judgements of victim credibility" and mandated a "change of practice and longer-term cultural change in the police and CPS".

The government report also stated that the data collected by the police needed to be "more consistent". The Bedfordshire police force had admitted to the Daily Mail that its data collection was "unreliable". The force had reportedly dropped as many as 6% of rapes and 13% of sex offences last year.

"It is still the case that too many victims do not have confidence in the response they will receive if they report to the police and so do not come forward," a new government policy paper on tackling violence against women notes.

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Other crimes written off by police forces include 6,350 robberies, 1,137 muggings, 423 drugs possession cases and 171 weapons possession cases. In addition, some 29,730 residential burglaries were screened out with some forces in England and Wales failing to investigate over half of such cases.

In April, a HM Inspectorate of Constabulary report had warned that some forces had "increased the number of crimes they decided not to investigate because they were unlikely to be solved" and were offering a "reduced service in some areas of police work" as a result of Covid precautions.

"If the public knew this was happening on this scale, they would be shocked and outraged. Anyone who reports a crime deserves a proper response from the police," Vera Baird, Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, told the paper.

But a National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman responded, "In some cases, there may not be enough intelligence or data for police to act on. This does not mean that a crime is closed indefinitely or that intelligence or information is ignored."

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90. As US finally drops it's opposition to Nord Stream 2, its clear plans to block the pipeline were always about money, not securityСб, 24 июл[−]

America has come back down to Earth. After years trying to sabotage the almost-complete, $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will link the gas fields of Siberia to consumers in Germany, Washington is dropping its objections.

Signing a new agreement with Berlin, the US has put itself behind Germany as its key ally in Europe. Not Ukraine, which has thrown up no end of objections and appeals over the project. As would be expected, there has been a furious reaction in some quarters.

Some are hysterical in a comical register: The Kyiv Post, for instance, mouthpiece of the North American-Ukrainian “diaspora,” cries “Betrayal!” in best British-yellow press style and declares Chancellor Angela Merkel to be “Ukraine’s foe of the week.”

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Others are lewd. US Senator and Republican demagogue Ted Cruz has reached for obscene language about the American president “being in bed with Putin” and “spooning.”

Democrats, sadly, only have themselves to blame. Such juvenile trashiness is now bipartisan in the USA, where “Russiagate” hysteria came with a wave of homophobic sex jokes from liberals.

And some reactions are over the top and out of touch with reality, such as the joint Polish-Ukrainian foreign ministers’ declaration, which warns of “a political, military and energy threat for Ukraine and Central Europe” and of “Russia's potential to destabilize” European security as well as to create “divisions among NATO and European Union member states.”

You might feel that divisions between NATO allies were deepened not by Russia, finishing what was a six-year project already, but the USA (and its “Atlanticist” cheerleaders) when they tried to intervene with blunt last-minute sanctions, effectively targeting a central ally and a leading member of the military bloc.

When it comes to “Russia’s potential to destabilize” European security, again, such concerns would look more serious if Poland had also objected to the USA’s recent abandoning of the INF Treaty, for instance. Or, in fact, to its general addiction to wars in the Middle East, which is far from the USA but has had direct repercussions in Europe.

Yet Poland publicly supported the American withdrawal from the treaty and has been a fairly enthusiastic auxiliary in the USA’s Middle Eastern invasions and occupations. And no, this is not a case of “whataboutism.” Because, if European security is the order of the day, then it needs to be considered in the round.

But let’s take a step back. Very much has already been said about Nord Stream 2. There’s nothing surprising about the fact that such a colossal, long-term project has produced intensive public scrutiny and debate.

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Moreover, with important commercial and state interests involved, it’s only natural that that debate has often been fierce and that it may end with de facto decisions but not with some great reconciliation.

But between entrenched positions and rapid reactions, it has become hard to see the forest for the trees. Let’s try to regain a sense of perspective by focusing on its key aspects: economics, environment, and – last but not least – politics.


If other, important, aspects are set aside for a moment, assessing the economic impact of Nord Stream 2 involves long-term projections, regarding, for instance, demographics, energy transitions, and, of course, general economic development. Without overly dredging through the complex detail of such analyses, Nord Stream 2 clearly has the potential to make economic sense, or in the words of a careful, and often critical, recent study from Germany’s Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik:

“On a strictly economic basis, Nord Stream 2 doubles the transport capacity through the Baltic Sea … and connects the newly developed deposits on the Yamal Peninsula with the major gas markets in Europe via a route that is approximately 1,000 km shorter, more modern, and more efficient than the one through Ukraine.”

Given a number of further plausible assumptions, for instance regarding Gazprom’s contract and pricing policies and the development of alternative energy sources in and outside Europe, Nord Stream 2 is as good a project as many others, and probably better than some.

As a minimum – and no matter what the analysts at NATO lobby group The Atlantic Council may claim – there is no convincing commercial case against it.


Building a pipeline of a length of roughly 1,200 kilometers (in twin strands) on the Baltic seabed to take natural gas from Siberia to Europe raises obvious environmental questions.

Aside from the rhetoric, there are serious issues about the environmental effects of Nord Stream 2’s construction, of its future operation, and regarding the impact it will have at the source, in Siberia. These concerns – which cut across national borders and are shared by some Russians as well – are genuine, even if courts have dismissed them. On the other side of the ledger is that Nord Stream 2 could contribute to European energy transition, which is a claim advanced as well as contested.

