Rebekah Stott: From chemotherapy to a home World Cup

Stepping out for New Zealand at a packed Eden Park in the World Cup 2023 opener was Rebekah Stott's "biggest motivator" when she was battling her way back from cancer. With the match against Norway now less than three months away, Stott is back in the national team setup and on course to fulfill her dream.

But there was a moment on her return to the Football Ferns side in the SheBelieves Cup last year that meant just as much, in a very different way. Stott, 29, had documented her fight against Hodgkin's lymphoma on Instagram and through her blog to distract herself and try to help others in a similar position.

One of those was Alison Gale, a US football fan who had been diagnosed with the same condition just six days later and had seen Stott play in the NWSL for OL Reign. The two connected online but had never met until that night last Februray, when Gale held up a banner of support as Stott came off the bench against Iceland.

"It was just such a cool moment," the Brighton and Hove Albion defender told DW. "That was the first time I've ever met her and it was just like: 'She's helped me through something crazy. I've helped her through something crazy, and it's just cool to be able to have that relationship through something that's really not fun.'"

Having left Brighton during the 2020-21 season to return to Melbourne for her treatment, Stott had to spend two weeks in isolation as part of Australian COVID-19 restrictions. It was there she found out her specific diagnosis.

Support network invaluable in isolation

"I think I'd already processed it. I knew it was cancer,” she said. "So it was more about just talking to people on the phone. I had my teammates, I had my friends and I had the doctors to talk to as well. So I didn't find it too hard."

Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the more easily treated cancers, but Stott still had to undergo four months of chemotherapy before being told she was in remission in July 2021. As soon as she got the news, Stott was plotting a course back to doing what she loved.

But, as taxing as the illness and treatments were, Stott said the road back to the levels of fitness required for a professional athlete was even more rocky than she'd imagined.

"I don't think I expected it to be as hard as it has been. Just how long it would take my body to really get back to normal. I look at pictures now of when I had just finished treatment and when I was playing in the A-League women in Australia [in December 2021] and I don't recognize myself, I'm blowing up like a fish," she said.

"I hadn't done anything for 4 or 5 months. So it was the conditioning of my body, the legs. I had no muscles, I had no power. And then obviously aerobically I had to start from scratch. But then also the fatigue was crazy. So I would do a gym session and I'd be fatigued for at least two or three days. It would take me a lot longer to recover."

But recover she did. "It's kind of crazy to see like the difference between after treatment and where I'm at now. It's like the old Stotty is back, in terms of my body and my strength."

Back to business in Brighton and Auckland

Having returned to Brighton in the Women's Super League with unfinished business, Stott cuts a laidback, approachable figure. But the drive and desire that fueled her rapid return is never too far from the surface. A tumultuous season on England's south coast has left the club fighting a relegation battle despite a significant investment in facilities, staff and the playing group. But Stott hasn't doubted her decision for a second.

"When I was going through treatment, my one goal was to get back over here and get back to playing. So when that opportunity came up, I was like: ‘Yes, let's get back on track and restart my career.'"

Despite a few injuries along the way she's certainly done that, and has already regained her place at the heart of the New Zealand defense. A strong World Cup campaign, at least progression from a group that also contains Norway, Switzerland and the Philippines, is important to both the team and the sport in New Zealand. But even in a country consumed by rugby above all else, Stott has great expectations.

"Our last tour was in New Zealand, so it was cool to be able to see the hype around it. Yes, New Zealand isn't a football country, but I think we saw for the Women's Rugby World Cup last year, it was incredible, The New Zealanders got around it and made it so cool for the girls, so I'm expecting it to be pretty big."

That opener, against Norway, will certainly be big. But between thoughts of how to stop Ada Hegerberg and Caroline Graham Hansen and the roar 50,000 home fans in Auckland, Stott may just cast her mind back to that American with the banner of support and all that it meant.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Turan News Agency Attended White House Correspondents Dinner

