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Beside The Points For Thursday Feb 15 2018

Oh, and don’t forgetWhat are the men scared of? We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe All newsletters See more NBA predictions Things That Caught My EyeKane sure looks like the best striker in the worldHarry Kane on the Tottenham Hotspur got his 100th goal in the English Premier League two weeks ago, with only Alan Shearer accomplishing it in fewer games. This season alone, Harry Kane is at the top of the five European leagues, with 23 goals from 61 shots on goals in 26 games. [FiveThirtyEight]The Dutch came here to skate with alacrity and not much elseAs of the end of competition on Wednesday, players from the Netherlands have won 121 medals of which 42 were gold in the Winter Olympics. Of those, 95.4 percent of the golds and 94.2 percent of the total medals were in the sport of speedskating, making them the top one-trick nation in the games. [FiveThirtyEight]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Kim gets Gold and Gold gets BronzeAmericans Chloe Kim and Arielle Gold medaled in the halfpipe snowboarding competition, with the seventeen year old phenom Kim taking a gold medal and Gold, who suffered a freak injury in Sochi, dislocating her shoulder on the flukey halfpipe at that games, taking third place. [The Washington Post]Yeah, well, we’ll get ’em in the rematchTwo of the best teams in the world, Canada and the United States, had a tumultuous first game in women’s hockey at the Olympics, with Canada’s 2-1 victory meaning they clinch the top seed in pool play. The two teams could very well face off against one another in next week’s final. Meanwhile, Team USA stomped the Olympic Athletes from Russia, with Jocelyne Lamoureaux scoring two goals in six seconds, an Olympic record. [ESPN]Try out our brand new super fun quiz, Which Winter Olympic Sport Is Best For You? I got ski jumping!The men aren’t doing that wellMeanwhile, the U.S. men lost 3-2 to Slovenia in overtime after coughing up a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. The good news is that that game just helped to figure out the seeding for the knockout rounds, but that concludes our good news regarding the men’s U.S. hockey team for the time being. [Deadspin]She doesn’t even go here!About six percent of Olympic athletes do not actually live in the nations they represent, which adds up to an estimated total of 178. Of those 178, at least 37 of them are Americans playing for other teams. Typically these folks have either dual citizenship or have fast-tracked naturalization in their chosen nation. [ESPN]Big Number29.6 percentThat’s the percentage of alpine ski race runs that are unfinished. While skeleton certainly looks like it’s designed for people to wipe out all the time, only 0.6 percent of races end in DQs. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slack: natesilver:wow BIG curling comeback for the USAwe were down 6-1 and now its 6-6against Italywalt:DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLESlinda.tutovan:yay curlingwalt:[i do not]tchow:italy just hit a great shotneil:OMG you guys are watching too???We’re watching in the alcoveThis match has been crazy3+ points in almost every end, multiple stealsgalen:the USA outfits are cuteneil::us:Predictions NBA read more