The upshot may very well be that Nord Stream 2 is simply not special in this regard – no worse and no better than similar projects.


The politics and especially geopolitics of Nord Stream 2 – real, potential, and suspected – have been the single most prominent matter of debate.

On one side, depicting the project as purely or mostly a commercial enterprise has served its defense: something that has no or little politics, cannot be attacked for it. This has been, on the whole, the unconvincing default position of Berlin as well as Moscow.

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On the other side, opponents of Nord Stream 2 have insisted on the project’s geopolitical potential to, as they claim, serve Russia’s interests and harm those of Ukraine, various eastern European EU members, or even the EU and NATO as a whole.

Pursuing this line of argument, however, Nord Stream critics have tended to overlook or deny two important facts. First, Ukraine’s (or Poland’s, for that matter) insistence on stopping Nord Stream 2 has, of course, also been through-and-through political. Namely, an outcome of how Ukraine’s leadership sees the country’s interests, rightly or wrongly.

To be clear, Ukraine, as a sovereign state, has every right to adopt such a policy – whether it is correct or mistaken. But some of the rhetoric of Nord Stream’s opponents implies that it also has a sort of natural right to demand that Germany and others follow its lead to protect what it defines as its interest, including billions in transit fees. That is nonsense, and friends of Ukraine would do Kiev a favor by being clear about that fact.

Second, Nord Stream 2 is so challenging because it has both genuine commercial aspects and geopolitical ones. Some of its opponents, again, have never been honest enough to acknowledge its economic side and end up caricaturing it as a purely political project.

In this respect, Russia stands accused of using energy as a weapon. In particular, opponents of the pipeline point to what they see as earlier cases of Russia using gas cut-offs to exert pressure. But the fact is that Nord Stream 2 is, if anything, likely to lessen such tendencies precisely because it circumvents land-based eastern European pipelines.

The case against it is based on the idea western Europe should tie its energy supply to, for instance, Ukraine’s interests. But, let’s be honest, the key concern, then, is not EU energy security but, quite on the contrary, entangling it with Ukraine’s policies – far from a safe proposition.

If Russia has used the “gas weapon” dozens of times already – as an observer at the Atlantic Council report – then it seems to be quite ineffective. Put differently, if Russia’s leverage by pipeline is so powerful, why is Ukraine more anti-Russian and linked into the West than ever before?

The real question about Nord Stream 2 has never been if it is political or not, in the sense of having political aspects, but what these effects are and could be. And, of course, how they can be managed best.

This brings us back to the current situation. Bitter Nord Stream 2 opponents may engage in the kind of excessive rhetoric that is now so fashionable. Yet, in reality, the actual conditions of the project’s completion are now as propitious as they can be. You may still disagree with this pragmatic outcome, but to caricature it as some kind of appeasement or “betrayal” only makes you look less than serious.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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91. UFC’s McGregor sups whiskey with pop star Bieber in the sun as he backs Russian training partner Artem Lobov in bare-knuckle boutСб, 24 июл[−]

UFC loser Conor McGregor has called himself 'Big Foot' while propping up his broken leg on a sun lounger in Beverly Hills alongside pop superstar Justin Bieber, promoting whiskey and sending a message to fighter pal Artem Lobov.

With his leg in a cast following his harrowing defeat to Justin Poirier at UFC 264 earlier this month, former champion McGregor had clearly traded punching for back-slapping as he congratulated Bieber on his fashion endorsements while sharing a series of photos of the famous pair.

Chart-topper Bieber was among the 20,000 crowd attending McGregor's excruciating end to his trilogy fight with Poirier at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena, joining the likes of former US president Donald Trump to watch him slip to a second defeat of the year to the man he once beat comfortably.

One of the few people in the world with more social media followers than McGregor, Bieber told his Instagram fanbase of more than 185 million that he was indulging in a "breakfast of champions" with the MMA megastar.

"It's about how you get back up," added the Canadian, while his father, Jeremy, chimed in with the words "Irish laugh".

McGregor voiced his excitement to watch Bieber play at huge California arena the SoFi Stadium this weekend, which will be the host venue for next year's Super Bowl.

"JB and Big Foot," he said, showing off his tattoos while wearing only a pair of small yellow shorts.

"We rule Beverly Hills. God bless, my brother. Backed by the highest power."

MMA fan Bieber performed at YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul's win over ex-UFC fighter Ben Askren in April and has also challenged Hollywood icon Tom Cruise to a fight.

McGregor reiterated his "love" for Bieber and hailed him in the week before the Poirier bout.

"I'll tell you what, mate, I appreciate the message from the last fight. That meant a hell of a lot to me – it really, truly did," he told Bieber at the time, thanking him for his show of support after he was knocked out by Poirier in January.

"So I've been busy putting in the work, full focused, fully immersed in Mixed Martial Arts. There's been nothing but Mixed Martial Arts – I'm ready to put on a show."

'The Notorious' is unlikely to be putting on any kind of show in the octagon for quite some time following an outing that ended with him leaving on a stretcher, although he has signaled that he will be watching one of his long-term training partners this weekend.

