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Donald Trump leaves as he arrived, minus his microphone

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump left Washington the same way he came in — flouting traditions, demanding praise and fixated on making himself the center of the story.

There was only one difference: The spotlight he so religiously craves was no longer on him.

Trump departed the White House early Wednesday, hours before his successor, Joe Biden, took the oath of office at a scaled-back inauguration ceremony outside the heavily fortified Capitol. After boarding Air Force One, he flew to south Florida, where he awaits an uncertain post-presidency amid criminal investigations, lawsuits and a second impeachment trial over the Capitol riots he helped foment.

Trump skipped the traditional farewell speech to the nation, news conference and televised interviews designed to serve as capstones to his time in office. He did leave a handwritten note for Biden at the Resolute Desk at the urging of people around him, including Republican leader Kevin McCarthy — about the only custom he followed.

But just as Trump came into office in his own unique way, he left on his own terms too. The outgoing president hosted his own ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base. In the lead up to it, his team pressed former officials — including spurned former White House aides like John Kelly, John Bolton, and Omarosa Manigault-Newman — to attend in hopes of producing a grand send-off.

But it fell far short of that. Only several hundred die-hard supporters showed up to watch the president depart. Aides Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller and Kash Patel were there. So was surrogate Sebastian Gorka. Vice President Mike Pence and GOP leaders in Congress were not. Neither was Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who is still recovering from surgery. Those who came stood in a cold breeze as the Trump campaign playlist — from Macho Man to Tiny Dancer — blared over the loudspeakers. A military band played as Trump stepped off Marine One and walked down a red carpet to a makeshift stage.

“We were not a regular administration,” Trump said, in what was one of the truer testaments offered during the day.

“It has been something very special,” he told the crowd. “And I just want to say goodbye, but hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye.”

How long that goodbye ends up being now depends on a host of factors, several outside Trump’s control. He has yet to put together a defense team for his impeachment trial in the Senate, which could result in him being barred from running for future office. He has no clear avenues for regaining his social media prominence after the biggest platforms gave him the boot. And while he will have a staff of about a dozen, including a small political operation, with him at his estate in Florida, there is no clear indication yet as to what it will actually do.

Aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, only a small coterie of aides, including Trump’s senior campaign adviser Jason Miller, political director Brian Jack and social media director Dan Scavino, accompanied Trump and his family. Some took the flight as a one-way ticket for their new jobs: Margo Martin, a press wrangler, will be handling communications for Trump in Palm Beach; Molly Michael will continue to be an assistant to Trump; and Beau Harrison is expected to run operations. Their salaries, an aide said, will be paid for by the General Services Administration, which covers support for former presidents.

While Trump doesn’t have the presidency anymore, he does have his fans. On Thursday, Trump’s family, most loyal donors and friends are set to host a welcome home luncheon for him at his Mar-a-Lago club. And when he arrived in Florida, about 400 hardcore ones were gathered along Southern Boulevard in Palm Beach waiting for what was in essence the final MAGA rally of the Trump presidency. They came with their Keep America Great flags and Women for Trump shirts and Trump-Pence signs, many with Pence scratched out in protest of his decision to certify the Electoral College results. A pink sign congratulating Tiffany Trump for her engagement was also spotted by reporters.

Trump’s motorcade slowly maneuvered down the roads leading to his club, “presumably,” the pool report noted, “so POTUS could take in the support and wave.”

Paul Amirata, a 52-year-old insurance lawyer, said Trump gave him a thumbs-up after seeing his handmade sign: “On the 8th Day God Created Donald Trump.” Like most of the hundreds of supporters who gathered to wave at his final motorcade, Amirata believes Trump was betrayed by virus creators in China, the fake news media, Big Tech, vote-rigging Democrats, disloyal Republicans and an all-powerful Deep State.

“The fix was in, and that’s why we’re seeing him on Southern Boulevard in Palm Beach instead of taking the oath in Washington,” Amirata said.

Cynthia Potenza Taylor, a Christian activist who makes Nativity sets, cried all morning at the prospect of Trump no longer in charge. Though she initially hoped that Pence or the Supreme Court would overturn the election results she said she now accepted the election results as part of God’s plan and that good Christians still needed to fight harder.

“We’re in a battle, and God is still on our side,” she said.

Only weeks ago, Trump’s aides and allies were urging Trump to attend Biden’s inauguration to show the world that the United States can engage in a peaceful transfer of power. But after a two-month crusade to overturn the election that ended in riots that left five people dead and Washington on edge, even his own advisers seemed relieved to not have to deal with the questions after another Trump blowup.

