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Putin lambasts the West and declares the end of ‘the era of the unipolar world’

Putin unveils imperialist mission: Taking back land he says is Russia’s 02:59

(CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the end of “the era of the unipolar world” in a combative speech that lambasted Western countries at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

“When they won the Cold War, the US declared themselves God’s own representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities — only interests. They have declared those interests sacred. Now it’s one-way traffic, which makes the world unstable,” Putin told the audience.
The much-hyped speech was delayed by more than 90 minutes because of a “massive” cyberattack. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists in an impromptu conference call that the speech was postponed due to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the conference’s systems.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. Ukrainian IT Army, a hacker collective, named the St. Petersburg Forum as a target earlier this week on its Telegram channel.
Putin’s address at the annual conference, one of his more substantial speeches since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine almost four months ago, was seen as an opportunity for the world to get some insight into his thinking.
Once the Russian president took the stage in the western Russian city, he wasted no time on pleasantries and went straight into attacks on the United States and its allies.
“They live in the past on their own under their own delusions … They think that … they have won and then everything else is a colony, a back yard. And the people living there are second-class citizens,” he said, adding that Russia’s “special operation” — the phrase the Russian government uses to describe its war on Ukraine — has become a “lifesaver for the West to blame all the problems on Russia.”
After accusing western countries of blaming their problems on Russia, Putin tried to pin the blame for rising food prices on the “US administration and the Euro bureaucracy.”
Ukraine is a major food producer, but the Russian invasion has affected its entire production and supply chain. The United Nations has said the war has had a devastating impact on supplies and prices and warned it could push up to 49 million more people into famine or famine-like conditions.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said last week that food has become part of the Kremlin’s “arsenal of terror.”
Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain, accusations that appear to have been confirmed by satellite images showing Russian ships being loaded with Ukrainian grain. On top of that, Russia is blocking maritime access to the Black Sea ports held by Ukraine, meaning that even the grain that is still under Ukrainian control cannot be exported to the many countries that rely on it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg on June 17, 2022.

The long-time Russian leader also blamed the West for trying to hurt the Russian economy, calling the sanctions on Moscow “crazy” and “reckless.”
“Their intention is clear to crush the Russian economy by breaking down the chain the logistical chains, freezing national assets and attacking the living standards, but they were not successful,” he added. “It has not worked out. Russian business people have rallied together working diligently, conscientiously, and step-by-step, we are normalizing the economic situation.”
The Russian president has long framed his decision to launch an invasion of Ukraine as a response to Kyiv’s growing diplomatic and security ties with the West. Last week, he hinted that his aim in Ukraine is the restoration of Russia as an imperial power.

Putin claims Russia ‘forced’ into the conflict in Ukraine

Speaking about his war on Ukraine on Friday, Putin went straight to his propaganda playbook, claiming Russia was “forced” into the conflict.
He called the invasion “the decision of a sovereign country that has an unconditional right … to defend its security.”
“A decision aimed at protecting our citizens, residents of the People’s Republics of Donbas, who for eight years were subjected to genocide by the Kyiv regime and neo-Nazis who received the full protection of the West,” he said.
The two areas — the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) — fell under the control of Russia-backed separatists in 2014.
The Kremlin has accused Ukrainian authorities of discriminating against ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the regions, a charge Kyiv has denied. Starting 2019, Russian passports were offered to the residents of the two entities.
Finally, in late February, Putin announced he would recognize them as independent, a move that was seen as the opening salvo of the war.
He said on Friday that Russian soldiers and the separatists were “fighting to defend their people” in the Donbas and the right to “reject any attempt to impose pseudo values of dehumanization and moral degradation from outside.”
No country other than Russia recognizes the two as independent. Ukraine and the rest of the international community considers the territories to be under Russian occupation.
The European Commission announced Friday that it was recommending Ukraine and neighboring Moldova as EU candidate states, with the commission’s chief Ursula von der Leyen saying that Ukrainians are “ready to die” for the European perspective.
Speaking about the European Union on Friday, Putin said the bloc had “lost its sovereignty.”
“The European Union has fully lost its sovereignty, and its elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, harming their own population. Europeans’ and European businesses’ real interests are totally ignored and swept aside,” he said.
He later added that Russia has “nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU.
“The EU is not a military-political bloc, unlike NATO, therefore we have always said and I have always said that our position here is consistent, understandable, we have nothing against it,” Putin said during a panel discussion following his speech.
“It is the sovereign decision of any country to join or not to join economic associations, and it is up to this economic association to accept new states as its members or not. As far as it is expedient for the EU, let the EU countries themselves decide. Whether it will be for the benefit or to the detriment of Ukraine is also their business,” he said.

