‘Very special moment’ as Nepali sherpas are the first to reach top of K2 in winter | World News



A team of Nepalese sherpas has made history by scaling the world’s second-highest peak during the winter season.

The 10 climbers reached the summit of Pakistan’s K2 on Saturday, more than 20 years after the first winter attempt to reach the 8,611m summit.

The secretary of Pakistan’s Alpine Club, Karrar Haideri, said four international teams had arrived about a month ago to scale the mountain but the Nepalis were the only ones to succeed so far.

He said that the sherpas had been spread across different teams but had formed a new group so they could claim the historic feat for their country.

Previously nobody had managed to get higher than 7,750m in the winter – a record set almost two decades ago – but on Saturday the weather conditions were fair enough for the team to push ahead.

The group comprised Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma G, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa.

Mr Purja said in an Instagram post that the moment the group reached the top of the mountain was “very special”.

“The whole team waited 10m below the summit to form a group then stepped onto the summit together while singing our Nepalese national anthem.

“We are proud to have been a part of history for humankind and to show that collaboration, teamwork and a positive mental attitude can push limits to what we feel might be possible.”

K2 is on the Pakistan-China border and during the winter, winds on K2 can reach more than 125mph and temperatures can drop as low as -60C (-76F).

The mountain was first climbed in 1954 by Italian Achille Compagnoni and he is among only 367 people to have completed the ascent. Some 86 people have died trying.

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AP Top Stories Jan. 16 5P



Here are the top stories for Saturday, Jan. 16: Biden: Advisers to lead with ‘science and truth’; Vaccination drive kicks off in various Indian cities; Thousands protest in Vienna over lockdown rules; Snow dusts Paris landmarks as cold spell. (Jan. 16)

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Top Waterwomen Charge Big-Wave Season in Hawaii


Until you’ve seen big-wave surfing up close, it’s hard to understand just how massive and intimidating these waves really are. Towering walls of water loom on the horizon, getting larger and larger until they finally break in a thundering explosion of whitewater. It’s one of those things that if you’ve seen it and felt it, most people quickly realize they don’t want to be apart of it.

Any human that decides to paddle themselves past the point of no return and leap to their feet is doing an incredible job of fear management. The reward for successfully riding one of these waves is an unrivaled adrenaline rush, the risk is a vicious wipeout that can easily cause serious injury or even death.

While top big-wave surfers like Kai Lenny, Grant Baker and Billy Kemper get a lot of the spotlight for their big-wave riding abilities, there’s another group of chargers that are finally beginning to get the attention they deserve.

Top waterwomen are getting a big platform this season to showcase their big-wave riding prowess thanks to Red Bull Magnitude. This big-wave video contest kicked off last month and will crown the waterwoman that performs the best throughout the entire Hawaiian winter big-wave season. Here’s a look back at the heaviest moments that went down in December, and with the giant swell coming in this weekend, this competition is far from over.


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Sailing: Top Gun on water with flight key to America’s Cup fight



FILE PHOTO: A rainbow appears on the Auckland skyline featuring Sky Tower in New Zealand, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

January 15, 2021

By Alexander Smith

(Reuters) – Kitted out more like fighter jet pilots than sailors, three crews from Britain, Italy and the United States begin a series of dog fights this week to claim the Prada Cup in New Zealand.

At stake for INEOS Team UK, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team and New York Yacht Club American Magic is the chance to challenge Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup.

While the America’s Cup may be the oldest trophy in international sport it has always been a design-led race, with the AC75 class of “foiling” monohulls which the teams have developed for this event now at the cutting edge of engineering.

Critical to how the teams fare in the Prada Cup, which begins off Auckland on Friday to decide on who gets to challenge the Kiwis in March, is how they “fly” the futuristic craft.

The AC75s lift out of the water on hydrofoils and have already hit nearly 50 knots (93 kilometres per hour), testing the limits of their 11-man crew and making helmets, body armour and emergency breathing apparatus essential to safety.

Racing was curtailed in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic, but a short December World Series event which included the defenders gave a glimpse of how tight the two-boat battles might be as teams hone sails, hulls and foils to eke out extra speed.

Although the home team won overall they were beaten once by American Magic, led by veteran Terry Hutchinson, who came second and go into the Prada Cup as favourites ahead of Max Sirena’s Luna Rossa and INEOS Team UK.

