Pandemic or not, online shopping frenzy is here to stay, Amazon predicts

Amazon is set to further reap benefits from the pandemic-fueled growth in online shopping after the US e-commerce giant saw its sales and profits skyrocket in the first quarter of the year.

Amazon was the last of Wall Street’s tech giants to publish its financial results this week, showing how the company performed around one year after the Covid-19 pandemic shut many other businesses. The quarterly report reveals Amazon’s revenue jumped 44% to $108.5 billion, with international sales driving growth more than those in North America. Meanwhile, its net income more than tripled to reach $8.1 billion against $2.5 billion one year ago.

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While countries’ economies have already started to reopen, allowing people to buy goods at physical stores like they did before the pandemic hit, Amazon apparently believes that online shopping habits will persist and further fuel its growth. It expects sales to rise by around 30% to range between $110 billion and $116 billion in the second quarter.

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Beyond retail, one of the factors that boosted Amazon’s financial results was its streaming service, Prime Video. With people stuck at home for weeks last year, streaming hours were up more than 70% year over year, according to outgoing CEO Jeff Bezos. 

Additionally, Amazon’s cloud computing platform Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become a $54 billion "annual sales run rate business," Bezos said. In the first three months of this year alone, the division’s sales jumped by around one-third to hit $13.5 billion.

Positive financial results, which are in line with those of Apple, Google and Facebook, pushed Amazon stock higher after the report was released. However, the company’s shares closed slightly lower on Friday, but its gains in the last 12 months amounted to around 50%.

One day before revealing its enormous profits, Amazon vowed to raise wages for half a million of its workers. Last week, Bezos, whose fortune rose dramatically during the pandemic and now is estimated at $204 billion, promised to improve conditions for employees. Poor working conditions at the company’s warehouses were in the media spotlight for months, with employees complaining about lacking time for a normal break and accusing the company of failing to protect workers from Covid-19.

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Surrey police have urged parents to keep an eye on what their children eat, after four youngsters who snacked on sweets suspected of containing cannabis were taken to hospital.

An ambulance was called after the group of children began “vomiting uncontrollably and falling in and out of consciousness” on a street in Epsom. They were transported to hospital where they were kept overnight for observation. A fourth child, a 12-year-old boy, was also taken to hospital by his family as a precaution because he is also believed to have snacked on the drug-laced sweets. 

It’s still unclear what kind of ‘edible’ the children consumed, but a similar incident from the previous night in the area involved “jelly apple rings.” The individual who ate the “rings” was not as adversely affected as the children, however. The children may have been given the gummies at a local park, Surrey police said. 

“We are, of course, trying to understand what these sweets are, where they came from and what they contain. However, our immediate priority is to warn parents; and to tell children in the area not to be tempted to try them as they are obviously causing substantial harm,” Detective Sergeant Lee Marks said in a statement. The officer added that cannabis-infused products may have “professional packaging” but that people should understand that they are still illegal and unregulated in the UK. 

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Anyone with information about the illicit sweets has been urged to contact authorities. 

The incident occurred a month after 13 young people in Camden were rushed to hospital after eating cannabis-laced sweets. The episode led to authorities issuing an “edibles alert” in the surrounding area. The Met also urged parents to monitor food packaging and wrappers in order to keep their children away from anything that might contain cannabis. 

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Furious Manchester United fans storm Old Trafford hours before Liverpool Premier League match in anti-Glazer protest (VIDEOS)

The hangover from Manchester United's involvement in the ill-fated Super League has continued after legions of angry supporters forced their way into Old Trafford hours before Sunday's game against Premier League champs Liverpool.

The protest, which has initially been planned to take place outside of Old Trafford, bled into the famous stadium on Sunday after hundreds of fans upset with the ownership of the controversial Glazer family raided the pitch and threw Sunday's pivotal fixture with arch-rivals Liverpool into doubt.

It is also understood that fans blocked the team bus as it attempted to make its way to the stadium from the nearby Lowry Hotel. Per reports, the team has been advised to remain at the hotel until the safety of the players and the stadium can be guaranteed. A police presence has been noted outside the hotel.

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At around 3.15pm local time, 75 minutes before kick-off against Liverpool, further fans streamed into the stadium in another massive security breach at Old Trafford after the initial protestors had been cleared.

The incident is the latest to detail the uproar among the club's faithful aimed at the American owners of the club.

On Friday, fans angrily told outgoing chief executive Ed Woodward that they were "disgusted, embarrassed and angry" at the club's leadership, while also carrying banners at Sunday's protest which read "apology not accepted". 

