Bitter Russian Olympians Are Having a Total Bitchfest in Tokyo

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Russia has a real problem with the Tokyo Olympics. Nothing is quite right, the atmosphere is “depressing,” and the accommodations are “medieval,” according to major Russian media outlets and the athletes giving interviews to them from Japan.Forget the infamous “Sochi Problems” of the 2014 Winter Games in Russia, where athletes slept in rooms with faulty toilets, had no internet or hot water, and were at risk of exposed live wires falling down on them from shower ceilings. No, in Russia, it’s the Tokyo Games that are being likened to “concentration camps,” “the most horrific games in history,” according to Russian sports writer Andrey Vdovin.Though the global pandemic has certainly resulted in logistical issues at this year’s games, Russia has a particular bone to pick. The country is currently serving a four-year competitive ban for doping, which has forced its athletes to compete in Tokyo under the name of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). The penalty, which Vladimir Putin has described as a “humiliation,” and athletes have called “insulting,” includes a total ban on Russia’s name, flag and anthem at the 2020 Games.

Republicans Recast Jan. 6 Riot Defendants as ‘Political Prisoners’

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The recording is barely discernible, but amid the clangs and scratches it’s possible to make out a few male voices singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Despite its poor quality, it’s become an object of veneration on the far-right: a recording of imprisoned Capitol riot suspects singing the national anthem.“This breaks my heart,” tweeted Amy Kremer, the leader of Women for America First and a key organizer of the Jan. 6 Trump rally at the Washington Monument that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot.The recording, published earlier this month on a conservative blog, has become the latest totem in an effort to cast the imprisoned riot defendants as patriotic political prisoners suffering behind bars. The Daily Beast was unable to verify the authenticity of the recording.As Donald Trump and his allies on the right look to rewrite the history of Jan. 6, the riot suspects still in jail are being reimagined as victims of a vengeful deep state, imprisoned not because they’re awaiting trial for alleged crimes but because of their love of country and Trump.Many of the accused rioters have been released from jail ahead of trial. But those who remain behind bars have become a key rallying point this summer for Trump supporters, amid lurid allegations about their supposed mistreatment.While some right-wing media outlets and politicians initially dismissed many of the suspects as rogue troublemakers who didn’t represent the larger Trump movement, the alleged rioters have now become its champions, and are frequently referred to as “political prisoners” on pro-Trump cable channels Newsmax and One America News.The effort to paint the jailed defendants as victims of law enforcement recalls recent campaigns by Trump and his supporters to position Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon believer shot dead by Capitol Police, as an unjustly slain martyr. While Babbitt’s cause was initially embraced after her death only by far-right extremists, leading Republicans, including Trump, have called more recently for the officer who shot Babbitt to be named.The prisoners’ treatment in jail as a conservative cause célèbre is set to get a boost on Tuesday, when a coterie of conservative Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), rally in front of the Justice Department to demand more information about the prisoners’ status and the release of all surveillance footage from the riot.“We have concerns about reports of the conditions of the prison where these detainees are being held and whether, in fact, there have been instances of abuse inflicted by other prisoners or guards,” Gaetz and Greene, joined by Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) wrote in a letter asking for a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland.The press conference is scheduled for the same day four police officers who were attacked on Jan. 6 are scheduled to testify in front of a House select committee dedicated to examining the day the Capitol was stormed.Greene, a one-time supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, has become a major player in the effort to reframe the defendants, describing them as “political prisoners of war” in a July 20 appearance on Newsmax.The prisoners’ cause gained more traction on the right after an incendiary Newsmax appearance on July 22 by attorney Joseph McBride, the lawyer for defendant Richard “Bigo” Barnett—the Arkansas man who became infamous in the aftermath of the riot after he put his feet on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office. In the interview, McBride claimed, without offering evidence, that his client had been subjected to coordinated group assaults by guards before he was released in April pending trial.“He was beaten, he was dragged, he was hog-tied,” McBride said. “At one time, his pants dropped below his ankles exposing his private parts while he was taking a beating in front of a female officer, and he had to beg and plead to be able to pull his pants up out of embarrassment.”“The more I hear, the more this sounds like Gitmo,” Newsmax host Greg Kelly said.McBride’s allegations have since been widely cited in right-wing media outlets, and are mentioned in the Republican lawmakers’ letter to Garland.McBride and the D.C. Department of Corrections didn’t respond to requests for comment.The effort to reframe the rioters as heroes has also spawned a series of small rallies in their defense. On Sunday, a group calling itself “Citizens Against Political Prosecution” organized a rally in New York City for the defendants. Steven Metcalf, one of the attorneys representing riot suspects, called the place where they were held the “D.C-slash-Gitmo Jail” and claimed one of his clients had such poor hygiene in the jail, Metcalf had compared him to Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway.At an earlier rally on July 17, roughly 100 people met in front of the D.C. jail to call for the defendants’ release.The event was organized by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign worker who gained notoriety and some sizable donations by claiming he had found proof of election fraud. Braynard’s election fraud claims were later easily skewered by state elections officials.Speakers at the rally read letters from the inmates, which tried to portray the suspects as innocent casualties of a supposed government war on Trump supporters.“We are just regular freedom loving Americans, with a tendency towards humorous shenanigans,” one inmate’s letter read.

Texas School Boss Abandons Irresponsible COVID Plan

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Any suggestion that COVID-19 can be equated with the flu should have ended more than 4 million deaths ago.But here is what the Northeast Independent School District (NEISD) in San Antonio, Texas, sent to parents four days ago:“This school year, public schools will treat COVID-19 exposure similar to the flu or strep throat and will not send home COVID-19 letters.”The announcement, signed by Superintendent Sean Maika, also reported that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the state legislature have continued to concoct a parent’s nightmare.“As we enter the 2021-2022 school year, remember that a mask mandate is prohibited, COVID-19 vaccines are not required, virtual learning will not be offered, and the state will no longer allow school districts to require quarantines for possible COVID-19 exposure.”At that point, NEISD should have said that while the governor’s order bars a mask mandate, the district highly recommended them for students and staff. NEISD could have added that masks are not just a matter of individual choice, because their primary purpose is to protect others, not the wearer.Here was a chance for the NEISD to have taught a lesson for parents as well as for students: Freedom does not mean you are at liberty to endanger others. The NEISD could have added that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that everyone in school who is over the age of 2 wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.Instead, the NEISD not only ceded to the governor, but went one better. Superintendent Sean MaikaNEISD For reasons that are difficult to comprehend, a school district that until then had been notably responsible in addressing the pandemic decided it would respond to COVID-19 as if it were the flu or strep throat.A great many parents responded as might be expected of those who value their children’s well-being in a resurgent pandemic. They wrote letters and began a petition and posted hundreds of comments on the NEISD Facebook page:“No masks No distance learning available. No quarantine after COVID exposure. No notification when someone gets sick. It is horrific that we have been stripped of the tools we had to keep our kids in school and safe. I have no words. Heartbreaking.”“The not sending COVID letters home is scary. All of it makes me anxious, but not knowing if my kid was exposed and giving me the opportunity to decide how to handle it makes me livid.”“Really hate this. Debating on whether or not to send my kids. They want to go. But my daughter has half a heart and one functioning lung so just not ideal. Might just pull them out for a year.”“The delta variant of Covid is spreading rapidly across Texas. This variant attacks the younger population much easier. Young children, teenagers, young healthy adults are becoming extremely ill with this strain. Covid positivity rates are fixing to spike again setting us up for another surge right when school opens. So nice of you to open Pandora’s Box Governor Abbott.”And there was this from Lindsay Harris Richard: “My aunt died yesterday from COVID and she was vaccinated. More children get COVID delta variant than the original. As an NEISD teacher and a NEISD mom I’m terrified for the children who cannot get the vaccine yet. Is there a plan for an outbreak? Imagine the absences. I realize this is a Texas govt issue but it’s not safe. Quarantine keeps lives safe. Information is invaluable. I’m terrified. More than last year. God help us all.”When The Daily Beast contacted the NEISD for comment about the treat-it-like flu announcement, which was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News, a spokesperson indicated that the parent outrage had an effect.“We are actually discussing notifications this week,” they said.Hours later, on Monday evening, Maika sent out a new missive. Dear Parents and Guardians,I want to thank you for the feedback that you have provided regarding the safety plan for the 2021-2022 school year. As we did last year, we must work together to create a safe environment. We continue to focus on what the district can control. Consequently, we will continue to notify parents of positive COVID-19 cases at their child’s school. That is no doubt a relief to parents and teachers like Richard—who spoke out against the idea of no notifications as both a kindergarten teacher for 21 years and the single mother of a 7-year-old who is entering the second grade.“We get letters saying we have to treat it like strep throat or the flu,” she said. “I’ve never known anybody to die of those, but I’ve known six people who died of COVID.”Those who lost their lives to the virus include her aunt, who fell ill with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated and died last week, just as the NEISD was sending out its flu comparison.“She had just taken her grandkids to Disneyland,” Richard said. “In Florida.”As it happens, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Texas on July 17 for a “border security briefing” with Abbott. The two governors played to the basest of their base, prattling about illegal immigration.Richard and her fellow teachers have to cope with a far more dangerous threat: the Delta variant, which does not spare the young.“School shootings used to be the thing that scared me most,” Richard said.She reported that her kindergarteners last year had no problems with face coverings.“The kids were great about the masks,” she said. ”They were better than adults. They were like, ‘We’re going to wear the masks. It’s fine.’”If only Abbott were so mature. Mandate or no, Richard’s daughter will be going to school wearing a mask.“She told me she doesn’t want to, but she understands why,” Richard said. “She doesn’t want to get sick.”The daughter watched Richard get a vaccine and understands that, too.“She said, ‘I don’t want a shot, but I want to be safe,’” Richard said.Richard wears a hand-sanitizer dispenser on her hip in class and will proceed into the coming school year doing whatever she personally can to keep her daughter and her students COVID-free.“I just want to go to sleep at night and know I did my best to protect my kid, my students, my family,” she said on Monday afternoon. “Better safe than sorry. I’d rather not have any regrets. I don’t want to lose any more people. I don’t want to see anybody sick. We have to protect the kids.”By rescinding its no-notifications policy, the NEISD will be taking one step to protect those kids. But it should stand up to Abbott and take more.The South Independent School District (SISD) in San Antonio was hosting a STEM camp over the weekend when it learned that the father of two participants had tested positive for COVID-19. The district shut down the camp and notified the parents of all the children, recommending everybody get a COVID-19 test.The NEISD should be able to do the same in its schools during the coming year—no matter what any politician says.

Biden Is Starting to Slip, and He Can’t Blame COVID for It

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Six months into Joe Biden’s presidency, we are starting to see evidence that the tide may be turning against him. The main culprit is the Delta variant that has upended hopes of having turned the corner on COVID-19. But a confluence of concerns (like inflation, violent crime, and the border) are also helping erode optimism about the future.Until recently, there was a sense that COVID-19 was waning and by competently overseeing the distribution of vaccines, Biden would preside over a recovery where life would return to normal and the economy would bounce back. But the Delta variant has caused us to reconsider and revise many of our assumptions, including the political implications of presiding over the recovery. Consider this tweet from Bill Kristol, the NeverTrump conservative who has been very pro-Biden: “I am alarmed… about COVID, and how the broad social and economic reopening people are counting on is at risk. And I’m alarmed [that] the Biden Administration doesn’t seem alarmed enough, and doesn’t seem to have enough urgency about this threat.” Thanks to the rise of the Delta variant, the U.S. has decided not to lift travel restrictions, and Goldman Sachs has decided to revise downwards a bit its forecast of surging economic growth.Perhaps more concerning is a new ABC/Ipsos survey showing that Americans’ optimism about the country has “plummeted” almost 20 points in the last couple of months (as recently as May, this same poll showed Americans were optimistic about the future). Not surprisingly, it also shows a decrease in support for Biden’s handling of a wide range of issues, including COVID, immigration, crime and violence, and the country’s economic recovery. (On the economy, at least, this is not an outlier; an AP/NORC poll also shows that “Fewer than half, 45% [of Americans surveyed], judge the economy to be in good shape, while 54% say it’s in poor shape.”)

J.D. Vance Deleted His Anti-Trump Tweets. He Forgot His ‘Likes.’

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In advance of announcing his run for Senate, Hillbilly Elegy author turned venture capitalist J.D. Vance deleted dozens of old tweets blasting former President Donald Trump. But Vance, who is warring with fellow Ohio Republicans for the MAGA vote, forgot to scrub one Twitter element of his anti-Trump past: his “likes.”Vance’s Twitter likes, which were still visible as of Monday afternoon, include two tweets supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, a post implying Trump supporters are antisemitic, and multiple tweets indicting Trump’s character. One tweet even accuses then-candidate Trump of sexual assault, and another calls him “psychologically disturbed.” He also liked two tweets mocking Melania Trump.Most of the controversial Twitter likes came around the time of the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape in early October 2016, where Trump was caught on microphone saying he could grab women by their genitals with impunity because, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” Twitter/Illustration by The Daily Beast On Oct. 8, 2016—the day after the video leaked—Vance liked a tweet calling Trump a “thug” who “[committed] sexual assault.” The post compared Trump’s behavior to his false allegations against a group of Black teenagers in New York in the 1990s.“Maybe the Central Park 5 could take out a full-page ad to condemn the coddling of thug real estate barons who commit serial sexual assault,” the tweet, from Washington Post columnist Radley Balko, said.(At the time of the Central Park 5 allegations, Trump purchased a full-page advertisement in The New York Times calling for the death penalty for five minority youths who were convicted of assaulting and raping a white woman. Those teenagers later had the charges vacated after someone else admitted to the crimes. Trump still has never retracted his accusations or apologized, despite the group’s exoneration.)Vance also liked a tweet from that same day announcing that the Beckley Register-Herald—a newspaper in the heart of West Virginia coal country—had endorsed Clinton. Vance’s like was one of 20 for the tweet.The investment banker and Yale Law grad also liked yet another tweet from that day, declaring that “Trump is making the GOP the latest victim of his bankrupted endeavors,” and linking to a Business Insider article headlined, “Donald Trump is on the Verge of Poisoning the Entire GOP Brand for Years.”The “Access Hollywood” tape appeared to have a galvanizing effect on Vance, where he finally felt safe celebrating his anti-Trump beliefs. On that day, Vance liked tweets calling out the hypocrisy of the party of “family values” supporting Trump.One tweet said, “It is the sexual ethics of men like Trump that is largely responsible for the broad undermining of marriage and family.” Another post that Vance liked read, “Does any Dad (or future Dad) want to look his daughter in the eye and explain why he voted for Trump instead of the 1st woman president?”Vance was also one of 15 other Twitter users who liked a tweet from that day asking, “If 16 GOP U.S. senators have renounced Trump, why are the other 38 being so damn quiet?” Twitter/Illustration by The Daily Beast Vance didn’t quit with the likes on Oct. 8. The next day, Vance also liked a post from ESPN writer Tom Junod, which called Trump “psychologically disturbed” and incapable of conceding mistakes.A few days later, he signaled his approval for an Oct. 12 tweet from ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis knocking Republican officials who had denounced Trump after the “Access Hollywood” leak, then turned around and re-endorsed him.“So if you endorsed Trump, then un-endorsed him over the video, then re-endorsed him, can you un-endorse again?” MacGillis wrote. “Asking for a political party.”Vance’s personal political arc reflects that flip-flop, going from a brash “Never Trump” critic to an outspoken ally. Over the last few months, he’s dialed up the pro-Trump volume as he prepared to make the plunge into the race to replace outgoing Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), vying against a cramped field of Republican hopefuls that has resulted in a sort of “race to the bottom” to win over Trump’s base.In response to a request for comment on Vance’s Twitter likes, his campaign spokesperson, Taylor Van Kirk, issued this statement:“JD being critical of Trump in 2016 has been covered to death—it isn’t exactly breaking news. JD voted for Trump in 2020 and has been a strong supporter of his for several years. The leftwing media is obsessed with attacking JD for the same thing over and over because he is a real threat to Washington DC’s corrupt ruling class. They would much rather talk about irrelevant ‘likes’ from 5 years ago than his plans to break up Big Tech monopolies and raise taxes on woke corporations that ship our jobs overseas.”(Vance’s run for Senate is supported by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who has already dropped $10 million for a super PAC backing Vance.)Since he’s started running, Vance has tried to reinvent himself as an edgy, online conservative. He’s lambasted the “degenerate liberals” on Twitter, asked whether New York is more like season one of The Walking Dead, or season four, and shamelessly changed his tune on Trump to win over voters who are still devoted to the former president.But in 2016, Vance liked a tweet implying that those same voters were antisemitic.In preparation for the primary brawl, Vance tried to purge his social media past. Just ahead of his announcement he deleted a number of anti-Trump posts, including sharp rebukes after the “Access Hollywood” video. Many of his deleted tweets, however, were recovered by CNN’s KFile.While a number of the “liked” tweets archived by The Daily Beast came in October, Vance’s criticism wasn’t limited to that month or the “Access Hollywood” tape. On Feb. 26, 2016, for instance, he liked a post from journalist David Mastio quoting a Washington Post op-ed headline which said, “we all have to stop” Trump. He appears to be the only person who liked that tweet.Vance also appears to have had some laughs at former first lady Melania Trump’s expense. On the heels of her plagiarism scandal—when she delivered remarks at the Republican National Convention lifted from former first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention eight years prior—Vance hit the like button on two tweets mocking her speech.“The longer draft of the speech had Melania talking about her husband’s career as a community organizer,” read one of the tweets. The other tweet liked by the self-styled champion of Appalachia’s poor, white communities featured a photo of Melania Trump captioned, “It wasn’t easy growing up a black woman in Chicago, but I believe the world is safer for my 2 girls, Sasha & Malia.”

How I Know Facebook Can’t Fix the Problems It Profits From

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A young, horny, inebriated Mark Zuckerberg never imagined the immature website he created in his dorm room to rank the hotness of Harvard girls would eventually evolve into one of the world’s biggest drivers of anti-vaccine disinformation during a pandemic that has killed millions.One would think this urgent global crisis would inspire Facebook, which now has over 2 billion users, global influence, and ownership of Instagram and Whatsapp, to use its immense financial and human resources to proactively and aggressively remove anti-vaccination disinformation and bad faith actors.If you believe this, you also probably think billionaires might spend their obscene wealth during these calamitous times on raising workers’ wages, fighting hunger and investing in infrastructure. Instead, they are locked in a race to escape Earth altogether. And, based on my own experience working with Facebook, I would bet heavily against them ever doing the right thing.

Comedian Nikki Glaser Would Rather Be ‘Fuckable’ Than Funny

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Nikki Glaser is a world-class stand-up comedian, a ruthless celebrity roaster, and an endlessly engaging daily podcaster. Now, she’s also a reality TV star thanks to her new gig hosting the deliberately absurd dating show FBoy Island on HBO Max.On this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast, Glaser talks about how she landed her dream job after “embarrassing” herself on Dancing with the Stars, shares her unvarnished opinions on body image and cancel culture, and reveals some wild behind-the-scenes stories about roasting Ann Coulter, Caitlyn Jenner, Alec Baldwin, Blake Griffin, and more.“I used to be so ashamed of trying to look hot,” Glaser admits. “So now I’m just kind of indulging in that. I am single. I don’t care if I’m perceived as sexy. I should be. I’m trying to find a mate. I’m trying to find someone who looks at me and goes, ‘Oh, that makes my dick fill with blood and I kind of would like to put my penis in that.’ I’m not trying to find a life partner who goes, ‘Oh my god, she’s so funny.’ That’s not what I’m looking for in a relationship, is someone who tells me I’m funny all the time. Because I know I am.”“I just want someone who tells me I’m fuckable all the time,” she continues. “Because I don’t know that I am. So until I find someone to love me forever, I’m going to keep putting thirst pics out there. Why not?”That unapologetic attitude mirrors the overall aesthetic of FBoy Island, which was filmed on the Cayman Islands earlier this year and pits 12 self-described “nice guys” against 12 proud “fuck boys” to win the hearts of three beautiful women.“I told my agents I want to work in reality because it’s all I watch,” Glaser explains. “Why am I trying to make content that I don’t even enjoy or have a passion for? And I’ve watched enough reality to know exactly what I would want to do, what voice I would want to bring to it.” She spends much of the series roasting the male contestants, who don’t seem entirely in on the joke.It’s Glaser’s second big foray into reality TV after being the first celebrity voted off of Dancing with the Stars in 2018, an experience she still considers “one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.” She says she should have seen the writing on the wall because, “You know this game is rigged, right? And you can just look at the schedule? You can just feel the vibe of the producers not making eye contact with you and everyone not really worrying about your next dance.”Her newfound career as a reality TV star has the potential to push Glaser into another stratosphere of celebrity, but she’s already wary about the scrutiny that might invite.“It makes me nervous to do anything that makes you even a little bit more famous because that’s when people start sorting through your past material and trying to find ways to take you down,” she says. “It’s coming, and I know exactly the jokes they’re going to come after me for.”Listen to the episode now and subscribe to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Tuesday.

David Crosby’s Had It With ‘Evil Bastard’ Trump and the Rotten Music Industry

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With every new interview he gives, David Crosby seems to piss off yet another segment of his fanbase. Whether it’s his former bandmates in the Byrds or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY)—both of which Crosby co-founded and for which he was twice inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—or the former members and legions of fans of the Doors (and Jim Morrison), for whom Crosby reserves a special sort of ire, not to mention the current crop of rap and hip-hop artists (especially Kanye West), or supporters of the Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief, whom Crosby can’t seem to go more than a few days on his ever-active and endlessly entertaining Twitter feed without rebuking mercilessly.So, it would seem that David Crosby is, in fact, an asshole, right? Hardly.Rather, Crosby is a rare breed amongst his fellow artists and musicians in 2021: He speaks his mind, in the most unvarnished manner possible, no matter whose feelings he hurts, even if it doesn’t do anything to help his career prospects. To put it bluntly: David Crosby, who turns 80 next month, doesn’t give a fuck, but also puts his art where his mouth is.

El Chapo’s Arrest Made the Drug War Worse

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You know about El Chapo—but not the way that investigative journalist Noah Hurowitz knows about him. His book, El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Drug Lord, dishes all the dirt, and he shared some of the fascinating and even hilarious details about the kingpin on this episode of The New Abnormal.Subscribe to The New Abnormal on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or Overcast. To listen to our weekly members-only bonus episodes, join Beast Inside here. Already a member? You can listen here and sign up for new episode email alerts here.To start, as Hurowitz tells Molly Jong-Fast, El Chapo is more than just a drug lord.“The story of El Chapo offers us a lot of ways to understand the sort of trajectory of the drug war,” he says. “The war on drugs essentially made El Chapo who he was. He was coming of age when the sort of hippie marijuana boom was basically causing the drug trade in Sinaloa to expand dramatically. The reaction to that was a lot of militarized, anti-drug operations by the Mexican government under pressure from the Nixon administration.” Naturally, the United States’ involvement in the drug war fucked things up more. “[His arrest] hasn’t made any dent in the amount of drugs coming over the border,” says Hurowitz.Plus! Hurowitz and Molly discuss El Chapo’s mistress, Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, and his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, and the reason he and his wife wore matching jackets in court one day.Listen to The New Abnormal on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon and Stitcher.

China's attempt to troll US on social media prompts Cruz response

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was quick to respond to a tweet from China’s foreign ministry that called on the U.S. to “set a good example” and comply “with international rules” instead of breaking them.The tweet in question was posted by the Spokesperson’s Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. The tweet was mocked by critics who said it reeked of hypocrisy.Cruz made a list of his own “international rules” for the Chinese Communist Party to try and follow.”Don’t murder people; don’t torture innocents; don’t force mothers to have abortions; don’t run concentration camps; don’t commit genocide against Uyghurs; don’t cover up a pandemic that cause over 4m deaths worldwide,” Cruz posted.China has denied these allegations in the past but has faced criticism from other countries on these issues.Beijing has criticized the U.S. on human rights. In March, during the summit in Anchorage, Alaska, China’s top diplomat Yan Jiechi told senior U.S. officials that it is his hope that Washington will correct its ways, pointing out the Black Lives Matter movement.U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pointed to China’s human rights abuses committed in Hong Kong, Taiwan and against the Uighur Muslim populations in Xinjiang.GET THE FOX NEWS APP”Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken told the Chinese officials. “That’s why they’re not merely internal matters and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report

Pushing the Boundaries of Japanese Whisky

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Japanese whisky fans know the story of Masataka Taketsuru, the man who traveled from Japan to Scotland a century ago and spent two years learning how the Scots made whisky. He then returned to Japan with his newfound knowledge and went on to change the trajectory of what had been a humble and low-key distilling industry. Taketsuru played a key role in the launch of Suntory and then created his own brand, Nikka.So it’s with a small bit of irony that a 100 years later, a Scotsman has come to Japan with the intent of unsettling an industry and “pushing the boundaries of the Japanese whisky category.”Nicholas Pollacchi is a partner and head of global whisky at IND Beverages, a small beverage firm launched by sisters Lauren and Rachel Simmons. They recently released Shibui, a line of whiskies sourced from lesser-known Japanese distilleries. (The name translates roughly as “understated cool.”) IND Beverages led off with nine expressions made by four distilleries, including a “world whisky blend” and a line of traditional rice whiskies. The goal? Release two or three new bottlings each year.The idea of a Japanese “world blend” has gotten something of a black eye in recent years. As Japanese whisky was discovered by the thirsty American whiskey market, it edged into cult status. Supplies dwindled, prices rose and chaos ensued. The problem is that Japan had very loose liquor labeling regulations and those with a scruple deficiency would import aged whiskey from abroad, blend it with a small measure of Japanese distillate, and market it as Japanese whisky. Consumers would then buy what’s essentially a mid-range Scotch lightly flavored with Japanese whisky but priced as a cult-liquor premium product.Such marketing was actually allowed under Japanese rules, which defined Japanese whisky simply as whisky that had been bottled in the country. Faced with rising concern about sketchy Potemkin whiskey, the trade group that oversees labeling, the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association, changed regulations in the spring of 2021 to prohibit whiskey from abroad claiming to be “Japanese whisky.” Bottlers can’t even use misleading imagery on its label such as a Japanese flag or kanji characters. But the new regs won’t be fully enforced until 2024,After that Japanese whisky must be entirely produced within Japan.Pollacchi has no problem with the new regulations that require blends to drop the pretense. “I think that’s half the battle with Japanese whisky,” he says. “There’s an element of distrust. Because there’s a lot of crap out there.” The company insists on transparency, which is baked into its slogan: “We don’t distill, we discover.”After all, Pollacchi notes, Scotland’s spirits industry was in large part built on the hallowed art of blending. Producers would acquire different styles of whiskies sourced from distilleries around the islands—some Lowland, some Highland, a touch of smoke from Islay—to create an array of distinctive bottlings.Shibui’s Nigata range features lowland Scotch blended with whisky from a distillery in the Nigata prefecture, about four hours north of Tokyo. The releases include a grain whisky, along with two pure malts, one with no age statement and a second one aged 10 years. (Retail prices run from $50 to $140.)To offset the distrust that’s recently afflicted Japanese whisky, Shibui is making its sourcing plain for all to see. In that, they’re following the route pioneered by Compass Box in Scotland, which has ruffled some feathers by shining a light on its sourcing practices. This is in stark contrast to the Scotch industry that doesn’t generally allow the component whiskies of a blend to be named. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” Pollacchi says. “We’re adamant that they [the distillers] be the focus of the story. We’re trying to open up the market, one in which a lot of questions arise about provenance of the spirit.”The Okinawa range of single-grain Shibui whiskies also emphasizes transparency but highlights traditional rice whiskies. “We’re dealing with seventh-generation, family-owned distilleries, going back to the 19th century,” Pollacchi says. Why would they want to hide that from American consumers?The Okinawa range includes six rice whiskies sourced from three distilleries—Shinzato, Shunzo, Kumensen—in Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture. These whiskies are made using traditional black koji, a source of fungal enzymes that break down the rice starch into sugars and readies it for fermenting. It’s messier to work with than other strains of koji but has the power of tradition behind it. The whisky is made purely from rice—some grown in Okinawa, but most imported from Thailand.Pollacchi notes that if Taketsuru hadn’t gone to Scotland and returned with a head full of knowledge about Scotch-making, Japan likely would have continued to develop its domestic rice whisky rather than pivot to distill from imported barley. “This is what I truly consider to be Japanese whisky,” Pollacchi says.The initial releases range from whiskies aged eight years to 30 years. These include two 10-year whiskies, one aged in virgin oak and another in ex-bourbon barrels ($170), and 15- and 18-year whiskies aged in sherry casks ($230 to $300).Pollacchi visited dozens of Japanese distilleries and sampled as many as 1,400 whiskies in searching for the company’s initial bottlings. Along the way, he was offered a sampling of a 30-year-old whisky from Okinawa, which he said was “one of the most interesting, sophisticated and just damn delicious whiskies.” He inquired how many casks were available, then told them, “we’ll take all of it.” The first limited release came out earlier this year, with a second bottling slated for later this year. Then it’s done until the distillery can age more. “It’s just stupidly good,” he says. The price? $1,069 a bottle.Shibui is just getting underway in bringing Japanese whisky to the American market and is looking at changing things up in future releases. That includes extending the Scotch tradition by producing a blend using a selection of different whiskies from various Okinawa distillers—another break with tradition, as Japanese distillers tend to keep their product for themselves, and not sell or swap for blends. “That’s never happened before,” he says. “The Japanese don’t trade barrels or have options for blending.“I think it would be really cool for myself as a Scotsman to help reimagine what Japanese whisky truly should be—considering it was a Japanese man who was so influenced by scotch,” Pollacchi says. “It’s been almost 100 years to the day since Taketsuru was in Scotland. I feel like there’s another part of that story that has to be told. And it’s exciting because we’re only scratching the surface.”

Olympics-Golf-Matsuyama hopes his best after COVID-19 recovery

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FILE PHOTO: Jun 16, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; Hideki Matsuyama plays his shot from the 15th tee during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asia’s first Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was not sure he would be able to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in his home country when he tested positive for COVID-19, but now he has recovered he hopes to add another medal for Team Japan.
Matsuyama tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month and withdrew from the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and went into quarantine for about 10 days. The Olympic golf event will be his first competition after recovering.
“When I got tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks ago, I wasn’t really sure if I was able to participate in the Olympics here,” the Japanese world No. 20 confessed in a press conference on Tuesday.
“During that time, I was unable to practice. Once I got back to Japan, I started practicing. So in terms of preparations, it started with a little bit delay but hopefully I will be able to prepare well today and tomorrow,” he said through interpreters.
The event will take place at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe City, Saitama. The club is one of the most prestigious clubs in Japan, founded in 1929. It is where Matsuyama won Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2010 and booked his first ticket to the Masters.
“Kasumigaseki has been a place for me to progress and growth, so hopefully I could do the same thing this week and move on to another level,” he said.
(reporting by Toshiki Hashimoto; Editing by Michael Perry)

Olympics-Tennis-Japan’s Osaka bundled out of Tokyo 2020 third round

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 3 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after losing her third round match against Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic REUTERS/Edgar Su July 27, 2021
By Rozanna Latiff
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s great hope for tennis gold Naomi Osaka was beaten on Tuesday in the third round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics tournament, saying she had not known how to cope with the pressure of the occasion.
The world number two was swiped aside 6-1 6-4 by Czech Marketa Vondrousova in a shock result which dealt a blow to Japan’s goldrush hopes.
Tokyo 2020 had marked Osaka’s first tournament since pulling out of Roland Garros in May, when she said she had been suffering from depression for almost three years.
Osaka had said then she would boycott news conferences to raise awareness of players’ mental well-being, but spoke to reporters after this defeat.
“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure, this time around,” she said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in an Olympics before and for the first one to be here was a bit much.
“But I think I’m glad with how I played… with taking that break that I had. I’ve taken long breaks before and I’ve managed to do well.
“And I’m not saying that I did that right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher than how my result was. So… I think my attitude wasn’t that great, but I didn’t really know how to cope with that pressure… so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.
“For me, I’m really glad to be here. I’m sad that I lost, of course, but all in all really happy with my first Olympic experience.”
The tennis event has now lost both of its women top draw cards after world number one and Wimbledon champion Ash Barty was beaten in Sunday’s first round.
Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron on Friday to open the Games, seemed out of sorts on the Tokyo blue courts and never settled into a rhythm as Vondrousova forged ahead.
The Japanese player sprayed a costly 18 unforced errors throughout the match – three times the number made by Vondrousova.
In the quarter-finals the Czech will next face either Spain’s Paula Badosa or Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, who play later on Tuesday.
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Credit Suisse taps Goldman Sachs partner to lead risk turnaround

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at a branch office in Bern, Switzerland October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann July 27, 2021
By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
ZURICH (Reuters) -Credit Suisse on Tuesday appointed Goldman Sachs partner David Wildermuth its new chief risk officer, as it seeks to turn the corner on the Archegos and Greensill scandals that have rocked Switzerland’s second-biggest bank.
Zurich-based Credit Suisse has been cutting risk after its prime brokerage business lost billions from the collapse of family office Archegos, and as its asset management division scrambles to return some $10 billion of client investments linked to insolvent supply chain finance firm Greensill.
Those scandals have prompted a swathe of sackings, executive changes and regulatory investigations, as well as a planned strategic overhaul which Chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio has said is to make risk and cultural change a top priority.
“I am delighted to welcome David to Credit Suisse, where he will help shape the Group’s enhanced risk management framework, an essential part of the bank’s strategic realignment currently underway,” Horta-Osorio said in a statement.
Former Chief Risk and Compliance Officer Lara Warner was one of the high-level casualties, replaced on an interim basis by Joachim Oechslin, who already served as the bank’s risk chief under previous CEOs Brady Dougan and Tidjane Thiam between 2014 and 2019. Credit Suisse said Oechslin would resume his role as strategic advisor to the CEO after Wildermuth’s arrival.
Wildermuth, a 24-year Goldman Sachs veteran, was appointed deputy chief risk officer at the U.S. financial giant in 2015 and has been a partner since 2010.
“David joins with an impressive track record, underlining our firm commitment to further enhance our risk management across the bank,” Credit Suisse Chief Executive Thomas Gottstein said in the statement. “He is the right person to lead and further strengthen our risk organization.”
Wildermuth will assume the role on February 1, 2022 at the latest, the Swiss bank said, and will be based in Zurich.
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, editing by Kirsti Knolle, Silke Koltrowitz and Tomasz Janowski)

Olympics-Taekwondo-For Tongans, just being at the Games is fulfilling

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July 27, 2021
By Chang-Ran Kim
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) – Tonga’s flag-bearing duo exited the taekwondo Tokyo Olympics tournament after no-contest matches against far superior opponents, but the South Pacific islanders said just getting to compete with the best in the world was gratifying.
“That was the best match I’ve ever played – I got three points,” said Pita Taufatofua, famed for his shirt-less appearances at opening and closing ceremonies at past Olympics.
“That’s two Olympics in a row I’ve gone against the world number one,” he said, referring to Russian heavyweight Vladislav Larin, who thrashed him 24-3.
“I loved it. I was celebrating each and every point just because in Rio I got one point, and today I got two.”
In taekwondo, a point is awarded when the opponent is given a gam-jeom, or a penalty.
“Before I came here, my uncle said to me: ‘If you get two points, that’s a 100% improvement.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ll get three’, and look, I got three.”
In the women’s welterweight category a day earlier, Malia Paseka barely fought for two minutes over two matches – the first cut short by the referee after she took a debilitating kick to the head.
When her opponent, Britain’s Lauren Williams, went through to the finals, Paseka returned in the repechage stage, where she racked up enough penalty points for falling to end the contest in one round.
“I’m still proud of what I’ve achieved. There aren’t many who make it to the Olympics,” she said.
Taufatofua, who will go on to compete in sprint kayak next week, said that for him, being an Olympian was all about self-improvement and inspiring others.
“I’m here to become a better version of myself, and that’s why I celebrate each incremental improvement,” the Australian-born 37-year-old said.
“The athlete is a representation of us trying to overcome… There’s people watching and if they see us trying and pushing and maybe it can help them try and push and to me that’s a big win.”
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Michael Perry)

Olympics-Hockey-Australia, Germany win in men’s tournament

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Hockey – Men’s Pool A – Argentina v Australia – Oi Hockey Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Players of Australia celebrate their fifth goal by Jeremy Hayward of Australia. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis July 27, 2021
By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO (Reuters) -Australia won their third straight match in the men’s hockey tournament at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday after putting five goals past Argentina, while Germany powered past Britain.
Hosts Japan earned their first point of the tournament following a 2-2 draw against New Zealand and India defeated Spain 3-0.
Australia’s ‘Kookaburras’ went behind in the fourth minute as the match got underway in rainy conditions but had scored four goals by halftime and went on to win 5-2.
“It was a good grind that first five, 10 minutes,” said Andrew Charter, Australia’s goalkeeper.
“We did concede one but at the same time, we had a couple of opportunities. This is international hockey – you’re not going to go through a game without any opportunities against you.”
Australia drew level with less than a minute to go until the end of the opening quarter when forward Blake Govers scored a penalty corner, confirming his reputation as a penalty corner specialist.
That was followed by three more goals in the second quarter and one after the break, giving Australia – who beat Japan 5-3 and India 7-1 in their first two games – the maximum nine points from three matches.
“These first three games are shaping up really well,” said goalie Charter.
“We haven’t had a chance to test ourselves against much competition (in the run-up to the Olympics), except New Zealand.”
Also in the men’s competition, Germany handed Britain their first defeat of the tournament, winning 5-1, including three goals by attacker Florian Fuchs.
Japan, playing in the men’s hockey tournament for the first time since the 1968 Mexico Games, avoided a third straight defeat but coach Siegfried Aikman was disappointed not to have come away with the win over New Zealand.
“I’m a bit emotional at this moment because our team so did very well and we couldn’t bring it home,” Aikman said.
“We did almost everything well and it’s a matter of experience. A few counter-attacks and we are in trouble and that happens through the tournament.”
India secured their second victory at the tournament with a goal from midfielder Simranjeet Singh and a double from defender Rupinder Pal Singh, though the game was closer than the scoreline suggests.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman/Peter Rutherford)

Olympics-With ‘King’ Kohei gone royal rumble set for all-around crown

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FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Men’s Team – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Daiki Hashimoto of Japan in action on the vault. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson July 27, 2021
By Steve Keating
TOKYO (Reuters) – With “King” Kohei Uchimura having stepped down there will be a new Olympic all-around men’s gymnastics champion crowned at the Tokyo Games on Wednesday, with Russia, Japan and China set for a royal rumble to decide who claims the sport’s most prized title.
Olympic all-around champion in 2012 and 2016, Uchimura chose not to defend his title in Tokyo leaving Japan’s hopes resting with his young heir apparent, 19-year-old Daiki Hashimoto, who underscored his credentials by posting the top marks in Saturday’s qualification round.
But Russia, competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences, will send out the lethal one-two combination of Nikita Nagornyy and Artur Dalaloyan, world all-around champions in 2019 and 2018 respectively, as the country bids to return to the top of the podium for the first time since the great Alexei Nemov at the 2000 Sydney Games.
China will also field two seasoned contenders in 2017 world all-around champion Xiao Ruoteng and Sun Wei, who placed third and fourth in qualifying.
After clinching the team gold for Russia on Monday with a pressure packed floor exercise, Nagornyy will ride a massive wave of momentum that would make Olympic surfers down the coast envious.
The last man to compete with top spot on the podium on the line, the 24-year-old Russian showed he is built for the big moments, delivering when it counted most.
“Nikita’s and Artur’s desire to finish first in the all-around has not diminished after the victory in the team event,” Russian gymnastics coach Valery Alfosov told TASS news agency. “They are professional athletes.
“Yesterday they were overwhelmed by emotion but on the way to the training session this morning, I could see that they are calm and thinking about tomorrow.
“That’s how it should be.”
Questions, however, hang over his team mate Dalaloyan, who delivered a heroic effort helping the ROC to gold competing on a surgically repaired Achilles heel that often had the 25-year-old wincing in pain.
Asked after the team event if he still planned to take part in the all-around, Dalaloyan put his hands over his eyes and then said: “OK, I will do it. It’s not a problem for me.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Olympics-Storm buffets Tokyo, tennis star Osaka out of Olympics

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Triathlon – Women’s Olympic Distance – Final – Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo, Japan July 27, 2021. Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games’ volunteers holding banners to refrain spectating from roadside stand in a strong wind caused by tropical storm Nepartak. REUTERS/Issei Kato July 27, 2021
By Ossian Shine
TOKYO (Reuters) -Wind and rain buffeted the Tokyo region on Tuesday causing delays to Olympic competition and event rescheduling, while tennis superstar Naomi Osaka dropped out of the Games after she was beaten in the third round of her singles tournament.
Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron on Friday to open the Tokyo Games, was swiped aside by Czech Marketa Vondrousova in a match where the Japanese player seemed out of sorts and never settled into a rhythm.
“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure, this time around,” Osaka said.
“I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in an Olympics before and for the first one to be here was a bit much,” she added, saying she was still glad about her performance even after a break.
The Tokyo Games marked Osaka’s first tournament since she pulled out of Roland Garros in May, saying she had been suffering from depression for almost three years.
The tennis event has now lost both of its top draw cards after world number one and Wimbledon champion Ash Barty was beaten in Sunday’s first round.
On Tuesday Olympic organisers remained on alert to monitor the impact from a tropical storm off Japan’s east coast, while those competitors unaffected by the weather got Day Four of competition off to a flying start.
Flora Duffy achieved instant national hero status when she won Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal with victory in the women’s triathlon.
The 33-year-old hailed it “an incredible moment” and Bermuda Premier David Burt sent his congratulations over Twitter, saying: “You’ve worked so hard and you’ve made an entire island proud!”
In the pool, Russian Evgeny Rylov broke a U.S. stranglehold on the men’s 100m backstroke, becoming the first non-American to win the event at an Olympics since 1992.
Tom Dean powered to gold in the men’s 200m freestyle, heading a British one-two with Duncan Scott taking silver.
MAN AGAINST OCEAN
Australian Kaylee McKeown took the women’s 100 metres backstroke gold, and Lydia Jacoby won the women’s 100m breaststroke for the United States.
At the archery venue, early rounds of the individual events were delayed by some two and a half hours due to the storm.
Tuesday’s conditions meant there was no training on the practice field at Tokyo’s Yumenoshima Park Archery Field, with staff in rain coats placing non-slip mats around the facility.
If the archers were left frustrated, though, the surfers were embracing the wet and windy conditions.
“Today is one of those days when it’s man against ocean, more so than competing against your competitor, but that’s what makes it fun,” Japanese surfer Kanoa Igarashi told reporters after scoring a spectacular early barrel wave en route to a quarter-final victory over American Kolohe Andino.
Japan’s hot, wet and unstable summer weather patterns https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-braces-storm-snarls-schedules-after-withering-heat-2021-07-25 have been a persistent concern for the Games, compounding difficulties for an Olympics being held under a global pandemic.
Tokyo was forecast to receive up 31.5 mm (1.2 inches) of rain over 24 hours from tropical storm Nepartak, now forecast to make landfall in the north early Wednesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It was headed toward Sendai, 370 km (230 miles) up the coast from Tokyo, according to the Tropical Storm Risk monitoring site.
Athletes could, however, welcome a slight respite from the extreme heat that had earlier caused an Olympic archer to collapse. Tuesday’s forecast high temperature was 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit), below recent highs of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).
(Reporting by William Mallard, Rozanna Latiff, Ju-min Park, Farah Master and Philip O’Connor; Editing by Stephen Coates and Michael Perry)

Olympics-Gymnastics-German full-body suits applauded in slow-to-change Japan

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Vault – Qualification – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Kim Bui of Germany, Pauline Schaefer of Germany and Elisabeth Seitz of Germany are seen in their unitards REUTERS/Mike Blake July 27, 2021
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) – The full-body suits of Germany’s Olympic gymnasts have struck a chord on Japanese social media, with many applauding the freedom of choice in a nation where schoolgirls almost always wear skirts and high heels are still required in some offices.
The German women’s gymnastics team competed in red and white unitards, which are combined leotards and leggings extending to the ankles, in qualifications at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday after saying they aimed to counter the sexualisation of the sport and women could wear what they choose.
The suits garnered much debate and applause on Japanese social media, with several women sharing bitter stories from their past.
“I used to compete in rhythmic gymnastics, and there were always two middle-aged men at our meets who took photos only when we lifted our legs,” wrote “Yuko” in a Twitter post.
“Leotards can be beautiful and convenient, but the fact that some people abuse them like this means the matter should be taken seriously.”
Body-hugging, high-cut shorts for Japanese schoolgirls known as “bloomers” used to be a requirement in gym classes and were a source of embarrassment for generations of girls.
“We got up a petition to change the bloomers to shorts like the boys, but were told by our male teachers: ‘Girls must wear bloomers! Absolutely!’” wrote Twitter user “Ste”.
“Our pleas to wear shorts were completely unacceptable to the old fogeys who ran our school.”
Although bloomers have faded into history, Japanese girls in junior and senior high school are mostly required to wear skirts as part of their formal uniform. Some schools have recently allowed for the option of slacks, but numbers remain low despite rising calls for change and some relaxation of other rules.
As adults, women often still face dress codes at work, which can include requests to wear high heels. Two years ago, this prompted a vigorous online protest campaign called “KuToo” – a play on the Japanese words for “shoes” and “pain” – echoing the “MeToo” movement.
Many posting on social media said the sight of the German women performing powerful tumbling and uneven bar routines in their unitards was inspiring.
“The unitards are beautiful, and I love that they wore them at the Olympics,” wrote Twitter user “Kodaiyumebuta”.
“I oppose the society that sensualises women’s bodies. They are athletes, and they have given me courage.”
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Karishma Singh)

Mike Enzi, former Wyoming senator, dead at 77

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Mike Enzi, the former Wyoming senator, died Monday after sustaining serious injuries in a recent bicycle accident near his home in Gillette, Wyoming.Enzi, who was 77, “passed away peacefully” while surrounded by his family, a statement read. “His family expresses their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time.”Enzi’s family said he was admitted to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado. He was unconscious and unable to recover from his injuries, which included a broken neck and ribs, the family said.
Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), asks questions during a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on Capitol Hill, on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.  
(Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)Enzi fell near his home about 8:30 p.m. Friday, a family friend said, around the time Gillette police received a report of a man lying unresponsive in a road near a bike.Police have seen no indication that anybody else was nearby or involved in the accident, Lt. Brent Wasson told told the Gillette News Record.GET THE FOX NEWS APPEnzi, a Republican, retired in January after four terms as senator. He previously was a state lawmaker and mayor of Gillette, where he owned a shoe store.During his final speech on the Senate floor, he spoke about compromise. “There is a lot of vitriol in our politics and our world right now, but you can stay true to what you believe in without treating others badly. Nothing gets done when we are just telling each other how wrong we are,” he said, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.The Associated Press contributed to this report

