Former reality television star Josh Duggar appeared in court after being arrested by Homeland Security where he pleaded not guilty to charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.


After pleading not guilty to the charges at a hearing at the US District Court for the Western District of Arkansas via Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Duggar’s attorneys released a statement promising to “defend this case aggressively.” 


“In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime. But when you're accused, you can fight back in the courtroom – and that is exactly what Josh intends to do,” Justin Gelfand, Travis W. Story and Greg Payne said in a joint statement. 


Duggar, 33, was arrested by Homeland Security on Thursday and held without bail in Arkansas. If convicted, Duggar could face 20 years behind bars, as well as fines of up to $250,000 for each of his two charges.





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The ‘19 Kids and Counting’ star will continue to be held in an Arkansas detention center awaiting a bond hearing. If he is given bail, US Chief Magistrate Judge Erin L. Wiedemann made it clear he would need to be in a residence without any minors present. His actual trial will begin in July. 


This is not Duggar’s first controversy involving allegations of sexual misconduct against minors. In 2015, he apologized for “wrongdoing” after a 2006 police report came to light and revealed he had been investigated as a teen for inappropriately touching multiple underage girls. It later came to light that four of the victims had been his sisters. 


Later that same year, Duggar made another public apology after it was revealed he was using the site Ashley Madison, which helps facilitate extramarital affairs. Duggar admitted to cheating on his wife after developing an addiction to pornography. He said he had “re-broken” the trust of his family and fans.


“I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him,” he said at the time. “I brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust.”


To make the year even worse, Duggar was later accused by model and porn star Danica Dillon of assault after he allegedly propositioned her for sex inside a Philadelphia strip club. Dillon claimed she was paid $1,500 for sex with Duggar, but he went on to “assault” her and cause physical injuries. She claimed she felt like “she was being raped.” Duggar denied the allegation, and Dillon went on to drop her lawsuit, but she has maintained that the reality star physically abused her.





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Joe Rogan is seen while recording an episode of his podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, April 29, 2021.
‘I’m not an anti-vax person’: Joe Rogan clarifies ‘young & healthy don’t need jab’ claims after uproar reaches White House & Fauci






‘19 Kids and Counting’ was canceled in 2015 following the controversies. The show centered on the Duggar family, which includes 19 children, Josh Duggar being the oldest. A spin-off, ‘Counting On’, followed the cancellation. 


Duggar’s arrest this week came on the heels of news that his wife, Anna, is pregnant with their seventh child. 


Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, released a statement on Friday reacting to the news of their son’s arrest and said it is their “prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner.”


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‘Where were you, Dana?’ UFC’s Cutelaba grabs rival Jacoby by neck as fans claim faceoffs are spiraling out of hand (VIDEO)

The UFC light heavyweight showdown between Ion Cutelaba and Dustin Jacoby will come with some added aggravation after the pair clashed at the faceoff in front of promotion chief Dana White.


Moldovan ‘Hulk’ Cutelaba stomped onto stage after weighing in on Friday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, shaking hands with White before staring down Jacoby – who was standing with fists clenched.


Unprovoked, Cutelaba grabbed his rival by the neck, pulling him towards him and exclaiming “you’re my bonus” before the pair were forcefully separated by security staff.






The scene played out in front of a startled White, who just last week criticized UFC match-maker Sean Shelby for failing to step in and stop the faceoff confrontation which forced Drakkar Klose out of his fight with Jeremy Stephens, after the American shoved his opponent, causing concussion and a cervical sprain.


“Come on,” White was heard saying after Cutelaba’s antics on Friday. “I was just ragging on Sean before I walked in here.”


A furious Jacoby screamed at Cutelaba “there’s no f*cking way he beats me tomorrow” as the pair were led away from each other. 






Fans, fellow fighters and pundits criticized the scenes as getting out of hand.


“There's selling a fight, and then there's a line you just don't cross...,” wrote women’s featherweight Megan Anderson.


“This is insanity. Especially after what happened to Klose. Commissions need to stop this nonsense. Look at how he grabs his neck,” complained ESPN pundit Ariel Helwani.


Others pointed the finger at White for not being quick enough to step in – particularly after he had chided Shelby for the same failure last week.















Cutelaba, 27, heads into Saturday’s contest at the UFC Apex on a run of successive defeats, having lost back-to-back contests with Russia’s Magomed Ankalaev last year.


