The National Basketball Association will be the first major test of the new competitive landscape. Its agreements with ESPN and Turner run through the 2024-25 season. Most sports and media executives predict that the league will stick with traditional broadcasters for most of its games, while carving out some small portion of rights for a tech company.

“It hedges them for the future and exposes the product to new audiences,” said George Pyne, founder of the sports private equity firm, Bruin Capital, and the former chief operating officer of NASCAR. “They can still have a long-term relationship with network partners but dip their toe in with new media.”

Until then, the best opportunities for Apple and Amazon may be overseas — where Amazon has been active for years — because European soccer leagues resell their rights every two to three years. Amazon recently scooped up rights to Europe’s top tournament, the UEFA Champions League, in Britain, Germany and Italy. It also has rights to France’s Ligue 1, which it offers to Prime Video subscribers for annual fee of about $90, and the English Premier League.

Media companies will be pressured to expand geographically to compete, said Daniel Cohen, who leads global media rights consulting for Octagon, a sports agency. Television broadcasters could also team up to pool their financial firepower, or buy each other outright, to compete with tech giants willing to pay billions for rights like N.F.L. Sunday Ticket.

“It comes down to a Silicon Valley ego thing,” Mr. Cohen said of the high-dollar N.F.L. deal. “I don’t see a road to profitability. I see a road to victory.”

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Gas Prices Around the World Threaten Livelihoods and Stability

“NO ES SUFICIENTE” — It’s not enough. That was the message protest leaders in Ecuador delivered to the country’s president this past week after he said he would lower the price of both regular gas and diesel by 10 cents in response to riotous demonstrations over soaring fuel and food prices.

The fury and fear over energy prices that have exploded in Ecuador are playing out the world over. In the United States, average gasoline prices, which have jumped to $5 per gallon, are burdening consumers and forcing an excruciating political calculus on President Biden ahead of the midterm congressional elections this fall.

But in many places, the leap in fuel costs has been much more dramatic, and the ensuing misery much more acute.

Britain, it costs $125 to fill the tank of an average family-size car. Hungary is prohibiting motorists from buying more than 50 liters of gas a day at most service stations. Last Tuesday, police in Ghana fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators protesting against the economic hardship caused by gas price increases, inflation and a new tax on electronic payments.

largest exporter of oil and gas to global markets, and the retaliatory sanctions that followed have caused gas and oil prices to gallop with an astounding ferocity. The unfolding calamity comes on top of two years of upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, off-and-on shutdowns and supply chain snarls.

World Bank revised its economic forecast last month, estimating that global growth will slow even more than expected, to 2.9 percent this year, roughly half of what it was in 2021. The bank’s president, David Malpass, warned that “for many countries, recession will be hard to avoid.”

ratcheting down gas deliveries to several European countries.

Across the continent, countries are preparing blueprints for emergency rationing that involve caps on sales, reduced speed limits and lowered thermostats.

As is usually the case with crises, the poorest and most vulnerable will feel the harshest effects. The International Energy Agency warned last month that higher energy prices have meant an additional 90 million people in Asia and Africa do not have access to electricity.

Expensive energy radiates pain, contributing to high food prices, lowering standards of living and exposing millions to hunger. Steeper transportation costs increase the price of every item that is trucked, shipped or flown — whether it’s a shoe, cellphone, soccer ball or prescription drug.

“The simultaneous rise in energy and food prices is a double punch in the gut for the poor in practically every country,” said Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University, “and could have devastating consequences in some corners of the world if it persists for an extended period.”

Group of 7 this past week discussed a price cap on exported Russian oil, a move that is intended to ease the burden of painful inflation on consumers and reduce the export revenue that President Vladimir V. Putin is using to wage war.

Price increases are everywhere. In Laos, gas is now more than $7 per gallon, according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com; in New Zealand, it’s more than $8; in Denmark, it’s more than $9; and in Hong Kong, it’s more than $10 for every gallon.

Leaders of three French energy companies have called for an “immediate, collective and massive” effort to reduce the country’s energy consumption, saying that the combination of shortages and spiking prices could threaten “social cohesion” next winter.

increased coal production to avoid power outages during a blistering heat wave in the northern and central parts of the country and a subsequent rise in demand for air conditioning.

Germany, coal plants that were slated for retirement are being refired to divert gas into storage supplies for the winter.

There is little relief in sight. “We will still see high and volatile energy prices in the years to come,” said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency.

At this point, the only scenario in which fuel prices go down, Mr. Birol said, is a worldwide recession.

Reporting was contributed by José María León Cabrera from Ecuador, Lynsey Chutel from South Africa, Ben Ezeamalu from Nigeria, Jason Gutierrez from the Philippines, Oscar Lopez from Mexico and Ruth Maclean from Senegal.

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Allianz to pay $6 billion in U.S. fraud case, fund manager charged

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NEW YORK/MUNICH, May 17 (Reuters) – Germany’s Allianz SE (ALVG.DE) agreed to pay more than $6 billion and its U.S. asset management unit pleaded guilty to criminal securities fraud over the collapse of a group of investment funds early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allianz’s settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are among the largest in corporate history, and dwarf earlier settlements obtained under President Joe Biden’s administration.

Gregoire Tournant, the former chief investment officer who created and oversaw the now-defunct Structured Alpha funds, was also indicted for fraud, conspiracy and obstruction, while two other former portfolio managers entered related guilty pleas.

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Once with more than $11 billion of assets under management, the Structured Alpha funds lost more than $7 billion as COVID-19 roiled markets in February and March 2020.

Allianz Global Investors US LLC was accused of misleading pension funds for teachers, bus drivers, engineers, religious groups and others by understating the funds’ risks, and having “significant gaps” in its oversight. read more

Investors were told the funds employed options that included hedges to protect against market crashes, but prosecutors said the fund managers repeatedly failed to buy those hedges.

