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A grooming gang in Huddersfield targeted dozens of underage girls and raped, abused, and passed them around for years. One mum recounts the harrowing abuse suffered by her daughter. "One time she came home and her neck was completely black with bites. "I had an idea what was going on because I would see her underwear... but these men have a hold over your child and there's nothing you can do apart from be there." This was the reality of daily life for one family who fought for years to free their daughter from the abusers' grip. At 13, she was not particularly streetwise. Her mother remembers a "very quiet", boy band-obsessed "girly-girl who loved wearing pink hair clips". But, as she was drawn into a seedy world, she changed. Twenty guilty of campaign of rape and abuse Grooming victims 'delivered to hell' "Her hair tied so tight on top of her head, her clothes changed, her underwear changed," her mother said. "There were big hooped earrings and she started wearing make-up and listening to this music I didn't recognise. "All the time she was home her phone was constantly in her hand." Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES Image caption Victims were "used and abused at will" over a seven year period from 2004 to 2011 A pattern of behaviour began to stick. She regularly missed school, disappeared every weekend and left her parents frantic until they got a hysterical call in the early hours. Each time, their daughter had been dumped and left to find her own way back to her family. At home, the youngster was bombarded with dozens of phone calls and text messages. Her parents locked windows and doors to try and protect her but she would threaten to hurt herself with a knife. "There was one time we were trying to talk sense into her and drag her back into the house," her mum said. "She was saying 'I have to go, you don't understand'. "I was saying 'please make us understand' and she said 'they've said if I don't do what they say then they're going to gang rape you in front of dad'. "I was gobsmacked. I thought if this is the kind of hold these perpetrators have over your child then you've got absolutely no chance." Reality Check: The scale of online child sex abuse 'Nobody asked me any questions' Desperate to "get her off the radar", her father took her out of the country for several weeks. But when she returned, so did the men and their demands. "She'd come home totally disorientated. We used to take it in turns and sit up all night with her, making sure she was lying on her side. We didn't know what she'd had. "She was giddy, silly. I used to always say what's your name, what's your date of birth, do you know what day it is? "Then she'd sleep right through until dinner time the day after, get up, shower and go out again." Her parents would constantly ring the police and approached their MP. With support from charity Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation, they kept a daily log but were told by officers that without any "hardcore evidence" or the girls speaking out, nothing could be done. "Some police officers were nice but the odd one or two d
LEBANON, Ohio – President Donald Trump Friday night marched out at the Warren County Fairgrounds to Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" and rallied an enthusiastic crowd for the November election. He asked a favor of black voters. "I'm asking all African-American voters to honor us with their support," Trump said. "Get away from the Democrats, they’ve done nothing." Thousands were packed underneath a massive metal roof on the fairgrounds to listen to Trump. The venue’s capacity according to fairgrounds staff is 3,000. Rapper and avid Trump supporter Kanye West’s name came up multiple times during Trump’s hour-long speech. West made a highly publicized and profanity-laced visit to the Oval Office yesterday. “Kanye West, what he did yesterday was pretty amazing,” Trump said. West also got a blessing from U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Westwood. Trump came to southwest Ohio to help Chabot’s re-election effort. Chabot is locked in a bitter battle with Democratic candidate Aftab Pureval. It's one of the nation's highest-profile races. Trump brought Chabot onstage. Chabot spoke briefly, asking God to bless Trump, the people of Warren County and West. "I never thought I would say this, God Bless Kanye West," Chabot said. Trump spent the bulk of his speech campaigning for GOP candidates in Ohio. He praised Chabot as “a great friend of mine." Prior to the speech, Trump attended a fundraiser for Chabot. Chabot told The Enquirer earlier this week he didn't ask the president to come but he welcomes him. This race is about Trump just as much if not more than the candidates. A Suffolk University/Enquirer poll released Friday showed 48 percent of Ohio likely voters said they wanted their vote "to change the direction President Trump is leading the nation." Only 34 percent said they wanted to support the direction Trump has set, though that was up from an earlier poll this summer.
