China President, Xi warns against ‘new cold war’

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Under Trump, tensions simmered between the US and China, the world’s top two economies, on issues ranging from trade and technology to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the coronavirus.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned global leaders against starting a “new Cold War” and urged unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“To build small cliques or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others … will only push the world into division,” said Xi at an all-virtual Davos forum on Monday.

The words appeared to be aimed at US President Joe Biden’s plans to revitalise global alliances to counter China’s growing influence. Biden, busy handling several urgent domestic crises, did not participate at Davos and tasked US climate envoy John Kerry with representing Washington.

In a swipe at moves targeting China launched by the previous US administration under Donald Trump, Xi said confrontation “will always end up harming every nation’s interests and sacrificing people’s welfare”.

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Xi, making his first appearance at the forum since his vigorous defence of free trade and globalisation in an address in Davos in 2017, advocated multilateralism as the way out of current challenges in a roughly 25-minute speech.

“We should build an open world economy … discard discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and take down barriers to trade, investment and technological exchanges,” he said.

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The G20 – an international forum grouping 19 of the biggest developed and emerging economies, plus the European Union – should be strengthened as the “main forum for global economic governance” and the world should “engage in closer macroeconomic policy coordination”, Xi added.

The international community should be governed in accordance with rules and consensus reached by all countries, instead of by one or several issuing orders, he said, without naming the countries.

The Chinese leader also reaffirmed Beijing’s ambitious climate pledges to slash carbon emissions by 65 per cent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 – both significant commitments as China emits a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases.

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“Meeting these targets will require tremendous hard work from China. But we believe that when the interests of the entire humanity are at stake, China must step forward, take action and get the job done,” he said.

Economic growth
China saw its GDP increase 2.3 percent last year, according to official data – the lowest growth rate since 1976 – but it is nonetheless expected to be the only major economy to have expanded in the pandemic-ravaged year.

Its economy is forecast to grow by 7.9 per cent in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund – trimmed down from initial predictions by a harsh geopolitical climate, global economic downturn and risks from a messy technological decoupling from the US.

It also overtook the US as the world’s biggest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020, according to a UN report released on Sunday.

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However, despite having controlled the pandemic within its border, and kickstarting the economy, the Chinese government has been accused of mishandling the initial coronavirus outbreak and covering up information.

A World Health Organization expert team is currently conducting a long-delayed probe into the origins of the virus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

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#Newsworthy

Vladimir Putin slams Pro-Navalny protesters.

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Rising tensions with Western powersNavalny’s imprisonment has led to increased friction between Russia and Western powers, including the United States and European Union.

President Vladimir Putin has described mass protests held at the weekend demanding the release of Alexey Navalny as illegal and dangerous, as he faces mounting pressure from the West and thousands of Russians over the leading Kremlin critic’s arrest.

Putin on Monday fielded questions from students in a video call from his Zavidovo residence after tens of thousands of Russians demonstrated against Navalny’s detention in several cities and towns on Saturday.

“All people have the right to express their point of view within the framework of the law. Everything that goes beyond the framework of the law is not only counterproductive but also dangerous,” he said.

“In the history of our country, we have repeatedly encountered situations when the situation went far beyond the law, and shook our society and the state, where not only people who were engaged in it suffered but also those people who had nothing to do with it.

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“All these events about which I just talked about – no one should use them trying to reach their ambitious goals and objectives, especially in the field of politics. This is not how politics is done, at least not a responsible politics.”

Police detained more than 3,000 protesters and used force to break up the rallies, which saw people ignore extreme cold and police warnings to publicly call for the 44-year-old’s immediate release.

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Several protesters were injured in clashes with riot police, the OVD-Info protest monitor group reported.

Navalny, Putin’s most prominent critic, was arrested on January 17 as he returned to Russia after five months in Germany spent recovering from an alleged poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

The Kremlin says it has seen no evidence that Navalny was poisoned.

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After landing in Moscow and being immediately arrested, he was soon jailed for 30 days over alleged parole violations relating to a case dating back to 2014 over embezzlement charges which Navalny believes were politically motivated.

Navalny ally calls for more protests
Meanwhile, Navalny’s allies called for more demonstrations across Russia on January 31 – Sunday – to demand his release.