He stands at 4-5 overall in the UFC after making his debut with the promotion in 2016.


Cutelaba is well known for his faceoff antics, previously painting himself green in a nod to his ‘Hulk’ moniker and also going viral for screaming into the face of Khalil Rountree before their fight in September of 2019 – which ended up being the last time Cutelaba tasted victory inside the octagon.












Jacoby, 33, is on a four-fight winning streak and boasts a 14-5 record overall, including two stints in the UFC.


He will arguably have added motivation to make Cutelaba pay the price in the octagon on Saturday night following the Moldovan's weigh-in theatrics. 





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© Gary A Vasquez / USA Today Sports via Reuters
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The Biden administration will impose new travel restrictions on India, amid a wave of coronavirus cases and deaths. Nearly half the world’s population is now banned from entering the US.


"On the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration will restrict travel from India starting immediately," Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday. "The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the [sic] India.”


The policy will take effect on Tuesday, and will not affect US citizens or lawful residents traveling from India.





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FILE PHOTO: Passengers arrive from New Zealand after the Trans-Tasman travel bubble opened overnight, following an extended border closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, October 16, 2020.
Australia mulling heavy fines, five years in jail for travelers circumventing flight ban from Covid-19 hotspots – reports






Biden’s new travel ban excludes more than 1.3 billion people from coming to the US. With bans already in place regarding travelers from China, the European Schengen countries, Britain, Ireland, Iran, Brazil and South Africa, nearly half of the world’s 7.6 billion people are now forbidden from entering the US.


India has experienced a surge in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks, and a sharp spike in deaths. After weeks of recording hundreds of thousands of cases per day, a record 386,452 new Covid-19 infections were reported on Friday, bringing the total number of cases seen in the country above 19 million. 211,000 people have died of coronavirus-related causes in India since the pandemic began.





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A patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) receives treatment inside the emergency ward at Holy Family hospital in New Delhi, India, April 29, 2021.
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Hospitals in India are overcrowded and vaccines, medicine and oxygen are in short supply. A shipment of US medical aid landed in New Delhi earlier on Friday, following similar shipments from Russia and the EU.


President Joe Biden has been pressed for several weeks to ship vaccines to India, and promised on Monday to send “vaccine materials” to the virus-stricken subcontinent. Later that day, the White House announced plans to send around 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine abroad, though it is unclear how many of these would be reserved for India, or when India could expect to receive them.


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US Senate Intelligence Committee ‘intends to get to the bottom’ of mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ attacks

The US Senate Intelligence Committee has vowed to root out those responsible for so-called ‘Havana syndrome’ attacks, which have mysteriously struck down US government personnel and which it claims appear to be on the rise.


The committee’s chairman, Democrat Mark Warner, and its Republican vice-chairman Marco Rubio said on Friday they have been aware of such attacks against officials in Havana, Cuba, and other places over the last five years.


“This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing. The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to get to the bottom of this,” the senators said in a joint statement.


The pair said they welcomed CIA director William Burns’ “renewed focus” on the incidents and would work with the intelligence authorities to investigate the matter further.





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White House reviewing allegation of ‘energy attack’ in Washington, DC reportedly similar to past ‘Havana Syndrome’ cases






Many of the attacks resulted in “medically confirmed cases of traumatic brain injury,” the statement claimed.


On Thursday, a CNN report citing anonymous sources said the Pentagon and other agencies are investigating one potential incident close to the White House in November 2020 and another in Virginia in 2019.


The injuries sustained in the alleged attacks have been dubbed ‘Havana syndrome’, after government officials and their families at the US embassy in Havana, Cuba, were hit by a range of unexplained symptoms in 2016.


Similar symptoms later arose in staff at the US consulate in Guangzhou, China.





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FILE PHOTO: Turkish and American soldiers stand near a former YPG military point during a joint U.S.-Turkey patrol, near Tel Abyad, Syria September 8, 2019.
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Those affected reportedly experienced loud noise, ear pain, intense head pressure or vibrations, dizziness, visual problems, and cognitive difficulties, according to the National Academy of Sciences.


A committee set up to advise the Department of State on the matter said in December of last year that “directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy” may be the cause of the attacks, though no concrete source has been found.