The British had a disastrous series aboard Britannia, wrestling with technical problems which prevented them from finishing some races and meant they were at times much slower.

“It’s a development game,” skipper Ben Ainslie said after losing to the Kiwis, and in a series of practice races this week the British have shown much improved boat speed and stability.

The Prada Cup runs from Jan. 15, when American Magic race INEOS Team UK in the first encounter, to Feb. 22 and is followed by the America’s Cup itself from March 6 to March 15.

(This story corrects spelling of Hutchinson in paragraph 7)

(Reporting by Alexander Smith; Editing by Toby Davis)



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Pelosi’s Top Priority: Consolidating Power


After impeaching Donald Trump again, what do Democrats want to do with their new dominance of Washington? It’s revealing that Speaker Nancy’s Pelosi’s first legislative priority is cementing Democratic political power.

Last week House Democrats reintroduced as H.R.1 a voting and campaign-finance bill that would grease the Democratic voting machine nationwide and restrict political opposition. They also introduced a bill to provide statehood for the District of Columbia that would guarantee Democrats two new Senate seats.

H.R.1 imposes California-style election rules nationwide. The bill requires every state to register voters based on names in state and federal databases—such as anyone receiving food stamps or who interacts with a state DMV. It mandates same-day and online voter registration, expands mail and early voting, and limits states’ ability to remove voters from rolls. Overall the bill is designed to auto-enroll likely Democratic voters, enhance Democratic turnout, with no concern for ballot integrity.

The bill also strips state legislatures of their role in drawing congressional districts, replacing them with commissions that are ostensibly independent. In practice commissions have turned out mostly to favor Democrats, as in New Jersey and California. If states want such commissions, so be it. But this is an attempt to impose one Pelosi standard from coast to coast.

H.R.1’s campaign-finance provisions would also limit the political speech of conservatives and Republicans. The bill requires some nonprofits to disclose publicly the names of donors who give more than $10,000, even if those groups aren’t taking part in candidate elections. The left’s pressure groups and media will then stigmatize donors. The bill also raises disclosure requirements for political ads on radio and TV, requiring the head of an organization to approve messages and list the group’s top donors by name.

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Japan’s Top League delayed due to virus


Michael Hooper’s debut for Toyota Verblitz in the Top League will have to wait with the Japan Rugby Football Union postponing the start of the competition because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The competition was due to start this weekend but with 10 positive tests at Kobe Steelers on Thursday taking the total to 67 league-wide, organisers said they were now aiming for a mid-February start.

Last year’s season was cancelled entirely because of the pandemic.

“Japan Rugby Football Union and Top League have had discussions and we want to do everything we can to have this year’s Top League season,” said JRFU Chairman Kensuke Iwabuchi.

Organisers said they were yet to finalise a new start date and whether the format needed to be changed because of time restrictions and safety precautions.

Top League chief Osamu Ota hoped the season would finish by the scheduled end date of May 23 so that it would not interfere with the national team’s plans.

“We are aiming to start in mid-February,” said Ota.

“Regarding the COVID-19 situation, it changes on a day-to-day basis.”

Kobe are the sixth team to report positive COVID-19 results along with NEC Green Rockets, Toyota Verblitz, Suntory Sungoliath, Canon Eagles and Toshiba Brave Lupus.

They said in a statement on their website that all team members, including those who had tested negative, had been told to stay home since Tuesday, when the positive test results were confirmed.

Matches involving Toyota, Suntory and Canon scheduled for this weekend had already been cancelled but the entire slate of first round games have now been wiped.

Wallabies skipper Hooper apart, All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read are among a host of top international players playing in this season’s Top League, the final campaign before it is overhauled next year.





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Russia’s Top Online Retailer Launches in Germany


Russia’s largest online retailer — Wildberries — has launched in Germany in the latest stage of its international expansion, the company said Thursday.

Germany is Wildberries’ tenth country of operations and its first in western Europe. The firm will offer more than four million products to German shoppers and said it has a network of 40,000 collection points across the country.

Wildberries is Russia’s biggest online marketplace — recording more than 17 orders a second. The company reported total sales of more than $6 billion in 2020 — a 74% jump on the year before as the pandemic transformed Russia’s e-commerce industry, which for years had struggled to replicate rapid growth seen around the world.

The company is also aiming to launch in other western markets, where it will come into closer competition with Amazon, which is a non-player in the Russian e-commerce scene.

