Champions League Qualifier Called Off Over COVID-19 Cases

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes scores a penalty during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Manchester United and FC Copenhagen at the RheinEnergieStadion, in Cologne, western Germany, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / various sources / AFP)

 

Tuesday’s 2020/21 Champions League preliminary round match between KF Drita and Linfield in Nyon has been postponed after a second player from the Kosovo club tested positive for coronavirus, UEFA announced.

Swiss health authorities took the decision to place Drita’s entire team into quarantine as the player had been in contact with other squad members.

He tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, having initially returned a negative result last week. Another player had contracted the virus on the eve of Drita’s game on Saturday against Inter Escaldes of Andorra.

That player was quarantined at the time along with another team-mate. The whole squad had originally tested negative before arriving in Switzerland.

UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body will decide whether the match can be rescheduled for a later date.

Under the UEFA protocol for European competitions, a team must have 13 healthy players, including a goalkeeper, for a match to go ahead.

 

-AFP

Germany Questions ‘Quality, Safety’ Of Russian Vaccine

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP
This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP

 

Germany on Tuesday raised doubts over the quality and safety of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, stressing that drug approval is granted in the European Union only after full clinical trials.

“Patient safety is of the highest priority,” a health ministry spokeswoman told German newspaper network RND. “There is no known data on the quality, efficacy and safety of the Russian vaccine.”

Russia claimed Tuesday it has developed the world’s first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus, despite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness as fears grow over a second wave of infections across the globe.

President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed “Sputnik” after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite.

“I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity,” Putin said of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with Moscow’s defence ministry.

Russia’s health ministry said though clinical trials were not yet complete and final stage testing involving more than 2,000 people was to start only on Wednesday.

Western scientists have previously raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

The World Health Organization’s spokesman in Geneva Tarik Jasarevic said it was in “close contact” with Russian health authorities but that it was too soon for any WHO stamp of approval.

“Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data,” he said.

 

 

AFP

WHO Wants To Review Russian Vaccine Safety Data

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP
File photo: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP

 

The World Health Organization said any WHO stamp of approval on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data review, after Russia announced Tuesday it had approved a vaccine.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia had become the first country to approve a vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the new coronavirus.

“We are in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO pre-qualification of the vaccine,” the United Nations health agency’s spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva at an online press briefing.

“Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data.”

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has been developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the country’s defence ministry.

A total of 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, according to the latest WHO overview produced on July 31.

Of those, 139 are still in pre-clinical evaluation, while the other 26 are in the various phases of being tested on humans, of which six are the furthest ahead, having reached Phase 3 of clinical evaluation.

The Gamaleya candidate being produced in Russia, which is among the 26 being tested on humans, is listed as being in Phase 1.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund which finances the vaccine project, said Phase 3 trials would start on Wednesday, industrial production was expected from September and that 20 countries had pre-ordered more than a billion doses.

‘Stamp of quality’

“Every country has national regulatory agencies that approve the use of vaccines or medicines on its territory,” Jasarevic explained.

“WHO has in place a process of pre-qualification for vaccines but also for medicines. Manufacturers ask to have the WHO pre-qualification because it is a sort of stamp of quality.

“To get this, there is a review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data that are gathered through the clinical trials. WHO will do this for any candidate vaccine.”

The pandemic has seen an unprecedented mobilisation of funding and research to rush through a vaccine that can protect billions of people worldwide.

“We are encouraged by the speed by which several candidate vaccines have been developing and as we have been always saying, we hope some of these vaccines will prove to be safe and efficient,” said Jasarevic.

“Accelerating progress does not mean compromising on safety,” he said.

 

 

-AFP

Russia Dubs New Coronavirus Vaccine ‘Sputnik’ After Soviet Satellite

This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer taking samples of monkey kidney cells as he make tests on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing.  (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) 

 

 

Moscow has dubbed its new coronavirus vaccine “Sputnik V” after the Soviet satellite, the head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund said Tuesday, after Russia declared itself the first country to develop a vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund which finances the vaccine project, said Phase 3 trials would start on Wednesday, industrial production was expected from September and that 20 countries had pre-ordered more than a billion doses.

