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Meredith Brooks blasts Kamala Harris for now siding with Joe Biden on Tara Reade allegations

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Meredith Brooks blasts Kamala Harris for now siding with Joe Biden on Tara Reade allegations

Singer Meredith Brooks criticized Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris for siding with him after previously supporting his sexual assault accusers like Tara Reade.

The singer’s rebuke came by way of a tweet she wrote in response to Richard Grenell, former acting director of National Intelligence, who noted that to him, Biden and Harris had “zero chemistry” at their first joint press conference.

“I thought she believed #Tara @ReadeAlexandra So now it’s ok since he’s making her his running mate? Well that was easy!” Brooks tweeted in response.

CHRIS WALLACE: KAMALA HARRIS IS A ‘SHAPE-SHIFTER,’ MAKING IT HARDER FOR TRUMP TO ATTACK

Her criticism comes in response to Harris, who had run her own campaign for president against Biden, previously saying that she believes the women who came forward with allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the former vice president.

“I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it,” she said last year.

Reade’s sexual assault allegation against Biden was made public this past March. In April 2019, Reade was one of eight women who came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching by the former senator and vice president.

Meredith Brooks spoke out against Joe Biden's running mate Kamala Harris.

Meredith Brooks spoke out against Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris.
(Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

Biden has denied the allegations saying that they are untrue.

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Brooks is not the first celebrity to speak out against Harris for agreeing to be Biden’s running mate in the 2020 election against Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Actress and activist Rose McGowan took to Twitter on Tuesday to voice her opinion on the senator and to criticize her for accepting past donations from now-convicted rapist and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.



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Ship in Mauritius oil spill emptied of fuel, but heavy damage for island

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Ship in Mauritius oil spill emptied of fuel, but heavy damage for island

Almost all the remaining oil has been pumped from a Japanese ship that ran aground off the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, but its initial spill of 1,000 tons of fuel has severely damaged the island’s coral reefs and once pristine coast, environmental groups said Thursday. 

Nearly all the 3,000 tons of fuel left on the MV Wakashio has been emptied from the vessel stranded on a coral reef off the southeast coast, the ship’s owners confirmed.

Widening cracks in the ship’s hull show that it might break up, but with little fuel remaining, further environmental damage is expected to be limited.

“Today we can confirm that there is just a small amount of oil left on the ship. We are not threatened with an even worse disaster,” Jean Hugue Gardenne, communications manager for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, told The Associated Press.

Volunteers take part in the cleanup operation in Mahebourg, Mauritius, on Wednesday following the oil spill from Japanese ship the MV Wakashio. (Beekash Roopun-L’express Maurice/The Associated Press)

“However, make no mistake, the damage that has been done already is substantial. There is considerable cleanup work that must be done urgently,” Gardenne said. “The damage to the coral reefs may be irreversible.”

Mauritius seeking compensation

Owner Nagashiki Shipping said in a statement that “residual” amounts of fuel remain on the ship. The company has sent experts to help in cleaning up the damage.

“We will continue to do our utmost to minimize the impact of oil spill recovery and environmental pollution,” said representative director Kiyoaki Nagashiki in a statement. The company confirmed that it will co-operate with Mauritius, which seeks compensation for the damage.

“We will fully co-operate with the authorities of Mauritius and Japan to work to resolve the situation as soon as possible and will do our best to prevent the spread of oil and protect the environment,” the statement said.

Anxious Mauritian residents stuffed fabric sacks with sugar cane leaves in an effort to stop the oil spill from reaching their shores. (Kooghen Modeliar-Vyapooree-L’express Maurice/The Associated Press)

Nagashiki Shipping said it is investigating why the Wakashio went off course.

The ship was supposed to stay at least 16 kilometres from Mauritius but instead came within 1.6 kilometres and struck the coral reef on July 25. Battered by heavy waves, the ship cracked and began to leak oil on Aug. 6.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth is under pressure to explain why immediate action was not taken to empty the ship of its oil before it began to leak.

