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Pianist who battled hand condition dies at 92

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Leon Fleisher focused decades of his career on music written for the left hand only

Renowned American pianist Leon Fleisher has died from cancer, aged 92.Fleischer rose to prominence as a child prodigy in the 1940s but his playing career was disrupted by an injury to his right hand.He later channelled his career into conducting, teaching and mastering the left-hand repertoire for piano.Three decades later, after a series of therapies, he regained use of his right hand and flourished again with a two-handed career comeback.Fleischer was born in San Francisco in 1928, to parents who emigrated to the US from Eastern Europe.He began learning the piano at age four, and by the age of nine he was invited to be a student of famous classical pianist Artur Schnabel.At 16 he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and went on to international fame and a prolific recording career. But in 1964 Fleischer developed a neurological condition, focal dystonia, which left him unable to play with his right hand.After a two-year hiatus, he focused his career on teaching and conducting at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and on performing music written for the left hand only.”I suddenly came to the realisation that my connection with music was greater than just as a two-handed piano player,” he told National Public Radio during an interview in 2000.He returned to two-handed playing in 1995 and went on to record two highly acclaimed albums. One of them, called Two Hands, is also the title of an Oscar-nominated documentary about his life.

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Iran vows ‘crushing response to US bullying’ after sanctions announcement

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Publishedduration42 minutes agoimage copyrightAtta Kenare via Gettyimage captionIran’s economy has already suffered with the sanctions imposed by the US since 2018Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said the US “faces defeat” in its move to reimpose UN sanctions on the country as European allies called the unilateral declaration legally void.In a televised speech, Mr Rouhani said Iran would “give a crushing response to America’s bullying”.The Trump administration said the measures were being reimposed under the mechanism of a deal the US has quit.The UK, France and Germany said the US had no power to carry out such a move.The three countries – alongside China, Russia and the US – were parties of a landmark deal signed with Iran in 2015 to curb its nuclear programme. But President Donald Trump, a critic of the Obama-era accord, withdrew the US from it in 2018.As a result, Iran began breaching some commitments it had made, including enriching more uranium than it should.The US said the country should be punished, declaring that all UN sanctions that had been suspended would be reimposed – a mechanism agreed in the deal called “snapback” – and that a conventional arms embargo on Iran would no longer expire on 18 October.But Washington’s announcement has been dismissed by virtually every member of the UN Security Council, and the body has not taken the measure any further. The impact of the decision remains unclear.How has Iran reacted?In his speech, Mr Rouhani added: “America is approaching a certain defeat in its sanctions move… It faced defeat and a negative response from the international community.”Earlier, Iran’s foreign ministry described the US efforts as “futile”, saying that the “US approach is a major threat to the international peace and security and an unprecedented threat to the UN and the Security Council”.”Iran emphasizes that if the US, directly or with the co-operation of a number of its allies, makes any move in line with these threats, it will face a serious reaction and should account for all its dangerous consequences,” it said in a statement, without elaborating.media captionWhat is the Iran nuclear deal?How has the world reacted?The UK and France, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as Germany, said Washington’s announcement was “incapable of having any legal effect” as the US used a mechanism of the deal that it had abandoned.”It flows from this that any decisions and actions which would be taken based on this procedure or on its possible outcome would also be incapable of having any legal effect,” they said in a joint statement. “We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so.”The foreign ministry in Russia, another permanent member of the Security Council, said: “The illegitimate initiatives and actions of the United States by definition cannot have international legal consequences for other countries.”On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council he could not take any action because “there would appear to be uncertainty” on the issue. But US officials argue that, despite having abandoned the agreement, they still have the right to trigger the “snapback” clause.In a statement late on Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said measures would be announced in the coming days against countries not enforcing the sanctions, without giving details.After abandoning the deal, the US unilaterally reinstated sanctions on Iran which, combined with a drop in oil prices, have crippled the economy in the country, which has also been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.The announcement comes around six weeks before the US presidential election. Mr Trump faces Democratic rival Joe Biden who has pledged to bring the US back to the deal.
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Russian military says US and NATO flights near Crimea fuel tensions

MOSCOW — The Russian military on Friday accused the U.S. and its allies of provoking tensions in the Black Sea region with a sharp increase in the number of bomber patrols and intelligence flights. Col.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff’s main operational department, charged that the U.S. and other members of NATO…