Olympics-Fencing-China eyes another gold for women’s team epee

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Fencing – Women’s Team Epee – Quarterfinal – Makuhari Messe Hall B – Chiba, Japan – July 27, 2021. Sun Yiwen of China, Lin Sheng of China, Xu Anqi of China and Zhu Mingye of China celebrate after competing REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov July 27, 2021
CHIBA (Reuters) – China stayed on track to claim a third consecutive Olympic medal in the women’s team epee fencing event on Tuesday after they beat Hong Kong in the quarterfinal stage.
The Chinese team won gold in the 2012 London Olympics and silver in the 2016 Rio Games, and is ranked world number one.
With strong individual fencers including Sun Yiwen, who won gold for the individual epee event https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/olympics-fencing-chinas-sun-wins-womens-epee-individual-gold-2021-07-24 just three days ago, the team was up against Hong Kong, ranked 15th in the world.
China kept a comfortable lead throughout the hour and ended the game with a 44-32 win.
After the game ended, the four members of the Chinese team were focused and subdued in their celebration as they exchanged high-fives.
In the semifinals, China will clash with South Korea, who overcame the United States in the quarterfinals.
Poland, which is ranked second and was eyeing its first Olympic gold medal in women’s fencing, lost to Estonia in a quarterfinal upset.
Although ranked seventh in the world, Estonia has a strong selection of fencers including Katrina Lehis, who already has a bronze medal under her belt at the Games.
Trailing Estonia by only a few points, Poland’s Ewa Trzebinska tried and failed to capture Estonia’s Julia Beljajeva in the final bout of the match. Beljajeva took the last point to finish the match at 29-26.
Beljajeva let out a scream and jumped up and down after the match was called, but team mates were shooed away and told to hold off when they crowded around for a hug.
In the next round Estonia will face Italy, which defeated the Russian Olympic Committee team to advance to the semis.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Karishma Singh)

U.S.-listed Chinese companies must disclose government interference risks -SEC official

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FILE PHOTO: Commissioner Allison Lee participates in a U.S Securities and Exchange Commission open meeting to propose changing its decades-old definition of an “accredited investor” in order to allow more Americans to buy shares in private companies, in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo July 27, 2021
By Katanga Johnson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges must disclose the risks of the Chinese government interfering in their businesses as part of their regular reporting obligations, a top U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission official said on Monday.
Democratic commissioner Allison Lee’s comments are the first by an SEC official since Chinese regulators launched a massive cyber probe of ride-hailing giant Didi Global last week, just days after its $4.4 billion New York listing, wiping 25% off its share price.
Chinese authorities have cracked down on other U.S.-listed Chinese companies and may require tutoring firms to become non-profits, according to a Bloomberg report that hit shares in the sector, including New York-listed TAL Education Group and Gaotu Techedu Inc.
Some policymakers worry Chinese firms are systematically flouting U.S. rules, which require public companies to disclose to investors a range of potential risks to their businesses.
“Public companies must disclose significant risks which, for China-based issuers, may sometimes involve risks related to the regulatory environment and potential actions by the Chinese government,” Lee, who served as acting head of the SEC from late January to mid-April, told Reuters in an interview.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Didi had been warned by regulators to delay its initial public offering and to address its cyber security. Didi has said it had no knowledge of the investigation prior to its listing.
Lee declined to comment on whether the SEC had opened a probe of Didi for potential disclosure failings.
“We should always be focused on ensuring investors are fully informed of material risks, such as the risks we’ve seen recently related to China,” Lee said.
An SEC spokesperson said that as a matter of policy, the SEC conducts investigations on a confidential basis and does not acknowledge the existence or non-existence of any investigation unless or until charges are filed.
Over the past decade, Washington policymakers have focused on getting U.S.-listed Chinese companies to comply with U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board rules. Last year Congress passed a law that would kick Chinese companies off U.S. exchanges unless they adhere to American auditing standards.
But regulators have not generally focused on Chinese company disclosure issues. Some lawmakers are calling for the SEC to devote more resources to the issue.
“U.S. regulators must insure that American investors and workers are protected from the sort of non-market behavior that is leaving American investors scorched,” Senator Bill Hagerty, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement to Reuters.
“This includes enforcing compliance with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board audit requirements, as well as investigating whether there have been sufficient disclosures about the serious potential investment risks associated with such a centrally-controlled economy,” Hagerty said.
(This story has corrected authorities to Chinese, not U.S., in the third paragraph)
(Additional reporting and writing by Michelle Price; Editing by Dan Grebler)

OxyContin maker Purdue’s creditors vote in favor of bankruptcy plan

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FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a shelf at a local pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S. April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey July 27, 2021
(Reuters) – OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP said on Tuesday that creditors voted in favor of its reorganization plan that would provide billions of dollars to the governments that sued the company for its role in the U.S. opioid crisis.
More than 95% of the 120,000-plus votes submitted were in favor of the plan, Purdue said, citing preliminary voting results.
Purdue expects to release the final voting results by Aug. 2, but added that it does not expect any material changes.
Purdue’s plan aims to resolve some 3,000 lawsuits brought by U.S. communities alleging that Purdue and its wealthy Sackler family owners contributed to the opioid crisis that has claimed the lives of roughly 500,000 people since 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Stamford, Connecticut-based company and family members have denied the allegations in the litigation.
Earlier in July, Purdue reached an agreement with several states over the litigation.
The agreement, supported by longstanding holdouts including Massachusetts and New York, sets the stage for Purdue to gain court approval in coming weeks for its bankruptcy plan, which the company values at more than $10 billion.
That value is contingent in part on future donations of overdose reversal and addiction treatment medications the company has under development.
The plan would dissolve the company and shift assets to trusts run on behalf of the plaintiffs that alleged the company and its owners aggressively marketed the painkiller OxyContin while playing down its abuse and overdose risks.
If approved, it would also include legal releases that shields the Sacklers from future litigation.
(Reporting by Shubham Kalia; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

Amazon eyes potential stake in India’s Inox Leisure – Indian Express

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is pictured inside the company’s office in Bengaluru, India, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa July 27, 2021
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s India arm is in talks with several domestic players in film and media distribution including cinema chain Inox Leisure Ltd for a potential stake, the Indian Express newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources.
Shares of Mumbai-headquartered Inox jumped as much as 14.3% to 346.20 rupees in early trade after the report.
Amazon India is planning to expand its content streaming platform Prime Video and is evaluating three to four deals, according to the report.
India has been a hotbed of competition for companies like Amazon, Netflix Inc and Walt Disney Inc’s Disney+Hotstar, all of which have been investing significantly to ramp up original content in regional languages.
The e-commerce giant in January had launched a lower priced mobile-only subscription plan for its video streaming service in India, undercutting a similar plan by Netflix to woo price-sensitive subscribers.
Prime Video had marked its foray into Indian film production in March and counts the south Asian nation as one of its fastest growing markets.
Inox, the second-largest multiplex chain in India, has reported a net loss for at least five consecutive quarters since March 2020, when a nationwide coronavirus lockdown was imposed.
Inox Leisure and Amazon India did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
(Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

Olympics-Basketball-Japan’s women overcome France for first Tokyo win

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Basketball – Women – Group B – Japan v France – Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan – July 27, 2021. Maki Takada of Japan celebrates after scoring a basket with teammates REUTERS/Brian Snyder July 27, 2021
(Corrects day of Japan’s next game to Friday in final paragraph)
By Chris Gallagher
SAITAMA, Japan (Reuters) -Japan overcame France 74-70 with a tenacious defensive display and ruthless three-point shooting to take their first game of the Tokyo Olympics women’s basketball tournament on Tuesday.
France struggled to get into their offence as the hosts looked to trap their ball handlers with double and triple teams, while Japan capitalised on French defensive lapses by knocking down a series of clutch three-pointers in the final frame.
The French briefly took the lead after a run in the fourth quarter before a back-and-forth final few minutes, until Moeko Nagaoka sank a dagger three-pointer with 29 seconds left to put Japan up 72-68.
Japan had three scorers in double digits including Nagaoka, Maki Takada, and Saki Hayashi with a team-high 12 points.
Sandrine Gruda led France with a game-high 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Japan head coach Thomas Hovasse singled out Takada, who played nearly 37 minutes, as the player of the match.
“I asked her to go above and beyond what we normally do with her playing time,” Hovasse said.
“Her defensive low post was phenomenal. Even though Gruda had a big second half, every shot was contested. It wasn’t a one-pass, one-dribble shot, it was tough for her, we made it very tough for her.”
Japan’s Saori Miyazaki said their aggressive defence was key to the game plan.
“When it comes to guarding we’re a lot smaller than the French players. Defence has long been a big part of Japanese basketball and I’m glad it succeeded today,” she said.
The Japanese scored 11 three-pointers, including five in the fourth quarter, to go 41% from behind the arc compared with just 21% for France.
“This team of Japan, each time you did a mistake on defence, they shoot a three-pointer and they score,” said French head coach Valerie Garnier.
Gruda couldn’t hide her frustration and called out her team in the effort column.
“I think they deserved their win because they fight more than us,” she said. “I’m just very upset about it.”
Japan, who have never medalled in the Olympics, next face powerhouse the United States on Friday. France, which won silver in 2012, will take on Nigeria.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Taiwan seen growing at slower pace in second quarter; strong exports support: Reuters poll

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FILE PHOTO: A person walks near containers at Keelung port, northern Taiwan, October 30, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang July 27, 2021
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s economy is expected to have expanded at a slower pace in the second quarter as a rare spike in COVID-19 cases hurt consumption, a Reuters poll showed, although a strong growth in exports supported the trade-reliant island.
Gross domestic product (GDP) likely expanded 6.05% in the April-June period versus a year ago, the poll of 12 economists shows, after it grew 8.92% year-on-year in the first quarter, the strongest quarterly growth in over a decade.
As a key hub in the global technology supply chain for giants such as Apple Inc, Taiwan’s economy has outperformed many of its regional peers during the pandemic as it benefited from robust demand for its tech exports.
But domestic consumption was hit by a rare spike in community COVID-19 transmissions in mid-May. The outbreak has now been brought well under control, with the alert level lowered and restrictions on gatherings and restaurant dining eased this week.
Economists’ forecasts for preliminary GDP data due on Friday varied widely from growth of 2.6% to as high as 7.2%.
“We do not think this epidemic outbreak will impact the recovery of domestic consumption,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note. “Strong global demand and domestic capital expenditure will be able to support Taiwan’s economic growth.”
Taiwan’s key semiconductor industry has been largely unaffected by the pandemic at home, and exports have remained strong. June exports rose 35.1% from a year earlier to $36.65 billion, the second highest monthly figure on record.
Last week, the Asian Development Bank raised its full-year GDP outlook for Taiwan to 5.6% from an earlier 4.6%, citing among other things “robust external demand”.
Taiwan has benefited from the work-and-study from home trend around the world, which has buoyed demand for laptops, tablets and other electronics made with components supplied by firms like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC).
The economy in China, Taiwan’s top trading partner, expanded more slowly than expected in the second quarter, as slowing manufacturing activity, higher raw material costs and new COVID-19 outbreaks weighed on the recovery momentum.
Taiwan’s preliminary figures will be released in a statement with minimal commentary. Revised figures will be released about two to three weeks later, with more details and forward-looking forecasts.
(Poll compiled by Carol Lee; Reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

SK Hynix sees strong memory chip demand continuing in second half as profit jumps

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of SK Hynix is seen at its headquarters in Seongnam, South Korea, April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji July 27, 2021
By Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang
SEOUL (Reuters) – SK Hynix said on Tuesday it expects strong memory chip demand to run on for the rest of 2021 on data centre build-outs and the use of more sophisticated chips in smartphones, as it reported its biggest quarterly profit in more than two years.
SK Hynix, the world’s second-biggest memory chipmaker with customers including Apple Inc, forecast especially strong growth for NAND Flash products in the second half of the year due to demand for increased data storage in mobile devices.
“The demand level is much stronger than we expected early this year, especially from 5G-based smartphones and PCs,” head of DRAM marketing MS Park said in an earnings call. “Such favourable memory market conditions are expected to continue into the second half of 2021.”
SK Hynix’s upbeat outlook was at odds with some market concerns that memory chip demand may flag if a global shortage of processing and other microchips continues, curtailing production of some products and damping memory chip demand.
“There have been some corrections to demand because of parts supply disruptions, but not so much so that it will alter the fundamental course of demand growth,” Park said.
He expected this year’s consumer-led demand recovery to be superseded by corporate sector demand next year, spurred on by developments such as expansion of standalone 5G telecommunication networks.
Memory chip inventory levels were expected to continue to decline, while SK Hynix also aimed in the third quarter to turn around its loss-making NAND Flash business, which has suffered from thin margins and strong competition.
The months-long global shortage of other semiconductors, fuelled by pandemic-led demand for cars, phones, and cloud computing, has buoyed overall demand and helped chipmakers post strong profits in the first half of the year.
While many executives and industry experts expect the chip shortage to continue well into next year, some companies like Taiwan’s TSMC and Volkswagen have flagged that the crunch is easing for the auto industry.
SK Hynix said its April-June quarter operating profit rose 38% to 2.7 trillion won ($2.3 billion), as memory chip demand for PCs and other devices surged rapidly and demand from computer server operators recovered.
It was the company’s highest quarterly profit since the fourth quarter of 2018, data showed, up from 1.9 trillion won a year earlier, and in line with a Refinitiv Smartestimate of a 2.7 trillion won profit.
Second quarter revenue rose 20% on-year to 10.3 trillion won.
SK Hynix shares were flat at 117,000 won, sitting virtually unchanged for the year.
($1 = 1,151.7800 won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee & Heekyong Yang; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Richard Pullin)

Dollar stabilises near recent peaks as traders await Fed

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. one dollar banknotes are seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration taken February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration July 27, 2021
By Tom Westbrook
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar hovered below recent peaks on Tuesday, as investors turned to this week’s Federal Reserve meeting for clues on the policy outlook, while cryptocurrencies pulled back sharply from an attempt to break out of a monthslong range.
The dollar held at $1.1809 per euro in Asia, finding support after a small dip on Monday.
It bought 110.18 yen and the Australian and New Zealand dollars held onto small gains made Monday.
The greenback has been rising broadly for more than a month as markets have become wary of the Fed starting to taper its monetary support. Investors turned long dollars for the first time since March 2020 last week, positioning data shows.
The Fed meeting is on Wednesday and the focus is on discussions around bond purchases and insight into the bank’s comfort with surging inflation, with the upshot for currency markets not clear cut.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Joe Capurso said a hint that tapering could soon begin would lift the dollar.
Steve Englander, head of G10 FX research at Standard Chartered, however, said that a steer on the Fed’s thinking about a sharp but likely transitory jump in inflation will be just as important.
“We expect that Fed Chair (Jerome) Powell will convey more patience than many recent Fed speakers about bringing inflation lower, as long as domestic economic conditions still point to labour market slack,” said Englander in a note to clients.
“A dovish lean by Powell will likely push up longer-term interest rates … because of a rally in inflation breakevens and a reduction in market fears about slower medium-term growth.
“Paradoxically, this is likely to be dollar-negative because global uncertainty on the policy response to higher inflation would be reduced,” said Englander.
A tick higher in inflation expectations on Monday pushed U.S. 10-year real yields to a record low of -1.123%, which also contributed to overnight softness in the dollar.
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.3% on Monday and was last steady at 92.600.
Elsewhere, concern at the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant and jitters in China’s stock market kept trade cautious during Asia hours. The risk-sensitive Australian dollar was steady at $0.7382 and the kiwi held around $0.7000.
Sterling was above its 20-day moving average and near a one-week high at $1.3827 as early data seemed to show an ebb in surging COVID-19 cases in Britain in spite of the removal of many social curbs last week.
The Chinese yuan has held up despite turmoil in equities and was steady at 6.4760.
Bitcoin dropped sharply to $37,000 from a Monday peak above $40,000 after Amazon.com offered a qualified denial of a weekend news report that said it was preparing to accept cryptocurrencies.
“Speculation that has ensued around our specific plans for cryptocurrencies is not true,” said a company spokesperson.
“We remain focused on exploring what this could look like for customers shopping on Amazon.”
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

Pompeo says Republican Party can reclaim America with focus on faith

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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday laid out what he sees as the best way forward for the Republican Party and he said the focus should be on faith in God, which has been employed by some of the country’s greatest leaders.Pompeo, who is one of the most influential conservatives in the U.S., delivered his remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California. He spoke about the Trump administration’s foreign policy achievements but mainly focused on the party’s future. He said faith in God has been a source of strength in his personal life. He said without faith, it is “immensely difficult” to lead. He talked about the faith that soldiers have on the battlefield and the comfort that they take from “certain knowledge of everlasting life, after this existence.”He said that knowledge “conveys undaunted courage to the weary and implacable resolve to the reticence of some.”He also pointed to George Washington and Reagan and spoke about their faith when they were up against major challenges. Washington faced the fierce British army and Reagan had to stand up against the Soviet Union. He called them “immortal examples” for the Republican Party to pull upon.POMPEO LAUNCHES NEW PAC TO HELP CONSERVATIVES RUNNING IN 2022″To reclaim America, which I believe only think our part can do, there is literally no more important resorts than our churches, our synagogues, our mosques and temples that grace all of this United States of America,” he said. “There’s no more important need—none—than to hear their voices when they state that we must return to our moral core, lest all be lost.”He said conservatism must be reintroduced to the country. He said the only way to heal the fractures in the country is to understand God’s relationship with the individual—not the collective. This idea must be respected because we all “bear the mark of our creator.”POMPEO, IN IOWA SPEECH, DECLARES ‘WE ARE NOT A RACIST NATION’He said this idea runs counter to the “privileged elite” who “applaud things they simply would not do as they use and take advantage of those they pretend to support.”Pompeo was the featured speaker for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s “Time for Choosing” Speaker Series. The library is hosting many prominent GOP figures and 2024 potential candidates with the mission of outlining their detailed vision for the party and the conservative movement.  CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPPompeo is the third marquee speaker in the Reagan speaking series, after former House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Vice President Mike Pence. Future speakers will include GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Tim Scott of South Carolina, as well as former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report

Olympics-Swimming-American Jacoby wins gold in women’s 100m breaststroke

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FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Women’s 100m Breaststroke – Semifinal 1 – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Lydia Jacoby of the United States in action. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Lydia Jacoby of the United States won the gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa won the silver and American Lilly King took the bronze.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney.)

Olympics-Swimming-Australia’s McKeown wins 100m backstroke gold in debut Olympics

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Women’s 100m Backstroke – Final – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Kaylee McKeown of Australia reacts after winning. REUTERS/Marko Djurica July 27, 2021
By Martin Petty
TOKYO (Reuters) – Kaylee McKeown of Australia powered to her first Olympic gold medal on Tuesday after a stunning fightback in the women’s 100m backstroke that was within a fingertip of her own world record.
Canada’s Kylie Masse took a good lead from the start and held it at the halfway mark but McKeown switched gears out of the turn and clawed back to win in 57.47.
Masse won silver in 57.72 and Reagan Smith of the United States was third in 58.05.
The 20-year-old McKeown’s time was just two hundredths of a second shy of the world record she set in the Australian trials in June.
Driven by the memory of her late father, the gold medal extends an impressive run of form this year that made McKeown the top ranked swimmer in three events in Tokyo, though she had to withdraw from one due to a tight schedule.
“It’s not necessarily what I have been through, everyone has their own journey. It just so happens I have had a tough time,” she said when asked about her preparations.
“My legs were definitely hurting in the last 20 metres … I’m just thankful that I have come away with the position I have.”
(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Olympics-Shooting-China win 10m air pistol mixed team gold

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Shooting – Mixed 10m Air Pistol Team – Qualification – Asaka Shooting Range, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Jiang Ranxin of China in action with Pang Wei of China REUTERS/Ann Wang July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – China won the 10-metre air pistol mixed team gold in the Tokyo Olympics at the Asaka Shooting Range on Tuesday.
Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) won the silver, while the bronze went to Ukraine.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Michael Perry)

Olympics-Swimming-Rylov breaks barren Russian spell with 100m backstroke gold win

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Men’s 100m Backstroke – Final – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee celebrates after winning the gold medal. REUTERS/Marko Djurica July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Russian Evgeny Rylov broke the country’s barren gold medal spell in men’s swimming, edging out rivals including American defending champion Ryan Murphy in a thrilling 100m backstroke race that was determined at the wall.
Hitting the wall with a time of 51.98 seconds, Rylov swam from an outside lane to beat fellow-Russian Kliment Kolesnikov who placed second with a time of 52.00 and Murphy who came third with 52.19.
It is the first time a Russian man has won a swimming gold in the Olympics since the Atlanta Games in 1996 when Alexander Popov and Denis Pankratov both topped the podium twice.
The 24-year old Rylov made his Olympic debut in Rio where he placed sixth in the 100m backstroke and won a bronze in the 200m backstroke.
Rylov, who started swimming aged six in Russia’s Novotroitsk, will also race the 200m backstroke in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Russian athletes are competing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Tokyo Olympics as part of sanctions for several doping scandals.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Olympics-Swimming-British, Russian men triumph as Aussie women shine again

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Men’s 200m Freestyle – Medal Ceremony – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Tom Dean of Britain and Duncan Scott of Britain pose with their gold and silver medal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach July 27, 2021
By Simon Evans
TOKYO (Reuters) – Britain enjoyed a one-two success in the men’s 200m freestyle on Tuesday, while Russian swimmers ended U.S. dominance in the 100m backstroke and Kaylee McKeown gave Australia’s women more Olympic gold to celebrate at the Tokyo pool.
Tom Dean won gold and team mate Duncan Scott the silver in the 200 freestyle as the two British swimmers left their rivals in their wake, Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer taking the bronze.
In the men’s 100 backstroke, an event won by U.S. swimmers at the last six Games, Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov took top spots on the podium with Beijing champion Ryan Murphy of the United States coming third.
McKeown delivered a stunning late fightback in the women’s 100 backstroke to pip Canada’s Kylie Masse and add to Ariarne Titmus’s gold in the 400m free on Monday as well as the team gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay.
In another race that went down to the wire — Lydia Jacoby of the United States won gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke, the 17-year-old Alaskan finishing in 1:04.95, 0.27 seconds ahead of Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa.
Jacoby’s team mate Lilly King, who won the event in Rio in 2016, took the bronze.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Oympics-Triathlon-Ill-timed puncture can’t deflate Taylor-Brown’s joy

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Triathlon – Women’s Olympic Distance – Medal Ceremony – Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo, Japan July 27, 2021. Georgia Taylor-Brown of Britain poses with her silver medal during medal ceremony. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay July 27, 2021
By Mitch Phillips
TOKYO (Reuters) – A puncture less than 2km from the end of the bike leg may have ruined Georgia Taylor-Brown’s hopes of winning triathlon gold on Tuesday – or it may have been what propelled the Briton to take what turned out to be a hugely impressive silver.
Taylor-Brown was one of a pack of five who had broken more than a minute clear of the field and who knew the medals would be shared amongst them.
But just when her thoughts were beginning to turn to the decisive 10km run, disaster struck.
“I was really happy that we had a group of five… and then I just heard ‘pop, tzzzssss’ and the wheel started bumping and I thought, ‘fantastic’,” said the 27-year-old.
“It was near a wheel station but I decided not to stop – I could get back on to the group on the straight but not corners.”
Taylor-Brown revealed after the race she had suffered a stress fracture in her shin three months ago that left her unable to run for six weeks but had kept it private so as not to let her rivals think she had a weakness.
The already technical, twisty course was made tougher by the wind and rain that delayed the start and Taylor-Brown had to come almost to a standstill at every turn to ensure she didn’t go down, as several others did.
The result was that she came into the final transition 22 seconds behind the lead group of four, but fuelled by frustration.
“PANIC MODE”
“The first lap of the run was panic mode, I definitely went out hard, but then I just had to try to keep my form,” said Taylor-Brown, who quickly picked off two athletes to move up to third, before then trying to reel in American 2019 world champion Katie Zaferes.
“I was biding my time, I was five seconds off her for quite a while and I didn’t want to push it too soon because I was really suffering,” she said.
“But I really wanted to move up and get the silver medal – I obviously knew that gold was out of reach,” said Taylor-Brown, referring to race winner Flora Duffy, who was a minute ahead of her. “I went really hard on the third lap, overtook and then I settled into my pace again and hung on to the end.”
At the Tokyo test event in 2019, Taylor-Brown finished joint-first, hand-in-hand with compatriot Jess Learmonth, who finished ninth on Tuesday, only to be disqualified for creating “a contrived situation.”
This time she crossed the line second, but after her injury-plagued preparation and the worst-timed puncture of her life, she has every right to feel like a winner.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Karishma Singh)

China’s industrial profit growth slows in June on high raw material prices

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FILE PHOTO: Employees work on the production line of American infant product and toy manufacturer Kids II Inc. at a factory in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China June 22, 2021. REUTERS/Gabriel Crossley July 27, 2021
BEIJING (Reuters) – Profit growth at China’s industrial firms slowed for the fourth straight month in June, as high raw material prices weighed on factories’ margins, pointing to some weakness in the recovery of the world’s second-biggest economy.
Industrial firms’ profits rose 20% year-on-year in June to 791.8 billion yuan ($122.27 billion), data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Tuesday, after a 36.4% increase in May.
The Chinese economy has largely recovered from disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but it has faced new challenges in recent months such as higher raw material costs and global supply chain crunches.
“The unevenness in the recovery of corporate profitability still exists, with private firms and small businesses facing a slow rebound,” said Zhu Hong, a senior statistician at the NBS, adding that this was due to persistently high commodity prices and disruptions in supply chains.
In the first half of 2021, industrial firms’ profits grew a hefty 66.9% from a pandemic-induced slump in the same period a year earlier. Profits in January-June increased 45.5% from the same period in 2019, before the global pandemic started.
Chinese policymakers have stepped up efforts to curb surging commodity prices that have squeezed manufacturers’ margins to prevent the price increases from being passed on to consumers.
While China’s producer price inflation eased in June after the government crackdown on runaway commodity prices, the annual rate continued to hover at an uncomfortably high level. Some analysts expect the factory gate inflation to stay elevated in the second half of this year.
China’s economy grew slightly more slowly than expected in the second quarter. Officials have warned that the recovery remains uneven.
Liabilities at industrial firms were up 8.5% year-on-year at the end of June, versus the 8.2% growth seen at the end of May.
The industrial profit data covers large firms with annual revenues of over 20 million yuan from their main operations.
(Reporting by Stella Qiu, Roxanne Liu and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

Starbucks to sell 50% stake in South Korean venture to E-Mart, GIC

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FILE PHOTO: A Starbucks logo is seen at a Starbucks coffee shop in Seoul, South Korea, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji July 27, 2021
(Reuters) – Starbucks Corp will sell the entire 50% stake it owns in its South Korean venture to local partner E-Mart Inc and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, the U.S. coffee chain said on Monday.
E-Mart, which currently owns 50% of Starbucks Coffee Korea, will acquire an additional 17.5% interest, while GIC will own 32.5%, Starbucks said.
E-Mart said its additional stake will be worth 474 billion won ($411.89 million).
Starbucks said the deal in its fifth-largest market is expected to be completed over the next 90 days.
($1 = 1,150.7900 won)
(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

Australia’s Victoria to lift COVID-19 curbs, Sydney cases rise

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FILE PHOTO: A lone passenger wearing a protective face mask walks from a deserted train platform at Flinders Street during morning commute hours on the first day of a lockdown as the state of Victoria looks to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Melbourne, Australia, July 16, 2021. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders/File Photo/File Photo July 27, 2021
By Colin Packham and Renju Jose
CANBERRA/SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australia’s Victoria state said on Tuesday it will lift a strict lockdown after curtailing the spread of COVID-19, while neighbouring New South Wales faces an extension of restrictions after daily new cases spiked to a 16-month peak.
More than half of Australia’s near 26 million population has been in lockdown in recent weeks after an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant took hold in the New South Wales capital of Sydney and spread to three states.
New South Wales reported 172 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from 145 a day earlier, with at least 60 spending time in the community while infectious.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said a decision whether to extend the five-week lockdown will be taken this week. But with less than 13% of the state’s population fully vaccinated, curbs are expected to remain.
“We know we’ve put in the hard yards for five weeks and we don’t want to waste all the good work that we’ve done by opening too early and then having the virus spread again,” Berejiklian told a media conference.
In contrast, Victoria state said most restrictions imposed on July 15 will be removed from Wednesday after recording just 10 infections of people already in quarantine.
“All in all, this is a good day,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Victoria’s 5 million residents will now be allowed to leave home freely and schools will reopen, though households will not be permitted to have visitors.
South Australia said it will also lift a lockdown on Wednesday after it recorded zero COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
Lockdowns have raised the prospect of Australia recording its second recession in as many years, though Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Tuesday talk of this was premature.
Frydenberg said last week the country’s A$2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) economy is expected to shrink in the latest GDP figures, with lockdowns costing about A$300 million daily.
Swift contact tracing, tough social distancing rules and lockdowns have helped Australia to keep its COVID-19 numbers low, with just under 33,100 cases and 920 deaths since the pandemic first appeared in early 2020.
The outbreak in Sydney, however, has seen a wave of hospitalisations and 10 deaths in recent weeks.
New South Wales said 169 people are in hospital with the virus, of which 46 are in intensive care.
Amid heightened concerns about a spate of hospitalisations of younger people, Australia has urged people to take AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after struggling to secure enough supplies of Pfizer’s inoculations.
Authorities had previously recommended only over 60s should take the AstraZeneca shot after rare but serious blood clotting cases.
($1 = 1.3552 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Newsmax Host: ‘I Took Pleasure’ in Rooting Against Team USA

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Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield said on Monday night that he was “happy” to root against multiple U.S. Olympic teams because they don’t share his personal politics, declaring that he “took pleasure” in both the men’s basketball team’s surprising loss to France and Sweden’s defeat of the women’s soccer squad.In recent weeks, some right-wing media figures and politicians have loudly criticized American athletes who have engaged in social justice protests, such as calling for hammer thrower Gwen Berry to be kicked off the Olympic team for her national anthem demonstration during trials. At the same time, they’ve also suggested this year’s soft Olympic TV ratings are due to “woke” politics.Following the U.S. women’s soccer team’s stunning 3-0 loss against Sweden in its opening match, however, many so-called patriotic conservatives went so far as to actively celebrate Americans losing. Former President Donald Trump, for instance, urged a rally crowd to cheer the squad’s defeat while calling them “demented” for taking a knee—along with several other national teams—to protest racial injustice. (The USWNT bounced back with a 6-1 win over New Zealand.)Apparently inspired by the disgraced ex-president, the ardently pro-Trump Stinchfield took the anti-Team USA sentiment to another level on Monday night during his primetime Newsmax program.“Well folks, it’s not often that I’m happy a U.S. team loses and the Olympics,” he exclaimed. “It makes me sad to say it, but I found myself rooting against not just Megan Rapinoe and her merry band of America-hating female soccer players… But I took pleasure in the men’s basketball Team USA’s first team loss since 2004.”Stinchfield continued: “Yes, Team USA suffering an embarrassing loss to France, 83-76. The collection of whiny overpaid social justice warriors are very hard to root for. The team is filled with anthem-kneelers, and I find it ironic they are willing to put USA across their chests but in the not-so-distant past, they would kneel for the anthem.”After the former NRA-TV host called for “somebody to go up to them and rip USA off their chests,” he then welcomed on a flack for conservative youth organization Turning Point USA to weigh in. And that’s when things got even more cartoonish.“We were absolutely humiliated by France and, honestly, I don’t care!” TPUSA spokesperson Alex Clark said. “Olympic ratings are at a record low and that’s because the American people don’t want to root for anyone who doesn’t even love America!”Clark added that she’s not sure the athletes share her values in loving “God and country” before offering up her personal theory on why France beat the American team.“Now I’m really gonna throw you guys for a loop with this one and get ready for this, OK? So remember how the Woke Left canceled Pepe Le Pew a few months ago,” she declared. “I think this was the revenge of Pepe Le Pew!”Clark was referencing one of the many so-called “cancel culture” moments that conservatives have flown into a rage over in recent months. In this instance, right-wing media was extremely outraged early this year when it was revealed that the grope-prone cartoon skunk would be cut from the latest Space Jam sequel.

Olympics-Organisers report seven new Games-related COVID-19 cases

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FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Preview – Tokyo, Japan – July 19, 2021 A woman shelters from the sun under an umbrella as she walks past Olympics signage REUTERS/Thomas Peter July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo Olympics organisers on Tuesday reported seven news Games-related COVID-19 cases, including two athletes.
The latest daily cases have brought the total number since July 1 to 155.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Olympics-Swimming-Russian Rylov wins gold in men’s 100 metres backstroke

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Men’s 100m Backstroke – Final – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee in action REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Russian Evgeny Rylov won the gold medal in the men’s 100 metres backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
Russian Kliment Kolesnikov won the silver and American Ryan Murphy took the bronze.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney.)

Oympics-Triathlon-Duffy’s island future looks golden

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Triathlon – Women’s Olympic Distance – Medal Ceremony – Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo, Japan July 27, 2021. Flora Duffy of Bermuda poses with her gold medal during medal ceremony. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay July 27, 2021
By Mitch Phillips
TOKYO (Reuters) – Flora Duffy has already been awarded an OBE for services to Bermudan sport and now, having added the country’s first Olympic gold medal to her sparkling CV, she will hope things pan out better than for the island’s only other Games medallist.
After collecting a heavyweight boxing bronze in 1976 Clarence Hill’s life spiralled downwards into drugs and he eventually served jail time for dugs offences and armed robbery.
Duffy, it is safe to assume, is destined for better things and has already been feted on Twitter by the country’s Premier David Burt after her superb victory in Tuesday’s Olympic triathlon.
With just under 64,000 residents, the British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean is now the smallest nation to win a Summer Olympic gold medal and Duffy said she hopes her impressive victory on Tuesday will inspire the next generation.
“We are a small country but are very concentrated on sport,” she said. “I’m so grateful to achieve a personal thing but its bigger than me and that’s a cool moment. It will inspire the youth of Bermuda and show that competing on the world stage from a small island is really possible.
“When I was little we went once a year to race in the United States and that’s when it became my dream to become a professional athlete.”
Duffy took part in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics but after travelling to Rio in 2016 with real medal hopes she managed only a disappointing eighth place.
Three world championships across various triathlon disciples that year and a Commonwealth gold in 2018 underlined her quality as one of the very best in the sport but it was the Olympics that drove her and, at 33, she knew Tokyo was going to be her last chance.
“To be Olympic champion has been my dream since I was a little girl so going through my head at the finish today was maybe relief after the pressure and expectation of 2016,” she told reporters.
“The test event here in 2019 was my first race for over a year after a really bad foot injury. That was the first step back towards what should have been the 2020 Olympics so an extra bonus year did help – though this year wasn’t the smoothest either.
“In the finishing chute maybe I replayed a little bit of all that it took to get here. It feels incredible, it makes all the injuries, hard times and the tears completely worth it.
“It was extra special to really have to dig deep to be able to get back to this form and to be able to execute at this level today against such a strong field was just perfect.”
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Michael Perry)

Olympics-Swimming-Dean and Scott deliver British one-two in 200m freestyle

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Men’s 200m Freestyle – Final – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Tom Dean of Britain and Duncan Scott of Britain celebrate after winning gold and silver REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth July 27, 2021
By Simon Evans
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tom Dean powered to the gold medal in the men’s 200m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, heading a British one-two with Duncan Scott taking silver.
Dean won in a time of 1:44.22 with Scott was just four hundredths of a second behind him.
Fernando Scheffer of Brazil took bronze.
South Korea’s Hwang Sun-woo was under the world record time at the 100m mark but faded badly, ending up seventh, as the British pair powered towards a spectacular finish.
The 21-year-old Dean’s gold was Britain’s second in the Tokyo pool after Adam Peaty’s success in the 100m breaststroke on Monday.
“I knew it was going to be a dogfight, I didn’t know how people were going to swim it, just race the race and that’s how it is,” said a delighted Dean.
Scott was narrowly above Dean in the rankings coming into the Games and qualified fastest, but was delighted for his team mate.
“Just a massive credit to Tom Dean. That was unbelievable. Olympic champion,” he said. “To come along so far in the last 18 months, it’s a pleasure to watch him. It’s great to be able to say he’s a good mate out of the pool.”
It is the first time since 1908 that two male British swimmers have finished on the Olympic podium together.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Asia equities tick up, as investors look to the U.S.

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FILE PHOTO: A man works at the Tokyo Stock Exchange after market opens in Tokyo, Japan October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon July 27, 2021
By Alun John
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian equity markets rose cautiously Tuesday, after touching year to date lows the day before, with traders keeping at least half an eye on the United States where major companies report earnings and the Federal Reserve meets on policy this week.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.26% after touching its lowest level since mid-December on Monday, weighed down by big Chinese stocks.
Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.58%.
Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong markets recovered a little from their lowest level this year on Monday, when investor worries over government regulations had battered stocks, especially in the education, property and tech sectors.
Chinese blue chips rose 0.15%, and the Hong Kong benchmark rose 0.31%, though real estate, healthcare, education stocks were still down.
Upcoming events across the Pacific also were on investors’ minds.
“It’s profits and the Fed. The next couple of days are going to be monumental as everyone tries to figure out how strong corporate fundamentals are at the moment and in what context that is happening in terms of the economic outlook and policy settings,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Markets
Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp < MSFT.O > are set to publish quarterly results late on Tuesday, with Amazon.com Inc’s due later in the week.
In addition, the Federal Reserve will begin its two day meeting later on Tuesday, with investors set to parse a statement and press conference from Fed Chair Jerome Powell due late Wednesday.
They will be looking to see how the central bank will balance fast-rising prices with the complication of increased coronavirus infections.
All three major U.S. stock indexes eked out record closing highs for a second straight session on Monday, but S&P 500 futures dropped 0.14%.
The looming Fed meeting kept a dampener on major moves in other asset classes.
The dollar hovered a little below recent highs, with the euro and sterling gaining some ground, the latter helped by a decline in COVID-19 cases in the UK.
U.S. Treasury yields rose in early Asian trading on Tuesday, following a choppy Monday.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was 1.2829% compared with its U.S. close of 1.276%, while the two-year yield touched 0.2114% compared with a U.S. close of 0.196%.
Gold was slightly higher, with spot gold trading at $1797.2791 per ounce, while U.S. crude ticked up 0.1% to $71.98 a barrel. [GOL/]
Bitcoin dropped to below $37,000 from a Monday peak of $40,581 after Amazon.com offered a qualified denial of a weekend news report that said it was preparing to accept cryptocurrencies.
(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

South, North Korea have restored once-severed hotline -Blue House

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FILE PHOTO: South Korean soldiers stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji July 27, 2021
By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – South and North Korea have restored their once-severed hotline and the two countries’ leaders have agreed to rebuild trust and improve ties, Seoul’s presidential Blue House said on Tuesday.
North Korea’s state media outlet, KCNA, also said all inter-Korean communication channels were reopened at 10 a.m. Tuesday (0100 GMT) in line with an agreement between the leaders.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged multiple letters since April and agreed to reconnect the hotline, the Blue House said.
North Korea cut the hotline in June 2020 as cross-border ties soured after a failed second summit in February 2019 between Kim and former U.S. President Donald Trump, which Moon had offered to mediate.
Moon has called for a recovery of the hotline and talks, pinning high hopes on U.S. President Joe Biden to restart negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Gerry Doyle)

U.S. viewership of Tokyo Games climbs to 19.8 million on second night of competition

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FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Basketball – Women – Group B – Japan v France – Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan – July 27, 2021. General view of the stadium during half time break REUTERS/Brian Snyder July 27, 2021
By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – Prime-time viewership for NBC’s broadcast of the Summer Olympics from Tokyo picked up some steam in the first two nights of competition, compared with a lackluster audience for Friday’s opening ceremonies, preliminary ratings data showed on Monday.
But the size of NBC’s audience on Saturday and Sunday nights, including broadcast television and streaming, was off substantially from comparable totals five years ago during the first two nights of competition at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Sunday night’s presentation from Tokyo, featuring swimming, women’s gymnastics, women’s beach volleyball and the triathlon, averaged roughly 19.8 million prime-time viewers across all platforms, including NBCOlyumpics.com and the NBC Sports app, according to Comcast-owned NBCUniversal.
That figure was up 4.5 million from Saturday’s prime-time broadcast and streaming audience combined, and 7.5 million from Friday’s opening ceremonies, NBCUniversal said, citing preliminary data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics.
NBC said those results were the first time since the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, that the network’s prime-time Summer Games delivered successive viewership increases from the opening ceremony through the first two nights of competition.
But the three-night climb for Tokyo began with a 33-year low.
Total NBC viewership of the opening ceremonies – 12.3 million in prime time plus an estimated 5 million who watched over the internet hours earlier in real time – marked the smallest U.S. audience for an Olympics opening since 1988, when 22.7 million tuned in for the parade and torch-lighting at the Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.
Prime-time Saturday and Sunday night broadcasts and streaming from Tokyo likewise drew substantially smaller audiences than those who watched the first two nights of competition from Rio, which averaged 23.5 million and 31.8 million viewers, respectively, NBC said.
Sunday night’s TV-only portion of the Olympics audience drew 19.2 million viewers in prime time, triple the combined total for the other broadcast networks. It also marked the largest television audience for any prime-time show since Super Bowl Sunday on Sunday Feb. 7, according to NBC.
On the streaming side, viewers have watched 735 total minutes of Tokyo Olympics content through Sunday, up 24% from the comparable period during the 2016 Rio Games and 41% higher than the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, reflecting a change in viewing habits.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Olympics-Swimming-Britain’s Dean wins men’s 200 metres freestyle

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Men’s 200m Freestyle – Final – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Tom Dean of Britain celebrates with Duncan Scott of Britain after winning the event REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tom Dean of Britain won the gold medal in the men’s 200 metres freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
Duncan Scott of Britain won the silver and Fernando Scheffer of Brazil took the bronze.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney.)

Olympics-Swimming-McKeown wins gold in women’s 100m backstroke

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FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Women’s 100m Backstroke – Heats – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Kaylee McKeown of Australia reacts. REUTERS/Marko Djurica July 27, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Kaylee McKeown of Australia won the gold medal in the women’s 100 metres backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
Kylie Masse of Canada won the silver and American Regan Smith took the bronze.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney.)