“In the near future, Wildberries is also planning to enter the markets of France, Italy and Spain.” Vyacheslav Ivashchenko, Wildberries’ Director of Development said.

Russia’s online retail sector remains highly fragmented, with Wildberries’ market share standing at under 15%. Specializing in clothes and footwear, Wildberries also faces stiff competition from well-funded competitors backed by Russia’s largest banks, technology companies and traditional retailers.

Rival Ozon — which claims second place — netted more than $1 billion in funding in a hugely successful initial public offering (IPO) on the U.S. Nasdaq Exchange at the end of last year.

Ozon’s $7 billion valuation prompted Forbes to reassess its value of privately-held Wildberries, suggesting founder Tatyana Bakalchuk could be Russia’s richest woman, with a personal fortune worth more than $10 billion. 

Bakalchuk’s rags-to-riches tale of travelling around Moscow using public transport to make deliveries in the firm’s early years has been heralded as an inspirational success story. But the company’s rapid growth has also raised questions as to possible secret sources of investment or high-level government support, business site The Bell reported last year.  

Wildberries was founded in 2004 and first started selling outside ex-Soviet countries in 2019, when it expanded into Slovakia, Poland and Israel.

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Top North Queensland Cowboys administrator Peter Parr linked to Canterbury Bulldogs move


He has in recent years become a key member of Brad Fittler’s NSW Origin team, and any potential move to Sydney would only work favourably if it allowed him to continue both roles.

Hill was dumped on Monday night by chairman John Khoury and several other board members, despite guiding the club through a torrid few years that featured three different boards, two sacked coaches and a string of high-profile players offloaded to help ease the club’s salary-cap pressure.

Peter Parr has been a part of Brad Fittler’s NSW Origin team.Credit:Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Khoury has refused to give a reason for sacking Hill and referred the Herald’s requests for comment to the club’s press release that claimed Hill resigned.

Hill had only hours earlier announced the signing of gun fullback Corey Allan before he was given the tap.

Bulldogs great George Peponis was certainly unimpressed with the Hill dumping and told the Herald earlier this week: “I think he inherited a very difficult situation, he got them through it the past few years, and now when things look like they’ll improve they give him the arse. It’s disappointing.’’

A couple of early candidates for the CEO role is Aaron Warburton, who worked as the club’s head of commercial a few years ago, and Anthony Elias, who has already put his name forward for the job on several previous occasions.

Parr’s experience, media contacts and football knowledge would allow the new CEO to solely focus on the commercial side of things, not to mention shield a coach like Barrett from any boardroom in-fighting.

Meanwhile, Queensland Rugby League boss Bruce Hatcher has confirmed Wayne Bennett will not return as Maroons coach in 2021.

Hatcher said the next appointment would be for the 2021 series only, which would likely featured an experienced coach – the early favourite is Paul Green – with the likes of Maroons favourites including Billy Slater learning the ropes with an eye to a permanent role in the future.

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Top US military leaders condemn Capitol siege in rare joint message | US News


America’s top military leaders have taken the unprecedented step of condemning last week’s violent US Capitol siege and reminding US troops their job is to serve and protect the constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

The joint statement comes amid investigations into former and current military service members and law enforcement officers who are suspected of having participated in the protest and the ensuing riot by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, a vote in the House of Representatives spearheaded by the Democrats to impeach Mr Trump will take place on Wednesday, with several members of the Republican party saying they will back a charge of “incitement of insurrection”.

“The violent riot in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the US Congress, the Capitol building, and our constitutional process,” said the statement, signed by the eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including the country’s most senior general, Mark Milley.

Image:
General Mark Milley is among the military leaders that have signed the joint statement

“We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.

“Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law.”

“Stay ready, keep your eyes on the horizon, and remain focused on the mission,” the statement from the top military brass added.

Last Wednesday’s uprising, which took place as politicians were counting Electoral College votes to confirm Joe Biden’s election victory, ended in the deaths of five people.

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How the Capitol came under attack – from its own people

Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by Capitol police as she and other protesters stormed the Capitol building to disrupt the proceedings.

The US Army is working with the FBI to investigate if any rioters were current service members, and with the Secret Service to see if any of the nearly 10,000 National Guard troops securing Mr Biden’s inauguration on 20 January would need additional screening.

