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Top-4 finish for Spurs will be incredible, Mourinho says



 Jose Mourinho says it will be “incredible” if his Tottenham Hotspur side finish in the top four of the 2019/2020 English Premier League (EPL), claiming it will rival his greatest achievements.

Tottenham were languishing in 14th place, 12 points behind third-placed Chelsea and 11 off the top four, when Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino in November.

On Saturday they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge knowing a win will take them above Mourinho’s old club into the top four.

Mourinho once claimed that achieving runners-up with Manchester United, 19 points behind Manchester City, in 2017/2018 was one of the best achievements in his trophy-laden managerial career.

However, he now says a top-four finish with Spurs will surpass it, especially as he is likely to be without leading strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for the run-in.

“Stats are very silly sometimes, especially when people try to identify the quantitative stats and forget football is much more about the qualitative stats.

“But if you want to go in the direction of the numbers, Harry and Sonny score the majority of goals that Tottenham score.

“So, yes, not for me, or my achievement, but collectively, this group of boys, if they manage to finish in fourth without Harry and Sonny, it will be incredible,” Mourinho told reporters at the club’s training ground on Friday.

Based on a Premier League form table since Mourinho took over, only Liverpool and Manchester City have collected more points than Tottenham in the last 14 games.

In that period Tottenham have taken 11 points more than Chelsea.

“If it was about me I would prefer to skip to July 1 and start a pre-season with my players, without injuries and the same points as everybody else.

“But the boys have done fantastic to put themselves back in the positions where we belong.

“We have gone in three months from being closer to the relegation zone, which was never really a problem, to being one point behind the top four. An amazing effort from everyone.

“We have earned the right to fight for it. Some say it’s impossible but we are ready to fight,” Mourinho said.

In spite of Chelsea’s slump in form, Mourinho said Frank Lampard’s team are favourites to finish fourth.

He added that his return to Stamford Bridge, where he delivered three Premier League titles in two stints as manager, is nothing special.

“The only difference is that at the end of the game I can walk from the stadium to my house.

“But even that advantage I won’t use. I will come back with my players,” the Portuguese said

Mourinho said Erik Lamela, who came on in the 1-0 defeat by RB Leipzig on Wednesday, will play some part at Chelsea in spite of not being able to train fully.

He also added that midfield powerhouse Moussa Sissoko may return for the last six weeks of the season.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)


‘Chernobyl’ tops TV award list as BAFTA lines up live show



The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will celebrate the best of television broadcast in the United Kingdom during 2019 in a live show at the end of July, though with stars and studio audience absent.

Chernobyl’, HBO’s critically acclaimed dramatisation of events surrounding the world’s worst nuclear accident, tops the roll-call of nominations announced on Thursday, with 14.

“We’ve had over 500 entries this year… (so) it was really fiercely contested,” BAFTA Chair Krishnendu Majumdar told Reuters TV.

Nominations fall into two categories, television and television craft, with winners of the former to be announced at the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards ceremony on July 31.

As things stand with the coronavirus pandemic, nominees are expected to film their speeches rather than appear in person, and there are no plans for a big audience.

There will, however, be a live element to the BBC show, which actor and filmmaker Richard Ayoade will present.

“All those details are being worked out at the moment because the social distancing rules are changing.

“What we can say at the moment is that there will be a show in a studio and we are working out the participants,” Majumdar said.

‘Chernobyl’ nominations include leading actor for Jared Harris, supporting actor for Stellan Skarsgard and mini-series.

The Crown’, the warts-and-all account of the reign of Queen Elizabeth that aired its third season last year, has seven nominations, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s black comedy ‘Fleabag’ and Anglo-Japanese thriller ‘Giri/Haji’ on six each.

The British Academy Television Craft Awards will be announced online on July 17.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

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Kudirat Abiola: Okei-Odumakin, Abiola-Costello urge FG to stop wanton killings



The Women Arise for Change Initiative (WA) and the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) on Thursday called on the Federal Government to do more to end killing of innocent citizens.

The groups made the call in a statement jointly signed in Lagos by WA Founder, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, and KIND Founder, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the death of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

Kudirat, Wife of the late Chief  MKO Abiola, the widely acclaimed winner of the  June 12, 1993,  Presidential Election, was killed in Lagos on June 4, 1996, by gunmen.

“As we remember Kudirat today despite the coronavirus pandemic that has made impossible physical gathering like we used to do in her honour, we must remain steadfast on the principles she died for.

“We demand an end to wanton killings in the land,” the groups said in the statement.

They also called for intensified efforts for freedom for  Leah Sharibu and all others in the captivity of terrorists.

“We say to these heroes and heroines of the struggle for a better society: Thank you for your sacrifice.