UN envoy bound for N Korea as tensions soar

first_imgA senior United Nations envoy arrived at Beijing’s airport on Tuesday on his way to North Korea for a rare visit aimed at defusing soaring tensions over Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch.The unusual trip by Jeffrey Feltman, which runs to Friday, comes less than a week after North Korea said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.AFP journalists saw Feltman arrive in a UN-flagged car at the Chinese capital’s international airport in the morning. North Korea’s Air Koryo airline has a 0455 GMT flight to Pyongyang on Tuesday.His trip comes a day after the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise-manoeuvres slammed by Pyongyang as an “all-out provocation”.The five-day Vigilant Ace drill involves 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters, and tens of thousands of troops, Seoul’s air force said.Feltman arrived in China on Monday as Beijing is one of the few transit points to North Korea in the world.China is Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic and military ally, and its main trade partner.Once in the North, Feltman will discuss “issues of mutual interest and concern” with officials, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding he was unable to say whether Feltman will meet with the reclusive state’s leader Kim Jong-Un.It will be Feltman’s first visit to North Korea since he took office five years ago, and the first by a UN under-secretary-general in more than seven years.The UN envoy is also planning to see foreign diplomats and UN workers in the North on humanitarian missions, Dujarric said.‘Vigilant Ace’The UN Security Council has hit the isolated and impoverished North with a package of sanctions over its increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests, which have rattled Washington and its regional allies South Korea and Japan.Pyongyang ramped up already high tensions on the Korean Peninsula five days ago when it announced it had successfully test-fired a new ICBM, which it says brings the whole of the continental United States within range.Analysts say it is unclear whether the missile survived re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere or could successfully deliver a warhead to its target-key technological hurdles for Pyongyang.A Cathay Pacific crew spotted what was “suspected to be the re-entry” of the missile as they flew from San Francisco to Hong Kong, the airline said.In a separate message to staff, Cathay general manager Mark Hoey said the crew described seeing the missile “blow up and fall apart,” The South China Morning Post reported.‘Begging for nuclear war’? -In recent years, Pyongyang has accelerated its drive to bring together nuclear and missile technology capable of threatening the US, which it accuses of hostility.US President Donald Trump has engaged in months of tit-for-tat rhetoric with Kim, pejoratively dubbing him “Little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy”.North Korean state media has hit back with a flurry of its own colourful insults, calling Trump a “dotard”, a “frightened dog” and a “gangster.”Over the weekend, Pyongyang countered that Washington was “begging for nuclear war” as the North blasted the joint US-South Korean drills.As well as featuring the latest generation of stealth fighters, this year’s war games involve simulated precision attacks on the North’s military installations, including its missile launch sites and artillery units, Yonhap news agency said, citing unnamed Seoul sources.As tensions surged, US Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican and foreign policy hawk, warned that the US was moving closer to “preemptive war” if the North continued its nuclear tests.His remarks echoed those of Trump’s National Security Adviser HR McMaster, who told a security forum on Saturday that the potential for war with the North “is increasing every day.”But some Trump advisers say US military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital-only around 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the heavily-fortified border and home to 10 million people.Tokyo’s parliament on Monday slammed the North’s weapons programme as an “imminent threat”. Last week’s missile landed in Japan’s economic waters.China’s foreign ministry warned that the situation on the Korean peninsula remained “highly sensitive” and called on all sides to “do more things to ease the tension and avoid provoking each other.”The North has boasted that the Hwasong 15 ICBM tested on Wednesday is capable of delivering a “super-large” nuclear warhead anywhere in the US mainland.While analysts agree the latest test showed a big improvement in potential range, they say the North may not have yet mastered all the technology required to successfully hit the US with a nuclear warhead.last_img read more