Prosecutors said the managers also inflated fund results to boost their pay through performance fees, with Tournant, 55, collecting $13 million in 2019 and becoming his unit’s highest or second-highest-paid employee from 2015 to 2019.

Investigators said the misrepresentations began in 2014, and helped Allianz generate more than $400 million of net profit.

At a news conference, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan said more than 100,000 investors were harmed, and that while American prosecutors rarely bring criminal charges against companies it was “the right thing to do.”

Investors “were promised a relatively safe investment with strict risk controls designed to weather a sudden storm, like a massive collapse in the stock market,” he said. “Those promises were lies…. Today is the day for accountability.”

BLAMING COVID

Also known for its insurance operations, Allianz is among Germany’s most recognizable brands and an Olympic sponsor.

Its namesake arena near its Munich headquarters, meanwhile, houses Bayern Munich, one of world’s best-known soccer teams.

The settlement calls for Allianz to pay a $2.33 billion criminal fine, make $3.24 billion of restitution and forfeit $463 million, court papers show.

Williams said the fine was significantly reduced because of Allianz’s compensation to investors.

Even so, the payout is close to twice the $3.3 billion in corporate penalties that the Justice Department collected for all of 2021.

An Allianz lawyer entered the guilty plea at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan.

Allianz also accepted a $675 million civil fine from by the SEC, one of that regulator’s largest penalties since Enron Corp and WorldCom Inc imploded two decades ago.

Shares of Allianz closed up 1.7% in Germany, with the payout broadly matching reserves that the company previously set aside.

Tournant, of Basalt, Colorado, surrendered to authorities on Tuesday morning.

The U.S.-French citizen appeared briefly in Denver federal court, and was released after agreeing to post a $20 million bond. An arraignment was set for June 2 in New York.

Tournant’s lawyers, Seth Levine and Daniel Alonso, said the investor losses were “regrettable” but did not result from a crime.

“Greg Tournant has been unfairly targeted [in a] meritless and ill-considered attempt by the government to criminalize the impact of the unprecedented, COVID-induced market dislocation,” the lawyers said in a joint statement.

The other two portfolio managers – Stephen Bond-Nelson, 51, of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey; and Trevor Taylor, 49, of Miami – agreed to plead guilty to fraud and conspiracy, and cooperate with prosecutors. Their lawyers declined immediate comment.

VOYA PARTNERSHIP

Allianz’s guilty plea carries a 10-year ban on Allianz Global Investors’ providing advisory services to U.S.-registered investment funds.

As a result, Allianz plans to move about $120 billion of investor assets to Voya Financial Inc (VOYA.N) in exchange for a stake of up to 24% in Voya’s investment management unit. It expects a final agreement in the coming weeks.

Regulators said the misconduct included when Tournant and Bond-Nelson altered more than 75 risk reports before sending them to investors.

The SEC said projected losses in one market crash scenario were changed to 4.15% from the actual 42.15%, simply by removing the “2.”

Allianz’s alleged oversight lapses included a failure to ensure Tournant was hedging, though prosecutors said only people in his group knew of the misconduct before March 2020.

“No compliance system is perfect, but the controls at AGI didn’t even stand a chance,” Williams said.

Bond-Nelson, at Tournant’s direction, also lied to Allianz’s in-house lawyers after the company learned about the altered reports and the SEC probe, prosecutors added.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a recent string of cases in which derivatives and complex products have harmed investors across market sectors,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.

Investors have also filed more than two dozen lawsuits against Allianz over the Structured Alpha funds.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Tom Sims and Alexander Huebner in Munich
Additional reporting by Luc Cohen in New York
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Tomasz Janowski and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Continues Bombardment, but Its Forces Have Shrunk, Pentagon Says

WASHINGTON — When the Cold War ended, governments and companies believed that stronger global economic ties would lead to greater stability. But the Ukraine war and the pandemic are pushing the world in the opposite direction and upending those ideas.

Important parts of the integrated economy are unwinding. American and European officials are now using sanctions to sever major parts of the Russian economy — the 11th largest in the world — from global commerce, and hundreds of Western companies have halted operations in Russia on their own. Amid the pandemic, companies are reorganizing how they obtain their goods because of soaring costs and unpredictable delays in global supply chains.

Western officials and executives are also rethinking how they do business with China, the world’s second-largest economy, as geopolitical tensions and the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses and use of advanced technology to reinforce autocratic control make corporate dealings more fraught.

The moves reverse core tenets of post-Cold War economic and foreign policies forged by the United States and its allies that were even adopted by rivals like Russia and China.

“What we’re headed toward is a more divided world economically that will mirror what is clearly a more divided world politically,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “I don’t think economic integration survives a period of political disintegration.”

“Does globalization and economic interdependence reduce conflict?” he added. “I think the answer is yes, until it doesn’t.”

Opposition to globalization gained momentum with the Trump administration’s trade policies and “America First” drive, and as the progressive left became more powerful. But the pandemic and President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have brought into sharp relief the uncertainty of the existing economic order.

President Biden warned President Xi Jinping of China on Friday that there would be “consequences” if Beijing gave material aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, an implicit threat of sanctions. China has criticized sanctions on Russia, and Le Yucheng, the vice foreign minister, said in a speech on Saturday that “globalization should not be weaponized.” Yet China increasingly has imposed economic punishments — Lithuania, Norway, Australia, Japan and South Korea have been among the targets.

The result of all the disruptions may well be a fracturing of the world into economic blocs, as countries and companies gravitate to ideological corners with distinct markets and pools of labor, as they did in much of the 20th century.

Mr. Biden already frames his foreign policy in ideological terms, as a mission of unifying democracies against autocracies. Mr. Biden also says he is enacting a foreign policy for middle-class Americans, and central to that is getting companies to move critical supply chains and manufacturing out of China.

