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Max Verstappen Wins Italian GP For Record 10th Straight F1 Victory

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Max Verstappen

MONZA, Italy — With a Red Bull one-two on Ferrari’s home circuit, runaway Formula One leader Max Verstappen scored a record 10th straight win at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.

“That’s a nice stat,” Verstappen stated on team radio after the victory.

Verstappen beat teammate Sergio Pérez by 6.064 seconds in another faultless effort from the two-time defending champion. Carlos Sainz Jr. finished third, 11.193 seconds behind Verstappen and less than two-tenths of a second ahead of Charles Leclerc, who contended for the final slot on Monza’s historic podium.

“I would never have believed that was possible, but we had to work for it today, and that definitely made it a lot more fun,” Verstappen added.

Verstappen had started second, behind Sainz, but passed him at the start of lap 15 and, for the rest of the race, no one could match the Red Bull pace.

Verstappen continued to pull away, quickly amassing a margin of more than five seconds five laps later, and the record seemed all but a fait conclusion.

“Tough, tough, tough. “It can’t get any harder than this,” Sainz added. “To keep up with the Red Bulls, I paid the price with my rear tires, but I did everything I could to defend.”

verstappen

Max Verstappen Wins Italian GP For Record 10th Straight F1 Victory.

Verstappen’s championship lead now stands at 145 points after a crushingly dominant season for the 25-year-old Dutchman.

Verstappen has won 12 of Red Bull’s 14 races this season, matching Sebastian Vettel’s F1 record of nine straight triumphs last weekend at the Dutch GP. He is closing close on his F1 record of 15 victories, which he set last year, and has 47 total.

Pérez has won the last two races this season, while Red Bull has won 24 of the last 25, including last year.

Red Bull has eight races left to accomplish the first flawless year by an F1 team.

“I’m also very proud of the entire team effort, the entire year,” Verstappen remarked. “What we’re doing right now, winning every race this year, is something we’re definitely enjoying because these kinds of seasons don’t come around very often.”

“Of course, winning 10 in a row is the same thing.”

verstappen

Verstappen won his second race in a row at Monza. Before last year, he had never finished higher than fifth in the Italian GP.

His record attempt was hampered slightly by Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on the formation lap due to a suspected power unit malfunction. The race had to be shortened by two circuits due to the missed start and the drivers executing three formation laps.

Ferrari was hoping for their first Temple of Speed victory since 2019, and Sainz, who turned 29 on Friday, got off to a superb start, holding off Verstappen into the first corner, much to the pleasure of the crowds of adoring red-clad Tifosi.

verstappen

Max Verstappen Wins Italian GP For Record 10th Straight F1 Victory

In a heated battle between the two, Sainz successfully defended multiple efforts by Verstappen to pass. That didn’t last long, as Sainz locked his brakes, entering the first chicane on lap 15, allowing Verstappen to pass him on the exit and pull away.

Sainz was left to fight Perez for second place, but he lost that battle with four circuits remaining, forcing him to fight hard again to keep Leclerc behind for the final podium spot.

“Very happy because a P3 in Monza in front of the tifosi is as good as it can get, at least for this weekend, because clearly Red Bull were quite a bit quicker than us today, as we expected,” Sainz remarked. “It was a day to try, and I tried everything I could to keep them behind.”

Despite collecting five-second penalties in separate incidents, George Russell finished fifth, ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Alex Albon finished seventh, matching his best performance of the season. The top ten was completed by Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, and Valtteri Bottas.

SOURCE – (AP)

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China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

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SAN DIEGO — China is to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, renewing its traditional gesture of friendship with the United States after nearly all of the famed bears on loan to U.U.S.oos were returned as relations between the two countries worsened.

San Diego Zoo officials told The Associated Press that if all licences and other criteria are fulfilled, two male and female bears should arrive by the end of the summer, about five years after the zoo’s last pandas were transferred back to China.

“We’re very excited and hopeful,” said Megan Owen, VP of Wildlife Conservation Science at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “They’ve expressed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to re-initiate panda cooperation starting with the San Diego Zoo.”

pandas

China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

The China Wildlife Conservation Association announced Thursday that it has signed cooperation agreements with zoos in Madrid, Washington, D.D.C., and Vienna.