 

 

-AFP

‘I Don’t Want To Die’: Blast Traumatises Beirut Children

Graphic content / Wounded people wait to received help outside a hospital following an explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020.  (Photo by IBRAHIM AMRO / AFP)

 

“I don’t want to die.” Those were the first words Hiba’s six-year-old son screamed after the massive explosion at Beirut port sent shards of glass flying around their house. 

The blast a week ago that temporarily displaced 100,000 children, according to a UN estimate, was so mighty it had the magnitude of an earthquake.

The mental shock it caused among Beirut’s youngest was just as powerful.

When the boy saw blood on his feet, “he started screaming: ‘Mom, I don’t want to die’,” Hiba recalled.

“What is this life? Coronavirus and an explosion!,” her son told her after the blast.

“Imagine that!” said the mother. “A child only six years old asking this question.”

The 35-year-old mother of two, who asked to withhold the names of her children and their family name, said her entire building shook when the catastrophe struck on August 4.

Her son, who was sitting on a living room couch just across from her, was speckled with shards of glass from a blown-out window.

“The shattered glass whirled around us,” Hiba said, a scene described by countless survivors.

For a few seconds, her son sat motionless and unscathed on the couch.

She then dragged him out of the room, the boy barefoot on a carpet of splintered glass that cut bloody gashes into his feet.

“My son now twitches in panic every time he hears a loud sound,” she said.

– ‘Bottling up emotions’ –
Hiba’s son was not the only one left traumatised. His infant sister, born just 16 days before the explosion, lost consciousness for 20 minutes.

“It took a lot of time before she began to wake up and start crying,” said Hiba, so shocked herself that she has struggled to breastfeed her since.

She said she now keeps her son in his room, surrounded by his toys, instead of in the living room where the television broadcasts scenes of grief and devastation all day long.

“I don’t know if he is bottling up his emotions,” Hiba said. “But I’m trying to spend a lot of time with him in case he needs to talk.”

The explosion that gutted swathes of the city killed at least 160 people and left 6,000 people physically wounded.

Children are among the casualties and the UN children’s agency UNICEF has warned that “those who survived are traumatised and in shock”.

In a video widely shared on social media showing plumes of smoke rising from the harbourside, the almost playful voice of a child can initially be heard in the background, saying “explosion, explosion”.

When the impact from the massive blast hits him, the same child also screams, in English: “Mom, I don’t want to die.”

On Lebanese TV, the mother of a three-year-old girl killed in the blast gave an emotional testimony in which she shared her feeling of guilt about having tried to raise a child in a dysfunctional country.

“I want to apologise to Alexandra,” she said, “because I did not take her out of Lebanon.”

– ‘Anxiety, night terrors’ –
The Save the Children charity has warned of a severe strain on children’s mental health as a result of the blast.

“Without proper support, children might face long-term consequences,” it said in a statement.

Anne-Sophie Dybdal, the charity’s senior child protection advisor, warned of “anxiety, trouble sleeping, attacks of night terror”.

“The impact on children can be very deep,” she said.

Child psychologist Sophia Maamari said traumatised children may also develop separation anxiety that could make them fear even going to the bathroom without one of their parents.

Loud bangs may trigger fears of another blast and some children could go temporarily mute or tend toward self-isolation, the psychologist explained.

Maamari advised that parents should make their children feel like they are allowed to be scared by telling them that they too were frightened by the explosion.

This is one tip Noura picked up online when she was looking for information on how to handle her two traumatised children, aged three and four.

The 34-year-old mother said she had described to her kids in detail how she was gripped by fear and panic.

Her older son immediately responded to her admission by saying: “It was a big bam.”

Her youngest did not respond until the next day.

“I was very scared too,” she said the little boy whispered into her ear as soon as he woke up.