Matt Gaetz’s Future Sister-in-Law Says He’s a Gaslighting 'Creep'

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Rep. Matt Gaetz’s future sister-in-law appears to have had more than enough with the Florida congressman, posting three TikTok videos in the last two days slamming him as “weird and creepy” and “a literal pedophile.”Roxanne Luckey—the sister of Gaetz’s fiancée, Ginger Luckey—was sharply critical of the congressman and his treatment of young women, saying she “unfortunately was not surprised” to have learned Gaetz was under federal investigation for sex crimes.In one video Monday night, Roxanne Luckey told a story about Gaetz pressuring an older man to court her when she was 19. Roxanne Luckey called the move “weird and creepy”—and she claims Gaetz yelled at her and her mother and went “full lawyer” when she confronted him.“I saw the character and type of person he is, and when everything came out about him, I honestly, unfortunately, was not surprised,” Luckey said in one video.“As someone who has personally experienced a ton of creepy old politician men hitting on me when I was underage, and experiencing sexual assault at that age by people of power, it’s very disheartening and I have zero tolerance of people like [Gaetz],” said Roxanne, who in 2020 worked briefly as a White House intern. She added that she is “tired of them getting away with this type of stuff.”After the videos were posted, Ginger Luckey hit back at her sister, telling The Daily Beast she had a history of “destructive behavior.”Roxanne, who is 20 now, said she was sharing her experiences in part because of her interactions with powerful men and her belief that it is important to “hold people accountable to whatever extent we can.”“There is so much more to the story and about what I know about Matt Gaetz,” she added. “It is definitely a serious situation.”The first of the videos, posted on Sunday, features Luckey dancing and lip-synching to Lana Del Ray’s “Jealous Girl” with a New York Times headline in the background, reading “Matt Gaetz Is Said to Face Justice Dept. Inquiry Over Sex With an Underage Girl.” She added her own text, writing, “When a creepy old man tries to hit on you at the bar but your sisters engaged to a literal pedophile.” Rep. Matt Gaetz and Ginger Luckey at a rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Michael Ciaglo/Getty In a follow-up video Monday night, Luckey apologized for using the term “pedophile” and shifted to “ephebophile”—someone primarily attracted to mid- to late-adolescents—which she reasoned felt more appropriate for Gaetz.While The Daily Beast couldn’t reach Roxanne Luckey, the woman in the TikTok video appears to be the same person seen in a family photo on Ginger Luckey’s Facebook page, and the two women have multiple overlapping social media contacts. Ginger Luckey’s mother also appears to like posts on Roxanne’s Facebook. The TikTok account also shares two videos showing the person working in the White House as an intern. The Daily Beast was able to verify with a former Trump official that Roxanne Luckey did work as an intern during the summer of 2020, as the TikTok account claims.Reached for comment Monday evening, Ginger Luckey claimed she and Roxanne had been estranged. (A video posted by Roxanne Luckey suggests she was close with her sister and Gaetz as recently as November.)“Matt and I are enjoying our engagement and are deeply in love. My estranged sister is mentally unwell,” Ginger Luckey said in a text message. “She has been in therapy for years and our family hopes that after receiving in-patient mental health treatment, she will overcome the tendency she has repeatedly shown to engage in destructive behavior.”Roxanne Luckey did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment. A Gaetz spokesperson said the congressman supports his fiancée and her statement.Roxanne Luckey, who in one video came out as a victim of sexual assault by “people of power,” recounted an episode last summer when Gaetz, shortly after he began dating her sister, tried to set Roxanne Luckey up with a friend of his. She said she was a 19-year-old intern at the Trump White House at the time, when Gaetz tried to connect her with a peer of his, who was divorced with a child.According to Luckey’s account, the older man was “creepy” and repeatedly made her feel uncomfortable, even after she rejected his advances and told him she had a boyfriend. She noted that when the man later apologized, he passed the blame for his aggressive overtures onto Gaetz.“Sorry about what I said, I just wanted to get Matt off my back,” Luckey claimed the unnamed man said.Luckey said when she confronted Gaetz about the incident at a family gathering that Thanksgiving, the 39-year-old attorney and third-term congressman tried to gaslight her.“He just immediately got so defensive and started yelling at me and my mom,” Roxanne Luckey said. “He called me a narcissist, just was a thousand percent gaslighting me—went full lawyer, ‘I don’t have to listen to you, I don’t have to answer your questions.’”“Whatever,” Luckey added.She said Gaetz’s anger and quick temper over the matter led her to believe that he knew he bore responsibility. “Someone who is innocent shouldn’t be getting so defensive, and literally being a grown man and yelling at a 20-year-old girl is just beyond me,” she said.Luckey posted a TIkTok video at the time about the encounter, captioned, “It’s the sisters congressman boyfriend calling me a narcissist for calling him out for me 🤷🏼‍♀️🤪”Luckey emphasized that the experiences informing her opinion “wasn’t just this encounter with Matt.” When she was interning in D.C. at the White House, she said she heard “through the grapevine” that Gaetz “had a reputation of prowling after college girls when he’s a grown man, and to me that’s just kind of weird.”She did add the caveat to this claim that, “Everything is hearsay.”“There’s two sides to every story and I acknowledge that,” she said. “But this is what I experienced.” “

South Korea’s second-quarter GDP growth hits decade high but risks loom

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FILE PHOTO: People wearing masks walk at Myeongdong shopping district amid social distancing measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Seoul, South Korea, May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji July 27, 2021
By Cynthia Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s economy expanded at the fastest annual pace in a decade in the second quarter, thanks to a pick up in private consumption, though a resurgence of COVID-19 casts doubt over the outlook for growth for the rest of the year.
Data from the Bank of Korea on Tuesday showed gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.7% in the second quarter, after rising 1.7% three months earlier and matching 0.7% growth tipped in a Reuters survey.
The economy surged 5.9% year-on-year, the fastest growth in a decade and up sharply from 1.9% in the first quarter, in part because of the low base effect of last year but also driven by strong exports and imports as major trading partners continued to reopen.
That, however, missed market forecast growth of 6.0% for the annual reading.
The result would be no surprise for the BOK, which is expected to be the first Asian central bank to raise interest rates from pandemic-era lows, as growth and inflation return.
But economists see the pace of growth slowing in the third quarter as the government brought in its toughest coronavirus restrictions yet to contain the worst outbreak in the country.
While exports surged 22.4% on-year, they declined 2.0% from the previous quarter and became a net drag on economic output in the second quarter, suggesting growth may plateau in the months ahead.
“We record exports in volume terms, not in terms of value, which should help explain the slight decline in exports, as export prices have been increasing quite a lot. Also, a shortage of chips for cars also dragged production,” said Park Yang-su, head of statistics department at the BOK.
SK Hynix, the world’s second-biggest memory chipmaker, on Tuesday reported the highest quarterly profit since the end of 2018, while Korean steelmaker POSCO posted its highest ever quarterly profit last week.
The main driver of growth in the second quarter was private consumption and government expenditure, which rose 3.5% and 3.9%, respectively, on-quarter.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said in a Facebook post on Tuesday the government will soon release measures to boost consumption to help those hit by the latest virus curbs, using the 34.9 trillion won ($30.36 billion) extra budget spending earmarked for pandemic relief packages.
Still, some economists are lowering their growth projection for the country.
“Given that growth was not as strong as we had expected, we are lowering our forecast for the year as a whole to 4.3%, from 5% previously,” said Alex Holmes, an economist at Capital Economics.
“We don’t think there was anything in the figures that would persuade the BOK to delay the timing of its first rate hike. We are sticking with our non-consensus view of a move in late-August.”
($1 = 1,149.6500 won)
(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Exclusive-BHP delivers final offer to workers at Chile’s Escondida copper mine -memo

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FILE PHOTO: A worker from BHP Billiton’s Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, is pictured inside a copper cathodes plant in Antofagasta, Chile March 31, 2008. Picture taken March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo July 27, 2021
By Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO (Reuters) -Labor contract negotiation at Chile’s Escondida mine, the world’s largest copper deposit, entered into a critical phase on Monday with the delivery of a final offer by operator BHP, according to an internal memo sent by the company to workers and seen by Reuters.
Negotiations over the past two months between the company and its powerful workers’ union over a new labor contract have been conducted in utmost secrecy, against a backdrop of record high metal prices amid expectations of a gradual global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The outcome of the talks is awaited anxiously by the market because of their benchmark status for the industry and an earlier threat by the union of a strike that would constrict already tight global copper supplies and send prices still higher.
“The offer that the company proposes improves on the current contract and incorporates new benefits in areas highly valued by workers, such as performance bonuses, health and well-being packages and career development opportunities, among others,” BHP’s statement read.
Neither the company nor the union responded to requests for comment on the progress of the talks.
BHP said in its communique that the proposal represented its “final offer.”
As per local legislation, the union has to submit any offer by the company to a vote by its more than 2,300 members before the present offer expires on Aug. 1.
In most local contract negotiations in the sector, the final offer by companies is rejected pending further government-mediated talks of five to 10 days’ duration. After that, if no agreement is reached, workers are within their legal rights to strike.
At Escondida, memories remain fresh of the historic 44-day stoppage in 2017 that jolted global copper markets and slowed Chile’s economic growth.
Before negotiations started this year, the union leadership told Reuters it would enter discussions with an open mind and disposition to dialogue, but warned that if BHP did not do the same, it had the solid base, funds and experience to lead its members into a strike equivalent to or longer than the one in 2017.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

Trial of first person charged under Hong Kong security law

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FILE PHOTO: Supporters bid farewell to a prison van transporting Tong Ying-kit, a Hong Kong resident charged under the city’s new national security law, who has been denied bail again in Hong Kong, China, August 25, 2020. REUTERS/Lam Yik July 27, 2021
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Three Hong Kong judges are expected to deliver their verdict on Tuesday in the trial of the first person charged under the national security law.
Here is a timeline of events in this landmark case.
July 1, 2020 – Tong Ying-kit, now 24, is arrested shortly after the enactment of the national security law, which punishes what China deems as subversion, secessionism, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Police say Tong, a former waiter, drove his motorcycle into three riot police, injuring them, while carrying a black flag reading “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times,” in the Wanchai district of Hong Kong island. Thousands of protesters had gathered in several districts on Hong Kong island that day to oppose the national security law, leading to several hundred arrests.
July 2, 2020 – The Hong Kong government says the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” made popular during mass 2019 pro-democracy protests, connotes “Hong Kong independence” or “subverting state power”.
July 3, 2020 – Hours after the government’s statement, Tong is charged with terrorism and inciting separatism under the national security law.
July 6, 2020 – A Hong Kong court denies bail to Tong, citing Article 42 of the national security law, which states that “No bail shall be granted to a criminal suspect or defendant unless the judge has sufficient grounds for believing that the criminal suspect or defendant will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.”
Aug. 21, 2020 – Two judges, Anderson Chow and Alex Lee, of Hong Kong’s High Court reject Tong’s writ for habeas corpus, which determines whether detention is lawful, saying he should have instead sought a review of an order to deny him bail.
Aug. 25, 2020 – Hong Kong High Court judge Alex Lee rejects Tong’s new bail application.
Feb 5, 2021 – Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng issues a certificate, or order, that Tong’s trial will be heard by three judges appointed for national security cases, instead of a jury, citing “the personal safety of jurors and their family members”. She adds that there is a “real risk” that justice might be impaired if a jury trial were allowed.
Tong later files for a judicial review of the decision.
May 20, 2021 – Judge Alex Lee, with the Court of First Instance of the High Court, rejects the judicial review application, saying in a written judgement “there is nothing inherently unreasonable in directing a trial by a panel of three judges sitting without a jury, when there is a perceived risk of the personal safety of jurors and their family members or that due administration of justice might be impaired”.
June 22, 2021 – Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal judges Jeremy Poon, Wally Yeung and Johnson Lam uphold decision to deny trial by jury.
June 23, 2021 – Tong’s trial begins and he pleads not guilty to all charges, including a new, alternative charge of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm, which can lead to up to seven years in prison.
July 20, 2021 – Tong’s trial ends after weeks of debate focusing mainly on the meaning of the slogan on his flag.
July 27, 2021 – Judges Esther Toh, Anthea Pang and Wilson Chan are expected to give their verdict.
(Compiled by Marius Zaharia. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush for Texas AG

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President Donald Trump on Monday night announced that he would endorse Ken Paxton in the race for Texas Attorney General over George P. Bush, the son of former presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.Trump said Paxton, who is currently serving as the state’s AG, has been fighting for Americans against both the “radical left” and “unsuspecting RINOs (Republicans in name only)” who are “destroying” the country. He also cited Paxton’s approach to crime, border security, election integrity and the Second Amendment as reasons behind his endorsement decision.”It is going to take a PATRIOT like Ken Paxton to advance America First policies in order to Make America Great Again,” Trump said. “Ken has my Complete and Total Endorsement for another term as Attorney General of Texas. He is a true Texan who will keep Texas safe—and will never let you down!”Paxton said he was honored to receive the endorsement.GEORGE P. BUSH ANNOUNCES RUN FOR TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERALAs previously reported by Fox News, Bush announced he would run for the position in June, saying at the time that Paxton had brought too much “scandal and too little integrity” to the office.Paxton, a Republican, is facing trial for securities fraud and is also involved in a separate FBI investigation.Bush, who will challenge Paxton in a primary, said Texans deserved an AG that was above reproach.In his announcement, Bush played off of the former president’s appeal among residents when he said Trump was “absolutely right” when he wanted to “drain the swamp” because there is too much corruption in Washington, D.C.In 2019, Trump called George P. Bush “the only Bush that likes me.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPOn Monday night, Bush doubled down on his criticism of Paxton in a Twitter post, where he said he was running for the post because Texans deserve a candidate “without a laundry list of existing and potential criminal indictments.”Bush is the grandson of George H.W. Bush and nephew of George W. Bush. He is the last member of the family holding public office.

Joe Manchin Just Blew Up Rationale for Republicans to Cut an Infrastructure Deal

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Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) removes his mask to speak on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 1, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

I’ve repeatedly written about how ridiculous and counterproductive it is for a group of Republicans to be negotiating a bipartisan deal on infrastructure with a Democratic Party that is racing to spend $4.1 trillion. But one argument that defenders of the negotiations have been making to conservatives is that if Republicans agree on a bipartisan deal, moderates such as Senator Joe Manchin will be more likely to oppose the larger Democrats-only $3.5 trillion bill crammed with liberal priorities. But now even that flimsy argument has blown up.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports the following on Manchin pushing for bipartisan talks to continue:

Manchin also pushed back at suggestion that it’s time to pass the $3.5T budget plan if the $1.2 trillion bipartisan deal falls apart.
“I would say that if the bipartisan infrastructure bill falls apart, everything falls apart.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 26, 2021

Get that? “If the bipartisan infrastructure bill falls apart, everything falls apart.”

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Far from supporting the theory that a bipartisan deal would dissuade Manchin from supporting the bigger bill, Manchin is making it clear that he thinks agreeing to a bipartisan deal is a critical part of passing the combined spending package. Were it to fall apart, instead of breaking the massive agenda into several smaller parts that may be digestible, moderates will have to consider swallowing a massive $4.1 trillion bill. Additionally, the process would no longer have any bipartisan cover.
So make no mistake. Any Republican that votes for the bipartisan charade is greasing the wheels for Democrats to ram through their entire agenda — on climate; expanding Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare; subsidizing college and childcare; and a host of other liberal priorities.
(Note: The $1.2 trillion includes existing spending on infrastructure plus an additional $600 billion in new spending. My $4.1 trillion figure only includes the new spending).

Olympics-Athletics-Who can fill the ‘Bolt-hole’?

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FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics – Athletics – Final – Men’s 200m Final – Olympic Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 18/08/2016. Usain Bolt (JAM) of Jamaica celebrates after winning gold. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo July 27, 2021
By Mitch Phillips
TOKYO (Reuters) – Usain Bolt bestrode athletics as a colossus for a decade but his retirement in 2017 left a massive publicity void the sport has struggled to fill, despite a succession of amazing performances by a string of richly-talented athletes.
Bolt’s combination of incredible speed, big-race delivery and joyous personality helped ensure athletics maintained its position as the number one sport of the Olympics, with the 100 metres, which the Jamaican won three times alongside three 200m golds, the absolute blue riband event of every Games.
Replacing him as such a crowd and sponsor-pleasing draw was always going to be a tough, possibly impossible, challenge as athletics fights an increasingly difficult battle for TV ratings.
The sport has always had a slightly uncomfortable internal relationship between track and field, with the runners generally hogging the limelight while the throwers, jumpers and vaulters battle for recognition, in every sense.
At his peak Bolt was probably the world’s most recognisable sportsperson and certainly one of the most marketable. In contrast, the two 2020 Athletes of the year were Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas.
Both had magnificent, world-record breaking seasons and are massive names in their homelands but, partly because of the “second-fiddle” nature of their events, their names remain largely unknown to the general public.
There is a similar challenge with the marathon, where Eliud Kipchoge is undoubtedly at the same level as Bolt in terms of domination of an iconic event.
His breaking of the two-hour barrier, albeit “unofficial”, put him on the front pages in 2019 and the world record holder will certainly be big news when he defends his Olympic title in Sapporo. Yet, the marathon remains something of an event for purists and though Kipchoge is a humble, thoughtful and articulate man, his wider profile remains relatively modest.
There is no getting away from the fact that sprints remain the biggest draw and World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee must have been rubbing their hands together in glee at the emergence of Sha’Carri Richardson.
Flamboyant, confident, outspoken on social media and hugely talented, the 21-year-old American blew through the sport this year in a whirlwind of blue hair and nails and looked set to be the focus of a thousand camera lenses in Tokyo, only to incur a ban for smoking marijuana during the U.S. trials last month.
Also watching from home in the States will be the reigning 100m world champion Christian Coleman, banned for 18 months after missing three drugs tests.
GOOD NEWS
The good news for the TV companies and their potential audiences is that there will still be plenty of other great athletes on the start line in Tokyo.
Trayvon Bromell looks a hot favourite to take the 100 metres title back to America for the first time since 2004, while compatriot Noah Lyles is hoping to displace Bolt in the 200m.
On the women’s side, Shelly-Anne Fraser Pryce, who won 100m gold in 2008 and 2012, somehow finds herself favourite to complete a hat-trick at the age of 34 after posting a lifetime best 10.63 seconds last month, a time beaten only by the late Florence Griffiths Joyner.
American Allyson Felix goes in the 400m seeking a 10th Olympic medal – and seventh gold – as she appears in her fifth Games at the age of 35.
Norway’s Karsten Warholm runs every 400m hurdles race as if he is trying to break the world record and last month he finally did. In the women’s event, Sydney McLaughlin also set a world record last month and her duel with compatriot Dalilah Muhammad, whose record she took, could be one of the Tokyo highlights.
It is a similar situation in the women’s 10,000 metres, where Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia and Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan both broke the world record within three days of each other in June.
Ethiopia-born Hassan is contemplating a seemingly crazy “Tokyo Triple” of 10,000m, 5,000m and 1,500m, an achievement that would earn her a place at the all-time top table of Olympic athletics, where Bolt would, no doubt graciously, shuffle over to make room.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)

Oympics-Triathlon-Dominant Duffy wins famous gold for Bermuda

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Triathlon – Women’s Olympic Distance – Final – Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo, Japan July 27, 2021. Flora Duffy of Bermuda celebrates victory. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay July 27, 2021
By Mitch Phillips
TOKYO (Reuters) -Flora Duffy achieved instant national hero status when she won Bermuda’s first-ever Olympic gold medal on Tuesday after delivering a dominant run leg for an emphatic victory in the women’s triathlon on a stormy Tokyo course.
Duffy, 33, was part of a group of seven who broke clear at the start of the 40km bike but then stamped her authority on the race with a fantastic performance over the 10km run to finish in one hour, 53.36 minutes.
Briton Georgia Taylor-Brown overcame a flat tyre near the end of the bike leg to chase back strongly and finish second, 74 seconds behind, bagging another silver for Britain after Alex Yee’s in the men’s race on Monday.
Katie Zaferes, world champion in 2019, won bronze for the United States.
The victory, in her fourth Olympics, caps a wonderful career for Duffy, as she becomes her country’s second Olympic medallist after Clarence Hill took a heavyweight boxing bronze in 1976.
Duffy hailed the victory as “an incredible moment” and as Bermuda became the least populous nation to win a summer Olympic gold, its Premier David Burt sent his congratulations over Twitter, saying: “You’ve worked so hard and you’ve made an entire island proud!”
A storm with high winds forced a 15-minute delay to the race start but conditions settled a little once they were underway at 6:45 a.m. (2145 GMT)
Duffy was part of a group who exited the 1,500 metre swim closely together and got a jump on the main field.
That group slimmed to five, and built the gap to a commanding 80 seconds, though the unfortunate Taylor-Brown lost 22 seconds on the final lap as a flat tyre meant she had to negotiate every slippery turn almost at a standstill.
Duffy flew through transition and, with Zaferes, opened an instant lead at the start of the run.
By halfway Duffy had forged 50m clear and a fired-up Taylor-Brown overhauled Zaferes at the end of the third lap.
“The first lap of the run was panic mode,” said the Briton. “I think I definitely paid for it in the latter part of the run but it paid off.”
She was never going to catch Duffy, however, and the Bermudan enjoyed every moment of her triumphant charge down the finishing blue carpet, clenching her fists in joy and celebration.
Looking almost as happy was 39-year-old mother-of-three Nicola Spirig, the 2012 champion and 2016 runner up, who ran superbly to take sixth place in her fifth Olympics.
The final triathlon event is the inaugural mixed relay on Saturday.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Global growth to stay strong but virus the top risk, say economists

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A medical staff in protective suit works at a nucleic acid testing laboratory of Nanjing First Hospital following a citywide mass testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China July 24, 2021. cnsphoto via REUTERS July 27, 2021
By Shrutee Sarkar
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Global economic growth prospects are holding strong for this year and next, despite a significant majority of economists in Reuters polls warning new variants of the coronavirus pose the biggest risk to that outlook.
A global survey of nearly 500 economists taken this month also concluded recent rising inflation in key economies around the world would be transitory.
The global economy was now forecast to expand a sizzling 6.0% this year, which would be its fastest in nearly half a century, followed by a still-robust 4.5% in 2022. Both were marginal increases from the April poll.
Slightly more than half the 48 economies polled on each quarter were upgraded for both years.
But a surge in the latest variant of the virus, which has kept the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics an event without spectators, is a reminder vaccinations may have improved but the pandemic has not gone away.
“In recent weeks, financial markets have caught up to the idea that the COVID crisis is not entirely over. The Delta variant adds to the challenge, raising the number of cases and the threshold for herd immunity,” said Ethan Harris, global economist at Bank of America Securities.
“Overall, we see the Delta surge as a moderate headwind to global growth, but as new information comes in, we can be persuaded otherwise.”
Financial markets are on edge ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting this week, where policymakers are grappling with increased coronavirus infections and a disrupted global supply chain that could induce more price pressures.
As for risks to the global economy, nearly 80% of economists, or 160 of 202 responding to an extra question, said the biggest was a spread of new coronavirus variants.
Over 70% of economists, or 152 of 209, said the current uptrend in global inflation was transitory.
But respondents upgraded their 2021 inflation forecasts for 35 of 48 economies polled on and 31 of them for next year. At the same time, there were 29 economies with growth upgrades for this year and 26 for next, suggesting some price stickiness.
“What makes market pricing in the U.S. more instructive is that they clearly rate the (Fed’s) policy willingness to look through higher inflation as being credible. This is at a time when U.S. inflation has surprised to the upside again, and is leading a spate of upside surprises across DMs and some EMs,” said Christian Keller, head of economics research at Barclays.
While economists expected the Fed to end its bond-buying program by end-2022, with a few more analysts now predicting a rate hike as early as next year, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England were predicted to keep policy unchanged through to the end of next year. [ECILT/US][ECILT/GB][ECILT/JP]
The European Central Bank, meanwhile, will start tapering its pandemic-related asset purchases sometime after its September meeting and stop buying them by the end of March. [ECILT/EU]
While developed economies have handled the pandemic with massive vaccination drives, emerging ones are still dealing with shortages of doses.
“Vaccination remains the key,” noted Vishwanath Tirupattur, strategist at Morgan Stanley. “Risks remain elevated in countries with low vaccine penetration, especially in South and South East Asia, Africa and other EM economies.”
In China, the world’s second biggest economy, economic growth likely slowed sharply to 8.1% in the second quarter from a record 18.3% in January-March as new COVID-19 outbreaks have weighed on consumer spending.
Economists expected Australia’s resource-heavy economy to take a hit this quarter from renewed lockdown restrictions and India’s economic rebound was also predicted to lose momentum. [ECILT/AU][ECILT/IN]
Brazil’s economy was forecast to extend its “jobless recovery” after this year’s inflation surge, while prospects for growth in Mexico looked brighter. [ECILT/LTAM]
How labour markets recover or adapt effectively once government support schemes lapse will also be key in coming months to both the growth and inflation outlook.
Jobless rates were broadly expected to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels in coming years, including in the United States where the pace of hiring has been very strong in recent months.
According to Michael Every, global strategist at Rabobank, “a weak, atomized global labour market acts as a huge structural headwind to sustained wage inflation, and thus to sustained inflation in general.”
(For other stories from the Reuters global long-term economic outlook polls package:)
(Reporting by Shrutee Sarkar; Analysis by Indradip Ghosh; Polling and additional reporting by the Reuters Polls team in Bengaluru and bureaus in Shanghai, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, Johannesburg, and Buenos Aires; Editing by Ross Finley and Steve Orlofsky)

‘Bennifer’ Booty Call Leads Hollywood’s Summer of PDA

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Common sense suggests it’s never a good idea to get back with an ex, but if you must, be like Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, locking lips on a yacht on the French Riviera, using your PDA as a thinly-veiled advertisement for J.Lo’s superhuman abs. The pair, affectionately known as Bennifer, have been together for months, but broke through the summer news doldrums to become Instagram official this weekend, which also happened to be J.Lo’s 52nd birthday.Affleck was later snapped rubbing J.Lo’s bum while she lounged on a yacht. It was a tableau reminiscent of a scene from J.Lo’s “Jenny from the Block” music video, filmed in 2002. They are far from the only couple back indulging in the time-honored celebrity ritual of PDA. After a year of presumably quarantined makeouts, the rich and famous are bravely back to sucking face. Hollywood, and its satellite locations like the South of France and the VIP section of the NBA final games, currently looks a lot like a high school prom night. Tongue kissing, everywhere.There are make out fiends like Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly, who just “can’t stop the PDA,” per a Page Six headline. He grabbed her breast backstage at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, and they sucked face after getting pulled over in LA for riding on a motorcycle with no helmets. Both of their Instagrams have become a deluge of face-licking photos, a genre of PDA they have pioneered.“Loving him is like being in love with a tsunami or a forest fire,” Fox told Nylon, which sounds very stressful but best of luck to the happy couple.They are in good—or at least enthusiastic—company: Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker are well acquainted with the descriptor tabloid “steamy” when it comes to their PDA. They were recently “too busy making out” to talk to fans who attempted to interrupt their beachside sweet nothings.”Several wedding guests wanted a chance to talk to the couple, but the lovebirds looked happy and started to make out,” an “eyewitness” told E! news. “They exited the patio area they were in and held hands while walking toward the beach.”It’s all in a day’s work for the pair, who have also been spotted kissing at a UFC fight (romantic), in a recording studio, an outdoor concert, and in the middle of a desert. Barker’s ex Shana Moakler told People she thinks their PDA is “weird,” but you just can’t get in between these two. Barker celebrated Kardashian’s birthday by posting a video of her sucking his thumb, because romance is not dead!Even Zendaya and Tom Holland, who have skirted rumors of their coupling for years, were recently spotted making out in Holland’s Audi. Page Six, which first published the pictures, helpfully noted that Holland’s ride cost $125,000. Nothing like that new car smell to get you in the mood.Rihanna, another celebrity prone to her secrecy, also just went public with A$AP Rocky, spending a “kissing-filled night” last month at an arcade bar in New York. Rihanna wore a fluffy, baby pink bucket hat and matching slip dress, as one does, for the occasion.And Morgan Brown, girlfriend of Gerard Butler, was scene straddling him on the beach while she rubbed his back. Meanwhile Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson—and Aaron’s positively insane abs–hung out in the sand nearby.Of course, all of this falls in the shadows of Taika Waititi, Rita Ora, and Tessa Thompson’s well-documented threeway kiss/rendezvous, which seemed to officially kick off Hollywood’s celebratory, post-vaccine “Slutty Girl Summer.” When the novel coronavirus was first reported on December 31, 2019, no one would have understood what the previous sentence meant. But yet here we are.One noted abstainer: Katie Holmes, who was once dubbed the “queen of public makeouts” by Page Six, for her pandemic habit of smooching ex Emilio Vitolo Jr. at every possible moment. But the couple split up earlier this year, and the actress has enjoyed a solitary girl summer. She was recently spotted walking the New York streets in a cut-out skirt and toting an iced coffee on one occasion and buying herself flowers on another.This month, The New York Times reported that the non-famous among us are also locking lips. “Starved for PDA, some are taking New York’s reopening as a cue to start ‘swallowing each other’s faces,’” the paper of record reported.It makes sense: masks are off (for now) and the physical touch isn’t as outlawed as it used to be. This, of course, all as the ultra-contagious Delta variant surges in the United States and threatens our tepid “return to normal.” So potential smoochers everywhere, what are you waiting for? Make like Bennifer and get at it while you still can.

Expect State and Federal Employee Vaccine Mandates to Stand

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Walmart pharmacist Carmine Pascarella administers a Moderna coronavirus vaccine to Jeff Stone inside a Walmart department store in West Haven, Conn., February 17, 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Our Brittany Bernstein reports on the beginning of what is sure to become a trend as the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads: state and federal mandates requiring public employees to get vaccinated. It is inevitable that these mandates will be challenged in court.
Expect them to be upheld. To understand why, consider a decision I wrote about last week — a federal district court’s sustaining of Indiana University’s vaccination mandate for students.
Judge Damon Leichty, a Trump appointee, reasoned that the university, which is public, is thereby an arm of the state. This is significant because it puts the university, vis-à-vis its students, in a position analogous to a public agency (whether federal or state) vis-à-vis its employees. If Judge Leichty is correct that the university has the discretion to impose a vaccine mandate, notwithstanding the students’ recognized interests in bodily integrity and medical privacy, it follows that government agencies would have it as well.
Here’s how I summarized Leichty’s reasoning:
In finding that the university had a wide berth to require vaccinations, Judge Leichty relied heavily on the Supreme Court’s 1905 decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which upheld a smallpox-vaccine mandate (under which those who refused to comply were fined $5 — about $140 in today’s dollars), finding that states have a critical interest in protecting the public from potentially deadly infectious diseases. . . . In the ensuing decades, Jacobson has been relied on several times by higher courts, including the Supreme Court, to justify vaccine requirements and other public-health mandates.
Leichty conceded that a number of prominent jurists, including Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, have suggested that too much weight has been given to Jacobson and cautioned that it should not be considered the last word on state power to infringe on individual rights. As if to prove this very point, the Supreme Court late last year ruled, in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, that New York’s severe coronavirus restrictions on attendance at religious services violated the First Amendment’s free-exercise clause. The state had rationalized its restrictions as necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Nevertheless, Judge Leichty distinguished Cuomo from Jacobson because, as the Court explained in the former, free exercise is unquestionably a fundamental right, and therefore New York had a higher burden (which it failed to meet) to justify restrictions and, importantly, to refrain from discriminating against religious institutions by imposing burdens more onerous than it imposes on commercial and other activities.
In deciding Cuomo, the Court did not overrule Jacobson. Leichty thus reasoned that the two precedents can coexist because they apply to different situations, implicating different rights. Given that Jacobson is still the law with respect to the narrow situation it addresses — namely, a vaccination requirement to halt the spread of an infectious disease (albeit one considerably more deadly than COVID-19) — Leichty, as a lower-court judge, was bound to follow it.
This is persuasive. One needn’t be a fan of mandates to grasp that lower-court judges are required to apply Supreme Court precedents, regardless of whether they agree with those precedents. Significantly, Leichty observed that the university’s mandate included exemptions for students who objected based on religious or medical reasons. If the vaccine mandates for state and federal employees include similar exemptions, they should be sustained by the courts. If they don’t, the government agencies would be inviting the more exacting scrutiny of the Supreme Court’s Cuomo ruling, and all bets are off.

Unless the Supreme Court reconsiders Jacobson, vaccine mandates are going to be upheld. I wouldn’t hold my breath on such a reconsideration. Our history with crises is that the Court gives the political branches, especially the executive, wide latitude to deal with them while the crisis is happening. When the pendulum swings in favor of individual rights, that tends to happen when the crisis is over — setting norms for future crises.

To be clear, I am not arguing against vaccine mandates. I have doubts about them so long as the government has given the vaccines only emergency authorization, but I am predisposed to accept the discretion of elected governments and private employers to require them (with appropriate exemptions). My point here is to assess what the courts are likely to do, irrespective of whether I agree or disagree.

Thoughts on Patriotism and the Olympic Games

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Can you imagine what would happen to an Olympic athlete from China or North Korea if he or she decided to protest their national flag at a medal ceremony? That would likely be the last thing that person did as a free human being. That’s another reason why I appreciate the freedoms we have here in America. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that I have to like such protests at the Olympics. In point of fact, I don’t. That’s part of my freedom as an American, too. I can dislike such protests and I can say so openly.The fact is, the Olympics are the only sports event that can truly be called international, even more so than the World Cup in soccer (or, as the rest of the world calls it, football). That’s because every nation can send athletes to compete, and more nations are represented in the Olympics than in any other sporting games.And, in contrast with, say, the World Cup in soccer where the poorer teams are quickly eliminated, in the Olympics, even the smallest country might take home a medal, even if it’s a bronze medal.To this day, in countries like Israel, which are not known for sports, a single medal is a cause for celebration. And when the medal is won, the headlines announce, “Israel wins a silver medal!” Or, “Tunisia takes gold!” The athletes name is a subheading to the story. It is the country’s victory that is announced.Even the US women’s basketball players, well-known for not coming onto the basketball court during the playing of the national anthem during their regular WNBA season, have decided to stay on the floor during the anthem.As explained by four-time Olympic medalist Sue Bird, “You are wearing USA jerseys and it does change the conversation a little bit and what you’re representing. With that, I don’t feel like a hypocrite in any way. Everyone knows where we stand. I don’t think it contradicts anything since we’re actually doing the work.”Again, just look at the Medal Tracker on your favorite sports site during and after the Olympics. What do you see? Today, as I write, it reads, “Total Medals by Country: China, 18; USA 14; Japan, 13.” Then, the specifics: “Gold Medals by Country: Japan, 8; USA, 7; China, 6.”Then the silver medals, then the bronze medals, all listed by country. Not a single athlete is named or mention. This is all about national prowess in sports.Decades back, during the days of the Soviet Union, the competition with America was not just fierce. It was ideological. Which nation can produce better athletes? Which country has better sports programs? Which way of life is more conducive to athletic excellence?And when East Germany, so small when compared to the larger countries of the world, began to win a disproportionate number of medals, that, too, was lauded as further testimony to the superiority of communism. At least, until the massive doping scandals were revealed, after which all those accomplishments were drowned in shame.To this day, though, that sense of competition exists when it comes to China vs the USA. Can our freewheeling, capitalistic, independent system beat their super-structured, at times compulsory system?These sentiments may not be expressed openly (although I certainly remember hearing them as a boy when it came to America vs. the Soviet Union), but they are there under the surface. (Do you really think such sentiments are not expressed in China, especially at the highest levels? A triumph over America at the Olympics is an ideological triumph too.)And that’s why, every four years, we put aside our minor quibbles and root for our national team. That’s why, as much as we face up to our own challenges in America, during the games, we’re happy to chant, “USA! USA! USA!”It becomes more difficult, though, when we’re aware that some of our athletes despise what our flag stands for. Or if we’re wondering what they’ll do if they medal and get to the platform. Should we be proud of their stunning athletic accomplishment or should we cringe?
Again, these athletes are free to protest 24/7 in America or wherever they like. That’s part of the beauty of being American. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.And so, as much as I appreciate the past gold medals won by the women’s soccer team, I have mixed feelings about them when they play. Will their next victory be the opportunity for them to make a strong lesbian statement, as in a very public kiss with a partner? Or will they send some other kind of political message?I do appreciate the courage of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised a black fist in protest in the 1968 games in Mexico. And I recognize that this took place just months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. I also recognize that America then was very different than America today. (Indeed, these two men paid dearly for their actions, both in the public square and professionally. In my opinion, the punishment was far too severe.)And I am hardly one who refrains from criticizing America’s many weaknesses and sins, to this very day. But there’s a time and a place for everything. And I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that, for just a few days, we could join together and cheer on our athletes who, in turn, will feel proud to be Americans. Is this too much to ask?

Why the Left Can't Let Go of Jan. 6

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To understand what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee investigation of the Capitol Hill events of Jan. 6 is all about, a good place to begin is with the sentencing hearing last week of Paul Hodgkins.A crane operator from Tampa, Florida, Hodgkins, 38, pleaded guilty to a single count of obstructing a joint session of Congress called to confirm Joe Biden as the next president.Hodgkins entered the Senate chamber carrying a Trump 2020 flag. He committed no assault, no act of destruction, no act of violence. Yet, he was sentenced to eight months in prison by U.S. Judge Randolph Moss.Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky argued for a sentence of twice that length, a year and a half, because, as she told the judge, “Jan. 6 was genuinely an act of terrorism.”But is that true? Was Jan. 6 “an act of terrorism” — of the character if not the magnitude, say, of the Oklahoma City bombing?Hodgkins’ attorney vigorously rejected that depiction. To call Jan. 6 “domestic terrorism,” said Patrick Leduc, is “offensive and gaslighting the country … It was a protest that became a riot, period, full stop.”Leduc is correct: Jan. 6th was a riot. Had it truly been “domestic terrorism,” as the U.S. attorney claimed, why would she have accepted a guilty plea for a single nonviolent offense?Why did she not throw the book at the terrorist?Looking back, what was Jan. 6 in reality?A huge pro-Trump demonstration of tens of thousands, out of which a mob of hundreds moved on the Capitol, broke police lines, assaulted cops, rampaged and disrupted an official proceeding.All in all, a shameful disgrace. But 1/6 was not 9/11 or Oklahoma City or Pearl Harbor or the Pulse nightclub or the Las Vegas massacre.Why is it being hyped like this? Why will the establishment not let go of Jan. 6? Why, half a year on, does it remain an obsession of regime media?The hype never ends. Daily, we hear establishment politicians and press paint it up as the most awful day in America’s history.It was, we are told, an “armed insurrection,” “domestic terrorism,” an attempted “coup,” “an act of treason,” “the worst attack on American democracy since the British burned the Capitol in 1814.”Why did Pelosi recoil from and reject two of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks for her select committee — Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio?Because the deck is stacked, the fix is in. Pelosi’s committee has been crafted to bring in a third impeachment of Donald Trump and the GOP for posing the greatest threat to American democracy since Fort Sumter.Issues, arguments and questions Banks and Jordan would have raised would have been off-script and interrupted the agreed-upon narrative.Indeed, of whom does the select committee consist as it opens its hearings today?Every Democrat of the committee has voted to impeach Trump for Jan. 6. Both of the Republicans Pelosi put on the committee to provide bipartisan balance — Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger — voted to impeach Trump last January and are the two ranking anti-Trump Republicans on Capitol Hill.Pelosi has impaneled a jury to try Trump and the GOP for insurrection, every one of whose members has already indicated they believe that Jan. 6 is a historic crime and Trump is guilty.Why are Pelosi and the regime media doing everything to keep Jan. 6 alive? What are the stakes involved?As of today, Jan. 6 is the biggest and last best stick the Democrats have for retaining control of Congress in 2022.For if that election is not about the worst day for the GOP of the Trump years, it is going to be about the successes and failures of the first two Biden years.
And what, as of today, look to be the issues of 2022?That election will be about the worst outbreak of inflation in a quarter-century to hit the U.S. economy. It will be about Biden’s having presided over a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, after having declared on July 4, 2021, our independence of the virus.It will be about the largest invasion of illegals across America’s southern border in the history of the republic — 2 million a year in 2021 and again in 2022, with 300,000 of these “gotaways” who evaded any contact with the Border Patrol.Among the 4 million anticipated illegals in Biden’s first two years are child molesters, drug dealers and unvaccinated carriers of COVID-19.The election of 2022 will also be about a wave of shootings, woundings, killings and gun crimes in our greatest cities that have long been governed by liberal Democrats.The Democratic establishment and its media arm have a vital interest in hyping Jan. 6 and not letting go of it. For Jan. 6, 2021, is their last best hope for holding power after Nov. 8, 2022.Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.COPYRIGHT 2021 CREATORS.COM

The Media Produces Derangement: Proof From New York Times Readers

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This past weekend, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd added another column to the myriad irrational and hysterical pieces about the “existential threat” climate change allegedly poses to human life.As I do after almost every piece I read on the internet, I read comments submitted by readers.One provided me with an epiphany.It was a comment submitted by New York Times reader “Sophia” of Bangor, Maine:”I have one child, a daughter, who told me age 8 that she would never have a child because of global warming. She’s now 34 and has never changed her mind. So I will not experience a grandchild. For her wisdom, I am grateful. I would be heartsick if I did have a grandchild who would have to experience the onslaught of changing climate.”It is hard to imagine greater proof than that comment of the power of mass media and of the left. That a normal woman would celebrate her daughter’s choice not to be a mother and not to make her a grandmother can only be described as deranged. No normal-thinking human being would think that way. Jews had children during the Holocaust and made sure to have children if they survived the Holocaust.Does this deranged woman know how few people are dying due to weather-related incidents in the era of global warming?Danish statistician and economist Bjorn Lomborg noted this past week:”Over the past hundred years, annual climate-related deaths have declined by more than 96%. In the 1920s, the death count from climate-related disasters was 485,000 on average every year. In the last full decade, 2010-2019, the average was 18,362 dead per year, or 96.2% lower.”In the first year of the new decade, 2020, the number of dead was even lower at 14,893 — 97% lower than the 1920s average …”The preliminary estimate of 2021 climate-related deaths (is) 5,569 or 98.9% lower than the 1920s …”The newest Lancet study of heat and cold deaths show(s) that cold ‘vastly’ outweigh heat, and that climate actually has dramatically lowered (the number of) total death(s) … “Of course, none of that matters to Sophia — because she relies on The New York Times (and probably NPR and CNN) for her understanding of the world.For more proof of how deranged many New York Times readers — and Washington Post readers, CNN viewers and NPR listeners — are because they rely on these sources for what they believe about the world, here are some replies to Sophia’s comment from other New York Times readers:B. Rothman, New York City: “I completely agree. I have 6 grandchildren and weep inside for the calamitous life that is ahead for them.”Ida Martinac, Berkeley, California: “I weep with you, Sophia. Whenever I look my 11 year old daughter in the eyes I feel so many emotions: guilt for bringing her into this dying world.”Liberal, Texas: “I feel your pain. I have 2 sons. Neither one will have children and their partners agree. I’ll never have grandchildren. But I also realize that their decisions have in some way been molded by me. I am proud of their decision.”Liz, Portland: “Frankly, as someone who has been concerned about climate change, and observing what is happening over the last ten years with real dread, I do not understand why anyone in the last ten years would voluntarily have a child.”CC, Sonoma, California: “My only daughter shares your daughter’s feelings. I will have no grandchildren. As I watch my peers enjoying their final years surrounded by grandchildren, I can’t help feeling a little jealous. At the same time … our daughters are stepping up to the challenge. I’m proud of them.”Marisa Leaf, Brooklyn, New York: “I, too, am coming to terms and accepting that my 36 year old son will not have a child as well — for stated reasons. It is painful for me when I watch other young men and women his age going about town with their children. But I understand, and concur, on an intellectual level, that of course they’re right. Bringing more children into the world these days is an existential worry. And irresponsible. So, as I grieve for our planet, I also grieve for the grandchildren that I will never have.”What do all these deranged reactions have in common? How could so many people living in the healthiest, wealthiest society in human history welcome not having grandchildren?
The answer is they have been brainwashed by the media (and college). They have read and heard nothing — absolutely nothing — by scientists and scholars (such as Steve Koonin of NYU, Richard Lindzen of MIT or William Happer of Princeton, to name just three) who have studied climate change and found the hysteria morally as well as scientifically indefensible. It is not possible to live a life insulated from left-wing ideas. But it is extraordinarily easy to lead a life insulated from all non-left-wing ideas.So, then, the epiphany I had was this: A majority of people will believe anything the mass media tell them.This is especially true of those who received a college education. Colleges teach students not to question, not think for themselves and not to think rationally.That is why many people believe the world is coming to an end; it is good not to have children or grandchildren; men give birth; Russia colluded with the Trump campaign; Israel is an apartheid state; all-black dormitories on college campuses are progressive; there should be fewer police; it is fair to women to allow biological men to compete in women’s sports; and myriad other absurdities.There is no other explanation for these deluded readers of The New York Times.However, I do agree with them on one point. I, too, support their children’s decisions not to have children. The world doesn’t need more fools.Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” was released to home entertainment nationwide on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

There's More Than Meets the Eye at a Demolition Derby

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NEW ALEXANDRIA, Pennsylvania — The scent of funnel cakes, grilled hot dogs and an ever-so-faint whiff of diesel fuel fill the air. The odd combination somehow works, adding to the excitement and anticipation as thousands of families and gearheads fill the stands surrounding the track of the local Lions Club Demolition Derby here in Westmoreland County.From the clothing to the massive, oversized tires that serve as makeshift bumpers to protect the people in the stands from an errant jalopy, nearly everything and everyone is draped in red, white and blue.Before you form a misguided stereotype, there is a lot more going on here than first meets the eye — beginning with the organization that is running it. The Lions Club began in 1917 in Chicago, founded by business leader Melvin Jones. Jones believed that members of the business community, large and small, had an obligation to address the betterment of their local communities. Like other do-goody fraternal organizations of that era, the club’s objective was to serve outside the influences of government and politics.Within three years, it went international. The club showcased its efforts at the world’s fair, made Amelia Earhart an honorary member, answered Helen Keller’s challenge to serve the blind, provided an organized baseball program for children (that led to the very first Little League baseball game, played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1939) and gave 6-year-old Stevie Wonder a drum set for Christmas.One hundred four years later, the Lions are still doing good deeds, including this demolition derby. Its proceeds will go back into the community, explains Randy Bacher, president of the New Alexandria Lions Club.”This is all about giving back and serving the community,” Bacher says. The roar of the engines of the derby cars is so constant that he has to shout, and then the siren signals the end of that round of demolition driving. “Our proceeds go to the local schools where we run the Lunchables Backpack program, which provides weekend meals and snacks for local schoolchildren. We also sponsor scholarships through the two local high schools for the community college and also help fund four local volunteer fire departments.”In turn, those same people give back by volunteering to staff the event. “They are running the stands, keeping the track clear, coordinating the parking lot and serving as ambassadors to guests,” explains Greg Oyaick, second vice president of the club.Both men are standing on the sidelines, overseeing the operation, enjoying the event and making sure everything is running smoothly.”Unfortunately, we have more volunteers than we have members of the club,” explains Bacher. They have tried 100 different ways of trying to recruit young people to join the club, he says, but nothing seems to interest them.”When we were young, we were compelled to serve,” he says. “This culture promotes this what-is-in-it-for-me attitude that doesn’t always lead to service to the community.”It is a problem many fraternal organizations across this country have encountered since the children of the 1960s Me Generation took those attitudes with them into adulthood and passed them on to the next generation.”What is going to happen to our club?” Bacher wonders out loud.In response, Oyaick asks, “What is going to happen to our communities?”The void would not only be felt at an empty track off old U.S. Route 22 on warm summer nights, but also in the lost funds that this and similar organizations provide outside of government to keep communities from fraying.Young people often cite their busy lives as reasons for not joining, yet that excuse was not used by their fathers and their fathers before them, a series of generations that joined service organizations such as the Lions Club or the Kiwanis or the Elks or the Rotary. As they diminish and their members die off, one more cultural touchstone goes with them, and one less community has its volunteer fire department funded, or a baseball field for the local kids, or lunch on a Saturday for a family experiencing food insecurity.Demolition derbies are as American as a glass of bourbon, an apple pie or the sound of a wooden bat cracking against a speeding baseball. They began around here sometime in the 1930s, as people found a use for their old tin lizzies that were rusting away in barns all across rural America.
The rules often vary, but the object remains the same. At least five (there were 25 at this event) drivers compete by intentionally ramming their vehicles into one another.”The last person standing — or I should say, still operational — is crowned the winner,” explains Oyaick.Some fans follow drivers and their cars from event to event. Some people just pick a car to win, just by the look of it, the make or even the color. There are wild cheers when a car makes it through another round, and there are even cheers of admiration when one is so beat up it has to be towed off the muddy field by a tractor.Walking through the parking lot, the variety of license plates from New York, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio provide more evidence people are looking for entertainment outside of sitting in front of a large screen in their home or hunched over a small screen elsewhere. They are looking for community and a sense of belonging.”You definitely get that here,” says Bacher. “Our challenge is to get people involved, so events like this continue to happen. I guarantee you, once you are part of a service group, you always want to be part of that. We just have to figure out how to get them in the door that first time.”If not, he says, he’s not sure what will happen to the club or the people who benefit from its volunteerism.Salena Zito is a national political reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner as well as a weekly columnist for the New York Post. She reaches the Everyman and Everywoman through shoe-leather journalism, traveling from Main Street to the beltway and all places in between. To find out more about Salena and read her past columns.

