South African cricketer AB de Villiers announces international retirement

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

On Wednesday, South African cricketer AB de Villiers announced his retirement from international cricket. The 34-year-old batsman uploaded a video message on Twitter saying it was a “tough decision” and he was “tired”.

De Villiers joined the national team, the Proteas, in 2004, featuring in a test match against England. Since then, the South African talisman has featured in 114 test matches for the Proteas, scoring 8765 runs. He has 22 test centuries to his name, the most recent one coming against Australia in March. South Africa went on to win the test series 3–0.

De Villiers’ batting average is above 50 in both test matches and One Day International (ODI) matches. De Villiers has featured in 228 ODI and 78 Twenty20 (T20) matches as well scoring 9577 and 1672 runs in ODIs and T20s respectively.

In a match against the West Indies at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on January 18, 2015, De Villiers scored 149 runs from 44 balls. In that match, De Villiers scored the fastest half-century in ODIs, reaching 50 runs from seventeen balls, as well as the fastest century in ODIs, with 100 runs from 31 balls.

Chris Nenzani, the President of Cricket South Africa, said, “AB is one of the all-time greats of South African cricket who has thrilled spectators around the world”.

De Villiers announced his retirement four days after he finished his Indian Premier League season with Royal Challengers Bangalore. In the video statement, De Villiers said, “I have no plans to play overseas, in fact, I hope I can continue to be available for the Titans in domestic cricket.”

China’s consumer prices rise to a three-year high in June as food prices soar 14.4 percent

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Monday, July 11, 2011

China’s National Bureau of Statistics released data Saturday showing that the consumer price index (CPI) for June climbed 6.4% from a year ago. That compares with a 5.5% rise in May, which was the largest since a 6.3% increase in July 2008. The major factor contributing to this figure was the steep rise in food prices which climbed 14.4%. Pork is a major food staple in China, and its price rose 65% from last year.

Analysts predicted that China’s inflation would peak in June, but particularly worrisome was the steep rise in the cost of food from the same time last year and up from 11.7% in May, indicating that Beijing may have difficulty in controlling inflation.

We must treat stabilising overall price levels as the top priority … and keep the direction of macro-economic adjustments unchanged.

China is the world’s second largest economy, having grown robustly in the last two years driven by a 2009 governmental stimulus package of $586 billion and low interest rates offered by state-owned banks. These were directed at promoting investments in real estate construction and government infrastructure projects, enabling China to lead the global recovery after the collapse of the U.S. mortgage market led to a worldwide recession.

Now Beijing is attempting to slow its fast pace of growth, fearful of inflation, by restricting bank lending and raising interest rates. High inflation along with high property values could hurt the economy. Since October, China’s Central Bank has raised interest rates five times.

Many factors are contributing to China’s inflation, including higher wages for migrant workers, increases in the prices of food and gasoline, as well as diminished output from crucial agricultural areas cause by droughts and flooding this spring.

Today, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao indicated that the war on inflation was continuing and controlling inflation was a top priority for the government, increasing expectations that interest rates would be further increased.

If they signal any comfort with inflation, and inflation is as high as it is now, they could create an environment in which people would panic, and they can have a real problem on their hands.

“We must treat stabilising overall price levels as the top priority of our macro-economic controls and keep the direction of macro-economic adjustments unchanged,” Wen said today in comments reported on the central government’s website. He had said in March that the ruling Communist Party is worried that a continuing rise in food prices could result in public protests.

Wen said the government would boost the supply of hogs to keep the price of pork stable, the price of pork being the major contributor to China’s food inflation index and the most closely watched item on it.

“If they signal any comfort with inflation, and inflation is as high as it is now, they could create an environment in which people would panic, and they can have a real problem on their hands,” said Tim Condon, Asian researcher at ING.

As markets worried about the news of Chinese inflation as well as concerns about the European debt crisis, oil dropped below US$95 a barrel today.

Tributes paid to the victims of the July 7 2005 London bombings

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A permanent memorial for the victims of the July 7, 2005 London bombings has been unveiled in Hyde Park, London, England. Today is the fourth anniversary of the bombings, when 52 people were killed by suicide bombers on board three Underground trains and a bus.

