Bitcoin implosion could ‘spill over’ into stock market – Wells Fargo

By ethan / December 26, 2017

Stocks could easily get dragged into chaos if the cryptocurrency boom goes bust, according to Wells Fargo Securities, which warns the unusual activity in the crypto market could lead to one of the most epic bubbles of all time.

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© Aly Song

“There is a significant amount of froth in the crypto markets. We do think that if that froth comes out, it will start to spillover,” Christopher Harvey, the firm’s head of equity strategy told CNBC.

The recent wild rally of bitcoin and its peers has sparked warnings that investors need to beware that they are not risking a repeat of the 17th-century tulip mania bubble.

Bitcoin has fallen more than 25 percent from its all-time highs of $ 20,000 spurred by futures listings on major derivatives exchanges. The virtual currency’s slump last week has made some of its supporters revise their projections. Even billionaire Michael Novogratz who had predicted bitcoin would rise to $ 40,000 by 2019 and was very bullish on cryptocurrencies, updated his forecast, saying bitcoin could drop to $ 8,000 by year-end.

The Wells Fargo chief said he was worried a cryptomarket crash would start affecting equities. “You’re seeing it a little bit, but just not to a large degree. And, it’s something to watch out for in 2018.”

Talking about the stock market, which is poised to have its best year since 2013, he said: “You have to lower your expectations for next year.”

“A lot of good news is already priced in, and we just don’t see that much going forward. It’ll be a decent market, it just won’t be a banner year,” he explained.

According to Harvey, the first half of the year will be stronger than the second.

He has predicted that by that time stocks will come up against new challenges, whether the crypto market implodes or not.

“What the market will have to contend with is EPS [earnings per share] peaking, ISM [International Securities Market] potentially peaking, you’re going to have the yield-curve in all likelihood flattening — and in addition to that, you’ll likely have multiples start to compress,” Harvey said.

“You’re going to have to scratch and claw to stay afloat for it to break even,” he added.

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Bitcoin recovers from brutal sell-off that wiped out nearly half its value

By ethan / December 26, 2017

The leading cryptocurrency bitcoin has passed the $ 15,000 mark on Tuesday. It has been recovering from last week’s sell-off, which sent prices below $ 11,000 after the $ 20,000 record.

Bitcoin was trading at $ 15,400 on Tuesday, up almost nine percent. Its market cap reached $ 257 billion with its share of the cryptocurrency market sliding to 44 percent, according to Coinmarketcap.

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© Aly Song

“There is no right current price which would reflect the right current valuation,” cryptocurrency expert Andrei Popescu told Reuters.

“Taking profit is right while buying into a long-term projection is also right. You don’t have to be right in this market, just less wrong than the rest,” Popescu said.

Cryptocurrency entrepreneur Julian Hosp has predicted bitcoin will reach a new record high, but not before another price crash.

“I think we’re going to see bitcoin hitting the $ 60,000 mark, but I also think we’re going to see bitcoin hitting the $ 5,000 mark,” Hosp told CNBC.

“The question is though, ‘Which one is it going to hit first?” he said.

Hosp said the market anticipated the recent drop in prices, and it gave an opportunity to buy bitcoin at a discount.

“This dip for us was very, very healthy, and some of us have used it to buy a little bit more because suddenly we had 40-45 percent discount to all-time highs,” he said.

“I don’t think crypto winter is going to come in the next couple of months, but I think if we look down one to two years, there is definitely going to be a big compression in the market,” Hosp added.

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‘Show us the evidence’: N. Korea invites US to prove Pyongyang’s WannaCry connection

By ethan / December 26, 2017

North Korea has demanded the US provide evidence to support its claims that the WannaCry ransomware attack was engineered by Pyongyang. The attack crippled 200,000 computers in 150 countries earlier in 2017.

Washington’s allegations are merely a “baseless provocation” used to generate tensions between the countries, Pak Song Il, the North Korean ambassador for American affairs at the UN, told AP.

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Pyongyang considers these claims an attempt to create an “extremely confrontational atmosphere,” the North’s top official stated. “If they are so sure, show us the evidence,” the envoy added.

