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Armenian Armed Forces again violate ceasefire regime in direction of Nakhchivan (UPDATE)

Title changed, details added (first version posted on 14:12)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 16


The units of the Armenian Armed Forces fired at the positions of the Azerbaijani troops located in the direction of Sadarak district of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border on July 16, at around 10:00 and 13:00 (GMT+4), Trend reports referring to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

The return fire was opened against the units of the Armenian Armed Forces, located near Arazdeyen village of Vedi district, to suppress the shelling.

There are no dead or wounded among the personnel of the Azerbaijani troops.

“Once again, we state that Armenia bears full responsibility for creating tension along the entire state border of the two countries,” the Azerbaijani defense ministry said.

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This post originally posted here Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

With cases surging, driven by unvaccinated Americans and fueled by the Delta variant, hospitals are again bracing for another round of devastation

“I remember seeing articles in the news about hospitals in California with empty Covid units and I longed for that experience,” Segarra, the chief medical officer with Baptist Health’s Baptist Hospital, said. “It’s an experience we were working our way towards that unfortunately has taken a rather sad turn.”
In the weeks since, the hospital’s Covid-19 patient numbers have more than tripled, and staff are now treating more than 70 people, an “exponential growth,” he said, that they were not expecting. To accommodate the climbing patient numbers, the hospital recently reopened two units that were previously shut down.
The overwhelming majority of those coming in sick with Covid are unvaccinated, Segarra said. Many are young — people in their 20s and 30s who are getting “extremely, extremely sick” and some of whom are dying.
Roughly 45% of people in Florida are fully vaccinated, according to state data. The low vaccination rates, along with a dangerous coronavirus variant that’s now the dominant strain in the United States and the relaxed Covid-19 guidelines, are what Segarra said he thinks have led to the increase.
“It’s very sad to see as a health care professional, to see that this is generally an avoidable and preventable disease and to see so many people dying from a preventable illness,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
With cases of the virus surging in most of the United States — driven by unvaccinated Americans and fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant — Covid-19 hospitalizations are climbing in other parts of the country, too, and hospitals are again bracing for another round of devastation.
And in Covid hot spots such as Florida and Missouri, where patients are quickly filling Covid units, experts warn a rise in deaths could soon follow.
Emergency personnel wear face masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 while leaving an hospital clinic emergency room on March 24, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. Parts of the state are now seeing a surge of patients

Younger, healthier patients are getting treated

In Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston, Missouri, hospital leaders say half the number of Covid-19 deaths they’ve seen since the start of this year — eight in total — occurred over the past week.
A little more than 23% of the county’s population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, according to hospital spokesperson Helania Wulff. And the county, now labeled as “very high” risk, saw its positivity test rate jump from 9.5% last week to more than 30% this week, Wulff said.
Lauren Toman, the hospital’s director of respiratory care, said that while during previous surges patients tended to be older and have preexisting conditions, patients now are younger and healthier — but are coming in sicker and getting worse more quickly.
“They rapidly decline, very fast, and then even after intubation we’ll see them rapidly decline and unfortunately we are seeing people passing quicker than before,” Toman told CNN.
All the patients she has worked with in recent weeks have been unvaccinated, Toman said.
An hour and a half away, Erik Frederick, the chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, told CNN they’re seeing patient numbers accelerate “at a pace that’s almost unbelievable.”
The hospital went from 26 Covid-19 patients June 1 to more than 130 on Saturday — higher than ever before, including their winter surge.
“Last year, it took us from September 1 to our peak, on December 28, to go from 24 to 113 (patients),” Frederick said. “We eclipsed that this year in 39 days.”
There’s a “direct line,” he said, between the low vaccination rates the community has seen to the rise in cases and hospitalizations. Roughly 40% of residents in Missouri are fully vaccinated, according to state data, and some of the counties the hospital serves still haven’t hit the 20% mark, Frederick said.
Patients there have also trended younger. Roughly 91% of patients in the intensive care unit are on ventilators, and these include young patients, in their 20s, 30s and 40s, he said.
While Missouri is quickly emerging as a new Covid hot spot, health leaders in other parts of the United States are reporting similar patterns. Dr. Jeffrey Chapman, the chief medical officer at Wyoming’s Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, say the hospital’s increase in Covid-19 patients includes a younger demographic that is overwhelmingly unvaccinated and “deteriorating” faster.”
In Mississippi, where less than 34% of the population is fully vaccinated, the state’s top health officer warned the Delta variant surge has led to seven children being treated for Covid in state ICUs — including two on ventilators.
Virtually of all the cases in the state involved the Delta variant, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said on Twitter, adding the “vast majority” of cases, hospitalizations and deaths were among unvaccinated Americans.