The sparsely attended inauguration may not have had Trump in attendance, but it did include members of Congress of both parties, including the part of the Republican Party that never took to Trump.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan said Trump’s decision not to come to the inauguration was “kind of a disgrace” but called Pence, a longtime friend, an “honorable man” for attending. “I wanted to come and pay my respects to the institution and the peaceful transfer of power,” Ryan added. “I felt duty-bound to come and pay my respects to the process.”

Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake also said Trump should have attended but “given everything I’m not surprised.”

Even Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s biggest allies on Capitol Hill, attended the inauguration — his fourth — a day after he visited the White House to thank Trump for his service.

“I just went to say goodbye and say thank you,” Jordan said. “I hope he runs again. I think he’s done a tremendous job.”

While Jordan may wish it, allies say that Trump is unlikely to run again for office after the events of the last two weeks. He has talked about starting a new political party, investing in his own conservative network or just traveling the country to put on his MAGA rallies.

He burned numerous bridges on his way out and shattered even more norms. Trump never spoke to his successor, even with Biden staying last night just across the street from the White House in the presidential guest house Blair House. Nor did outgoing first lady Melania Trump give Jill Biden the traditional tour of the White House.

While Trump’s political future is uncertain, so too is his life outside of politics. While in the White House, Trump was largely protected from facing criminal charges, given a longstanding Justice Department precedent not to indict a sitting president. Now, he’ll have to grapple with a series of investigations that might directly implicate him.

The New York Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether Trump and his company misreported assets on financial statements used to seek loans, tax breaks and economic benefits. And the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, is still probing Trump’s payoffs to two women to keep them quiet during the 2016 campaign about extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, already went to jail over the payments, which violated campaign finance law. Trump himself was implicated in the scheme, with prosecutors saying he directed Cohen to make the hush money payments.

“He is in more jeopardy of getting into serious legal difficulty than any other president who has ever served by far,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

Daniel Lippmann contributed to this report.

Biden pledges, once more, to lead America away from dystopia

The day Joe Biden launched his presidential run, he warned that a dangerous reality was taking hold in America, one where white supremacists wrought violence in the streets, where the country was more fractured than ever, and where truth could not be distinguished from lies.

On Wednesday, having just been sworn in as president, he found himself once more issuing that warning.

A two-year journey to the White House was bookended by two of the darker chapters in modern U.S. history: the riots in Charlottesville and the insurrection at the Capitol. And, for Biden, it prompted a familiar task. Speaking before a sparsely-attended crowd, against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic and political insurrection, he pledged to act as a healer, called on the nation to band together, and pleaded for individuals to put more value in the truth.

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war,” Biden said. “And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”

Biden, who entered a primary race teeming with fresh-faced Democrats, was sometimes mocked for being out of touch and not progressive enough and for holding on to the sentimental notion that politics can be a collaborative process even in an age of hyperpartisanship. Advisers say that was him avoiding the mistakes of his youth — no longer trying to fit himself into the mold of someone else (a new Kennedy, a foreign policy wiseman) but, instead, being true to his beliefs, however antiquated. In the end, they argue, that consistency and familiarity served him well. His messaging never wavered, even through his inauguration.

“The cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear,” Biden said. “And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”

The consistency in message also served to underscore Biden’s promise of a return to stability. Biden vowed his administration would serve as a stark contrast to the chaos and tumult of his predecessor, a president whose name Biden did not mention in his inaugural address.

“We will get through this, together. The world is watching today. So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again,” he said.

That the inauguration — and Biden’s speech at it — were cloaked in somberness was, perhaps, fitting given all that he has endured. His political trajectory has been filled with promise and personal tragedy. It was racial strife in his hometown of Wilmington, he said, that compelled him to leave his potentially lucrative path in law and become a public defender.

Unlike other politicians, Biden never hid the extent of his ambition. He first ran for president in 1988, only to flame out spectacularly and then run again twenty years later and flame out once more. In a memoir in advance of that latter run, he conceded that he always felt a calling to serve and a sense that he belonged among the nation’s leaders.