The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner is the most significant event in Washington DC society, as it's known as a night where leading journalists rub shoulders with White House administrators and key politicians. Celebrities and media elites descend upon the U.S. capital for a long weekend of exclusive gatherings centered around the dinner... and of course some self-deprecating humor, Washington-style. For the first time, an Azerbaijani news agency was among participating media organizations at this year's dinner, which was hosted by the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), the organization that represents the White House press corps. Alex Raufoglu, TURAN's Washington correspondent, who currently serves as a member of the WHCA, and board member of The Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States, was present at the ceremony on Saturday in a Washington Ballroom packed with over 2000 journalists, politicians and celebrities. President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, vice president Kamala Harris, and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff were seated on the stage along with comedian Roy Wood Jr., a correspondent for 'The Daily Show,' who was the featured entertainer. This year's dinner took a more solemn tone, as what many see as the brazen attack on press freedom globally was on painful display. Upon arriving at the ceremony, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended a pull-aside meeting with the parents of journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned in Russia since March. "Tonight, our message is this: Journalism is not a crime." Biden said in his speech. "The free press is a pillar - maybe the pillar - of a free society, not the enemy. " The President dedicated the first 5 minutes to Americans currently and formerly detained abroad. "I promise you I am working like hell to get them home," he said. Then he pivoted to the jokes, by taking a few digs at his old age, saying that he loves the 1st Amendment of the U.S, Constitution - which is the freedom of the press and speech - "because my friend Jimmy Madison wrote it "Call me 'old?' I call it being seasoned. You say 'I'm ancient,' I say I'm wise," Biden continued. Comedian Roy Wood, who took the stage after Biden, also zeroed in on the president's age saying that "we should be inspired by the events in France. They rioted when the retirement age went up two years to 64.' 'Meanwhile in America, we have an 80-year-old man, begging us for four more years of work,' Wood said with a laugh. The historic "Correspondents Dinner" was formed in 1914 and is made up of journalists who are credentialed to cover the administration and get access to the White House briefing room and president. The first dinner was held in 1920, and in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge became the first sitting leader to attend.

Source: Turan News Agency

Former PACE co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan called on Zamin Salayev to stop hunger strike

Former co-rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Azerbaijan Stefan Shennak called on the activist of the Party of Peole's Front of Azerbaijan (PPFA) Zamin Salayev, who has been on hunger strike in Baku detention center No. 1 for 84 days, to stop the action. "A hunger strike is a risk to health and life. He needs international solidarity, and we ask our representatives to visit him in prison. I think the Baku regime will not release him because of the hunger strike. I have known this mode for many years. Salaev is risking his life, and this is bad," Stefan Shennak told the "Azadlig" newspaper. Recall that Zamin Salayev was detained on February 7 this year, and the next day the Garadagh court of Baku arrested him for three months. A criminal case has been opened against him under Article 221.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (hooliganism with the use of weapons). He faces up to 5 years of imprisonment. Salaev considers his arrest an order and started a hunger strike in protest against the court's decision.

Source: Turan News Agency

The Court of Appeal has remanded Bakhtiyar Hajiyev in custody

The Baku Court of Appeal today dismissed the complaint against the extension of the arrest of public activist Bakhtiar Hajiyev, his lawyer Agyl Laidj told Turan. On April 20, the Khatai District Court extended the term of Hajiyev's arrest for another two months. According to the lawyer, Hajiyev in the Court of Appeal reiterated the groundlessness of the charges brought against him. Hajiyev also noted that he had previously written to the head of state a request to put an end to lawlessness against him and facilitate his release, but has not yet received a response. *Bakhtiar Hajiyev was arrested on December 9 last year on charges of hooliganism and contempt of court. On the same day, the Khatai District Court sentenced him to 1 month and 20 days in prison. On December 15, Hajiyev went on a hunger strike demanding his release. He stopped his hunger strike on December 28 after persistent calls from members of the public and family members. But on January 9, after the Court of Appeal refused to release him from prison, he resumed his hunger strike. On January 21, the court extended Hajiyev's detention for another month, and on February 23, it was extended for another two months - on April 28. The repeated petitions of lawyers to change the preventive measure chosen for Hajiyev to house arrest or release him on bail before the start of the trial were not satisfied by the courts. On February 28 - on the 51st day of the hunger strike, Hajiyev stopped his hunger strike. Representatives of the US State Department, the US Senate, the European Union, the Council of Europe and a number of international NGOs have repeatedly demanded Hajiyev's release from prison.

Source: Turan News Agency

‘Law on media’ does not comply with the Constitution of Azerbaijan – expert

The Azerbaijani Commissioner for Human Rights refused to send a request to the Constitutional Court to check the media law for its compliance with the Constitution of the country. Some time ago, the head of the website, Vugar Alekperov (Gurdganly), asked the Ombudswoman to send a request to the Constitutional Court regarding the compliance of the Media Law with the Constitution. Previously, the Media Development Agency refused to include in the media registry under the pretext that the site does not publish 20 unique news items daily, as required by law. 'Our appeal to the Ombudswoman received a negative response. She rejected the request and no request will be sent to the Constitutional Court, recommending to aoppeal to court. If the complaint is not satisfied, then apply to the Constitutional Court,' Alekperov said. The website has already filed a lawsuit against the decision of the Media Development Agency, but the decision is being delayed. The Media Law has created an uncertain atmosphere, Khalid Agaliyev, head of the Media Rights Group, noted. 'No one knows who was included in the media register and who was not. The register itself, contrary to the requirements of the law, is closed for access. The Media Development Agency reports that about 40 media entities have been denied entry into the register,' Agaliyev said. According to him, the law does not comply with the Constitution of Azerbaijan. 'The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe gave a negative opinion on the law, indicating that it does not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Article 151 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan states that in case of conflict between the normative-legal acts of the Azerbaijani legislation and interstate agreements signed by Azerbaijan, international agreements should be applied, H. Agaliyev said. The indifferent attitude of the Ombudsman to this issue is wrong. 'The legislation gave the Ombudsman the right to send a request to the Constitutional Court so that he could intervene in such situations. There is no need for victims to apply to the Ombudsman. The Commissioner for Human Rights should take the initiative in matters related to the media law and contribute to the resolution of conflicts,' the expert emphasized.