An increased risk for vaccinated Americans too

In Kansas, the University of Kansas Health System recorded several days with just two or three Covid-19 patients back in late May. Now, it’s treating more than three dozen patients, according to Dr. Steven Stites, the chief medical officer.
More than 80% of new patients are unvaccinated, though others have been vaccinated, he said.
“When you dig into those patients, what you see is that they’re all severely chronically ill patients,” he said. “Vaccination is not an entirely ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card. It makes things a lot better, but it doesn’t make it go away.”
Experts say that while vaccines are very effective, they’re not perfect — and Americans who have been fully vaccinated should still consider the levels of transmission and the type of environment they’ll be in when deciding whether to wear a mask. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said immunocompromised people or those who are chronically ill should consult with their physicians before shedding their masks.
“I’m a little nervous about the open society and people thinking everything is normal when it’s not and especially when you’re more chronically ill you still need to keep your mask on,” Stites said.
In Mississippi, Dobbs said on Twitter that 7% of the state’s Covid-19 deaths were in vaccinated people, calling that number “worrisome.”
“We are allowing too much circulating Delta to reach our most vulnerable,” he wrote.

‘Only way we’re going to stop this monster’

Hospital leaders say the latest surge in patients comes as staff are already exhausted and traumatized from a battle with the virus that has now lasted more than a year.
In Texas County, Toman said she worries they’re going to see a continued surge, fueled by July 4 festivities and the ongoing summer gatherings, that will “overwhelm every hospital in Missouri.”
“What I fear is, can we survive this again? Can we stay positive, can we all keep our morale up?” she said. “We’re trying hard to be there for each other but we’re tired and we’re scared.”
She said that while she understands the hesitations some community members may have about the vaccine, getting the state’s vaccination numbers higher will be “the only way we’re going to stop this monster.”
Segarra, in Miami, said he agrees.
“We haven’t made the progress that we wish in terms of treating Covid, we don’t have that magic bullet in terms of treating Covid, but boy, we’ve come pretty close to having that magic bullet to avoid it — and to see it not being used is very frustrating,” he said.
The country fell short of meeting President Joe Biden’s goal of at least partially vaccinating 70% of American adults by Independence Day earlier this month. More than a week later, about 67.7% of US adults have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, and nearly 59% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
“We’re dealing with a public health situation that’s beyond our personal needs, so we need to be a little bit more selfless as opposed to selfish,” Segarra said.
“So if you’re on the fence on whether you get vaccinated or not … think of the good that you’ll bring to your society, that you’ll bring to your community, because not only does the vaccine prevent you from getting sick, it prevents you from transmitting it to others.”

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This post originally posted here CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

Roblox down: Server status latest after shut down fears surface again

Roblox servers are temporarily down tonight following some kind of server problem.

The good news is that while thousands have been affected, the current outage will not be a long-term issue.

Most online services suffer issues with servers, and with the popularity of Roblox so well-known, it’s clear to see how things could wobble now and again.

For those trying to find out if Roblox is shutting down permanently, the good news is that this won’t be happening any time soon.

Roblox remains one of the most popular video game platforms available online and continues to receive support from the company and the content creation community.

