Russian Boxer Maxim Dadashev Dies After Fight

Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev has died from injuries sustained in a fight in Maryland, the Russian boxing federation announced Tuesday. 

“Maxim Dadashev has died in the United States following injuries sustained during his fight with Subriel Matias,” the federation said in a statement.

The 28-year-old underwent emergency brain surgery in Washington after his super-lightweight bout with Puerto Rican Matias on Friday was stopped in the 11th round by his cornerman James “Buddy” McGirt.

Dadashev, known as “Mad Max,” was unable to walk to the dressing room and was immediately hospitalized.

Doctors operated to relieve pressure from swelling on his brain.

“Right now, he’s in critical condition, but the doctor told me that he’s stable,” Dadashev’s strength and conditioning coach, Donatas Janusevicius, had told ESPN after the operation.

McGirt said after the fight he “couldn’t convince” his fighter to stop, but opted to throw in the towel when he saw him “getting hit with more and more clean shots as the fight went on.”

“One punch can change a whole guy’s life,” McGirt said.

Russian boxing chief Umar Kremlev told Russian media that Dadashev’s body would be repatriated home and that his family would receive financial aid.

Dadashev took an unbeaten 13-0 record into the 140-pound non-title fight.

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US Official: International Consensus and Law Not Keys to Resolving Arab-Israeli Dispute

A senior U.S. official tasked with finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue told the United Nations Tuesday that international law and consensus are not the keys to resolving the decades-old dispute.

“Those who continue to call for international consensus on this conflict are doing nothing to encourage the parties to sit down at the negotiating table and make the hard compromises necessary for peace,” Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “In fact, they are doing the opposite –  allowing people to hide behind words that mean nothing.” 
Greenblatt said that international consensus is often “nothing more than a mask for inaction.”
“So let’s stop kidding ourselves. If a so-called international consensus had been able to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would have done so decades ago. It didn’t,” he said. “This conflict is also not going to be resolved by reference to “international law” when such law is inconclusive.”

Greenblatt also took aim at the Security Council resolutions agreed on the issue since 1967 – all are binding under international law – saying they have not succeeded and would not provide a path to peace.
The council has laid out the basic principles for a negotiated peace in its resolutions, including land-for-peace, affirming the vision of a two-state solution, and endorsing the so-called Quartet’s (U.N., Russia, U.S. and European Union) road map. More recently, in December 2016, it said Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and a major obstacle to peace.
The international community has been awaiting a proposed peace plan from the Trump administration. Greenblatt, along with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, have been working on the proposal for many months.

Greenblatt said Tuesday that Trump has not decided when the political plan would be released, but that when it is, it would not be ambiguous. An economic road map was unveiled to mixed reviews at a conference in Bahrain in late June.
“I ask all of you to reserve judgment until we publish, and you read, the 60 or so pages that detail what peace could look like,” Greenblatt said. “Achieving that vision will require difficult compromises by both parties, if they are willing to make such compromises. But we believe both sides will gain far more than they give.”  
He emphasized that a solution could not be forced upon the parties and said, “Unilateral steps in international and multilateral fora will do nothing to solve this conflict.”
The Trump administration came in for widespread international criticism in December 2017 when it took the unilateral step of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing that it would move its embassy there.
Greenblatt raised the issue of Jerusalem, saying that the Palestinians continue to assert that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
“But let’s remember, an aspiration is not a right,” Greenblatt said. He then added that his statement should not be interpreted as an indication of the content of the political part of the peace plan.
“Aspirations belong at the negotiating table,” he added. “And only direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians can resolve the issue of Jerusalem, if it can be resolved.”
The status of Jerusalem is seen internationally as a final status issue that must be resolved at the negotiating table.
Several council members took issue with Greenblatt’s demotion of international law and consensus.

FILE – Germany’s Ambassador and current president of the Security Council Christoph Heusgen resets an hour glass between speakers at United Nations headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019.

“For us, international law is relevant; international law is not futile,” said German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen. “We believe in the force of international law; we do not believe in the force of the strongest.”
He emphasized that council resolutions are binding under international law.
“For us, international law is not menu a la carte,” Heusgen added. He noted that there are many instances where U.S. diplomats insist on the respect and implementation of council resolutions, such as on North Korea.
Russia’s envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, also challenged Greenblatt’s assertions.
“This international consensus is international law, because Security Council resolutions are international law – they merely need to be complied with,” Nebenzia said. “The matter lies not with a lack of international consensus; rather the matter has to do with the fact that there is utter disregard for this internationally-acknowledged consensus by the United States at present.”

While the Trump administration’s peace plan has yet to be delivered, it is seen by some as already dead on arrival, as the Palestinians have rejected Washington’s ability to be an impartial mediator after its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


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Why Philippines President, Criticized Abroad, Has Record High Approval

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval rating hit a new high because of his anti-crime work and populist appeal across class lines, a survey shows.
While many nations and groups around the world criticize him, Duterte earned a net satisfaction rating of 68 in the second quarter of 2019, according to a July 8 public opinion survey by Manila area research institution Social Weather Stations. The rating marked a new “personal record high,” the president said on his office website. He had scored 66 in March as well as in June 2017.

