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SpaceX, NASA set for landmark launch of two U.S. astronauts


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Final preparations were underway as Elon Musk’s private rocket company SpaceX was set for a repeat attempt at launching two Americans into orbit for a mission that would be the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years.

FILE PHOTO: The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, atop a Falcon 9 booster rocket, is connected to the crew access arm and launch tower on Pad39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Weather that might have led to another postponement appeared to have cleared with launch probability increased to 70 percent. The emergency escape system has been armed and fueling of the rocket was underway.

The mission’s first launch try on Wednesday was called off with less than 17 minutes remaining on the countdown clock due to stormy weather around the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Barring unforeseen problems, the 24-story-tall SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is due to lift off at 3:22 p.m. EDT (19:22 GMT), propelling astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aloft on their 19-hour ride to the International Space Station.

They will be carried there inside the newly-designed Crew Dragon capsule, making its first flight into orbit with humans aboard.

The launch pad is the same one used by NASA’s final space shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley, in 2011. Since then, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

As the crew bid goodbye to their families before getting into a specially-designed Tesla for the ride to the launch site, Behnken told his young son, “Be good for mom. Make her life easy.”

During the drive, Behnken and Hurley passed former astronaut Garrett Reisman holding a side saying “Take me with you.”

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has said resuming launches of American astronauts on American-made rockets from U.S. soil is the space agency’s top priority.

For Musk, the launch represents another milestone for the reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and more frequent. And it would mark the first time commercially developed space vehicles – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA – have carried Americans into orbit.

The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicle was 40 years ago at the start of the space shuttle program.

If the mission is scrubbed again, the next launch window would be Sunday afternoon.

Musk, the South African-born high-tech entrepreneur who made his fortune in Silicon Valley, is also CEO of electric carmaker and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc. He founded Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies, in 2002.

Hurley, 53, and Behnken, 49, NASA employees under contract to fly with SpaceX, are expected to remain at the space station for several weeks, assisting a short-handed crew aboard the orbital laboratory.

Boeing Co, producing its own launch system in competition with SpaceX, is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner vehicle with astronauts aboard for the first time next year. NASA has awarded nearly $8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing combined for development of their rival rockets.

Reporting by Joey Roulette in Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Berkrot

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U.S. military units put on four-hour standby amid Minnesota unrest


FILE PHOTO: Aerial view of the United States military headquarters, the Pentagon, September 28, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In an extraordinary move, the Pentagon on Saturday said it put military units on a four-hour recall status to be ready if requested by Minnesota’s governor amid civil unrest following the killing of a black man by a white Minneapolis police officer.

It was unclear when the U.S. military last invoked such a short timeline to potentially recall U.S. troops, something it might do for contingencies such as natural disasters.

“At this time there is no request by the Governor of Minnesota for Title 10 forces to support the Minnesota National Guard or state law enforcement,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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‘Arsenal need different players to plug holes’ – Bergkamp sees Arteta’s team as a work in progress


Mikel Arteta may need to dip back into the transfer market for “different players” that will help to plug the “holes” that still exist in his Arsenal team, says Dennis Bergkamp.

A familiar face was returned to Emirates Stadium in December as the Gunners sought further inspiration from a former club captain.

Arteta arrived in north London with no managerial experience, having previously served as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, but with the advantage of his stellar reputation as a player at the club.

Early efforts in a demanding role have been encouraging, with Arsenal offering fans plenty of cause for optimism heading forward.

The Gunners are, however, still a work in progress, with Arteta admitting as much as he finds his feet in the dugout.

He is looking to put his own stamp on things and receiving early signs of those plans paying dividends, but there remain a number of issues for him to address.

Bergkamp has spotted as much, with the Arsenal icon telling the Daily Mail: “I watched Arteta’s first game in charge at home [a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea].

“In that game it was clear to see what his intentions were with the team. The front four would chase the ball and put pressure on the opponents, but the midfield stayed behind. There was a big hole.

“I don’t know if you remember the AC Milan of Arrigo Sacchi, with Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. In training, they’d have ropes between them, so the distance between the players was always similar on the pitch.

“That was fantastic in our team as well. There was always a connection. There were no holes.”

Pressed on how those problems can be solved, Bergkamp added: “He’s working on it, but it needs time and maybe different players.

“Slowly you can see them trying to play a possession game.

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“Everyone on the ball has three options, triangles on the pitch. It’s much better than before.

“But it’s a different culture which will take time. You have to put the hours in, like how we did with Arsene [Wenger].”

Arteta has admitted to drawing up recruitment plans since taking the reins at Arsenal, with the expectation being that there will be a number of comings and goings in the next window.