"'The Russian Hammer' is fighting live on pay-per-view," he said, encouraging his fans to watch Artem Lobov, who has backed him since his loss and warned that he should not have been interviewed immediately afterwards, ahead of his latest fight.

Revered Lobov takes on Denys Berinchyk, a silver medalist for Ukraine at the 2012 Olympic Games, in a bare-knuckle bout for Mahatch FC in Kiev on Saturday.

The former UFC fighter's opponent is unbeaten in 15 professional boxing matches.

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92. Ole’s staying at the wheel! Manchester United boss Solskjaer inks new deal to tie him to Old Trafford until 2024Сб, 24 июл[−]

Manchester United have shown their faith in boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by rewarding the Norwegian with a new contract which will keep him at the club until at least 2024.

Solskjaer has been in the United hot seat since he was appointed as interim manager following Jose Mourinho's sacking in December 2018 – later being handed a permanent deal after impressing in his first few months in the role, winning 14 of his first 19 games in charge.

He was credited with steadying the ship at Old Trafford following the unimpressive regimes of Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes, and guided the club to a third-placed finish in his first full Premier League season.

He finished second in the league last season, a full 15 points behind runaway winners Manchester City, and also led the Red Devils to the Europa League Final, where they were defeated on penalties by LaLiga outfit Villarreal.

"Everyone knows the feeling I have for this club and I am delighted to have signed this new contract," said Solskjaer after finalizing his new deal.

"It is an exciting time for Manchester United; we have built a squad with a good balance of youth and experienced players that are hungry for success.

"I have a fantastic coaching team around me and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey.

Manchester United wants to be winning the biggest and best trophies and that's what we are all striving for. We have improved, both on and off the pitch, and that will continue over the coming seasons.

"I can't wait to get out in front of a packed Old Trafford and get this campaign started."

Solskajer's enthusiasm was matched by United's outgoing executive chairman Ed Woodward, who credited the club's boss with being instrumental in establishing a new culture within the famous club.

"Ole and his staff have worked tirelessly putting the foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch," he said.

"The results of that have become increasingly visible over the past two seasons and we are all looking forward to seeing this exciting team develop further in the years ahead.

"What is especially pleasing is the way this progress has been achieved with a blend of young, homegrown talent and top-class recruits, playing attacking football in the best traditions of Manchester United. We are more confident than ever that, under Ole's leadership, we are heading in the right direction."

Woodward's endorsement of Solskjaer's reign doesn't appear to be hollow. The club, who are the biggest spenders in European football across the past three seasons, are again preparing for a massive summer outlay to finance new signings – with the $100 million deal for England star Jadon Sancho already confirmed.

The club also appear close to the capture of Real Madrid's French international defender Raphael Varane and have also been linked in the press with an ambitious move for Bayern Munich's Leon Goretzka.

One player who appears detined to leave, however, is the club's record signing, Paul Pogba. Reports suggest that United are braced for an offer for the France midfielder from Paris Saint-Germain – with any agreement likely to be a cut-price one, given that his contract is due to expire in a year's time.

That move might well be complicated by protests outside the club's Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, though, where some fans have made clear their objection to the potential transfer after comments made by Pogba about PSG in the past, declaring his support for rivals Marseilles.

"Pogba, you should listen to your mother –she doesn’t want you here. Neither do we!" read one banner visible this week outside of the stadium.

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Jadon Sancho has joined Manchester United © David Klein / Reuters | © Carl Recine / Action Images via Reuters
‘This is his home’: Manchester United confirm signing of England star Jadon Sancho with love letter to ‘young king’ in $100MN deal

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93. China blacklists former US Commerce Secretary Ross & other officials in tit-for-tat reply to restrictions over Hong KongСб, 24 июл[−]

In a tit-for-tat measure, Beijing has sanctioned six US nationals and one entity, on a list that includes a former secretary of commerce, in response to recent restrictions placed on China over Hong Kong.

The sanctions list includes Wilbur Ross, who served as Commerce Secretary during then-President Donald Trump’s trade war against Beijing. Last year, Ross called China “the principal military and economic threat” in Asia.

Other blacklisted Americans include US-China Economic and Security Review Commission chief Carolyn Bartholomew, former Staff Director of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Jonathan Stivers, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs researcher DoYun Kim, as well as Adam King, a senior program manager at the International Republican Institute, and Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

China’s response has also blacklisted the Hong Kong Democratic Council (HKDC), a Washington-based group that supports anti-Beijing protests in China’s self-governing city.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson explained that the sanctions have been applied in direct response to the hostile actions of the US over the crackdown on the protests in Hong Kong.

“Any attempt by external forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs would be as futile as an ant trying to shake a big tree,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

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A view of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo. © REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
‘Hurt dignity’: China complains after US broadcast of Olympics leaves Taiwan off Chinese map

On July 16, the US government warned American businesses against dealing in Hong Kong, citing “clear operational, financial, legal and reputational risks for multinational firms.” Washington also sanctioned seven officials at mainland China's liaison office in the city.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the restrictions placed US nationals and entities as “baseless.”

“We’re undeterred by these actions and we will remain fully committed to implementing all relevant US sanctions authorities,” she said, adding that the move is a sign of “Beijing’s further isolation from the world.”