According to the organisation, the relationship will encompass illness prevention and habitat protection research, as well as contributions to the creation of China’s national panda park.

“We look forward to further expanding the research outcomes on the conservation of endangered species such as giant pandas, as well as promoting mutual understanding and friendship among peoples through the new round of international cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated in Beijing.

Fears over the future of so-called panda diplomacy grew last year when the zoos in Washington, D.C., and Memphis, Tennessee, sent their pandas to China, leaving only four pandas in the United States, all at the Atlanta Zoo. That financing agreement will expire later this year.

However, in November, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed hope that his country will resume sending pandas to the United States after he and President Joe Biden met in Northern California for their first face-to-face encounter in a year and agreed to work to ease tensions.

According to Owen, a panda behaviour expert who has worked in San Diego and China, China is considering a pair that includes a female descendant of Bai Yun and Gao Gao, two of the zoo’s past residents.

Bai Yun was born in captivity in China and spent more than 20 years at the zoo, where she gave birth to six cubs. She and her son were the last pandas at the zoo, and they returned to China in 2019.

Gao Gao was born in the wild in China and resided at the San Diego Zoo from 2003 to 2018 before being returned.

Decades of wild conservation efforts and captive research spared the giant panda species from extinction, boosting its number from less than 1,000 to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity.

pandas

China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

The black-and-white bears have long been associated with the relationship between the United States and China, dating back to 1972, when Beijing donated a pair of pandas to the National Zoo in Washington, D.D.C., ahead of normalising diplomatic relations. China later lent pandas to zoos to assist in breeding cubs and increasing the population.

According to 2022 research by America’s Congressional Research Service, zoos normally pay a $1 million fee yearly for two pandas, with the money going towards China’s conservation efforts.

According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, the United States, Spain, and Austria were among the first countries to collaborate with China on panda conservation, with 28 pandas born in those countries.

Demands for the return of giant pandas, dubbed China’s “national treasure,” surged among the Chinese public as unverified reports of mistreatment by USU.S.oos inundated Chinese social media.

Many loan agreements were for ten years and were frequently extended much longer. However, last year’s attempts to prolong the agreements or send more pandas failed. China observers claimed that Beijing was progressively withdrawing its pandas from Western countries due to poor diplomatic relations with the United States and other nations.

Then, on November 15, 2023, a week after the National Zoo’s pandas left for China, Xi spoke at a dinner with American business executives in downtown San Francisco, hinting that more pandas would be sent. He stated that the San Diego Zoo and the people of California are “very much looking forward to welcoming pandas back.”

“I was told that many American people, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and went to the zoo to see them off,” he said.

Even after it no longer housed pandas, the San Diego Zoo continued collaborating with Chinese colleagues.

pandas

China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

According to Owen, China is particularly interested in exchanging information about the zoo’s successful captive panda breeding programme. Giant pandas are difficult to reproduce, partly because the female’s reproductive window is extremely limited, lasting only 48 to 72 hours per year.

Bai Yun’s first child, Hua Mei, was also the first panda born through artificial insemination to live to adulthood outside of China, and she went on to have 12 cubs on her own after being sent to China.

Meanwhile, Bai Yun stayed at the zoo and gave birth to two more girls and three males. Researchers followed her in her den using webcams, providing a better understanding of maternal care behaviour, according to Owen.

“We have a lot of institutional knowledge and capacity from our last cooperative agreement, which we will be able to parlay into this next chapter, as well as training the next generation of panda conservationists,” she said.

Owen said Chinese experts would accompany the bears to San Diego for several months.

She stated that the bears’ return benefits San Diego and the giant panda’s recovery as a species.

“We do talk about panda diplomacy all the time,” Owen said. “Diplomacy is an essential component of conservation in a variety of circumstances…. If we can’t learn to collaborate in often tough conditions or situations beyond the control of conservationists, we won’t succeed.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

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“The Biden crime family.”

It has long been a strong storyline in right-wing media and the GOP, used to demonise President Joe Biden – but it crumbled spectacularly on Thursday.