“From the time I was little I had a picture in my head of the sort of man I wanted to become, a picture filled in by my mom and dad, by the teachings of the Catholic schools I attended, by stories I heard about our family hero, Uncle Bosie, a pilot who was shot down in World War II, and by a faith in the size of my own future,” Biden wrote in “Promises to Keep.” “As it turned out, surprising political opportunities opened up for me when I was a young man. When they did, I was not shy about pursuing them, because I already had a picture of what I had to do—how i had to conduct myself—to take advantage of them.”

When he made it to the White House on Wednesday after his inauguration speech, he was asked how he felt. It feels, he responded “like I’m going home.”

Though often self-reflective, there was little biography in Biden’s address. Instead, his attention was both figuratively and literally directed outwards, as he looked down on a crowd that was forced to socially distance because of a raging pandemic and a capital that was transformed into a militarized zone because of the deadly insurrection weeks earlier.

He did not shy away from the reality that thousands of armed troops were roaming the streets, that tanks were cutting off intersections, that train lines had been shuttered, and that those hoping to celebrate a new day by watching in person were greeted with razor wire and seven-foot fences. Instead, he did what he did when discussing Charlottesville for his campaign launch: He addressed it head on.

“Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, and to drive us from this sacred ground,” Biden said. “That did not happen. It will never happen.”

Biden Turns the Page On Trump in a Surprisingly Effective Inaugural Address

No one expects soaring oratorical peaks from President Joe Biden. That’s not his natural style.

Yet his inaugural address was a powerful statement because it showed him grappling forthrightly — in the plainspoken language that reflects his authentic voice — with one of the most vexing questions of human relations: How does one restore respect when there are very good reasons to feel contempt?

Nearly everyone faces that challenge, at moments, in daily private life. Now it is the central question in the nation’s public life.

Biden’s words will not echo for long unless the achievements that follow actually answer the question. But the speech, and the atmospherics surrounding it, was a clear success because it offered credible hope — how much of that have we had lately? — that a new president has a plan for getting free from a very deep rut.

Former President Donald Trump launched one of the most potent political movements in U.S. history by harnessing the politics of contempt. The contempt he and his supporters expressed toward institutions, toward established norms of government and politics, and toward fellow citizens who opposed Trump invited an inevitable response: Contempt was returned in kind. What other reply is appropriate toward a president who lied and bullied, or toward people who reward that behavior with cheers and devotion, or toward a mob that invades the Capitol?

But the country has had four years to see where the politics of contempt lead. Biden now has four years to see if he can revive the politics of respect when many people aren’t exactly feeling that sentiment toward half of their fellow citizens.

His 21-minute speech was a start. It was more credible because he didn’t try to obscure the past in a cloud of false goodwill. Thankfully, he didn’t follow the usual ritual of gracious words for his predecessor, which would have required painful artifice. He didn’t mention Trump at all.

But nor did he indulge the illusion that with Trump gone politics can return happily to normal. Recall that the alleged normal that preceded Trump was not so happy. Biden touched on systemic factors that made Trump’s movement possible, including a political-media “culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured” by partisans.

“Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson,” he added. “There is truth and there are lies — lies told for power and for profit.”

He acknowledged that many people have turned toward contempt because they are facing futures with limited economic and social mobility. But he offered this commentary without the sociological condescension that many people heard from Barack Obama when he was captured talking in 2008 about how working-class conservatives “cling to guns and religion” or Hillary Clinton’s 2016 analysis that half of Trump’s supporters are hopelessly prejudiced and belong to a “basket of deplorables.”

Here’s how Biden put it instead in his speech Wednesday at the Capitol: “Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand, like my dad, they lay in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering, can I keep my health care? Can I pay my mortgage? Thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you, I get it.

“But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do,” Biden continued. “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes.”

“Mom,” “Dad,” “I get it”—this is not “ask not what your country can do for you” rhetoric of the sort that usually infuses inaugural addresses. There were passages that did have a JFK-meets-high school commencement ring to them (“A day of history and hope of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages”).

But the most effective portions were the most plain-spoken. And these also offered a window into how he believes seeking a politics of respect may be something other than self-delusion. He will present himself as an ordinary man of good intentions who believes in the system. He’s not asserting superior virtue over those he wants to lead or, as Trump once boasted, “I alone can fix it.” He is pleading that there is a shared interest, even among political opponents, in a functional government that can resolve arguments within “guardrails” of civility and institutional integrity.

At the personal level, he urged: “Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”

But there is an assumption embedded in this on which Biden’s hopes of restoring unity hinge. It is the belief that people actually will respect what they see and hear from fellow citizens. That is an assumption that is wobbly, to put it mildly, as the country emerges from the Age of Trump.