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MOSCOW — The Russian military on Friday accused the U.S. and its allies of provoking tensions in the Black Sea region with a sharp increase in the number of bomber patrols and intelligence flights. Col.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff’s main operational department, charged that the U.S. and other members of NATO have significantly increased the scope of their military activities in the region. “The U.S. and its NATO allies will carry the full responsibility for a possible escalation of the situation in the region,” he said at a briefing. Rudskoi pointed at a series of flights by the U.S. B-52 strategic bombers in August and September over the Black and the Azov Seas, alleging the missions were intended to simulate missile strikes at facilities in southern Russia. He said the bombers flew as close as 11 kilometers (less than 7 miles) to the Russian border. After flying three B-1 heavy bombers over the East Siberian Sea last week, the U.S. military said the ongoing exercises were meant to show the Air Force’s “ability to continually execute flying missions and sustain readiness in support of our Allies and partners.” The Russian general noted that the U.S. and its NATO allies also have intensified their intelligence flights near Crimea, which he said increased by 40% compared to the last year. He added that on one occasion on Sept. 4 five NATO reconnaissance aircraft were buzzing the area near Crimea at the same time. 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Russia scrambled its fighter jets to intercept and escort the U.S. and NATO bombers and reconnaissance planes on 27 occasions this month alone, Rudskoi said. He added that NATO warships were also spending longer stints in the Black Sea this year. A Ukraine SU-27 integrates with a U.S. B-52H Stratofortress during a Bomber Task Force Europe mission, Sept. 4, 2020. (Senior Airman Xavier Navarro/Air Force) Russia-West ties have sunk to their post-Cold War lows after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Russia has bristled at the deployment of NATO forces in the Baltics and charged that the alliance maneuvers near its borders posed a security threat. The alliance and Moscow also have increasingly often traded accusations over military flights. Rudskoi charged that Russia has proposed to NATO to reduce military activities alongside the border and discuss additional measures to help prevent military incidents, but the alliance has stonewalled the proposals.

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10 weirdest things Alexa can do on your Amazon Echo – CNET

Alexa, please don’t laugh again. Ian Knighton/CNET Your Amazon Echo ($65 at Google Store) helps you get things done around the house, like securing your house while you’re away, playing music and reminding you to do something, but it turns out that its Alexa assistant also has a silly side. The smart speaker has a horde of…

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Alexa, please don’t laugh again.
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Your Amazon Echo ($65 at Google Store) helps you get things done around the house, like securing your house while you’re away, playing music and reminding you to do something, but it turns out that its Alexa assistant also has a silly side. The smart speaker has a horde of unusual tricks that range from pleasantly offbeat to downright disturbing. For example, did you know there’s a command called “The Listeners” that lets you know it’s always there, listening and watching? Or that Alexa can make crazy animal noises and has a creepy laugh? For whatever reason, these features are part of the Amazon Echo device and Alexa app.

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Read on for the most bizarre things your Amazon Echo can do.Saying “Alexa, ask The Listeners” will only freak you out.
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The Listeners are always listening and watchingThis one is super eerie, so if you’re home alone and get freaked out easily, skip it. If you say, “Alexa, ask The Listeners,” Alexa will start saying things like “We are always listening” and will continue speaking in a disturbing manner with awkward pauses. You can continue having a conversation with the voice assistant, but it just gets weirder.Alexa told me “they” watch over me, even while I’m sleeping, which is enough for me to want to unplug the Echo and call it a night. Once you’re ready to stop talking to the creepy bot, just say “stop.” It will then say, “We are sorry, finally, to know that you are filled with irritation. And now, you must abandon us.” Thanks for the nightmares, Amazon.Note that this is just a program and Amazon isn’t actually watching you. It does listen when you speak to Alexa, of course, to improve the response settings.

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Your Amazon Echo can sneezeAchoo! Time to dust your Echo because it’s sneezing up a storm. But wait, it’s not a living thing, so it shouldn’t be sneezing. Just ask, “Alexa, can you sneeze?” and it’ll say, “You’re in luck, I can sneeze on command. Achoo!” The sneeze is not very convincing.There’s also a skill called I Just Sneezed that you can enable. When you say “Alexa, I just sneezed,” the voice assistant will say “Bless you,” or, “Say it, don’t spray it.” 
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It won’t spell everything for youWhen you can’t remember how to spell a word, like “hippopotamus,” Alexa is right there to help you out. But it’s weird that the bot knows about the “spell icup” trick (eye-see-you-pee). If you ask Alexa to spell “icup,” it’ll say, “I’d rather not answer that.” But if you ask it to spell something like “rose gold,” it’ll say, “r-o-s-e space g-o-l-d.” So why doesn’t it spell “icup” like “I space c-u-p”? Alexa also won’t spell or say swear words because it “shouldn’t say anything rude.”Alexa snores to help you fall asleepYes, Alexa can snore. I’m not sure who enjoys falling asleep to snoring sounds. It seems like it would be hard to doze off to erratic noises. Perhaps the intent is to make you feel comforted if you’re snoozing alone or maybe it’s for people who can’t sleep without the sounds of snoring. Either way, it’s just weird. Try it out by saying, “Alexa, play snore sounds.”Did you really think snoring sounds would help you sleep?
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More off-the-wall things Alexa can do”Alexa, rap.””Alexa, beatbox.””Alexa, sing.””Alexa, laugh for me.””Alexa, make fart noises.””Alexa, make monkey sounds.”What’s the strangest thing your Amazon Echo has done? Let us know in the comments! Want to learn more weird tricks Amazon Echo can do? Check out these nine surprising Alexa tricks to try with your Amazon Echo tonight and this awesome hidden Amazon Echo music trick you should try.

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