Earlier in December, White House Homeland Security advisor Tom Bossert wrote an Op-Ed claiming that the US has proof that it was North Korea behind the WannaCry cyber-attack, citing a “careful investigation.” Bossert named Pyongyang as the culprit in the attack, although no particular organization or person affiliated with the North Korean government was specifically named.

In May 2017, the global WannaCry cyber-attack targeted computers worldwide. During the attack, personal data was stolen from private users and ransom payment was requested in the form of bitcoin.

Following the ransomware attack, speculation emerged that North Korea may have played a significant role in the hack. Neel Mehta, a prominent Google security researcher, revealed a resemblance between the code used in what is said to be an early version of WannaCry ransomware, and that of a hacking tool attributed to the notorious Lazarus Group in a Twitter post.

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Court ruled Ukraine must pay gas debt, Kiev’s victory claim hollow – Gazprom vice chair

By ethan / December 26, 2017

A Stockholm arbitration hearing has validated the most important points of Gazprom’s delivery contract with Ukraine, the deputy chair of Russia’s gas giant has said, and Kiev will have to pay despite claiming it has won the case.

“The main provisions of the contract were recognized as valid” by the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Gazprom Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev told the Rossiya 24 channel, adding that Gazprom believes that its “lawsuit was satisfied in the key contractual terms.” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s claim that Naftogaz had won the case is “at least, strange and makes one wonder if he was correctly informed on results of this arbitration,” Medvedev said.

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© Gleb Garanich

The Swedish arbitration body ruled on the three-year dispute between Gazprom and Naftogaz Friday, both entities acknowledged. The policy of the Institute prevents it from even acknowledging that it’s mediating the case, which makes it impossible to obtain its own account of the final ruling. As a result, both energy companies have opposing takes on the outcome, both claiming victory in the case.

Medvedev said in line with the decision, Naftogaz immediately has to pay slightly over $ 2 billion, with a $ 600,000 fine added for every day of non-payment. With the Ukrainian enterprise having already paid their Russian partners $ 3.1 billion, the “total payment in this dispute amounted to $ 5.1 billion to be received by Gazprom,” he added.

Gazprom is “waiting for the contract to be fulfilled,” Medvedev said. “So far, we have received neither the money nor the fines for the delay. The penalty is growing. It has reached $ 1.8 million over the course of the last three days” since Friday’s decision, he said. Medvedev also pointed out that Ukraine has the right to purchase 5 billion cubic meters of gas if payment is made.

Ukraine’s claims that the Swedish arbitration body annulled the ‘take-or-pay’ provision were also misguided, Medvedev said. “This isn’t the case. Regarding the two remaining years, the amount of ‘take-or-pay’ was established at the level of 80 percent from 5 billion cubic meters of the annual volume. This is also a very important decision by the arbitration,” he said. ‘Take or pay’ means the client has to pay for a certain amount of gas agreed upon even if they don’t use all that is supplied to them, ensuring the contractual obligations are observed.

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The ‘take-or-pay’ rule wasn’t implemented in full because the arbitration “apparently took into account… That the full application of ‘take-or-pay’ was impossible for either Naftogaz or for Ukraine as a whole” Medvedev said. “If it was fully implemented, this would lead to bankruptcy of not only Naftogaz, but of the entire Ukrainian economy,” he explained.
“One shouldn’t forget that the Ukrainian side’s demands for a compensation of its so-called overpayment of $ 14 billion were completely denied,” Gazprom’s deputy chairman manager said. He clarified that Ukraine tried to retroactively decrease the price of Russian gas, claiming it had paid too much for the resource over the past few years.

Naftogaz also hailed the ruling as a major win, estimating its positive effects at $ 75 billion. This sum included every penny the Ukrainian company would’ve had to pay Gazprom. It claimed further that the arbitration sanctioned the re-export of gas while voiding the linking of gas prices to oil products.

President Poroshenko described the results of the Stockholm arbitration as a “huge contribution into the energy security of our state.” He congratulated “the legal team of Naftogaz, the government, all the people of Ukraine on learning to defend its interests using European courts.”