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Sport24.co.za | 'Justice for George': Schalke's US footballer in armband protest


Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie on Saturday wore a ‘Justice for George’ armband as part of the growing protests over the death of an unarmed black man during a police arrest in Minneapolis in the United States.

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on too long feels good!!!,” tweeted 21-year-old McKennie after the 1-0 loss to Werder Bremen.

“We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard! #justiceforgeorgefloyd #saynotoracism.”

George Floyd died in Minneapolis in an arrest by a police officer who pinned him to the ground for several minutes by kneeling on his neck.

Derek Chauvin was charged Friday with one count of third-degree murder – unintentionally causing a death – and one count of negligent manslaughter.

McKennie’s USA team-mate Jozy Altidore, who plays for FC Toronto, saluted the Schalke player.

“Salute lil bro,” tweeted Altidore.

McKennie is the latest American sports star to add his voice to the protests after US tennis player Coco Gauff on Friday posted “Am I next?” on a TikTok video on her Twitter feed.

McKennie grew up in Texas, but spent part of his childhood in Germany and joined Schalke as a junior from Dallas Academy in 2016.

He has made 19 appearances for the United States national team since 2017.

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Premier League reveals zero positive coronavirus results in latest round of testing


The Premier League has revealed that there were zero positive results for coronavirus in the league’s latest round of testing. 

In tests of 1130 players and club staff, the English top flight has said that there were not any who tested positive for Covid-19.

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“The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1130 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19. Of these, zero have tested positive,” the league said in a statement.

“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.”

More to follow…

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Eto’o’s Cameroon & Toure’s Ivory Coast: Picking a combined Dream Team


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Goal pick out a side comprising players who featured alongside both African greats for the Indomitable Lions and the Elephants

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Josh Lucas' Ex-Wife Accuses Him of Cheating, Says "I Deserve Better Than This"


Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, Josh Lucas

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for DKC/O&M

Jessica Ciencin Henriquez has accused her ex-husband, Sweet Home Alabama actor Josh Lucas, of cheating on her.

In an emotional statement posted to Twitter, the New York Times writer opened up about their relationship struggles with a kiss emoji and an accompanying caption: “Exes are exes for a reason.”

“Having a child with someone makes you want to forgive them more than you normally would,” Henriquez wrote on Friday night. “It makes you believe they are better than they are. But it takes a really s–t human to cheat on their partner (correction: now ex partner) in the middle of a pandemic. Thank you for reminding me why I left you in the first place.”

“I deserve better than this,” Henriquez continued. “Our son deserves better than this.”

Henriquez then implored women to unite in their shared experience.

“And yes, I’m airing this publicly because there are a lot of women accepting much less than thy deserve because there are kids in the picture,” she explained. “You’re not stupid for hoping, for believing that people can change. I see you.”

Henriquez and Lucas divorced in 2014 and share a son together, seven-year-old Noah Rev. While Henriquez’s new post implies the couple had recently reunited romantically, a source told People that it may not have been the case.

Despite their divorce, Henriquez and Lucas have been open about their co-parenting experience.

In 2019, Lucas addressed the family’s then co-parenting lifestyle, recounting a story to Jimmy Kimmel about a horrifying moment with a spider while he, Noah, and Henriquez were living in Indonesia.

Just a year before, in 2018, Henriquez wrote a column for Time entitled “Raising My Son With My Ex-Husband Is the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done.”

In the article, she disputed the idea that co-parenting is easy—despite how many celebrities make it look easy.

“My son was 1 years old when I moved out of the home I shared with my husband,” she wrote at the time. “And ever since then his father and I have tried multiple ways to co-exist.”

The mother explained that they tried it all: mediation, seeing each other in moderation and other things to no avail.

She also claimed that she and her ex-husband had engaged in periods where they’d began sleeping together again.

“We’ve lived separately, together and have even tried nesting (a name for the cohabitation set-up where the child stays in one home while the parents rotate in and out),” she wrote. “We’ve tried cooperative parenting and parallel parenting, going no-contact and going full-contact (a name for the emotional set back where you start sleeping together again against all better judgment).”

Around that same time, Lucas explained that they were trying their hardest to raise their son in a healthy environment, despite their relationship issues.

“We are both totally committed to raising our son and being in love with our son,” Lucas told People in 2018. “I do believe our relationship will be constantly changing … it’s a very remarkably complex period of my life.”

Lucas has yet to publicly respond to Henriquez’s cheating allegations. However, it’s likely that he won’t. In 2016, he announced he would stop using Twitter because of trolls and bullies.

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Fiorentina starlet Koffi reveals why he turned down move to Liverpool in 2018


Fiorentina winger Christian Koffi has admitted that he was not ready for a move to Liverpool in 2018, despite interest from the Merseyside giants.