Although it was a reversal of precedent and standard inaugural etiquette, Trump’s decision to skip the event turned out to be a generous gift.

Even many backers of Trump probably felt a small measure of relief — obviously not the jubilation felt by others — at his physical absence. The main reason Biden is president is the Trump show ultimately became too exhausting for all sides. Righteous indignation — one bond shared by his partisans and his detractors — had long since turned to rancid indignation.

Of course, the outgoing president never had any power except that which flowed from people who shared Trump’s love of Trump, believed in the politics of contempt, or at a minimum acquiesced to it. Trump caught a morning flight to West Palm Beach but that essential reality of Washington, D.C., in the Trump years did not.

Biden’s speech suggested it is possible to reckon honestly with that reality, and maturely move on from it. Perhaps it is possible to be hopeful without being hopelessly naïve.

Biden swears in staffers and appointees — and threatens to fire anyone who is disrespectful

President Joe Biden swore in dozens of appointees and staffers on Wednesday evening, urging them to treat one another with respect or else “I will fire you on the spot.”

Speaking in the State Dining Room, Biden reiterated his long-held commitment to decency, telling the appointees that they’re “working with the most decent government in the world, and we have to restore the soul of this country, and I’m counting on all of you to be part of that.”

“Everyone, every single person, regardless of their background, is entitled to be treated with dignity,” Biden said. “I expect you to do that for all the folks you deal with.”

Though he did not mention former President Donald Trump by name, his message of treating others with respect and addressing the pressing issues of racism, economic inequality and climate change came in stark contrast to the turbulence of the Trump White House. He added that their loyalties lay with the American people, not him — another contrast with Democrats’ frequent criticism that the former president valued personal loyalty above all else.

“People don’t work for us, we work for the people,” Biden said. “I work for the people. They pay my salary. They pay your salary.”

The swearing-in took place over a video conference in the White House because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden was asked at the end of the ceremony whether he was concerned the Senate wouldn’t confirm his cabinet nominations quickly enough, to which he replied, “No.”

“I’m confident we can move quickly,” he said.

Biden signs spate of executive orders

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a number of executive orders, from rejoining the Paris Climate Accord to mandating the wearing of masks in federal spaces, in one of his first public acts since taking office just hours earlier.

Biden’s team had been previewing a battery of executive actions from his first day in office to counter many of the policies of President Donald Trump. The actions he’d planned covered a swath of policy issues, from immigration to racism to the economic crisis.

Biden aides and White House officials had described the executive orders to POLITICO as an attempt to reverse many of Trump’s actions that they viewed as “harmful” or “inhumane.”

“I thought with the state of the nation today, there’s no time to waste. Get to work immediately,” Biden said on Wednesday afternoon. “There’s no time to start like today.”

Biden’s signing was his first public appearance from the Oval Office as president.

Australia v India: Debutants Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill feature in Team of the Series

In the midst of a pandemic, Australia and India served up one of the greatest Test series of all time which went right down the wire at the historic Gabba.

A severely depleted India squad scripted a comeback for the ages in Brisbane, with their young starlets playing a starring role in breaching Australia’s fortress at the venue.

At the end of a intense four-Test series that had us all holding our collective breath, we have put together an XI of the best performers from either side.


In a series where most openers failed to fire, Rohit Sharma’s middling displays are enough to carry him into the final XI. The India star only entered the fray in the penultimate Test in Sydney as a late arrival in the quarantine bubble, and immediately provided a massive upgrade on Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal.

In his first overseas tour as an opener, Rohit looked comfortable for the most part. What will rankle him is the fact that he failed to get the most out of his good starts at the crease.


In a series which threw up several success stories, few were bigger than that of Shubman Gill validating his status as the next big thing of cricket. The 21-year-old looked as assured as any veteran against Australia’s intimidating new ball attack, and helped himself to 259 runs at an average of nearly 52 in his debut Test series.

Gill’s back-foot punches were a joy to behold, while his stylish pull shots made the likes of Mitchell Starc look pedestrian. A certified future superstar who has now cemented his place in the Indian side on the back of just six innings.


The Australian batsman lived dangerously at times and can be grateful to India’s fielders spilling multiple catches. However, he did make the most of his luck to finish the series as its leading run-scorer by a fair margin. Adding a fifth Test ton to his kitty in the process, Labuschagne ensured that his remarkable transformation over the past year and half continued unabated.