If they take place, the protests would come just two days before Navalny is due in court on February 2, on charges of breaking the terms of the 2014 suspended sentence.

Leonid Volkov, the head of the opposition politician’s regional network, called on Twitter for Russians across the country to take to the streets “for Navalny’s freedom, for freedom for all, and for justice”.

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Navalny’s team had earlier spurred on his call for the rallies over the weekend by releasing an investigation into a lavish property on Russia’s Black Sea coast that Navalny alleged is owned by Putin.

Several of his close associates, including prominent activist Lyubov Sobol and his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, were arrested last week, for calling on Russians to join the demonstrations. Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was also detained and later released.

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Putin on Monday denied ownership of the sprawling mansion.

“Nothing that is listed there as my property belongs to me or my close relatives, and never did,” he said.

The Kremlin has said it will not heed calls by three EU countries – former Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – for sanctions over his case because it is a domestic matter.

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The EU on Monday was considering fresh sanctions on Russia over Navalny’s case, and the Kremlin’s handling of the weekend’s protests, during a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels.

Russia on Sunday accused the US of interfering in its domestic affairs over Navalny’s detention.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov took particular issue with a US embassy “demonstration alert” that warned US citizens in Russia of possible unrest, telling a state TV channel on Sunday that Washington’s interference in Russian domestic affairs was “absolute”.

“Of course, those publications are inappropriate,” Peskov said.

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“And of course, indirectly, they are absolute interference in our internal affairs.”

A US embassy spokeswoman told AFP that it was “routine practice” for US embassies and consulates to issue safety messages to American citizens abroad.

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#Newsworthy

COVID vaccine works against variants – Moderna.

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To study the effect of the existing vaccine, called mRNA-1273, Moderna took blood samples from eight people who had received two doses of the vaccine and two primates that had also been immunised.

Moderna has said it believes its COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the coronavirus, although it will test a new booster shot aimed at the strain discovered in South Africa after tests showed the antibody response could be reduced.

The United States-based biotech company said in a press release on Monday that the move was out of “an abundance of caution” after preliminary lab tests suggested its shot produced a weaker immune response to that variant.

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“We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants,” said Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO.

“Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants.”

Study findings
Vaccine manufacturers have been testing their shots against the mutated strains including two that first emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

For the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the UK, there was no impact on the level of neutralising antibodies – which bind to the virus and prevent it from invading human cells – that were produced by the shots.

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But for the South African variant, B.1.351, there was a sixfold reduction in the neutralising antibody level.

Even so, it remained above the quantity that was shown to be protective in earlier tests on primates that were infected on purpose.

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The company, which carried out the studies with the National Institutes of Health, has submitted the study to a preprint server so it can be analysed by the wider scientific community.

No ‘escape’
Dr Ali Fattom, senior vice president of vaccines research at BlueWillow Biologics and an adjunct associate research professor at the University of Michigan, told NoRM‘s known Media that the study appeared to show the virus variants would not “escape” the vaccines that are currently being rolled out.

“We are not losing the protective efficacy of the vaccine because of these variants. They are variable in their level of protection, but still we are protected against them, so there is no issue with regards to ‘vaccine escape’ in this case,” he said.

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“It means that you may need a stronger immune response to tackle this virus, but still the virus is susceptible to the immune response. There is some kind of resistance. The efficacy might not be 90 percent, it could be going down to 70 percent,” he continued.

Dr Fattom noted that the variants would be covered by other vaccines that produce a similar immune response as the Moderna shot.

“The immune response that the Moderna vaccine induces is similar to other vaccines. Therefore any good news from one place is good news for the others,” he said.

Dr Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, said that he was only mildly concerned that the vaccine would not be protective against the variants, the news agency Reuters reported.

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“It is a little worrisome that you see a lesser neutralising antibody response, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are unprotected,” he said, noting that even these lower levels may still be enough to protect against serious infections.

“The goal of this vaccine is to keep you out of the hospital and to keep you out of the morgue. If you get asymptomatic infection or mildly symptomatic infection that is not a burden to the healthcare system,” Offit said.

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#Newsworthy

China, US wars over Taiwan.

China on loggerhead with United States over Taiwan.

Republican proposes Trump’s fate ‘if impeachment trial’ continues.