Le vice-Premier ministre italien Luigi Di Maio a confirmé ce vendredi son intention de réduire la contribution de l'Italie au budget de l'Union européenne, faute d'accord à Bruxelles sur le sort de migrants bloqués sur un navire italien. "L'Union européenne a décidé de tourner le dos à l'Italie encore une fois", a écrit Luigi Di Maio sur sa page Facebook, ajoutant que son pays n'avait alors pas d'autre choix que de "prendre de manière unilatérale, une mesure compensatrice". "Nous sommes prêts à réduire les fonds que nous donnons à l'Union européenne", a-t-il ajouté, soulignant que l'Italie n'accepterait plus d'être "humiliée". Luigi Di Maio, leader du Mouvement Cinq Etoiles est suivi sur ce point par l'autre chef de file de la majorité gouvernementale, le vice-Premier ministre Matteo Salvini, patron de la Ligue, parti d'extrême-droite. "Si en Europe, ils font semblant de ne pas comprendre, étant donné que nous payons abondamment, on fera ce qu'il faut pour payer un peu moins", a déclaré vendredi soir Matteo Salvini, interrogé par une radio italienne. "Un problème que nous ne pouvons plus affronter seuls" Luigi Di Maio avait donné aux Européens jusqu'à vendredi, jour prévu d'une réunion informelle à Bruxelles sur la question migratoire, avant de confirmer ses menaces. "Ils veulent les 20 milliards payés par les citoyens italiens ? Qu'ils démontrent de le mériter et qu'ils...
Western intelligence officials believe there are “more than a handful” of Islamic State terrorists connected to the Brussels attacks who are still at large and plotting more attacks, a U.S. official told Yahoo News. The comments from a U.S. official came as the Islamic State’s Web forum took official responsibility for Tuesday’s attack and threatened more strikes. The group promised “the alliance of crusaders” that it would see “dark days in response to their aggression against the Islamic State,” according to a statement in Arabic and French that was monitored by MEMRI, a group that tracks jihadist propaganda. The statement continued: “What awaits you will be grievous and bitter, with Allah’s permission.” A U.S. official told Yahoo News “there is no reason to doubt” the Islamic State’s claims to be behind the Brussels attacks. The perpetrators that carried out the attacks on the Brussels airport and subway were part of a larger network believed to be “in the dozens” — as many as 30 to 40 — that also carried out last November’s attacks in Paris. Some of them have yet to be captured or killed. Yahoo News live blog coverage of the Brussels attacks >>> “It’s a safe presumption that there continue to be people at large who have intentions and plans,” the official said. This was the reason for today’s warning by the U.S. Embassy that another attack could be “imminent” and advising Americans in the European capital to be “sheltering in place.” The official noted, however, that the new statement from the Islamic State threatening more attacks could also just be “standard rhetoric.” Another reason for concern, U.S. officials and counterterrorism experts say, is that Islamic State attacks tend to occur in waves — with multiple strikes happening in different cities within a few days of each other. Slideshow: Deadly attacks in Brussels, Belgium >>> Steve Stalinsky, executive director of MEMRI, noted that the Brussels attack —while probably linked to the arrest Friday of the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam — could also be part of a coordinated wave that included the bombing in Istanbul over the weekend and the attack that killed a U.S. Marine in northern Iraq. U.S. officials also told Yahoo News that another theory is that Tuesday’s attackers chose to strike now — possibly moving up a long-planned attack — because of comments by Belgium authorities stating that Abdeslam was cooperating with authorities and identifying others in his terrorist network. “There may have been a sense of urgency [for the attacks] because of a fear that they were going to be rounded up,” said one U.S. official. Western intelligence services, including the CIA, have been warning ever since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks about the threat of follow-up attacks by the Islamic State or from terrorists in Europe aligned with or directed by the group.