It’s unclear what has caused tonight’s Roblox server issues, with the support yet to post an update.


Here is further advice from the Roblox support team on why the gaming platform can sometimes become inaccessible:

Products for purchases may be delayed in receipt. Please rest assured that if a product is not immediately applied to your account, it will be soon. All completed purchases will have the product applied. In most cases, products are applied within the hour and at most within 24 hours. This may also happen with virtual purchases made onsite or in-game with Robux.

Joining a game may be delayed or unsuccessful. If you experience any issue with joining games, please wait for a few moments and try again.

You may experience lag or delays while using the website, platform, or applications.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express

Pace of US inflation picks up again in test for Fed

The breakneck pace of US consumer price increases seen since the start of the year accelerated in June in a challenge to the Federal Reserve’s case that the burst of inflationary pressures accompanying the economic reopening will prove temporary.

The consumer price index rose last month at the fastest pace since August 2008, up 5.4 per cent from the previous year. That is well above the 5 per cent rise reported in May and the 4.9 per cent increase that economists had forecast.

On a monthly basis, data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed price gains of 0.9 per cent, the biggest one-month jump since June 2008.

Stripping out volatile items like food and energy, “core” CPI rose from 3.8 per cent in May relative to the year before to 4.5 per cent in June.

Investors, economists and policymakers have scrutinised incoming inflation figures amid a fierce debate about the risk of runaway consumer prices fuelled by ultra-accommodative fiscal and monetary policy.

Price jumps have so far been most significant for sectors directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Travel-related expenses, such as airfares, have soared, while a semiconductor shortage has contributed to a jump in used car prices. 

One-third of the rise in the CPI last month stemmed from a record jump in previously-owned vehicle prices, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which appreciated 10.5 per cent in June from the previous month.

The US central bank has long characterised elevated inflation prints as “transitory”, which will fade as Covid-19 lockdowns ease further and supply catches up with pent-up demand. Joe Biden’s administration shares this view, and a White House official expressed confidence that inflationary pressures would soon abate.

Market measures of inflation expectations also reflect ebbing concerns about runaway consumer prices, with long-dated metrics running below their short-term counterparts. But some investors warn that higher inflation could persist for longer than many anticipate.

“Most of the increase in the monthly metrics still look related to massive supply-demand imbalances in categories that were ‘closed’ in 2020: used cars, hotel rooms, travel costs, and so forth,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “Supply will eventually normalise in these categories, but it could take longer than common sense suggests, meaning that somewhat elevated inflation prints could last until 2022.”

US government bonds pared back recent gains after Tuesday’s release, sending yields higher from the recent lows seen since the Fed’s meeting on monetary policy in June, which raised the prospect of a quicker withdrawal of accommodation than initially expected.

The benchmark 10-year note traded 0.02 percentage points higher before settling around 1.38 per cent.

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This post originally posted here International homepage

Team USA falls again in pre-Olympic matchup, this time 91-83 to Australia

USA Basketball has dropped back-to-back games for just the third time since NBA players began wearing the red, white and blue in 1992.

LAS VEGAS — These games don’t count. Right now, that is the only saving grace for USA Basketball.

And for quite probably the first time in 29 years of NBA players suiting up for the national team, they heard boos when a game ended — on home soil, no less.

Patty Mills scored 22 points and Australia held the U.S. without a field goal for the final 4:34 on the way to beating the Americans 91-83 on Monday night, dropping the three-time defending Olympic gold medalists to 0-2 in their five-game slate of exhibitions leading up to the Tokyo Games.

Joe Ingles scored 17 points, Matisse Thybulle scored 12 and Chris Goulding had 11 for Australia.

Damian Lillard led the U.S. with 22 points, while Kevin Durant scored 17 and Bradley Beal finished with 12. But the Americans wasted a 10-point second-half lead, and have dropped back-to-back games for just the third time since NBA players began wearing the red, white and blue in 1992.

