US Boxer Day Dies From Brain Injuries

Patrick Day (L) and Charles Conwell exchange punches in the seventh round of their Super-Weltereight bout at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.  AFP

 

American boxer Patrick Day died Wednesday after suffering a serious brain injury during his knockout defeat to Charles Conwell last weekend, promoter Lou DiBella said in a statement.

The 27-year-old super welterweight had undergone emergency surgery after being knocked out by Conwell on Saturday at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena.

“On behalf of Patrick’s family, team, and those closest to him, we are grateful for the prayers, expressions of support and outpouring of love for Pat that have been so obvious since his injury,” DiBella said.

Day, who had been in a coma following surgery at Northwestern Memorial hospital, died surrounded by family and friends.

The American fighter had been carried unconscious from the ring on a stretcher on Saturday following his 10th round knockout.

Conwell, a 2016 American Olympian, dropped Day in the fourth and eighth rounds and then landed a right hand in the 10th which caused Day to stumble.

Seconds later Conwell rocked Day with a massive left hook that resulted in Day falling backwards and his head bouncing off the canvas. Referee Celestino Ruiz called off the fight at one minute, 46 seconds of the round.

Day lay on the canvas for several minutes receiving medical treatment before being removed from the ring.

Day is at least the third boxer to die from injuries sustained in the ring this year.

Argentine boxer Hugo Santillan died in July following a bout in San Nicolas, just north of Buenos Aires.

Santillan’s death came just two days after Russian fighter Maxim Dadashev died from brain injuries suffered in a fight in Maryland.

In his statement on Wednesday, DiBella said he hoped Day’s death would prompt US authorities to adopt tougher safety standards.

“It becomes very difficult to explain away or justify the dangers of boxing at a time like this,” DiBella said.

“This is not a time where edicts or pronouncements are appropriate, or the answers are readily available. It is, however, a time for a call to action.

“While we don’t have the answers, we certainly know many of the questions, have the means to answer them, and have the opportunity to respond responsibly and accordingly and make boxing safer for all who participate.”

AFP

US To Withdraw Sanctions Imposed On Turkey

US Vice President Mike Pence attends a press conference after a meeting with Turkish President, in Ankara, Turkey, on October 17, 2019. Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

The United States will withdraw recently imposed sanctions on Turkey after it ends its military operation in Syria, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday after talks in Ankara.

During a five-day ceasefire, the United States “will not be implementing additional sanctions,” Pence told reporters.

“Once we have a permanent ceasefire, following the orderly withdrawal of all YPG forces, the United States also agreed to withdraw the sanctions that were imposed on several cabinet officials and several agencies,” he said referring to Kurdish forces in Syria.

Trump Hails ‘Great Day’ For Turkey, Kurds

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, DC on June 26, 2019.  Anna-Rose GASSOT / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed the announcement that Turkey had agreed to suspend its offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Syria, calling it a “great day” for the Turks and the Kurds.

“We have a five-day ceasefire,” Trump told reporters, after Vice President Mike Pence said that Ankara had agreed to suspend its military operation, and end it entirely once Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone along the Turkey-Syria border.

“It’s a great day for the United States,” the president said in Fort Worth, Texas, where he is to hold a reelection rally.

“It’s a great day for Turkey,” Trump said. “It’s a great day for the Kurds. It’s a great day for civilization.”

“This is a situation where everybody’s happy,” Trump declared.

Trump has come under bipartisan fire in Washington for abruptly pulling US troops in Syria near the Turkish border, paving the way for Ankara’s operation against the Kurds, who have been US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Trump heaped praise on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“He’s a hell of a leader,” Trump said. “He did the right thing.

“I have great respect for the president.”

Asked whether a November visit to Washington by Erdogan was still on the table, Trump said “that would be very much open.

“I would say, yeah, he would come. He did a terrific thing.”

The president it would no longer be necessary to impose US sanctions on Turkey.

“Sanctions won’t be necessary because Turkey’s doing what they’re doing,” he said.

Asked whether he believed a ceasefire would last, Trump said “I think it’s going to last.”

“I think President Erdogan’s very smart,” he said. “He wants it to last.”

“Turkey is a friend of ours, a neighbor of ours and a member of NATO,” he said. “And what Turkey is getting now is, they’re not going to have to kill millions of people, and millions of people aren’t going to have to kill them.”

