UK Nerve Agent Survivor Fears Poison Will Soon Kill Him

A British man who was exposed to the deadly nerve agent Novichok said he is struggling with his eyesight and mobility, and fears the poison will kill him within a decade.

Charlie Rowley, 45, fell ill in June near Salisbury, England, after coming into contact with the Soviet-developed nerve agent that was used months earlier to attack former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Rowley, Skripal and his daughter survived, but Rowley’s partner Dawn Sturgess, who was also exposed, died in the hospital.

Rowley told the Sunday Mirror newspaper that he was back in the hospital being treated for meningitis. He said he was going blind and unable to use one arm, and said he was “terrified about the future” and what long-term effects the military grade poison would have on him.

“I’m still worried the Novichok could kill me if I get any sort of virus again — it’s on my mind all the time. I’m dreading getting a cold,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be alive in 10 years. It’s been horrendous.”

Britain accuses Russia of carrying out the poisoning of the Skripals, a claim Moscow denies.

Rowley and Sturgess collapsed after they handled a small bottle containing the nerve agent, believed to have been discarded by the Skripals’ attackers.

Britain charged two alleged Russian military intelligence agents in absentia for the attack. The pair denied their involvement on Russian television.

The Skripals’ poisoning ignited a diplomatic confrontation in which hundreds of envoys were expelled by both Russia and Western nations.

 

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UK Nerve Agent Survivor Fears Poison Will Soon Kill Him

A British man who was exposed to the deadly nerve agent Novichok said he is struggling with his eyesight and mobility, and fears the poison will kill him within a decade.

Charlie Rowley, 45, fell ill in June near Salisbury, England, after coming into contact with the Soviet-developed nerve agent that was used months earlier to attack former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Rowley, Skripal and his daughter survived, but Rowley’s partner Dawn Sturgess, who was also exposed, died in the hospital.

Rowley told the Sunday Mirror newspaper that he was back in the hospital being treated for meningitis. He said he was going blind and unable to use one arm, and said he was “terrified about the future” and what long-term effects the military grade poison would have on him.

“I’m still worried the Novichok could kill me if I get any sort of virus again — it’s on my mind all the time. I’m dreading getting a cold,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be alive in 10 years. It’s been horrendous.”

Britain accuses Russia of carrying out the poisoning of the Skripals, a claim Moscow denies.

Rowley and Sturgess collapsed after they handled a small bottle containing the nerve agent, believed to have been discarded by the Skripals’ attackers.

Britain charged two alleged Russian military intelligence agents in absentia for the attack. The pair denied their involvement on Russian television.

The Skripals’ poisoning ignited a diplomatic confrontation in which hundreds of envoys were expelled by both Russia and Western nations.

 

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France’s Macron to Address Nation in Wake of Violent Protests

French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on Monday in response to massive, often violent rallies staged by “yellow-vest” protesters across the country for the past four weekends.

Before the speech Monday evening, Macron plans to meet with union officials, local lawmakers and business leaders for talks on formulating a response to the protests that have rocked the country during the holiday season.

Workers across France Sunday cleaned up the debris from protesters who threw rocks, burned cars and vandalized businesses through the weekend.

Earlier Sunday, France’s foreign minister urged U.S. President Donald Trump not to interfere in French politics, following Trump’s tweets on weeks of protests in Paris in which he said:

“Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes? The U.S. was way ahead of the curve on that and the only major country where emissions went down last year! ”

An earlier tweet from Trump insinuated that protesters in Paris sided with his decision to leave the Paris agreement — a landmark 2015 agreement between over one hundred countries to combat climate change.

“The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting “We Want Trump!” Love France.” he wrote.

Nearly 2,000 people were arrested Saturday across France in the latest round of “yellow-vest” protests.

Nationwide, the interior ministry says some 136,000 people rallied against France’s high-cost of living. Protesters also expressed their dismay with the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

Protests were held in a number of cities besides Paris, including Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse.

