FIFA discuss potential sponsorship of VAR replays at Russia 2018

By ethan / January 22, 2018

FIFA are discussing the possibility of sponsorship for the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, which will be used at a world cup finals for the first time in history at Russia 2018, a FIFA executive said on Monday.

The system allows referees to review game-changing decisions – such as goals, penalty awards, red cards, and mistaken identity when there is a “clear and obvious error” – by using pitch-side monitors to assess video replays.

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FILE PHOTO © Global Look Press

“Definitely VAR will happen. It’s great to have technology in football because this is also a fair(ness) thing,” FIFA chief commercial officer Philippe Le Floc’h told The Associated Press at the launch of the World Cup trophy tour during a stop in London.

“We are talking to various technological companies who are very interested with what we are doing on the technology side of things,” he added.

The VAR system was first implemented at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia last summer, but has come under criticism from some who say it slows the tempo of the game. The accuracy of VAR has also been questioned.

However, pauses in games as referees review decisions with the help of VAR will allow FIFA to offer broadcasting time to sponsors. VAR will feature new angles for review at Russia 2018. 

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia will play out in 12 venues across 11 Russian cities from June 14. Hosts Russia will kick-off the tournament against Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium, and the final will be staged at the same venue on July 15.

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Henry Bolton refuses to stand down as crisis hit UKIP leader calls for Britain to 'drain the swamp'

By ethan / January 22, 2018

Crisis-hit UKIP leader Henry Bolton will not stand down from his position after his love life made national news headlines – because his girlfriend made racist remarks about Prince Harry’s future wife, Meghan Markle.

Bolton spoke on Monday afternoon, after his party was hit with a wave of resignations, insisting he will not stand down.

He took aim at the National Executive Committee (NEC) which held a vote of no confidence. However, the police and borders expert will not back down.

Bolton said UKIP is needed to make sure the divorce between the European Union (EU) and the UK goes ahead – and he believes he should be at the helm.

The full speech

“Yesterday the UKIP National Executive Committee decided to initiate and embark upon a constitutional course to remove me as leader of the Party.

“I advised the NEC during our meeting not to expose the Party to the financial and political cost of pursuing that course of action, including the political cost of possibly yet another leadership contest.

“I urged the NEC instead to focus on the unity and cohesion of the Party and on the need to concentrate on such matters as the local government election campaign and the necessity of mobilising our efforts to ensure the government delivers true independence in all areas of government and administration when we leave the European Union.

“I respect the next steps in the constitutional process and will therefore not be resigning as Party leader. I repeat I shall not be resigning as Party leader.

“Instead, during the next four weeks I shall be calling for the coordination and mobilisation of all Leave campaigns, to ensure that the government delivers full independence from the European Union in all areas of government and administration and I shall be calling for the Party itself to mobilise to support this agenda.

“This is the most pressing matter facing our country and I am determined not to allow the NEC to distract the Party away from participating forcefully in the Independence debate.

“Without reflecting at all on its individual members, the NEC, as presently constituted, is unfit for purpose and has severely handicapped the Party’s progress and political delivery for some years, as all recent UKIP leaders will attest. It has not only lost the confidence of me as the Party leader in its ability to act objectively as the Party’s governing body, it has also lost the confidence of a large proportion of the membership.

“The NEC requires significant and urgent reform. To that end, again during the coming weeks, I shall be proposing a new Party constitution, with a newly constituted and reformed NEC. Likewise, it is now time to put an end to the factional in-fighting within the Party and to remove those who have been a part of that.

“In a single Phrase, it is time to ‘Drain the Swamp’.

“Let me re-iterate, the most pressing issue facing our country is to ensure that we gain full independence from the European Union; that we do not allow the government to betray the country by compromising that goal. That is the object to which I shall be directing all of my energies in the coming weeks.

“Thank you.”

Bolton, who left his wife on Christmas Eve and began dating a 25-year-old model and UKIP party member, has been accused of bringing shame on the party.

Marney’s messages were leaked to the press, showing how she said Meghan Markle will “taint” the Royal family.

There are also reports of new messages which show she made references to child rape.

Deputy Margot Parker stood down from her post, as did Mike Hookem from his role as spokesperson.

Rumors are now circulating that former leader Nigel Farage is in talks to start a rival party.

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Father’s kidney plea at Disney World goes viral, leads to donor

By ethan / January 22, 2018

A desperate father of five, frustrated over a seven year waiting list for a kidney donation, wore an “In Need of Kidney” T-shirt to Disney World over the summer. A Facebook post of the shirt went viral and a donor responded.

