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FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo, Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open Tournament Director, Craig Tiley answers questions at a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. Tiley said Jan. 19, 2021, that he has ruled out any change in the best-of-five format for men's play at the Australian Open as three more COVID-19 cases were reported among the international arrivals for the tournament beginning Feb. 8.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian,File) (AP)
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo, Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open Tournament Director, Craig Tiley answers questions at a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. Tiley said Jan. 19, 2021, that he has ruled out any change in the best-of-five format for men's play at the Australian Open as three more COVID-19 cases were reported among the international arrivals for the tournament beginning Feb. 8.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian,File) (AP)

Mint Lite | Australian Open, Eurozone banks, clashes in Sudan & more

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Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has ruled out any change in the best-of-five set format for men’s singles matches at the season-opening tennis major as three more covid-19 cases—two of them players—were reported among the international arrivals for the tournament. There are 72 players now in hard quarantine and unable to practice because of nine active coronavirus cases—an increase in three since the weekend—among the incoming travelers to Melbourne. There was no immediate indication from health officials Tuesday that there would be any increase in the number of affected players.

Giuseppe Conte’s fight for survival

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won a crucial confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday
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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won a crucial confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won a crucial confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday, hanging on to power after a junior partner quit his coalition and opened a political crisis amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic. Had he lost the vote, Conte would have been forced to resign. After his appeal to opposition and non-aligned lawmakers to back him following last week's walk-out by former premier Matteo Renzi's Italia Viva party, Conte's government won the lower-house vote by 321 to 259. Conte will face a tougher test on Tuesday in the upper house Senate, where the government had only a slim majority even when Italia Viva was still part of the coalition. The once obscure law professor has been at the helm of two governments of different political persuasions since 2018, the latter dominated by a deadly pandemic and a record recession.

UN wary of US blacklisting Houthis

The UN is concerned that a US plan to blacklist Yemen’s Houthi movement will hinder its efforts to assess a decaying oil tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the war-torn country’s coast
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The UN is concerned that a US plan to blacklist Yemen’s Houthi movement will hinder its efforts to assess a decaying oil tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the war-torn country’s coast

The head of the Arab League expressed hope that the Biden administration will change President Donald Trump's policies and launch a political process supported by regional and international parties to achieve independence for the Palestinians. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the 22-member organization, told the U.N. Security Council that a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict “has been marginalized by the main mediator in the peace process," a reference to the United States. Meanwhile, the UN is concerned that a U.S. plan to blacklist Yemen's Houthi movement will hinder its efforts to assess a decaying oil tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the war-torn country's coast. The tanker Safer has been stranded off Yemen's Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for over five years, and it could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

Eurozone banks stricter post covid

Eurozone banks further tightened conditions for approving loans in the fourth quarter of 2020
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Eurozone banks further tightened conditions for approving loans in the fourth quarter of 2020

Eurozone banks further tightened conditions for approving loans in the fourth quarter of 2020, a European Central Bank survey showed Tuesday, as a resurgence of covid-19 clouded the outlook. Credit standards became stricter in the last three months of the year as financial institutions cited the "deterioration of the general economic outlook, increased credit risk of borrowers" and a "lower risk tolerance", an ECB statement said. In the first three months of 2021, banks expect credit standards to tighten even more, the central bank said, suggesting that they don't expect an imminent recovery from the latest wave of the coronavirus. One in four of the 143 banks surveyed toughened their criteria to firms in the quarter, compared with one in five that had tightened criteria in the previous three-month period.

Clashes break out in Sudan

Tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province killed around 130 people over the weekend
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Tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province killed around 130 people over the weekend

Tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province killed around 130 people over the weekend, including children and women, doctors and an aid worker said Monday. Authorities in South Darfur, meanwhile, reported dozens of casualties from ethnic fighting in that province. The latest violence in West Darfur grew out of a fistfight Friday in a camp for displaced people in Genena, the provincial capital, and then escalated, lasting until Sunday. The clashes, between members of the Arab Rizeigat tribe and the non-Arab Massalit tribe, displaced at least 50,000 people, according to the United Nations. The doctors’ committee in the province said the clashes killed at least 129 people and wounded 189 others, including newborn babies. Among the dead was a US citizen, Saeed Baraka, from Atlanta, who was visiting family in Darfur.

Squatters take over American archeological site

The oldest archeological site in the Americas is under threat from squatters claiming the coronavirus pandemic has left them with no other option but to occupy the sacred city
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The oldest archeological site in the Americas is under threat from squatters claiming the coronavirus pandemic has left them with no other option but to occupy the sacred city

Having survived for 5,000 years, the oldest archeological site in the Americas is under threat from squatters claiming the coronavirus pandemic has left them with no other option but to occupy the sacred city. The situation has become so bad that archeologist Ruth Shady, who discovered the Caral site in Peru, has been threatened with death if she doesn't abandon investigating its treasures. Archeologists told an AFP team visiting Caral that squatter invasions and destruction began in March when the pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown. Caral is situated in the valley of the Supe river some 182 kilometers north of the capital Lima and pre-dates the far better known Inca empire by 45 centuries. None of that mattered to the squatters, though, who took advantage of the minimal police surveillance during 107 days of lockdown to take over 10 hectares of the Chupacigarro archeological site and plant avocados, fruit trees and lima beans.

Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen

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