 

 

 

-AFP

Russia Claims First COVID-19 Vaccine As Global Cases Top 20 Million

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP
This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP

 

Russia claimed Tuesday that it had developed the world’s first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus, as the pandemic marked another bleak milestone with 20 million infections globally.

President Vladimir Putin said that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed “Sputnik” after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite.

Western scientists have previously raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned any approval of the Russian vaccine would require rigorous review of data to show its safety and efficiency.

“I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity,” Putin said of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with Moscow’s defence ministry.

Russia hopes to begin production in September and start vaccinating medical staff immediately afterwards.

Some 20 foreign countries have pre-ordered over a billion doses according to Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which helped develop the vaccine.

 

Health workers wearing Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) check the temperature and the oxygen level of an elderly resident during a COVID-19 coronavirus screening in the Dharavi slum, in Mumbai on August 11, 2020. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP)

 

The race for a vaccine heats up as nations across the globe brace for new outbreaks of the disease even as they try to restart economies battered by months of initial lockdowns to curb the spread.

An AFP tally from official sources showed that by 1100 GMT Tuesday, the number of confirmed infections worldwide passed 20.1 million, having topped 20 million the previous night.

Almost 737,000 deaths had been recorded since the virus first emerged in China late last year and spread globally, with the figure expected to surpass 750,000 within days.

 

A health worker wearing Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) urges a resident to get her temeprature and oxygen level checked during a COVID-19 coronavirus screening in the Dharavi slum, in Mumbai on August 11, 2020. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP)

 

Tests underway

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that clinical trials of the vaccine involving several thousand participants would continue.

Elsewhere in the world, Indonesia said it would launch a “Phase 3” human trial of a vaccine candidate from China’s Sinovac Biotech.

“Phase 3” refers to trials involving large numbers of human test subjects and is usually the last step before regulatory approval.

Sinovac’s vaccine, dubbed CoronaVac, is already being tested on 9,000 Brazilian health workers.

A WHO overview said 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, with six reaching Phase 3.

But the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan warned that a vaccine was “only part of the answer,” pointing to polio and measles as diseases with vaccines that have not been fully eradicated.

“You’ve got to be able to deliver that vaccine to a population that want and demand to have that vaccine,” he said.

 

The country of nearly 270 million is among the worst hit in Asia by the pandemic, with cases in all its 34 provinces, including the remote Maluku island and easternmost Papua. (Photo by ADEK BERRY / AFP)

Second waves ‘inevitable’

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has pointed to “green shoots of hope” in countries that had successfully clamped down on COVID-19, such as Rwanda and New Zealand, which says it plans to open a virus-free “travel bubble” with the Cook Islands.

But Wellington on Tuesday reported its first locally-transmitted coronavirus infections in more than 100 days.

“We have all worked incredibly hard to prevent this scenario,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, but added that “we have also planned and prepared for it.”

So far New Zealand has reported just 22 deaths from the COVID-19 disease, although authorities repeatedly warned a second wave was “inevitable”.

The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on Tuesday announced its first coronavirus lockdown after months largely shielded from the disease.

And in Europe, the EU’s health agency urged countries to reinstate some controls as new cases began to pick up again.

“There is a true resurgence in cases in several countries as a result of physical distancing measures being relaxed,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said.

 

The pandemic has killed at least 731,518 people worldwide, 101,049 of them in Brazil, since it surfaced in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Monday. (Photo by Daniel CASTELLANO / AFP)

 

France had already reacted by requiring mask-wearing in certain crowded areas and tourist hotspots of capital Paris.

Several French towns and cities have already introduced similar measures, as well as parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain.

There was better news for residents of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, as the enclave’s only border crossing with Egypt was opened to people wanting to leave for the first time since the pandemic began.

But some residents were fearful of leaving the tightly-sealed territory, which has seen just 81 cases.

“There is a fear of being infected with COVID-19 in cars or buses in Egypt,” Hatem al-Mansi told AFP. “In Gaza, we don’t have that problem.”

