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Russia hit with 4-year Olympics ban for falsified doping data

Lausanne, Switzerland — Russia will miss next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games after the World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday banned the powerhouse from global sporting events for four years over manipulated doping data.

WADA’s executive committee, meeting in Lausanne, decided that Russia be handed the four-year suspension after accusing Moscow of falsifying laboratory doping data handed over to investigators earlier this year.

Not only will Russia be ruled out of the next Olympic cycle, but Russian government officials will be barred from attending any major events, while the country will lose the right to host, or even bid, for tournaments.

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“WADA’s executive committee approved unanimously to assert a non-compliance on the Russian anti-doping agency for a period of four years,” WADA spokesman James Fitzgerald said.

Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year but only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.

“They are going to have prove they had nothing to do with the non-compliance, (that) they were not involved in the doping schemes as described by the McLaren report, or they did not have their samples affected by the manipulation,” Fitzgerald said.

2016: Russian doping at Sochi Winter Olympics exposed

The independent report by Richard McLaren, released in 2016, revealed the significant extent of state-sponsored doping in Russia, notably between 2011 and 2015.

It led to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) being suspended for nearly three years previously over revelations of a vast state-supported doping programme.

Full disclosure of data from the Moscow laboratory was a key condition of Russia’s controversial reinstatement by WADA in September 2018.

“An attack on sport”

The WADA decision was widely predicted, with the body’s president, Craig Reedie, having made a presentation Saturday to the Olympic Summit, participants of which “strongly condemned those responsible for the manipulation of the data from the Moscow laboratory.”

“It was agreed that this was an attack on sport and that these actions should lead to the toughest sanctions against those responsible,” the IOC said in a statement.

“It was stressed by the participants that full justice must be finally done so that the guilty ones can be properly punished and the innocent ones are fully protected.”

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) asked that the Russian authorities deliver the “fully authenticated raw data.”

A majority of WADA’s influential athlete committee had called overnight for a “complete ban on Russian participation,” with nine members of the 17-strong group saying such a move was “the only meaningful sanction.”

“We maintain that the fraud, manipulation and deception revealed to date will only be encouraged and perpetuated with a lesser response,” they said.

Russia reacts

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban against his country was the result of “anti-Russian hysteria” and should be appealed. “This is the continuation of this anti-Russian hysteria that has already become chronic,” Medvedev was quoted as saying by local news agencies. 

The head of Russia’s anti-doping agency said his country had “no chance” of winning an appeal against the ban, which he called a tragedy for clean athletes.

“There is no chance of winning this case in court,” RUSADA chief Yury Ganus told AFP.

RUSADA’s supervisory board was set to meet on December 19 to take a decision on whether to appeal the ban, he said. “This is a tragedy,” he said. “Clean athletes are seeing their rights limited.”

Ganus said that some Russian athletes were contemplating leaving Russia so that they could train elsewhere. He described the sentiments among athletes as “awful,” stressing that four years for a sportsman is a long time.

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Family of Robert Levinson “disappointed” in the U.S, calls for action in release

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Trump draws a “dotard” warning with his “rocket man” reference to Kim

Seoul, South Korea — North Korea threatened Thursday to resume insulting President Trump and consider him a “dotard” if he keeps using provocative language, such as referring to its leader as “rocket man.” Choe Son Hui, the first vice foreign minister, issued the warning via state media days after Mr. Trump spoke of possible military action toward the North and revived his “rocket man” nickname for North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.

The comments came as prospects dim for a resumption of nuclear diplomacy between the two countries. In recent months, North Korea has hinted at lifting its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests if the Trump administration fails to make substantial concessions in nuclear diplomacy before the end of the year.

Choe said Mr. Trump’s remarks “prompted the waves of hatred of our people against the U.S.” because they showed “no courtesy when referring to the supreme leadership of dignity” of North Korea.

She said North Korea will respond with its own harsh language if Mr. Trump again uses similar phrases and shows that he is intentionally provoking North Korea.

“If any language and expressions stoking the atmosphere of confrontation are used once again … that must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard,” Choe said.

North Korea launches short-range projectiles toward Japan, South Korea says

On Wednesday, the North’s military chief, Pak Jong Chon, also warned that the use of force against the North would cause a “horrible” consequence for the U.S. He said North Korea would take unspecified “prompt corresponding actions at any level” if the U.S. takes any military action.

During a visit to London on Tuesday, President Trump said his relationship with Kim was “really good” but also called for him to follow up on a commitment to denuclearize.