HKDC’s Managing Director Samuel Chu called being blacklisted by Beijing “a badge of honor,” and vowed that the group would keep pursuing its cause.

The blacklisted HRW official Sophie Richardson said everyone “should be laser-focused on ending human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese government.”

In recent years, the US has placed several rounds of restrictions on Chinese officials and entities over issues concerning Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. China responded by accusing the US of violating international law and of meddling in its domestic affairs.

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94. ‘Hurt dignity’: China complains after US broadcast of Olympics leaves Taiwan off Chinese mapСб, 24 июл[−]

The Chinese consulate in New York has complained to NBC after the United States’ official broadcast of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics left Taiwan and the South China Sea off a map of China.

After NBC Sports’ broadcast showed a map of China without Taiwan and the South China Sea – both disputed territories of China – the Chinese Consulate General in New York took to social media to protest the decision.

“Using a wrong map of China is a real lack of common sense,” wrote the Consulate General on Twitter and Instagram. “Politicizing sports and violating the Olympics Charter spirits will only do harm to the Olympic Games and the relationship between the Chinese and the US people.”

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In an official Chinese statement, the Consulate General went one step further, accusing NBC of hurting “the dignity and emotions of the Chinese people.”

“We urge the NBC to recognize the serious nature of this problem and take measures to correct the error,” the statement declared, warning that “attempts to use the Olympic Games to play political ‘tricks’ and [for] self-promotion to achieve ulterior goals will never succeed.”

The Chinese Global Times newspaper also condemned NBC’s map display in an editorial on Saturday, claiming that, “for a long time, NBC has been vicious to China,” and pointing out other instances of what it alleged to be anti-Chinese bias, including Japanese broadcaster NHK referring to the “Chinese Taipei” Olympic team as “Taiwan.”

“In general, we need to keep our eyes open. We hope experts on Olympic issues can actively join in to assess the various suspicious acts pointed out by netizens in a timely manner,” the newspaper concluded, accusing “Japanese forces” of “attempting to take advantage of the Olympics to engage in political conspiracies” and play “dirty tricks.”

NBC, the official US broadcaster of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters on the matter.
Though Taiwan has sought a level of independence and self-governance from mainland China, Beijing maintains that the island is still Chinese territory.

The US has not formally recognized Taiwan as an independent country, but has also not hidden its apparent support for Taiwanese independence. President Joe Biden’s administration has ramped up its diplomacy with Taiwan – further straining Washington’s relationship with Beijing – with an unofficial delegation of US diplomats visiting the island in April despite the US’ official policy of working with Taiwan only through mainland China.

In late June, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “the complete reunification of the motherland” and “solving the Taiwan question,” expressing his support for “resolutely smashing any ‘Taiwan independence’ plots.” Xi also warned foreign countries against trying to “bully, oppress, or subjugate” China, claiming that the time of his nation being bullied by foreign powers was “gone forever.”

Tensions between the US and China have also been high due to disputes over the South China Sea, which was absent from NBC’s map of China, too.

After Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared this month that the US stands with China’s opponents in the South China Sea territory dispute, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called it “extremely irresponsible of the US to deliberately provoke controversy over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea” and to “sow discord among China and ASEAN countries.”

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Celebrities sang John Lennon's 'Imagine' last year – and now it has resurfaced at the Tokyo Olympics © Twitter / mrdavidhammond | © Marko Djurica / Reuters
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95. Olympic Games hosts Japan show approval for Team GB’s Black Lives Matter kneeling campaign by joining in at women’s football matchСб, 24 июл[−]

Team GB's campaign to take the knee before matches at the Olympics has been reciprocated by hosts Japan on the pitch before the pair met in a women's football match – with some fans switching off and others hailing the move.

Several members of the squad had spoken out about the importance of making the gesture before games in Tokyo, and the Japan players showed their approval by joining in and kneeling shortly before kick-off, while Arsenal forward Nikita Parris reportedly held up a fist.

The gesture has continued to be a controversial feature of high-profile football matches this summer, with a political row breaking out in England after the men's senior team vowed to continue taking a knee despite boos being heard when they performed it at games ahead of their Euro 2020 campaign.

Critics of the symbolism, which its supporters say opposes racism, claim it is divisive, lacking meaning and a validation of what they believe are the dubious motives of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

"Was looking forward to watching the women's football match between GB and Japan," responded one unimpressed watcher, looking on as the game began in front of a global TV audience on Saturday.

"As soon as they got on their knees, I turned it off. My loss, but I will do this every time."

One viewer suggested that UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who questioned the taking of the knee before Euro 2020, and prime minister Boris Johnson would be "fuming" at the development.

Patel was publicly rebuked by England and Premier League defender Tyrone Mings earlier this month, accusing her of "stoking the fire" of racist abuse by failing to endorse kneeling.

The match referee also took the knee. "Parents: if you want good role models for your girls – and boys, actually – stick them in front of [this game]," applauded one fan.

Opponents Chile also took the knee in Team GB's opening match of the Olympics, when Manchester City striker Ellen White scored both goals in a 2-0 win.

The women's side were the first team to represent Team GB at the Games, and captain Steph Houghton reiterated her support for the decision after their victory.