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Trump is the first president in US history to be impeached twice and the first to face trial after leaving office.

One of the most influential Republicans in the United States Senate has warned that “former Democratic Presidents” could be impeached if the Senate moves ahead with an impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump.

Trump was impeached in the US House of Representatives this month for “incitement of insurrection” after some of his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 as Congress met to certify the election victory of President Joe Biden.

While some Republicans in the Senate, where an impeachment trial is set to begin in February, have criticised Trump’s actions, several say they oppose moving forward with the proceedings after Trump has left office.

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“If it is a good idea to impeach and try former Presidents, what about former Democratic Presidents when Republicans get the majority in 2022?” John Cornyn, a 19-year veteran of the Senate, said in a tweet directed at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Saturday.

“Think about it and let’s do what is best for the country,” Cornyn wrote.

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Some scholars have argued that conducting an impeachment trial after a president has left office is unconstitutional, while others say it is permitted as long the proceedings begin before a president has left office.

Cornyn’s statement comes as federal authorities continue to arrest individuals involved in the January 6 riot that left five dead.

The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has laid the blame for the violence at Trump’s feet, saying the mob was “provoked” and “fed lies” by the former president.

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In a possible further complication of Trump’s case, at least five people arrested in the riot have suggested they were taking orders from Trump when they stormed the Capitol, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

“I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there,” Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate agent who posted a photo on Twitter of herself flashing a peace sign next to a broken Capitol window, told a Dallas-Fort Worth television station.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported on Saturday that federal law enforcement agencies are privately debating not charging some of the rioters in hopes of preventing a deluge of cases from flooding the local courthouse.

While the discussions are in their early stages, some federal officials have suggested not charging those in the group of about 800 people who entered the Capitol building but did not commit any crimes beyond that, such as vandalism or violence, the newspaper reported.

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The Department of Justice, which has already charged more than 135 people in the incident, has publicly pledged to doggedly identify and arrest anyone who stormed the building.

On Friday, federal officials arrested 34-year-old Garrett Miller of Texas for storming the Capitol and posting threatening tweets, including one that simply read “assassinate AOC”, a reference to Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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#Newsworthy

Western Sahara Rebels attack Morocco Border.

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Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.

Western Sahara’s pro-independence Polisario Front has bombarded the Guerguerat buffer zone under Moroccan control in the far south of the desert territory in an attack Rabat described as part of a “propaganda war”.

“The Saharawi army launched four rockets in the direction of … Guerguerat,” on the border between Morocco and Mauritania, Saharawi press agency SPS said in a statement on Sunday, citing a military leader of the separatist Saharawi forces.

Morocco launched a military operation on November 13 in the buffer zone of Guerguerat – in the extreme south of the former Spanish colony – to drive out a group of Saharawi rebels who were blocking a transit route to neighbouring Mauritania.

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The SPS statement also reported attacks along the security wall that separates Saharawi fighters from Moroccan forces in the vast desert expanse.

‘Harassing fire’
A senior Moroccan official in Rabat told AFP news agency: “There was harassing fire near the area of Guerguerat, but it did not affect the trunk road, traffic was not disrupted.”

“It’s been part of a cycle of harassment for more than three months,” he said.

“There is a desire to create a propaganda war, a media war, on the existence of a war in the Sahara” but “the situation is normal”, he said.

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In November, Morocco sent troops into a UN-patrolled buffer zone to reopen a key road leading to Mauritania.

The Polisario responded by declaring a 1991 ceasefire null and void, arguing the road had not existed when the truce was signed.

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The two sides are reported to have since exchanged regular fire along the demarcation line.

The UN-backed ceasefire deal was meant to lead to a referendum on self-determination. Morocco has offered autonomy but maintains the territory is a sovereign part of the kingdom.

UN-led negotiations involving Morocco and the Polisario, with Algeria and Mauritania as observers, have been suspended since March 2019.

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The Polisario Front, which fought a war for independence from Morocco from 1975 to 1991, said it was still willing to join UN talks on the territory’s future – but would not lay down its arms.

‘Broken promises’
“In the past, we put all our trust in the international community and definitively ended our armed struggle,” senior Polisario security official Sidi Ould Oukal said on Tuesday. “We have waited 30 years. Thirty years of broken promises, prevarication and untenable waiting.”

