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ICC announces rejigged World Cup calendar after COVID-19 wreaks havoc

Dubai: Australia will now host this year’s postponed men’s Twenty20 World Cup in 2022 after the International Cricket Council announced a redrawn calendar on Friday.

The men’s 2021 T20 World Cup in India will proceed as originally planned.

The T20 World Cup in Australia earlier this year was the last major international tournament before the coronavirus pandemic shut cricket down.

The T20 World Cup in Australia earlier this year was the last major international tournament before the coronavirus pandemic shut cricket down.Credit:Getty Images

The ICC also confirmed the women’s 50-over World Cup that had been scheduled for New Zealand in February and March 2021 will be moved to 2022.

Before the pandemic disrupted the game’s calendar, Australia were scheduled to host this year’s men’s Twenty20 tournament in October and November followed by a 2021 edition in India.


The men’s 50-over World Cup will remain set for India in 2023.

At its board meeting last month, the ICC deferred the tournament in Australia, given the logistical challenges involved in staging a 16-team tournament amid travel and other restrictions.

The Indian cricket board, according to media reports, was reluctant to sacrifice the 2021 slot.

All teams that qualified for this year’s tournament in Australia will compete in India next year, the ICC said, while a new qualification process will be put in place for the 2022 tournament.

Moving the women’s World Cup would allow teams to be sufficiently prepared in 2022, ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney said.

“There has been no women’s international cricket played since the conclusion of the T20 World Cup earlier this year and that is likely to remain the situation for a number of the teams.

“Moving the event by 12 months gives all competing teams the chance to play a sufficient level of cricket ahead of both the qualification event and leading into a Cricket World Cup.”


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Homegoods to pet supplies: Uber moving into delivery as service offering

The recovery of the mobility business of Uber has been led by Asia, excluding India, said the ride-hailing giant’s chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi.

“Our mobility business, I would describe as a tale of 10,000 cities. Our mobility recovery is clearly dependent on the public health situation in any given area. Asia, excluding India, is in the recovery lead,” said Khosrowshahi during an earnings call on Thursday. “We’ve seen gross bookings of Hong Kong and New Zealand at times exceed pre-Covid highs. European trends have also been encouraging,” he said.

Uber posted revenue of $2.2 billion, declining 29 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020. The net loss was $1.8 billion as Covid-19 pandemic continues to pound the transportation industry. Mobility revenue declined 67 per cent year-over-year.

Khosrowshahi said the company is adding auto-rickshaws and motorbikes since it expects many riders in emerging markets to shift from public minibuses towards these lower-cost options.

However, the revenue at Uber Eats doubled to $1.2 billion, driven by a huge demand for food delivery as people continue to stay home. The delivery revenue grew 103 per cent year-over-year.

“The Covid-19 crisis has moved food delivery from luxury to utility,” said Khosrowshahi. “And as we add more use cases, our service will move from a utility to daily need,” he said.

He said the company is ramping up its subscription efforts, including nationwide allotments of Eats Pass, which combines free food and grocery delivery; and eventually, Uber Pass, which combines both Rides and Eats benefits in one monthly package.

All of these activities have resulted in new customer acquisition, monthly active eaters, orders per eater, basket size and eater
retention, all being up year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter.

Uber said the unit economics in delivery in India is improving as showcased by its investment in food delivery firm Zomato.In January, Uber announced that it had sold the India business of Uber Eats to Zomato for a 9.99 per cent stake in the Gurugram-based company. Uber sold its Indian food delivery business to Zomato for $206 million.

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In July, Zomato said its revenue for the financial year 2020 (FY20) grew 105 per cent to $394 million, while loss rose about 6 per cent to $293 million. In its annual report, Zomato said Covid-19 had accelerated the company’s journey to profitability, in spite of initial hiccups.

Uber said it witnessed a $154 million gain on the sale of Uber Eats India operations to Zomato in the first quarter of 2020.

“Even in a market like India today, the unit economics are improving as we see through our investment in Zomato,” said Uber chief financial officer Nelson Chai during the earnings call.

Using its existing network, Uber is moving quickly into new delivery as a service offering, which it sees as a very high-potential opportunity.

“We piloted partnerships delivering home goods, pet supplies and pharmacy items,” said Khosrowshahi.

