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Pandemic Olympics: Health Experts Worry COVID May Win Gold

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Like all Olympic hopefuls, swimmer Michael Andrew, 22, has his eye on the gold ― and the training needed to grab that medal.

But this week, during an interview on Fox Business, Andrew laid bare the fact that these Games will not be like any other.

Andrew made news when he said he will not get a COVID-19 vaccine before heading to the Games because he didn’t want anything to possibly derail his training.

“I’m an elite athlete. Everything we take and put in our body is very calculated,” he said. “With the period going into Olympic trials, I didn’t want to risk any time out of the pool.”

It was a signal that the first Pandemic Olympic Games are near.

Andrew’s statement triggered outrage among people calling it selfish ― as well as concerns from public health experts, who say they are already worried about COVID-19 spreading at the Games. And it further shifted attention from the thousands of athletes from around the world gathering in Tokyo to the very real fact that these Olympics, already postponed from 2020, will be about the fight against coronavirus as much as it will be about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Already, COVID-19 has changed these Olympics. Gone will be the iconic moments where winning athletes bow their heads and have a medal placed around their necks. No, this year, winners will pick up their own medals off a tray.

What’s more, the coronavirus appears to be in fighting shape: Seven employees of a Tokyo hotel, where members of the Brazilian team will stay, have already tested positive.

Vaccinations Suggested, Not Required

While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) doesn’t mandate vaccination, it says that 85% of athletes and officials are vaccinated or have natural immunity from a prior infection. Still, public health officials wish that percent would be closer to 100%. On Twitter and medical journals and other publications, public health experts are calling out the IOC for what they see as a failure to take the coronavirus risks seriously enough.

Their suggestions about how to reduce risks even more have largely fallen on deaf ears, says Annie Sparrow, MD, assistant professor of population health science and policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, one of a group of U.S. experts invited to submit ideas to the IOC planning meetings on reducing COVID-19 risk. “Our input really hasn’t been taken seriously,” she says.

In a tweet Wednesday, Sparrow lashed out at IOC President Thomas Bach, calling him “all talk, no action” for falling short on public health measures to reduce risk.

Brian McCloskey, chair of the IOC’s independent expert panel and expert in global health and infectious diseases, disagrees.

He says some of their concerns have been addressed as the IOC’s Olympic Playbooks have been continually updated. The third version, released in June, is a 70-page document for athletes and officials and covers recommendations for before, during, and after the Games.

“They are a key part of our risk reduction strategy for the Games and have been regularly updated as we learn from the wide range of sporting events that have successfully been staged in recent months,” McCloskey says.

Other playbooks cover the workforce, marketing partners, media, families of Olympics and Paralympics participants, and international federations.

Countdown to Tokyo

An estimated 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to gather in Tokyo for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.

Along the way to the July 23 opening ceremonies, IOC officials have met with much resistance and concern about COVID-19, including substantial pushback from Japanese residents. In May, a survey by Asahi Shimbun, a leading daily newspaper, found that 83% of Japanese voters opposed the Olympics. More recently, however, that resistance seems to be fading. A poll in late June by Fuji Television found just 30.5% were in favor of cancellation.

Resistance may have fallen when citizens found out that the stands wouldn’t be packed with people. After the government of Japan declared a state of emergency on July 8, meant to reduce the number of incoming people, the IOC and other organizing groups prohibited spectators in the Tokyo venues (but still allowing fans in some venues outside the city).

As of July 12, about 19% of the population of Japan is fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. That is low, but a sharp increase from the end of May, when other data found a fully vaccinated rate of under 3%.

As of July 12, Japan has had 824,990 COVID-19 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths.

IOC’s Perspective

On Wednesday, the IOC’s Bach met with Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide to discuss final preparations. Bach noted that besides the 85% vaccination rate of athletes and officials in the village, nearly 100% of the IOC members and staff are vaccinated, along with 70% to 80% of media expected at the Games.

He also reported a low positivity rate so far. An estimated 8,000 people involved in the Games traveled to Japan from July 1-13; all had pre-departure tests and health checks. According to Bach, only three tested positive for COVID-19 after arrival. All were isolated right away. Close contacts were quarantined.

