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Mueller charges lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan in US election investigation

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A lawyer has been charged with making false statements to the investigation looking into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Alex Van Der Zwaan is accused by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller of misleading investigators about communications with political consultant and lobbyist Rick Gates.

Mr Gates was deputy to Paul Manafort who was campaign manager of the Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2016.

The indictment also accuses Mr Van Der Zwaan of deleting or otherwise not producing emails sought by the Special Counsel’s office.

Mr Van Der Zwaan will appear in the US District Court in Washington on Monday afternoon local time to enter a plea.

Mr Manafort and Mr Gates were indicted in October last year as part of Mr Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Both men were charged with 12 counts of conspiracy against the United States, making false statements, money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents for Ukraine.

The charges arose from consultant work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

They both pleaded not guilty, with Mr Manafort released on $10m bond and Mr Gates released on $5m bond and placed under house arrest as they were deemed a flight risk.

On February 15 Gates finalised a plea deal with Mr Mueller’s office, indicating he will cooperate in the election investigation.

It is not known if Mr Gates’ cooperation has led to Mr Van Der Zwaan’s indictment.

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Coronavirus: Madrid in lockdown as doctor warns Britons to follow the new rules or pay the price | World News

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A front line doctor in Madrid has urged Britons to stay strong and obey the rules as the country faces a second wave of coronavirus.

“We only have to do this for a few more weeks, not forever,” Dr Moreno Santiago told Sky News.

“Things like wearing a mask we only need to do for a few short weeks and in that time we can control the pandemic, if not we are going to pay for this. It will be very, very, very costly.”

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HUMANES, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Municipal Police control the entrance to the town on September 21, 2020, in Humanes, Madrid, Spain. Humanes is one of seven municipalities in Madrid that has basic health areas (Alicante, Cuzco and France) in which the Community of Madrid applies limitations to control the coronavirus pandemic since September 21th. The activity in the parks and gardens that will be closed to the public is suspended. (Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / AFP7 / Getty Images)
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Police expect people to follow the rules on movement

The warning comes as Spain struggles through its own new outbreaks, with data showing it is six weeks ahead of the UK.

Some 27 districts of Madrid went into new lockdown measures this week, in theory preventing inhabitants from leaving unless they have to go to work or need medical care.

We spent the day in one district and saw how few people were obeying it. Police at a checkpoint admitted they could only check every 10 or 15 cars going in or out, meaning citizens would need to self-police – and there is no enforcement on the subway in.

Inside the locked-down zones life appears reasonably normal with shops open and streets busy.

The new measures have largely targeted poorer southern districts of Madrid where many live closer together in smaller apartments. It has further exacerbated the sense of social divide and hit those already struggling the most.

Food banks are busy again with many of the users newly unemployed.



Madrid Protests







Madrid ‘not in the mood’ for a lockdown

Francisco and Carmel are both out of a job and they are running out of hope.

“We want people to help us to give us a future where we value ourselves because the way we are living has no future, this isn’t a life, even if you wanted it to be,” Carmel told us.

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Francisco was equally desperate: “To be honest I am hoping for help from my friends to find work soon because I am of a working age and can work.

“I am hoping for an opportunity because all I want is a chance to keep going ahead just like the rest of the world.”

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Alexei Navalny calls discharge from hospital ‘miracle’ after novichok poisoning | World News

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Russian opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny says it is a “miracle” he has been discharged from hospital after being treated for novichok poisoning.

The 44-year-old became unwell on a domestic flight in Siberia last month and was airlifted to Berlin in a coma.

Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden confirmed he was poisoned with the same nerve agent used to target Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.

Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a hospital in Berlin
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The Russian opposition figurehead was in a coma for 16 days

Mr Navalny said the first time he saw himself in a mirror after 16 days spent in a coma he looked like a character from Lord of the Rings and feared he would “never be discharged”.

But doctors have performed a “miracle” and he says he now no longer needs to be an in-patient but can get on with the “noramlisation” of life, he wrote on Instagram in a post sent as he was “hobbling through the park”.

Mr Navalny said he is still learning to regain strength in his limbs and cannot throw a ball with his left hand but will get sessions with a physiotherapist every day.

He added when he asked doctors how to exercise his brain, they told him: “Read more, write on social networks, play video games.”

“I need to find out if the hospital can get a PlayStation 5 prescription,” he joked in the sign-off.

Medics at the Charite hospital where Mr Navalny had been treated said his condition “improved sufficiently for him to be discharged from acute inpatient care”.

The hospital added based on his progress and current condition, “the treating physicians believe that complete recovery is possible”.

But it cautioned “it remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning”.

Navalny. Pic: @navalny
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Mr Navalny was in intensive care for over three weeks. Pic: @navalny

The Kremlin responded by saying it was pleased to learn of Mr Navalny’s recovery.

He is free to return to Russia but it remains to be seen if he wants to share information with law enforcement officials there, a spokesperson added.

They also insisted no-one in President Vladimir Putin’s entourage has access to novichok.

Mr Navalny had been in hospital for 32 days – 24 of them in intensive care.

His team said they searched the Siberian hotel room where he stayed prior to the flight on 20 August – an hour after the news broke he had been taken ill.

They claimed he was poisoned using a water bottle, gathered up as part of any evidence “that could even hypothetically be useful”.



The nerve agent used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detected on an empty water bottle from his hotel room. his team allege







Navalny video ‘shows novichok water bottles’

All the items were passed to German authorities because “the fact that the case would not be investigated in Russia was quite obvious,” they added.

The UK and other Western countries have demanded answers from Russia.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a “full, transparent investigation into what happened” and pledged to “join international efforts to ensure justice is done”.

Moscow has said it is yet to see evidence of a crime and has declined to open an investigation so far.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement.

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Coronavirus: Dogs deployed at Helsinki Airport to sniff out virus | World News

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An airport in Finland is using sniffer dogs to detect passengers infected with coronavirus.

Helsinki Airport is trialling the scheme which will see 10 dogs trained in total by Wise Nose, a smell detection agency, with four deployed to work per shift.

It follows a study by the University of Helsinki’s Veterinary Faculty, which suggested trained dogs can detect COVID-19 with close to 100% certainty.

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Kossi (L) and Miina (R), some of the sniffer dogs being trained to detect the coronavirus from the arriving passengers' samples, is seen at Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland September 22, 2020. Lehtikuva/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. FINLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN FINLAND.
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Finnish airport operator Finavia is trialling the scheme after a study suggested trained dogs can detect COVID-19 with close to 100% certainty

Finnish airport operator Finavia said: “We are among the pioneers. As far as we know no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19.

“This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19.”

But for those hoping for a quick play with a puppy there’s bad news – there’s no direct interaction between passengers and the pooches.

Those who are tested will also receive a conventional check to make sure the animals are accurate.

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One of the dogs – an eight-year-old greyhound mix called Kossi, learned to identify the scent in just seven minutes.

The scheme will see passengers swab their skin with a wipe, which they will then drop into a cup to be given to one of the dogs to check in a separate booth.

The operation is being run in this way to protect passengers’ anonymity and also protect dog handlers.

Anyone who tests positive will be sent to an information point at the airport.

Finland has reported 9,195 cases of COVID-19 and 341 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak.

In the UK, the charity Medical Detection Dogs is running a programme to see if it can train hounds to be able to sniff out the coronavirus.

The scheme is being run with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University, with funding from both the government and the public.

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