The goal is given urgency by the hobbling of those global links over two years of the pandemic, which has brought about a realization among the world’s most powerful companies that they need to focus on not just efficiency and cost, but also resiliency. This month, lockdowns China imposed to contain Covid-19 outbreaks have once again threatened to stall global supply chains.

Credit…Kin Cheung/Associated Press

The economic impact of such a change is highly uncertain. The emergence of new economic blocs could accelerate a massive reorganization in financial flows and supply chains, potentially slowing growth, leading to some shortages and raising prices for consumers in the short term. But the longer-term effects on global growth, worker wages and supplies of goods are harder to assess.

The war has set in motion “deglobalization forces that could have profound and unpredictable effects,” said Laurence Boone, the chief economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For decades, executives have pushed for globalization to expand their markets and to exploit cheap labor and lax environmental standards. China especially has benefited from this, while Russia profits from its exports of minerals and energy. They tap into enormous economies: The Group of 7 industrialized nations make up more than 50 percent of the global economy, while China and Russia together account for about 20 percent.

Trade and business ties between the United States and China are still robust, despite steadily worsening relations. But with the new Western sanctions on Russia, many nations that are not staunch partners of America are now more aware of the perils of being economically tied to the United States and its allies.

If Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin organize their own economic coalition, they could bring in other nations seeking to shield themselves from Western sanctions — a tool that all recent U.S. presidents have used.

“Your interdependence can be weaponized against you,” said Dani Rodrik, a professor of international political economy at Harvard Kennedy School. “That’s a lesson that I imagine many countries are beginning to internalize.”

The Ukraine war, he added, has “probably put a nail in the coffin of hyperglobalization.”

China and, increasingly, Russia have taken steps to wall off their societies, including erecting strict censorship mechanisms on their internet networks, which have cut off their citizens from foreign perspectives and some commerce. China is on a drive to make critical industries self-sufficient, including for technologies like semiconductors.

And China has been in talks with Saudi Arabia to pay for some oil purchases in China’s currency, the renminbi, The Wall Street Journal reported; Russia was in similar discussions with India. The efforts show a desire by those governments to move away from dollar-based transactions, a foundation of American global economic power.

For decades, prominent U.S. officials and strategists asserted that a globalized economy was a pillar of what they call the rules-based international order, and that trade and financial ties would prevent major powers from going to war. The United States helped usher China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 in a bid to bring its economic behavior — and, some officials hoped, its political system — more in line with the West. Russia joined the organization in 2012.

But Mr. Putin’s war and China’s recent aggressive actions in Asia have challenged those notions.

“The whole idea of the liberal international order was that economic interdependence would prevent conflict of this kind,” said Alina Polyakova, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis, a research group in Washington. “If you tie yourselves to each other, which was the European model after the Second World War, the disincentives would be so painful if you went to war that no one in their right mind would do it. Well, we’ve seen now that has proven to be false.”

“Putin’s actions have shown us that might have been the world we’ve been living in, but that’s not the world he or China have been living in,” she said.

The United States and its partners have blocked Russia from much of the international financial system by banning transactions with the Russian central bank. They have also cut Russia off from the global bank messaging system called SWIFT, frozen the assets of Russian leaders and oligarchs, and banned the export from the United States and other nations of advanced technology to Russia. Russia has answered with its own export bans on food, cars and timber.

The penalties can lead to odd decouplings: British and European sanctions on Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who owns the Chelsea soccer team in Britain, prevent the club from selling tickets or merchandise.

Credit…Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock

About 400 companies have chosen to suspend or withdraw operations from Russia, including iconic brands of global consumerism such as Apple, Ikea and Rolex.

While many countries remain dependent on Russian energy exports, governments are strategizing how to wean themselves. Washington and London have announced plans to end imports of Russian oil.

The outstanding question is whether any of the U.S.-led penalties would one day be extended to China, which is a far bigger and more integral part of the global economy than Russia.

Even outside the Ukraine war, Mr. Biden has continued many Trump administration policies aimed at delinking parts of the American economy from that of China and punishing Beijing for its commercial practices.

Officials have kept the tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump, which covered about two-thirds of Chinese imports. The Treasury Department has continued to impose investment bans on Chinese companies with ties to the country’s military. And in June, a law will go into effect in the United States barring many goods made in whole or in part in the region of Xinjiang.

Despite all that, demand for Chinese-made goods has surged through the pandemic, as Americans splurge on online purchases. The overall U.S. trade deficit soared to record levels last year, pushed up by a widening deficit with China, and foreign investments into China actually accelerated last year.

Some economists have called for more global integration, not less. Speaking at a virtual conference on Monday, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization, urged a move toward “re-globalization,” saying, “Deeper, more diversified international markets remain our best bet for supply resilience.

But those economic ties will be further strained if U.S.-China relations worsen, and especially if China gives substantial aid to Russia.

Besides recent warnings to China from Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said her agency would ban the sale of critical American technology to Chinese companies if China tried to supply forbidden technology to Russia.

In the meantime, the uncertainty has left the U.S.-China relationship in flux. While many major Chinese banks and private companies have suspended their interactions with Russia to comply with sanctions, foreign asset managers appear to have also begun moving their money out of China in recent weeks, possibly in anticipation of sanctions.

Mary Lovely, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said she did not expect China to “throw all in” with Russia, but that the war could still strain economic ties by worsening U.S.-China relations.

“Right now, there is great uncertainty as to how the U.S. and China will respond to the challenges posed by Russia’s increasingly urgent need for assistance,” she said. “That policy uncertainty is another push to multinationals who were already rethinking supply chains.”

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Ukraine Live Updates: First Key Southern City Falls, Ukrainian Officials Say

ODESSA, Ukraine—Sparks fly day and night at the rail yard of Odessa’s tram authority, where men in coveralls are slicing up old steel rails and welding them into barricades called “hedgehogs” to stop Russian tanks.