“To those of you who  paid with your lives, you did not die in vain; you died for our collective struggle, and we will always remember what you stood for.

To Kudirat, whose date and fond memories vile dictators and their repressive measures could not obliterate, to Kudirat whose contributions and sacrifices no pandemic can override or overrule, we say: Continue to sleep well in the bosom of your maker.”

Edited By: Joe Idika (NAN)Ijeoma Popoola


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Senegal’s COVID-19 cases top 4,000 as more restrictive measures eased




Senegalese Ministry of Health and Social Action announced 89 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 4,021 in the country.

Out of 1,348 tests carried out in the past 24 hours, 89 returned positive, including 74 follow-up contact cases and 15 community transmission cases, Senegalese health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said at the daily briefing.

Sarr said a total of 99 patients tested negative, thus declared cured, raising the total number of recoveries to 2,162 since the outbreak of the pandemic on March 2 in the country.

The number of patients under intensive care dropped to 16, while the number of deaths stayed at 45.

Among the confirmed cases, there are 3,528 follow-up contact cases, 402 community transmission cases and 91 imported ones.

According to Senegalese health minister, the strategy adopted by Senegal has allowed the country to control the epidemic.

Senegal has carried out a total of 49,090 tests since the outbreak of the pandemic. The positivity rate is 7.36 percent and the mortality rate is 1.12 percent, he announced.

“We are seeing a downward trend in the confirmed case curve. However, this situation should not constitute a reason for slackening, but rather engage us in an adaptation of our response strategies, in particular in the region of Dakar,” the minister stressed.

He revealed the new strategy which includes greater rigor in respecting barrier measures, in particular the obligation to wear a mask, regular hand washing as well as social distancing.

Also during the daily briefing, Senegalese Interior minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye announced the easing of curfew, which will be further shortened to between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m..

He also announced that gyms are now allowed to open, as well as private meetings, under the condition that people respect barrier measures, especially mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing. However, bars, night clubs and beaches would remain closed.

Speaking of the demonstrations against state of emergency and curfew in the past 48 hours across the country, during which more than 200 were arrested, he called on the public to respect the measures taken by the government.

As for the inter-regional transportation, the minister said they would be allowed to resume from Sunday.

Meanwhile, the ministry of Tourism and Air Transport announced the gradual resumption of domestic flights from June 15, while the resumption of international flights would be evaluated around the end of June.

Although the government decided to ease more restrictive measures, Senegal is still under state of emergency with its air borders closed until at least June 30.


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Mexico reports 1,092 new COVID-19 deaths, total infections top 100,000




Mexican health authorities reported on Wednesday that the death toll from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached 11,729, with 1,092 new fatalities registered in the last 24 hours.

Over the past 24 hours, Mexico also reported 3,912 new infections, bringing the total confirmed cases to 101,238.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said that Mexico is currently in the peak phase of the spread of the virus, and it was necessary to take appropriate precautions.

This week, the Latin America‘s second-largest economy entered the second stage of the “new normal,” which consists of gradually reopening certain sectors considered “essential” to revive the country’s economy, such as mining, construction and transportation.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which claimed the epicenter of the pandemic is now in America, called on governments to “think twice” before lifting social distancing measures, as reopening too early could cause the disease to rebound.

The international organization suggested that Mexico carry out tests for all suspected cases of COVID-19.

“Mexico is making that effort and we hope that in the next few days, it will have much more capacity to do so,” said PAHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa.


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S. Korea urges civic groups to stop distributing anti-DPRK leaflets in border area




South Korea‘s unification ministry urged local civic groups on Thursday to stop distributing leaflets criticizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) near the inter-Korean border area as it threatens the lives and property of people living near the border.

Unification Ministry spokesman Yoh Sang-key told a press briefing that the government has taken measures to stop the scattering of anti-DPRK leaflets that had led to an escalated tension in border areas.

Yoh said most of the floated leaflets were found in the South Korean territory, noting that the fallen leaflets caused environmental pollution in border area and imposed a burden on people living near the area who had to collect the wastes.

He noted that such acts endangering the lives and property of people residing near the border should be stopped, saying the government has reviewed the revision of relevant law to fundamentally stop the acts that escalate tensions in border area.

The remarks came after the DPRK lambasted the scattering of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by a South Korean civic group composed mostly of defectors from the DPRK.

Under the Panmunjom Declaration, the leaders of South Korea and the DPRK agreed to stop all hostile acts in areas near the military demarcation line (MDL), including the distribution of anti-DPRK leaflets.

The declaration was signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un after their first summit in the border village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018.


