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Serena Williams Knocked Out of French Open; Federer Withdraws

Serena Williams turns 40 in September. Roger Federer hits that milestone the month before. No one knows how many more French Open appearances each will make, and this year’s tournament ended for both on Sunday.Williams fell way behind and could not put together a comeback against a much younger and less-experienced opponent in the fourth round at Roland Garros, losing 6-3, 7-5 to Elena Rybakina, who wasn’t even born when the American made her tournament debut in 1998.Asked whether that might have been her last match at the clay-court major, Williams replied: “Yeah, I’m definitely not thinking about it at all. I’m definitely thinking just about other things, but not about that.”Her defeat came hours after Federer withdrew, saying he needed to let his body recover ahead of Wimbledon after a long third-round victory that ended at nearly 1 a.m. on Sunday.Wimbledon, which Federer has won eight times and Williams seven, begins June 28.”I’m kind of excited to switch surfaces,” Williams said. “Historically I have done pretty well on grass.”She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles; Federer has won 20. They are two of the sport’s greatest and most popular players, so it was quite a blow to the tournament, its TV partners and tennis fans to see both gone from the French Open field one after the other — and a week after Naomi Osaka pulled out, citing a need for a mental health break.Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns a shot to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer during their match on day seven of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, June 5, 2021.Williams has won the French Open three times. But the American hasn’t been past the fourth round in Paris since she was the runner-up in 2016.Rybakina is a 21-year-old from Kazakhstan who is ranked 22nd. This was just the seventh Grand Slam appearance for Rybakina — and the first time she ever made it past the second round.”When I was small, of course, I was watching her matches on TV. So many Grand Slams,” Rybakina said of Williams.Against Williams, whose right thigh was heavily taped, Rybakina hit big, flat serves. She dealt with, but managed to steady, her nerves. She even produced the occasional return winner off Williams’ speedy serve, breaking her five times, including in the next-to-last game.”I knew that the serve was going to be difficult for me to return. She’s powerful, but I was ready,” Rybakina said. “Then, after few points, I felt … comfortable.”Rybakina said she followed her coach’s strategy of sending shots to Williams’ backhand side and trying to stay away from her forehand.Every time Williams appeared as if she might turn things around, she could not quite get the momentum fully in her favor.Repeatedly one sort of mistake or another undid Williams. She ended up with 19 unforced errors and only 15 winners.  “I’m so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match,” Williams said. “I’m not winning those points. That, like, literally could just change everything.”Since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant for her most recent major singles title — No. 23 set a record for the professional era — Williams has come close to tying Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24. That includes four runner-up finishes at Grand Slam tournaments, most recently against Bianca Andreescu at the 2019 U.S. Open.But since then, Williams has been beaten twice in semifinals, and once each in the third and fourth rounds. Last year at the French Open, she withdrew before the second round, citing an injured left Achilles.Federer, meanwhile, never had pulled out of a Grand Slam tournament once he had started competing in it until now.
 

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Turkey Vows to Defeat ‘Sea Snot’ Outbreak in Marmara Sea

Turkey’s environment minister pledged on Sunday to defeat a plague of “sea snot” threatening the Sea of Marmara, using a disaster management plan he said would secure its future.A thick, slimy layer of the organic matter, known as marine mucilage, has spread through the sea south of Istanbul, posing a threat to marine life and the fishing industry.Harbors, shorelines and swathes of seawater have been blanketed by the viscous, greyish substance, some of which has sunk below the waves, suffocating life on the seabed.Environment Minister Murat Kurum said Turkey planned to designate the entire Sea of Marmara a protected area, reduce pollution and improve treatment of wastewater from coastal cities and ships, which has helped the sea snot to spread.He also called on local residents, artists and nongovernmental organizations to join what he said would be Turkey’s biggest maritime cleanup operation, starting Tuesday.”Hopefully, together we will protect our Marmara within the framework of a disaster management plan,” Kurum said, speaking from a marine research vessel that has been taking samples of the slimy substance.”We will take all the necessary steps within three years and realize the projects that will save not only the present but also the future together,” he added.Kurum said the measures Turkey planned would reduce nitrogen levels in the sea by 40%, a move he said scientists believed would help restore the waters to their previous state.Scientists say climate change and pollution have contributed to the proliferation of the organic matter, which contains a wide variety of microorganisms and can flourish when nutrient-rich sewage flows into seawater.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the outbreak on untreated water from cities, including Istanbul, home to 16 million people, and vowed to “clear our seas from the mucilage scourge.”   