52 stainless steel columns standing 3.5m (11.5ft) tall were inaugurated in the presence of Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Bowles, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Minister for London, Tessa Jowell.

Each column represented “a unique person and a unique grief” according to the Minister for London.

Jowell continued, “Each one casts a shadow just as they do – each one standing tall and proud just as they did, and each one will in an individual way absorb and reflect light just as they did.”

A 1.4 tonne stainless steel plaque with the names of the people killed was also unveiled.

Prince Charles laid a wreath on behalf of the nation. The Duchess of Cornwall left a floral tribute for the families of the victims.

The families themselves laid roses and then met the prince and the duchess.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to release “Memoirs: 1939-1993”

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

On Sunday Memoirs: 1939-1993 a memoir written by former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney will be released. The 1,152 page tome outlines Mulroney’s version of events during his time as prime minister.

CTV will broadcast a documentary on Brian Mulroney on the eve of his book launch. In addition, the network plans to air Triumph & Treachery: The Brian Mulroney Story on Sunday, CTV says the 90-minute special will be the most complete interview the former prime minister has ever given and his first comprehensive interview since leaving office in 1993.The Quebec French language TVA network will air a similar documentary exclusively in French later that night.

Mulroney allocates a fair amount of text commenting on his antogonist the late and former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Mulroney believes that Trudeau lacked the moral fibre to be Prime Minister for not serving in the Canadian Forces during World War II.

Pierre Trudeau was not among them. That’s a decision he made. He’s entitled to make that kind of decision. But it doesn’t qualify him for any position of moral leadership in our society.

Mulroney insinuates that the young Trudeau had anti-Semitic beliefs at that time , “This is a man who questioned the Allies when the Jews were being sacrificed and when the great extermination program was on, he was marching around Outremont, Quebec on the other side of the issue.”

Mulroney also blames Trudeau for scuttling the Meech Lake Accord, the 1990 pact aimed at securing Quebec‘s signature on the Constitution of Canada.

The current Prime Minister Stephen Harper supported Mulroney’s right to comment on Trudeau, “I think it’s well known Mr. Mulroney was an opponent of Mr. Trudeau,” Harper said. “He was his opposition leader and, as you know, came to power at the end of the Trudeau period when people wanted to make a change. I’ll leave it to people who were there then to fight those battles. I think it’s perfectly reasonable that they would comment. I think these are debates that are best left to some of the people who were around then and academics.”

Trudeau’s former piers and friends have rallied behind his legacy and made public comments to dampen Mulroney’s accusations.

Stephane Dion responded to Mulroney critiques with a five paragraph statement posted on the Liberal Party website, “It is regrettable that, after attending prime minister Trudeau’s state funeral and praising him as ‘an exceptional individual who served his country effectively and well … a gallant political warrior who loved his country,’ Mr. Mulroney would seem to be at such odds with his own views.”

Tom Axworthy‘s, response to Mulroney was that Trudeau should be judged by his actions once his values matured and he entered public life, not by “ridiculous” thoughts he entertained briefly in his teens and early twenties.

John R. English stated, Trudeau’s youthful views must be put in the context of the times, when most Quebecers were so virulently anti-British and opposed to what they saw as a British war that they were blinded to the evils of Hitler’s Nazism.

Annan invites Iraqis to exercise democratic rights

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Saturday, January 29, 2005With just days to go before Sunday’s historic poll to choose a new government in Iraq, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has invited the people of Iraq to exercise their democratic rights.

The poll, the first free elections in a generation, faces disruption from insurgents who are totally opposed to democracy. Annan warned them not to interfere and promised continuing help from the UN for the country in the future.

Annan made his appeal in a pre-recorded message, broadcast on TV inside Iraq. “Elections are the best way to determine any country’s future; please exercise your democratic rights on Sunday,” he said. “Whatever your feelings about how the country reached this point, this election offers an opportunity to move away from violence and uncertainty toward peace and representative government.”

The UN has been providing advice and technical help to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), as well as $100m funding for the poll and co-ordination of international assistance. A team of 40 experts has overseen the delivery of three million tonnes of election materials and helped the IECI and Iraqi officials prepare and maintain the voters register.

