China Says Pompeo’s South China Sea Illegal Claim ‘Unjustified’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018  US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC. - The United States said July 9, 2020 it would refuse visas for three top Chinese officials and their families over the "horrific and systematic abuses" against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the officials who would be refused entry include Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary for the Xinjiang region who is considered an architect of Beijing's hardline policies on minorities. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC.  (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

 

 

Beijing hit back Tuesday at the US branding of Chinese pursuits in the South China Sea as illegal, saying the accusation was “unjustified’ and a bid to sabotage regional peace.

“We advise the US side to earnestly honor its commitment of not taking sides on the issue of territorial sovereignty, respect regional countries’ efforts for a peaceful and stable South China Sea and stop its attempts to disrupt and sabotage regional peace and stability,” the Chinese embassy in Washington said in a statement.

 

AFP

Virus-Hit Singapore Plunges Into Recession As Economy Shrinks 41%

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 18, 2020, a couple wearing face masks walk past a fashion retail outlet along the Orchard shopping belt in Singapore,  a day ahead of further easing of restrictions in Singapore due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. - Singapore plunged into recession in the second quarter as growth fell 41.2 percent quarter-on-quarter with the trade-dependent economy hammered by the coronavirus, preliminary data showed on July 14. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 18, 2020, a couple wearing face masks walk past a fashion retail outlet along the Orchard shopping belt in Singapore, a day ahead of further easing of restrictions in Singapore due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

 

 

Singapore plunged into recession in the second quarter as growth fell 41.2 percent quarter-on-quarter with the trade-dependent economy hammered by the coronavirus, preliminary data showed Tuesday.

Year-on-year, the economy shrank 12.6 percent between April and June, according to the data from the trade ministry, as strict curbs were imposed to fight the virus.

It marks the second consecutive quarter of contraction, meaning that the city state — which has one of the world’s most open economies — has entered a recession for the first time in more than a decade.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 10, 2020, health workers takes nasal swab test samples from essential workers to detect the COVID-19 novel coronavirus before the workers return to work in Singapore. - Singapore plunged into recession in the second quarter as growth fell 41.2 percent quarter-on-quarter with the trade-dependent economy hammered by the coronavirus, preliminary data showed on July 14. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 10, 2020, health workers takes nasal swab test samples from essential workers to detect the COVID-19 novel coronavirus before the workers return to work in Singapore. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

The massive second-quarter drop in GDP was due to “measures that were implemented from 7 April to 1 June to slow the spread of COVID-19, which included the suspension of non-essential services and closure of most workplace premises,” the ministry said in a statement.

It also attributed to the contraction to “weak external demand amidst a global economic downturn”.

Tiny Singapore, viewed as a barometer for the health of global trade, is highly sensitive to external shocks, and the gloomy figures are another ominous sign for the global economy.

Suriname Elects New President, Ending Bouterse’s Rule

Chan Santokhi and his wife, Melissa Seenacherry. The former police chief was elected president by Suriname’s Congress following a landslide opposition victory in May.
Chan Santokhi and his wife, Melissa Seenacherry. The former police chief was elected president by Suriname’s Congress following a landslide opposition victory in May.

 

 

Suriname elected former police chief and opposition leader Chan Santokhi as its new president Monday, ending the rule of Desi Bouterse, who has weighed heavily on the South American country’s politics for decades.

Santokhi, 61, was elected by the 51-member National Assembly to rule the tiny oil-and-gold exporting nation for the next five years.

He told the assembly he was inheriting a country “on the brink of financial collapse. We are balancing on the edge of an international default.”

After a divisive campaign that saw his party win May’s general election, Santokhi called for unity to tackle the country’s economic problems “shoulder to shoulder.”

His victory brings an end to the rule of former military strongman Bouterse, who was first elected president in the former Dutch colony in 2010 after initially seizing power in 1980 and ruling for seven years.

Bouterse, now 72, seized power briefly a second time in a bloodless coup in 1990.

In November, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a military court for ordering executions during his first period in power, in 1982.

He was convicted of having 15 political opponents — including lawyers, journalists and businessmen — rounded up and executed.