Boxer Simiso Buthelezi dies after collapsing at end of fight in South Africa

Boxer Simiso Buthelezi has died after a fight in Durban, South Africa, in which he ended the bout seemingly ​disoriented.

Boxing South Africa (BSA) confirmed that Buthelezi, 24, collapsed towards the end of the fight on June 5 before being rushed to hospital.
It was discovered the boxer suffered internal bleeding from a brain injury and subsequently died in ​the hospital on Tuesday, a Boxing South Africa statement said.
A video posted on social media appeared to show Buthelezi ​fighting ​in the direction of an empty corner of the ring, seemingly confused, prompting the referee to end the fight.
In a statement, Boxing South Africa said it “will aldo shoes conduct an independent medical review of the injury and will then make public the results of that medical review.”
“Boxing South Africa and the Buthelezi family wishes to request members of the public and the media to give them space while mourning the passing away of this great boxer who was exemplary both outside and inside the ring,” it added.
​Studies show that traumatic brain injuries are common among both professional and amateur boxers. In a 2020 statement, the World Medical Association said that “boxing is qualitatively different from other sports because of the injuries it causes and that it should be banned.”​

Hearing expected to end with revelatory video, source says

A source familiar with the matter said that the hearing will set the stage for the events of Jan. 6, 2021, but won’t answer every question. Yet it will end with a video that this source says will be very revelatory. The source declined to provide any more details.

In the hallway right now, a number of House Democrats are piling into the spectator seats of the hearing room, and some members of the Capitol Police are expected to also attend.

Hero cop Eugene Goodman is not expected to attend, another source said.

Omicron has changed the shape of the pandemic. Will it end it for good?

The world feared the worst when a worrying new coronavirus variant emerged in late November and ripped through South Africa at a pace not seen before in the pandemic.

