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Dollar strength returns after plunge against Yen

Dunya News

2y

TOKYO (AFP) - The dollar resumed its uptrend against the yen Thursday after suffering a sharp sell-off in the previous session, with analysts tipping the greenback to extend its gains.On Thursday, the dollar recovered some ground, buying 123.06 yen from 122.67 yen in New York trading. The greenback topped the 125 yen level, a 13-year high, earlier this week.Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Kuroda sent the yen soaring Wednesday when he said the Japanese units recent sell-off was unlikely to continue, even if the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates. The dollar fell to 122.70 yen around 124.50 yen.Everyone was troubled with the recent plunge in the yen to the 125-level, so Kurodas comments became a welcome rain in the drought, said Daisaku Ueno, chief currency strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.But so long as the BoJ sticks to its easing stance, its hard to see the yen continuing to rise, he told Bloomberg News.The dollar has continued to strengthen as a string of upbeat US data show an economy in recovery, putting pressure in the Fed to lift interest rates. Expectations are high for an increase before the years end.At the same time the BoJ is pushing on with a vast programme of monetary stimulus, including a bond-buying scheme similar to that recently finished by the Fed.Capital Economics said in a commentary that it expects the yen to fall a lot more.We do not think that Kurodas comments should be interpreted as signalling a desire for a stronger currency, it added.At most he is cautioning against excess volatility after recent sharp falls, while making a nod to domestic concerns that a weaker yen raises the cost of imports.A falling yen is a plus for Japanese exporters profitability, but there are growing concerns about its weakness pushing up import costs, and hurting consumer and business spending.In other trading, the euro fetched 1.1301 and 139.06 yen, against 1.1324 and 138.92 yen in New York as investors track Greeces debt talks.The leaders of Greece, Germany and France agreed Thursday to intensify efforts for a bailout deal after late night talks aimed at preventing Athens from going bankrupt ended without a breakthrough.

Asian stocks mostly higher after Wall Street rally

Dunya News

2y

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets mostly rallied Thursday following a strong close on Wall Street and hopes for a Greek debt deal, while the dollar recovered after the previous days sharp losses.Tokyo rallied 1.44 percent by lunch, Hong Kong jumped 0.94 percent, Sydney gained 1.23 percent and Seoul put on 0.23 percent while Shanghai was 0.58 percent lower.The three main indexes in New York enjoyed one of their best days for weeks, snapping a four-day sell-off, thanks to a surge in banks and technology stocks as well as optimism over the Greek debt crisis.Dealers welcomed news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande would meet with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the sidelines of an EU-Latin America summit, encouraging hopes for a deal extending Greeces bailout funding.The Dow jumped 1.33 percent, the SP 500 rose 1.20 percent and the Nasdaq gained 1.25 percent.Later in the day the three European leaders said they had agreed to work harder for a deal that will unlock billions of euros much needed by Athens to service its debts and avert a default that could see it tumble out of the eurozone.We decided to intensify efforts to resolve the differences that remain and to move towards a solution, radical leftist leader Tsipras told reporters after the three-way meeting broke up without a deal.However, analysts said traders remain nervous.Were coming to a stage where a decision has to be made on Greece, Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research at Perpetual Ltd., told Bloomberg News.Markets are on edge, hoping that some stop gap measure could be agreed. We could see a continued selloff in equities if Greece defaults.On currency markets, the euro was 1.1305 and 138.94 yen early Thursday against 1.1324 and 138.92 yen in New York.The dollar rebounded against the yen after taking a hit Wednesday in reaction to comments from Japans central bank chief that the countrys currency was unlikely to slide further. The comments saw the dollar fall to 122.70 yen from 124.50 yen.However, the greenback edged up to 123.04 yen in Tokyo Thursday morning from 122.67 yen in US trade.Oil prices fell after a mixed US inventory report that showed a large dip in crude reserves but record-high production. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery fell 35 cents to 61.08 while Brent crude for July eased 29 cents to 65.41.Gold fetched 1,186.34 compared with 1,188.80 late Wednesday.

New Zealand cuts rates as rush for 'white gold' stalls

Dunya News

2y

WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand cut interest rates for the first time in more than four years on Thursday amid near-stagnant inflation and a slump in prices for its all-important dairy exports.In an aggressive move designed to maintain economic momentum and prevent any chance of a slowdown, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand trimmed the Official Cash Rate (OCR) 0.25 points to 3.25 percent.It also foreshadowed further cuts if the situation failed to improve, sending the New Zealand dollar into a downward spiral on currency markets.A reduction in the OCR (official cash rate) is appropriate given low inflationary pressures and the expected weakening in demand, and to ensure that medium term inflation converges towards the middle of the target range, the bank said in a statement.We expect further easing may be appropriate. This will depend on the emerging data.While the rate cut did not surprise the market, its timing did. Most economists had expected the bank to hold off for another few months.TD Securities strategist Annette Beacher said another rate cut appeared imminent.The markets will shift towards a follow-up cut to 3.0 percent in July, but as it may be wiser to wait for more data, well pencil in September for now, she said.By waiting a little longer this stretches out the easing bias and prolongs downward pressure on the NZD.White gold loses shineThe last time the bank cut interest rates was in March 2011, as an emergency measure to prevent the economy faltering after a devastating earthquake in Christchurch that killed 185 people.The stimulus this time was data showing annual inflation at 0.1 percent, a 15-year low and well below the banks target of 1.0-3.0 percent.The need to act was exacerbated by a prolonged dip in commodity prices, particularly dairy, which threatens to act as a dampener on the overall economy.The importance of dairy to New Zealands economy cannot be overstated.The South Pacific nation is the worlds largest dairy supplier, with the industry earning in excess of NZ15.0 billion (US10.6 billion) a year and accounting for more than a third of its exports.But the so-called white gold has lost some of its lustre, with prices almost halving in the past year due to increased exports from the United States and the removal of milk production quotas in Europe.The assumption has been that the market -- driven by Chinas burgeoning middle class -- will simply bounce back, but the Reserve Bank said that had not yet happened.The fall in export commodity prices that began in mid-2014 is proving more pronounced, it said.The weaker prospects for dairy prices and the recent rises in petrol prices will slow income and demand growth.Until now, the bank has been reluctant to lower interest rates in case it fuels runaway property prices in New Zealands largest city, Auckland.However, it said loan restrictions and a capital gains tax on foreign investors introduced last month should help contain the citys housing market.The rate cut sent the New Zealand dollar tumbling from 72.00 US cents to 70.09 US cents, with Capital Economics saying it could dip below 65.00 US cents if the central banks estimate of 3.0 percent economic growth proves optimistic.A weaker dollar would be welcomed by Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler, who has long complained the currency is overvalued and hurting exporters.A further significant downward adjustment (in the New Zealand dollar) is justified, he said when announcing the rate cut.In light of the forecast deterioration in the current account balance, such an exchange rate adjustment is needed to put New Zealands net external position on a more sustainable path.

Tokyo stocks open 0.68% higher

Dunya News

2y

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo stocks opened 0.68 percent higher on Thursday, backed by gains on Wall Street and a breather in the yens rally.The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 137.25 points to 20,183.61 at the start.Tokyo stocks turned up after four days of losses, taking a positive lead from Wall Street.The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 1.3 percent Wednesday as a broad-based rally led by technology and banking shares snapped a week of anaemic trade in US equity markets.The broad-based SP 500 rose 1.20 percent, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.25 percent.The yens rally, a negative for Japanese exporters, came to a halt Thursday.The dollar fetched 122.96 yen in Tokyo Thursday morning, compared with 122.67 yen in New York Wednesday.The dollar plunged into the 122-yen range from mid-124 yen levels in Tokyo afternoon trading Wednesday after the head of the Bank of Japan said a further slide in the yen was unlikely.The euro was 1.1305 and 138.94 yen early Thursday against 1.1324 and 138.92 yen in New York as investors were continuing to watch Greek debt talks.Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Thursday that Greece and EU heavyweights Germany and France had agreed that last-ditch bailout talks must reach a viable solution as negotiations broke-up without a deal.

Cricket

Cricket: Australia recover from early setback against WIndies

Dunya News

2y

KINGSTON (AFP) - Jerome Taylor struck two early blows but pace partner Kemar Roachs no-ball woes proved costly again as Australia recovered to 91 for two at lunch on the opening day of the second and final Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park on Thursday.Put in to bat on a pitch offering considerable assistance to the fast bowlers, the visitors lost David Warner for a duck in the first over, caught by Shai Hope at third slip, and fellow-opener Shaun Marsh lbw for 11 shortly afterwards, both to Taylor, to stand at 16 for two after just 20 minutes play.Taylor was not only effective but miserly, his opening five-over spell completed without conceding a single run. He would return for a sixth maiden in the penultimate over of the session.It should have been 22 for three but Michael Clarke, who popped up a catch back to Roach off his own bowling when on just three, was granted a reprieve when the request by presiding umpire Richard Kettleborough for a television replay confirmed that the fast bowler, not for the first time in his international career, was deprived of a wicket because he overstepped the front crease.Australias captain almost immediately added insult to injury for the Barbadian bowler, smiting him over long-off for six and unfurling a succession of attacking shots in partnership with vice-captain Steve Smith.None of the other bowlers got anywhere close to Taylors miserliness and the runs flowed freely throughout the rest of the morning session in a third-wicket partnership that had already realised 75 runs by the interval.Smith matched his skipper shot-for-shot, especially taking a liking to left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, and will resume in the afternoon on 38, with Clarke looking well set on 35.In the wake of the second innings capitulation in Dominica that resulted in a nine-wicket defeat inside three days in the first Test a week ago, the home side suffered further setbacks before the start of play with their most experienced batsman, Marlon Samuels, ruled out because of illness while leg-spinner Devendra Bishoos badly-bruised finger on his bowling hand did not heal sufficiently for him to be considered.Taking their places were debutant opening batsman Rajindra Chandrika, which allows Hope to move to a more familiar position in the middle-order, and Permaul.Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was also ruled out with a fever, paving the way for Roach, the most experienced and successful of the current crop of Caribbean bowlers, to return to the final eleven after he was dropped for a loss of form after two matches of the preceding three-Test series against England.Needing just a draw for their first series success away from home since prevailing in a three-match duel with top-ranked South Africa 15 months ago, Australia retained the same team that won so convincingly at Windsor Park to extend their unbeaten run in Test matches against the West Indies to 13 spanning more than 12 years.