The other instances: two straight in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and two straight in the 2019 Basketball World Cup. The U.S. finished sixth in the first tournament, seventh in the other. And while these are glorified scrimmages, this much is already certain — a medal seems far from a lock for the U.S.

Jayson Tatum’s layup with 4:35 left put the Americans up 82-80. Australia scoured the U.S. 11-1 the rest of the way, and Mills — who plays for U.S. coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio — did most of the damage for the Boomers down the stretch.

Favored by 16.5 points before the game, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Americans looked the part for much of the first half. A 20-6 run — capped by five points from Select Team call-up Keldon Johnson — put the U.S. up by eight late in the opening quarter, and Lillard closed out his 16-point first half with a 3-pointer 31.7 seconds before intermission that gave the Americans a 46-35 lead.

The halftime lead was nine, the same lead that the U.S. had early in the third quarter against Nigeria before letting it slip away.

And the same thing happened in this one.

The third-quarter lead for the U.S. was as big as 10 and was 58-50 when Lillard made a 3-pointer midway through the period. But Australia closed the quarter on a 19-6 run, Goulding hit a 3-pointer as time expired and Australia took a 69-64 lead into the final 10 minutes.


Australia: The Boomers, according to USA Basketball’s archives, are now 2-28 all-time against the Americans in senior men’s national competition. The other Australian win came in a pre-World Cup exhibition in 2019.

USA: The Americans changed the starting lineup, with Jerami Grant in for Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green in for Bam Adebayo. … The U.S. was outrebounded 32-25.


Kevin Love, who played only three minutes in Saturday’s loss to Nigeria, was the only Olympic-teamer who didn’t get into the game for the U.S. The Americans used 10 players; the eight other Olympians in Las Vegas, plus Select Team promotees Johnson and Darius Garland. The Olympic-bound trio of Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker remain at the NBA Finals.


Australia center Aron Baynes limped off 3:49 into the game after a collision with Beal. Baynes was defending as Beal drove at him, and Baynes grabbed at his right knee following the contact. He went to the locker room, then returned to the Boomers’ bench later in the first half but did not return.


Australia: Faces Nigeria on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

USA: Faces Argentina on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

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Thor Love and Thunder Taika Waititi: ‘Maybe I won’t work again’ after latest Marvel movie

Next year the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be continuing the storyline of Asgard’s God of Thunder: Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) in Thor Love and Thunder. The muscle-bound hero was last seen in Avengers Endgame leaving Earth to start the Asgardians of the Galaxy alongside the current Guardians of the Galaxy. Since then, set photos and hints from Waititi have been revealed for Thor Love and Thunder – and now the director himself has opened up about the process of creating the next huge MCU hit.

Waititi recently revealed: “Well, just between (me and) you and the readers, I’ve done some crazy s**t in my life. I’ve lived, like, ten lifetimes. But it’s the craziest film I’ve ever done.” (Via Empire)

While the film’s plot has been kept under wraps over the past two years, he hinted it is more elaborate than fans know.

The New Zealander said: “If you wrote down all the elements of this film, it shouldn’t make sense. It’s almost like it shouldn’t be made.

“If you walked into a room and said: ‘I want this and this and this.’ Who’s in it? These people. What are you going to call it? Love And Thunder.”

READ MORE: Marvel movies: What Marvel movies are coming out after Black Widow?

Waititi then joked about his job prospects after the film, saying: “I mean, you’d never work again. Maybe I won’t after this.”

Going on to compare the picture to his previous Thor movie, 2017 movie Thor Ragnarok, he revealed: “It’s very different from Ragnarok.

“It’s crazier. I’ll tell you what’s different. There’ll be far more emotion in this film.

“And a lot more love. And a lot more thunder. And a lot more Thor, if you’ve seen the photos.”

What do you think? Will fans see Taika Waititi direct another Thor movie? Join the debate in the comments section here

Hemsworth went on: “Thor is far too young for that. He’s only 1,500 years old.