But two months later, with Omicron dominant across much of the globe, the narrative has shifted for some.
“Levels of concern about Omicron tend to be lower than with previous variants,” Simon Williams, a researcher in public attitudes and behaviors towards Covid-19 at Swansea University, told CNN. For many, “the ‘fear factor of Covid’ is lower,” he said.
Omicron’s reduced severity compared to previous variants, and the perceived likelihood that individuals will eventually be infected, have contributed to that relaxation in people’s mindsets, Williams said. This has even caused some people to actively seek olukai shoes out the illness to “get it over with” — a practice experts have strongly warned against.
But some within the scientific community are cautiously optimistic that Omicron could be the pandemic’s last act — providing huge swathes of the world with “a layer of immunity,” and moving us closer to an endemic stage when Covid-19 is comparable to seasonal illnesses like the cold or flu.
“My own view is that it’s becoming endemic, and it will continue to stay endemic for some time — as has happened with other coronaviruses,” said David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“All viruses try to become endemic, and to me this one looks like it’s succeeding,” he said.
A sign in the German city of Kassel reminds people to wear a mask.
Covid-19 has evolved with great unpredictability, and the variant that superseded Delta could have been more sinister, experts say; but the world ultimately got a dominant strain that is sweeping through populations with ease, without causing the same degree of hospitalizations, severe illnesses and deaths that previous variants have done.
Experts caution that there may be setbacks along the way — just as Omicron’s make-up was unexpected, the next variant could present a more serious public health risk and delay the end of the pandemic.
And many countries, particularly where vaccination coverage is low, could still face overwhelmed hospitals due to the current Omicron wave.
But a political urgency is appearing in much of the West to return societies to a sense of normality — with the transmissibility of Omicron forcing leaders to choose between rolling back public health measures or seeing their workforces and economies risk grinding to a standstill.
And for the first time since the spread of Covid-19 stunned the world in early 2020, some epidemiologists and leaders are willing to entertain the prospect that the virus might be making steps toward endemic status.
The question that scientists and wider society will grapple with throughout 2022 is when Covid-19 will leave its current stage and enter endemicity.
A disease that is endemic has a constant presence in a population but does not affect an alarmingly large number of people or disrupt society, as typically seen in a pandemic.
Experts don’t expect Covid to fully disappear in any of our lifetimes. Instead, it will eventually reach a period similar to several other illnesses, where “most people will be infected as children, possibly multiple times, and as those infections accumulate, they build up an immunity,” according to Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and the author of a book about the early stages of the pandemic.
“That’s the situation we’re heading towards,” he said. “Omicron is another dose of virus. We will all be on average less susceptible to disease having had that dose, or having had the vaccine.”
That’s why Omicron’s reduced severity is so key — it adds an extra layer of immunity, but doesn’t come with the same risk of hospitalization that Covid-19 held for most of last year. Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of hospitalization compared to Delta, according to a Scottish study. A separate paper from South Africa put the same figure at 80%.
“Well over half the world has now got some exposure to the virus or the vaccine. The rules of the game have changed from the virus’s point of view,” Woolhouse said.
Masks are required on public transportation in Russia.
And underlining experts’ confidence is history — though comparing the current scenario to previous pandemics is not an exact science, there is evidence from the past that viruses can be expected to evolve into less severe versions and eventually disappear into the arsenal of annual colds and influenzas.
“There are four other coronaviruses that have become endemic,” Heymann said. “The natural history of infections” indicates that Covid-19 will be the fifth, he added.
“People have reinterpreted ‘Russian flu’ in the late 19th century as the emergence of a common cold-type coronavirus,” added Woolhouse, referring to the 1889-90 outbreak that is estimated to have killed around a million people, but which ultimately became a common cold.
“The ‘Spanish Flu’ basically gave the whole world a very nasty dose of an H1N1 influenza virus” in 1918, he said. Now, “we get a wave of that virus pretty much every year.”
Experts generally agree that Omicron moves us closer to that stage with Covid-19. But there is a big caveat that determines how fast we’ll get there — and it depends not on the current strain, but the one that comes next.
Czech anti-coronavirus vaccine folk singer dies after deliberately getting infected with Covid-19, son says
“It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for, because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday.
“I would hope that that’s the case,” Fauci told the Davos Agenda, a virtual event this week held by the World Economic Forum, mirroring the cautious optimism that many epidemiologists are expressing. He added that the world was “fortunate” that Omicron didn’t share more of Delta’s characteristics.
But for all the positive indications, it “doesn’t mean a new variant won’t come up and force us backwards,” Woolhouse said.
“I would not like to call which way the next (variant) would go, he added. “The next variant has to outcompete Omicron, and the main thing it will have to be able to do is evade natural immunity, and to evade vaccine-induced immunity,” he said. “What we can’t say in advance is how bad (it) will be.”
Epidemiologically speaking, Omicron has delivered some cause for optimism — but much depends on how the virus evolves from here.
Pandemics do not move merely with the hoka shoes whims of a virus, however; they are also directed by human behavior and political acts. And as the pandemic’s two-year anniversary in March edges closer, signs are emerging of an arms race towards endemicity.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who presided over one of the West’s most effective vaccination rollouts, told radio station Cadena Ser earlier this month that it’s time “to evaluate the evolution of Covid from pandemic to an endemic illness.” His health minister said she has put that viewpoint to fellow European Union leaders.
Britain’s education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who previously oversaw the UK’s vaccine rollout, added to Sky News that he wanted the UK to “demonstrate to the world how you transition from pandemic to endemic.”
And that move is already well underway in countries such as Denmark, where Covid rules were ditched and then re-introduced last year. Tyra Grove Krause, an official at the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) that deals with infectious diseases in the country, told local network TV2 this month that Omicron could “lift us” out of the pandemic and return Danes to normalcy within two months.
“Those governments that have achieved a high degree of population immunity through the privilege of vaccination or the burden of infection now have a wider range of choices than they did at the start of 2021,” said Thomas Hale, associate professor at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, and the academic lead of its Covid-19 Government Response Tracker.
Many countries are starting to act as if Covid is already endemic. England resisted new restrictions despite record-breaking infection figures in recent weeks, and though hospitalizations and deaths have risen, its health care sector appears to have survived the peak of the Omicron wave without recording the high admissions seen during previous variants.
A volunteer paints hearts on the UK's National Covid-19 Memorial Wall.
Early real-world examples like this could give other nations the confidence to strip back restrictions and, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed this month, “ride out” the Omicron wave. “Many countries have looked to the UK, because they see that the UK has some degree of permissibility” in restrictions, Heymann said.
That approach is quickly becoming more commonplace. Covid-related financial aid is soon set to end in France as restrictions are eased; “We are announcing [to people in France] that the pandemic will perhaps be behind us by mid-February,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday.
Driving this push is the ravaging impact that Omicron is having on essential workforces — a development that has changed the calculus of governments. Faced with dilemma of tackling transmission or keeping their countries running, leaders have swiftly moved to slash isolation periods.
“Clearly taking people out of the workforce — particularly schools and healthcare — is one costly impact,” of Omicron, Hale said. “Of course it is preferable to prevent widespread transmission in the first place, though for many countries now facing Omicron this point is now moot.”
That means that an increasing number of countries are looking to “transfer the risk assessment to their populations,” Heymann said — relaxing rules and encouraging self-testing, personal decisions on mask-wearing, and even individual assessments among infected people of how long they need to isolate.
Many experts still encourage restrictions to reduce transmission, at least while the Omicron wave is with us. But Williams noted that populations are increasingly moving away from that view.
When you should take a PCR vs. a rapid antigen test
“The way Omicron has been represented in some media reports, and even indirectly by some politicians — who were a bit too quick to emphasize the ‘we need to learn to live with it’ message — have contributed to this now quite widespread view that Omicron is less worrisome,” he said.
The problem with that approach, many warn, is that some hoka shoes for women parts of the world are less able to take on a relaxed approach.
“By definition a pandemic is not over until it’s over, for everyone, everywhere,” Williams said. “Our attention now should increasingly focus on getting enough vaccines to those in low- and middle-income countries.”
Vaccination coverage is lower in many poorer regions of the world — particularly in eastern Europe, central Asia and large parts of Africa — leaving those places especially susceptible to worrying new variants or more severe waves of hospitalizations.
“A pandemic has various components to it in various countries,” Heymann said. “I think countries will become endemic at different rates.”
And that adds an extra layer of uncertainty to the question of whether Omicron will hasten the end of the pandemic.
“Health systems around the world will have to be cognizant” of the risks of Covid even if it soon starts to act and feel more like a seasonal cold, Woolhouse said.
“The world has changed — there’s a new human pathogen there, and it’s going to continue to cause disease for the foreseeable future,” he concluded. “We were always going to be living with Covid. it was never going to go away — we knew this from February 2020.”