 

A hospital worker puts on gloves as part of her Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the COVID-19 ward at the Somerset Hospital in Cape Town, on July 2, 2020. – This hospital is dealing with COVID-19 coronavirus positive patients as part of South Africa’s fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which is gaining ground in the country. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

 

‘Every day like my last’

In China, the city of Wuhan where the novel coronavirus first emerged is limping back towards normal after lockdowns were lifted in April.

Business is slow for stall owners at food markets, while a pandemic-themed exhibition shows off autographed hazmat suits used by medical workers.

China officially recorded around 85,000 cases and just over 4,600 deaths — a fraction of the world’s total — and has now largely brought its domestic virus spread under control.

Despite fears of a resurgence, some Wuhan residents are keen to enjoy the city’s recovery.

“Now I enjoy every day as if it were the last,” says Hu Fenglian. “I don’t want to worry too much.”

 

 

AFP

Antonio Banderas Tests Positive For Coronavirus

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 19, 2019 Spanish actor and director Antonio Banderas smiles during the presentation of the musical “A Chorus Line” in Malaga. – Spanish actor Antonio Banderas announced on his 60th birthday on August 10, 2020 that he was in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus but was feeling “relatively well”. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

 

Spanish-born actor Antonio Banderas has tested positive for coronavirus.

In a post shared on his Instagram page to mark his 60th birthday, Banderas said the development has forced him to celebrate in quarantine.

The multiple award-winning actor, who wrote in Spanish, said he’s “just a little more tired than usual and confident that I will recover as soon as possible.”

“I will take advantage of this isolation to read, write, rest and continue making plans to begin to give meaning to my newly released 60 years to which I arrive loaded with desire and enthusiasm.”

Banderas began his acting career in the 80s and have appeared in such blockbuster movies as Desperado, Assassins, Interview with the Vampire, and The Mask of Zorro.

He won Best Actor at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival for his role in the Spanish film, Pain and Glory.

Greetings to all.
I want to make public that today, August 10, I am forced to celebrate my 60th birthday following quarantine after having tested positive for the COVID-19 disease, caused by the coronavirus.

I would like to add that I feel relatively well, just a little more tired than usual and confident that I will recover as soon as possible following the medical indications that I hope will allow me to overcome the infectious process that I suffer and that is affecting so many people around the planet.

I will take advantage of this isolation to read, write, rest and continue making plans to begin to give meaning to my newly released 60 years to which I arrive loaded with desire and enthusiasm.

A big hug to everyone.
Antonio Banderas

 

 

 

Nigerians React As Kano Court Sentences Musician To Death

In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Several Nigerians have reacted to the judgment of an Upper Sharia Court in Kano which on Monday sentenced a musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, to death by hanging for blasphemy.

Sharif-Aminu, 22, was found guilty of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated via Whatsapp in March this year.

He has 30 days to appeal the judgment.

In the aftermath of the court’s decision, thousands of Nigerians trooped to social media to express their opinions on the judgment.

A Twitter user @FakhuusHashim said nothing should warrant the killing of any Nigerian for what they have said.

“Nothing, and I mean nothing should ever warrant the killing of anyone for anything they’ve said. This is repulsive and regressive. Death sentencing for blasphemy are a human rights violation and the FG must act to stop the sentence from being carried out.”

Another user, YOjora, said Sharia Law in Northern Nigeria affects only the poor and enemies of the powerful.

“Sharia law in northern Nigeria never affects the rich, only the poor and political enemies of the powerful… There’s a video of a certain person packing dollars, I wonder why he hasn’t lost his hands..”

A journalist, David Hundeyin, described the judgment as “state-sanctioned terrorism.”

“Boko Haram regularly executes musicians and artists for “blasphemy” in the villages they occupy, citing Sharia Law. I’d love to know how this is not state-sanctioned terrorism. What is the difference between the Kano State government and Boko Haram? Please do tell.”

The West African coordinator of the Afro Arab Youth Council, Bello Shagari, said no muslim has the moral right to react angrily to blasphemy.

“No Muslim has the moral right to react angrily to blasphemy; that doesn’t mean one cannot be angry. Meanwhile, the sharia law on blasphemy cannot be done to a non Muslim. It is only applicable to Muslims who commits a ‘certain degree’ of blasphemy in a circular state.”