“I thought ‘You know, if I can get one person who’s my blood type to just respond and maybe that’s my match… You know it’s worth the $ 35 investment for the shirt,” Robert Leibowitz, 60, of New Jersey told WCBS News

“This amazing couple, Rocio and Juan Sandoval, took a picture of it and said do you mind if I post it? Within the first week, 90,000 Facebook shares. Three days walking around the park… My phone wouldn’t stop ringing.”


The kidney donation came from Richie Sully, 39, a father of two from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“I have an extra kidney, it’s not like I need them both,” Sully told WCBS.

After a series of tests and months filled with anxiety, Leibowitz received word that Sully’s kidney was a match. He and  Sully were reportedly doing well after the surgery last Thursday at new York-Presbyterian Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

There are no words, no matter how much I say how much I appreciate,” Leibowitz told WNBC before the surgery.

Leibowitz suffered from chronic kidney disease and was undergoing dialysis treatment three days a week. He had been in a need of a kidney for three years.

Leibowitz told WNBC he plans to take his donor and the Sandovals to Disney World to celebrate his “dream come true.”

There are more than 101,000 Americans waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant, but only 17,000 receive one each year, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

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How long will you be in Iraq & Afghanistan? Erdogan rebuffs US call to limit Afrin operation

By ethan / January 22, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the US call to limit the time and scope of his nation’s operation in Afrin, Syria, pointing to Washington’s decades-long military presence in other countries.

The US asked Ankara on Sunday to “ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration.” 

“The Afrin operation will end when it reaches its goal like the Euphrates Shield did,” Erdogan said while addressing an awards ceremony in Ankara on Monday. 

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Turkish APCs and IFVs pass through the Bab al-Salamah border crossing between Syria and Turkey in the north of Aleppo province, on January 21, 2018. © Nazeer al-Khatib

“The US says it ‘should not last for too long.’ And I’m asking the US, how long have you been in Afghanistan, when will it end? You came in Iraq before we came to power. Has the time duration ended in Iraq? You are still there,” Erdogan said.

Turkey does not have any plans to take over “the territories of another country” and will eventually leave Syrian soil, he stressed. The operation is not targeting the Kurdish population, but solely terrorists, according to the Turkish leader.

“It is very clear that we do not have any problem with our Kurdish citizens; it is also not a matter of a Kurdish corridor,” he stated. “The main purpose of this operation is to contribute to the safety of life and property of Syrian people as well as the territorial integrity of Syria along with Turkey’s national security.”

Turkey’s Operation ‘Olive Branch’ in the Syrian region of Afrin – controlled by Kurdish militias which Ankara believes to be terrorists – kicked off on Saturday. The military action began with massive airstrikes, and was followed by a land offensive.

Turkish PM Binali Yildirim told journalists on Sunday that the operation aims to create a 30-kilometer “secure zone” within Syrian territory. The Syrian government calls the campaign an aggression, while Moscow has urged Turkey to show restraint and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity.

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Russia 2018 World Cup trophy global tour begins in London

By ethan / January 22, 2018

The global leg of the official FIFA World Cup trophy tour for Russia 2018 has been launched from London on Monday, after a star-studded ceremony.

The tour is the largest of its kind and will see the trophy visit 91 cities, across 51 countries and six continents. That includes visiting for the first time Austria, Mongolia and Iceland, the home of the famous ‘Viking Thunderclap’.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin at the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour kick-off ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow © Michael Klimentyev

Before the global leg of the tour, sponsored by Coca-Cola, the trophy made its way across Russia for three months, visiting 16 cities and traveling more than 16,000km (9,900 miles), making it the longest host country tour in history.

On hand at the ceremony in London were Sir Geoff Hurst, a winner with England in 1966, Andrea Pirlo, who won the World Cup 40 years later with Italy at the Germany 2006 tournament, and Russia 2018 ambassador Victoria Lopyreva.

Midfield great Pirlo, who most notably turned out for AC Milan and Juventus during a distinguished career, described the event as a “great honor” and called winning the World Cup the “pinnacle” of a player’s career.

“It is a great honor that I could be here today to send off the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour plane on its journey around the globe,” Pirlo told the official FIFA website.

“Being able to once again hold the original trophy brings back amazing memories for me, and I cannot wait to find out who will lift this precious sporting icon after the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This trophy represents the absolute pinnacle of a player’s career.”

Writing on Instagram, Lopyreva said: “So honored to be a part of today’s Trophy Tour event with Andrea Pirlo, Sir Geoff Hurst…This most iconic and beautiful trophy will travel to 51 countries around the world before returning to Russia – I can’t wait to see who will lift it this summer!”