"Taking the knee was something we spoke about as a group," she explained. "We feel so strongly and we want to show we're united.

"We want to fight all forms of discrimination and, as a group of women, we wanted to kneel against it."

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Players from the Great Britain and Chile teams kneeled before their game at Tokyo 2020. © AFP
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96. Russian star Daniil Medvedev blasts Olympics tennis tournament a ‘joke’ as players grapple with sweltering conditions in JapanСб, 24 июл[−]

Daniil Medvedev, the world's second-ranked men's tennis player, has hit out at organizers of the Olympic tennis tournament, with players being forced to contend with sweltering heat of 33 degrees celsius on the court.

Soaring temperatures in Tokyo have led to Medvedev questioning why the Olympic event affords players just a 60-second changeover period compared to the regular 90 seconds amid blazing conditions and oppressive humidity, leading to several players stripping off courtside and showering themselves with bottled water in a bid to cool down.

Medvedev was one of those who appeared to feel the heat during his first round match against Kazakh Alexander Bublik, removing his shirt and covering himself with a cold towel.

Medvedev's compatriot, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, was another who appeared to struggle in the conditions, and was seen attempting to regulate her temperature with the help of a tube blowing out cold air.

Reacting to the situation players are being faced with following his straight sets win against Bublik, Medvedev called on Olympics tennis authorities to reschedule matches to cooler periods of the day and for them to allow players lengthened changeover times after describing the heat during his win as "some of the worst" he has experienced in his career.

"I don’t think they are going to change anything in the middle of the tournament but that’s what can be done," Medvedev said.

"I think the fact that we have only one minute between the changeovers is a joke. It should be 1:30, like it is in other tournaments."

However, Medvedev also acknowledged that the conditions are the same for each player – and ultimately they have to get on with things.

"You have to play. That’s the Olympics – you go for the medal. You are not here to cry about the heat," he added.

Pavlyuchenkova, meanwhile, was also highly critical of the conditions players are dealing with, saying: "You’re just not feeling great. So I wasn’t enjoying it at all.

"Every time I had to take the ice pack or ice towel, it wasn’t cold at all. They expected the heat and it wasn’t 100 percent ready for us.

"I feel a bit better but I just have a massive headache now. I think they somehow could have tried to make it a bit easier."

Pavlyuchenkova added that the mechanisms in place to help keep players cool appear to be insufficient, with the tube she used to blow ice-cold air on herself affording little respite from the glaring sun.

"It’s not easy to find the right position because it’s just on the bench and somebody has to hold it so the air is blowing on you. I don’t think it was well prepared," she said following her 6-0, 6-1 win against Italy's Sara Errani.

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Medvedev restorted to unusual tactics in his defeat to Tsitsipas. © Reuters / Twitter @rolandgarros
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97. Anxiety & depression in children are on the rise. What can we do to help them if Covid restrictions return?Сб, 24 июл[−]

Lockdowns have severely damaged children’s mental health, studies across the globe show. Amid the risk of new restrictions due to the Delta variant, RT asked experts what can be done to prevent aggravating their suffering.

With the Covid Delta variant spreading across the globe, the concept of ‘pandemic fatigue’ is back in the headlines. One by one, countries are bringing back restrictions that everybody hoped were lifted forever. According to the World Health Organization, pandemic fatigue is “an expected and natural response to a prolonged public health crisis” not just related to the virus itself, but to the “invasive measures with unprecedented impacts on the daily lives of everyone.” In this context, reimposed restrictive measures would not be “unprecedented,” but would this make them less harmful? Only if we draw conclusions from our recent experience, psychologists suggest, and prepare ourselves and our loved ones for the difficulties to come.

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A signage blocks a street where positive and suspected cases of COVID-19 are identified, in a village under local lockdown, in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 25, 2021. © REUTERS/Lisa Marie David
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It’s clear that children are among those more exposed to the psychological effect of Covid and all the related restrictions. “Anxiety, sleeping disorders, problems with planning things, with adapting the mind to different conditions – these are the symptoms that emerged earlier as a reaction to the shocking situation, and are still present,” Professor Rocio Lavigne Cervan from the Department of Evolutionary Psychology and Education at University of Malaga in Spain, told RT. “All these factors together are harming children’s daily routine, learning process, social and family life.”

Prof. Lavigne participated in a study aimed at analyzing how confinement impacted on Spanish children’s psychological stability. And the results were extremely worrying. Out of 1,028 participants aged from six to 18, 66.9% of children and 67.9% of adolescents showed medium to high levels of anxiety.

The problem here is not just a temporary one, experts warn. If not addressed properly, it may last for a long time – possibly even forever. Professor Francesco Benedetti, group leader of the Research Unit in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, explained, “In some cases, anxious reactions are expected to vanish when life returns to its normal course. But unfortunately, the traumatic events experienced in early ages may trigger psychiatric disorders.”

In the age when many important relationships develop for the first time, being forcibly separated from their peers, facing a major social-life disruption, being forced to live in a confined environment – all these factors should be considered a major trauma.

“Given my personal history of psychiatric research, I also have to point to disregarded biological effects of home seclusion: circadian (sleep-wake cycle) rhythms disruption via reducing the exposure to synchronizers (daylight and darkness, plus physical exercise in the open air), and also exposure to increased light pollution from computer monitors and other electronic devices,” the professor added. “All together played a major role in the reported increase of insomnia and use of tranquilizers – plus, we know that disrupting internal timing has a major effect in triggering mood disorders.”