 

Nigerians have reacted on social media as a musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu,has been sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy.

 

Fernandes Penalty Lifts Man Utd Past Dogged Copenhagen

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes reacts after an injury during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Manchester United and FC Copenhagen at the RheinEnergieStadion, in Cologne, western Germany, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP)

 

Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty in extra time as Manchester United scraped past FC Copenhagen 1-0 on Monday in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, reshaped into an eight-team straight knockout tournament in Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Portugal international notched his competition-best seventh goal of the season as United set up a semi-final clash against Sevilla or Wolves, joining Inter Milan in the last four following the Italian side’s 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in Dusseldorf.

“Third time this season we’ve been to the semis, every competition we’ve been in. Delighted we’ve gone through, we deserved to win tonight,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport.

“Their keeper was fantastic, unbelievable. We hit the post a few times, there were a couple of VAR decisions against us. It could have been one of those nights that you end up with penalty shoot outs. They made it hard for us.”

 

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) shakes hands with FC Copenhagen’s Greek midfielder Zeca, next to Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes at the end of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Manchester United and FC Copenhagen at the RheinEnergieStadion, in Cologne, western Germany, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / various sources / AFP)

All games from the quarter-finals onwards in this season’s Europa League are being played behind closed doors as one-off ties across four venues — Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen — in a unique format following a five-month interruption.

Solskjaer recalled Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial but the 2017 competition winners struggled early, and 18-year-old Copenhagen forward Mohamed Daramy was twice involved as the Danish underdogs threatened a creaking United backline.

Eric Bailly intervened just as Daramy attempted to stab home a bouncing cross, and the Ivorian defender was then played into trouble by Fred with Jens Stage’s subsequent effort blocked.

Rashford finally tested Karl-Johan Johnsson just before the interval with a long-range shot — the first of a multitude of saves for Copenhagen’s outstanding Swedish goalkeeper.

Greenwood looked to have put United ahead as he drilled in via the far post moments later only for the teenager to be ruled offside following a VAR review.

He again went close early in the second half when he slammed against the upright, with Fernandes promptly smacking the opposite post with a dipping 20-yard drive.

The Portugal international, who scored five times in the group stage with Sporting, stung the palms of Johnsson with another hit from distance — shortly after Aaron Wan-Bissaka made a desperation block to thwart Bryan Oviedo after a mesmerising dribble from Rasmus Falk.

Johnsson outstanding in goal

Appearing in their first European quarter-final, and the first Danish club to reach this stage since 1997, Copenhagen continued to frustrate United as they sought a repeat of their 1-0 win when the clubs last met in the Champions League group stage in 2006.

 

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes scores a penalty during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Manchester United and FC Copenhagen at the RheinEnergieStadion, in Cologne, western Germany, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / various sources / AFP)

Martial nearly won the game in normal time but again a sprawling Johnsson tipped away his curling attempt that appeared destined for the top corner.

The France striker was once more repelled by Johnsson at the start of extra time, but Martial won a penalty as United kept the attack alive and the striker was upended by Andreas Bjelland.

Fernandes blasted home from the spot on 95 minutes but Solskjaer’s team were left to sweat until the end as Johnsson pulled off sensational stops from the Portuguese and substitute Juan Mata, with Victor Lindelof the third United player to strike the post.

United though ultimately ensured their 2019-20 campaign will extend into a second year, having started the season 365 days ago with a 4-0 Premier League win over Chelsea. Awaiting them on Sunday will be Sevilla — who have won the Europa League and its precursor, the UEFA Cup, a record five times — or domestic rivals Wolves.

Former United striker Romelu Lukaku grabbed the decisive goal for Antonio Conte’s Inter against Leverkusen as the Serie A runners-up moved a step closer to adding to their titles from 1991, 1994 and 1998.

Inter struck first as Nicolo Barella guided in from the edge of the area on 15 minutes, with Lukaku bundling in a second six minutes later.

