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Palmeiras eye move for Colombian midfielder Atuesta******
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras are in talks with Los Angeles FC about the possible signing of Colombian midfielder Eduard Atuesta, according to Brazilian media reports.。
Atuesta has long been on the radar of Palmeiras, who are prepared to offer the 24-year-old a long-term contract, Globo Esporte reported.。
The playmaker, a former member of Colombia's under-20 and under-23 teams, is contracted to Los Angeles until December 31 next year.。
He has made 111 appearances and scored nine goals since joining the Major League Soccer outfit from Independiente Medellin in 2018.。
Palmeiras manager Abel Ferreira has expressed a desire to strengthen his squad despite clinching a second consecutive Copa Libertadores title with a 2-1 victory over Flamengo in last month's final.。
The Sao Paulo side finished third in Brazil's 2021 Serie A, 18 points behind champions Atletico Mineiro. Enditem。
US issues first passport with 'X' gender******
The United States on Wednesday announced its first passport with "X" for gender, a landmark step for people outside the binary male or female categories.
The State Department said it had issued a first passport with "X" for gender and would make the option routinely available by early 2022 both for passports and birth certificates of Americans abroad.
"I want to reiterate, on the occasion of this passport issuance, the Department of State's commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had promised to address the issue in June but said that there were technological hurdles that needed to be addressed.
Under Blinken, the State Department has also allowed US passport holders to select their gender on passports.
Previously, Americans required medical certification if they sought to mark a gender on their passports different than on their birth certificates or other documents.
The Human Rights Campaign, a leading advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, called the new passport policy "historic."
The move "will mitigate the risk of discrimination, harassment and violence faced by millions of non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming Americans who travel abroad," said JoDee Winterhof, the group's senior vice president of policy and political affairs.
"The United States must encourage other governments around the world to follow suit in adopting inclusive policies," she said.
At least 11 other countries already have an "X" or "other" option for passports, according to the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, a London-based advocacy group.
The countries include Canada, Germany and Argentina as well as India, Nepal and Pakistan.
The State Department made the announcement on the week of Intersex Awareness Day as it vowed to support people who face discrimination over their gender identity.
US President Joe Biden has promised to make advocacy of LGBTQ rights a top priority of his administration.
Western countries lift COVID******
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the global infections and deaths have waxed and waned in different parts of the world.
As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus appeared more contagious and less lethal, several Western countries, where cases have been falling in recent weeks, decided to lift their restrictions.
In its latest report issued on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said the number of new weekly COVID-19 cases increased by 8 percent last week, as compared to the week prior to it, after "a consistent decrease" in the caseload since the end of January.
"The number of new deaths continued a decreasing trend," globally down by 17 percent last week as compared to the week from February 28 to March 6, the WHO added.
In the United States, the worst-hit country with the highest caseload and the most deaths in the world, President Joe Biden called on Americans to return to the office and "fill our great downtowns again" in his State of the Union Address earlier this month.
The United States has recorded around 79 million cases and over 960,000 deaths, while daily cases continue to drop, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We currently have about 35,000 cases in this country. We expect some fluctuation, especially at this relatively low level, and, certainly, that to increase," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Monday.
Across the Atlantic, the British government said Monday that all remaining COVID-19 international travel restrictions will end Friday to make going on holiday easier for the Easter school vacation.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes will mean people "can travel just like in the good old days."
Britain recorded an average of 73,310 cases per day last week, according to COVID-19 statistics from The New York Times. The country's caseload has increased by 77 percent from the average two weeks ago, while deaths have fallen by 10 percent.
France also lifted most coronavirus bans on Monday, ending the need to wear masks in schools, offices and shops, and allowing the unvaccinated back into bars, restaurants and cinemas.
Official data showed COVID-19 cases in France have increased by 23 percent from the average two weeks ago, while deaths have decreased by 37 percent.
On Tuesday, Dutch Health Minister Ernst Kuiper announced that the government would further scale down COVID-19 rules from next Wednesday. The mask obligation in public transport will disappear, and a negative test is no longer required at events with more than 500 participants.
In Oceania, daily COVID-19 cases have been falling in Australia, but still rising in New Zealand.
Australia said on Tuesday that it is about to ease its entry ban for international cruise ships next month, bringing an end to all major COVID-19 travel bans. Last month, Australia reopened its airports to vaccinated international travellers.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday that the country was "ready to welcome the world back" as the nation continued to ease its coronavirus restrictions.
"Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we're highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it's now safe to open up," she said.