In the latest playbook, the IOC issues a number of guidelines. Among the highlights for athletes and officials:

  • Self-monitoring. Monitoring for symptoms should begin 14 days before departure.

  • Testing. Athletes are tested before departing for the Games, on arrival at the airport, and daily at the Games. They are also tested if any symptoms develop. If positive, they are isolated.

  • Contact tracing. Close contacts of infected people will also be tested. Contact tracing is by smartphone app.

  • Risk reduction. Masks are to be worn at all times except when eating, drinking, training, competing, or sleeping. Physical interactions are to be minimalized. Ventilation in all areas is recommended.

Even with the publication of the third version of the playbook, the protocols fall short, Sparrow says. Among the strategies that she and others say should also be employed:

  • Risk stratification. Classify events as low, moderate, or high risk depending on the activity and the venue. Outdoor events in which competitors are naturally spaced out (like sailing, equestrian) may be viewed as low risk. Indoor sports, such as boxing and wrestling, are probably high risk. Protocols should vary depending on risk levels. The risk stratification can also be applied to non-competition spaces, with hotels, buses, and cafeterias viewed as higher risk than outdoor areas.

  • Testing frequency. Testing frequency is not ideal, Sparrow says. “All the athletes should be tested twice daily.”

  • Ventilation. Key issues about things like ventilation are not addressed sufficiently. Hotel hallways have high density and low ventilation ― a bad combination.

  • HEPA. HEPA filters, placed widely in athletes’ rooms, dining areas, and elsewhere, can reduce transmission of airborne particles.

  • Contact tracing. Contact-tracing apps are often not effective. Sparrow says very few athletes will compete as they carry a mobile phone. Better: wearable devices (rings, bracelets) with proximity sensors.

In an opinion piece in The Hill July 6, Sparrow and Lisa Brosseau, ScD, a retired professor from the University of Illinois and an expert in infectious diseases, elaborate on the importance of stratifying sports by risk. “Wrestling is riskier than weightlifting,” they write. “Boxing is riskier than badminton. Thomas Bach, PhD, IOC president and gold medalist in fencing, should understand that fencers have a much higher risk of spreading COVID-19 than track-and-field athletes.”

Besides the playbooks about how to stay safe, McCloskey says the IOC on July 9 published the “Sports Specific Rules” that set out specific requirements for different sports. The rules focus on a course of action once an athlete or official tests positive, according to the IOC. As participants gather in Tokyo, McCloskey says, ”we can communicate directly with them in the Village and the venues, and go through the individual sports’ rules and countermeasures.”

But Sparrow was hoping for risk reduction strategies by sport to prevent positive tests, not information on what to do once a specific sport has a positive test.

In an earlier perspective published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Sparrow, University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, and colleagues, urged IOC organizers to heed lessons from other large sporting events, adapting measures that work, such as single hotel rooms for athletes, frequent testing, and wearable technology for contact monitoring.

Lots of Moving Parts

While much of the risk management focuses on athletes and officials, ”there are many opportunities beyond the athletic venues for the virus to spread,” says William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He’s talking about all the people who make the Olympics run, ”the people in the proverbial boiler room, the local people sweeping streets, selling tickets.”

The latest version of the playbook does include recommendations for the workforce, such as staff, volunteers, and contractors. Many of the same recommendations are made for them as for athletes.

Many of these people may be older, and so more vulnerable to COVID-19, Schaffner says. “And if it’s anything like the U.S. there will be gatherings in homes, as people get together and talk about [the Games].”

As for whether the Games have the potential to be a superspreader event, Schaffner says: “Of course it has that potential. Given everything I’ve heard [about prevention measures], I think that potential is reduced.”

He does, however, expect some transmission.

Schaffner has sympathy for the IOC planning committee.

“The IOC has millions of issues to deal with,” he says. “Along comes coronavirus and says ‘Hello, I’m in charge now.”’

Ethics and the Olympics

The lack of an IOC mandate for vaccination doesn’t sit well with Arthur Caplan, PhD, professor of bioethics at New York University.

“It is ethical lunacy to have athletes coming to compete from around the world without requiring vaccination,” he says. The idea ”that we have to respect choice makes zero sense when the risks are real and the danger of putting other athletes and spectators and even the community at risk are high. Tokyo is poorly vaccinated and so is Japan.”