By the time the trophy reaches Moscow on June 7, one week before Russia and Saudi Arabia kick off the tournament at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital, the trophy will have traveled from Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East to Kaliningrad, the country’s most westerly city, and visited each of the 11 tournament host cities.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin kicked off the tour from Luzhniki, which coincided with the weekend of Moscow’s 870th anniversary, recognized from September 1-10, alongside FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

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Bellingcat blogger’s complaint that RT was unfair about his work dismissed by watchdog Ofcom

By ethan / January 22, 2018

British broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has rejected a complaint from professional web-surfer and blogger Eliot Higgins, which claimed that an RT report was (to paraphrase) mean about him.

The man behind the Bellingcat online investigative team is not normally shy of tweeting about Ofcom rulings involving RT. At the time of writing though, he’s been silent about this one.

Higgins complained about a sequence shown on RT which questioned elements of his work in relation to the downing of the MH17 airliner in eastern Ukraine in 2014. His work essentially involves watching videos on social media and looking at Google Earth to carry out investigations into incidents in conflict zones. Much of his focus is on Syria and Ukraine.

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For light relief, he likes to watch RT and get upset about it. It’s fair to say he often comes to different conclusions about certain events, despite the fact that RT sends real reporters to the actual places they’re talking about. This wasn’t his first complaint about RT to Ofcom, and it’s not the first one that the watchdog has dismissed.

This time the response was “Ofcom has not upheld Mr Higgins’ complaint of unjust or unfair treatment in the program as broadcast.

A look at Ofcom’s ruling suggests that the only thing more comprehensive than Higgins’ reports into Syria and Ukraine, are his letters of complaint about RT.

He was angered by criticism (fair criticism according to Ofcom) that perhaps sitting at home and pontificating on events happening thousands of miles may not be an exact science. RT in its defense pointed out that he has been happy in the past to have what he does referred to as “armchair analytics.

The blogger also claimed to be upset that he wasn’t given a chance to respond to criticism made against him, and he told Ofcom “[he] would have been happy to appear on RT to discuss this with them.” RT outlined to the watchdog at least five times that he had refused to comment on reports about him, at least one time  publicly on social media.

Higgins was particularly angered about the use of his own previous admission that he had lacked experience in his chosen field. He modestly informed Ofcom, according to the report, that he is actually now a “worldwide recognized expert.”

Here’s the RT report he didn’t like.

So Higgins complained to Ofcom that the material “undermined his work.”

The watchdog said “we considered that the material broadcast about Mr Higgins in the program was a fair account of his work.”

And that “it did not contain allegations of wrongdoing or incompetence or make any other significant allegations about Mr Higgins and did not result in any unfairness to Mr Higgins. Therefore, there was no requirement on the broadcaster to have provided Mr Higgins with an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond in order to avoid unfairness to him.”

Still waiting for his response to that.

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Shutdown ending: Senate voting to unblock temporary funding fix (WATCH LIVE)

By ethan / January 22, 2018

Three days into a government shutdown, the Senate is voting to clear the path for funding US institutions through February 8. Democrats had blocked funding, demanding amnesty for migrants brought into the US as children illegally.

The main point of contention is the fate of some 700,000 immigrants brought into the US illegally as children, whom the Obama administration protected from deportation under the executive action known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Trump administration announced in September that it would phase DACA out by March 2018, but the decision is currently tied up in the courts.

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© Reuters

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said his party would vote to fund the government in exchange for a bipartisan law resolving the status of DACA recipients by February 8.

“The issue of the Dreamers demands resolution,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, referring to DACA recipients.

Minority whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) called immigration “the civil rights issue of our time.”

President Donald Trump has blamed the Democrats for shutting down the government for the sake of illegal immigrants over the interests of American citizens. Democrats have argued that Republicans have the majorities in both the House and the Senate, skirting the fact that a 60-vote majority was required in the Senate to pass the continuing resolution, leaving them in position to filibuster as Republicans only have 51 seats.

The final vote was 81 Senators in favor of ending debate on the continuing resolution, and 18 opposed. The resolution now heads to the House of Representatives and then back to the Senate for final approval, before the government can formally reopen.

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‘Thrill seeker’ nurse charged with 97 hospital murders in Germany

By ethan / January 22, 2018

A German nurse serving a life sentence for two murders has been charged with another 97 hospital murders, prosecutors said Monday. If found guilty, it would make him Germany’s deadliest post-war serial killer.

The male nurse, identified only as Niels H. under reporting rules, is accused of intentionally bringing about cardiac crises to relieve boredom. The charges relate to two hospitals where he worked in Lower Saxony, Germany, over a seven year period.

Niels H. was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder and battery.  

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© Günter Lenz / Global Look Press

During the trial it was heard he confessed to the killings of 90 more people during his employment in Oldenburg and Delmenhorst hospitals, prompting investigators to carry out toxicological examinations on dozens of other patients who died at the hospitals.