With Steve Smith failing to fire in the opening two Tests of the series, it was the 26-year-old who held fort for Australia with some consistent displays in Adelaide and Melbourne.


The Aussie linchpin had a torrid time in the first and second Tests, with his poor form even seeing him relinquish his No1 ICC ranking to Kane Williamson. Just when the critics were starting to circle around Smith, he answered them with a defiant ton in Sydney.

The right-hander came agonisingly close to making it two centuries in a row before falling for 81 in the second innings at the SCG. He did finish the series on a strong note as well, with his quick-fire fifty at the Gabba. Ultimately, only Labuschagne scored more runs in the series despite Smith’s abysmal start.


Rahane’s stature has been enhanced significantly after the poise he showed in lifting India’s squad post the departure of Virat Kohli. The middle-order stalwart’s composed century in Melbourne ignited India’s historic comeback in the series, with the innings helping the visitors post a commanding lead in the Test.

The manner in which Rahane shuffled his depleted troops around over the course of the series, along with his excellent tactics and acumen make him an automatic pick for skipper of this XI. He is yet to be beaten as a stand-in skipper of India’s Test squad.


Why Rishabh Pant was not fielded in the opening Test in Adelaide has become all the more baffling after his game-changing displays in Sydney and Brisbane. The youngster had announced himself with a bang on his previous tour in 2018-19, and he carried on from where he left off after being thrown into the fold in Melbourne.

It is testament to Pant’s undeniable talents that his best for India came in the fourth innings of the Sydney and Melbourne Tests. His brilliant 97 at the SCG nearly resulted in one of the epic run chases in history, and he duly completed the job with his unbeaten 89 at the Gabba. He finished as India’s leading run-scorer despite playing only three Tests, while his average of 68.50 was the highest among any batsmen from either side to have played a minimum of two innings.


Jadeja’s participation in the series was curtailed to just two Tests due to injuries, but he did give a solid account of himself whenever he took the field. The all-rounder shone in every aspect of the game Down Under, be it with his bowling, batting or fielding.

His stock with the bat in hand continues to rise and India will believe that they now have a genuine all-rounder in their ranks. His four-wicket burst in Sydney and his fighting half century in Melbourne were very crucial in the context of the series.


It was termed as the battle between the off-spin of Ashwin and Nathan Lyon, and it was the former who came up trumps by a huge distance. While Lyon was uncharacteristically poor on his home turf, Ashwin showed his elite qualities by claiming 12 wickets in his three Test appearances.

The India stalwart bowled with great while and was able to maintain a stranglehold over Steve Smith in the first half of the series. He supplemented his bowling displays with a gritty display with the bat in Sydney, battling a sore back to help India earn a hard-fought draw.


Some of Australia’s big names might need to take a hard look at themselves after that unexpected surrender, though Pat Cummins can walk away with his head held high after a monumental effort.

The world’s best bowler showed why he is different gravy compared to the rest of the crop, with a relentless attitude and an output of an absolute workhorse. Despite not claiming a single five-for in the series, Cummins’ incredible consistency saw him claim a staggering 21 wickets at an average of just 20.

He was nearly bowled to the ground with a workload of 162 overs, but he never showed any signs of tiring with a marathon display.


While Cummins was all about the unwavering consistency, Hazlewood touched greater heights when he was on song. The seamer’s sensational spell of 5-8 brought India’s batsmen to their knees in the 36 all out debacle and is one which few bowlers will be able to match in the years to come.

Only his team-mate Cummins picked more wickets in the series than Hazlewood, who averaged a stellar 19.35 across the four Tests.


Mohammed Siraj arrived in Australia as an uncapped pacer and was leading India’s bowling attack in the Gabba finale in one of the most endearing stories to emerge from the series.

His wobbly seam position surprised Australia’s best batsmen and he deservedly ended the series with a maiden five-wicket haul in the final Test. He finished as India’s leading wicket-taker for the series, with 13 scalps at an average less than 30. While he might not be among India’s first-choice bowlers once the injured pacers return, Siraj has put himself into pole position for the future.

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adidas unveils the ULTRABOOST 21, a fresh update to the running franchise

adidas today unveils the ULTRABOOST 21, a fresh update of the brand’s most successful ever running franchise.

A team of leading adidas designers and product developers worked closely with the adidas running community and testers to create the new silhouette, which reimagines the original ULTRABOOST to deliver a bold new design combined with the latest in performance technology.