Experts: obesity is a bigger threat than AIDS or bird flu

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Friday, September 8, 2006

From September 3 to 8, experts gathered at the 10th International Congress on Obesity in Sydney, Australia, to discuss what they call the worldwide “obesity epidemic”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 billion people in the world today are overweight, and 300 million of those are obese. “Obesity and overweight pose a major risk for serious diet-related chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer“, a WHO fact sheet states. According to AP, experts at the conference “have warned that obesity is a bigger threat than AIDS or bird flu, and will easily overwhelm the world’s health care systems if urgent action is not taken”.

Of particular concern is the large number of overweight children. Dr. Stephan Rossner from Sweden’s Karolinska University Hospital, a leading obesity expert who was present at the conference, has warned that as a result of the increasing number of overweight children, “we will have, within a decade or two, a number of young people who are on kidney dialysis. There will not be organs for everybody”. UK-based International Obesity Task Force has said that junk food manufacturers target children, for example, through Internet advertising, chat rooms, text messages, and “advergames” on websites. Politicians are not doing enough to address the problem of obesity, including childhood obesity, the experts said.

According to Wikipedia, examples of junk food include, but are not limited to: hamburgers, pizza, candy, soda, and salty foods like potato chips and french fries. A well-known piece of junk food is the Big Mac. The US version of just one Big Mac burger contains 48% of calories from fat, 47% US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of fat, 52% RDA of saturated fat, 26% RDA of cholesterol, 42% RDA of sodium, and little nutritional value. It also has 18% of calories from protein. According to WHO, most people need only about 5% calories from protein. Staples such as rice, corn, baked potatoes, pinto beans, as well as fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, oranges, and strawberries, provide more than this required amount of protein without the unhealthy amounts of fats or sodium, without cholesterol, and with plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Both WHO and the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define overweight in adults as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or above, and obese as a BMI of 30 or above. To combat overweight and obesity, WHO recommends that, among other things, people should be taking the following steps

  • eating more fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts and whole grains;
  • engaging in daily moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes;
  • cutting the amount of fatty, sugary foods in the diet;
  • moving from saturated animal-based fats to unsaturated vegetable-oil based fats.

Social Security Trust Fund Crisis Is A Myth

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Recently, the Social Security and Medicare Trustees presented their annual report at the Treasury Department in Washington which offered forecasts for the health of the government’s two largest benefits programs, including Social Security and Medicare. In that conference, it was noted that Social Security is laboring under the weight of retiring baby boomers and revenue shortfalls.

Social Security is split into two funds — one for retirement and survivor benefits, and one for disability. Some analysts suggest that the retirement fund is projected to run out of money in 2035 while the disability fund is projected to run dry in 2016. Combined, the two funds will last until 2033.

It should be noted that the rise in Social Security claims has been anticipated for years, would meet the current and future demands of the Disability Trust Fund.

In addition, the Trustees project that Social Security benefits will increase next year, though the increase could be small. They project a cost-of-living-adjustment, or COLA, of 1.8 percent for 2013; the actual amount won’t be known until percent increase this year, the first after two years without one.

The reality is that Social Security’s retirement and disability programs currently have funds sufficient to cover benefits for the next 20 years and our government is quite functional in the operation of these programs. Millions of people regularly receive the benefits they’ve been promised through systems and processes that have very modest administrative costs.

The Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds’ annual report on the financial status of these entitlement programs noted that Social Security is 100% solvent until 2033, and until that point, Congress has an opportunity to take action to supplement the reserves. These annual reports have been published for decades, and are generally recognized as the most credible, unbiased, and objective assessment of the financial health of these programs.

Pundants and observers have offered many likely remedies, should there be any sort of anticipated shortfall including the possibility of simply abolishing the current trust fund model, and paying for promised benefits by allocating appropriate government budgetary funds . Just as the government finances other promised benefits, like pensions and healthcare for retired government workers and military retirees, the government could also budget for social security disability benefits.

Radja Nainggolan announces international retirement after being left out of Belgian football world cup squad

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

On Monday, Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan announced his retirement from international football after he was left out of the national team squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup upcoming in June.