Olympics-Storm remains threat, bringing rain as it lurks off coast

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Triathlon – Women’s Olympic Distance – Final – Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Worker sduring rainy weather prepare track for competition . REUTERS/Hannah Mckay July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – A storm off Japan’s east coast remained a threat to the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, despite not battering the host city with devastating winds and rain as initially feared.
Wind and rain sweeping Tokyo Bay delayed the start of the women’s triathlon https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/triathlon-storm-delays-start-womens-race-2021-07-26 early in the morning, and the storm could threaten two medal games for softball later in the day, after organisers moved the surfing https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-weather-idCNL8N2P223Z medal events a day earlier than scheduled.
Japan’s hot, wet and unstable summer weather patterns https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-braces-storm-snarls-schedules-after-withering-heat-2021-07-25 have been a persistent concern for the Games, which opened on Friday, compounding difficulties for an Olympics being held under a COVID-19 state of emergency.
Tokyo was forecast to receive up 31.5 mm (1.2 inches) of rain over 24 hours from tropical storm Nepartak, now forecast to make landfall in the north early Wednesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It was headed toward Sendai, 370 km (230 miles) up the coast from Tokyo, according to the Tropical Storm Risk monitoring site.
Although Tokyo was spared a predicted overnight deluge, Nepartak remained a tropical storm, able to pack winds up to 118 kph (73 mph), as it meandered off Japan’s east coast, rather than weakening to a tropical depression while ploughing northwest, as earlier forecast.
The storm had earlier disrupted the schedules of rowing, archery and surfing events. The men’s triathlon went ahead on Monday.
Athletes could, however, welcome a slight respite from the extreme heat that had earlier caused an Olympic archer to collapse. Tuesday’s forecast high temperature was 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit), below recent highs of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit)
The Japanese army said it was monitoring the situation, ready to deploy its FAST-force disaster troops if needed. South of Tokyo, the authorities were warning residents to prepare for more heavy rain after 21 people died in mudslides from torrential rains early this month.
(Reporting by William Mallard; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Facebook sets up new team to work on the ‘metaverse’

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FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Elizabeth Culliford
(Reuters) – Facebook is creating a product team to work on the “metaverse,” a digital world where people can move between different devices and communicate in a virtual environment, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday.
The team will be part of the company’s virtual reality organization, the group’s executive Andrew Bosworth said in a Facebook post.
“You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge in an interview last week.
Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has invested heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.
It has also bought a bevy of VR gaming studios, including BigBox VR. It has about 10,000 employees working on virtual reality, The Information reported in March.
Zuckerberg has said he thinks it makes sense to invest deeply to shape what he bets will be the next big computing platform.
“I believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet, and creating this product group is the next step in our journey to help build it,” he said on his Monday Facebook post.
He told The Verge: “If we do this well, I think over the next five years or so … we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; editing by Richard Pullin)

Olympics-Surfing-Surfers embrace stormy conditions with medals up for grabs

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Surfing – Men’s Shortboard – Quarterfinals – Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Kanoa Igarashi of Japan shakes hands with Kolohe Andino of the United States after competing in Heat 1 REUTERS/Lisi Niesner July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – While other sports at the Games fear disruption from stormy conditions in Tokyo, surfers are embracing the wet and windy weather as the first Olympic medals in the sport’s history are set to be decided on Tuesday.
With the rain pouring down and the rolling waves reaching over head height at times, Japanese surfer Kanoa Igarashi hit a spectacular early barrel wave en route to a quarter-final victory over American Kolohe Andino.
“Today is one of those days when it’s man against ocean, more so than competing against your competitor, but that’s what makes it fun,” Igarashi told reporters.
There were plenty of big waves to choose from but the competitors had to be careful as each paddle back out in the heavy swell sapped energy that may be needed later in the day.
“In a free surf you wouldn’t want to waste that much energy getting back out, but for contesting on it’s definitely not ideal but it’s great that we have waves. It’s about who wants it more,” Igarashi explained.
Rather than avoid the bad weather, organisers moved the surfing semi-finals and finals forward a day to make the most of the big, bold waves, which are expected to abate as the weather changes on Wednesday.
The competition continues through the day, with the men and women alternating until the gold medal heats take place in the late afternoon.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Severe floods hammer Costa Rica, two dead

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People stand on a bridge over La Estrella river damaged by floods due to heavy rains in Limon, Costa Rica July 26, 2021. Costa Rica’s Presidency/Handout via REUTERS July 26, 2021
SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Relentless rainfall in the Caribbean region caused at least two deaths amid severe flooding and major infrastructure damage in northern and eastern Costa Rica, authorities said on Monday.
Two people were killed and another two were missing, according to the Red Cross in Costa Rica. Some 3,000 people were forced to seek refuge from the extreme weather into emergency shelters, authorities said.
Nearly a quarter of Costa Rica is under a “red alert” declared by the National Emergency Commission (CNE) for flooding and landslides, including the northern municipalities of San Carlos, Upala, Guatuso and the Caribbean zones of Limón, Matina, Talamanca, Sarapiquí and Turrialba.
Turrialba, which is 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of San José, received in just one day the usual amount of rain for the entire month of July, according to Mayor Luis Fernando León.
“We were not prepared for this magnitude. It is an extreme event that has not occurred since 1978,” León told Reuters by telephone.
The rains were worsened by the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a band of rain encircling the globe, and humidity carried by trade winds, the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) said in a weekend statement.
By Monday, rains had let up enough that authorities were able to deliver aid to some affected areas, President Carlos Alvarado said.
“There is a decrease in rainfall and it is getting easier to access aid and work to remove debris and begin to rebuild normalcy in these communities,” Alvarado said.
The IMN forecast additional but moderate rains in the Caribbean zones and an increase in rains in the center of the country and the Pacific slope.
(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Britney Spears’ lawyer seeks conservator to replace singer’s father -NY Times

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FILE PHOTO: A phone and placards are held during a protest in support of pop star Britney Spears on the day of a conservatorship case hearing at Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo July 26, 2021
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – An attorney for Britney Spears asked a Los Angeles court to name a new conservator to oversee the pop singer’s finances following recent testimony that she wanted her father ousted from the role, the New York Times reported on Monday.
In a court filing, lawyer Matthew Rosengart requested that accountant Jason Rubin be named the conservator of Spears’ estate, a post currently held by her father, Jamie Spears, the Times reported.
The newspaper said that Rosengart also filed a petition to remove Jamie Spears as a conservator but that document was not made public.
Britney Spears recently told the court she wanted her father immediately removed and wanted to charge him with conservatorship abuse.
The 39-year-old was placed under a conservatorship that controls both her personal and financial affairs in 2008 after she suffered a mental health breakdown. The details of her mental health issues have never been revealed.
Public support for the singer has swelled since her emotional address to the court in June in which she called the conservatorship abusive and humiliating.
Representatives for Rosengart and Jamie Spears did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Vice President Harris could visit Vietnam, Singapore in August

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris stands by during an event to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein July 26, 2021
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Kamala Harris could travel to Vietnam and Singapore in August, even as details of such a trip are not final yet, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to be on Harris’ agenda, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Harris recently visited Mexico https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/harris-visits-us-mexico-border-amid-criticism-republicans-2021-06-25 and Guatemala with the aim of lowering migration from the region. During her trip she focused on issues such as economic development, food insecurity and women’s issues.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Steve Holland in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Olympics-Gymnastics-U.S. women top Russians, China in medal chances

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Team – Qualification – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Sunisa Lee of the United States and Simone Biles of the United States hug each other during competition. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez July 26, 2021
By Karen Braun
(Reuters) – Although the start of the women’s artistic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics was disappointing for the usually dominant U.S. team, the Americans still have the most medal opportunities of any country.
The Russians, competing as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) as part of sanctions due to several doping scandals, qualified for Tuesday’s team final ahead of the Americans after an off day for U.S. star Simone Biles.
But the U.S. women’s qualifying efforts earned them 11 medal attempts at the Tokyo Games, the maximum possible. That includes the team event, two in the all-around and two in each of the four apparatus finals.
ROC could earn at most 10 medals since they qualified only one gymnast to the balance beam finals, and China have the next highest medal chances at seven.
The top eight of 12 squads in qualifications advanced to the team finals, and the top 24 all-around gymnasts and top eight on each apparatus advanced to those respective finals.
However, there is a two-per-country rule meaning only two athletes per delegation can advance to an apparatus or all-around final and try for a medal.
Biles is the only gymnast, male or female, who has a shot at leaving Tokyo with a medal in every possible discipline. But a medal on asymmetric bars is her biggest challenge, even with a nearly flawless routine.
Her bars difficulty rating falls short of the world’s best, including team mate Sunisa Lee and Belgium’s Nina Derwael, the top two qualifiers for Sunday’s final. Derwael is a twice world champion in the event.
Beam gold will also be a test for Biles up against top qualifier Guan Chenchen of China, who has a higher maximum score. Biles did not do her more difficult, eponymous dismount in qualifications, but doing so in the finals would increase her chances.
Biles was the top qualifier in the all-around and vault, though she will have a fresh shot at everything since the qualifying scores do not carry through to the finals.
If Biles misses golds or the podium, she feels better prepared to cope with public disappointment than she was in Rio 2016, where she finished third on balance beam after an error.
“I was so happy with my bronze, but I couldn’t be happy, because nobody else was happy for me,” she said earlier this year in her Facebook Watch docuseries, “Simone vs Herself.”
“This time is really for me. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, and that feels nice.”
(Reporting by Karen Braun in Fort Collins, Colo.; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Amazon denies report of accepting bitcoin as payment

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Amazon app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration July 26, 2021
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc on Monday denied a media report saying the e-commerce giant was looking to accept bitcoin payments by the end of the year.
The report https://bit.ly/3xb6orM from London’s City A.M. newspaper, citing an unnamed “insider”, sent the world’s biggest cryptocurrency up as much as 14.5% before it trimmed gains to last trade 6% higher at $37,684.04.
“Notwithstanding our interest in the space, the speculation that has ensued around our specific plans for cryptocurrencies is not true,” said a spokesperson from Amazon.
“We remain focused on exploring what this could look like for customers shopping on Amazon.”
The company on July 22 posted a job opening for a digital currency and blockchain product lead.
A growing number of companies have started to accept virtual currencies for payment, bringing an asset class shunned by major financial institutions until a few years ago closer to the mainstream.
Last week, Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the electric-car maker will most likely restart accepting bitcoin as payments once it conducts due diligence on the amount of renewable energy used to mine the currency.
(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

Analysis-U.S., China positions ossify at entrenched Tianjin talks

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. and Chinese flags are seen before a meeting between senior defence officials from both countries at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With no indication of a U.S.-China leaders’ summit in the works, nor any outcomes announced from high-level diplomatic talks on Monday, relations between Beijing and Washington appear to be at a standstill as both sides insist the other must make concessions for ties to improve.
U.S. officials had stressed that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s trip to the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin to meet Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials was a chance to ensure that stiffening competition between the two geopolitical rivals does not veer into conflict.
But the combative statements that emerged from the meeting – albeit coupled with suggestions from officials that closed-door sessions were marginally more cordial – mirrored the tone set in Alaska in March, when the first senior-level diplomatic talks under President Joe Biden were overshadowed by rare public vitriol from both sides.
While Tianjin did not expose the same degree of outward hostility that was on display in Alaska, the two sides appeared to stop short of actually negotiating anything, sticking instead to lists of established demands.
Sherman pressed China on actions Washington says run counter to the rules-based international order, including Beijing’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, what the U.S. government has deemed is an ongoing genocide in Xinjiang, abuses in Tibet and the curtailing of press freedoms.
“I think it’d be wrong to characterize the United States as somehow seeking or soliciting China’s cooperation,” a senior U.S. administration official told reporters after the talks, referring to global concerns such as climate change, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.
“It is going to be up to the Chinese side to determine how ready they are as well to… take the next step,” a second U.S. administration official said of bridging disagreements.
But Wang insisted in a statement that the ball was in the United States’ court.
“When it comes to respecting international rules, it is the United States that must think again,” he said, demanding that Washington remove all unilateral sanctions and tariffs on China.
DIPLOMATIC OSSIFICATION
China’s Foreign Ministry has recently signaled there could be preconditions for the United States on which any kind of cooperation would be contingent, a stance some analysts say is a recipe for diplomatic ossification and that leaves dim prospects for improved ties.
Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said it was important for the two sides to maintain some form of engagement. At the same time, there appeared to be no agreement in Tianjin for follow-up meetings or mechanisms for ongoing dialogue.
“That will probably leave U.S. allies and partners uneasy. They are hoping for greater stability and predictability in the U.S.-China relationship,” Glaser said.
Both sides are likely to be disappointed if they expect the other to give in first, she added.
There has been some expectation in foreign policy circles that Biden could meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping for the first time since becoming president on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Italy in October.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the prospect of a Biden-Xi meeting did not come up in Tianjin, though she added that she expects there will be some opportunity to engage at some point.
Indications are, meanwhile, that the Biden administration may scale up both enforcement actions impacting Beijing – such as cracking down on Iranian oil sales to China – and coordination with allies in the context of countering China, including another summit later this year that Biden is keen to host with the leaders of Japan, Australia, and India.
Biden’s White House also has given few signals that it intends to roll back tariffs on Chinese goods established under the Trump administration.
At the same time, cooperation on the COVID-19 pandemic seems almost entirely out of reach, with the United States calling Beijing’s rejection of a World Health Organization plan for further study of the virus’ origin “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”
There has been little sign either of a willingness by China to cooperate with Washington on the climate issue, a priority for Biden, despite energetic entreaties by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.
“What was on display in Tianjin is that both sides are still very far apart on how they view the value and role of diplomatic engagement,” said Eric Sayers, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Scott Kennedy, a China specialist at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies,, said neither side saw much upside for now in being more cooperative.
“And there’s no low-hanging fruit for cooperation for either side and any gesture toward cooperation actually comes with significant costs, both domestic and strategic,” he said.
“I think we ought to have very low expectations about the two sides finding common ground and stabilizing the relationship in the near future.”
(Reporting by Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Mary Milliken and Dan Grebler)

Another Obama official raises concerns about Biden nominee linked to eco-terrorism

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Another Obama official is raising questions about President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Tracy Stone-Manning, who is linked to a 1989 eco-terrorist plot.Steve Ellis, who was deputy director of BLM under former President Obama, expressed his concern of what the confirmation of Stone-Manning could do to both the agency and the U.S. Forest Service.Ellis is a near-four decade veteran of both BLM and the Forest Service. He retired from the agency in 2016.SEN. RISCH TEARS INTO STONE-MANNING AMID TIED COMMITTEE VOTE”Much of the focus seems to be whether this is a Democrat or Republican thing, but the lens I look at this through is as a 38-year career person in both agencies, and that letter she wrote went to my Forest Service colleagues on the Clearwater,” Ellis said to the Spokane Spokesman-Review last week.”The administration’s got some great initiatives and their agenda for public lands is good, but you need the career employees to implement your agenda successfully across the West,” he continued. “Your leader has got to be respected by career employees and across the landscape, in both blue and red states.”Ellis is the second Obama BLM official to weigh in on Stone-Manning’s nomination. Obama’s first BLM Director Bob Abbey said last month that the BLM nominee’s involvement in an Earth First! tree-spiking plot “should disqualify her.”Tree spiking is a dangerous and violent eco-terrorism tactic where metal rods are inserted into trees to prevent them from being cut down. The metal rods damage saws that, in turn, have severely injured people, such as a mill worker whose jaw was split in two from an exploding saw.BIDEN LAND MANAGEMENT NOMINEE ‘COLLABORATE WITH ECO-TERRORISTS,’ TRADED TESTIMONY FOR IMMUNITYStone-Manning has come under fire from Senate Republicans for her involvement in the plot, with Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, repeatedly tearing into Biden’s nominee for her role.Noting his decade-long experience on the committee, Risch eviscerated Stone-Manning’s nomination in the committee hearing on it as “the most significant act of an insult to a really good agency and the people in that agency that I’ve ever seen perpetrated by this committee.””I don’t know how this nomination has got this far, but I think that we ought to spend some time looking at that,” Risch said.”So, why do you put this in a tree? You put this in a tree to kill somebody,” Risch asked his fellow committee members during the hearing. “It’s not put in there for fun. It’s not a Sunday school prank. You put this in a tree to kill somebody.”Risch noted that tree-spiking “didn’t exist” while he was studying forestry, only coming around when ecoterrorism in the U.S. “hit its peak,” and lambasted his congressional colleagues who referred to Stone-Manning’s involvement in the tree-spiking plot as a “mistake.”Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., shared the same concern as Ellis during the hearing last week, pointing to an E&E News report that revealed Biden’s nominee knew of the tree-spiking plot “far in advance,” according to the plot’s ringleader, John Blount.”This isn’t just about groups that work with the agency or even the people who enjoy our public lands, it’s about all the employees at the Bureau of Land Management,” Barrasso said.”How can the men and women who work at this important agency respect Tracy Stone-Manning knowing she threatened their colleagues at the U.S. Forest Service?” he asked.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPStone-Manning’s nomination came to a standstill last week after the committee vote to advance her nomination split 50-50. Democrats will need a discharge petition to get Stone-Manning’s nomination through to the Senate floor for a vote.The White House did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Ellis’ concerns nor Fox News’ question on if they are confident Stone-Manning will get fully confirmed by the Senate.

Co-Owner of Shady Beverly Hills Vault Business Accused of ‘Extensive’ Criminal Empire

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A co-owner of a Beverly Hills safe deposit box business that allegedly helped criminals hide their ill-gotten gains from authorities acquired his stake in the company using dirty money he amassed through drug trafficking, health-care fraud, online marketing scams utilizing the names of unwitting celebrities, and even a fraudulent PPP loan, federal prosecutors claim.In March, DEA, FBI, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents raided U.S. Private Vaults, Inc.—a storefront located in a strip mall that required an iris scan for access— seizing drugs, weapons, gold bullion, and $86 million in cash. Prosecutors charged the business with conspiring to launder money, structure financial transactions, and distribute controlled substances. An onsite jewelry store allegedly helped “customers convert their cash into gold, and structured their cash transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.” The listed owners of U.S. Private Vaults, CEO Mark Paul, and Hillary and Steve Barth, a married couple from Los Angeles, are not presently facing any criminal exposure. The three of them maintained a veneer of legitimacy, holding down executive positions elsewhere and granting puff-piece magazine interviews. However, a fourth, previously unknown, owner, identified in court filings as a career criminal named Michael Poliak, has emerged in a federal seizure warrant reviewed by The Daily Beast.In April 2019, Poliak, who is not presently facing criminal charges, purchased half of U.S. Private Vaults from Paul for a little less than $500,000, according to the warrant. He described the deal to an undercover informant wearing a wire, the warrant states, admitting during multiple conversations that his funds were hardly on the up-and-up. Paul owned 75 percent of the company; the Barths owned 25 percent, Poliak explained.“I bought twenty-five from Mark, and I bought twenty-five from them,” Poliak said, according to the affidavit. “I said, ‘Mark, I can’t buy the place unless I get at least 50 percent.’”“How did you meet him, turn around and become a partner?” the informant asked Poliak. “Did you have to pay him?”“Yeah, I gave him $475,000,” Poliak allegedly replied. “Two-seventy-five clean. Two hundred dirty.”The money came from Poliak’s “extensive criminal activities,” the warrant alleges, filling dozens of pages with detailed examples of Poliak’s violations and how he “washed” his ill-gotten gains. One of Poliak’s alleged “businesses” involved fraudulent online advertising, which he told the FBI informant he was taking over from an associate headed to prison on kidnapping and torture charges.“I have a guy that’s a master at driving traffic online,” Poliak allegedly said. “But he does deceptive marketing. He’ll fake some shit, like he’ll put Dr. Oz promoting his product or Ellen [DeGeneres] or some shit like that. And he’ll sell the fuck out of it, but you burn a lot of merchant accounts… ‘Cause the [credit card] charge-backs are gonna be like crazy.” Poliak’s various interests truly spanned the spectrum of wrongdoing, the documents show. He claimed to be affiliated with the Beltrán Leyva organization, a Mexican drug cartel started by defectors from “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, and regaled the FBI informant with stories about his underworld connections.“I’m Beltran,” he allegedly told the informant during one conversation. “Beltran are my people. Google Beltran, you’ll see how big they are. Guadalajara.”In another conversation recorded by the informant, Poliak allegedly described an “unlucky” person who used to “make oil” for him—that is, cannabis extract used in vape cartridges, which are legal in California and other states—but died during a 2019 lab explosion that led to murder charges.During a meeting with the informant in early 2020, Poliak took a call on speakerphone with a legal cannabis grower in California, the warrant states. During the conversation, the grower, who subleased a commercial property in Los Angeles from Poliak, said she “recently ended a partnership in her cannabis business because her partners were operating outside the law,” the warrant explains.That’s when Poliak allegedly offered to help the grower, who did not have a retail license, commit further violations, volunteering to “broker the sale of 20,000 pre-rolled joints.”Poliak “was adamant that he did not want to ‘hold’ more than a few,” saying, “You can drop off samples. But I don’t need to store fuckin’ tons of shit. A couple samples, yeah, no problem. I’ll just hand it over to the guy.”Later that year, Poliak told the informant he had scammed the federal government out of a PPP loan—which doesn’t need to be paid back under certain conditions—totaling nearly $70,000. “Poliak admitted to [the confidential informant] that he only made $1,000 a month, and didn’t have any employees, but submitted an application and received $68,700,” the warrant states. “When [the informant] asked how he did it, Poliak replied, ‘Cause I filed. That I had hardships.’”But Poliak’s alleged criminal empire was nothing if not diversified. The feds allege he earned hundreds of thousands of dollars by facilitating fraudulent health-care schemes carried out by corrupt medical providers. It was a way for him to exchange dirty cash for “clean” checks, Poliak explained.“I get checks for fifty-thousand a month,” Poliak allegedly said in a recorded conversation with the FBI informant. “Forty-five gets me fifty.”Poliak then laid out how it all worked, describing a network of shell companies he allegedly used to obscure the origins of his money. The feds subpoenaed Poliak’s bank records, and found he had deposited $50,000 checks each month, over the course of about two years, totaling more than $1 million. The checks came from two unnamed corporations, the warrant states, which were owned by the same unnamed individual. This person is not identified in court filings because they are presently the target of an FBI health-care fraud investigation, according to the warrant.“I know that those engaged in health-care fraud schemes often need cash and will pay a premium for it (e.g. $50,000 for $45,000 in cash) because they need to make cash payments to ‘patients’ seeking health-care services which are being over-billed,” states the warrant, which is signed by Postal Inspector Lyndon Versoza. “They cannot withdraw the amount of cash they need without bringing attention to their scheme. This leads them to look for other sources of cash.”Poliak told the informant he stored much of it at U.S. Private Vaults, in six safe deposit boxes.“Let me put it this way, the reason also why I wanted to buy [into the business], I got a lot of fucking money now,” Poliak said, according to the warrant, adding that of the $10 million in cash he had on hand, $2 million was “clean.”The other $8 million, he claimed, was “dirty.” Laundering the cash was simple, according to Poliak: He said he paid for new homes in cash, then spent significant amounts of that same illicit cash on renovations—later selling the properties for big profits and claiming the proceeds as legitimate income. But while most sellers would gladly welcome—and possibly offer a discount to—a buyer who offered to pay his asking price in cash, Poliak had no interest in such a transaction. In one conversation, he told the informant he had more cash than he knew what to do with, and that he therefore would charge any cash buyer a $200,000 premium on a $4 million sale.“I don’t—nobody needs cash,” Poliak allegedly said. “I have a ton of cash… I’m doing business to get rid of my cash.”A group of customers later sued the FBI over the U.S. Private Vaults raid, claiming they were storing legitimately obtained cash and property at the location, and hadn’t committed any crimes. Poliak does not have a lawyer listed in court filings and was unable to be reached.

Motor racing-Saudi Arabia open to hosting two F1 races, says promoter

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FILE PHOTO: Rallying – Dakar Rally Preview – King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – January 3, 2020 The president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud with the media ahead of the Dakar Rally REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed July 26, 2021
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia would be willing to step in and host an extra race this year to help Formula One fill a gap on the calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, promoter Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal said on Monday.
The country is due to make its debut with a night race in Jeddah on Dec. 5 that would be the penultimate round of the season.
The previous slot had been allocated to Australia, which is now cancelled.
“We haven’t been asked by Formula One to accommodate a second race but everything is going on schedule regarding our preparation, our construction,” the prince told reporters on a video call as tickets went on sale.
“So if needed to host a race before our race, I think we can accommodate that.”
The prince said the Saudi organisers wanted to focus on their debut, with plans for promotional activities and an opening ceremony before an event that could attract a full crowd.
“In the end if it’s a must and they need another country, we can be an option if it will help Formula One,” he added.
Bahrain hosted two races last year in a championship confined to Europe and the Middle East. Austria has already hosted two this year after Canada’s race in Montreal was cancelled.
Qatar has been mooted as a possible stand-in, along with talk of two races in Texas.
The Saudi promoter said also that he hoped for an early slot next season and would love to host one of the new-format Saturday sprints.
Bahrain was this year’s opener instead of Australia when that race in Melbourne was initially postponed.
“We wanted to have the race in the beginning (of the year) but the time we had to do the work for the track and prepare the track, we couldn’t have a race in 2021 at the beginning of the year,” said the prince.
“We are now discussing with Formula One about when is best for us to have our race in 2022, and hopefully we can get to an agreement.”
The promoter said he had discussed human rights issues with some of the drivers during the recent British Grand Prix and would be happy to meet Mercedes’s outspoken seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton to address any concerns.
He said the plan was also to have some female Saudi drivers competing in support races.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)

Olympics-Triathlon-Storm delays start of women’s race

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Triathlon – Women’s Olympic Distance – Final – Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. A worker during rainy weather prepares track for competition . REUTERS/Hannah Mckay July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – The start of the Olympic women’s triathlon race was delayed by at least 15 minutes on Tuesday due to windy, storm conditions sweeping the course in Tokyo Bay.
Due off at 06.30 (21.30GMT) local time – scheduled early to avoid excessive heat – the new start time is 06.45 (21.45GMT) but with heavy rain still pounding the region 30 minutes before that there is the potential for further delays.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by)

Intel to build Qualcomm chips, aims to catch foundry rivals by 2025

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FILE PHOTO: An Intel Tiger Lake chip is displayed at an Intel news conference during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Intel Corp said on Monday its factories will start building Qualcomm Inc chips and laid out a roadmap to expand its new foundry business to catch rivals such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd by 2025.
Amazon.com Inc will be another new customer for the foundry chip business, said Intel, which for decades held the lead in technology for manufacturing the smallest, fastest computing chips.
But Intel has lost that lead to TSMC and Samsung, whose manufacturing services have helped Intel’s rivals Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Nvidia Corp produce chips that outperform Intel’s. AMD and Nvidia design chips which then are made by the rival chip manufacturers, called foundries.
Intel said on Monday it expects to regain its lead by 2025 and described five sets of chipmaking technologies it will roll out over the next four years.
The most advanced use Intel’s first new design in a decade for transistors, the tiny switches that translate to digital ones and zeros. Starting as early as 2025, it will also tap a new generation of machines from the Netherlands’ ASML that use what is called extreme ultraviolet lithography, which projects chip designs onto silicon somewhat like printing an old-fashioned photograph.
“We’re laying out a whole lot of details to The Street to hold us accountable,” Intel Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger told Reuters in an interview, referring to investors.
Intel also said it will change its naming scheme for chipmaking technology, using names like “Intel 7” that align with how TSMC and Samsung market competing technologies.
In the chip world where smaller is better, Intel previously used names that alluded to the size of features in “nanometers”. But over time the names used by chipmakers became arbitrary marking terms, said Dan Hutcheson, chief executive of VLSIresearch, an independent semiconductor forecasting firm. This, he said, gave the mistaken impression that Intel was less competitive.
Intel’s first major customers will be Qualcomm and Amazon. Qualcomm, which dominates chips for mobile phones, will use what Intel is calling its 20A chipmaking process, which will use new transistor technology to help reduce how much power the chip consumes.
Amazon, which is increasingly making its own data center chips for its Amazon Web Services, is not yet using Intel’s chipmaking technology but will use Intel’s packaging technology, the process of assembling chips and “chiplets” or “tiles”, often stacking them up in so-called 3D formation. Intel excels in this packaging technology, analysts say.
“There have been many, many hours of deep and technical engagement with these first two customers, and many others,” Gelsinger said.
Intel did not give details how much revenue or manufacturing volume the customer wins would bring. Qualcomm in particular has a long track record of using multiple foundry partners, sometimes even for the same chip.
The biggest question facing Intel is whether it can make good on its technology promises after years of delays under previous Chief Executive Brian Krzanich. In recent weeks, Intel announced the delay of a new data center chip called Sapphire Rapids.
But David Kanter, an analyst with Real World Technologies, said Intel is being more cautious than in the past. The years of delays resulted in part from the “hubris” of tackling multiple technical problems in a single generation of technology.
This time, Intel is laying out five generations of technology in four years, tackling smaller sets of problems, and also saying that it might not introduce the new EUV technology with its forthcoming “Intel 18A” process if it is not ready.
“Intel is absolutely going to catch up, and be ahead in some dimensions, with TSMC over the next few years,” Kanter, the analyst, said. “Intel really does have people who spend all their time looking at how to deploy new materials and technology to juice their performance.”
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio)

Biden, Kadhimi seal agreement to end U.S. combat mission in Iraq

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U.S. President Joe Biden greets Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein July 26, 2021
(Corrects Biden quote in paragraph four to say “combat mission”, not “combat zone”)
By Steve Holland and Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday sealed an agreement formally ending the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after U.S. troops were sent to the country.
Coupled with Biden’s withdrawal of the last American forces in Afghanistan by the end of August, the Democratic president is completing U.S. combat missions in the two wars that then-President George W. Bush began under his watch.
Biden and Kadhimi met in the Oval Office for their first face-to-face talks as part of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.
“Our role in Iraq will be … to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS as it arises, but we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” Biden told reporters as he and Kadhimi met.
There are currently 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq focusing on countering the remnants of Islamic State. The U.S. role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself.
The shift is not expected to have a major impact since the United States has already moved toward focusing on training Iraqi forces.
A U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003 based on charges that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was ousted from power, but such weapons were never found.
In recent years the U.S. mission was dominated by helping defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
“Nobody is going to declare mission accomplished. The goal is the enduring defeat of ISIS,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of Kadhimi’s visit.
The reference was reminiscent of the large “Mission Accomplished” banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier above where Bush gave a speech declaring major combat operations over in Iraq on May 1, 2003.
“If you look to where we were, where we had Apache helicopters in combat, when we had U.S. special forces doing regular operations, it’s a significant evolution. So by the end of the year we think we’ll be in a good place to really formally move into an advisory and capacity-building role,” the official said.
U.S. diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria were targeted in three rocket and drone attacks earlier this month. Analysts believed the attacks were part of a campaign by Iranian-backed militias.
The senior administration official would not say how many U.S. troops would remain on the ground in Iraq for advising and training.
Kadhimi is seen as friendly to the United States and has tried to check the power of Iran-aligned militias. But his government condemned a U.S. air raid against Iran-aligned fighters along its border with Syria in late June, calling it a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
The U.S.-Iraqi statement is expected to detail a number of non-military agreements related to health, energy and other matters.
The United States plans to provide Iraq with 500,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing program. Biden said the doses should arrive in a couple of weeks.
The United States will also provide $5.2 million to help fund a U.N. mission to monitor October elections in Iraq.
“We’re looking forward to seeing an election in October,” said Biden.
(Reporting By Steve Holland and Trevor Hunnicutt; editing by Grant McCool)

Governor Cuomo: I’ve Told the Truth on COVID ‘From Day One.’ Really?

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New York governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference in Manhattan, June 2, 2021. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Andrew Cuomo is somehow still governor of New York. He is also still in possession of a degree of brazenness that is nearly unparalleled in public life. The first bit of evidence of that is how Cuomo is, in fact, still governor, despite ongoing investigations into his efforts to alter or hide outright information about his state’s COVID numbers (as he was writing and then promoting a book about his pandemic-era leadership), and into numerous sexual-harassment allegations against him.
To the extent Cuomo ever endeared national attention and affection, it was in large part due to the perception that he was competently handling the coronavirus crisis, something that he owes largely to his mysteriously award-winning briefings on the topic. So it is not a surprise that he has continued these briefings, thinking that a “More Cowbell” approach may bring him out of his current troubles. But when he says things like what he did at today’s, you have to wonder if he’ll just end up shooting himself in the foot again:
I am telling you as I sit here — I have told you the facts on covid from day one. Whether they were easy, whether they were hard, I told you the truth. While a lot of people were talking politics and a lot of people were talking theory and a lot of people were trying to deny because they didn’t want to deliver bad news, I told you the truth. You know why? Because I believe in you. I believe in New Yorkers. I believe if they get the truth and they get the facts, they will do the right thing. I’m a lifelong New Yorker. I know New Yorkers. Give them the facts. ‘Yeah but the facts are ugly.’ Doesn’t matter. Give them the facts and they will do the right thing.
It’s worth asking what Cuomo defines as “Day One.” It certainly couldn’t have been the day he began covering up the disastrous consequences of his order forcing nursing homes in the state to readmit patients infected with coronavirus. As Brittany Bernstein reported for us earlier this year:
A top aide to Governor Cuomo admitted last month that the administration covered up the true data on nursing home deaths from the coronavirus in New York state in order to hide the magnitude of the issue from federal authorities.
Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa apologized to state Democratic lawmakers during a recent video conference call, saying “we froze” out of fear that the real nursing home death numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, the New York Post reported.
However, the New York Times reports the coverup efforts were underway before federal authorities requested the data, and just as Cuomo began writing a book touting his pandemic leadership achievements. The rewritten report, which concealed the number of deaths and found that Cuomo’s policies were not at fault for the nursing home death toll, was released just four days before the governor announced he was working on a book.

Cuomo finally released the complete data on nursing homes earlier this year, only after the state attorney general found that thousands of deaths of nursing home residents have been undercounted. The governor said then he had withheld it to avoid a “politically motivated” inquiry from the Trump administration into the state’s handling of the virus in nursing homes.
What’s amazing is that Cuomo not only lied about this, but is now lying about having lied. So when he now claims that he tells the truth to New Yorkers because he believes in them, one can justly wonder whether he is lying about that as well.

The ACLU Promotes an Absurd Conspiracy Theory about the Second Amendment

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A man inspects a Browning shotgun during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ind., April 28, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The ACLU has bought into the preposterous lie that the Second Amendment is intrinsically racist:

Racism is foundational to the Second Amendment and its inclusion in the Bill of Rights.
Learn more from experts Carol Anderson and Charles Howard Candler on this episode of the At Liberty podcast.https://t.co/9AjGALT1GH
— ACLU (@ACLU) July 25, 2021

This, of course, is surreal nonsense from start to finish — so surreal, in fact, that I have to wonder whether Carol Anderson truly believes a word of what she’s arguing. As even a cursory glance at the record shows, it is not gun rights that have been historically associated with racism, but gun control — and to the extent that, up until about 1970, the two ideas were utterly inextricable in American life. To look back through this country’s history and conclude that it was the advocates of the right to bear arms who were the problem is . . . well, it’s chutzpah on a level I didn’t know possible. Somehow, the people advancing this case have managed to take a position that was advanced by figures such as Justice Roger Taney and outfits such as the Ku Klux Klan, and to pin it onto their opponents — many of whom, like the men who drafted the 14th Amendment, were explicitly fighting against the widespread attempts to disarm free blacks. This is intellectual vandalism, and the ACLU should have no part of it.

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That instead it has embraced the claim makes me wonder once again what exactly the ACLU is for. Last week, two amicus curiae briefs were filed in a pending Supreme Court case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the material question in which is “Whether the State’s denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.” The first brief was filed by the National African American Gun Association, and it’s an absolute tour de force. It starts with this accurate description of the relevant history . . .
During the colonial, founding, and early republic periods, slaves and even free blacks, particularly in the southern states, were either barred from carrying a firearm at all or were required to obtain a license to do so, which was subject to the discretion of a government official. African Americans were not considered as among “the people” with the “right” to “bear arms.”
Exclusion of African Americans from the rights of “the people” in the Second Amendment and other Bill of Rights guarantees was in conflict with the explicit text. The argument has been made that the Second Amendment was adopted to protect slavery. But the defect was not in recognizing the rights of white Americans, but was in not recognizing the rights of black Americans. The impetus for recognition of the right to bear arms came from the Northern states, which had abolished or were in the process of abolishing slavery.
. . . and it proceeds to run through pretty much every way in which the right has been denied to black Americans since the Founding. I have spent a good deal of time studying the history of the Second Amendment, and parts of it still shocked me.
The second brief was filed by a group of progressive public defenders who, while presumably not personally thrilled by the scope of the Second Amendment, are nevertheless alarmed by what they describe as “the real-life consequences of New York’s firearm licensing requirements on ordinary people.” “Our clients’ conduct,” the group writes, “would not be a crime in states that already properly recognize the Second Amendment.” As it is, New York’s regime has led to “devastation”:
The consequences for our clients are brutal. New York police have stopped, questioned, and frisked our clients on the streets. They have invaded our clients’ homes with guns drawn, terrifying them, their families, and their children. They have forcibly removed our clients from their homes and communities and abandoned them in dirty and violent jails and prisons for days, weeks, months, and years. They have deprived our clients of their jobs, children, livelihoods, and ability to live in this country. And they have branded our clients as “criminals” and “violent felons” for life. They have done all of this only because our clients exercised a constitutional right.
It speaks volumes that, at the same time as these two groups were working on these briefs, the American Civil Liberties Union was busy lending its brand to what is little more than a cynical propaganda exercise. The ultimate aim of frauds such as Carol Anderson is to discredit and weaken a key part of the Bill of Rights. Once upon a time, the ACLU stood against that sort of thing. Today, that role falls to other people. Americans who hope to preserve their civil liberties should take that into account.

AOC says she wants 'to abolish our carceral system'

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said she wants to “abolish” the U.S. carceral system during a campaign event for Ohio congressional candidate Nina Turner on Saturday.”I want to abolish our carceral system that’s designed to trap Black and Brown men,” the democratic socialist told a rally of Turner supporters in Cleveland. “I want justice. I want peace, and I want prosperity. That’s what I want.”OCASIO-CORTEZ DEFENDS TWEET PROMOTING IDEA OF ‘PRISON ABOLITION,’ PUSHES ‘JUST ALTERNATIVES’ TO INCARCERATIONOcasio-Cortez was in Cleveland for a canvassing event supporting Turner, a progressive former state senator and co-chair of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. Turner is looking to represent Ohio’s 11th Congressional District – a seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge when she became secretary of Housing and Urban Development in March.Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday characterized Turner’s fight as one between grassroots and corporate politics. “This isn’t about Nina versus any opponent; this is about the people versus big money,” the congresswoman said, WJW reported.”This is a deep blue seat. It’s a deep blue seat,” she reportedly said. “Districts like Ohio’s 11th should be leading the country on issues. They are opportunities, they are very rare opportunities, very rare districts like this one that can take and be visionary.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPLocal Democratic Party chairwoman Shontel Brown, a moderate, is Turner’s biggest opponent in the crowded Democratic primary that takes place Aug. 3.”The contrast in this race could not be clearer,” Brown’s campaign said in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, WJW reported. “Shontel Brown is the only candidate who from day one can work with the Biden administration and our house majority to deliver good-paying jobs, affordable healthcare, and affordable prescription drugs to northeast Ohio.” 

Reporter's Notebook: Congress' 'August recess' is hardly a vacation

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The concept of the “August recess” is a mirage in Congress. This is where Congress purportedly takes off for four or five weeks during the dog days of summer. Lawmakers actually take vacation time during this period. But they also use the period to meet and work with constituents back in their districts or states.It’s the largest chunk of time Congress budgets each year to operate away from Washington. The concept of such a lengthy block of time away from Washington may be healthy. But concept rarely meets reality. And that’s why the “August recess” is often little more than a mirage.HOW CONGRESS’ UPCOMING DEBT CEILING IS THREATENING TO RUIN SUMMER ON CAPITOL HILLThe mercury has kissed more than 90 degrees in Washington nearly 30 times this summer. Few places are toastier in “The Swamp” than Capitol Hill. The heat haze refracts light off the white, shale concrete blocks on the Capitol plaza. If you were on the East Front of the Capitol, the heat warps the staunch columns on the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress into rippling waves.These are the necessary conditions to trigger a mirage, shimmering in the July swelter.What Congress does (or doesn’t do) in July will dictate what lawmakers do in August.This is ironic, because Congress tries to predict what it will do in July and August – in December.To wit:Imagine it’s three weeks before Christmas in Washington. An icy rain seals streets and sidewalks outside the Capitol in a cold glaze. Tiny Christmas trees decorate the paper-engulfed desks of Congressional aides. At that point on the calendar, all anyone is focused on is what Congress needs to do to abandon Washington for the year. And in early December, top Congressional leaders etch out the projected legislative calendar for the coming year. Some time off around Easter and Passover. How close to June does Memorial Day fall? Is July 4 on a weekend? And then, there is “the August recess.”DEMOCRATIC, GOP SENATORS PUSH CONGRESS TO RETAKE WAR POWERS ‘BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE’Depending on how the calendar looks, they book either the House or Senate to meet for a few days at the beginning of August. Or maybe not at all. What about political conventions every four years? They then take into consideration Labor Day and the September or October dates of the Jewish holidays. That dictates when either chamber returns to session. Or, comes back for a few days after Labor Day, then takes off again immediately for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.In other words, they’re trying to make a judgment about a schedule in August when they haven’t even figured out December yet.So they slapdash the August recess on the calendar for the next year. This is wishful Congressional scheduling. And the next time you see that Congressional schedule issued in December, know that a post on the dark web from QAnon is likely more accurate than the Congressional schedule in August.Everyone on Capitol Hill knows that chunk of weeks blocked out for August are nothing short of a hoax.We don’t know exactly what the rest of July and August will look like as lawmakers try to pass an infrastructure bill. Or even infrastructure bills. Work continues on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Democrats aren’t exactly aligned on their own, $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill. There are pushes by progressives to stock the bill with provisions on immigration and even DACA. And moderate Democrats are worried about the overall price tag. Especially as there is a push to tack on dental and vision care under federal health programs.Shortly after July 4, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote to senators about upcoming challenges passing infrastructure.Schumer told his colleagues “we have a lot of work to do.” He noted that senators will be “working long nights, weekends and remaining in Washington” into August.What’s the real news here is if Schumer hadn’t said all of that. Predicting doom and gloom for August vacation plans. This is just what veterans of Capitol Hill have come to expect in August. Careful with your scheduling. Keep your vacation plans flexible. Maybe take off in June.So here’s what’s in the mix: a bipartisan infrastructure bill, crafted by a coalition of senators. Running along a simultaneous side track is “budget reconciliation” measure. This is the legislative “vehicle” Senate Democrats are crafting to handle their own, $3.5 trillion infrastructure package. Democrats aim to handle that infrastructure bill under special budget reconciliation rules – permitted only twice in a two-year Congress – to avoid a filibuster.”My hope is that by early August, we will have a budget bill on the floor and it will pass,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “And when we come back from the break, we’ll pass the reconciliation package.”This is cryptic.You must have the budget blueprint first before considering the actual infrastructure package under the special budget gambit. So does that mean after the fabled August break? Doubtful. Schumer had intimated the Senate wasn’t going anywhere until most of this was wrapped up. That would put off addressing the actual Democratic infrastructure plan until early September.But, it’s doubtful Congressional Democrats and the White House want to wait that long. Especially since a fight to fund the government and lift the debt ceiling await. And Democrats may even want to glom an increase onto the debt ceiling onto the infrastructure plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., just noted the GOP won’t help Democrats increase the debt ceiling.”Debt limit brinksmanship has become the norm when Republicans are out of power,” observed House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., “Their hypocrisy on this and other matters of fiscal responsibility is staggering.”Speaking of the House, we haven’t even figured out when the House will tackle either infrastructure bill. All we know is that the Senate has to go first.BIDEN SAYS ABOLISHING FILIBUSTER WOULD ‘THROW ENTIRE CONGRESS INTO CHAOS’”We cannot respond to some of the legislation until the Senate acts,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “We will not take up the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation bill.”Speaking of those calendars, let’s consider the official House calendar for a moment. You know, the one written late last year.The House, officially, is scheduled to leave town on Friday, July 30. Then, not return at all until Monday, Sept. 20.Right.One could easily envision a scenario where the House in fact ditches town at the end of the week, but comes back to session – in August – once the Senate sends the House the bipartisan infrastructure bill and/or the reconciliation framework, plus the Democrats’-only infrastructure measure.House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., predicted to Fox that the House would return to session toward the end of August. You could also anticipate a schedule where the House and Senate toggle back and forth into session over the coming weeks when one body or the other is required to meet to address various components of the infrastructure plans.So, don’t expect everyone to abandon Washington soon. Especially as Democrats try to finish their own bipartisan bill.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”It’s not the patience of progressives I’m worried about. It’s the urgency of people’s needs that I’m worried about,’ said Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. “The urgency is great because the need is great.”There is so much to hammer out. Not much time. That’s why the “August recess” is spectral at best. An elusive mirage, spelled out on a cold day in December, wishfully projecting a break, eight months into the future.