The core development in ULTRABOOST 21 is the redesign of the shoe’s torsion system.

The new adidas LEP (‘Linear Energy Push’) provides a 15% increase in forefoot bending stiffness for a more responsive stride. This works alongside adidas’ proprietary midsole BOOST technology, which packs in 6% more BOOST through an exaggerated heel curve, providing runners with incredible energy return and comfort in every step.

The adidas ULTRABOOST 21 features:

 Optimized BOOST – 6% more BOOST capsules than ULTRABOOST 20 to provide runners with the perfect mix of support and comfort
 ADIDAS LEP – newly redesigned ‘Linear Energy Push’ torsion system with stiffer, reinforced material in the midsole to provide runners with less flex in the forefoot and increased responsiveness
 PRIMEKNIT+ – a more precise knit designed and forged for incredible support and enhanced movement, combining pure comfort with lightweight performance
 Sustainable Support – Upper made with PRIMEBLUE, a high-performance recycled material containing at least 50% Parley Ocean Plastic, reinforcing the adidas 2015 brand commitment to sustainability

adidas has always believed that through sport, it has the power to transform lives and ULTRABOOST 21 embodies its commitment to bring energy to people to drive positive change and self-betterment. Arriving at a time when cities around the world have been heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, running has continued to be a constant that has kept cities and communities moving.

A global study, commissioned by adidas highlighted the power of running to aid positive transformation and improved physical and mental wellbeing in communities. Runners were shown to be 20% more likely than non-runners to experience increased energy levels, while over 40% of respondents that increased their running frequency, also said that they developed a more positive outlook on life. Over 1 in 3, meanwhile, identified the mental health benefits of running as one of their core motivating factors.

Alberto Uncini Manganelli, General Manager/Senior Vice President, adidas Running, said: “ULTRABOOST has consistently been a unique and sensational blend of iconic design, revolutionary innovations, unparalleled performance and unique consumer experience.

BOOST and PRIMEKNIT have created and elevated new industry standards, while PRIMEBLUE has set a new benchmark of sustainability and adidas LEP is setting new standards of performance. ULTRABOOST has always been a “first”, a ”pioneer”, delighting millions of worldwide users every day, winning their hearts and minds and changing the way they see and feel running.”

The adidas ULTRABOOST 21 will launch on adidas channels on 28 January 2021 and globally on 4 February 2021, in a vibrant white and fluorescent yellow colourway, to visually bring to life the theme of high energy, with further limited-edition drops to follow.

Retail price: AED 849, SAR 949, QAR 810, KD 67, BD 87, OMR 85.

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Welliton and Igor Coronado from Sharjah, plus Al Jazira trio, star in AGL Team of the Season at halfway stage

Rounds 1-13 of the 2020/21 Arabian Gulf League have flown by in a flash.

The first stage has been lit up by a series of superb performers, revelling after more than 200 days of inaction because of coronavirus.

With the help of Opta and Wyscout, here is our selection of the finest players at the halfway point:

GK: Fahad Al Dhanhani (Bani Yas)

2021 could be a huge one for Al Dhanhani. His six clean sheets from 13 run-outs is the most in the division, a record which is pushing Bani Yas towards shock AFC Champions League-qualification from third. There is also the prospect of adding to his one UAE cap after he was named by the returning Bert van Marwijk in the squad earlier this month to face Iraq. A clean sheet and six saves in Sharjah’s single loss this term can only help his cause.

RB: Fahad Sebil (Ittihad Kalba)

There is little extravagant about the combative 31-year-old. Yet he has held down the right flank for an Ittihad Kalba who went eight games undefeated and sit a solid eighth. Averages per 90 minutes of 1.2 for tackles and 7.5 interceptions speak volumes.

CB: Lucas Pimenta (Al Wahda)

A defender of significant promise is emerging in the capital. Pimenta’s sizeable frame and rare speed is complimented by raw defensive ability, which is getting refined by the match. The 20-year-old Brazilian’s 36 interceptions is a, colossal, seven more than any other player. Seventh-placed Wahda continue to celebrate November’s contract extension up to June 2024.

CB: Milos Kosanovic (Al Jazira)

The Serbia centre-back spoke in pre-season about his admiration for compatriot Sinisa Mihajlovic, arguably football’s greatest free-kick merchant. A sensational tribute act has followed, with Al Wasl, Hatta and Ittihad Kalba – who also suffered in the Arabian Gulf Cup – on the receiving end. This is without extolling the virtues of an unflappable 30-year-old who knits everything together for the competition’s youngest squad. A contract extension until summer 2023 is freshly inked and wisely awarded.