Radja Nainggolan, who plays for Italian club AS Roma, posted on Twitter saying, “Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end…I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country[…] Being yourself can be bothering …From this day on I will be the first fan” ((nl))Dutch language: ?Met veel pijn in het hart maak ik een einde aan men internationale carriere… ik heb er altijd alles aangedaan om er bij te zijn en belgie te vertegenwoordigen[…] spijtig genoeg is ECHT zijn niet goed voor SOMMIGE… En vanaf vandaag zal ik de eerste supporter zijn.

Nainggolan announced his decision soon after Roberto Martinez, Belgium team manager, shortlisted 28 players for the Russia World Cup. Martinez travelled to Rome to inform Nainggolan about his decision before announcing the shortlisted players. Nainggolan, who turned 30 earlier this month, scored two goals for AS Roma against English club Liverpool FC in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final. In 2017, Roma club supporters voted Nainggolan the club’s Player of the Season.

Explaining his decision to leave out Nainggolan, manager Martinez said, “It was a sad and difficult decision. He is a player with a lot of class and he was voted Roma’s best player, but I’ve made my decision for purely tactical reasons.” The Spaniard added, “We know that Radja has a very important role in his club and we cannot give him that role in our squad”.

Martinez is to finalise and submit a 23-man squad for the World Cup tournament on June 4, after his team plays against Portugal in a friendly scheduled for June 2 in the Belgian capital Brussels. After Nainggolan was left out of the squad, former Belgian international Philippe Albert said, “We must be the only country in the world to be making the trip without one of the best players in the world”.

Belgium is in Group G for the World Cup, along with England, Panama, and Tunisia. Belgium is currently world number three in the FIFA rankings.

Supreme Court of India begins hearing against triple talaq

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Friday, May 12, 2017

The Indian Supreme Court yesterday formally began a hearing against triple talaq, an Islamic rule which allows men to divorce their wives instantly without the need of a judicial hearing. Activists and Muslim women have filed many petitions against Islamic practices — triple talaq, nikah halala, and polygamy — saying they are unconstitutional and demanding gender equality.

We will also examine whether triple talaq is a part of enforceable fundamental right

A bench of five justices — Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, and Justice S Abdul Nazeer, belonging to five different religions — Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Islam — are to hear the case for gender equality. However, there are no women on the panel.

Talaq allows a husband to effect a divorce solely by saying talaq thrice. Muslim women who are against this law say it ruins their lives and is against gender equality.

Talaq is an Arabic word which translates to repudiation or divorce. It is a right limited to the Muslim men, to divorce their wives simply by saying talaq thrice. The announcement must be clear and unambiguous but it does not require a judicial hearing. There is a waiting time of three months – or, precisely, three menstrual cycles; called Iddah — in which the husband can change his decision. Once the divorce is final, it is the responsibility of the husband to pay his wife a certain sum, known as Mahr. Mahr is declared at the time of marriage, and the husband only need pay it if Mahr was not paid before. The husband does have some continuing financial obligations to his ex-wife during Iddah and if she is pregnant, the husband must look after her until the child is born.

You are doing politics over Muslim issues

In order to reconcile with her husband after the end of Iddah, the divorced wife needs to marry another man, have sex with him, and divorce him to marry her former husband.

The hearing allows each side two days to place their arguments and a day for rebuttal. The hearing is to finish by May 19. The court said, “We will also examine whether triple talaq is a part of enforceable fundamental right”. A hearing on October 16, 2015 asked for separate filing for talaq, nikah halala, and polygamy. According to the government, these religious practices were not shielded by Article 15 (1) of the Indian constitution, which guarantees the freedom to practice any religion and those practices violate the right to equality. It states, “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”. Last month, Allahabad’s High Court, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, said the triple talaq law was unilateral.

I have divorced him. If a man can divorce his wife that way, why can’t a woman? Don’t I have the same right? Am I less human than he is?

According to opponents of this law, husbands discarding their marriage with their wives in a moment by repeating the word often leaves their spouses helpless and eventually destitute. But according to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, this hearing is unjustified. In an affidavit filed in September, they said, “If there develops serious discord between the couple, and the husband does not at all want to live with her, legal compulsions of time-consuming separation proceedings and expenses may deter him from taking the legal course. In such instances, he may resort to illegal, criminal ways of murdering or burning her alive.” Though there exists a rule about blood money under Shari’a law Qisas and Diya, honour killing which was cultural tradition in India is now illegal, and punishable by death. A 2011 hearing in the Supreme Court labelled it a “slur on the nation” and said there is “nothing honourable about honour killings.”