The legal battle between Gazprom and Naftogaz in the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has been rumbling on since June 2014. Most of the Russian company’s claims against Naftogaz relate to fines for insufficient withdrawal of gas by the Ukrainian side in accordance with the ‘take-or-pay’ rule. Gazprom also demanded payment of the debt and fines for gas delivered to Ukraine between May and June 2014. Naftogaz, in its motion, pushed for a retroactive change in the price of gas, the reimbursement of overpayment for unreviewed prices, and a repeal of the ban on reselling Russian gas.

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Russian Football Union chief Vitaly Mutko temporarily resigns, appeals lifetime Olympic ban

By ethan / December 26, 2017

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has announced he is stepping down from his post as head of the Russian Football Union (RFU) for six months to focus on upcoming litigation over his lifetime Olympic ban.

Mutko was handed a lifetime ban from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on December 5 amid allegations of his involvement in a state-sponsored doping programme. He protested his innocence Monday by firmly denying that such a scheme ever even existed in Russia. “Nobody accused me in those reports. It just so happened to be that all the responsibility has been on me since the 2010 Vancouver Games. And I, as minister of sports of that time, was banned from attending Olympics,” Mutko said at a meeting of the Russian Football Union (RFU).

Mutko served as the sports minister from 2008 to 2016 before being appointed deputy prime minister in October, 2016, shortly after the Rio Olympics Games which was marred by doping allegations against Russian athletes and a blanket ban on the country’s renowned track and field team. He said he is filing an appeal with the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in Lausanne Tuesday over the IOC’s decision to deny him access to Olympic events in any capacity.

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Mutko said he would leave his post for only six months, until June, 25, as he would be focussing on challenging the legality of his ban in court. If the matter is settled ahead of schedule, he would return sooner, Mutko said, rejecting the possibility of the RFU holding snap elections. “My mandate is valid up until 2020. I’m going to be back.” 

The former sports minister’s name appeared in the report by Canadian professor Richard McLaren on the Sochi-2014 Games which claimed to have unearthed widespread Russian violations of doping rules under a state-sponsored doping system. McLaren’s dossier was based almost solely on the claims of disgraced former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov, wanted in Russia over drug and doping related charges.

Recently, a number of Russian athletes at the Sochi games, including gold medalists Alexander Legkov, Alexander Tretyakov and Alexander Zubkov were stripped of their medals and barred from participating in any future Olympics. Twenty-two Russian athletes have filed appeals to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) over their lifetime bans.

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Mutko slammed the decision by the IOC to slap bans – without hard evidence – on a number of Russian athletes, none of whom tested positive for doping. “We have met all demands by WADA and IOC! We have replaced all persons in charge…Then new demands surfaced, reports by McLaren, [Denis] Oswald, [former Swiss President Samuel] Schmid! 46 athletes have been blamed based on Rodchenkov’s testimonies. But, in our view, not a single fact of doping violations by our athletes in Sochi has been established. Not a single one! And they have made their decisions.”

During his temporary leave, Mutko will be replaced at the helm of the RFU by its Director General, Alexander Aliev.

Mutko had previously indicated he would be ready to step aside “at any moment” if such move would be in the best interest of all involved. As the head of the RFU, Mutko is a pivotal figure in the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15.

He said further that he was ready to quit his post as the head of FIFA’s World Cup Organizing Committee (the body that oversees  preparations to the World Cup) but that decision would be up to Russian authorities.

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'Secret Santa' who gifted horse manure to Mnuchin likens himself to Jesus

By ethan / December 26, 2017

Dropping horse manure as a Christmas gift to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was a Jesus-like act, the man behind the stunt said, comparing the Republicans to Biblical merchants “ripping off the American people.”

Robby Strong, who has claimed responsibility for delivering a gift-wrapped box with horse manure to the Bel Air area where Mnuchin lives, said he took on the example of Jesus, who had “cleansed” the Temple by putting merchants and money changers to flight as they turned the house of God into a “den of thieves.”

