Stakeholders and government members including Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Sir Richard Branson at the launch of the climate change accelerator on Thursday.

A ground-breaking partnership to support the Caribbean’s ambition to become the world’s first ‘climate-smart zone’ launched in in Kingston on Thursday. The accelerator has created an unprecedented coalition including 26 countries and over 40 private and public sector partners which will implement climate solutions for resilience, renewable energy, development of sustainable cities, oceans and transportation. This climate-smart zone will not only protect the region but create jobs and a new economy in climate-smart infrastructure. Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness said: “Being climate-smart means putting the people of the Caribbean at the centre of all we do – to protect them from the challenges of climate change. The Caribbean Accelerator will also encourage job creation, social inclusion and economic growth. Thesebenefits will only come when Governments, the international community and the private sector work together to overcome barriers and generate the investment that will benefit us all. That is why I am excited by the potential of the Accelerator to join the Caribbeanwith global partners who share our vision to see investment grow in the years ahead.” Sir Richard Branson said: “Our goal is ambitious and bold: we are creating the world’s first climate-smart zone. We have a vision of a Caribbean which is greener, stronger and more resilient than ever before – built on innovation, powered by clean, sustainable energy and accelerated by public and private investment.” (L - R) Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, and Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group at the Launch of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator. Luis Alberton Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank has played a key role in bringing together a multinational coalition of public and private partners to fast track public and private investments over the next five years. Luis Alberto Moreno the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, stated: “The IDB Group reaffirms its continued and historical commitment to the Caribbean and will work with leaders of the region to improve lives by creating climate-smart and vibrant economies, where people are safe, productive, and happy. We hope that through this Climate Smart Coalition, in addition to offering new affordable financing, we will use the IDB’s extensive regional experience and presence on the ground to work closely with the people of the region to design their Caribbean of the future, today.” Caribbean institutions and agencies – including governments, CARICOM and the OECS – have already started to use the Accelerator’s unique platform of public and private stakeholders to make a difference. For the latestnews, download our app athttp://bit.ly/GetALoopJMfor Android; and athttp://bit.ly/GetiLoopJMfor IoS.

Former US President Bill Clinton via Associated Press.

Bill Clinton is a now a million-selling novelist. "The President is Missing," a thriller co-written with James Patterson, has more than 1 million combined hardcover, e-book and audio sales in North America alone since coming out June 4. The book is Clinton's first of work of fiction, but in Patterson he had one of the world's most prolific and successful novelists for a collaborator. Reviews were mixed, but Barnes & Noble fiction buyer Sessalee Hensley said in a statement released Wednesday by co-publishers Alfred A. Knopf and Little Brown and Co. that "The President is Missing" had benefited from "very strong" word of mouth. "In a summer marked by nonfiction successes, this novel has proven to have remarkable legs," Hensley said. The book's subject has also proved timely: a potentially devastating cyberattack, which intelligence experts have called a leading concern. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in mid-July that "the warning lights are blinking red" about a possible attack and called Russia the "most aggressive foreign actor, no question." The Clinton-Patterson novel has dominated fiction charts. According to NPD BookScan, which tracks around 85 percent of the hardcover and paperback market, "The President is Missing" is by far the year's biggest fiction seller and the only fiction work to crack the top 10 of the best-sellers overall for 2018. Nonfiction releases such as Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" and James Comey's "A Higher Loyalty" have been attracting the most sales. Clinton, whose previous books include the memoir "My Life," is now the rare author to have million sellers in fiction and nonfiction. For the latestnews, download our app athttp://bit.ly/GetALoopJMfor Android; and athttp://bit.ly/GetiLoopJMfor IoS.


Tanzania Barrett and Mama 'Queen Ifrica'

Mama 'QueenIfrica'is pleased as punch over her daughter's Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations results. Ventrice Morgan, stage name Queen Ifrica, may not be a fan of Snap Chat, but when her 15-year-old daughter Tanzania Barrett caught her on camera while out for a drive today, she indulged her because Tanzania got great CSEC grades. Sharing Tanzania's impromptu snap on her own Instagram, Queen Ifrica wrotethe caption: "She know mi nuh duh dah summu deh*smile emojis* my Daughter Tanzania is Crazy But she got 8 out of 8 Csec with 5 Distinctions!!!!!!!!!!!!!#Galbrite*smile emoji*" Loop contacted Queen Ifrica and she revealed that her daughter wrote Theatre Arts, French, Art, Mathematics, English A, English B, Principles of Business and Clothing Textiles and Fashion. Tanzania hopes to study Performing Arts at the university level next. Asked about her reaction when she got back her grades, Queen Ifrica said: "Before seeing the results she was scared and did not want to look... but then she saw her results and was very excited and happy." In the car, you could see that all the CSEC anxiety was gone from Tanzania now. The mother-daughter duo were all smiles and laughs in the short clip. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store: http://bit.ly/GetiLoop

Robyn 'Rihanna' Fenty and Sonita Alexander.

