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Liverpool v Atletico Madrid Champions League match ‘linked to 41 additional Covid-19 deaths,’ new study says — RT Sport News

A study into data from the UK’s National Health Service has speculated that the Champions League fixture between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid at Anfield on March 11 is linked to more than 40 additional deaths from coronavirus.

Defending European champions Liverpool were eliminated from this season’s Champions League when they suffered a surprise home defeat to Atletico after extra-time to lose the tie 3-2 on aggregate, in what was the last major game to be played in England before football shuddered to a halt due to the coronavirus lockdown.

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The game was a controversial one, as around 3,000 fans flew in from Spain to attend at a time when the country had an estimated 640,000 cases of coronavirus compared to around 100,000 in the UK, according to data from Imperial College London and Oxford University, cited in The Sunday Times

An analysis into the data by Edge Health now suggests that the game could have been linked to 41 deaths from Covid-19 in the weeks following. 

The match took place even as Spain introduced mandatory regulation designed to inhibit the spread of the virus, with some football matches already taking place behind closed doors. 

Jose Luis Martinez-Almedia, the Mayor of Madrid, said in an interview with Spanish radio last month that allowing the Liverpool-Atletico fixture to proceed as planned was “a mistake.

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It didn’t make any sense that 3,000 Atletico fans could travel to Anfield at that time,” Martinez-Almedia said. “It was a mistake. Looking back with hindsight, of course, but I think even at that time there should have been more caution.”

However, the decision to allow the game to proceed was defended by the UK government – who also gave the green light to the annual Cheltenham horse-racing festival, which the same study suggests was linked to 37 Covid-19 deaths. 

Social distancing guidelines were subsequently introduced in the days that followed and remain largely in place today. 

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Football in the UK has remained in hiatus since that March 11 game, with the sport’s chiefs beginning to outline its ‘Project Restart’ plans aimed at resuming the Premier League season this summer. Spain, meanwhile, has also outlined a proposal to return to action from the week beginning June 8.

To date, the UK has suffered nearly 37,000 deaths as a result of the virus while Spain is approaching 29,000 fatalities. 

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NASA quietly buys additional Soyuz seat as SpaceX prepares for historic manned space flight — RT World News

NASA has inked a deal with Russia’s space agency Roscosmos to allow a US astronaut to travel into space aboard a Soyuz rocket in the fall, even as SpaceX gears up for its first manned launch later this month.

“A contract was signed today on providing a seat for a US astronaut onboard a Soyuz MS manned spaceship to be launched to the ISS in the autumn of 2020,” Roscosmos told Tass on Tuesday.

Though the agency refused to disclose the sum Washington paid for the seat, calling it “a commercial secret,” NASA spokespeople told reporters the deal was valued at $90.25 million, which includes the cost of the flight, as well as training and pre-launch and post-landing services.

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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said earlier this month that the two countries were close to an agreement for the seat, saying it was to be signed “within days” and stressing that American astronauts should always have access to the International Space Station (ISS), where the Soyuz will head in autumn.

SpaceX – the private spacecraft firm founded by Elon Musk – meanwhile, is preparing for a historic manned mission to the ISS on May 27, which will see NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken ride the company’s Falcon 9 rocket into orbit, and then link up with the ISS aboard its Crew Dragon capsule. Depending on how well the gear performs, the duo will remain in space between one and four months, and will be replaced by a crew of four.

After suffering a series of delays, the upcoming launch will mark the first manned US space mission initiated from American soil since 2011, when NASA scrapped its shuttle program, forcing its astronauts to hitch rides aboard Russian craft to the tune of millions of dollars per seat.

At a recent briefing, NASA’s program manager for the ISS, Kirk Shireman, said that the decision to purchase additional Soyuz seats will depend on whether SpaceX can offer “repeatable” missions on the Crew Dragon, not merely one successful manned flight, adding “We’ll watch how things progress” before looking to buy another slot on a Russian rocket.

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Defence News

U.S. Army orders additional IED hunters – Defence Blog

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Virginia-based Chemring Sensors and Electronic Systems Inc. a $200,2 million contract modification to manufacture and deliver Army’s Husky hunts IEDs (improvised explosive devices), it announced on 11 May.

The Husky is an effective and reliable system that has located thousands of IEDs since it has been deployed by the Army.

The contract award from U.S. Army Contracting Command covers develop, integrate and produce and deliver Husky Mounted Detection System kits, spare parts, maintenance and training.

Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 15, 2022.