On Saturday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said violent outbreaks in Paris were “under control” despite ongoing disorderly acts he declared “totally unacceptable.”

France closed the Eiffel Tower and other tourist landmarks and mobilized tens of thousands of security forces for the fourth week of violent demonstrations.

Many shops in Paris were boarded up before Saturday’s protests to avoid being smashed or looted, and police cordoned off many of the city’s broad boulevards.

President Macron made an unannounced visit Friday night to a group of anti-riot security officers outside Paris to thank them for their work.

The protests erupted in November over a fuel tax increase, which was part of Macron’s plan to combat global warming.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for new talks Saturday with representatives of the “yellow vest” movement. He vowed the government would address their concerns over rising living costs.

“The president will speak, and will propose measures that will feed this dialogue,” Philippe said in a televised statement.

Since the unrest began in November, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents.

 

While Macron has since abandoned the fuel tax hike, protesters have made new demands to address other economic issues hurting workers, retirees and students.

Government officials are concerned the repeated weekly violence could weaken the economy and raise doubts about the government’s survival.

The “yellow vest” movement was named after the safety jackets French motorists are required to keep in their vehicles, which the protesters wear at demonstrations.

The weeks of protests have exposed intense resentment among non-city residents who feel that Macron, a former investment banker, is out of touch with struggling middle-class and blue-collar workers.

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France’s Macron to Address Nation in Wake of Violent Protests

French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on Monday in response to massive, often violent rallies staged by “yellow-vest” protesters across the country for the past four weekends.

Before the speech Monday evening, Macron plans to meet with union officials, local lawmakers and business leaders for talks on formulating a response to the protests that have rocked the country during the holiday season.

Workers across France Sunday cleaned up the debris from protesters who threw rocks, burned cars and vandalized businesses through the weekend.

Earlier Sunday, France’s foreign minister urged U.S. President Donald Trump not to interfere in French politics, following Trump’s tweets on weeks of protests in Paris in which he said:

“Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes? The U.S. was way ahead of the curve on that and the only major country where emissions went down last year! ”

An earlier tweet from Trump insinuated that protesters in Paris sided with his decision to leave the Paris agreement — a landmark 2015 agreement between over one hundred countries to combat climate change.

“The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting “We Want Trump!” Love France.” he wrote.

Nearly 2,000 people were arrested Saturday across France in the latest round of “yellow-vest” protests.

Nationwide, the interior ministry says some 136,000 people rallied against France’s high-cost of living. Protesters also expressed their dismay with the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

Protests were held in a number of cities besides Paris, including Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse.

On Saturday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said violent outbreaks in Paris were “under control” despite ongoing disorderly acts he declared “totally unacceptable.”

France closed the Eiffel Tower and other tourist landmarks and mobilized tens of thousands of security forces for the fourth week of violent demonstrations.

Many shops in Paris were boarded up before Saturday’s protests to avoid being smashed or looted, and police cordoned off many of the city’s broad boulevards.

President Macron made an unannounced visit Friday night to a group of anti-riot security officers outside Paris to thank them for their work.

The protests erupted in November over a fuel tax increase, which was part of Macron’s plan to combat global warming.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for new talks Saturday with representatives of the “yellow vest” movement. He vowed the government would address their concerns over rising living costs.

“The president will speak, and will propose measures that will feed this dialogue,” Philippe said in a televised statement.

Since the unrest began in November, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents.

 

While Macron has since abandoned the fuel tax hike, protesters have made new demands to address other economic issues hurting workers, retirees and students.

Government officials are concerned the repeated weekly violence could weaken the economy and raise doubts about the government’s survival.

The “yellow vest” movement was named after the safety jackets French motorists are required to keep in their vehicles, which the protesters wear at demonstrations.

The weeks of protests have exposed intense resentment among non-city residents who feel that Macron, a former investment banker, is out of touch with struggling middle-class and blue-collar workers.