Dr. Sonita Alexander is saying 'Goodbye to Miss' and stepping into her forever today as she gets married Robyn 'Rihanna' Fenty may not have shut Grand Kadooment down for Crop Over 2018, but she definitely showed up for one of her best friends Sonita. It's no secret that Sonita and Rihanna have an "I'll fly around the World to be by your side for big moments" kind of friendship. Publicly on Rih's Instagram, Sonita was most recently seen on set during one of Rih's Savage x Fenty photo shoots when she dropped her new Savage line earlier this year. In one of Rihanna's photos from backstage of a Savage x Fenty shoot you could see Sonita. Rihanna caption the image: "When yo BFF @sonitalex decides to come back from "push up bra fitting" just in time for a @savagexfenty photobomb" Now, Rihanna is on islandto watch Sonitasay her wedding vows. [image_gallery] Rihanna posted two snaps to her Instgramstory. The first snap showed Rihanna in a bridesmaid silk robe shimmying next to Sonita in a matching silk 'Mrs. Walker' robe. It was captioned "#walkingintoforever". In the second snap, Rihanna and Sonita side by side, with Rihanna making a kissy face and Sonita smiling brightly. Rihanna and Sonita attended The Combermere School inBarbados together. Three days ago, Sonita posted photos from her bridal shower with a caption saying "Happy!". The hashtag for the nuptials is #walkingintoforever as she marries Raymond Walker. Sonita is a Family Physician byprofession, but many also knowher from the more fun, promoter side of life, as a partof event committees such as WeTing and Sundown. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store: http://bit.ly/GetiLoop


Kieron Pollard's 104 was the highlight of St Lucia Stars 38-run victory over Barbados Tridents

St Lucia Stars skipper Kieron Pollard led his team to their first victory in the Hero Caribbean Premier League since 2016 with a dominant 38-run victory over Barbados Tridents. Pollard put on a 148-run partnership with Andre Fletcher (80 from 52) in a Hero CPL record score of 226/6. Dwayne Smith hit 58 but Barbados’ run-chase came up well short on 188/6. Summarized scores: St Lucia Stars 226/6 (Pollard 104, Fletcher 80, Cornwall 30, Wahab Riaz 3/35, Reifer 2/67) beat Barbados Tridents 188/6 (D Smith 58, McCoy 3/28, Qais Ahmad 2/29) by 38 runs Upcoming Fixtures: Saturday 18 August – Jamaica Tallawahs v Guyana Amazon Warriors (8pm), Central Broward Regional Park, Lauderhill, Florida, Sunday 19 August – Jamaica Tallawahs v Trinbago Knight Riders (6pm), Central Broward Regional Park, Lauderhill, Florida.

Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, second right, scores his side's third goal during the English Premier League football match against Arsenal at Stamford bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018.