Not far away, the area around the city’s elegant baroque opera house looks like a set from a World War II movie, with chest-high stacks of sandbags and troops in green uniforms. And a food market downtown popular with hipsters has been turned into a warehouse for a range of provisions — food, clothing and medicine for the troops.

A major attack on Odessa, which as Ukraine’s biggest port city is crucial for the country’s economic survival, feels like an inevitability, officials and residents say.

Russian naval ships have gathered just outside Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Black Sea, and Russian troops are pushing ever closer from the east. On Wednesday, the city’s mayor, Gennady Trukhanov was inspecting a bomb shelter at an orphanage when he received a call that a Russian jet, likely having flown in from the Crimean Peninsula, had fired a rocket at a military installation just outside town.

“Do you have your diaper on?” the mayor asked the person he was speaking with, laughing. “Don’t be a hero, there will be time for that later,” he said.

“I think they’re testing our antiaircraft systems,” Mr. Trukhanov said when he hung up the phone. “He flies in, we open fire, he flies away and almost immediately they fire a rocket.”

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

For the first several days of the invasion, Russia primarily concentrated its military forces on Kyiv, in the north, and Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the northeast. But a concerted and in many ways more successful campaign is being waged in Ukraine’s south, along the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, a small, important body of water where Russia seeks full control.

As of Wednesday, Russian forces had captured the strategically important city of Kherson at the mouth of the Dnieper River, the first major city to come under Russian control. The fate of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, an inland body of water that Russia and Ukraine share, also hung in the balance as Russian naval forces gathered in an apparent effort to mount an amphibious attack.

The carnage in Kherson was particularly extreme: Volunteers had been dispatched to gather up bodies, many of them unidentifiable because of tank and artillery fire, and bury them in mass graves, the city’s mayor, Igor Kolykhaev, said in an interview on Wednesday.

“They’ve fully come into the city,” Mr. Kolykhaev said, adding that he met with the Russian commander, who said he intended to put in place a military administration.

Kherson, with a population of around 300,000, is just over 120 miles from Odessa, and Russian troops have already pushed beyond it to Mykolaiv, about 45 miles to the north, Ukrainian officials said.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

But it is Odessa that would be the real prize. Founded by Catherine the Great in the late 1700s, the city was a crown jewel of the Russian Empire and a critical commercial port for the Soviet Union. Though not as militarily significant as the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has spoken wistfully about the reconstitution of imperial-era New Russia, a region along the Black Sea centered on Odessa.

Like the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Odessa was the site of a separatist uprising backed by Russia in 2014 that sought to create an independent state. But the effort was crushed after a series of pitched street battles pitting the separatists against Ukrainian nationalists and soccer hooligans, which culminated in the torching of a trade union building on the outskirts of Odessa. At least 40 pro-Russian activists were killed.

Days before the invasion started last week, Mr. Putin issued a threat against those who started the fire, suggesting that Odessa was on his mind.

“The criminals who committed this evil act have not been punished,” he said. “No one is looking for them, but we know them by name.”

Mr. Trukhanov, the Odessa mayor, backed by assessments from Ukraine’s military, said Russia’s goal was likely to surround Odessa with land and naval forces, cutting off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea, which is the country’s primary link to the global economy.

Surrounding Odessa, he said, “will put an end to cargo shipments, an end to the economy and the end of development.”

He added, “But we’re not talking about that often, because the priority is survival.”

Odessa has undergone a profound and disturbing transformation since Russia invaded. Just over a week ago, the city was experiencing an unusual early warm snap that drove people outside, to the city’s cobblestone streets and beaches. Crowds flocked to the opera house, flamboyantly renovated with polished marble and 25 pounds of gold leaf, to see a performance of Madama Butterfly.

Now the entire, historic center around the opera is sealed off by sandbags, barbed wire and troops armed with automatic weapons.

“I can’t believe that a week ago I was a lawyer,” said Inga Kordynovska. She said he had been planning to compete in an international ballroom dancing competition, but was now coordinating the collection of food, clothing and medicine for Odessa’s territorial defense troops.

“One day, I had heels and makeup; I was going to ballroom dancing,” she said “And now everything has changed.”

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

The entrance to the Odessa Food Market has been draped with a large Red Cross banner and fortified with sandbags. Before the war, people used to eat Chinese street food and sip craft IPAs; now men in beanie hats and neck tattoos are stacking bottles of water and sorting bags of clothing.

Though the mission is to gather supplies for the city’s defenders, none of the combatants are allowed to enter the hall, said Nikolai Viknianskyi, who owns a furniture company and is now volunteering at the site.

“We’ve banned people with weapons from coming here so as not to attract other people with weapons,” Mr. Viknianskyi. “We don’t want for our hipsters or our fashionable youth to be hurt. They’re not military people, they don’t know how to fight.”

The fight may come anyway. As if to underscore the threat, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenksy, replaced the Odessa region’s civilian governor with a colonel from Ukraine’s armed forces. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Navy accused Russian forces in the Black Sea of attempting to enter Ukraine’s territorial waters using civilian boats as a “human shield.”

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Though Odessa has not experienced the intense shelling of other cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv, there have been sporadic rocket attacks. It was unclear if Wednesday’s hostilities caused any injuries, but one person was killed on Tuesday in an attack on a military radar installation, Mr. Trukhanov, the Odessa mayor, said.

Also on Tuesday, an explosion ripped through the small village of Dachne, north of Odessa just off the highway to Kyiv. Several houses along a potholed street were reduced to rubble, and power line poles and trees were snapped at their bases.

A 60-year-old resident named Yuri said workers had extracted an undetonated shell from his front yard, which destroyed a brand-new Volkswagen his children had given him for his birthday. It was not clear whether the shell was fired by Russian forces or if Ukrainian troops mistakenly hit the village.