Ould Oukal insisted the group was “open to any mediation”.

“But at the same time, we will keep up the armed struggle, based on past experiences,” he said.

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For its part, Morocco’s position was reinforced last year by US recognition of its sovereignty over the entire disputed territory, breaking decades of precedent.

The move came under then-President Donald Trump in exchange for Rabat normalising relations with Israel.

Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.

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#Newsworthy

United States proves strong support ‘for taiwan’ as China sends warplanes.

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Ambassador Kelly Craft accompanied the tweet with a photo of herself in the UN General Assembly Hall, where the island is banned.

Chinese air force planes including 12 fighter jets entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone for a second day as tensions rise near the island just days into US President Joe Biden’s new administration.

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After eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets flew into Taiwan’s defence zone on Saturday in the South China Sea, a further 15 flew into the same air space on Sunday.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said China sent six J-10 fighters, four J-16s, two SU-30s, a Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft and two Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft.

Taiwan’s air force was sent up to respond, it added.

“Airborne alert sorties had been tasked, radio warnings issued and air defence missile systems deployed to monitor the activity,” the ministry said.

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China has yet to comment. It has previously said such actions are aimed at defending the country’s sovereignty and designed to act as a warning against “collusion” between the United States and Taiwan.

China views democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has in the past few months increased military activity near the island.

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But China’s activities over the weekend mark a ratcheting up with fighters and bombers being dispatched rather than reconnaissance aircraft as had generally been the case in recent weeks.

The US Department of State on Saturday said it “notes with concern the pattern of [China’s] ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours, including Taiwan”.

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

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Washington will continue to deepen ties with Taiwan and ensure its defence from Chinese threats while supporting a peaceful resolution of issues between the sides, the statement said.

“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” it added.

The latest Chinese overflight came on the heels of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, emphasising the island’s enduring position in the panoply of divisive issues between the sides that also include human rights, trade disputes and, most recently, questions about China’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden’s administration has shown little sign of reducing pressure on China over such issues, although it is seen as favouring a return to more civil dialogue.

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Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed its thanks for the show of US support on Sunday, adding it would work closely with the Biden administration to strengthen their partnership.

Lo Chih-cheng, a senior legislator for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party who sits on parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee, also told Reuters news agency that China was trying to deter the new US government from backing the island.

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“It’s sending a message to the Biden administration,” he said.

Taiwan and China separated amid civil war in 1949 and China says it is determined to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.

The US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but is legally required to ensure Taiwan can defend itself and the self-governing democratic island enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington.

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Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, also reaffirmed the US’s commitment to Taiwan after the island’s de facto ambassador in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday.

In a final swipe at China, the Trump administration’s outgoing UN ambassador tweeted that it was time for the world to oppose China’s efforts to exclude and isolate Taiwan, drawing sharp criticism from Beijing.

She carried a handbag with a stuffed Taiwan bear sticking out of the top, a gift from Taiwan’s representative in New York, Ambassador James Lee.

Tsai has sought to bolster the island’s defences with the purchase of billions of dollars in US weapons, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting ships and land targets.

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She has also boosted support for Taiwan’s indigenous arms industry, including launching a programme to build new submarines to counter China’s ever-growing naval capabilities.

China’s increased threats come as economic and political enticements bear little fruit, leading it to stage war games and dispatch fighter jets and reconnaissance planes on an almost daily basis towards the island of 24 million people, which lies 160km (100 miles) off China’s southeast coast across the Taiwan Strait.

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#Newsworthy

UFC: Poirier beats McGregor in round 2.

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But Poirier, who now has a UFC record of 27-6, used low calf kicks in an effort to put McGregor (22-5) off his usual ferocious stand-up game – and it worked.

American underdog Dustin Poirier has shaken up the world of mixed martial arts by beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.

Dustin Poirier, right, punches Conor McGregor during the UFC 257 event at Etihad Arena on ‘Fight Island’ on Saturday in Abu Dhabi [Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

“I’m happy but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier on Sunday after the referee stepped in after two minutes and 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches.

Poirier, 32, was ranked second in the lightweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent, arguably the most famous fighter the sport has seen.

The controversial McGregor, known as “Notorious”, was returning to the octagon for the first time in a year and hoping for a repeat of the pair’s first contest in 2014, which he won by TKO after just 109 seconds.