LB: Salem Abdullah (Al Ain)

In a pained campaign for fifth-placed Al Ain, uncapped Abdullah signifies a beacon of hope. A slot at left-back has been nailed down by the tall 22-year-old, whose missed just one game. This season has also featured a first AGL goal and his three assists is only bettered by two Emiratis. How much longer will he stay off the UAE radar?

DM: Otabek Shukurov (Sharjah)

There are few better proponents of the Uzbekistan international’s position in Asia, let alone the AGL. A stellar reputation has been enhanced at the base of the leader’s midfield, alongside the emergent Majed Surour. This partnership has contributed to the AGL’s second-meanest defence, with only 11 let in. A long-distance, albeit-deflected, winner last time out versus Kalba added further value.

CM: Abdullah Ramadan (Al Jazira)

A Middle Eastern superstar is ascendant at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Ramadan has won back-to-back Player of the Month gongs this term, plus leads the way in the AGL for touches (1,290) and successful passes (930). The 22-year-old’s combined tally of four goals and assists is, also, already only one behind 2018/19’s leading mark of five. With a game intelligence that belies his youth, he can only get better from here. Just ask Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, after orchestrating November’s 5-3 rout.

RW: Suhail Al Noobi (Bani Yas)

Al Noobi is on a mission to smash his personal records and drive Bani Yas to surprise glory. The 25-year-old is the joint-third-highest-scoring Emirati (five goals) and has the joint-most assists (five) in the entire league. This is already a marked improvement on 2019/20’s combined tally of seven, from 15 run-outs. The improved Al Noobi’s polished instincts were on display with an opportunistic brace in last month’s staggering 4-0 thrashing of Al Ain. A chance to add to a solitary UAE cap, surely, should follow.

AM: Khalfan Mubarak (Al Jazira)

Jazira’s aspirations to finish in the upper echelons of the AGL might not have survived yet another debilitating knee injury for 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman, just two matches into 2020/21. Yet, his chosen successor for club and country – Mubarak – has carried the creative mantle with aplomb. The 25-year-old has produced three goals and four assists, a mesmerising dribble for Zayed Al Ameri’s opener at Fujairah one of this season’s highlights.

LW: Igor Coronado (Sharjah)

Coronado is a playmaker who, rarely, fails to deliver at clutch moments. His tally of nine goals is the AGL’s fourth best, plus is directly worth seven points to Sharjah’s cause. This nerveless ability was vital when he sunk a penalty in November’s affirming 1-0 victory at Jazira. Coronado, though, isn’t just about cold numbers – despite registering the joint-most successful dribbles (42) and second-most key passes (30) from the 11th-most touches (863). December’s spellbinding flip flap and inventive drag back at Hatta from the Brazilian deserved far more than a blocked shot.

CF: Welliton (Sharjah)

September’s misfortune for seriously injured summer addition Jonathas sparked the fortunate reunification between Sharjah and their leading scorer from 2018/19’s title charge. The unexpected decision to bring the Brazilian back from Al Wasl has been rewarded with a league-high 11 strikes. Last season’s failed experiment with Cape Verde hit man Ricardo Gomes was corrected, at a stroke.

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Tag Heuer announces Naomi Osaka as new brand ambassador

Rarely in a generation does an athlete emerge who not only redefines their sport, but also uses their influence and personal style to ignite conversation on a global stage. 23-year old Japanese Naomi Osaka is one of those unique stars and she has joined luxury Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer’s impressive ambassador roster that includes some of the world’s best young talents.

Since joining the WTA professional circuit in 2013, Naomi Osaka has become one of the most explosive and influential tennis players in the world. Consider her accomplishments on the court: she was named “Newcomer of the Year” at the 2016 WTA Awards. Osaka was the first Asian woman to hold the number one position in singles, and the first Japanese player ever to win a Grand Slam event: the U.S. Open in 2018. That was followed by her Australian Open championship in 2019 and a second U.S. Open title in 2020.

The superstar has also become a leading voice for social justice. Tennis legend Billy Jean King is impressed by Osaka’s commitment not only to the game but to the things she believes in, saying, “She’s very quiet and calm, but internally she’s on fire and thinking about things.