All this has rattled the residents of Odessa. At an orphanage visited by Mr. Trukhanov on Wednesday, tiny jackets had been arranged on a table to be ready in case the children have to make a dash to the bomb shelter in the basement.

After lunch time, a group of the youngest was tucked into their beds for nap time, while their caretaker stood over them, playing a lullaby on her phone, and silently crying.

“God,” she said, addressing the mayor, “everything is going to be OK, right?”

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Live Updates: Initial Talks End Between Russia and Ukraine

An article of faith in global sports — that athletes should not be punished for the actions of their governments — crumbled on Monday, when executives worldwide moved to banish Russians from competitions and deepen the country’s isolation for its invasion of Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee recommended that athletes from Russia and Belarus, which has allowed Russian troops to use its territory, be barred from events. FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, effectively blocked Russia from qualifying for this year’s men’s World Cup. And ice hockey associations in the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden suspended Russia from a tournament they had staged jointly for decades.

Although there were loopholes and scattered uncertainties, the penalties amounted to a bracing rebuke of Moscow and Minsk by a sports world that has long labored furiously, if sometimes unconvincingly, to depict competition as separate from politics.

The International Paralympic Committee will decide on Wednesday whether to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the Paralympic Games, which are scheduled to open in Beijing on Friday.

But the day’s events left little doubt that Russia and Belarus, which had already drawn scrutiny for doping violations and oppression, would become further separated from the wider athletic world.

“This will continue to be a contest of two different visions of what sport is and who is allowed to participate in and control sport,” said Andrés Martinez, a research scholar at Arizona State University’s Global Sport Institute. “I think this is a bit of a reset, though, in that it does set an important precedent and a standard that sporting federations cannot continue to act with impunity and just let the highest bidder dictate what happens in sport, oblivious to other considerations, including the behavior of those highest bidders.”

The most potentially far-reaching effort on Monday came from the I.O.C., which cited “the integrity of global sports competitions” and “the safety of all the participants” when it recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes be blocked from competitions.

“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country,” the I.O.C. said in a statement, which noted that it issued its recommendation “with a heavy heart.”

It will fall to event organizers and the federations that administer individual sports to decide how, or if, to adopt the I.O.C.’s recommendation, which the committee suggested might not be enforced “on short notice for organizational or legal reasons.”

That qualifier appeared to be a nod to the imminence of the Paralympic Games, which have been expected to draw more than 70 athletes from Russia and about a dozen from Belarus.

The International Paralympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Belarusian officials or the Russian Paralympic Committee. But Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, said in a statement that he and other Russian officials “strongly” objected to the I.O.C. recommendation, which he said contradicted “the spirit of the Olympic movement, which should unite and not divide.”

The I.O.C.’s recommendation came hours before FIFA announced that it had suspended Russia and its teams from all competitions and ejected the country from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup only weeks before it was to play for one of Europe’s final places in this year’s tournament.

FIFA, which had come under pressure for its initial hesitance to bar Russia from competition, and its European counterpart, UEFA, said the ban on Russia would be in place “until further notice.”

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA said in a statement. Ukraine’s team, which is set to play Scotland in its own World Cup playoff in March, will remain in the competition.

UEFA, which has decided to move this year’s Champions League final to St.-Denis, France, from St. Petersburg, Russia, then went a step further in breaking its deep ties to Russia: It announced that it had ended a sponsorship agreement with the Russian energy giant Gazprom. The deal was worth a reported $50 million a year to European soccer.

It was unclear whether FIFA’s decision to bar Russia would face a court challenge. Russia and some its athletes have successfully fought exclusion from other events, including the Olympic Games, by getting punishments watered down through appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Any efforts to keep Russian athletes out of other competitions could also spark legal battles. Pozdnyakov, the Russian Olympic Committee chairman, said Russian officials intended to “consistently defend the rights and interests of Russian athletes and provide all necessary assistance to our national sports federations to challenge discriminatory decisions.”

Some penalties could prove harder to fight than others.

Hockey executives in the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden said Monday that Russia would not be allowed to participate in this year’s Euro Hockey Tour, and executives signaled that they were looking to replace Russia permanently.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a terrible situation, and we in the ice hockey world are completely behind the people of Ukraine,” said Anders Larsson, the Swedish Ice Hockey Association’s chairman. “Inviting a Russian national ice hockey team to the Euro Hockey Tour tournaments in Stockholm, Helsinki and Prague is therefore completely unthinkable at the moment.”

The application of the I.O.C.’s recommendation could also be particularly thorny in individual sports and competitions in which athletes are competing more for themselves than for their nations.

In cross-country skiing, Natalia Nepryaeva of Russia holds the top spot in the World Cup standings but could lose that ranking if she cannot participate in several coming races.

Tennis has the complexity of seven ruling organizations. On the same day the I.O.C. recommended the ban, Daniil Medvedev, a Russian, took over the top sport in the men’s world rankings.

The ATP Tour heralded the achievement on its website with a picture of Medvedev next to the Russian flag. However, Medvedev moved to Monaco years ago and has campaigned for peace on his social media channels.

The ATP Tour made no immediate announcement about whether it would follow the I.O.C. recommendation, nor did the WTA, which manages the women’s professional tour and has three players from Russia and Belarus in the top 20, including Victoria Azarenka, who is on the organization’s board.

On Monday, Elina Svitolina, a top player from Ukraine and the top seed this week in a tournament in Mexico, announced that she would not play her first-round match against Anastasia Potapova of Russia. In a Twitter post, Svitolina urged the governing bodies of tennis to follow the I.O.C.’s guidance.