Bouterse appealed his conviction, and the case was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Santohki’s Progressive Reform party won 20 seats in May elections, enough to form a coalition government with the General Liberation and Development Party of Ronnie Brunswijk, who will be vice-president.

Brunswijk is a former rebel leader who fought a civil war against Bouterse in the late 1980s.

Santokhi is due to be sworn in as new president on Thursday.

Suriname, on the northeastern shoulder of South America, shares a border with Guyana, Brazil, and — through French Guiana — with France.

French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Santokhi, saying their nations’ shared border made Suriname and France “natural partners.”

Macron added that he hoped the two would work together to kickstart “cross-border cooperation,” stalled over a long-time dispute over the common frontier.

 

 

AFP

Ancient Aztec Palace Ruins Found In Mexico City

Maryanne Quiroz, a member of the traditional Azteca dance group Yaocenoxtli, holding her 2-month old daughter Tekpani, uses incense to cleanse energy during a National Mother’s March in St. Paul, Minnesota July 12, 2020. - Mothers, and families, who have lost loved ones to police violence are answering the call made by George Floyd for his mother, seen around the world in the video of his arrest where, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, died in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. (Photo by Amanda Sabga / AFP)
Maryanne Quiroz, a member of the traditional Azteca dance group Yaocenoxtli, holding her 2-month old daughter Tekpani, uses incense to cleanse energy during a National Mother’s March in St. Paul, Minnesota July 12, 2020.(Photo by Amanda Sabga / AFP)

 

 

The remains of an ancient Aztec palace, which later was the home of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, were discovered under a landmark building in Mexico City, the government said Monday.

Basalt slab floors were found under the stately building of the Nacional Monte de Piedad, a historic pawn shop in the middle of the capital’s central square, during building renovations.

The floors correspond to an open area in the palace of Aztec ruler Axayacatl, who was the father of Montezuma, one of the final rulers of the empire.

Experts say that “it was part of an open space of the old Axayacatl Palace, probably a patio,” the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said.

During excavation, archeologists also found evidence of the home Cortes had at the site after the fall of the Aztec empire.

Archeologists noted that the floor was likely made of materials reused from Axayacatl’s palace, which, like other sacred Aztec buildings, were razed by the conquistadors.

The discovery was made during reinforcement work on the Nacional Monte de Piedad building, which dates back to 1755.

Cortes first arrived in modern-day Mexico in 1518 on a mission to explore the region’s interior for Spanish colonization.

He and his men laid siege to the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan in 1521 until it surrendered, whereupon they destroyed it, a key event in the fall of the empire.

 

AFP

Poland’s Populist President Narrowly Wins Re-Election

Polish President Andrzej Duda addresses supporters as exit poll results were announced during the presidential election in Pultusk, Poland, on July 12, 2020. - Poland's right-wing head of state Andrzej Duda was ahead by a tiny margin in the presidential run-off against Warsaw's liberal mayor, an exit poll on on July 12, 2020 showed, starting a tense wait for the official results (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP)
Polish President Andrzej Duda addresses supporters as exit poll results were announced during the presidential election in Pultusk, Poland, on July 12, 2020. – Poland’s right-wing head of state Andrzej Duda was ahead by a tiny margin in the presidential run-off against Warsaw’s liberal mayor, an exit poll on on July 12, 2020 showed, starting a tense wait for the official results (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP)

 

 

Polish President Andrzej Duda squeezed past a europhile rival to win re-election, official results showed Monday, but the narrow victory put allies in the populist right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party on the back foot.

Seeking close ties with US President Donald Trump, Duda has vowed to tighten already restrictive laws against abortion and campaigned against LGBT rights.

Trump on Monday congratulated Duda on his “historic re-election”.

“Looking forward to continuing our important work together,” he wrote on Twitter.

The incumbent won a new five-year term with 51.03 percent of Sunday’s vote against 48.97 percent for Warsaw’s liberal mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, according to final results from the country’s electoral commission.

Trzaskowski had vowed to mend ties with the European Union.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Duda on his win, tweeting that she looked “forward to working with him on the many challenges Europe and Poland have to face together”.

