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10 are white and seven are men

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The new trial is set to begin April 9, and prosecutors and the defense team have spent the last three days questioning potential jurors who must decide if Cosby is guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. They still must choose six alternates for the trial, which is expected to last a month.

There were some tense moments in the Pennsylvania courtroom when Cosby’s lawyers, for the second day in a row, alleged that prosecutors were trying to keep some people off the jury because of their race or gender.

Defense attorney Kathleen Bliss claimed the district attorney was striking both older white men and black women from the panel. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele denounced the claim as “ludicrous.”

Judge Steven O’Neill, clearly annoyed by the defense’s objections, said he didn’t see a reason to stop the selection process.

“At this stage, it does not appear that there is any discriminatory attempt,” Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said.

It’s illegal for either side to use peremptory challenges — their chances to reject a potential juror without giving a reason — to keep someone off a jury solely on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender. It’s known as a Batson violation after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling of the same name.

Both gender and race could be factors in the second trial of one of America’s top black celebrities, who is accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, both white and black, stretching back decades. Cosby denies all allegations.

On Tuesday, Bliss sprung a Batson challenge on the judge after prosecutors used one of their seven peremptory challenges to strike a white male.

“Gender, like race, is subject to strict screening,” Bliss said. “I believe that white males are a protected group.”

O’Neill sounded incredulous. “There is no prima facie case for this challenge. Move forward,” he said.

The next day, the prosecution used one of its challenges to strike a black woman. Bliss objected, citing Batson, and the judge chided her for not giving him notice that she might do so.

“I couldn’t have anticipated this,” she said, and then handed out a prepared brief.

“By all appearances, she was perfectly qualified,” Bliss told the judge. “There is no explanation other than her race and therefore an inference has been created here.”

DA Kevin Steele was incensed.

“We have had two available African-Americans for jury selection in this case. We have gladly taken both of those seemingly very responsible people and they are on our jury now,” he said.

Ezra Kaplan reported from Norristown. Tracy Connor reported from New York.

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Lewis Hamilton hails ‘magical moment’ as he wins 100th Formula One race | UK News

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Lewis Hamilton has spoken of the “magical moment” of winning his 100th Formula One race at Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, 36, used his driving and overtaking skills, and his strategic thinking in the rain, to fight back from seventh place on the first lap to a landmark victory.

He is the first driver to reach 100 victories.

It was his fifth win of the season and his first since the British Grand Prix in July.

“It’s taken a long time to get to 100 and at times, I wasn’t sure it would come,” the British driver said.

“It is a magical moment. I could only have dreamed of still being here, to have this opportunity to win these races, and to drive with such phenomenal talents this late on in my career.”

“I am so proud of everything we have done with Mercedes, on and off the track, and this is a special moment for everyone that has been part of it.

“My dad called me last night and he has always been that one to reassure me and to continue to support me. I feel incredibly grateful for the amazing support that I have had.”

The victory takes Hamilton two points clear of Max Verstappen in the title race with seven rounds to go.

It also denied Lando Norris of his first victory following a thrilling finale.

Norris, 21, appeared on course to keep Hamilton at bay, and become the youngest British Formula One winner.

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Vladimir Putin pictured fishing and hiking on Siberian forest holiday | World News

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The Kremlin has released pictures showing Russian President Vladimir Putin on a fishing and hiking holiday in Siberia.

Mr Putin, 68, was joined by defence minister Sergei Shoigu, his regular holiday companion, for the short break earlier this month.

Mr Putin visited the Primorye and the Amur Region of the Russian Far East earlier this month Pic: AP
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Mr Putin visited the Primorye and the Amur Region of the Russian Far East earlier this month. Pic: AP

The Russian premier stopped off for a few days after a working trip to the Primorye and the Amur Region of Russia‘s Far East.

He appeared relaxed while walking through meadows against a dramatic mountain backdrop, casually dressed in a khaki-coloured hat and jacket.

