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UAE plans to launch Mars probe Friday after weather delay

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Dubai (AFP) – The United Arab Emirates said it plans to launch its “Hope” Mars probe on Friday local time from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center after a two-day delay due to poor weather there. A rocket is due to blast off at 5:43 am local time (2043 GMT Thursday) carrying the unmanned spacecraft that is bound to orbit the Red Planet in the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. The launch was postponed from 2051 GMT Tuesday because of inclement  weather at the remote Japanese launch site, but remains well within the launch window which runs until August 13. The Emirati project is one of three…

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Placido Domingo insists ‘I have never abused anyone’

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Famed Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo, accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, denied the allegations Thursday in an interview in which he talked about getting over coronavirus.

"I've changed. I am no longer afraid. When I found out I had COVID, I promised myself that if I made it out alive I would fight to clear my name," he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Repubblica.

"I never abused anyone, I'll repeat that as long as I live," he said.

Domingo, 79, had said in March he had been hospitalized for coronavirus in Acapulco, Mexico.

"It was a miracle to find my voice again... Two or three months ago I wasn't sure I would be able to sing again," he said.

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Coronavirus pandemic leaves Amazon more vulnerable than ever

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The indigenous peoples of the Amazon have already seen their homelands ravaged by illegal deforestation, industrial farming, mining, oil exploration and unlawful occupation of their ancestral territories.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic has magnified their plight, just as the forest fires are raging once more.

The Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest, is a vital resource in the race to curb climate change -- it spans over 7.4 million square kilometers (2.85 million square miles).

It covers 40 percent of the surface area of South America, stretching across nine countries and territories: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

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Pompeo urges no vote for Cuba on Human Rights Council

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged UN members not to support Cuba's bid to join the organization's Human Rights Council.

"It's outrageous that the Human Rights Council would offer to seat Cuba, a brutal dictatorship that traffic its own doctors under the guise of humanitarian missions," the top US diplomat said on Wednesday.

Pompeo has described Cuba's sale of medical services, Havana's main source of foreign exchange, as a form of human trafficking.

"No country should vote Cuba onto the council," he said.

Under President Donald Trump, Washington has reversed an opening with Cuba initiated by former president Barack Obama, hardening a trade embargo in effect since 1962.

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