On a eu des moments incroyables". Neuf mois après la mort de Johnny Hallyday, André Boudou le père de Laeticia Hallyday est revenu dans Le Parisien sur la relation qu'il entretenait avec le chanteur et sur la polémique autour de l'héritage de l'interprète de Que je t'aime. Il affirme que sa famille a aidé le chanteur à éponger ses dettes. "Quand ma fille se lie à Johnny, je mets mon nez dans ses affaires et je découvre qu’il a 120 millions de francs [environ 17 millions d'euros] de dettes, notamment un chèque sans provision au Trésor Public de 56 millions. J’arrange le coup etc.", raconte-t-il au quotidien. "C’est pour cela que dans une lettre il m’a écrit 'Tu m’as sauvé la vie'. Je ne lui ai jamais fait perdre d’argent (...) Sans nous, Johnny serait mort bien avant et ruiné."On a eu des moments incroyables". Neuf mois après la mort de Johnny Hallyday, André Boudou le père de Laeticia Hallyday est revenu dans Le Parisien sur la relation qu'il entretenait avec le chanteur et sur la polémique autour de l'héritage de l'interprète de Que je t'aime. Il affirme que sa famille a aidé le chanteur à éponger ses dettes. "Quand ma fille se lie à Johnny, je mets mon nez dans ses affaires et je découvre qu’il a 120 millions de francs [environ 17 millions d'euros] de dettes, notamment un chèque sans provision au Trésor Public de 56 millions. J’arrange le coup etc.", raconte-t-il au quotidien. "C’est pour cela que dans une lettre il m’a écrit 'Tu m’as sauvé la vie'. Je ne lui ai jamais fait perdre d’argent (...) Sans nous, Johnny serait mort bien avant et ruiné." L'homme d'affaires de 67 ans, fondateur de la boîte de nuit l'Amnesia Paris, revient sur la "brouille" qui l'a oppposé au chanteur en 2004. "Il est parti en Suisse contre mon avis, sur les conseils de Daniel Hechter. Une mauvaise idée. (...) Ensuite, parce qu’il a signé avec Warner dans mon dos. Mais là, il a fait un bon coup", détaille-t-il, décrivant toutefois une relation "passionnelle" avec le chanteur. "Ce mec était tellement attachant, on a eu des moments incroyables
Six large new wildfires have erupted in the United States that pushed the number of major active blazes nationwide to over 100, with more expected to break out over the weekend sparked by lightning strikes on bone-dry terrain, authorities said on Saturday. More than 30,000 personnel, including firefighters from across the United States and nearly 140 from Australia and New Zealand, were battling the blazes that have consumed more than 1.6 million acres (648,000 hectares), according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. "We are expecting that there will be more fire-starts today," Jeremy Grams, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, said in an interview on Saturday. He said dry thunderstorms, which produce lightning but little rain, are expected for parts of the Rocky Mountain region, while the U.S. northwest has critical fire weather conditions that include strong winds and low relative humidity. Firefighters were battling another day of extremely hot temperatures and strong winds on Saturday, the National Interagency Coordination Center said. The fires have scorched states from Washington to New Mexico, with California among the hardest hit.
A long-range rocket fired from Gaza struck an uninhabited area outside the largest city in southern Israel on Thursday, Israeli Army Radio reported, hours after a Palestinian official said an end to a surge in cross-border fighting could be near. Army Radio said the rocket was a long-range Grad capable of reaching Israel's heartland and that it hit an open area outside Beersheba. It was a show of force and defiance by Palestinian militants ahead of a meeting of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, where terms for a possible truce were likely to be on the agenda. Rocket alert sirens sounded in Beersheba, a city of 200,000 inhabitants some 40 km (25 miles) from the Gaza Strip, for the first time since the 2014 war between Israel and militants in the Palestinian enclave. Hours earlier, a Palestinian official said armed factions in Gaza were prepared to halt a round of rocket attacks on southern Israel - where communities near the border had been targeted - if the Israeli military stopped its air strikes after two days of violence. A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child, and a militant from the Islamist Hamas group that rules Gaza, were killed in the Israeli attacks, and at least five civilians were wounded, local medical officials said. The Israeli military said seven people were wounded in southern Israel. One was identified by her employer as a Thai agricultural worker. The flare-up came after officials on both sides had talked about potential progress in an effort by the United Nations and Egypt to broker a truce to end months of violence and alleviate deepening humanitarian and economic hardship in the Gaza Strip. "Factions of the resistance consider this round of escalation over as far as we are concerned, and the continuation of calm depends on the behaviour of the occupation," the Palestinian official said, using militant groups' term for Israel. The Israeli military declined to comment on the official's remarks. The official, at a command center used by armed groups in Gaza, said they had been "responding to crimes" by Israel - a reference to the killing on Tuesday, in disputed circumstances, of two Hamas gunmen.
