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Beijing 2022: Chinese women look ahead after making history in monobob’s Olympic debut

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Huai Mingming spoke to reporters in the same way she raced down the specially-designed ice track at the National Sliding Center on Monday: with an air of self-possession and infallible perseverance, with an unwavering and unrelenting commitment to excellence and reliability.

The 26-year-old, who, along with compatriot Ying Qing, became the first Chinese women ever to compete at the Olympic’s inaugural monobob event, is not used to being in the spotlight. But when she is, she tends to be brutally honest about her failings and flaws.

“I did a poor job on the start today and didn’t quite perform to the level I normally do in training,” observed Huai, who finished a respectable sixth with a four-run combined time of 4 minutes 22.58 seconds. American veteran Kaillie Humphries powered to victory ahead of teammate Elana Meyers Taylor, while Canada’s Christine de Bruin won bronze.

Unlike in the traditional bobsleigh showdowns, where two or four athletes either push or pilot a sled down the track, monobob features only one athlete, who is tasked with multiple jobs during the whole process. The women’s-only event requires all competitors to use the same type of sled, leveling the playing field for those who have typically found it harder to access high-tech gear.

Huai Mingming of China waves to the crowd after her slide in the women’s monobob bobsleigh event at Beijing 2022 at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing, Beijing, China, February 14, 2022. /CFP

While the priority has shifted from technology to athletic skill, Huai admitted it has been a steep learning curve but believed the experience will benefit her career.

“I usually practice two-woman bobsleigh in training, so I struggled a lot today when I had to push the sled alone,” she said. “I’m going to focus on improving my muscle strength and trying to gain more weight.”

“The best thing about high level foreign athletes is their ability to adapt and adjust. Although they are not as familiar with the course as our Chinese racers, they can always adapt to the course in the shortest possible time. This is an area where I need to strengthen my skills in the future,” she added.

Ying Qing of China takes part in a training session of the two-woman bobsleigh event at Beijing 2022 at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing, Beijing, China, February 15, 2022. /CFP

Huai is a fast learner and has made tremendous progress in recent years. In March 2019, she only managed 10th at the World Championships in Whistler, Canada. In January this year, she had her best monobob result at the World Series event, finishing fourth in Sigulda, Latvia.

While securing a sixth-place finish in monobob at her first Olympics is surely another personal milestone, Huai has set her sights on the two-woman event on Friday. “I will adjust my mood and condition as soon as possible to have a better performance in my next event and leave no regrets,” she declared.

Ying Qing of China competes during the women’s monobob bobsleigh event at Beijing 2022 at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing, Beijing, China, February 13, 2022. /CFP

This point is echoed by Huai’s teammate Ying, who finished ninth in monobob, but leaves no doubt that she will emerge from these Games a better racer.

“I’m extremely delighted to make my Olympic debut. Competing at home in Beijing gives me a great sense of security and makes me feel proud to be Chinese,” beamed the 25-year-old. “I made some technical mistakes today, so I’ll have to take stock of them and try to bring out my full potential next time.”

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Bill proposes allocating 33 percent of parliament seats to women

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Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam has proposed an amendment to the constitution to allocate 33 percent of the seats in the parliament for women.

The bill reads that it is aimed at ensuring female representation among individuals elected to the parliament, increasing the role of women in protecting the interests of the nation and citizens and increasing the participation of women in making crucial national decisions.

It is also aimed at increasing female participation in public, increasing opportunities for women in politics and increasing the percentage of women involved in politics.

The bill proposes adding a section behind Article 71 (b) of the constitution setting down the number of members in the parliament – Article 71 (c) to state that 33 percent of the parliament’s seats should be allocated for women.

Meanwhile, the bill proposes Article 71 (d) to state that the constituencies allocated for women will be decided by a draw and would be on a rotational basis to ensure fairness.

It also proposes Article 71 (e) to state that the parliament must decide on the allocation of seats of women in the parliament during the next election once women elected to the parliament on this quota complete their terms.

There are only four female parliamentarians in the ongoing 19th parliamentary assembly.

Elections Commission (EC) has previously stated only 10 percent of candidates contesting this year’s parliamentary election are females – accounting to 41 candidates out of the total 368 candidates.

Source(s): sun.mv

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Global call for Gaza aid convoy deaths probe; EU cuts UNRWA funds

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants an independent probe into the deaths of more than 100 people seeking humanitarian aid in Gaza as various countries expressed their concern over the incident. Israel has disputed the account provided by officials in the Hamas-run enclave.

Germany also demanded an investigation, while French President Emmanuel Macron said he was angered by the shooting and demanded “truth and justice” regarding the role of Israeli soldiers in the incident.

Gaza health authorities said Israeli forces on Thursday (February 29) shot dead more than 100 Palestinians as they waited for an aid delivery, but Israel blamed the deaths on crowds that surrounded aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over.

At least 112 people were killed and more than 280 wounded in the incident near Gaza City, Palestinian health officials said.

Israel disputed the account provided by officials in Hamas-run Gaza, which has been bombarded by Israeli forces for months since the Palestinian militant group’s deadly rampage in southern Israel on October 7.

Guterres ‘shocked’

Speaking in St. Vincent and the Grenadines ahead of a regional summit, Guterres said he was “shocked” by the latest episode in the conflict, in which Palestinian authorities say over 30,000 civilians have been killed since October 7.