It is also investigating 30-year-old Captain Emily Rainey, a psychological operations officer, who led 100 Trump supporters from North Carolina to the rally in Washington to “stand against election fraud” and told the Associated Press: “I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights.”

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Republicans turn on Trump over impeachment

The FBI arrested Larry Rendell Brock, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel in Texas on Sunday, after he breached the Senate chamber wearing tactical gear and carrying zip-tie handcuffs known as flex cuffs.

There are calls for Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state legislator, to resign after he and his wife attended Wednesday’s event.

He has said he did not enter the Capitol or go beyond police lines, adding that he did not support the violence: “When it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest, my wife and I left the area.”

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FBI says hundreds will be charged over riots

The Department of Justice is reportedly investigating 25 members of the service, though it is unclear whether they are retired or active in the military ranks.

While a number of Mr Trump’s cabinet including acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller have condemned the storming, General Milley has remained silent until now.

US officials said he had not commented on the events because he wanted to stay out of politics.

His actions are in sharp contrast to June, when he joined Mr Trump on his controversial walk from the White House to a church where the president staged a photo op holding a Bible after police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of Black Lives Matter protesters.

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Airbus keeps top spot in coronavirus-blighted jet market



FILE PHOTO: The nose of an Airbus A380 is seen outside the factory of Stelia Aerospace, a subsidiary of Airbus, in Meaulte, France, July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

January 8, 2021

By Tim Hepher and Pawel Goraj

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s Airbus posted stronger-than-expected deliveries of 566 jets in 2020, remaining the world’s largest planemaker as a year of pandemic-induced upheaval for air travel coincided with a grounding crisis at U.S. rival Boeing.

Deliveries fell by 34% from a record posted a year earlier, when travel demand was riding high on the increasing mobility of consumers in fast-growing markets across Asia.

Now, the aerospace industry is wrestling with the reluctance of most airlines to take delivery of jets as they struggle to save cash, and a drop in air traffic that Airbus says could take until 2023 or 2025 to regain the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Still, Airbus said it had delivered 566 aircraft in 2020, exceeding estimates earlier in the year when the coronavirus crisis led to a lockdown of major travel markets.

“We can be cautiously optimistic for 2021…but challenges and uncertainties remain high,” Chief Executive Guillaume Faury told reporters.

The announcement confirmed a Reuters report on Tuesday that Airbus had delivered more than 560 jets in 2020.

Airbus declined to give 2021 deliver forecasts ahead of full-year earnings due on Feb. 18.

Airbus sold a net total of 268 aircraft last year after adjusting for cancellations, down from 768 in 2019.

Hampered by the grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX, Boeing delivered 118 jets between January and November and had a negative total of 454 net orders before accounting adjustments, giving Airbus an unassailable lead.

Deliveries of the MAX, grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes, resumed last month.

Airbus deliveries rose sharply in the second half of the year compared with the first months of the crisis as Airbus made a push for delivery agreements with many airlines, in some cases allowing for temporary storage, according to industry sources.

But Airbus said virtually all new planes had entered service, even though many were not being flown as intensively as they would have been before coronavirus upended growth plans.

CANCELLATIONS

Faury reaffirmed plans to raise output by 18% in the second half of the year while noting volatility over forecasts, with rising infections offset by accelerating vaccine rollouts.

Cancellations included 10 A350 wide-body jets worth $3.2 billion at list prices from AirAsia X. Airbus said it had taken the decision to cancel the deal, but questions remain over 108 other orders from the troubled Malaysian budget carrier.

Planemakers have used the crisis to remove or reclassify some orders – left over from a decade-old speculative order boom – that were seen as unlikely to result in actual deliveries.

Airbus has told a Malaysian court it stands to lose more than $5 billion worth of orders as it challenges AirAsia X’s debt-restructuring plans.

In total Airbus lost orders for 26 wide-body jets, reflecting a slump in intercontinental travel that is expected to be the slowest segment to recover.

They were, however, dwarfed by cancellations to be reported by Boeing next week after airlines and leasing companies cancelled hundreds of orders for the MAX during the grounding.

With the industry’s main showcase, the Paris Airshow, cancelled in 2021, Airbus cautioned it did not expect a return towards big-ticket jet orders while travel remained depressed.

“It will be a while before we are back on an even keel,” Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Pawel Goraj; Editing by Louise Heavens, David Evans and Alex Richardson)



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