Experts said the result means the governing PiS party, which has been criticised at home and abroad for reforms of the judiciary seen as eroding democratic freedoms, will face a more confident opposition.

“President Duda has won the election, but the real success is for Rafal Trzaskowski and the opposition which has gained ground,” said Kazimierz Kik, a political expert from Kielce University.

Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a Warsaw University political scientist, warned there was a “realistic” risk that Poland could begin to resemble Hungary, which has been accused of drifting towards authoritarianism under nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

– ‘Poland divided in two’ –
After congratulating Duda on Monday, Trzaskowski called on the president to “free himself from his political party”, adding: “I hope the president will display more independence in his second term.”

Trzaskowski vowed to work hard “to sew Poland back together”, a sentiment echoed by Duda, who asked supporters to “help me glue our Poland together”.

The government must now deal with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which is pushing Poland into a recession — the country’s first since communism fell three decades ago.

“Poland is split down the middle,” remarked Witold Orlowski, a professor at Warsaw University of Technology Business School who forecast “a very difficult period” ahead.

“On the one hand, even this slim victory is a PiS success and will allow it to continue to govern, at least technically,” Orlowski said.

“On the other hand, the social and economic situation will deteriorate and a large part of the electorate will blame the PiS.”

Internationally, experts said Duda’s close ties with Trump could also spell trouble ahead if the US president fails to win re-election in November.

Duda’s support was particularly strong among older voters in rural areas and small towns and in the east of the country, while Trzaskowski did well with a younger electorate in larger cities and western regions on the border with Germany.

“The result of these elections is a Poland divided in two with a not-so-rosy future, as it will be difficult to ease the division and to restore the relationship between the two sides,” Kik told AFP.

– White-red vs rainbow –
The election was to take place in May but was delayed because of the virus.

Four days before the first round, Duda became the first foreign leader to visit the White House since the pandemic struck, and was praised by Trump for doing an “excellent job”.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro characterised the second-round vote as “a clash of two visions of Poland, the white-red and rainbow-coloured”, referring to the colours of Poland’s national flag and the symbol widely used by the LGBT community.

Duda has railed against “LGBT ideology”, likening it to a new form of communist brainwashing, and has vowed to change the constitution to rule out adoptions by same-sex couples.

 

AFP

Inter Move Second, Close In On Champions League With Torino Win

Inter Milan's Uruguayan defender Diego Godin(L) celebrates with Inter Milan's Italian defender Alessandro Bastoni(top) and Inter Milan's Croatian defender Marcelo Brozovic after scoring his team's second goal during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Torino played behind closed doors on July 13, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
Inter Milan’s Uruguayan defender Diego Godin(L) celebrates with Inter Milan’s Italian defender Alessandro Bastoni(top) and Inter Milan’s Croatian defender Marcelo Brozovic after scoring his team’s second goal during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Torino played behind closed doors on July 13, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

 

 

Inter Milan put one foot in next season’s Champions League on Monday after coming from behind to beat relegation-threatened Torino 3-1 and move up to second place in Serie A.

Antonio Conte’s Inter moved above Atalanta and Lazio to go eight points behind league leaders Juventus thanks to two goals early in the second half from Ashley Young and Diego Godin and another from Lautaro Martinez just after the hour mark.

The Milanese club are level on 68 points with off-form Lazio, who slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Sassuolo on Saturday, and one ahead of flamboyant Atalanta in fourth.

However, with a first league title since 2010 unlikely, the most important statistic for Inter is the 14-point gap between them and fifth-placed Roma with six matches left to play.

“It’s important to win matches like this any way you can … I think we deserved to win,” said Godin to Sky Sport Italy.

“We’re second now and we want to continue winning … let’s see where we can finish, but it’s difficult to get closer to Juventus.”

Torino meanwhile still have to look over their shoulders following their fourth defeat since the league restarted last month.

Moreno Longo’s side are 16th, five points above the relegation zone with the visit of fellow strugglers Genoa coming up on Thursday.

Inter, who were missing star striker Romelu Lukaku and started without regular first-teamers Milan Skriniar, Christian Eriksen and Antonio Candreva, didn’t have it all their own way at the San Siro.