Chelsea and Arsenal served up a feast of goals in a thrilling London derby in the Premier League on Saturday. Across the capital, Harry Kane was happy with just the one goal to end his August hoodoo in England's top division. Chelsea scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, conceded twice before halftime and had a late winner through Marcos Alonso in a 3-2 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. In a game between teams with newly hired managers, Maurizio Sarri will be delighted with the attacking spark his Chelsea team has shown in the opening two games of the Premier League. Theyalso scored three times in a win against Huddersfield last week. But it's two straight losses for Arsenal manager Unai Emery, whose side is showing the same defensive frailties as it did in the final seasons of predecessor Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. After 15 games and more than 1,000 minutes, Kane finally scored a top-flight goal in August to seal Tottenham's3-1 winover Fulham at Wembley Stadium. Spurs have also won their first two games after an offseason when they didn't buy a single player. ___ SARRI-BALL Sarri arrived at Chelsea promising to bring some fun after a difficult end to the tenure of previous manager, Antonio Conte. He is doing just that. Leaving gaps at the back but attacking in waves, Chelsea havebeen a thrill to watch in the opening two weekends — much different to the often cagey approach of fellow Italian Conte. Pedro Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata exploited Arsenal's high line to put Chelsea 2-0 up against Arsenal, which wasted a string of great chances at the other end before scoring twice in a five-minute span through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi. Alonso swept in a cut-back from substitute Eden Hazard for the winner. KANE CURSE OVER Kane was fully aware of his August woes — he made reference to it in aTwitter postlast season after scoring in his first game in September — and the England international failed to score in the 2-1 win at Newcastle last week in Tottenham's opening game. With only one more game left this August, at Manchester United, it looked like the curse might continue after Kane volleyed a shot against the post in the 71st minute against Fulham. His goal came six minutes later when he took a pass from Erik Lamela on the left of the penalty area, cut inside, and bent a low shot into the corner. Brazilian winger Lucas Moura and Kieran Trippier, off a shot from a free kick, had already scored for Tottenham, with Aleksandar Mitrovic making it 1-1 for Fulham just after halftime while sitting on the ground. ___ VARDY RED CARD Jamie Vardy was sent off on his first start of the season for Leicester but the team still eased early-season pressure on manager Claude Puel with a2-0 victoryover newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. The England striker was handed a straight red card for a strong tackle on Wolves right back Matt Doherty, who had earlier scored an own-goal to give Leicester the lead. Leicester doubled the lead through James Maddison, leaving Wolves without a win so far. RAMPANT RICHARLISON Paying up to $65 million for a 21-year-old Brazilian with one inconsistent season in the Premier League behind him seemed a gamble by Everton. Two games in, however, and Richarlison is looking a bargain. He scored his third goal of the season to helpEverton beat Southampton 2-1for theirfirst win of the season. Richarlison netted twice against Wolves on the opening weekend. Theo Walcott set up Richarlison for his headed goal and also scored himself for Everton at Goodison Park. Offseason signing Danny Ings pulled a goal back for Southampton. OTHER GAMES An offseason of heavy spending and the recruitment of Premier League-winning manager Manuel Pellegrini hasn't done much to improve West Ham's fortunes. The London club lost for the second straight game,beaten 2-1 by Bournemouthafter taking the lead through Marko Arnautovic's penalty. Callum Wilson, after a mazy dribble, and Steve Cook replied for Bournemouth, which has maximum points after defeating promoted side Cardiff last week. Kenedy missed an injury-time penalty for Newcastle in a0-0 drawat Cardiff in the other game Saturday.


In this Sunday, May 14, 2006 file photo U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan waves as he gets into a car upon his arrival at the Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, South Korea. Annan, one of the world's most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the United Nations who rose through its ranks to become the first black African secretary-general, has died. He was 80. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, Fil