“What I did, I would like to compare to what Jesus did when he went into the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers, who were exploiting the people financially in the name of religion. I feel like that’s what the GOP has done to the American people,” Strong told KPCC radio.

On his Twitter page, Strong drew another religious parallel, comparing himself to none other than Martin Luther, and his gift of “95 feces” to the 95 theses Luther nailed to the church door of Wittenberg Castle.  “It’s time for another Reformation,” said Strong. 

The festively wrapped package raised quite a stink and a stir in the Bel Air neighbourhood when it was discovered by Mnuchin’s neighbour Saturday night, causing a bomb scare and drawing in the Secret Service. Despite it all, no charges have been brought against Strong so far, although the Secret Service reportedly interviewed him.

While the man said he was not expecting to walk free, Strong noted that he couldn’t see anything that would be deemed punishable under the law in his actions. “Is there a law that you can’t drop off a box of poo? Not really,” he said, as cited by

And although the festive ‘box of poo’ propelled him into the spotlight, Strong has a history of activism and was an organizer for Occupy L.A. The activist told KPCC he is aware the stunt could spell trouble for him, including with the LA Department of Mental Health, where he works as a psychologist.

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He, however, appeared to show no remorse by saying: “In the long run, if we don’t do stuff like this, what are we going to have left?”

Strong’s “Secret Santa project” has divided opinion on Facebook, with his page flooded with hundreds of both angry and lauding comments. While most lavished praise on Strong for doing “a good job,” some even branding him a “hero,” there were others who slammed the activist for drawing police’s attention away from serious matters.

US President Donald Trump’s $ 1.5 trillion tax overhaul, which he had branded “an incredible Christmas gift for hard-working Americans,” has drawn ire from Democrats that were hoping, up until the last minute, to kill the landmark legislation. Following the passing of the bill by Congress, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) denounced it as a “giant handout for the rich and powerful.”

Apart from being a staunch proponent of the bill, Mnuchin has also come under fire after reports surfaced earlier that he asked for a government jet for his honeymoon.

Strong was very forthright in the Christmas card he attached to the bizzare ‘gift package.’“Dear Misters Trump and Mnuchin, we are returning your Christmas gift of the Republican tax plan because it’s complete horse s**t. Sincerely, the American people.”

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Legal US marijuana sales up 30% in 2017 – report

By ethan / December 25, 2017

Legal cannabis sales in the US have seen a sharp increase this year, with total purchases growing by 30 percent, a report by Marijuana Business Daily says. It suggests sales could grow even more next year.

Legal pot sales could increase by another 45 percent in 2018, the latest annual report by Marijuana Business Daily said. The publication, a trade news website for professionals in the recreational and medical cannabis industry in the US, further forecasts that  legal weed sales in America could quadruple between 2016 and 2021, with the marijuana market eventually hitting highs of $ 17 billion in sales.

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As sales figures rise, so too the debate around its legalization. It’s no longer a taboo topic as the number of people supporting such a move swells in the US. According to Gallup’s October 2017 annual survey on cannabis, as many as 64 percent of respondents said they want to see pot legalized, an all-time record, according to some media outlets. The number of weed legalization supporters in the US has grown by almost 40 percent since 1995, when California became the first US state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. Back then, only about 25 percent backed the idea to legalize the herb.

Eight US states – Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Oregon – have so far decriminalized the sale and possession of weed both for medical and recreational use. The District of Columbia also decriminalized the personal use of cannabis, but not its commercial sale. In total, 23 US states have laws that allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes to some extent. However, on a federal level, it is still illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana.

READ MORE: Canada could make a fortune from legalized pot

Uruguay is currently the only country in the world which has fully legalized marijuana. The cultivation of cannabis was legalized in 2014, and its sale became legal in July 2017. Canada could possibly soon follow suit. The Cannabis Act was introduced in the Canadian Senate in late November. It is overwhelmingly backed by the general public and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and legislation is expected to be passed by July 2018, perhaps even earlier. The annual sales of weed in Canada is projected to range between $ 2.3 billion and $ 4.5 billion by 2021, according to the Marijuana Business Daily.