They found themselves behind with 16 minutes gone when under no pressure Samir Handanovic dropped a corner straight to the feet of Italy forward Andrea Belotti, who couldn’t believe his luck as he tapped home the opener from inches out.

The hosts, who have been rocked by rumours of dressing room unrest, struggled to react and Christian Ansaldi could easily have doubled Torino’s lead when Handanovic just managed to hold onto his powerful shot five minutes before the break.

All their good work vanished in the space of two minutes shortly after the restart however, with Ashley Young levelling the scores in the 49th minute when he lashed home Martinez’s knockdown.

Young was involved when Inter went ahead just two minutes later, the Englishman finding former Manchester United teammate Alexis Sanchez with a chipped pass and the Chilean heading over for Godin, who nodded home off the crossbar from close range.

Torino had a chance to level when Simone Verdi’s header was well saved by Handanovic in the 54th minute, but Martinez — whose talks with Barcelona have stopped according to Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu — wrapped things up soon after.

The Argentine hadn’t scored in five matches heading into Monday’s contest and after collecting Sanchez’s pass his shot was helped over the line by a big deflection.

 

 

-AFP

Trump Seen Wearing Facemask In Public For First Time

US President Donald Trump wears a mask as he visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland' on July 11, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)
US President Donald Trump wears a mask as he visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland’ on July 11, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

 

 

US President Donald Trump wore a facemask in public for the first time Saturday, yielding to intense pressure to set a public health example as the coronavirus rampages across America.

Trump had on a black mask as he walked through the corridors of Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington to meet with wounded veterans, according to television news footage.

 

 

 

-AFP

Sheff Utd Cruise Past Chelsea, Liverpool’s Record Bid Hit By Burnley

Sheffield United's English-born Irish striker David McGoldrick (R) scores his second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)
Sheffield United’s English-born Irish striker David McGoldrick (R) scores his second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Sheffield United dealt a major blow to Chelsea’s chances of a Premier League top-four finish by thrashing the Blues 3-0 at Bramall Lane, while Liverpool’s long winning run at Anfield came to an end in a 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday.

Manchester City did guarantee their presence in the top four for a 10th successive season with Raheem Sterling scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win at Brighton.

However, they will have to wait for the outcome on Monday of their appeal against a two-season ban from European competitions to see if they will play Champions League football.

Norwich will be playing in the Championship after Michail Antonio’s four-goal blitz confirmed the Canaries’ relegation in a thumping 4-0 win for West Ham that should seal the Hammers’ top-flight status for another season.

Sheffield United have long since achieved that feat in their first season in the Premier League for 13 years and the Blades are still eying the top four themselves as they moved within five points of fourth-placed Leicester.

Chelsea remain in third, but could end the weekend down in fifth if Leicester and Manchester United beat Bournemouth and Southampton respectively.

The Blues have already reinforced their attack for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, but Frank Lampard was again shown it is at the other end his side desperately need to improve.

David McGoldrick’s long wait for a first Premier League goal came to an end when he was quickest to react after Kepa Arrizabalaga saved Oli McBurnie’s deflected shot.

More slack defending from the visitors then allowed McBurnie a free header to double the hosts’ lead.

Lampard sent on Antonio Rudiger at the start of the second-half, but the German international did little to improve Chelsea’s defending as his attempted clearance from Lys Mousset’s cross only teed up McGoldrick to score his second 13 minutes from time.

“They were better than us, physically, in the mind and with the ball. So you lose the game,” said Lampard.

– Liverpool held -For the first time since January 2018, Liverpool failed to win a Premier League game at Anfield as an inspired performance by Nick Pope in the Burnley goal and Jay Rodriguez’s equaliser to cancel out Andy Robertson’s first half header gave Burnley a share of the spoils.

Jurgen Klopp’s men now need to win their remaining three games to be surpass the record total of 100 points in a Premier League season set by City two years ago.

“We left the door open, we didn’t close it. We should have scored two, three, four goals at least,” said Klopp.

City scored four or more goals for the fourth time in six league games at Brighton.

Sterling’s treble took his best ever season’s tally to 27, while Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva also netted in another rout for a pleased Pep Guardiola.

