While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 23

A 2020 photo shows US Air Force fighter planes at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. PHOTO: REUTERS

US discussing America-made fighter jets for Ukraine

The United States is exploring whether it can send US-made fighter jets to Ukraine, a White House spokesman told reporters on Friday, as the conflict with Russia enters its fifth month and fighting rages in eastern Ukraine.

While the Biden administration was making preliminary explorations into the feasibility of potentially providing the jets to Ukraine, the move is not something that would be done immediately, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a briefing.

Such a move would be a major increase in US support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia.

Kirby also disclosed details of the latest US arms package for Ukraine, which totalled US$270 million to aid in its defense against Russian aggression, including US$100 million for drones.

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Ship insurers sail into unknown with Ukraine grain deal

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A number of insurance underwriters are interested in providing cover for grain shipments from Ukraine after an agreement was reached to re-open Black Sea ports, although the first shipments are expected to be weeks away, industry sources said on Friday.

Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal on Friday to reopen the ports for grain exports, raising hopes that an international food crisis aggravated by the Russian invasion can be eased.

The accord crowned two months of talks brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, a Nato member that has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and controls the straits leading into the Black Sea.

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Covid-positive Biden appears virtually at White House meeting

US President Joe Biden appeared virtually at a White House meeting of economic advisers on Friday to highlight his good health a day after testing positive for Covid-19.

Speaking remotely at the meeting to discuss White House efforts to lower gas prices, Biden appeared vigorous and in good spirits but with a noticeably deeper voice, hours after his doctor released a statement saying his symptoms had improved.

“I’m feeling much better than I sound,” he said, apologising for intermittent coughs as he described recent efforts to lower gasoline prices.

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Sweden beat Belgium 1-0 to set up Euro semi with England

Defender Linda Sembrant fired a stoppage-time winner to give Sweden a hard-fought 1-0 win over Belgium on Friday and set up a Women's Euro 2022 semi-final against hosts England next Tuesday.

Belgium's game plan of containing the Swedes and hitting them on the break looked like it would see them force extra time, but the last of Sweden's 34 attempts on goal was forced home by Sembrant to send the Belgians crashing out.

The Swedes kept Belgium pinned back for most of the first half and should have taken the lead when Stina Blackstenius slotted the ball home in the 25th minute. But a VAR review showed that she was just offside.

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Amazon unveils Lord Of The Rings TV series at Comic-Con

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Nomadic hobbits, bearded female dwarves and enslaved elves - Amazon finally lifted the lid on its highly anticipated Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power TV series at Comic-Con on Friday.

The enormously ambitious small-screen saga set in the world of JRR Tolkien's books has been in the works since Amazon Prime bought the rights for US$250 million almost five years ago.

Fans, many of whom camped in line overnight at the world's most famous pop culture gathering, were treated to a first look at footage, plus interviews with the creators and 21-strong cast of hobbits, elves and dwarves in a 90-minute presentation hosted by Stephen Colbert.

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