Kofi Annan, one of the world's most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the United Nations who rose through its ranks to become the first black African secretary-general, has died. He was 80. His foundation announced his death in Switzerland on Saturday in atweet, saying he died after a short unspecified illness. "Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy," the foundation said. Annan spent virtually his entire career as an administrator in the United Nations. His aristocratic style, cool-tempered elegance and political savvy helped guide his ascent to become its seventh secretary-general, and the first hired from within. He served two terms from January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2006, capped nearly mid-way when he and the U.N. were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. During his tenure, Annan presided over some of the worst failures and scandals at the world body, one of its most turbulent periods since its founding in 1945. Challenges from the outset forced him to spend much of his time struggling to restore its tarnished reputation. His enduring moral prestige remained largely undented, however, both through charisma and by virtue of having negotiated with most of the powers in the world. When he departed from the United Nations, he left behind a global organisation far more aggressively engaged in peacekeeping and fighting poverty, setting the framework for the U.N.'s 21st-century response to mass atrocities and its emphasis on human rights and development. "Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good," current U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. "It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination." Even out of office, Annan never completely left the U.N. orbit. He returned in special roles, including as the U.N.-Arab League's special envoy to Syria in 2012. He remained a powerful advocate for global causes through his eponymous foundation. Annan took on the top U.N. post six years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and presided during a decade when the world united against terrorism after the September 11 attacks — then divided deeply over the US.-led war against Iraq. The US. relationship tested him as a world diplomatic leader. "I think that my darkest moment was the Iraq war, and the fact that we could not stop it," Annan said in a February 2013 interview with TIME magazine to mark the publication of his memoir, "Interventions: A Life in War and Peace." "I worked very hard — I was working the phone, talking to leaders around the world. The U.S. did not have the support in the Security Council," Annan recalled in the videotaped interview posted on The Kofi Annan Foundation's website. "So they decided to go without the council. But I think the council was right in not sanctioning the war," he said. "Could you imagine if the U.N. had endorsed the war in Iraq, what our reputation would be like? Although at that point, President (George W.) Bush said the U.N. was headed toward irrelevance because we had not supported the war. But now we know better." Despite his well-honed diplomatic skills, Annan was never afraid to speak candidly. That didn't always win him fans, particularly in the case of Bush's administration, with whom Annan's camp spent much time bickering. Much of his second term was spent at odds with the United States, the U.N.'s biggest contributor, as he tried to lean on the nation to pay almost $2 billion in arrears. Kofi Atta Annan was born April 8, 1938, into an elite family in Kumasi, Ghana, the son of a provincial governor and grandson of two tribal chiefs. He shared his middle name Atta — "twin" in Ghana's Akan language — with a twin sister, Efua. He became fluent in English, French and several African languages, attending an elite boarding school and the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. He finished his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1961. From there he went to Geneva, where he began his graduate studies in international affairs and launched his U.N. career. Annan married Titi Alakija, a Nigerian woman, in 1965, and they had a daughter, Ama, and a son, Kojo. He returned to the U.S. in 1971 and earned a master's degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management. The couple separated during the 1970s and, while working in Geneva, Annan met his second wife, Swedish lawyer Nane Lagergren. They married in 1984. Annan worked for the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa in Ethiopia, its Emergency Force in Egypt, and the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, before taking a series of senior posts at U.N. headquarters in New York dealing with human resources, budget, finance, and staff security. He also had special assignments. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, he facilitated the repatriation from Iraq of more than 900 international staff and other non-Iraqi nationals, and the release of western hostages in Iraq. He led the initial negotiations with Iraq for the sale of oil in exchange for humanitarian relief. Just before becoming secretary-general, Annan served as U.N. peacekeeping chief and as special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, where he oversaw a transition in Bosnia from U.N. protective forces to NATO-led troops. The U.N. peacekeeping operation faced two of its greatest failures during his tenure: the Rwanda genocide in 1994 and the massacre in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995. In both cases, the U.N. had deployed troops under Annan's command, but they failed to save the lives of the civilians they were mandated to protect. Annan offered apologies but ignored calls to resign by U.S. Republican lawmakers. After became secretary-general, he called for U.N. reports on those two debacles — and they were highly critical of his management. As secretary-general, Annan forged his experiences into a doctrine called the "Responsibility to Protect," that countries accepted — at least in principle — to head off genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Annan sought to strengthen the U.N.'s management, coherence and accountability, efforts that required huge investments in training and technology, a new whistleblower policy and financial disclosure requirements. In 1998, he helped ease a transition to civilian rule in Nigeria and visited Iraq to try to resolve its impasse with the Security Council over compliance with weapons inspections and other matters. The effort helped avoid an outbreak of hostilities that seemed imminent at the time. In 1999, he was deeply involved in the process by which East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, and started the "Global Compact" initiative that has grown into the world's largest effort to promote corporate social responsibility. Annan was the chief architect of what became known as the Millennium Development Goals and played a central role in creating the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the U.N.'s first counter-terrorism strategy. Annan's uncontested election to a second term was unprecedented, reflecting the overwhelming support he enjoyed from both rich and poor countries. Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, which disburses Ted Turner's $1 billion pledge to U.N. causes, hailed "a saint-like sense about him." In 2005, Annan succeeded in establishing the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. But that year, the U.N. was facing almost daily attacks over allegations about corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq, bribery by U.N. purchasing officials and widespread sex abuse by U.N. peacekeepers — an issue that would only balloon in importance after he left office. It emerged that Annan's son, Kojo, had not disclosed payments he received from his employer, which had a $10 million-a-year contract to monitor humanitarian aid under the oil-for-food program. The company paid at least $300,000 to Kojo so he would not work for competitors after he left. An independent report criticised the secretary-general for being too complacent, saying he should have done more to investigate matters even if he was not involved with the awarding of the contract. World leaders agreed to create an internal U.N. ethics office, but a major overhaul of the U.N.'s outdated management practices and operating procedures were left to Annan's successor, Ban Ki-moon. Before leaving office, Annan helped secure a truce between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006 and mediated a settlement of a dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the Bakassi peninsula. At a farewell news conference, Annan listed as top achievements the promotion of human rights, the fighting to close the gap between extreme poverty and immense wealth, and the U.N. campaign to fight infectious diseases like AIDS. He never took disappointments and setbacks personally. And he kept his view that diplomacy should take place in private and not in the public forum. In his memoir, Annan recognised the costs of taking on the world's top diplomatic job, joking that "SG," for secretary-general, also signified "scapegoat" around U.N. headquarters. Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke called Annan "an international rock star of diplomacy." After leaving his high-profile U.N. perch, Annan didn't let up. In 2007, his Geneva-based foundation was created. That year he helped broker peace in Kenya, where election violence had killed over 1,000 people. He also joined The Elders, an elite group of former leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, eventually succeeding Desmond Tutu as its chairman after a failed interlude trying to resolve Syria's rising civil war. "His quiet advice on how best to defuse impending crises was in constant demand from all corners of the globe, in particular from Africa," deputy chair of The Elders, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, said Saturday. As special envoy to Syria in 2012, Annan won international backing for a six-point plan for peace. The U.N. deployed a 300-member observer force to monitor a cease-fire, but peace never took hold and Annan was unable to surmount the bitter stalemate among Security Council powers. He resigned in frustration seven months into the job, as the civil war raged on. Annan continued to crisscross the globe. In 2017, his foundation's biggest projects included promotion of fair, peaceful elections; work with Myanmar's government to improve life in troubled Rakhine state, and battling violent extremism by enlisting young people to help. He also remained a vocal commentator on troubles like the refugee crisis; promoted good governance, anti-corruption measures and sustainable agriculture in Africa; and pushed efforts in the fight against illegal drug trafficking. Annan retained connections to many international organisations. He was chancellor of the University of Ghana, a fellow at New York's Columbia University, and professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. His homeland of Ghana was shaken by his death. "One of our greatest compatriots," President Nana Akufo-Addo said. Annan is survived by his wife and three children. Funeral arrangements weren't immediately announced. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store:http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:http://bit.ly/GetiLoop