– Norwich relegated –
At Carrow Road, a seventh successive league defeat condemned Norwich to relegation as Antonio’s ruthless display boosted West Ham’s own survival bid.

“We wanted to beat the odds again but when the dust settles the outcome is more or less what was expected. It doesn’t take anything away from the fact that we are disappointed,” manager Daniel Farke said.

West Ham’s second win in four games opens up a six-point cushion over the bottom three.

The early signs were ominous for Norwich as West Ham took the lead in the 11th minute through Antonio’s close-range volley.

Antonio struck again in first-half stoppage-time, glancing his header into the far corner from Mark Noble’s free-kick.

He completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute with a looping header and his fourth came in the 74th minute from Ryan Fredericks’ cross.

Watford also moved to the brink of survival as two Troy Deeney penalties beat Newcastle 2-1 to move level with West Ham on 34 points.

 

 

AFP

Sterling Hat-Trick As Man City Secure Top Four Ahead Of Champions League Verdict

Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) fist pumps Brighton's English manager Graham Potter after the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Julian Finney / POOL / AFP)
Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) fist pumps Brighton’s English manager Graham Potter after the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Julian Finney / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City ensured they will finish in the Premier League’s top four with a 5-0 win over Brighton on Saturday as the club wait to find out whether they will be allowed to compete in the Champions League next season.

City were handed a two-season ban from European competitions by UEFA in February, but appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which will deliver its verdict on Monday.

On the field, there is no doubt Pep Guardiola’s men deserve their place among the elite of European football next season with another display that belied the 21-point gap between them and champions Liverpool.

Too often City have been found wanting for failing to take their chances and punished for defensive lapses at the other end.

However, there was never any chance of Brighton adding to their nine defeats this season once Sterling curled home his 25th goal of the season with unerring accuracy into the far corner.

Gabriel Jesus’s deflected shot came back off the crossbar and he then teed up Riyad Mahrez with some nifty footwork only for the Algerian to curl a great chance wide.

Jesus could be burdened with the responsibility of leading the line when City’s 2019/20 Champions League season gets back underway in August with Sergio Aguero facing a race against time to be fit after knee surgery.

The Brazilian has not always been the most prolific finisher, but showed striker’s instincts to tap Rodrigo’s flick-on for a corner to make it 2-0 just before half-time with his 20th goal of the season.

Sterling notched his second of the night in unusual fashion by crashing home a header from Mahrez’s teasing cross.

Brighton did themselves no favours for the fourth as Mat Ryan spiled a Bernardo Silva shot he should have held and Jesus teed up the Portuguese midfielder to roll into an unguarded net at the second attempt.

Guardiola was then able to ring the changes as he continues to prepare for next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the return of the Champions League next month.

Sterling was left on as Kevin De Bruyne and Jesus made way to give him the chance of securing a hat-trick and he did so with a hint of fortune as the ball ricocheted off his head after he had fallen to the floor inside the area and Dan Burn failed to clear the ball off the line.

Brighton are still not mathematically safe as they remain eight points above the relegation zone, but Graham Potter’s men should already have enough points on the board as third-bottom Bournemouth face the daunting task of being City’s next opponents on Wednesday.

 

 

-AFP

Disney World Reopens As US Virus Death Toll Surges

A view of Mickey Mouse at the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  Octavio Jones/Getty Images/AFP
A view of Mickey Mouse at the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

Disney World is known as “The Most Magical Place on Earth” but as the Florida theme park reopened Saturday, it was counting on a bit of science — masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer — to stave off the coronavirus.

The state of Florida is one of the hardest-hit by a new wave of cases and deaths in the United States, already the most affected country in the world in terms of infections and fatalities.

On Saturday, Florida reported its third-highest daily increase in cases, with 10,360 new infections, as well as 95 deaths.

Overall, the US has seen nearly 135,000 deaths out of 3.2 million cases.

In Orlando, Disney World reopened two of its four parks — Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom — after four months of closure. Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios will open on Wednesday.

Several hundred people queued in the Florida heat ahead of the park’s reopening — some sporting Mickey ears but all wearing masks, part of the park’s new guidelines requiring them for both guests and employees.