Former England wicketkeeper Prior retires

Dunya News

2y

LONDON (AFP) - Former England wicketkeeper Matt Prior announced on Thursday that he has retired at the age of 33 due to injury.Prior made the last of his 79 Test appearances against India at Lords 11 months ago before undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon.He had hoped to return to action with Sussex in this seasons County Championship, but having failed to recover full fitness, he has decided to walk away.Today is a very sad day for me, as I am forced to announce my retirement from the game I love, Prior said in a statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).I had been hoping and expecting to be fit for the start of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, this has proved impossible, and I have now had to reach this decision.Prior made his England debut against the West Indies at Lords in May 2007 and marked the occasion with a maiden century.He went on to play a key role in three Ashes triumphs and hit a further six Test centuries during a period that saw England climb to the top of the International Cricket Council ranking in 2011.In total he scored over 4,000 Test runs and claimed 256 dismissals, putting him second behind only Alan Knott (269) among England wicketkeepers and ninth on the all-time worldwide list.I feel honoured to have played for Sussex and England as many times as I have, and shared so many great times with both teams, Prior added.I also feel privileged to have been involved in an era of such success for English cricket.Prior thanked his family, team-mates, coaches and the people behind the scenes, as well as cricket fans both at home and abroad, and said he had created friendships that will last forever.I have always tried to play with pride and passion, and have a deep belief that the team will always come first -- a value that will never leave me whatever I go on to do, he continued.Although I havent achieved all the goals I had set out to, I feel immensely proud of what I have done in my career. Sadly it is now time to move on.Andrew Strauss, Priors captain during his time with England and the ECBs new director of cricket, paid tribute to his former team-mate.Matt has had a wonderful career as a wicketkeeper-batsman for both Sussex and England, Strauss said.During a period where the Test team won three Ashes series and achieved the world number one ranking, Matts contribution both on and off the field was immense.It is a huge shame that his career has come to an end in this way, although his athletic wicketkeeping and counter-attacking batting will live long in the memories of both his team-mates and England supporters.Prior will now be able to channel his energies into his professional cycling team, ONE Pro Cycling, which he set up earlier this year.

Clarke determined to complete 2-0 sweep over West Indies

Dunya News

2y

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -Australia hasnt lost a cricket test in the West Indies in 12 years.Captain Michael Clarke says they wont let that record fall in the second test starting here on Thursday. Hes determined for Australia to complete a 2-0 series sweep.The visitors, despite thumping the West Indies by nine wickets inside of three days in Dominica to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy, are aware they have room for improvement.Clarke was critical of his sides top-order batting in the first test last week, as they needed a maiden century from 35-year-old debutant Adam Voges to lift them from the peril of 126-6 in the first innings to a total of 318, and a match-winning first-innings lead of 170. Legspinner Devendra Bishoo took 6-80 but the effort was wasted by his West Indies batsmen.We know that we have to have more disciplined with our shot selection, Clarke said. Youll see us come out and play him (Bishoo) better.Australia, ranked second in the world, is sure to retain the same winning XI from Dominica, with veteran opener Chris Rogers still unable to return since he was hit on the head in the nets before the first test. The concussion lingers.The West Indies is also eager to get more from its leading batsmen, with first test totals of 148 and 216 well below par, and coach Phil Simmons demanding more from his troops.The shot selection wasnt good, Simmons said. We have to be able to go out there every innings and be selective, and know what shots to play in order to get us to where we want to be. Thats part of the learning process and the growing process.The West Indies bounced back from 1-1 down in its previous home series against England in May to square the series, and Simmons is adamant his side can rebound again.The series is not over yet, he said. We just need to bat properly in the first innings. The first innings sets up everything. If we bat properly and we get to 350-400, weve seen that our bowlers can put people under pressure.Simmons also admitted the Aussies superb fielding in the first test made a big difference.Australia didnt drop a catch, guys dived all over and caught (well), and we dropped a couple of catches at crucial times, he added.West Indies will contemplate changes for the series decider, the 50th test in the Caribbean between them.Shannon Gabriel faces competition for a final spot from fellow pacer Kemar Roach, and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul. In the batting department, rookie opener Shai Hope is under scrutiny after failing in his first two tests, with uncapped Rajendra Chandrika poised for a debut in his place.

Rain delays play in first Bangladesh-India Test

Dunya News

2y

FATULLAH (AFP) - Heavy rain has delayed the start of the second days play in the one-off Test between Bangladesh and India in Fatullah on Thursday.Just 56 of the stipulated 90 overs were bowled on the first day due to bad weather, with India making 239 for no loss after they won the toss and elected to bat.Shikhar Dhawan was unbeaten on 150 and Murali Vijay was on 89.Rain has been forecast for all five days of the match.

Crime

Senior Thai palace official arrested for lese majeste

Dunya News

2y

BANGKOK (AFP) - A senior Thai palace aide who served the now disgraced ex-wife of the Crown Prince was arrested Thursday under the countrys controversial lese majeste law, part of an ongoing probe that has decimated the former princesss family.Montri Sotangkul, 53, was a member of the household staff of Princess Srirasmi, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorns former wife.He is accused of defaming Thailands monarchy by improperly using his royal connections for financial gain.He is the latest ally of the disgraced princess to be arrested in a rare public airing of palace intrigue that has seen at least eight of Srirasmis direct relatives jailed including her elderly parents.Montri, who continued to work at the palace after Srirasmis downfall in December, arrived at Thailands police headquarters on Thursday morning handcuffed and dressed in civilian clothes, an AFP photographer on the scene said, after palace officials handed him over to the police.Police investigators have informed him of the allegations in the arrest warrant and he signed his name to acknowledge the charges, national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung told reporters.Police would oppose bail because Montri was considered a flight risk, he added.It is highly unusual for palace officials to face police investigations, let alone on lese majeste charges.Thailands monarchy is protected by a highly controversial lese majeste law, one of the worlds strictest.Anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count.Reporting royal defamation cases is fraught with difficulty. Even repeating details of the charges could mean breaking the law.Critics of the law say it is frequently used to pursue political opponents of the royalist elite and their military allies.Srirasmi has not been arrested, but she has not been seen in public since December, shortly before it was announced that she had relinquished her royal title and that Vajiralongkorn had divorced her.Vajiralongkorn is the only son of 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the worlds longest serving monarch, and heir to the throne.While his father is widely adored by Thais, many of whom see him as a semi-divine figure, Vajiralongkorn has yet to attain such popularity.Thailand has been beset by a near-decade of political turbulence -- partly fuelled, analysts say, by unease over the countrys future as Bhumibols reign enters its twilight years.

Policeman killed by suspected terrorists in southern Mali

Dunya News

2y

BAMAKO (AFP) - Suspected militants killed a policeman in a rare attack in southern Mali Wednesday, hoisting their black flag at the local military base, just days before the countrys main Tuareg-led rebel movement is expected to sign a peace deal.The west African nation remains divided among rival armed factions, plagued by drug trafficking and infiltrated by terrorist groups, but attacks outside the unrest-riven north of the country remain unusual.A minister said cowardly terrorists killed a warrant officer in Misseni, near Malis border with Ivory Coast, while a local councillor said around 30 terrorists briefly occupied the towns army camp.The councillor said the militants arrived at 2:00 am (0200 GMT), adding: I heard gunshots in the Misseni military camp. The militants were shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest).They took control of the military camp where they put up their black flag.The militants opened fire on local policemen, killing the officer before escaping, according to the councillor, who spoke on condition of anonymity.A Malian security source confirmed the policemans death, adding that the terrorist jihadists led an organised attack.They probably came from Ivory Coast because Misseni is 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Ivorian border, the source added.They covered part of the distance in a vehicle, and another part on motorcycles and on foot.A separate source at the towns police headquarters said two Malian army vehicles and police motorcycles were set alight.A local military source told AFP the army had sent back-up from regional capital Sikasso.A witness in Misseni said the militants escaped at around 5:00 am, leaving behind a copy of the Koran and a piece of paper on which was written Ansar Dine, a terrorist group that is active in northern Mali and linked to Al-Qaeda.- Struggle for stability -Malis desert north has struggled to maintain stability since the west African nation gained independence in 1960.The country descended into chaos in 2012 when an insurgency by Tuareg rebels led to a coup in the capital Bamako. Terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda then overpowered the Tuareg to seize control of the north.A French-led military operation launched in January 2013 drove the extremists out of the regions towns and cities.But the country remains deeply divided, with the Tuareg and Arab populations of the north accusing sub-Saharan ethnic groups in the more prosperous south of marginalising them.Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants remain active throughout the north, a vast area the size of France, but attacks outside of the region are rare.Al-Murabitoun, an Islamist militia led by notorious Algerian jihadist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed responsibility for an attack against Westerners in Bamako on March 7.Three Malians, a French national and a Belgian were killed as militants stormed a nightclub that was popular with the capitals expatriate community.The group also carried out a suicide attack on April 15 against the Nigerian contingent of the UN mission in Mali, killing two civilians.Hopes for peace in Mali were boosted last week when the main Tuareg-led rebel movement announced it would sign an agreement to end the conflict in the west African nation on June 20.The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) initialled the deal alongside the Malian government in May but was holding out on a final deal until guarantees were made about the representation of northern populations in any future security force.The CMA on Wednesday, however, claimed the signing of the agreement could be in jeopardy after accusing pro-government militias of carrying out arbitrary arrests and looting in northeast Mali.Malis militant groups have been sidelined during the peace process however, and were not involved in UN-brokered talks to formulate the accord.

Hundreds of extra cops to hit New York streets

Dunya News

2y

NEW YORK (AFP) - Hundreds of police officers were ordered off their desks and back onto the New York streets Wednesday in an effort to crack down on a fresh increase in murders and shootings.Around 330 officers are being reassigned until further notice to patrol 10 high-crime parts of the city, predominantly in Brooklyn and the Bronx, but also in Queens and Staten Island.There have been 451 shooting incidents so far this year, compared to 428 at the same point in 2014, with murders at 143 compared to 121 up to the same period last year, police said.It is the second year running that rising crime has forced desk officers back onto the streets, but this time the initiative is starting a month earlier.We will keep it going until we see the decreases that we fully expect will occur, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters.If we are able to douse that fire, we may be in a position to return these officers back to their original assignments earlier. Right now its open-ended.Rising crime -- particularly gang-related shootings -- is a sensitive subject in a city where rates fell steadily under previous mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani.New York City is one of the largest safe cities in America but unfortunately that level of safety is not present in all of our communities, Bratton said.There are currently 34,500 police officers in New York. The city has a population of more than 8.4 million.Last years initiative succeeded in bringing down murder by 13 percent, robberies by 22 percent and shooting incidents down 12 percent, said New York Police chief of department, James ONeill.