“Athletes have no fundamental right to harm others in the name of competition or getting a medal. I still don’t understand why everyone [going to the Olympics] wasn’t vaccinated a month ago.”

Caplan calls any athlete declining vaccines ”a very poor role model for young people,” unless there is a legitimate health or religious reason for passing it up.

Last week, Andrew, the Olympic swimmer, said during a news conference that he wasn’t vaccinated and didn’t plan to get a shot. He contracted COVID-19 months ago and said he was concerned about potential vaccine side effects that could affect his training schedule. He also said he felt protected by the safety protocols implemented by USA Swimming.

“I didn’t think this is what the hype and excitement around the ‘Michael Andrew’ name would be — would revolve around vaccines,” he added. “But I understand, and it’s something I’m willing to stand for.”

As the Games begin, Caplan says he hopes the media also pays attention to ethics, reporting not only on the Games but about any outbreaks, and continues to report about Japanese resistance to the Games.

Frustrations Aside, an Opportunity to Unite?

Despite debates about risk reduction, the Olympics are seen as an opportunity to unite the world at a time when it’s sorely needed. Even with the frustration that Sparrow expresses about what she sees as the lack of ideal risk reduction, will she watch? “Definitely,” she says. “We kind of need this to work.”

In his July 14 statement, the IOC’s Bach predicted that the Games ”will be followed by billions of people around the world. They will admire what the Japanese people have achieved under these difficult circumstances.”

Carolyn Crist contributed to this report.


Reuters: “U.S. Olympic Swimmer Michael Andrew Won’t Get Vaccinated.”

Brian McCloskey, chair, IOC Independent Expert Panel.

International Olympic Committee: “Statement after the Meeting of IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide,” “Joint Statement on Spectator Capacities at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” Playbooks.

Annie Sparrow, MD, MPH, assistant professor of population health science and policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York; special advisor to the CEO, WHO Foundation.

William Schaffner, MD, professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease specialist, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.

Arthur Caplan, PhD, Mitty Professor of Bioethics, New York University.

Asahi Shimbun: “Survey: 83% against holding Tokyo Olympic this summer.”

Bloomberg: “Japan polls show more public support for Olympics.”

The Hill: “Olympics: Unanswered questions about serious COVID-19 risks.”

The New England Journal of Medicine: “Protecting Olympic Participants from Covid-19—The Urgent Need for a Risk-Management Approach.”

Inside with Brett Hawke: “Michael Andrew.”

Read more
This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News

Is GTA Online shutting down? Grand Theft Auto 6 fans don’t need to worry

With Rockstar Games moving very slowly toward launching GTA 6 on PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles, it leaves current fans wondering how GTA Online could be affected.

For those who might not have played it yet, GTA Online is the hugely popular multiplayer spin-off of GTA V.

Released back in 2013, GTA Online has grown in active players and ambition every year since.

The combination of being able to explore the giant San Andreas map alongside friends and enemies has made it an enduring success across all compatible platforms.

But with Grand Theft Auto 6 coming out, fans are still left wondering if Rockstar Games will pull the plug on services anytime soon.


The chances of the GTA Online servers shutting down for good across PS4, Xbox One and PC between now and 2023 are improbable.

With no active releases since Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar and parent company Take-Two Interactive rely on GTA Online to produce concurrent spending.

Take-Two have plenty of other franchises to draw from, making it easier for Rockstar Games to focus on supporting GTA Online.

And the multiplayer is so popular with gamers that there would be no reason to shut down servers on PC, PS4 or Xbox One.

The only real reason to shut down GTA Online is if Rockstar Games were about to release a new Grand Theft Auto experience.

If GTA 6 was to launch next week with its own multiplayer tie-in, Rockstar Games could be inclined to drop support.

But with recent reports suggesting that the next Grand Theft Auto won’t be ready to play until 2025, there seems no reason to worry about that for now.

The whole idea that Rockstar Games could wait years to release GTA 6 only speaks to how strong GTA Online performs every month.

The full announcement from Rockstar Games explains: “As we continue to move forward with updates and support for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions of Grand Theft Auto Online — as well as prepare for this Fall’s launches of the new expanded and enhanced versions of Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S — the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of GTA Online, including website stat tracking via the Rockstar Games Social Club, will officially be shutting down on December 16, 2021.