Saturday’s visitors had reserved their tickets in advance, allowing Disney to control the number of people in the park and accommodate for social distancing. Tickets are already sold out through July.

The park was carrying out temperature checks at the entrance and hand sanitizer was widely available. Disney said it was enforcing social distancing of six feet (two meters) at attractions and inside shops.

“By visiting Walt Disney World Resort you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19,” the park said on its website.

Gone are the park’s famous parades which allow mingling with Disney characters; also absent are the evening fireworks shows.

On social media, many criticized the park’s reopening as Florida experiences an accelerated number of cases.

The state’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis began reopening Florida’s economy in phases in May and June.

Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said Thursday that Florida had begun reopening before meeting the criteria that would have enabled it to do so safely.

DeSantis disputed the remarks, saying his decision to reopen was justified by figures at the time.

At the end of June the governor took a step backwards, ordering the closure of bars in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, but cases have continued to climb.

Florida is not the only state grappling with a serious spread of COVID-19.

In Georgia, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Friday ordered a return to the southern city’s Phase 1 lockdown, telling nearly all residents to wear masks, a retreat after having partially reopened the city. Bottoms herself has tested positive.

Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, registered 435 new cases of the disease in the latest 24-hour period.

Arizona has seen a steady rise since March in the use by hospital intensive-care units of artificial breathing machines.

In Texas, several hospitals — including in Houston’s huge medical complex — say their coronavirus wards are at or near capacity, amid fears of a further influx of patients in coming days.

And some states that had largely been spared up to now — including Idaho, Oklahoma and North Dakota — have been setting new virus records almost every day.

 

AFP

Messi Tees Up Victory As Barcelona Cling On To Fading Title Hopes

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi bends over during the Spanish league football match between Real Valladolid FC and FC Barcelona at the Jose Zorrilla stadium in Valladolid on July 11, 2020. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)
Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi bends over during the Spanish league football match between Real Valladolid FC and FC Barcelona at the Jose Zorrilla stadium in Valladolid on July 11, 2020. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)

 

 

Lionel Messi made it 20 assists for the season in Barcelona’s stodgy 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday, even as his team’s La Liga challenge appears almost over. 

Messi teed up Arturo Vidal’s winner at Jose Zorilla to become the first player to provide 20 assists in Spain’s top flight since Xavi Hernandez in 2009.

Victory for Barca means Real Madrid cannot clinch the title on Monday by beating Granada but only an incredible collapse will prevent them putting their name on the trophy later in the week.

If they beat Granada, Madrid will win La Liga by prevailing at home to Villarreal on Thursday, regardless of Barcelona’s results.

Overall, Madrid need only five points from their remaining three matches to secure their third La Liga title in eight years.

“We are doing things that deserve more than where we are,” said Barca coach Quique Setien.

“To win La Liga, I don’t know, because our rival is winning everything.”

Yet even as Barca’s turbulent domestic campaign draws to a close, Messi continues to shine.

His delightful pass for Vidal in the 15th minute, a scoop between two Valladolid defenders, triggered more remarkable milestones.

As well as matching the best La Liga total for assists by one player in the last 11 years, Messi extends his own career-best number of assists in a single league season.

– ‘Not rocket science’ -He also becomes only the second player in the 21st century from the five major European leagues to hit 20 goals and 20 assists in the same campaign, after Thierry Henry in 2002-03.

Messi has halted negotiations to extend his current contract, which expires in 2021, perhaps to express frustration with the running of the club.

As Barcelona’s title challenge has wilted, Setien’s position has come under scrutiny too, despite him only taking over in January.

But he was bold against Valladolid, deploying a 3-5-2 formation, with Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba as wing-backs and the versatile Sergi Roberto dropping into the back three.

Luis Suarez started on the bench but replaced Antoine Griezmann at half-time, the Frenchman enduring one of his quieter displays before having to go off injured.

“He came off because he had a problem,” Setien said. “It was him who asked for the change.”

After playing Messi behind Suarez and Griezmann against Villarreal on Sunday, Setien appears to be experimenting, perhaps with an eye on the Champions League’s resumption next month.