UN raps Ghana's failure to stamp out slavery of virgin girls

Dunya News

2y

GENEVA (AFP) - UN rights experts on Wednesday said Ghana had failed miserably to stamp out a centuries-old tradition in which virgin girls are offered as slaves to local priests for a lifetime.The system of Trokosi, prevalent among the Ewe tribe in southern Ghana, carries on to this day, a UN committee on child rights said.Even though legislation has been put in place in 1998 there hasnt been any significant progress, said the panels Ethiopian chairman Benyam Mezmur, referring to a law abolishing the practice and stipulating a minimum punishment of three years in prison.He told reporters the Ghanaian government couldnt tell us if there has been even a single prosecution as far as the practice is concerned and of course children still continue to suffer.The word Trokosi means slaves of the gods in the Ewe language.Once given to the priest to atone for the alleged sins of her family, a girl becomes the property of the priest and is made to carry out domestic chores.After puberty, the bondage also involves sexual servitude and there have been numerous incidents of girls dying during childbirth.If a slave dies, her family has to offer another virgin girl to the priest as a replacement.According to experts, there are still about 3,000 women in slavery in Ghana. At the present rate it would take years to get them all freed.To add to the problems, a strong lobby within the Ghanaian establishment claims the campaign against Trokosi is a campaign against African culture.The main challenge is that it remains very much embedded in culture and religion, Mezmur said.The committee said Ghana had to take necessary measures without delay, including human and financial resources, to prevent and eliminate the practice of Trokosi and ensure the immediate release of children that are subjected to this practice.It also called for prompt and speedy investigations and prosecutions.

Economy

Oil market rebounds on US energy report

Samaa News

2y

NEW YORK: Global oil prices rebounded sharply Wednesday after a mixed US oil inventories report left traders focusing on its positive elements for demand: falling gasoline and distillates stockpiles. New Yorks benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April leaped 1.71 to close at 50.99 a barrel. In London, Brent North Sea crude for April delivery, the global benchmark, settled at 61.63 a barrel, up 2.97 from Tuesdays close. The US governments Department of Energy said Wednesday that crude inventories rose 8.4 million barrels in the week ending February 20 to a record 434.1 million barrels, more than double the increase expected. However, the DoE also reported that stockpiles of distillates, which include diesel and heating fuel, slid 2.7 million barrels, while gasoline reserves sank by 3.1 million. The rally ... was fuelled by news that both gasoline and distillate stocks had decreased sharply last week, said Forex.com analyst Fawad Razaqzada. Falling stockpiles can indicate strengthening demand in the worlds largest crude consumer. For Gene McGillian of Tradition Energy, the draw in products and gasoline suggests the drop weve seen in crude prices is starting to translate into increased demand, and I think thats why the market is picking up. Crude prices have lost about half of their value since June. Brent crude oil is getting a modest lift from talk of firming demand as Chinas preliminary PMI data complemented comments from Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi citing a constructive shift to a calmer oil market supported by growing consumption, said Tim Evans of Citi Futures. Brent also drew support from a report that Libyas Sarir oil field, which produces 185,000 barrels per day, was shut due to a loss of power supply, he said. --AFP

World stocks near all-time highs after Fed signals

Samaa News

2y

NEW YORK: World stocks were within touching distance of an all-time high on Wednesday as investors cheered signals from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that the U.S. central bank would not rush into raising interest rates.Markets, still on high after the euro zone agreed to extend Greeces aid deal, were given a further lift as slightly better-than-expected Chinese factory activity data helped ease concerns about the extent of the countrys economic slowdown.European bourses opened little changed, happy to take a breather after six days of unbroken gains and a surge since the start of the year that has seen the benchmark FTSEurofirst 300 race up roughly 17 percent.Following more rises for Wall Street and in Asia overnight, MSCIs 46-member All Country World Index was up 0.2 percent at 433.74 points and straining for the 434.24 all-time peak it scored back in September.All the stars have been aligned recently, we have had the lower euro, the lower oil and the lower cost of funding, said Didier Duret, chief investment officer at ABN Amro.For the rally to continue we now need two things. The recovery has to be driven by hard facts, the consumer and manufacturing. And we need the hope that the Fed wont be too aggressive with hiking rates and yesterday we got that message.Yellen had told Washingtons Senate Banking Committee that the U.S. central bank was preparing to consider interest rate hikes on a meeting-by-meeting basis, but that she and her colleagues would provide markets with a clearer signals before they moved.That was a subtle change of emphasis in how the Fed has been speaking about its plans, as it suggests though a hike could still come as early as June, a later date is also possible against the backdrop of weak U.S. inflation and a sluggish global economy.The dollar .DXY had dropped in the wake of Yellens comments overnight and continued to slip against a basket of currencies in early European trading.It fell 0.2 percent against the yen to 118.73 yen, while the euro was up 0.3 percent at 1.1375. Sterling too, was up by a similar margin at 1.5502.FRAGILE CHINAIn China, the worlds second largest economy, the closely watched flash HSBCMarkit Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) inched up to 50.1, above the 50-point level that separates growth in activity from a contraction on a monthly basis.It beat consensus estimates for a reading of 49.5 even as Chinas manufacturers still face considerable risks from weak foreign demand and deepening deflationary pressures.We believe more policy easing is still warranted at the current stage to support growth, said Qu Hongbin, HSBCs chief economist in China.MSCIs broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS had ended up 0.85 percent, though Japans Nikkei snapped a five-day winning streak after hitting a 15-year high in the previous session.A backdrop of weakening global growth has been keep investors on the edge about the Feds plans, with some worrying a premature start to the U.S. rate hike cycle could dent momentum in the U.S. economy even as Europe and China continue to struggle.Because Yellen gave no sign of an imminent rate increase, investors piled back into U.S. Treasuries, sending benchmark 10-year yields US10YTRR back below 2 percent and two-year yields to 2-12-week lows US2YTRR.News on Tuesday that euro zone partners had approved Greeces reform plan, a requirement for Athens to receive a four-month extension to its bailout, continued to help European bond markets, although Greece itself saw its yields nudge slightly higher.Among commodities, oil overcame pressure from expectations that this week will show U.S. crude inventories rising again, garnering support from news of a shutdown of Libyan oilfields.Brent LCOc1 added about 0.5 percent to 58.98 a barrel, though U.S. crude CLc1 edged down slightly to 49.19. Gold added about 0.9 percent on the day to 1,211.30 per ounce as it inched off a seven-week low. (Reuters)

Khan woos foreign investment in KPK

Samaa News

2y

DUBAI: Chairman PTI Imran Khan on Wednesday wooed foreign entrepreneurs to invest in terrorism-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan where his party is in power. Addressing an investment conference in Dubai, Khan said that level of violence is coming down in the region as the United States was withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. If youre a risk-taker, this is the time to invest in KPK, he told participants. He said that returns on investment are impressive in the KPK. Khan said that investors typically look at security and level of governance before investing in any particular country, adding security and governance both have improved in KPK. In KPK, governance standards have improved compared to other three provinces, he said, adding security situation is also improving as the provincial police system was completely overhauled. Since coming to power in KPK following May 2013 general elections, PTI-led government in KPK has set up a special Investment Promotion Cell seeking investment in sectors like energy, power, tourism, mines and minerals, health, education etc. Samaa

Gold hits 7-week low, then pares losses after Yellen testimony

Samaa News

2y

NEW YORKLONDON: Gold fell to a seven-week low on Tuesday then pared losses after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank is preparing to consider interest rate hikes on a meeting-by-meeting basis. Yellen said the Feds rate-setting policy committee will likely first remove the word patient in describing its approach to rate hikes, then enter a phase in which rate hikes are possible at any meeting. Spot gold initially fell about 0.8 percent to a seven-week low of 1,190.91 per ounce as the U.S. dollar rose, then eased, down 0.2 percent at 1,199.35 an ounce by 2:10 p.m. EST (1910 GMT). U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled down 3.50 an ounce at 1,197.30. The initial negative was the shift in emphasis. Whereas the Feds last statement showed a fair (sized) bloc worried about raising rates prematurely, Yellen seemed to be laying the groundwork for an increase, at least in the first part of the testimony, said Peter Buchanan, senior economist for CIBC World Markets in Toronto. Gold bulls apparently liked the assurances from Yellen that rate hikes could still be more than two meetings away, Buchanan said. The dollar edged lower and bond yields fell after Yellen told the U.S. Senate Banking Committee it would be several months before the Fed expects to raise rates. Expectations of a rate rise have led to months of dollar strength, lifting it to an 11-year high against a basket of currencies in January. Greek shares rose after a list of proposed reforms submitted by Athens was received favorably by the European Commission. The Eurogroup later confirmed it had agreed to submit Greeces proposals for approval by member states. There can be little doubt that the immediate risk over this issue has diminished and we could see some short-term weakness in gold as a result, Mitsui precious metals analyst David Jollie said. A number of major Asian gold markets, most notably China, remained closed for the Lunar New Year break, removing key support for gold, dealers said. The euro zone raised its gold holdings by 7.437 tonnes in January, data from the International Monetary Fund showed on Tuesday. Traders attributed the increase to Lithuania joining the currency bloc, while Turkish holdings declined by 14.227 tonnes. In other precious metals, silver was down 0.3 percent at 16.25 an ounce, while platinum fell 0.3 percent to 1,157.50, and palladium was up 0.6 percent at 789.97. --Reuters