The agreement struck by Pence left some lawmakers in Washington, including in Trump’s Republican Party, unimpressed.

“Other than giving Kurds a chance to leave so they don’t get slaughtered, it doesn’t sound like a change of any of the other dynamics I’m concerned about,” Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who hours earlier unveiled legislation that would impose sharp sanctions on Turkey, said that while he was encouraged with the recent developments between Pence and Erdogan, “we’re going to keep working” to get the sanctions bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

Turkey and Syrian rebel proxies began an offensive in northern Syria last week against Kurdish fighters who Ankara brands terrorists, despite international concern over regional stability and civilian deaths.

Ankara considers Syrian Kurdish YPG militants to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — a group that has fought a bloody insurgency inside Turkey for 35 years.

AFP

Turkey Suspends Military Operation In Syria

urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C-L) and US Vice President Mike Pence (C-R), joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (4R), Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay (4L), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (3L) and senior aides, meet at the presidential complex in Ankara, Turkey, on October 17, 2019.  Shaun TANDON / POOL / AFP

 

Turkey has agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days and will end the assault if Kurdish-led forces withdraw from a safe zone away from the border, US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish officials said on Thursday.

Turkey and Syrian rebel proxies began an offensive in northern Syria last week against Kurdish fighters who Ankara brands terrorists, despite international concern over regional stability and civilian deaths.

Turkey’s operation “will be halted entirely on completion” of the pullout, Pence told reporters after talks with Turkish officials in Ankara.

Pence said the US would work with the Kurdish fighters “to facilitate an orderly withdrawal in the next 120 hours.”

He said: “Let me say that’s already begun. The demarcation line, 20 miles south of the border.”

Pence held talks for more than an hour with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the two were later joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials.

Pence also said the US would withdraw recently imposed sanctions on Turkey after it ends its military operation.

During a five-day ceasefire, the United States “will not be implementing additional sanctions,” he said.

Once a permanent ceasefire is in place and Kurdish have withdrawn, the United States also agreed to withdraw the sanctions that were imposed on several cabinet officials and several agencies, he said.

Speaking to reporters, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed suspension of the offensive until Kurdish militants withdraw from the area.

“We are suspending the operation, not halting it,” he said. “We will halt the operation only after (Kurdish militants) completely withdraw from the region.”

Cavusoglu also rejected calling the agreement as a “ceasefire”.

“This is not a ceasefire. A ceasefire is reached between the two legitimate parties,” he said.

Ankara considers Syrian Kurdish YPG militants to be an extension the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — a group that has fought a bloody insurgency inside Turkey for 35 years.

 

Venezuela Hails ‘Victory’ Over UN Human Rights Council Seat

 

Venezuela hailed its “victory” and celebrated an “important achievement” on Thursday after winning a seat on the UN Human Rights Council despite fierce criticism over its own record.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the country would “celebrate a new victory for Bolivarian peace diplomacy,” in reference to the regime of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab described it as an “important achievement” while announcing the release of 24 detained opposition figures.

No Plan To Remove Subsidy, Says Sylva

Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva defends his ministry’s budget before the Joint Committee of the National Assembly in Abuja on October 17, 2019.

 

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr Timipre Sylva, says there is no plan for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to remove subsidy on petroleum products.

Sylva stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Petroleum to defend the ministry’s budget.

The Minister noted that rather than removing subsidy, the Federal Government will rather focus on fixing the nation’s refineries.

He explained that once the refineries are fixed, it will be easy to make petroleum products available at a cheaper amount that will ease the burden of subsidy payment.

“If I talk about fixing the refineries, that’s also another way of dealing with the same issue. If we fix the refinery and we are able to pump from the refineries, that will also reduce the cost of subsidy on the government,” he said.

“So the government is looking at it more from that angle than from the angle of removing subsidy. So it is not on the card at all.”

READ ALSO: Buhari Orders Forensic Audit Of NDDC From 2001

Contrary to the speculation that the nation consumes about 60 million barrels of petrol per day, the minister refuted the claim.

He regretted that some neighbouring countries were smuggling the petroleum products to the detriment of the Federal Government.

“There is a lot of smuggling and because petroleum products are cheaper in Nigeria, a lot of our neighbours are taking advantage of the cheaper prices in Nigeria.

“So Nigeria is now almost subsidizing half of Africa which is very difficult for us to do. So you can see that the government is doing something about controlling some of these leakages. And once those leakages are checked, we believe that the cost of subsidy can be at least bearable,” he stated.