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When exposed to these unprecedented conditions, children need support from adults – in the majority of cases, their parents. But the pandemic lockdowns were a shock for everyone, so not all of them could give their kids a helping hand. “A psychologist may try to give parents certain tools to improve their family relations, but if the adults themselves show symptoms of anxiety or other problems, they won’t be able to help their children,” said Prof. Lavigne. “The families where both children and parents have problems require help, because the adults’ problems will be reflected in their children. Parents with problems don’t have enough tolerance, patience, and don’t have the ability to help their children to face everyday problems.”

So, there’s a need to go to a psychologist not only when a problem has already emerged, but when it’s still possible to prevent it from happening. I think it would be healthier for everybody.

Psychology Professor from the University of Malaga, Almudena Gimenez de la Pena, says that parents’ help was especially crucial for small children. “Kids younger than 12 were affected harder, as they needed more attention,” she told RT. But surprisingly, some older kids turned the difficulties into a tool for development. “They showed very good abilities to search information online and resolve their problems on their own,” Prof. Gimenez continued. “Parents complained that their children couldn’t communicate enough with their friends. But actually, it was a problem for kids under 12, while those older switched to their gadgets for online communication. A lot of people even complained that children came too deep into the virtual world.”

The same ‘technological skills’ became very useful when learning from home turned into an everyday routine. “Children older than 14 started to solve their problems on their own. If there was something that teachers were unable to explain, they searched for answers on the internet,” Prof. Gimenez said.

Impact of homeschooling

According to UNICEF, schools for more than 168 million children globally have been completely closed for almost an entire year due to lockdowns. Prof. Gimenez, together with a team of international specialists, completed a study analyzing the problems of families during this tough period. Researchers surveyed people from seven European countries, and realized that the problems were relatively common for all families affected.

“The first problem was lack of information. Parents have been complaining that they didn’t know what to do and how to help their children in studying,” Prof. Gimenez told RT. “Second, some education for parents was needed as well, to show them how to use school materials, as well as new technology. And then there’s the third problem – access to gadgets. Small children don’t have their own computers. Also, not every child had the chance to freely use a computer at home, as during the lockdown parents also had to work from home.”

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Also, according to the study, negative experiences were more common in families with a child with a mental health condition. “There’s a huge difference between the families that have a member with certain types of special needs, and those who don’t. Families with no members with special needs had fewer problems; generally they complained about technical stuff or lack of information. But the families who have someone with disorders or special needs were damaged a lot,” Prof. Gimenez explained. “They didn’t get the help they were used to.”

Before the pandemic children attended special lessons helping them with math, reading, or other subjects they had problems with. Almost all of this support was lost.

At the same time, Prof. Gimenez realized that children with adaptation problems felt much better during homeschooling. “They could adjust the education to their personal rhythm and they had their parents closer,” she said.

Still, as Prof. Lavigne noted, the end of the lockdown didn’t bring an end to the problems. “A lot of issues started after the lockdown – the need to isolate at home after having contacted someone Covid-positive, no chance to organize family gatherings, no possibility to meet friends as was possible before. Or, for example, in case of a sudden confinement of a town, children who play sports having to cancel their games in the places nearby. It’s all a bit chaotic. And it all causes damage even worse than the lockdown itself did.”

‘Antidepressants are not a solution’

One of the concerning side effects of Covid-related depression was a significant rise in the prescription of medication, to both adults and young people. In Spain, almost 6% of the population were treated with anxiolytics (drugs against anxiety) or antidepressants. Italy observed a 12% rise in the purchase of anxiolytics in 2020.

According to recent research based on NHS data, the number of patients younger than 17 who were prescribed antidepressants increased by 26% between April 2015 and April 2020. The peak was observed in March 2020, when the UK went into its first lockdown. Numbers showed two further peaks of antidepressant prescriptions seen around the time of the second and third lockdowns, in December 2020 and January 2021.

“A lot of studies show that commonly prescribed psychotropic drugs can have unpredictable effects on children and adolescents, followed by paradoxical worsening of the most dangerous psychopathological symptoms,” Prof. Benedetti warned. “These drugs have been thoroughly tested for safety in adults, but their effects on the developing brain are different. Commonly prescribed antidepressants can worsen suicidal ideation and trigger self-harming and suicide attempts.”

There is no doubt that psychotropics should be prescribed to young people only upon a real need, and carefully monitored for their potential behavioral side effects.

“The possible efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions should always be considered first, and anyway, psychotherapy should always be combined with drugs, even when they are necessary.”

Prof. Lavigne agreed, “Antidepressants are not a solution. Well, when a doctor is prescribing a medicine, that’s because it is needed. But it won’t help on its own. Only combined therapy, when the drug is taken together with psychotherapy, will have an effect.”

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Even when prescribed, the medicine should be taken with caution, as Prof. Benedetti explains. He said, “Some patients develop tolerance to the effects of drugs, which lose efficacy over time leading to the need of increasing dosage to obtain the same effects. This is particularly evident for benzodiazepine tranquilizers. Population research completed soon before the Covid pandemic showed that a substantial proportion of children and adolescents continued benzodiazepine treatment for six months or longer, despite recommendations calling for short-term treatment. There is no doubt that initiating these treatments should be a decision carefully weighed against other options.”