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New York Film Industry Booming Despite COVID Pandemic

As New York COVID restrictions ease, Broadway is hoping to draw people back to the theater while the movie industry is expanding its footprint in the Big Apple. Evgeny Maslov has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.Camera: Michael Eckels, VOA & News agencies 

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Meghan and Harry Welcome Second Child, Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana

The second baby for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is officially here: Meghan gave birth to a healthy girl on Friday.A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan said Sunday the couple welcomed their child Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. Their daughter weighed in at 7 lbs, 11 oz.Her first name, Lilibet, is a nod to Her Majesty The Queen’s nickname. Her middle name is in honor of her grandmother and Harry’s mother. The baby is the eighth in line to the British throne.No photos of the newborn or the Sussexes accompanied the announcement.The birth comes after the Harry and Meghan’s explosive TV interview with Oprah Winfrey in March. The couple described painful discussions about the color of their first child’s skin, losing royal protection and the intense pressures that led her to contemplate suicide.Buckingham Palace said the allegations of racism made by the couple were “concerning.” The royal family said the issue would be addressed privately. Winfrey and Harry on mental illness have recently collaborated on the Apple TV+ mental health series “The Me You Can’t See.”  Harry and American actor Meghan Markle married at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son Archie was born a year later.In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They live in Montecito, a posh area recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.Last year, Meghan revealed that she had a miscarriage in July 2020, giving a personal account of the traumatic experience in hope of helping others.Months before the miscarriage, Harry said the royal family cut him off financially at the start of 2020 after announcing plans to step back from his roles. But he was able to afford security for his family because of the money his mother, Princess Diana, left behind.In the interview with Winfrey, Meghan said she grew concerned about her son not having a royal title because it meant he wouldn’t be provided security. said digesting everything during while pregnant was “very hard.” More than the “prince” title, she was the most concerned about her son’s safety and protection.Meghan said it was hard for her to understand why there were concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin color. She said it was hard for her to “compartmentalize” those conversations.Harry, too, said there are lasting impacts about Meghan’s treatment and his relationship with his family.Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess. 

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UN: Contaminated Food Sickens 600 Million, Kills 420,000 Every Year

In advance of World Food Safety Day, U.N. agencies are calling for concerted action to ensure food is free of the toxins that every year cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.A U.N. report on global food security finds nearly 690 million people suffered from chronic hunger in 2019, before COVID-19.  The full impact of the pandemic on food insecurity is not yet known.  However, the report estimates as many as 132 million more people will have been short of food in 2020 because of COVID-19 lockdowns.Dominique Burgeon is director of the Food and Agriculture Organization Office in Geneva. He said food safety is key to food security.“Every year, 600 million people fall ill and one in 10, about 420,000 die from eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or chemicals.  Yet, this is the tip of the iceberg as comprehensive surveillance data for foodborne illnesses is not available everywhere,” said Burgeon.Moreover, he said unsafe food causes significant financial burdens in low-and-middle income countries, amounting to productivity losses of some $90 billion a year.U.N. agencies say food safety is a shared responsibility and everyone has a role to play in keeping food safe and keeping people healthy. Burgeon said this includes those who produce the food, industry, governments, and consumers.“The way you store your food, the way you cook it.  But, of course, I would say it goes from farm to fork.  So, really at the beginning of the process.  The way food is being produced…the way the food is stored, and then the way it is transported, processed, etc.,” he said.U.N. agencies say food safety involves a holistic approach that considers human, animal, plant and environmental health. Understanding and keeping all aspects of the food chain safe they say will contribute to a healthy life and a healthy planet. 