For a long time, Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media have accused Biden and his son Hunter of running an illegal $10 million bribery conspiracy to enrich themselves and sell out America. According to the tale, a representative of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid for access to then-Vice President Biden in order to improperly use his influence and aid in thwarting a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation into the business.

The evidence of the bribery plan has always been poor, with most credible news sites dismissing the charges. However, MAGA media figures such as Sean Hannity went into overdrive last year when a reportedly “highly credible” FBI informant claimed to have smoking gun evidence of the conspiracy.

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

The revelation of a secret FBI informant swept through right-wing media, with talking heads and sites portraying the claims as overwhelming evidence of criminal activity. It spawned scores of articles. Hundreds of FOX News segments. Republican lawmakers like James Comer and Jim Jordan, anxious for media attention, came on radio and television shows to fuel conspiracy theories and demand probes.

Hannity’s programme was the major vehicle for delivering the message to the GOP base. According to data from the progressive group Media Matters, the accusations were the basis for a startling 85 segments on his Fox News show in 2023. Hannity told his millions of weekly viewers that Biden had been “compromised,” citing informant reports to proclaim the president “very credibly accused of public corruption on a scale this country has never seen before.”

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Comer, who chairs the powerful House Oversight Committee, exploited the charges made in right-wing media to accuse the FBI of a cover-up and attempted to build a corruption case against Biden. Right-wing media then praised these activities. And the feedback circle continued.

What’s the problem? Alexander Smirnov, the informant, cooked up the entire tale, federal investigators alleged Thursday, detaining the 43-year-old at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney, special counsel David Weiss, charged Smirnov with fabricating documents and lying to the FBI. According to the accusation, Smirnov gave “false derogatory information” about Biden to the law enforcement agency. His “story to the FBI was a fabrication, an amalgam of otherwise unremarkable business meetings,” according to the report.

“In short, the Defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against [Joe Biden], the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for President,Hannity after expressing bias against [Joe Biden] and his candidature,” according to the indictment.

The charges delivered a setback to the narrative that Fox News had promoted on the air and that Republicans had pressed in Congress. However, the same network that had publicised Smirnov’s charges against “the big guy,” implying that they formed the basis of a huge scandal that would eclipse Watergate in history, now showed little interest in the story.

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Fox News provided very little coverage of the Weiss indictment in the hours following its announcement. Most importantly, Hannity should have attempted to inform his devoted audience that the story he had been relentlessly promoting to them had crumbled. Instead, he ignored the report, as did the rest of the right-wing network’s dishonest prime-time talk show hosts.

The spectacular downfall of the assertion is simply the most recent example of a bigger pattern from Fox News and the right-wing media ecosystem in which it works.
MAGA Media figures have repeatedly pushed false narratives and conspiracy theories to their large audiences, only to look the other way when they fall. Just last year, Fox News paid a record $787.5 million to promote electoral misinformation. It never ran a retraction on air, and executives have stated that they are happy with the network’s 2020 coverage.

It’s a record that’s played repeatedly. By the time the truth catches up with the fraudulent charges pushed by right-wing media, the narrative has already been established, and the outlets have moved on to the next alleged scandal.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

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LONDON — Yulia Navalnaya used to avoid the spotlight, remaining in the background as her husband, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, rose to become President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest adversary.

However, following his death in prison last week, she took on a podium generally designated for prominent leaders in Munich and declared that Putin and his friends would be held accountable for his killing. Later, she earnestly pledged, “I will continue Alexei Navalny’s work.”

It was a bold declaration from a woman who once told the Russian issue of Harper’s Bazaar that her “key task” was caring for the couple’s children and home.

Yulia Navalnaya’s new duty will be to guide the Russian opposition through one of its history’s darkest and most chaotic periods.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s death dealt a significant blow to the opposition, which is already fragmented. The question is whether Navalnaya can gather her husband’s troops and work with other opposition parties to launch a successful challenge to Putin, who is poised to serve another six years in the Kremlin following the March presidential election.

Putin has stepped up his crackdown on free speech and dissent in Russia, imprisoning opponents and critics alike.

