COVID breakthrough round-up: Oscar De La Hoya hospitalized, Lane Kiffin, Johnny Bench test positive

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Deadspin 04 September, 2021 - 10:13am 20 views

Who was Oscar De La Hoya going to fight?

De La Hoya, who has been retired for over a decade, was scheduled to make a comeback on Sept. 11 in a highly anticipated boxing match against UFC champion Vitor Belfort at the Staples Center. KTLAOscar De La Hoya announces he has COVID, won’t participate in upcoming fight

Formula 1 fans will mainly go to the coastal town by bicycle or public transport. Cars won't be able to enter Zandvoort, parking is only possible in parking lots in surrounding towns. Most of the visitors will drive to one of the 'Park & Bikes', from where they can cycle the last part to Zandvoort.

Most visitors who choose public transport will take the train. The NS expanded the timetable to Zandvoort station considerably, running 12 trains per hour, good for 10,000 passengers per hour. About 300 extra NS employees were deployed to help passengers quickly find their way to the circuit and to promote traffic flow. For visitors who come by bus, a special bus line 33 will run from Haarlem station to a stop at the boulevard of Bloemendaal aan Zee.

The flow of race fans going to Zandvoort by train was getting underway on Friday morning. According to a spokesperson for NS, things were looking well. "The timetable started well.

Twelve trains per hour started running to Zandvoort and back again at 7:30 a.m. "We see that it works well. All people are still fitting well in the trains. The waiting time is minimal," said the spokesperson. The NS expects it to get more crowded soon.

NS expects to bring an average of 23,000 people a day to Zandvoort, and an approximately equal number back later in the day. From the station it is about a ten to fifteen minute walk to the circuit.

Read full article at Deadspin

The inside story of the ISI-Taliban nexus

Fight Hub TV 04 September, 2021 - 08:10am

The Taliban’s dramatic sweep into Kabul raises two questions. What was the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and what do we know of the Taliban leadership? Let me share what I’ve been told by Rana Banerji, a former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). Few people know more than him.

The Taliban came into existence in 1994 at the White Mosque, 50 km from Kandahar. It comprised devout Muslims determined to check extortionist gangs operating on Afghanistan’s highways. Mullah Abdul Samad was the first emir. Mullah Omar, a Ghilzai Hotak, was a commander.

During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, Omar was a member of Yunis Khalis’s Hezb-i-Islami. A shrapnel injury left him blinded in one eye. Disgruntled by Mujahideen corruption, he retreated to religion. The Taliban was the next step.

When a Pakistan convoy was held up in Afghanistan, Major-General Naseerullah Babar, then interior minister, sought the Taliban’s help. It worked and, in gratitude, Pakistan gave its support and aid.

Initially, the Taliban was also supported by Afghanistan’s President Burhanuddin Rabbani. In his unceasing rivalry with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, it was a useful tool. But Pakistani help was more important.

Colonel Sultan Amir Tarar, a former special services group officer, later consul general in Herat, provided military training. The ISI provided funds. A cache of arms, reportedly hidden in tunnels near Kandahar, was handed over.

The Taliban captured Kabul in 1996. Now, their dependence on Pakistan grew exponentially. Banerji says Pakistani “officers, plainclothes assistants and bureaucrats” were the spine of the first Taliban government. “Not only in Kabul but in the provinces as well”. Five years later, when the Taliban was expelled, Pakistan opened its doors.

At Miran Shah, Peshawar and Quetta refugee camps and Shuras were set up. The Taliban took to drug smuggling and Pakistan looked the other way. When Iraq diverted American attention, the Taliban began returning and Pakistan provided assistance and protection. The Taliban’s children studied in Pakistani schools, its injured were treated in Pakistani hospitals.

America knew but didn’t react. Perhaps its dependence on the Karachi-Torkham supply route is the best explanation. Meanwhile, as Taliban control of the country expanded, so too did Pakistani munificence. Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, has described the 2021 capture of Kabul as a Pakistani invasion fronted by the Taliban. So when Mullah Baradar flew into Kandahar, ISI chief Faiz Hamid crossed the border to greet him. Together they prayed at the White Mosque.

Now, to the second question.

What do we know of the bearded turban-wearing men who comprise the Taliban leadership? The present emir is Hibatullah Akhundzada, a Noorzai from Panjwayee, a district in Kandahar.

In Taliban 1.0, he was head of the Qazi courts. When Mullah Mansoor, the third emir, was killed, Akhundzada was the compromise choice. But, importantly, he was acceptable to the ISI. Banerji says he’s a recluse. The BBC says there’s only one picture of him.

Mullah Baradar is a blue-blooded Popalzai. He’s one of the Taliban’s three deputy commanders but the principal interlocutor in the Doha talks. It’s said his wife and Mullah Omar’s wife are sisters. Baradar, which means brother in Farsi, is the name Omar gave him. He spent eight years in Pakistani jails for proposing to speak to Karzai. Has he forgiven and forgotten or does it rankle?

The other deputy commanders are Mullah Yaqoob, Omar’s son, who’s the youngest and has close links with field commanders, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose group has attacked the Indian embassy.

The Haqqanis are India’s chief concern. Banerji says their founder, Jalaluddin, a man with several wives and seven sons, once worked for the Americans. The Haqqanis only joined the Taliban after it first came to power. Though Jalaluddin served as a minister, it’s said Hamid Karzai tried but failed to lure him. Today, the group is particularly beloved of the ISI.