Trump Golf Club In Florida To Host Next G7 Summit

From L) Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend a work session in the Casino of Biarritz on August 26, 2019.  AFP

 

Next year’s G7 summit will take place in one of Donald Trump’s Florida golf clubs, the president’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Thursday.

The leaders’ summit is to take place in the United States, and Trump had previously suggested hosting it at one of his own golf clubs — drawing immediate criticism that he is profiteering from his presidency.

AFP

35 Killed In Saudi Arabia Bus Crash

Medina, Qatif, Saudi Arabia

 

Thirty-five foreigners were killed and four others injured when a bus collided with another heavy vehicle near the Islamic holy city of Medina, Saudi state media said on Thursday.

The accident on Wednesday evening involved the collision of “a private chartered bus… with a heavy vehicle” near the western city, a spokesman for Medina police said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Those involved were Arab and Asian pilgrims travelling from Medina to Mecca, according to local media, which carried pictures of the bus engulfed in flames and with its windows blown out.

The injured have been transferred to Al-Hamna Hospital, SPA added. Authorities have launched an investigation.

The Okaz newspaper said that the victims were expatriates who lived in the kingdom and who were performing the umrah, the lesser pilgrimage to the Muslim holy places which can be undertaken year round.

This year, some 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world in August to take part in the annual hajj pilgrimage — one of the five pillars of Islam.

The hajj and the umrah centre on the western city of Mecca and its surrounding hills and valleys, but the itinerary also often takes in the other holy city of Medina.

Last year, a high-speed train line was opened linking Mecca and Medina in just two and a half hours, halving the previous travel time.

Prince Faisal bin Salman, the governor of Medina region, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, SPA said.

Pakistan said four people survived the bus crash, including one of its nationals, while several other Pakistani citizens were killed.

“It has been reported that 35 passengers out of total 39 lost their lives,” the foreign ministry in Islamabad said in a statement.

“Initial reports indicate that the deceased also include a certain number of Pakistani nationals. Of the four (4) survivors, there is one Pakistani named Mr. Akbar, who is seriously injured,” it added.

 Transport Challenge 

The nationalities of the other victims was not immediately known but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also sent his condolences.

“Anguished by the news of a bus crash near Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Praying for a quick recovery of the injured,” he tweeted.

Transporting worshippers around the holy sites, particularly during the hajj, is a huge challenge for Saudi Arabia.

During the pilgrimage, the roads can be chaotic with thousands of buses creating interminable traffic jams.

Four British pilgrims were killed and 12 others injured in April last year when their bus collided with a fuel tanker while they were on the way to Mecca.

And in January 2017, six Britons, including a two-month-old baby, were killed in a minibus on their way to Medina after making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

In September 2015, a stampede killed up to 2,300 worshippers — including hundreds of Iranians — in the worst disaster ever to strike the hajj.

Earlier that month, 100 people were killed when a construction crane toppled into a courtyard of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

As part of efforts to diversify its oil-dependent economy, the ultra-conservative kingdom wants to foster a year-round religious tourism sector that attracts millions of pilgrims.

Up until last month, it only issued visas to Muslim pilgrims, foreign workers and recently to spectators at sporting or cultural events, but tourists are now allowed to visit as part of the drive to wean the biggest Arab economy off its dependence on oil.

Venezuela Obtains Seat On UN Human Rights Council

 

Venezuela obtained a seat on the UN Human Rights Council Thursday despite criticism from advocacy groups and other Latin American countries that its own rights record is dismal.

To applause in the chamber, Venezuela got the nod in a vote by the UN General Assembly to choose 14 new members for the 47-member body based in Geneva.

In Caracas, the government of President Nicolas Maduro called this an “important achievement.”

AFP

Lebanon To Tax Calls On Messaging Apps

 

Lebanon on Thursday announced a new tax on internet calls made through messaging applications, a move meant to boost the cash-strapped state’s revenues but which sparked widespread user outrage.

Information Minister Jamal Jarrah on Thursday said that users will be charged a 20 cent fee for each call made through messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Viber.

The decision approved by cabinet on Wednesday will go into effect on January 1, 2020, he told reporters after a cabinet session, adding that the move will bring $200 million into the government’s coffers.