Entertainment

Brand new Gucci gets Milan off to a flier

Samaa News

2y

MILAN: Guccis new creative director Alessandro Michele unveiled a veritable feast of beanies and flouncy, nipple-flashing outfits asMilan fashion week started with a bee-themed bang on Wednesday.It was the most hotly-awaited show of the season, with Michele unveiling the Italian luxury brands new look after creative giant Frida Giannini departed acrimoniously in January along with her partner and company CEO Patrizio di Marco.Just a day after the New York Times published di Marcos leaving letter in which he stated against my will, I leave my cathedral uncompleted, Michele was keen to distance himself from the gossip mill, calling for time to show off his talent.There is no room for consolatory nostalgia, the press release accompanying his new show read, adding that the designs embody that elusive threshold between the no longer and the not yet.It also referenced the background to the collection: a place of unexpected events, rifts, remnants and amnesias. - Fur cuffs - The androgynous style which marked his Fall 2015 menswear collection -- which was put together in just five days in January when he took over -- was revisited, with female and male models sporting fur-cuffed box coats and long, loose bow ties.It was romantic in parts, with a re-look at the brands iconic floral pattern, and floaty rose or pale blue skirts, shirts and dresses, matched with fur slippers and bags with bees on them.Beanies, Michele has obviously decided, are now for the super chic -- as are school-girl horn-rimmed glasses, frills, flounces and the sort of see-through tops of which your mum would disapprove.With Giannini reportedly ousted after a long decline in the brands sales -- which fell 1.8 percent in 2014 to 3.5 billion euro (3.9 billion) -- all eyes will now be on whether the more outlandish of Guccis new pieces will win over the high street.The show kicked off a fast-paced week of catwalks, stellar swag bags and champagne-fuelled parties in the northern Italian city.Trend-spotters will be looking to see if the trends for black Gothic looks, brocade, fur and shearling spotted at New York and Londons fashion weeks will be given a stiletto twist by Italys masters of chic.Whether black turns out to be the new black or not, Milan is decidedly in the pink after a long economic downturn which hit the luxury industry hard.The fashion economy is back on track. Its going to be an excellent fashion week shaped by the sort of economic situation weve not seen for years, said Mario Boselli, head of the Italian Fashion Chamber. - Destined to grow - After a 3.7 percent rise in turnover in 2014, the chamber has forecast just a 1.6 percent increase for 2015.But favourable economic circumstances mean that figure is destined to grow, said the fashion force who is stepping down in April after 15 years in which he has boosted ties with emerging markets and Chinese talent in particular.A longstanding row over timetables has been resolved -- at least for this season -- so that Armani will close the shows before the fashion extravaganza decamps to Paris.The rest of the weeks line-up is packed: 68 catwalk shows, 80 presentations and 151 collections unveiled in total, along with numerous exhibitions and projects linked to Milans Expo 2015 world fair, which kicks off in May.Those looking for upcoming talent will be sure to catch the presentation by Vienna-born Arthur Arbesser, who studied at Central Saint Martins and did seven years at Armani before striking out on his own, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious LVMH prize.ideamhar 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Veena Malik meets Imran Khan in Dubai

Geo News

2y

Imran Khan is in Dubai to attend the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Investment Roadshow. During their meeting, Veena Malik and Asad Khattak donated to the Shaukat Khanum hospital in Peshawar. Imran and Reham Khan also congratulated Veena and Asad on the birth of their son.

Khan, Khattak families meet in Dubai

Samaa News

2y

DUBAI: Newly wedded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan, and his wife Reham Khan joined Pakistani actress and her hubby Asad Khattak in Dubai, Samaa reported.According to Samaa correspondent, the two charming couple had dinner and spent time together having a chit chat and taking pictures.Thank you so much Kaptan and bhabi @RehamKhan1 for a great evening. Bless you, Khattak said on Twitter. Had a great evening with @ImranKhanPTI @RehamKhan1 ... So glad, Veena Malik twitted.Reports said Khattak and Veena, who are now parents of a cute baby boy, Abram Khan, donated a good amount for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital (SKMH) Peshawar. - Samaa

007 gets licence to eat in Rome

Geo News

2y

Health

Britain becomes first nation to legalise three-parent babies

Samaa News

2y

LONDON: Britain will become the first nation to legalise a three-parent IVF technique which doctors say can prevent some inherited incurable diseases but which critics fear will effectively lead to designer babies. After more than three hours of debate, lawmakers in parliaments upper house voted on Tuesday for a change in the law to allow the treatments, echoing a positive vote in the lower house earlier this month. The treatment, called mitochondrial transfer, is known as three-parent in vitro fertilisation (IVF) because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor. Although the techniques are still at the research stage in laboratories in Britain and the United States, experts say that now legal hurdles have been overcome, Britains first 3-parent baby could be born as early as 2016. Mitochondrial transfer involves intervening in the fertilisation process to remove faulty mitochondrial DNA, which can cause inherited conditions such as heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy. Mitochondria act as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells, and around 1 in 6,000 babies around the world are born with serious mitochondrial disorders. Responding to the vote, Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust medical charity commended lawmakers for a considered and compassionate decision. Families who know what it is like to care for a child with a devastating disease are the people best placed to decide whether mitochondrial donation is the right option, he said. Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, hailed a great day for UK science and said the landmark decision will ensure mothers who carry faulty mitochondria can have healthy children free from the devastating conditions. But Marcy Darnovsky, director of the campaign group The Center for Genetics and Society, called the move a historic mistake which turns children into biological experiments and will forever alter the human germline. The techniques ... are relatively crude and will not in and of themselves create so-called designer babies, she said. However, they will result in children with DNA from three different people in every cell of their bodies, which will impact a large range of traits in unknowable ways and introduce genetic changes that will be passed down to future generations. --Reuters

Britain becomes first nation to legalize three-parent babies

Geo News

2y

After more than three hours of debate, lawmakers in parliaments upper house voted on Tuesday for a change in the law to allow the treatments, echoing a positive vote in the lower house earlier this month. The treatment, called mitochondrial transfer, is known as three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF) because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor. Although the techniques are still at the research stage in laboratories in Britain and the United States, experts say that now legal hurdles have been overcome, Britains first 3-parent baby could be born as early as 2016. Mitochondrial transfer involves intervening in the fertilization process to remove faulty mitochondrial DNA, which can cause inherited conditions such as heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy. Mitochondria act as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells, and around 1 in 6,000 babies around the world are born with serious mitochondrial disorders. Responding to the vote, Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust medical charity commended lawmakers for a considered and compassionate decision. Families who know what it is like to care for a child with a devastating disease are the people best placed to decide whether mitochondrial donation is the right option, he said. Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, hailed a great day for UK science and said the landmark decision will ensure mothers who carry faulty mitochondria can have healthy children free from the devastating conditions. But Marcy Darnovsky, director of the campaign group The Center for Genetics and Society, called the move a historic mistake which turns children into biological experiments and will forever alter the human germline. The techniques ... are relatively crude and will not in and of themselves create so-called designer babies, she said. However, they will result in children with DNA from three different people in every cell of their bodies, which will impact a large range of traits in unknowable ways and introduce genetic changes that will be passed down to future generations.

Food outlet sealed after Karachi mall raid

Samaa News

2y

KARACHI: Food safety officials today raided food outlets at an upscale shopping mall in Clifton area of Karachi, SAMAA reports. The team led by Salma Kausar, Director Medical of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), collected samples to test quality of food being served in nine outlets. Three of the outlets were found to be operating without obtaining any license. According to officials, food samples will be sent to laboratory for testing. People fell ill after eating at some of the restaurants. We have taken action against one shop, which has been closed for five days, Salman Kauser told SAMAA. The sealed shop has also been slapped with a fine of Rs15, 000 for selling unhygienic food, she added. The raid comes weeks after a 13-year-old girl Kinza died of food poisoning following the consumption of a contaminated burger bought from a famous fast food restaurant. SAMAA

WHO recommendations to tackle swine flu ignored by Sindh govt

Geo News

2y

The recommendations called for the establishment of isolation wards and influenza labs in hospitals which were not followed. The failure to follow WHO recommendations has increased the risk of a swine flu outbreak in Pakistan. According to a BBC report, over 700 people have died of a swine flu outbreak in neighbouring India since mid-December.

International

Palestine mosque torched in revenge attack

Samaa News

2y

BETHLEHEM: A West Bank mosque was set alight in a village near Bethlehem Tuesday with anti-Arab slogans in Hebrew sprayed on a nearby wall, Palestinian witnesses said.The fire was discovered in the mosque in Jaba village at about 4:00 am (0200 GMT). Villagers managed to put it out but there was some damage to the building, the witnesses said.On a nearby wall, the perpetrators had sprayed the word revenge and other slogans in Hebrew alongside a Star of David, with witnesses saying it was believed to be the work of hardline Jewish settlers.The village is located 10 kilometres (six miles) southwest of Bethlehem, close to Gush Etzion, a cluster of Jewish settlements.Police spokeswoman Luba Samri confirmed the Palestinians had filed a complaint about the torching of a mosque in Jaba and said the nationalistic crime unit would investigate.The Palestinian foreign ministry said the attack was tantamount to an official declaration of religious war, the official WAFA news agency reported.This new attack is a sign of the mounting violent extremism within Israeli society, it said.The United Nations also condemned the attack.I am concerned by this and all other religiously motivated attacks and provocations by any party, which may further inflame an already volatile environment, UN peace envoy Robert Serry said.Extremists on both sides must not be allowed to turn this conflict into a religious one, he said in a statement.The incident bore the hallmarks of a so-called price tag attack -- a euphemism for nationalistically motivated hate crime by Jewish extremists which generally targets Palestinians or Arab Israelis. (AFP)

Afghanistan snow storms kill over 80, but ease drought fear

Samaa News

2y

KABUL: More than 80 people have been killed in Afghanistan in avalanches following heavy snow, officials said on Wednesday, with the bad weather set to last for two more days after an unusually dry winter led to fears of drought. Officials warned of an imminent humanitarian emergency in areas most severely hit by the bad weather, with snow sweeping through villages and blocking off roads. We havent seen this much snow, or this many avalanches, for 30 years, said Abdul Rahman Kabiri, acting governor of the mountainous province of Panjshir, north of Kabul, where more than 30 people were killed in avalanches. If the central government doesnt provide humanitarian support, machinery and food soon, this will turn to a disaster, he said, adding that more than 20 people had been injured. Despite bringing death and misery to so many people, the snow is vital for Afghanistan, where much of the rural population dependent on agriculture relies on snow melting in the mountains to sustain crops in the spring and summer. Now we are optimistic about the agriculture situation around the country, said Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Lotfullah Rashid. There will be snow and rain for several days, so the country wont face a lack of water during the coming year. Farming drives the troubled Afghan economy, with about three-quarters of the people living in rural areas, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated in 2004. Irrigation is not extensive in Afghanistan, most of which is semi-arid, and aid efforts over the past decade or more have focused on trying to extend it, with mixed results. If there hadnt been this much snow and rain, next year could have been a disaster, Rashid said. -Reuters

'American Sniper' killer gets life in prison

Samaa News

2y

STEPHENVILLE: Eddie Ray Routh was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Tuesday after a Texas jury found him guilty of murdering Chris Kyle, the former U.S. Navy SEAL whose autobiography was turned into the hit movie American Sniper. Routh, 27, a former U.S. Marine, was found guilty of fatally shooting Kyle and Kyles friend, Chad Littlefield, multiple times at a gun range about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Fort Worth in February 2013. Prosecutors said he ambushed the two from the rear, waiting for Kyle to completely unload his weapon at the range before he attacked with a barrage of gunshots. Kyle, a former ranch had turned SEAL credited with the most confirmed kills of any U.S. military sniper, has been lionized in his home state of Texas. He became entrenched in U.S. popular culture in large part due to his best-selling book and the Academy Award nominated movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper.