What can be done?

Despite all the anxiety adults are experiencing themselves, experts warn that now is the time to help their children, before it is too late. “It’s crucial to prevent the current problems from turning into chronic ones,” Prof. Lavigne stressed.

According to Prof. Benedetti, the methods of treatment shouldn’t be too complicated. “It is needed, as soon as possible, to exploit the natural healing power of our body. Children have to use any possible occasion to stay out in the light, play and exercise their muscles, socialize with their friends,” he told RT. “Problems in the rhythms of sleep and activities can be managed with chronotherapeutic interventions – light therapy in the morning, with physical exercise; darkness and rest in the evening – and also avoiding pollution by the blue components of the light spectrum coming out from computer monitors and other electronic devices, which can disrupt sleep and circadian rhythms.”

These simple methods can be more effective than drugs in fostering a normal activity-rest rhythm, and in restoring sleeping, which has been disrupted by the lack of exposure to the normal circadian synchronizers, and by the excessive exposure to artificial light.

And, certainly, moral support may help the healing better than any drug. “Many children and adolescents now face anxious reactions when coming out from their homes: This should not immediately be diagnosed as a mental disturbance and medicated,” Prof. Benedetti insisted. “Facing anxiety, and letting it flood, together with the support of a loved one who can encourage without judging, are expected to be followed by habituation and lead to the restoring of the normal rhythms of life in the large majority of cases.”

“Family matters a lot,” Prof. Gimenez agreed. “Children can cope with restrictions if their parents are available to help. But the children from families with problems suffered a lot.”

Those who had strong family ties reinforced them even more.

“We don’t know how long the pandemic will last,” admitted Prof. Lavigne. “This feeling of uncertainty is developing anxiety in both children and their parents.”

Still, even the dark times may have a silver lining. “Spanish and Italian parents – as these countries are traditionally more family-oriented – even said they got benefits from the lockdown,” said Prof. Gimenez. “They could spend more time with their children, to play with them or to cook together.”

‘Great example of the moral sense’

And now we find ourselves potentially back to square one. What if the worst forecast becomes reality, and lockdowns – together with homeschooling – return in the near future? “In case of the lockdown, we would have to structure our life to make it look as ordinary as possible,” Prof. Lavigne said. “Children will have to do physical exercises at home and follow the schedule – when to wake up, to eat, everything by plan. Now, we are all a bit more connected than before, virtual activities do work, and we have more tools to use them.

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“The advantage we have now is the knowledge that online systems do work,” she concluded. “Life can go on, but in a more virtual way. Those who need therapy may get it online. A lot of centers cancelled therapy during the lockdown and had to close. But others tried to provide therapy online and proved the effectiveness.”

“We learned something from the lockdown,” Prof Gimenez agreed. “But we can’t change everything. School is not just a place for studies; it’s a place where children are socializing, doing sports, and developing their personality out of the family. It can’t be replaced by education via computer.”

Prof. Benedetti thinks that new Covid variants, of course, should be addressed with all the attention they need, but without panic, and ideally, without the need to challenge children’s psychological stability. “I sometimes read in newspapers people complaining against the ‘selfish’ or ‘irresponsible’ behavior of young people – who actually, in my view, just tried to preserve their social identity and their developing personality in these difficult times. My view is the opposite: Children and adolescents gave a great example of discipline, unselfishness, even self-denial in favor of the community of the adults, which did not always treat them well. A great example of the moral sense is deeply rooted in young people, against all odds.”

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98. Venezuela accuses US military aircraft of violating its airspace from Colombia, warns it might ‘respond forcefully’Сб, 24 июл[−]

Venezuela's defense ministry has accused Washington of “flagrant provocation” after a US military plane allegedly flew into its territory from Colombia. According to Caracas, the US violated its airspace over 20 times this year.

A C-17 military transport aircraft belonging to the US Air Force flew into Venezuela’s Zulia state, which borders Colombia, on Thursday evening, its Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez said in a statement. The plane allegedly flew on this course for some 14 nautical miles (26 kilometers), the ministry said. It added that US planes had allegedly crossed into the country on 21 occasions this year, calling it a “serious violation of international aeronautical standards.”

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Members of the Bolivarian National Police in the Cota 905 neighborhood. ©Federico PARRA / AFP
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Washington has not immediately commented, according to Reuters.

The “flagrant provocation” happened as part of joint military drills in Colombia in which American fighter jets are participating, Venezuela said. “Reconnaissance tasks are being carried out towards the Venezuelan geographical area,” it alleged, condemning the US military presence in Colombia, which, it said, “significantly affects stability” in the whole South American and Caribbean region.

President Nicolas Maduro “has issued precise orders to remain alert and respond forcefully to any act of aggression,” the statement said.

This month, Venezuela reported a full-scale military operation in the capital, with government troops fighting a major criminal organization. During the operation, authorities seized a large arsenal of weapons, claiming these were of Colombian and American origin. They have also identified some of the gang’s arrested members as right-wing Colombian paramilitaries and accused Bogota and its partners in Washington of attempting to destabilize the situation in Caracas and to instigate violence.