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“First off I want to say Conor took this result professionally. We’re 1-1 and maybe we’re going to have to do it again,” said Poirier, hinting at the prospect of a trilogy fight.

McGregor, right, spent the week up to the fight predicting he would end it inside 60 seconds [Reuters]

“I’m happy with the place I am in. I’m happy with the face I see in the mirror. The goal was to be technical and to pick my shots, not brawl at all. I had him hurt and I went a little crazy.”

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Worked the legs
McGregor likes to call himself “Mystic Mac” and had spent the week leading into the fight predicting he would end it inside 60 seconds.

But he met a different Poirier to the one who had looked overmatched when the pair previously met at UFC 178 at the lighter featherweight.

Poirier, right, used low calf kicks in an effort to put McGregor off his usual ferocious stand-up game – and it worked [Getty]

Poirier worked the legs and took McGregor down into a grapple for much of the first round – avoiding a boxing face-off against a man who once shared the ring with Floyd Mayweather and had touted a future fight against Manny Pacquiao.

Poirier then found his range in the second, weakening McGregor’s base with more calf kicks before exploding for the shock finish.

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He staggered McGregor with a big overhand left and then dropped him to the canvas with a straight right flush on the Irishman’s nose before referee Herb Dean waved it off.

“You know, it’s hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time,” said McGregor, who had not fought since beating Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds last January.

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“The low calf kick was very good but Dustin is some fighter,” said McGregor.

“I’ll dust it off and come back because that’s what I’ll do. I’ll take my licks. I’m gutted, it’s a tough one to swallow. I just want to go back to the hotel and chill with my kids and regroup.”

The second-ranked Poirier is now in prime position to either inherit or fight for the UFC’s lightweight belt, most recently held by the now-retired unbeaten Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov.

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“I felt like this was the title fight. If Khabib’s not coming back then I’m the champion,” said Poirier.

Conor McGregor of Ireland, left, punches American Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE [Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

UFC President Dana White had made no secret of the fact that he would like to see Nurmagomedov, who retired undefeated after beating Justin Gaethje last October, come back for a lucrative rematch with McGregor.

White was in immediate contact with Nurmagomedov to see if he had seen anything that would entice him back into the octagon, but he said the undefeated Dagestani was apparently sticking by his decision to retire, for the time being at least.

“He said ‘Dana, be honest with yourself. I’m so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys’,” White told a media conference as he watched what would undoubtedly have been a very lucrative pay-per-view event slip away.

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Saturday’s fight was held inside the new Etihad Arena on the “Fight Island” bio-secure sporting hub of Yas Island, which Abu Dhabi’s government established last July.

The three UFC events staged over the past week have been the first to allow fans to sit cage-side, with about 2,000 in attendance for the main event.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is owned and operated by Endeavor Group Holdings along with Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital via Zuffa, LLC.

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#Newsworthy

Russia Gov’t arrest Hundreds Pro-Navalny protesters.

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The OVD-Info protest monitor group said that at least 1,090 people, including 300 in Moscow and 162 in St Petersburg, had been detained across Russia, a number likely to rise.

Russian police have detained over 1,000 people across Russia and used force to break up rallies around the country as tens of thousands of protesters demanded the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose wife was among those detained.

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Navalny had called on his supporters to protest after being arrested last weekend as he returned to Russia from Germany for the first time since being poisoned with a nerve agent he says was applied to his underpants by state security agents in August.

…s had warned people to stay away from Saturday’s protests, saying they risked catching COVID-19 as well as prosecution and possible jail time for attending an unauthorised event.

But protesters defied the ban and bitter cold and turned out in force.

In central Moscow, where Reuters reporters estimated at least 40,000 people had gathered in one of the biggest unauthorised rallies for years, police were seen roughly detaining people, bundling them into nearby vans.

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The authorities said just some 4,000 people had shown up.

Video footage from Vladivostok showed riot police chasing a group of protesters down the street, while demonstrators in Khabarovsk, braving temperatures of about -14C (7F), chanted “Shame!” and “Bandits!”

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Police in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, one of the coldest cities in the world and where the temperature was -52C on Saturday, grabbed a protester by his arms and legs and dragged him into a van, video footage from the scene showed.