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US Senators in Taiwan Announce Vaccine Donation

A bipartisan delegation of three United States senators landed in Taiwan on Sunday and announced that Washington would donate 750,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to its ally.The high-profile delegation and gift comes as Taiwan accuses China of hampering its efforts to secure enough doses as part of Beijing’s ongoing campaign to keep the island isolated.Senators Tammy Duckworth, Christopher Coons and Dan Sullivan — two Democrats and a Republican — landed on Sunday morning at Taipei’s Songshan Airport in a U.S. military plane.”We are here as friends, because we know that Taiwan is experiencing a challenging time right now, which was why it was especially important for the three of us to be here in a bipartisan way,” Duckworth said.”It was critical to the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines, because we recognize your urgent need, and we value this partnership.”President Joe Biden announced last week that the United States would give around 25 million vaccine doses to countries that needed them, mostly through the global Covax vaccine sharing program.It is highly unusual for the United States to use a military plane to fly officials to Taiwan.Washington remains Taiwan’s biggest ally but it does not maintain full diplomatic relations with Taipei because the U.S. officially recognizes Beijing.Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu was among those greeting the senators.”Taiwan is facing unique challenges in combating the virus,” he said.”While we are doing our best to import vaccines, we must overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving medicines are delivered free from trouble from Beijing.”Until recently, Taiwan navigated the pandemic in an exemplary fashion, recording just a handful of deaths.But cases have soared to more than 10,000 in the last month after an outbreak that began with airline pilots.Taiwan has struggled to secure enough doses for its 23 million people.Taipei has blamed Beijing for making it difficult — a charge China has flat out rejected.China’s ruling Communist Party has never controlled Taiwan but it views the island as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.Beijing has heaped economic, military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan in recent years and keeps it locked out of international bodies such as the World Health Organization.It bristles whenever countries send delegations to Taiwan or push for its recognition on the world stage.Earlier this week China hit out at Japan for donating more than 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Taiwan.   

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US Donates 750,000 COVID Shots to Taiwan

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Sunday that the global count of COVID-19 cases has reached 173 million, while the death toll is approaching 4 million.India which has the second-highest number of cases reported early Sunday that it had recorded 114,460 new infections in the previous 24-hour period, the lowest count in 60 days. The daily death toll of 2,677 was the lowest tally in 42 days. Public health officials have warned, however, that India’s infection and deaths totals are likely undercounted.The U.S. has the most coronavirus infections at 33.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins, followed by India with 29 million and Brazil with 17 million.On Sunday, a bipartisan trio of U.S. senators — Democrat Christropher Coons of Delaware, Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Republican Dan Sullivan of Alaska — stopped in Taiwan. The democratically ruled island has complained that China is blocking their efforts to obtain COVID-19 vaccines.“I’m here to tell you that the United States will not let you stand “alone,” Duckworth said. “We will be by your side to make sure the people of Taiwan have what they need to get to the other side of the pandemic and beyond.”The White House has announced that it is donating millions of vaccines doses to the global community and Taiwan will receive 750,000 shots.When the leaders of the world’s industrialized nations meet this week in Cornwall, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask them to commit to “vaccinate the entire world against coronavirus by the end of 2022,” according to a statement Saturday.”Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’m calling on my fellow G-7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge we will never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.”He may run into some pushback from his own country.New cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have dropped dramatically since the United Kingdom began its vaccination campaign. Now nearly 68 million people have received at least one shot and nearly 27 million are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins. That’s 40% of the population.But cases of the Delta variant are on the rise and that could threaten the nation’s progress. As Britain opens up, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Reuters, a rise in cases is expected. The vaccine, he said, has broken the link between rising cases and rising deaths.“But it hasn’t been completely severed yet, and that’s one of the things that we’re watching very carefully,” he added.In China’s Guangzhou city, a port city of more than 13 million people, new restrictions took effect Saturday because of a rise in COVID-19 cases that began in late May.Of the 24 new cases of COVID-19 reported in China on Saturday, 11 were transmitted in Guangzhou province, where the city is located.Authorities had imposed restrictions earlier in the week but sought additional limits on business and social activities. Authorities closed about a dozen subway stops, and the city’s Nansha district ordered restaurants to stop dine-in services and public venues, such as gyms, to temporarily close.Officials in the districts of Nansha, Huadu and Conghua ordered all residents and any individuals who have traveled through their regions to be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Reuters reported.As Afghanistan attempts to beat back a surge in COVID-19 cases, it has received the news that the 3 million doses of vaccines it was expecting from the World Health Organization in April will not arrive until August, according to the Associated Press.Afghan health ministry spokesperson Ghulam Dastagir Nazari told AP that he has approached several embassies for help but has not received any vaccines. “We are in the middle of a crisis,” he said.The war-torn country reported nearly 7,500 new cases in the week ending Saturday, a record, according to Johns Hopkins, and 187 deaths, also a record. The official figures are no doubt an undercount because they include only those in hospitals, while most people who become sick stay home and die there, the AP said.Afghan health officials are blaming the Delta variant, first discovered in India, for its soaring infection rate. Travel to India is unrestricted and many students and those seeking medical care go there, according to the AP.While the government has tried to enforce mask wearing and social distancing, most Afghans resist.”Our people believe it is fake, especially in the countryside,” Dr. Zalmai Rishteen, administrator of the Afghan-Japan Hospital, the only hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients, told the AP. “Or they are religious and believe God will save them.”About 626,000 Afghans have received one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, with about 145,000 fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins. 