United owner Joel Glazer issued an apology for his team's involvement as one of the so-called founding members of the severely-rebuked Super League breakaway plans - however the actions from the throngs of angry fans suggests that any such apology has been firmly thrown back in their faces.

Sunday's scenes are the latest such incident of fan discontent at the club and follows another protest outside Old Trafford and the club's Carrington training base last week. Fans had also forced their way into Carrington, while also blocking entrances to the facility. Police were subsequently called.

The protesting fans at the training ground were addressed by manager Ole Gunnar Solksajer, midfielder Nemanja Matic and backroom staff Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, at which they moved on.

Social media has been predictably vocal about the storming of Old Trafford, with one fan drawing comparisons between Sunday's scenes and those which unfolded outside the U.S. Capitol in January. 

Another wrote that they "have to admire the initiative, not sure it will result in anything, but at least they are doing something."

A third supporter also shed some light on what was taking place inside the stadium, out of view of TV cameras: "Someone I know actually got into the changing room too," they said.

Further updates are expected shortly, including indication from Manchester United and the Premier League as to whether the game might be delayed, or even postponed.

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Manchester United fans protested and were seen burning a US flag. © Reuters / Twitter @ManUtdReports_
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‘Badass and a beauty’: Serb kickboxer Nadja Milijancevic is a knockout queen becoming bare knuckle's latest female fighter (VIDEO)

Two-time Junior World Champion and two-time Junior European Champion Nadja Milijancevic is a rising talent from Serbia who flattened her last opponent – and her next encounter will be in her new discipline of bare knuckle boxing.

Training as part of the Ronin Carnage team in her homeland, Milijancevic has been described by viewers as a "badass and a beauty" and her mentors include Misa Baculov, an ex-fighter who has helped the 20-year-old to star for the Battle Net promotion in Novi Sad.

Baculov is now assisting Milijancevic, who often takes on the men in her gym, to prepare for her Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) debut, where she has joined the likes of recent signings Pearl Gonzalez and Rachael Ostovich among the latest female talents to sign up.

Social media sensation Paige VanZant became the promotion's best-known fighter when she joined BKFC last year, and Milijancevic says she has the distinction of becoming the first addition to sign a five-fight contract with bosses.

Milijancevic might not quite have VanZant's Instagram following of almost 2.5 million yet, but she already has a fan account devoted to her, called Dose of Nadja, and more than 20,000 followers of her own.

"He's more than just a coach," Milijancevic says of Baculov, frequently sharing footage with her admirers. of herself landing brutal blows and kicks. "He's a person who inspires me every day, motivates me and I improve in all segments of life. My coach is better than yours."

"It is not enough to say how much happiness working with this man fills me with."

One of Milijancevic's other greatest allies is named Alfie – her dog of nine years and a companion the newcomer describes as "my best buddy".

Alfie has seen his owner compete for the Serbian national team and win the country's K1 Junior Championship, putting her love of training and comfort in the ring to glorious use in her fledgling career.

Another of her staunchest supporters along the way has been Marina Dekic, with whom she won at the European Championships in Macedonia in 2017.

"I love you too much, my best friend," Milijancevic told Dekic at the time. "We've been together through a lot of blood, sweat and effort, but also together in much happiness."

Dekic has enthusiastically backed Milijancevic's move to BKFC. "If we're fighting, let's do it properly," Milijancevic said, portraying herself signing on the dotted line and thanking promotion founder David Feldman.

"We're going to take heads off. I'm so excited. I promise I will live up to your expectations – ready to make history."

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Ekaterina Makarova (center) has joined ex-UFC fighters Paige VanZant (left) and Rachael Ostovich in signing for Bare Knuckle FC © Instagram / paigevanzant | © Instagram / prichudatort © Instagram / rachaelostovich
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‘Intense’: Bizarre ring announcer in trench coat barks at fighters on blood-splattered canvas at MMA scrap in South Korea (VIDEO)

A ring announcer in sunglasses and a trench coat looked completely out of place as he shouted into the faces of two huge brawlers at Monster War 1, roaming the blood-soaked canvas during a series of brutal bouts in South Korea.

Heavyweights Jun Soo Lim and Ik Tae Jin were readying themselves for their heavyweight contest in Paju when the comical hype man took control, looking more like a detective than an MC as he worked his way between the fighters while shouting ferociously.

Reading off a scrap of paper and pointing at the powerhouses in their faces, the baffling pre-fight spectacle was picked up around the world – with many noticing how much blood covered the ring by that stage of proceedings.

The brutality continued as Lim, fighting for the 25th time in a 16-year professional career, pummeled relative newcomer Jin up against the cage.