Local residents said Jugnauth has banned some newspapers from future press conferences after they asked tough questions.

Teams from Japan, France helping

Japanese experts are working with local groups to remove oil from the Mahebourg Lagoon and the waters around the Isle aux Aigrettes wildlife sanctuary, Gardenne said.

Also helping is a team of experts sent by France from its nearby island of Reunion after Mauritius appealed for help last week. The United Nations is sending experts.

This photo provided by the French Army shows oil leaking from the MV Wakashio off the southeast coast of Mauritius on Tuesday. (Gwendoline Defente/EMAE/The Associated Press)

“The amount of oil that was spilled in the area may seem relatively small, but it hit at a very sensitive part of our island,” Gardenne said.

“Our coral reefs, the mangrove areas, a marine protected area, four small islands. All these have been contaminated by the oil.

“We thought it was safe, but now this disaster happens,” he said.

Environmental group Greenpeace Africa warned that the consequences of the oil spill may be lasting.

“We know this disaster will have significant effects on biodiversity in Mauritius,” communications co-ordinator Tal Harris said.

“There needs to be a detailed and urgent survey of the damage done and a monitoring program to see what can recover and how quickly, and how much residual oil sticks around in the long term.”

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McDonald’s Canada to again source all beef from Canada in September

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McDonald’s Canada to again source all beef from Canada in September

McDonald’s Canada announced Thursday it will soon be getting all of its beef from Canada again, months after supply chain disruptions here due to COVID-19 spurred it to bring in the meat from outside the country.

It will switch back to 100 per cent Canadian beef beginning in September, McDonald’s Canada president John Betts announced during the Canadian Beef Industry Conference.

“It’s not lost on us how hard you’ve been hit, but you’ve remained incredible and reliable partners to us,” Betts told the virtual conference.

“Helping us maintain more than 80 per cent Canadian beef through an unprecedented global crisis — that’s a true testament to you and the industry as a whole.”

The company made headlines when it announced in April that due to temporary supply chain disruptions, McDonald’s Canada was adjusting its supply to include beef from outside the country.

This spring two of Canada’s largest meat processors experienced outbreaks of coronavirus infections among their plant workers. 

In order to meet its beef demand, the retailer began sourcing supplemental beef from pre-approved suppliers and facilities in the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. 

McDonald’s Canada, which has used 100 per cent Canadian beef since 2003, said it maintained over 80 per cent of supply from Canadian sources on average over recent months.

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UAE announces normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel under deal brokered by Trump

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UAE announces normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel under deal brokered by Trump

DUBAI/WASHINGTON: The UAE and Israel on Thursday agreed to establish full diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by US President Donald Trump, a breakthrough the three nations say will advance peace in the Middle East and result in Jerusalem suspending its plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.

“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region,” according to a joint statement tweeted by Trump.

“After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalise their diplomatic relations,” Trump said from the Oval Office.

“They will exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin cooperation across the board and on a broad range of areas including tourism, education, healthcare, trade and security,” Trump said.

“Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead,” he added.

Under the deal, Israel would suspend its plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank. The UAE’s official news agency Wam on Thursday shared a joint statement from the United States, Israel and the UAE.

The statement said that President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, spoke on Thursday and agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement,” the statement said.

According to the statement, delegations from Israel and the UAE will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.

“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations,” the statement said.

The statement also said that, as a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the UAE, “Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.”

Netanyahu had previously planned to annex parts of the Israeli occupied West Bank, viewing the White House’s plan released in January as an opportunity to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the disputed territory.

In recent months, UAE officials have been vocal in warning Netanyahu against plans to annex much of the West Bank and Jordan valley.

UN, Arab and European officials warned that the move would effectively end any hope of a two-state solution with an independent Palestine that has East Jerusalem as its capital.

On June 12, UAE Minister of State and Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba wrote a letter to the Israeli people in Hebrew published in Israel’s largest daily Yedioth Ahronoth, warning Israel that annexation would be a major impediment to Israel’s hope of establishing ties with the Arab world.

Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted on Thursday that it was “a historic day.”

The UAE and Israel will also immediately expand cooperation on the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Working together, these efforts will help save Muslim, Jewish, and Christian lives throughout the region.

There has been speculation about the normalisation of ties since the UAE attended the January 28, 2020, White House reception during which President Trump presented his Vision for Peace, and expressed appreciation for the UAE’s related supportive statements.

“The parties will continue their efforts in this regard to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the statement said.

“As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths,” said the statement.

Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations, it said.

Describing it as a historic day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that it is a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East.

The US hopes that this brave step will be the first in a series of agreements that ends 72 years of hostilities in the region, Pompeo said.

The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel. Egypt signed a deal in 1979, and Jordan in 1994.



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India will take all measures to safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity: New envoy to UK | India News

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India will take all measures to safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity: New envoy to UK | India News

In the backdrop of more than 100 British Indian organisations writing to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop the planned protests by British Pakistanis, Kashmiris and pro-Khalistan British Sikhs outside the Indian High Commission in London on Independence Day to prevent a repeat of last year’s violence, TOI catches up with the new Indian High Commissioner, Gaitri Issar Kumar, who says New Delhi will take all measures at its disposal to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Excerpts from the interview:
How do you plan to counter the aggressive propaganda offensive against India in London, in particular the challenge of the Pakistani-Khalistani nexus that is leveraging their numbers in select constituencies to impel British MPs to toe their line?
The people of Punjab and the Government of India have worked together over the years to successfully root out the Khalistan ‘movement’ — extremist entities associated with Khalistan terrorism — in the early 90s in India. We are aware that many of these terrorist entities connected with the Khalistan movement continue their activities based in the UK and other western countries, where they had fled to. It is well known that they operate in close cooperation with Pakistan-backed perpetrators of terror to create instability in J&K and other parts of India.
Our government has a number of institutional mechanisms for sharing relevant information on all these organisations with the UK, including regular dialogue and robust cooperation in a variety of areas related to our convergent security and defence interests.
The British High Commission in Delhi recently made a statement on the so-called ‘Punjab Referendum 2020’ that US-headquartered ‘Sikhs for Justice’ is pushing, saying: “This is a matter for the government and people of India… We consider the Indian Punjab to be a part of India.” What is your reaction to the UK’s statement?
We appreciate the position taken by the UK government on the Khalistan issue — that they see Punjab as an integral part of India.
As for ‘Sikhs for Justice’, its supporters must be aware of this organisation’s involvement in serious terror-related and other illegal activities for which many are wanted in India. My government has officially sought the proscription of the terror entity ‘Sikhs for Justice’ in the UK.
The legitimacy, credibility and background of the so-called ‘20-20 Referendum’ by ‘Sikhs For Justice’ is, in any case, highly questionable: it never had any support in India and there is virtually no support from Sikhs abroad. India will take all measures at its disposal to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Last year, Khalistan terror elements based in the UK attempted to burn the Indian flag (which they had brought themselves) in front of the Indian High Commission even as the Indian community had gathered to celebrate Republic Day. To every Indian, the national flag is a symbol of Mother India. Burning of the flag, especially on that occasion, was seen for what it was, a provocation, which our people had the maturity and presence of mind to ignore.
It recently came to light that the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group, chaired by Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, received Rs 30 lakh from the Pakistan government for a trip to Pakistan and PoK. Do you have concerns that some British MPs are following the Pakistan narrative? Is India exerting enough influence within the UK Parliament? Do you feel that relations with Labour have been repaired under its new leader Keir Starmer? Shortly after taking up his post, Starmer had said: “Any constitutional issue in India is a matter for the Indian Parliament, and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully.”
The High Commission of India in London enjoys the privilege of high credibility with the H’ble Members of the UK Parliament. Parliaments of India and the UK represent the largest and the oldest democracies in the world, respectively. It is a function of our diplomatic mission to provide information and engage with interested individuals and institutions, clarifying India’s perspective on a variety of issues. There is a high interest in India, evidenced by the numerous All Party Parliamentary Groups connected with India in the UK Parliament, with whom we maintain, and value, a regular and robust dialogue.
We have seen the news of the financial contribution by Pakistan to the APPG on Kashmir and the concomitant questions raised about objectivity, impartiality and integrity. I am confident that as in the Indian Parliament, there are adequate checks and balances here too.
Misinformation is always something that is learned about after it happens, and it’s a challenge to pre-empt. Efficient communication with esteemed parliamentarians across party lines obviously safeguards against this and contributes to better understanding between the representatives of our two peoples.
The High Commission of India has ensured that the full and correct picture of the actual situation in the Union Territory of J&K is shared with the government, parliamentarians and friends in the UK, and we find that a better appreciation of the actual situation has developed over the last year, especially when it was felt in recent times that information gap exists. It is reflected in the Labour Party position on J&K and, in this context, we welcome the recent positive statements by H’ble Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer. In the short while that I have been here, I have received very cordial and positive signals from all who I have met in the Labour Party, something that makes me optimistic.
Could you please let us know what India and the UK are doing together to beat Covid-19?
The ongoing cooperation between India and the UK to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic only indicates the further potential of India-UK collaboration in the healthcare sector. We could manage supplies of equipment and essential medicines like paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) under the most challenging circumstances. India received requests for HCQ, paracetamol and APIs from over 100 countries. We were able to supply paracetamol and HCQ to our neighbours and come to the aid of Latin American and African friends.
The Government of India is actively encouraging investments in more R&D for drug and pharma research within India and provides incentives to the private sector to enhance its production for export channels.
One of the most important ongoing partnerships between India and the UK is in vaccine development by Oxford University-Astra Zeneca and Serum Institute of India, Pune. This effort is at an advanced stage of trials. Serum Institute has signed a partnership with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance to accelerate the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of potential Covid-19 vaccines. The aim is to collaborate for an affordable vaccine that is accessible to all.