“In addition, Shark Cash Cards for GTA Online will no longer be sold for the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions after September 15, 2021.

“Please note, these changes are strictly for the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of GTA Online, and will have no impact on access to, or progress within, the Grand Theft Auto V Story Mode.

“Additionally, website stat tracking via the Rockstar Games Social Club and other features for select PS3 and Xbox 360 titles will be shutting down on September 16, 2021.”

Author: Gary Jones
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Gaming

New car tax changes are a ‘big worry’ for classic car owners and may see cars ‘disappear’

However, this only applies to cars which were first registered before 1981 meaning 1980s and 1990s cars will still face charges.

Young classic car enthusiast Stephen Hearse-Morgan pushed to change the rules around tax exemption with a push to reduce the limit to 30 years.

The petition has received over 10,000 signatures and backing from many within the motoring industry.

However, the Government blasted the valiant attempt as they confirmed there were “no plans” to change the rules.

Author: Luke Chillingsworth
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Kirsty Gallacher addresses future on GB News amid fan's worry following absence

Elsewhere, Kirsty hit back at a viewer who criticised her views on the show.

They had penned: “Utterly disgraceful & abhorrent views from @DarrenGBNews & @TheRealKirstyG on @GBNEWS.

“We’re perfectly happy for some people to be denied their unalienable civil rights & allow the creation of an apartheid state because I had the vaccine so I could go on f****** holiday.”

She then replied saying: “I absolutely did not say that. Please get your facts right.

“We were merely documenting the government’s proposal. I actually have strong views to the contrary.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

Use O2? Why you don't need to worry about controversial EU data roaming charges after all

O2 made the controversial announcement that it will be bringing back roaming charges for all customers who head to Europe this summer. The changes come into effect from August, so anyone lucky enough to get on a plane and head to a beach this August will be affected by the decision.

Unsurprisingly, the decision to resurrect EU roaming charges now that post-Brexit rules allow networks to do so has clearly not pleased those who subscribe to O2. Twitter is full of users venting their anger at the decision, with one branding it “ridiculous”. However, the update to the terms and conditions are not as bad as many might suspect.

O2 says that customers will only see money being added to their bill if they exceed an allowance of 25GB. Once that limit is eaten up, a charge of £3.50 per extra 1GB will then be added to bills.

Unless you spend hours streaming content, 25GB is quite a lot of data and it’s likely that most customers won’t get anywhere near that when abroad meaning they won’t be charged.

READ MORE: Vodafone ditches useful free perk and customers are not happy about it

As O2 explained in a statement to TechRadar Pro: “Less than 1% of our Pay Monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB during occasional travel to Europe. If a customer’s UK monthly data allowance is over 25GB, from August 2 they will have a Roaming Limit of 25GB in our Europe Zone.

“This means they can use up to 25GB of their allowance at no extra cost – we’ll text them if they get close to the limit, and again if they reach it. A customer can still use data if they reach our Roaming Limit, but will be charged £3.50/GB.”

For reference, streaming an hour of Netflix or 10 hours of music on Spotify uses around 1GB of data. Most people download content before they travel or use hotel Wi-Fi to stay connected so chewing through so much mobile data could be rare.

Of course, charges are never welcome and some consumers who consume lots of data are going to be hit by much, much bigger bills. But, if you compare O2’s new rules with what EE has just announced things really don’t look that bad at all.

Anyone joining EE or signing up for a new deal after July 7 will be hit by a £2 per day charge if they want to use their UK allowance in Europe.

That means a two week holiday in Spain could end up costing each family member £28. Ouch!

Speaking about the changes an EE spokesperson said, “From January next year, EE will introduce a new flat fee of £2 a day for customers wishing to roam across 47 European destinations (with the exception of ROI which is included in domestic plans), allowing them to use their plan’s full data, minutes and texts allowance. This will apply only to new and upgrading customers signing up to EE from the 7th July 2021 and will support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Lewis Hamilton 'very happy' but admits Mercedes worry after Max Verstappen wins French GP

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second place after Max Verstappen triamphed in Paul Ricard to extend his lead at the top of the driver standings by 12 points over the Briton.