“We have the most powerful military we ever had, and we are by far the most powerful country in the world and hopefully we don’t have to use it. But if we do, we will use it,” Mr. Trump said.

He added that Kim, “likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man.”

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump look on during the extended bilateral meeting in the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump look on during a bilateral meeting in the Metropole hotel during a North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 28, 2019. Leah Millis/REUTERS

In 2017, Mr. Trump and Kim traded threats of destruction as North Korea carried out a slew of high-profile weapons tests aimed at acquiring an ability to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S. mainland. The U.S. president said he would rain “fire and fury” on North Korea and derided Kim as “little rocket man,” while Kim questioned Mr. Trump’s sanity and said he would “tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

The two leaders have avoided such words and developed better relations after North Korea entered nuclear negotiations with the U.S. last year. Mr. Trump even said he and Kim “fell in love.”

North Korea threatened the U.S. earlier this week with a “Christmas gift” unless the Trump administration agrees to significantly ease sanctions as part of any resumed nuclear talks. As CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported, those talks have been stalled since February. 

It was during a visit to London for a NATO summit this week that Mr. Trump used the phrase “rocket man” again, as he appeared to take the “Christmas gift” threat in stride. After he used the term, he added that he believed he still had “a very good relationship” with Kim.

North Korea makes calculated show of strength with ballistic missile launch

The two men have met three times, starting with a summit in Singapore in June 2018. But their nuclear diplomacy has remained largely deadlocked since their second meeting in Vietnam in February ended without any deal due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea.

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Thursday night in Washington the U.S. remains hopeful that a deal can be reached with North Korea.

“Kim Jong Un has promised to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. We hope that he sticks to that promise, and we’re going to keep at the negotiations and keep at the diplomacy as long as we think that there’s hope there. And we do,” O’Brien said Thursday night on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

“I don’t want to say we’re optimistic, but we have some hope that the Koreans will come to the table … and we can get a deal.”

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Frozen 18,000-year-old puppy discovered in Russian permafrost

Russian scientists on Monday unveiled a prehistoric puppy, believed to be 18,000 years old, that was found in permafrost in the country’s Far East. Discovered last year in a lump of frozen mud near the city of Yakutsk, the puppy is unusually well-preserved.

“This puppy has all its limbs, pelage – fur, even whiskers. The nose is visible. There are teeth. We can determine due to some data that it is a male,” Nikolai Androsov, director of the Northern World private museum where the remains are stored, said at the presentation at the Yakutsk’s Mammoth Museum.

The pup was dubbed “Dogor,” a Yakutian word for friend. It appears to have died when it was two months old.

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In recent years, Russia’s Far East has been plentiful for scientists studying the remains of ancient animals. As the permafrost melts, more and more parts of woolly mammoths, canines and other prehistoric animals are being discovered. Often it is mammoth tusk hunters who discover them.

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This is a handout photo taken on Monday, September 24, 2018, showing a 18,000-year-old Puppy found in permafrost in the Russia’s Far East, on display at the Yakutsk’s Mammoth Museum, Russia. Russian scientists have presented a unique prehistoric canine, believed to be 18,000 years old and found in permafrost in the Russia’s Far East, to the public on Monday, December 2, 2019. Sergei Fyodorov/Yakutsk Mammoth Museum/AP

When the puppy was discovered, scientists from the Stockholm-based Center for Palaeogenetics took a piece of bone to study its DNA.

“The first step was of course to send the sample to radio carbon dating to see how old it was and when we got the results back it turned out that it was roughly 18,000 years old,” Love Dalén, professor of evolutionary genetics at the center, said in an online interview.

Further tests, however, left the scientists with more questions than answers — they couldn’t definitively tell whether it was a dog or a wolf.

“We have now generated a nearly complete genome sequence from it and normally when you have a two-fold coverage genome, which is what we have, you should be able to relatively easily say whether it’s a dog or a wolf, but we still can’t say and that makes it even more interesting,” Dalén said.

He added that the scientists are about to do a third round of genome sequencing, which might solve the mystery.

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Suspect in London Bridge attack linked to 2012 terrorism offense

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Climate change is threatening your Prosecco supply. Here’s why.

Mansue, Italy – Climate change is threatening centuries of Italian tradition in this region famed for Prosecco. Paolo Tomasella said extreme weather is posing new challenges at his vineyard, Tenute Tomasella.
 
“Climate change is a big problem,” Tomasella told CBS News correspondent Seth Doane, adding, “When it’s hot, it’s very hot. When it’s raining, it rain very much.”
 