The president fared well in the heavily watched survey of 1,200 adults because his anti-crime campaign has made people feel safer in urban neighborhoods, common Filipinos and scholars in the country say. Duterte, elected in 2016, got there in part by letting police shoot drug crime suspects on the spot, outraged overseas rights groups believe.

Duterte also makes sense to common people because of speech and demeanor that cast him as a political outsider, analysts say. Fast economic growth has given him a boost, they observe.

“The way he presents himself is that he speaks street language,” said Maria Ela Atienza, political science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman. “He looks like a person who does things immediately, even of course at the expense of rule of law.”

Anti-crime wave

Duterte vowed after taking office to eradicate major crimes within three to six months. The 74-year-old leader has acknowledged personally killing criminal suspects while mayor of the second-largest Philippine city, Davao.

On the presidential office website, Duterte once swore he would “eradicate everyone involved in the illegal drug trade.”

Crime decreased to 115,539 incidents logged in the first quarter this year, down 3.3% from the same period of 2018, domestic media outlet BusinessWorld says, citing police figures.

Populist aura

The Middle class resents the failed promises of previous presidents, adding to their satisfaction with Duterte, Atienza said. Past administrations were lighter on crime, including corruption.

The middle class is solid, thanks to economic growth of more than 6% every year since the president took office.

“Duterte has created an aura for himself. It’s probably quite difficult to knock down,” said Eduardo Araral, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s public policy school. “He is seen as an ordinary guy, (an) outsider.”
Criticism from domestic political opponents tends to raise his popular appeal, casting him as an “underdog,” Araral said.

Condemnations offshore

New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch has estimated there have been more than 12,000 extrajudicial killings under Duterte, nearly double an official figure of 6,600. Teenagers are among the dead. “The Philippine government’s brutal ‘war on drugs’ has devastated the lives of countless children,” the group said in a June 27 report.

Western governments as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have questioned the extrajudicial killings since 2016, sparking sharp rebuttals from Duterte.

He called former U.S. President Barack Obama, for example, a “son of a whore” in 2016 over Obama’s comments about the Philippine anti-drug campaign. Duterte later apologized for the remark.

A lot of people in the Philippines want the U.N. Human Rights Commission to investigate the extrajudicial killings even if Duterte himself gets high satisfaction ratings, said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the Manila-based Bagong Alyansang Makabaya alliance of leftist causes.

“We would rather look at how people stand or at how people rate the policies of the government rather than look at the overall quote, unquote, ‘satisfaction and approval ratings,’” Reyes said.

Three-year honeymoons

Three previous Philippine presidents also posted high net satisfaction ratings in the first half of their terms. They were Fidel Ramos, Corazon Aquino and later, her son Benigno Aquino. Ratings for all three fell in the second half of their terms, Social Weather Stations data show.

Duterte acknowledged the second-quarter approval figure without suggesting a reason. He must step down in 2022 due to the country’s limit of one term per president.

“As always… if you are satisfied with my work, then I’m happy. If you are not satisfied, then I’ll work more,” Duterte said July 9 in a statement on the presidential website.


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Venezuela Capital in the Dark Again After Massive Blackout

The lights have gone out across much of Venezuela, snarling traffic in the capital and reviving fears of the blackouts that plunged the country into chaos a few months ago.

The power in the capital went out after 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) and immediately backed up traffic as stop lights and the subway stopped working during rush hour.

“This is horrible, a disaster,” Reni Blanco, a 48-year-old teacher, said as she joined a crush of people who flooded into the streets of the capital trying to make it home before nightfall.

Authorities have yet to comment and it was unclear the scale of the outage.

But there were reports on social media that 19 of 24 Venezuelan states were also affected. Netblocks, a group monitoring internet activity, said network data showed most of Venezuela was knocked offline with national connectivity at just 6% after the latest cuts. The normally non-stop state TV channel, a key way for the government to keep people informed, was also off the air, leaving frustrated Venezuelans to wonder how long they would be left in the dark.

People walk on the street during a blackout in Caracas, Venezuela, July 22, 2019.

Blackouts roiled the country in March, leaving much of the capital without power and water for almost a week. President Nicolas Maduro blamed the outage on a U.S.-sponsored “electromagnetic attack” against the nation’s biggest hydroelectric dam. More recently, as power service in the politically crucial capital has improved amid widespread rationing in the interior, officials have even taken to downplaying the outages as similar to recent ones in Argentina and even one that knocked off the power for several thousand residents of Manhattan for a few hours amid the summer heat.

But his opponents said the outage laid bare years of underinvestment in the nation’s grid by corrupt officials who mismanaged an oil bonanza in the nation sitting atop the world’s largest crude reserves.

“They tried to hide the tragedy by rationing supplies across the country, but their failure is evident: they destroyed the system and they don’t have answers,” opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Twitter.

Guaido, who the U.S. and more than 50 other nations recognize as Venezuela’s rightful leader, reiterated an earlier call for nationwide protests on Tuesday.