Hamilton had initially swept past the Dutchman after he locked up his tyres going into turn two, but found himself behind the 23-year-old during the first pit stop window.

Red Bull blinked first and pitted Verstappen before Mercedes could try and perform the undercut, with Hamilton diving in a lap later – yet the Dutchman produced a blistering out-lap, with the seven-time world champion rejoining behind the championship leader.

Mercedes were then caught napping after Red Bull took the bold approach to pit Verstappen for a second time in France, which ultimately paid off.

Verstappen emerged in fourth, but on fresher tyres carved his way up the pack, before lunging past Hamilton on the penultimate lap, denying the reining champion the win, and the chance to take back the lead of the standings.

Max Verstappen hails ‘very rewarding’ French GP win 

Qualifying second coming into the race, Hamilton however felt they did the best they could under tough conditions.

“Congrats to Max, he did a great job today,” Hamilton said firstly. “They just had the better strength all weekend.

“Considering we had such a difficult Friday, I’m really happy with today’s result.

“Of course we didn’t win and we were in the lead but I had no tyres left at the end and unfortunately lost the position. But still a good race.

The championship heated up in France, at a track that has traditionally suited Mercedes in the past, with the two title protagonists going wheel-to-wheel for the win.

Valtteri Bottas fumes at Mercedes in French GP 
Red Bull tell Max Verstappen ‘calm yourself down’
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff perplexed after French GP qualifying

A victory for Verstappen and a podium for Sergio Perez means Red Bull now lead the team standings by 37 points.

And the seven-time world champion admitted they have a lot of work to do, if they are to take back the lead of the standings.

“We’ve got to find some pace, that’s for sure,” he added.

“You have seen most of the time we lost today was on the straights. So we’ve got to dig deep, figure out where that is, whether it’s power or drag.

“We’ve still got a good package, I’m not really sure how we lost position today [at the first stop].

“We didn’t know how strong that was going be or not [the undercut].

“What was really surprising was the run out of that front tyre so early on.

“But obviously they had a good strategy and it worked really well for them.”

And when asked what he thought when Red Bull pitted Verstappen for a second time, Hamilton responded, “Well, he was already quite far ahead, so really the only option I really had was to stay out.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Furious about Windows 11's 'garbage' new design? Don't worry, Microsoft already has a fix

Microsoft has promised to reveal the “next generation” of Windows 10 at an event next week. The only problem is that it has already leaked online. An early version of so-called Windows 11 has appeared on social media …and Microsoft fans really aren’t happy with the new design changes. In fact, they’re pretty furious.

Based on what we’ve seen from the leaks, which have been widely circulated online, the new desktop operating system makes some fundamental changes. First up, the sharp edges and straight lines found across Windows 10 have been ditched in favour of softer curves and rounded corners everywhere. Every icon has been re-engineered, so that everything looks apiece – something that definitely isn’t the case if you delve deep enough in the File Explorer or Control Panel in Windows 10.

There’s also a panel of interactive widgets that can be swiped over whatever you’re doing on-screen. These small widgets can track share prices, show headlines from news websites, present the forecast for the next few days, and more. It’s unclear whether you’ll be able to interact with these widgets, or whether clicking on them will launch the corresponding app. These widgets seem to replace the Live Tiles that were found inside the Start Menu on Windows 10 and showcased some information from inside the app on the icon itself – saving you from a click if you wanted to quickly check the weather.

But it’s the Start Menu that is the biggest change in Windows 11. And it’s also the one that has caused the biggest outrage amongst fans.

With Windows 11, Microsoft looks set to centre the Start Menu on the taskbar that runs along the bottom of the screen. The rounded corners found everywhere else on the operating system have also made the cut on the new Start Menu which springs up in the middle of your screen when clicked. A grid of 18 pinned apps make up the top half of the new Start Menu design, while the bottom is taken up with Recommendations from Microsoft.

Outlook users are getting a new way to check their emails on Chrome

In the top right-hand corner of the new menu, there’s a small shortcut to launch the complete All Apps menu… if you’re looking for something that you rarely open. The bottom right-hand corner has a small Power icon that houses the various Restart, Log Out, and Power Off options. And that’s about it.