Although Monday’s maneuvers against Russia were particularly forceful, the country has clashed with sports executives in recent years over its reliance on a state-run doping operation. Still, Russian athletes and teams had faced the most marginal of consequences. At the Beijing Olympics, which ended Feb. 20, Russian athletes appeared as members of the “Russian Olympic Committee,” and did not formally compete under the Russian tricolor flag or hear the Russian national anthem at medal ceremonies.

And in December, Olympic officials barred the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, from I.O.C. events, including the Beijing Games. Olympic officials complained at the time that Belarusian athletes were “not appropriately protected” from what they described as “political discrimination.”

Monday’s wave of condemnation, though, proved far broader and came after days of swelling anger among sports executives and demands from political leaders and athletes alike. Last week, Olympic executives pressed federations to cancel or move competitions from Belarus and Russia.

Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, who has long heralded the role of sports in his own life and the role of athletics in his country’s ambitions, has also increasingly come under personal pressure. The International Judo Federation recently suspended him from his role as its honorary president, and World Taekwondo rescinded the honorary black belt it gave him in 2013.

On Monday, the I.O.C. withdrew its highest honor from Putin, who received it in 2001. He attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games on Feb. 4, when his forces were massing at the Ukrainian border ahead of their invasion.

Matthew Futterman contributed reporting.

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Amid Coups and Covid, Africa Focuses on What’s Most Important: Soccer

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — She had watched some of the matches secretly, volume turned down low so that nobody would report her. She had seen the threats, and knew that she could be kidnapped or killed for watching the African soccer tournament that her country, Cameroon, was hosting.

But she was fed up with containing her excitement each time Cameroon scored, so on Wednesday, Ruth, who lives in a region at war where secessionist rebels have forbidden watching the games, secretly traveled to the capital, Yaoundé, to support her team in person.

“I’d love to scream, if it’s possible,” she said on Thursday, after safely reaching Yaoundé, while getting ready for the big game. “I decided to take the risk.”

African soccer is nearing the end of what everyone agrees has been a magnificent month. The 52 games in this year’s much-delayed Africa Cup of Nations tournament have brought some respite for countries going through major political upheaval or war, and those weathering the disruption and hardship wrought by Covid.

coup last week in Burkina Faso, Burkinabe soldiers back home danced with joy. When Senegal then beat Burkina Faso in the semifinal on Wednesday night, Dakar’s streets were filled with cars honking and flags waving. Online, after every match, thousands of people flock to Twitter Spaces to jointly dissect what happened.

a harsh crackdown. Human rights abuses by the military helped fuel a fully-fledged armed struggle by English-speaking fighters known as Amba boys, after Ambazonia, the name they have given their would-be state.

The separatists have warned people there not to watch Afcon, as the soccer tournament is known, and certainly not to support Cameroon. But many anglophones like Ruth — a government worker who asked to be identified by only her first name to protect her from retribution — have defied the risk and have traveled to majority francophone cities to attend matches.

“We may not be a very united nation, but I think this one thing brings us together,” Ruth said, adding that it was common knowledge that even as they threatened, kidnapped and tortured other spectators, the Amba fighters were watching the tournament in their camps.

Afcon is special. Players who are relatively unknown outside their countries’ borders play alongside multimillionaire stars from the world’s most elite teams who take time off to represent their countries, right in the middle of the European season.

overthrew their government.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Sambo Diallo, a fan standing with his arms out in a Yaoundé hotel bursting with fans from Burkina Faso, as a friend painted his entire head, face and torso with his country’s flag. “We weren’t happy, but we had to be brave.”

Despite the anxiety about their families at home, Burkina Faso’s players won that quarterfinal. Still on a high, a green bus full of cheering Burkina Faso fans who had followed their squad around the country rolled into Yaoundé on Wednesday afternoon. Their team was about to meet Senegal in the semis.

Soccer had obviously brought the Senegalese team together, the jewel in its crown one of the biggest stars on the continent, Sadio Mané, who also plays for Liverpool.

eight people died in a stampede. But she got stuck in heavy traffic on her way, and could not make it in time for kickoff. So she ducked into a bar and watched the match there.

Cameroon lost, 3-1, on penalty kicks. “It was still worth it because I could watch with excited fans,” she said.

And she screamed and shouted a lot.

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50 Years on, Bloody Sunday’s Wounds Are Still Felt

The events themselves took a matter of minutes to unfold in a paroxysm of one-sided gunfire that snuffed out more than a dozen lives, each one of them a new martyr in Northern Ireland’s somber annals of loss. But the effort to unravel what happened in those brief moments — to parse the antecedents and the outcomes, to trace the lines of command on the grisly day that became known as Bloody Sunday — devoured years of costly inquiry.

And when the questioning was done, the conclusion was drawn by some that the killings by British soldiers on Jan. 30, 1972, had earned a place alongside the Sharpeville shootings in South Africa in 1960 and the Tiananmen Square killings in Beijing in 1989 as exemplars of lethal violence in the name of a state, directed against those who sought to defy its writ.

The failings were legion, committed by a unit of the British military once known for its gallantry and prowess in theaters of conflict as far-flung as Arnhem in the Netherlands during World War II and the Falklands in 1982. Much soul-searching and much obfuscation swirled around the central question of whether, as some of the soldiers initially insisted, they had opened fire in response to an armed and potentially lethal attack by the outlawed, underground Irish Republican Army.

determined in June 2010. None of the fallen — 13 were killed that day, and one died of injuries later — posed “a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify” the firing of over 100 rounds of military-grade ammunition from automatic rifles.

The consequences were enormous, reverberating far beyond the hardscrabble Northern Ireland city of Derry, known to British officials and many members of its Protestant minority as Londonderry, where the bloodletting exploded. Four years earlier, in 1968, in the same mean streets of the city’s Bogside district — a crucible of anti-British sentiment — a civil rights march had dissolved into violent confrontation among mainly Roman Catholic protesters and the mainly Protestant police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The clashes signaled the start of what became known as the Troubles, three decades of tangled sectarian strife that drew Britain’s army into the territory.