Taking him down, the blond-mopped Lim performed a gruesome-looking bulldog choke that had Jin grimacing in pain and, ultimately, surrendering.

That improved the giant's record to 13 wins and gave Jin his third defeat in five fights, as well as a second straight loss for the 28-year-old.

The blood came from a stoppage earlier on the card that left one fighter barely able to see as a cut above his right eye gushed out, covering his opponent's back red and painting part of the floor a thick red.

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‘He hasn’t earned the right’: Manager slams the door on Nick Diaz vs. Khamzat Chimaev UFC rumors

The chances of a showdown between surging UFC star Khamzat Chimaev and iconic welterweight Nick Diaz appear to be dead in the water after Diaz's manager said Chimaev "hasn't earned the right" to fight the Stockton native.

Fight fans had been licking their chops at the prospect of the elder Diaz brother taking on the highly-rated Chimaev in what would be the former Strikeforce welterweight champion's first fight in more than six years, but any chance of it becoming a reality appears to be dead in the water following comments from Diaz's manager, Kevin Mubenga.

"He’s a good prospect, respectfully, but he hasn’t earned the right to a mega-fight vs. Nick Diaz," Mubenga sold ESPN.

"So let’s put those rumors to rest."

After a blistering start to his UFC career which saw him rack up two wins in his first ten days with the company in two weight classes, as well as a one-shot knockout of the experienced Gerald Meerschaert just weeks later, Chimaev's ascent up the welterweight rankings has stalled somewhat.

The Chechen-born Swede was slated to face top welterweight contender Leon Edwards in December but that fight hit a series of road bumps with both men being diagnosed with Covid-19. Chimaev's, though, appeared to be more serious  leading to speculation that the undefeated fighter was considering retirement.

That sentiment quickly passed, however, with Chimaev targeting a summer return to the Octagon – and Diaz, he said, was an ideal opponent.

"I want to fight him," Chimaev told MMA Junkie of Diaz. "That will be good. I watched his fight when I was a kid and now I’m going to fight with him. Perfect for me. I like it. I want to see who is the real gangster. I think he is a real gangster in this sport, but we’ll see."

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As for the identity of Diaz's eventual comeback opponent, Mubenga says their team's sole focus is Nate Diaz's upcoming showdown with the tough Englishman Edwards.

"Nate’s up first; our focus is on that,” Mubenga added. "We will narrow down more deserving opponents (for Nick) after the fight."

A win for Chimaev against the legendary Diaz would have ignited his reputation once more after his heroics on 'Fight Island' last summer. But judging by the reticence of some of the UFC's top welterweight names in taking on the undefeated fighter Chimaev may just have to take the scenic route towards the top of the UFC's 170lbs fold.

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has announced that social benefits would be calculated based on state-owned oil-backed digital coin, the petro, as the sanctions-hit country is facing severe economic crisis and hyperinflation.

“I can announce today a proposal that I have approved … which is to ‘petrolize’ the social benefits of public workers of the central, the decentralized administration and of the state public companies, [rebalance] them with the petro [cryptocurrency],” Maduro said, speaking in Caracas on Saturday.

The move is meant to “protect” the real value of those payments, according to the president.

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The petro was introduced in 2018 as a tool to support Venezuela’s economic stability and shift away from the US dollar in times of economic turmoil and growing sanctions pressure from the US. Unlike bitcoin and other decentralized crypto assets that are not pegged to fiat currency or a natural resource, the petro is backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves. The token’s value was established at $60 or 3,600 sovereign bolivars, the central bank said in August 2018.

Caracas has been trying to ensure wider adoption of the Venezuelan cryptocurrency. Last year, Maduro announced that all fuel for flights out of the country can be bought only with petro, however, it remained unclear whether the measure would apply to all airlines or be limited to domestic carriers. He also said that the token must be used for state document-processing services.

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The country also moved to accept tax payments and gasoline purchases in petros, while public employees were previously offered their Christmas bonus in the digital token. 

The adoption of the government-backed digital currency came in the year when inflation in Venezuela hit over 130,000%, according to central bank figures, and all amid the rapid depreciation of the local currency, the bolivar. The inflationary tendency has slowed since then, but is still projected to hit a whopping 5,500% by the end of 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Beijing sends aircraft carrier group to disputed South China Sea, vows to ‘uphold national sovereignty & security’

China has dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group into the disputed South China Sea for “routine” drills. The deployment comes shortly after another Chinese carrier group left the troubled region.

The group, led by the country’s second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, is to take part in “routine” training scheduled in its annual work plan, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy said in a statement on Sunday.