Israel set out limited goals for Gaza truce talks on Sunday, saying the focus was on a proposal to ease its blockade of the Islamist Hamas-controlled territory in return for the Palestinians calming their side of the frontier. The Israeli statement came hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet to discuss, and possibly approve U.N.- and Egyptian-brokered ideas for preventing another threatened Gaza war. A very brief statement issued after the meeting ended revealed little. It said that Israel's military chief had briefed the cabinet about the situation in the Gaza Strip and that the army was "prepared for any scenario." The United Nations and Egypt have not publicly detailed their proposals. They have spoken generally of a need to improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza, stem cross-border hostilities and reconcile Hamas - which refuses formal peacemaking with Israel - to its Western-backed Palestinian rivals. Gaza, under years of grinding Israeli and Egyptian sanctions aimed at isolating Hamas, has seen a surge in tensions since Palestinians launched weekly border protests on March 30, drawing Israeli army fire that has killed at least 157 people. There have also been shelling exchanges between Hamas-led militants and Israel in which around 10 Palestinian gunmen and four civilians have died, Gaza sniper attacks that killed an Israeli soldier and wounded another, and wide-scale brushfires set in Israel by incendiary kites and helium balloons from Gaza. Israel responded on July 9 by shuttering Gaza's main commercial terminal and limiting a Palestinian fishing zone off the enclave, measures it offered to reverse on Sunday. "A complete ceasefire (by the Palestinians) will lead, on Israel's part, to the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing and renewal of the permits given in respect to the fishing zones," said the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. This offer would be the focus of Sunday's deliberations, the official said, adding that any eventual broader agreement over Gaza would require a guarantee for the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, and two civilians lost in Gaza.
New Zealand's Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters called on neighbouring Australia to change its flag Thursday, saying it had pinched the Kiwi banner's design and was causing confusion. "We designed it and they borrowed it and if we wanted to clear the matter up they should change their flag," Peters told reporters. "It must be patently obvious that all over the world people are confused. I've been in places like Turkey and elsewhere where they've confused our countries on the basis of those flags. It's not helpful." Both the New Zealand and Australian flags are dark blue with the Union Jack emblem of former colonial power Britain in the top left corner. The only major difference is that the Australian version has six white stars, five representing the Southern Cross, while New Zealand depicts the constellation with four red stars. Peters, who is temporarily leading the country while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is on maternity leave, feels strongly about the flag issue. The 73-year-old also raised it earlier this week, complaining "we got there first with this design". Opposition leader Simon Bridges ridiculed Peters' flag preoccupation, accusing him of populism and labelling him "a poor man's Donald Trump". Bridges said New Zealanders he had spoken to were concerned about topics such as the economy and healthcare. "They never raised with me changing the Australian flag. That's weird by even his (Peters') standards," he told parliament. New Zealand adopted its flag in 1902, while Australia's was not officially recognised until 1954. However, the Australian version had been used informally since 1901 and both countries say similar designs were common throughout the late 1800s. New Zealand held a referendum on changing its flag to a silver fern design in 2016, with the proposal defeated 43 percent to 57.