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UK’s May: ‘Uncharted Waters’ If Lawmakers Reject Brexit Deal

With a crucial parliamentary vote on Brexit looming, British Prime Minister Theresa May warned lawmakers Sunday that they could take Britain into “uncharted waters” and trigger a general election if they reject the divorce deal she struck with the European Union.

May is fighting to save her unpopular Brexit plan and her job ahead of a showdown in Parliament on Tuesday, when lawmakers are widely expected to vote down the deal she negotiated with Brussels. Her Downing Street office insisted that the vote will go ahead despite speculation that the government may be forced to delay it.

A defeat in the vote could see Britain crashing out of the EU on March 29, the date for Britain’s exit, with no deal in place – an outcome that could spell economic chaos.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, May said rejecting her deal would “mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit or leaving the European Union with no deal.”

“When I say if this deal does not pass we would truly be in uncharted waters, I hope people understand this is what I genuinely believe and fear could happen,” she said.

May’s government does not have a majority in the House of Commons, and opposition parties – as well as many of May’s own Conservatives – have already said they will not back the divorce deal that May and EU leaders agreed on last month.

Pro-Brexit lawmakers say the deal keeps Britain bound too closely to the EU, while pro-EU politicians say it erects barriers between the U.K. and its biggest trading partner and leaves many details of the future relationship undecided.

The main sticking point is a “backstop” provision in the Brexit agreement that aims to guarantee an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

The temporary measure would keep Britain under EU customs rules, and is supposed to last until superseded by permanent new trade arrangements. But critics say it could leave Britain tied to the EU indefinitely, unable to strike new trade deals around the world.

Boris Johnson, May’s former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer, argued Sunday that the Irish border issue should be postponed so it forms part of the talks on a future trade deal.

It’s unclear what would happen next if lawmakers vote down the deal.

May could return to Brussels seeking changes to the Brexit deal and bring it back to Parliament for another vote. But EU leaders have insisted the divorce agreement is final and not renegotiable.

However, while the 585-page withdrawal deal is set, the declaration on future relations between the EU and Britain is shorter and vaguer and may be open to amendment.

Meanwhile, pro-Brexit Conservative rebels who have long wanted to oust May can trigger a no-confidence vote if they amass enough support.

The Labour Party may also attempt to force a general election or seek to form a minority government.

“What we would urge (May) to do is either call a general election – because she wouldn’t have the confidence of Parliament to carry on as prime minister,” Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s business spokeswoman, told the BBC. “But alternatively, she could offer to renegotiate around a deal that would provide consensus in Parliament.”

Some have also floated the idea of a second referendum on the question of Britain’s EU membership but the government is firmly opposed to that.

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UK’s May: ‘Uncharted Waters’ If Lawmakers Reject Brexit Deal

With a crucial parliamentary vote on Brexit looming, British Prime Minister Theresa May warned lawmakers Sunday that they could take Britain into “uncharted waters” and trigger a general election if they reject the divorce deal she struck with the European Union.

May is fighting to save her unpopular Brexit plan and her job ahead of a showdown in Parliament on Tuesday, when lawmakers are widely expected to vote down the deal she negotiated with Brussels. Her Downing Street office insisted that the vote will go ahead despite speculation that the government may be forced to delay it.

A defeat in the vote could see Britain crashing out of the EU on March 29, the date for Britain’s exit, with no deal in place – an outcome that could spell economic chaos.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, May said rejecting her deal would “mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit or leaving the European Union with no deal.”

“When I say if this deal does not pass we would truly be in uncharted waters, I hope people understand this is what I genuinely believe and fear could happen,” she said.

May’s government does not have a majority in the House of Commons, and opposition parties – as well as many of May’s own Conservatives – have already said they will not back the divorce deal that May and EU leaders agreed on last month.

Pro-Brexit lawmakers say the deal keeps Britain bound too closely to the EU, while pro-EU politicians say it erects barriers between the U.K. and its biggest trading partner and leaves many details of the future relationship undecided.