“It is completely legitimate and beneficial in improving the country’s ability to uphold national sovereignty and security,” a spokesman for the navy, Gao Xiucheng, has said.

The Shandong is the newer of two currently operational Chinese aircraft carriers. Launched in 2017, it entered service in late 2019. The deployment of the carrier strike group is its first major exercise this year.

The deployment comes shortly after another Chinese carrier group, led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier, left the region. The group held exercises in both the Western Pacific and South China Sea.

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On Thursday, China’s military revealed that the group has been pestered by a US Navy destroyer, USS Mustin, for some three weeks. The ship conducted “persistent close-range reconnaissance” and “severely disrupted” their exercises, it said, describing its conduct as “very vile in nature.” According to Beijing, the activities of the USS Mustin had threatened the “vessels and crew” of the strike group, and a formal diplomatic complaint has been launched.

The highly contested region has seen a lot of foreign military activity this year, with US aircraft carriers and other vessels visiting it several times already. In mid-April, the US also held joint two-week-long drills with the Philippines as part of Exercise Balikatan. They took place in the South China Sea near the Philippine-held island in the disputed Spratly archipelago, as well as around the contested Scarborough Shoal.

Washington has been very active in the South China Sea in the past few years, repeatedly sending aerial and naval missions there. According to the US, such activities are needed to uphold the so-called “freedom of navigation” principle in the region. However, these endeavors have repeatedly resulted in run-ins with the Chinese military. Beijing opposes the missions, insisting they only create further tensions in the disputed waters.

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The resource-rich South China Sea is the subject of overlapping maritime and territorial claims by multiple nations, including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, as Beijing has claimed almost the entire sea for itself. The region is also an important waterway, with multiple trade routes and trillions of dollars’ worth of goods flowing through it each year.

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60-70% of world’s attention focused on just 10 online domains, according to latest research

Alarming new research into the online economy has found that just 10 domains command the majority of the world’s attention and are on course to grab even more in the coming years.

The multi-year research project was conducted by Paul X. McCarthy, adjunct professor at UNSW, and Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, lecturer in computer science at the University of Technology Sydney.

The researchers examined global trends in online diversity and dominance, focusing on linkage patterns from several of the world’s most popular social networks such as Reddit and Twitter. In total, they investigated 5.6TB of data spanning a decade of global online activity.

When looking at long-term trends in how businesses compete online, they discovered a “dramatic consolidation” in the digital world: a shrinking number of companies that wield a disproportionate amount of influence on the world’s attention.

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In 2020, the “.com” domain surpassed 150 million sites, and even as the offerings from online businesses expand, to include ever more features, functions and applications, the number of companies ultimately responsible for these offerings is shrinking. 

The researchers examined six billion user comments from Reddit dating back to 2006, and the over one billion links to websites and online services contained therein. 

They parsed the data set and gave each link a uniqueness score, where ‘1’ leads to its own domain, while ‘0’ links to a common and recurring domain such as YouTube. 

Ten years ago, at the beginning of the study’s timeframe, there were some 20 different domains for every 100 randomized links examined. That number has since shrunk to just five domains per 100 links shared.

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The researchers concluded that between 60% and 70% of all attention on major social media platforms focuses on just 10 domains. 

They also studied the connection between 20 billion links shared over the course of three years and found that the top 1,000 global websites continually grow in authority, visibility and influence while all others dwindle in these same regards. 

Even as functionality increases, the actual diversity of sources providing these functions appears to be shrinking rapidly. 

The researchers also highlight what they dub the “infant mortality” of websites.

Almost 40% of new domains registered in 2006 survived their first five years. However, by contrast, just 3% of those created in 2015 have survived to the present day. 

The researchers’ findings underscore a startling reality: it’s not just online businesses that are affected by the loss of online diversity, but the entire online economy.

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For example, the competitive advantage traditionally afforded by a company’s physical real-world location no longer applies like it once did.

While businesses can establish themselves anywhere with a stable internet connection, their ability to scale in the face of emerging monopolies for any significant length of time and stand on their own two feet is increasingly under threat, especially with a lack of resources to relocate and find more favorable tax locations, as many of the world’s tech giants can.

The likelihood that an emerging successful online business, regardless of niche or customer base, will be subsumed by one of the few domains which dominate the online world seems to increase over time at an ever accelerating rate.

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Wind power can add more than 3 MILLION new jobs worldwide over next 5 years – report

A new study by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) found that 3.3 million jobs could be created across the world over the next five years thanks to major industry expansion.