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South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem is suing the Biden administration after a request was denied to allow fireworks at Mount Rushmore on Independence Day, apparently over safety concerns.


Noem spokesperson Ian Fury confirmed the lawsuit was filed on Friday after Fox News initially reported it.


“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday and all that makes our country special,” the suit reads. “We are asking the court to enjoin the Department of Interior’s (DOI) denial of the fireworks permit and order it to issue a permit for the event expeditiously.”


The National Park Services (NPS) denied a request for the celebration last month citing health concerns related to Covid-19, as well as protests from Native American tribes.





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“Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event,” NPS regional director Herbert Frost said when initially denying the request. “In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial.”


Noem dismissed concerns and said officials had not provided a “meaningful explanation” for why the celebration cannot be held. A firework celebration was held last year for the first time since 2009, having previously been nixed due to wildfire concerns. Former President Donald Trump attended the event then, and Noem is accusing the current administration of “reneging” on the “multi-year” agreement to bring the fireworks back.


Noem first announced her intention to file her lawsuit while making a speech this week at the Watertown Rotary Club. She accused the current administration of canceling the event for “political” reasons and said a lawsuit is the only “remedy” she has. 


“After telling us they'd ‘circle back,’ the Biden administration has not responded to our request to uphold the Memorandum of Agreement between the State of South Dakota and the National Parks Service to host a safe and responsible national celebration and fireworks show,” Noem tweeted about the lawsuit on Friday.






Many criticized the event when Trump attended, noting that some in attendance flouted mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines, but Noem claims contact tracing since then has not been able to find a single Covid-19 case brought on by the gathering. 


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The leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a disbanded rebel group, have admitted responsibility for tens of thousands of kidnappings during the long-running conflict with the government and security forces.


Carlos Antonio Lozada, a former member of the guerrilla group, said on Friday that FARC “clearly assumes responsibility for kidnappings which took place.”


He told a news conference that the group “explicitly recognizes the suffering inflicted unjustifiably on victims … their families, friends and of course all of Colombian society.”


FARC disarmed and rebranded as the ‘Comunes’ political party after striking a ceasefire agreement with the government in 2016. Under the deal, ex-rebels have to hand over information about crimes committed during the conflict to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace tribunal, which can secure them lesser sentences.





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© Reuters TV / Handout
Colombia creates FARC taskforce after ex-commanders call on rebels to pick up arms & resume fighting






According to tribunal counts, 21,396 people were kidnapped or taken hostage by FARC between 1990 and 2015.


The Marxist-Leninist group was set up in 1964 to demand more equitable land ownership during the government’s long-running conflict with armed insurgents.


At its peak, the largely rural organization counted as many as 20,000 people among its ranks, but its numbers had dwindled to a few thousand by the time of its peace deal with the government.


FARC’s tactics included blowing up oil pipelines and other infrastructure, as well as kidnappings, and members of the group also used sexual violence, including against women and minors forced to join the insurgency.


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Reports from Italy have claimed that football legend Cristiano Ronaldo is adamant on an exit from Serie A giants Juventus following their Champions League exit to Porto, with the two parties 'broken up but still living together'.


Local newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport broke the news on Friday, and wrote that the five-time Champions League and Ballon d'Or winner has asked his superagent Jorge Mendes to find him another club for the 2021/2022 season.


Ex-club Real Madrid can be ruled out, as the La Liga giants are mired in debt and rebuilding their Bernabeu stadium, while European Super League head Florentino Perez has additionally poured cold water on any approach.


"The rumors of Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Madrid are just rumors from his entourage. There is nothing," the president explained during his highly-controversial appearance on the El Larguero program. 





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Florentino Perez is still clinging on to the idea of a Super League. © Reuters
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"In general, there will not be big transfers this summer," Perez went on.


"When money does not flow from the rich clubs to the poor clubs, everyone suffers."


"It's impossible to make signings like [Kylian] Mbappe and [Erling] Haaland, in general, not just for Real Madrid, without the Super League," he insisted.


Yet despite pulling out of the failed breakaway project, former club Manchester United are tipped as a possible next destination if Ronaldo can lower his current salary expectations of $37 million. 






Taxes would also be an issue, as the 36-year-old Portuguese star will need to pay more than in Italy.


But with Juve at risk of failing to qualify for the UCL and exiting it prematurely in this campaign to Porto, La Gazzetta claims that Ronaldo's attitude has changed behind the scenes at the Allianz Stadium. 


