America’s First Crewed Spaceship In A Decade Set For Splashdown

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America’s first crewed spaceship since the Space Shuttle era was set to splash down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were carrying out final preparations in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule “Endeavour” which should land off the coast of Pensacola at 2:48 pm (1848 GMT).

A successful mission would demonstrate that the United States once again has the capacity to send its astronauts to space and bring them back.

The US has had to rely on Russia for this purpose since the last Space Shuttle flew in 2011.

NASA footage showed the recovery boat “GO Navigator,” making its way to the site of the first water landing for a US spaceship since the 1975 joint Apollo-Soyuz mission.

Tropical Storm Isaias, which had scuppered Endeavour’s original landing site in the Atlantic, was nearing Florida’s east coast Sunday morning, hundreds of miles away.

The mission is also a major win for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which was founded in only 2002 but has leap-frogged its way past Boeing, its main competitor in the commercial space race.





This NASA video frame grab image shows SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken watching

Arrested Zimbabwean Author, Booker Nominee Tsitsi Dangarembga Freed

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Zimbabwean top writer and Booker Prize nominee, Tsitsi Dangarembga was freed on bail on Saturday following her arrest during anti-government protests a day earlier.

Dangarembga, 61, was charged with incitement to commit violence and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations after staging a two-women demonstration in Harare which coincided with the second anniversary of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s disputed election.

She was arrested in the upmarket Harare suburb of Borrowdale alongside another protester and hauled into a truck full of police armed with AK-47 rifles and riot gear.

Police had banned the protests called by opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, head of a small party called Transform Zimbabwe, against alleged state corruption and the country’s slumping economy.

The government had denounced the protests, calling them an “insurrection”.

The Cambridge-educated author’s arrest came days after her latest novel, “This Mournable Body”, entered the long list for the Booker Prize.

“I’m happy to be out in the fresh air,” Dangarembga told AFP as she left the magistrates’ court.

“It’s a whole experience, something I’ve never gone through,” she said.

She said while the constitution provides for peaceful demonstration, “it seems impossible to do that practically because you run the risk of being arrested if you do

Facebook Challenges YouTube With Licensed Music Videos

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Facebook on Friday added licensed music videos to the social network in the US, challenging YouTube for the attention of online audiences.

Facebook said users will be able to “come together” around official music videos, with the promise of premier content from J. Balvin, Karol G, Sebastian Yatra, and other artists.

“With official music videos on Facebook, we’re creating new social experiences that are about more than just watching the video,” music business development vice president Tamara Hrivnak and entertainment vice president Vijaye Raji said in an online post.

“We’ll continue working with our music partners to build unique social experiences and bring music into the ways people connect and share.”

The Facebook “music experience” was already available in India and Thailand, but is making its US debut this weekend, according to Hrivnak and Raji.

The roster of US partners included Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and BMG.

Google-owned video-sharing service YouTube boasts more than 2 billion monthly users, many of those people tuning into music videos.

Subscriptions to YouTube premium content such as music have been climbing, according to recent earnings reports by parent-company Alphabet.

Interest in streamed entertainment has surged during the pandemic, as

Italy Senate Paves Way For Salvini Migrant Trial

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Italy’s Senate voted on Thursday to strip far-right chief Matteo Salvini of his parliamentary immunity, paving the way for him to face trial, for a second time, over allegedly illegally detaining migrants at sea.

Salvini, a senator, now looks set for a potentially career-derailing case on charges that could see him serve up to 15 years in jail if convicted.

The Senate voted 149 to 141 to strip Salvini of his immunity, with one abstention.

“I am proud to have defended Italy. I would do it again and I will do it again, also because just this July the arrivals are six times those seen in the same period a year ago, with the League party in government,” a defiant Salvini told the Senate after the vote.

The head of the anti-immigrant League party is already set to stand trial in a separate but similar case.

Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Palermo accuse Salvini of abusing his powers as then-interior minister in August 2019 to illegally prevent more than 80 migrants, rescued in the Mediterranean, from disembarking from the Open Arms charity ship.

Ministers cannot be tried for actions taken while in office unless their parliamentary immunity is revoked

Yemeni Separatists Abandon Self-rule, Push Peace Deal

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Yemeni separatists abandoned their declaration of self-rule in the south on Wednesday and pledged to implement a stalled Saudi-brokered peace deal, mending a rift between allies in the war against Huthi rebels.

The Southern Transitional Council (STC) proclaimed self-governance in April after accusing the government of failing to perform its duties and of “conspiring” against the southern cause, pushing the war-ravaged country deeper into crisis.

The breakdown between the one-time allies had complicated a long and separate conflict between a Saudi-led military coalition and the Iran-aligned rebels, who control much of the north, including the capital Sanaa.

The STC “announces that it is abandoning its self-rule declaration” to allow the implementation of a power-sharing deal known as the Riyadh Agreement, spokesman Nizar Haitham wrote on Twitter.

He acknowledged the announcement came after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates exerted pressure to row back on their decision.

Saudi Arabia said it had proposed a plan to “accelerate” the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported early Wednesday.

The plan calls for the Yemeni prime minister to form a new government within 30 days, as well as the appointment of a new governor and security director

Virus Curbs Tightened Over Fears Of A Second Wave

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Spain and Germany were among the countries tightening restrictions on Tuesday in a bid to cool coronavirus hotspots that have sparked fears of a second wave.

The World Health Organization warned that the virus did not appear to be affected by seasonality, as the global death toll from the pandemic passed 654,000 Tuesday — nearly a third of the dead in Europe, according to an AFP tally.

More than 100,000 deaths have been recorded since July 9 and the global toll has doubled in just over two months.

Madrid insisted that Spain was still a safe destination for tourists despite tackling 361 active outbreaks and more than 4,000 new cases, and updating its mask rules to make them obligatory at all times in public.

Several countries have nonetheless imposed quarantines on people returning from Spain, including its biggest tourist market, Britain.

Spanish tourism is hardly alone in feeling the devastating impact of the pandemic.





Iran is facing a worrying increase in fatalities
 AFP / ATTA KENARE

The UN’s World Tourism Organization said the sector lost $320 billion in revenue globally during the first five months of 2020, threatening millions of livelihoods.

This is “more than three times the loss during

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