Moscow lying 'to my face,' says Kerry

Samaa News

2y

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday accused Russian leaders of lying to my face about Moscows involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and denounced what he called Russias propaganda. The top American diplomat refused however to say publicly whether he was in favor of sending US weapons to Kiev to help the Ukranian military battle the pro-Russian rebels in the east. Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that Ive seen since the very height of the Cold War, Kerry told US lawmakers. And they have been persisting in their misrepresentations -- lies -- whatever you want to call them -- about their activities there to my face, to the face of others, on many different occasions. Kerry has met multiple times in European cities with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov since the crisis erupted in early 2014. Asked whether Russia was lying when it denied that there were Russian troops or weapons in Ukraine, Kerry replied: Yes. Russia is engaged in a massive effort to sway nations, to appeal to them, reach out to them, and fundamentally, tragically, sort of reigniting a new kind of East-West zero sum game that we think is dangerous and unnecessary, frankly, Kerry said. He insisted Washington was doing a pretty good job of standing up for Ukrainian sovereignty. The US administration of President Barack Obama is discussing whether to increase its support to Kiev to include lethal weapons. Until the president makes his decision, Im going to keep my consultations personal and private with him, Kerry said, when asked whether he would support sending in heavy weapons. But he urged the world and Congress to increase its economic support for Ukraine. We all need to be prepared to step up and be there economically for Ukraine as they reform and try to implement their dream and vision, Kerry told the Senate appropriations committee at the start of two days of budget hearings. Its not good enough to have (President Petro) Poroshenko come here and get 40 standing ovations, and then not step up and deliver what its really going to take to help him create the democracy he wants to create. The foreign ministers from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine met in Paris Tuesday in a fresh push to salvage a crumbling peace plan for eastern Ukraine that they hammered out in the Belarussian capital Minsk 12 days ago. The ministers renewed calls for a total ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as London announced it was sending troops to train Ukrainian government forces. --AFP

LifeStyle

Eat fresher? Subway also dropping artificial ingredients

Dunya News

2y

NEW YORK (AP) -Subway wants to give new meaning to its eat fresh slogan by joining the list of food companies to say its dropping artificial ingredients.The sandwich chain known for its marketing itself as a healthier alternative to hamburger chains told The Associated Press it will remove artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its menu in North America by 2017. Whether that can help Subway keep up with changing attitudes about what qualifies as healthy remains to be seen.Elizabeth Stewart, Subways director of corporate social responsibility, said in an interview that ingredient improvement has been an ongoing process over the years. More recently, she said the chain has been working on removing caramel color from cold cuts like roast beef and ham. For its turkey, Subway says it plans to replace a preservative called proprionic acid with vinegar by the end of this year.Among its toppings, Stewart said Subway is switching to banana peppers colored with turmeric instead of the artificial dye Yellow No. 5. Without providing details, she said the chain is also working on its sauces and cookies.The purging of artificial ingredients is quickly becoming the norm among major food companies, which are facing pressure from smaller players that tout their offerings as more wholesome. That has prompted so-called Big Food makers including Taco Bell, McDonalds, Kraft and Nestle to announce in recent months theyre expelling artificial ingredients from one or more products.Subways announcement comes at a challenging time for the chain, which grew to be the worlds largest restaurant brand by number of locations with the help of weight loss pitchman Jared Fogle.The company is privately held and doesnt disclose sales figures. But last year, sales for Subway stores in the U.S. averaged 475,000 each, a 3 percent decline from the previous year, according to industry tracker Technomic.Subway is facing evolving definitions for what qualifies as healthy, said Darren Tristano, an analyst for Technomic. While older generations looked at nutritional stats like fat and calories, he said younger generations are more concerned about qualities like local, organic and natural.Change has come so fast and rapidly, consumers are just expecting more and more, Tristano said.And although Subway markets itself as a fresher option, he noted that people dont necessarily see it as the healthiest or best product around.Last year, Subways image took a hit when food activist Vani Hari, known as the Food Babe, launched a petition calling on it to removeazodicarbonamide from its bread, noting the ingredient was used in yoga mats. Subway has said that it was in the process of removing the ingredient, which is widely used as a dough condition and whitening agent, before the issue became a controversy.Tony Pace, Subways chief marketing officer, noted the chain is already seen as a place for low-fat options, but that it needs to keep up with changing customer attitudes.As their expectations go up, we have to meet those expectations, he said.Pace said the use of simple ingredients is becoming a necessary condition to satisfy customers, but that it wont be enough on its own to drive up sales.

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Dunya News

2y

The height of stupidity is trying the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Einstein. SMH Runaas Deheem (@runaasdeheem) May 21, 2015

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Dunya News

2y

The height of stupidity is trying the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Einstein. SMH Runaas Deheem (@runaasdeheem) May 21, 2015

Mixed martial arts goes mainstream in Asia

Dunya News

2y

SINGAPORE (AFP) - The explosive growth of mixed martial arts (MMA) in Asia is putting the squeeze on boxing as it attracts millions of young fans and sells out venues across the region.Just a few years ago, cage fighting was seen as a niche and grisly pursuit but it is moving into the mainstream with major TV and sponsorship deals and a planned 1 billion IPO for Asias main player.Gyms are mushrooming across Asia and fights have been held in dozens of major cities across a region which groups about 4.4 billion people, two-thirds of the worlds population.MMA has also taken hold in the Americas and Europe but it has a particular appeal in Asia, which is the birthplace of the martial arts but lacks homegrown sports heroes.Its success is cutting into the fanbase of other combat sports, notably boxing, which is making a belated push for the Asian market with several big fights in Macau.Even Manny Pacquiao, Asias best known boxer who lost this months Fight of the Century to Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas, is a fan and investor in One Championship.The growth of the Singapore-based company, the most prominent of several Asian MMA organisations, is testament to the sports rapid expansion in the region.In just three-and-a-half years, One Championship -- renamed from One Fighting Championship -- has grown to 24 events this year, including 10 in China.- Billion-dollar baby -Sponsors include LOreal and Sony, and a tie-up with Disney means One Championship promotes films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and the forthcoming Star Wars.CEO Victor Cui said by the end of 2017 the company aimed to hold one event a week, and that it planned a billion-dollar share listing in three years time.Compared to MMA, boxing attracts only the boxing fans whereas MMA is across all the martial arts, he told AFP at a large MMA gym in downtown Singapore.The appeal base across Asia is quite different, because every Asian country has some form of martial art that they already do... whereas boxing is not as heavily rooted in every country.In MMA fights, competitors can use a variety of martial arts to knock out their opponent or force a submission or stoppage, as well as accumulating points on the three judges scorecards, making the action varied and sometimes vicious.While opinions vary about the sports merits, it is attracting a large and young Asian fanbase, often male, fuelled by its prevalence on TV and social media.Theres a misconception that its bloody, that its brutal, but theres a lot of respect that goes on out of the cage, said Matt Eaton, editor and publisher of the Hong Kong-based Rough magazine and website.Theyre martial artists, they have a lot of respect for each other.He added: Boxing has done itself a bit of a disservice by remaining relatively old school. People still like the spectacle of boxing... but what MMA has got going for it is that its a relatively new sport, its almost a native of this whole digital world.- Hard to watch sober -Boxings schism with the martial arts widened this month when the International Boxing Association (AIBA) decided to pull out of the 2017 World Combat Games, preferring to maintain its noble image.AIBA officials were not available to comment for this story when approached by AFP. But One Championships Cui said boxing faced a bit of a challenge to reach prominence in Asia.The conversation we had with Manny (about investing) was, only Manny could fill out a 20,000-seater stadium in the Philippines, theres no other boxer who could do that, Cui said.Heres our sport One Championship, we dont have our Manny Pacquiao yet, but were filling 20,000-seat stadiums.A key element to the growth is the fitness boom and the trend towards more challenging and varied workouts than the traditional approach of lifting weights at a gym.During AFPs visit to the Evolve gym in Singapore, dozens of people were using their lunch break to punch, kick and grapple their way into shape.Its just so stimulating, so challenging... I just wanted do something different with my life, said Singapore zoo keeper Rachel Yeo, 27.This place makes me feel alive.Boxings cause was not helped by the disappointing Fight of the Century, when Mayweather skilfully picked off Pacquiao while keeping largely out of range.Hard to watch sober, was the verdict of Singaporean cage fighter Stephen Langdown, 22, who said it compared poorly with the spectacle of MMA.Nobodys interested in seeing people run around for 12 rounds, pit-pat, pit-pat. Its just not good TV.

Pakistan

New SOP issued for check-posts of Punjab police

Dunya News

2y

LAHORE (Dunya News) Inspector General (IG) Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera issued new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Thursday for the check-post duties of the Punjab police. The order was issued after the death of two brothers by police firing in Rawalpindi.According to the new SOP, the policemen appointed on check-post will work in 8 hours shifts and all of the policemen would need to wear bullet proof jackets and plastic helmets. The SOP stated that policemen will not be authorized to open fire on the people who do not stop on the check-post, instead they should be followed by the police. Police will only be authorized to open fire in self defence.

Islamabad: Office of international NGO 'Save the Children' sealed

Dunya News

2y

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) Interior ministry of Pakistans office issued the orders to seal office of international NGO Save the Children in Islamabad on Thursday. The NGO is accused of being involved in anti-Pakistan activities.The officials and workers of the NGO have been ordered to leave the country within a fortnight. Assistant Commissioner Islamabad city, Kamran Cheema sent the written notice of interior ministry to the NGO.