"It’s almost like Juventus and Ronaldo have broken up but are still living together," was the key takeaway from the Italian outlet's piece.


With few friends there other than the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians and Carlo Pinsoglio, perhaps he won't be missed by teammates who don't enjoy as much "freedom" during Andrea Pirlo's training sessions either.





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Cristiano Ronaldo © Alberto Lingria / Reuters
Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s rape accuser cites ‘pain and suffering’ as she demands $78MN for ‘assault’ in hotel room






Away from the football pitch, Ronaldo's life is even more complicated. 


Yesterday, it emerged that former model Kathryn Mayorga, who is accusing Cristiano Ronaldo of sexually assaulting her in a Las Vegas hotel room after meeting on a night out in 2009, is now seeking a total of $78 million in damages, according to court documents.


Splitting her claim between “past pain and suffering"“future pain and suffering” and punitive damages, she also wishes to claim for smaller amounts covering expenses and legal fees.






Mayorga's legal team has reportedly filed a list of more than 60 witnesses they are targeting to testify, including three police offers involved in the original complaint, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli and ­his already-mentioned agent Jorge Mendes.


But Ronaldo has always denied the accusations stating: "Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in."





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FILE PHOTO: Christiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Portugal against Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League Semi Final © Reuters / Susana Vera
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Beefed-up Jon Jones pounds treadmill at 20mph as UFC star warns Ngannou he’ll ‘run through heavyweights like dominos’ (VIDEO)

Money might still be a sticking point but Jon Jones is apparently not giving up on his ambitions to face UFC heavyweight king Francis Ngannou, pledging to take down the giant Cameroonian and bring the belt back to America.


Jones and UFC boss Dana White have been engaged in a high-stakes blinking contest over the terms of a superfight between the light heavyweight legend and human wrecking ball Ngannou, ever since the latter was crowned heavyweight champion with a typically destructive KO victory over Stipe Miocic last month.






Jones has demanded that the UFC “show him the money” in a concerted campaign in which the 33-year-old has accused his paymasters of short-changing him down the years.


Dana White, meanwhile, has claimed that Jones requested a minimum of $30 million to meet Ngannou in the octagon – something the fighter himself has laughed off as lies. 





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Jon Jones has questioned UFC boss Dana White's version of events. © USA Today Sports / Zuffa LLC
UFC legend Jones fires back at Dana White over claims of ‘$30 million purse demands’ for Ngannou superfight






With the talks seemingly at an impasse, Jones is nonetheless continuing his efforts to bulk up and make the step to heavyweight.


Showcasing a burst of speed to accompany his burlier new frame, Jones shared footage on his social media accounts of himself hitting a treadmill at 20mph (32 kph).


“250lbs sprinting 20mph,” Jones wrote in the text accompanying the clip.









Jones has not been shy to showcase his bulked-up physique as he chases a big-money showdown with the heavy-hitting Ngannou.


For his part, the Cameroonian powerhouse has stoked talk of a fight in recent days by claiming he would “take care of” Jones before shifting his attentions to the boxing world and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.


That came as Ngannou, 34, proudly displayed the fruits of his labor with a tour of his homeland, where he was mobbed by adoring fans.





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Francis Ngannou has returned to Cameroon as a UFC champion © Twitter / KushalS_363 | © Jeff Bottari / USA Today Sports via Reuters
Francis Ngannou mobbed on return to Cameroon as UFC heavyweight king hands belt to his mom amid wild scenes on streets (VIDEO)






Jones, though, was having none of it.


“Ran through the light heavyweight division on talent, about to run through the heavyweight division like dominoes off pure hard work,” the former longtime light heavyweight ruler wrote.


“The greatest title in the world is coming back to the greatest country in the world...


“If you think you are going to run through America, you are wrong.”












Jones is yet to be handed a legitimate loss in 28 professional MMA contests, and still sits atop the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings despite his ugly pay wrangle with White and not having fought since he defeated Dominick Reyes by unanimous decision more than 12 months ago.


White has said that he is targeting heavyweight veteran Derrick Lewis as the next opponent for Ngannou, rather than Jones.


Ngannou and Lewis have fought once already, putting on a dire display for fans at UFC 226 in July 2018 – a fight which Lewis won via decision.