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Johnson to Call on G-7 to ‘Vaccinate World by 2022’

When the leaders of the world’s industrialized nations meet next week in Cornwall, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask them to commit to “vaccinate the entire world against coronavirus by the end of 2022,” according to a statement Saturday.”Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’m calling on my fellow G-7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge we will never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.”He may run into some pushback from his own country.New cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have dropped dramatically since the United Kingdom began its vaccination campaign. Now nearly 68 million people have received at least one shot and nearly 27 million are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. That’s 40% of the population.But cases of the Delta variant are on the rise and that could threaten the nation’s progress. As Britain opens up, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Reuters, a rise in cases is expected. The vaccine, he said, has broken the link between rising cases and rising deaths.“But it hasn’t been completely severed yet, and that’s one of the things that we’re watching very carefully,” he added.In China’s Guangzhou city, a port city of more than 13 million people, new restrictions took effect Saturday because of a rise in COVID-19 cases that began in late May.Of the 24 new cases of COVID-19 reported in China on Saturday, 11 were transmitted in Guangzhou province, where the city is located.Authorities had imposed restrictions earlier in the week but sought additional limits on business and social activities. Authorities closed about a dozen subway stops, and the city’s Nansha district ordered restaurants to stop dine-in services and public venues, such as gyms, to temporarily close.A man is admitted at the COVID unit of the Moscoso Puello hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 2, 2021, as the country suffers a spike in the number of positive cases.Officials in the districts of Nansha, Huadu and Conghua ordered all residents and any individuals who have traveled through their regions to be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Reuters reported.As Afghanistan attempts to beat back a surge in COVID-19 cases, it has received the news that the 3 million doses of vaccines it was expecting from the World Health Organization in April will not arrive until August, according to the Associated Press.Afghan health ministry spokesperson Ghulam Dastagir Nazari told AP that he has approached several embassies for help but has not received any vaccines. “We are in the middle of a crisis,” he said.The war-torn country reported nearly 7,500 new cases in the week ending Saturday, a record, according to Johns Hopkins, and 187 deaths, also a record. The official figures are no doubt an undercount because they include only those in hospitals, while most people who become sick stay home and die there, the AP said.Afghan health officials are blaming the Delta variant, first discovered in India, for its soaring infection rate. Travel to India is unrestricted and many students and those seeking medical care go there, according to the AP.While the government has tried to enforce mask wearing and social distancing, most Afghans resist.”Our people believe it is fake, especially in the countryside,” Dr. Zalmai Rishteen, administrator of the Afghan-Japan Hospital, the only hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients, told the AP. “Or they are religious and believe God will save them.”About 626,000 Afghans have received one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, with about 145,000 fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins.On Saturday, India’s health ministry reported 120,529 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours period, the lowest daily count of new infections in 58 days. More than 3,000 deaths were also recorded.Johns Hopkins reported Saturday more than 172 million global COVID infections. The U.S. has the most cases with 33.3 million, followed by India with 28.7 million and Brazil with nearly 17 million. 

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