‘Bachelorette’ couple Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark end their engagement

Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark have called it quits nearly one year after their “Bachelorette” engagement aired on ABC.

“Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark are no longer a couple,” a rep for Adams told Page Six Monday.

Adams, 31, and Clark, 37, met and fell in love on Season 16 of the long-running dating reality series.

Speculation that there was trouble in paradise steve madden shoes began circulating on social media after the former franchise lead was spotted walking the carpet solo — and without her Neil Lane engagement ring — at the Nov. 16 “House of Gucci” premiere in New York City, where Clark resides.

“They both felt the pressure of navigating a public relationship, but in different ways. It really started to wear on them each as individuals,” a source exclusively told Page Six of the pair’s decision to part ways.

“They started drifting apart in recent months and ultimately came to realize that they don’t work as a couple.”

Tayshia Adams

Adams was spotted without her engagement ring while walking the carpet solo at the New York City “House of Gucci” premiere on Nov. 16.
Though she has yet to comment on the split, Adams suggested that she is already thinking about ecco shoes her future without Clark by “liking” a Sunday Instagram post from @thegoodquote that read, “Finally I realized that I was never asking for too much. I was just asking for the wrong person.”

During the finale, which aired in December 2020, the addiction specialist asked for Adams’ hand in marriage while making an emotional declaration of love. Zac Clark and Tayshia Adams

Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark have called off their engagement, a rep for the former “Bachelorette” tells Page Six.

“I love you because you’re a fighter. I love you because you’re a strong, independent woman. You make everyone around you better. I love you because you believe in me. I love you because you’re a total dork,” he said at the time.