Indian men push their cycles past floodwaters after heavy rainfall in Ahmadabad, India, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. India receives its annual rainfall from June-October. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

Rescuers used helicopters and boats on Friday to evacuate thousands of people stranded on their rooftops following unprecedented flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala that killed more than 320 people in the past nine days, officials said. With heavy rains stopping after a week, rescuers moved quickly to take those marooned by floods to 1,500 state-run camps. They used more than a dozen helicopters and about 400 boats across the state, relief officials said. The state's top elected official, Pinarayi Vijayan, told reporters that at least 324 people had died and more than 220,000 had taken refuge in the camps. Heavy rains over the past eight days triggered flooding, landslides and home and bridge collapses, severely disrupting air and train services in Kerala state, a popular tourist destination with scenic landscapes, waterfalls and beautiful beaches. The New Delhi Television news channel reported that the state was facing a new crisis with some hospitals facing shortages of oxygen and gas stations running short of fuel. Monsoon rains kill hundreds of people every year in India. The season runs from June to September. The monsoon flooding has severely hit 12 of Kerala's 14 districts, with thousands of homes damaged since June. Crops on 32,500 hectares (80,300 acres) of land have also been damaged, the Home Ministry said. The international airport at Kochi, a major port city, suspended flight operations until Saturday after the runway was flooded. Authorities also asked tourists to stay away from the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki district because of flooding. More than 1,000 people have lost their lives in seven states since the start of the monsoon season in June. A total of 407 people have died in Kerala, 190 in Uttar Pradesh, 183 people in West Bengal, 139 in Maharashtra, 52 in Gujarat, 45 in Assam and 11 in Nagaland state, officials and the Press Trust of India news agency reported. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store:http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store: http://bit.ly/GetiLoop


People react outside the Paris town hall after France defeated Belgium in the World Cup semifinal match between France and Belgium, Tuesday, July 10, 2018 in Paris. France advanced to the World Cup final for the first time since 2006 with a 1-0 win over Belgium on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