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French gov’t launches contact-tracing smartphone app “StopCOVID”




Photo taken on June 3, 2020 shows the contact-tracing smartphone app “StopCOVID” on a mobile phone in Paris, France. French government launched on June 2 “StopCOVID,” a contact-tracing smartphone app that could warn people voluntarily using it if they come into contact with a COVID-19 carrier. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

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France’s COVID-19 deaths top 29,000




France on Wednesday reported 81 new COVID-19 deaths, a slower increase over the 107 fatalities registered a day earlier, bringing the country’s toll from the coronavirus-caused disease to 29,021 since March 1.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that more than a third of the fatalities (10,350) occurred in retirement homes.

Figures released by the ministry showed that the number of patients hospitalized or admitted to intensive care units continued to decline.

Currently 13,514 people are hospitalized, 514 less than on Tuesday. The number of patients in intensive care decreased by 43 to 1,210, it added.

A total of 151,677 people have tested positive for the coronavirus to date, including 352 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours. The number of patients who have recovered stood at 69,455, a single-day increase of 668.

France entered the second phase of easing the lockdown on Tuesday, allowing people to sip their drinks in cafes and bars, as well as enjoy meals in restaurants which were closed for nearly three months to stem the epidemic spread.

Museums, parks and beaches are able to receive visitors. Swimming pools, gyms, amusement parks and theaters in so-called “green” zones also reopened.


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China urges Britain to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs




A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Wednesday urged Britain to stop meddling in affairs of Hong Kong which is a special administrative region of China.

Britain should recognize and respect the fact that Hong Kong has returned to China, and should not use the Sino-British Joint Declaration as an excuse to make irresponsible remarks, spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing.

Zhao made the comments in response to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab‘s remarks that the “authoritarian” national security legislation in Hong Kong was in breach of the “one country, two systems” and “this is a moment for China to step back from the brink” and respect Hong Kong‘s autonomy and its own international obligations.

Britain’s historical link with Hong Kong arises from the period of invasion, colonialism and unequal treaties. Authoritarian is “precisely the word to describe its colonial rule in Hong Kong,” Zhao said, adding that it is after the return of Hong Kong that the residents came to enjoy unprecedented rights and freedoms.

“To quote its own words, we urge the UK to ‘step back’, reject the Cold-War mindset and the colonial mentality, recognize and respect the fact that Hong Kong has already returned to China as a special administrative region,” he said.

The National People’s Congress‘s decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to safeguard national security is part of China‘s internal affairs that allows no external interference, Zhao said.

National security is the very foundation for the existence and development of all countries, and the core and fundamental element of national sovereignty, he added.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration is all about China‘s resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The basic policies regarding Hong Kong declared by China in the Joint Declaration are China‘s statement of policies, not commitment to Britain or an international obligation as some claim, he said.

As China resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, the Chinese government administers the SAR in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Meanwhile, all rights and obligations of the British side under the Joint Declaration were completed.

“You cannot find a single word or article in the Joint Declaration that confers on the UK any Hong Kong-related responsibility after the handover,” Zhao said.

The UK has no sovereignty, no jurisdiction and no right to supervise Hong Kong. As such, on no ground can it cite the Joint Declaration to arbitrarily comment on Hong Kong affairs or interfere in China‘s domestic affairs,” he said.

The national security legislation for Hong Kong is an essential step to safeguard national sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and the foundation of “one country, two systems.” Only when national security is ensured can “one country, two systems” and Hong Kong‘s stability and prosperity be guaranteed.

Zhao said this legislation only targets a very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardize national security and has no impact whatsoever on Hong Kong‘s high degree of autonomy, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents or the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong.

“What threatens Hong Kong‘s stability and prosperity is precisely some external forces colluding with local anti-China rioters in conducting activities in the SAR that jeopardize China‘s national security,” he said.

He said China deplores and opposes the unwarranted comments and accusations by the British side, and has lodged stern representations with Britain.

“It should abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China‘s domestic affairs,” Zhao said. “Otherwise, there will be consequences.”


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Chile’s COVID-19 cases top 108,000, with 1,188 deaths




Chile on Tuesday said a total of 108,686 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the COVID-19 outbreak began, and 1,188 people have died from the disease.

A record 3,527 new cases of infection were detected in the past day, the highest single-day tally yet since the outbreak began here three months ago, and 75 more patients died.

The vast majority of the new cases, 3,206, showed symptoms, while 321 were asymptomatic.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the government has modified its method of registering COVID-19 deaths to include those people who had yet to receive the results of their tests before they died.

Chile’s outbreak began slowly but has recently picked up pace, leading authorities to extend lockdown measures past their end of May deadline to June 5, especially in the capital Santiago and metropolitan area, home to 7 million people.


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