“And I love you because you drive me absolutely wild. I love everything about you.”

Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark

Clark proposed to Adams on the Season 16 “Bachelorette” finale, which aired in December 2020.

Adams enthusiastically accepted Clark’s proposal and told him that their “wild, wild love” had “truly woken up [her] heart.” She stated, “I’m ready to start a life with you.”

After “The Bachelorette,” Adams moved into Clark’s Manhattan nike sneakers apartment to begin a new life in the Big Apple. Months later, though, the Bachelor Nation star was hired to co-host back-to-back seasons of “The Bachelorette” in New Mexico and her native California, forcing her to spend time away from her now-ex-fiancé for much of 2021.

The two reunited this month, however, to run the TCS New York City Marathon together. In a touching Instagram post shared after the race, Clark, an avid runner, gushed over Adams’ performance.

Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark

After getting engaged last year, Adams left her native California to start a new life with Clark by moving into his Manhattan pad.

“I will be forever grateful to have had a front row seat to her performance yesterday, as will the thousands of others who cheered her along the way (the screams overpowered the Pearl Jam playing in my ears for most of the day),” he wrote. “The world is a better place today then it was yesterday because of you ….. KEEP GOING.”

Here’s where all of the major characters in ‘Dune’ end up after the events of the first film

Zendaya as Chani and Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in "Dune"
Zendaya as Chani and Timothée Chalamet as Paul in “Dune.” Warner Bros.
“Dune” follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) as he travels to the desert planet Arrakis.
  • The film is based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, and ends halfway through the events of the book.
  • Here’s where all the major brooks shoes characters in the new “Dune” movie end up. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Paul becomes one of the Fremen tribe at the end of “Dune.”

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in "Dune."
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros.

After his knife fight with Fremen warrior Jamis, Paul and his mother Jessica are allowed to join the Fremen tribe as they travel to Sietch Tabr.

Jamis had objected to Paul and Jessica’s presence amongst the tribe following their escape from the Harkonnens, meaning that Paul had to fatally wound the Fremen warrior in order to join them.

Prior to his fight with Jamis, Paul and Chani share a moment, with Chani lending Paul a dagger sacred to her family.

Jessica joins Paul and the Fremen as well.

Rebecca Ferguson as Jessica in "Dune."
Rebecca Ferguson as Jessica in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

Despite Jessica’s misgivings over having Paul battle for a spot amongst the Fremen — she tried to persuade him to return to the Atreides’ home planet of Caladan following the Harkonnen coup — she eventually joins him in the tribe salomon boots after he kills Jamis.

Aware that Paul is, in fact, the Kwisatz Haderach, Jessica has no choice but to follow him as he attempts to bring peace to Arrakis through an alliance with the Fremen.

Stilgar accepts Paul and Jessica into the Fremen community.

Javier Bardem as Stilgar in "Dune."
Javier Bardem as Stilgar in “Dune.” Chiabella James/Warner Bros. 

During Paul and Jamis’ fight, Stilgar is in disbelief that Paul hasn’t killed anyone before — meaning Jamis is the first opponent Paul’s killed in combat.

Following Jamis’ death, Stilgar officially welcomes Paul and Jessica into the tribe.

Chani gives Paul a sacred knife before his fight with Jamis.

Zendaya as Chani in "Dune."
Zendaya as Chani in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

Even though he’d seen her several times in his dreams, the end of the film is the first time Paul and Chani actually meet. After fleeing into the desert following the Harkonnen attack, Paul and Jessica encounter the Fremen, and Paul is forced to battle Jamis to the death.

Prior to the fight, Chani and Paul have a short conversation, where Chani lends him a sacred dagger, sperry shoes telling the young nobleman that it will be an “honor” to die while using it.

Much to Chani’s (and the rest of the tribe’s) surprise, Paul is able to kill Jamis and secure a place for himself and Jessica amongst the tribe.

Duncan Idaho dies while defending Paul and Jessica in the desert.

Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho in "Dune."
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

Duncan survives the initial Harkonnen attack on Arrakis, and manages to escape in an ornithopter (a specialized helicopter used by people living on Arrakis).

He later encounters Paul and Jessica in the desert, reuniting with them briefly before Sardaukar forces discover them. Duncan dies while fighting an impressive number of Sardaukar — allowing Paul and Jessica to escape into the deep desert.

