US-Germany deal on European energy supply
The Wall Street Journal reports the United States says it has reached a deal with Germany, under which Berlin pledges to respond to attemps by Russia to use the almost-finished Northstream-2 undersea gas pipeline as a weapon in Europe. Built at a cost of $11 billion, the pipeline circumvents Ukraine, which is at war with Russia to the East and threatens to deprive Ukraine of around $2 billion in annual transit payments. Corresponents say mistrust of Russia has led the US to view the pipeline as a potential threat to European energy supply. The Biden administration has now agreed to waive sanctions on those building the project in the interest of closer ties with its chief European ally, Germany. In return Germany has agreed to impose sanctions on Russia if it uses Northstream-2 to commit “further acts of aggression” against Ukraine.
Settlement on opium epidemic reported
According to the Washington Post, prosecutors from several US states have unveiled a sweeping proposed settlement underwhich four pharmaceutical companies, accused of fuelling the countries opiod epidemic would pay compensation of up to $26 billion. The saga has been going on for four years during which states have tried to hold drug makers and distributors accountable. They deny any wrongdoing. The funds would go directly to addiction programmes. At least 44 states must sign on to the deal to get some of the funds.
COVID scam busted in Peru
Il Peruviano says that police in Peru have arrested nine people who promised relatives of COVID-19 victims a place in an intensive care unit if they give them $21,000. The investigations against the gang, known as the Black Angels, began when a man complained that despite paying the money, he saw his sister die in a regular hospital ward two days later. Since the allegations were made public, many people have come forward. It is believed the gangs bribed doctors working in the public health system to help those paying, to jump the queue for scarce intersive care beds in hospitals across the country.
Further rape charges against Weinstein
The Los Angeles Times says that disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Wenstein has pleaded not guilty to 11 new charges of rape and sexual assault involving five women. At a preliminary hearing in California, Wenstein appeared in his wheelchair at the Los Angeles court after being extradited from New York where he is already serving a 23-year sentence for similar offences. If found guilty, the 69-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Boca Juniors coaches, players arrested after brawl
Police in Brazil have accused five plyers and three coaches from Argentina’s Boca Juniors FC of assault and destruction of property. They got involved in a huge brawl following their defeat to Atletico Mineiro.
All set for ‘Let the Games begin’!
The 2021 Tokyo Olympics are finally here. Featuring a record 33 sports, 339 medal events and 42 venues, the Games will open tomorrow and close on 8 August. Actual competition started two days before the Opening Ceremony, with softball. The first medals of the Games will be awarded on 24 July in the women’s 10m air rifle shooting event. A total of 11 medal events will take place that day including in judo, the sport in which Japan normally wins their first medal of an Olympics. The action swings into full gear with “Super Saturday” on 31 July featuring 21 medal events, four of which will debut at the Olympic Games: the 4×400 mixed relay in athletics, judo mixed team, triathlon mixed relay, and shooting trap mixed team. August’s arrival will bring with it 25 gold medals on “Golden Sunday”, including the men’s 100m in athletics as well as four artistic gymnastics events. The men’s tennis singles final is also on the cards. Tokyo 2020 will peak on 7 August with 34 medal events being held, such as the women’s marathon in Sapporo and the finals for baseball, men’s basketball, football and volleyball.