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‘I don’t want to suffer any more’– Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort ready to be euthanized

By ethan / December 25, 2017

A Belgian Paralympic athlete who suffers from an incurable form of progressive tetraplegia has revealed she is ready to be euthanised to get over the pain which has become unbearable.

Marieke Vervoort who won four Paralympic medals, including the coveted gold in London in 2012, signed euthanasia papers in 2008 so she can decide when to end her own life. She, however, decided to end her life after the 2016 Games in Rio which was her “last wish.”

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Marieke Vervoort. © Adrian Dennis

After claiming Paralympic silver in Brazil in 2016, the Belgian athlete pointed out she was not going to die by euthanasia immediately but when her “bad days outnumber the good.”

“Nobody knows this, but three days before my first race in Brazil I was in hospital, because I was being sick constantly and dehydrating. I was so angry, and yet I came second. I suppose when you are mad, you are a lot tougher than normal,” she told the Telegraph.

“Everybody sees me joyful, winning medals, being strong, but they don’t see the other side. That is why every Paralympian is, to me, a champion,” Vervoort added.

Vervoort’s health problems began in 2000 when she was diagnosed with the rare progressive tetraplegia condition, which first affected her achilles tendons and rapidly spread, paralyzing her limbs. By 2008, her condition seriously deteriorated and the young woman, who had previously led an active life practicing triathlon and deep-sea diving, found herself in a wheelchair after her legs stopped working altogether.

Doctors say her degenerative spinal disease, also known as quadriplegia – which takes away the use of all four limbs and the torso – originated from a rare deformation between the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae. However, they fail to explain the reason for excruciating pain which tortures the athlete.

“I don’t want to suffer any more,” Vervoort said.

“It’s too hard for me now. I get more and more depressed. I never had these feelings before. I cry a lot. Now even my eyesight is disappearing. An optician saw me and rated one eye two out of 10, and the other just one. He said there was nothing he could do, because the problem was coming from my brain. Then a neurologist stayed with me the whole night while I had one spasm after another. She said it wasn’t an epileptic seizure but just the body screaming, ‘I’m in so much pain. I’m done,” she said despairingly.

Strong painkillers which provided short term relief have become less effective, she said.

“I can’t sleep at night. My psychologist knows it. I want her to be with me when I die. She works at the hospital but even she says, ‘It is a lot that you are going through. I have never seen anything like this.’”

The 38-year-old said she didn’t want to give up and spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair, but all her efforts to fight back the disease have been in vain.

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Marieke Vervoort. © Jason Cairnduff

“I’m a Taurus,” Vervoort said. “If I want something, I go for it. I never give up easily. I didn’t want to accept that I would end up in a wheelchair. But in 2000 I couldn’t do it any longer, although I was still able to use my stomach and my back muscles. Even that has become less and less. Now I’m paralyzed all the way to my breasts. My finger function is going down as well. I have such a strong heart, but the pain medication is doing nothing any more. They have given me so many injections that everything is broken and hard. Sometimes the liquid goes in and comes straight back out.”

Vervoort said she feels like a 90-year-old person and has already completed all the necessary pre-arrangements for her death. She has written letters to loved ones, which should be opened and read when the moment comes. She has given orders to release white butterflies out of a red box to mark her passing. Vervoort, who considers herself an atheist, has rejected a church funeral.

In Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, three different doctors must confirm that the patient is in a state of unbearable and incurable pain before giving him or her the lethal medication. Vervoort already has that confirmation signed.
She wishes for her ashes to be scattered in the ocean near the Canary Island of Lanzarote, which she calls her “favorite place in the world.”

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$9.7mn in property lost in Afghanistan, Pentagon’s watchdog says

By ethan / December 25, 2017

The US has, since 2012, ‘lost’ some $ 9,7 million in assets in Afghanistan because of the army’s negligence, Pentagon’s watchdog has revealed, adding enemy troops might have even used the resources against US troops.