The “Husky” was initially used to detect mines in Africa and was later outfitted to meet route clearance needs of American Soldiers. The Husky vehicle is a hybrid of a tractor and Humvee, with a V-shaped hull that resists explosive blasts.

The IED hunter uses “ground penetrating radar,” and it is the Husky’s core capability. The radar is first calibrated by taking a sample of the local surface. This sampling then makes it easier to search for anything that seems out of place in the soil, rock, asphalt or other surface over which a convoy would proceed.

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U.S. Army awards contract to FLIR for additional nano unmanned aerial systems – Defence Blog

FLIR Systems was awarded a $20.6 million contract by the U.S. Army to manufacture and deliver Black Hornet Soldier-borne sensors.

The company press release said that advanced nano-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will support platoon- and small unit-level surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities as part of the Army’s Soldier Borne Sensor (SBS) program.

In January 2019, the U.S. Army awarded FLIR an initial $39.7 million contract for Black Hornet 3’s to support the SBS program. The company is currently delivering those systems for fielding across the force.

Army has received first nano-unmanned aerial systems as part of the Soldier Borne Sensor (SBS) Program in February 2019, according to a statement, announced by the Rock Island Arsenal-Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center

Extremely light, nearly silent, and with a flight time up to 25 minutes, the combat-proven, pocket-sized Black Hornet PRS transmits live video and HD still images back to the operator. Its information feed provides soldiers with immediate covert situational awareness to help them perform missions more effectively. FLIR has delivered more than 12,000 Black Hornet nano-UAVs to defense and security forces worldwide.

“Black Hornet has proven to be a game-changing technology – a small package that can deliver a big edge on the battlefield,” said VP and General Manager of the Unmanned Systems & Integrated Solutions business line at FLIR, Roger Wells. “We’re proud to continue supporting the U.S. Army’s Soldier Borne Sensor program. Enabling warfighters with a full-range of integrated unmanned solutions, both in the air and on the ground, is a strategic objective FLIR shares with the military.”

The award-winning Black Hornet is designed and built by FLIR in Norway. Deliveries will begin in late 2020.

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Defence News

Sierra Nevada to deliver additional A-29 attack aircraft for Combat Aviation Advisor mission – Defence Blog

U.S. defense contractor the Sierra Nevada has announced an agreement with the U.S. Air Force for deliver an additional A-29 Super Tucano for the Combat Aviation Advisor (CAA) mission for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

The statement noted the aircraft will be the third A-29 delivered under the existing contract, which was announced earlier this year.

Designed to operate in high temperatures and in extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is a highly maneuverable fourth-generation weapons system capable of delivering precision guided munitions. The aircraft already is being used by the Afghan air force (AFF) for close-air attack, air interdiction, escort and armed reconnaissance.

“SNC is proud of our close partnership with the U.S Air Force, specifically in identifying ways to acquire the additional A-29 at the best value to the U.S. taxpayer and in support of U.S. and allied operations,” said Ed Topps, vice president of tactical aircraft systems and programs for SNC’s ISR, Aviation, and Security (IAS) business area. “SNC is honored to build and deliver the combat-proven A-29 to the U.S. Air Force.”

The undefinitized contracting action by the U.S. Air Force is for SNC, as prime contractor, and its partner, Embraer Defense & Security, to deliver a third A-29 aircraft, as well as ground support equipment, pilot training (including difference training and instructor pilot upgrade training), contractor logistic support, aircraft sparing, and sustainment for AFSOC’s CAA mission, which helps build international partner capacity.

Production of the first two A-29s under this contract is currently underway in Jacksonville, Florida, with planned delivery of the three aircraft in 2021. Training and support activities continue through 2024.

The A-29 is the gold standard of light attack combat and reconnaissance aircraft and has been selected by 15 partner air forces around the world to deliver cost-effective close air support and reconnaissance capabilities.

Last month, the first A-29 for the Nigerian Air Force successfully completed its inaugural flight at the Jacksonville production facility.

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Saudi Arabia’s ADDITIONAL output cuts fuel oil price rally — RT Business News

Crude prices reversed early trading losses and finally advanced on Monday as Saudi Arabia ordered its state oil giant to slash production by 1 million barrels per day in addition to cuts agreed to by the OPEC+ deal.

Futures for US oil rose over one percent, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for June delivery trading above $25 a barrel after losing three and a half percent in earlier action. Global benchmark Brent jumped 0.4 percent to more than $31 per barrel amid choppy trading, before erasing most of the gains.