The Kremlin released the images of Mr Putin on Sunday, 26 September Pic: AP
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Mr Putin appeared relaxed while walking through meadows against a dramatic mountain backdrop. Pic: AP
President Putin leans against a tree in a forest on a short break earlier this month Pic: AP
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President Putin leans against a tree in a forest on a short break earlier this month Pic: AP

He took a moment to lean against a tree while staring into the distance in another shot.

And he couldn’t disguise his delight as he smiled proudly while holding aloft a fish he caught in a nearby lake.

Video footage, released alongside the pictures by the Kremlin on Sunday, also showed Mr Putin driving an amphibious vehicle through a river in the region.

Days after the break, the Russian leader was forced to spend a “few days” in isolation after dozens of people in his inner circle caught COVID-19.

Mr Putin was joined on the fishing trip by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu Pic: AP
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Mr Putin was joined on the fishing trip by defence minister Sergei Shoigu. Pic: AP

The outbreak prompted Mr Putin to cancel his trip to Tajikistan for a security summit.

He has had two shots of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and is feeling healthy, the Kremlin said.

The Russian leader is known for his love of the great outdoors and has often been pictured bare-chested in an apparent bid to cultivate his macho image.

Mr Putin on a fishing trip during a mini break in the Siberian Tyva region in August 2017 Pic: AP
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Mr Putin on a fishing trip during a mini break in the Siberian Tyva region in August 2017. Pic: AP

He was most famously pictured shirtless atop a horse on a mountain holiday in southern Siberia’s Tuva region in 2009 where he paraded his bare chest and his fishing prowess.

Mr Putin later stripped down to the waist before plunging into an icy lake as part of evens to mark Orthodox Epiphany in January 2018.

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UK troops face questioning over woman’s 2012 murder in Kenya | World News

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Nine British soldiers face being questioned over the murder of a Kenyan woman whose body was found in a septic tank of a hotel close to a UK army camp more than nine years ago.

The body of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru was discovered at the Lions Court Inn in Nanyuki two months after she disappeared in March 2012.

The town, which lies some 122 miles (196km) north of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, is close to the British Training Unit Kenya, which is commonly known as BATUK.

Ministry of Defence in London
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The Ministry of Defence says it is in discussion with the Kenyan authorities

An initial inquiry stalled, but a fresh investigation was launched after an inquest delayed until 2019 found Ms Wanjiru was unlawfully killed, according to The Sunday Times.

A post-mortem examination found she died as a result of stab wounds to her chest and abdomen.

There was also evidence she had been beaten, although due to the condition of her body it was unclear whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Witnesses told The Sunday Times that Ms Wanjiru, a sex worker, was last seen leaving the hotel’s bar with a British soldier.

A previous investigation into her death foundered when a request by Kenyan police in June 2012 to the British Royal Military Police (RMP) that nine soldiers be questioned apparently went missing.

Detectives are said to have asked the RMP to put 13 questions to the soldiers, including whether any of them had sex with Ms Wanjiru on the night she disappeared.

A photo of the victim was included in the request, as well as a request for DNA samples to be taken from the nine men.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said it received no such request for assistance in summer 2012, but is now “in discussion with the Kenyan authorities to determine what support is needed”.

It said RMP Special Investigation Branch (SIB) officers had been in Kenya for unrelated reasons around the time of Ms Wanjiru’s murder, and had assisted in compiling the list of the nine soldiers.

The victim’s sister, Rose Wanyua Wanjiku, now 48, told The Sunday Times: “She was in the company of some British soldiers. I believe they were responsible.

“The Kenyan police should have forced the British Army to produce the culprits to face the law.”

An MoD spokesman said: “In 2012, Special Investigation Branch carried out initial inquiries in Kenya, including providing information about British personnel to the Kenyan police.

“No further requests for assistance were received.

“Following the conclusion of a Kenyan inquest in 2019, we are aware that the Kenyan authorities are looking into this incident.

“The jurisdiction for this investigation rests with the Kenyan police, and we are currently in discussions with the Kenyan authorities to determine what support is needed.

“Due to this being subject to an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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