In Moscow, police put up barricades around Pushkinskaya Square as workers were engaged in re-tiling it, an apparent attempt to thwart a demonstration that was scheduled to start at 11:00 GMT.

Police also arrested a few people gathered on the square before the rally, including a lone picketer.

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It reported arrests at rallies in nearly 70 towns and cities.

Navalny, an ex-lawyer who has accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder, could face years in jail over legal cases that he calls trumped up. Putin has denied involvement.

Navalny’s supporters are hoping they can produce a show of anti-Kremlin street support despite winter conditions and the coronavirus pandemic to pressure the authorities into freeing him.

Navalny faces a years-long prison term. Authorities accused him of violating the terms of a suspended sentence in a 2014 conviction for financial misdeeds, including when he was convalescing in Germany.

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The two-hour video report has been viewed more than 64 million times since its release on Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.

Navalny’s arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.

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#Newsworthy

Yoruba youths causing havock! – Seriki cries after his house got burnt.

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But a close aide to Mr. Adeyemo who spoke on condition of anonymity said the incident must have been after his master had left Igangan town.

The Seriki Fulani of Oyo State, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir has lamented bitterly after a group of angry youths stormed his house setting it ablaze.

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NoRM gathered that the house was set ablaze in Igangan town in Ibarapa North Local government area of the State on Friday.

Amongst properties, destroyed were eleven cars.
The house was set ablaze a few hours after the visit of Mr Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho to the town.

Mr Adeyemo had earlier issued a seven (7) day ultimatum to herdsmen who have been accused of kidnapping, killing and attack on innocent Nigerians in Ibarapa geopolitical zone of the state.

He said, “As we speak, we are in the bush. Our cars numbering about eleven have been burnt. Some of my children sustained injuries and we are finding a way to take them to the hospital. My children have left their houses for the bush.

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“We need government to help us. Police, operation burst and other security agencies were there when they set my house ablaze.”

He said, “Sunday Igboho was there not to fight but to appeal to both sides and assure Yoruba residents that there won’t be problem.”

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#Newsworthy

Dias speak on Manchester City’s solid defense.

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Guardiola hasn’t been shy when it comes to forking out on defensive reinforcements since arriving at the Etihad Stadium, and last September he added yet another big-money signing to his roster in the shape of Ruben Dias.

When Vincent Kompany departed Manchester City in 2019, few could have envisaged the impact the veteran defender’s exit would have on Pep Guardiola’s side.

After all, the Belgian’s status as a mainstay in the starting XI had long since waned, yet City’s maiden campaign without their former captain saw them concede more than 50% more league goals than they had in his final season at the club.

The Portugal international has adapted seamlessly to life in the Premier League – with his
partnership alongside John Stones a huge part of the reason City are back to looking like genuine title contenders – though the youngster believes their superb defensive record this season is reflection on the team as a whole rather than just him and his defensive colleagues.

“The connection with John [Stones] has been just brilliant, but I would like to say that it’s not just me and John,” he told the Daily Mail. “A brilliant example of that, I think it was against Brighton. We were winning 1-0 but struggling and then I see Kevin [De Bruyne] and Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan] dying on the pitch. You know, running back, running forwards. Dying.

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“That moment just said to me, if these guys are running like that, who will not? If these guys give everything for the team, who will not?

“Trust is given. Trust is earned. So when you start to build that defensive point of view, if we’re not conceding, we’re closer to winning, and then everyone starts to believe in it. They see your will to accomplish that. That makes this team strong.”

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Despite Dias proving himself to be more than adept at playing out from the back, the 23-year-old was quick to stress that his main job is to defend and that he takes pride in his work.

“The other day someone said to me here in the club, ‘ah, amazing, another clean sheet’, and I just said the thing that gives me most pleasure is not even the clean sheet,” he added. “It’s the other team not even making one shot on goal. The thing that gives me the most pleasure is that my keeper doesn’t make a save.

“I’m a defender. I’m there to defend. Nowadays the idea is that a defender needs to do much more. My focus has always been on becoming better and doing more but I’ve never forgotten that, first of all, I’m a defender.

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“If not me, then who else will take pride from defending? It gives me pleasure to make the other team feel powerless.”