“It’s definitely not a film that I say goodbye to this brand. At least I hope so.”

To make matters even more exciting, Thor Love and Thunder has since been confirmed to include the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Groot actor Vin Diesel said earlier this year: “Thor[Love and Thunder] will incorporate some of the Guardians of the Galaxy.” (Via ComicBook)

Diesel went on: “That’ll be very interesting, nobody knows, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.”

In the meantime, fans will have to wait and see how they are involved and what kind of threat they are facing.

Thor Love and Thunder is due to hit cinemas on May 6, 2022.


Euro 2020: Italy crowned European champions, again

Italy seal second Euro triumph after beating England 3-2 in the final on penalties.

Italy won the European Championship for the first time since 1968 as goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two England penalties en route to a 3-2 shoot-out win.

Both sides had fought out a 1-1 extra-time draw at a raucous Wembley on Sunday.

The giant keeper saved from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after Marcus Rashford hit the post, as Federico Bernardeschi, Leonardo Bonucci and Domenico Berardi all scored for the Italians.

Luke Shaw had given England a dream start with a superb goal after two minutes but Italy, who offered almost nothing in response in the first half, gradually took command as the hosts sat back and leveled through Bonucci after 67 minutes.

It was the first final to be decided on penalties since Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in 1976 and will be wildly celebrated in Italy after they lost in the final in 2000 and 2012.

They made most of the running after halftime and in extra time and England can have few complaints after their early promise faded away.

It was nevertheless heartbreaking for most of the 67,000 Wembley crowd as England came up short in their first major final since they won the World Cup 55 years ago.

It had all started so well when Harry Kane spread the ball wide to Kieran Trippier and he instantly repaid coach Gareth Southgate’s faith in recalling him by sending over a curling deep cross that the fast-arriving Shaw met on the half volley to hammer inside the post for his first international goal.

England’s Luke Shaw celebrates scoring their first goal [Frank Augstein/Reuters]

England had taken an early lead in their 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia before eventually being outplayed and beaten in extra time, but they did not look like giving up the initiative on home soil, playing on the front foot, though failing to threaten Donnarumma.

England keeper Jordan Pickford was similarly untroubled as Federico Chiesa’s crisp shot went just wide and Ciro Immobile’s blocked effort were all Italy had to show for a disjointed half.

Pickford was called into action after 57 minutes, blocking a Lorenzo Insigne shot and then getting down to palm away from Chiesa as Italy began to apply pressure, pinning England back.

It paid dividends when Bonucci pounced from close range after Pickford had turned Andrea Belotti’s header onto a post.

It was a similar story in the first additional 15 minutes, though England did briefly force their way back into the game in the second period, albeit without either side creating anything to reward the crowd for their waves of noise.

So it went to penalties, where England’s young guns failed and Italy took the glory.

England remains without a major trophy since 1966.

Italy supporters cheer during the final [Facundo Arrozabalaga/AFP]

Back in Cannes, actor Sean Penn directs again, along with daughter Dylan

He premiered in Cannes his latest film, “Flag Day,” in which he also co-stars. The lead, though, belongs to Penn’s 30-year-old daughter, Dylan Penn.

Sean Penn has been to the Cannes Film Festival about a dozen times — from bumming around with Robert De Niro in 1984 to presiding over the jury.

But his last visit was rocky. Penn’s film, 2016’s “The Last Face,” flopped with critics in way that would make some filmmakers gun shy about returning.

Penn, though, didn’t hesitate. On Saturday night, he premiered in Cannes his latest film, “Flag Day,” in which he also co-stars.

A few hours before walking down the red carpet, Penn sat comfortably in a hotel bar, excited to be back. The festival is the greatest in the world, he said. “Everyone knows it’s the big game.”

And it’s a game Penn welcomes. Cannes is worth it, even if he takes a few lumps. 