The Latest on Tuesday atthe World Cup(all times local): 12:15 a.m. Paul Pogba has paused after the biggest win of his international career to dedicate it to the Thai soccer team whose last members were freed from a flooded cave hours earlier. The France midfieldertook to Twittershortly after France beat Belgium late Tuesday to advance to the World Cup final. He posted the boys' photos and said the victory "goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong." The last of the 12 boys and their coach were freed earlier in the day from a cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks. FIFA had invited the team to the World Cup final on Sunday but the governing body announced the boys wouldn't be able to attend since they are receiving medical treatment after their ordeal. ___ 11:15 p.m. Paris has erupted in firecrackers, flares and shouts and tears of joy after France advanced to the World Cup final. Red smoke rose up from flares fired by fans on the Right Bank esplanade outside City Hall, where crowds watched a broadcast of the 1-0 victory over Belgium on huge screens Tuesday night. Fans poured onto streets around the city, from the chic Champs-Elysees to working-class neighborhoods on the edge of town. Firecrackers popped in quick succession, punctuated by car horns and football chants and "On est en finale!" or "we're in the final!" Some streets were closed to car traffic to accommodate fans. Police vans lined the busiest areas in a city still on guard after extremist attacks. France will face the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between England and Croatia in the World Cup decider in Moscow on Sunday. The French public, celebrities and politicians have rallied around the national team as it advanced. Samuel Umititi scored the only goal in the semifinal with a header in the 51st minute at the St. Petersburg stadium in Russia. Umititi says "We worked really hard together, and it's me that scored but we all delivered a big game." His live TV interview was interrupted by teammate Antoine Griezmann, who saluted to the camera and said: "Vive la France! Vive la Republique!" ___ 10:55 p.m. France has reached the World Cup final for the first time since 2006 with a 1-0 win over Belgium in a semifinal match that attracted presidents, royalty and a rock star. Samuel Umtiti's header in the 51st minute was the only goal in a tense match at St. Petersburg. France, the 1998 champions and runners-up in '06, will play either Croatia or England in Sunday's final at Moscow. England and Croatia will meet Wednesday in Moscow in the second semifinal. France President Emmanuel Macron and King Philippe of Belgium shook hands in the VIP section before the match. Mick Jagger was also on the official list of guests. ___ 10:15 p.m. What came first, the chicken or the goal? Harry Kane, Dele Alli were among the England players who played a game of toss the rubber chicken at training, a day ahead of a World Cup semifinal against Croatia. Why? "That's exactly what I asked our fitness coaches around here," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "Our physical performance coaches try to keep refreshing the warmups of the players and keep them stimulated. Just a bit of fun to get them moving, and some of the mobility exercises." ____ 10:09 p.m. Samuel Umtiti has headed France into a 1-0 lead against Belgium in the World Cup semifinals. Umtiti rose brilliantly to head in Antoine Griezmann's corner from the right in the 51st minute, for his first goal of the tournament. Striker Olivier Giroud won the corner after turning Belgian defender Vincent Kompany, forcing him to put his goal-bound shot out of play. The winner in St. Petersburg plays Croatia or England in Sunday's final. ___ 9:46 p.m. It's 0-0 at halftime in the World Cup semifinal despite Belgium and France going close to scoring in the first half. With France's soccer-loving President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian King Philippe watching from the stands, France sat back and hoped to hit Belgium on the counterattack. Belgium used the space to put France under pressure around the 20-minute mark with Eden Hazard firing a curling shot from the left that Raphael Varane headed over the bar. Hugo Lloris was twice called into action to save France. The France goalkeeper first punched away a cross by Kevin De Bruyne aimed at Marouane Fellaini and moments later dived to his right to block a shot by Toby Alderweireld. French teenager Kylian Mbappe's pace was a constant threat on the right and his pass in the 40thminute set up Benjamin Pavard but Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois stuck out a left leg to deflect the shot wide. ___ 9:10 p.m. Mick Jagger is on FIFA's list of VIP guests at the World Cup semifinal between France and Belgium in St. Petersburg. The Rolling Stones singer completed the band's world tour on Sunday in Poland. On stage in Warsaw,Jagger fulfilled a request by former Polish president Lech Walesaby drawing attention to an authoritarian government policy to remove independent judges. Among the political leaders joining Jagger in the crowd as official are Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Ali Bongo Ondimba, the President of Gabon. ___ 9 p.m. The World Cup semifinal between France and Belgium has kicked off at St. Petersburg Stadium, with France President Emmanuel Macron and King Philippe of Belgium in attendance. France coach Didier Deschamps warmly hugged Thierry Henry moments before the start. Henry is France's all-time leading scorer with 51 goals, but is now an assistant to Belgium coach Robert Martinez. Henry also greeted players on France's bench. The winner between France and Belgium will meet Croatia or England in Sunday's final. France was European Championship runner-up two years ago and is aiming to reach its fourth major final this century. Les Bleus won Euro 2000 and lost the 2006 World Cup final. Belgium is hoping to reach only the second major final, having lost the European final to West Germany in 1980. Belgium lost its only previous World Cup semifinal to an Argentina in '86. ___ 8:50 p.m. France President Emmanuel Macron is attending the World Cup semifinal between France and Belgium at St. Petersburg Stadium. Macron shook hands with King Philippe of Belgium, who was with his wife Queen Mathilde. Macron and King Philippe shook hands warmly and Macron patted him on the chest. Macron is an avid soccer fan and supports southern French club Marseille. ___ 8:10 p.m. Mexico went home from the World Cup more than a week ago, and while its fans are still scattered around Russia, some of them have lost enough interest in the matches that they're selling tickets at face value. Several fans wearing Mexico's green jerseys approached a larger group of Belgians at a beer garden in St. Petersburg offering seats at "FIFA prices" for the World Cup semifinal. They didn't immediately find any takers among the festive Europeans, who apparently already were set for the Belgium-France match. Mexican and South American fans came to Russia in huge numbers despite having to travel far greater distances than Europeans. They're still everywhere in the semifinal cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow even though only teams still alive are from Europe. ___ 7:55 p.m. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has picked Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele to replace Thomas Meunier for the World Cup semifinal against France. Martinez has been forced to reshuffle his back line after Paris Saint-Germain wing back Meunier was suspended for the match in St. Petersburg after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in Belgium's 2-1 quarterfinal win over Brazil. After using a four-man defense against Brazil, Martinez has reverted to a three-man backline and four-man midfield of Nacer Chadli on the left, Dembele on the right, and Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel in the middle. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne make up a potent three-man attack. Dembele's inclusion was the only change to the Belgium team that beat Brazil 2-1 in the quarterfinals. Lineup: Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli. ____ 7:45 p.m. France coach Didier Deschamps has recalled Blaise Matuidi in the only change to his lineup for the World Cup semifinal against Belgium at St. Petersburg Stadium. Matuidi, who was suspended for the 2-0 quarterfinal win over Uruguay last Friday, comes into midfield to replace Corentin Tolisso. Veteran striker Olivier Giroud hasn't scored yet in the tournament but needs one goal to move ahead of Zinedine Zidane into outright fourth spot on France's all-time list. Giroud keeps his place in a forward line featuring 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. France: Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe, N'Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Lucas Hernandez. ___ 7:30 p.m. The British government says motorways are expected to have one-third less traffic than normal when England takes on Croatia in the World Cup semifinals. Highways England says traffic analysis on each of the England match days to date showed that during the games demand reduced by up to 33 percent. The agency said in a statement that roads were not busier than normal before or after games, "suggesting people are often choosing not to travel or to travel at completely different times." Frank Bird, one of Highways England's emergency planning officers, says "along with the rest of the country, we'll be cheering on England! We want them to bring it home - and we want everyone on our roads to get home safely." ___ 7:15 p.m. Thousands more England fans are expected to descend on Moscow for their first World Cup semifinal in 28 years, but there's not much sign of them yet. The Nikolskaya street near the Kremlin, elaborately decorated with hanging lights, has been the main gathering point for fans in the Russian capital. There were no more than a few dozen England fans there as of late Tuesday afternoon, with those singing team songs heavily outnumbered by passers-by filming them on phones. Still, Kevin Miles of the Football Supporters Federation expects between 5,000 and 7,000 fans for Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia, but admits "a lot of people are doing it last minute, so it's very difficult to put numbers on it." Airlines have offered extra places on flights to Moscow and some Russians have sold their tickets after their team lost to Croatia. Still, Miles says high prices "have put a lot of people off" who were thinking of traveling at short notice. ____ 6:15 p.m. England manager Gareth Southgate has been surprised at the vest craze back home, where "Waistcoast Wednesday" is trending. Stores have been pushing waistcoat sales as England advanced to a World Cup semifinal match against Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday, with people taken by Southgate's style of wearing a vest without his suit jacket, Southgate says "I was not a renowned fashion icon throughout my playing career, so it's rather strange to feel that way now. But we are really proud of the support that we are receiving." England has reached the semifinals at the World Cup for the first time since 1990, and confidence among supporters is growing that the national team will win the title for the first time since 1966. Southgate says, "We've had the chance to make a difference. Our supporters, our country has had a long time of suffering in terms of football, and the enthusiasm they have for these players, because of the way they've — not only the way they've played, but the way they're conducted themselves, they've been brilliant ambassadors for our country, and I think everybody can see that they're proud to wear the shirt." ___ 5 p.m. FOX Sports says it will be simulcasting the World Cup semifinal between France and Belgium on Silvercast's high-definition screen known as "Mega-Zilla" in New York's Times Square. Soccer fans in the United States have watched the World Cup in Russia on big screens around the country, but this is promoted as the biggest of them all. The "Mega-Zilla," a 78-foot-by-330-foot (24x100-meter) screen being promoted as the largest TV screen in the world, will be located between 45th and 46th Street on Broadway in Manhattan. France and Belgium will be playing for a spot in Sunday's final in Moscow. ___ 4:45 p.m. FIFA says players from the youth soccer team rescued from a cave in Thailand will not be able to attend the World Cup final. The sport's world governing body says it has been informed by Thai authorities that the 12 boys and their coach "will not be in a position to travel" for health reasons. FIFA expressed its "great joy" at the rescue and says its "priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation." FIFA leaders will meet with Thai soccer officials this weekend in Moscow to explore "a new opportunity" to invite the boys to a major event to celebrate their survival. The last four of the boys and the team coach were rescued Tuesday from a flooded cave in far northern Thailand after an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks. FIFA expressed "profound gratitude to all persons involved in the rescue operation," and condolences for the family of the diver who died. ___ 3:30 p.m. They're getting the World Cup croissants ready in Paris. Paris, Russia, that is. The village of Paris just outside the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod is embracing its French links ahead of the World Cup semifinal match between France and Belgium. The village cafe is decorated with images of the Eiffel Tower and is preparing croissants for the game, plus a Russian menu for any French guests who might happen to drop by. Mayor Sergei Gromov says "we were supporting Russia but now it's turned out like that (that Russia was eliminated), we're going to support France and wish it success." The village's full name is In Memory Of The Paris Commune, a reference to a socialist rebellion in 19th-century France. The name is so unwieldy most locals use Paris for short. Not everyone in Paris is pro-France, though. Villager Elena Vasilyeva says she's cheering on Belgium because "they're a real team." ___ 3 p.m. The Ukraine Football Federation has offered to pay a fine imposed on a Croatia official for making a pro-Ukraine video at the World Cup. Soccer's international governing body has fined Ognjen Vukojevic 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,150) for "unsporting behavior" after he and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida recorded a video including the phrase "glory to Ukraine" after the team beat host nation Russia in the World Cup quarterfinals. The video angered some Russian fans, but was welcomed in Ukraine, where both Vida and Vukojevic formerly played for the Dynamo Kiev club. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and political tensions remain high. UFF president Andriy Pavelko, wearing a Croatia shirt and scarf, tells Ukrainian broadcaster 112 that he and other members of the UFF management offered to pay the fine and help Vukojevic with legal costs if he wants to appeal the ruling. The Croatia soccer federation has already removed Vukojevic from its World Cup delegation. Vida was let off with an official warning and no match sanction, leaving him available to play in Wednesday's World Cup semifinal against England. ___ 1 p.m. The World Cup semifinal stage is beginning with the all-European lineup being celebrated by soccer's governing body on the continent. Belgium and France play in St. Petersburg on Tuesday and then Croatia and England meet the following night in Moscow. It is the fifth time the last four has featured only European teams. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says "even though some of our traditional contenders such as Germany, Spain,and Portugal were eliminated, there are other teams which have surpassed expectations and can now win the title." In a statement to The Associated Press, Ceferin added "these results validate all the work that is being done across the continent to develop football, and they also showcase the strength and quality that exists across the whole UEFA region."