Responding to questions on the failure of a recent Security Council resolution seeking a ceasefire, Guterres said worsening geopolitical divides have “transformed the veto power into an effective instrument of paralysis of the action of the Security Council.”

“I am totally convinced that we need a humanitarian ceasefire and we need the unconditional and immediate release of hostages and that we should have a Security Council able to achieve these objectives,” Guterres said.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen Friday tweeted: “Deeply disturbed by images from Gaza. Every effort must be made to investigate what happened and ensure transparency. Humanitarian aid is a lifeline for those in need and access to it must be ensured. We stand by civilians, urging their protection in line with international law.”

‘Mass panic’

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock asked Israel to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. She wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “The Israeli army must fully investigate how the mass panic and shooting could have happened,” and reiterated calls for a “humanitarian ceasefire.”

The U.S. State Department said it was urgently seeking information on the incident, as did the French foreign ministry. The White House said President Joe Biden discussed the “tragic and alarming incident” with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar.

The strongest reaction from major Western leaders came from Macron, who tweeted: “Deep indignation at the images coming from Gaza, where civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers. I express my strongest condemnation of these shootings and call for truth, justice, and respect for international law.”

Macron said it was imperative for an immediate ceasefire in the war to be put in place.

Speaking on France Inter radio on Friday, Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said Paris would back the United Nations’ call for an independent investigation.

“The humanitarian situation has been catastrophic for several weeks now and what happened is indefensible and unjustifiable. Israel needs to be able to hear it and it needs to stop,” Sejourne told France Inter.

Israel dismisses Palestinian explanation

The Israeli military said the trucks were operated by private contractors as part of an aid operation that it had been overseeing for the past four nights.

One Israeli official said there had been two incidents, hundreds of meters apart. In the first, dozens were killed or injured as they tried to take aid from the trucks and were trampled or run over.

He said there was a second, subsequent incident as the trucks moved off. Some people in the crowd approached troops who felt under threat and opened fire, killing an unknown number in a “limited response”, he said. He dismissed the casualty toll given by Gaza authorities but gave no figure himself.

In a later briefing, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari also said dozens had been trampled to death or injured in a fight to take supplies off the trucks.

He said tanks escorting the trucks had subsequently fired warning shots to disperse the crowd and backed away when events began to get out of hand. “No IDF strike was conducted towards the aid convoy,” he said.

“The IDF was there conducting a humanitarian operation to secure the humanitarian corridor and allow the aid convoy to reach its designated distribution point.”

The loss of civilian lives was the biggest in weeks. Hamas said the incident could jeopardise talks in Qatar aimed at securing a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages it is holding.

Abbas condemns ‘ugly massacre’

Medics in Gaza said they could not cope with the flood of serious injuries, which came as the death toll in nearly five months of war passed 30,000, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Hamas issued a statement rejecting the Israeli account. It said the Health Ministry had presented “undeniable” evidence of “direct firing at citizens, including headshots aimed at immediate killing, in addition to the testimonies of all witnesses who confirmed being targeted with direct fire without posing any threat to the occupying army”.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was an “ugly massacre” by Israel.

One video shared on social media, whose location Reuters was able to verify, showed trucks loaded with many dead bodies as well as wounded people.

Another, which Reuters could not verify, showed bloodstained people being carried in a truck, bodies wrapped in shrouds and doctors treating injured patients on the hospital floor.

UNRWA funds held back by European Commission

The European Commission said on Friday it would hold back part of a payment of $89 million for the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) but increase overall aid to the Palestinians by $74 million this year.

UNRWA provides aid and basic services to Palestinians caught up in the war in Gaza but was thrown into crisis after Israel alleged in January that 12 of the agency’s 13,000 staff in the enclave were involved in the Hamas attack of October 7 last year.

Like many of the agency’s other big donors, the EU’s executive body reviewed its funding of UNRWA after Israel made the allegations.

The Commission said in a statement on Friday it now would “proceed to paying” a first tranche of $54 million of the $82 million due to be paid around the end of last month.

It said it would pay two further tranches of $17 million “in line with” an agreement with UNRWA to address concerns raised by the Israeli accusations.

UNRWA dismissed all the accused staff following the allegations. But many major donors, including the United States, Britain and several European Union countries, suspended payments to the agency or said they would not approve new funding until the matter was resolved.

The agency said a total of $450 million in funding was at risk and warned its operations across the Middle East would be “severely compromised” from March

Source(s): CGTN

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Air ambulance service to be available 24 hours

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Health Ministry states air ambulance service will be available 24 hours for emergency cases across all Maldivian regions.

The Ministry added that the air ambulance is equipped with resources to provide emergency care for patients during their transfer to the nearest tertiary hospital from various areas in the Maldives. They also noted the allocation of 15 trained medical professionals in the provision of air ambulance service including doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians.

As per the Health Ministry, the purpose of this service, introduced under President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s policies, is to ensure the provision of air ambulance in the Maldives in a sustainable manner.

A DHC-8-200 aircraft is utilized for the air ambulance, said the Ministry.

The Ministry added that the inclusion of air ambulance service in medical services will expand emergency care services.

Health Minister Dr. Abdulla Khaleel has said a maximum of two patients can be carried at once on the air ambulance at the commencement of the service.

According to Minister Khaleel, two Island Aviation aircraft; a domestic plane and a seaplane, will be utilized for the air ambulance services.

Source(s): sun.mv

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