Source: Turan News Agency

Azerbaijan talks observation of referendum process in Uzbekistan

The Azerbaijani delegation observed the referendum in Uzbekistan at more than 30 polling stations, Chairman of the Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan Mazahir Panahov told Trend.

"The delegation of observers from Azerbaijan was represented both at the level of MPs, and the leadership and members of the Central Election Commission. In total, observations were made at more than 50 sites. The sites must meet certain requirements for voting,” Panahov explained.

“No cases of serious dissatisfaction were recorded. In general, fairly spacious premises were chosen for the polling stations. More than 90 percent of the population took part in the voting. The voters' activity was observed. This event will go down in the history of Uzbekistan," he added.

The referendum on amendments to the Constitution of Uzbekistan was held on April 30.

Amendments to the Constitution are aimed at strengthening the functions of Parliament to appoint the heads of supervisory and law enforcement agencies, while part of the powers of the president is transferred to the supreme legislative body. In addition, it is proposed to increase the term of the presidency from five to seven years.

Judges of the Constitutional Court are proposed to be elected for a ten-year term. The Constitutional Court elects for a five-year term from among its members the Chairman of the Constitutional Court and his deputy.

A large package of amendments to the Basic Law aims to liberalize the country's economy further.

On April 19-26, early voting took place. More than 611,000 citizens of Uzbekistan participated in early voting in the referendum on amendments to the Constitution.

Source: Trend News Agency

Mine terror on Azerbaijani lands – one of main evidences of Armenian terrorism, political expert says

The mine terror on Azerbaijani lands is one of the main evidence pointing to Armenian terrorism in general, political expert Elshad Hasanov told Trend.

The expert noted that Azerbaijani lands have been under Armenian occupation for many years.

"During the years of occupation, the enemy planted mines everywhere, most of our lands liberated from occupation were mined by Armenians. Even when leaving, they laid more mines. Since the end of the second Karabakh war and until today, more than 300 of our citizens have been killed or injured by mines. The mine terror of Armenia is still going on. Among the mines found were mines produced in Armenia in 2021," Hasanov said.

The expert said that not enough countries are providing support to Azerbaijan as far as de-mining goes.

"Many international organizations have not made proper statements regarding Armenia. International organizations do not take concrete measures. The mine clearance process will continue over the next few years. The installation of so many mines is aimed at slowing down the process of people returning to their ancestral lands and increasing human losses. Despite all this, mine clearance work continues at a rapid pace," Hasanov added.

Source: Trend News Agency

Dushanbe to Host Regional Symposium on TB Treatment in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Scientific and practical X Regional symposium on the treatment of tuberculosis in Eastern Europe and Central Asia entiled “Scientific breakthrough: The solution to the problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis in our hands” will be held from May 3 through May 4 in Dushanbe.

The international event is organized by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population of Tajikistan, the Republican Center for the Protection of the Population from Tuberculosis and the international medical and humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.

In recent years, there has been a real breakthrough in the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis. New pharmaceutical preparations have been created, shorter treatment protocols have been developed that do not include injections, which greatly simplifies practical application.

The main goal of the symposium is to discuss the implementation of this protocol and international practices in this direction.

This year the jubilee, 10th regional symposium is being held.

The forum is expected to bring together leading experts in the field of diagnosis, treatment, prevention of tuberculosis from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, India and Libya.

Previously, such symposia were held in Tashkent (2011 and 2019), Bishkek (2012 and 2018), Yerevan (2015), Tbilisi (2016), Minsk (2017) and Kiev (2020). Earlier Dushanbe hosted the symposium in 2013.

Source: National information agency of Tajikistan

Russia’s Bryansk region governor reports derailment of freight train locomotive in explosion

The locomotive of a freight train derailed after an explosive device went off in the Bryansk Region in western Russia, Governor Alexander Bogomaz reported on Monday, according to TASS. "An unidentified explosive device went off at the 136th kilometer of the Bryansk-Unecha railroad in the Unecha District, derailing the locomotive of a freight train. No casualties have been reported," he wrote on his Telegram channel.

Source: Azerbaijan State News Agency