Lockheed’s F-35A could face first price rise in years as inflation bites

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Air Force F-35A aircraft, from the 388th and 428th Fighter Wings, form up in an “elephant walk” during an exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, U.S. January 6, 2020. U.S. Air Force/R. Nial Bradshaw/Handout via REUTERS. July 26, 2021
By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Lockheed Martin Corp said future F-35A fighter jets could be more expensive as rising inflation and customer demands halt a 64% drop in price since the jet was first introduced in 2007.
    The first F-35A cost $221 million when it came off the production line in 2007. Since then, production quantities and know-how have increased, helping the price of the stealthy fifth-generation fighter drop to $79 million today as it gained appeal and buyers in 15 countries.
    That trend may be over for the jet which has been criticized for its cost since the day it first took flight. A price increase will open Lockheed to complaints from U.S. lawmakers who will not want to see more money spent on the Pentagon’s most expensive program. Moreover, the news comes as Lockheed negotiates its next contract with customers including the Pentagon.
Kenneth Possenriede, Lockheed’s CFO, told analysts in a conference call that “due to where we are in learning, due to where we are with inflation and due to where we are with the added capabilities that they want on the aircraft, it is likely you’ll see an increase in prices, a modest increase in prices of where we are today.”
The F-35 comes in three configurations, the A-model for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. allies; an F-35 B-model, which can handle short takeoffs and vertical landings; and carrier-variant F-35C jets for the U.S. Navy.
Possenriede said the price for B and C variants would likely “either stay where it is or continue to come down the learning curve.”
Lockheed raised its full-year earnings per share guidance as the U.S. weapons supplier’s space business boosted revenue in the second quarter, while a $225 million loss in a classified aeronautics development program caused the company to miss analyst’s earning per share estimates.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler and Andrea Ricci)

Tesla beats profit and revenue estimates, delays Semi launch

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FILE PHOTO: The TESLA logo is seen outside a dealership in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo July 26, 2021
(Reuters) -Electric carmaker Tesla Inc on Monday beat Wall Street expectations for second-quarter profit and revenue as record deliveries offset the impact of a prolonged global shortage of chips and raw materials.
Shares of the world’s most valuable automaker were up 1.3% in extended trade.
The company said it expected to launch production this year of Model Y SUV in Texas and Germany, but would delay the launch of the Semi until 2022. Still, despite the pandemic and the supply chain crisis that have marred the auto industry, Tesla posted record deliveries during the quarter, thanks to sales of cheaper models including Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers.
The carmaker, led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, said revenue jumped to $11.96 billion from $6.04 billion a year earlier, when its U.S. factory was shut down for more than six weeks due to local lockdown orders aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Analysts had expected revenue of about $11.3 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Excluding items, Tesla posted a profit of $1.45 per share, easily topping analyst expectations for a profit of 98 cents per share.
Tesla said operating income increased mainly due to volume growth and cost reduction, which offset “additional supply chain costs, lower regulatory credit revenue” and other items including $23 million in losses on investment in cryptocurrency bitcoin.
Tesla said it is “on track to build our first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin in 2021.” But it said it has delayed the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022,”to better focus on these factories, and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges.”
(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin in Berkeley, Calif; Editing by Maju Samuel and David Gregorio)

Sen. Hawley introduces anti-CRT Love America Act to teach patriotism in schools

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Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Monday introduced the Love America Act, which seeks to promote patriotism in public schools and prohibit federal funding to those that teach the country’s foundational texts are rooted in racism.The bill would require students to read and recite portions of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Pledge of Allegiance at certain grade levels. Under the legislation, students would be able to recite the pledge by the first grade, and fourth graders would be able to recite the Constitution’s preamble. Students in the eighth grade would be able to recite the preamble of the Declaration of Independence and 10th graders would be able to identify the Bill of Rights.SEN. JOSH HAWLEY RIPS BIDEN’S PUSH FOR TEXT MESSAGE SURVEILLANCE: ‘IT SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF BEIJING’The Love America Act would also block federal funds from going to schools that teach such texts are a product of White supremacy or racism. Hawley said his effort is a response to the left-wing push for critical race theory to be taught in schools.”No more critical race theory,” the senator tweeted Thursday. “No more hate. Let’s teach our kids what unites us as Americans – what we love together. Let’s teach them the truth.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”Over the past year, Americans have watched stunned as a radical ideology spread through our country’s elite institutions – one that teaches America is an irredeemably racist nation founded by White supremacists,” Hawley said in a press release announcing the bill. “Now it has found its way into our children’s schools. We cannot afford for our children to lose faith in the noble ideals this country was founded on. “We have to make sure that our children understand what makes this country great, the ideals of hope and promise our Founding Fathers fought for, and the love of country that unites us all,” he added.

Fresh squabbles slow U.S. Senate bipartisan infrastructure talks

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FILE PHOTO: Construction workers are seen at the site of a large public infrastructure reconstruction project of an elevated roadway and bridges in upper Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., April 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar July 26, 2021
By Susan Cornwell and David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Fresh squabbles erupted on Monday between Republicans and Democrats negotiating details of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan sought by President Joe Biden, casting doubt on how quickly the U.S. Senate could try again to begin formal debate.
The chamber’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said that the Senate may work through the coming weekend and into its scheduled August recess if needed to craft a deal.
“We have reached a critical moment,” Schumer said. “The bipartisan group of senators has had nearly five weeks of negotiations since they first announced an agreement with President Biden. It’s time for everyone to get to ‘yes’ and produce an outcome for the American people.”
Senators from both parties worked over the weekend to try to finish the deal so that Schumer could try again as early as Monday to start the floor debate in the chamber narrowly controlled by Biden’s fellow Democrats. Republicans blocked https://www.reuters.com/world/us/work-in-progress-us-infrastructure-bill-faces-test-senate-floor-2021-07-21 Schumer’s effort to begin floor action last week, saying they lacked the details of the proposal.
At the White House, Biden told reporters, “I’m always optimistic” about the bipartisan infrastructure framework. The legislation is a paramount priority for Biden, who has seen parts of his legislative agenda stalled by Republican opposition in Congress.
A finalized agreement was looking less likely by Monday afternoon. Democrats and the White House made an offer on Sunday night, but the office of one of the leading Republican negotiators, Senator Mitt Romney, reacted in unusually irate tones to a Democratic source’s statement that Romney had reneged on a deal on water infrastructure project funding.
“This is laughably false,” Romney’s office said in a statement. “As the White House’s own website shows, the deal on water was for $55 billion in new spending. After days of radio silence, Schumer now wants $70 billion. This is a direct violation of the bipartisan agreement.”
A Republican aide said, however, that the differences over water infrastructure should not be hard to resolve.
“We’re very eager to get to ‘yes,’” said the aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The framework the senators and Biden announced a month ago, with $1.2 trillion in funding over five years, includes about $579 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, broadband and other public works projects intended to help revamp America’s aging infrastructure.
Biden has called the plan essential. He also wants it to be followed by a much larger $3.5 trillion budget framework that would allow for spending on some of his other priorities, including climate measures and social spending. Republicans have said they will not support the larger measure.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives on July 1 passed its own version https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-house-approves-715-bln-infrastructure-bill-2021-07-01 of transportation and water infrastructure legislation.
The offer that Democrats sent on Sunday shows that the sides remain divided on a number of issues, including transit funding. A document seen by Reuters shows Democrats offered to reduce transit spending authorization to $69.9 billion over five years down from previous offer of $73.9 billion.
The document also shows continuing partisan disagreement about whether to include a provision to lift workers’ wages https://www.reuters.com/world/us/exclusive-democrats-may-scrap-20-bln-matching-funding-spending-bill-amid-2021-07-23 in various parts of the bill, and debate over how to allocate $7.5 billion for cleaner school buses and ferries as well as $65 billion for broadband internet.
Republicans said Democrats were seeking to add requirements that contractors pay prevailing wages to spending on broadband internet and cybersecurity, as well as a newly created infrastructure bank.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone, Will Dunham, Jonathan Oatis and Bernadette Baum)

Tunisian president responds to coup critiques: ‘review your constitutional lessons’

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FILE PHOTO: Tunisian President Kais Saied takes the oath of office in Tunis, Tunisia, October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo July 26, 2021
CAIRO (Reuters) – Tunisian President Kais Saied, who recently ousted parliament, responded to critics who called his actions a coup on Monday by telling them to “review your constitutional lessons.”
The president was also keen to reassure the business community saying: “we do not have any problems with businessmen,” shortly after credit ratings agency Fitch warned Tunisia would need to retain its reserves to avoid another rating downgrade.
Saied has framed his actions as a constitutional and popular response to years of economic and political paralysis, and said Article 80 of the constitution gave him power to dismiss the government, appoint a temporary administration, freeze parliament and lift the immunity of its members.
Tunisia’s nascent democracy is facing its worst crisis in a decade on Monday after Saied ousted the government and froze parliament with help from the army, a move denounced as a coup by the main parties including Islamists.
Saied called on Tunisians to remain calm and not to respond to any provocations. He also urged people not to take to the streets, saying “the most danger a nation can face is internal explosion.”
Earlier on Monday, Saied imposed a night curfew for a month and suspended work in central administrations, foreign institutions, local groups and public institutions of an administrative nature for two days, starting Tuesday, after people took to the streets between opponents and encouraging.
The Tunisian president stressed that he will take full responsibility for his latest decisions and that he does not want a single blood drop shed on Tunisian soil.
(Reporting by Alaa Swilam and Nayera Abdallah; writing by Alaa Swilam; editing by Chris Reese)

McCarthy calls Cheney, Kinzinger 'Pelosi Republicans'

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., “Pelosi Republicans” after they accepted seats on the House speaker’s Jan. 6 special select committee.McCarthy took the shots at his former No. 3 in the House and the Illinois centrist after being asked about the commission while attending a Rose Garden event for the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.The top Republican in the House pulled his three other picks for the committee after two of his choices – Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Jim Banks, R-Ind., both allies of former President Trump — were nixed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.MCCARTHY SAYS PELOSI ‘HAS BROKEN THIS INSTITUTION’ BY DENYING GOP PICKS FOR JAN. 6 SELECT COMMITTEE”Who is that? Adam and Liz? Aren’t they kind of like Pelosi Republicans?” McCarthy said to reporters before the event.McCarthy also responded “we’ll see” when asked if the two Republicans on the Jan. 6 commission would be punished.”I don’t talk about January 6th,” McCarthy said when asked if he had spoken with former President Trump about the committee drama. “I spoke to the president.”Cheney called McCarthy’s comments “childish” when asked about them at the Capitol, according to The Hill. Kinzinger agreed with the former House Republican Conference chair.”We’re doing big things right now. We’re getting to the answers of the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812. He can call me any names he wants,” Kinzinger said, according to The Hill.”I’m a Republican. Kevin McCarthy is technically my Republican leader,” he continued. “And to call, you know, members of Congress by childish names like Donald Trump used to do, I guess it’s just kind of par [for the course].”McCarthy blasted Pelosi last week after she blocked Banks and Jordan from joining the committee.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”Speaker Pelosi has taken the unprecedented step of denying the minority party’s picks for the select committee on Jan. 6. This represents something that has not happened in the House before for a select committee, by the historian,” McCarthy, said at a press conference. “It’s an egregious abuse of power. Pelosi has broken this institution. Denying the voice of members who have served in the military – Jim Banks, a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan,” McCarthy continued. “As well as a leader of a standing committee. Jim Jordan isn’t ranking of just his first committee, he’s done it before.”McCarthy has since pulled his other three picks — Reps. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.Pelosi insisted over the weekend there will be “no partisanship” with the commission.

Olympics-Skateboarding-‘Sooo sick’: Japan skate champ wins fans as TV commentator

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Skateboarding – Women’s Street – Final – Ariake Urban Sports Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Athletes look on. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson July 26, 2021
By Mari Saito
TOKYO (Reuters) – One of the breakout stars of the inaugural skateboarding event at the Tokyo Olympics is a champion who’s not even competing.
On Monday, Ryo Sejiri, a TV commentator for Japanese broadcaster NHK, was in his element, giving the kind of move-by-move analysis that’s all too common in sports, but with his distinctive flair.
“Yoooooooo,” exclaimed Sejiri after Chinese skater Zeng Wenhui landed a particularly complicated trick during Monday’s street event for women.
“Yiiiikes, that’s hot,” Sejiri added, highlighting the move’s difficulty. “That is sooo sick,” he repeated later as Japan’s Momiji Nishiya and Funa Nakayama battled for gold https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/skateboarding-nishiya-japan-takes-gold-womens-street-2021-07-26 against Brazilian prodigy Rayssa Leal.
Sejiri, a 24-year-old skateboarding champion, joined NHK’s first-ever Olympic skating broadcast on Sunday to provide commentary on a sport that remains entirely new to many of the public broadcaster’s audience, which includes many older viewers.
Speaking in a more relaxed and casual tone of Japanese than NHK’s normally staid style, Sejiri said during a Sunday broadcast that a skater had been “seriously grinding” during a practice session the day before, prompting a confused response from his fellow commentator.
Sejiri explained that he meant the athlete was really working hard and giving the routine their all. The more straight-laced announcer, who has since become the skater’s foil, was quick on the uptake.
“So now, that athlete who was indeed ‘grinding’ yesterday is coming up,” he said.
(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Karishma Singh)

Olympics-Tokyo Games cameras to focus on sporting performance

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Vault – Qualification – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Kim Bui of Germany, Pauline Schaefer of Germany and Elisabeth Seitz of Germany are seen in their unitards REUTERS/Mike Blake July 26, 2021
By Karolos Grohmann
TOKYO (Reuters) – Coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Games by the official Olympic broadcaster will focus only on athletes’ performances and adopt a more gender-neutral approach to filming than may have been the case in the past, its CEO said on Monday.
The Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) produces the visual feed distributed to all broadcasters around the world. OBS CEO Yiannis Exarchos said the focus in Tokyo, with the Games having started on Friday, was only on the athletes’ sporting performances.
On Sunday, the German women’s gymnastics team decided to wear full-body suits at the Games instead of gymnastics leotards, to counter what they said was the sexualisation of their sport and to promote freedom of choice, encouraging women to wear what makes them feel comfortable.
Exarchos said while the OBS was not responsible for what athletes wore, it had planned its coverage in such a way so as not to reinforce any gender stereotypes.
“As broadcasters we do not give directives about what the athletes should wear,” Exarchos said.
“What we can do is to make sure our coverage does not highlight or feature in any particular way what people are wearing and whether the clothes they are wearing highlight particular parts of the body that have to do with stereotypes.”
In the past, broadcast coverage of some sports such as gymnastics and beach volleyball, where female athletes’ leotards and bikinis cover less of the body than that of male competitors, was criticised as stereotyping female athletes.
“You will not see in our coverage some things that we have been seeing in the past, with details and close-ups in parts of the body or elements that speak about sexuality or any other type of stereotyping of gender,” Exarchos said.
Earlier this month Norway’s beach handball team was fined 1,500 euros ($1,764) for what the European Handball Federation said was improper attire. The women had decided to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms at a European championship match in Bulgaria.
Norway’s sports minister called the decision “ridiculous” and urged a change in attitude.
“It is very important how you tell the story and how you insist on which details, and the details we insist on is the sporting prowess of the athletes,” Exarchos said.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Karishma Singh)

A tense Sunday in rural Ohio watching an Olympian do his thing

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Edie Armstrong reacts when she hears that her son, U.S. swimmer Hunter Armstrong, will be moving on after just making it through the men’s 100m backstroke preliminary race during the 2021 Olympic Games, in Dover, Ohio, U.S., July 25, 2021. “That gave me a small heart attack,” Edie Armstrong said jokingly. “Don’t ever do that to me again Hunter.” Picture taken July 25, 2021. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse July 26, 2021
By Gaelen Morse
DOVER, Ohio (Reuters) – The parents and grandparents of Olympic backstroke swimmer Hunter Armstrong could not travel to see the 20-year-old compete in Tokyo because of COVID restrictions. Like millions of others, they watched on TV.
It was 8 p.m. in Tokyo and 7 in the morning in small-town Dover, Ohio, and Armstrong was vying for one of sixteen spots in the 100 meter backstroke semifinals.
Hunter’s mom Edie, dad Ryan, and grandparents Karen and Tom gathered in the family room, where Olympic rings hang from the mantel. Karen, who always touches Hunter’s shoulder before a race, touched the TV.
Deer heads decorate the home. The dad is a hunter; Hunter is not. The family all wore t-shirts: “From Dover to Tokyo” on the front, and on the back: “Invictus Maneo,” which means “I remain undefeated.”
The pandemic kept the family apart this Olympics, but the year’s delay to the Games enabled Hunter to join the team, one of two backstroke specialists on Team USA.
Flags over the pool tell backstroke swimmers when a turn is coming up. Hunter was late seeing the flag and did not turn well, but still qualified for the semis, tying for 15th place.
“I knew he had it in him, but having the potential and getting it out are two different things,” said dad Ryan Armstrong, a sales executive for a plastics company.
Mom Edie was pacing nervously and left the room for a few minutes.
“Don’t ever do that to me again,” she said. “That gave me a small heart attack.”
With half a day until the next race, Hunter was getting a massage when he called his family via FaceTime. He told them about the missed flags.
“Well, I got my first Olympic swim under my belt,” he said, vowing to get back to work.
The U.S. swim coach, Gregg Troy, chimed in. “Get a good meal, get a good rest, get your ass in gear.”
TRY, TRY AGAIN
Night-time in Japan was midday in Ohio. The family headed to the First Moravian Church for Sunday service, finding a sea of Armstrong t-shirts. The congregation joined another FaceTime call.
The community had helped Hunter reach the Olympics. The swimmer would hate to disappoint the town, said Brenda Wherley, who coached Hunter from age six to 18.
Later on Sunday, Wherley organized a watch party at Dover High School. About 130 people came to watch the backstroke semifinal.
Hunter missed getting into the final by one one-hundredth of a second. His Olympics was over.
The crowd was momentarily dejected, but soon broke into applause.
Wherley is looking ahead to the 2024 Paris Games, which she plans to attend in person. Twenty is young for a swimmer, his family pointed put.
“In three years, I think he’s going to look like what Ryan Murphy is now,” said Wherley, referring to the current U.S. swimming star.
(Reporting by Gaelen Morse in Dover, Writing by Nick Zieminski, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Facebook and tech giants to target attacker manifestos, far-right militias in database

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FILE PHOTO: A militia member with body armor and a Three Percenters militia patch stands in Stone Mountain as various militia groups stage rallies at Stone Mountain, Georgia, U.S. August 15, 2020. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Elizabeth Culliford
(Reuters) -A counterterrorism organization formed by some of the biggest U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft is significantly expanding the types of extremist content shared between firms in a key database, aiming to crack down on material from white supremacists and far-right militias, the group told Reuters.
Until now, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism’s (GIFCT) database has focused on videos and images from terrorist groups on a United Nations list and so has largely consisted of content from Islamist extremist organizations such as Islamic State, al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Over the next few months, the group will add attacker manifestos – often shared by sympathizers after white supremacist violence – and other publications and links flagged by U.N. initiative Tech Against Terrorism. It will use lists from intelligence-sharing group Five Eyes, adding URLs and PDFs from more groups, including the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and neo-Nazis.
The firms, which include Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, share “hashes,” unique numerical representations of original pieces of content that have been removed from their services. Other platforms use these to identify the same content on their own sites in order to review or remove it.
While the project reduces the amount of extremist content on mainstream platforms, groups can still post violent images and rhetoric on many other sites and parts of the internet.
The tech group wants to combat a wider range of threats, said GIFCT’s Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen in an interview with Reuters.
“Anyone looking at the terrorism or extremism landscape has to appreciate that there are other parts… that are demanding attention right now,” Rasmussen said, citing the threats of far-right or racially motivated violent extremism.
The tech platforms have long been criticized for failing to police violent extremist content, though they also face concerns over censorship. The issue of domestic extremism, including white supremacy and militia groups, took on renewed urgency https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-administration-unveils-plan-tackle-domestic-terrorism-2021-06-15 following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Fourteen companies can access the GIFCT database, including Reddit, Snapchat-owner Snap, Facebook-owned Instagram, Verizon Media, Microsoft’s LinkedIn and file-sharing service Dropbox.
GIFCT, which is now an independent organization, was created in 2017 under pressure from U.S. and European governments after a series of deadly attacks in Paris and Brussels. Its database mostly contains digital fingerprints of videos and images related to groups on the U.N. Security Council’s consolidated sanctions list and a few specific live-streamed attacks, such as the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
GIFCT has faced criticism and concerns from some human and digital rights groups over centralized or over-broad censorship.
“Over-achievement in this takes you in the direction of violating someone’s rights on the internet to engage in free expression,” said Rasmussen.
Emma Llanso, director of Free Expression at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said in a statement: “This expansion of the GIFCT hash database only intensifies the need for GIFCT to improve the transparency and accountability of these content-blocking resources.”
“As the database expands, the risks of mistaken takedown only increase,” she added.
The group wants to continue to broaden its database to include hashes of audio files or certain symbols and grow its membership. It recently added home-rental giant Airbnb and email marketing company Mailchimp as members.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Kenneth Li, Lisa Shumaker and Rosalba O’Brien)

Unions Spent At Least $1.8 Billion in the 2020 Election Cycle

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( Joaquin Corbalan/GettyImages)

A new report is out today summarizing the political activities of unions in the 2020 election cycle. It says unions spent $1.8 billion, and that is actually an underestimate.
The report is from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR), the research arm of the National Right to Work Committee. It breaks union spending into three categories: spending by union political action committees (PACs), spending by public-sector unions on state and local politics, and spending from union general treasuries. The first of those, PAC expenditures, is often the number reported as total union spending in the media, according to the report. That totaled to only $57 million in 2020, leading one to conclude that unions’ influence is relatively small in elections.

But the other two categories in the NILRR report make up most of unions’ political activities. Public-sector unions spent $287 million in state and local races, and $1.4 billion left union general treasuries for political purposes in 2020.

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That $1.4 billion is huge, but the NILRR argues it is actually an underestimate. Unions are required to report expenditures from their general treasuries to the Department of Labor every year. Expenditures are broken down into different categories. The NILRR got the $1.4 billion number by summing the expenditures in the “political activities and lobbying” category. But there’s no cut-and-dry definition of political spending, and plenty of political expenditures show up in other categories.
Two other categories of spending are “representational activities” and “contributions, gifts, and grants.” The NILRR combed through those categories and found many examples of political spending in them. For example, they found that the National Education Association (NEA) gave money to the Strategic Victory Fund, American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, the Progressive Caucus Action Fund, and the Progressive State Leaders Committee — all left-wing political groups — and reported it in the “contributions, gifts, and grants” category. The NEA considers that spending to be on “social welfare organizations” and separate from political spending, even though those groups all push a political agenda.

The NILRR report excluded some spending to avoid double-counting and only counted spending from public disclosures in explicitly political categories, so it’s safe to say the $1.8 billion is an underestimate of unions’ actual political spending last year. Unions may be playing a smaller role in most Americans’ lives, but they still play a large role in funding political activities, most of it to the benefit of progressives.

The Best Items to Buy During Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale

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Growing up in Mall Country — aka Bergen County, NJ — I know my way around a department store. Nordstrom has been (and probably always will be) a stalwart of finds for me and Nordstrom Rack is one of my most-shopped stores. Well, if you’re familiar with Nordstrom like I am, you look forward to summer, because it’s Nordstrom’s Anniversary sale.What is the Nordstrom Anniversary sale and why does it matter so much? Well, unlike traditional sales, where stores discount items that have been around for a bit, Nordstrom changes things up. Shoppers gain access to brand new items, ones that have not hit the floor and are launching in the fall, at a discounted price. They stay at that price for the entirety of the sale before going to their original MSRP afterward. That means you’re getting newly launched goods for a deal before they even make it into stores.We’ve rounded up some top-tier items to pick up while they’re on sale and before their prices go up for good. From home goods to clothing, there’s something for everyone in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle: We at Scouted love Fellow and their trendy, but extremely functional coffee gadgets. This electric kettle is perfect for coffee aficionados and tea drinkers alike, with variable temperature control and a hold feature that maintains your water temperature for up to an hour. Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle React Phantom Run Flyknit 2 Running Shoe: These sock-like running shoes are the perfect thing to hit the pavement in. The cushioning absorbs impact and distributes weight while the Flyknit upper helps keep a snug, comfortable fit without weighing you down. React Phantom Run Flyknit 2 Running Shoe Marimekko Lokki Bath Towel: There’s really nothing like upgrading your bath towels to something you truly love. These towels from Marimekko are 100% cotton and feature the brand’s signature wave-like pattern. Grab the matching hand towel if you’re feeling spicy and want to pretend that Architectural Digest is coming over later. Marimekko Lokki Bath Towel Assorted 2-Pack Ultra Performance Boxer Briefs: When it comes to innovative design, look no further than SAXX. The brand specializes in underwear that is supportive and breathable, with a pouch design and moisture-wicking fabric. Assorted 2-Pack Ultra Performance Boxer Briefs Hydroflask 32-Ounce Wide Mouth Cap Bottle: A large-mouthed water bottle is a necessity these days, especially if you’re bad at staying hydrated. The Hydroflask bottles will keep your water cold for up to 24 hours and the wide opening allows you to refill with ease. Hydroflask 32-Ounce Wide Mouth Cap Bottle Jumbo Skin Perfecting Exfoliant: Paying attention to your skin has always been important, but even more so now as we go back out into the world and socialize with friends and colleagues. This toner helps resurface your skin while treating any potential breakouts you may have (hello, Maskne) thanks to the salicylic acid. Jumbo Skin Perfecting Exfoliant Men’s Core Stretch Woven Shorts: Workout gear, athleisure, athleticwear — whatever you want to call it, it’s a big thing right now. These shorts from Zella combine breathable fabric with a streamlined silhouette you could rock at the gym or the bar. Men’s Core Stretch Woven Shorts Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Sign up for our newsletter for more recommendations and deals. Curious about a specific product or brand? Let us know! If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.

Eric Adams Talks with David Remnick

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ContentPhotograph by Saul Loeb / AFP / GettyThe New York City mayoral primary, which culminated in a vote held in June, was full of surprises, including the introduction of ranked-choice voting to a confused electorate, and the presence of Andrew Yang, a newcomer to municipal politics who quickly attained front-runner status. But the winning Democrat was no surprise. Eric Adams is the borough president of Brooklyn and a former state senator, making him an establishment favorite. He was also, for more than two decades, a police officer. With policing at the center of public attention since last year’s uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, Adams occupies a unique position in the debate. He was a firebrand in the N.Y.P.D. and an advocate for Black officers; and he was, as a teen-age boy, a victim of police abuse himself. But Adams is also a strong defender of the police department. He has spoken about the correct way to implement stop-and-frisk policies, which have been previously carried out in ways that were ruled unconstitutional. He rebuked candidates to his left who talked about defunding the force. And he made the national spike in violent crime part of his candidacy, when others focussed their platforms elsewhere.The nation’s cities face a budgetary crisis, the COVID crisis, a crisis of confidence in policing, and more. Adams doesn’t seem fazed. “We need to be very honest that our city is dysfunctional. And it always has been for a large number of New Yorkers,” he told David Remnick. “I could take you throughout the city where the conditions have remained the same through mayor after mayor. What I must do is stop the dysfunctionality of a city that has normalized being dysfunctional.” Remnick spoke with Adams on July 21, 2021.

Memo warns State Department not 'airline of last resort' for ill Americans abroad

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels this week to India, a country only a few months removed from a terrifying COVID-19 surge of more than 400,000 reported daily cases. India’s May experience is also a reminder of the risks to Americans traveling abroad during a persistent pandemic, mutating virus and sluggish global vaccine rollout. “The Department continues to strongly recommend U.S. citizens reconsider travel abroad, and postpone their trips if possible,” said Department of State spokesperson. “Our ability to provide consular and other services may be hindered by local health conditions.” In late May, Ian Brownlee, the acting assistant secretary for consular affairs, sent a memo to Brian McKeon, the deputy secretary of state for management and resources, advising that the State Department had developed a process to address evacuations for critically ill Americans unable to secure “lifesaving care” in India, though advising that the government “should not generally undertake further large-scale COVID-19 evacuations” beyond that small group.US, CHINA DIPLOMATIC TALKS CONFRONTATION, AS ACCUSATIONS FLYThe memo also warned that “there is no obligation, legal or regulatory, for the Department to serve as the airline of last resort.” The State Department has advised U.S. citizens to prepare to remain overseas “for an extended period” if they test positive for COVID-19. In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered all air passengers returning to the U.S. from a foreign country to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of their flights. “We are committed to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens in need overseas, including by providing information on local medical resources when appropriate,” said a State Department spokesperson. Cases in India have declined significantly since May. The Indian Health Ministry reported fewer than 40,000 new cases Sunday. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPLess than 7% of India’s population, about 92.7 million people, are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. More than 340 million have received at least one dose.   After the United States, India has the highest level of reported COVID-19 cases in the world, with more than 31 million cases and 420,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

ICE nabs more than 300 illegal immigrant sex offenders since June as part of national operation

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FIRST ON FOX: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested more than 300 illegal immigrant sex offenders since June as part of an ongoing nationwide enforcement effort to arrest and deport those convicted of sex crimes.ICE officers arrested 302 sex offenders since June 4 as part of Operation SOAR (Sex Offender Arrest and Removal) – an ongoing enforcement operation launched by the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).‘SQUAD’ DEM TLAIB CALLS FOR DEFUNDING OF ICE, CBP, DHS, CLAIMS THEY ‘TERRORIZE’ MIGRANTSThe operation involves ERO’s Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) collaborating with its Law Enforcement Support Center to identify criminal illegal immigrants who are also registered as sex offenders. It seeks not only to arrest them, but also to remove them from the country.ICE has seen its enforcement priorities narrowed by new guidance issued in February, with current guidelines focusing agents on arresting recent border crossers, aggravated felons and those posing a threat to national security. While critics have claimed the guidance hinders the agency from apprehending some illegal immigrants, ICE’s acting director has said the rules allow the agency to focus its limited resources on nabbing the most dangerous threats to the country.”Our officers have prioritized the arrest of noncitizens who pose the greatest threat to the security and safety of our communities,” acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said in a statement. BIDEN’S ICE NOMINEE SAYS DROP IN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT ARRESTS IS ‘CONCERNING’”By focusing our resources on those who have committed sex crimes and demonstrated predatory behavior, we reinforce our steadfast commitment to enhancing public safety across the United States,” he said.President Biden’s nominee to head the agency in a non-acting capacity, Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, faced questioning over the guidance at his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., quizzed Gonzalez about the reduction in ICE arrests in recent months.Gonzalez said the agency, under his leadership, would continue to focus its resources on the biggest threats to American communities, and would be “aggressive” in doing so.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”In my experience I would like to see more data to see what other factors may have played into that to better understand the numbers,” he said. “It is concerning, so I would make sure, again, that if we’re being strategic and we’re prioritizing properly that we could go after those individuals that pose the greatest threat to our communities.””I think that’s reasonable and appropriate, but we would be aggressive in going after them,” he said.

Newsom, Jenner, Elder to skip California recall election gubernatorial debate

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Neither Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, nor Republican candidates Caitlyn Jenner and Larry Elder will be on the stage next week for the first gubernatorial debate in California’s recall election set for Sept. 14.The debate, which is scheduled for next Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, is being co-hosted by FOX11, the FOX affiliate in Los Angeles.JENNER DEFENDS TRIP TO AUSTRALIA AMID CALIFORNIA RECALL ELECTIONElder will be attending a fundraiser in Bakersfield, California, which his campaign said the conservative talk radio host had committed to before the debate date was set. Elder announced his candidacy two weeks ago, just ahead of the filing deadline to get on the ballot.Jenner, who launched her campaign in April, also has a scheduling conflict. The 1976 Olympic gold medal winning decathlete turned transgender rights activist and nationally known TV personality is currently in Australia, on what her campaign described as a work obligation. But the campaign wouldn’t confirm or deny that the candidate had traveled to Australia for a lucrative deal to appear in the reality TV program “Big Brother VIP.””I have had this on the books, this show that I’m doing down here in Australia, for months and months,” Jenner told Fox News in an interview last week. But she defended her trip, saying, “I’m not like most politicians, I actually honor my contract.”Jenner said that she’d be back in California in time for the start of an Aug. 12 statewide bus tour campaign, which kicks off just a couple of days before ballots in the recall election get mailed out to Golden State voters. JENNER, AT CPAC DALLAS, TELLS FOX NEWS ‘I’M IN IT TO WIN IT’Debate organizers said Republican candidates John Cox, the businessman and 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee; former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; former Rep. Doug Ose; and state lawmaker Kevin Kiley will take part in the debate. They said that Newsom was invited to participate but did not respond to the foundation’s invitation.The governor’s campaign pointed to a statement last month from Newsom political adviser Nathan Click, who highlighted that “instead of debating John Cox or Caitlyn Jenner’s Trump-style climate or immigration ideas, Gov. Newsom will be doing the job that Californians elected him to do—leading our economic recovery and tackling our state’s most pressing challenges—like homelessness, disparities in education, and our aging infrastructure.”The fundraiser isn’t the only reason Elder isn’t attending the debate. His campaign questioned the need for a showdown that didn’t include the embattled governor. “It makes no sense to have a circular firing squad among GOP contenders, where the only one who benefits is Gavin Newsom,” Elder campaign communications director Ying Ma said in a statement. “Larry would be happy to debate — Gavin Newsom.”ELDER CLEARED FOR CALIFORNIA RECALL BALLOT AFTER WINNING LAWSUITAnd Jenner’s campaign argued in a statement to Fox News that “this recall is a referendum on the failed leadership of Gavin Newsom. It is imperative that he answers questions along with the rest of the candidates so Californians can compare and contrast our vision for the state versus Gavin’s disastrous record.”The recall push was launched in June of last year over claims the governor mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The effort was fueled by the state’s COVID restrictions on businesses and houses of worship, school shutdowns and even opposition to the state’s high taxes. But the effort surged in the autumn after Newsom’s dinner at an uber-exclusive restaurant, which – at best – skirted rules imposed by the governor to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.State election officials announced in April that the recall effort had garnered more than the 1.5 million valid signatures needed to make the ballot.Republicans see the recall election as their best chance to topple a politician who has never lost an election during his years as San Francisco mayor, California lieutenant governor and now governor — and their first chance to win a statewide contest since the 2006 gubernatorial reelection victory by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a moderate Republican.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPThree years earlier, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis became the second governor in U.S. history to be successfully recalled and was succeeded by Schwarzenegger, who won the recall election.Voters will be asked two questions on the Newsom recall ballot – first, whether the governor should be removed from office. If more than 50% support removing Newsom, the second question would be a list of candidates running to replace the governor.

Olympics-Basketball-Spain coach furious over ‘dangerous’ wait for dressing room

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Basketball – Men – Group C – Japan v Spain – Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan – July 26, 2021. Y. Watanabe of Japan in action with Alex Abrines of Spain REUTERS/Brian Snyder July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Spain basketball coach Sergio Scariolo hit out at the Tokyo 2020 organisers after his side were made to wait almost half an hour before being allowed back into the dressing room following their 88-77 Group C victory over hosts Japan on Monday.
The Italian called for changes to be made, saying that making athletes wait to access recovery facilities could potentially lead to more injuries.
“There needs to be more respect shown for the players,” Scariolo told a news conference.
“It took 25 minutes from the end of the game before they could get their legs into an ice bath, and that’s something that is very dangerous and needs to be changed,” he said.
The reason for the wait was not immediately clear.
“Their legs are tired, and they should be treated with respect; protocols have to be changed,” Scariolo said.
“Everyone’s here for one thing and that’s the players and we need to look after their health. Honestly, I’m not just annoyed for the sake of being annoyed, I repeat, it’s incredibly dangerous.”
World champions and 2016 bronze medallists Spain face Argentina on Thursday, while Japan take on Slovenia.
(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Olympics-Swimming-Battle of the record breakers looms in the Tokyo pool

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Women’s 100m Backstroke – Heats – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Kaylee McKeown of Australia in action REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tuesday’s women’s 100m backstroke final will be a battle of the record breakers with Australia’s Kaylee McKeown going for gold against American Regan Smith and Canada’s Kylie Masse.
The trio are the three fastest swimmers in the history of the event, all having held the world record, with McKeown the current owner.
They showed their form in Sunday’s heats with Masse setting an Olympic record before Smith took it from her and then McKeown went even faster.
In the women’s 100m breaststroke, American Lilly King faces a tough challenge to the defence of her title with South African Tatjana Schoenmaker in the prime lane four after qualifying fastest.
World record holder King’s old Russian foe Yulia Efimova is also in the final.
The pair made headlines at Rio 2016, when King wagged her finger at the previously suspended Russian and branded her a drug cheat. That clearly still rankles Efimova.
“I’m rooting for Tatjana Schoenmaker,” Efimova told Russian media. “If I don’t win myself, then let Tatjana win.”
The men’s 100m backstroke features defending champion and world record holder Ryan Murphy of the United States going for a fourth career gold with Russian Kliment Kolesnikov looking dangerous and Australian Mitch Larkin also a threat.
The first final of the morning is the men’s 200m freestyle with Britain’s Duncan Scott and Tom Dean hoping to medal and American Kieran Smith in the lane between them.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Bezos offers NASA $2 billion in exchange for moon mission contract

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FILE PHOTO: Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos walks with crew mate Wally Funk at the landing pad after they flew on Blue Origin’s inaugural flight to the edge of space, in the nearby town of Van Horn, Texas, U.S. July 20, 2021. Funk, 82, became the oldest person in space. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Fresh off his trip to space, billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos on Monday offered to cover up to $2 billion in NASA costs if the U.S. space agency awards his company Blue Origin a contract to make a spacecraft designed to land astronauts back on the moon.
NASA in April awarded rival billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX https://www.reuters.com/technology/spacex-wins-us-contract-spacecraft-send-astronauts-moon-washington-post-2021-04-16 a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024, rejecting bids from Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics. Blue Origin had partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Draper in the bid.
The space agency cited its own funding shortfalls, SpaceX’s proven record of orbital missions and other factors in a contract decision that senior NASA official Kathy Lueders called “what’s the best value to the government.”
In a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Bezos said Blue Origin would waive payments in the government’s current fiscal year and the next ones after that up to $2 billion, and pay for an orbital mission to vet its technology. In exchange, Blue Origin would accept a firm, fixed-priced contract, and cover any system development cost overruns, Bezos said.
“NASA veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle,” Bezos wrote.
“Without competition, NASA’s short-term and long-term lunar ambitions will be delayed, will ultimately cost more, and won’t serve the national interest,” Bezos added.
NASA and SpaceX did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Before choosing SpaceX, NASA had asked for proposals for a spacecraft that would carry astronauts to the lunar surface under its Artemis program to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972. Blue Origin’s lunar lander is called “Blue Moon.” Bezos and Musk are the world’s first and third richest people respectively, according to Forbes.
Bezos’ offer came six days after he flew alongside three crewmates to the edge of space https://www.reuters.com/technology/jeff-bezos-worlds-richest-man-set-inaugural-space-voyage-2021-07-20 aboard Blue Origin’s rocket-and-capsule New Shepard, a milestone for the company’s bid to become a major player in an emerging space tourism market.
After losing out to SpaceX, Blue Origin filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), accusing NASA of giving SpaceX an unfair advantage by allowing it to revise its pricing. The GAO’s decision is expected by early August, though industry sources viewed the possibility of a reversal as unlikely.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham)

Northern Nigeria state suspends schools due to insecurity

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FILE PHOTO: Pieces of furniture are seen inside a classroom at Bethel Baptist High School where unspecified number of student were kidnapped at Damishi, Kaduna, Nigeria July 7, 2021. REUTERS/Bosan Yakusak July 26, 2021
By Garba Muhammed
KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – The northern Nigerian state of Kaduna has suspended all schooling due to insecurity, state officials said on Monday, amid a spate of student kidnappings in the region that has rocked Africa’s most populous country.
“We have asked students to stay away for three weeks, after which in the third week we will review the situation and get across to the public and the students,” said Mohammed Makarfi, Kaduna state’s commissioner of education, by phone.
The state had already imposed a three-week suspension on schooling that expired on Sunday, said another official who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to media.
“The directive of the governor to extend the suspension of resumption till further notice is to ensure the safety of students in all schools,” said the official.
On Sunday, kidnappers who raided a boarding school earlier this month released 28 children, though another 81 remain in captivity, said a pastor involved in the negotiations.
The attack on the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna was the 10th mass school kidnapping since December in northwest Nigeria, which authorities have attributed to criminal gangs seeking ransom payments.
(Reporting by Garba Muhammed in Kaduna; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Peru opposition to lead Congress in setback for socialist Castillo

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FILE PHOTO: Peruvian President-elect Pedro Castillo receives credentials from election authority after being declared winner of Peru’s presidential election, in Lima, Peru, July 23, 2021. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda/Pool July 26, 2021
By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) – An opposition-led alliance won a vote on Monday to lead Peru’s Congress, a setback for socialist President-elect Pedro Castillo on the eve of his inauguration and a sign of challenges ahead to his plans to reform the constitution and hike mining taxes.
A leadership team headed by centrist legislator María del Carmen Alva from the Popular Action party won by 69-to-10 votes against a rival grouping led by retired military man Jorge Montoya from an ultra-conservative right-wing party.
A list of candidates proposed by Castillo’s Free Peru party was rejected over procedural issues, underscoring challenges the outsider president-elect faces pushing through reform in a fragmented legislature where no single party has a majority.
Alva, who will be Congress president for the 2021-2022 legislative period, had key support from the right-wing Popular Force party of Keiko Fujimori, who narrowly lost to Castillo in a knife-edge June 6 run-off and has pledged to fight him.
Castillo gained strong support from poorer, rural Peruvians on a platform pledging to redraft the Andean country’s decades-old constitution and sharply raise taxes on copper mining firms to pay for reforms in healthcare and education.
The rise of the former teacher and son of peasant farmers has, however, rattled Peru’s political and business elite, despite moves by Castillo to distance himself from hard left regimes in the region and bring on more moderate advisers.
On Sunday Castillo announced a list of candidates to lead Congress picked from allied parties rather than his own to support the “governance” of the country, though the list was rejected as one candidate was not properly registered.
Castillo, 51, will be sworn in as president in Congress on Wednesday, when Peru celebrates its bicentennial of independence. He is expected to give his first address as president, laying out his government’s plan for 2021-2026.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Richard Chang)

Nebraska governor backs university's anti-CRT resolution amid backlash

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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is throwing his support behind a resolution aimed at combatting critical race theory (CRT) at the state’s university system. “I strongly urge the Board of Regents to pass the resolution opposing the imposition of Critical Race Theory on students, so we keep academic freedom alive and well at the University of Nebraska,” Ricketts, a Republican, tweeted on Monday.He also took aim at two organizations – the United College Athlete Advocates and the American Association of University Professors – that criticized the resolution. “[T]he University of Nebraska should consider it an honor to be listed on the AAUP’s censure list alongside notable conservative institutions, including Brigham Young University, Catholic University of America, and Hillsdale College,” tweeted Ricketts.NEBRASKA REPUBLICAN PUSHES ANTI-CRT RESOLUTION AT STATE UNIVERSITYHis comments came amid a wave of pushback against the measure, which was proposed by University of Nebraska (NU) regent and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen.It reads in part: “Whereas we oppose discrimination in any form and whereas critical race theory does not promote inclusive and honest dialogue and education on campus and whereas critical race theory proponents seek to silence opposing views and disparage important American ideals, be it resolved that the regents of the University of Nebraska oppose any imposition of critical race theory in curriculum.”Since Pillen introduced the measure, it received support from Ricketts but plenty of criticism from faculty and others. Pillen had intended to introduce the resolution at an August meeting but it’s unclear if that will still happen.After the UCAA, AAUP, and faculty senate criticized the measure, the university’s president and chancellors released a statement expressing “concerns.””As we have shared with Regent Pillen, we have significant concerns about the resolution and how it would be interpreted by the faculty, staff and students we hope to recruit and retain,” it read.WHAT IS CRITICAL RACE THEORY?”We will continue to work together and with the Board to vigorously protect and defend academic freedom at the University of Nebraska.”The controversy at NU reflected a broader debate about purported academic freedom and the appropriateness of teaching ideas surrounding CRT.”As our policies and practices make clear, the University of Nebraska is strongly committed to academic freedom,” reads the statement from President Ted Carter and four chancellors. “We support and defend the liberties our teachers and learners have to freely discuss ideas in and outside of the classroom … Issues around race, equity and the fight against racism are an important part of our country’s story and they have an appropriate place in our classrooms.”WEBSITE LAUNCHED TO TRACK CRITICAL RACE THEORY TEACHING IN HIGHER EDUCATIONAAUP similarly expressed concerns about academic freedom while a UCAA petition quickly gathered more than 1,000 signatures.Pillen has maintained, however, that the resolution would help ensure a fair and balanced dialogue. “The imposition of Critical Race Theory on our students runs counter to those ideals by attempting to indoctrinate students and silencing their dissenting opinions,” he said. “This resolution affirms a fair and balanced dialogue on all issues.”William Jacobson, a Cornell Law School professor and founder of criticalrace.org, which tracks CRT training in higher education, previously told Fox News that Pillen’s resolution gave an honest account of CRT’s downsides.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”Numerous universities and colleges have issued public statements supporting, and in some cases mandating, a critical race theory approach to the curriculum, usually using code words such as ‘antiracism’ or ‘equity,’” he told Fox News via email.”The proposed U. Nebraska Regents Resolution stands apart in that it gives an honest account of the downside of CRT in practice, which too often results in a narrowing of campus viewpoints. The resolution does not ‘ban’ CRT from the curriculum, to the contrary, it opposes ‘imposition’ of CRT, and in so doing seeks to foster an open campus intellectual environment.”

Trump ally Barrack pleads not guilty in UAE lobbying case

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July 26, 2021
By Jody Godoy
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire ally Thomas Barrack pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of illegal lobbying for the United Arab Emirates, putting the case on course for a possible trial.
Barrack entered his plea to seven criminal counts before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara in Brooklyn.
The charges against Barrack, 74, included secretly lobbying the Trump administration for the UAE between 2016 and 2018, and lying to investigators about dealings with the Middle Eastern country.
Barrack, who chaired Trump’s 2017 inaugural fund and was a frequent guest at the White House, was released last week on $250 million bond, secured by $5 million in cash as well as several properties and stock valued at $150 million.
Bulsara said Barrack may live at his home in Aspen, Colorado while awaiting trial. The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 2 before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan.
In an indictment unsealed last week, federal prosecutors accused three people – Barrack, his former employee Matthew Grimes, and an Emirati businessman – of failing to register as lobbyists, and using their influence to advance the UAE’s foreign policy in the United States.
Grimes pleaded not guilty on Monday to conspiracy and illegal lobbying charges, and was released on $5 million bond.
The third defendant is at large.
Barrack founded the digital infrastructure-focused private equity firm DigitalBridge Group Inc, known as Colony Capital Inc before a rebranding announced in June.
His blank-check acquisition firm Falcon Peak Acquisition Corp withdrew an initial public offering registration on Friday after the charges were unsealed.
(Reporting by Jody Godoy in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O’Brien)

Canada installs first indigenous governor general, highlights reconciliation

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks after Governor General Mary Simon took the oath to become the 30th Governor General of Canada in Ottawa, Canada July 26, 2021. Paul Chiasson/Pool via REUTERS July 26, 2021
By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada installed an indigenous woman as its governor general on Monday, the first such person to hold the post, in an elaborate ceremony that spotlighted the country’s effort to reconcile with its colonial past.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Mary Simon – a former journalist, ambassador, and Inuit community advocate – to serve as the representative in Canada of its head of state, Queen Elizabeth, earlier this month.
Simon is the first indigenous person to take on the role, created more than 400 years ago to represent the colonial power on North American soil. The change comes as Canada grapples with the legacy of its treatment of indigenous people.
“We need people like Ms. Simon because we need people who build bridges and bring us together,” Trudeau said at the ceremony.
Since May, hundreds of unmarked graves of children have been discovered at former “residential schools,” run for indigenous children forcibly separated from their families in what a Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called “cultural genocide.”
“I have heard from Canadians who describe a renewed sense of possibility for our country and hope that I can bring people together,” Simon, 73, said after being installed.
The ceremony, broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp also in Simon’s native Inuktitut language, was scaled back and masks were worn due to COVID-19. A drummer accompanied her entry into the Senate where she took an oath.
The governor general performs functions such as swearing in governments and formally signing legislation, but is also the commander in chief of the military and can summon or dissolve Parliament.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Richard Chang)

Ocasio-Cortez Misunderstands Inflation

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) speaks during a news conference in Queens, N.Y., April 12, 2021. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

The socialist congresswoman said last week that if we had “an overall inflationary issue, we would see prices going up in relatively equal amounts across the board no matter what the good is.” She notes that we have instead seen “very sector specific” price increases, “which means that these are due to supply chain issues.”