“The bad stuff, these days, I’ve been on such extreme ends on that. It’s like: whatever,” says Penn. “The thing is: I am confident that I know as much — more –about acting than almost any of these critics. And I’m very confident in the performance I’m most concerned about.”

With that, Penn raises his hand and points toward where his daughter, Dylan Penn, is sitting. Dylan, 30, is the star of “Flag Day.” She has dabbled before in acting but it’s easily her biggest role yet. In the film, adapted from Jennifer Vogel’s 2005 memoir “Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life,” she plays Jennifer Vogel, the journalist daughter of a swindler and counterfeiter (played by Penn). 

Her father’s confidence isn’t misplaced. Dylan is natural, poised and captivating. She looks a veteran, already, which might be expected of the child of Penn and Robin Wright. And those critics? Variety said the film “reveals Dylan Penn to be a major actor.”

But for a long time, Dylan never wanted the spotlight. 

“Growing up, being surrounded by actors and being on set, it was really something that didn’t interest me at all,” Dylan says. “I always thought, and still think, my passion lies in working behind the camera. But as soon as I expressed wanting to do that kind of thing, both of my parents said separately: You won’t be a good director if you don’t know what it’s like to be in the actor’s shoes.”

Dylan is stepping forward in movies the same time her father is withdrawing. Penn, 60, is in the midst of shooting Sam Esmail’s Watergate series for Starz, with Julia Roberts. But he has recently pulled further away from Hollywood. Penn devotes more time to Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), the nonprofit he started after the 2010 earthquake to help Haitians. Haiti has this week again plunged into crisis after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, a situation Penn calls heartbreaking. 

“These people have been working so hard to bring their country up and this kind of horrible violence, cynicism — whatever my suspicions the motivation was,” he says. “I’m glad that our teams are safe for the moment, but it’s horrible.”

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During the pandemic, CORE has erected testing and vaccination sites, including one at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and dispensed millions of shots. In movies, Penn still has a pair of upcoming roles he says he promised to do years earlier. But beyond that?

“Then I just don’t know. I’d be very surprised. I don’t think I would start a movie without knowing if it was going to be a movie. And I don’t think I’d direct something that wasn’t a movie unless it was on the Broadway stage,” he says, and then smiles. “There’s a simpler way of saying that: I’m not interested in directing for the small screen.”

Penn is increasingly at odds with Hollywood’s dominant priorities. He’s never made a franchise film. He laments Marvel movies and “how much it’s taken up the space and claimed so much time in the careers of so many talented people.” He misses cinema that isn’t “just razzle-dazzle, Cirque de Soleil movies.” 

So-called “cancel culture,” he has issues with, too. Arguing that today he wouldn’t be allowed to play gay icon Harvey Milk (2008’s “Milk”), Penn recently said that soon only Danish princes will play Hamlet. 

But his biggest gripe may be with the onset of direct-to-streaming film releases. “The way I’ve always put it is: It’s not the girl I fell in love with,” Penn says. 

MGM will release “Flag Day” theatrically Aug. 13; Penn considers himself “lucky to have a movie that’s going to be a movie.” But it took years to reach this stage. Dylan first read the book when her father optioned it when she was 15. Many possible iterations followed — Penn didn’t initially plan to direct — but the prospect of doing the film with Dylan was appealing. 

“I have always thought if she wanted to do it, I’d encourage it,” Penn says. 

For Dylan, the father-daughter relationship of “Flag Day” — Jennifer tries to help and stabilize her scamming father but also inherits some of his more destructive, conman habits — is a half-reflection of their own bond together. 

“She always strived to have this really honest, transparent relationship with her father which she never got it in return,” Dylan Penn says. “I’ve tried to have that with my dad and got it in return.” 

“It made us a lot closer than we’ve ever been,” she adds. “Of course, there were times when I talked back or had an attitude, but it was like: You can’t. This is your boss. This is work. This is not your dad right now.”