Irène Mayer has spent the last 10 years picking out tens of thousands of ragweed plants by hand. Her weeding work began after her grandson, Xavier, was diagnosed with allergies. "After my retirement, I knew that my grandson was allergic so I [decided to] do something to help him," she said. Mayor started in her own Mile End yard, and she pulled the plant out around her grandson's house, too. She then moved her efforts into the public sphere, successfully pitching a three-year pilot project to eradicate ragweed in an old rail yard that has been transformed into a park. The area, on the border between the Plateau–Mont-Royal and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie on Gaspé Avenue, is now known as the Champs des Possibles. More than 150,000 plants pulled up Ragweed is an invasive species and its pollen causes itchy eyes, stuffed noses and sneezing for those with allergies. Last year, the first year of the project, a small group of volunteers pulled up more than 150,000 ragweed plants. "This year, we have a lot less," Mayor said. "My project is three years, and it's only the second year, that's why I'm really optimistic." She said she hopes to put a theory to the test — that if you weed three times per year, ragweed will disappear forever. Caroline Magar, a member of Les Amis du Champs des Possibles, said she applauds Mayer's dedication. "It's amazing," she said. "I think it's necessary when you're facing such a big public health concern like that." Mayer said she'll continue working with groups of volunteers to try to drastically reduce the ragweed population, always with her grandson in mind.
Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper will be doorknocking for the upcoming Alberta election in the Calgary constituency held by a bitter foe of United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney. "I live in (NDP cabinet minister) Sandra Jansen's riding," Harper's wife, Laureen, said Tuesday night in a speech at the launch of SheLeads, a non-profit group aimed at encouraging and mentoring women to run for conservative parties. Harper said she and her husband are not getting involved in the United Conservative candidate nomination race in their Calgary-West constituency but, to cheers and applause, added "My husband said 'I'm doorknocking for the winner. I'm doorknocking.'" SheLeads is mentoring women on everything from campaigning to fundraising to dealing with social media, starting with Kenney's UCP as it prepares for the election in 2019. Jansen won the Calgary-North West riding in the 2015 election as a Progressive Conservative. She ran against Kenney in a subsequent party leadership vote, but dropped out of the race and from caucus, saying the personal abuse from Kenney's supporters was intolerable. Kenney went on to win the PC leadership, then merged the party with the Wildrose party to form the UCP. Jansen, meanwhile, crossed the floor to the NDP and is now minister of infrastructure under Premier Rachel Notley. SheLeads is led by Laureen Harper and former federal Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose. In her speech, Harper, a longtime political strategist and organizer, told the women the biggest step is winning the candidate nomination, since candidates have to build their campaigns from scratch. "Your nomination meeting and your nomination is the hardest thing you'll ever do. If you win, it gets easier. It's still hard but you do have a team," said Harper. Ambrose told the crowd the hardest step comes earlier, making the mental leap of self-confidence to run and believe in yourself rather than put up artificial barriers. Ambrose said too often when she urges women to run they come up with a list of reasons to wait — more education, more experience — telling her "I'm not ready yet." Ambrose said when she makes the same political pitch to a male he responds "Sign me up." "We need to get rid of that disconnect," said Ambrose. Shannon Stubbs, an Alberta Conservative MP, was among those in the crowd. In an interview, she said candidates need to park any shyness or self-modesty and tap personal contacts at the start — men and women, family, friends and business contacts — to cement the foundation of a political network that will be energized to come out and vote for them on nomination day.
An American tourist was accidentally shot and killed during a driveby shooting while exiting a taco restaurant in an upscale neighborhood in Mexico City on Monday. The woman was apparently struck by a stray bullet, according to the Mexico City Attorney General's Office. According to the AG, she was struck when two men on a motorcycle fired at a man on the sidewalk. Tatiana Mirutenko, 27, was shot while exiting a restaurant in the Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood of the Mexico capital at about 5:50 a.m. The neighborhood is known as a nice area and a popular destination for tourists. Mirutenko, who was with her husband and two friends, was taken to the hospital, where she died. The 46-year-old man who was targeted in the shooting was injured. The AG said he worked as a bouncer in Polanco, the neighborhood just east of Lomas de Chapultepec. "A year ago, we were selecting flowers for the wedding. Today we were looking at flowers for the funeral," Wasyl Mirutenko, Tatiana's father, told San Francisco ABC station KGO. A manhunt is still on for the two alleged shooters. "The analysis of the surveillance cameras, by the investigation police, allowed us to know that the aggressors fled to the State of Mexico," the attorney general said. The woman worked for Nektar Therapeutics in San Francisco. "Tatiana was a bright and passionate rising star on our Nektar Investor Relations team in San Francisco," Jennifer Ruddock, Nektar's senior Vvice president of Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs told ABC News. "She was always willing to help on any project across the company and had an incredibly strong work ethic. Many throughout Nektar, and outside the company, valued her positive energy, insight and sheer enthusiasm for life."
Furious at spiraling corruption and violence, Mexican voters unleashed a political earthquake Sunday by electing a leftist firebrand as president and giving him a broad mandate to overthrow the political establishment and govern for the poor. A late-night official quick count from electoral authorities forecast that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would win with between 53 percent and 53.8 percent of the vote, a remarkable margin not seen in the country for many years. A prominent exit poll predicted that his party allies were poised to score huge wins in the Senate and lower house, possibly absolute majorities in both. Lopez Obrador, who campaigned on vows to transform Mexico and oust the "mafia of power" ruling the country, rode widespread voter anger and discontent with the governing Institutional Revolution Party, or PRI, of President Enrique Pena Nieto and had led opinion polls since the beginning of the campaign. The PRI, which dominated Mexican politics for nearly the entire 20th century and recaptured the presidency in 2012, was set to suffer heavy losses not just for the presidency but in down-ballot races as well. In brief remarks at a hotel in central Mexico City, Lopez Obrador called for reconciliation after a polarizing campaign and promised profound change that respects the law and constitutional order. "I confess that I have a legitimate ambition: I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico," said Lopez Obrador, who won after losses in the previous two elections. "I desire with all my soul to raise the greatness of our country on high." The president-in-waiting devoted much of his speech to appealing to citizens of all stripes and seeking to reassure those who have eyed his candidacy nervously. "This new national project will seek to establish an authentic democracy and we do not intend to establish a dictatorship," Lopez Obrador said. "The changes will be profound, but in accordance with established order." Conservative Ricardo Anaya of a right-left coalition and the PRI's Jose Antonio Meade acknowledged defeat shortly after polls closed nationwide. The quick count had them around 22 percent and 16 percent, respectively. "The tendency favors Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. ... I recognize his triumph," Anaya said in a speech to supporters. "For the good of Mexico, I wish him the greatest success," Meade said minutes earlier.
An apparent suicide attack close to a government ministry in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday killed at least five people as staff were leaving the office in the evening rush hour, officials said. A police spokesman said the explosion was believed to have been caused by a suicide attacker but had no further details. Fraidoon Azhand, a spokesman at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development confirmed the attack had happened and said initial information suggested that at least five people had been killed. "Apparently a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest at the gate of our ministry. The target was our staff who were leaving to their homes," he said. The attack was the latest in a seemingly unending series of blasts against civilian targets in Kabul and other major cities including Jalalabad, which has seen three major attacks in the past two weeks alone. Earlier on Sunday, the United Nations reported a record number of civilian deaths from the conflict in Afghanistan with a 22 percent jump in casualties from suicide attacks during the first half of the year.
CHICAGO — Police scuffled with demonstrators Saturday evening in the nation's third-largest city, hours after a Chicago police officer fatally shot a man on the city's South Side. Officers were struck by rocks and bottles as dozens of demonstrators gathered near the crime scene Saturday, according to police. Four demonstrators were arrested late Saturday as police cleared the crime scene, said Anthony Guglielmi, the police department's chief spokesman. Fred Waller, chief of the department's patrol division, said three or four officers were injured. It was not immediately clear what charges the arrested demonstrators face. Video posted on social media appeared to show multiple officers drag one man at the scene. Protesters chanted "murderers" and "no justice, no peace" at officers.
MOSCOW – The World Cup didn’t miss the United States. No one in Moscow was dipping hot dogs into their borscht and sipping Bud Lights as a show of sympathy. There were no Stars-and-Stripes T-shirts hidden beneath replica jerseys of teams that, you know, actually bothered to show up and take part in the tournament. Why would they? Sympathy doesn’t appear in the soccer lexicon. Every nation has suffered its share of soccer pain -- even the countries who have won the World Cup multiple times -- and there is no room left in any soccer fan’s strafed psyche for feeling sorry for anyone else. If heavyweights such as Italy, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana weren’t going to be wept over, then the Americans weren’t either. Besides, the U.S. has a bigger, more immediate and closer-to-home problem to fix right now. Not only did the wider world not miss the Americans at the World Cup, plenty of Americans got over the initial shock far quicker than they might have expected. Television ratings would naturally have been given an upward bump by a few USA matches, but do you hear any voices suggesting that the event has been spoiled because of the farcical catalog of failure that led to the team’s qualifying exit? The last time the squad did not make the World Cup was 1986, and such was the status of stateside soccer at the time that barely anyone noticed. They noticed this time, yet while the audience was aware of the absence, any tears were shed last October, when the U.S. lost to a hopelessly out-of-form Trinidad and Tobago and got bounced. Over the past month, Americans have learned to enjoy a World Cup featuring no American team. For U.S. Soccer, that is a problem, although by no means an unfixable one. MORE: Croatia has World Cup's oddest fashion statement MORE: Can England's World Cup run really be considered a success? The issue is one of relevance. As with any group not good enough to push its way into one of the 32 spots in the field, the USA became a soccer afterthought this summer. While millions of fans from its precise target audience were consuming live games, reading and commenting about them -- and finding new players to swoon over -- the national team was out of the discussion. It now needs to earn its way back, and it is a position that won’t be automatically handed over. American soccer fans new and old cast their allegiance elsewhere this World Cup and found that the experience was just fine. Whether it is OK for a soccerphile to support another country in the first place is a matter for another debate and another time, but that’s what happened. Supporters in the U.S. glued themselves to a tournament that featured goals, drama, star power, excellence and zero American involvement and found it to their liking. Now the battle for the U.S. men’s program is to win back that emotional investment. It needs to re-earn the right to have people care. It needs to show enough emotional attachment itself to prove worthy of the emotions of the country’s sporting feelings. Christian Pulisic’s tears at the close of the qualifying campaign were heartfelt and genuine, but over the course of the previous year, there simply weren’t enough guys who cared deeply enough to perform well enough. The fight for America’s soccer soul is a thorny one. For a large portion of fans, the scrap is won by European club teams, who captivate the attention span of their American followers more than the national side ever will. Yet there is a patriotic spirit always ready to explode within the U.S., one shown during the 2010 and 2014 campaigns, but one that needs to be nurtured and rewarded and not taken for granted. It is a tough job now. Soccer only gets America’s somewhat-undivided attention once every four years, and the USA wasn’t invited to give its promotional pitch this time. Somehow, over the coming years, the national team has to find ways to get old fans re-engaged and new supporters enlisted, all while tussling for airtime with everything else going on in athletics. Because the reality is that while the U.S. has grown up as a soccer nation and is a more involved member of the global game’s community than in the past, it wasn’t missed here at all – it just missed an opportunity.
U.S. President Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon believes now is the time for Boris Johnson to challenge British Prime Minister Theresa May for her job, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday. Johnson, who led the main Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum, resigned as foreign minister on Monday over May's strategy which he said was killing the "Brexit dream" with self-doubt. "Theresa May has got a lot of great qualities – I am not sure if it is the right leader at the right time," Bannon, Trump’s former strategist and a key player in his 2016 election campaign, was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying. May's government was rattled by the departures of Johnson and her chief Brexit negotiator David Davis just days after she appeared to have gained the support of her cabinet for her strategy at a meeting at her Chequers country residence. Asked if now was the moment for Johnson to lead the country, Bannon, who was fired by the White House in August 2017, said: "I believe moments come. It is like Donald Trump... people dismissed him." "Now is the moment," The Telegraph quoted him as saying. "If Boris Johnson looks at this... There comes an inflection point, the Chequers deal was an inflection point, we will have to see what happens." Trump, in an interview with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper published just hours before he was due to have lunch with May, directly criticized May's Brexit strategy and heaped praise on Johnson, saying he "would be a great Prime Minister." The U.S. president later said he hoped for a great trade deal with Britain after Brexit. [nL8N1U816A] [nL8N1U91B3] On Friday The Telegraph said Johnson had re-joined the newspaper as a columnist with effect from Monday.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday an accord aimed at containing the Syrian conflict could be destroyed if Syrian government forces target the Idlib region, a Turkish presidential source said. The two presidents spoke by telephone after the Syrian government raised the national flag on Thursday over areas of Deraa in the southwest that was in rebel hands for years. The source said Erdogan voiced concern about the treatment of civilians there. "President Erdogan stressed that the targeting of civilians in Deraa was worrying and said that if the Damascus regime targeted Idlib in the same way the essence of the Astana accord could be completely destroyed," the source said. With help from Russia and Iran, President Bashar al-Assad has now recovered most of Syria but anti-Assad rebels still control Idlib in the northwest, while a Kurdish-led militia controls the northeast and a large chunk of the east. Turkey has set up a series of observation posts in Idlib as part of a deal which it reached last year with Russia and Iran in the Kazakh capital Astana to reduce fighting between insurgents and the Syrian government in de-escalation zones. Erdogan said the avoidance of "negative developments" in Idlib was important in terms of encouraging rebel groups to attend a meeting in Astana planned for July 30-31, according to the source. Separately, the Kremlin confirmed in a statement Putin's phone conversation with Erdogan on Saturday and said they had discussed joint efforts to solve the Syrian crisis.
President Trump swept into Brussels this week like some rich, nutty uncle who had to be invited to the wedding, despite flaming all his relatives on the family Facebook page, because he’s paying for the caterer and the band. Even before the food came out, Trump again blasted America’s staunchest allies as a bunch of worthless sponges and accused Germany of being under Russian control. That’s quite a toast. How reviled is Trump in Europe? Put it this way: When you’re searching the crowd for someone to sit with and are super-relieved to see the Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan waving you over, you’ve got some work to do. Just because you’re boorish, though, doesn’t mean you’re completely wrong. Heckle me for saying so, but I happen to think Trump has a serious point when it comes to modernizing the decades-old arrangement between the United States and its European allies. And I’m willing to grant that sometimes diplomacy requires a less-than-diplomatic approach. The question is to what end. Because if you’re going to make the case that America is wasting too much money to defend foreign borders, then it seems to me you also ought to have a pretty good argument for how reversing that policy can help us here at home. To be clear, nobody sane should be talking about disbanding NATO. The threat of Russian expansionism, as ever, remains, and America’s interest in the security of Europe is vital still. But the balance of responsibility for that security could probably stand to be updated. For those of you too young to remember Boris Yeltsin standing on the tank (he was known to be a drinker, but this was a different kind of disorderly conduct), the mutual defense pact among free countries in Europe and North America goes back almost 70 years, to the dawn of the Cold War, when our European allies were still rising slowly from the dust of the Second World War. For several decades afterward, the United States bore the necessary burden, to use President Kennedy’s phrase, of defending Europe — and much of the world — from Soviet aggression.
The Justice Department is appealing a federal judge's approval last month of AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, a deal that was expected to usher in a wave of media and telecom mergers designed to counter the growing heft and influence of Netflix, Amazon and Apple. AT&T announced the deal in October 2016, but the U.S. government sued to block the merger in November 2017, saying one company having so much power over both how Americans get their entertainment (AT&T provides broadband as well as owns satellite TV service DirecTV) — and what they watch — would hurt consumers. But Judge Richard Leon approved the deal last month after a six-week trial ended in April, ruling the government had not adequately made the case the combination of a telecom distributor with a network of TV studios and channels would hurt competition. The DOJ's move, announced Thursday, goes against Leon's advice, which discouraged the agency from seeking a stay. "I do not believe that the Government has a likelihood of success on the merits of an appeal," he said in his June 12 ruling. "The Government has had this merger on hold," he wrote, as "the video programming and distribution industry has continued to evolve at a breakneck pace." The Justice Department offered no additional comment beyond its filing Thursday. AT&T, however, did have some comments harkening back to the judge's ruling. “The Court’s decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned," said AT&T General Counsel David McAtee. "While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances. We are ready to defend the Court’s decision at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”