Since arriving in the Premier League, Dias’ communication skills on the pitch have been regularly lauded, with suggestions he could be set to be handed the captain’s armband.

At just 23 he would be one of the youngest captains in the league, though he believes age plays no part in the decision.

“The thing I can say about me is that no matter the age, you are either one type of person or not, you are either the winner or not.” he said. “That’s not a matter of age, it’s a matter of are you ready or not.”

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Regardless of whether he is appointed club captain one day or not, the Portugal international has enjoyed a superb start to his career in England, and he’s loving life in the north west.

“What I know now about this city is the way people breathe football… there is just something else here, something special. Even the grass,” he said. “The environment. It is different. It goes a bit further in Manchester.”

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#Newsworthy

Pandemonium, corpses as Sunday Igboho’s supporters clash in Oyo.

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Two persons have reportedly died after supporters of a Yoruba activist Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho stormed Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State on Friday to enforce an illegal directive for herdsmen to exit the town.

Property worth millions of naira were reportedly destroyed during the clash.

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Although Igboho could not be reached as calls to his telephone line indicated that he was out of reach, residents of Igangan however said that at least one youth from Igboora was killed by Fulani fighters while two others sustained injuries from gunshots.

Igboho and his supporters particularly sought to eject the Seriki Fulani, Salihu Abdukadir, and some other herdsmen accused of fuelling security problems in the area.

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Igboho had addressed a crowd, saying: “They started deploying soldiers here since yesterday (Thursday). When our people were being kidnapped and killed, there was not soldier to be deployed to secure them.”

The Seriki told NoRM‘s known Media that one Fulani woman was killed. He said he had fled the town before Igboho returned on Friday.

On the other hand, residents of Igangan said that at least one youth from Igboora was killed by Fulani fighters while two others sustained injuries from gunshots.

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Their claims could not be immediately verified.

Igboho had last week issued a seven-day quit notice to the Seriki and his associates.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State had in a broadcast warned people fuelling ethic crisis in the state to desist from such act.

Despite this, Igboho and his supporters stormed Igangan on Friday afternoon.

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Addressing the youths, Igboho said, “They started deploying soldiers here since yesterday (Thursday). When our people were being kidnapped and killed, there was not soldier to be deployed to secure them.

Reacting, the Oyo State PPRO, Mr. Olugbenga Fadeyi, said, “Tactical police teams with Operation Burst are on ground to give maximum security protection while efforts are on to ascertain the situation there.”

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#Newsworthy

Tomori joins AC Milan from Chelsea.

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Chelsea have confirmed the departure of centre-back Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan on loan until the end of the season.

Milan wanted a new centre-back this summer and had initially identified Strasbourg’s Mohamed Simakan as their preferred target, but eventually set their sights on Tomori, who was eager to make the move.

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The two clubs began talks midway through January and things progressed fairly quickly, and now Chelsea have confirmed on their official website that they have sent Tomori over to San Siro for the remainder of the season.

As part of the agreement, Milan are understood to have the option to sign the 23-year-old permanently next summer for a fee of around £25m.

Tomori is now expected to compete for minutes with Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer, who have formed a dominant duo since the latter’s arrival from Sevilla in the summer.

Stefano Pioli’s side currently sit top of the Serie A standings, three points clear of rivals Inter, and the hope is that Tomori will help strengthen their defence and keep them on track for their first league title since 2011.

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Tomori will be eager to play football again. He managed just four appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season, finding himself firmly stuck behind Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard recently insisted that he still had a ‘long-term plan’ for the centre-back, but Tomori has seemingly been won over by Milan, where director Paolo Maldini admitted they were waiting to welcome him with open arms.

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#Newsworthy

Pakistani ‘killed’ during TikTok stunt.

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A young man was hit and killed by a train in Pakistan while being filmed walking along the tracks for a TikTok stunt, police and rescue officials said Saturday.

The accident happened on Friday in the Shah Khalid neighbourhood of Rawalpindi city, near the capital Islamabad.

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Hamza Naveed, 18, was walking next to the tracks while a friend filmed him, Raja Rafaqat Zaman, a spokesperson for the local rescue agency, told AFP.

“The moving train hit him while he was posing for a video and walking on the railway track,” Zaman said.

Rescue workers rushed to the site, he said, but the young man was already dead.