Search has its own icon in the taskbar and loads up a Start Menu-like interface in the middle of the display to find the application, folder, files or contact you’re hunting down. It can also be triggered with the same keyboard shortcut Windows 10 users will be used to. Tom Warren of The Verge was one of the first to get his hands on the leaked version of Windows 11, posting clips of the new operating system revealing the new Start Menu design, icons, and the version number, which is listed as “Windows 11”.

Following the leak, which hit the internet more than a week before Microsoft is due to formally unveil the operating system during its event, fans took to social media to complain about the new look. One enraged Windows 10 user posted: “I really hope this is some kind of fake or super early prototype, and not actually indicative of the direction they’re going.”

Another summed up their thoughts by tweeting: “This….. is just garbage design”. Another added: “Windows goes to a new level of inconsistency in design.”

“Can I keep windows 10 instead…” one Microsoft fan tweeted as the screenshots and video of the new interface started to flood social media. Well, funnily enough, Microsoft has anticipated some of this backlash. After all, the Redmond-based company has had its fair share of iffy receptions to major overhauls to Windows over the years.

Clearly anticipating the main complaint around Windows 10 – the new Start Menu – the firm has already baked in a way to return the new centred design back to its rightful place in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, where it’s found on Windows 10 (ironically, itself an admission that fans were right in the wake of the new Start Menu launched in Windows 8).

When you’re running the next version of Windows, it’s pretty easy to re-enable the traditional location of the Start Menu. To do, follow the instructions below…

  • Open Regedit
  • Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoft WindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced
  • Create a new DWord called Start_ShowClassicMode
  • Set its value to 1

If that sounds like too much hard work, there’s also an option in the Settings > Personalisation > Task Bar menu.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Tyrone Mings wants England to embrace 'dark arts' to win Euro 2020 despite Southgate worry

Tyrone Mings feels England need to be better versed in the “dark arts” if they are to go deep into the tournament this summer. The 28-year-old Aston Villa defender relishes in a no-nonsense reputation which belongs to a more old-fashioned version of the game.

But even with VAR, he insists there are modern ways to get the upper hand in games by bending the games which England’s rivals are more than happy to use against us.

“Being streetwise is a huge part of the game,” he said. “You look at other nations and they are masters at the dark arts – staying on the floor for longer than needed, delaying restarts.”

Manager Gareth Southgate has already called for discipline from his players to avoid dangerous free-kicks and unsettling suspensions.

But Mings explained that a few subtle acts are not just about giving your own team an advantage, but upsetting your opponents by what can be critical degrees.

“Being streetwise is also sometimes what gets you over the edge because it winds up the opposition and breaks up their flow and their rhythm,” he said.

It was hard to know whether to be appalled by the lack of integrity or impressed by the win-at-all-costs attitude. As far as Mings is concerned, the important thing is for the striker be just a little bit afraid next time.

One brave journalist had had the temerity to ask him about the elbowing of Sasa Kalajdzic in the early moments of the final friendly against Romania at the Riverside – a clash which escaped the attention of the referee but was picked up by TV replays.

“If it had been in the Euros there would have have been VAR and it would have been red,” the reporter persisted.

“Yeah but it wasn’t, wasn’t it,” Mings replied with a pointed glare. “So we can go back through many different occasions in my career and you could say if there was VAR in that game, I would have got sent off.

“But was I lucky, no, because I knew there wasn’t VAR. Like you say, if there had have been VAR, absolutely I would have given away a penalty.

“As a defender, I have done that many times in my career. When a cross is about to come in, block the striker. That is not against the rules. But that one there was probably too aggressive.

“Absolutely if you give better teams those sort of chances, we would be punished, and perhaps wouldn’t have as many chances going forward to go and score more goals,” he admitted.

“We’re aware we have to be better, and limit the amount of chances we concede, because world-class players will definitely take them.

“There are so many challenges at this stage of the year, but I think we have been fluid and dynamic enough to overcome them so far.

“It doesn’t seem like we’ve had players missing, we’ve obviously had an extended group training, and training’s been good, the intensity has been high.

“Now you get to four, five days before the tournament starts and everybody is quite rightly ready to go.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Some Austin neighbors worry one property slated for affordable housing may become a tent city

AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’re hearing from neighbors after the City of Austin released its preliminary list of potential sites for sanctioned camping. They could be converted for anyone experiencing homelessness.