From then until the Good Friday peace agreement of 1998, more than 3,500 people died, caught up in the mutually exclusive visions of those, mainly Catholic, who were seeking a unified Ireland, and largely Protestant unionists who were committed to ever deeper ties with mainland Britain.

Father Daly died in 2016.

Jan. 30, 1972, began in familiar ways. Civil rights activists had signaled their plans to demonstrate against the recently introduced British practice of interning people without trial. The authorities outlawed the demonstration, but it went ahead anyhow.

Protesters, who were overwhelmingly Catholic, lobbed rocks at the army. The army responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and a water cannon. Back from the fray, a top commander of the paratroopers issued orders for his troops to arrest suspected rioters without pursuing peaceful protesters too closely.

the 2010 inquiry report said.

The spasm of killing unfolded with chaotic speed. “Only some 10 minutes elapsed between the time soldiers moved in vehicles into the Bogside and the time the last of the civilians was shot,” said the report, written by Lord Saville of Newdigate, an eminent British judge, whose inquiry had taken 12 years and cost an eye-watering $280 million.

“Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland,” it concluded.

In the week after the shootings, in the Republic of Ireland, a crowd burned down the British Embassy in Dublin. Protests against the killings spread as far as Chicago. And in Derry itself, huge crowds turned out for the funerals of 11 of the 13 killed on Bloody Sunday.

Jackie Duddy, 17, a boxer whose image — he was carried away by a small clutch of people, including Father Daly — became as much a totem of the day’s horrors as the photograph of Hector Pieterson, a 12-year-old South African schoolboy who was shot and killed in Soweto in 1976 when the police opened fire on Black students protesting apartheid-era education. In the imagery of Bloody Sunday, the 17-year-old seems limp, and Father Daly waves a bloodstained handkerchief as an impromptu flag of truce.

13 to die on the day — photographed in a pool of his own blood — was Bernard McGuigan, 41, a factory worker who was shot in the back of the head as he went to help Patrick Doherty, 31, a civil rights activist and factory worker who had been shot as he tried to crawl to safety.

In theory, each of the British soldiers directly involved in the shootings — none of whom was ever officially identified by name or put on trial — had been issued rules of engagement listed on a so-called Yellow Card that set narrow limits for opening fire. Those restrictions were largely ignored, the Saville report said.

Of the 13 who died on Jan. 30, only one, Gerald Donaghey, 17, a member of the youth wing of the I.R.A., was found to be in possession of nail bombs. He was killed by a bullet that had already passed through the body of Gerard McKinney, 35, a soccer team manager, who also died. Mr. Donaghey had not been trying to throw nail bombs when he became collateral damage, according to the Saville inquiry; he was running away from the soldiers.

finally offered an apology, calling the killings “unjustified and unjustifiable.”

But such wounds are slow to heal. Just in the run-up to Sunday’s commemoration, taunting the survivors, someone clambered up light poles in Derry to unfurl the regimental banner of the Parachute Regiment. A full half-century after the killings, the symbols of division and hostility still held their potency.

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How China’s Xi Jinping Is Staging the Beijing Olympics on His Terms

When the International Olympic Committee met seven years ago to choose a host for the 2022 Winter Games, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, sent a short video message that helped tip the scale in a close, controversial vote.

China had limited experience with winter sports. Little snow falls in the distant hills where outdoor events would take place. Pollution was so dense at times that it was known as the “Airpocalypse.”

Mr. Xi pledged to resolve all of this, putting his personal prestige on what seemed then like an audacious bid. “We will deliver every promise we made,” he told the Olympic delegates meeting in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.

host of the Summer Olympics, the Games have become a showcase of the country’s achievements. Only now, it is a very different country.

China no longer needs to prove its standing on the world stage; instead, it wants to proclaim the sweeping vision of a more prosperous, more confident nation under Mr. Xi, the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. Where the government once sought to mollify its critics to make the Games a success, today it defies them.

Beijing 2022 “will not only enhance our confidence in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” said Mr. Xi, who this year is poised to claim a third term at the top. It will also “show a good image of our country and demonstrate our nation’s commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind.”

Mr. Xi’s government has brushed off criticism from human rights activists and world leaders as the bias of those — including President Biden — who would keep China down. It has implicitly warned Olympic broadcasters and sponsors not to bend to calls for protests or boycotts over the country’s political crackdown in Hong Kong or its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, the largely Muslim region in the northwest.

combat Covid and imposed stricter safety measures than those during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo last year. It has insisted on sustaining its “zero Covid” strategy, evolved from China’s first lockdown, in Wuhan two years ago, regardless of the cost to its economy and its people.

an accusation of sexual assault by the tennis player Peng Shuai, a three-time Olympian, the I.O.C. did not speak out. Instead, it helped deflect concerns about her whereabouts and safety.

staggering costs of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the white-knuckle chaos of preparations for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

blue skies. High-speed railways have slashed the trip from Beijing to the most distant venues from four hours to one.

In an area perennially short of water, China built a network of pipelines to feed a phalanx of snow-making machines to dust barren slopes in white. Officials this week even claimed the entire Games would be “fully carbon neutral.”

Christophe Dubi, executive director of the upcoming Games, said in an interview that China proved to be a partner willing and able to do whatever it took to pull off the event, regardless of the challenges.

“Organizing the Games,” Mr. Dubi said, “was easy.”

The committee has deflected questions about human rights and other controversies overshadowing the Games. While the committee’s own charter calls for “improving the promotion and respect of human rights,” officials have said that it was not for them to judge the host country’s political system.