The main sticking point is a “backstop” provision in the Brexit agreement that aims to guarantee an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

The temporary measure would keep Britain under EU customs rules, and is supposed to last until superseded by permanent new trade arrangements. But critics say it could leave Britain tied to the EU indefinitely, unable to strike new trade deals around the world.

Boris Johnson, May’s former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer, argued Sunday that the Irish border issue should be postponed so it forms part of the talks on a future trade deal.

It’s unclear what would happen next if lawmakers vote down the deal.

May could return to Brussels seeking changes to the Brexit deal and bring it back to Parliament for another vote. But EU leaders have insisted the divorce agreement is final and not renegotiable.

However, while the 585-page withdrawal deal is set, the declaration on future relations between the EU and Britain is shorter and vaguer and may be open to amendment.

Meanwhile, pro-Brexit Conservative rebels who have long wanted to oust May can trigger a no-confidence vote if they amass enough support.

The Labour Party may also attempt to force a general election or seek to form a minority government.

“What we would urge (May) to do is either call a general election – because she wouldn’t have the confidence of Parliament to carry on as prime minister,” Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s business spokeswoman, told the BBC. “But alternatively, she could offer to renegotiate around a deal that would provide consensus in Parliament.”

Some have also floated the idea of a second referendum on the question of Britain’s EU membership but the government is firmly opposed to that.

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Transgender Boxer Wins First Professional Fight

A 33-year-old boxer entered the history books Saturday.

Pat Manuel is the first transgender male to fight professionally in the United States.

In a unanimous decision, Manuel was declared the winner in a fight against Mexican super-featherweight Hugo Aguilar in Indio, California.

“I’m a professional boxer now,” Manuel told the Los Angeles Times.

Saturday was not Manuel’s first foray into the boxing ring, however.

Olympic trials

He competed as a female in the 2012 Olympic trials for the London Games. A shoulder injury after just one fight dashed his Olympic dreams of competing in the first Olympic boxing tournament for women.

The end of one dream allowed him to pursue another dream he had held even longer — transitioning from a female to a male.

After months of hormone replacements and surgery, Manuel was ready to enter the ring again, but this time as a male.

California boxing authorities were not sure about issuing Manuel a boxing license. That all changed, however, when the International Olympic Committee ruled before the 2016 Rio Games that female-to-male transgender athletes could compete “without restriction.”

California license

California issued Manuel a license.

Aguilar, Manuel’s opponent Saturday, learned only two days before the fight about Manuel’s transition.

“It doesn’t change anything for me,” Aguilar said. “In the ring, he wants to win and I want to win, too.”

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Clashes, Hundreds Detained in France in Latest ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests

In France, police clashed with protesters, as tens of thousands of ‘yellow vest’ demonstrators took to the streets Saturday for the fourth consecutive weekend. French authorities deployed nearly 90,000 police across the country, detained hundreds of people, and closed major landmarks and museums as a precaution. Anti-government yellow vest rallies also took place in nearby Belgium and the Netherlands. For VOA, Lisa Bryant has more on the action from Paris.

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IOC Eases Off Support for Electronic Gaming as Olympic Event 

The International Olympic Committee has slowed its support for recognizing electronic gaming as a sport. 

 

After an Olympic leaders’ meeting on Saturday, the IOC said “discussion about the inclusion of esports/egames as a medal event on the Olympic program is premature.” 

 

Enthusiasm has seemed to dim since the IOC hosted a July conference with esports organizers and players. 

 

Sports bodies are now advised to “continue to engage with this [gaming] community, whilst at the same time acknowledging that uncertainties remain.” 

 

The IOC rules out cooperation with violent games, and suggests virtual and augmented reality could become more popular with young people. 

 

“Commercially driven” gaming was also compared unfavorably with “values-based” sports. 

 

The IOC said governing bodies would continue meeting gaming industry officials “to explore jointly collaborative projects.”  

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