Myanmar operation exposed: Indian soldiers' images proven fake

Dunya News

2y

NEW DELHI: (Dunya News) Indian claim to have done an operation inside Myanmars territory has on Thursday been proven false and all the images of the Indian soldiers have been proven fake as the Indian Defence Minister himself stated that no images of the operation had been released. Moreover, Myanmar government also denied the Indian claim, reported Dunya News.According to the details, Indian government and army had claimed to have conducted an operation against the insurgents inside Myanmar territory. Later, Modi government and leaders of the ruling party started to say that the operation was also a warning for Pakistan.However, the claim was forced to bite dust when the images of the operation shown by the Indian media were denied by the spokesperson of Indian Defence Ministry who said that no images of the operation had been released.A Clarification: MoD has NOT issued any photo relating to Indian Army action along Indo-Myanmar border in the North East, so far. Sitanshu Kar (@SpokespersonMoD) June 11, 2015 On the other hand, the hawks in the BJP government who had been claiming to have given a message to Pakistan through this operation were snubbed by the Indian army itself. Lieutenant General Subarta Saha said that the situation at the India-Myanmar border has no similarity with that of the Line of Control.Meanwhile, the Myanmar government has outright rejected the Indian claim, terming it a heap of lies. The presidential spokesperson said that India is lying. The operation was conducted inside the Indian territory, he said.Moreover, the opposition party Indian National Congress has also mocked the Modi governments claims. Congress leader Ajay Makeen said that the Indian army had not made any claims of having violated the Myanmar territory. Modi government uselessly boasting off, he added.

Catastrophe averted: 4 arrested for trying to board Thailand-bound flight carrying guns

Dunya News

2y

LAHORE (Dunya News) The Air Security Force (ASF) at Allama Iqbal International Airport arrested at least four men for trying to board Thailand-bound flight while carrying guns, preventing a possible attempt of hijacking.After recovering the weapons, the suspects were transferred to an undisclosed location and cases have been registered against all four men.Reportedly, the suspects wanted to board a Bangkok-bound Thai Airways flight at the midnight on June 9 but were intercepted right at the check post leading to the airports gate.All four suspects were carrying 9MM pistols. The possibly would-be hijackers hailed from a madrassa in Swat.They have been booked under Anti-Terrorism Act among other sections and the law enforcement has begun further investigation.

Sports

Neymar, Messi eye duel as Copa America kicks off

Dunya News

2y

Santiago (AFP) - A mouthwatering duel between Barcelona superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar is looming over the Copa America as the three-week football extravaganza starts in Chile on Thursday.One of the most eagerly anticipated tournaments in years starts in Santiago, with the hosts facing Ecuador in Group A at 8.30pm (2330 GMT) to launch their quest for a first ever Copa crown.A galaxy of Europe-based stars will be on show in Chile, including Argentina captain Messi and Brazil counterpart Neymar, Colombias James Rodriguez, Chiles Alexis Sanchez and Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani.Messi and Neymar arrive at the tournament less than a week after inspiring Spanish giants Barcelona to the Champions League triumph, the final act of a glittering treble-winning season.Both number 10s are carrying a heavy weight of expectation on their shoulders, with Messi determined to finally taste glory at a major international tournament and Neymar aiming to erase the memory of Brazils World Cup debacle.I feel Im in better shape arriving at this tournament than I was at the World Cup last year, Messi told reporters at Argentinas training camp.Messi and Argentina fell agonizingly short at the World Cup, suffering a 1-0 extra-time defeat to Germany in the final to extend a title drought which stretches back to the 1993 Copa America.Messi determinedMessi admitted that Argentinas richly talented squad -- which includes the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria -- were determined to end the Albicelestes long wait for a trophy.This generation is desperate to win a title with the national team, Messi said.Manchester City star Aguero was even more candid. If this generation of players dont win anything were going to regret it for the rest of our lives, the striker said.Argentina open their campaign against Paraguay on Saturday, and should progress from a Group B which also includes Uruguay and Jamaica, one of two teams from the CONCACAF region invited to bolster the tournament.Argentinas title drought pales into comparison with the fate of long-suffering Chile, still waiting for their first Copa America title after 99 years.Coach Jorge Sampaoli can call on a spine of world class players -- Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, Italy-based midfielders Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel, and Arsenal star Sanchez -- as the hosts try to break their duck.This is the time to accomplish great things, Sanchez said.Brazil resurgentBrazil and Neymar meanwhile begin their campaign against Peru in Group C on Sunday.Brazils biggest challenge of the first round comes three days later when they face Colombia on June 17, a rematch of the two sides bruising World Cup quarter-final last year.That stormy encounter was notable for a series of rugged Brazilian challenges on Colombia star James Rodriguez, although Brazils 2-1 win came at a price, with Neymar suffering a broken vertebra that ended his World Cup.Brazils World Cup dream was ultimately demolished by Germany in the next round, when the hosts were humiliated 7-1 in the semi-finals, before losing 3-0 to the Netherlands in an abject third place play-off display.Fast forward a year however and Brazil under the guidance of 1994 World Cup-winning captain Dunga are back on track, reeling off nine straight wins since the finals.One of Dungas first acts last year was to hand the captains armband to the Barcelona forward, and the 23-year-old has thrived on the added responsibility.It is not a surprise, but the statistics are there to show that when Neymar puts on the captains armband, he takes a step forward, Dunga said.

Dutch ready to beat Chinese numbers game

Dunya News

2y

EDMONTON (AFP) - Statistics might not be in their favour but forward Manon Melis has warned that Womens World Cup debutants the Netherlands can overturn the odds against them when they play China on Thursday.In ten games played between the two nations, the 12th-ranked Dutch have won just once.But Melis, 28, who is the daughter of former Feyenoord and ADO Den Haag player Harry Melis, says that is in the past.Its been a long time since weve played against them. You cant compare the past with the present, said 125-times capped Melis.Its now 2015, its a world championship and everyone has a chance.China, nicknamed the Steel Roses, were a world footballing power in the 1990s finishing second in the 1999 World Cup after winning silver at the 1996 Olympics.Coach Hao Wei blamed a lack of infrastructure compared to their rivals for the demise of the Chinese, who are now ranked 16thOur countries are different to the Netherlands. The Dutch team have good infrastructure this is a good advantage. Weve been together for less than five weeks, the coach said.China lost their opening Group A game 1-0 to Canada, while the Netherlands beat New Zealand by the same scoreline.In this game its a toss up 50-50, he predicted of the clash in Edmontons Commonwealth Stadium.We cant say for sure if its a life or death game until the last game. The last game will determine whether we progress or not, he added of their final group match which will be against New Zealand.But Chinese midfielder Wang Lisi said the contest would be critical.They are physically strong, but we have our ways of dealing with it, we will seek alternative means to get past them, she said.Dutch coach Roger Reijners said: The Chinese team is very young and talented, they have made a lot of progress.I think they have improved a lot, they are organised and have some good strikers. We have to expect a tough game.They are a typical Asian country -- well organised very capable technically, very, very dangerous to play against.

Football: Dutch ready to beat Chinese numbers game

Dunya News

2y

EDMONTON (AFP) - Statistics might not be in their favour but forward Manon Melis has warned that Womens World Cup debutants the Netherlands can overturn the odds against them when they play China on Thursday.In ten games played between the two nations, the 12th-ranked Dutch have won just once.But Melis, 28, who is the daughter of former Feyenoord and ADO Den Haag player Harry Melis, says that is in the past.Its been a long time since weve played against them. You cant compare the past with the present, said 125-times capped Melis.Its now 2015, its a world championship and everyone has a chance.China, nicknamed the Steel Roses, were a world footballing power in the 1990s finishing second in the 1999 World Cup after winning silver at the 1996 Olympics.Coach Hao Wei blamed a lack of infrastructure compared to their rivals for the demise of the Chinese, who are now ranked 16thOur countries are different to the Netherlands. The Dutch team have good infrastructure this is a good advantage. Weve been together for less than five weeks, the coach said.China lost their opening Group A game 1-0 to Canada, while the Netherlands beat New Zealand by the same scoreline.In this game its a toss up 50-50, he predicted of the clash in Edmontons Commonwealth Stadium.We cant say for sure if its a life or death game until the last game. The last game will determine whether we progress or not, he added of their final group match which will be against New Zealand.But Chinese midfielder Wang Lisi said the contest would be critical.They are physically strong, but we have our ways of dealing with it, we will seek alternative means to get past them, she said.Dutch coach Roger Reijners said: The Chinese team is very young and talented, they have made a lot of progress.I think they have improved a lot, they are organised and have some good strikers. We have to expect a tough game.They are a typical Asian country -- well organised very capable technically, very, very dangerous to play against.

Football: Bonucci leads Italy charge against sanctioned Croatia

Dunya News

2y

SPLIT (AFP) - Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci has called on his Juventus teammates to take the frustration of losing the Champions League final out on Croatia when they meet in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Friday.Juventuss dreams of being crowned kings of Europe for the first time since 1996 were kept in check by a rampant Barcelona who won 3-1 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin last Saturday.Now Bonucci, one of six Bianconeri players originally called up to Antonio Contes squad last week, hopes playing Croatia and then Portugal, whom they meet in a friendly next Tuesday, will help them ease the pain.Conte told me to just focus on Croatia, and thats what Im doing, said Bonucci. The next two games will give us a chance to quickly digest things, its exactly what we need right now.Italy head to the Croatian seaside town of Split looking to extend their impressive 45-game unbeaten record in European Championship and World Cup qualifiers.But going on recent form, player absences and their historical record against Croatia, Contes men face an uphill battle.Sassuolo striker Simone Zaza and Juventus defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are out for the Euro 2012 runners-up through injury and Conte could also be deprived of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (elbow) and midfielder Marco Verratti (calf).Croatia have suffered only one defeat to Italy in eight games, in 1942, and have since beaten the Azzurri three times and drawn four.The sides drew 1-1 in Milan in November and Conte admitted Croatia are a very strong side and showed that against us at the San Siro.Anything less than a draw on Friday could leave the Azzurri facing a long summer before the next qualifiers in September.Croatia can move five points clear at the top of Group H with a win and Italy are also only two points above third-placed Norway, who host Azerbaijan in Oslo this weekend.Behind closed doorsCroatia, however, face two potential obstacles.Due to violent clashes and rocket-throwing incidents at the San Siro in November, as well as incidents of a racist nature in their qualifier against Norway, UEFA have ordered Fridays fixture to be played behind closed doors.Given their long history of fan violence and consequent sanctions, an appeal by the Croatian football federation (HNS) to UEFA fell on deaf ears.HNS president Davor Suker admitted two months ago the next sanctions could be worse.We know what would be the next punishment -- revoking of points and being kicked out of competition, warned Suker, who spoke after a meeting of the HNS executive committee.Although Croatia will be without Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio said: Even without Modric theyre a complete team that have improved a lot in recent years.It will be a difficult game, but playing without their fans in a fiery atmosphere could help us.Given the absences from his squad, Conte, who led Juventus to three consecutive league titles before quitting to take charge of Italy, is considering other options to his trademark 3-5-2 formation.I have to find the best system to suit the players I have. The 3-5-2 is a good formation but we need to have alternatives for the future, he added.