‘The Black Beast’ lost his one previous title shot against Daniel Cormier later that year, but has put himself back into contention with a series of four wins on the spin.


For fans though, the match-up to make is clearly Ngannou versus Jones – and the fighters themselves seem just as committed to making it happen.





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UFC 205 lbs ruler Jan Blachowicz says former champion Jon Jones moved to heavyweight because he knows he would lose in a fight against himself - RT Sport (main); Getty (inset)
‘Jon Jones moved up to heavyweight because he knows he’d lose to me!’ UFC champ Jan Blachowicz to RT Sport (VIDEO)







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A massive car bomb struck the main city of eastern Afghanistan's Logar province on Friday, killing at least 25 people and injuring scores more, local officials told the media.


The blast struck near what used to be the residence of the former provincial council leader in Pul-e Alam, but which has been repurposed for public use.


Provincial officials said that the driver of the bomb-laden truck had posed as a worker of an NGO looking to help locals, in order to gain access to the compound.


The explosion was so powerful that it caused the collapse of the building, killing at least 25 people, Hasib Stanekzai, head of Logar's provincial council, said. Around 60 people were injured, he added.





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FILE PHOTO. Afghan police officers.
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The Interior Ministry said that 30 people were killed or wounded in the attack, warning that the death toll could rise further.


No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but violence has been on the rise in Afghanistan in recent weeks, particularly in the wake of US President Joe Biden's announcement that American troops – deployed in the country for two decades – will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11.





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US begins much-touted ‘withdrawal’ from Afghanistan... by sending MORE troops & gear for ‘temporary force protection’






The new date pushes back the May 1 deadline which the administration of Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, had agreed with the Taliban during peace talks in February 2020.


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Australia’s Federal Police are requesting new powers that would make possession of “propaganda” and “terrorist” manifestos illegal to possess and share, as intelligence agencies predict a terrorist attack within 12 months.


Mike Burgess, the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), told a parliamentary intelligence committee that a terrorist attack in Australia is “probable” and that it’s anticipated to happen “in the next 12 months.” He said it could be either Islamist or nationalist in nature, local media reported.


Burgess also warned the committee that Australia’s youth is “being ensnared in these racist, supremacist and misogynist ideologies,” though concluded that “Sunni-based” extremism is still the intelligence agency’s “major” concern.





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FILE PHOTO. Royal Australian Navy missile frigate HMAS Parramatta  (L) ,U.S. Navy Amphibious assault ship USS America, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill ,Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Barry in the South China Sea. © Reuters / Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas
Australia security official warns nations are ‘beating drums’ of war amid Asia-Pacific tensions






In light of Burgess’ warning, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are now reportedly pushing for a change in law that would allow them to criminally punish Australians in possession of material deemed to be “propaganda” for terrorist organizations and ideologies.


AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney told the parliamentary committee that “certain aspects of current criminal laws are out of step with the community’s expectations,” and that more should be done to crack down on the radicalization of Australians by prohibiting possession and distribution of ‘terrorist’ materials.


“Outside of legitimate research, public interest reporting and other professional reasons, there are no circumstances where individuals should be accessing or sharing instructional terrorist manuals, propaganda magazines, and graphically violent images, videos and other content produced by terrorists,” McCartney argued.





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© Getty Images / cybrain
A former Australian general has forecast a war between China and America will happen ‘within 3-5 years’. Is that really likely?






He said police are currently “limited” in the actions they can take against “radicalized individuals” unless they’re actively planning an attack and also called for the “criminalization of the public display of flags and other extremist insignia.”


Just last year, however, the Law Council of Australia called on Parliament to cut back on some of the country’s anti-terrorism laws – including bans on travel to certain countries – warning they were too “broadly framed” and authoritarian.


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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly had the same mobile number for 15 years, easily discoverable through Google. Though Johnson’s office hasn’t addressed the news, the number is being scrubbed from the internet.


Johnson, according to media reports this week, had a habit of handing out his mobile number to whoever he met, and has reportedly used the same number since at least 2006, two years before he became mayor of London and 13 before he became prime minister. The number itself is easily discoverable via Google, a fact that celebrity gossip site Popbitch advertised in a recent blog post.






Downing Street has kept quiet about the number, and hasn't responded to media enquiries about whether the PM would change his digits. Multiple outlets attempted to call the number and were met with a dead tone, but the phone was active on Friday afternoon, and rang out three times. Whether it still belongs to Johnson or not is unknown.