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Cardamom exports to Saudi Arabia stall over chemical residue norms

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Cardamom exports to Saudi Arabia stall over chemical residue norms

NEW DELHI: India’s exports of cardamom to Saudi Arabia, its largest buyer, have come to a standstill after the Western Asian nation tightened chemical residue norms last month, traders said.

“Cardamom exports to Saudi Arabia, which resumed in May this year after a long gap, have again stopped since July, as they have removed the relaxation on the maximum residue level (MRL) of certain pesticides,” said TT Jose, managing director, MAS Enterprises, an exporter from Kerala. “This will impact the overall exports from the country for 2020-21.”

Saudi Arabia buys 85% of the cardamom that India exports. Spices Board officials said they are in talks with the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) and Indian exporters to resolve the issue. They have also planned a buyers-sellers meeting next month.

In 2019-20, India’s cardamom exports were down by 27% to 2,090 tonnes, valued at Rs 426.30 crore.

Sale of cardamom to Saudi Arabia had stalled in 2019 with Indian exporters’ samples failing to meet Saudi chemical residue norms. Exports resumed in May this year–after a gap of 15-18 months—following diplomatic engagements with the SFDA for harmonisation of standards.

“We achieved a breakthrough in May and exports resumed, but sustaining the export calls for collective efforts across the supply chain, particularly regarding having an exportable surplus of MRL-compliant cardamom,” said the official. “Very soon we can expect exports to further flourish, as exporters are strengthening linkages to meet the requirements for compliance with all chemicals prescribed by SFDA.”

With a drop in demand from Saudi Arabia, exporters have been pushing for sales to Iran, Kuwait and Dubai, said PC Punnoose, general manager of Kerala Cardamom Processing and Marketing Cooperative Society.

Cardamom prices in India have dropped by 30% over the last four months to Rs 1,750 per kg, in part due to the lockdown, plunge in exports, and heavy rains in the producing states, said Stany Joseph Pothen, executive member of the Cardamom Growers Association.