Banerji says they “intimidate” the Taliban. Sirajuddin, the present head, is in-charge of security in Kabul. Do the ISIS attacks suggest he slipped-up or is complicit?

The Taliban’s dramatic sweep into Kabul raises two questions. What was the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and what do we know of the Taliban leadership? Let me share what I’ve been told by Rana Banerji, a former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). Few people know more than him.

The Taliban came into existence in 1994 at the White Mosque, 50 km from Kandahar. It comprised devout Muslims determined to check extortionist gangs operating on Afghanistan’s highways. Mullah Abdul Samad was the first emir. Mullah Omar, a Ghilzai Hotak, was a commander.

During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, Omar was a member of Yunis Khalis’s Hezb-i-Islami. A shrapnel injury left him blinded in one eye. Disgruntled by Mujahideen corruption, he retreated to religion. The Taliban was the next step.

When a Pakistan convoy was held up in Afghanistan, Major-General Naseerullah Babar, then interior minister, sought the Taliban’s help. It worked and, in gratitude, Pakistan gave its support and aid.

Initially, the Taliban was also supported by Afghanistan’s President Burhanuddin Rabbani. In his unceasing rivalry with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, it was a useful tool. But Pakistani help was more important.

Colonel Sultan Amir Tarar, a former special services group officer, later consul general in Herat, provided military training. The ISI provided funds. A cache of arms, reportedly hidden in tunnels near Kandahar, was handed over.

The Taliban captured Kabul in 1996. Now, their dependence on Pakistan grew exponentially. Banerji says Pakistani “officers, plainclothes assistants and bureaucrats” were the spine of the first Taliban government. “Not only in Kabul but in the provinces as well”. Five years later, when the Taliban was expelled, Pakistan opened its doors.

At Miran Shah, Peshawar and Quetta refugee camps and Shuras were set up. The Taliban took to drug smuggling and Pakistan looked the other way. When Iraq diverted American attention, the Taliban began returning and Pakistan provided assistance and protection. The Taliban’s children studied in Pakistani schools, its injured were treated in Pakistani hospitals.

America knew but didn’t react. Perhaps its dependence on the Karachi-Torkham supply route is the best explanation. Meanwhile, as Taliban control of the country expanded, so too did Pakistani munificence. Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, has described the 2021 capture of Kabul as a Pakistani invasion fronted by the Taliban. So when Mullah Baradar flew into Kandahar, ISI chief Faiz Hamid crossed the border to greet him. Together they prayed at the White Mosque.

Now, to the second question.

What do we know of the bearded turban-wearing men who comprise the Taliban leadership? The present emir is Hibatullah Akhundzada, a Noorzai from Panjwayee, a district in Kandahar.

In Taliban 1.0, he was head of the Qazi courts. When Mullah Mansoor, the third emir, was killed, Akhundzada was the compromise choice. But, importantly, he was acceptable to the ISI. Banerji says he’s a recluse. The BBC says there’s only one picture of him.

Mullah Baradar is a blue-blooded Popalzai. He’s one of the Taliban’s three deputy commanders but the principal interlocutor in the Doha talks. It’s said his wife and Mullah Omar’s wife are sisters. Baradar, which means brother in Farsi, is the name Omar gave him. He spent eight years in Pakistani jails for proposing to speak to Karzai. Has he forgiven and forgotten or does it rankle?

The other deputy commanders are Mullah Yaqoob, Omar’s son, who’s the youngest and has close links with field commanders, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose group has attacked the Indian embassy.

The Haqqanis are India’s chief concern. Banerji says their founder, Jalaluddin, a man with several wives and seven sons, once worked for the Americans. The Haqqanis only joined the Taliban after it first came to power. Though Jalaluddin served as a minister, it’s said Hamid Karzai tried but failed to lure him. Today, the group is particularly beloved of the ISI.

Banerji says they “intimidate” the Taliban. Sirajuddin, the present head, is in-charge of security in Kabul. Do the ISIS attacks suggest he slipped-up or is complicit?

Grand Prix kicks off amid farmers' protest - DutchNews.nl

ESPN 03 September, 2021 - 04:50am

The circuit from the air. Photo Essay Produkties via Circuit Zandvoort

Fans poured into the Zandvoort racing circuit on Friday as the first Dutch Grand Prix in 37 years kicked off with free practice sessions.

Some 70,000 people are expected to come through the gates each day to see the three-day spectacle. Dutch rail has increased the number of trains between Amsterdam and Zandvoort to 12 an hour, to cope with the influx of racing fans.

‘I have been looking forward to this all year long,’ one fan told broadcaster NOS.

It has not been an easy ride for organisers of the race. Not only did racing fans have to wait 36 years for Formula 1 racing to return to the Netherlands, but the coronavirus also put a spoke in the wheel, postponing it by another year.

Environmental organisation Mobilisation for the Environment took the organisation to court for allegedly exceeding greenhouse gas emission norms but lost its legal bid to ban the event earlier this week.

Locals in Zandvoort have been decking out the streets in orange balloons  and Formula 1 flags referencing Max Verstappen’s Twitter call to ‘Unleash the lion!’

The confrontation between Verstappen and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will happen on Sunday, with Hamilton just three points ahead in his quest to retain his title.

While fans were waiting to see the first free practice session of the day, some 20 farmers on tractors lined the entrance road to the circuit demanding to speak to sponsor Jumbo boss Frits van Eerd about fair prices for their produce.

‘We are not here about carbon emissions and we think Formula 1 racing should continue. But we want a conversation about better prices,’ one farmer told NH Nieuws.

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