Gurney Halleck leads the Atreides counterattack during the coup.

Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck in "Dune."
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

As weapons master of House Atreides (and one of Duke Leto’s most trusted and powerful advisers), Gurney is at the front lines during the Harkonnen attack on Arrakis. The last viewers see of him, he’s charging into battle alongside a legion of Atreides soldiers.

While Gurney’s fate at the end of the first film is technically unknown, fans of Herbert’s novels (and David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation) will remember that Gurney does survive the Harkonnen attack.

Duke Leto dies after being captured by the Harkonnens.

Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides in "Dune."
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

During the attack on Arrakis, Leto is incapacitated by Dr. Yueh, his personal physician who was secretly working with the Harkonnens.

But before Yueh hands him over, he replaces one of Leto’s teeth with a poison gas capsule, telling Leto to bite down hard in order to release the deadly gas.

After he’s in Harkonnen hands, Leto lures the Baron close to his face, giving him a chance to release the gas and kill almost everyone in the room. Leto dies as a result of the poison gas as well.

Baron Harkonnen is nearly killed by Leto’s poison, but ultimately survives.

Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen in "Dune."
Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

Baron Harkonnen successfully leads an attack on Atreides-held Arrakis midway through the film, ensuring that Duke Leto and all his forces are killed. He also attempts to have Paul and Jessica murdered as well, but they manage to escape to the desert.

While speaking with an incapacitated Leto after the attack, the Baron is nearly killed by the poison gas released from Leto’s tooth, but is able to survive since he had his shields up.

Last viewers see of the Baron, he’s undergoing a healing process in a terrifying tub of black goo.

Glossu Rabban takes control over Arrakis following the fall of House Atreides.

Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban Harkonnen in "Dune."
Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban Harkonnen in “Dune.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

After the Harkonnen coup on Arrakis, the Baron places Glossu Rabban in charge, ordering him to sell off spice reserves and restart spice mining.

The brutish Glossu Rabban is more than up for the task, thus beginning a new era of Harkonnen rule on the desert planet.

A crusade to end grading in high schools


Still waiting on Tom Brady to fall off? His age 44 season shows no signs of the end for NFL’s reigning QB king.

If anyone was expecting Tom Brady’s skills to diminish after he turned 44 years old and began his 22nd NFL season … well, that person would be a fool.

If such a person exists, however, they are in for some bad news. It isn’t happening. Better hope 45 is when the cliff comes for TB12. Don’t bet on it though.

Brady kicked off the NFL season Thursday by throwing for 379 yards and four touchdowns as nike store Tampa Bay defeated Dallas 31-29. That includes a surgical game-winning final-minute drive capped by a Ryan Succop 36-yard field goal.

It wasn’t just the physical talent that defies age that propelled Brady. It was everything else as well, a three-hour highlight reel of how a guy who isn’t the strongest thrower or fastest runner is the greatest winner the game has ever known.

The experience to decipher just about everything the Cowboys threw at him. The smarts to figure out solutions on the fly. The confidence to know when to prop up teammates following mistakes and keep them in the game.

It was all there.

Tom Brady, at age 44, showed no signs of slowing down in the season opener against Dallas. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Tom Brady, at age 44, showed no signs of slowing down in the season opener against Dallas. 

Consider the sublime 11-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski where Gronk went from dropping back to block, drawing a Dallas blitz, to sprinting into an open space on a mismatch.

“No, that was not the design,” Brady said. Brady and Gronk just checked into the play when they saw the defensive setup.

“We’ve played together for a long time,” Brady said on NBC. “Part of playing together with someone for a long time, we have a few tools in the tool box.”

Then there was going back to Chris Godwin for a critical 24-yard pass on ecco shoes the final drive (which may have been offensive pass interference), even though Godwin had fumbled the possession before when the Bucs were about to deliver a knockout blow. No need to freeze out a guy after a mistake. Godwin is too talented and reliable for that.

“It definitely helps me knowing my QB is not going to lose faith in me,” Godwin said.

It was how when Dallas took the lead but left 1:24 remaining, the ending to the game felt like a foregone conclusion. Of course Tampa Bay was going to win.

“I think in tight ball games we have a ton of confidence,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “The confidence is real. It’s earned.”