The ‘Army Oversight of Logistics. Civil Augmentation Program Government-Furnished Property in Afghanistan’ report was released by the Inspector General of the US Department of Defense earlier in December. It analyzed the US army-administered Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) which enlists contractors to provide housing, transportation and facilities maintenance for US forces. The program is tasked with maintaining Government-furnished property (GFP) in Afghanistan, servicing heating and air conditioning units, forklifts and power generators.

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© Ryan Hallock

The key finding of the study highlighted the US army’s negligence in managing US assets and that it didn’t conduct “effective oversight” of it’s inventory. “LOGCAP contractors themselves reported more than $ 9.7 million in GFP losses since 2012,” the report says. And as US army officials did not maintain accurate records of all the property, they cannot be certain that “all contractor GFP losses have been identified, investigated, and reported.”

“As of May 2017, the US army didn’t maintain accountability of at least 26,993 items, valued at $ 99.9 million,” the document said. It added the property was at increased risk of “being lost, stolen, or unaccounted for without Army detection.”

“If enemy forces obtain certain controlled items, such as personal protective equipment, they could be used against US and Coalition forces,” it said further. LOGCAP’s “lack of accountability” limited the US army’s ability to sustain its bases in Afghanistan in a proper manner, the company adds. Specifically, the US military had to rely on contractors’ records “for procurement-related decision making.” At least 20 fire trucks worth $ 8.6 million, and six semi-trucks worth $ 1.3 million, were among the items ‘lost’ due to negligence.

This is not the first report that questions US management strategy in Afghanistan. In August this year, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) revealed that its mission in the war-ravaged country failed to report fresults from 91 percent of Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) contributions in its 2013-2015 annual reports. USAID provided Afghanistan with $ 1,5 billion, according to the data.

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© Ahmad Masood

Also in August, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) revealed that USAID spent $ 160mn on failed e-payments program for Afghanistan.Later in September, SIGAR criticized the Pentagon for spending billions outfitting Afghan forces without giving them proper training.

Earlier this year, US president Donald Trump blasted the US military’s top brass for losing ground in the country and even questioned whether America’s longest-running war is still worth fighting. In July, US Defense Secretary James Mattis echoed the president, criticizing the Pentagon for spending $ 28 million on uniforms for Afghan National Army soldiers, which featured a camouflage pattern entirely unsuitable for Afghanistan.

Despite the US-led war in Afghanistan which has been raging on for nearly seventeen years, the Taliban still maintains a significant presence in the country. From 2001 to mid-2016, around 104,000 people, including 31,000 civilians have been killed in the war, according to the Costs of War Project.

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Serena Williams to step back onto tennis court after maternity leave this Saturday

By ethan / December 25, 2017

Former world number one Serena Williams of the USA will make her tennis comeback at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the tournament organizers have announced.

The 36-year-old player is to face off against the reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in an exhibition match, scheduled to take place on the tournament’s final day, December 30.

Williams, who claimed the 2017 Australian Open title while pregnant, hasn’t competed for almost 11 months, taking an enforced hiatus from sport to give birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia in September.

“I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September.” Williams said. “The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season and I am excited and honored to be making my comeback as part of the first women [sic] to participate in the event. I look forward to seeing the fans in Abu Dhabi at the 10th Edition of the Championship very soon.”

Williams and Ostapenko will be the first women ever to participate in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which was previously contested by only male players, who warmed up there ahead of the season-opening Australian Open.

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© Issei Kato

The 20-year-old Latvian, for whom this will be the first encounter with Williams, also said it will be a great honor to take part in the tournament’s first ever women’s match. “I am thrilled to be playing in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship,” Ostapenko said. “This will be the first time that women have taken part in the event and it is a huge honor to be part of that history after watching the tournament for many years. Last season was really incredible for me and I cannot wait to continue the start of my new season at such an amazing event.”

Williams, who has won an incredible 23 Grand Slams during her glittering career, intends to restore her previously-held position in tennis and break the all-time record held by Margaret Court of Australia, who has 24 Slams under her belt.

The competition in Abu Dhabi, which runs from December 28 to 30, will also feature the highly-anticipated comeback of Serbian star Novak Djokovic, who has not played since pulling out of Wimbledon, the major grass-court event, in July.

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