The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application act of 1937 says the state would not interfere in matters of personal dispute. Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, president of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, said this issue should be addressed outside the courts, preferably by Islamic scholars. Citing the instance of the Babri masjid dispute, of building a mosque on the Hindu shrines by Mughal ruler Babur in the city of Ayodhaya, considered as the birthplace of Hindu god Ram, Madani said, “If the Supreme Court can say that the issue of Babri Masjid should be resolved outside the court, why not this issue be solved by the ulemas?” He added, “You are doing politics over Muslim issues”.

25-year-old Muslim woman Amreen Begum had filed a police complaint in Meerut against her husband for domestic violence. She, in front of the police station, shouted talaq thrice to divorce her husband. She said, “I have divorced him. If a man can divorce his wife that way, why can’t a woman? Don’t I have the same right? Am I less human than he is?” She added, “I want the supreme court to free Muslim women for ever from the fear of triple talaq.”

Countries like Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, Pakistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia have already abolished this law.

Beef is banned in various Indian states including Maharashtra. The cow is considered sacred for Hindus. Questioning the secularism of India, the president of Indian Islamic organisation All India Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin, Asaduddin Owaisi, said in October, “If you really believe in secularism […] why did you Modi [the Indian Prime Minister] impose beef ban in Maharashtra and why does your government want to construct a museum in the name of Ram in Ayodhya? Then why do you say state has no religion and the country has no religion?” In October, Owasi called the the Union government’s affidavit against triple talaq a joke. He added, “If you really want to help Muslim women, please help Zakia Jafri whose husband (former Congress lawmaker) Ehsan Jafri was killed in front of her eyes, cut into pieces and set on fire. She is waiting for justice”.

In May, Indian industrialist Adi Godrej said beef ban was affecting the Indian economy and he added, “There is nothing against beef in our [Hindu] religion. It is a practice that evolved over years of drought, and the elders said don’t slaughter cows, preserve them for milk for children. That has turned into a religious belief. This is ridiculous. Vedic Indians were beef-eaters.”

The “sati pratha” — a Hindu custom which violated equality rights of women, in which the wife immolates herself on her deceased husband’s pyre — was banned in India in the nineteenth century after activists like Raja Ram Mohan Roy fought against it, and later the Sati prevention Act in 1987 made aiding sati a criminal offense.

I want the supreme court to free Muslim women for ever from the fear of triple talaq.—Amreen Begam

Prison officers’ strike ends in England and Wales

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Prison officers in England and Wales are on strike today as part of a continuing dispute over pay rates with employers, the Ministry of Justice.

The Prison Officers’ Association (POA) announced the strike, the first in its history, at 0600 (BST) on the morning of the 29th of August, just an hour before it was due to start. As the morning progressed, officers at most public prisons across the two countries locked prisoners in their cells (a “lockdown”) and walked out, aiming to remain on strike until 0700 on the 30th.

The strike has been condemned by the Ministry of Justice, as a breach of the Industrial Relations Act, with Justice Secretary Jack Straw calling it “deeply regrettable and wholly unjustifiable”. Immediately following the announcement of the action, the Ministry commenced proceedings to gain a High Court injunction against the POA. Such an injunction was granted by Mr Justice Ramsey, who said that there was “overwhelming case” for it, after the court heard evidence that a Joint Industrial Relations Procedural Agreement, agreed to prevent industrial action, had been broken.

Despite the court proceedings, the strike continued largely unabated, and was expected to run its full course.

Inmates were at one point reported to have been seen on the roof of Liverpool Prison, however the situation was brought under control without any escapees.

In Wormwood Scrubs Prison, London, all 1,300 prisoners were being looked after by just eight governors, while atCardiff, as prisoners, locked in their cells, shouted “You’re breaking the law” to the officers standing in the car park. As a result of the lack of staff, prisoners could not be transported to court, were fed in their cells, could not be visited and could not take part in any rehabilitation or community service courses. In addition, 900 prisoners had to be accommodated elsewhere, unable to be admitted to public prisons.

This evening, this strike was called off by the POA, who issued an order to all of its members to return to work, with further pay discussions expected to come on Friday.