Technology

Tim Cook received complaints on Apple's bag check policy

Dunya News

2y

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - At least two Apple Inc retail store workers complained directly to Chief Executive Tim Cook that the companys policy of checking retail employees bags as a security precaution was embarrassing and demeaning, according to a court filing made public on Wednesday.The employee complaints, which a judge ordered unsealed, are part of a 2013 lawsuit alleging Apple should compensate employees for the time it takes to conduct the searches. One worker, whose name was blacked out of the court filing, told Cook in a 2012 message that Apple managers are required to treat valued employees as criminals.Cook forwarded it to top retail and human resources executives with the query: Is this true?The court filing does not include what responses Cook received. An Apple representative could not immediately be reached for comment.In the lawsuit, plaintiffs Amanda Friekin and Dean Pelle alleged that screenings or bag searches, designed to discourage theft, are conducted every time sales reps leave the store, including for meal breaks. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeks class action status. Lawsuits from within Apples ranks are rare.A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last December, in a case involving an Amazon.com Inc warehouse contractor, handed a victory to employers, ruling that companies do not have to pay employees for the time they spend undergoing security checks at the end of their shifts. The Supreme Court found that because the screening process is not a principal activity of the workers jobs under a federal labor law it is not subject to compensation.In the 2012 email to Cook, with a subject line Fearless Feedback from Apple Retail Specialist, the employee said Apples policy implies the company does not trust its workers.These procedures are often performed in front of gawking customers, the employee wrote, adding that workers deserve to be treated with the same respect that Apple shows customers.Another email, sent by a retail worker in Beijing to Cook and other managers in 2013, said Apple treats its employees as animals and thieves. It also said an emergency exit in the store is blocked by Apple products.Cooks response to that email is not displayed in the court filing, though other Apple executives did discuss the bag search policy.If it is simply a deterrent there has to be a more intelligent and respectful way to approach, wrote Denise Young Smith, Apples vice president of human resources.A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for July 2.

Google launches company to tackle city life woes

Dunya News

2y

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Google on Wednesday unveiled a company devoted to making a thriving business out of solving big-city problems such as overpriced housing and traffic-snarled streets.Sidewalk Labs based in New York City was described as an urban innovation firm with a mission to develop technology that makes living and running big cities better.Sidewalk will focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage, chief executive Larry Page said in a post at the Internet titans Google social network.Sidewalk will be headed by Dan Doctoroff, a former chief executive of Bloomberg LP and New York city deputy mayor of economic development under then Mayor Michael Bloomberg.We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities, Doctoroff said in a release.We hope that Sidewalk will play a major role in developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world.While financial details were not disclosed, Page described Sidewalk as a relatively modest investment in building a business that is not only different from Googles core Internet operations but which could improve peoples lives.He put Sidewalk on par with Google (x) lab headed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and known for moonshots like self-driving cars.Making long-term, 10X bets like this is hard for most companies to do, but Sergey and I have always believed that its important, Page said in his Google post.And as more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving urban environments are endless.

Twitter looks at on-phone apps to target new pitches

Dunya News

2y

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Twitter on Wednesday launched a tool that takes into account what apps are on a smartphone or tablet when targeting pitches for other mini-programs people might want.Installed app category targeting lets advertisers aim marketing messages at people based on what applications they already have, according to the popular one-to-many messaging service based in San Francisco.One of the biggest priorities for mobile app marketers is to reach the people who are most likely to use and love their apps, Twitter product manager Deepak Rao said in a blog post.With installed app category targeting, you can identify new audiences of high-quality users to target within your existing app category and in related app categories.The new tool can be combined with other ad-targeting approaches such as using keywords, languages or locations.Twitter also said it will make available analysis and reporting regarding installed app category targeting to help marketers better orchestrate ad campaigns.The social network late last year introduce the capability to note what apps are installed on smartphones or tablets, saying the information would help personalize Twitter feeds, promoted content, and recommendations regarding accounts to follow.Twitter did not rule out using the information for advertising and said that it gathered no data from inside applications.Twitter has been working to ramp up revenue and win more users amid investors worries about its profitability and ability to grow.

Ebola spikes again in Guinea, Sierra Leone: WHO

Dunya News

2y

GENEVA (AFP) - The number of Ebola cases has risen in Guinea and Sierra Leone for the second consecutive week, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.In Guinea, 16 new cases were found in the week ending June 7, with 15 more found in neighbouring Sierra Leone.In the previous week, 13 new cases had been found in Guinea, a clear increase on the nine reported a week before that.The pattern was similar in Sierra Leone, where 12 new cases were found in the last week of May compared to only three the previous week.This is the second consecutive weekly increase in case incidence, the WHO said.Ebola has killed 11,158 of the 27,237 people infected, the WHO said in its latest situation report.The number of health workers affected in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia has risen to 869, of whom 507 have died, since the current epidemic broke out in west Africa in December 2013Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May, but hopes that Sierra Leone and Guinea would quickly follow suit have been dashed in recent weeks.The global health agency also voiced concern that the areas affected in Guinea have increased.In the week leading up to June 7, two new cases were confirmed in Guineas capital Conakry, which had been Ebola-free during the three previous weeks.The virus also reappeared in the western Guinean region of Kindia, with three new cases identified there.

Weird

Student changes name to Adam West because it's cheaper than changing Ryanair flight booking

Dunya News

2y

MANCHESTER (Reuters) --We all know that booking a flight is aconstant tactical battle with airlines but no passenger has won (or lost?) the booking war as heroically as 19-year-old Adam Armstrong. The student from Manchester, England, changed his name to Adam West because it was cheaper than changing his Ryanair flight booking.The airline wanted to charge him 337 to change a mistake on his ticket. He told The Sun that his stepfather accidentally booked him as Adam West, because thats what he called himself on his Facebook page.Her stepdad got my name from Facebook but I had put it as Adam West as a joke, because he was the actor who played Batman on TV, West said.Ryanair is known for its cheap flights but ample fees for any changes or services. It charges 69 to check in at the airport, for example. The airline wanted to charge West twice for his change because he and his girlfriend were both on the booking.Instead of giving in, the teen went rogue. He changed his name (for free) and will fly to Ibiza as Adam West next week, the Daily Mail reports. The Guardian reports that he did have to pay about 157 to change his passport, however.Ryanair released a statement to explain that the rule was in place to deter scammers:Customers are asked to ensure that the details they enter at the time of booking are correct before completing their booking and we offer a 24 hour grace period to correct minor booking errors. A name change fee is charged in order to discourage and prevent unauthorized online travel agents from screenscraping Ryanairs cheapest fares and reselling them on to unwitting consumers at hugely inflated costs.

Thousands Lose Power In San Francisco Due To Squirrel

Dunya News

2y

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A squirrel knocked out power for some 45,000 energy customers in the San Francisco Bay area on Monday, according to officials and the local Contra Costa Times newspaper.Pacific Gas and Electric Company said on its Twitter account that service had been restored for virtually all those affected by the outage about 10:15 p.m. local time, but it did not provide a cause for the disruption.PGE spokesman J.D. Guidi told the Contra Costa Times that power was down in cities east of San Francisco, including Berkeley and Oakland, on Monday night after a squirrel impacted equipment at the El Cerrito substation. He gave no detailsThe downtown Berkeley station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system was closed for several hours on Monday due to the outage, the agency said on its Twitter account.Cities to the south, including San Jose, also suffered outages on Monday that Guidi said were caused by equipment failures due to triple-digit temperatures.

German woman, 102, gets doctorate 77 yrs after Nazis blocked her

Dunya News

2y

HAMBURG (AFP) - A 102 year-old woman received her doctorate from a German university Tuesday -- nearly 80 years after the Nazis prevented her sitting the final exam to officially obtain it. Pediatric expert Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport was presented with her Ph.D. title by Hamburgs UKE University Medical Center despite having completed her thesis on diphtheria by 1938.She had studied medicine in the northern port city and worked at its Israelite Hospital from 1937 to 1938 when she wrote her doctoral dissertation, the UKE said.By then Hitlers regime had imposed racially motivated legal restrictions which barred her from being allowed to sit her oral exam and obtain her title because of her Jewish descent.Her mother, Maria Syllm, a pianist, was Jewish.It was about the principle, not about me, Syllm-Rapoport said in an interview published online with Germanys Tagesspiegel daily last month.The Berlin resident said the university had shown great patience for which she was grateful.To prepare for the belated exam, friends googled developments in diphtheria over the last eight decades for her, she added. Her professor in 1938 had issued a certificate stating he would have passed her thesis at the time if it had been legally possible to do so, she said.Syllm-Rapoport finally successfully sat her oral test in May, the Hamburg university said in a statement, adding she was probably the oldest person in the world to receive a doctorate. Burkhard Goeke, the UKEs medical director and chairman, said they were gratified at being able to restore a piece of justice. We cant make the injustice that occurred undone, but our insights into the past shape our perspectives for the future, he said in a statement.The hospital said the dean of its medical faculty, Uwe Koch-Gromus, had found out about Syllm-Rapoports case on her 100th birthday and started looking into it.He described her after her exam as simply brilliant.We were impressed by her intellectual alertness and speechless over her expert knowledge, even in the area of modern medicine, he said in the statement.Syllm-Rapoport emigrated to the United States in 1938 where she met her husband and continued her career in pediatrics, the UKE said.Without her official Ph.D, she faced a further two years of studying in Philadelphia.The couple, who had four children, moved back to Germany in the early 1950s, settling in then communist East Berlin, it said.In 1969, Syllm-Rapoport assumed the first neonatology professorship in Germany based at Berlins now prestigious Charite university hospital.