The figure includes direct jobs in onshore and offshore wind. It also covers the sector’s entire value chain: installation, manufacturing, project planning and development, operation and maintenance and decommissioning. Those roles would service an industry forecast to install an extra 470 gigawatts (GW) of onshore and offshore capacity between 2021 and 2025, the GWEC said.

The majority of the jobs will be created in high growth wind markets including China, US, India, Germany, UK, Brazil, France, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, and Taiwan.

“The wind industry has a strong track record of creating high-quality and long-term jobs and reviving communities through an array of industrial opportunities,” said CEO of GWEC Ben Backwell. “As the world still reels from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments must look to the wind sector as a key industry to create the jobs they need to get their economies back on track,” he added.

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According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, with 751 GW of wind power capacity already installed, the industry has generated nearly 1.2 million jobs globally to date. The world’s leading wind energy countries are home to hundreds of thousands of direct jobs in the wind industry. A global survey by GWEC Market Intelligence showed that as of 2020 there were approximately 550,000 wind energy workers in China, as well as 260,000 in Brazil, 115,000 in the US and 63,000 in India.

“As the world recovers from Covid-19, it is crucial that no one gets left behind. The wind sector is well-placed to be a driver of a just transition, with offshore wind in particular offering a response to labor market disruption in the offshore oil and gas and marine engineering sectors,” said Joyce Lee, Head of Policy and Projects at GWEC.

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The BBC has been accused of reimagining British history to make it more woke-friendly after it emerged that a children’s programme will teach that the nation’s earliest inhabitants were black.

An episode of the BBC children’s series Horrible Histories will focus on the role of black people in Britain's past. Launched in 2009, the series uses comedy sketches to help young people familiarize themselves with troubling chapters from history. 

Set to air on May 7, the episode dedicated to black history will feature abolitionists rapping that “our lives matter,” in a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Speaking to the Telegraph, the show’s creative lead, Richard Bradley, said that the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, as well as the toppling of a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, created a need to “reevaluate” how Britons think about the past. 

He said that the events provided an opportunity for the programme to “tackle the whole area of black history” and explained that the episode in question would explore how Britain has “always been a country with many races and ethnicities.”

In an effort to illustrate to young people that the nation had black inhabitants “from the start,” one of the show’s sketches will document how African troops were stationed along Hadrian’s Wall, when the country was under Roman occupation in the third century AD. The programme will also feature a song about how prehistoric Britons had dark skin “before these Isles were British.” The tune is a reference to a fossil, known as Cheddar Man, which dates back 10,000 years. A recent DNA analysis of the remains concluded that the prehistoric man had dark skin and black curly hair. 

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Bradley claimed that the programme’s writers had worked “carefully” to ensure that they got black history right, adding that young people and teachers had expressed interest in the subject. 

“When we started out we had no idea of the responsibility we would end up having.  There is an onus on us to get it right,” he said. 

But judging from social media responses, many felt that the programme was doing a poor job of accurately relaying the country’s history. 

One commenter accused the BBC of “rewriting” history, while another reply lamented that the public broadcaster was “bringing their race baiting narrative” to children. 

The programme is part of a larger “progressive” agenda to “split us up into groups” and encourage “grievances against each other,” argued another observer.

Using the Cheddar Man as an example of “black history” in Britain was disingenuous and misleading, read a similarly peeved reply. 

However, many others defended Horrible Histories and suggested that there was nothing inaccurate about what the show was teaching children. Several comments mocked outrage over the “black history” episode as an example of “white fright.

The show is no stranger to controversy. In February, the series was accused of “anti-British” sentiments for airing a song that said that popular staples like sugar, tea and cotton are products of the country’s imperialist past and were “frankly stolen” from abroad. 

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‘Ref trying to kill a man’: Fans left in shock as MMA fight in Russia ends with troubling submission after just 35 seconds (VIDEO)

A Russian MMA fighter needed just 35 seconds to inflict a brutal submission on his opponent – but alarmed viewers questioned why the referee had not stopped it sooner after the loser clearly appeared to lose consciousness.

Lightweight punisher Oleg Manzhuev destroyed Sherzod Ismoilov in Saint Petersburg, pinning him to the floor as the Uzbek fighter's limbs seemed to go limp in an evident sign that he was in no state to continue.

The attentive official at the MMA Series 31 event seemed unperturbed by Ismoilov appearing clean out, prolonging the fight for a worryingly long period before Ismoilov lay prone on the floor while his opponent wheeled off to celebrate.

"The guy was out for like 12 seconds and still getting the life squeezed out of him," observed one concerned viewer, while another asked: Jesus – what was the ref waiting for? To visibly see a soul rising from the body?"

Manzhuev returned from only the second defeat of his 11-fight career, earning a first submission win in spectacular style.