In other novel uses of its networks, the firm’s Uber Connect option lets consumers send small packages to friends and family via UberX drivers, a huge hit with Latin America with three million trips globally since early June. Last month, following promising launches in Europe and Australia, Uber expanded grocery to the U.S. this time in partnership with Cornershop.

“Consumers are quickly becoming accustomed to the magic of having anything delivered to their door in half an hour, much like the magic of having a car show up in a few minutes,” said Khosrowshahi. “This is an opportunity that will be many times larger than even we expected and one that Uber is uniquely positioned to lead.”


Cult Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky Faces Unpaid $200,000 Loan From 2016 Film ‘Endless Poetry’ (EXCLUSIVE)

A producer on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Endless Poetry” is fighting to reclaim a $200,000 loan repayment as part of an ongoing legal dispute with the cult filmmaker’s Satori Films banner.

A Paris tribunal has directed Satori Films to pay Amir Abbas Nokhasteh, an executive producer on “Endless Poetry,” almost $200,000 in repayment of a loan from the producer that was used to make the 2016 film.

A March 2020 court order from the Judicial Tribunal of Paris, seen by Variety, required Satori Films to pay a provisional sum of $193,484.01 as repayment of a $200,000 loan on the film, plus $3,563 in legal costs. However, Satori Films, of which Jodorowsky owns 94%, filed for voluntary liquidation on July 23, according to filings on France’s Infogreffe registry, seen by Variety.

“I’m not looking for sympathy at all. It is more about shedding a light on something that is happening,” Nokhasteh tells Variety.

The origins of the dispute stretch back to 2015 when Jodorowsky, now 91 — a filmmaker globally renowned for surrealist films like “El Topo,” “The Holy Mountain” and “Santa Sangre” — and documentary producer Nokhasteh (“Chuck Norris vs. Communism,” “The Ballad of Exiles Yilmaz Guney”) teamed up for “Endless Poetry,” a biographical drama looking at Jodorowsky’s youth in Chile.

Nokhasteh loaned the filmmaker roughly $200,000 in May 2015, and “Endless Poetry” went on to play the festival circuit in 2016, including Locarno, Munich and San Francisco, where it won the audience award for best narrative feature. In May 2018, the producer was paid $6,515.99 with the promise of additional payments, though those never materialized.

In July 2019, the London-based Nokhasteh took legal action against Paris-based Satori, with the French Tribunal hearing the case this past February.

Satori contended at the time that Nokhasteh’s original 2015 contract had a risk attached to this level of film financing. Satori also argued that repayment of the $200,000 was contingent on the company receiving a ¥50 billion ($475,000) grant from Japan’s Unijapan Bunkachocho Coproduction, and also demanded €5,000 ($5,936) in costs.

Nokhasteh’s legal representatives presented a translation of the contract, uncontested by Satori, in court. The document states that Nokhasteh’s $200,000 is a “direct capital investment”; that $200,000 of the Japanese grant, to be received by Satori after the first Japanese screening of “Endless Poetry” in April 2016 would be set aside for Nokhasteh and sent to him by bank transfer by April 30, 2016; and that the recovery of Nokhasteh’s debt is without any condition. The court order similarly found that the contract did not have these conditions.

Following the court decision, Satori appealed unsuccessfully. However, now that the company is in voluntary liquidation, Nokhasteh will have to declare his claim to the liquidator and go through the legal process again, as the court judgement pertains only to a working company.

“It’s hard. It makes you feel like nothing,” says Nokhasteh.

Separately, Satori has also been in the middle of an acrimonious separation from former company president Xavier Guerrero Yamamoto, who has producer credits on “Endless Poetry” and Jodorowsky titles “The Dance of Reality” and “Pyschomagic, a Healing Art.”

Referring to the Nokhasteh case, Yamamoto told Variety, “Jodorowsky has money. He has enough money to solve all the problems and all the debts. But he doesn’t want to use his money to pay.”

“As I always said, I am an artist and I don’t do art to make money,” Jodorowsky told Variety via email. “Little by little, I economized money during 20 years in order to produce my own films. I did it. I spent almost 2 millions of dollars [sic] to make my three last movies, and I lost everything because my films are not commercial.”

The filmmaker alleges that Satori owes him €700,000 ($826,941). “As you know, when you produce independent films, you take the risk to lose your money, because true art is not a business and my films didn’t make profit,” said Jodorowsky.