“With 85% of our produce going to Saudi Arabia, any disruption in exports impacts growers and prices,” he said.

With harvesting likely to pick up in a fortnight, prices will continue to be under pressure, Punnoose said.

To ensure the quality of small cardamom, the Spices Board has been promoting good agricultural practices, promoting collaborative movements among growers through spice producer societies, and strengthening direct linkages with exporters.

The proposed buyers-sellers meet will also help exporters build direct linkages with buyers.



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Salman Khan’s nephew Ahil Sharma is taking all the necessary precautions amid COVID-19; sports a face shield | Hindi Movie News

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Salman Khan’s nephew Ahil Sharma is taking all the necessary precautions amid COVID-19; sports a face shield | Hindi Movie News

Salman Khan’s nephew Ahil Sharma is one of the cutest star kids of Bollywood. The superstar along with his sister Arpita and brother-in-law Aayush Sharma love to share pictures and videos of the little munchkin on their respective social media handles.

Now, producer Atul Agnihotri took to Instagram to share a picture of Ahil taking all the necessary precautions during the pandemic as he stepped out. The little boy was sporting a face shield as he posed for the camera while sitting in a car. Atul captioned the photo with a red heart also tagged Ahil’s parents Arpita and Aayush in the post.

Check it out here:

Meanwhile, recently Salman and his family celebrated Raksha Bandhan at his Panvel farmhouse. The actor had shared a sweet video of the celebration on his Instagram.

On the work front, he will next feature in Prabhu Deva‘s ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’.

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Canadian Eugenie Bouchard pulls off another upset at Prague Open

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Canadian Eugenie Bouchard pulls off another upset at Prague Open

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard is off to the quarter-finals at the Prague Open.

Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., beat Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 7-6 (2), 6-7 (2), 6-2 in the second round of the WTA Tour clay-court event on Thursday.

Bouchard exacted revenge on the 72nd-ranked Zidansek, who beat the Canadian in the opening round of Wimbledon last year with an 8-6 triumph in the third set.

Zidansek fought back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to force a third set Thursday before Bouchard regained control, prevailing in two hours 52 minutes.

WATCH | Eugenie Bouchard pulls off upset win:

Wildcard Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., beat Slovenia’s Tamara Zidanšek 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 6-2 in a Round of 16 match that lasted over three hours at the Prague Open. 3:08

“I was pretty proud of myself with how I was able to bounce back after losing the second set,” Bouchard said. “I kind of regrouped and told myself to just get back to playing my game. Not let her dominate the ball, but kind of step up and take advantage.”

Bouchard is playing in an official tournament for the first time since January when she suffered a wrist injury. Just over a month later, the WTA Tour suspended play because of COVID-19.

This is the second week of play in the WTA Tour’s restart. No fans are at the facility.

“We’ve been practising for months, it kind of feels just like practice or a practice match or an exhibition,” Bouchard said.

“It feels very real because we have an umpire and ball boys and we obviously knows it’s a real match but the atmosphere definitely makes it feel a little more like a practice match, which we do all the time.”

However, Bouchard realizes more people are paying attention to an official match than a practice.

Bouchard expects to be underdog against Mertens

“I try to think of fans watching online or my family who’d wake up to watch,” she said. “I know they’re there somewhere around the world.”

Given a wildcard into the event, Bouchard, ranked 330th in the world, will next face No. 3 seed and world No. 23 Elise Mertens of Belgium in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Bouchard is projected to rise to No. 272 if she loses to Mertens, but the former world No. 5 could get back into the top 200 if she wins the tournament.

“My first thoughts are she’s a great player, she’s highly ranked for a reason,” Bouchard said. “I’m going to be the underdog for sure and I’m just going to go there and try to play my game.”

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Barcelona vs Bayern Munich another chapter in battle between Germany’s top keepers – football

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Barcelona vs Bayern Munich another chapter in battle between Germany’s top keepers – football

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen took on Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer in a public spat last year over the Germany goalkeeper’s jersey and the confrontation will be played out on the pitch in Friday’s Champions League quarter-final. Only Lionel Messi can rival Ter Stegen, 28, for the title of Barca’s most decisive player in the last few seasons, but his heroics for his club have not been enough to overhaul Neuer, 34, on the international stage.