Ismoilov's only previous defeat in his five professional fights had also been by submission, although he had always gone beyond the opening three minutes of fights.

"Looked like he went out like 10 seconds before the ref stepped in," said another critic of the adjudicator, echoed by a fan who suggested: "Checked the arm four times and it was limp all four times."

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‘He’s like a video game character’: Fans hail Czech slugger Prochazka as he flatlines Dominick Reyes in UFC main event (VIDEO)

There is a new title threat in the UFC at 205lbs after Czech powerhouse Jiri Prochazka enhanced his glittering reputation even further with a stunning second round spinning elbow knockout of former title contender Dominick Reyes.

Prochazka entered the UFC last summer to much fanfare after a run through the RIZIN promotion saw him claim their light heavyweight title amid a string of stunning first-round finishes.

While his handiwork wasn't quite so snappy on Saturday night in las Vegas, the manner in which he dispatched the gritty Reyes – who came close to seizing the world title from Jon Jones just 18 months ago – has announced that there is a new threat in one of the UFC's most talent-rich weight divisions.

The fight was chaos from start to finish. Upon the opening bell, both men sought to assert their authority on their feet in an all-action encounter, with Reyes finding opportunities to land sequences of strikes. Prochazka, though, refused to take a backward step and fired back relentlessly, bloodying Reyes' face towards the conclusion of the first round.

In the second round, the toll began to tell. The ever-game Reyes was getting stung with punches from the Czech striker but despite briefly hurting Prochazka with a crisp counter (and also looked to have him in trouble after connecting with an upkick from his back), the end came when Prochazka connected with a spinning elbow which collapsed Reyes to the canvas. 

Afterwards, Prochazka – who improved his career record to 28-3-1 – made clear that his focus is now on UFC light heavyweight gold. 

"Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s do that," he said post-fight. "I like my neighbor, [Jan] Blachowicz. Now it’s the fight Glover Teixeira vs. Blachowicz, yeah? So the winner will be my next opponent? OK, that’s an honor for me. That’s a big honor for me.

"It was a very nice fight. I just want to show the beauty of the art but sometimes I go very quickly for the win. By that, I catch some punches. I’m learning still from fight to fight.

"I just flow. After some counter punches from Dominick, I can have no chance to think for some plans. I just was in the flow. After that, the spinning elbow, let’s try it."

Online, fight fans were very much in awe of the Czech star's power. 

"Jiri is a video game character come to life. Has the hair, size power and so on," wrote one fan, while another was perhaps a little more concerned about the potential impact that the stunning knockout might have had on Reyes.

"Reyes lost 10 years off his life there to give us 10 minutes of entertainment," they wrote. 

Reigning champion Blachowicz is slated to defend his UFC light heavyweight title against veteran Brazilian Glover Teixeira in September but, judging by the evidence from the cage in Las Vegas late last night, there is an unenviable task awaiting the victor. 

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Female boxing great Katie Taylor almost lost four titles in a compelling scrap with former Olympic foe Natasha Jonas, leaving fans to joke that there was little point in watching the male headline fight that followed.

Irish lightweight queen Taylor came into the fight as a huge favorite, having won all 18 of her previous bouts to become one of the most feared female fighters in the world.

Jonas was a ten-to-one longshot, yet the Brit rocked teak-tough Taylor on several occasions over ten two-minute rounds that left both competitors bloodied and bruised.

The 36-year-old Liverpudlian heeded the advice coming from a corner after round three, targeting Taylor for punishment after she was told: "She don’t like it downstairs."

Taylor unleashed a barrage of her own in the final two rounds, winning by unanimous decision on a razor-thin 96-94 96-95 96-95 count.

"Hard lines for Jonas – really wanted her to get her hands on the belts," said new IBF flyweight champions Sunny Edwards. "Think Taylor just edged her out but so tight."

American female boxing superstar Claressa Shields told her fans: "I had Katie Taylor up by three rounds. Great fight."

Shields was an emerging teenage talent when Taylor beat Jonas in a thriller at the London 2012 Olympic Games, when Jonas was Britain's first qualifed female boxer.

"It was a thriller, thriller fight," Taylor told iFL afterwards. "It had everything you need in a great fight. I don't want to be involved in too many of those, but it was great to come out with a win from a tough performance."

In the headline bout in Manchester, former heavyweight champion Joseph Parker also won by decision, beating British slugger Derek Chisora on points.

The showdown had a whirlwind start as Chisora came flying out of the blocks, knocking Parker down with the first punch of the fight after just seven seconds.