Somebody is keen to remove the number from the internet, however. Johnson’s contact details were found attached to the bottom of a 2006 press release by Politeia, a centre-right UK think tank. The press release was edited sometime before Friday afternoon to remove Johnson’s details, but the old version has been archived online.


Politeia itself appears to be behind the edits, since both versions of the press release were hosted on its own website.


Still, screenshots of the old version are circulating online, meaning that anyone attempting to scrub the number faces an impossible fight. It is far more likely that the PM has switched numbers by now, as his associates have long advised him to. Even before news of the number went international, Johnson was reportedly plagued with calls from citizens seeking his help, to the point where it interfered with his work. “The problem with Boris is that he replies to everyone,” a government source told the Telegraph earlier this month, noting that Johnson often had difficulty getting callers “off his back,” much to the annoyance of his aides.





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A view of a 'John Lewis at home' store that is closed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Chester, Britain, March 24, 2021. © REUTERS / Jason Cairnduff; (inset) Boris Johnson © PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP
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Few world leaders leave their contact details out in the open as Johnson apparently did, and the PM’s opponents have hammered him for doing so. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was “a serious situation [that] carries a security risk,” while Labour MP Kevan Jones, a former defense minister, told Politico that “it needs to be investigated as a matter of urgency why this has not been addressed before now. It leaves the prime minister very vulnerable.”


Chancellor Rishi Sunak dismissed these arguments, telling reporters on Friday that “all security protocols have been followed.” Sunak added that “part of what makes the prime minister special is that he is an incredibly approachable individual.”


With his number being wiped from the internet, Johnson may finally be rethinking that approachability.


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The Australian government is reportedly considering fining and jailing its citizens if they return home from Covid-ravaged countries under biosecurity rules that would give authorities sweeping new powers.


If imposed, it would mark the first time it has been made a criminal offence for an Australian to enter their own country.


The development comes after two Australian cricketers who had been in India arrived in the country on Thursday after transiting through Doha, Qatar, bypassing a government ban instituted earlier this week on all direct flights from India until mid-May.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government was said to be looking into criminalizing such repatriation dashes by people who had been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the past two weeks. The punishment could involve up to AU$66,000 (US$50,908) in fines or five years in prison, according to 9News Australia.





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Children work on their classroom on their first day of New South Wales public schools fully re-opening for all students and staff amidst the easing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions at Homebush West Public School in Sydney, Australia, May 25, 2020.
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Reports said Health Minister Greg Hunt would invoke the Biosecurity Act (2015) – previously used to close the borders in March 2020 – as soon as Saturday. Emergency powers under the act allow Hunt to determine any requirement deemed necessary to prevent entry or spread of disease.


“India is the first country to meet the threshold of a high-risk country,” Morrison said in a statement after his ministerial cabinet met on Friday.


The statement appeared to warn of “further measures to mitigate risks of high-risk travellers entering Australia” but did not explicitly refer to taking criminal action against returnees.


By the Foreign Affairs department’s count, as many as 36,000 Australians are stuck overseas – at least 9,000 of whom are in India with over 600 classified as vulnerable – and cannot go home due to strict quarantine limits on the number of people entering the country each week.





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FILE PHOTO: The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia  © Reuters / Loren Elliott
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Nearly 20,000 people have returned to Australia from India since March 2020.


Earlier on Friday, Morrison admitted there was a “loophole” in the travel restrictions, through which the India flight ban could be circumvented – as the cricketers did – by transiting through a third country. That gap was supposedly closed on Wednesday evening.


“That flight that those cricketers were on managed to get away just before that,” Morrison told Sydney radio station 2GB. “We had information on Monday that that wasn’t possible.”


Under biosecurity control rules, authorities can require an individual to provide contact information, regularly update an officer of their health status and remain at their place of residence for a specified period of time or be isolated at a medical facility.


People can also be compelled to undergo decontamination, provide body samples for diagnosis, undertake treatment or receive a vaccination and remain in Australia for up to four weeks. Failure to comply with a control order draws the same penalties as above.





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The opposition’s home affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, said Morrison owed an explanation to the 9,000 citizens “left stranded in India.”