Neuer was sidelined for eight months in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup but slid right back into the team at Ter Stegen’s expense in time for the tournament, where Germany had their worst display since 1938 as they crashed out in the group stage.

But Neuer remained Germany’s number one and captain, even as they underperformed in the UEFA Nations League and Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Ter Stegen finally snapped in September after sitting on the bench against Northern Ireland and the Netherlands, saying: “Not playing was a tough blow and it’s not easy to find an explanation.”

Neuer was the first to strike his team mate down, saying Ter Stegen’s comments did not help team unity. The Barca keeper curtly responded that it was not up to Neuer to dictate how he should feel.

Bayern’s then president Uli Hoeness waded into the debate, incredibly remarking that his club would stop sending Bayern players to internationals if Neuer was removed from the team for Ter Stegen.

Despite a couple of high profile errors, Neuer is fresh from leading Bayern to a league and cup double and remains convinced he is the best in his position in the game despite his age.

“I’m the best. Which coach wouldn’t pick the best players? I have no doubt I’m the best, even though I’m not 17 any more,” he told magazine 11Freunde in July.

Ahead of Friday’s match in Lisbon, Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Neuer was still the nation’s best keeper.

“Germany is fortunate to have this pair of goalkeepers, although Neuer is truly world class and Ter Stegen is still on his way to that level,” he said.

But Former Germany defender Benedikt Howedes said there was no separating the two keepers, declaring: “It’s like comparing Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – they’re both great.”

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Covid-19: Italian prosecutors ask to drop pandemic probe into Premier Conte – world news

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Covid-19: Italian prosecutors ask to drop pandemic probe into Premier Conte – world news

Rome prosecutors sought permission to drop a probe into Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and members of his cabinet after complaints were filed by several citizens on how the government handled the coronavirus pandemic, according to a note from the premier’s office.

Prosecutors notified the premier and ministers that they are under investigation following complaints from all over the country. Prosecutors also included a note, which specified that they considered the allegations “unfounded” and “to be dismissed,” according to a statement sent by Conte’s office.

The complaints include crimes such as causing an epidemic, offenses against health, manslaughter, abuse of office, and acts against the constitution and political rights, according to the statement.

In Italy, prosecutors are obligated to follow up on criminal complaints made by the public. After a preliminary investigation, they have to go to a judge for permission to drop the case or proceed to a more in-depth probe.

The prosecutors’ request to drop the case will now be reviewed by a judge who will decide whether to accept the dismissal or order a full investigation. In Conte’s case, the decision will be taken by a court that deals specifically with investigations into ministers.

Conte said in a Facebook post that he always acted in Italy’s best interest and based on advice from scientists and experts.

The other officials charged are Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri, Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

Italy was among the first countries to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic and to implement a strict lockdown of its population and businesses. The lockdown began in late February in some parts of the North and was later extended to the entire country in early March. Over 35,000 people died in Italy due to coronavirus, about half of them in the Northern part of the country.

Conte has been criticized by political opponents both for not doing enough to stop the spread of coronavirus and for doing too much to limit citizen’s rights with a draconian lockdown measures that paralyzed the economy. While businesses and people are once again free to work and move around, the government recently extended emergency powers until October arguing that coronavirus is still present and can pose a risk to the country.

“Conte should be arrested,” political opponent and League party leader Matteo Salvini said, according to Ansa newswire. “He didn’t close the red zones when it was needed and he closed Italy when he shouldn’t have. That’s a crime.”

Salvini’s attacks potentially pose a threat to political stability in Italy as Conte tries to drag the economy out of its worst recession since World War II with 100 billion euros worth of stimulus measures passed by the cabinet since the start of the pandemic. The European Commission forecasts an 11% contraction of Italian GDP this year, which along with the extra spending will push the country’s debt well over 150% of output.

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