Dylan grants the experience was so satisfying that she’d like to continue acting. Her dad, she feels, may be “passing the torch a little bit,” she says. Hopper Jack Penn, her younger brother, also co-stars in the film. The rest of the cast is more veteran, including Josh Brolin and Regina King. Original songs by Cat Power, Eddie Vedder and Glen Hansard contribute to the score.

But the most vibrant parts of “Flag Day” are the scenes between Dylan and her dad. 

“Dylan is — and I can say this in equal parts for my feeling about her as a person and as an actress — as uncontrived as it gets,” Penn says. “That’s a great quality to play off of.”

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Excitement abounds again on England’s Lord’s homecoming

Almost two years to the day since the 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s, England played their first ODI at the ground since that famous game, with capacity crowd at Home of Cricket treated to another thrilling, if not quite as close, encounter as hosts wrap up series win over Pakistan

Last Updated: 10/07/21 7:51pm

Ben Stokes returned to the scene of his 2019 World Cup heroics, captaining England to series-sealing win over Pakistan

Ben Stokes returned to the scene of his 2019 World Cup heroics, captaining England to series-sealing win over Pakistan

In some ways, England’s latest ODI at Lord’s couldn’t have been more different to their previous one at the iconic venue.

Saturday’s game was far less significant than that spellbinding World Cup final almost two years ago; the England XI – bar stand-in skipper Ben Stokes – was unrecognisable from the one that took the field against New Zealand on that unforgettable day; and the not-so-close finish meant those watching still had fingernails left this time around.

But, in other ways, it was extremely similar.

Fans trundling down from St John’s Wood underground station with their hampers in tow. Morning drizzle causing a delayed start. A packed crowd. The team batting first getting a working total in the 240s. England completing a victory that earned them a trophy. A thrilling Wimbledon final going on simultaneously (Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer back then, Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova this time).

Oh, and excitement. Plenty of excitement.

The concluding stages of the World Cup final may never be eclipsed on a cricket field in terms of drama, even if Stokes ran them close with his mind-bending, match-winning Ashes knock at Emerald Headingley later in that glorious cricketing summer.

But, if you recall, that 50-over showpiece was something of a slow burn before it developed into a cracking crescendo that featured a deflected six that should have been five, a Super Over, and England pipping the Black Caps by “the barest of margins”.

A slow burn on Saturday, though, it was not.

Having been denied cricket for 90 minutes by the frustrating mizzle and subsequently seeing the game trimmed from 50 overs a side to 47, the crowd at Lord’s – the first capacity crowd at an ECB-staged match since the coronavirus pandemic began – were treated to a thrill ride.

Dawid Malan and Zak Crawley, who made unbeaten half-centuries in Cardiff on Thursday as a Covid-altered England trounced Pakistan by nine wickets, were dismissed for ducks inside five overs.

Malan snicked Hasan Ali behind sixth ball having been severely tested by the Pakistan seamer for most of the first five, while Crawley was out to the first delivery he faced as Shaheen Shah Afridi pinged the stumps with a delicious dipping yorker that flew under the batsman’s blade.

A score of 21-2 after 4.1 overs rocketed to 118-2 after 17.2, however, with Phil Salt and James Vince – who was in England’s World Cup squad two years ago but did not play in the final – finding the fence in the manner the currently isolating Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have been doing for years.

Phil Salt cracked a maiden ODI fifty, from 41 deliveries

Phil Salt cracked a maiden ODI fifty, from 41 deliveries

Salt – who overturned a caught-behind dismissal on 10 before being dropped at backward point a few balls later – attacked almost everything, nailing two fours off Afridi in the first over and four off Faheem Ashraf in the eighth as he went hell for leather in just his second England game.

The Sussex batsman moved through to a 41-ball maiden ODI fifty but that was outdone by Vince, who creamed a 36-ball second ODI half-century during a third-wicket stand of 97 from just 80 balls.