An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys from the flooded cave heads to the hospital in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated the remaining boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The youth soccer team rescued from a cave in Thailand will be unable to accept FIFA's invitation to attend the World Cup final. The last four of the boys and the team's 25-year-old coach were rescued Tuesday from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks. "We have been informed by the Football Association of Thailand that due to medical reasons, the boys will not be in a position to travel to Moscow for the FIFA World Cup final," the sport's governing body said Tuesday after the rescue operation was completed. [related node_id='84a9d6ce-b30d-4465-9e1c-1e3b2ac4031a']Eight more boys had been rescued in the previous two days after becoming trapped by rising water levels. "FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation," the governing body said. FIFA leaders will meet with Thai soccer officials in Moscow on the sidelines of the World Cup final on Sunday. "We will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a FIFA event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration," FIFA said in a statement. FIFA expressed "profound gratitude to all persons involved in the rescue operation," and condolences for the family of the Thai Navy SEAL diver who died. England defender Kyle Walker also sent a message on Twitter after the "amazing news" of the rescue. "I'd like to send out shirts to them! Is there anyone who can help with an address?" Walker wrote. Manchester United extended an invitation to the team to visit in the months ahead. "We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season," the club said on its official Twitter account. In 2010, Man United hosted a group of miners from Chile who spent almost 10 weeks underground before being rescued. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store: http://bit.ly/GetiLoop