Navalnaya has previously confronted Putin. She and Navalny had been married for over 20 years, and she stood by his side while he helped lead the largest rallies in Russia since the Soviet Union’s demise and during subsequent jail stints.

She has accused Putin of murdering her husband, a claim that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described as “unfounded” and “insolent.”

The risk to Navalny’s life had been “discussed extensively” with his wife and close team before his 2021 return to Russia from Germany, where he received treatment for nerve agent poisoning, according to Vladimir Ashurkov, a longtime friend of the Navalnys and co-founder of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Nonetheless, “it was a big decision” for Navalnaya to continue her husband’s profession, he explained.

In their marriage, she was “the rock” on which Navalny relied. Ashurkov stated that they “had an understanding” that Navalnaya would refrain from political activity and keep out of the spotlight.

Analysts believe Navalny returned to Russia from Germany because he realised he would struggle to be seen as a legitimate opposition leader abroad.

His widow is unlikely to travel to Russia due to security concerns, and she now has a similar difficulty in determining how to run her husband’s organisation from exile.

On Friday, immediately after Navalny’s death was announced, she met Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Tsikhanouskaya took over the political baton from her husband, Belarusian opposition leader Syarhei Tsikhanouski, who was imprisoned before Belarus’ presidential election 2020.

She launched a successful campaign but fled Belarus after long-term President Alexander Lukashenko declared himself the victor of an election generally seen as fraudulent in the West.

“We understood each other without any words,” Tsikhanouskaya said of Navalnaya. Tsikhanouskaya stated that she had no idea about her husband’s condition or if he was dead or alive.

“It’s so difficult when you’re in so much pain, but you have to… give interviews to encourage the democratic world to take decisive action,” Tsikhanouskaya told the Associated Press.

Tsikhanouskaya, who has been operating from overseas for nearly four years, described living in political exile as tough. It is “very important not to lose connection with the people inside the country,” she said.

That won’t be easy, particularly in Russia, where most people still obtain news from Kremlin-controlled official media.

Despite being Russia’s most recognised opposition leader — charming and cracking jokes even while serving a 19-year prison sentence — Navalny was rarely shown on state television, and his death was barely briefly mentioned.

The Kremlin is expected to take the same tactic with Navalnaya, essentially isolating her from the Russian people through a state-sponsored information blockade.

Since Putin invaded Ukraine, the space for criticism in Russia has shrunk even more. Russian authorities have increased speech restrictions and imprisoned opponents, many of whom are ordinary citizens, frequently for decades. Hundreds of people who lay flowers in Navalny’s memory have been imprisoned, and convincing Russians to take a collective public stand against Putin will be nearly difficult.

While Navalnaya has dominated headlines since her husband’s death, Graeme Robertson, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of a book about Putin and contemporary Russian politics, believes her challenge will be “to stay relevant” when interest fades.

Robertson proposed that she could accomplish this by supporting Navalny’s volunteers and political networks in Russia, keeping them “underground but alive,” and deciding on a short-term aim.

When Navalnaya walked into a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, she lost little time explaining what that objective — and her leadership of Navalny’s organisation — would look like.

Sitting next to the EU’s foreign policy chief, she urged Western leaders not to recognise the results of March’s presidential election, to sanction more members of Putin’s entourage, and to do more to assist Russians who have fled abroad.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has made headlines in Western and independent Russian media recently with sleek movies that converted ordinarily uninteresting corruption probes into online blockbusters.

However, the organisation needed to gain widespread support from the Russian populace, to effect political change, or to develop a governance model.

Tsikhanouskaya, widely regarded as Belarus’ democratic leader, stated that she prioritised the development of democratic institutions and the representation of Belarusians within Belarus.

This includes a transitional cabinet and platforms where “all the parties, all the forces are represented,” she stated, seemingly pushing Navalnaya to follow suit.

Ashurkov stated that Navalnaya could be the person to bring together Russia’s opposition, which is notorious for its “disagreements and squabbles.”

“She has a very high reputation,” he remarked.

The duties ahead of her are formidable, and she will face them while grieving for her husband and battling for his body’s return.

“By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart and half of my soul,” she went on to say. “But I still have the other half, and it tells me that I have no right to give up.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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