Winter Olympics 2018

U.S. strike killed Russians in Syria – Moscow

MOSCOW -- A shadowy mercenary group known as “Wagner” has come to play a crucial role in Russian operations in Syria. The actions of Wagner coincided with the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria in September 2015.

On Thursday, Maria Zakharova, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said five men, “presumably Russian citizens”, died during a U.S. air strike on February 7 and an unspecified number of Russians were injured.

UAE to open Arab world’s first nuclear power plant

MIDEAST -- The United Arab Emirates is due to bring the Arab world’s first nuclear power station online in 2018. The Barakah plant will have capacity of 5,600 megawatts of electricity, with four 1400 MW reactors.

America’s deadliest mass shootings

FLORIDA -- The attack on Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is the 18th school shooting in the U.S. within the first 45 days of 2018 — more than twice as many as at this time last year.

Fitness app reveals U.S. Middle East bases

MIDDLE EAST -- Strava, the popular exercise tracking app that posts a map of its users’ activity, has unwittingly revealed previously unknown locations of U.S.-led coalition military bases in Iraq, Syria and Jordan.

Candidates running against Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW -- Russia's election officials have registered eight candidates for the presidential election, including President Vladimir Putin. With his approval ratings topping 80%, Putin is set to easily win a fourth term.

U.S. air strikes kill Russian fighters in Syria

SYRIA -- U.S. forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Scandal threat to Oxfam funding in UK

LONDON -- Oxfam GB is under threat of losing its British government funding over allegations of sexual misconduct by senior aid workers in Haiti and Chad. Oxfam GB is one of 19 affiliates in Oxfam International.

New generation plant breeding seeks go-ahead

BRUSSELS -- The European Court of Justice is to rule on whether crops developed using so-called “New Breeding Techniques” like CRISPR/Cas are the same as those achieved through traditional plant breeding.

Israel to continue military campaign in Syria

SYRIA -- Israel and Iran have moved closer to confrontation in Syria as rising tensions erupted into the most serious standoff between the sides since the Syrian civil war began seven years ago.

South Africa’s Zuma quits under pressure

PRETORIA -- South Africa’s embattled President Jacob Zuma has resigned ahead of a vote of no confidence in parliament. Zuma has been leader since 2009 but has been dogged by corruption allegations

Singapore to test drone delivery system

SINGAPORE -- The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore is to start drone trials with Airbus on its “Skyways” UAV delivery system at the National University of Singapore.

Italy’s untested electoral system

ROME -- Italy’s general election on March 4 will see the first use of the new “Rosatellum” election law that favours coalitions. Rosatellum mixes a first-past-the-post system and proportional representation.

CubeSats drive commercial space race

LOS ANGELES -- CubeSats are ultra-small spacecraft that piggyback to orbit on big, expensive rockets – but affordable rockets, like Rocket Lab’s Electron, are launching a new generation of space start-ups.

Feb 16: Chinese New Year -- Year of the Dog

CHINA -- Chinese New Year -- the Year of the Dog -- begins on Friday, the second new moon after the winter solstice. North and South Korea, China and Vietnam all celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Mar 4: Countdown to new Italian government

ITALY -- The general election will pit a centre-right coalition against populists and a divided left, with polls suggesting a hung parliament and prolonged uncertainty in the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

Feb 15: Europa League Last 32, first leg

SOCCER -- Ties of the round include Napoli against Red Bull Salzburg, both Champions League dropouts, and Ostersunds -- only founded in 1996 -- against Arsenal. Second leg matches take place on February 22.

Feb 17: Super Rugby Championship 2018

RUGBY -- The southern hemisphere’s top rugby union club tournament reverts to a 15-team format, with 120 matches across three geographical conferences, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Mar 18: MotoGP World Championship 2018

MOTOGP -- The 2018 season once again commences in Qatar, ending in Valencia on Nov 18. Thailand’s Chang International Circuit has been added to the calendar, which this year will take in 19 road circuits.

Feb 8-25: Over 200 Olympic medals to be won

PYEONGCHANG 2018 -- The Winter Olympic Games in South Korea will see 222 medals awarded, with Snowboard Big Air, Mixed Doubles Curling and the dramatic Mass Start Speed Skating among new events.

Feb 23-24: Six Nations Championship rugby

RUGBY UNION -- The second round of the northern hemisphere’s premier tournament sees Ireland host Italy, surprise package Wales take on England at Twickenham, and Scotland face France at Murrayfield

Feb 24-26: English Premier League 2017-18

SOCCER -- Manchester Utd host last season’s champions Chelsea, Liverpool take on West Ham, and Tottenham face another London derby when they go to struggling Crystal Palace.

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