I really admire what she’s done. Sports is a platform, and women’s tennis, we are the leaders in women’s sports, and Naomi has really stepped up.”Naomi Osaka also expresses herself through fashion, which she describes as a passion second only to tennis. Her sense of style is as bold and eye-catching as her tennis game and her new TAG Heuer watches will complement her fashion choices and elevate the profile of the brand’s new pieces for women.TAG Heuer is looking forward to accompanying its newest brand ambassador at every tournament in 2021 and beyond. The brand recognizes in Osaka a bold expression of its founding values – passion for action, high performance, mental strength and avant-garde – and sees her as a natural and authentic fit for the company.

It is difficult to imagine a better embodiment of TAG Heuer’s “Don’t crack under pressure” motto. At the heart of her game is a big serve and an intimidating ground game and these weapons are enhanced by the intelligence, the focus and the execution she brings to her matches.

Sports Illustrated has described Naomi Osaka as “the future of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)”. It makes sense: she bridges generations and is truly multicultural. Born in Osaka to a Japanese mother and a Haitian-born father, she moved to the USA when she was a toddler and still makes her home there but when the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are finally contested in August of 2021, she will be playing for the host nation. “We are very proud to have Naomi join the TAG Heuer family. Her athletic record and commitment to excellence are outstanding but even more impressive is her passionate spirit and drive for advocacy which is an inspiration to so many.

We are excited to support Naomi as she kicks off her 2021 season and prepares for her Olympic debut” says Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer.Naomi Osaka: “I’m excited and honored to join TAG Heuer as brand ambassador. It’s a partnership and friendship that exemplifies our shared mindset and values.

The brand’s trailblazing approach with their ‘Don’t crack under pressure’ motto speaks to the way I live my life both on and off the court.”

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‘We Have No Space’: LA County Funeral Director Describes Virus’s Toll

A casket is loaded into a hearse at the Boyd Funeral Home as burials at cemeteries are delayed to the surge of COVID-19 deaths on Jan. 14, 2021 in Los Angeles.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

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Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Most of us don’t have to think too often about the logistics of dying and about what closure, like wakes, funerals, memorials, actually requires.

But Todd Beckley has to. The Los Angeles County-area funeral director says he’s never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. He says that Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary where he works is so overwhelmed, they’re using “every embalming table, every gurney, every table.”

And there is a waiting list 23 families long.

“When you tell a family ‘We have no space,’ they have to begin making phone calls to see what mortuaries have spaces available. And I’ve been doing this since 1965, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he tells Morning Edition host Noel King.

Latest estimates show that nearly 1 in 3 people in Los Angeles County have been infected with the virus since March, and infections led to more than 14,000 deaths. The county is currently experiencing a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases.

Following are highlights of the interview:

Interview Highlights

Part of your job is helping people. You help them grieve, you help them get a sense of closure. You can’t do that right now for many people.

No, you can’t.

In the normal times, when a death occurs, the family would say — say the death occurred on a Monday — “Can we have a service on Thursday.” And we’d say “Absolutely.” Well now we have to tell the family that we’re scheduling services in February. So we’re not going to be able to serve them for three to four weeks.

Do families in their grief understand this?

You know, the majority of families say “We understand.”

The people that yell at us the most in all due respect are the hospitals because they are overwhelmed, and they have someone who’s died, and we’re telling the hospital “I’m sorry, we can’t send a car.” And that’s why you’re finding in California especially hospitals are erecting refrigerator trucks in every parking lot that they can just to accommodate the number of decedents that they have.

I read that air quality regulators have lifted the limits on how many people can be cremated in large parts of Southern California. When you heard that, what went through your mind?

We’re dealing with some issues, if I may share. The health department — they’re operating regular business hours. Every death that occurs in California, the death certificate has to be filed with the county health department and a permit has to be issued by that department. And if the department’s closed — and for instance, at Christmas and New Year’s, they closed the day before the holiday, they were closed the holiday, they were closed the weekend. Four days, funeral directors in the state weren’t able to file death certificates or get permits for cremation or burial. And that really affects the backlog.

Now you heard about the crematory issue and in lifting the regulations we were informed: there’s a burial vault shortage. So families that have ground burial may find that when they go to the cemetery, the cemetery says, ‘I am sorry, we don’t have a burial vault for your loved one and we won’t have one for 15 or 20 days.’ There’s a shortage of cardboard boxes for cremation. We haven’t been affected yet but that’s been in the news.

Taylor Haney and Kelley Dickens produced and edited the audio story. Farah Eltohamy produced it for the Web.