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The US doesn’t recognize President Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate leader and has been involved in a years-long effort to topple the Venezuelan socialist government through economic sanctions and other measures. Washington, along with the majority of European and South American nations consider opposition politician Juan Guaido to be the legitimate leader, following a 2018 presidential election, however, his numerous attempts to install himself in Caracas have so far failed. Nations like China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey continue to consider Maduro to be president of the country.

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99. Fan-demonium: Bare-knuckle commentators stunned as rapper Blueface beats ring invader in huge brawl after celebrity boxing (VIDEO)Сб, 24 июл[−]

Pundits described an "all-out war" amid wild scenes as rapper Blueface, who had just won a celebrity fight with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, began battering a fan who confronted him in the ring immediately afterwards.

The Los Angeles rapper, who has performed stunts including throwing money at people in impoverished areas out of his car window, appeared to be enjoying his victory in the seconds after his points decision win over TikTok star Kane Trujillo was announced.

That joy soon returned to violence at BKFC 19 in Tampa, where the high-profile pair had met on the undercard of a battle between two fellow influencers in the form of Rachael Ostovich's win over Paige VanZant.

An unidentified ring invader in a blue hat and glasses initially appeared to be congratulating Blueface on his triumph, only for the scene to turn chaotic after the victor appeared to react to a remark by throwing a shot.

His anger swiftly turned into more punches while security moved in, attempting to prevent the 24-year-old from being able to inflict damage on his target.

"It's an all-out war," shouted the shocked commentator, watching entourage members hurdle the ropes and leap into the ring in an attempt to contribute to the fracas.

"A fan jumped in the ring and punched Blueface. Oh my god. We've got police officers in here trying to get to the bottom of this.

"Blueface is in the corner calming down right now. It looks like he is protected."

Blueface's mood appeared to have brightened after the scrap, when he happily posed with fans, showed off a belt and encouraged the public to support bare-knuckle boxing.

"He said he'd fight me, so I started fighting him," he grinned when asked by EsNews about the altercation. "You ask, you shall receive an ass-whooping."

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Paige VanZant lost to Rachael Ostovich at BKFC 19 © Instagram / BKFC
Turn the Paige! Fight siren VanZant STORMS OUT of ring after losing bare-knuckle grudge match to Rachael Ostovich (VIDEO)

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100. Turn the Paige! Fight siren VanZant STORMS OUT of ring after losing bare-knuckle grudge match to Rachael Ostovich (VIDEO)Сб, 24 июл[−]

Rachael Ostovich earned a measure of revenge for her UFC loss to Paige VanZant two years ago, winning a unanimous decision in their bare-knuckle brawl on Friday night in a result which sent '12 Gauge' storming out of the ring.

A fight which was billed as "come for the boobs, stay for the violence" between the two pin-up punchers certainly delivered on the latter, as 'The Ultimate Fighter' alum Ostovich displayed superior striking to VanZant, shuddering her foe with a series of clubbing overhand rights en route to a reasonably clear-cut win on the judges' scorecards.

The result was a hard one to bear for VanZant, who is now 0-2 in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) ring and is 1-5 in her last six fights (in bare-knuckle and MMA) since 2017 – with that sole win coming against her conqueror on Friday night, when VanZant submitted Ostovich in January 2019 in the UFC.

Following her loss to Britain Hart on her BKFC debut earlier this year, VanZant vowed to be more aggressive in her second appearance and she certainly delivered on that pledge as she rushed forward towards Ostovich from the opening bell.

But if VanZant thought she could overwhelm Ostovich early in her rival's maiden appearance in the BKFC squared circle, she found herself met with stern resistance.

Ostovich, whose last win in any code came in 2017, displayed much-improved striking, particularly with that aforementioned overhand right which repeatedly landed in each of the fight's five rounds.

VanZant looked to settle into a rhythm in the second, making good use of her jab.

But by the third, it was clear that Ostovich was displaying superior technical striking – frequently finding a home for her punches around, or even through, VanZant's guard.

Ostovich appeared to have VanZant in trouble late in the fight after another overhand landed flush to her jaw, but she gamely fought back – although it was easy to see why the judges declared Ostovich's strikes the more affecting.

When the scores were read aloud (48-47, 48-47, and 49-46) VanZant's smile melted into scorn and she made a beeline for the backstage area, where she skipped the post-fight press conference and will now have to lick her wounds and consider if a third outing in the bare-knuckle ring is her wisest career move.

"Hell yeah [I felt comfortable]," Ostovich said afterwards. "It’s been a long time. Two-and-a-half years since the last time we’ve been in the cage.

"A completely different sport but I still fought Paige VanZant. Give her a freaking hand, a round of applause, show some respect."

"The courage and toughness these two young women have shown is tremendous," wrote former UFC champion Daniel Cormier while watching the fight, before adding that he was surprised at VanZant's reaction to her loss.

"Rachael Ostovich and Paige VanZant are doing their thing. 3-1 Rach! Honestly, this is crazy and fun.

"I thought Ostovich won the fight pretty clearly. Why was Paige so upset that she stormed off?" he said.

"I’m confused on how Paige thought she won," agreed UFC middleweight Eryk Anders.

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