This is wrong. Uneven price increases are consistent with overall inflation both theoretically and as a matter of historical fact (as in the 1970s). On the most charitable interpretation of Ocasio-Cortez’s remark that I have been able to make, she seems to have in mind the reasonable idea that an excessively loose monetary policy will eventually cause prices to rise in roughly equal proportions. But she also seems to be assuming, falsely, that we can’t have that kind of inflation at the same time that we have supply-chain weaknesses that cause some specific prices to rise especially fast.
The extent to which each of these phenomena is happening is something economists are currently debating. It would certainly be easier to resolve the debate if the presence of one of them implied the absence of the other. The world does not arrange itself so neatly.

After Seven Months, 40 Percent of New York City Educators Aren’t Vaccinated

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Students wait in line for a temperature check before their first day of in person school at I.S. 318, amid the coronavirus outbreak in Brooklyn, N.Y., October 1, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

The middle section of today’s Morning Jolt makes the inconvenient point that despite the media’s preferred narrative, a significant portion of the remaining unvaccinated are not Trump-voting, MAGA-cap-wearing Republicans but Democrats, independents, or apolitical types.
I could not have found a more powerful illustrative set of statistics than the jaw-dropping percentages of New York City employees who are not vaccinated:

Some of the city’s largest agencies have lower vaccination rates than the general public. Of NYPD’s 54,000 uniformed and civilian workforce, only 43% are vaccinated, the New York Post reported last week, also finding that the FDNY has a 55% vaccination rate. Roughly 42% of city Department of Correction workers are vaccinated, the agency told THE CITY, based on information it has about those who were vaccinated in the five boroughs.
Both the city’s 135,000 public school employees and 42,000 public hospital workers have a 60% vaccination rate. An MTA spokesperson estimated 65% to 70% of the transit agency’s 65,000 employees have received the vaccine.

Maybe a decent number of NYPD and FDNY personnel voted for Trump. But it’s hard to believe there are many Republicans, registered or self-identified, among the ranks of the workforces of the MTA, city hospitals, or the city’s public schools.
And that last one is a strong argument for metaphorically burning teachers’ unions to the ground and salting the earth where they once stood. For the past eighteen months, teachers’ unions across the country and in New York City insisted that school buildings could not be reopened because the threat of COVID-19 infection to teachers, administrators, and other staff was just too high.
In New York state, teachers became eligible for vaccination back on January 11! And almost eight months later, 40 percent of city Department of Education employees remain unvaccinated? Clearly these educators were not all that worried about catching COVID-19. Apparently the fear of the coronavirus was just powerful enough to make returning to the classrooms unthinkable, but not quite so powerful enough to get them to get off their butts and go get vaccinated.

If the mainstream media wants to shame some people for not getting vaccinated, they don’t have to look through the social media posts of members of the Hillsong church. If they live in New York City, there’s a good chance that the nearest public school teacher isn’t vaccinated.

For the Jan. 6 Committee to Succeed, This Guy Has to Go

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On July 22, Chairman Bennie Thompson announced the senior staff for the fledgling 1/6 committee. On paper, the choices were beyond reproach. Until you saw who was named staff director, and just how sketchy his professional past is.Thompson’s announcement described David Buckley in glowing terms. He was staff director of a congressional intelligence committee, showing that he was not afraid to go up against the most recalcitrant of Executive branch agencies. That kind of experience will be invaluable.He was even the Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency. You can’t ask for a better background than that.As long as you ignore what he did in the job. Which Yahoo News’ Jenna McLaughlin, among others, did. Twice. While he was CIA IG, Buckley pushed so hard to prioritize criminal prosecution that a senior investigator falsified evidence to give to federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia. It placed that office in the unfortunate position of having to ask a judge to vacate a guilty plea once the misconduct was discovered, which then prompted that office to outright refuse to accept any more cases from the CIA IG because he and his team were considered untrustworthy.As part of a larger scheme to cover up the incident, Buckley then attempted to identify and discredit the whistleblowers in his own office who blew the whistle on the falsification. He openly retaliated against several of his own employees, most notably an attorney investigator named Andrew Bakaj, who incurred his wrath by cooperating with an investigator from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), as the law requires. Buckley attempted to torpedo Bakaj’s career for the unforgivable sin of interfering in his turf war with the ICIG—a turf war that the ICIG never even knew it was fighting. He even went so far as to hold an office-wide meeting in which he all but prohibited any employee of the CIA Office of the Inspector General from talking to the ICIG.And this isn’t just me—or even Bakaj—talking. Most of these charges were substantiated in an independent investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General. After that investigation, the DHS IG found Buckley’s conduct so objectionable that he recommended to the CIA director that Buckley be subjected to a review of his security clearance; that’s a professional kill-shot if it’s taken away, which in this scenario would be entirely justified.The CIA has not taken any action in response to the DHS IG report. This isn’t to say that the CIA declined to take action; the agency has not decided what to do. Which means that, as of today, there is still an active suggestion from an inspector general that Buckley’s security clearance be revoked. It’s a Sword of Damocles hanging over Buckley’s head. I and others have written extensively before about the totally arbitrary system currently governing security clearances, and this is exactly the system in charge of Buckley’s fate.So there’s going to be an unspoken implication—whether correct or not—that the committee’s staff director will continue to have a security clearance only so long as he does not anger the Intelligence Community. And even if he does not need a security clearance to be the committee’s staff director—which would be very unusual given the mandate—he would definitely be expected to do anything he could to avoid having it revoked, since that would severely constrain his post-committee career options.The only way that Buckley could resolve this issue would be if he recused himself from any decisions involving law enforcement or national security. At which point, if he’s not allowed to make any decisions involving the very areas of specialization he was hired for, what exactly makes him a good choice for staff director?Buckley’s Presence on the Committee Is a Gift to Its OpponentsWhen Chairman Thompson announced the appointment of David Buckley, he committed a massive, unforced error. Various Republican offices will no doubt rediscover a profound support for brave whistleblowers which was inexplicably absent over the last four years, and they will go out of their way to highlight Buckley’s previous declarations that other investigators needed to “stay in their lane” and not question him or his, all in furtherance of their agenda of tarnishing the committee’s findings before they even get off the ground. Buckley’s presence on the committee opens up the very real possibility that witnesses’ testimony will be undercut because detractors will complain, “Buckley’s office falsified evidence to federal prosecutors.” Those same detractors will intimate that Buckley is “too afraid” to look into frivolous allegations of law enforcement misconduct because of his precarious security clearance position. It’s a foregone conclusion that the Republican game plan will be to undermine the committee at every step, and when Chairman Thompson appointed Buckley, he handed the Republicans the ball.By all impressions, all of Chairman Thompson’s other appointments are known to be aggressive, persistent investigators, out to determine the truth no matter what the obstacles. Left to their own devices, I am confident that they would do a remarkable job. But Buckley is unlikely to leave them to their own devices. He has demonstrated a penchant for micromanaging the people underneath him, as aptly demonstrated by his handling of the Bakaj matter. He could not stomach the idea of his staff cooperating with another office, and so he personally held a meeting to tell them that. When confronted with evidence of misconduct by a member of his office, he chose to pursue the whistleblowers. It does not take much imagination to conclude how he will handle a highly qualified staff of bulldogs if he decides they need to turn down the heat. And even if this is discovered later when he actually crosses the line, his termination at that time will cause significant damage to the credibility of the committee.On a related note, it is important to remember why he went after Bakaj. It wasn’t just for reporting misconduct, although that definitely played a role. It was primarily for interfering in a turf war. For giving the ICIG reason to believe that they had a role to play—which, ironically, he told them himself with a smile before blowing up after they walked out the door. How do you think he is going to handle relations with other entities who are also investigating the 1/6 insurrection? As for the other officers who were in part hired because of their ability to work with those entities, how do you think they will fare?In the final analysis, Chairman Thompson has a clear choice to make. It is early enough in the process that he can be forgiven a misstep which can easily be chalked up to someone not doing their homework or believing a sincere-sounding civil servant who told a sob story about disgruntled employees out to stop him from Enforcing Justice. But if Buckley stays the committee’s credibility will be irrevocably damaged before its first hearing. It might still achieve its goals if everything else lines up in its favor, but there is a significant chance it will not. And this investigation is too important, too critical to the future of our country to run that risk, especially over one staffing decision.

Psaki dodges question about whether Biden's gun violence plan is working

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki dodged a question about President Biden’s gun violence prevention strategy Monday, saying the rising crime rates in big cities across the country shouldn’t be expected to “turn on a dime.”During her daily press briefing, Psaki was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy whether Biden’s “comprehensive strategy” to combat gun crime, first announced June 23, was effective in cities like Chicago, where 73 people were shot over the weekend, 11 of them fatally.PSAKI DEFENDS HUNTER BIDEN’S PARTICIPATION IN ART SHOWS: ‘NO SCENARIO’ IN WHICH BUYERS CAN ‘PROVIDE INFLUENCE'”Does the president think this strategy is working?” Doocy asked.”Well,” Psaki responded. “I think you and I both know that when there’s been rising crime rates across the country, including in Chicago, for 18 months or more, that unfortunately, it’s not going to turn on a dime.”The press secretary said Chicago is one of five cities in the country in which the federal government is working with local leaders and police to keep guns off the streets. BIDEN CRACKDOWN ON ‘ROGUE’ GUN DEALERS UNLIKELY TO STOP VIOLENT CRIME”The Department of Justice has a group in there to help address the selling of guns that are getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” she said. “We’re working closely with the mayor and local elected officials. They have benefitted a huge amount from the federal assistance and funding the president fought to include in the American Rescue plan.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPAs part of the Biden administration’s plan, the Justice Department launched enforcement strike forces focused on combatting gun trafficking in Chicago, as well as New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.”What our hope is that we can work in partnership to bring crime down, save more people in cities like Chicago where we know gun violence is a big driver of that,” Psaki said.

Veterans Affairs to mandate COVID vaccine for health care personnel, first such mandate for federal agency

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough on Monday made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all VA health care personnel, the first such mandate by a federal agency.The mandate includes physicians, dentists, nurses and others who work in patient-facing roles.The VA said it was taking this “necessary step” to keep the veterans it serves “safe.” The VA said each employee will have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated.WHITE HOUSE SAYS COVID VACCINATIONS ‘PICKING UP’ AMID CONCERNS OF DELTA VARIANT”We’re mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it’s the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said Monday. 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee Denis McDonough is sworn in during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington. (Leigh Vogel/Pool via AP)

Olympics-Gymnastics-Top women eliminated in Tokyo by a technicality

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Floor Exercise – Qualification – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Mykayla Skinner of the United States in action during the floor exercise. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson July 26, 2021
(fixes spelling of introduced in fifth para)
By Karen Braun
(Reuters) -Sixteen-year-old Viktoria Listunova won the women’s artistic gymnastics all-around title at both the European and Russian Championships earlier this year.
However, despite placing sixth overall in the qualifying round on Sunday, the Russian Olympic Committee athlete will not get the chance to try for another all-around crown at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Listunova fell victim to the often dreaded “two-per-country” rule, which states that only two athletes per country can make an all-around or apparatus final, where they compete for medals.
Similarly, American Mykayla Skinner’s Olympic bid ended in the qualifications after placing fourth on vault but behind fellow countrywomen Simone Biles and Jade Carey.
There is a long list of athletes who over the years have been left out of Olympic finals because of the two-per-country rule, first introduced at the 1976 Montreal Games for apparatus finals.
Three-per-country were allowed in all-around finals between the 1976 and 2000 Olympics, but “two-per-country” was reinstated for all-around competition starting with the 2004 Athens Games.
The restriction is controversial because it can bump some of the world’s best gymnasts out of medal contention simply because their own countries are stacked with talent.
But it aims to foster development and interest in countries where the sport is less popular so the competition can become truly global. The reduction in team sizes from six to five after 2008, then to four for 2020, has also helped this effort.
Ninety-eight women from 48 countries qualified for the 2020 Games in artistic gymnastics versus 98 from 32 countries in 2004. Teams will return to five members in 2024.
In Tokyo, top teams ROC, the United States and China have each qualified the maximum of two athletes for Thursday’s all-around final of 24 gymnasts. If not for the rule of two, an extra five athletes from those delegations would also be in.
Female gymnasts from the Soviet Union achieved the last Olympic all-around podium sweep in 1960. Romania did initially achieve the feat in 2000, but the winner was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance found in cold medicine.
The Japanese men swept the all-around podium at the 1972 Olympics, followed by the Soviet Union in 1988 and the Unified Team in 1992.
(Reporting by Karen Braun in Fort Collins, Colo.; Editing by Ken Ferris)

PayPal to research transactions that fund hate groups, extremists

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A smartphone with the PayPal logo is placed on a laptop in this illustration taken on July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration July 26, 2021
(Removes “blocking” from headline)
By Anna Irrera
LONDON (Reuters) -PayPal Holdings Inc is partnering with non-profit organisation the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to investigate how extremist and hate movements in the United States take advantage of financial platforms to fund their criminal activities.
The initiative will be led through ADL’s Center on Extremism, and will focus on uncovering and disrupting the financial flows supporting white supremacist and anti-government organizations.
It will also look at networks spreading and profiting from antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-Hispanic and anti-Asian bigotry.
The information collected through the initiatives will be shared with other firms in the financial industry, law enforcement and policymakers, PayPal said.
Over the years, the San Jose, California-based company has developed sophisticated systems to help prevent illegal activity and flows through its platform. It hopes to have a positive social impact by sharing some of its capabilities, Aaron Karczmer, PayPal’s chief risk officer and executive vice president, risk and platforms said.
“We’re hoping to have impact on fighting hatred and extremism, which sadly seems to be surging in society across the globe,” Karczmer said in an interview. “As the son of a Holocaust survivor I know all too well the real world impact that come from hatred and extremist groups.”
In 2020, PayPal teamed up with criminologists and academics to research the payment systems used in the trafficking of illegal firearms and has partnerships with non-profit group Polaris to combat human trafficking through a joint Financial Intelligence Unit.
Over the past several years, PayPal has also been taking action against businesses peddling extremism that were attempting to use its platforms.
As part of the new initiative, PayPal and ADL will also work with other civil rights organizations, including the League of United Latin American Citizens.
“We have a unique opportunity to further understand how hate spreads and develop key insights that will inform the efforts of the financial industry, law enforcement, and our communities in mitigating extremist threats,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO.
(Reporting by Anna IrreraEditing by Mark Potter)

Dior, Fendi frenzy helps luxury group LVMH extend its reach

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FILE PHOTO: A logo of luxury goods company Louis Vuitton is seen at the entrance of a shop in Brussels, Belgium July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman July 26, 2021
By Silvia Aloisi and Mimosa Spencer
PARIS (Reuters) -Surging sales of fashion lines and handbags by Dior, Fendi and Louis Vuitton powered LVMH’s revenues in the second quarter as coronavirus restrictions eased around the world and the luxury goods group edged out some rivals to raise its market share.
The luxury goods industry is recovering from the health crisis, which shut down global travel and temporarily closed stores. The end of COVID-19 lockdowns across much of Europe is reviving demand in the region after a strong Chinese rebound.
LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods group, has benefited more than most, using its heft to spend on marketing and social media campaigns when some of its smaller rivals are still struggling to get back on their feet.
The conglomerate said on Monday that its biggest revenue driver, Vuitton, as well as fashion brands Dior, Fendi, Loewe and Celine had posted record sales and profitability in the first half of 2021 and increased their market share.
Brands have ramped the number of “pop-up” temporary shops in resorts, which travellers are returning to, and are refurbishing some other stores, the company said.
Financial Chief Jean Jacques Guiony told reporters the group had “room for manoeuvre” on margins to be able to invest more in the second half of the year without impacting profitability.
“It’s certainly not the mood of the various brands, particularly in fashion and leather … to stay quiet, particularly from a marketing viewpoint,” Guiony said.
Overall sales at the LVMH, which also owns champagne and cosmetics labels, rose by 84% year-on-year in the second quarter on a like-for-like basis, which strips out currency swings, and stood at 14.7 billion euros ($17.36 billion).
That beat an analyst consensus forecast for 69% growth cited by UBS but in line with HSBC estimates. It was also 14% above pre-pandemic, 2019 levels.
Operating profit in the first six months of this year more than quadrupled compared with a year ago, beating expectations among analysts polled by Refinitiv.
“This update should reassure, as the sector goes through an inflection,” Bernstein analyst Luca Solca said in a note.
Gucci owner Kering, LVMH’s major Paris-based rival, and handbag maker Hermes, which have also bounced back from the COVID-19 crisis, are due to report results this week.
NO ‘BIG’ ACQUISITIONS
Shares in LVMH have surged by more than 70% since June last year, making the group the biggest European company by market value and allowing boss Bernard Arnault to briefly overtake Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the richest man in the world.
Fresh from its $15.8 billion purchase of U.S. jeweller Tiffany, completed in January, Guiony said LVMH was still interested in smaller deals to access new markets, technologies or products, though it had no plans for more “big acquisitions” for now.
Last week, LVMH said it would buy a 60% stake in Off-White, a streetwear label founded by Vuitton menswear designer Virgil Abloh.
It has also taken a minority stake in a new label being launched by Celine’s former star designer Phoebe Philo, and raised its holding in Italian shoemaker Tod’s to 10%.
Away from fashion, it teamed up with Italy’s Campari to invest in wines and spirits e-commerce companies and create a European e-commerce player in the sector.
LVMH’s revenues had dropped 16% last year, when the pandemic triggered global lockdowns and international travel ground to a halt.
Its retailing division, which includes beauty chain Sephora and also duty free group DFS, has suffered more than its other businesses, although it clawed back some ground in the second quarter.
($1 = 0.8468 euros)
(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Mimosa Spencer, Additional reporting and writing by Sarah White. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Portugal’s Millennium bcp plans digital drive to boost profitability

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FILE PHOTO: People walk near a branch of Millennium BCP Bank in downtown Lisbon, Portugal, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante July 26, 2021
By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON (Reuters) -Portugal’s largest listed bank Millennium bcp plans to cut operating costs and promote digital banking over the next four years, aiming to boost its return-on-equity (ROE) to 10% by 2024, the bank said on Monday.
The bank updated its strategic objectives, while reporting an 84% drop in net profit for the first half of 2021, hit by huge provisions and impairments on foreign currency loans at its Polish subsidiary and related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It expects to reduce its cost-to-income ratio to around 40% by 2024, from 47% in 2020, serving the needs of its around six million customers increasingly through digital platforms – a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic, it said.
Chief Executive Miguel Maya said the bank “will boost the use of technology to improve efficiency, which will be imperative in its plan”.
“We want to successfully overcome the impact of the pandemic and achieve robust levels of profitability, a 10% ROE in 2024,” he said at a press conference.
In 2020, the bank’s ROE stood at 3.1% and was just 0.4% in the first half of 2021.
Currently, 48% of Millennium bcp’s customers already use the bank’s mobile platforms and the goal is for more than 65% to do so in 2024, Maya said.
The bank reported a profit of 12.3 million euros ($14.52 million) in the first half, down from 76 million euros during the same period last year, it said in a statement.
Loan impairments fell by 34% to around 157 million euros between April and June, compared with a year ago, but other impairments and provisions surged 167% to 304,9 million euros, the bank said.
The bank, which also has operations in Angola and Mozambique, said it aimed to achieve a fully implemented Tier 1 common equity (CET1) capital ratio – a key measure of financial strength – above 12.5% in 2024, from 11.8% in June.
($1 = 0.8469 euros)
(Reporting by Sergio GoncalvesEditing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)

France says Iran endangers compromising chance for nuclear deal

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FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, before the beginning of a board of governors meeting, in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo July 26, 2021
PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign ministry said on Monday that Iran was endangering the chance of concluding an accord with world powers over reviving its 2015 nuclear deal if it did not return to the negotiating table soon.
“If it continues on this path, not only will it continue to delay when an agreement to lift sanctions can be reached, but it risks jeopardising the very possibility of concluding the Vienna talks and restoring the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing.
(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Meghan McCain Compares Guy Who Confronted Tucker Carlson to Scalise’s Shooter: ‘Incredibly Dangerous’

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The View’s Meghan McCain on Monday dramatically denounced a Montana man who confronted Fox News star Tucker Carlson at a sporting goods store, describing the local fly-fishing guide’s actions as “incredibly dangerous” and comparing him to the congressional baseball shooter.In a video that he shared on his Instagram account over the weekend, Dan Bailey can be seen telling Carlson “you are the worst human being known to mankind” as the Fox host was shopping at Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Company. (Oddly enough, Bailey has no affiliation with the shop other than sharing a name with the late founder.)During the brief conversation, Carlson at one point puts his hand on Bailey’s chest as the man seemingly chastised the conservative media star for his vaccine-skeptical and racially inflammatory commentary. After Carlson realizes someone is filming him, he breaks out into a wide grin before calling Bailey “son” and walking away.“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,” Bailey captioned his Instagram post, which went instantly viral. McCain, meanwhile, took to Twitter to blast Bailey’s actions while criticizing those who applauded him.“If you think accosting a public figure while they’re shopping for fishing gear with their family on vacation is somehow accomplishing something or changing anyone’s hearts or minds—you’re a hypocrite and have totally lost the plot,” she tweeted on Monday morning.During Monday’s broadcast of The View, the entire panel appeared to express discomfort while somewhat condemning Bailey’s actions. Liberal co-host Joy Behar said she was “against public confrontations” and Sunny Hostin stated that Carlson “should be safe from being accosted or being confronted.” At the same time, they both rationalized Bailey’s behavior, with Behar noting he was “very, very nice about it” and Hostin referencing Carlson’s own advocacy for public confrontations.“This year Tucker Carlson told his audience to harass people who wear face masks outside,” Hostin noted. “He also said that members of the public should report parents to police and child services if they see children wearing masks as they play.”McCain, however, worried that Bailey’s confrontation with Carlson would open the door to her and her fellow View hosts getting accosted in public.“As incendiary as many people find Tucker Carlson, they find the women on this show equally incendiary, for different reasons,” she said. “So if it’s OK and to be expected, maybe there’s an expectation that wherever we go, it’s OK for people to come up to us and scream things and say things.”She also took issue with Behar calling Bailey polite, describing the Montana man as a “total jackass and incredibly rude” before arguing that Bailey should be viewed on the same level as the man who shot a GOP congressman in 2017.“We’re living in a time when people like Steve Scalise are being shot and wounded to the point where we don’t know if he’s literally going to survive and now he has to walk with a cane because people aren’t in control of themselves and aren’t in control of their mental health and they want to take out their aggression on public figures,” she exclaimed. “It is incredibly dangerous.”After reiterating that people see the hosts of The View as being as controversial as Carlson while worrying about a “slippery slope,” McCain brought up the protest that occurred outside Carlson’s home in 2018, adding that Carlson’s wife “barricaded herself in her home in their pantry and called the police because so many protesters were outside their home here in Washington, D.C. trying to accost them.” (Police and media reports at the time questioned the veracity of Carlson’s description of the protest.)“Any rationalization that this is normal and should be accepted in the United States of America is not only indecent, but it’s beyond the pale of any expectation of any kind of decorum in a society like the United States of America,” she concluded. “And anyone that tries to rationalize it is gross, and that man should apologize to Tucker Carlson.”A Fox News spokesperson, meanwhile, reacted to Bailey’s confrontation with the following statement: “Ambushing Tucker Carlson while he is in a store with his family is totally inexcusable—no public figure should be accosted regardless of their political persuasion or beliefs simply due to the intolerance of another point of view.”Critics, however, have pointed out that Fox News’ response seems a tad hypocritical not only due to Carlson urging his viewers to accost others in public but also because others on the network are no strangers to ambushing and blindsiding people with a camera in tow.

Police Federation to write to PM criticising pay freeze and new Beating Crime Plan

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Boris Johnson will receive a letter from the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales outlining officers’ fury at a pay freeze and criticising the government’s new Beating Crime Plan.John Apter is to deliver the document to Downing Street as the prime minister prepares to unveil more details of the government’s refreshed crime strategy.
In the letter, the federation criticise the government’s new plan as “old ideas presented as new” and stress police officers’ fury at a pay freeze for those earning more than £24,000.

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The federation passed a no-confidence motion in Home Secretary Priti Patel last week

The federation, which represents more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, says “a total reset of police-government relations” is needed.It adds that officers only knew about the “so-called Beating Crime Plan” by reading it in a newspaper article at the weekend.

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“We don’t need old ideas presented as new, we need genuine investment for the whole of the criminal justice system and genuine consultation over new ideas. Without that, this is just another ill-thought out initiative,” the letter states.
“Police officers are sick of gimmicks. Sick of underfunding. Sick of mixed messaging putting police at risk. Sick of government contempt for police. It’s time for a total reset of police-government relations.”

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Last week, the federation passed a motion of no confidence in the home secretary amid a row over pay.The government announced that most officers will receive no increase while NHS staff will receive 3% and firefighters and local government workers 1.5%.

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The federation says officers were forced to take risks during the pandemic ‘without proper PPE’

Subsequently, the federation left the Police Remuneration Review Body which advises the government on pay.”This is about much more than money, though for many the offer of a zero per cent pay rise, after all the police has been through in helping deal with the pandemic, was the final straw,” the letter continues.”It is about the risks you asked us to take – which we did, because it is our duty – without proper PPE.”It is about the endlessly changing and confusing COVID legislation which we were expected to police – which we did, because it is our duty.”It is about your mixed messaging and lack of understanding of our role, which combined to put many of our members in invidious positions which led to them being abused and attacked.”It is about the failure, despite the promises of the home secretary, to take seriously our request that police officers should be given early priority for vaccination.

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Medical unions have also criticised the 3% offer for NHS workers

“It is about the very strong feeling we have, not least when the prime minister and home secretary spoke at our annual conference, that the warm words flow easily, but the actions that show genuine support for the police do not.”The Home Office said the home secretary has consistently demonstrated her commitment to supporting officers.”We are recruiting 20,000 extra officers, 8,771 already in place, increased taxpayer funding for policing by up to £600 million and gave forces £200 million to meet unforeseen costs of the pandemic,” a spokesperson for the department said.”This is in addition to enhancing protection of the police, increasing sentencing for assaulting officers and investment in equipment. The economy has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, with pressures on public finances and we must protect jobs and ensure fairness.”The 3% pay rise from the government to NHS workers in England has also been heavily criticised as “paltry”, “appalling” and “shambolic” by union leaders.Those receiving the increase, which is backdated to April 2021, include nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists and salaried GPs.The government says that for the average nurse, this will mean an additional £1,000 a year. And the extra sum is expected to equate to around £540 for cleaners and porters.Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, described recommendation as “grossly inadequate and underwhelming”.

Immigration Policy, Ensuring the Worst of Both Worlds

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Central American children walk in line with their parents after being dropped off by the Border Patrol at the bus station in Brownsville, Texas, March 15, 2021. (Veronica G. Cardenas/Reuters)

Why is the U.S. government spending considerable and not-yet-publicly-released sums to ship migrants, whose vaccination status cannot be verified, to various corners of the U.S., while at the same time, not allowing vaccinated foreign citizens to enter the U.S.?
If you’re worried about COVID-19 and the Delta variant, the reverse policy would make the most sense — allow people in who are verifiably vaccinated by a country whose government we trust, while barring those who are unvaccinated or who cannot prove their vaccination status.

Right now, European tourists who want to visit the U.S. would have better luck flying to northern Mexico and attempting to sneak in.

More testing sites and self-isolation exemption list expanded in bid to ease 'pingdemic'

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The list of sectors able to avoid quarantine as part of a pilot scheme is being extended – and the number of testing sites across England is being increased.To support the expansion of the daily testing pilot scheme, some 1,200 new sites are being added to 800 already in operation.
The expanded scheme will now include people working in prisons, defence, communications, space, fish and HMRC, the government has said.They add that the new sites are being erected “to avoid disruption to crucial services”.Last week, the government announced that individuals in frontline roles such as police, fire and the Border Force would move to daily lateral flow testing instead of having to isolate – regardless of vaccine status.

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Emergency service workers and other critical staff, including those in transport, freight and haulage, were already eligible to be exempt but only if their employers specified their names and that they were double jabbed.
An initial 800 sites for these sectors along with the food industry were confirmed last week.

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And ministers had previously said new testing sites would be established enabling daily contact testing to be “rolled out to further critical workplaces in England”.It comes as over 600,000 people were ‘pinged’ by the NHS COVID app in the week up to 14 July.Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Critical workers up and down the country have repeatedly stepped up to the challenge of making sure our key services are delivered and communities are supported.”We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude and will continue to support them to do their jobs safely and securely. This expansion of the daily contact testing centres is vital and hugely welcome.”

Olympics-Fencing-ROC chief Pozdnyakov praises daughter for keeping family tradition alive

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Fencing – Women’s Individual Sabre – Medal Ceremony – Makuhari Messe Hall B, Chiba, Japan – July 26, 2021. Gold medallist Sofia Pozdniakova of the Russian Olympic Committee celebrates on the podium REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov July 26, 2021
By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
TOKYO (Reuters) – Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the head of Russia’s Olympic Committee, praised his daughter Sofia Pozdniakova after she added to the family legacy on Monday by claiming the gold medal in the women’s individual sabre event at the Tokyo Olympics.
Pozdnyakov, a five-time Olympic medallist in fencing who won the sabre individual event at the 1996 Atlanta Games, called the moment an important date in his family’s history.
“Today her own Olympic history began,” Pozdnyakov wrote on Instagram. “My daughter has for a long time been an independent athlete and person, but today her name will forever be inscribed in the history of sport.
“All I have left to do is just love her, be eternally proud and rejoice at her successes knowing that she accomplished this through her own work … And I also hope that her parents’ genes gave her an impulse.”
Pozdniakova arrived at the Tokyo Games having already won the world individual title in 2018 and was part of the team that won gold at the world championships in 2019.
But winning an Olympic gold medal, one that they celebrated with an emotion-filled hug, allowed 24-year-old Pozdniakova to step out of her father’s shadow.
“When I started fencing, I wasn’t called by my name. I was called Pozdnyakov’s daughter,” said Pozdniakova. “I am of course proud to be his daughter. But we are different, we are separate people.
“At the world championships in 2018, I won the individual event. I think I showed then that I was a separate athlete. I confirmed this today. It’s great.”
Russian athletes are barred from competing at major international events, including the Olympics, with their flag and anthem until 2022. The country are competing in Tokyo under the name “ROC”, an acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee.
The ban is aimed at punishing Moscow for providing global anti-doping authorities with doctored laboratory data that could have helped identify drug cheats.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Additional reporting by Sakura Murakami; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Olympics-Gymnastics-Russians hail Dalaloyan after recovery helps them to gold

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Men’s Team – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Artur Dalaloyan of the Russian Olympic Committee in action on the vault. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
TOKYO (Reuters) – Artur Dalaloyan was hailed as a hero by his teammates on Monday for competing through the discomfort of a recent surgery on his severed Achilles heel to help the Russian Olympic Committee to its first gold in the men’s team event in 25 years.
The 25-year-old tore his Achilles in training before the European Championships and had surgery in April. He recovered partially and was named to the Russian men’s Olympic team, but it was unclear whether he would be able to compete on all apparatus.
In the days before the Games, coach Valery Alfosov said Dalaloyan would not compete on the floor and vault to spare his leg. But the 2018 all-around champion fought through soreness and the trauma of his recent injury to reach the all-around finals after a miraculous performance in qualifying.
Dalaloyan repeated his exploit in the team event, helping the Russian Olympic Committee to gold ahead of Japan and China for the first time in 25 years.
“He is a hero,” said Nikita Nagornyy, the 2019 world champion, prompting Dalaloyan to reply that Nagornyy, who pulled off an incredible floor performance to secure victory for his team by just 0.103 of a point over the host nation, was in fact himself a hero.
“We trusted him,” David Belyavsky, bronze medallist on the parallel bars in Rio, said of Dalaloyan. “He showed in qualifications and in the final that he didn’t come here for nothing.”
Dalaloyan, who wept with his teammates after Nagornyy’s result on the floor was announced, said he was flooded by emotion and relief.
“The emotions from this result by our team probably transcends all the pain that I could have felt,” he said. “I feel absolutely amazing.”
Dalaloyan said he had not been in significant pain when competing but that he continued to experience soreness.
“Three months after a surgery, things don’t really hurt anymore,” he said. “I just have some discomfort in my Achilles. I walk and I feel it. I wake up and I feel it.”
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Olympics-Taekwondo-Jordan’s silver medallist happy for Russian friend’s gold

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Taekwondo – Men’s Welterweight 68-80kg – Medal Ceremony – Makuhari Messe Hall A, Chiba, Japan – July 26, 2021. Silver Medallist Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan wearing a kaffiyeh celebrates REUTERS/Murad Sezer July 26, 2021
By Chang-Ran Kim
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) – Jordanian taekwondo silver medallist Saleh Elsharabaty said he was happy for Russian Maksim Khramtcov’s victory in their 80kg final match-up on Monday, calling his opponent a “brother” who deserved the prize.
“He is so strong,” the 22-year-old said. “I’ve trained with him a lot in Jordan; we are like brothers.
“I am really happy for him and I am happy with the silver this time. In (the Paris Games in 2024) I want the gold,” he said.
Elsharabaty’s Olympic medal was only the second for his country after Ahmad Abughaush’s gold in Rio, also in the Korean combat sport.
Khramtcov comfortably won the match 20-9 for the Russian Olympic Committee team.
As soon as the final buzzer sounded, the pair broke into a relaxed smile and held each other in a tight embrace. After the requisite post-match fist-bump with the opposing teams’ coaches, they returned to the mat to hug for a second time.
Top-ranked Khramtcov later said he looked into Elsharabaty’s eyes moments before the match ended, concluded that his friend was tired and thought to himself “a silver was okay for him.”
It was an especially emotional win for Khramtcov, whose mother died six months ago.
“I never thought of giving up,” he said when asked how he coped with the loss.
“My mother wanted to see a gold medal in my hands so I had to come to get it. Now I have it round my neck for her.”
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Ken Ferris)

Olympics-Swimming-Efimova hits out at morning finals in ‘unfair’ Games

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Jul 25, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Yulia Efimova (ROC) in the women’s 100m breaststroke heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova on Monday branded the Tokyo Olympics unfair due to the number of athletes ruled out of the Games and criticised organisers for scheduling morning finals to meet the demands of U.S. prime time television.
Now appearing in her fourth Olympics, Efimova cut a controversial figure at the 2016 Rio Games after being called a drugs cheat by American rival Lilly King, the eventual 100 metres breaststroke gold medallist.
The Russian, who was disqualified for 16 months from October 2013 to February 2015 after testing positive for an anabolic steroid https://www.reuters.com/article/swimming-russia-doping-efimova-idINKBN0DT0LD20140513, won the silver medal.
The pair will race each other again in Tokyo on Tuesday in another 100m final.
“I’m upset that it’s impossible to go anywhere, many athletes are suspended from competitions. This is an unfair Olympics, when not everyone can compete,” she told the http://www.matchtv.ru website in an interview.
The 29-year-old Efimova did not spell out her reasoning but a number of athletes have been ruled out of competition after testing positive for COVID-19.
Russian athletes are also competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences.
“Unfortunately, in our world, money decides everything, and they don’t pay attention to the interests of athletes,” she said of the early scheduling, compared to the finals held in the late evening in Rio.
“We would have seen better results if we had the finals in the evening.
“World records would be broken. But it’s also interesting because unpredictability increases (in the morning).”
Efimova said rooms in the athletes’ village were small and criticised restrictions on movement.
“What annoys me the most is the gift shop that you can’t go to. And if you go, there’s already nothing left. I’d like to take home some souvenirs,” she said.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)

It Isn’t Just Conservative Parents Opposing Critical Race Theory in Schools

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Opponents of Critical Race Theory attend a packed Loudoun County School board meeting in Ashburn, Va., June 22, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

A long report from Politico out this morning reveals that the ongoing discontent over critical race theory in public schools isn’t confined to conservative or right-leaning parents. In reality, parents across the political spectrum have a host of complaints about what’s going on in public schools these days, including the recent push for including CRT’s controversial tenets and arguments in public-school curricula.
Here are a few key details from the piece:
On the national level, Democrats have insisted that the brush fires over critical race theory — which has become a political punching bag even for unrelated equity initiatives — are largely the work of right-wing activists who willfully misrepresent what it means, and they blame Fox News for fanning parents’ anger.
“That’s another right-wing conspiracy. This is totally made up by Donald Trump and [Republican candidate for governor] Glenn Youngkin,” Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said in June.
“I don’t think we would think that educating the youth and next and future leaders of the country on systemic racism is indoctrination,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in May.
But those Democrats appear to be underestimating parents’ anger in places where critical race theory is top of mind. Objections to new equity plans are not the sole province of conservatives but extend to many moderate and independent voters, according to POLITICO interviews with school board members, political operatives and activists in Democratic and left-leaning communities including the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; New York’s Westchester County; Maricopa County covering Phoenix, Ariz.; and suburban Detroit.
These regions are hardly hotbeds of conservatism, yet what Politico discovered talking to experts and parents in these areas disrupts the hardened left-wing narrative about who exactly is getting so upset over CRT — and what exactly upsets them so much about it.
One parent who lives outside Detroit told Politico she first began learning about CRT because her daughter had begun to argue that the police should be defunded and that the looting during Black Lives Matter protests was justified. She mother said she has voted Democrat but can’t continue doing so “in good faith” and called her daughter’s views radical. Along with other parents, she started a group to confront the local school board about CRT in schools.
Over in Loudoun County, Virginia, where I grew up, six members of the local school board are facing recall elections — and all of them are backed by the local Democratic Party. If CRT continues to be a major issue in the area, it could threaten the last few years of success that left-wing candidates have had in Loudoun, which has historically been a swing district.
In addition to complaints about curricula becoming too progressive, parents in the suburban areas Politico studied complained about drawn-out school closures and school boards that focus too closely on diversity. Another interesting anecdote from the piece:

Bion Bartning, a self-described independent and co-founder of Eos lip balm, became involved in the debate over critical race theory after his daughters’ private New York City elementary school began implementing changes that included telling students in a video to “check each other’s words and actions” for bias.
“That’s the opposite of what you want to tell a 5-year-old,” Bartning, who is of mixed race, said in an interview. “I grew up with very liberal values, and believing in the goal where we judge each other by our character and not by the color of our skin.”

According to Politico, parents are especially upset that their various complaints are being dismissed as just being “anti-CRT,” or, worse yet, that their opposition to CRT is being written off as merely not wanting students to learn about racism. As most good reporting has found since this controversy first arose, hardly anyone on the left or right is complaining about CRT because they’d prefer students not to learn about slavery, racism, or the history of racial conflict in the U.S.
And as this report shows, left-wing proponents of CRT will have to grapple with the fact that it isn’t just conservatives who have a problem with their program.

Buttigieg, husband Chasten mocked for complaining about $4,500 rent in DC

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is getting roasted on social media after his husband complained about rent prices in Washington, D.C., claiming they couldn’t afford anything bigger than a one-bedroom apartment.In an interview with The Washington Post, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Buttigieg, said their new Eastern Market digs are a far cry from the price of living in their old city of South Bend, Indiana, where Pete served as mayor from 2012 to 2020. PETE BUTTIGIEG SAYS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD ‘ENCOURAGE’ VACCINE PASSPORTS”We couldn’t afford the one-bedroom-plus-den,” Chasten said.Instead, they’re renting an 800-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment, sans den, in a high-security building, where the rent for one-bedrooms now starts at $4,500 per month, The Post reported, adding that the rent is higher since the Buttigieges signed a lease last winter.”We’re doing fine for ourselves, and [yet] the city is almost unaffordable,” Chasten told the paper. “Which tells you how extremely unaffordable it is for many people.” The transportation secretary’s salary is $221,400, while Chasten, a former middle school drama teacher, is currently unemployed. In addition to their D.C. apartment, the couple owns a home on Lake Michigan in Traverse City, which they purchased this year after selling their home in South Bend, The Post reported. Their couple’s favorite pastime, according to The Post, is now “playing Zillow Price Is Right, where they try to guess the out-of-reach appraisal values of homes they admire and then look up the actual estimate online.”Commentators on both sides of the political aisle mocked the Buttigieges for the comments, adding that most Americans don’t have the luxury of having two residences.”Imagine being so far removed from the real world that you complain about your $4,500/mo apartment not having a den,” tweeted Abigail Marone, press secretary for Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “Americans are struggling to afford basic necessities thanks to #bidenflation but poor Pete & Chasten don’t get a den in their high-end building. Boo hoo.””You can get a nice 1BR (or a 2BR in some cases) for significantly less than $4,500 a month in DC…” wrote Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey.”My roommate and I have a 2 bed/2 bath + den in the middle of the city and our rent costs nowhere near $4500 a month,” wrote CBS News reporter Kathryn Watson.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”Hilarious how Mr. Wine Cave Buttigieg is whining that he ONLY makes $221,400 a year,” tweeted Club for Growth senior analyst Andrew Follett. “The problem isn’t DC’s real estate market (which I’ve personally lived with and in for years)…it’s that Dems elites are incredibly fiscally irresponsible…even in their personal lives.””If you can’t afford an apartment in Washington DC while making over $220,000 a year (just from the Transportation Sec salary – who knows what other money he has), you shouldn’t be overseeing any federal agency,” wrote former Nevada GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian.

This Maxi Dress Keeps Me Fashionable, Cool, and Modest

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Scouting Report: This long-sleeved maxi dress from Amazon is perfect for anyone looking to stay modest, but not overheat during the summer. As someone who covers herself by observing hijab, literally meaning “the veil” in Arabic, it can get challenging to find clothing that is both comfortable and loose, while also staying cool during the warm weather of the summer months. Dresses are too short, or too see-through, or just plain too tight. Fortunately, I came across the PCEAIIH Long Sleeve Loose Plain Dresses and it’s been my ultimate summer dress. PCEAIIH Women Long Sleeve Loose Plain Maxi Dress I loved this maxi dress immediately because of its versatility — it really is not only just for summer but can be worn in the fall and spring too. This dress really is easy to fall in love with the elegance and shaping it provides. Most dresses can be really form-fitted to the body’s shape but this material is breathable and not clingy at all, making it perfect for any occasion. The dress is made of a wonderfully soft material that will allow you to stay comfortable all day long. The buttery soft nature of this dress keeps me cool and still makes me feel divine. One thing to note, however, is that the fabric does stretch a bit; this can have both advantages or disadvantages. On the plus side, you don’t have to worry about wrinkles as much. However, the downside is that if pulled too much, the cloth may not retain its structure. I have found that it can start to pill after too much wear, but that’s nothing a fabric shaver can’t help.What really made this maxi dress a hit for me is that it has large pockets, something I can’t say is common for women’s dresses. This makes it easy for anyone to carry what they want within reach. Whether it is your keys or cell phone, this dress has the capacity to hold your essentials without weighing it down. The elastic in the waist is not too snug, yet still giving a fashionable fit. It’s been the perfect summer staple.Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Don’t forget to check out our coupon site to find deals from Macy’s, Walmart, Nordstrom Rack, and more. If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.

Hunter Biden's art dealer said he wanted to be the 'lead guy in China' in 2015

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The art dealer representing the president’s son has longstanding ties to China and said in 2015 that he wanted to be the art world’s “lead guy in China.”Georges Berges, who is representing Hunter Biden as he ventures into the art world, has talked about his business dealings in China in the past, but his reported ties could pose an ethics issue as he sells Biden’s art to anonymous buyers.A representative for Berges previously told Fox News that the sales of Biden’s art will be kept “confidential.” The White House has said they have an ethics plan in place to ensure the president’s son doesn’t know who buyers are, though Hunter has raised eyebrows with plans to attend art shows where potential buyers will be in attendance. HUNTER BIDEN STILL OWNS STAKE IN CHINESE INVESTMENT FIRMBerges said in a 2015 interview with Resident that he wanted to be the art world’s leader in China.”My plan is to be the lead guy in China; the lead collector and art dealer discovering and nurturing talent from that region,” Berges said. “I plan to find and discover and bring to the rest of the world those I consider China’s next generation of modern artists.”He also said that that he believes “China’s economy is transforming the global economy and everything is changing because of a rising China,” and that he was fascinated by “cultural impact” China is “having on the world.””Cultural power is real power. That is the reason America continues to be the capital of the world, because of its influence on culture for generations and on an unrivaled global level,” Berges also said. “And I think more and more the Chinese are beginning to understand that cultural innovation will power their future cultural influence across continents.”OBAMA ETHICS CHIEF BLASTS BIDEN WH ‘BLIND SPOT’ OVER HUNTER BIDEN MEETING WITH POTENTIAL ART BUYERSIn a 2014 interview with Quest magazine, Berges noted that he travels to China “three or four times a year” and that, at the time, he had a “solid group of about 25 collectors, most of them overseas.”Berges’ reported ties to China and the anonymity of the buyers could pose a potential ethics problem, especially with the younger Biden’s prodigal relationship with President Biden.Anonymous buyers could have ties to the Chinese Communist Party and could attempt to buy influence in the Biden administration through the art purchases.Berges has also been quoted in the Chinese state-run newspaper China Daily for his involvement in a philanthropy event with three Chinese artists, whose pieces Berges said “are not just pretty objects to create, but also challenge the locals’ perceptions of what China is and the institutions they live with.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPAdditionally, in 1998, Berges was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and “terrorist threats,” which were later dismissed after 90 days in jail and 36 months probation.Berges was also accused of defrauding an investor, Ingrid Arneberg, of half a million dollars and subsequently sued in 2016. Berges countersued Arneberg, settling the suit two years later.Representatives for Berges and Biden did not return Fox News’ requests for comment. The White House did not provide comment to Fox News.