“We Venezuelans won’t grow accustomed to this,” he said.

Much of the government’s focus since the March blackouts has been  on repairing transmission lines near the Guri Dam, which provides about 80 percent of Venezuela’s electricity.

Jose Aguilar, a power expert who lives in the U.S. but hails from Venezuela, said that alternative power plants running on diesel fuel and gas are unable to make up the difference.

“Venezuela simply doesn’t have enough megawatts available,” he said on Twitter. “Any failure shuts down the entire system.”

Despite the risks of another extended collapse, some Venezuelans were taking the blackout in stride.

Cristian Sandoval, a 37-year-old owner of a motorcycle repair business, said he is more prepared for a prolonged outage having equipped his home with a water tanks and a generator for his worship. As Venezuela’s crisis deepens, the sale of electric generators is one of the few growth industries in a country ravaged by six-digit inflation and cratering public services.

“If the blackout continues we’ll have another round of dessert,” he chuckled while sharing a piece of chocolate cake with a friend at a cafeteria growing steadily dark as the night began to fall.

“But it’s very difficult for the people,” he conceded. “This creates a lot of discomfort.”

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Milky Way Melded With Smaller Galaxy in Long-Ago Cosmic Crash

The Milky Way, home to our sun and billions of other stars, merged with another smaller galaxy in a colossal cosmic collision roughly 10 billion years ago, scientists said Monday, based on data from the Gaia space observatory.

The union of the Milky Way and the so-called dwarf galaxy Gaia-Enceladus increased our galaxy’s mass by about a quarter and triggered a period of accelerated star formation lasting about 2 to 4 billion years, the scientists said.

“Yes, indeed it was a pivotal moment,” said astronomer Carme Gallart of Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias in Spain, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Galaxies of all types including the Milky Way began to form relatively soon after the Big Bang explosion that marked the beginning of the universe some 13.8 billion years ago, but were generally smaller than those seen today and were forming stars at a rapid rate. Subsequent galactic mergers were instrumental in configuring galaxies existing now.

The merger of the Milky Way and the dwarf galaxy Gaia-Enceladus roughly 10 billion years ago, left, and the current appearance of the Milky Way galaxy, right, are shown in this artist’s conception, July 22, 2019.

High-precision measurements of the position, brightness and distance of around a million stars within 6,500 light years of the sun, obtained by the Gaia space telescope operated by the European Space Agency, helped pinpoint stars present before the merger and those that formed afterward.

Certain stars with higher content of elements other than hydrogen or helium arose in the Milky Way, they found, and others with lower such content originated in Gaia-Enceladus, owing to its smaller mass.

While the merger was dramatic and helped shape what the Milky Way has become, it was not a star-destroying calamity.

“This crash was big in cosmic terms, but if it was happening now, we could probably not even notice at a human or solar system level,” Gallart said.

“The distances between stars in a galaxy are so huge — a galaxy is basically empty space — that the two galaxies intermix, change their global shape, more star formation may happen in one, and maybe the small one stops forming stars.

“But the individual stars in each galaxy don’t collide, don’t really notice the force of the event in a way that affects their individual evolution or the evolution of the planetary systems that may be attached to them,” Gallart said.

The Milky Way, spiral shaped with a central bar-like structure composed of stars, includes 100 to 400 billion stars, including the sun, which formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago, far after the merger.

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New Zealand Announces New Round of Gun Restrictions

New Zealand on Monday unveiled the second round of restrictions on gun ownership in the aftermath of a deadly shooting at two mosques in Christchurch earlier this year.

The new rules include establishing a gun registry, banning gun purchases by foreign visitors, and requiring gun owners to renew licenses every five years, instead of every 10. 

The proposed changes will “enshrine in law that owning a firearm is a privilege” rather than a right, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Wellington moved swiftly after the attacks in March that killed 51 people and wounded dozens. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a Post Cabinet media press conference at Parliament in Wellington on March 18, 2019.
New Zealand Announces Assault Weapons Ban in Wake of Christchurch Mass Shootings
Nearly one week after 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand were gunned down, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed an immediate ban on all military-style semi-automatic and automatic assault rifles.

The ban, which Prime Minister Ardern announced Thursday in Wellington, includes high-capacity magazines, which can hold multiple rounds of ammunition, and accessories that can convert ordinary rifles into fast-acting assault rifles.

Six days after the attack, Ardern announced a ban on semiautomatic weapons, including the type used by the gunman in the attacks. 

Since then the government has launched a buyback program to compensate people for the outlawed semi-automatics, and has collected and destroyed more than 3,200 weapons. The gun buyback and amnesty runs until December.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the new law would allow police to monitor people’s social media accounts to determine whether they were fit to own weapons.

“What we do know is that the Christchurch terrorist was engaged on some sites which were promoting some pretty horrific material,” Nash said. “So that’s one thing police will have the ability to assess when they determine if someone is fit and proper to have a firearms license.”

The new legislation is expected to be introduced into the Parliament next month. After that, it will be subject to three months of public feedback, before it is voted on by lawmakers.

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