The moves in the oil market come as Saudi Arabia, which was hit hard by low prices for the commodity, said it would further slash production in June. The “voluntary cuts,” announced by the kingdom’s Ministry of Energy, will wipe out an extra 1 million barrels per day (bdp) from the market. The new caps bring total Saudi production to around 4.8 million bpd from April’s production level.

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Riyadh hopes the decision will encourage other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their allies to stick to their commitments under the massive oil accord signed in April that came into force this month. It also hopes that other major oil producers will join it in deepening oil cuts.

Crude prices have been on a wild ride this year as the coronavirus pandemic cut global demand for the commodity by around one-third according to some estimates. The dramatic drop in demand came at a bad time for the already oversupplied market, as the previous OPEC+ agreement fell apart due to a disagreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

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Despite the oil majors signing a new deal, the already existing supply glut triggered fears that the world is running out of space to store crude. This sent prices for US oil into negative territory for the first time in history.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Defence News

Pentagon agreed additional fund to Textron Systems under the Unmanned Surface Vehicle Program – Defence Blog

On May 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense agreed a $20 million cost-plus-fixed-fee revision to contract N00024-14-C-6322 signed with AAI Corp., a.k.a. as Textron Systems, set at Hunt Valley, Maryland, according to Gabriel Alberto Bazzolo.

The contract extension includes engineering and technical services to develop Textron’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) and Unmanned Surface Vehicle program, following February 2020 approval of low-rate initial production (LRIP).

UISS is the US Navy’s first unmanned surface vehicle (USV) program of record, devised for the challenging maritime situation. It offers unmanned mine countermeasures and capabilities by employing switchable payloads and innovative devices and completed the Navy developmental test and operational assessment. It is part of a comprehensive Mine Counter Measure Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) mission, designed to be utilized from the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and other vessels.

Textron’s UISS will allow the Littoral combat ship to achieve its mine countermeasure sweep job and targets acoustic, magnetic, and magnetic/acoustic blend mine types. According to Textron Systems, the UISS program will fulfill the US Navy’s demand for a fast, wide-area coverage mine clearance capability, which is essential to offset magnetic/acoustic influence mines. The UISS also aims to deliver a high-area coverage range in a small, lightweight set with minimum effect on the hosting platform.

In September 2014, DoD granted the first contract; additions postponed its completion by September 2020 at an accrued cost of $122,1 million. Presently, work should be complete by September 2021 at an up-to-date price of $142,8 million against a potential value of $165,2 million. Manufacturing sites are at Textron’s Hunt Valley, Md. and New Orleans.

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Japanese military to buy additional twenty-first-century tank destroyers – Defence Blog

The Japanese Ministry of Defense will purchase an additional Type 16 Mobile Combat Systems, also known as a Japanese twenty-first-century tank destroyer, according to a document entitled Defense Programs and Budget of Japan, the 2020 version of which was published in late March.

The procurement of additional mobile combat vehicles suited for transportation by aircraft and other means will strengthen rapid deployment capabilities of the basic operational units (rapid deployment division and rapid deployment brigade), according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is requesting 33 Type 16 vehicles, according to budget documents. Japan’s government plans to spend $2.2 billion (¥23.7billion) to buy new Type-16 mobile combat vehicles.

The Type-16 is a modern Japanese combat vehicle designed for light to medium territorial defense and tactical reconnaissance. The main role of this vehicle is to provide direct fire support for infantry units. It can engage hostile armored vehicles, buildings and field fortifications.

The Maneuver Combat Vehicle (MCV) is intended to help re-equip existing divisions and brigades reorganised into mobile (rapid reaction) divisions/brigades, as well as equip new dedicated rapid reaction regiments alongside (eventually) the Light-weight Combat Vehicle System which was also designed with defense of the outer islands in mind.

Type 16 is armed with a 105 mm rifled gun. It is compatible with standard NATO 105 mm ammunition.

As The National Interest previously reported, the MCV’s 105-millimeter gun has a fifty-two-caliber rifled barrel and is derived from the famous British L7 gun used on the Centurion and Leopard I tank. A human loader loads hefts either kinetic Type 93 Armor Piercing Fin-Discarding Sabot Rounds for maximum penetrating power or dual-purpose Type 91 High-Explosive Anti-Tank rounds, which also work against soft targets. A 7.62-millimeter machine gun is mounted coaxially next to the cannon, while an M2 .50-caliber machinegun is perched on the turret for anti-aircraft defense.

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