Olympics-Weightlifting-Diaz wins first ever Olympic gold for Philippines

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Weightlifting – Women’s 55kg – Group A – Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines in action. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido July 26, 2021
By Junko Fujita and Ece Toksabay
TOKYO (Reuters) -Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz became her country’s first ever Olympic gold medallist on Monday, winning the women’s 55 kg category for weightlifting at Tokyo 2020.
In her fourth Olympics, the 30-year-old lifted a combined weight of 224 kg, an Olympic record.
“I am 30 years old and I thought it would be like going down, my performance, but I was shocked I was able to do it,” Diaz said in a post-match interview.
Philippines’ presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a written statement that Diaz brought pride and glory to the Philippines.
“Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you,” he added.
China’s Liao Qiuyun, who failed to match her own world record, took silver with 223 kg. Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo won bronze with 213 kg.
Chinshanlo came close to completing a 123 kg lift in the clean and jerk, which would have been an Olympic record at that moment, but the judges reversed the decision. Soon after that Liao succeeded in lifting 126 kg.
The Chinese lifter’s record was then broken by Diaz who confidently lifted 127 kg.
Diaz, who said she would aim to participate at the next Games in Paris, held her hands to her face and burst into tears before embracing her coaches and clutching at the medallion around her neck.
Last year, Diaz had been stuck in Malaysia, where she stopped on her way to Peru for an Olympic qualifying event, for about five months under a government travel ban due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Diaz said she built a gym and trained with water bottles during that time.
On the podium, a still-tearful Diaz stood to attention saluting as she belted out her country’s national anthem at the top of her voice.
Bronze winner Chinshanlo was a gold medallist at the 2012 London Games but in 2016 she was stripped of a medal after failing doping tests in a re-analysis of samples.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita and Ece Toksabay, additional reporting by Neil Jarome Morales in Manila; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Olympics-Diving-LGBTQ representation at Games can change lives, says Daley

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Diving – Men’s 10m Platform Synchro – Final – Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo, Japan July 26, 2021. Thomas Daley of Britain and Matty Lee of Britain in action REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Ever-increasing LGBTQ representation at the Olympics has the potential to change lives, newly minted gold medallist Tom Daley said on Monday, after saying he grew up feeling like “an outsider.”
When the 14-year-old Briton made his Olympic debut in 2008, fewer than 20 of his fellow competitors openly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. At the 2020 Olympics, that number has grown to more than 160.
After picking up his first-ever Olympic gold, with a stunning upset over China in the men’s 10 metre synchronised platform dive with team mate Matty Lee, the 27-year-old said he and other LGBTQ athletes could improve the lives of kids who feel “frightened and scared and alone.”
“When I was a little boy and felt like an outsider and felt different and felt like I was never going to be anything because who I was wasn’t what society wanted me to be, and to be able to see out LGBT people performing at the Olympic Games is – I hope (it) can give young kids hope,” he told reporters.
Daley, who picked up bronze medals at the London and Rio Games, married Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Dustin Lance Black in 2017 and welcomed a child in 2018, which he called “the massive turning point” of his career as an athlete.
“I realized that whether I do really well or whether I do terribly in the pool, that I can go home to a husband and son that loves me,” said Daley.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

EU Commission approves Italy’s airport support scheme

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FILE PHOTO: A passenger walks outside Fiumicino airport after the Italian government announced flights to and from the UK will be resumed following an order by the Health Ministry, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, December 24, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli July 26, 2021
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Monday approved Italy’s 800 million euro state aid scheme to compensate airports and ground-handling operators following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel.
The compensation, in the form of direct grants, covers the period of March 1 to July 14, 2020.
“Airports are among the companies that have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak,” the Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
“This 800 million euro scheme will enable Italy to compensate them for the damage suffered,” she said.
The Commission, the EU competition enforcer, has enabled more government aid since March 2020 to make it easier for companies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to receive support.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Wall Street hovers near record highs before tech earnings, Fed meeting

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FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Ambar Warrick and Shashank Nayar
(Reuters) – Wall Street indexes hovered near record highs on Monday in a week packed with heavyweight technology earnings, with investors staying away from big bets in the runup to a policy meeting by the Federal Reserve.
All three major indexes hit a record high before losing momentum to trade flat. Strength in the second-quarter earnings season has helped markets weather recent concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Tesla, which rose 3.2%, is set to report earnings after the market closes on Monday. Other heavyweights, including Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com, Facebook and Microsoft Corp, will report earnings through the week.
Of the S&P 500 constituents, 124 companies have reported earnings so far and roughly 88.7% of them have beaten estimates, according to Refinitiv data.
“Everybody is expecting earnings to be robust mainly due to easy comparables from last year, and if that trend were to change, it would definitely be a negative for markets,” said Sean O’Hara, president at Pacer ETFs.
A two-day meeting of the Fed starting on Tuesday will be watched by investors for more clues on the central bank’s planned tightening of monetary policy, given that inflation has been rising sharply in recent months.
While fears of earlier-than-expected tightening by the central bank have rattled markets this year, the Fed is widely expected to keep policy static at accommodative levels this week.
“The Fed is not going to be explicit in its language and the market is going to pay more keen attention to the more local voices from the Fed to get a better idea on the interest rate cycle,” O’Hara said.
“If we start seeing any signs of a less supportive Fed, it’ll be a cause for concern.”
At 12:03 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 19.22 points, or 0.05%, at 35,080.77, the S&P 500 was up 7.36 points, or 0.17%, at 4,419.15. The Nasdaq Composite was up 10.73 points, or 0.07%, at 14,847.73.
U.S.-listed Chinese stocks sank after Beijing last week announced new rules on private tutoring and online education firms, the latest in a series of crackdowns on the technology sector that have roiled financial markets.
E-commerce major Alibaba Group and search engine Baidu Inc, two of the largest listed Chinese stocks in the United States, slipped 6.3% and 5.4%, respectively.
Recent losses in Chinese stocks have been steeper than those recorded during the height of the Sino-U.S. trade war in 2018, mainly due to Beijing’s targeting of large technology firms.
Graphic: Chinese stocks under regulatory fire: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/lgpdwmnwrvo/Pasted%20image%201627301713983.png
Among major earnings, toymaker Hasbro Inc surged 11.5% after it posted a better-than-expected 54% jump in quarterly revenue.
UK-based Insurance broker AON Plc rose 8.4% after agreeing to terminate its $30 billion merger agreement with rival Willis Towers Watson Plc, whose shares fell 7.5%.
Weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp fell 3.2% after a classified aeronautics development program caused the firm to miss profit estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.21-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 43 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 67 new highs and 109 new lows.
(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Arun Koyyur)

Pakistan reopens Afghanistan border crossing held by Taliban

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FILE PHOTO: People stand in front of a vehicle as an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and a Pakistan’s flag flutter in front of the friendship gate of Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Wesh-Chaman border crossing, Spin Boldak, Afghanistan July 14, 2021, in this screen grab obtained from a video. TALIBAN HANDOUT via REUTERS July 26, 2021
By Gul Yousafzai and Asif Shahzad
QUETTA/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) -Pakistan on Monday reopened a major southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan that is currently under Taliban control on the Afghan side, Pakistani customs officials said, allowing over 100 trucks carrying goods to cross into Afghanistan.
The Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing, a key port for landlocked Afghanistan, had been closed by Pakistan for commercial traffic since fierce fighting for control of the crossing erupted between Taliban insurgents and Afghan security forces earlier this month.
“Pakistan has opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman today and resumed Afghan Transit Trade which was suspended since the last one month,” Arif Kakar, a senior official of the Chaman border district, told Reuters.
He said it would remain open six days a week.
Two Pakistani customs officials, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that Spin Boldak and the border town of Wesh were still under Taliban control, and they did not know what arrangements were in place across the border or who was clearing the goods through customs.
They said Pakistani officials were under pressure by traders to let trucks pass through as the goods they were carrying would otherwise perish.
Afghanistan’s interior and finance ministries, and the Taliban spokesman, did not respond to requests for comment.
U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees American forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul on Sunday that Spin Boldak was a “contested space” and the Afghan government was looking to regain control of it.
The reopening came hours after 46 Afghan soldiers sought refuge in Pakistan after losing control of military positions further north along the border following advances by Taliban insurgents taking advantage of foreign forces’ withdrawal.
The Afghan military commander requested refuge at the border crossing in Chitral in the north, the Pakistan army said in a statement, adding safe passage into Pakistan was given on Sunday night after clearance from Afghan authorities.
Hundreds of Afghan soldiers and civil officials have fled to neighbouring Tajikistan, Iran and Pakistan in recent weeks after Taliban offensives in border areas.
“Afghan soldiers have been provided food, shelter and necessary medical care as per established military norms,” the statement said.
Relations between neighbours Afghanistan and Pakistan have taken a sharp downturn in recent weeks, particularly over repeated allegations by Kabul that Pakistan is backing the Taliban – a charge Islamabad denies.
Afghanistan recalled its diplomats from Pakistan after the brief kidnapping of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter in Islamabad earlier in the month.
Afghan officials did not respond to a request for comment on the soldiers’ crossing.
The Taliban has escalated its offensive since the United States announced in April that it would withdraw its troops by September, ending a 20-year foreign military presence.
Washington has said it will continue to carry out air strikes to support Afghan forces facing insurgent attacks.
Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have failed to make substantive progress since beginning in September last year.
Reeling from battlefield losses, Afghanistan’s military is overhauling its war strategy to concentrate forces around critical areas such as Kabul and other cities, and border crossings.
The Pakistan army said the soldiers who sought refuge will be returned to Afghanistan after due process, as had occurred in the case of another batch of 35 soldiers earlier in July.
(Reporting by Gul Yousafzai in Quetta and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad; Additional reporting by Kabul bureau;Editing by Peter Graff and Matthew Lewis)

Georgia's GOP congressional battle to succeed Jody Hice heats up

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EXCLUSIVE – Former Trump administration official Patrick Witt on Monday formally launched his campaign for Congress, joining a large field of contenders aiming to win the Republican nomination in the 2022 race to succeed GOP Rep. Jody Hice in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District. “I am running to be a representative of the America First values held by the people here in the Georgia 10th congressional district,” Witt said in a statement shared first with Fox News.TRUMP BACKS CHALLENGER TO GEORGIA’S SECRETARY OF STATEWitt, who served as deputy chief of staff at the United States Office of Personnel Management during the Trump administration, last November joined the then-president’s legal team that unsuccessfully contested the results of the 2020 election in Georgia and a handful of other key battleground states where President Biden narrowly edged Trump.
Former Trump administration official Patrick Witt on Monday formally launched his campaign for Congress, joining a large field of contenders aiming to win the Republican nomination in the race to succeed GOP Rep. Jody Hice in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District. 
(Patrick Witt congressional campaign)In his statement, Witt took aim at Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr. Trump has heavily criticized Kemp and Raffensperger for not helping to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia. Hice is primary-challenging Raffensperger for secretary of state next year rather than run for reelection.”Year after year, the Georgia political establishment from both parties has failed us. However, the stunning absence of leadership from Brian Kemp, Brad Raffensberger, and Chris Carr has left me unable to continue to stand by and see our state and country falter,” Witt charged as he explained why he launched his campaign.THE GOP FIELD IN GEORGIA’S 10TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT KEEPS GROWINGWitt, who is expected to make his push for election integrity a cornerstone of his congressional campaign, becomes the 11th Republican to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in Georgia’s 10th district, which covers a large chunk of rural areas and small cities between Atlanta and Augusta in the central-eastern part of the state.Among those who have already announced their candidacy are former Rep. Paul Broun, a fiscal conservative who represented the district from 2007-2015. Georgia, once a solidly red state, has become a crucial battleground. Last November Biden topped Trump by just under 12,000 votes in Georgia, becoming the first Democrat to win the state in a presidential election in more than a quarter century. And the Democrats narrowly swept the state’s twin Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections, giving them the Senate majority for the first time in six years. But in the 10th District, Hice easily won reelection by roughly 25 points.Witt, a starting quarterback at Parkview High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, was a three-year starter on Yale University’s football team, where he won athletic and academic honors. He grabbed national attention in his senior year when he chose to play in “The Game,” the famed annual Ivy League football matchup between Yale and Harvard University, over keeping an interview with the Rhodes Scholarship Trust. He was then faced with a report that the scholarship interview was revoked following an informal sexual assault complaint against him.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPWitt went on to attend Harvard Law School, graduating with honors and also becoming a leading voice in speaking out against the dangers of undermining due process rights.Before joining the Trump administration, Witt worked at McKinsey and Company, a top American based worldwide management consulting firm.

'White fragility' author says comedy is an 'excuse to get to be racist'

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New York Times bestselling author Robin DiAngelo delivered a blow to the comedy world in a video that resurfaced over the weekend, declaring that it’s OK to “punch up” by mocking White people but that it’s racist to mock people of color.During an April conversation with YouTuber Joseph Jaffe, which was recirculated by the Wisconsin-based non-profit Mythinformed on Saturday, DiAngelo described her definition of racism and her issues with comedy. ROBIN DIANGELO DISTANCES HERSELF FROM ‘BE LESS WHITE’ DIVERSITY TRAINING”Comedy is, I think, an excuse to get to be racist, right?” the “White Fragility” author said. “I think TV shows like ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park’ and maybe a little bit ‘The Simpsons’ allowed White people to be racist self-consciously. Like, ‘I know I’m being racist and therefore it doesn’t count and it’s OK.’”I don’t think it’s benign to do it in a joking way,” DiAngelo continued. “And there is a concept in comedy called punching up, not down. So if you want to punch up, there are very different power dynamics and it doesn’t hurt in the same way. It doesn’t invoke a deep, deep centuries-long history of oppression when you poke fun at say, White people. But it’s very, very different when you poke fun at people of color.”DiAngelo said White people who define racism as individual acts of conscious meanness or malice are misguided.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”We have to move well beyond that and understand it as a system,” she said. “It is the foundation of both of our cultural contexts – racist ideology, practices, policies are circulating across the culture and we all absorb them.”DiAngelo is promoting her new book, “Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm,” in which she argues subtle racism is more insidious than overt racism.

Olympics-Taekwondo-Croatia’s Jelic wins gold from Briton Williams

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Taekwondo – Women’s Welterweight 57-67kg – Semifinal – Makuhari Messe Hall A, Chiba, Japan – July 26, 2021. Lauren Williams of Britain celebrates with coach after winning REUTERS/Murad Sezer July 26, 2021
By Chang-Ran Kim
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) -With less than 10 seconds left on the clock, Croatia’s Matea Jelic converted a three-point deficit into a lead to take the gold medal away from Briton Lauren Williams in an exciting Olympic taekwondo final in the women’s -67kg category on Monday.
Both light and hopping on their feet, Jelic and Williams were evenly matched through the three rounds, unceasing in their attempts at high-scoring head-kicks.
The score was level at 10-10 at the end of the second round but the action heated up in the final round, the lead see-sawing between the two. In the second half, Williams pulled ahead for a six-point surplus but, in the final seconds, Jelic nabbed kicks to the head and body to win 25-22.
Asked what went through her mind in the face of what looked like imminent defeat, Jelic said: “I just turned off my head. You just have to turn everything off and do what you need to do — trust your instincts and everything you did in training.
“I can’t explain it — it’s bigger than me.”
Williams, who collected Team Britain’s second silver medal in taekwondo after Bradly Sinden’s on Sunday, said she was “gutted” by the result but took it in her stride.
“To be 22 and stood on the Olympic podium is incredible,” she said. “This is what I’ve worked all my life for — obviously it’s the wrong colour but I’m really enjoying myself.”
Welsh-born Williams switched from kick-boxing to taekwondo, inspired by featherweight Jade Jones’s gold-medal win at the London Games in 2012. Jones went out after one match on Sunday, ending her dream to win a record third gold medal in taekwondo.
In the men’s -80kg category, Russian Maksim Khramtcov defeated Jordanian and close friend Saleh Elsharabaty to claim gold.
Egypt took two bronzes in the welterweight category: Seif Eissa in the men’s contest and Hedaya Wahba in the women’s – her second after winning in the lighter -57kg category in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Ivory Coast’s Ruth Gbagbi also won her second straight bronze medal, while Croatia’s Toni Kanaet took the other bronze for men.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Ed Osmond, Hugh Lawson and Clare Fallon)

Olympics-Table Tennis-Japan’s Mizutani and Ito clench first Olympic gold

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Table Tennis – Mixed Doubles – Gold medal match – Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Mima Ito of Japan and Jun Mizutani of Japan pump their fists as they react during their match against Xu Xin of China and Liu Shiwen of China July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s dynamic duo of Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito narrowly defeated long-invincible Chinese pair Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen to give the host country their first Olympic table tennis gold in the mixed doubles event on Monday.
Xu and Liu led after the first two games but Mizutani and Ito fought back with an 11-8 win in the third game.
The Japanese pair kept the momentum going to win 5-11 7-11 11-8 11-9 11-9 6-11 11-6.
For Mizutani and Ito, the 4-3 win over Xu and Liu was sweet revenge, having lost to the pair in the mixed doubles finals of the ITTF’s World Tour Grand Finals and World Tour Swedish Open in 2019 as well as the World Tour German Open a year later.
“We’ve been losing to China at the Olympic Games and at world tournaments but we were able to take a revenge on all that at the Tokyo Olympics,” Mizutani told reporters.
“I feel like I’m in a dream, that’s how happy I am.”
In the bronze-medal match, world No.1 mixed doubles pair Lin Yun Ju and Cheng I Ching of Taiwan had a 4-0 clean-sweep win against French duo Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Nan.
(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu, editing by Pritha Sarkar, Hugh Lawson and Clare Fallon)

Wizz says suffered brief rostering issue, rejects Ryanair “chaos” charge

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FILE PHOTO: A Wizz Air Airbus A320 at Luton Airport, Luton, Britain, May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers/File Photo July 26, 2021
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Low-cost airline Wizz Air on Monday said it suffered three days of operational disruptions due to a cabin crew rostering issue last week but it rejected rival Ryanair’s charge that it was suffering “operational chaos.”
O’Leary told an analyst call on Monday that he understood Wizz had cancelled hundreds of flights on a daily basis and had cancelled 14 routes from Vienna until September, where the Hungarian budget airline competes with Ryanair.
He said issues were due to staff levels and staff not being current, referring to regulations that can force pilots and cabin crew to require additional training if they do not fly enough over an extended period of time.
O’Leary said Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, flew some empty planes during the height of the pandemic to ensure pilots fulfilled this requirement.
Wizz said in a statement it was affected for three days last week by a cabin crew rostering issue which resulted in operational disruptions. The issue was unrelated to pilots and has now been resolved, it added.
The airline described O’Leary’s remarks as “inaccurate and misleading” and said that is was making efforts to operate all flights in an ever-changing environment ranging from volatile restrictions to high peaks in demand.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin and Sarah Young in London, writing by Padraic Halpin)

Alumni at This College Are Fed Up with Its Leftist Administration

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The Declaration of Independence had it right — people are inclined to suffer evils while they are sufferable, but eventually they can’t stand it any longer and rise up.
American college and university alums have suffered for a long time, mostly watching in quiet resignation as the institutions where they once studied and matured have been turned into platforms for leftist advocacy. At a few schools, however, the alumni are beginning to fight back and, as Jay Schalin informs us in today’s Martin Center article, one of them is Davidson College.

One issue is the administration’s abandonment of Davidson’s roots as a Christian (specifically, Presbyterian) institution. In a high-handed manner, it decided to drop the written requirements that the president needed to be a practicing Christian and most of the board be composed of Christians. When an alumni group sought to notify as many Davidson alums as possible about this break with tradition, the administration put up a fuss because, supposed, the alumni directory wasn’t to be used for mass email purposes.
It’s enough to make you think that Davidson’s ruling elite doesn’t want communications that challenge it.
Also, on the topic of communications, another alumni group, Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse (DFTD) wants the college to adhere to the Chicago Principles. One member of DFTD wrote,  “I have spoken with and met with the administration many times over the years, including with Carol [Quillen] . . . and believe that no change of direction is even possible with the current administration. Not only is my voice not heard but is [deemed] unworthy of consideration. Our money is, somehow, acceptable, but our values and beliefs are not.”

Schalin concludes with some good news: “Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse seems to be organizing for the long haul in the struggle for free expression and ideological balance at the college. And the recent emergence of two dissident groups at Davidson — one of them a powerful group of former trustees — coincides with what is going on at other colleges and universities across the country: resistance to free speech infringements and far-left political and ideological agenda is gaining traction. Such developments have occurred at Princeton University, the University of Virginia, and at Washington and Lee University”
Maybe we’ve reached a 1776 moment.

Analysis-Cash-hungry emerging markets arrive late to the SPAC party

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FILE PHOTO: A Grab logo is pictured in Singapore March 21, 2019. Picture taken March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Anshuman Daga July 26, 2021
By Tom Arnold
LONDON (Reuters) – Emerging markets have so far been on the fringes of a fundraising boom using so-called SPACs or special-purpose acquisition companies, which could potentially unlock a vital new source of cash for entrepreneurs in developing regions.
But the take-off of SPAC fundraisings in these markets hinges in part on the success of a few recently-delayed landmark deals, reflecting wider global investor caution about this funding tool.
SPACs allow investors to list a shell company on public markets before they have identified a business to buy, which provides a speedier route to an initial public offering.
In excess of $115.6 billion has been raised via more than 400 SPACS or blank-check companies this year, mainly on Wall Street where SPACs make up two thirds of all Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), although activity has slowed as regulatory and valuation concerns have increased.
In contrast, a total of $1.18 billion has been raised this year via six SPACs by emerging market issuers, including two apiece from Israel and China. This is just a fraction of the $96.3 billion raised via traditional IPOs from emerging markets, based on Refinitiv data.
But SPACs are expected to feature more prominently in future fundraisings for emerging market entrepreneurs, opening up more capital and operational expertise.
Just this month, SPACs formed by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Capital and Singapore’s Fat Projects Spac filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $300 million in IPOs.
The former is targeting media and entertainment, highlighting growth opportunities in emerging markets such as India and China, while the latter’s focus includes businesses cashing in on Southeast Asia’s booming consumer market.
For investors, emerging market SPACs can offer high returns, but also greater potential risks related to transparency and disclosure. All eyes are on the fate of the emerging market deals already underway.
Singapore’s Grab, going public through a SPAC merger worth $40 billion, said last month it expected to complete the deal during the fourth quarter. The company had previously said it aimed to close the deal by July.
“Assuming Grab does well, people are going to pay attention to that,” said Allen Taylor, managing director of California-based venture capital firm Endeavor Catalyst, an investor in more than 180 emerging market portfolio companies.
He said entrepreneurs and investors in Southeast Asia will see this as a credible option for how to go public.
“More people will follow and I think the same is true for Latin America as those are the two regions I’m most bullish on.”
Brazilian planemaker Embraer said in June its subsidiary Eve, which develops aircraft in the electric vertical take-off and landing business, had entered into a SPAC deal. Analysts estimated Eve could reach a market value of $2 billion.
Abu Dhabi-based music streaming app Anghami said in March it would become the first Arab tech company to list on the Nasdaq after agreeing to merge with a SPAC vehicle in a deal that was expected to close in the second quarter.
But one banker who covers the region said the small size of the listing for New York – Anghami’s deal implies an enterprise value of about $220 million – had prompted concern from some SPAC-watchers about its outcome.
Anghami said in response to Reuters questions on the timing and progress of the deal: “The SPAC merger process has a number of technical milestones that must be met before completion…We have been working towards completion but these processes invariably take some time.”
Anghami said it looked forward to completing the remaining steps in the process to make the group the first Arab tech company to list on Nasdaq in New York.
Reflecting cautious investor sentiment towards SPACs, share prices of the vehicles merging with Grab and Anghami have both fallen from the levels they were at when the deals were announced.
(Graphics: Year to date returns of IPOX SPAC Index versus S&P 500 and MSCI Emerging Markets Index: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/movanmjqapa/Capture.PNG)
‘ONE ARROW IN THE QUIVER’
Emerging markets urgently need more fundraising options. Currently these markets only account for around 8% of private capital and 11% of stock market capitalisation, based on World Bank data.
SPACs do offer them a new route to raising cash.
“They represent one arrow in the quiver – alongside private capital, traditional IPOs and acquisitions,” said Alexandre Lazarow, a venture capitalist with Cathay Innovation.
But it will not be plain sailing.
The global SPAC boom at the start of this year showed signs of fading by May amid investor worries about valuations. Some U.S. businesses have halted plans to list.
“The explosion and subsequent quenching of SPAC enthusiasm in developed markets provides a potential lesson for emerging markets to learn from,” said Alex Korda, analyst at consultancy The Edge Group.
Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, head of consumer equity research at research firm Tellimer, said U.S.-listed SPACs may be appropriate for emerging market companies where a loss-making history or limited operating records make it hard for them to list via an IPO.
As for listing SPACs on emerging country stock exchanges, this looks much more uncertain.
Singapore’s stock market in March said it was proposing introducing regulations to allow SPAC listings, while Dubai’s bourse is consulting market participants on the issue.
“Investors may shun this untested regulatory structure for the established SPAC market in the U.S.,” Tiruchelvam wrote in a research note.
“Liquidity in EM will not match U.S. levels for EM-related SPACs. There is massive chasm between the liquidity of the U.S.-listed EM tech stocks and those listed on local exchanges.”
(Graphics: Emerging market SPACs small fraction of global total: https://graphics.reuters.com/EMERGING-MARKETS/zgvomwraqvd/chart.png)
(Editing by Jane Merriman)

Exclusive-Italy shelves insurance plan for MPS legal risks, eyes spin-off – sources

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank is seen at a bank entrance in Rome, Italy August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Giuseppe Fonte and Valentina Za
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s Treasury is exploring a plan to hive off most of the legal risks weighing on Monte dei Paschi after shelving an alternative insurance scheme that was too costly, three sources close to the matter said.
Legal risks of around 10 billion euros have long posed one of the main hurdles to Italy’s efforts to cut the 64% stake the state owns in Monte dei Paschi (MPS) after a 2017 bailout.
The absence of a firm solution to the legal problems threatens to further prolong the Treasury’s struggle to return MPS to private hands.
The government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi is under pressure to find a solution for MPS, which needs more capital only four years after its 5.4 billion euro state bailout.
After months of tense negotiations, MPS last week signed a draft accord with its former top investor, local banking foundation Fondazione Monte dei Paschi, to settle their outstanding legal disputes.
The landmark deal will reduce claims by 3.8 billion euros. The Treasury is working to further lower remaining legal risks below 5 billion euros, sources have said.
But even after cutting the claims, the three sources said a scheme the Treasury has been working on for months to allow MPS to insure its legal risks and make it easier to find a buyer is too costly for the Tuscan bank’s weakened finances.
Under the scheme, state-owned exports insurance agency SACE and other private players would have provided protection for the risks against the payment of fees.
The scheme, however, also failed to solve another key problem: the joint liability MPS and its acquirer would remain subject to under Italian law vis-à-vis potential plaintiffs.
The Treasury has now revived an earlier plan that entailed spinning off MPS’ legal risks and keeping them in state hands, a move that needs clearance from European Union competition authorities, the sources said.
Deliberations are still preliminary and a decision on how to proceed can only be taken in agreement with MPS’ buyer, one of the sources said, adding that if Rome opted for the spin-off scheme it would be a long and complex process.
MPS declined to comment.
The Treasury has been trying to convince UniCredit to take on its ailing rival but Italy’s number 2 bank is focused on an internal revamp under new CEO Andrea Orcel.
Banking stress test results on Friday are expected to highlight MPS’ vulnerability, though a person familiar with the matter said capital needs should not exceed the 2.5 billion euros MPS has already said it plans to raise by mid-2022.
The government faces calls to delay the sale by the co-ruling 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League party, lawmakers say.
Union representatives staged a protest in Rome on Monday calling for safeguards for MPS workers.
On Tuesday, Deputy Economy Minister Laura Castelli will speak about the Treasury’s re-privatisation plans before a parliamentary committee conducting an inquiry into the banking system under the leadership of 5-Star MP Carla Ruocco.
The Treasury is working with Bank of America and Orrick to re-privatise MPS. Mediobanca and Credit Suisse are advising MPS.
(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte in Rome and Valentina Za in Milan; Editing by Giles Elgood)

U.S. new home sales drop to 14-month low in June

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FILE PHOTO: A carpenter works on building new townhomes that are still under construction while building material supplies are in high demand in Tampa, Florida, U.S., May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones July 26, 2021
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to a 14-month low in June and sales in the prior month were weaker than initially estimated, suggesting that expensive building materials and the resulting surge in prices for properties were restraining the housing market.
New home sales fell 6.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000 units last month, the lowest level since April 2020, the Commerce Department said on Monday. May’s sales pace was revised down to 724,000 units from the previously reported 769,000 units. Sales have now dropped for three straight months.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for a small share of U.S. home sales, increasing 3% to rate of 800,000 units in June.
“Until builder costs and supply-chain problems become less of an impediment, it is hard to see new sales picking up significantly in the near term,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio.
The report followed in the wake of news last week that building permits fell to a nine-month low in June, while sales of previously owned homes rebounded moderately. The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced millions of Americans to work from home and take online classes, led to a boom in housing demand.
But supply has lagged behind, with builders constrained by expensive lumber as well as shortages of other building materials, household appliances, land and labor. The backlog of single-family homes approved for construction but yet to be started surged in June to the highest level since October 2006.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.
The housing market was one of the economy’s star performers during the pandemic, posting double-digit growth for three straight quarters. That streak likely came to an end in the second quarter, with residential investment believed to have had a neutral impact on gross domestic product.
The government is scheduled to publish its snapshot of second-quarter GDP on Thursday.
Last month, new home sales dropped in the populous South, the Northeast and West. They rose in the Midwest. New home sales are drawn from a sample of houses selected from building permits and tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis.
Sales declined 19.4% on a year-on-year basis in June. That was the first annual decrease since the pandemic.
The median new house price increased 6.1% from a year earlier to $361,800 in June. Sales were concentrated in the $200,000-$749,000 price range. Sales below the $200,000 price bracket, the sought-after segment of the market, accounted for only 2% of transactions last month.
There were 353,000 new homes on the market, up from 330,000 in May. At June’s sales pace it would take 6.3 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 5.5 months in May.
About 77% of homes sold last month were either under construction or yet to be built.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Lawyer who sued Chevron over Ecuador pollution found guilty of contempt

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FILE PHOTO: Attorney Steven Donziger, who won a multi-billion dollar judgment against Chevron on behalf of Ecuadorian villagers, speaks to supporters with Singer Roger Waters and actor Susan Sarandon, as he arrives for his criminal contempt trail at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo July 26, 2021
By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A disbarred American lawyer who spent more than two decades trying to prove Chevron Corp polluted Ecuador’s rainforest was found guilty on Monday by a U.S. judge of six counts of criminal contempt.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan ruled that attorney Steven Donziger “repeatedly and willfully” defied court orders, including by failing to turn over his computer, phones and other electronic devices.
“It’s time to pay the piper,” Preska wrote in a 241-page decision, following a five-day trial with no jury in May.
In a statement, Donziger pledged to appeal. He called the decision an “obvious travesty of justice” designed to validate Chevron’s “demonize Donziger” strategy, and renewed his claim that Preska structured the trial to make him “appear guilty.”
Chevron did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Donziger has said the case violated his constitutional due process rights and that the private lawyers serving as prosecutors for the United States were appointed illegally.
Those lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Donziger has been confined to his home for nearly two years while defending himself.
The case is the latest twist stemming from Donziger’s representation of villagers in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region, who sought to hold Chevron liable for water and soil contamination from 1964 and 1992 by Texaco, which Chevron later acquired.
Donziger, a Harvard Law School graduate, won a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court in 2011.
But San Ramon, California-based Chevron sued Donziger in federal court in Manhattan later that year, claiming that he and his associates pressured the presiding judge in Ecuador.
Chevron has also said Texaco cleaned up the pollution, and state-owned Petroecuador was mainly responsible for the contamination.
In 2014, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to enforce the $9.5 billion judgment, saying it had been secured through bribery, fraud and extortion.
Chevron later sought to recoup money Donziger personally reaped in the Ecuador case, and Kaplan ordered Donziger to turn over electronic devices to the company’s forensic experts. When he refused, Kaplan charged him with criminal contempt.
In her decision, Preska emphasized that the contempt case focused on Donziger’s conduct, and had nothing to do with Chevron’s responsibility for any pollution in Ecuador.
“Contrary to Mr. Donziger’s assertion that his conviction was ‘pre-ordained,’ the Court finds him guilty on each count for one reason and one reason only: Mr. Donziger did that with which he is charged. Period.”
Lawyers for Donziger have said he could face six months behind bars. Donziger was disbarred by a New York state appeals court last August.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo;Editing by Joe Bavier and Leslie Adler)

Analysis-U.S. manufacturers take a double hit from labor and materials

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A worker hoists a flight chain at the Calder Brothers’ facility in Taylors, South Carolina, U.S., July 19, 2021. Picture taken July 19, 2021. Brandon Granger/Calder Brothers Corporation/Handout via REUTERS July 26, 2021
By Rajesh Kumar Singh
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Calder Brothers Corp is under pressure to raise wages after rivals lured away some of its workers. A few others were also considering jumping ship, but co-owner Glen Calder said the South Carolina-based construction machinery company managed to persuade them to stay by promising a better career.
With willing workers in short supply across the United States and companies frantically vying for them, Calder knows his firm cannot hold off pay increases. At the same time, however, soaring prices for the raw materials used in the asphalt paving machines his company builds have left it with no wiggle room.
“It’s really squeezed the company from an operational standpoint,” Calder said.
American manufacturers of all sizes are grappling with the strongest inflationary pressure in three decades following a relentless rise in raw-materials prices in the past 13 months.
Harley-Davidson Inc said last week it would impose an average pricing surcharge of 2% from July 1 on select models sold in the United States to mitigate the cost pressure, which shaved off 5 percentage points from its profit in the latest quarter. Yet the motorcycle maker expects earnings to suffer in the second half of the year.
Higher commodity prices are eating into corporate budgets, making it tougher for manufacturers to compete in a tight labor market.
Calder Brothers, for example, is paying 50% more for some of its components. Overall, its material costs are up 15% this year. Sales of its machines have recovered but are still below pre-pandemic levels.
The company is now waiting for a 10% price increase to come into effect in the fall to provide some financial leeway to hand out pay raises of 2% to 4%. In the interim, it has bumped up its contribution to its retirement plan for employees.
Calder said his company is one of the best paymasters in Greenville County, where it is located. With the starting pay at $16.80 an hour, its wages are far above state or federal minimums. Yet it has lost 10% of its workforce since last fall.
JOSTLING FOR WORKERS
The equipment maker faces the challenge of retaining workers at a time when it needs more hands to keep up with customer orders. It has been running job ads for four welders, two machinists and five assemblers since February, but has managed to fill just three positions thus far.
The tight labor market has also discouraged Calder Brothers from mandating vaccines for its employees. With just 35% of workers vaccinated on the shop floor and the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading quickly, its operations are at risk.
“In today’s labor market, I really don’t want to do anything to make anybody mad,” said Calder.
American manufacturers have long complained about labor shortages. But until this April, wage gains for production workers failed to keep pace with the overall trend in the economy.
This year, the U.S. labor supply has been further limited by a combination of enhanced jobless benefits, lingering concern about returning to work, childcare issues and pandemic-related retirements as well as career changes.
The number of job openings at manufacturers is at the highest level in two decades, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department. Adding to the challenge, more workers are quitting their jobs than at any time in at least two decades.
Meanwhile, a booming economy has sparked a competitive frenzy as manufacturers are now jostling for workers with companies like McDonald’s Corp and Amazon.com Inc, which are offering higher wages as well as signing bonuses.
As a result, employee wages are projected to rise over the next 12 months at the fastest pace in two decades, according to a survey by the National Association of Manufacturers.
“You either take people off the couch or you take them from other businesses,” said Calder. “It’s not easy.”
SUPPLY LOGJAM WORSENS
Other manufacturers are facing a similar predicament. Georgia-based Win-Tech Inc, which makes parts for Lockheed Martin Corp, last month lost out on a hire after it failed to match the counteroffer from the applicant’s employer.
Allison Krache Giddens, Win-Tech’s president, said the applicant’s employer doubled the salary in response to her company’s offer. With supply-chain logjam inflating her costs, Giddens said there is a limit to what her company can pay to attract workers as it needs to stay cost-competitive.
If the price pressure does not abate, she worries it will crimp her ability to hire workers and expand the business.
“What we will end up doing is not taking on as much work,” she said. “We’re going to take on work so that we can remain profitable and be a successful business.”
The struggle to find workers is not imposing constraints only on manufacturers’ ability to ramp up. It is also contributing to supply and logistics bottlenecks.
Win-Tech has a set of jobs that go out twice a month to California and then return to Georgia for final manufacturing. The whole trip now takes up to two weeks compared with five days earlier as the company’s trucking company cannot find drivers.
Similarly, Calder Brothers is not able to obtain wiring harnesses on time as its supplier is short of workers. To get around the problem, Calder said the supplier has moved the production from South Carolina to Tunisia.
“I don’t have manpower; our suppliers don’t have manpower; the transportation markets don’t have manpower,” he said. “It’s just a challenge.”
(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago; Editing by Joe White and Matthew Lewis)

Russia rejects ‘hostile’ Japanese protest over island visit

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Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visits the Yasny fish processing complex on the southern Kuril island of Iturup, Russia July 26, 2021. Sputnik/Dmitry Astakhov/Pool via REUTERS July 26, 2021
MOSCOW/TOKYO (Reuters) -Russia rejected what it called a hostile Japanese diplomatic protest following a visit by the Russian prime minister to a disputed island chain on Monday, saying he could go wherever on Russian territory he wanted.
A top Japanese government spokesman said earlier on Monday that Tokyo was lodging an official diplomatic protest over the visit by Mikhail Mishustin to one of four Russian-held islands to which Japan lays claim.
Russian news agencies said Japan had summoned the Russian ambassador over the matter.
Japan calls the islands the Northern Territories. Russia calls them the Kuril Islands.
The territorial dispute over the islands dates to when the then-Soviet Union seized them at the end of World War Two, and has prevented the two countries signing a formal peace treaty.
Mishustin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying during the visit that Moscow planned to set up a special economic zone with no customs duties and a reduced set of taxes on the island chain.
Russia’s foreign ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador in Moscow to protest over Tokyo’s behaviour.
“Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov conveyed a strong protest to the Japanese side in connection with hostile steps taken by official Tokyo in recent days,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Japanese embassy said in a statement that ambassador Toyohisa Kozuki, in his own expression of protest, described Mishustin’s trip as “going against our country’s consistent position on the Northern Territories”.
The Japanese side “strongly demanded that the Russian side take constructive actions to advance peace treaty negotiations”, the statement said.
The Kremlin said it valued and wanted to improve relations with Tokyo but saw nothing wrong with Mishustin’s trip.
“As for the prime minister’s trip to Iturup island, he visits those Russian provinces that he sees fit,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters.
Peskov said Moscow would continue to work with Tokyo towards agreeing a peace treaty.
Mishustin said he would discuss with Putin what he called an “unprecedented” set of economic measures aimed at developing the islands. “This would be interesting…for Japan as well, which could create jobs and work with you if it is interested,” he was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as telling local businessmen.
(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov, Dmitry Antonov and Andrew Osborn in Moscow and by Takashi Umekawa in Tokyo; Editing by Joe Bavier, Mark Heinrich and Timothy Heritage)

Tunisian lawyers, politicians split on constitutional crisis

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Police officers keep guard as supporter of Tunisia’s biggest political party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, gather outside the parliament building in Tunis, Tunisia July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi July 26, 2021
TUNIS (Reuters) – President Kais Saied’s decision to invoke Article 80 of the Tunisian constitution late on Sunday to freeze the activities of parliament and oust the prime minister was rapidly called a coup by his political foes.
The legality of his actions rests on rival interpretations of the article that were meant to be resolved by a judicial body that authorities have for years failed to set up.
Politicians and constitutional lawyers are now wrangling over whether Saied had any authority for his actions.
Tunisia’s 2014 constitution, a result of compromises aimed at averting civil strife, splits powers between a directly elected president, a directly elected parliament and a prime minister agreed by both.
Successive presidents, prime ministers and parliaments have since then tussled over the extent of their legal powers and most big candidates in the 2019 elections, including Saied, vowed to change the system.
Crucially, all disputes were meant to be settled by a Constitutional Court agreed between the existing power centres. But after years of squabbling there has been no consensus on which judges should fill it.
Saied, a constitutional scholar who has been critical of the 2014 document, invoked the emergency powers given by Article 80 in a speech on Sunday.
The article says the president can take necessary measures in exceptional circumstances if imminent danger threatens national institutions, security or independence – a condition Saied said was triggered by protests and a COVID-19 spike.
It says any measures the president takes should guarantee a return to normal state functions and that though the president can freeze parliament’s activities, he cannot dissolve it.
However, the article says the president must consult with the prime minister and parliament speaker before invoking Article 80 and inform the constitutional court.
Parliament speaker Ghannouchi denied having been consulted. Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has not spoken in public since Saied dismissed him, and the court has not been set up.
“In the absence of the constitutional court the president has the exclusive right of interpretation,” said Rabeh Kraifi, a law professor, arguing that Saied’s actions were legal.
“The decisions were completely contrary to the constitution … the condition of imminent danger does not exist and he did not consult the speaker or prime minister,” said another law professor, Iyadh Ben Achour.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara and Angus McDowall; Editing by Giles Elgood)

AP Report: Herschel Walker Allegedly ‘Threatened His Ex-Wife’s Life’ on Multiple Occasions

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The Associated Press has a deeply disturbing report on Herschel Walker, the former NFL star who has Donald Trump’s backing in the 2022 Georgia Senate race:
[I]n December 2005, Cindy Grossman, Walker’s ex-wife, secured a protective order against him, alleging violent and controlling behavior.
Grossman has said she was long a victim of Walker’s impulses. When his book was released, she told ABC News that at one point during their marriage, her husband pointed a pistol at her head and said, “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.” She filed for divorce in 2001, citing “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior.”
In seeking protection from a judge in Dallas County, Grossman filed an affidavit from her sister, which described Walker as unwilling to accept that his former wife had begun dating another man.
Grossman told the court she got calls during that period from her sister and father, both of whom had been contacted by Walker. He told family members that he would kill her and her new boyfriend, according to Maria Tsettos, Cindy Grossman’s sister.
‘In an affidavit, Tsettos claimed Walker once called looking for his ex-wife while she was out with her boyfriend. Tsettos took the call and said Walker became “very threatening” when told of Grossman’s whereabouts. In Tsettos’ recollection, Walker “stated unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head.”
On another occasion, Tsettos said she talked to Walker “at length” after he’d reached out to her online. He “expressed to me that he was frustrated with (Cindy) and that he felt like he had ‘had enough’ and that he wanted to ‘blow their f—— heads off,’” she recalled of the Dec. 9, 2005, exchange.
Two days later he called again and told Tsettos that he possessed a gun and planned that day to act on his threats, which he repeated in graphic language, she said.

Boris Johnson: 'Less crime, fewer victims and a safer society' under new crime plan

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Boris Johnson has pledged to ensure “less crime, fewer victims and a safer society” as the country recovers from the pandemic.The government will unveil its new Beating Crime Plan on Tuesday which will see the creation of league tables for 101 and 999 call answering times so the public can see how quickly their local force is when responding to calls for help.
The initiative will also ensure every neighbourhood in England and Wales is allocated a named and contactable police officer dedicated to serving their area.

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The conditions on use of stop and search powers will be ‘permanently relaxed’ under the new plan

The prime minister said the plan, which builds on the Conservative Party’s manifesto promise to crack down on crime, will ensure everyone has the security and confidence that comes from having a safe street and a safe home.”When I first stood on the steps of Downing Street as prime minister, I promised to back the police and make people safer, because we cannot level up the country when crime hits the poorest hardest and draws the most vulnerable into violence,” the PM said.

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“That is why my government has remained unstinting in its efforts to protect the British public and this plan delivers a fresh commitment, as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic, to have less crime, fewer victims and a safer society.”
But speaking on LBC on Monday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer dismissed the initiative as a “ridiculous gimmick”.

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The plan focuses in particular on tackling serious violence and neighbourhood crime.The measures proposed include:• The 24 hour-a-day monitoring of burglars and thieves using electronic surveillance• Permanently relaxing conditions on the use of stop and search powers to take more knives off the streets• Getting offenders to clean up streets, alleys, estates and open spaces• A new £17m package for Violence Reduction Units to divert individuals away from violence• Rolling out two further rounds of the Safer Streets Fund including increased lighting and CCTV• Enhancing the role of Police and Crime Commissioners by giving them the tools they need to drive down crime

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The PM says the new plan is fulfilling the promise he made when elected to back the police

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the plan will deliver “a better future for the British public”.”I am absolutely determined to cut crime and deliver a safer society for the public, and the Beating Crime Plan shows how the government is going to do just that,” Ms Patel said”We’re putting 20,000 new police officers on the street, equipping them with new powers to catch criminals and take away knives, and shutting down drug gangs who exploit children and the vulnerable to make money.”This plan sets out a clear path for a better future for the British public – one with less crime, fewer victims, and a safer society for all.”Justice Secretary Robert Buckland added: “We’ve backed the Probation Service with an extra £310 million to boost recruitment to record levels and expanded the use of electronic tags to keep an even closer eye on offenders.”We’re also toughening sentences for the most dangerous, building 18,000 more prison places and putting victims at the heart of all our reforms so that they and the wider public are better protected.”

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Priti Patel said the plan sets out ‘a better future for the British public’

The government will also initiate the use of drug testing upon arrest to drive down illicit demand and misuse.A summit bringing together employers, educators, enforcement and health partners will be convened to “work up a comprehensive package” to achieve this, they said.But Labour accused the government of being “all talk and no action” on crime.”This announcement of rehashed policies won’t make our streets safer,” Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said.”The Conservatives are all talk and no action when it comes to tackling crime. On their watch, police numbers are down and community policing has been decimated. Coupled with an insulting pay freeze, it is no wonder frontline police have declared no confidence in the home secretary.”There are already targets in place for emergency response times and having named officers in wards is not enough to make up for the devastating scale of Conservative cuts to community policing that drove police numbers down by 21,000.

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Increased CCTV is also part of the government’s plan to make streets safer

“Little wonder that, on their watch, anti-social behaviour is rocketing, there are record low convictions for rape, and violent crime is devastating communities across the country.”Iryna Pona, policy manager at The Children’s Society called for greater investment in early intervention to tackle child criminal exploitation.”It’s vital that children who are trapped in a cycle of exploitation are identified and get support to stay safe. However, it is equally important that help is available to prevent them being exploited in the first instance,” she said.”Prevention is better than cure. We need to be helping young people well before they end up being rushed into A&E fighting for their lives.”We want to see a long-term plan for investment in early help for children at the first signs that they are vulnerable to being groomed. Short-term limited resources do not go far enough in providing the solutions needed across the country.”