Kai Havertz reduced the deficit in possibly his final game for Leverkusen on 25 minutes after exchanging passes with fellow Germany international Kevin Volland, but Inter held on to seal their place against Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel in next week’s semi-final.

“The defence did a tremendous job again tonight. We are growing but we have to learn to kill games off when we have the chances to do it, and we didn’t tonight,” said Lukaku.

“Now we have time to recover physically and prepare for another great game. We will have to be ready.”

 

 

-AFP

Trump Ushered From Briefing After Shots Fired Near White House

US President Donald Trump is being removed by a member of the secret service from the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

Secret Service guards shot a person, who was apparently armed, outside the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump said just after being briefly evacuated in the middle of a press conference.

The president was abruptly ushered out of the press event and black-clad secret service agents with automatic rifles rushed across the lawn north of the White House.

Minutes later, Trump reappeared at the press conference, where journalists had been locked in, and announced that someone had been shot outside the White House grounds.

 

 Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.” (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The Secret Service tweeted that it “can confirm there has been an officer involved shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.”

“Law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be, the suspect. And the suspect is on the way to the hospital,” he said.

Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, he answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.”

“It might not have had anything to do with me,” Trump added, saying the incident took place “on the outside” of the White House perimeter.

“I don’t believe anything was breached, they were relatively far away,” he added.

 

Police activity at the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House shortly after Secret Service guards shot a person who was apparently armed, outside the White House on August 10, 2020 while US President Donald Trump was speaking to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Outside the White House, the situation was calm, but a portion of the surrounding streets had been blocked off, with a number of police and other official vehicles converging towards the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Philipos Melaku, a protester who has been camping in front of the White House for years, said he had heard a shot fired at around 5:50 pm (2150 GMT).

“I heard a gunshot and before that I heard screaming,” he told AFP.

“It was a male voice,” he said. “After that immediately, pointing their AR-15s, at least eight or nine men came in running.”

 

Police cars block the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House shortly after Secret Service guards shot a person who was apparently armed, outside the White House on August 10, 2020 while US President Donald Trump was speaking to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Following the security scare, Trump returned almost immediately to the White House podium where he resumed his scheduled press conference.

Asked if he was rattled by the incident, he replied: “The world’s always been a dangerous place. It’s not something that’s unique.”

Trump went onto praise the Secret Service as “fantastic people, the best of the best.”

“I feel very safe with Secret Service,” he said. “A lot of terrific looking people ready to go if something was necessary.”

 

A US Secret Service uniform officer’s bike is seen laying on the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP)

 

-AFP

Trinidad PM Predicts Win In Election With Heavy Turnout Despite Pandemic

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley, of the People’s National Movement (PNM) party, shows the indelible ink mark on his finger after casting his vote at a polling station in Westmoorings, Diego Martin region, west of Port-of-Spain, on August 10, 2020 amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. – Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s governing People’s National Movement (PNM) party is expected to hold onto power as Trinidad and Tobago citizens head to the polls in Monday’s general election. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

Prime Minister Keith Rowley predicted victory for his ruling People’s National Movement in Trinidad and Tobago’s general election Monday, with turnout strong despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Scores of voters remained in line waiting to cast their ballots as polls closed but officials have said they will be allowed to vote.

Rowley urged supporters to stay away from the PNM party’s headquarters when celebrating.

“We do not want a good election campaign to be spoiled by large gatherings which can cause the spread of the virus,” Rowley said after voting.

“Celebrate in small groups at a friend’s home, as I know there will be reason to celebrate, but we must be responsible at all times.”

In the most recent opinion poll in the island nation off Venezuela, the PNM was five percentage points ahead of the opposition United National Congress (UNC), led by former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

After casting her ballot, Persad-Bissessar urged voters not to be deterred by long queues and a process slowed by health safety measures.

“In some stations they are saying it is very slow,” she said.

“The feedback I am getting is that in some stations the turnout is very high but some people are turning back because of long lines. I just urge everyone: do your civic duty, cast your vote.”

