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Crimean bridge explosion leaves Russian supply lines exposed

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Ukrainians take selfies in front of an artwork depicting the Kerch Bridge on fire, after a vital supply artery in Russia exploded on Saturday. © REUTERS

In the nearly two weeks since Vladimir Putin annexed Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions in a lavish ceremony in the Kremlin, Russian forces there have retreated, outnumbering and arming them.

They now face a much bigger struggle to supply their front lines after an explosion occurred at the important bridge linking Crimea, which was annexed to the Russian mainland, early Saturday.

The apparent attack caused two road stretches of the Kerch Bridge to collide into the sea and set a rail shipment close to its fuel tanks ablaze, halting all traffic on the route the Russian military relies on to ship supplies and equipment to the war zone in southern Ukraine. .

It was a personal insult to the Russian president, who unlocked the $3 billion, 12-mile infrastructure link by driving a KamAZ truck over it in 2018.

Built to cement Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula, the flaming bridge became overnight a symbol of Russia’s struggle to counter Ukraine’s advance in the southeast.

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Black smoke rises from a fire that broke out on the Kerch Bridge, a major Russian military supply route © AFP via Getty Images

The loss of the railroad will greatly limit Russia’s ability to move troops and supplies through Crimea, until they can repair, said Michael Kaufman, a military analyst and director at the Russian Studies Program at CNA, a US defense think tank. He. She”.

The only other supply route runs through the recently annexed territories in southeastern Ukraine. But it is difficult to pass the so-called “land bridge” built by Russia with the annexation of four regions. Railways are few and far between, mostly single-track, and have to cross bridges over rivers and irrigation canals that flow into Crimea, the Sea of ​​Azov and the Black Sea.

Ukrainian missile strikes on rail infrastructure had already significantly limited Russia’s ability to resupply troops across the south by land.

Russia also lost significant numbers of trucks during the invasion, making it absolutely essential to restore rail supplies, according to Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews.

“It would be hard for them to make it up any other way. They would have to move heaven and earth to reopen the railroad,” O’Brien said.

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O’Brien added that the turmoil could help Ukraine expand its counter-offensive and try to retake the areas annexed from Russia.

He said the Russians were “in real trouble”. The Russian army is in bad shape. Morale is not great. The offer is not great. The Ukrainian army is really big, well trained and ready to fight. It’s hard to see the balance heading towards them more than it is now.”

Ukraine’s hopes of retaking the peninsula were widely viewed as a distant dream for years, even in Kyiv, but now look less fanciful as its forces press their territorial gains.

Although Ukraine has not given them credit, the attack on the bridge is the latest in a series of audacious strikes on military infrastructure on the peninsula and elsewhere behind enemy lines.

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This has gradually undermined the Russians’ sense of normalcy that accompanied Putin’s 2014 annexation and the first six months of Moscow’s “special military operation,” a term that provokes faraway conflicts in places like Syria rather than the brutal reality of war on Russians. thresholds.

After Ukraine defeated Russian forces in the eastern Kharkiv region in September, Putin shattered this domestic illusion by mobilizing army reserves, moving to annex the four regions, and threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend them.

But this escalation is surprisingly counterproductive. some 100,000 Russian They fled to Kazakhstan to avoid conscription – and many also joined the army – while Ukraine’s steady advance through territories that Putin claims are part of Russia has undermined his willingness to defend.

The exact circumstances of the Kerch Bridge attack remain unclear. Russia claims a truck was packed with explosives, despite having passed a search on the mainland minutes earlier, and accused Ukraine of terrorism.

Ukrainian officials gleefully celebrated the explosion but did not confirm Kyiv’s involvement, while questioning Moscow’s version of events and suggesting it might be part of infighting among security forces in a blame game for Russia’s failures.

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The Kremlin has allowed the Russian military to face harsh public criticism in the state media and some officials in recent days as they search for scapegoats for failures on the battlefield.

Some of Putin’s staunch supporters of the war have called for further escalation by destroying critical infrastructure in Ukraine.

“We are indeed the villains of the Western world. Vladimir Solovyev, one of the most prominent commentators on Russian state television, wrote on the social networking app Telegram, so let’s scare them instead of being a joke. Ukraine should be plunged into the dark ages. Bridges, dams, railways and power stations should be destroyed. and other infrastructure objects throughout the territory of Ukraine. ”

Mykola Beliskov, an analyst at the National Institute for Strategic Studies in Kyiv, said the cause of the explosion “is not so important as the final outcome.”

Beliskov said Russia will likely have to rely on the limited stockpiles of weapons, ammunition and other military supplies it already has on the peninsula to supply the front on mainland Ukraine over the next several days or even weeks. This means that it may need to be careful about the rate of gear expenditure as Ukraine’s counterattack presses south.

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The Kremlin tried to show a sense of calm on Saturday, saying that Putin had ordered an investigation into the incident but had no plans to address the Russian people.

“Hitting the bridge was seen as one of the red lines that could lead to a worst-case scenario: an angry reaction that includes a nuclear response,” Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of political consulting firm R Politik, wrote on Telegram.

