Archive Month: September 2021

A company in suburban Washington, D.C., is using cutting-edge technology to create lifelike video avatars to drop into music and training videos, games and other immersive environments. It’s an entry point to the so-called metaverse, as VOA’s Arzouma Kompaoré discovered while touring Avatar Dimension’s new studio.

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У НКРЕКП зазначили, що на необхідності продовжити заборону на засіданні Антикризового енергетичного штабу 27 вересня наголосили представники Кабінету міністрів та Міністерства енергетики

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Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao is officially hanging up his gloves.

The eight-division world champion and Philippine senator on Wednesday announced his retirement from the ring.

“I would like to thank the whole world, especially the Filipino people, for supporting Manny Pacquiao. Goodbye boxing,” the 42-year-old said in a video posted on his Facebook page. “It is difficult for me to accept that my time as a boxer is over. Today I am announcing my retirement.”

Pacquiao finished his 26-year, 72-fight career with 62 wins, eight losses and two draws. Of those 62 wins, 39 were by knockout and 23 by decision. He won 12 world titles and is the only fighter in history to win titles in eight different weight classes.

His retirement from boxing followed a disheartening defeat to Yordenis Ugas in Paradise, Nevada, on Aug. 21. The younger Cuban boxer beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision, retaining his WBA welterweight title. It was Pacquiao’s first fight in more than two years.

“Thank you for changing my life. When my family was desperate, you gave us hope, you gave me the chance to fight my way out of poverty,” Pacquiao said in the video. “Because of you, I was able to inspire people all over the world. Because of you I have been given the courage to change more lives.”

Pacquaio had hinted at retirement recently. It had also been expected because he is setting his sights on a bigger political battlefield. Earlier this month, he accepted his political party’s nomination and declared he will run for Philippines president in elections next May.

He has accused the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, his former ally, of making corruption worse in the Philippines. He promised to fight poverty and warned corrupt politicians they will soon end up in jail.

Pacquiao’s rags-to-riches life story and legendary career brought honor to his Southeast Asian nation, where he is known by the monikers Pacman, People’s Champ and National Fist.

He left his impoverished home in the southern Philippines as a teenager and stowed away on a ship bound for Manila. He made his professional boxing debut as a junior flyweight in 1995 at the age of 16, fighting his way out of abject poverty to become one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

Eddie Banaag, a 79-year-old retiree, said Pacquiao was his idol as a boxer and he watched almost all of his fights. But he believes the boxing icon should have retired earlier.

“He should have done that right after his victory over (Keith) Thurman,” Banaag said of Pacquiao’s win over Thurman on July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas, Pacquiao’s second-to-last fight. “It would have been better if he ended his boxing career with a win rather than a loss.”

Still, Pacquiao believes he will always be remembered as a winner. Hundreds of millions of dollars in career earnings and his record in the ring leave no doubt.

“I will never forget what I have done and accomplished in my life,” Pacquiao said Wednesday. “I just heard the final bell. The boxing is over.”

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YouTube will ban any video that claims vaccines are ineffective or dangerous, including those that question vaccines for measles and chickenpox, the company announced Wednesday.  

“Specifically, content that falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects, claims that vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction of disease, or contains misinformation on the substances contained in vaccines will be removed,” the Google-owned company said in a blog post announcing the new enforcement measures.

The company said “vaccines in particular have been a source of fierce debate over the years, despite consistent guidance from health authorities about their effectiveness.”  

“Today, we’re expanding our medical misinformation policies on YouTube with new guidelines on currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO.”

The company said it “will continue to allow content about vaccine policies, new vaccine trials and historical vaccine successes or failures.”  

YouTube’s COVID-19 vaccine policy has met with some backlash for being overly aggressive.

On Tuesday, the company removed Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels, saying they violated the company’s COVID-19 policy.

On Wednesday, Russia threatened to block YouTube, calling the channel removals “unprecedented information aggression.”

YouTube said it has removed over 130,000 videos over the past year for violating its COVID-19 policies.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters.


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«Виключення України з системи транзиту газу в цій угоду було ключовою вимогою російської сторони і на цю вимогу угорська сторона пристала», – вважають у МЗС

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A bunch of new technologies are popping up that could help bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero by 2050, and all need investment. Governments worldwide are having to decide which one suits their geography and how much they can spend on a given technology. More with VOA’s Mariama Diallo.

Produced by: Kimberlyn Weeks    

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Two-time Paralympic athlete Tyler Carter may be a seasoned contender on the world stage, but the alpine skier says he is not sure what to expect as the clock ticks toward the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing next February. Carter wants to be prepared to race in Beijing but says he hasn’t had a chance to become acquainted with the terrain.

“We didn’t really get a test event,” said the 27-year-old Carter, who has skied since the age of 8, seven years after a foot was amputated due to a missing fibula in his right leg. “Because of COVID, everything was kind of postponed or cancelled, so I don’t really know what it’s going to be like there.” 