Sure is.

It was Brady’s 49th career game-winning drive.

It was Brady’s 36th four-touchdown game.

“Been playing a long time,” Brady said. “That’s a lot of football.”

He isn’t slowing up. The arm still looked strong. His internal clock helps avoid sacks in a more reliable manner than quick feet. He has the entire team still believing in him.

“It’s amazing,” Godwin said. “You have the ultimate confidence that 1) he’s going to get us in the right play and 2) he’s going to go to the right guy.”

That included nine comlpetions and two touchdowns  nike sneakers to old friend Gronk. That included five catches for 121 yards and a touchdown to Antonio Brown, who Brady has worked for years to have on his team. It was Leonard Fournette and Gio Bernard and Mike Evans. It was Brady doing whatever he wanted.

“I have confidence in all those guys,” Brady said. “I’ve been here 18 months now. I’ve had a lot of time [with them].”

And it was Brady spending most of his postgame news conference talking about all the mistakes, turnovers, penalties and errors that “need to be cleaned up.” He knows you can’t get away with those in January and February.

Make no mistake, he was happy with the victory. A year ago, in his Tampa debut, the Bucs lost at New Orleans and Brady didn’t look great.

“[That] sucked,” Brady said.

It was possible to wonder then if post-New England Brady wasn’t going to continue running the league.

“Came a long way in 365 days,” Brady smiled.

That included a seventh Super Bowl. No one wins, or loses, a Lombardi Trophy on opening night, but no one would be surprised if Brady is there at the end again.

Forty-four years old, 22 seasons deep now, and this is just the same old, same old.

“The margin of error is thin in the NFL,” Brady said. “One or two plays, that’s the way the game goes.”

It’s just he tends to make those plays. Still.

Conor McGregor’s sloppy, graceless defeat marks end of an era for Irish star

Backside on the canvas, back to the cage, leg bent in a way legs aren’t supposed to be bent and Conor McGregor still wouldn’t stop bleating and badgering.

He was screaming for his latest loss to be officially declared a doctor’s stoppage, not a TKO at the hands of Dustin Poirier, a distinction without much of a difference.

He was screaming at Poirier that next time — unlike the last two times — he’d hand him some hellacious whipping, which given the circumstances was comically sad.

He was screaming about Poirier’s wife because, well, McGregor learned long ago skechers shoes when people might be on the verge of tuning him out, just get meaner and cruder and more and more ridiculous.

The thing is, people may stop listening to Conor McGregor pretty soon. His post-fight diatribe sounded more like a guy begging for continued relevance, begging Poirier and other elite fighters not to leave him behind, than any tangible emotion. It’s hard to imagine even McGregor believed what he was saying.

“I was boxing the bleeding head off him, kicking the bleeding leg off him,” a frenzied McGregor said to announcer Joe Rogan. “This is not over. If I have to take this outside with him, it’s on outside.”

Oh, it’s over. At least this era of McGregor. He was carried out of a Las Vegas Octagon on Saturday night — his left leg in a splint — and into the crossroads of his career.

Conor McGregor battles Dustin Poirier (top) in their lightweight bout during UFC 264 on July 10. (Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Conor McGregor battles Dustin Poirier (top) in their lightweight bout during UFC 264 on July 10.

The Dublin, Ireland native has one victory in four years — over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.

He’s been brutalized in his last three bouts — one by Khabib Nurmagomedov and twice now by Poirier. He no longer looks capable of his early match swarms that used to overwhelm psyched-out opponents. His once-lethal left doesn’t seem to carry the same pop.

He’s switched up styles and strategies so often that he looks unconvinced in any of them — attempting a single-arm guillotine brooks shoes on a black belt such as Poirier was a sign of desperation that ended predictably.

The leg break ended this one at the end of the first round, but Poirier had dominated that round — all the bluster about how McGregor was going to murder and torture Poirier hadn’t come close to materializing. He looked en route to being knocked out.

That said, McGregor remains, by far, the biggest draw in combat sports. T-Mobile Arena was filled with A-list celebrities and even a former president. UFC president Dana White said pay-per-views were trending toward 1.8 million, one of the best nights ever for the sport.

Recent record aside, McGregor is still an upper-level fighter as he hits his 33rd birthday this week. His lower tibia will be patched back together — while more gruesome to look at, it’s an easier heal than a ligament or tendon. He’s got plenty of career left if he wants it.