But “experience shows us that Putin is always late in responding to military setbacks . . . and swallows them up — rather than responding, he often pretends that nothing really happened,” she added.

Within hours, authorities said they were reopening the bridge to road and rail traffic, reassured locals in Crimea that food and gasoline supplies would continue, and made tacit assurances that Russia would continue to supply the front in Ukraine as before.

O’Brien said Russia’s ability to retaliate is limited by its poor performance on the battlefield and failure to achieve air superiority.

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“They have to do it from stand-alone missiles because they are already afraid of flying over Ukraine. But it doesn’t seem accurate enough, and the Ukrainians are adept at intercepting enough of them that they can’t.”


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How to watch FIFA World Cup Round of 16 matches in Qatar broadcast live online for free without cable: Fox, FS1, Telemundo

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The United States pulled off a thrilling victory over Iran on Tuesday, but that was just the beginning of the long road to the FIFA Championship. The last 16, also known as the knockout round, kicks off on Saturday. One loss will send packing teams off.

There are no links. There is no second chance. The competition is much tougher than the group stage.

Sports stars are still in contention. Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, went through the knockout round, as did Argentina, led by Lionel Messi.

The stakes — and the drama — are high. And while most fans will be heading home (or at a favorite watering hole) over the weekend, don’t be surprised if some escape in the early part of next week. If you’re hoping to catch the action, here’s what you need to know.

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When will the United States face the Netherlands in the 2022 World Cup?

The United States and the Netherlands will start the Round of 16 on the morning of Saturday, December 3 at 10:00 AM ET. The games will run through December 6.

Where can I watch the USA-Netherlands match in the 2022 World Cup?

Fox This showdown will be carried on the main channel over the air to ensure the widest audience. The game will also be broadcast on Peacock.

Who would prefer to win the USA-Netherlands match in the 2022 World Cup?

It does not look good for the United States. The Netherlands are heavily favored to win, with a probability of 49%. The probability of winning the USA is only 23%. (It’s basically the opposite of the odds from the US/Iran game.)

The chance of a tie is 28%.

What is the schedule for the round of sixteen matches in the 2022 World Cup?

Saturday 3rd December

Netherlands versus the United States10:00 a.m. ET on Fox and Peacock

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Argentina vs Australia2:00 p.m. on FS1 and Peacock

Sunday, December 4th

France versus Poland10:00 a.m. ET on FS1 and Peacock

England and Senegal2:00 p.m. on FS1 and Peacock

Monday, December 5th

Japan vs Croatia10:00 a.m. ET on FS1 and Peacock

Brazil vs South Korea2:00 p.m. ET on FS1 and Peacock

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Tuesday, December 6th

Morocco vs Spain10:00 a.m. ET on FS1 and Peacock

Portugal vs Switzerland2:00 p.m. ET on FS1 and Peacock

Can I watch the 2022 World Cup if I don’t have a cable subscription?

on Saturday? yes. Fox will carry the World Cup, as will Telemundo, both of which can be picked up via an over-the-air antenna in most cities, meaning you’ll be able to watch even if you don’t have a cable subscription.

To ensure that you are getting the most reliable signal, be sure to test the antenna in multiple locations in your home. Note, however, that you won’t be able to watch games on FS1, which will carry a number of games for English fans.

How can I stream the 2022 World Cup if I don’t have a cable subscription?

There are several options:

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peacock

broadcast service on NBC It is the home of live World Cup broadcasts, featuring all 64 matches broadcast by Spain. There will also be an on-demand broadcast of completed matches. (Note that there’s no English-language streaming alternative announced yet. You can get a free seven-day trial, followed by $5 or $10 per month. (The Peacock free version doesn’t include live sports.)

Hulu With live TV

Free trial on this service It is also no longer shown. It will cost you $70 per month.

The YouTube

After up to Two-week trialYou can expect a monthly fee of $65.

sling tv

Dish Network’s Sling’s lowest-tier “Orange” plan will set you back $35 per month. Adding the more comprehensive Blue plan brings the cost to $50 per month. You’ll first get a free seven-day trial — and for now, the cord-cutting service cuts your first month’s bill in half.

DirecTV Stream

Formerly known as DirecTV Now, AT&T TVNow, and AT&T TV, this A frequently renamed streaming service You will get $70 per month and up after the free trial option.

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Fubo TV

This sport that focuses on cutting the rope Services Carries broadcast networks in most markets. There is a seven-day free trial, followed by a monthly fee of between $70 and $100, depending on the channels you choose.

How does the knockout phase of the World Cup work?

From now on, win or go home. Each match is single elimination and there are no ties.

If the game is still tied after 90 minutes, it goes into 30 minutes of extra time. If things still don’t settle down after 120 minutes of total play, it will be settled in a penalty shootout. Each side takes turns shooting the ball from the penalty spot as the goalkeeper attempts to stop the shot. The team that scores the most goals out of five attempts wins.

If things continue even after those five kicks, the penalty shoot-out continues until “one team scores more goals than the other from the same number of kicks,” according to FIFA.

The new Impact Report weekly newsletter will examine how ESG news and trends are shaping the roles and responsibilities of today’s CEOs – and how they can better overcome these challenges. Subscribe here.

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Microsoft is ready to fight for the $69 billion Activision deal

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(Bloomberg) — Microsoft is ready to fight over its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc. If sued, the US Federal Trade Commission seeks to block the deal, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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The Xbox maker has not been in talks with the FTC about remedies or waivers intended to approve the deal, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a confidential matter. The person added that FTC staff are wrapping up their investigation and are expected to make a recommendation soon. The FTC commissioners will then vote on whether to file a case.

In the event that the FTC attempts to block the case, Microsoft is preparing to challenge that decision in court, said the person, who requested anonymity speaking about the internal strategy. Jennifer Rhee, an antitrust analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said it wouldn’t surprise her if the FTC filed a lawsuit seeking to block the deal, but noted that a court battle would be hard for its enforcers to win and Microsoft could prevail — though the legal battle could stretch. after the deal’s expiry date. Microsoft said it expects to close the deal by June 30.

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Another option for Microsoft would be to abandon the deal in the face of a challenge from the Federal Trade Commission. That’s what the company did in 1995 when the US government sued to block its acquisition of Intuit Inc. to manufacture accounting software, as Microsoft said it did not want to face a long legal battle.

Microsoft’s best chance of winning approval to buy Activision is to convince the Biden administration to accept a settlement in which it promises it will not withhold its popular titles from competitors.

But Biden’s antitrust enforcers aren’t fond of such agreements — especially after the Ticketmaster bombing this month brought to light a failed 2010 Justice Department settlement with Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

The FTC takes a tough approach to mergers, especially when it comes to technology and digital markets, but has not indicated whether it plans to sue to block the deal.

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In July, the agency filed a lawsuit to block Meta Platforms Inc. From the purchase of the virtual reality application Fitness Inside, claiming that the deal can eliminate competition in a small number of markets, referred to as “emerging competition”.

Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission declined to comment. Politico reported last week that the Federal Trade Commission is likely to challenge the deal.

The US is one of at least three jurisdictions in which regulators have raised questions about the mega deal, which would dramatically change the landscape of video games and put Microsoft in third place in the global gaming market behind Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Sony Group Corp.

European and UK antitrust regulators have raised questions about whether the popular Call of Duty game franchise will still be available to gamers on Sony’s PlayStation console and whether the merger will allow Microsoft to take a dominant role in the burgeoning but still small market for cloud gaming services.

Microsoft has offered Sony a deal whereby Call of Duty games will be available on PlayStation for ten years, though the companies will need to put in place financial terms to the agreement, the person said.

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That person said the software giant advised regulators of these discussions, but did not submit a formal remedy proposal because the review process had not progressed to that stage.

It doesn’t make financial or strategic sense for Microsoft to keep the best-selling PlayStation game franchise because more copies of games are sold on PlayStation than on Xbox and because such a move would anger gamers in a way that could have negative implications for Microsoft. In fact, the acquisition wouldn’t be financially viable for Microsoft if it cut Call of Duty to PlayStation, the person said.

Given the various stages of various investigations around the world, Microsoft will likely discuss this move first with the European Commission, which has set March 23 as the deadline for completing its in-depth review of the deal.

The person said Microsoft hopes the remedies it provides to the European Union will be sufficient globally. However, UK regulators will likely want additional steps from the company.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is currently under an in-depth investigation of the deal after an initial investigation found concerns in game consoles, multi-game subscription services and cloud gaming marketplaces.

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The agency said in an October document outlining the scope of its investigation that it was concerned that the deal could allow Microsoft to gain massive market power that would allow it to cut out competitors such as Sony. Although Microsoft promised it would not do so because of reputational damage to Xbox or Call of Duty, the watchdog said it had not identified “convincing evidence” to believe the statements.

Scrutiny of the dominance of big tech companies by the UK agency has intensified since it gained new powers post-Brexit.

Microsoft and the CMA will appear at a key party hearing in mid-December, part of the UK merger process that will allow them to segment and test the parties’ arguments. The agency is expected to make an interim decision by January, and the deadline for a full decision is March.

— With assistance from Emily Birnbaum and Stephanie Bodoni.

(Updates to add the previous acquisition challenge in the fourth paragraph.)

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ABB agrees to pay $315 million to settle coordinated African bribery investigation (NYSE:ABB)

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ABB (New York Stock Exchange:ABB) She agreed to pay more than $315 million The US Department of Justice announced on Friday that it is ending a multinational investigation into the bribery of a high-ranking official of South Africa’s state-owned energy company Ascom.

ABB (ABB) bribed an Eskom official during 2014-2017 “in order to corruptly obtain classified information and win lucrative contracts,” the DOJ said.

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The company’s subsidiaries also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate anti-bribery provisions of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The Justice Department said its decision was coordinated with prosecutors in South Africa and Switzerland, as well as the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said in September it had set aside $325 million to cover costs related to the investigations surrounding the Kozel power plant in South Africa.

ABB’s (ABBQ3 results included above-average revenue and order growth, as well as the best margins seen in many years, but the next 12-18 months should be more challenging for reported revenue and order growth, Stephen Simpson writes in Post analysis on the search for alpha.

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