Graduation cheers land several people in Mississippi in trouble

Dunya News

2y

MISSISSIPPI (Reuters) - A Mississippi school superintendent has pressed charges of disturbing the peace against several people who cheered during a recent high school graduation despite being asked to hold their celebrating until the end.Jay Foster, superintendent for the Senatobia Municipal School District, said he told spectators at the Senatobia High School graduation last month not to applaud for family members until all graduates names had been called in order to keep the ceremony dignified.We didnt tell them they couldnt cheer. We just asked them to wait until the end so everyone has an opportunity to hear their graduates name, he said on Wednesday.Four people did not comply and were asked to leave, Foster said. The superintendent later went to the police to pursue charges against the three people he has been able to identify so far.I want them to know there are consequences for their behavior, he said.Ursula Miller is among those facing charges after she shouted out for her niece who was graduating, she said. She and the others are expected to appear in court on Tuesday.I can understand they can escort me out of the graduation but to say they are going to put me in jail for it, Miller said in an interview with the WREG television station. What else are they allowed to do?

World

Spain passes citizenship plan for ancestors of Jews expelled in 1492

Dunya News

2y

MADRID (AFP) - Spains lower house of parliament approved Thursday a law that eases the path to citizenship for descendants of Jews who were forced to flee the country five centuries ago during the Inquisition.The measure aims to correct what Spains conservative government calls the historic mistake of sending Jews into exile in 1492, forcing them to convert to Catholicism or burning them at the stake.This law says much about who we were in the past and who we are today and what we want to be in the future, an open, diverse and tolerant Spain, Justice Minister Rafael Catala said before it was approved.The law -- which comes into force in October -- grants dual citizenship rights for Jews with Spanish ancestry, who are known as Sephardic Jews.Under the previous 1924 law the government had discretionary powers to award Sephardic Jews nationality but candidates had give up their previous citizenship and they had to be residents of Spain.The new law gives Sephardic Jews the same dual citizenship privilege Spain currently grants only to people from its former colonies and neighbouring Portugal and Andorra.The law had the backing of Spains two main parties and it comfortably cleared its final reading.The Spanish government estimates that about 90,000 people will apply for citizenship, although officials admit there is no precise way of knowing how many descendants meet the criteria.This is a historic day, an important day, an emotional day, said the president of the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities, Isaac Querub, whose ancestors took refuge in North Africa after they were expelled from Spain.Kelly Benoudis Basilio, 70, a retired French literature professor who lives in Lisbon, is already preparing to apply for Spanish citizenship even though she has no plans to live in Spain.For emotional reasons it is very important, said Basilio, a descendant of Jews expelled from Spain who was born in Ksar el-Kebir in northwestern Morocco and has Portuguese citizenship through marriage.She said she learned to sing lullabies in haketia, one of several Jewish languages that is rooted in Spanish, as a child in Morocco.Tradition and memory are very important in Jewish culture, said Basilio.- Bureaucratic hell -Applicants do not have to be practising Jews but they must have their Jewish heritage vetted by the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities or by rabbis where they live.They will also have to pass tests on Spanish language, culture, prove they have a special connection to Spain and travel to the country at their own expense to apply.The law will expire after three years although it could be extended by another year if deemed necessary.While Jewish groups have welcomed the move, some Jewish leaders have complained that the requirements are too burdensome.Leon Amiras, who heads an association of immigrants to Israel from Latin countries, said the length of the process and costs involved will deter most Sephardic Jews from applying.They will have to go through a Via Crucis, a bureaucratic hell, they will say they dont want it. I am disappointed with the law, he told AFP.During the debate in parliament Gabriel Elorriaga, a lawmaker for the ruling Popular Party, said the law needed to be precise to correctly identify the descendents of Jews who were expelled.Though estimates vary, historians believe at least 200,000 Jews lived in Spain before the Catholic monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand ordered them to convert to the Catholic faith or leave the country.Many found refuge in the Ottoman Empire, the Balkans, North Africa and Latin America.They risked the death penalty if they returned to Spain.Up to 3.5 million people around the world are thought to have Sephardic -- Hebrew for Spanish -- Jewish ancestry.The citizenship law is the latest step in Spains modern efforts to atone for its past harsh treatment of Jews.In 1992 Spains former King Juan Carlos visited a Madrid synagogue to recognise injustices of the past.

Three astronauts land in Kazakhstan after delayed return from ISS

Dunya News

2y

MOSCOW (AFP) - Two Western astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut landed in Kazakhstan on Thursday, safely returning to Earth after their flight back home was delayed for a month by a Russian rocket failure.Both Russian mission control and NASA showed a capsule carrying Russian Anton Shkaplerov, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts of the United States landing on schedule in the steppes of Kazakhstan.The trio appeared in good health as they emerged out of the capsule with the help of officials, giving them thumbs up and smiling under a setting sun.It was a textbook homecoming, a NASA commentator said.A spokesman for the Russian mission control said that the Soyuz descent module landed southeast of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan, after detaching from the ISS more than three hours earlier.Everything is fine, everything is okay, he told AFP.Soyuz commander Shkaplerov expressed hope that joint work would continue in the future.All eyes were trained on the flight back home for the three astronauts after Russia was in May forced to delay their return, as well as the departure of their replacements, after a supply ship crashed back to Earth following a rocket failure.The trio ended up spending nearly 200 days on the station, with Cristoforetti, 38, breaking the record for the longest single stay by a woman in space.The next manned mission to the ISS is due to blast off between July 23 and 25, launching from Kazakhstan with astronauts from Russia, Japan and the US.NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Russian Oleg Kononenko and Japans Kimiya Yui will join Russias Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly of NASA who are continuing research and maintenance aboard the station.Russias space programme was hit by two failures within weeks in May, with the Progress crash followed by the failure of a Proton rocket carrying a Mexican satellite.

Egypt fears for tourism after foiled 'massacre' in Luxor

Dunya News

2y

LUXOR (AFP) - A foiled attack on one of Egypts most popular ancient attractions was raising fears Thursday for tourism and foreign investment as the country tries to recover from years of political and economic chaos.Bombings and militant attacks have been common since the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, targeting security forces in retaliation for bloody repression of the Islamists supporters.But experts believe jihadists have decided to target the Achilles heel of tourism and investments in order to weaken the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to fix the battered economy.Luxor has no source of revenue other than tourism. Tourists running away means the people cannot lead a decent life, said archaeology expert Handaka Ali.On Wednesday, assailants widely believed to be jihadists tried to carry out an attack at the Karnak temple, an ancient complex in the southern city of Luxor.One of them killed himself by setting off the explosive vest he was wearing, while police killed an accomplice and seriously wounded the other.Whatever the assailants intentions, their attempted attack seems to have scared people off.On Thursday there were more police than tourists in the streets of Luxor, particularly outside the many Pharaonic sites.Only seven coaches and three minibuses were seen parked mid-morning around the ancient temple.About 200 tourists strolled inside the temple itself, about 50 metres (yards) from the scene of Wednesdays foiled attack, but were far outnumbered by police around the site.The attacks will of course affect us... our only source of revenue is tourism. No tourists means no money, which will be catastrophic, said Nasser Ahmed, a shopkeeper at a bazaar near Karnak.Police said there had been about 600 tourists inside the temple when the assailants struck.For sure, there are fewer tourists than yesterday. Organised trips coming from the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada were cancelled, Salah al-Masekh, director of excavations at Karnak, told AFP.June is low season for tourism in Upper Egypt, which is usually sweltering in suffocating heat during the summer.- Tourism was picking up -Tourism has never fully recovered after being hard hit by the turmoil that led to the unseating in 2011 of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.However, visitors started to return last autumn and winter in slightly higher numbers than previous years.Even so, only 9.9 million people visited Egypt last year, compared with more than 14 million in 2010.Most of them headed for Red Sea resorts, rather than taking in the ancient jewels to be found in Cairo and Upper Egypt.In February, Trade and Industry Minister Munir Fakhry Abdel Nur had spoken of a vision of attracting as many as 25 million tourists and generating revenues of 20 billion (18 billion euros) each year.But that was seen taking take place once security is reestablished in the country, he said.On Wednesday night, Sisi met Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Interior Minister General Magdi Abdel Ghaffar and stressed the need to intensify the security presence in vital areas, including archaeological sites.Authorities have beefed up security at Luxor, especially outside its archaeological sites, with special forces patrolling every monument.A police general had said the authorities prevented a massacre at Karnak, because the three assailants were armed with explosives, machineguns and 19 fully loaded magazines.But on Thursday, a new version emerged of what happened, which contradicted police claims they had averted the attack by preventing the assailants from entering the site.The Luxor prosecutor in charge of the investigation, citing witnesses, told AFP they had entered the parking lot unhindered and were sitting at a cafe, apparently readying an attack, when their taxi driver warned police.They pretended to be tourists and entered the parking lot of the temple without any proper security check, Wael Abu Deif said.Two men left the taxi and joined a third accomplice at a sidewalk cafe, waiting for a large group of tourists to attack, he said.Their suspicious taxi driver then reported them to a policeman, who went to the cafe and asked to search the bags they had. Then one blew himself up and the gunfight started, the prosecutor added.No tourists were hurt, but two policemen and two civilians were wounded in the shootout.Interior Minister Abdel Ghaffar inspected on Thursday the site of the attack and was seen yelling at top security officials. A day earlier Sisi had praised the police for their vigilance.

Kurds advance towards IS-held Syria border town: monitor

Dunya News

2y

BEIRUT (AFP) - Syrian Kurdish fighters advanced towards the Islamic State group-held town of Tal Abyad on the Turkish border on Thursday, backed by US-led coalition strikes, a monitor said.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) forces backed by Arab rebel fighters stormed the town of Suluk and took control of the eastern part of it.Fierce clashes continued through the day between IS and Kurdish forces.Suluk, in the IS bastion province of Raqa in northern Syria, lies to the east of Tal Abyad, a key border town that is controlled by the jihadist group.The town is a key target for the Kurds who want to free up the route between Kobane to the west and Qamishli, further east along the Turkish border.With their advance into Suluk, YPG forces are now some 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Tal Abyad, and they are also positioned around 10 kilometres to the west.The Kurds plan to lay siege to Tal Abyad, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.The YPG has been backed by US-led air strikes targeting IS positions in the area, he added.The latest fighting in the area has prompted a wave of several thousand people to flee into neighbouring Turkey, which is already hosting 1.8 million Syrians.Nearly 9,000 refugees have entered Turkey since last week, a Turkish official said on Wednesday.