But, as the breathless action continued, back came Pakistan, with Salt, Vince, Stokes and John Simpson having their stumps struck and Craig Overton edging behind as England were reduced to 160-7 and the tourists delighted their numerous, and highly vocal, fans in the Lord’s stands.

Pakistan fans were as passionate as ever at Lord's

Pakistan fans were as passionate as ever at Lord’s

Stokes – called back into international action with England’s initial ODI squad having been confined to their hotel rooms in Bristol after a Covid outbreak – reignited memories of his sparkling innings in the World Cup final by reverse-sweeping his fourth ball for four and pulling his 11th for six.

The all-rounder, playing his 100th ODI on the same ground as his most memorable, was then bowled on the charge by the livewire Hasan, who ended with figures of 5-51 from 9.2 overs.

England vs Pakistan

July 13, 2021, 12:30pm

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Edgbaston will turn #BlueForBob during Tuesday's ODI between England and Pakistan in memory of Bob Willis, and to raise awareness about prostate cancer and its treatments

Sky Sports 4:18
Edgbaston will turn #BlueForBob during Tuesday’s ODI between England and Pakistan in memory of Bob Willis, and to raise awareness about prostate cancer and its treatments

Edgbaston will turn #BlueForBob during Tuesday’s ODI between England and Pakistan in memory of Bob Willis, and to raise awareness about prostate cancer and its treatments

Once Hasan had Overton out on review, Pakistan would have expected to polish off the England innings soon after, only for the hosts to add a further 87 runs from that point, with the majority of them coming in a 69-stand between Lewis Gregory and Brydon Carse for the eighth wicket.

At one stage it looked as though, rather fittingly, England may match the total of 241 scored by both themselves and New Zealand in the World Cup final, but Mahmood dashed a nerd’s dream scenario by striking a four off Haris Rauf with the home side on 240-9.

England’s total of of 248 proved plenty good enough as while they had been able to rally from 86-4 in the World Cup final, Pakistan were unable to rally sufficiently from 53-4 and eventually slid to 195 all out as Gregory backed up his contribution with the bat by taking three wickets and Mahmood, Overton and Matt Parkinson struck twice apiece.

Saqib Mahmood showcased his skills once again, including when he trapped Pakistan captain Babar Azam lbw

Sky Sports 1:43
Saqib Mahmood showcased his skills once again, including when he trapped Pakistan captain Babar Azam lbw

Saqib Mahmood showcased his skills once again, including when he trapped Pakistan captain Babar Azam lbw

The excitement, then, did not come from a close finish but from players who weren’t set for as much as a look-in before Covid hit the initial ODI group showing their skills in front of an army of supporters.

Mahmood following his 4-42 during the demolition job in Cardiff two days earlier with another electric display of seam bowling, which included dismissing Babar Azam once again, as he further pushed his Ashes claims.

Wicketkeeper Simpson claiming an outstanding catch down the leg-side as he premeditated Faheem’s sweep off leg-spinner Parkinson. Paceman Carse bagging a first international wicket.

What a catch! Wicketkeeper John Simpson showed brilliant anticipation to catch Faheem Ashraf on the sweep at Lord's

Sky Sports 0:49
What a catch! Wicketkeeper John Simpson showed brilliant anticipation to catch Faheem Ashraf on the sweep at Lord’s

What a catch! Wicketkeeper John Simpson showed brilliant anticipation to catch Faheem Ashraf on the sweep at Lord’s

Mahmood, Simpson, Gregory and Carse’s achievements, as well as those of Salt and Vince earlier in the day, plus Hasan marmalising three sixes in a row off Parkinson, were made all the better by a bellowing crowd appreciating them.

The supporters were in fine voice all day and often belting out renditions of Three Lions, Don’t Take Me Home, and Sweet Caroline, just like England’s football fans will be doing across London at Wembley on Sunday evening.

Exciting cricket back at Lord’s in front of a full house. Let’s never, ever take that for granted again.

Watch the third and final ODI between England and Pakistan, at Edgbaston, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Tuesday.