Test events are seen as dress rehearsals held in the host country, often a year before the actual Olympic Games, to not only help the athletes but also allow the hosts to test their readiness. 

“It’s kind of a mystery in a way, but that’s fine,” said Carter, now based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We train for all conditions, all different types of hills and racing venues,” said Carter, who took part in the Winter Games in 2014 and 2018. 

As Carter trains for his moment on the slopes, he says he is hoping politics won’t impact his ability to compete.

Beijing is facing calls for a boycott or cancellation of the Games over political issues. 

Pandemic preparations in Beijing 

Foreign pressure on China to cancel the Games, over politics, has not changed pandemic event planning. 

Beijing’s Games show early signs of taking place at a full scale, just minus live spectators. The Chinese government is energizing fans at home and ignoring calls for boycotts, while athletes such as Carter are doing whatever it takes to win medals for themselves and their countries. 

“Individuals will have their own opinions across the spectrum, but from a general perspective, I think athletes who are wanting to compete at the top level and take part in the Olympics are being pragmatic and understand that there are going to be politics, protocol, whatever,” said Mark Thomas, managing director of U.K.-based, China event-focused S2M Consulting firm.

Most athletes, he added, realize “it’s a new world” in terms of how they travel.

Beijing’s Olympic organizing committee did not reply to a request from VOA on pandemic-related measures for the Games, but Chinese media suggested this month, the rules are not yet fixed. Twelve test events and three international training weeks in Beijing from October to December will offer clues, the state-run CGTN news website said.

“As Beijing organizers have not revealed the full extent of the COVID-19 countermeasures yet, those test events could offer a sneak peek at the meticulous precautions they are expected to take against COVID-19,” the September 15 report said.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng visited the National Ski Jumping Center, a snow park and Olympic villages in early September to learn about epidemic prevention work, the official Xinhua news agency said. “He also stressed sound plans to prevent and control the COVID-19 epidemic,” Xinhua said. China will hold the events at 12 venues in and around Beijing.

Chinese officials have involved 100 million people in domestic campaigns to promote the Games and more than 1.1 million people have signed up as volunteers, CGTN said.

The country squelched its major COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 through some of the world’s strictest lockdowns in the central Chinese city Wuhan, where the outbreak was first reported. It has closed the border to foreign travel.

But observers said Beijing’s Olympics organizers will just adopt Tokyo’s precautions from the recent Summer Olympics. Tokyo barred spectators from most events and required athletes to operate in an Olympic venue-hotel bubble rather than mixing with the public.

The Tokyo Games drew 11,656 athletes to 339 events, roughly equal to the 11,238 athletes and 306 events of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics four years earlier. 

Geopolitical pressure 

Opposition from abroad to the 2022 Games arises from lack of trust in China following political decisions by Beijing over the past two years, said Stephen Nagy, senior associate professor of politics and international studies at International Christian University in Tokyo.

He points to the reduction of political freedoms in Hong Kong in 2020, growing military pressure against Taiwan and crackdowns against ethnic Uyghurs in China’s far northwest. Many people abroad still believe China should have done more to stop COVID-19 from expanding past its origin in Wuhan.

“The reticence about going to Beijing has to do with the political issues that have come to light over the past several years,” Nagy said. 

The European Parliament passed a resolution July 8 calling on “government representatives and diplomats” to boycott the Beijing Games, citing reasons that include “the rapid deterioration of the human rights situation in Hong Kong and more specifically the open attacks against freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

International observers see the 2020 National Security Law implemented in Hong Kong by China as a crackdown on democratic freedoms in the territory.

China’s state-run People’s Daily said the new laws aim to “protect people’s rights” and make Hong Kong “safer” after months of demonstrations on the streets in protest of an extradition measure that has since been withdrawn. 

Scores of human rights groups have asked for full boycotts, meaning countries would send no athletes, and some want major broadcasters including the American network NBC to cancel plans to cover the Games.

In June and July, some U.S. lawmakers pushed for a diplomatic boycott of the Games, meaning no federal funds would be spent to support Olympics attendance by federal employees. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a research group, found in March that 49% of Americans backed a boycott. 

No teams have announced that they will pull out of the Games — although North Korea was banned this month after the International Olympic Committee suspended it for not showing up in Tokyo. North Korea and its allies skipped the Seoul Olympics in 1988, the most recent full boycott.

As Carter continues to perfect his skiing for the Olympics, he watches closely for the latest political developments to see if a 2022 U.S. boycott will take place. “I hope it doesn’t happen, but it isn’t in my control,” he said. “I’m focused on my training and preparation, and we’ll see what happens.”

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Відомство пропонує купити Ковельську колонію, Івано-Франківську установа виконання покарань та Миколаївську виправну колонію

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