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Sri Lanka’s president will step down following massive protests

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Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans to step down, bowing to intense pressure after a violent day of protests in Colombo

The announcement comes amid anti-government protests over a dire economic crisis on the Indian Ocean island of 22 million people.

But unusually, there’s no immediate word from the president himself.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena says in a video statement that Rajapaksa had informed him that he would step down from his post this coming Wednesday.

“The decision to step down on 13 July was taken to ensure a peaceful handover of power.”

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena

“I therefore request the public to respect the law and maintain peace,” he said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also willing to resign to make way for an all-party government.

But it’s not clear whether this will be enough to quell the anger on the streets.

The government hasn’t yet explained how the transition of power will take place either.

Presidential Office overrun

Throughout the day, soldiers and police tried by failed to hold back a crowd of chanting protesters demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation.

Police fired shots in the air but were unable to stop the crowd from surrounding the presidential residence.

Neither Rajapaksa nor Wickremesinghe were in their residences when the buildings were attacked.

A Facebook livestream showed hundreds of protesters inside the Presidential compound, some draped in the national flag.

Video footage showed some of them splashing in the swimming pool, while others sat on a four-poster bed and sofas. Some could be seen emptying out a chest of drawers in images that were widely circulated on social media.

Rajapaksa had left on Friday as a safety precaution ahead of the planned weekend demonstration, two defence ministry sources said. Reuters could not immediately confirm his whereabouts.

Ahron Young is an award winning journalist who has covered major news events around the world. Ahron is the Managing Editor and Founder of TICKER NEWS.

Sport

Australian Football League ditches white uniform for women and girls

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The women’s football league in Australia has made a landmark move to scrap white shorts on field

The AFL has decided to ditch the white on field uniform for women and girls, in a bid to ease their anxiety surrounding periods.

It’s hoping the decision will ease feelings of anxiety for women and girls about their menstrual cycle when playing.

“I’m proud of the position the AFL has taken with this decision and thank our players for their leadership and passion…

Whilst this is a policy change for women and girls in AFL-run competitions, the ripple effect for community sport for women and girls is immense…

We want to lead to remove any barriers that prevent women and girls participating in Australian football.”

Nicole Livingstone- AFL general manager of women’s football
Credit: Traveller.com.au

The bold ban inspired by Wimbledon, means females will now wear coloured shorts.

The AFL received numerous reports of women and girls not wanting to participate in the sport because of worry tied to their period.

Now, they’re breaking down those barriers.

“Australian football has progressed since the introduction of AFLW, and this change of policy showcases the commitment to the integration of women’s football and its unique needs.”

NICOLE LIVINGSTONE- AFL GENERAL MANAGER OF WOMEN’S FOOTBALL

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World

Saudi Arabia signs Huawei deal during historic visit by President Xi

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Saudi Arabia and China are deepening their ties during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Kingdom

Chinese President Xi Jinping received a lavish welcome as he forged a fresh partnership with King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

The pair signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei Technologies, which covers cloud computing, and the possibility for high-tech infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. has raised concerns over security risks linked to the Chinese company’s technology.

Xi said Beijing sees Riyadh as “an important force in the multipolar world”.

He explained China and the Arabian region will “continue to hold high the banner of non-interference in internal affairs”.

President Xi’s vehicle was escorted to the king’s palace by members of the Saudi Royal Guard.

They were carrying Chinese and Saudi flags, before the two leaders sat down for a banquet.

U.S. National Security spokesperson, John Kirby said it is “not a surprise” that President Xi is travelling abroad, after his recent visit to Indonesia for the G20 Summit.

“We are mindful of the influence that China is trying to grow around the world. The Middle East is certainly one of those regions where they want to deepen their level of influence,” he said.

The two nations also signed 34 historic deals in relation to green energy, information technology, transport, and construction.

It is understood the agreements amount to $30 billion.

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World

Brittney Griner-Viktor Bout exchange leaves former U.S. Marine in Russia

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Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan left behind by Biden administration during two separate prisoner exchanges with Kremlin

The United States government on Thursday completed a prisoner exchange with Russia after months of negotiations that resulted in the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for American women’s basketball athlete Brittney Griner.

The professional athlete was arrested in Russia in February 2022 after airport officials discovered cannabis oil in her vape cartridges.

Meanwhile, Bout is known as the ‘Merchant of Death’ and many critics say he is still a very dangerous man and was too great a prize to give Russia.

Additionally, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan has been left behind by the Biden administration for a second time. Initially, the Biden administration was working to release both Griner and Whelan for the Bout who has served 11 years of a 25-year conviction.

But, the Kremlin ultimately handed the U.S. the choice of only Griner’s return or no deal at all.

In Russian custody for nearly four years, Whelan was convicted on charges of espionage and spying for the U.S. government. The 52-year-old was sentenced to 16 years in prison and remains imprisoned at a labor camp.

Both Whelan and the U.S. deny the charges.

U.S. President Joe Biden was asked about why Whelan was left behind. He said, “

Whelan’s brother told media outlets he is hopeful the Biden administration will also secure the release of his brother soon.

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