Oldenburg public prosecutors office confirmed Monday that, following extensive investigations and toxicology analyses, Niels H. is being charged with an additional 97 murders.

62 of these murders allegedly happened while he worked as a nurse in Delmenhorst between 2003 and 2005 while the remainder occurred during his employment in Oldenburg between 1999 and 2002.

In three additional cases investigators deemed suspicious, tests didn’t produce enough evidence to add them to the charge sheet.

READ MORE: German nurse suspected of killing at least 90 in bizarre game to test his skills

During his trial, the court heard the nurse was a, “thrill seeker,” trying to break up a boring routine by bringing people to the brink of cardiac arrest before attempting to resuscitate them.

A variety of drugs were used in his resuscitation attempts. He did this to present his resuscitation skills to colleagues and supervisors and to fight his boredom, the prosecutor’s statement said. The prosecutor added that the nurse should have been aware that the drugs he used could cause life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, even ventricular fibrillation and hypotension.

Police said that earlier intervention from health officials could have stopped the male nurse. Investigations into the involvement of former staff at the facilities are ongoing. A date for a new trial has yet to be confirmed.

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Can they kick it? Football in Nizhny Novgorod wearing Valenki boots

By ethan / January 22, 2018

Ever wanted to play football in the snow but worry that your feet would be too cold? Well, football fanatics in Nizhny Novgorod have braved the Russian winter to have a kickaround with authentic, warm Russian Valenki boots.

Valenki – meaning felt boots – are traditional Russian footwear made especially to withstand the biting cold during winter. Originating from the beginning of the 18th century, Valenki were the boots of choice for many Russians until the latter half of the 19th century, and are included in standard Russian military issue warm clothes and gear.

The boots, however, weren’t designed for football, which made for an amusing outcome when Russian journalists faced off against a ‘World Team’ of international students in Bor, Nizhny Novgorod, at a training center built for the FIFA Russia 2018 World Cup on Sunday.

Members of the journalists’ team described the energy-sapping difficulty of playing in Valenki, which affected both winter-hardened Russians and their international counterparts.

“Really cool. A beautiful experience. It’s of course difficult to play in the snow wearing Valenki, we’re not really used to it. Everyone is getting tired really quickly, including our foreign guests,” one member of the journalists’ team told RT.

“I played only five minutes in the second half. It was that difficult that I’m still unable to continue playing now. The thing is, the Valenki boots are very warm, but not very suitable. And above all, the mounds of snow constantly try their best to take them off me!” said another.

The journalists’ team were joined by well-known football commentator and presenter Pavel Zanozin of Perviy Kanal, who is also a Russia 2018 ambassador for Nizhny Novgorod.

“I adore playing football in winter. It was very cool. You could feel the atmosphere of battle. Not for a second did a feeling arise that it was some kind of joke-friendly match. Everything was proper and we found it hard to score. Maybe their goalkeeper just let up for a second,” Zanozin said after the game.

“The [international team] played really well: they weren’t at all afraid of the snow, or the Valenki, or us, they seem really used to Russian conditions.”
Nizhny Novgorod is home to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, which will host six games at Russia 2018, which will be held from June 14 to July 15 this summer.

They include Lionel Messi’s Argentina vs Croatia, and England’s match with Panama, as well as a quarter-final game.

READ MORE: ‘Hearing the whistle, knowing we’re champions is the best’ – Sergio Ramos talks World Cup glory

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World’s richest 1% bagged 82% of global wealth in 2017, while poorest half got nothing – Oxfam

By ethan / January 22, 2018

The inequality crisis is worsening, according to a new study by global charity Oxfam, which found that the world’s richest 42 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent worldwide.

The annual report showed that 2017 saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history, with new ones created at a rate of one every two days. Their wealth has increased by 13 percent a year on average in the decade from 2006 to 2015. 

The fortunes of the super-rich increased by $ 762 billion in just 12 months to March 2017 which is enough to end extreme poverty seven times over. Nine out of 10 of the world’s 2,043 billionaires were men.

“Eighty two percent of the new wealth created has gone to [the] top 1 percent, while 0 percent has gone to the world’s poorest 50 percent,” said the report.

According to Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam, the statistics signal that “something is very wrong with the global economy.”

“The concentration of extreme wealth at the top is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a system that is failing the millions of hard-working people on poverty wages who make our clothes and grow our food,” he said.

Oxfam‘s executive director Winnie Byanyima blamed “tax dodging” as a major cause of global inequality and urged leaders to crack down on tax havens and inject money into education, healthcare and jobs for young people.

“[It] reveals how our economies are rewarding wealth rather than the hard work of millions of people,” Byanyima told Reuters, adding “The few at the top get richer and richer and the millions at the bottom are trapped in poverty wages.”

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