It’s just not the career he had.

The antics, the insults, the trash talk that mesmerized the world made McGregor a very rich and very famous man. That was, in large part however, because he could back it up with skill and guile and a fury that he always said was borne from life on the Irish dole.

McGregor would get all worked up before the fight, but then he’d deliver a hell of a knock. Win or lose, he’d send everyone home pretty happy. He was a fighter’s fighter, not just some self-marketed star. Give the man that. And he can, no doubt, still dish out some hurt in there.

Yet the visual of a slumped-back McGregor — broken and beaten — hurling outrageous insults and improbable promises of future ecco shoes dominance might make even Conor cringe when he sees it on replay. Take it outside? He couldn’t even stand up. Poirier — had he wanted to sink to McGregor’s level — could have just walked over and smacked him around again for mentioning his wife. That’s what would happen on the streets.

Conor McGregor battles Dustin Poirier (top) in their lightweight bout during UFC 264 on July 10. (Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Conor McGregor battles Dustin Poirier (top) in their lightweight bout during UFC 264 on July 10. 

This was a dog barking from inside the gate.

How long can McGregor keep up all the yapping, all of his supposed rage-induced outbursts? He once threw a loading dock dolly through a bus window because he was supposedly so angry with Nurmagomedov, only to later get dominated. Now this.

Does anyone keep taking it seriously unless he starts backing it up with victories again?

McGregor isn’t in Poirier’s class any longer. Nor Khabib’s (if he ever unretires). Same with Charles Oliveira or Alexander Volkanovski, the UFC’s respective current lightweight and featherweight champions. McGregor once owned both belts at the same time.

It happens. Age happens. Injuries happen. MMA happens — a sport where innovation and improvement must be constant. McGregor’s millions happen.

What’s the motivation for a man who has risen from poverty and become not just a fight star and not just a businessman but a business, man. Whiskey. Boxing. Social Media. Fashion. Who knows, he may be headed toward a real billionaire’s strut.

There are more fights to be had, just a little different kind. McGregor could always summon the anger for a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz. There was a dustup this week with Rafael dos Anjos, a former lightweight champ who is 36 and on the downslope of his career. The PPVs will still spin.

There is also the possibility of taking on YouTube star Jake Paul in a boxing match that, if McGregor could get out of his UFC contract or get the promotion to bend, might earn another nine-figure payday like when he fought Floyd Mayweather in 2017.

Russia’s Navalny asks court to end prison security checks

MOSCOW (AP) — Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny asked a court Monday to brooks shoes halt the hourly night-time checks he has been subjected to in his penal colony.

Speaking to the court in a video link from prison, Navalny charged that he has done nothing that would warrant the authorities’ decision to designate him as a flight risk that has resulted in checks.

“I just want them to stop coming to me and waking me up at night-time,” he told the judge in remarks that were broadcast by the independent Dozhd TV. “What did I do: Did I climb the fence? Did I dig up an underpass? Or was I wringing a pistol from someone? Just explain why they named me a flight risk!”

He argued that the hourly night-time checks “effectively amount to torture,” telling the judge that “you would go mad in a week” if subjected to such regular wake-ups.

The court later adjourned the hearing until Wednesday.

Navalny, the most determined political foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, hey dude shoes where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin — accusations that Russian officials reject.

In February, he was handed a 2 1/2-year sentence for violating terms of a suspended sentence stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which he says was politically motivated.

He went on a 24-day hunger strike in prison to protest the lack of medical treatment for severe back pain and numbness in his legs, ending it last month after getting the medical attention he demanded.

While he still was on hunger strike, Navalny was moved from a penal colony east of Moscow where he was serving his sentence to the hospital ward of another prison in Vladimir, a city 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of the capital. He still remains at that prison, where he said the night-time checks continued, although they were less intrusive.

With Navalny in prison, prosecutors have asked a Moscow court to designate his Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his network of regional offices as extremist groups. A bill, which has sailed quickly through the Kremlin-controlled lower house of Russian parliament, bars members, donors and supporters of extremist groups from seeking public office.

The parallel moves have been widely seen as an attempt to keep any of Navalny’s associates from running in September’s parliamentary election.