“If he had kept his promise and got all the stranded Australians home by Christmas, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” Keneally told local media.


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‘Don’t drop your guard,’ UK experts warn, as study highlights pre-immunity window after receiving Covid-19 vaccine

A small number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients in the UK died from the virus weeks after vaccination, researchers have said, warning the public not to throw caution to the wind after getting the jab in case they become infected.


Scientists behind the research said on Friday that there was evidence of rare instances of inoculated people still developing severe Covid-19 symptoms.


Most of the small number of people in this situation were likely infected soon after they received the first dose of the vaccine, before the body had time to fully develop immunizing antibodies against the virus, the researchers said.


The study, published in a preprint journal on Friday without being peer-reviewed, used data from 52,000 hospitalised Covid-19 patients.


The cohort included 526 patients who had received a first dose of a vaccine made by AstraZeneca or Pfizer in the previous three weeks. Out of this group 113 people died, most of whom were elderly or clinically vulnerable.





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The study’s co-author, Professor Calum Semple of the University of Liverpool, presented the findings on Friday, saying: “We’re not saying the vaccine doesn’t work. In fact, this is good real-world evidence of it working. But it also shows that the vaccine isn’t perfect.


He said the cases of people being infected so soon after getting their jabs indicate that “people are letting their guard down because they’ve been vaccinated.”


On Friday, another UK study also suggested that vaccination alone does not determine a person’s resistance to Covid-19, and that although jabs do offer protection, they may not give full coverage against infection.


The research, published in the journal Science, found that people previously infected with Covid-19 who were injected with a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine showed a stronger immune response against virus variants.





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Those who previously had mild or asymptomatic infection had “significantly enhanced protection” against the UK and South Africa variants, according to researchers from Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London, and University College London.


In people without prior infection, the immune response was “less strong” after a first dose, potentially leaving them more susceptible to variants.


One of the study’s co-authors, Professor Rosemary Boyton of Imperial College, said the data showed that “natural infection alone” may not provide sufficient immunity against variants.


“People who have had their first dose of vaccine, and who have not previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2, are not fully protected against the circulating variants of concern,” she said in a statement. 


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NFL Draft star Zach Wilson’s mom causes Twitter frenzy upon son’s move to New York Jets

Being the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft should have been enough for Zach Wilson to make headlines. After fans caught a glimpse of his mother Lisa, however, she stole them and caused a Twitter frenzy among fans.


Rising to prominence as a star quarterback at Brigham Young University, Wilson will now be the newest shotcaller for the struggling New York Jets.


"I’m going to give it everything I have. There’s not another team I’d want to play for besides the Jets," the 21-year-old told the NFL Network after the move was confirmed.


"I’m going to give it everything I have and we’re gonna be a special team, baby. We’re going for the Super Bowl," he vowed.






But while being selected by one of professional football's biggest franchises is usually reason enough to go viral on the social media platform, Wilson caused a Twitter frenzy for reasons other than signing for the Jets, or his bold statements. 


Put simply, fans online couldn't control themselves after catching a glimpse of the player's mother Lisa, who enjoyed an emotional moment with her boy once it became clear he was heading for the Big Apple. 






"Zach Wilson's mom will be trending on Twitter in no less than two minutes" one Nostradamus claimed, and should have put money on his prediction as it turned out to be bang on. 












"Welcome to New York, Zach Wilson’s mom," came a classier-than-most appraisal, as another accused the cameraman of using a huge lens to zoom in on Lisa and she was simultaneously declared "the real MVP of this draft so far"


Elsewhere, it was admitted that a punter couldn't tell if she was his girlfriend or mother, such is her youthful beauty.


"Zach Wilson’s mom had SIX kids. Bless her. She looks amazing," said a female admirer echoing this sentiment. 









With a rising 10k followers set to increase as enthusiasts track her down on Instagram, Lisa describes herself as a "fitness fanatic, intuitive cook, home builder, organizer of all sh*t, [and] appropriately inappropriate".


Her feed doesn't exactly live up to the last part of that statement, but is still a touching collection of family photos plus healthy eating and exercise tips. 









Clearly proud of her six "badass" children, Lisa's love is reciprocated by a proud budding superstar who previously described her as "my biggest supporter and one of the only people who believed in me when nobody else did" on Mother's Day.


"Love you to the moon and back," Wilson signed off.





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By firing ‘bullets & shells’ at breakaway eastern regions, Ukraine is undermining own calls for unity, Russian UN envoy claims

One of Russia’s top diplomats has argued that Kiev is undermining any hopes it may have of reconciliation with the self-declared breakaway Donbass republics by continuing to engage in bloody fighting and hostilities in the region.


Dmitry Polyankskiy, Moscow’s deputy permanent representative at the United Nations, told journalists on Thursday that Ukraine is taking an increasingly confrontational attitude toward those it claims as its citizens.


The envoy pointed to moves by Kiev to cut off water supplies to Crimea, which it claims as part of its sovereign territory, despite it being reabsorbed into Russia after a 2014 referendum. Ukraine and a number of foreign governments regard the vote as illegitimate. The decision has led to shortages and residents finding their taps running dry, but the UN official said that it would soon no longer be dependent on Ukraine for water, with new facilities under construction.


“On the one hand,” Polyanskiy argued, the Ukrainian government “is appealing to residents of Crimea and to residents of Eastern Ukraine, saying that they are part of this country and Kiev wants them to come back.”





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In the east of the country, where Kiev’s forces have clashed with those loyal to the self-described Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, the contradiction is apparently even worse. When it comes to a potential reunification, the question of Crimea’s status, he argued, is already closed. However, “the question of Donbass is not closed,” the diplomat said.


“But the door is almost shut because people there receive on a daily basis bullets and shells from Ukrainian forces, and they have very little motivation to want to come back. So if this is the message to convince the rebellious regions to come back to Ukraine, it is a very dubious policy, but it is of course up to Kiev to decide.”


Renewed hostilities in recent months has led to reports of soldiers and civilians dying on both sides of the frontier. “The situation on the contact line in Ukraine is extremely unstable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. “The dynamics of the development of this state of affairs, and the behavior of the Ukrainian side, creates the danger of a resumption of full-scale hostilities.”





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Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak said that Moscow could be forced to intervene if Kiev were to launch an all-out offensive. “Everything depends on what the scale of fighting would be,” he said.


Analysts had reported that tens of thousands of Russian troops had been stationed along the border with Ukraine in recent weeks, sparking fears in Kiev and the West that the Kremlin could be close to ordering an invasion. However, after a series of surprise drills, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced subsequently that the soldiers would return to their usual bases, having passed readiness tests.


Kiev has welcomed the move, but said that “the fact that the [Russian] troops are withdrawing does not mean that the army should not be ready for the fact that they could return to the borders of our country at any moment.”





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The Russian Draughts Federation has asked an international ruling body to address the incident involving the removal of the Russian flag during the Women’s World Championships in Warsaw.


The situation occurred during a world title match on Tuesday, when Russia's Tamara Tansykkuzhina's national flag was abruptly taken off the table on which the championship final’s fourth round was being played.


READ MORE: ‘I’m sure many Russians are upset’: Official admits feeling ‘pressure’ as anti-doping body WADA distances itself from flag scandal


Six-time world champion Tansykkuzhina and her Polish opponent, Natalia Sadovskaya, were battling for the world draughts crown when match secretary Jacek Pawlicki interfered midgame, explaining that he was acting on a call from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).


The Russian side insisted that the manner in which the national flag was taken away was “unacceptable and unethical,” calling on the governing body to conduct an internal investigation and punish the officials who allowed the controversial action.






The flag was on the table, while the other one was stuck to the table’s side. Midway through the game, all Russian symbols were removed,” said Anatoly Nikitin, the head of Russia’s Draughts Federation.


"The Russian Draughts Federation has treated the organizers’ actions as unacceptable, unethical and deserving condemnation.


"The Russian side has asked the International Draughts Federation to investigate the incident and sanction those involved in the incident."


WADA confirmed that it had ordered the Russian flag to be removed in order to comply with a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has banned Russia’s national symbols at major sports events for a two-year period. But it also stressed that it didn’t require that the flag be replaced mid-match.





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Draughts superstars Natalia Sadowska (left) and Tamara Tansykkuzhina © Kacper Pempel / Reuters | © Instagram / _natalia_sadowska
Polish ace removes flag in solidarity with Russian rival whose national tricolor was torn off mid-game during draughts world final






The Polish officials apologized in the wake of the scandal, admitting that WADA’s instructions could have been carried out in a different manner.

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