Or he may be making the best of a stretched squad that appears to be feeling the effects of fatigue. Setien only named five outfield players on the bench.

“We’ve had a lot of games, a lot of wear and a lot of players playing a lot of minutes. It’s not rocket science,” he said.

“When you’re tired, you lose more balls, make bad decisions. It’s normal.”

The system worked well in the first half but Barca’s problem of converting possession into chances remained and Valladolid grew in confidence late on.

Defeat leaves Valladolid 14th but survival looks all-but secured, with seven points between them and the bottom three.

Griezmann snatched at an early finish inside the box before Vidal showed him how it was done.

Messi recovered the ball on the edge of the area and after receiving it back from Semedo, scooped it through to Vidal, who gathered and unleashed all in one movement to find the far corner.

Valladolid’s Kike Perez raced clear of Gerard Pique but lost his footing at the crucial moment before Messi weaved through but drove wide.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen had to make two saves in the second half as Valladolid pushed, the first from an Enes Unal header and the second in injury-time, after Sandro Ramirez was allowed space at the back post.

Earlier, Celta Vigo surrendered a valuable point in the relegation battle by conceding in the 91st-minute to Osasuna, Jose Arnaiz sealing a 2-1 win.

Defeat means Celta stay four points clear of the bottom three but having played a game more than those below them.

 

 

 

-AFP

Dismal Chelsea Humbled In Blades Battering

Chelsea players leave the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)
Chelsea players leave the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Chelsea suffered a setback in their bid to qualify for the Champions League as Sheffield United rekindled their own European ambitions with an impressive 3-0 win on Saturday.

Frank Lampard’s side were punished for some dismal defending at Bramall Lane as David McGoldrick struck twice, either side of Oli McBurnie’s goal.

The Blues remain third after a second defeat in their last four games.

They will be down to fifth place by Monday evening if Leicester beat Bournemouth and Manchester United defeat Southampton.

It was another alarmingly sloppy display from Chelsea, whose other defeat since the restart was a defensively shambolic 3-2 loss at lowly West Ham.

With games against Norwich, Liverpool and Wolves left in the league, Chelsea will hope second-placed Manchester City’s two-year European ban is upheld on Monday.

In that case, finishing fifth would guarantee Champions League qualification.

The Blades are now unbeaten in their last four games, with Chelsea their latest scalp after impressive wins over Tottenham and Wolves.

Chris Wilder’s team are up to sixth place and are firmly in the hunt to qualify for the Europa League at the end of a remarkable first season back in the top flight.

Lampard made two changes as Jorginho came in for Billy Gilmour, who had knee surgery after Tuesday’s win at Crystal Palace, and Tammy Abraham started in place of Olivier Giroud.

– Naive mistake –
In contrast with what was to follow, Chelsea made a bright start and Ross Barkley tested Dean Henderson before Christian Pulisic headed over from Reece James’ cross.

It was United who took the lead in the 18th minute as their high-tempo pressing force a naive mistake from Mason Mount.

The Chelsea youngster was caught in possession as he tried to dribble out of his own penalty area and George Baldock crossed back into the box.

McBurnie met the delivery with a volley that deflected off Barkley, forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga into a awkward save that only pushed the ball out to McGoldrick and he slotted home from close range for his first Premier League goal.

Conceding such a messy goal knocked Chelsea out of their stride and the Blades doubled the lead in the 33rd minute after more sloppy defending from the visitors.

The fragility of Chelsea’s defence has been their fatal flaw several times this season and they were prised open far too easily when McBurnie got in front of Kurt Zouma to meet Enda Stevens’ cross with a powerful header past Kepa.

James’ long-range effort forced a good save from Henderson, but the visibly frustrated Lampard replaced Mount and Andreas Christensen with Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger at half-time.

Abraham should have given Chelsea a lifeline midway through the second half, but the striker poked over.

McGoldrick put Chelsea out of their misery in the 77th minute.

He started the move on the halfway line and played a perfectly-weighted pass to Lys Mousset.

Mousset cut it back into the penalty area and when Rudiger made a complete hash of clearing, McGoldrick was on hand to blast into the roof of the net.

 

 

AFP