First results are due late Monday.

For many of the one million voters, the coronavirus pandemic and corruption were two key issues on the campaign trail.

Rowley, in power since 2015, announced on Wednesday the closure of all primary schools after several pupils were infected.

But facemasks were not compulsory in ballot stations on voting day.

Rowley praised his party’s campaign in difficult circumstances caused by coronavirus restrictions.

“Every election is important but I think this election is particularly important because it heralds a period… that is difficult for the country,” he said.

– Voting along ethnic lines –
The twin-island republic is a first-past-the-post parliamentary democracy modeled on former colonial power Britain.

Polls opened at 6:00 am with social distancing and hand sanitizing measures in place, and closed 12 hours later.

Voters will elect the 41 members of the House of Representatives with the winning party’s leader becoming prime minister.

Among the candidates standing for seats is disgraced former FIFA vice president Austin “Jack” Warner, who is battling extradition to the United States to face charges of racketeering and conspiracy as part of a global graft probe into world football’s governing body.

He is one of 17 single candidates from separate political parties contesting the polls alongside the two main parties.

In total, there are 146 candidates from 19 political parties, some 30% of whom are women.

All but one of the 41 seats in the 2015 election were won by either the PNM or UNC. The PNM ousted the UNC in 2015 by 23 seats to 17.

Coronavirus cases have been increasing in the build-up to the election, with 67 people testing positive in the last two weeks.

Rowley has promised not to re-impose lockdown measures but has said bars and restaurants could be closed to prevent the virus spreading.

Many blame the new cases on the illegal trafficking of economic migrants from Venezuela. However, no Venezuelan national has been confirmed as positive among the new COVID-19 cases.

The government has received praise regionally and internationally for its handling of the pandemic which has helped it enjoy a high approval rating.

But in diverse Trinidad and Tobago, politics remains largely divided along ethnic lines. The majority of PNM supporters are of African descent with the UNC popular among those of a South Asian background.

 

-AFP

US Frees More Bandwidth For 5G Network Use

 

The US on Monday announced that a chunk of bandwidth long reserved for the military will be auctioned off to telecommunications firms for use in ultra-speedy 5G networks.

One hundred megahertz of “contiguous, coast-to-coast mid-band spectrum” will be made available for commercial 5G deployment, the White House and the Department of Defense said in a joint release.

The bandwidth in the range from 3450 and 3550 megahertz was identified for use in 5G networks and can be made available without impairing military or national security capabilities, according to senior administration officials.

The Federal Communications Commission will be able to start auctioning the spectrum in December, and it could be put to use for new-generation telecommunication networks as soon as mid-2022, according to the release.

The addition will increase to 535 megahertz the amount of mid-band spectrum available for 5G networks in the US, which is behind other countries such as China and South Korea when it comes to deploying the potentially transformative technology.

Beijing recently slammed US warnings of “consequences” if Brazil chooses Chinese telecoms company Huawei to develop its 5G network, accusing Washington of “unscrupulous oppression” of the country’s tech companies.

Huawei — the world’s top producer of telecoms networking equipment — has become a pivotal issue in the geopolitical standoff between Beijing and Washington, which claims the firm poses a significant cybersecurity threat.

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the US opposed the use of Huawei products not on national security grounds, but because they objected to the rise of Chinese firms.

Washington has essentially barred Huawei from the US market and waged a global campaign to isolate the company.

The British government bowed to growing US pressure and pledged last month to remove Huawei from its 5G network by 2027, despite warnings of retaliation from Beijing.

Australia and Japan have also taken steps to block or restrict the Chinese company’s participation in their 5G rollouts, while European telecoms operators including Norway’s Telenor and Sweden’s Telia have passed over Huawei as a supplier.

“Looking at the overall very big picture on 5G and the race to 5G and the dynamic going on with Huawei right now, you know, we view that as a really multifaceted effort,” a senior administrative official said.

“Without domestic deployment, you just don’t have, kind of, the market share being supported for the trusted vendors that are kind of Huawei’s competitors.”

 

 

-AFP