Koffi was with Monaco at the time and turned down a professional contract offer from the principality side, choosing instead to leave the club. 

Though Liverpool were interested in the French-Ivorian winger, Koffi believed at the time that it would be best for his development to sign with Fiorentina.

“Everything was decided a little bit at the last moment,” the 19-year-old told Goal. “I was very flattered by the interest of Liverpool, but I chose Fiorentina for my progress.

“Liverpool is more than a big club and I was not ready at this time, especially in 2018. Liverpool’s team was very good. It was not the good timing, it’s the truth.”

Part of the reason Koffi is happy with his decision is that he’s been able to learn from a legendary figure like Franck Ribery, who joined Fiorentina from Bayern Munich one year after Koffi arrived.

“It’s a chance to grow with a great player like him, to learn a lot with him,” Koffi added. “He’s like a legend for me, we spoke a lot about him in France. He has done so much for this sport, that’s why we can only admire his work.

“He’s a role model. But since childhood! And now to see him for real, it’s very special. He’s simple, very cool. He’s a very good person for the young players.”

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Though highly regarded, Koffi has yet to make his senior debut for Fiorentina, playing with the club’s Primavera side the past two seasons. As he gets set to turn 20 in August, Koffi knows that he’ll need to make a step up to the senior side next season.

“I can’t play again with the Primavera next season, so yes that’s the idea [to be regularly with the first team],” Koffi said. 

“I had two fantastic years with the Primavera, and for the future the most important thing is the sporting project. I want to train regularly with the first team and I know that next season will be important for me. I am 100 per cent ready!”

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American McKennie wears 'Justice for George' armband in Bundesliga game


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Bundesliga – Schalke 04 v TSG Hoffenheim – Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany – March 7, 2020 Schalke 04’s Weston McKennie after the match REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen DFL regulations prohibit any use of photographs as image sequences and/or quasi-video

(Reuters) – United States soccer player Weston McKennie joined the chorus of outrage from athletes protesting against the death of a black man in Minneapolis by wearing an armband with the message “Justice for George” in a German league game on Saturday.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged on Friday with murder in the death of unarmed 46-year-old George Floyd after cellphone footage of the white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck prompted a wave of protests.

Schalke 04’s McKennie followed several other current and former athletes, including NBA champion Stephen Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and teenage tennis player Coco Gauff, who have also spoken out about Floyd’s death.

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on too long feels good,” McKennie tweeted here after Schalke’s Bundesliga match versus Werder Bremen.

“We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard,” he added, using the hashtags “justiceforgeorgefloyd” and “saynotoracism”.

The 21-year-old midfielder, who grew up in Texas but turned down a contract from FC Dallas to sign for Schalke in 2016, has scored twice in 20 league games this season for the German club, who lost 1-0 at home on Saturday.

McKennie has played 19 times for the U.S. national team, scoring six goals and making three assists.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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Hoeness wants Sane and Havertz to kick off 'new era' at Bayern


Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness foresees “a new era” at the club as he hopes Kai Havertz could follow Leroy Sane in joining the Bundesliga leaders.

Bayern are widely expected to sign Manchester City winger Sane in the upcoming transfer window, having seen a previous move for the Germany international hindered by a long-term injury.

The Bavarian giants were seven points clear of nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund ahead of Saturday’s match against Fortuna Dusseldorf as they close on an eighth straight title, having prevailed over their rivals midweek thanks to Joshua Kimmich’s wondergoal to place one hand on the Bundesliga crown.

With that side potentially boosted by Sane’s arrival, Hoeness – a member of Bayern’s supervisory board after his presidency ended – is excited for the future.

“I believe that we are on the threshold of a relatively great generation,” he told BR.

“When I think that we managed to extend with Manuel Neuer, and we have Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Robert Lewandowski and hopefully David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara [also agreeing contracts], and I also hope with Leroy Sane, with [Kingsley] Coman, [Serge] Gnabry, a young, developable team.

“I can imagine, if everything goes well, that a new era is just beginning at Bayern Munich.”

Bayer Leverkusen sensation Havertz, who netted the only goal of his side’s 1-0 victory over Freiburg on Friday, would appear to belong among such company, with predictable links to Bayern emerging amid a wonderful season in which he has produced 11 goals and five assists in 26 Bundesliga starts.

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Hoeness made no secret of his desire to have Havertz join Bayern, yet he acknowledged the potential difficulties of another major signing amid the financial uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We would certainly like to have Kai Havertz,” Hoeness added. “But at the moment, it is so that one does not know exactly what the economic future of all football is.

“I would like to see him in Munich from a sporting perspective, but as of today I honestly cannot imagine it, although I would like to see it.”

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