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Russia’s foreign exchange reserves continue to rise despite sanctions & pandemic

Russia’s gold and foreign currency holdings increased by $5.8 billion last week to reach a total of $589.5 billion, according to the latest data released by the country’s central bank.

The regulator said that the growth seen from April 16 to 23 was supported by positive revaluation as well as foreign currency purchases within the budget rule that requires extra revenues from energy exports to be used for boosting the national reserves.

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Russia’s foreign exchange reserves have been rising for three consecutive weeks, according to central bank data. Since the beginning of the month, they have added almost $15 billion.

The holdings include liquid foreign assets, such as stocks of monetary gold, foreign currencies, and Special Drawing Rights (SDR) assets, which are at the disposal of the central bank and the government. The regulator set the target level for the forex reserves at $500 billion, and they have stayed above the required threshold since June 2019.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section


SpaceX Crew Dragon brings four astronauts from ISS, making first nighttime splashdown since 1968

The first operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft has ended successfully, with the vehicle bringing home four astronauts from the ISS in a first-in-decades nighttime splashdown.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon ‘Resilience’ capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City, Florida early on Sunday. The spacecraft brought three NASA astronauts and one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) home from the International Space Station (ISS).

“We welcome you back to planet Earth, and thanks for flying SpaceX,” a SpaceX mission control official, Michael Heiman, told the astronauts. “For those of you enrolled in our frequent flier program, you have earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”

The capsule was retrieved by a recovery vessel, with the astronauts undergoing health checks before heading back to land by helicopter.

The ‘Resilience’ spacecraft was launched to the ISS last November, staying docked to the station for over 160 days. Its return marks NASA’s first nighttime splashdown since the Apollo 8 mission in 1968, which was the first to orbit the moon.

The splashdown marked the first successful “operational” mission of the privately developed Crew Dragon spacecraft. Another spacecraft of the same type, dubbed ‘Endeavour’, made its first crewed test flight last summer with two astronauts on board. It has since been refurbished and was launched back to the ISS in late April.

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Boxing star ‘wanted by authorities over missing woman who was last seen at his home telling him she was pregnant with his baby’

Boxer Felix Verdejo is "of interest" in the investigation of a missing woman whose body may have been found drowned in Puerto Rico, according to reports claiming that she disappeared after telling him she was carrying his child.

Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz has been missing since Thursday morning, causing local officials to issue a Pink Alert as part of a new bill passed in October to help speed up the process of finding missing women against a backdrop of increasing gender violence on the island.

The alert is for adult women whose disappearances are linked to domestic violence, hate crimes or crimes of a sexual nature, and Ortiz's sister, Bereliz Nichole, accompanied the move with a video on Facebook appealing for information.

Several local accounts on social media have alleged that the body of a pregnant woman whose blonde hair matched Ortiz's has since been found floating in a lake, with her family called to identify whether the body is hers.

Verdejo was contacted by criminal investigators on Thursday, according to Boxing Scene, which has said that he initially "shut down" an interview before agreeing to voluntarily meet them with his attorney.

The account also quoted a local news publication which said that Verdejo and Rodriguez were allegedly romantically linked in the past, and reported that Rodriguez's last location was at his home, where she is said to have arrived with a pregnancy test and the intention of telling him that he was the father.

According to the investigation, the last known location for Rodriguez was at Verdejo’s home where she allegedly arrived with a pregnancy test in tow and to inform the boxer that he was the father.

Ortiz was last officially seen in a car that was found abandoned in the municipality of Canovanas, ESPN said, adding that a police commissioner had told reporters that they were "still looking for [her] alive" and collaborating with the FBI.

“We are interviewing several people who are close to her," said Police Commissioner López Figueroa, announcing that their information suggested Verdejo had known Ortiz for "11 or 12 years".

"Countless people are going to be summoned. Anyone who had any contact with her, any romantic relationship, we are also interviewing." Verdejo's wife, Eliz Marie Santiago, is also said to have spoken to investigators on Friday.

Verdejo, 27, has scored 17 knockouts in an impressive 29-fight defeat that has only seen him beaten twice.

The most recent of those was in December, when he unsuccessfully challenged Masayoshi Nakatani for the WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title, suffering a ninth-round knockout in Las Vegas.

The former London 2012 Olympic Games competitor for his country had been on a run of four wins before his bid for the belt failed.

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Three of America’s leading news outlets have issued corrections, having alleged that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was told by the FBI he was the subject of a nefarious Russian operation.

