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Handball Sweden Stun Hosts Croatia To Advance Into Main Round At Euros

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ZAGREB – Sweden will carry a maximum four points into the European handball championship main round after a 35-31 win over hosts Croatia who also advanced on Tuesday.

The result helped Serbia progress from preliminary pool A as they beat Iceland 29-26 in the early fixture but would have been eliminated had Croatia beaten the Swedes.

World champions France charged through from Pool B with a perfect record after a 32-25 win over Belarus as right back Dika Mem rifled in nine goals and playmaker Nikola Karabatic got six.

Norway won 39-28 against eliminated Austria to join France and Belarus in a new group of six, which also contains Sweden, Croatia and Serbia, with the top two reaching the semi-finals.

With Macedonia, Germany, Spain and Denmark already through to the other second-stage group of six from Pool C and D respectively, the last two berths will be decided on Wednesday.

Croatia coach Lino Cervar’s decision to rest first-choice goalkeeper Mirko Alilovic backfired spectacularly as his replacements Ivan Pesic and Ivan Stevanovic were left clutching thin air in Split’s Spaladium Arena.

Handball – Men’s EHF European Handball Championship – preliminary round Group A – Croatia v Sweden – Spaladium Arena, Split, Croatia – January 16, 2018. Luka Cindric of Croatia shoots on goal. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Sweden pierced through almost at will and never looked back after turning an early 4-3 deficit into a massive nine-goal advantage thanks to effervescent long-range shooting and quick ball movement in attack.

Earlier on Tuesday, Serbia rallied from a four-goal deficit midway through the second half to beat more fancied Iceland, who made an early exit after falling apart in the last 15 minutes.

Slideshow (6 Images)

Iceland’s 38-year old winger Gudjon Valur Siggurdson put on a majestic one-man show with a game-high eight goals but Serbia fired on all cylinders when the chips were down.

Norway controlled a high-scoring contest against Austria as Kristian Bjornsen capped a fine evening with nine goals.

The top three from each of the four pools who advance to the main round carry over points won against each other.

France and Sweden will start with four points each, Croatia and Norway have two while Serbia and Belarus have none.

Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade;

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Greece-macedonia Name Row Edging Towards Solution Says Merkel

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BERLIN – Macedonia is closer than any time in the last decade to settling a long-standing dispute over its name with Greece which has thwarted Skopje’s ambitions to join NATO and the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

“I am very pleased and relieved that .. there is movement in the talks,” Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference with Macedonian Premier Zoran Zaev.

“In the last ten years, the solution has not been as close as now and it would be wonderful if the remaining difficulties can be bridged,” she said.

Greece objects to the former Yugoslav republic’s use of the name Macedonia, arguing that it could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.

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Kremlin Says Russian Defense Sector Fine Accuses Us Of Unfair Competition

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MOSCOW – The Kremlin said on Wednesday that “everything is fine” in the Russian defense sector, responding to an assertion by the U.S. State Department that sanctions had cost Russia $3 billion in lost defense contracts.

“I can just say that everything is fine, everything is fine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a phone call with reporters on Wednesday.

Peskov said Russia was “trying to hedge risks related to instances of unfair competition on the part of the United States in the market of military-technical cooperation.”

Reporting by Max Rodionov; Writing by Polina Ivanova;

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Drought-hit Cape Town Dreads Day Zero When Taps Will Run Dry

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CAPE TOWN – A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have given South Africa’s main tourist hub welcome respite from a severe drought and helped push back a dreaded “Day Zero” when Cape Town’s taps are expected to run dry.

On Tuesday, the city of four million moved its estimate for “Day Zero” to July 9 from June 4 due to a decline in water usage, and after the Groenland farmers association also released 10 billion liters of water from their private reservoirs into the Steenbras storage dam.

South Africa has declared a national disaster over the drought afflicted southern and western regions, including Cape Town, which means the government could spend more money and resources to deal with the crisis.

Cape Town, which attracts about two million visitors each year, wants to become more resilient as the effects of climate change are felt, similar to other dry cities including Melbourne and California.

“We know that while we are going through a challenging time, we are building a world-class green economy that will be a beacon of hope for many places around,” said Tim Harris, chief executive for Wesgro, a regional trade and tourism agency.

A dried out wicket is seen at a cricket pitch in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11, 2018. Without water, the wickets are considered dangerous to players. All club and school cricket matches has been cancelled as the city attempts to avert a major water crisis. REUTERS/Mike HutchingsThe chronic drought is hurting visitor numbers and knocking a rare economic bright spot, officials said previously.

According to the South African Weather Service, two of the driest seasons ever recorded for the city since observations started in 1921 happened in the last three years: In 2015 when 549 mm (21 inches) fell and last year – the driest year on record – when annual rainfall totaled 499 mm.

Slideshow (13 Images)But, faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town have cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years, as the city targets a daily consumption rate of no more than 450 million liters.

At the moment, restrictions make it compulsory for residents to use no more than 50 liters per person per day, as city officials look to see out the hot summer months into winter, when Cape Town usually gets rain.

“We must all keep doing absolutely everything in our power to reach the target set by the national department to reduce our urban usage by 45 percent,” said Ian Neilson, the deputy mayor.

Already hundreds of Cape Town residents are being forced to line up overnight to stock up on water in South Africa’s second largest economic hub and tourism attraction.

However, several desalination plants are planned and together with underground water reserves, are expected to help augment water sources well into the future.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf;

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