Jodorowsky’s latest film, documentary “Psychomagic, a Healing Art,” begins streaming in the U.S. on Aug. 7 via Alamo On Demand.

Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.


Air India Express COVID-19 repatriation plane crashes in Kerala

New Delhi: At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when an Air India Express passenger plane overshot the runway and broke into two after landing in the southern city of Calicut in heavy rain on Friday, officials said.

The Boeing-737 flight from Dubai was flying home Indians who had been stranded overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were 190 passengers and crew on board, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement. Among them were 10 infants.

A passenger is treated after an Air India Express flight skidded off the runway while landing.

A passenger is treated after an Air India Express flight skidded off the runway while landing.Credit:AP

Television footage showed rescue workers moving around the wreckage in pouring rain. The aircraft lay split into at least two chunks after the plane’s fuselage sheared apart as it fell into a valley below, authorities said.

Local media reports suggested that the plane skidded off a runway, crashing nose-first into the ground.


The Kerala state police chief said at least 15 people had been killed, with at least four passengers stuck the wreckage.

The civil aviation ministry said in a statement there was no fire on board.

The Air India Express plane was repatriating Indians who had been stuck in Dubai during the pandemic.

The Air India Express plane was repatriating Indians who had been stuck in Dubai during the pandemic.Credit:AP

Local TV news channels showed passengers, some of them lying motionless on stretchers, brought into a hospital surrounded by health workers wearing masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air India Express AXB1344 was a repatriation flight operated by the government to bring Indians home during international travel restrictions due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Millions of Indians work in the Gulf.

“Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, referring to Calicut’s new name. “My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest.”


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Adani Transmission’s profit before tax rises 50% in June quarter

Adani Transmission, which distributes power to Mumbai, reported a 50 per cent jump in profit before tax (PBT), helped by a regulatory income in the quarter ended in June.

For the April to June period, Adani Transmission reported a PBT and deferred assets recoverable of Rs 481.97 crore, up 50 per cent. Profit After Tax (PAT) for the company was at Rs 355.4 crore, higher by 67 per cent.

The company said PBT saw a positive impact of Rs 330 crore from the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity’s order in favour of Maharashtra Easter Grid Power Transmission Company in the transmission business. The firm’s consolidated operational revenue and Ebitda, however, took a hit.


NFL Players Union Backs Boston Globe Workers in Labor Fight (EXCLUSIVE)

The NFL Players Association is lending its support to the unionized employees of the Boston Globe, who have gone nearly two years without a contract.

The Globe employees are seeking to step up the pressure on John W. Henry, the owner and publisher of the paper. Henry is also a major figure in the sports world, as the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C.

The Boston Newspaper Guild will stage a rally at 1 p.m. on Sunday outside Fenway Park, shortly before the Red Sox home game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The demonstrators are calling the action “Fairness at Fenway,” and plan to wear masks and maintain social distance.

In a statement to Variety, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said the union was proud to stand up for the reporters, editors, advertising and production employees who are working without a contract.

“We are a union which has alliances across organized labor and we are proud of that,” Smith said. “We are thrilled to support the members of the press who exist for the sole reason of telling important and true stories that make our country stronger and better by holding those in power accountable. We support their desire to work as a team and will help in any way we can.”

The Newspaper Guild represents about 300 employees at the paper. Their last contract expired at the end of 2018. The union is seeking to retain seniority protections and to prevent workers from being fired without just cause, among other issues.

The negotiations have been contentious. The guild staged a lunchtime walkout to protest the stalled talks in August 2019.


US imposes sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Washington: The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the territory’s current and former police chiefs and eight other officials for their role in curtailing political freedoms in the territory.

The sanctions were imposed under an executive order US President Donald Trump signed last month to punish China for its moves against dissent in Hong Kong. They are the latest action by the Trump administration against Beijing in the run-up to the November US presidential election.

A TV in a Hong Kong restaurant broadcasts Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a press conference.

A TV in a Hong Kong restaurant broadcasts Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a press conference.Credit:AP

As well as Lam, the sanctions target Hong Kong Police commissioner Chris Tang and his predecessor Stephen Lo; John Lee Ka-chiu, Hong Kong’s secretary of security, and Teresa Cheng, the justice secretary, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

It said Beijing’s imposition of draconian national security legislation had undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy and allowed mainland security services to operate with impunity, “setting the groundwork for censorship of any individuals or outlets that are deemed unfriendly to China.”