Prosecco, he explained, should have low alcohol and high acidity, but high temperatures and earlier ripening produce the opposite effect. So Tomasella is testing new techniques and letting Italian government scientist, Diego Tomasi, use the vineyard as a sort of laboratory.
 
“The climate change is making effect on the acidity – because more temperature means also low acidity,” Tomasi said.
 
Tomasi showed us grapes that have burned on the vine. Winemakers are sometimes forced to harvest weeks earlier – in the hottest months – which can produce different aromas and flavors.
 
“The vine is like a thermometer. It’s very sensitive to temperature,” Tomasi said.
 
At Italy’s CREA Research Center, they’re hearing from winemakers who are planting at higher elevations and have discovered the timing between growing stages is now shorter. 
 
“Why do you blame climate change?” Doane asked.

“Because, of course, the soil is more or less the same, the variety is more or less the same. And so everything we are discovering now depends the climate,” Tomasi said.
 
Which at Tenute Tomasella means making some adjustments like cutting back foliage to stop photosynthesis – a way to reduce the amount of alcohol that comes from the grapes – and piping nitrogen into the water to boost acidity.
 
Growers could plant new vines better suited to changing climactic conditions. But new vines take years to produce and ultimately change the character of a wine and a place as climate change creeps into yet another aspect of life.

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Family begs government to approve visa for kidney donation

A Connecticut family is pleading with the government to approve a visa for their relative, who lives in India, so that he can travel to the United States and donate his kidney to a family member in need. The family claims that the process is being held up over concerns from the embassy in New Delhi that the donor won’t return to India after the procedure.

Emreen Bharara, the daughter of the man seeking a kidney, told CBS News that the process with the embassy has been “really frustrating.” 

“If my dad isn’t the American dream, I don’t know what is. He worked non-stop so we could go to college and now that he needs help from the state, it’s not there,” she said of her father, Gurvinder Singh Bharara. “We don’t need help, we don’t need money, we just need the visa.”

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Bharara said that her family didn’t know how serious the condition was until her father came down with the flu last winter. Now, she said, he’s in stage five adrenal failure and the transplant list has a wait time of five to seven years. Emreen, her mother and her brother don’t have the right blood type to donate, which left the family with no choice but to look elsewhere, she added.  

According to a change.org petition, Bharara has spent the past year dealing with failing kidneys as he struggles with Type 2 diabetes. His doctors say the 56-year-old father of two is now in dire need of a transplant. Bharara’s nephew, Gursimran Singh Bharara, has been approved as a match and is willing to donate his kidney, the petition says — but he lives in India and would need to come to the U.S., as Bharara is not healthy enough to travel. 

The nephew, however, has yet to be approved for a B-2 medical emergency tourist visa, despite applying “numerous times,” Bharara said. She added that the the U.S. Consulate Office in New Delhi, India, has expressed to the family that officials are concerned Gursimran will not return to the country following the procedure — despite his efforts to show he has “extensive ties” to his home country. 

“Gursimran is a husband and father of two young children, one of whom is just two months old, who he supports in his home in India,” the petition reads. “He is also the co-owner of a successful family furniture business and is one of the main providers for his retired parents.” 

A spokesperson for the state department told CBS News that they are aware of the situation, but that confidentiality laws prevent them from discussing specific visa cases. 

The expenses for the trip and the procedure would be covered by Bharara’s family and their insurance, according to the petition. The family has emphasized that Gursimran would return to India as soon as he has recovered from surgery, and that if his departure was delayed for any reason, both his and the extended family’s combined income would keep him from becoming a “public charge.” 

In addition to trying to get the visa approved, the petition is also asking for possible matches in the U.S. who would be willing to donate a kidney.

“Many people have come forward and offered to get tested, but since we do not want to pressure anyone into donating, we wait for people to follow up with us after explaining the details, but no one has followed up just yet,” Emreen said. 

“My dad doesn’t have time to play the whole political game anymore,” Emreen stressed.

The petition, addressed to Congress, the Department of State, U.S. Embassy of India, U.S. Consulate of India and President Donald Trump, has garnered more than 8,000 signatures since it was created last week. The goal of the petition, Emreen said, is to raise awareness about what is happening and get the family connected to someone who can help.

The family has also been working with a pro-bono immigration attorney and plans to re-apply for the medical visa for roughly the fourth time since September, Emreen said, adding that the last time they heard from the embassy was around three weeks ago. 

“It just hurts,” Emreen said. “Every time we all get our hopes up and then every time we’re let down even more.”

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