Instead, what matters most to the committee is pulling off the Games. By selecting Beijing, the committee had alighted on a “safe choice,” said Thomas Bach, the committee’s president.

unseasonably warm weather. Sochi 2014 — intended as a valedictory of Vladimir V. Putin’s rule in Russia — cost a staggering $51 billion.

Growing wariness of organizing the quadrennial event gave China an unexpected advantage. Beijing — no one’s idea of a winter sports capital — could reuse sites from the 2008 Games, including the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium for the opening ceremony. The Water Cube, which held the swimming and diving events 14 years ago, was rebranded as the Ice Cube.

Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, once a republic of the Soviet Union.

The final tally was 44 to 40 for Beijing, with one abstention. Almaty’s supporters were left to fume over a glitch in the electronic voting system that prompted a manual recount to “protect the integrity of the vote.” That Kazakhstan has plunged into political turmoil on the eve of the Games seems now, in hindsight, further validation of the choice to pick Beijing.

Xinhua, compared to 480,000 three years before.

ceremonial scepter popular in the Qing dynasty, complete with a 6,000-seat stadium at the bottom that is supposed to hold soccer matches after the Olympics.

military preparations for the Games, including the installation of 44 antiaircraft batteries around Beijing, even though the likelihood of an aerial attack on the city seemed far-fetched.

“A safe Olympics is the biggest symbol of a successful Beijing Olympic Games, and is the most important symbol of the country’s international image,” he said then.

accusation of sexual harassment rocked the sports world last fall, the committee found itself caught in the furor.

fumed in private. Without the protective cover of the international committee, they feared reprisals if they spoke out individually.

The 2008 Olympics also faced harsh criticism. A campaign led by the actress Mia Farrow called the event the “genocide games” because of China’s support for Sudan despite its brutal crackdown in the Darfur region. The traditional torch relay was hounded by protests in cities on multiple continents, including Paris, London, San Francisco and Seoul.

The accusations against China today are, arguably, even more serious. The United States and other countries have declared that China’s crackdown against the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang amounts to genocide. Ms. Farrow’s biting sobriquet has resurfaced for 2022, with a Twitter hashtag.

only screened spectators of its own choosing. It will mostly be a performance for Chinese and international television audiences, offering a choreographed view of the country, the one Mr. Xi’s government has of itself.

If the coronavirus can be kept under control, Beijing could weather the Olympics with fewer problems than seemed likely when it won the rights to the Games seven years ago. Mr. Xi’s government has already effectively declared it a success. A dozen other Chinese cities are already angling for the 2036 Summer Olympics.

“The world looks forward to China,” Mr. Xi said in an New Year’s address, “and China is ready.”

Chris Buckley contributed reporting. Claire Fu, Liu Yi and Li You contributed research.

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World Omicron Fight Hindered by Fragmented Response

ROME — In a wrenchingly familiar cycle of tracking first cases, pointing fingers and banning travel, nations worldwide reacted Monday to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the piecemeal fashion that has defined — and hobbled — the pandemic response all along.

As here-we-go-again fear and resignation gripped much of the world, the World Health Organization warned that the risk posed by the heavily mutated variant was “very high.” But operating once again in a vacuum of evidence, governments chose approaches that differed between continents, between neighboring countries, and even between cities within those countries.

Little is known about Omicron beyond its large number of mutations; it will be weeks, at least, before scientists can say with confidence whether it is more contagious — early evidence suggests it is — whether it causes more serious illness, and how it responds to vaccines.

In China, which had been increasingly alone in sealing itself off as it sought to eradicate the virus, a newspaper controlled by the Communist Party gloated about democracies that are now following suit as Japan, Australia and other countries gave up flirting with a return to normalcy and slammed their borders shut to the world. The West, it said, had hoarded vaccines at the expense of poorer regions, and was now paying a price for its selfishness.

announced that government employees, health care workers and staff and students at most schools must be vaccinated by Jan. 22.

tied to a single soccer team — and Scotland reported six, while the numbers in South Africa continued to soar.

Experts warned that the variant will reach every part of the world, if it hasn’t already.

The leaders of the world’s top powers insisted that they understood this, but their assurances also had a strong whiff of geopolitics.

President Xi Jinping of China offered one billion doses of Covid vaccine to Africa, on top of nearly 200 million that Beijing has already shipped to the continent, during an address to a conference in Senegal by video link.

The Global Times, a Chinese tabloid controlled by the Communist Party, boasted of China’s success in thwarting virus transmission, and said the West was now paying the price for its selfish policies. “Western countries control most of the resources needed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” it wrote. “But they have failed to curb the spread of the virus and have exposed more and more developing countries to the virus.”

told France Inter radio on Monday that variants would continue to emerge unless richer countries shared more vaccines. “We need a much more systemic approach,” she said.

“zero Covid” strategy.

China has steadfastly kept a high wall against visitors from the rest of the world. Foreign residents and visa holders are allowed in only under limited circumstances, leading to concerns by some within the business world that Covid restrictions were leaving the country increasingly isolated.

Visitors must submit to two-week quarantines upon arrival and face potential limits on their movement after that. Movements are tracked via monitoring smartphone apps, which display color codes that can signal whether a person has traveled from or through an area with recent infections, triggering instructions to remain in one place.

In other parts of Asia, people are less focused on eradicating the virus than just surviving it.

“This news is terrifying,” said Gurinder Singh, 57, in New Delhi, who worried about his shop going under. “If this virus spreads in India, the government will shut the country again, and we will be forced to beg.”

Reporting was contributed by Declan Walsh from Nairobi, Patrick Kingsley from Jerusalem, Carlos Tejada from Seoul, Sameer Yasir from Srinagar, India, Lynsey Chutel from South Africa, Aurelien Breeden from Paris, Elian Peltier and Monika Pronczuk from Brussels, Megan Specia from London, Christopher F. Schuetze from Berlin, Emma Bubola from Rome and Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva.

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