Jarrah did not provide more details but Lebanese digital rights group SMEX said the country’s main mobile operators are already planning to introduce new technology that will allow them to detect whether users are trying to make internet calls using their networks.

“Lebanon already has some of the highest mobile prices in the region,” SMEX said on Twitter.

The latest policy “will force users to pay for internet services twice,” it added.

TechGeek365, another digital rights group, said it contacted WhatsApp and Facebook regarding the matter.

“A spokesperson mentioned that if the decision is taken, it would be a direct violation of their ToS (terms of service),” it said.

“Profiting from any specific functionality within WhatsApp is illegal,” it added on Twitter.

But SMEX said that the 20 cent fee would be “a condition of data plans” offered by mobile operators.

“Also, Facebook previously complied with a social media tax in Uganda, which is effectively the same thing,” it said on Twitter.

The latest policy is part of a series of austerity measures being introduced by the government in an attempt to rescue the country’s ailing economy and secure $11 billion in aid pledged by international donors last year.

Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of repeated political deadlocks in recent years, compounded by the impact of eight years of war in neighbouring Syria.

Lebanon’s public debt stands at around $86 billion — higher than 150 percent of GDP — according to the finance ministry.

Eighty percent of that figure is owed to Lebanon’s central bank and local banks.

In July, parliament passed its 2019 budget, which is expected to trim Lebanon’s deficit to 7.59 percent of GDP — a nearly 4-point drop from the previous year.

AFP

Pochettino Rules Out Big Changes At Tottenham In January

Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino/ AFP

 

Mauricio Pochettino does not want to make major changes at Tottenham in the January transfer window despite a poor start to his sixth season in charge.

Spurs have won just three of their opening 11 games in all competitions, crashing out of the League Cup to fourth-tier Colchester and suffering a humiliating 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

That has led to suspicions that the current Tottenham squad has grown stale, with little movement in the transfer market in recent years.

However, Pochettino retains faith in the players that have helped the club make huge strides over the past five years, reaching the Champions League final in June.

“I don’t believe (there will be any signings),” said Pochettino on Thursday. “I believe in the players that we have.

“If it is my decision I am going to stick with my players because I know they have the quality.

“It is only to unlock some situation that is going on in their minds. I know we have the quality to be fighting for the things we expect to fight for.”

Pochettino was dealt a double blow in a 3-0 defeat to Brighton before the international break as captain Hugo Lloris suffered a dislocated elbow that will keep him out for the rest of the year.

Harry Kane will therefore assume the Spurs armband, as he does for England.

Pochettino was fulsome in his praise for how Kane handled the racist abuse aimed at England players during Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria.

The game in Sofia was stopped twice by the referee, with England eventually winning 6-0.

“The way Harry behaved was top,” added Pochettino. “The way he handled the situation on Monday was exemplary, fantastic, he showed calm, followed the rules. We’re so proud of how he behaved.

“He’s become a natural leader. It’s fantastic news for England and Tottenham.

“We will miss Hugo for a few months and to have Harry to step up is important, like others who are important players and mature. They will step up, assume their responsibility and handle problems when they happen like this.”

AFP

Pogba, De Gea To Miss Liverpool Clash Due To Injury

 

Manchester United’s hopes of upsetting the odds against Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday suffered a fresh blow as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed both Paul Pogba and David de Gea will miss the clash at Old Trafford through injury.

De Gea pulled up with a muscle problem during Spain’s 1-1 draw away to Sweden in qualifying for Euro 2020 on Tuesday and is expected to be sidelined for a few weeks.

“David needs a scan,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “I think he’ll be out.”

Pogba was absent for France during the international break due to the recurrence of an ankle problem that has seen him start just once in the Premier League since August.

The World Cup winner played 90 minutes against Rochdale in the League Cup and Arsenal last month, but missed United’s latest defeat at Newcastle just before the international break.

“He came back and played a couple of games, maybe played through the pain barrier,” added Solskjaer.

“He had a scan after the Arsenal game and maybe needed a few weeks’ rest in a boot, so hopefully he won’t be too long, but he won’t make this game, no.”

Solskjaer is, though, hopeful that Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Anthony Martial will make their return from injury against Liverpool, even if they are not yet fit enough to play 90 minutes.

“Hopefully Aaron and Anthony will last through the training this week and be available for selection. If it’s for half a game or 30 minutes, I don’t know, but let’s see where they’re at,” said Solskjaer.

AFP