Friends of the young man told rescue workers he was posing for the video to post it on TikTok and his other social media accounts, Zaman said.

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A police official at the local station confirmed the accident and other details.

Taking selfies and making videos for social media is wildly popular in Pakistan, as in other countries, with many youngsters using the posts to update their Facebook, Twitter and TikTok accounts.

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#Newsworthy

Trump’s impeachment trial set to begin, second week of February

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The US Senate trial of former president Donald Trump will begin the second week of February, after the article of impeachment is transmitted to the chamber early next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday.

“Once the briefs are drafted, presentation by the parties will commence the week of February 8,” Schumer told colleagues on the Senate floor.

The schedule essentially amounts to a two-week delay, which will allow the chamber to conduct normal business in the interim, including confirmation votes on President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominations and potential action on a massive coronavirus relief package.

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#Newsworthy

Makinde orders activist be treated like criminal after alleged arrest.

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In her remark, Onadeko, pledged to make lives and property of residents of the state safe and secure saying that visibility policing had started in earnest.

Following the ultimatum given by self-acclaimed leader of Yoruba freedom agitators, Sunday Igboho, to people of Fulani ethnic stock to vacate the Ibarapa area of Oyo State, Gov. Seyi Makinde has now asked the new Commissioner of Police in Oyo, CP Ngozi Onadeko, to arrest him and treat him as a criminal.

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NoRM recalls that Igboho arrived Igangan town earlier and was welcomed by scores of youths at the Igangan Town Hall.

There was palpable tension in Igangan and other parts of the Ibarapa area of Oyo State on Friday morning, as the quit notice he had given to herdsmen in the area expires today.

Frustrated by the incessant killings, kidnappings, and destruction of farms allegedly being carried out by herdsmen in Ibarapaland, Igboho last Friday stormed the Fulani settlements in in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area and asked them to leave within seven days.

Giving the order for Sunday Igboho’s arrest, Governor Seyi Makinde on Friday when Onadeko paid him a courtesy visit at the Governor’s Office, Agodi, Secretariat, Ibadan.

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Makinde said that attempt to fuel security tension under any guise that would threaten the corporate vision of Nigeria would not be tolerated by his administration.

He said that his government was not against any ethic group, but was determined to flushing out criminal elements anywhere in the state.

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He stressed that the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group residing in the state was not his government’s target, but hoodlums, bandits, irrespective of their tribes and religion.

“For people stoking ethnic tension, they are criminals and once you get them they should be arrested and treated like common criminals.”

“For this administration, the major pillar for us is security because we know that all the good things we want to do economically won’t be possible in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.

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“So, when people say things that are not lawful and within the spirit of Nigeria’s constitution, it is not acceptable here.

“And they cannot hide under being people protecting Yoruba interest to perpetrate chaos in the state,” he said in a veiled reference to the quit order on the Fulani issued by Igboho.

Makinde reiterated that security remained one of the pillars of his administration, noting that all the good policies of his administration could not be actualised in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.

He promised to give maximum support to the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to ensure safety of lives, property and economic prosperity of the state.

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Makinde called for more synergy between the police and the Western Nigeria Security Network, code-named Amotekun.

He noted that those who demonised Amotekun were the ones issuing ultimatum to certain ethnic nationalities to vacate the state.

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The governor welcomed the new police boss and assured the CP of his support in tackling insecurity in the state.

“We won’t make the job difficult. We will be sincere, open and support you,” he added.

She assured the governor that men and officers of the command would display high level of professionalism and that corruption would be shunned, with the view to achieving common goal.

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“I’m here to formally tell you that I have assumed duty, we promise to make the lives and property of the people of Oyo State safe and secure.

“Since I came in, we have started with our visibility policing. When I came in, I noticed that there were no policemen on the road, maybe it was still the aftermath of the EndSARS issue, but we have been able to draft them back.

“We have asked them to occupy their space because it is their constitutional duty. We have to nip crime to hit the barest minimum in Oyo state.

“We are going to be professional about our work, shun corruption, synergise and work with other sister agencies.

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“We are all working toward one particular goal, that is, to make sure that Oyo State is safe and secure,” the CP said.

Onadeko further pleaded with the governor to assist the command with operational vehicles.

Endless Updates

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