“Carrie Lam is the Chief Executive directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes,” it said.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in the statement that the US “stands with the people of Hong Kong”.

The sanctions freeze any US asset of the officials and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.

Tensions between the United States and China have been increasing daily. China’s foreign ministry said on Friday it firmly opposes executive orders that Trump announced this week to ban US transactions with the Chinese owners of the WeChat and TikTok apps.

Last month, Carrie Lam postponed a September 6 election to Hong Kong’s legislature by a year because of a rise in coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition that had hoped to make huge gains.

The United States condemned the action, saying it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy in the Chinese-ruled territory.

A source familiar with the matter said US deliberations on the sanctions intensified after the election postponement.


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Gold price surges to all-time high of Rs 57,008, silver continues to climb

Gold price surged for the 16th straight session on Friday and touched an all-time high of Rs 57,008 per 10 grams in the national Capital, according to HDFC Securities.

Silver, too, continued its upward movement, with the price touching a record-high of Rs 77,840 per kilogram. Silver price jumped by Rs 576, compared to the closing level of Rs 77,264 per kg on Thursday.

In the previous trade, gold had closed at Rs 57,002 per 10 grams. On Friday, the price increased by Rs 6 to Rs 57,008 per 10 grams.

Prices of both the metals were at an all-time high, HDFC Securities said.

“Spot gold prices for 24 carat in Delhi continued to scale new highs by gaining Rs 6. Gold prices are trading higher for the 16th consecutive day in India,” HDFC Securities Senior Analyst (Commodities) Tapan Patel said.

In the international market, both gold and silver were trading marginally lower at $2,061 per ounce and $28.36 per ounce, respectively.

Motilal Oswal Financial Services’ Vice President (Commodities Research) Navneet Damani said: “Another day, another all-time high for gold and silver. Both the metals are just jumping numbers with still a lot of steam left in them”.


Filipino Journalist Maria Ressa on Fighting for Democracy in the Age of Social Media

Since 2016, Maria Ressa and her team of journalists at the Philippines-based news site Rappler — which she co-founded and serves as executive editor — have been squarely in the cross-hairs of the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte. It’s part of an ongoing battle between the president and Pinoy journalists, Ressa included, who have covered his violent “drug war,” a campaign that has resulted in thousands of deaths, many suspected as unlawful — and called into question the viability of the fourth estate in the Philippines (in July, one of the country’s largest broadcasters ABS-CBN was shut down, the first time such an action had been taken since 1972, when then-president Ferdinand Marcos installed martial law).

Ressa, Rappler and the increasingly tenuous state of free press and democracy in the Southeast Asian nation are the subjects of the documentary “A Thousand Cuts,” directed by Ramona S. Diaz, with Ressa’s plight taking center stage. Currently, she faces two cyber libel cases, one for which she was convicted in June and carries a sentence of up to six years in jail. In July, she pleaded “not guilty” to charges of tax evasion.

“At the very beginning, when all the cases were filed, I realized that the end goal is to silence me and Rappler,” Ressa, 56, tells Variety. “It is a press freedom issue, right? These are lots of legal acrobatics to weaponize the law so that we crumble. And I refuse to crumble.”

The film, which premiered at Sundance and will open in virtual cinemas on Aug. 7, shows the lengths to which Rappler journalists go covering their respective beats as well as harrowing moments from Ressa’s own encounters with law enforcement, such as her 2019 arrest upon arriving at the Manila airport after a flight from San Francisco. In another scene, she casually straps on a bulletproof vest and slumps into the backseat of an SUV. The threats to her work — and life — are, seemingly, ever-present.

“In four years time, I’ve learned that the way to handle this is to keep doing our jobs and that’s part of the reason, every time I feel like I’m not doing my job, I work harder,” she says. “The more the government harasses me and Rappler and other journalists, the more I think, ‘We must be missing a story… What are we missing that they don’t want us to find?’”

“A Thousand Cuts” also touches on the social media-fueled disinformation and misinformation campaigns President Duterte has deployed, which has resulted in death threats and online abuse directed personally at Ressa; at one point, she was receiving some 90 hate messages an hour. The veteran journalist thinks tech companies play a crucial role in preserving or eroding democracy by how they mitigate (or not mitigate) the spread of misinformation.