The New York Times, NBC, and the Washington Post all ran stories claiming Giuliani was warned by the feds in 2019 that he was the target of a Russian influence campaign that aimed to sway the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The sensational reports coincided with a raid on Giuliani’s New York City apartment carried out by federal agents, purportedly as part of an investigation into the Trump ally’s dealings in Ukraine. Giuliani took an active role in investigating allegations that President Joe Biden and his family were involved in shady dealings with Kiev. The three reports seemed to insinuate that Giuliani was spreading Russian ‘disinformation’ by taking interest in the allegations. 

But the provocative claim that Giuliani was informed that he was at risk of being ‘used’ by Moscow was quickly walked back. On Saturday, the Post acknowledged it had “incorrectly reported” that the FBI had warned Giuliani he was the target of a Russian influence operation. The paper also retracted its claim that the FBI had issued an identical warning to the conservative One America News Network (OANN). The channel had produced a documentary about Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine. 

The two other outlets involved in the journalistic malpractice quickly followed suit. The NYT, which had reported that Trump’s attorney had received a “formal warning” from the FBI about the alleged Russian op, ran a correction saying he had, in fact, never received a “so-called defensive briefing.” 

NBC made a similar concession, but insisted it got the story only half wrong. “The report was based on a source familiar with the matter, but a second source now says the briefing was only prepared for Giuliani and not delivered to him, in part over concerns it might complicate the criminal investigation of Giuliani,” it explained. 

The outlets have remained tight-lipped about what led them to retract their claims. The Post declined to comment when contacted by CNN, but its amended story stated that Giuliani had denied he had been contacted by the FBI about the purported disinformation campaign. OANN also said the feds never reached out to it about “Ukraine or people associated with Ukraine.”

For its part, the New York Times seemed to have initially edited its online story without acknowledging it contained corrections. It later added a formal correction, however. 

The revised reports are the latest in a string of salacious allegations related to Russia’s purported involvement in the 2020 election that were later walked back or fully retracted. In March, the Trump campaign sued CNN, WaPo and the NYT for “their reckless false reporting” about unsubstantiated claims that the ex-president colluded with Moscow. 

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US President Joe Biden wants the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share of taxes, but it turns out they have become one of the main beneficiaries of his presidency.

The combined net worth of the top 100 ultra-rich people in the US has skyrocketed by $195 billion since Biden took office, according to Bloomberg’s calculations. From his election to his inauguration, they added $267 billion to their fortunes, bringing their total gain to $461 billion since November 4. 

The rise in billionaires’ wealth in the first 100 days of Biden’s presidency is around 20% of the cash stockpile those billionaires raked in between Trump’s inauguration and the 2020 election. According to Bloomberg data, they became $860 billion richer over that period.

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The gains are largely based on enormous stimulus measures to help the economy mitigate the coronavirus crisis, which resulted in a stock market rally. In addition to the trillions-worth of measures agreed by Trump, Biden approved another $1.9 trillion stimulus package. That gave another boost to stocks, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indices jumping around 10% since Biden’s inauguration.

Heads of tech and e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Facebook were the biggest winners, both at the height of the pandemic and during the latest rally in the stock market. American billionaires’ collective net worth has surged by 55% over the past 13 months, hitting $4.56 trillion, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness. 

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However, Biden now wants the wealthiest 1% of Americans and corporations “to pay their fair share,” he said earlier this week. He wants to bring “billions of dollars” to the economy and proposes taking the top tax bracket for those making $400,000 or more to 39.6% and raising capital gains taxes for those making more than $1 million a year.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section


3 dead, including gunman, in Wisconsin casino shooting

A gunman killed two people and seriously wounded a third at an Oneida Nation casino in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, before being neutralized by police who rushed to the scene.

The shooting took place at a casino adjacent to the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, across from the Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, at around 7:30pm on Saturday. The suspect was killed after multiple agencies responded to the incident. No officers were injured.

Investigators believe that the suspect intended to target a specific individual who was not at the casino at the time. Instead, the gunman “decided to still shoot some of the victim’s co-workers or friends, it appears,” Brown County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Pawlak told media. It’s believed that the shooter may have been an employee of the Oneida casino. 

Witnesses told local media that they heard gunshots shortly after arriving at the casino. As they headed back to their car from the parking lot, around 15 more shots were fired off. Moments later, police began pouring into the area.

Attorney General Josh Kaul confirmed that the situation had been “contained” and there is “no longer a threat to the community.” Police rerouted some traffic near the airport as they secured the scene.

Police were praised for their fast and effective response to the shooting. 

“I am incredibly thankful for the swift action of our law enforcement, who were able to apprehend the shooter quickly,” tweeted Wisconsin's 5th Assembly District Rep Jim Steineke.

The casino will remain closed until further notice, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin tweeted. 

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