The Bogus Kavanaugh Tip-Line Story: ‘Every Whack-Job in the World Called Into That Thing’

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On Thursday, the New York Times published a report that the FBI received 4,500 tips during the supplemental background investigation of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and sent the most “relevant” tips to the Office of White House Counsel (which had requested the follow-up investigation).
“The letter left uncertain whether the FBI itself followed up on the most compelling leads,” the Times reported. But the Times failed to report that summaries of all 4,500 tips were available for review by all 100 U.S. senators:
Mike Davis, who served as chief counsel for nominations on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Kavanaugh hearings, tells National Review that there was a summary of all 4,500 tips in the FBI’s report, which was available to all 100 U.S. senators.
“They printed out the entire tip-line summary,” says Davis. “Every senator had full access to read those things if they wanted to.”
Davis makes a crucial point about Senate Democrats now expressing outrage: “If there was anything that caught their attention, they could have flagged it for further investigation.”
“Every whack-job in the world called into that thing. That’s why there were 4,500 [tips],” says Davis. “Grassley’s team went through the entire tip-line. It was nonsense.” Davis worked under then-chairman Chuck Grassley on the committee and now runs the Article 3 Project, a conservative group that focuses on the judiciary.
A Republican senator who reviewed the FBI’s report confirms Davis’s description of the tip-line summary. “There was nothing in there . . . nothing anywhere providing a shred of corroboration” of an existing allegation or a new allegation, the senator tells National Review.
“It’s very clear what happened to the tips,” a former senior White House official told National Review’s Jack Crowe. “Everyone knows what happened. I don’t know why the Times is pretending they don’t. Everything we got, we gave to the Senate. There’s no secret file.”
As I noted in my piece, there was a bipartisan agreement that the supplemental one-week background investigation was supposed to be limited to “current” and “credible” allegations, and there’s good reason to believe there were no new credible allegations of wrongdoing. The press has had three years to investigate any new tips that Democratic senators may have found credible, but they’ve come up empty. 
The interviews conducted by the FBI during the supplemental background investigation in 2018 actually cast serious doubt on the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford:
Christine Blasey Ford claimed that her best friend from high school, Leland Keyser, was with her at the small gathering where Blasey Ford was allegedly assaulted by Kavanaugh. Keyser publicly said she didn’t recall the party or ever meeting Kavanaugh. But in speaking to the FBI during the supplemental investigation, she went a step further, casting serious doubt on Blasey Ford’s story.
“I don’t have any confidence in [Blasey Ford’s] story,” Keyser said to Kelly and Pogrebin, who interviewed her for their book. The details of the allegation “just didn’t make any sense,” Keyser said.

Twenty Things That Caught My Eye Today: Olympic Abortion Pressure, Christian Refugees in Lebanon, Lebanon & More

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1. Olympians are speaking out about abortion pressure:
 “I literally don’t know another female track athlete who hasn’t had an abortion,” Richards-Ross told Sports Illustrated Now. “And that’s sad.” She attributed the situation to misinformation circulating among peers on college campuses that pregnancy is impossible for women athletes who have lost their menstrual cycles due to extreme exercise.
Richards-Ross’s description of her thought process, that she had “no choice at all” and risked losing a lifetime of work if she continued her pregnancy, speaks to a culture around sports that encourages athletes to sacrifice and do “whatever it takes” to perform at the highest level. Indeed, her baby’s father, star NFL cornerback Aaron Ross, who is now her husband, couldn’t be with her when she visited the abortion clinic that day. “Nothing interrupted [Coach] Tom Coughlin’s [training] schedule for the Super Bowl champions. Nothing,” she wrote in her book.
2.

“We must all ask ourselves if we can much longer afford the luxury and the sinfulness of our divisions.” #CardinalGeorge
— Michael R. Heinlein (@HeinleinMichael) July 18, 2021

3.

Because of “gender identity” condoms are now being placed in women’s prisons since the women might be raped and impregnated by their fellow “women” cellmates. Do you see the raw sadism of this yet? Do you see the misogyny yet? Do you see the cruelty yet? What will it take, y’all? https://t.co/s6Chx8VJAM
— Brandon M Showalter (@BrandonMShow) July 20, 2021

5. Mindy Belz: A decade of destruction
Try telling Syrian mothers giving birth that the civil war there isn’t newsworthy. For some observers, the 10-year conflict has fallen off the radar. But at a hospital in the city of Afrin, those who weren’t killed after rocket fire destroyed a labor-and-delivery unit struggle to survive.
4. Nigerian seminarian calls for ‘prayer backed up with action’ to counter violence
5. Christian refugees in Lebanon live in abandoned mall amid economic crisis
In an abandoned mall on the outskirts of Beirut, an image of St. Thérèse of Lisieux hangs in the window of what was once a storefront. This former clothing store now serves as home for Christian refugees who have been hit hard by the inflation caused by Lebanon’s severe economic depression.

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6. After Two Statues at Our Lady of Mercy Were Destroyed, NYPD Searches for the Vandal Caught on Camera
The attack took place outside the church at 70-01 Kessel St. at approximately 3:30 a.m. A person can be seen in the video dragging the two statues 180 feet across 70th Avenue and repeatedly slamming them into the ground, causing them to break, police said.
The individual sought by police is described as a female in her mid-20s, with a medium complexion, medium build, and wearing all-black clothing.
7. Do yourself a favor and listen:

You’re not down in the dumps, are you? If so, give yourself a dose of Doreen. https://t.co/8GS4wk9eJ6
— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) July 21, 2021

8. Grazie Christie: Cuba: A nation chooses life
Unarmed and thinly clad before the heavily equipped agents of the government, they have bravely dared to ask for that shining thing they’ve been denied for so long: freedom. They often carry an image of Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba, before them. In solidarity, their brothers and sisters just miles away in Miami flooded Calle Ocho, the mainstreet of Little Havana, and filled the Miami shrine to the same lady with their fervent pleas. 
9. Washington Post Editorial: After the Cuba protests, a regime shows its true colors
10. Lee Edwards: A Free Cuba at Last?
Communist police are using tear gas and arresting Cuban demonstrators, but the regime is facing an existential crisis reminiscent of 1989 in Eastern Europe and the open rebellion of people behind the Iron Curtain.
11. WSJ: U.S. Population Growth, an Economic Driver, Grinds to a Halt
12. DC Mayor Scrubs Anti-Castro Slogan From Cuban Embassy Entrance
The painting, which read “Cuba Libre” (“Free Cuba”), was painted by the embassy as part of a demonstration against Cuba’s government and its violent treatment of political protesters. Activists drew inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement, whose slogan decorated the road in front of the White House for months.
13. Abigail Favale: Feminism’s Last Battle
14. Erika Bachiochi: Reclaiming a Lost Vision of the Rights of Women
Something significant had changed over the intervening century in the cause of women’s rights. And it was not only that participants to the more recent Women’s March arrived by bus rather than on horseback, or that the women marching were as educated and professionally competent as the men, impressive though these changes are. Rather, the underlying rationale for women’s rights—for civil and political freedom and equality as such—has shifted profoundly. But this shift has occurred subtly and over time, such that many now falsely assume that an unbroken line can be traced from those who today agitate for women’s rights to those who argued that women had the right to do so in the first place.
Indeed, the philosophical and political principle of equal citizenship for women has morphed in the last half century into something that nearly contradicts its original moral vision, a vision first fully articulated by English philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman more than two centuries ago. For Wollstonecraft, political freedom and legal equality were not ends in themselves but necessary means to higher human ends: the common human pursuit of intellectual and moral excellence.
The political and civil rights Wollstonecraft claimed for women in the late eighteenth century have been over time and with great struggle steadily secured in modern democracies around the world. And yet the ennobling moral vision upon which she built her rights claims has largely been abandoned. With the stark moral failures of so many of our political, economic, and cultural leaders, the sexual exploitation of women and children through pornography and sex trafficking, the relentless violence that increasingly targets the most vulnerable human beings, the abject poverty of so many even amid ever-growing wealth, and the materialism and consumerism that works to corrupt the soul of the West, Wollstonecraft’s substantive vision may be needed now more than ever.
15. Booksellers for Censoring Books
The American Booksellers Association apologized Wednesday for a “terrible” and “serious, violent incident.” What dastardly offense did it commit? The profound trauma occurred this month when the trade group dedicated to selling books sent out a paperback copy of a book some of its members don’t like.
The book at issue is “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” by Abigail Shrier. It argues, as Ms. Shrier explained in these pages last year, “that transgender identification among teen girls has become a social contagion,” and that medical intervention for teenage girls with sudden-onset gender dysphoria can cause serious and permanent harm.

Ms. Shrier supports medical gender transitions for adults and opposes discrimination against trans individuals. Her justifiable concern is with adolescent girls who have shown no childhood history of gender dysphoria, and who might later regret a decision that alters their bodies in fundamental ways.

Ms. Shrier’s book nonetheless offends the sensibilities of the woke left, which has tried to censor research into rapid-onset gender dysphoria and the regret felt by some who have undergone gender transitions. Twitter mobs are now leading a campaign to ensure that the public can’t buy or read Ms. Shrier’s book.

16. Alberta mom grateful after 11-year-old rescues her 5-year-old from pond: ‘He’s my angel’
“For an 11-year-old to do what he did — I have no words. I have so much gratitude, and so much praise and love,” Drake said.
17. Charles Camosy: Will those suffering late-stage dementia be the next to be called less than human?
In 2019, a New York Times story recounted the last days of Alma Shaver, a wife and mother who was sliding into the later stages of dementia. Her husband’s response was to shoot his wife in her sleep and then shoot himself.
The reporter did not describe this as a horrific murder-suicide or domestic violence built on ableism and male aggression. On the contrary, the author went out of her way to paint Alma’s husband as a sympathetic figure, strongly implying that the killing was justified.
18. The Surprising Nordic Lesson for U.S. Welfare
A recent major study also shows that it’s not cash payments that make the big difference in people’s lives, but relationships, especially parental, that stimulate child learning, personality, and behaviors and provide guidance for important life decisions.
19. A Packed Schedule Doesn’t Really ‘Enrich’ Your Child
We should not simply return children to their hectic prepandemic schedules.
20.

“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”-C.S. Lewis
— C. S. Lewis (@CSLewisDaily) July 22, 2021

Futurism Bought by VC-Backed Firm Seeking to Become Next Big Media Power Player

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A popular but niche technology and science outlet has become the latest website to be scooped up by a venture equity-backed media company quickly becoming a significant player in the digital space.Recurrent Ventures is set to announce later on Monday that it has finalized a deal to purchase Futurism, the tech and culture-focused news site previously owned by Singularity University, a Google and Deloitte-backed technology business.The purchase of Futurism marks the latest acquisition for Recurrent Ventures, which has quickly assembled a portfolio of well-liked but small, primarily digital media brands. Over the past several years, the venture equity-backed company has purchased 18 media brands including Popular Science, Saveur, Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and The Drive, among others.Last month, Recurrent raised its profile by announcing it had acquired MEL, the men’s lifestyle publication previously backed by Dollar Shave Club that had become a cult favorite for its irreverent culture and lifestyle writing. A number of media organizations were interested in acquiring the site when Dollar Shave Club announced it would wind down its funding of MEL. In an interview with Axios last month, MEL’s editor-in-chief Josh Schollmeyer said he was impressed by the collaboration between the site’s leaders and the venture capital firm, noting that editors from other Recurrent-owned publications encouraged the company to buy MEL.The purchase of both Futurism and MEL in less than a month demonstrate the firm’s growing ambitions in the digital-media world. In an email, Recurrent CEO Lance Johnson said his company is looking to continue acquiring media brands in coming months.“We would like to make a few more acquisitions this year that would either add to our existing range of topics or allow us to branch into new ones (like we did with MEL),” he said in an email. “It just depends on the brands and the potential we see in them, as well as how they could fit within our portfolio and growth strategy.”Futurism is a small but slick online publication that primarily focuses on science, technology, and culture. The site went viral earlier this year after it noticed that The New York Times had accidentally published an article claiming that watermelons were found on Mars (the Times was testing its publishing CMS when it accidentally set the piece live). Over the past year, it has interviewed the head of NASA, reported on the lab-leak theory, and investigated how gene-hacked mosquitos terrorized a Florida community.In an email, Futurism publisher James Del said the site began looking for a new owner when, just two years after buying the site, “Singularity University’s business model changed.” He said he was impressed by Recurrent’s track record of growing their other media properties without sacrificing editorial quality, and noted that “they bought the site everyone wanted to buy” in their latest purchase of MEL.Jon Christian, the site’s managing editor, said the most recent sale will help the site scale up and get more aggressive in its approach to tech and science coverage.”We’re gonna be expanding the repertoire. We’re going to loosen the collar, be a little less risk-averse in terms of voice, in terms of finding new audiences, in terms of broadening the editorial perspective,” he said.

Olympics-Taekwondo-Croatia’s Jelic wins women’s – 67kg gold medal

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Taekwondo – Women’s Welterweight 57-67kg – Gold medal match – Makuhari Messe Hall A, Chiba, Japan – July 26, 2021. Matea Jelic of Croatia celebrates winning gold REUTERS/Murad Sezer July 26, 2021
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) – Croatia’s Matea Jelic defeated Britain’s Lauren Williams to win the women’s taekwondo -67kg category gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.
Ivory Coast’s Ruth Gbagbi and Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba took the bronze medals, the second consecutive ones for both women. Wahba competed in the -57kg category in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; editing by Clare Fallon)

Olympics-Softball-Mexico down Australia, head to bronze game with Canada

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Softball – Women – Opening Round – Mexico v Australia – Yokohama Baseball Stadium – Yokohama, Japan – July 26, 2021. Stefania Aradillas of Mexico, Clare Warwick of Australia, and Leah Parry of Australia in action. REUTERS/Jorge Silva July 26, 2021
By Paresh Dave
YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) -Olympic newcomers Mexico overcame Australia 4-1 on Monday to reach the bronze-medal match-up with Canada, after the United States beat Japan 2-1 in a dress rehearsal for the gold-medal game.
Mexico’s offence surged for the second straight night as Victoria Vidales had two runs batted in on two of the team’s 11 hits, while pitcher Dallas Escobedo nearly tossed a second consecutive complete game shutout.
They will face Canada, who have competed at each of softball’s four Olympic appearances but never placed higher than fourth. Australia had won silver or bronze every time.
The United States struggled on offence, failing to get a hit off Japan’s third-string pitcher Yamato Fujita until the sixth inning.
Kelsey Stewart’s tie-breaking homer did win the game an inning later for the United States. But, as the team’s 3-1 loss to Japan in the Beijing 2008 final showed, counting on lucky hits late in the game delivers inconsistent returns. They failed to hit in key moments against Yukiko Ueno during that game and lost out on gold for the first time.
Ueno, 39, is back, as are U.S. hurlers Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott. Monday’s win means the United States will bat after Japan in the final.
“Get ’em on, get ’em over and get ’em in. That’s they way we’ve played and won games. Timely hitting,” U.S. coach Ken Eriksen said. “I wish we could have 18 runs, but we’re playing against great pitching.”
Overall, the United States scored nine runs on 27 hits in the opening round with Stewart’s their lone home run. They stranded 35 runners.
By contrast, Japan had double the runs on 26 hits, including six homers, and left 34 on base.
The rivals went unbeaten against the other four teams at Tokyo 2020 to set up the 2008 rematch. They have also met for the last seven world championships, with the U.S. winning five.
Softball has returned to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, and medal contenders said they hope exciting finals can make the sport a permanent feature.
Last-placed Italy on Monday scored their only run of the Olympics in an 8-1 loss to Canada.
Italy enjoyed the Olympic experience, their players loudly singing their national anthem, handing out cards with their faces on to stadium ushers and snapping pictures by the Olympics logo on the outfield fence.
Forecast rain could delay the medal games on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Ed Osmond)

EU brings trade challenge against Russia to WTO

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FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo July 26, 2021
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has requested the launch of a World Trade Organization case against Russia over measures it says restrict EU companies from selling goods to Russian state-owned enterprises.
“The European Union has requested WTO dispute consultations with the Russian Federation regarding Russian measures which the EU alleges form part of an import substitution programme. The request was circulated to WTO members on 26 July,” the European Commission said in a statement on Monday.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop)

Check Point Software Q2 profit, revenue beat estimates

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FILE PHOTO: A man stands next to the logo of Check Point Software Technologies at its headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner July 26, 2021
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Check Point Software Technologies reported on Monday a bigger than expected rise in second quarter net profit and revenue as a sharp increase in sophisticated cyber attacks boosted demand for its products.
Chief Executive Gil Shwed said there had been a 93% annual rise in more advanced “Gen V” attacks, particularly ransomware, making them the “new norm”.
“More than 1,200 organisations are hurt each week by ransomware attacks. We see the highest increase in Latin America and Europe, but we see an increase everywhere,” Shwed told a news conference.
To combat the trend the company has combined its technologies that help protect cloud storage systems and corporate and home networks into one suite called Infinity, which Shwed said saw triple-digit quarterly sales growth.
The Israel-based company said it earned $1.61 perdiluted share excluding one-time items in the quarter, upfrom $1.58 a year earlier. Revenue grew 4% to $526 million, withthe company on its way to top $2 billion for a second straightyear. It was forecast to earn $1.56 a share on revenue of $523.8million, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.
For the third quarter, it sees revenue of $515-$540 million and adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.54-$1.64. Analysts have forecast EPS of $1.58 on revenue of $527.9 million.
Check Point kept its full-year estimates for revenue of $2.08-$2.18 billion and adjusted EPS of $6.45-$6.85, compared with 2020 results of $2.07 billion and $6.78 respectively.
The company said it bought back 2.7 million shares in thequarter worth $325 million as part of its share repurchaseprogramme.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Mexico signs agreement aimed at recovering U.S. aviation rating

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The US flag (L), and the Mexico’s flag are pictured on the international border bridge Paso del Norte in between El Paso US and Ciudad Juarez in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez July 26, 2021
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico has signed an agreement with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aimed at helping the country recover its Category 1 air safety rating, Mexico’s ministry of communications and transportation said on Monday.
    Experts from the FAA will visit Mexico beginning in August to provide technical assistance and a review of the country’s efforts to reverse a downgrade, the ministry said in a statement.
The FAA in May downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating to Category 2, the lowest level, an action that bars Mexican carriers from adding new U.S. flights and limits the ability of airlines to carry out marketing agreements with one another.
The downgrade implied, according to the FAA, that Mexico lacked “necessary requirements to oversee the country’s air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards, or the civil aviation authority is lacking in one or more areas such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping, inspection procedures or resolution of safety concerns.”
The U.S. regulator said at the time it was “fully committed” to helping Mexico’s aviation authority improve its safety oversight system to international standards and offered to provide expertise and resources.
Mexico’s communications and transportation ministry said the FAA experts visiting the country would provide a report of their findings and recommendations for further improvement.
Recovering the Category 1 rating was a “priority,” the ministry said, and improvements have continued in order to guarantee certainty to the aviation industry, as well as national and foreign tourists, “that Mexico is safe in the areas of air transport and airport services.”
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison and Noe Torres; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Steve Orlofsky)

Urban legend: Why Alibaba’s John Caplan is bullish on cities

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John Caplan, president of North America and Europe and global chief marketing officer for Alibaba.com. Courtesy Alibaba.com/via REUTERS July 26, 2021
By Chris Taylor
NEW YORK (Reuters) – When it comes to cities in a global pandemic, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated, according to John Caplan.
As president of North America and Europe and global chief marketing officer for B2B e-commerce marketplace giant Alibaba.com, the born-and-bred New Yorker has a better feel than most for how the world’s urban centers are faring.
While some people have foreseen cities emptying out, he sees just the opposite. Caplan spoke to Reuters about the future of cities.
Q: A lot of people were predicting rough times for cities because of COVID-19, so what is your take on how this is playing out?
A: I’m an unequivocal optimist for New York City, and for urban centers globally. The pandemic was most fierce and challenging here first, and all of that was so tragic.
What is most important about New York is the diversity and creativity and ingenuity of the people who live here. To take one example, look at the outdoor dining renaissance: All of that disruption started here, but all of the innovation started here as well.
Q: Since you work for a Chinese company, did you get a very early sense that this virus was going to disrupt the way we live and work?
A: Having customers in 190 countries, Alibaba is a business window into the world. We did see a rapid shutdown inside China, with colleagues working from home and all the adjustments required to serve customers. So we did have some warning. Then the pandemic struck in NYC, and instantly we were all at home.
Q: How did you figure out how to manage teams in that environment?
A: We already had global teams navigating multiple time zones. If you’re a small business in Italy selling to customers in L.A., of course you’re working virtually with each other. We were doing the same thing we had always been trained to do. But I do think it helped level the playing field: If everyone is a 2×2 square on Zoom, then your contributions matter more than your title.
Q: Tech trends have certainly accelerated during this period – have you seen that on your own platform?
A: Businesses are recognizing that getting digital and going global is a strategic imperative because of the pandemic. In the U.S., there are 30 million small businesses, but the majority still do not export. We’re an ally to them in selling their goods to the world, and we’ve seen a rise not only in exports, but in sourcing goods from around the globe.
Q: Since your role requires going around the world, what’s your sense of how business travel will be affected?
A: In 2019, I spent 160 days on the road, the majority of those outside the U.S. In 2020 and 2021, I have traveled little, if at all.
I do think meaningful business travel will return, because trusted friendships often require interpersonal engagement. But traveling across the country just for a one-hour meeting will stop, and that’s likely good for families and communities. The standard is different now.
Q: You have written about the importance of going after a few big goals – why is that so key?
A: A lot of the things you try to do are going to fail. So you should swing hard and swing far in order to make a big impact.
Wherever you are in the lifecycle of the pandemic, one thing is clear to me: Do big things, with people who know how to get big things done. We’re in a crisis, and there is no room for noise. Sometimes companies make the mistake of trying to do too many little things.
Q: What are you looking forward to most as things get back to normal?
A: I like going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and walking through the galleries and seeing it full of people. I’m looking forward to the Halloween parade, and the Macy’s parade. Or when there is the first snowfall, and you walk down any street in Brooklyn, and it feels like magic.
New York is a special place where people meet to seek their highest ambitions and goals for their families and for society. New York is best when it’s on the rebound, and we are most certainly on the rebound right now.
I want to build companies here, I want to make friends here. I want to listen to music here. I’m not going anyplace.
(Editing by Lauren Young and Dan Grebler)

Olympics-Gymnastics-Russia survive Asian fight back to take team gold

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Men’s Team – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Artur Dalaloyan of the Russian Olympic Committee, David Belyavskiy of the Russian Olympic Committee, Denis Abliazin of the Russian Olympic Committee and Nikita Nagornyy of the Russian Olympic Committee celebrate after winning gold REUTERS/Dylan Martinez July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Russia claimed the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics gymnastics competition on Monday, seeing off a dramatic late Asian challenge to win the men’s team event.
Competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences, the ROC posted a winning total of 262.500 over the six apparatus to land top the podium for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Led by Nikita Nagornyy and Artur Dalaloyan, who have both won all-around titles at the world championships, the ROC finished 0.103 of a point clear of defending champions Japan.
China took the bronze for second consecutive Games.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Tokyo. Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

We’re Paying the Price for Refusing Controlled Burns

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Power lines framed by flames as the Dixie Fire grows in Plumas National Forest, Calif., July 15, 2021.
(David Swanson/Reuters)

Terribly large and destructive wildfires in the West are now a summer ritual — and with it, the insistence that the fires are further evidence of climate change.
But the fires are also a consequence of bad forest management policies – specifically, the longtime erroneous belief that humans should never clear out flammable underbrush and other potential fire fuel, and that controlled burns are destructive and always inherently bad.
Thankfully, the longstanding conventional wisdom is rapidly eroding. Oregon’s Democratic governor Kate Brown said on Jake Tapper’s program yesterday, “it’s incredibly important, with climate change, that we get into these forests and start doing the thinning and harvest and prescriptive burning, so that we can create healthier landscapes, landscapes that are more resilient to wildfire.”
Some left-of-center publications that focus more specifically on environmental issues emphasize that deliberate policy choices in forest management can mitigate the effects of fires.

“We have overwhelming evidence that when we treat forests by removing fuels, it generally — not always, you can never say always, but generally — moderates fire behavior,” said Maureen Kennedy, a professor who studies forest fires at the University of Washington, Tacoma.
…Forest treatments like this work by spacing out fuel, Kennedy said. When there is a continuous ladder of branches and small trees from the ground to the canopy, it allows fire to rise up into the treetops. And when trees are close together, fires move from one to the next, growing hotter and hotter. Trees that are farther apart, however,  encourage fires to fall to the ground. It makes sense, intuitively, but it’s still surprising when a wall of flame settles down and begins creeping across the forest floor, Kennedy said.
“No matter how many times I study it, no matter how much sense it makes in theory, it’s still amazing,” she said. “When you look at photographs from the Wallow Fire, that landscape was nuked, it was burning so hot that there were only blackened sticks that used to be trees left behind. Then, as you move into the treatment area the trees are brown, and then further in, they are green.”

The financial cost of controlled burns is actually surprisingly inexpensive; “in the southeastern U.S., where prescribed fire is a common management practice, the average cost is about $32 per acre.” One estimate of the 2018 California wildfires put the economic cost at more than $148 billion.

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But finding a potential solution and implementing it are two different tasks. It’s difficult to treat every corner of a forest that is at risk of a fire. And unfortunately, almost all of the legal and political incentives are for local, state, and national officials to not perform any controlled burns. In other words, one of the reasons our forests in the West are so flammable and full of kindling is that the people who claim to love those forests the most won’t allow measures to prevent the worst-case forest-fire scenarios.
There is little to no sign that global carbon emissions will decrease anytime soon. We are going to have to learn to adapt to a more carbon-heavy atmosphere.
Cities at risk of flooding would find investments in flood mitigation a much more cost-effective approach than wild-eyed dreams of decarbonization or banning the internal-combustion engine. But those approaches are practical, not idealistic – and thus, they get much less attention.

Forty Thousand Fans Cram Into Music Festival as England Takes Huge, but Very Fun, Gamble

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HENHAM PARK, England—Some 40,000 unmasked music fans descended on farmland here in rural Suffolk this weekend, for a four-day music festival that represents the country’s biggest real-world experiment so far in living alongside coronavirus, as the country shrugged off all remaining restrictions after 16 months of constraints.The Latitude festival required all attendees to show proof that they were either fully vaccinated or in possession of a negative COVID test as a condition of entry, but there was no requirement for social distancing. Screaming music fans responded by cramming around open-air stages and inside covered tents to see a lineup of acts like The Chemical Brothers, Wolf Alice, and ’80s pop legend Rick Astley, who of course performed his 1988 No. 1 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which has since become famous as an internet prank, at the event’s Obelisk and Trailer Park stages.Latitude, which was canceled last year, was the first large-scale multi-day event in England since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and formed part of the British government’s Events Research Program. Staff and performers were all tested. Irish post-punk rockers Fontaines D.C. were among the few acts to cancel after testing positive.The festival, which began on Thursday at 5 p.m. and wrapped up in the early hours of Monday morning, was blessed with fine weather and only a smattering of rain despite severe floods hitting other parts of the country that have shuttered hospitals and closed roads. Despite dire weather warnings, festival-goers were more at risk of sunstroke than seeing their tents washed away.Performer after performer appeared close to tears to be back on stage, and many thanked the cheering crowds for their support in emotional scenes. The event’s organizer, Melvin Benn, told the BBC that it was a “a dream come true,” adding “The whole world is looking at Suffolk this weekend. This is really breaking ground.”The event went ahead despite last-minute concerns about high COVID case numbers across England owing to the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus. The country has seen a surge in cases in recent weeks, particularly among young men, who are believed to have become significant vectors for the virus after having gathered in large numbers to cheer on their country in the recent European soccer championships.The U.K. lifted all remaining coronavirus restrictions last week. The laissez-faire approach has been condemned by many scientists, including the World Health Organization’s Mike Ryan, who described it as “epidemiological stupidity.”On Sunday, 29,173 new positive cases were recorded in the U.K., but the number is trending downward from a peak of 50,000 per day a week ago, and there have been few deaths, stoking hopes that very high British vaccination rates, now touching 90 percent of adults, have rendered the virus much less deadly. The country is also battling a “pingdemic” that has seen the National Health Service’s contact-tracing app send alerts to hundreds of thousands of workers who have been in physical proximity to confirmed cases, forcing them into isolation and stressing the nation’s supply chains. Confronted with images of empty supermarket shelves and gasoline pumps running dry, the government hastily amended the rules to allow food and other essential supply-chain workers who receive a “ping” to dodge isolation requirements if they can provide a negative test. Millions of people are believed to have simply deactivated or deleted the app.Meanwhile, in London, six arrests were made at an anti-vaccine rally and police are investigating one of the speakers at the event, former nurse Kate Shemirani, who compared NHS workers to Nazis, saying, “At the Nuremberg trials, the doctors and nurses stood trial and they hung.”

Olympics-Judo-Japan ace Ono wins second Olympic gold

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Judo – Men’s 73kg – Gold medal match – Nippon Budokan – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Shohei Ono of Japan in action against Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia REUTERS/Annegret Hilse July 26, 2021
By Tetsushi Kajimoto
TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese judoka Shohei Ono won a second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the 73kg category after eclipsing Georgia’s Lasha Shavdatuashvili in a tight contest at the Tokyo Games on Monday.
Ono joined other Japanese judokas in a medal rush in Tokyo, with Tsukasa Yoshida also outclassing another Georgian, Eteri Liparteliani, to secure the bronze in the women’s 57kg class.
The most dominant fighter in the lightweight division, Ono had already won three world titles and the Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Games in his favoured event, remaining unbeaten in international contests since 2015.
Ono adopted a steady yet powerful combating style, aiming to clinch an ippon victory – judo’s version of knockout – with dynamic throwing techniques such as osotogari major outer reap and uchimata inner thigh throw.
Until the quarter-finals, Ono was the dominant force on the tatami mats, demonstrating a calm manner, stern attitude and strength that made him appear unbeatable. He finished off all the three contests in less than four minutes.
However, Ono struggled to deliver a decisive throw in his last two bouts, narrowly defeating semi-final opponent Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir of Mongolia and Shavdatuashvili by waza-ari – incomplete throw – in sudden death overtime.
Tsend-Ochir and South Korea’s An Chang-rim both claimed bronze medals.
Ono’s judo style and strength have earned him the nickname “Mozart of the 73 kg class” or “Japan’s Teddy Riner” among some fans.
Some others call Ono’s bouts “sho(w) time,” associating his name with popular Major League Baseball player Shohei Ohtani.
In the women’s 57 kg category, Kosovo’s Nora Gjakova won the gold medal, beating Sarah Leonie Cysique of France in the final.
It was the second judo gold for Kosovo in Tokyo after Distria Krasniqi triumphed in the women’s 48kg class during the weekend.
Apart from Yoshida, Jessica Klimkait of Canada also claimed bronze.
The 25-year-old Yoshida, who claimed the world title in 2018, suffered a shock defeat to Gjakova in the semi-finals before making amends in the bronze-medal bout by throwing Liparteliani for an ippon victory.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Michael Perry and Pritha Sarkar)

Analysis-5G underdog Nokia firmly back in game after Lundmark’s shakeup

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July 26, 2021
By Supantha Mukherjee and Essi Lehto
STOCKHOLM/HELSINKI (Reuters) – Shifting geopolitics and a sharp round of cost cutting have put Nokia firmly back in the global 5G rollout race just a year after CEO Pekka Lundmark took the reins at the Finnish company.
Considered a 5G underdog after betting on the wrong type of chips and losing a multi-billion Verizon contract to Samsung, Nokia has more recently been gaining ground on arch-rival Ericsson, even as both benefit from U.S. pressure on European governments to crackdown on China’s Huawei.
Lundmark in February warned of a “challenging” year of transition with “meaningful headwinds”, but two good quarters have rekindled hopes of a turnaround and Nokia said earlier this month that it will raise its full-year outlook when it reports second-quarter results on Thursday.
“The drastic changes and improved performance under Pekka’s stewardship is clearly evident,” said Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at PP Foresight. “Opportunities in 5G, misfortunes of others and focus on key products have helped reignite the business.”
Lundmark, who became CEO last August, has laid off thousands of employees and forged new partnerships with technology companies after pledging to “do whatever it takes” to take the lead in 5G.
Nokia has also invested significantly in its Reefshark chipset, cutting the end cost of its 5G equipment, and given its business units more autonomy over where they choose to compete.
THE RIGHT MOVES
As the overhaul bears fruit, the geopolitical backdrop has shifted further in Nokia’s favour.
European governments have long been tightening controls on the role of Chinese companies in 5G networks following diplomatic pressure from Washington, which alleges Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for spying. Huawei has repeatedly denied being a national security risk.
While both Nokia and Ericsson have been gaining customers that might otherwise have gone to Huawei, Ericsson had been faring better with big contract wins in China, where the deployment of the next-generation network is in full swing.
But its China business has taken a tit-for-tat hit since Sweden late last year banned Chinese companies from supplying critical 5G network equipment.
In a second phase of 5G deployment by China Mobile last week, Ericsson’s 5G radio share dropped from over 11% to about 2%, and Nokia got its first Chinese 5G deal with a 4% share of a $6 billion contract, according to sources.
It is also expected to win a portion of upcoming contracts from China Unicom and China Telecom at the expense of Ericsson, having failed to make any headway in the world’s biggest 5G market last year.
“The key was making the right moves to correct the actions that really got them behind 5G,” said Mark Cash, an analyst with Morningstar. “I think Pekka’s imprint is being felt already by the organisation, and he’s obviously doing well.”
Nokia’s shares have gained around 30% in the last year, while Ericsson’s are up just 2% over the same period.
Company insiders say Lundmark’s working relationship with Chairwoman Sari Baldauf helped steady the ship when several top executives left the company during a reshuffle in the first months of his tenure, and is gaining him wider support for the overhaul of Nokia.
The pair have a long history of working together, including most recently in the same roles at Fortum.
GEOPOLITICAL TUSSLES
It may not all be plain sailing.
While Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei are currently the only companies providing complete 5G wireless networks, the U.S. government for one is now touting a new, more open approach, allowing mobile operators to mix and match equipment from various suppliers and potentially securing U.S. companies a bigger share of the market.
China, however, remains far ahead of other countries for 5G deployment – the China Mobile contract for about 500,000 base stations was for more than all the 5G base stations currently in Europe – with competition driving volume and lowering overall costs.
Nokia may swerve Ericsson’s current hurdles in the country as Huawei has said that a law approved by Finland allowing authorities to ban telecom equipment for national security reasons is a more realistic approach than focusing on specific vendors.
But some analysts caution that being in China could drag on Nokia’s margins and any new geopolitical tussles lead to significant losses.
Kimmo Stenvall, an analyst from OP Markets, also said that Nokia’s updated outlook would likely take into account the global chip shortage with not enough semiconductors to go around.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Essi Lehto in Helsinki; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

RBC Bearings to buy ABB’s Dodge transmission business for $2.9 billion

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss power technology and automation group ABB is seen at the Swiss Economic Forum (SEF) conference in Interlaken, Switzerland May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo July 26, 2021
ZURICH (Reuters) – ABB will sell its Dodge power transmission unit to RBC Bearings Inc in a $2.9 billion deal, the Swiss engineering company and U.S.-based RBC said on Monday.
The deal is the first major divestment under ABB Chief Executive Bjorn Rosengren. Deals to sell the Power Grids business and the solar inverter business were completed last year, but agreed before the former Sandvik boss took charge in March 2020.
The all-cash deal to sell Dodge is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. Proceeds will be used to fund organic growth, higher dividends and acquisitions, Rosengren said.
RBC said the deal was set to be immediately accretive to cash earnings per share (excluding amortisation of intangibles, deferred financing fees, and one-time deal costs) by around 40% to 60% in the first full fiscal year after close.
The acquisition was expected to generate annual pre-tax run-rate synergies of approximately $70 million to $100 million by fiscal year 2026, it added.
“We are delighted that Dodge has found an excellent new home with RBC Bearings, where it can continue its exciting growth story,” Rosengren said in a statement.
Rosengren put Dodge up for sale last year as he sought to simplify ABB’s complex structure, which runs from making electric ship motors to factory robots and electric fuses.
Dodge, which makes products including bearings used in industrial food processing operations and belted drives for conveyors in giant coal mines, was deemed not to fit with the rest of ABB.
But with a profit margin well above ABB’s group target, Dodge found itself an attractive target for bidders.
The company, which employs 1,500 people, generated sales of roughly $600 million in the 12 months the end of June 2021, with a operating EBITA margin of 23%.
J.P. Morgan acted as financial adviser and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal counsel to ABB on the transaction. Goldman Sachs & Co. is the exclusive financial adviser to RBC Bearings.
(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields)

JLR parent sees demand recovering, warns of short term impact of chip shortage

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FILE PHOTO: Tata Motors’ electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) Nexon EV on show during its launch in Mumbai, India, January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Hemanshi Kamani/File Photo July 26, 2021
BENGALURU (Reuters) -India’s Tata Motors Ltd said on Monday it expects performance to improve from the second half of its current financial year, anticipating an easing of global supply constraints on rapid COVID-19 vaccinations.
The company said demand remains strong for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and India passenger vehicles, with commercial vehicles seeing a gradual improvement.
The semiconductor shortage, rising costs of raw materials and pandemic uncertainty will, however, have an impact in the short term, the company warned.
Tata Motors reiterated that it expected the chip supply crunch in the second quarter to be greater than in the first, likely resulting in wholesale volumes at JLR to be about 50% lower than planned.
The company also said it aimed to have near zero automotive debt by fiscal 2024. The carmaker had last month raised $425 million through unsecured offshore bonds to refinance existing debt and meet expenses.
Revenue for the first quarter jumped 108% to 655.35 billion rupees, as the pandemic – which hit sales across the luxury carmaker’s business a year earlier – has also fueled strong demand for personal vehicles.
Overall retail sales at JLR, which accounts for most of Tata Motors’ revenue, were up 68.1% from a year earlier. Wholesales were 30,000 units, or 27%, lower than planned due to the semiconductor shortage, the company said
For the quarter ended June 30, the company logged a consolidated net loss of 44.51 billion rupees ($598.04 million), compared with a loss of 84.38 billion rupees a year earlier.
($1 = 74.4260 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Aon, Willis Towers Watson to call off $30 billion merger

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July 26, 2021
(Reuters) – Insurance brokers Aon PLC and Willis Towers Watson PLC said on Monday they had agreed to terminate their $30 billion merger agreement and end their litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The deal would have put London-headquartered Aon ahead of the world’s largest insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc.
“Despite regulatory momentum around the world, including the recent approval of our combination by the European Commission, we reached an impasse with the U.S. Department of Justice,” Aon Chief Executive Officer Greg Case said.
In June, the Department of Justice had sued to block the deal saying it would reduce competition and could lead to higher prices.
Aon will pay $1 billion as termination fee to Willis, it said.
(Reporting by Sohini Podder and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

The Cuban Experience, Etc.

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A boy runs near a Cuban flag painted on a shack with the words “Always on alert” in Havana, Cuba, in 2008. (Claudia Daut / Reuters)

In my Impromptus today, I lead with an extraordinary personality, Jackie Mason, the comedian, who has died at 93. He and Bill Buckley once had a talk about his craft, meaning Jackie’s. Very interesting conversation. WFB was always asking other people about their work — the secrets of their trade. He was endlessly curious, WFB was. Part of what made him a great journalist, writer, and person.

I further write about the vax wars. I was rather moved by the words of Kay Ivey, the governor of Alabama, which is America’s least vaccinated state. She is at her wit’s end. “I’ve done all I know how to do.”
I conclude my column with a little reminiscence of Bob Dole, who turned 98 last week. I was an intern in Dole’s Senate office, long ago. “Brush with greatness,” as David Letterman would say.
My latest Q&A podcast is with José de Córdoba, a Latin America correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. He is based in Mexico City. I have known him for several years. José is an American, born in Cuba. With his family, he left in October 1960. He was seven. His grandfather had owned a chain of department stores. These were nationalized. In New York, José’s grandfather and father, both, worked at Macy’s.
Like many exiles, José has felt a duality: Am I Cuban? Am I American? Both? Neither? This is a feeling that most of us never have to confront.

In 1979, José de Córdoba returned to Cuba for the first time, with the Antonio Maceo Brigade. He wanted to see what his native country was all about. He found a “fear society,” to use Natan Sharansky’s phrase: Everyone was afraid. You couldn’t talk to your neighbor, openly. You couldn’t crack a joke. You walked on eggshells.

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José speaks of the phenomenon of doble cara: You have one thing on your face — and maybe out of your mouth — but another thing in your mind. Sharansky, for his part, speaks of “doublethinkers,” borrowing the terminology of Orwell. Every fear society has doublethinkers.
On July 11, Cuba saw its biggest protests in history — certainly in the history of Communist Cuba, which began on New Year’s Day 1959. In the past — 1980, 1994 — there were protests, and people wanted to get out: flee the island. This time, it’s different, says José: They are saying to their rulers, “You get out. We want to stay here and live in a normal country, with normal politics, and a normal economy. We are tired of living in fear and deprivation.”
For all these years, says José, people have lived with “a little secret policeman within them” — an agent who shuts them up and regulates their behavior. Now, however, a lot of people “have expelled that little secret policeman who for decades lived inside of them.”

José de Córdoba has experienced a lot, both personally and professionally. He has a great deal to impart, and the hour I spent with him is enriching. Again, that Q&A is here.

Olympics-Swimming-Ledecky and Titmus back in pool after thriller

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Jul 26, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Katie Ledecky (USA) after the women’s 200m freestyle heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports July 26, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Hours after losing the 400m freestyle to Australia’s Ariarne Timus, five-times Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky was back in the pool and posted the quickest time in qualifying for the 200m freestyle.
Ledecky swam a time of 1:55.28 while Titmus, fresh off her gold success, was fourth fastest with 1:55.88. Canada’s Penny Oleksiak was second quickest and Australian Madison Wilson third.
World record holder Federico Pellegrini of Italy only scraped into the semi-finals with the 15th fastest time.
In the men’s 200m butterfly heats, world record holder Kristof Milak of Hungary was comfortably the fastest with his time of 1:53.58, 0.86 seconds ahead of the second quickest swimmer Wang Kuan-Hung.
Chad Le Clos of South Africa, gold medal winner in London and silver medallist in Rio, scraped into the semi-finals in the 16th and last spot.
“I want to do a similar time in the semi-finals and save the best for the final,” Milak said. “It was a good feeling to look around see the other guys and say, ok, let’s start this.”
In the women’s 200m medley, Kate Douglass of the United States was fastest, 0.54 seconds ahead of world record holder and defending Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)

Olympics-Fencing-Garozzo closes in on defending individual foil title

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Fencing – Men’s Individual Foil – Quarterfinall – Makuhari Messe Hall B – Chiba, Japan – July 26, 2021. Daniele Garozzo of Italy celebrates after competing REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov July 26, 2021
By Sakura Murakami
TOKYO (Reuters) – Italian Daniele Garozzo was on course to defend his Olympic individual foil title after beating Japanese fencer Takahiro Shikine in their semifinal bout on Monday.
The Italian sometimes gave up the lead to Shikine, but eventually overtook the Japanese to win 15-9, cheered on by his own team mates in a venue with otherwise empty spectator seats.
Garozzo’s attacks were at times deftly knocked away by Shikine, who could land clear stabs at his opponent’s unguarded torso, but the Italian fought back with short and quick thrusts to ensure himself a place on the podium.
In the final he faces Cheung Ka Long, who will pick up Hong Kong’s first ever medal for fencing.
In the women’s individual sabre event, Russian Sofya Velikaya produced a dominant display in a 15-8 win over Czech fencer Anna Marton in their semifinal.
Velikaya, who has won eight golds at the world championships, is competing in her fourth Olympics. She captured individual silvers in the previous two Games, and a team gold, but is yet to claim an individual gold medal.
She will face Sofia Pozdniakova, who also represents the Russian Olympic Committee, in the final. Currently ranked 17th, Pozdniakova is the daughter of ROC President and former men’s sabre fencer Stanislav Pozdnyakov, winner of four gold medals and a bronze at the Olympics.
Manon Brunet of France, who lost to Pozdniakova in the semis, beat Marton to win the bronze medal.
Monday brought a string of big upsets in both the men’s and women’s competitions, with top-ranking fencers exiting early.
Gold medal favourite for the women’s sabre Olga Kharlan and high-ranked Gerek Meinhardt were knocked out earlier in the competition.
World championship winner and medal contender Enzo Lefort was then eliminated in the quarterfinals by Garozzo.
“With the special year where we didn’t have a lot of competitions to get ready for this event…everyone didn’t know the strength of the opponents,” Lefort said after his bout.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Pritha Sarkar and Hugh Lawson)

Olympics-Badminton-Nail-biting doubles matches outshine Tai Tzu-Ying’s shaky win

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Badminton – Women’s Singles – Group Stage – MFS – Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan in action during the match against Nguyen Thuy Linh of Vietnam. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger July 26, 2021
By Richa Naidu
TOKYO (Reuters) -Taiwanese women’s singles world number one Tai Tzu-Ying outlasted Vietnam’s Thuy Linh Nguyen in a surprisingly tight encounter on Monday but the spotlight was stolen by several tense doubles matches.
Tai took nearly 40 minutes to win 21-16, 21-11, with world number 49 Nguyen tailing her nearly point-to-point in the first game and occasionally inching ahead.
The match against Nguyen should have been redemptive for Tai, who on Saturday allowed an opponent ranked 45 places below her to pick up 13 points in the second game before securing a win.
The three-time All England Open winner – who has a history of choking at the Olympics despite her numerous titles – will need to tighten her game if she is to beat China’s Chen Yu Fei, who on Sunday decimated an opponent in about 20 minutes. [L8N2P1030]
Tokyo could be Tai’s last shot at an Olympic gold as the 27-year-old, who began training professionally when she was in grade three of primary school, has hinted she might retire soon after the Games.
DOUBLE TROUBLE
Several star-powered singles matches took place on Sunday, but Monday belonged to duos playing ferociously to win.
The world’s top men’s doubles pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo from Indonesia thrashed No. 10 team of India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty 21-13, 21-12.
“We couldn’t find a way to win,” Rankireddy said. The duo wrangled a major upset on Saturday against higher ranked Taiwan’s Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin 21-16, 16-21, 27-25. The Indians can still move forward if they beat Britain’s Sean Vendy and Ben Lane on Tuesday.
Mixed doubles team of Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet – ranked number 13 – just about beat number 15 Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich 22-20, 20-22, 21-16.
The match – which had a handful of onlookers at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza cheering and whistling – was one of only 12 out of the 90 Tokyo matches so far that had to be determined by three games, not two.
In the second session, Malaysia’s mixed doubles team Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying lost 21-13, 21-19 to China’s Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping but didn’t go down easily, serving up some smashes so fierce that their opponents had to dodge to avoid being hit by the shuttlecock.
(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christian Radnedge)