“In the Philippines, 100 percent of Filipinos on the internet are on Facebook. So Facebook is our internet, but their algorithms are selective,” she observes. “They don’t actually just give you the facts. They’re not passive [in what] they choose and what they choose, inevitably, are lies laced with anger and hate. This is emotional manipulation.”

According to Ressa, since 2018, the Philippine government has filed 11 cases against her and Rappler in 14 months, resulting in eight arrest warrants for her. The former CNN Manila bureau chief has been formally arrested twice, and the cumulative maximum sentences behind the cases could have her facing up to 100 years in prison.

It’s a reality she has grappled and made her peace with. In her commencement speech to Princeton University’s class of 2020, she told young graduates to do what she has done to cope: embrace her fear.

“Whatever that thing you’re most afraid of, you touch it. You hold it. And then you embrace it so that you rob it of its sting,” she says. “For me it’s worked throughout my life because we are our worst enemies, and the tactics of intimidation require using your own fears against you. So, I refuse to let that happen.”

Watch the full interview with Maria Ressa above. After its theatrical run, “A Thousand Cuts” will air on PBS’s “Frontline” in Jan. 2021.


What you need to know about Queensland’s three-state border lockout

The Queensland border slammed shut to anyone from New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, in a bid to stop travellers using interstate loopholes to get into the state.

As of 1am on Saturday, anyone who has come from these three areas will be turned around at the border and any Queensland residents trying to come home can only arrive by air and must pay the $2800 cost for their two-week stay in hotel COVID-19 quarantine.

Victoria continues to grapple with a COVID-19 outbreak and NSW is recording small numbers of new daily cases. Meanwhile, the ACT was included in the new restrictions because a man allegedly drove from Sydney to Canberra before flying on to Cairns, via Brisbane.

Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said Queensland residents had poured back across the border in recent days in the lead up to the hard border closure.


Traffic delays at the Gold Coast border checkpoint on Friday afternoon exceeded an hour.

Police were also kept busy ensuring nobody who visited an already-declared COVID-19 hotspot in greater Sydney or Victoria, slipped through the net.

Between 4pm on Wednesday and 4pm on Thursday, 54 interstate arrivals were ordered into hotel quarantine after visiting a known hotspot and that continued into Friday.

Long delays are expected at the interstate border checkpoints during the first few days of the new restrictions.

Long delays are expected at the interstate border checkpoints during the first few days of the new restrictions.Credit:Elise Derwin

Chief Superintendent Wheeler said a 78-year-old man was questioned on a bus trying to cross the Gold Coast border checkpoint on Friday and it was discovered he recently visited Sydney, so he was ordered into self-funded mandatory two weeks’ hotel quarantine.

There are two main exemptions available — an F pass for freight workers and an X pass for border community residents. Apart from that, “exemptions will be few and far between”, police said.

Chief Superintendent Wheeler said those moving freight were allowed to cross the borders under “tight restrictions” and those workers were asked to get tested for COVID-19 every seven days.

A border bubble has been created to help those communities either side of the Queensland-NSW border still be able to access essential services, such as medical appointments.

It encompasses the Tweed Heads Shire Council area and Gold Coast City Council boundaries, with included residents allowed to move within those two areas, but no further.

“If you reside in a border zone, you are free to travel across the border to the Gold Coast City Council area, but you cannot go any further than that,” Chief Superintendent Wheeler said.

“If you reside in Tweed Heads and you decide to go to Byron Bay for a surf, you then are not able to come [back] into Queensland.”

Meanwhile, exemptions have also been put in place for specialist workers and construction workers.

“Specialist workers may include people in law enforcement, the military and people who hold government official jobs,” Chief Superintendent Wheeler said.

“Construction workers who live within the bubble – for instance a Tweed Head builder – may, under certain circumstances, be able to go outside the Gold Coast City Council area.

“The only time you [a construction worker] can actually leave the current bubble zone is someone who lives in the Tweed, they’re a builder and they’re doing some essential construction in Brisbane.

“They would be able to go to Brisbane. However, there would be very strict conditions around that.”

Chief Superintendent Wheeler implored those contemplating crossing the interstate boundaries to read the state government’s FAQ information sheet.

“It’s really important people get their heads around this,” he said.

“I know it is complex, I know there are a lot of moving parts in this, we will be patient, but people need to also be patient and keep up with the announcements.”

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