Tense situation in DR Congo ahead of presidential polls

first_imgCongoThe Democratic Republic of Congo was headed Sunday into a crucial week, with president Joseph Kabila set to declare whether he will run again in elections as one key challenger returned home and another was banned.The DRC was thrown into a crisis nearly two years ago when Kabila refused to step down.And it has been further roiled by the return of former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, 55, freshly acquitted of war-crimes convictions in The Hague, who flew back to Kinshasa for a brief visit to lodge his candidacy for the 23 December elections. He is due to head back to Europe this week.Another key rival is Moise Katumbi, a powerful former governor of mineral-rich Katanga province — who has been living in self-imposed exile after falling out with Kabila.But his supporters are incensed after authorities twice barred him from returning, and said he could be arrested if he sets foot in the country.”Katumbi tried to come back, no-one can criticise him for doing what he needed to do, we are now waiting to see what happens on Wednesday,” said a diplomatic source in Kinshasa who doesn’t believe Kabila will reveal his plans by the set deadline.”Katumbi is seen as the main challenger because he is from the east of the country, like Kabila, and can galvanise support there,” said Georges Kapiamba, human rights lawyer and president of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice.He said the 53-year-old would likely join forces with another major political player, Felix Tshisekedi, 55 — an alliance that would pose a hefty threat to Kabila or his chosen successor.The DRC is one of the world’s most volatile countries and worries about the elections run deep, with many observers fearing it could spiral once more into bloodshed.The vast country has never known a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.In the space of one generation, it was gripped by two wars that sucked in countries from around the region.Many provinces are already in the grip of armed conflict and millions have had to flee their homes, many flocking to Uganda, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia.A regional summit has been scheduled for mid-August, and the DRC elections are likely to dominate the agenda.Last month, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, warned of “numerous violations of human rights norms and principles” in the DRC, raising “serious doubts about the credibility of the country’s long-delayed elections”.The level of anxiety today is “the worst in 20 years”, said the head of a political NGO who has lived in the DRC for two decades.- Kabila fears -Kabila, who took the helm in 2001 from his assassinated father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, was meant to step down at the end of 2016 at the end of his second mandate.But he has stayed in office, invoking a constitutional clause to stay in power until a successor is elected, and provoking protests that have been suppressed with deadly fire.As Wednesday’s midnight deadline looms, there are growing fears Kabila, 47, could claim he has only completed one term under a revised constitution and run again.To do so would “heighten the risk of large-scale violence and instability, with potentially devastating consequences across the region”, said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch.But Congolese political analyst Jean-Claude Mputu said it was “still possible he could choose a successor. He knows his (own) candidacy would be the end of a seemingly legitimate electoral process”.The international community, in particular the United States, has been calling on Kabila to step aside.Kabila recently postponed a visit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres but this week made a visit to Angola, a country with which he is traditionally allied, to confer withpresident Joao Lourenco.- Split opposition -Whether it is Kabila or his hand-picked successor who runs, the opposition will have to unite as December approaches — a task that will require challengers to overcome policy or personal differences and rally their supporters to a compromise.”This election will be highly competitive,” said Paul Fagan, director of the Human Rights and Democracy programs for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.”If there are several high-profile candidates like Jean-Pierre Bemba, Moise Katumbi, Felix Tshisekedi, Vital Kamerhe and Joseph Kabila, then that bodes well for Kabila or his chosen successor since it’s a winner-take-all situation. Several opposition candidates will split the vote.”In a recent poll conducted by CRG/BERCI, Katumbi and Tshisekedi tied at 19 per cent of votes nationwide. Bemba polled at 17 per cent and Kabila was at 9 per cent.Overshadowing the vote is a widespread distrust of the electoral process in a country where contested results have led to political deadlock or violence.Nearly two-thirds of voters — 62 per cent — do not trust the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to conduct free and fair elections.There are also significant logistical and security challenges with organising the elections.But “there’s little MONUSCO can do in this situation except refuse to participate in electoral preparations,” which would be a last-ditch option, said Fagan, referring to the world’s largest UN peacekeeping operation.Registration by 8 August is only the first step for presidential hopefuls.CENI will then have to validate each candidate, before a definitive list is scheduled to be published on 19 September.last_img read more

Flash Flood Watch Extended For HoustonArea Counties

first_imgNational Weather Service As more rain is expected Monday a flash flood watch is in effect for Harris County and surrounding areas until 7 p.m., the National Weather Service said.The watch is also in effect for Jackson, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Polk, San Jacinto, Walker, Waller, Washington and Wharton counties.The watch was originally issued over the weekend as heavy rainfall fell over the city.With the grounds already saturated and up to three to five inches of rain expected to fall in some areas, localized street flooding could occur, The National Weather Service says.Residents are asked to monitor the weather conditions and to watch out for high water on roadways.More information:Local Traffic and road conditions: Houston TranStarForecasts: National Weather ServiceRainfall Totals: harriscountyfws.orgPreparedness & Emergency Information: readyharris.org Sharelast_img read more