There are currently 45 city-owned sites, but the city insists none of those are final yet. One is on Ryan Drive in central Austin, near Lamar and Airport Boulevard right next to the Crestview MetroRail station.

The city says it has been holding community discussions about the property since 2012, and documents indicate a request for proposals closed in March.

“I definitely was shocked,” said Beth Knapp, who has lived in the neighborhood for eight years and attended three public forums about the development on Ryan Drive.

“We were expecting apartments and different elements for affordable housing,” she said.

The city’s request for proposals indicates property goals included mixed-income housing, with at least half of the rentals made affordable.

Knapp and other neighbors said they were surprised when the city listed the land as a possible site for a homeless encampment that would possibly look like an open-air one in Colorado, according to the city’s presentation on Tuesday.

A slide from Tuesday's presentation shows an example of an encampment in Denver, Colorado. (City of Austin)
A slide from Tuesday’s presentation shows an example of an encampment in Denver, Colorado. (City of Austin)

“I definitely know I would not want to see a tent community,” Knapp said. “Not just saying, ‘Here’s a space for your tent,’ but actually providing services, access to health care.”

Neighbor Jon Copp, who has lived in the neighborhood for five years, agreed.

“I don’t think allowing open camping is the solution here. The city needs to step up and find ways to support people without homes, not just designate open camping areas,” he said. “We need to help them find housing, whether it’s permanent or not.”

KXAN spoke with a developer for one of those affordable housing proposals. He said the city didn’t tell him it would be listed as a possible encampment. He was expecting to hear back from them about his proposal in July.

“One presentation we’ve seen from a developer has included clinics, child care, things like that,” said Knapp, who wants to see more than basic services, which the city said would include lighting and restrooms.

6909 Ryan Drive
The City of Austin had slated this property for affordable housing but now, it’s listed it as a possible site for a homeless camp. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

She also wants those community forums to continue so neighbors can stay informed.

“Having those community outreach meetings not just allow us to voice what we would want to see, but we can hear why decisions are made, what the purpose is and research has shown,” Knapp said.

KXAN reached out to the city and asked if affordable housing plans that have been discussed for the Ryan Drive property would be scrapped for a city-sanctioned homeless encampment.

They didn’t answer the question, instead sending the following statement:

“The sites identified in today’s presentation to Mayor and Council are preliminary locations. The lists we have provided are only a snapshot of the sites where we have done the initial analysis that Council requested. These sites are not final and the list will most certainly change. Some locations may come off, and others may be added, as part of an ongoing examination of potential sites. Staff will continue analyzing properties and will work to present Council with an update in June.”
City of Austin spokesperson

Author: Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hits out at Man Utd stars after Fulham draw and has Villarreal worry

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has slammed his players following their 1-1 draw with relegated Fulham and has raised concerns about their form ahead of the Europa League final.

A win against the Cottagers would have confirmed the Red Devils as Premier League runners-up to rivals Manchester City.

Edinson Cavani’s stunning long-range lob handed United the lead just 15 minutes into the game, which was played in front of 10,000 supporters at Old Trafford.

It was the Uruguayan’s 16th goal of the season and is another milestone in an impressive campaign. United recently exercised a one-year extension to the deal Cavani signed when he arrived on a free transfer following his release by Paris Saint-Germain.

But United failed to see the game through and a poor run of form continues ahead of the Europa League showdown against Villarreal on May 26.

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“Maybe it’s because the crowd came in and we wanted to entertain them. It would be more entertaining if we played properly and scored goals.

Solskjaer has also raised concerns about his side’s form. They finish their Premier League campaign against Wolves on Sunday before attempting to win their first trophy in four years against Villarreal.

The former United striker believes his squad should be playing well ahead of the final in Poland.

Asked if he had worries about their plight, Solskjaer said: “Very much so because we’ve lost eight points in a period we should be bouncing, going into the next game looking forward to it, looking forward to the final, going into it confident.

“We need to sort a few things out. Stop trying to be the world beater and play as a team.

“We know that we are at the end of the season. We’re tired.

“We need to get minutes into some [players], rest some. Because we need to be ready for the last game of the season – that’s the most important one now.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed