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Nigeria's women's bobsled team has qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The three-member team — which was only formed in 2016 — is the first to represent Nigeria at the winter event, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February next year.

Driver Seun Adigun, brakemen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega, qualified for the event over five races held in Utah, Whistler and Calgary.

In 2012, Adigun competed in the women's 100 metre hurdles at the summer Olympics.

She told ESPN that the qualification is a "huge milestone for sports in Nigeria".

Adigun hopes that the bobsled team will help create opportunities for winter sports to take place in Nigeria. abc.net.au
Russia is a step closer to facing a possible ban of its athletes from the Winter Olympics in South Korea after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) upheld its decision that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) remains non-compliant.

Russia's anti-doping agency was initially deemed non-compliant after the 2016 publication of the McLaren report, commissioned by WADA, which found the Russian state conspired with athletes and sporting officials to undertake a doping program that was unprecedented in its scale and ambition – Russia's ministry for sport has repeatedly denied the report's findings.

In order to regain compliance, RUSADA had to follow a 32-point "roadmap."

However, WADA said Thursday it had failed to meet two of those conditions: to acknowledge an existence of a Russian state-sponsored doping program and to provide WADA access officers to a Moscow laboratory.

RUSADA director-general Yuri Ganus said the result "wasn't a surprise" but insisted that his team had "carried out the road map step by step, tracking each stage," and that the two unfulfilled points "go beyond our authority."

WADA President Craig Reedie said that any decision on whether Russian athletes will compete at Pyeongchang would come from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – the IOC's decision is expected to make its decision at an executive board meeting next month in Lausanne, Switzerland. cnn.com
The Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of 71 people, police have said, after recovering what they believe to be the last of the bodies.

Officers investigating the disaster said on Thursday they had identified the final two people who died as 71-year-old Victoria King and her 40-year-old daughter, Alexandra Atala.

“We were devastated to hear of our sister Vicky’s fate and that of her daughter, Alexandra, in the Grenfell Tower tragedy,” their relatives said in a statement.

“Some comfort can come from the knowledge that she and Alexandra were devoted to one another and spent so many mutually supportive years together.

They died at each other’s side and now they can rest together in peace. We will remember them always.” theguardian.com
Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne has claimed his Twitter account was 'hacked' after it 'liked' a hardcore gay porn video overnight. 

The explicit video, which shows two men engaged in a number of sex acts, was 'liked' by the account of the Defence Industries minister shortly after 2am on Thursday.

It is not clear how the tweet, posted by an apparently Mexican porn website, came to be 'liked' by Mr Pyne's account, but it had been removed by around 6.45am.

At around the same time Mr Payne told his Twitter followers his account had been 'hacked'.  dailymail.co.uk
Mafia 'boss of bosses' Salvatore 'Toto' Riina died early Friday in a hospital while serving multiple life sentences as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate Italian prosecutors and law enforcement trying to bring down the Cosa Nostra – he was 87.

Riina died hours after the Justice Ministry had allowed his family members bedside visits Thursday, which was his birthday, after he had been placed in a medically induced coma in a prison wing at a hospital in Parma, northern Italy.

Riina, one of Sicily's most notorious Mafia bosses who ruthlessly directed the mob's criminal empire during 23 years in hiding, was serving 26 life sentences for murder convictions as a powerful Cosa Nostra boss.

He was captured in Palermo, Sicily's capital, in 1993 and imprisoned under a law that requires strict security for top mobsters, including being detained in isolated sections of prisons with limited time outside of their cells.

During the height of his power, prosecutors accused Riina of masterminding a strategy, carried out over several years, to assassinate Italian prosecutors, police officials and others who were going after the Cosa Nostra.

The bloodbath campaign ultimately backfired, however, and led to his capture as the enraged state fought back after bombs killed Italy's two leading anti-Mafia magistrates, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two months apart in 1992. yahoo.com
An experienced South Korean surgeon operating on a defector from North Korea has described his shock upon finding dozens of unusual parasites inside the man’s stomach, suggesting widespread health issues among the population of the secretive state.

The patient, who has not been named, was critically injured as he fled North Korea under a hail of bullets fired from his former comrades through the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) border area between the two countries on Monday.

“We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier’s stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas,” doctor Lee Guk-jong said at a press briefing following a three-and-a-half-hour operation on Wednesday, quoted in the Korea Biomedical Review.

The doctor described the patient as been 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 132 pounds, suggesting he may suffer from malnutrition.

The longest parasite found in the North Korean soldiers' stomach measured 27 centimetres (10 inches), local media reported – among the parasites was a species of roundworm that can be contracted by eating vegetables fertilized with human faeces or, more generally, in areas with poor sanitation.

Experts say that many North Koreans could be infected with the same kind of parasites. newsweek.com
Global civil society organizations are calling for a tax on fossil fuel supplies to fund support to people hit by climate change impacts.

Polluters should pay for homes and livelihoods wrecked by rising seas and increasingly extreme weather, campaigners argued in a statement issued alongside UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Expressing frustration with slow progress made on “loss and damage” in formal negotiations, more than 50 groups and individuals backed the “climate damages tax” idea.

“We need a solution to climate change damage for my island on the front line of sea level rise and for coastal cities and communities around the world,” said signatory and Seychelles ambassador Ronny Jumeau.

“A key part of the solution is loss and damage finance – we need new sources of finance to cope with the impacts.  

A climate damages tax could provide a new source of finance, at scale, and in a fair way.  This concept deserves to be taken forward.” climatechangenews.com
An Iranian weightlifter has put his Rio 2016 gold medal up for auction to raise money for the victims of last week's deadly 7.3-magnitude earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border.

Kianoush Rostami, 26, announced the news on his Instagram page.

More than 400 people were killed and close to 10,000 injured in the quake.

The western Kermanshah province is the worst-affected area, with hundreds of homes destroyed and some residents sleeping outdoors in the cold.

Mr Rostami, himself from Kermanshah, said he was "taking a step, however small" to help those devastated by the tremor.

"I am returning my Rio 2016 Olympics gold medal - which actually belongs to them - to my people," he wrote in a widely-shared Instagram post yesterday, adding that he had not slept since the incident. bbc.com
Germany has replaced the US as the country with the best "brand image," according to a new study of 50 countries released Thursday.

The Nation Brands Index (NBI) survey, carried out by German-based market research firm GfK and the British political consultant Simon Anholt, measured public opinion around the world on "the power and quality of each country's 'brand image.'"

Germany moved up to first place after coming in second in 2016.

The US dropped from top to sixth, with France, Britain, Canada and Japan taking spots two to five.

The study calculated the final NBI score by researching how well people viewed a country across six categories: its people, governance, exports, tourism, investment and immigration, and culture and heritage.

The land of sausages, Merkel and "Made in Germany" was in the top five for all but one category – only in "tourism" did Germany fall outside the top five, coming in 10th. dw.com
The Pentagon claims that its air war against ISIS is one of the most accurate in history and that it is so careful in who it targets that the 14,000 US airstrikes in Iraq have killed just 89 civilians.

It turns out that the military’s assertion is a stunning underestimation of the true human cost of Washington’s three-year-old war against ISIS.

An 18-month-long investigation by the New York Times has found that the US-led military coalition is killing civilians in Iraq at a rate 31 times higher than it’s admitting.

“It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history,” Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal report.

The US-led coalition claims that one civilian has been killed in every 157 airstrikes, but Khan and Gopal report that, actually, the rate is one civilian death for every five airstrikes – a rate 31 times as high as what the military claims.

Despite the advanced military techniques the coalition uses, however, it still cannot stop killing noncombatants because the US and its allies choose to fight ISIS primarily from the skies – it was inevitable that civilians would become collateral damage. vox.com